Opinion piece by Kale Joines, Sense Social Media Manager.
The Digital Marketing Show kicked off yesterday on a mission to help mainstream UK companies compete in a digitally-enabled world. The event presented deep insight and solutions to demonstrate how the digital world can help deliver marketing objectives.
As Social Media Manager at Sense, I headed along for the day to learn about the latest digital trends.
To cut to the chase, the event concluded with a study by Hootsuite and MIT reinforcing social media as imperative for any business. The study says it shouldn’t be a question of ‘if’ it’s used, but more ‘how much’ it’s used. The study concluded – ‘change and adapt or face competitive obsolescence.’ Phew, my job is safe.
Some really interesting findings about the current state of social media and future predictions were revealed, including:
- Empower employees
- Every business should empower their employees to become distinct voices for their company for two specific reasons.
1) A single message from one channel will get so many impressions. But multiply that amount of impressions with the amount of employees within your workplace, then the types, range and extent of people reached is exponential.
2) Empowering your employees to become advocates on social accounts will create a cohesive and consistent brand image. The employees know the business more than any other external agency and will know how to react instantly without the use of a middleman.
- IT will be your best friend
- IT software and social media software will make the difference between a good social media presence and an awesome one. Scheduling, curation, notifications and most importantly data analytics are all in one place for everyone in an organisation to see.
- It gives great insight and real time marketing information about your customers and gives great insight into the conversations happening around your product
- Your content should tell a story
- Content should be inspiring, educational and entertaining, and it should serve a purpose. Posts and tweets featuring heavy or commercial material should be used less frequently, and those which tell a story, build a brand and create a conversation should be used much more frequently. Dan Spice of Hootsuite gave the example of Red Bull. None of their social media features a Red Bull can as its focal point. Its brand is the prime time television event – not the ad. And each time a piece of content goes up, it serves a purpose – not just filling a scheduling gap
- Fish where the fish are biting
- This one is simple, but surprisingly a lot of social media efforts fail to really find where their audience is communicating. Facebook and Twitter are important for all businesses, but there may be smaller, more specific, places people can go to talk about your brand. This may be review sites, online product forums or online communities. It is important to find these places and join the conversation in a non-arrogant neutral tone. There are over 550 social media platforms, and most businesses are only present on four.
- 2015 – The year for advocacy and niche communication
- The main points raised were about the perceived arrogance of brands constantly talking about themselves; their benefits, and successes. The consumer is getting bored of this barrage of consumer material, and the old adage - actions speak louder than words, is becoming more and more prominent. An alternative was suggested; join conversations around your brand and reach niche communities, creating advocates within these communities that will do the marketing for you. No longer should it be about the one-size fits all post directed at the masses but now a more localised and intimate approach. An on-going conversation in today’s social climate is much more important than gaining likes and followers, and sometimes brand ambassadors and advocates born from these interactions are far more valuable than any amount of marketing budget.
So what can we take away from these findings?
The social climate is changing and it is becoming less and less about the masses and more about custom content, transparency and consistency in communications. Users no longer want to be addressed by a corporate brand with marketing and commercial material only; they want to be spoken to individually by real voices within an organisation.
The challenge for businesses is to find out where their consumers are and when and how their conversations are taking place. The content needs to tell an on-going story and be relevant not only to the brand but also the consumer, and as touched on earlier “You want your brand to be the prime time television event – not the ad ”. The emerging information technologies and the data available to businesses, big and small, are priceless and can add a lot of customisation to the material being marketed.
Here at Sense, we like to stay on top of all PR, communications, and social trends to deliver the best service to our clients. We are Brand Protagonists™, putting our client’s brands front and centre, where they deserve to be, which means we need to know exactly when and how to get them seen in the best light.
We already have top notch analytic tools for data mining and continually work to adapt our approach to target new and niche audiences.
After yesterday’s findings Sense will now definitely be doing the following:
- Growing a database of niche, online community groups and forums, relevant to our varied client portfolio
- Run internal social media training sessions with our staff – getting them advocating for the company on social media
- Ensuring our social media efforts are ‘prime time’