The digital marketing landscape continues to change at an eye-watering pace, and content marketing is no exception. Now benefiting from technologies such as live streaming and Augmented Reality (AR), social media offers marketers a broad variety of ways to connect with their consumers, and has paved the way for some of the industry’s most memorable campaigns. Figaro Digital spoke to Pollyanna Ward, Digital and Social Media Manager at Mondelez International, about how the latest social media innovations are shaping the digital marketing industry, enhancing a brand’s presence online and the way it approaches its audience.
In spite of the huge marketing potential of many social media channels, consumers arguably use social media to connect with friends, not buy from brands. With that in mind, what do brands have to earn from their presence there?
PW: Every social media channel has a different role. Some of them are for creating content, others are more passive platforms to browse the latest news, or to catch up with friends and family. But every user is a potential customer, so it’s up to brands to be on those platforms in order to get their content in front of people’s eyes.
The first thing you need to do when planning a social media campaign is to find out who and where your audience is. If it consists of young millennials, for example, then you need to find out what platforms they are using, and the most effective ways to communicate on those channels.
So how should brands go about selecting the right mix of channels?
PW: Different channels will provide brands with different KPIs. While you may opt for one channel from a reach perspective, another one might provide you with a more engaged audience. When we ran the “Open up with Oreo” campaign, we wanted to make our brand appealing to all, so going for large-scale engagement on a different channel made total sense. Brands have to make sure that as many people as possible get to see or experience their campaigns in some way. Platform selection should always be tied to an objective.
How does increased mobile device usage affect social media campaigns?
PW: It’s important to look at the differing attention spans across different platforms. When we were just looking at TV, it was a lot simpler – people tune in regularly, at the same time every week, to watch their favourite show or documentary. Today, with so many different consumption points available to consumers, it’s more about understanding where people’s attention is. If you look at the average person on the tube who is on their smartphone, they might be scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, but someone who’s on their smart watch might be checking the weather, or the number of steps they’ve taken, or getting an email notification. There are so many more potential touchpoints for brands to engage with the consumer, but you need to think carefully about how your brand plays into that. Can you add value? Do you belong there?
Should brands still allocate resources to their social media presence, even if they don’t have the budget to produce unique content?
PW: From a customer service point of view, social media plays a massive role. If you look at brand profiles on Twitter, the majority of people there are complaining about something, or asking where the nearest store is, so it’s important to have a presence for that reason. You might not have resources for community management, but when it comes to answering consumer queries, you still have to be there for your consumer. The current generation expect that if they tweet you, you’ll tweet them back.
Do you think that video will replace picture in digital campaigns – if it hasn’t done so already?
PW: It was recently stated that by 2020, 80 per cent of the internet will be video. One billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every day –the numbers are insane and everyone in the industry is excited about it. Video is massive when it comes to streaming on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; it’s a stronger way to tell a story, you have more time in which to do so. And if you can offer your audience really engaging video content, great, but I can’t see it completely replacing picture. It is really dependant on what you are trying to show; if you look at Instagram or Snapchat, they are still very picture-heavy, and that is a big part of their appeal. The still image still has a role to play, but if you’ve got a story to tell and you’ve got the time to tell it in a video – go for it!
Will the rise of video lead to a shift in the favourability of image-led platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat?
PW: If we’re saying that consumers are watching more video, it’s fair to say you might find people spending more time in video-focussed platforms. But again, it’s about knowing what people are going to each channel for. Instagram is about motivating and inspiring images that really resonate with people’s interests, while Snapchat is about friends communicating with each other. Each platform has its own role, but video is getting extra features – like AR – and is gathering momentum. A lot of new technology is centred on enhancing the marketability of video, so it makes sense that there will be a natural progression towards more video content.
What, in your opinion, is the next ‘big thing’ in digital marketing?
PW: I think that AR has become very important for marketers; Pinterest, Facebook and Snapchat are all trying to produce content that adds context to their user’s surroundings. AR is a way to elevate experiences; unlike VR, which drops the user to a new world, it gives people the tools to add value to their user experience. The user might hold up their phone outside a restaurant and be able to see what the menu is, or point it at a recipe to find out the ingredients. Even Snapchat’s fun filters add more value in their own way, and I think that it’s a really scalable, exciting development.
What about live streaming? Is this a space that brands should explore?
PW: Live streaming’s a tricky one. We’ve seen everything live-streamed, from product unveilings to funny experiments – like Buzzfeed’s watermelon explosion. The publishers creating these videos need to opt for playful, humorous, time-passing content. I don’t think anyone really expects a brand to do a live video. But even after a live stream has finished, that video can still be edited, or altered to entice people to come back again for the “next episode”. Why live-stream when the result is the same content you would create anyway? At the moment, live streaming is still more of a novelty. It makes more sense if our friends are live streaming on Instagram, or live chatting on Snapchat. Of course we want to see what our friends are doing – but we don’t care if we watch a brand in the morning or the evening!
It’s clear that social media marketing is still full of untapped potential, creating new opportunities for brands to connect with their consumers and add value to their everyday lives. Consumers have become more familiar with – and receptive to – being marketed to on social media, and this is particularly clear through the continuing integration of video into the everyday user’s Newsfeed. New features such as AR and live streaming are making video more appealing to budding trendsetters, but as the objective of every digital campaign is different, it would be foolish to believe that the still image has run out of stories to tell. It’s only with a thorough understanding of user intent, motivation and desire that brands can leverage the full use of social media’s diverse and exciting array of tools.