How Brands Should Influence on Social Media

"Instagram and Other Social Media Apps" by Jason Howie via Flickr CC by 2.0

“Instagram and Other Social Media Apps” by Jason Howie via Flickr CC by 2.0

By Abigaelle Mulligan

One thing many people forget to remember is that social media is firstly, social.

Social media is made-up of individuals. It houses their own pursuits, own opinions, and own reasons for being online. These platforms are where individuals go to learn, share, and connect.

It’s not meant to be free advertising space. And this is where many brands go wrong.

There are three simple rules companies who use social media platforms to connect with their audience needs to understand:

1. Listen, then engage.
As much as you want to promote your brand and its products to increase sales, you need to know what you’re audience is already talking about. After finding out what that conversation already looks like, jump in. But listen first. The worst thing a brand can do is stick out like a sore thumb in its audience’s already happening conversation.

2. Don’t just talk about yourself. Become a resource.
Share meaningful content. Your audience doesn’t follow your accounts just to hear about your products 24/7. They want to connect with your brand in a more meaningful way. If a consumer follows you, know that it’s because that person will look to you to provide content that’s trustworthy. Many times consumers will follow your accounts because you provide an idea of a lifestyle they want to be a part of.

3. Respond to everyone.
Bad customer service is bad for your business. Negative comments are inevitable. By making sure you’re consistently checking in with these people will be better than letting these side conversations fester and become bigger than it may be.

In the end, being on social means you need to be social. Brands can influence and create communities on these platforms by first listening, then becoming more than selling a product or service. Give your audience something to connect with and make it easy for them to want to share your content.

Feature Image Credit: Jason Howie “Social Media apps via Flickr CC by 2.0

Twitter: @abbsmulligan

This Article Has 12 Comments
  1. Cody Koenig says:

    Abi, I really enjoyed your blog post. I completely agree. I think far too often brands are so focused on advertising its products on social media that they forget to actually interact with its customers. No-one wants to follow a company that is constantly posting about trying its product.

    One company in specific that I think Digiday left out that deserves an honorable mention on using social media effectively is Chipotle. They respond to any questions, search for posts where they are mentioned and post meaningful content about new products.

    I think in addition to companies learning how to more effectively use social media, they need to learn the importance of tailoring their social media platforms. I follow companies on Twitter but wouldn’t follow a company on Instagram. Companies should be using different tactics on each social media platform.

    • Abigaelle Mulligan says:


      I completely agree that Chipotle has done a great job at engaging and being a resource. I think of its most recent news break to its customers about not serving certain meats. They opened up the conversation fairly well on social.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Sara McCauley says:

    Abi, I completely agree with everything you mentioned in this post. It is so important for companies to use social media platforms as a way to engage with their consumers instead of just posting advertisements for their products. If they interact and respond to their consumers, then people will subconsciously want to try or buy their product.

    Social media is a key tool in the way our generation communicates and if companies understood this and tailored their content to their consumers, they will see results in their sales and marketing.

    • Abigaelle Mulligan says:


      I’m interested to see how brands begin becoming a resource for its consumers. I automatically think of is Red Bull. Its social media sites are full of inspiration, and yes it may be selling a lifestyle through its photos and stories, it’s better than constantly pushing content about its drinks.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Kalie Browne says:

    You are so right with all of this. Brands need to remember that they can’t succeed online if all they’ve done is move their billboards and tv spots on the their Facebook Page. I see content marketing as the next huge move in the online marketing sphere and it will be interesting to see what brands swim and what brands continue to miss the mark and sink their following. Being genuine, resourceful, and fun are definitely keys to a successful social media presence.

    • Abbie Mulligan says:

      I agree with you, Kalie. I’m really interested in how brands interacting more sets a new trend for other brands to follow.

  4. Rhianna Gelhart says:

    I think this post hits all of the main points for a business to do well with its audiences! The most important I agree with is staying up to date and current with what people are already talking about. Being on social media requires a lot of attention but if you want to do it right then it is best to stay up to date. I think the part about responding to all kinds of posts is extremely important too. Just even showing the effort to answer questions or take care of a negative problem will appear to consumers as a business that cares and one that is interactive. People much prefer a business that is up to date, maybe even more than them, and a business that they can interact with for a more personal experience!

    • Abbie Mulligan says:

      Staying current does! I think it’s really hard for a company to see the direct effects of how it interacts with its audience online. Many times companies see social media engagement as something that should only be done if they have time. In a lot of cases (e.g. financial perspective, staff limitations, etc.) this is true, but I think social media should begin taking a forefront in leading tasks. Thanks for reading!

  5. McKenzie Boyle says:

    Great article! I thought your second point was extremely important for brands to understand. Social media gives them a platform to better engage with and learn from their customers.

    • Abbie Mulligan says:

      McKenzie, it’s definitely a lot easier said then done! I can see why many companies don’t take the time to become a resource. Many times they don’t know how because they aren’t looking in the right places to see what their audience is truly wanting to know.

  6. Michael Eiden says:


    I like your first point on company engagement. Often times companies try to engage with their audience without understanding them. Companies need to listen to the consumer first before reacting. I also liked your point about companies becoming a resource. It is in important that companies feed its followers with valuable and reliable information.


    • Abbie Mulligan says:

      Mike, I recently was talking to this concept above. It’s very true, and I think there’s an education gap with many companies who are jumping on social without realizing what to do on the social platforms.

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