In these times of change, what does ‘good’ business look like? It’s a good question! Having been at the forefront of social media and digital marketing for over a decade we are perhaps uniquely placed to answer. We have tracked trends for over 11 years; not just in person as we work with brands to help them get visible on social media and on the first page of Google, but also via our blog where we have written about what we have seen happening every month since 2008.
We have written about changes to the way brands market and sell, watched businesses fight losing control of their messaging and try and come to terms with the rise of social media and shift in accountability it has bought. Watched the rise of influencers and seen how social media has changed sales and retail. Reported on how social media has been used well and badly, and tracked how it has changed people’s minds and hearts.
The Rise of the Consumer
Consumers are at the heart of this and driving it. As Douglas Burdett said in his video interview with our MD Claire Burdett, consumers have been leading the way since the switch from ‘limited media’ to ‘limitless media’ in June 2009. June 2009 was the tipping point when more content was produced by people than it was by brands. (Note: two months after we were founded!).
When that happened, marketing stopped being about brands pushing their messages on the consumer and became about brands having to attract customers to them and so having to become magnetic. It stopped being all about selling to people and started being about education, expertise and trust.
Our conclusion is that a successful brand needs good leadership and total understanding of what their customers want. As Douglas Burdett said in his interview:
“Empathy is the most important word in sales and marketing”.
What is Good Social Media?
While it might feel that social media is now completely ubiquitous, and that brands are all aces at using it, the truth is that most still aren’t using it effectively. Good social media is effective, triggers discussion, raises awareness, presents information, is part of the conversation, gives a voice and creates influence within a community.
Most brands just… broadcast. And the vast majority broadcast about themselves. ‘Look at how great I am’, ‘look at our brilliant products’, etc.
Hello brands, that’s advertising, NOT social media. And as a consequence most businesses were already being generally ignored on social media even before the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
And this has not just accelerated, but amplified in 2020, with the rise and rise of social pressure from consumers. This is like the now familiar Social Media Crisis, but coordinated by the consumers not just a spontaneous reaction. It happens when brands (and public sector) are put under organised and intense pressure to behave better, often using social Influencers to lead the charge. We’ve clocked two in the fashion sector.
The Instagram #PayUp campaign headed by fashion nonprofit Remake has recouped an estimated $7.5 billion in unpaid garment worker wages since 30 March 2020 from 16 brands. These include H&M, PVH Corp and Nike.
While in just one month ( June 2020) the Instagram direct action movement #PullUpOrShutUp has persuaded over 200 companies (including Estée Lauder Companies, Glossier and Levi’s), to release how many Black employees they have – and commit to improving the balance.
Neither of these movements are boycotting the targeted fashion brands. Instead they are using social pressure to force a conversation and shame the brands in to doing the right thing.
Why is it Important?
It is important because consumers expect brands to be ethical and to lead from the front. And they are taking action to make brands step up to the mark. In our interview with Kirsty Leighton she explains that showing you are a ‘good brand doing good things’ means people trust you. It’s a key element in success and also ensures your business stays the distance in these challenging times. Kirsy Leighton explained that her PR Agency, Milk and Honey, is now an accredited B Corporation business. B Corporation is the gold standard for business leaders committed to change for good. It celebrates those working together for better lives for everyone. It proactively supports brands transforming their businesses into great places to work and in the process becoming magnetic to clients. If you would like to see how your organisation measures up then check them out – and sign up!
COVID19 has accelerated the switch from offline to online across the world. All the indications are that this is not going to change, even if we get back to anything near ‘normal’. It is therefore safe to assume that digital and social are set to become a even bigger part of your business than you ever considered possible.
So where to start?
Wondering where to start in deciding what a ‘good’ social media strategy and budget looks like? We hear you. There are so many variables, statistics and options. So to help you get a handle on the baselines we’ve put together a summary of some of the latest industry data and thinking. These can be applied as broad starter points for your change process.