Social has become bigger and more complex than ever and, while a few advertisers have come to grips with select platforms, many more are still struggling to maximize value.
So far, 2016 has been huge for social. There are new ways to interact and advertise on Snapchat, Messenger and Tumblr. The number of messages sent via instant messaging now exceed emails sent. There’s a plethora of selfie lenses, branded GIF keyboards, bots and branded emojis. Periscope is reaching new audiences. VR is on the near horizon. Exciting, for sure, but what does it all mean for marketers still trying to maximize their investments in the current landscape?
We recommend a five-step approach to conquering the social space:
1. Brilliant basics
The bedrock of successful social activity is the same as it is for any type of marketing. First, have a clear channel strategy. You must know where your customers are, which platforms they use, how they use them and what is topical and relevant in that space. Consumers turn to different social sites and apps for different reasons. Twitter, for example, owns the real-time space for niche communities like television, sports and concerts, while Facebook provides users with breaking news stories and Snapchat provides – pardon the pun – a snapshot of what’s really happening on the ground.
2. Use and understand the platforms yourself
The best marketers are those who consume the same content and technology as their customers and prospects. It’s impossible to critique your own content if you don’t have personal experience with what does and does not work. Facebook newsfeed content is just a swipe away from disappearing, so branding needs to be front-loaded to have impact. Any avid Snapchat user knows that the best selfie lenses come when a facial movement triggers an emotional animation with a bit of cheek. To be social you have to be social.
3. Be disciplined
Once you’ve decided which social networks are right for your business, the next step is determining exactly how to spend your money. Consider a 70:20:10 budget split. The core 70% of the budget should be ruthlessly focused on driving business results and KPIs, and make sure you are properly investing in tracking so you know exactly what’s happening. Use the next 20% to further test tools and techniques that show promise. Apply the same rigor to measurement as you do with your core spend.
Finally, social changes all the time and great opportunities will come up for which there are no current benchmarks. Invest 10% of your budget in testing and experimentation, with a plan to fold the high-performing tactics into your second-tier channels. A branded keyboard seeded within private social messaging apps may have seemed odd, but consumer use of emojis at scale made it a winner for first movers.
4. Be focused
It’s better to do one thing well than five things poorly. Stay true to your strategy and don’t get distracted by the bright, shiny object if they aren’t aligned or complementary to what you’re doing. This may mean focusing on one social network until you’ve nailed it. You can then use what you learned to build expertise and sophistication on that platform and adapt to new opportunities.
A few years ago, a leading brand advertiser pulled the plug on multiple social channels, concerned that the brand was “everyone and nowhere” at the same time. The team then focused on being great in one core social channel: testing, researching, learning, iterating and proving true business results via ROI. This company is now far more capable of assessing and investing in new social channels.
Most advertisers can’t rely on organic growth, but throwing dollars, pounds, Yuan or Euros at social because it’s cool, your competitors are doing it or you feel pressure to keep up isn’t likely to generate the value you seek.
Implementing the five-step process laid out here, along with producing content with the highest potential (which is a whole other article…), are both key to getting the most out of paid social. It’s why MediaCom adopted a Content + Connections positioning: you need a set of channels that make sense and work together, with content flowing through that system that lands at the right place, the right time and with the right audience. Social channel choice and content placement is part of any major marketer’s plans today.
What we know is that, while social can seem like a sea of craziness, getting it right will reap rewards. Look at your current plan – or start a new one – using this five-step model. There is no reason not to use the same kind of planning and discipline in social that you’ve probably applied successfully in other marketing channels for years.