Social Media Marketing: Building Brands in the Digital Age

We live in the digital age, where social media has completely revolutionised the way people and businesses engage with their audience and build their brands. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn offer unparalleled opportunities for reaching and connecting with a hugely diverse and widespread population of potential customers. Just imagine if you would have described this scenario to a business person in 1950. They would never have believed it! Even in the 90’s I clearly recall my Maths teacher telling me off for using a calculator when he I thought he wasn’t looking, stating that as an adult “you will not always have a calculator with you”! That was only thirty years ago too! Indeed, the transformation brought about by social media is nothing short of extraordinary. Back in the 1950s, the concept of instantly connecting with millions of people worldwide was inconceivable. Businesses relied on traditional forms of advertising and communication, things like cold calls, print ads, wireless broadcasts and face-to-face interactions. I even recall as a child when my parents wanted to sell an item of furniture, like a chest of draws or a table, they call up a ”land line” (what even is that!) and have it listed in the ‘Friday Ad’, along with their phone number for folk to call. This was a paper that came out weekly full of listings of items people were selling. If that didn’t work, you really go big and put it on a card that went on the wall near the checkouts in ‘Safeway’! The idea of reaching a global audience with the click of a button would have seemed like something out of Back to the Future! However, as easy as it is to post content on these platforms, leveraging them effectively requires a strategic approach to maximise impact. Simply having a presence on social media is not enough. Businesses must understand their audience, tailor their content to resonate with them, and actively engage with their followers to build meaningful relationships. It’s a full-time job in itself! Moreover, the sheer scale and scope of social media present both opportunities and challenges for businesses. While the potential reach is vast, standing out amidst the sea of content can be daunting. Algorithms, trends and user behaviours are constantly evolving, requiring businesses to adapt and innovate to stay relevant. Sometimes I read a post on my timeline, yet before I even download in my head what I’m looking at, it’s gone and its ten scrolls down! It’s non-stop! Yet, despite these challenges, the benefits of social media marketing are undeniable. From increasing brand awareness and driving website traffic to generating leads and fostering customer loyalty, social media has become an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes. At the core of social media marketing lies audience engagement. It’s not merely about broadcasting messages but creating meaningful and memorable interactions with your followers. It’s just like speed dating, where you’re seeking a quick and instant connection that prompts them to hit that ‘follow’ button and keep coming back for more. Understanding your audience has never been more paramount than in the current day. I dedicate hours every week to scrolling through analytics tools, meticulously analysing trends and patterns in my content, from optimal times of posting to the types of posts that resonate most with my audience.   According to research by GlobalWebIndex, a staggering 54% of social media users say they actively use these platforms to research products before making a purchase. This statistic underscores the importance of creating engaging and informative content that not only captures attention but also drives action. Whether it’s showcasing product features, sharing customer testimonials or offering exclusive promotions, providing value to your audience is key to fostering engagement and ultimately driving conversions. Furthermore, understanding the preferences and behaviours of your audience is essential for crafting targeted and relevant content. By leveraging insights from analytics tools, such as demographic data and engagement metrics, businesses can tailor their messaging to resonate with their target audience on a deeper level. So, you’ve finally done it, you’ve got your content out in a post on social media, you’re done! Well actually no, it’s only just started! You see, consistency is key in maintaining audience engagement. Regular posting keeps your brand top of mind. The more you post, interact with other posts, share etc, the more your posts appear on others timelines. It’s like a huge game! HubSpot reports that businesses posting 16 or more times a month on Facebook receive 3.5 times more engagement than those posting less frequently. Responding promptly to comments, messages and mentions fosters a sense of community and trust around your brand. The type of content is also incredibly important. Visual content is a secret ingredient for capturing attention and conveying your brand message effectively. High-quality imagery plays a crucial role in shaping brand perception. According to MDG Advertising, articles with images receive 94% more total views. This makes sense too, because as humans we know that we connect better with visuals over written words due to our brain’s efficient processing of visual information, the emotional impact of visuals, their memorability, universality and their ability to stimulate creativity. Visuals evoke emotions, trigger memories and resonate with experiences more effectively than text, making them a powerful tool for communication and connection in the digital age. Video content has emerged as perhaps that premier league standard of content. Generation Z and Generation Alpha now expect on demand, video shorts in content that they demand. According to Synthesia, video made up 82% of all internet traffic in 2022. Over 2.6 billion people around the world use YouTube every month. Viewers retain 95% of a message when watching it on video (vs. 10% through text). Incorporating videos into your strategy, whether promotional clips, behind-the-scenes glimpses or customer testimonials, it’s a no-brainer! Platforms like Instagram Stories and Reels offer unique opportunities for storytelling and interactive content. Instagram reports that 500 million accounts use Stories every day. Leveraging these formats

