Social media has never been a most effective way to reach the public than during these times when people are flocking online and more content is shared on the internet. With the pandemic continuing to limit offline communication between brands and their audiences, social media has become more a need than a complementary tool to other PR and marketing efforts.
Indeed, more businesses and organizations are learning to maximize the features of different socmed platforms not only to reach a wider audience but also to have a better idea of the needs and preferences of their different stakeholders. As more people continue to migrate online to stay in touch with loved ones and keep themselves updated with the news, brands will leverage social media to increase engagement with their audiences.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are consistently among the most commonly used platforms by brands. This is because these platforms allow brands to communicate with their audiences directly — post now and you’ll get responses in real-time. Unlike traditional PR, you can observe digital PR engagements as they happen, giving you an idea of what content is clicking with your audiences at what time and day, and which demographics make up these engagements.
Social media enables businesses and organizations to achieve broader coverage for their content, which can be tailored according to the needs of the brand. It is important to note, however, that different platforms have different social environments that should be considered. There is no one-size fits-all approach. Cross-posting, for example, although a featured tool by these platforms and certainly has its advantages, is not recommended in all cases as it will not maximize each platform’s capabilities.
Brands should know who their target audiences are to know where to best put out their content and how. Furthermore, brands should know what type of content works and what type does not, when to put out such content and how to sustain engagement with their audiences.
Out of the three platforms, Facebook has the greatest number of users, with 75 million Filipinos on the platform as of August 2019. More users means a more diverse group of people as potential consumers of your content. Although users aged 18 to 24 make up the largest user group on Facebook, a considerable number of users aged 50 and up have been found to use the platform as well. Brands seeking to get the attention of users from this age group then can shoot their shot on Facebook. But the question is: Would both user groups react the same way to the same type of content? Should brands create different material for the different target groups then?
People mostly use Facebook to connect with people they already know such as friends and family. They use the platform to share personal photos, videos and general updates about their lives. Facebook’s interface makes it so that people are updated through organized posts, whether these form an album of photos from a recent family gathering or a carousel of infographics on a recent social issue.
Brands can take advantage of this particular way of how users post and consume content on Facebook. Those whose content are information-heavy could think about adding in images to make posts more interesting. More brands now use videos in fact to reach more users and engage them more. They can use Facebook to announce events and promos, with some even creating fan groups to build a closer connection with their audience.
More businesses and organizations are realizing it won’t hurt to explore different ways of sharing information. Many are veering away from a text-only or text-heavy format, especially knowing that online reading behavior emphasizes short bursts of text rather than a long scroll down of copy. A mix of different formats would be interesting and make a brand’s Facebook page look more creative. But choosing the content format, of course, depends on the target audience.
The tonality will also be influenced by the target audience, although generally businesses and organizations, especially the larger ones, use professional or business tone. While it wouldn’t hurt to use some humor here and there, Facebook users generally appreciate professional language when reading through branded content. This could be because Facebook is oftentimes treated as a customer service platform for brands – people will look for a brand’s Facebook page if they have inquiries and they expect a professional response. Nevertheless, a lighthearted or witty post every now and then will surely complement more serious content and will make the brand more relatable to the different user groups.
As a microblogging site, Twitter limits users to only 280 characters per tweet. The platform is meant for content that is expected to be quickly buried under a mountain of new tweets, which means each tweet must be captivating enough for a user to remember it before it’s overtaken by new content.
Twitter is often used by the media for breaking stories because of the platform’s fast-paced nature. It’s this nature that also makes Twitter an ideal platform for brands with much content to share or those looking to engage with users more frequently.
While Facebook has a broader audience age range, Twitter mostly has users between the ages of 18 and 29. The language on this platform then is relatively young, often laced with slang and inside jokes. Viral tweets are often witty jabs on current issues.
Brands can also leverage Twitter to relate its content or activities to current events or happenings. Every now and then, a new phrase or meme is made popular on Twitter, which brands can use as a springboard to ride on trends. This shows that brands are present in the market and always on the lookout for opportunities to communicate with their audiences. Brands must know, however, what memes or Twitter conversations to join or ride and how, and practice prudence and diligence when engaging with such trends.
Only 5.08 million Filipinos are on Twitter as of August 2019, considerably less than the number of Filipinos on Facebook. This does not mean, however, that brands should focus less on Twitter because even with the smaller Filipino population on Twitter, the platform provides a social environment that is different from other socmed channels.
Hashtags, although present on Facebook and Instagram as well, originated on Twitter. As a key communication tool of the platform, hashtags are easily found on the website or app in a dedicated tab where users can browse through various trending topics. Brands can take advantage of hashtags to promote various activities —product launches, consumer events — and increase engagement with their audiences by encouraging them to tweet related content using the related hashtag.
If you ask people what they use Instagram for, most of them will probably say the same thing: to share photos and videos, and they wouldn’t be wrong as that’s exactly the focus of this social media platform. Upon opening Instagram, the first thing users will see is a photo or video. The caption is merely secondary. The hashtags, if any, can only be seen after clicking ‘more.’
IG is a platform that relies heavily on visuals to draw audiences in as people connect better to content with a visual aspect. This makes Instagram a valuable promotion platform, something brands can optimize. Brands can post photos or videos of products and services more easily without having to worry about preparing a long copy to go with them. They can also post pictures of company activities as IG has a light tone.
Instagram is known to be more of a recreational app rather than an app users open to check on the news. Brands can take advantage of this nature to communicate with their audiences more personally and discover what content they want to see more of.
Instagram took its visual edge up a notch when it launched Instagram Stories, where users could share quick photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Unlike the more refined nature of Instagram feeds where users pay importance to aesthetics, Instagram Stories are a little rougher around the edges, showing audiences some human touch behind the account. This feature also has the option to elicit an action from the viewer to increase engagement.
Across these platforms, knowing the target audiences will enable a brand or organization to better curate content and deliver targeted material that will resonate better with the reader or user. Understanding the audiences – from the type of content they respond to, the language and tone they use, the way they prefer to see material online to even the time of day they are most likely to consume social media content and how often each day they do so – is a solid first step. Audiences respond better to content they can relate to, and this contributes to raising their engagement with the topic and ultimately the brand.
Social media can be a powerful tool when used wisely and properly, so brands should not shy away from learning about the various tools for and social environments of each platform in order to best communicate with their audiences. If unsure which platform to use, businesses and organizations can try each one to see which works best for their brand. These platforms are all free, so what’s the harm in trying?