Are Big Brands Failing at Social Media?

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Big brands know how to execute on social media, right? They’ve got the top talent and lots of dollars. Yet, when really investigating how big brands use social media, they seem to have forgotten some of the basics of engagement.

I’ve read about rules of promotion versus information sharing and keeping the ratio balanced. For instance, promote three pieces of content, events or specific articles about your organization then share five pieces of content that are specific to your industry. Because it doesn’t have to always be about you.

I am a big believer in the inbound marketing methodology, which focuses on using relevant, useful content to engage your audience and therefore turn them into qualified leads. And I’ve written a lot of content that aspired to do just that – except most of what I wrote was educational in nature and not self-promoting. Yes, you have to promote your services and products and how they bring value. But to me, it becomes a bit condescending and off putting to only share content on social media that masquerades as informational. I’m not saying the content doesn’t have value. Does it really need to always end with a pitch?

Here’s what I found looking at three major financial institutions and their social media accounts.

Institution One

LinkedIn – 486,000 followers

Content Shared:

  • Infographics and blogs of original content that leaned more toward education
  • Third party stories relating to industry
  • Promotional posts

Comments, shares and likes were steady. And the institution actually replied back to comments creating a conversation!

Twitter – 230,000 followers (main account; many additional sub accounts for targeted groups)

Twitter content is a bit more fun. They retweet many of their followers, look back at history and show tweets from employees. There is high engagement with likes and retweets as well as conversation. There are links to relevant content as well as links to third party content. This is really a great Twitter feed and evidence of a well executed social media plan.

FaceBook – 900,000 Likes

FaceBook content is pretty similar to other two platforms. If anything, it is even more consumer friendly and fun. Content includes videos, fun facts, flashbacks, promotions with incentives and updates on events. Employees and customers were featured. The videos were really nice and sharp and had large shares.

Institution Two

LinkedIn – 690,000 followers

Content Shared:

  • Blogs and resources with more of an educational slant
  • Third party stories relating to industry
  • Promotional posts

Comments, shares and likes were slightly higher than Institution One. No interaction from actual brand in comments.

Twitter – 440,000 followers (main account; man additional sub accounts for targeted groups)

Again, the Twitter posts are more fun and a combination of content: employees, customers, promotional and informational. The brand retweets when appropriate and responds. Engagement in retweets and likes is steady but not earth shattering.

Facebook – 2.3 M likes

This institution has the largest amount of users engaged with its brand on FaceBook. I found the content to be similar to LinkedIn and Twitter. The content was really relevant to what was going on both in the financial world and the corporation itself. There were a lot of likes and shares around the fun content. There were no content posts from third parties.

Institution Three

LinkedIn – 54,000 followers

Content Shared:

  • Promotional content (awards, executives honored or interviewed)
  • Links back to website or articles that are specific to the brand and its services

Comments, shares and likes are minimal. There were few interactions from brand in comments. This institution has sporadic posting and does not provide relevant, informational content or third party stories.

Twitter – 24,000 followers

Twitter content is more personal, highlighting specific stories from customers. However, this isn’t translating to more engagement. Likes and retweets tend to be in the single digits. There is interaction between brand and other tweeters.  They are trying to engage the audience by asking questions, but it isn’t catching. No third party content observed.

FaceBook – 56,000 likes

The content was really unchanged from what was on LinkedIn and Twitter. There were a few posts that attempted interaction by asking questions about the company’s history. In these posts, I did see interaction from users and the company. Many content shares were relevant to specific industries they serve. No third party content was posted.

Conclusions

There’s no real winner here. Each of these brands is doing some things right. I would just urge every brand to take more of an inbound approach to social media. It shouldn’t always be about your content or your promotions. There are lots of great third party content providers that have relevant things to say about your industry. Sharing other people’s content can make your social media pages seem more authentic rather than one long advertisement. I do love that most of these brands used stories from real customers and real employees, showing a very human side to corporate America.

Regardless of how big or small your brand is, social media is a great tool to increase awareness and convert. My biggest tips would always be:

  • What is the value of someone following you or liking you?
  • How can I use social media to create connections and relationships with current customers and prospects?

If you can answer these two questions, then you can build a strategy and determine your goals. If you can’t answer these questions then you probably won’t be able to legitimately use social media as a channel. It’s not impossible to answer these questions, and the answers can change. Social media isn’t something you set up one day and then never touch again. It’s a daily reexamination and measurement of what is effective.

My last word of advice is don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a beautiful thing that teaches an important lesson. So go out there, and try something new. It’s better than just posting stuff that isn’t relevant or engaging!

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