There have always been multiple approaches when it comes to sales. Some operators go for the hard sell, while others prefer to go for a more understated approach. With the advent of digital media and social networks, marketers have been given another opportunity to boost sales for their brands, but which is the best way of doing so? Increasingly, it seems like subtlety and social media are going hand in hand.
Why subtlety is effective
At its very core, marketing is a form of communication. When brands opt for a loud, intrusive ad campaign, they are, in effect, shouting at their audience. It might get them attention, but not necessarily the kind that they want. Going for a subtle approach, on the other hand, creates more of a two-way dialogue between brand and consumer, one that the latter is much more likely to be receptive to.
When it concerns social media marketing, this two-way dialogue is more important than ever, because consumers expect conversation on social networks – they expect to make meaningful connections. Going for a subtle approach to social media selling, therefore, can not only boost sales in the short term, it can be also be used to create a long-term affiliation with a brand.
Getting creative with content
One of the most effective methods to introduce subtlety into your marketing campaigns is to avoid direct advertising altogether. Instead of providing a pay per click ad or a promoted tweet, marketers are creating content that users are genuinely interested in. In this way, brands get increased exposure, but consumers don’t feel like they are being sold to all the time.
Examples could include a regular blog by a technology brand looking at the cutting-edge gadgets expected to be released in the coming year. Creating video content is another approach being adopted, and one that works particularly well across social media platforms.
Video content can prove much more engaging than a still image or a wall of text, and platforms like social networks and YouTube give brand’s access to huge audiences. Plus, video content, when done well, can lead to the fulfilment of every marketer’s dream: viral content. Online users have demonstrated that video content, more than any other, has the propensity to go viral. When this occurs, brands simply need to sit back and watch as their audience does their job for them by sharing content and spreading their message. Of course, in order for this to happen brands must come up with engaging content, which means marketers must become increasingly creative with their campaigns.
The soft sell could save the medium
People don’t go on their social media accounts to buy products and so they don’t necessarily want to be sold any. Social networks are generally used as platforms to connect with others and consume content, but it’s understandable if marketers want to take advantage of the huge captive audience that they provide. The problems arise when they take it too far.
Social media is now awash with ads. Facebook recently announced that it had maximized the number of adverts that it can show an individual user on its news feed. In essence, there’s no space for more adverts. This means that marketers need to be more creative with their ads, creating campaigns that deliver better ROI.
With ad space at a maximum, going for the hard sell of “buy our stuff here” simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Not only will this see users gloss over your ad without giving it a second’s thought, it is also detrimental to the medium itself. Intrusive ads can greatly diminish the user experience, so think carefully before you go for the hard sell.
Embrace new mediums
One of the major pay per click predictions for 2017 is the growth of new ad platforms. As existing mediums become saturated, new avenues will be created for early adopters to exploit. Take the aforementioned Facebook, for example. Although its News Feed no longer has any additional ad space, Facebook has other opportunities available. Marketers should look at whether Messenger would provide the right audience for their brands, or if pre-video ads would be a good fit.
Similarly, the growth of mobile marketing shows little sign of slowing down, providing further opportunities for social media marketers. Look into the available ad space on social media applications and mobile sites, but don’t swamp them with invasive marketing. The excessive use of adverts on web pages eventually led to the adoption of ad-blocker programs on a wide scale, which is now causing marketers all kinds of headaches. The mobile web has yet to adopt ad-blockers to the same extent, largely because users have not felt the need to. Marketers would do well to remember this, even as they embrace new mediums for their campaigns.
If you’re going to go hard, go specific
If brands do want to go down the direct advertising approach, and there remains a place for it in certain situations, then they would be well served by making sure that they target their bespoke audience. Simply putting your ad out in the huge expanse of the World Wide Web probably isn’t going to see it receive much of a response.
Instead, make use of all the available data to drill down into particular demographics and start creating direct advertising that appeals to certain groups. A younger audience may be more receptive to a particular form of marketing than an older one, a male user may respond better to a specific campaign than a female one, and then there’s also the advertising medium to consider.
Fortunately, brands no longer need to go with their gut when it comes to creating campaigns. Huge quantities of data, combined with analytics programs, can tell you what campaigns are working and why. They can let you know when a subtle approach, like issuing a blog post is working, and when a direct ad is proving more effective. Whichever approach you choose for your social media campaigns, make sure your marketing is targeted, relevant and accountable. With the technology available to you, there’s no longer any excuse if you don’t meet these benchmarks.