There’s something in the water at Belgravia House. I have just returned from two weeks in Cyprus where I got married and Aaron has just embarked on his honeymoon after his big day on Saturday.

During general chit chat at the office before Aaron departed, it made me realise that our respective wedding-planning journeys provided us with a case study on the dos and don’ts of brands using social media to engage with their customers.

The engagement

The moment she says ‘yes!’. While some romantics video the proposal and post it to YouTube, or get down on one knee in front of thousands with cameras already rolling, the majority will join their newly-titled fiancé in announcing the engagement to the masses on social media. Nine times out of ten this results in a picture of the shiny ring with an accompanying hashtag such as #Engaged, #SheSaidYes, or #HePutARingOnIt.

This should be the catalyst for brands to have a conversation with the happy couple (note, this does not mean bombard them with your marketing slogans or shove ‘buy from us’ messages down their throats).

A simple ‘Congratulations’ and a smiley face, or better yet a bride emoji, will suffice. At this stage, brands should record their details to supply them with useful and valuable content at a later date.

The stag/hen do

An important (according to the best man) part of any wedding preparation is the planning and execution of the stag and hen dos.

Case study one: I was having a conversation with a friend on Twitter during the early stages of discussing ideas for my weekend away. Evidently, two clever firms were monitoring the conversation. Likely using a tool such as Hootsuite to flag up the phrase ‘stag do’, the companies were able to place their brand and products and services directly in front of a hot prospect: the groom-to-be and a member of the stag party.

The service they offered? Bavarian bar wenches. Scantily clad males and females who accompany the stag or hen do guests and carry out tasks such as go to the bar and get the drinks so that there are no worries about queuing and wasting valuable time away from the dance floor.

Neither myself or my friend had ever seen or heard of this before. So using social media as a listening tool, the two brands had successfully raised awareness of their business and offering. And even if I was aware of the service, I would have likely taken to Google to search – meaning that the two firms would have to battle it out on the grandest online marketing stage of all.

The venue

Quite often, the bride identified the perfect setting for her big day long before an engagement ring was placed on her ring finger.

Or the bride hasn’t decided, or her first choice is not possible for one reason or another. This is where wedding venues can use social media to be first in line.

Case study two: My then-fiance Stacey started to receive Twitter notifications stating she had been added to various Twitter lists. Upon inspection, four wedding venues had given the bride-to-be a nudge to make her aware of their existence.

It had worked. All four went onto the shortlist. Interestingly, Stacey only followed one of them back. She reviewed each account and followed the one that seemed to provide relevant content: regular updates on weddings at their venue, the occasional special offer, and plenty of pictures to help Stacey visualise how her wedding may look at the venue.

The other three soon fell off the shortlist. The one Stacey followed stayed on the shortlist until the bitter end because she had built a relationship with them online.

Groups and forums

There are a plethora of online forums, mainly consisting of brides, discussing plans, worries and ideas for the pending wedding day.

Case study three: Once we had booked our wedding for Cyprus, as well as being removed from ‘wedding venue lists’ on Twitter, Stacey stumbled across two Facebook groups related to getting married in Cyprus, and specifically our hotel.

In addition to brides who had recently exchanged vows in Cyprus and were now kindly offering advice to those who had just booked their big day, businesses were also on hand to offer support and guidance.

While some failed to adhere to best practice and social media etiquette in a Facebook group (eg by offering useless information and a link back to their website), others appeared to have nailed their social media marketing to a fine art (eg like the photographer we engaged, Lorraine Hall  who only responds to relevant questions, offers perfect advice and has a friendly tone).

Summary

Rather than taking a shotgun <insert shotgun wedding joke here> approach and hoping your content hits someone relevant, listen on social media to uncover opportunities to have a conversation with the people most likely to buy your products or services.