On a recent car trip, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s 45 minute to hour-long ramblings between two best friends: Ann Friedman, a renowned editor and journalist, and Aminatou Sow, a digital strategist and one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in Tech.
The show is a great mixture of news, cultural and historical insights, pop culture and banter between two best friends. One subject that frequently surfaces in conversations between the two is the Kardashian family, and in a brief remark in one episode, Sow made an observation about the Kardashian clan’s success that inspired me to write this blog post.
Like many others, Sow and Friedman wondered: what makes the Kardashians so damn successful? And not just in a reality TV star way, but in the way the Kardashian family has been able to build an entire empire.
The family is an example of great branding alongside savvy business. While there are a lot of different factors contributing to their success, Sow pointed out how much they interact with one another on social media: They are a huge support system to one another—the first to engage with any one of the other family members’ tweets or Instagrams.
It’s undeniable that the Kardashians are a family of branding savants. Companies can learn a lot from the way the Kardashians have mastered a consumer driven strategy. But what Sow notes specifically about their social media habits really got me thinking: Is engagement a foundational part of social media success?
Let’s look at the natural and organic foods supermarket, Whole Foods. On social media, they absolutely kill it. Fortune magazine ranked them as one of the “social media superstars” of 2014. They are active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and blogs. So what makes them so successful on all of these social platforms? Engagement. Whole Foods uses social media to form personal relationships with their customers, and uses as many platforms as possible to reach their clientele. The natural market behemoth doesn’t just talk with their shopper communities because social media strategically allows them to gain a wider range of customer feedback and answer frequently asked questions. Social media is a way for them to engage with their customers, and then use this engagement as data to improve their services. Whole Foods’ social engagement also forms trust with their customers. Their customers know they can reach out to them on almost any platform and not only get a response, but see their input or feedback affect a change.
Engagement is essential. While it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your social media marketing, to neglect engagement is to neglect your audience. Brands like the Kardashians and Whole Foods Market prove the value of using social platforms to engage with consumers. Social media marketing may mean marketing in a digital form, but we are still talking about real people. Every company should be addressing engagement on social media, or you’re missing out on a vital resource for improvement and growth. Want to know how your brand can better incite engagement from your followers? Stay tuned for my blog post next week to get some tips on how to invite your target market to conversation on social platforms.