A couple of weeks ago I attended an evening on Social Media and Marketing hosted by Networx at the Spice Cellar. We (me and Redfox Director Alanah) chose to attend as it was an opportunity to hear from a panel of industry experts on branding, content generation and social media strategy — things that we have been itching to learn more about! The guest speakers included: Douglas Nicol researcher behind The Datafication Project a study into Australia’s use of Instagram (the first two studies were on Twitter); James Fitzgerald program director for Social Media Knowledge; and Emily Knox Social Media Strategist for Deepend with a speciality in creating community, awareness and engagement.
We heard them talk about some of their most successful campaigns. Emily Knox for example manages the Tip Top Bread Australia Facebook page and related to us a hilarious story about a crazy, convoluted, rant (probably a massive troll) from a dissatisfied Tip Top Bread consumer who complained about the uneven number of slices in the bread bag, how it was an utter waste and how he couldn’t think of anything to do with his lone slice at the end of the week. Brilliantly and good-humouredly they responded to the nasty post with a number of creative ways to use that bread slice (e.g. creating a triple decker sandwich at the end of the week! Genius!) illustrating how to handle negativity and nasty comments within the community that they built.
Douglas Nicol talked about his research at UTS on The Datafication Project on the sharing and posting behaviours of Australians. It was really interesting to learn which Australian states were more partial to the #selfie (Queenslanders. Shocking right?) and how this research is drawing out insights on how to market not just by age or gender but actually location. We also learned about the rapid rise in use of mobile devices, their use relative to the Australian population, and considering this trend in future campaigns.
More generally though, they shared a lot of advice about what to think about before embarking on a social media campaign. A large part of a successful campaign is research.
Here are my top insights from the evening:
Is it a trinket?
James Fitzgerald asked this question straight off the bat. Our clients are often unsure as to whether social media is relevant to their brand. That’s a valid question to ask. We know that Facebook and Twitter (more recently Instagram) are the powerhouses in social media but when embarking on a campaign it’s good to ask whether you need to be on all of them. Businesses need to evaluate which platforms are more suited to their product or service and which will build the target community they want to associate with their brand (different platforms attract quite specific audiences and with specific patterns of behaviours) and ultimately engage their audiences the best.
All you need is a strategy
This was probably my favourite piece of advice. A lot of people think (including myself before then) that social media sits outside the traditional brand and marketing strategy. However if you have a strong objective, a great brand and message then it makes sense to have a holistic approach to reaching that objective. Why have one strategy for email marketing and another for social media and yet another for traditional advertising? Businesses must have a larger game plan and realise that segregating all their marketing endeavours does not make for efficient business processes. Which brings us to the next insight…
This was more so aimed at small to medium sized businesses in that, usually for social media there’s a tiny budget, if one at all. Therefore it’s important to measure how much time and resources they can put into managing a campaign. If you’ve committed to a set frequency and duration of posts, how efficient can you be in generating content for them? Are there processes that can be done by an individual or do many hands need to take part? How does that affect day to day activity and regular business processes?
Never be sold through social
I personally don’t think I could ever do any shopping through social media, but who knows what the online consumer trends will be in the future? At this point in time, there aren’t enough ways to quantifiably measure whether interactions on social media have a direct link to sales. The ideal would be to use social media as a way to engage with customers and use more traditional sales avenues like email marketing or driving them to visit the website to make a sale.
Face up to negativity. Stat.
This goes back to that hilarious Tip Top Bread incident; if you have built a community of followers, they will at some point tell you how they feel about your product. They can give you a like, a share, a raving review or a really nasty complaint. Part of managing your brand is quality control so of course these things needs to be addressed but sometimes social media isn’t the best channel of communication. There is that instant reflex to delete all negativity and appear squeaky clean, but that actually does more harm than good. Emily Knox said she saw those moments as opportunities. By facing it and engaging with consumers, you can find ways of improving your product. Transparency is the key.
Technical vs. Communication
Of course, when it comes to any online marketing there are some that will do it better than others. James Fitzgerald suggested that there needs to be a way to consolidate the technical skill of using web for marketing with the more creative campaign side of it. Businesses at the moment are tending towards one or the other (like, favouring an ad or marketing agency over a creative web development agency) and will lose out on reaching their brand objective if they don’t consider them both.