Social media is a powerful tool for connecting people.
Did you know that consumers believe that social media is the best way for a brand to connect with them?
This is good news because it opens up the opportunity for brands to share more about their products and services while building relationships with their customers. 68% of people felt more connected to a brand when they shared their products and services with them on social media.
However, it is not enough to just show up and shout about your products and services on social media. People expect more from brands than their products.
Times Have Changed and Customer Preferences Have Shifted
COVID-19 changed many consumer perceptions and financial situations. People expect brands to be empathetic with our challenging times and to read the room. In addition to the global pandemic, we have also seen nationwide protests and, most recently, a war in Europe, to which brands do not want to appear tone-deaf.
The severity of these changes varies for different groups depending on their age and socioeconomic status.
For financially stable individuals, the importance of price is far less significant than the safety and ease of access in obtaining products and services.
For those who are not financially stable because of the economic flux due to the pandemic, switching brands to a more affordable option and focusing on the basics makes the most sense.
Overall, online shopping is trending upwards because of its increased safety and accessibility across the board. This means you need to be online, and you need options to sell online as well.
Combat Vulnerability with Phenomenal Customer Service
With the increased vulnerability of our circumstances and the consumer expectation shifts trending towards humanized brands, people are also expecting excellent customer service. And they expect it on social media.
31% of customers prefer to share their feedback with brands on social media.
People are going to talk about their experiences online. Still, if you have a planned presence, you can better control and move the narrative towards highlighting your positive attributes and becoming informed in your weaker areas so you can work to improve them and better your customer service.
Along the same vein, 33% of customers prefer to reach out with questions and/or problems on social media – and they expect to hear back from you promptly.
But it’s not just about safety, accessibility, and affordability anymore…
People expect brands to improve the world around them, not just sell stuff. 54% of people believe that brands should take stands on social issues, even if they disagree with the brand’s stance.
73% of people believe that brands must act for the good of society and the planet. Corporate social responsibility was not a phase, and it is now a requirement for brands in our ever-evolving society.
Part of the reason for this increased expectation is that 66% of people believe that brands can create real change. With power comes responsibility.
Covid shifts preferences towards brand values
As I mentioned in a previous blog, there have been significant shifts in social media content consumption and creation that emphasize education and self-care – which largely falls under the umbrella of personal development and improvement.
Consumers have made the same shift with brands. In 2020, 55% of respondents said they were paying more attention to brand values than they did the year before. And if they had shifted to working from home rather than in an office, that number was 73%.
But there is more good news! 53% of consumers stated that they would pay more to brands that do take a stand – essentially, they are willing to reward you for putting yourself out there.
Think about Nike and Colin Kapernick. That was a divisive stand that gave Nike a 10% boost in sales despite boycotts of their products.
3 Ways Your Brand Can Leverage Brand Values to Meet Customer Expectations
Nike’s partnership with Kapernick was an extreme version of standing up for brand values, and you can choose how divisive you do or do not want to be.
If your hill to die on is sustainability, you’re not likely to face much pushback (except from oil companies and greenwashed companies – we see you.) But if your stance is on race or gender equality, you need to be mentally prepared for those who do not agree with your message. And share your message anyways.
But how do you show off those brand values in a way that is not performative and aligns with your brand and mission?
Idea 1: Start a Facebook Group around your Brand Values or a Specific Pain Point
55% of consumers want brands to connect them with like-minded people. Maybe you’re a company that sells self-care products? Instead of creating the “SELF-CARE PRODUCT COMPANY GROUP,” try making a Facebook group for overworked single women who feel left out of the mom, self-care marketing.
You can encourage the sharing of products that help others and promote your own and provide a community for people to connect on a similar issue.
Just make sure you have post approvals turned on so people can’t randomly spam with their products and/or services.
Idea 2: Stand By Your Brand Values
Share your brand values! Don’t just use a list with some vague description; people can see past that if your actions don’t align. Instead, speak on issues that relate to your values and industry.
Five examples of things you can talk about as a brand that may have resonance with your brand values:
- Natural disasters and or crisis
- Environmental issues
- Human rights
Now, this is not to say you should use these issues to bolster your brand, but you can raise awareness around these issues in a tactful way that is mutually beneficial.
Idea 3: Highlight Awareness Days that Speak to Your Values
Have you ever seen those fun awareness day calendars? They are a great way to spark ideas for your content marketing. However, there are also a lot of more serious awareness days that you can use to raise awareness around issues that are important to your company’s (or your ideal client’s) causes.
For example, in the coming weeks, we will see:
March 18: Global Recycling Day
March 20: International Day of Happiness
March 22: World Water Day
April 2: World Autism Awareness Day
Standing Strong Through Changing Times
In a world that has undergone so many upheavals in the last few years, it has never been more important for you and your brand to foster a sense of community, know what you stand for, and be kind.
At the end of the day, your brand and your people will be the ones who win over customers, not your product. Take a stand, listen to your audience, and show compassion. And don’t forget to show up online – that’s where people are now!