Originally posted on forbes.
Social media will provide holiday purchase inspiration for 87% of Gen Z shoppers this year, specifically YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. And yet many of us have become wary of social media in 2021. The #DeleteFacebook movement gathered steam as whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed the damage done by a company that puts profits ahead of people, including the global spread of misinformation and a negative impact on children. Even brands are joining the bandwagon. The cosmetic company Lush recently announced that it would be quitting Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
That may all be well and good for a massive company. But quitting social media is a lot trickier for smaller brands, which rely heavily on these platforms for promoting brand awareness and making sales. If you’re an entrepreneur growing your business, what choice do you have but to rely on the most popular, effective and low-cost marketing tools of the era?
Here are six ways the experts say you can promote your business and build your brand loyalty without relying on social media.
1. Email Marketing Campaigns
In a recent article for The Atlantic, Dave Pell, author of the extremely popular newsletter Nextdraft, calls email “the unkillable app.” Mailchimp campaigns alone, he says, drove more than $64 billion in revenue in 2020.
“Email is a great tool,” agrees Carey Usher Coleman, the founder of Style House Cosmetics, which makes skin care products that are plant-based, free from harmful chemicals and never tested on animals. “In many ways, email is still the best way to keep in touch with old and acquire new customers. It’s more reliable, too, because the popularity of the various social media platforms is always shifting. I know several brands that grew their line completely without relying on social media by using email and referral plans with existing customers.”
2. Event Sponsorships
Francis Perdue, the director of public relations for Homestead Entertainment and CEO of Perdue Inc, advises clients to sponsor events or create their own. “Events always have gifts or product bags that they give away to attendees. Award shows, such as the Emmys, are also great for product placement. The event managers will include sponsors’ logos in their assets, including website, brochures and imprinted on photos.”
Planning your own event with your product or service integrated into the promotions is another great way to gain exposure and attract new clients for your business, Perdue says.
3. Search Engine Marketing and SEO
“A great place to start is by building credibility and capturing active intent with a robust Search Engine Marketing (SEM) program,” counsels Margo Kahnrose, CMO of Skai, a commerce intelligence and advertising platform leveraged by brands like Estee Lauder, KraftHeinz and more. “Conventional wisdom tells brands to start with SEO versus paid search because hey, it’s free! But today owning the SERP (search engine results page) demands attention to both.” A report by Skai found overall spending on paid search grew 32% in Q3 2021 as compared to Q3 2020.
4. Streaming Platform Content
Streaming platforms have become an excellent way to reach a consumer base, through podcasts and video channels that are consistently updated with fresh content. “As consumers continue their steady march away from linear television, they are replacing that time with longer video and audio content,” says Christopher Villari, the head of communications, North America at Turner & Townsend. “Youtube, Spotify, Telegram, Discord, Reddit, Twitter Spaces, and other platforms not only help raise brand awareness, but also offer more depth by introducing you to non-celebrity voices. This has opened a window for businesses outside of traditional news and entertainment to create compelling and informative content that can stretch into the range of seven to 12 minutes, building passionate communities around brands where they feel like they know someone who works there personally.”
5. Mobile App Creation
“The great Facebook Blackout that occurred recently served as an example of why it is crucial for brands to develop effective promotion beyond social media platforms,” says Brandi Sims, a publicist at PR agency Brandinc PR. “One of the ways this can be done is through the use of owned media. Creating authentic, engaging content from your brand on your website and through a mobile app is a great way to reach your audience.”
According to Upwork, mobile apps build stronger relationships with existing customers by providing added value, increasing engagement, and offering customer service. Push notifications can also increase revenue.
6. Sponsored Ads on Retail Websites
One exciting channel that immediately levels the playing field between more established brands and smaller ones is sponsored ads on retailer and marketplace websites. These are essentially digital point-of-purchase displays that engage shoppers as they shop. Retail media ad spending increased 45% year-over-year in Q3 of this year according to Skai’s Q3 2021 Quarterly Trends Report. Sites like Amazon, Target, Best Buy and hundreds more offer the capability for brands to sell ads on their sites.
“This ad channel is growing incredibly fast, and done right, can be an efficient and high-return path,” says Skai’s CMO Margo Kahnrose. “Not only do ads on retail websites drive transactions, but also they allow you to gain crucial commerce intelligence about distribution channels and consumers.”