Marketers cannot ignore the power of social media. With the numbers of consumers on digital platforms rising year on year, it is essential that brands know how to successfully navigate social media marketing.
In an extensive study published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, 490 million more people adopted social media in 2020 alone, bringing the grand total to 4.2 billion users worldwide. And when it comes to searching for brand information, almost half choose to use social media to do so. Looking at the numbers and behaviour trends, it is clear to see how insight from social media could well be one of the most important factors in making key business decisions. As the Director of Social Media & Communications at Tag (formerly THP), Rebecca Steckham understands the value in this. She works in close collaboration with brands to develop their go-to-market strategy through tailored solutions built with Tag’s unique on-demand model.
In this interview with LBB’s Sunna Coleman, Rebecca shares her valuable insight into this often underestimated marketplace and shares with us the enormous benefits that social media can offer a business - from brand growth and awareness, to discovering what your consumers really want.
LBB> What drew you to social media and what is it about this industry that most excites you?
Rebecca Steckham> What I love about social media is that it keeps you on your toes. It's an ever-changing industry and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Platforms continue to evolve and new platforms arrive on the scene: TikTok and Clubhouse are perfect examples of that. It’s also an advertising vehicle where you can understand impact quickly; your audience will let you know right away if your content did not land with them.
LBB> Social media is about so much more than just sharing product content. What would you say brands need to be aware of when it comes to this?
Rebecca> You need to tell a story that is going to place your brand into the life of your consumer. How does your brand solve a consumer problem? How does it stand out? Why would someone opt-in to follow your page, or click to purchase after seeing your ad? 89% of consumers will buy from a brand after following them on social media
. That’s enough of a reason to put effort and investment towards an engaging strategy.
LBB> Can you share some examples of brands doing this well?
Rebecca> Beauty brands rise top of mind first: Dermalogica and Regimen Lab (Toronto-based) are two of my favourites. Beverage brands like Recess and Jaja Tequila are thinking outside of the creative box regularly. Netflix is embracing meme culture well on TikTok. We know that (especially) millennials and Gen X are hungry to learn what’s inside their products and behind the scenes - they want to know how that product came to life. Is it sustainable? Does the brand align with their values? Is the founder a nice person? Today’s consumers are interested in the story behind the brand, so choosing to capture this in your content pillars and key messaging will help you win.
Ben and Jerry's is another great example - they don't talk about ice cream every day online. They make great ice cream, but they also have great conversation. They’re involved in conversations on social justice and not afraid to get political.
LBB> How can a brand figure out which conversations they should be in?
Rebecca> Social is the number one channel for brands to connect with consumers. Expectations run high and like I said earlier, consumers are craving the real deal. Seek conversations that help connect others and that contribute in a positive way. There are some notable retail brands under fire lately for greenwashing when choosing to join conversations around sustainability. Make sure you are staying true to your organisation’s values.
LBB> If a brand does make a mistake online, how do you advise that they deal with issues such as cancel culture?
Rebecca> There’s more to be said for accountability than there is for shame. When it happens, listen to your audience, take accountability, and plan to address the issue. Here’s the important part: you need to stick to your plan. You must be authentic and empathetic. If you don’t, the audience will come for you again and probably leave forever. It’s the new age crisis management.
LBB> What are some of the most common issues or misconceptions that brands come to you with?
Rebecca> Number one challenge would be awareness; number one misconception would be the value of social media, especially when that hard press or double tap does not immediately convert to a sale. The truth is, consumers are making decisions online about your brand all the time before, during and after a purchase.
LBB> With so many different social platforms - and new ones always emerging - how does a brand figure out when is best or right for it to enter a new channel?
Rebecca> First and foremost, you need to know where your audience exists and where they engage.
Secondly, you need to invest in determining the goals and opportunities within that social platform. Do they align with what your business is trying to achieve overall?
Part of it is about taking a calculated risk. The best way to know if something's going to work, is to test it. I doubt that KFC thought their TikTok videos would result in a shortage of hot chicken and it’s still true that no one can predict what goes viral. Sometimes, you’ve got to go for it.
LBB> How do you feel about paid social media marketing vs organic growth?
Rebecca> Paid social media advertising may be responsible for rapid growth of your fanbase on pay-to-play channels like Facebook but paid is not solely responsible for sustainable growth. Communities of brand advocates (and repeat buyers) are fostered through engagement and top-notch community managers like the ones we have at Tag. Brands are thriving organically on TikTok and paid media isn’t even available on Clubhouse yet, so how can we say that organic doesn’t matter?
LBB> What kind of experience can a brand expect when they work with you?
Rebecca> We’re a team that’s passionate about leveraging our on-demand model to design customised, tailored solutions for our clients. We can scale with your business to fit your needs today and your needs as you grow tomorrow. We offer everything from initial planning and strategic development, to channel management, media buying, and creative production. We’re proud to have a 95% client satisfaction rate by creating crazy raving fans in our partners every day.
LBB> Tag Canada was formerly THP, how has this joining of forces enabled you to grow your offering?
Rebecca> The opportunities for us as a social team are exciting. We gain exposure to a broader network of teammates, capabilities and clients. I’m really looking forward to the growth of our department, not just in how we can grow with our clients, but the opportunities it will give our team to grow.
LBB> Looking ahead, what interesting trends are you seeing emerge in the social media space?
Rebecca> Audio is continuing to grow, with Facebook and Twitter staking their claim following Clubhouse. As a result of the pandemic and seeing studio closures, we’re also seeing a trend in content creation, particularly graphic design.
The last one I’ll mention is disruptive partnerships. Brands are partnering up that have nothing in common at face value. E.l.f. cosmetics and Chipotle for example collaborated (twice) on a makeup and limited edition menu promotion. You won’t catch me paying extra for guac, but I may consider taking them up on this.