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How Social Media Marketing has Become Dominant in a Post-Brick and Mortar World

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The Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the transformation into a post-brick and mortar world for many businesses. The imposition of lockdown measures and social distancing as the pandemic spread led to a significant push towards more modern marketing approaches – with leveraging the power of social media key to gaining exposure in this new digital ecosystem. 

Although digital marketing is certainly nothing new, in a world that’s less dependent on physical stores, more marketers have become reliant on online campaigns for matters of lead generation, generating conversions, and building brand loyalty. 

(Image: Gartner)

As the chart above shows, as much as 69% of directors believe that the pandemic has accelerated their organization’s digital business initiatives. Meanwhile, just 3% opted to reduce their investment in digital business following the emergence of the pandemic. 

(Image: UNCTAD)

The shift towards online shopping underlines the importance of digital transformation following the arrival of Covid-19. As we can see, more purchases are being made online than ever before due to the impact of lockdown measures globally. 

This has created a necessity for modernized marketing approaches. With higher volumes of shopping taking place online, it’s essential for marketers to build modern campaigns to reach new customers and to bond with existing ones, too. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look into the invaluable role that social media plays in generating leads in a post-brick and mortar world: 

Automation for Personalization

Chatbots were in vogue even before the emergence of the pandemic. This news is likely to be unsurprising for hardened marketers due to the sheer volume of benefits they bring. They’re a digital tool that’s capable of communicating and resolving issues with your customers within the need for a human point of contact. 

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Additionally, chatbots can integrate with the platforms that consumers now feel most comfortable interacting through: social media. What’s more is that these bots don’t require any coding knowledge among the business leaders implementing them, and platforms like Chattypeople have simplified the process of integrating a helpful chatbot into your marketing strategy. 

(Image: Sprout Social)

In the example above, we can see how far chatbots have come in recognising text and working to respond affirmatively in delivering satisfactory solutions to customers. 

These bots can also go some way in leveraging more personalized experiences for your customers. In order to do this, be sure to stop linking your ads solely to your landing pages and instead make more ads that redirect your audience to a Messenger window with your chatbot. 

By linking your ads to your chatbot, you can help to break the traditional view of customers that you’re only interested in selling to them, it can make your customer’s experience far more personal, and generate a loyal customer base alongside boosting sales. 

Adapting to New Customer Expectations

Customers crave content, and in addition to more activity, customers’ expectations have changed in how brands should engage with their audience. Instead of one-sided conversations where brands simply ‘post and ghost’, companies now must learn to interact with their customers on a more personal level and respond to their needs. 

(Image: Infobip)

The brands that recognized this need at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and ramped up their social media marketing efforts accordingly are likely to benefit the most in a post-brick and mortar world. However, despite a significant level of change occurring in the wake of the health crisis, some brands have discovered new audiences through this greater level of personal interaction via social media and are set to thrive even despite a more difficult financial landscape. 

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Above, we can see how brands like Starbucks help to treat their customers like individuals through social media interactions. Although the comments section of social media posts can be an unpredictable place, it’s certainly worth engaging with customers down there in order to build far greater loyalty. 

Taking a More Measured Approach to Sales

The days of intrusive traditional marketing are long gone in the age of social media. The reason for this is simple: people don’t want to be sold to. They would rather establish real connections and relationships with the brands that they’re buying from. 

Vitally, it’s important for you to get your audience or customers to build their trust in you. Rather than pushing a hard sell, simply win the trust of your audience and they’ll be much more inclined to make a purchase from you online. 

Rather than promoting newly published books or advertising seasonal offers in the case of this Waterstones post, the book shop looks to engage directly with customers by starting a conversation about the books that influenced their followers on Instagram. The company even took on a slightly negative stance in their post in asking for examples of unhappy reading memories – helping to further disassociate the brand with simply existing to make sales. 

Planning Content in Advance

Naturally, to be successful on social media, it’s vital to have high quality content to share with your audience. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is through being far too promotional – as we’ve already touched upon. 

With this in mind, it’s important to balance the content that your business shares on social platforms. There needs to be a healthy mixture of informative and entertaining items alongside a small percentage of promotional material utilized for good measure. You’ll also need to tactically work on your content curation strategies to cherry pick the best of external content to share on your accounts. 

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One of the most significant reasons why influencers gain their status is because they know what their audience wants and they plan out their content far in advance to reach them in the best possible manner. As a brand, you’ll need to adopt a similar strategy in order to successfully reach your desired audience on social media. 

In a world that’s transitioning from brick and mortar operations to more digital business models, it’s also worth preparing for the mid-term future. As technology develops, social media is sure to remain a prominent platform for consumers and businesses alike. Today we’re seeing the development of more multimedia content, with some augmented reality integrations helping to better advertise various products. 

(Image: Shorty Awards)

As we can see, Michael Kors has been quick to adapt its social media offerings to incorporate virtual try-ons via augmented reality. Businesses must have an eye on the future of advertising, with the arrival of smart glasses over the coming years, we may soon see a whole new level of interactive marketing available thanks to the availability of technologically advanced eyewear packed into discrete frames like those seen here in traditional eyewear outlets. 

Plan engaging content that blends engaging topics of conversation with light marketing, multimedia, and curated content. Also remember to develop formats that can fit into emerging technologies, like augmented reality integration for a future built on the prevalence of smart glasses or the consumption of media through smartwatches. 

In a post-pandemic world, social media marketing has become more valuable than ever. The businesses that move quickest in adapting to this new standard in generating exposure will be best positioned to thrive in the age of the ‘new normal’. 

Perisha is a travel, lifestyle, and tech writer who has written across an array of platforms. If you've got a story to tell she'll listen.