3 Social Media Lessons You Can Learn From a Box of Beauty Samples

(Originally posted in Memeburn)

What do Birchbox and Adidas have in common? One is a rugged sports icon, and the other is a wildly successful “stuff in a box” beauty subscription service, but both companies have impressive histories.

Birchbox raised US$72-million in funding in just four years and grew its subscriber base to more than 400 000, while Adidas has pulled in an excess of €10-billion for the past four years straight.

But that isn’t all. These brands boast impressive social media followings, and it’s not because they’re incredibly active (though they are); it’s that they understand the power of becoming ingrained in their audience’s lives rather than being just another company.

Birchbox boasts impressive Social Media Marketing techniques.

Whether you’re an established brand or an up-and-comer, you can learn from these social icons. Here are three powerful lessons from Birchbox and Adidas that can help you build a genuine relationship with your customers:

1. Target the right people with audience segmentation

The first step in developing a solid brand identity is to identify unique traits and characteristics of your target personas. Adidas nails this tactic by focusing on its rugged young male market and spending US$25-50 million per year sponsoring FIFA and the FIFA World Cup.

Audience segmentation is critical for connecting with your followers, and fortunately, social media analytics streamline this process. You can discover what makes your customers different from one another and what interests them, and then use those insights to identify topics that will capture their attention.

2. Aim for conversations, not conversions

Once you’ve identified and segmented your target audience, you can focus on the meat of your social media presence: becoming a part of that audience’s conversations.

Just take a look at Birchbox’s Twitter feed. Its tweets ask customers for their opinions, express enthusiasm over a fashion or makeup trend, or simply work to build a positive, happy vibe. Customers can smell a direct sale on social media from a mile away, so your content must be interesting and engaging on its own.

Because each social platform has something different to offer, you should customize your content for each platform. For example, Instagram is good for visual stimulation and teens, Facebook is getting much more popular with parents, and Twitter highlights current news and trends. Realise that your brand might fit into different social sites at different times, and find your perfect niche.

If you’re at a loss for how to start a conversation, look to your calendar and top trending lists. Identify topics that are relevant to your various audience segments and jump on them. Then, consider what’s going to happen in the future so you can start planning content around those events, such as graduation, back-to-school shopping, seasonal sports, and popular concerts.

3. Use the right tools to maintain authenticity

Successful social media marketing requires a steady commitment over a long period of time. Just look at Birchbox’s 50,000 tweets since 2010 and Adidas’ twice-daily Facebook updates.

But producing a high quantity of high-quality engagements requires backup. Here are three tools that can help you encourage authentic conversations:

  • Monitoring tools, such as Hootsuite, can help you follow the conversations going on throughout all of your social networks to identify the most relevant content themes to your audience.
  • Hashtag reporting tools, such as Keyhole, show the most popular trending hashtags, which can give you an idea of what people are currently discussing online.
  • Content creation tools, such as Easel.ly, allow you to create visually appealing infographics with limited design experience. Graphics are a great way to convey information on topics that excite your audience, and they work well across several social sites.

Far too often, marketers try to replicate the social success of companies like Adidas and Birchbox by launching their platforms and plugging their old promotions into their Hootsuite scheduler. But that’s not how effective brands build a dedicated following.

Direct marketing simply doesn’t work in the world of social media. You’ve got to focus on the conversations, not the conversions, and become a genuine, useful, and personable force in your customers’ lives.

What’s your brand doing to make real connections with your audience?

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