Ethically optimize digital connections with your customers
Alright, we've all seen the latest documentaries about social media marketing tools and how they've been used to unethically target consumers. However, it's important to know that while these marketing tools and social platforms are used to target customers using algorithms and computer-learning, they are also a survival tool for most businesses trying to stay afloat in today's uncertain times. Like any tool, these can be used to build or destroy, it's about how you use it.
The honest look at this changing landscape is that social media platforms are not going away, nor are they slowing down in their evolution - I'm looking at you Reels. In fact, between March and May of this year, 46% and 51% of U.S. adults found themselves using social media more than they did before the pandemic. Social media platforms have certainly evolved, but their intentions began as a tool for good, to connect people all over the world, share stories and create a global sense of community that wasn't even fathomable before. While some public figures or organizations using social media to position themselves in front of this global community may continue to unknowingly target their audience, that doesn't mean that all public figures or organizations using social media as a tool have to throw their ethics out the window.
The key is to be as transparent as possible when using social media in your marketing or business development strategies. An ad is an ad. Pretending anything otherwise is sketchy and not going to build trust with those you're hoping to stay connected with. Let people know that you're a business or organization who wishes to stay connected to your community and be real with them. It's OKAY to have ads on social media, but don't try to fool your audience - it's just wrong. Adding call-to-actions like, "Call Now" or "Learn More" are leaving the effort up to the social media end-user and are often associated with ad-language. If your intention is to educate, then do just that. Keep your sales intentions subdued and focus on your mission as the foundation of your message.
MIND YOUR MISSION
Going back to focusing on your mission, this is what you (as an organization) are authorized to speak to when you use social media or other digital marketing tools for your gain. When you start to stray away from your mission statement or values, this is where your organization can get into hot water fast. While certain topics may be trending or newsworthy, if your organization as a whole hasn't always included it in your values or mission or doesn't plan to moving forward, using that for your marketing gain or for increasing engagement is not ethical and will quickly separate you from your online community. It's okay to discover new passions, movements, or programs where your organization would like to be a part of the conversation, but make sure that if you're responding to it now, it's not a one and done behavior just to get attention - integrate it into your mission moving forward.
BE A POSITIVE RESOURCE
If you're going to use social media or other digital marketing tools to get in front of potential customers or your target audience, you'd better be offering them something of value. Provide solutions to problems they may be facing, positively educate them or create an open dialogue where they can decide for themselves what is next. For many that might be a promotional discount, tips and tricks, or even a job! Whatever you're putting out there, don't let it take away from the viewer, instead add value to their day.
BUILD BRAND AMBASSADORS
This rings true even before COVID-19. Building a community that knows, likes and trusts you is priceless. When you offer value to people, they're more readily going to share this with their close circles. The same goes for digital marketing and social media platforms. Once people have a great experience, they're going to jump on social media and Google to leave you the most glowing reviews! Right? Not exactly, but they sure will if they've had a poor experience - you'd better believe it. That's why it's so important to foster strong relationships with those who truly do love and support your brand and mission. I'm not talking about paying for reviews or hiring influencers to rave about your product or service if they literally will do this for any brand out there - that just isn't real. I'm talking about building REAL connections with REAL customers and REAL people who could relate to what you're doing. If you know of these connections, work together with them directly (which can absolutely be done digitally these days more than ever before, cheers for Zoom) and determine how you can create a mutually beneficial partnership together moving forward - this all can start with a personalized request for their feedback. Where you go from there, really is something that should be unique and different for each and every relationship. Yes, it's time consuming and no, it doesn't always result in a significant ROI, but trust me, this is where you want to invest some time and energy from your marketing strategy. It's genuine, authentic and something that will further connect your community of customers while gaining the interest of potentially new customers.
With all of this being said, it's hard to know exactly what content resonates best with your audience, especially if you have a broad reach. Working together with professionals who literally study and analyze digital marketing every single day is a great way to ensure that your content is being shared but in an ethical and productive way. Not all digital marketing agencies are created equal, so ensure that you ask about their methods for reaching customers and if it's a broad, templated approach, you may want to look elsewhere for the sake of your brand or organization's reputation.
To learn more about Red Energy's approach to digital marketing, drop us an email - we'd love to share our feedback and recommendations on how we would approach your digital marketing goals without compromising your moral standards.