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Marketers: Hug it out with consumers using social media

As marketers, our job is to feed that desire with something unique that will, hopefully, improve lives and create happiness and satisfaction. Learn ways that advertisers can leverage social media…

Research indicates that interacting on social media creates a dopamine effect; a natural high that is the equivalent of a hug! Every post, comment, like, text, or similar action triggers a release of a neurotransmitter that according to one scientific explanation “…tells the brain that whatever it experienced is worth getting more of.” This pleasurable sensation explains in part why we now spend so much time staring at our smartphones. While much of the research quantifying just how much time is dated by a year or two, one article that aggregated all of the available data concluded that people spend over four hours a day on their mobile phones. Furthermore, researchers have found that the buzz consumers get is not relegated to merely interacting with friends, family, and social media circles, but also manifests itself when consumers interact with brands, products, and services.

Given this phenomenon then, it begs the question: how can marketers tap into such compulsion in a way that is meaningful and that engenders good feelings about their marketing efforts without creating a backlash of cynicism or negativity? And, fundamentally, since we are in the business of generating profits, why does it matter? Here are four suggestions of ways that advertisers can leverage social media to amass and foster a community that will result in lasting brand loyalty and affinity – as well as higher lifetime value – all while creating consumer satisfaction built on a bedrock of goodwill and trust.

1. Commit To Content

Speaking of instant gratification, direct marketers have grown accustomed to the jolt of excitement that can be derived from measuring the cause and effect of their advertising and its corresponding ROI. Enter social media, where quantifying profitability is much more difficult, and you often have social media programs that begin with fits and starts, are half-hearted, or are ditched based on the “results” of a flaccid test. The single most important thing then that a marketer can do is to allocate a budget and commit to an annualized and consistent content strategy that will feed social interaction. Think of content like crop rotations – some of it will result in a bumper crop of communication while others will take longer – yet all of it will be evergreen. The more you have, the better your chances are of holding the line on SEO and SEM by your content’s sheer volume and the ongoing size of its audience.

2. Nurture Share-Ability

Content needs to consist of material that people will want to share. Therefore, on a baseline level, it needs to be relevant and not necessarily self-serving. So, for example, a weight loss program that posts recipes, success stories (the more impressive the transformation, the better), and tips and tricks will be appreciated far more than the marketer who narrowly defines social media’s purpose as to sell and ask for the order. Whether you use humor, pathos, or patriotism – all tactics Budweiser has employed, when done right, a marketer can turn a product into a phenomenon. Take Instant Pot – which is essentially a pressure cooker on steroids. The Instant Pot Community on Facebook has 1.3 million followers. On Amazon, they have an astounding 27,337 reviews averaging 4-1/2 out of 5 stars. By virtue of such critical mass, their social media footprint becomes an impenetrable fortress of social proof that validates the marketers’ claims and pushes prospects further down the sales funnel and converts them into a sale… not to mention a new devotee.

3. Realize That Seeded Social Content Produces Organic Content

Simply put, the content you generate is likely to inspire your brand evangelists to create their content in the form of reviews (see above), how-to videos, endorsements, testimonials, and the like. Think about it: we all like to share our successes with others. Now, by way of social media, we can do so to a potentially limitless audience. Recently, someone discovered how to make wine using their Instant Pot and a flood of associated articles, posts, and videos were uncorked. The Holderness Family even made a fake commercial extolling the limited virtues of their Instant Pot wine labeled “Scurrying Cat.” What’s the bottom line: it’s fun to share.

4. Be Clear: Relationships Have Replaced Transactions

Truly progressive marketers know that short-term thinking and one-off transactions have now been replaced by relationships that require investment, thoughtfulness, and patience in order to nurture what has become a much more long-tale process. Consumers have total control over when, where, and how they interact with brands and they are no longer interested in a monologue from the marketer talking at them. Our public desires a dialogue – a two-way street – that allows them to participate and be a part of the story with the brands that they identify with and want to incorporate into their lives. If you acknowledge that each of us is a brand ourselves, consisting of physical characteristics, personality traits, our unique interests, and the material trappings we surround ourselves with, this desire to play a role with brands and products makes perfect sense.

short-term thinking and one-off transactions have now been replaced by relationships that require investment, thoughtfulness, and patience

Rick Petry


One can decry the effect all of this online social interaction is having on society in terms of such things as our ability to be present with those in our physical presence, attention deficit, and the dark side of social media in the form of bullying and trolling, but it is evident this behavior is here to stay. In fact, it is only likely to consume us even further. Rather than viewing all of this as a blight on humankind, realize that on the most basic level, people seek out new things and new ideas because they can be stimulating, exciting, and enriching. As marketers, our job is to feed that desire with something unique that will, hopefully, improve lives and create happiness and satisfaction. Never mind what your human resources department has to say: this is one instance where it’s perfectly okay to mix business with pleasure.

Rick Petry

Phone: (503) 740-9065
Twitter: @thepetrydish

Rick Petry is a direct marketing veteran of over 25 years who has been involved with campaigns that have generated over $1 billion in sales. He provides creative services to both B2C, and B2B marketing campaigns and recent projects have included Actegy/Revitive, Education Connection, GOLO, Joybird, and OYO. The author of over 200 articles on direct marketing best practices, Petry has a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema/Television from the University of Southern California and an MBA with a Concentration in Marketing and Sales from Marylhurst University.