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Social media for big companies has become about as commonplace as human resource departments. Unless you’re Apple, you’re on social media. Even the tech giant, which abstained from traditional social media marketing for light-years by Internet standards, now posts regularly across multiple accounts and channels.

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Social Media for Big Companies

Customers take for granted that big companies are on social media. The bigger the company, the higher expectations are that teams sit at the ready to answer questions, put out fires, deliver award-winning creative, and tout corporate values. And frankly, most of those expectations are fair.

Discover how big companies use social media to meet—and in many cases exceed—customer expectations.

How big companies use social media?

Social media for enterprise-level businesses is an enterprise unto itself.

A large multinational often operates several social channels in different regions and languages. Depending on the industry, companies may also run separate accounts for support, marketing, different verticals, divisions, and even recruitment.

Just type Disney into a social platform’s search bar and see how many results come up.

These operations involve large teams, multiple agencies, legal oversight, and enterprise-scale management tools, such as Hootsuite Enterprise. To maintain consistent brand voice and messaging across every platform, companies rely on social media style guides, social media guidelines, and social media policies.

These are some of the key goals for big companies on social media:

Increase brand awareness

Big B2C (business to consumer) companies may already benefit from brand name recognition. But social media allows them to increase awareness for specific messages, campaigns, product launches, and other initiatives.

Norwegian Air, for example, used Facebook and Instagram ads to promote awareness in target regions about specific flight routes it operates.

For business-to-business (B2B) companies, social media can provide a means to boost brand visibility and advertise solutions to potential partners and customers.

Connect with specific audiences

Global businesses reach specific market segments on social media through the use of different platforms and accounts.

Different platforms have different demographics. For example, to reach affluent Chinese consumers, luxury brands were among the first to open WeChat business accounts. To reach the younger crowd, several big brands, including Chipotle and Betty Crocker’s Fruit Gushers, hopped on TikTok.

Segmentation happens within platforms as well. Many enterprises run separate accounts for different regions and audiences. Netflix does both, with Twitter handles specific to each market and several of its shows.

Social media listening offers brands a way to “read the room,” spot trends, and better understand what people care about. In 2014, IKEA teamed up with Brandwatch to open a Listening Hub. “Listening and learning” has since become the first stage in its value chain.

Social listening also allows brands to show up when it counts. People don’t always tag brands when they talk about them, which is why big brands track keywords in addition to mentions.

Provide customer support

Customers look for support on the channels they use. According to a recent Harvard Business Review survey, simply responding to people on social media can have a positive effect. In fact, the study found that customers who received any kind of response from a brand rep were willing to spend more with the company in the future.

Recruit top professionals

Social recruitment now goes well beyond the LinkedIn job posting. Corporate image matters more than ever to young professionals. For big companies, projecting a positive image is an uphill battle. According to a recent survey by McKinsey, the majority of Gen Zers believe large corporations are less ethical than small businesses.

A 2020 poll by Glassdoor finds that three in four employees job seekers look for employers with a diverse workforce. Spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement, posts about workplace diversity, culture, and issues, have become more common on social media.

Build brand communities

While brand communities have existed long before social media. Now Facebook groups, private accounts, and even branded hashtags provide a means to parlay branded clubs, lifestyles, and relationships into online spaces.

Several studies show that participation in communities can increase brand loyalty. But building trust and consumer confidence is hard to do on your own, which is why influencer marketing plays a big role in enterprise-level social media strategies as well.

What can big companies learn from small businesses?

“Small business” has almost become synonymous with “good business.” Need proof? In a recent earnings call, Facebook execs emphasized their work with small businesses no less than 23 times. Large corporations? Not so much.

People are quicker to support small businesses, especially in light of the pandemic. Most mom-and pop-shops operate under time-honored customer service traditions that big businesses too often forget. Here are a few best practices megacorps should keep top of mind.

Build customer relationships

Everyone cherishes the local barista who remembers their coffee order. Big brands can offer comparable levels of service on social media. Read message history or notes before responding to a customer. For example, it’s helpful to know it’s the fourth time someone has had an issue with a service or if they’re a loyalty program member.

Humanize your brand

It’s easier to connect with a neighbour than a faceless corporation. From marketing to recruiting, people increasingly want to see the faces behind the brand.

This extends to customer service as well. A Harvard Business Review study found that even something as small as signing a message with a customer service agent’s initials improves customer perception.

Lead with values

From counter donation jars to ethically-sourced menus, the signs of small business ethics are often in plain sight. Global enterprises have to work a little harder to share corporate values.

Recent research from the University of Toronto reveals that people make judgement calls about a business based on its size. At the same time, consumers increasingly aim to align purchase decisions with values. As a result, it’s essential that big business positions are clear, upfront, and honest.

“Make sure that the story you tell about your brand is true to your business and considers your customers’ expectations,” recommends Pankaj Aggarwal, U of T marketing professor and co-author of the report.

Give back to the community

People shop local to support their community. Multinationals, on the other hand, have a reputation for being exploitative. Nearly half of the global companies assessed in the 2020 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark fail to uphold the United Nations human rights standards.

Social media is one place for corporations that do give back to communities they benefit from to separate themselves from those that don’t. Global brands should share how they invest in the consumer’s community and/or the communities they operate in.

Examples of big companies doing social media right

Some big name brands consistently earn top marks on social, from RedBull to Oreo, Lululemon to Nike, and KLM to KFC. The following big brands should also be on your radar.


This private-owned outdoor apparel brand doesn’t make coats for the sake of selling coats. And it doesn’t market for the sake of marketing, as evidenced by its boycott of Facebook ads last year.

“Action is the value that really underpins all the work that we do and certainly all of the marketing work that we do,” said Alex Weller, the brand’s marketing director at the 2020 MAD//Fest. Instead of call-to-actions, Patagonia inspires by showcasing the actions it and others take to protect the planet through long-form content and panoramic visuals.

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