Social media.. a phrase that has become increasingly synonymous with life and in particular socialising. Gone are the days of carrier pigeons and hand delivered mails. Remember when the only way to talk to a girl/ guy was to call them on their home phone and anxiously await who was going to pick it up on the other end? When looking at social media in 2013, we look at what has become known as the proverbial ‘review period’. This refers to situations where social media campaigns are waded through and analysed in order to quantify the efforts in the past 12 months. What can be gained from social media in 2012 is that a substantial amount of brands started incorporating social media into their overall marketing strategies (something that has not been so relevant in the past). This is the result of a recognition for the importance of brands needing to constantly engage with the potential consumer. The problem with this is that many brands have lost focus on what the consumer wants, and have rather focused on advertising.

The key to communicating adequately is to focus on being interesting, informative and real. Consumers are becoming more social media smart and are paying attention only to things that they perceive to be authentic, and are ignoring what is perceived as suspicious. In order to strengthen your social media presence in 2013, we identify some main areas of focus:

1. Engage with the customer:

This stands true for any brand no matter how successful their social media. Consumers like to know that a brand is listening. Interact through feedback, offer solutions and advice and ensure the customer is happy. This gains loyalty and positive WOM.

2. Know who you’re talking to:

One of the biggest brand mistakes on social media is the ambition of creating as many likes as possible, but without actually knowing anything about the fans. It’s vital to ask questions, understand what the consumer is interested in, how they think, where they live and what they do. This will result in better results, and a stronger fan base. After all, why would they be interested in you if you’re not interested in them?

3. Be real:

Skepticism from the consumer is increasing as the consumer is becoming far more social media smart. They will be able to identify far quicker what is fake and what is real ito social media campaigns. Strategies that are directed at the everyday person are key to increasing a brands fan base.

Nike’s ‘Find Your Greatness’ campaign, which launched during the 2012 Olympics, perfectly illustrates this. The brand presented a powerful message, not only for the record breakers, but for the everyday athlete to set personal goals and achieve greatness. Supported by a You Tube homepage endorsement and promoted on Twitter with a #findgreatness hashtag, the campaign ignited conversation with everyone, everywhere. Socialbakers’ CheerMeter reported more than 16 000 tweets and a Facebook fan growth of 166 718 between 27 July and 2 August alone.

Consumers appreciate humility and want to know who it is that is communicating to them.

4. Be innovative:

With greater competition and smarter consumers, brands are finding it increasingly difficult to stand out among the overcrowded marketplace. In order for a brand to get their name recognised and their campaigns out there, they need to ensure their media campaigns are interesting and engaging. Awards are given all around the world to brands that have done just this. A great example of that is Ogilvy’s ‘Be The Couch’ mobile campaign. They allowed soccer fans in South Africa to choose players for two of the largest soccer sides bringing in around 11 038 605 entries.

5. Incorporate visual marketing:

Visual engagement in 2012 was astoundingly high with a comScore report of 45.5% of users viewing at least one video during the course of a month.

Unilever launched the highly effective Magnum Treasure Hunt campaign which took a woman through a journey across the internet to collect chocolate bonbons as quickly as she can. According to a Microsoft Advertising case study, the campaign generated 324 million impressions  85 million unique users and 2 million clicks on the Treasure Hunt Game. Magnum also managed to deliver against their target audience, with 64% of the impressions being female between the ages of 15-44 years of age. 

So how are you going to make your brand standout from the crowd? How will you make your engagement clever, witty and interactive? It’s a challenge, but one we await with itchy feet!