Social and community platforms are continuing to emerge and grow; while those larger, more established platforms, are converging to become global integrated experience and marketing platforms.
As the pace and purpose of people evolves and accelerates, platforms are becoming more embedded into the lives and behaviours of an increasingly broad set of audiences. Global brands such as Airbnb, Samsung, Honda, Spotify, Tetley and Heineken to name but a few, are finding ways to use branded content publishing and content in social media to drive audience brand attachment – at a scale and scope that was previously, simply not possible.
Why and how?
Successful social media campaigns truly resonate with audiences and drive deeper levels of ‘interest, intrigue and impact’. This is delivered through both relevant content, appropriately targeted and regularly refreshed.
To create share-worthy content, it is vital to truly understand audience interests and profiles – meaning a data led approach. This empowers the assessment and alignment of the content and messaging with a user’s personal values. For users to propagate the content and associate themselves to its message, it must be in line with their perception of themselves and magnify their own image to the wider public, thereby appealing to their self-esteem – as they participate in communities that share in their values. Social media gives you a window to do this.
An advantage of social is the ability to deliver multiple messages in a programmatic sense, and to (as close to) real time evaluate those variations that are gaining the greatest resonance with audiences.
Social media, therefore, makes it possible for you to know and be closer to your audience than ever before, in any other medium or channel. All for a cost per engagement, which is generally unmatched in most markets. Based on their online behaviour, we can understand deeply who they really are; what truly makes them tick; where they really spend their time; what their true values are; what they fear; even what they stand for. Now, this does derive from self-stated positions, which can be skewed. However, we’ve found that by engaging across a range of data sources and performing a deeper level of analysis, often the true behaviours are clear to see amongst the occasional exaggerations.
These questions go beyond the superficial gender and age statistics, and uncover the real drivers and motivators that an organisation needs to consider within in its audience, to make a meaningful connection. And, there is no better way to tap into what moves, inspires and drives people at that level than social media: a platform designed to be the soapbox of the people, where they can express their thought, opinions and preferences freely for those willing to listen and understand.
Social media relationships are about people, and like all relationships with people, they are two directional. Beyond messaging, and content and the sales, there is attachment, bonding and loyalty. While consumers often respond less well to generic messaging, we’ve found they respond very positively to brands that endeavour to create dialogue with them and share their own views about something that is relevant and important to them.
Making the effort to create content and messaging that is bespoke to local markets gives greater consumer loyalty and attachment to the brand, and a sense of “this brand has taken the time to understand me”. Hence why the more granular the consideration, the more effective any campaign can be.
Even the most perfectly polished campaign risks being ineffective if it does not deliver authenticity , and a story that delivers immediate benefit but also offers longevity. The story needs to feel genuine to instil a sense of attachment and loyalty in users. But part of what gives the story that feel is the connection the user can make to it: personal, emotional or other. Social media allows you to get personal with people right to the individual level – building meaningful connections based around dialogue and experience, rather than broadcast and messaging.
Thinking creatively and again making strong use of data to defer genuine insight is key, because the best solution doesn’t have to be the most obvious. There are a host of social media platforms and channels, besides the standard ones like Facebook and Twitter – that tend to be far less exploited and, depending on the target demographic or the local market, they may provide significantly better ROI.
The challenge when trying to use a ‘new’ platform for a business is getting buy in. This is where data and insight can drive business case. The type of audience we need to engage, around particular content, at particular time – have a known propensity to populate these types of platform. We can design a campaign that will deliver a burst of targeted content and dialogue, then test and measure the response. Those channels that respond well with few/no negative effects can be continued. Those that do not can be learnt from and either enhanced or disengaged. The best quote for social in this context is ‘no mistakes, only learnings’.
Finally, all people are social beings, with a need to communicate and be part of a wider society. Millennials or seniors, students or professionals, left or right wing, city slickers or rural dwellers: there are communities in the digital space for everyone. And with such a significant portion of the population active on social media and growing (Facebook claims of active users still change regularly, but they do hold data on over 1/8th of the world’s population), people are embracing these communities into their lives.
So, as long as one’s intention is to share a message or create a relationship with people, social media will always have a vital place as a supportive component, all the way through to a central pillar, of any global / local marketing campaign.