When you work in social media for a major insurer with nationwide reach, a slew of A-list endorsers, and an iconic jingle (any guesses as to who we’re talking about?), you can expect every post to be seen by thousands, if not millions of viewers. Every word is scrutinized, and every follower has the potential to see – and share – any missteps.
And while getting things right is essential, it’s also crucial for brands – in this case, you (hopefully) guessed it, Nationwide – to join digital conversations in real-time. Fortunately, Dace de la Foret, Director of Social Media at Nationwide has a background in broadcast news, empowering the organization to produce social messaging that’s both factual and fast.
“I think there are two skills that are extremely important when it comes to social media teams: Writing and writing under deadlines,” says de la Foret. “These are skills that everyone needs no matter what you’re doing in social media.”
Good storytelling certainly relies on strong writing, but there are a number of other factors that shape the impact of a brand’s social program. Throughout his career, de la Foret has gathered quite a bit of wisdom on how brands can give their social media a boost. Here are his top tips:
Generally, people don’t follow accounts without knowing what to expect from them. But how can your audience know who you are if you haven’t figured that out yet?
“Create that brand identity,” says de la Foret. “Make sure that it’s right, and do whatever you can to understand what your audience is asking of you. Social listening is not just about seeing what people are saying, but seeing what people are asking of you.”
Brands must be authentic across all social channels and engagements. There should be a consistent voice that matches the identity your fans are acquainted with. Know who you are, what your brand looks and sounds like, and create a content strategy reflects that identity.
Most importantly, brands must identify their customers’ needs in order to come up with the strategies that will best serve them. At the root of every business plan is a human need that is being solved.
Wait, isn’t that the same as the first point? Not quite. It’s one thing to know who you are now, but it’s quite another to know who you want to be in the future.
This means casting off outdated marketing strategies and trading them in for something more representative of the brand you’d like to be.
“A lot of people hear Nationwide and think of insurance…we want to be known for so much more,” de la Foret says. “We want to be known for our capabilities in financial services. We want people to know about our relationship and support of Nationwide Children’s Hospital…It comes down to a simple question: Who is the audience and what is the best way these messages will resonate with them?”
To deliver tailored messages to separate audiences, Nationwide manages social media pages devoted to the diverse range of services it provides. For example, it maintains separate LinkedIn pages for its Nationwide Financial and Nationwide Pet divisions. This strategy allows the company to focus on insurance-related posts on its main pages while offering special attention to clients in other growth areas of the business.
This one goes for brands as a whole, and for the individuals who make them so successful. We all have different strengths; think about what sets you apart from others, and how you can make the most of that.
In de la Foret’s case, strong writing and publicity skills have contributed to his rise in the field of social media.
“A lot of the background I’ve gained both in PR and broadcast journalism lends itself well to telling compelling stories, finding really cool messages and figuring out new and innovative ways to tell stories to a mass audience,” he says.
For Nationwide, having a wide range of capabilities in personal and business insurance is a major strength. As is its expertise in retirement planning and finance. There is no limit to what differentiates your business from others – what matters most is how you position it.
Whether your own skills involve the gift of gab (which is exceedingly helpful in responding to customers online), or the strength of your products, your strength is unique and distinct. Figure it out, own it, and make it work for you.
As soon as you master one social network, odds are another two will pop up to keep you on your toes. Some brands become early adopters and learn on the fly. Others hold off to see if it’s just another fad. At the very least, you must educate yourself on emerging networks to see how they can fit into your overall strategy – if they fit at all.
“Our challenge as a company is to make sure that we are always seeing, understanding, and using the new innovative ways that all of these channels are offering to deliver messages to followers,” de la Foret says. “For example, we have done more in the last year with the live and expiring content that Instagram Stories and Snapchat offers than ever before…We feel challenged to adapt and come up with new ways to tell those stories based on the innovations these social media platforms are offering us.”
Not all brands need to have a presence on all channels – but all brands should at least be aware of them. Then, leaders can audit each social network to determine which ones fit best into the company’s marketing plans.
For brands and individuals alike, kindness goes a long way.
Nationwide’s community involvement empowers a fanbase that is more than happy to advocate on behalf of the company. From patient champions sharing the love for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, to everyday folks singing the Nationwide jingle on camera, micro-influencers play a big role in the company’s growing social presence.
— Nationwide (@Nationwide) August 8, 2018
“Social is an opportunity to capture those moments in ways we haven’t seen before, and through platforms like Sprinklr, we have better insight into new opportunities for our brand to engage with these opportunities that maybe we wouldn’t have had before.”
Social media offers companies a unique avenue to connect with customers in ways that might not be possible offline. For example, you probably wouldn’t walk into your insurance agent’s office and start singing the Nationwide jingle. But would you do it online? Sure!
By responding to and encouraging these interactions, brands like Nationwide can keep the conversation going to attract more engagement from fans.
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