As more and more companies join the social media world, more and more of us users simply scroll past their posts. Millennials, the biggest users of social media, are the next big problem for communicators and marketers. While we have grown up with the Internet and social media, we are quicker to trash unwanted information and focus only on what we really care about. Personally, I do not even follow companies unless I am a heavy user of their product. We like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because they feel genuine – people share what’s going on in their lives and how they feel, but it’s not forced. These havens are being corrupted by advertisements, which make companies feel disingenuous to us. While there are huge opportunities on social media sites for companies, they have to be done correctly. So how does a company cut through the clutter, and not only reach their heavy users, but also other potential consumers? Companies must align themselves closer to the consumer through strategic partnerships.
Just like market researchers want to get the influentials into their focus groups, communicators need to partner with influential accounts on social networking sites. Once companies can align themselves with other well-known brands and personas, they can sneak into our cautious hearts without us even knowing it. Communicators have to find accounts that we connect with. While it is important that it is consistent with their company’s brand, it does not have to be directly in their product category.
Take Dogs of Instagram for example. It has over 382,000 followers and averages over 20,000 “likes” per photo. To put this in perspective, Target Corporation only has 125,000 followers and averages about 5,000 “likes” per photo. Dogs of Instagram has partnered with pet-focused companies in the past, but also completely nonrelated companies, such as clothing stores and shoe brands. While one may not see how shoes and dogs go together, it doesn’t necessarily matter. A large audience connects with Dogs of Instagram, and by partnering with this account, a company can also expose itself to 382,000 people.
In case you’re not convinced on just how powerful these partnerships can be, let’s take a look at BarkBox’s partnership with Dogs of Instagram. BarkBox specializes in dog treats. When it first partnered with Dogs of Instagram, it had 1,000 followers. After their first collaboration, BarkBox’s followers increased to 2,700 in just 24 hours. Today, after four different contests and giveaways with Dogs of Instagram, BarkBox is up to over 37,000 followers. Through contests and giveaways, companies can engage users on social networks without directly shoving their advertisements into our feeds (which we will just scroll past anyway).
In order to connect with millennials, companies have to bring themselves closer to what we like, what’s going on in our lives, and how we feel. This will maintain the social media environments that we have grown to love and demand, but companies can also get broader exposure. Strategic partnerships connect the companies to the accounts and personas we love and respect, and in turn, connect us to the companies.