Charlie Cottrell web quote

The modern day consumer has developed a great bullsh*t filter to cut through all the noise. So how can brands make sure their social strategy is authentic, engaging and adds value?

First, engage with relevance. Some brands are still using social channels to ask questions as ridiculous as: ‘What type of car wash are you?’ There’s nothing like pointless content like this to trigger a consumer’s bullsh*t alarm.

The modern wears many different hats. In the same week a person may be a bored commuter, a busy parent and a hungover impulse-buyer. Brands need to ensure they create content to appeal to a particular type of audience mindset rather than doing one-size-fits-all.

Second, brands need to make sure they earn a connection with consumers. If you start by talking about something that matters to the consumer, they’re more receptive to hear about your product. However, if you start by talking about your product you come across as advertise-y, which is a turn-off.

Whiskas did a good job of this with its Kitten Kollege. It picked up on the fact cats give people the warm-and-fuzzies and created a destination providing advice for cat lovers, supporting them all the way from picking a kitten through each of that cat’s lifestages. This helpful (and cute) content opened the door for Whiskas to talk about its actual products.

Third, listen to innovate. The great thing about digital and social activity is, every action leaves a little data footprint. It might be a purchase, an ‘OMG NEED!’ comment on someone’s Instagram, a complaint to customer services or a rant in a forum; today’s consumer is vocal. Don’t just track your own channels and hashtags - think about the other places you might be able to pick up information.

And don’t stop at listening - brands need to take these learnings and use them to innovate in their own businesses. Insights from social conversations can influence your broader marketing strategy, improve customer service - even feed into future product development. It’s time to use the unreasonable consumer to your advantage.

Charlie Cottrell is head of editorial at We Are Social