The Power of Podcasting: Transforming Business Engagement in Kent

Have you ever considered the power of podcasts as an engagement tool for your business? Let’s demystify the allure of podcasting. Contrary to common belief, you don’t need an extravagant setup or hefty investments in equipment. What you truly need is a compelling story, passion and sincerity to forge connections with your audience. In the UK alone, podcast listenership has soared in recent years. Reports from Ofcom, the communications regulator, reveal a staggering doubling in podcast listeners to over 7 million weeklies in just five years. It’s a testament to the growing appetite for this form of content, and its flexible format that allows for on demand listening wherever and whatever you’re doing. The beauty of podcasting is the simplicity that is at its core. Forget the idea of an elaborate recording studio filled with high-tech gadgets. The beauty of podcasting lies in its simplicity. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t require a fortune in equipment. A standard conference call microphone or even the smartphone in your pocket is often sufficient to kickstart your podcasting journey. Your story is your greatest asset. What truly resonates with audiences isn’t polished scripts or professional hosting skills—it’s authenticity. Your business has a unique story to tell. Whether it’s the journey of overcoming obstacles, insider tips, business updates or simply sharing industry insights, your perspective matters. According to Edison Research, 54% of podcast consumers say they’re more likely to consider a brand after hearing its advertisement on a podcast. That’s some serious potential that can’t be ignored, right? One of the greatest perks of podcasting? It’s incredibly cost-effective. Compared to traditional advertising, launching a podcast is relatively inexpensive. All you need is your voice, your narrative and a genuine connection with your audience. Many UK businesses are harnessing the power of podcasts. From start-ups delving into niche markets to established brands diversifying their content strategy, they’re leveraging the simplicity of podcasting. These businesses are sharing stories that matter, building connections without the need for extravagant studios. Podcasting is a fantastic mechanism to bridge the gap between frontline employees and senior leadership. The ability to include all levels of an organisation in the narrative, interviews, success stories and more provides a platform to celebrate success and drive results through a people focused engagement strategy. In today’s digital landscape, authenticity trumps elaborate setups. Podcasting provides an avenue for businesses in Kent to build genuine connections with both customers and employees. According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged employees outperform competitors by 147%. Internal podcasts serve as vital tools for fostering engagement and transparent communication within the workforce. Furthermore, Communication preferences have evolved significantly across generations, with younger demographics such as Millennials and Gen Z prioritising authenticity, relatability and accessibility. This shift away from traditional communication methods has been evident as people seek mediums that foster genuine connections and a modern on demand accessibility. A Spotify study revealed that 81% of podcast listeners fully engage with the content they listen to, highlighting the high engagement levels of podcasts. This medium aligns perfectly with the preferences of younger generations, offering a personalised, on-demand experience that suits their multitasking lifestyles. Podcasts’ unscripted and authentic nature allows for real and relatable conversations, meeting the desire for genuine connections over transactional interactions. Interestingly, podcasts aren’t limited to younger audiences, as older generations are increasingly tuning in, appreciating the depth and authenticity of podcast content. This trend contributes to bridging the communication gap between different age groups. Kent based businesses can benefit from adapting to these evolving communication norms by incorporating podcasts into their strategies. Doing so offers a powerful tool to engage diverse audiences across different age demographics. In essence, podcasts represent a unified language of modern communication, catering to the evolving preferences of various generations. They provide businesses with a compelling means to authentically connect with a wide array of audiences across age groups. When starting out on my leadership journey over two decades ago, Dr Hajime Yamashina, a Lean Manufacturing Professor from Japan, took me under his wing. He provided me many lessons, that initially made little sense or appeared irrelevant. However, over the years these lessons have one by one come into focus, providing me with little reminders now and then that fuel a passion for excellence that has people at the heart of it. One of these many lessons was “a person without data, is just another person with an opinion”. Professor Yamashina’s words echoing in my mind as I sat at my laptop, compiling data that tells the story of the opportunity that lies within podcasting.  Podcasting isn’t just a trend, it’s a genuine opportunity for businesses to connect deeply with their audience. Statistics show that 80% of podcast listeners listen to an entire episode or most of it, highlighting the engagement potential. So, grab that microphone, infuse your passion and let your story be heard—your audience is eagerly waiting to tune in! To hear more of my ramblings, follow me on LinkedIn – Matt Sims, or check out my Blogs at Blog – Ever-So-Lean (