Social Media Should Not Be A Stand Alone Brand Tactic

Everyone knows we trust our friends’ opinions more than we trust brand advertising.

So naturally brands are testing social media to learn how best to create brand advocates.  A CMO said to us recently, “If we can get our  FaceBook fans to tell their friends, that will be more powerful than paid ads and we can create more efficiencies.”

 Nobody doubts that statement.

Unfortunately, turns out to be not quite that simple. It’s a lot of work and takes a 24/7 always -on approach. And the biggest challenge remains creating scale anywhere close to paid media in order to generate desired sales lifts.

In our media brand practice, we’ve tested everything from influencer programs to blogger programs to multiple facebook brand initiatives. We’ve had  varying degrees of success.

We’re  bullish on social media but testing has proven that social strategy works best as part of a larger integrated marketing and business plan.

Social Media should NOT be a stand alone brand tactic.  Here are some reasons why:

1. Social Media is very hard to scale on its own.

2. Social Media should part of the overall communication of the brand and work in unison with all other brand touchpoints.

3. Social Media, when done well, is integrated into the total business goals of the brand, not just the marketing goals.

4. Social Media is a long tail strategy and takes a period of time to realize results. Social Media is not inherently a fast audience builder.

5. Social Media should constantly tell a brand’s story (through video, blogs, photography, scribing) with rewards and incentives ocassionally thrown in to keep fans motivated. It should not be solely a broadcast vehicle that is only about brand selling.

6. Social Media, supported by paid advertising, can scale quickly and social content can be amplified to a much larger audience.

7. Social Media, when integrated into customer service, can help reinforce the brand attributes with customers and create happy customers.

When brands integrate social media with other marketing and business strategies,  the results are greater response rates, greater reach, greater brand engagement, and deeper overall metrics.

Don’t isolate  social media marketing into a siloed marketing tactic.  This approach greatly limits the ability of social media to be a force in strengthening the brand story.

 

 

 

 

“Always On” Media and What it Means for Marketers

Multi-tasking is the norm these days. Especially in media usage. Consumers view two to three screens at a time when consuming media. People watch TV, interact with shows using their tablets or smart phones and react via Facebook and Twitter.

This has never been more pronounced than during the 2012 Presidential campaign. A report by Forbes stated that 39% of US adults used social media to discuss politics. President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention sparked 2.5 million online conversations alone and during the record-breaking first presidential debate, more than 10 million tweets were sent. ABC reported there were more than 6.4 million tweets about the election and there was an average of 3,000 tweets per minute from people declaring they “voted!”  Expressing views while watching TV is becoming popular whether it be about politics, entertainment or anything in the news that affects people’s everyday lives.

At the start of 2012, I wrote here on my blog that advertising is not dead and it was just a matter of adjusting to technological innovations and consumers media habits.  I thought it would  be good to see how consumers are behaving in terms of media consumption now that 2012 is drawing to a close. Nielsen recently released their cross platform report for Q2Let’s look at the trends and the impact on marketers.

TV is Still Ahead in the Number of Screens in Use

According to the Nielsen report, Americans spent over 34 hours per week in front of their TV sets watching traditional TV, DVDs and playing console games in Q2. There is also a growing amount of content consumed via the Internet connection through services like Hulu and Netflix.  Americans also spend another five hours on average in front of their computers consuming online content including streaming video. Smartphones now have a market penetration of more than 50% and tablets are already in almost 20% of US TV homes.

Consumers Want More Content at Their Finger Tips

Consumer behavior has changed tremendously over the years. From being tethered to the desktop computer to access online content, they now want the flexibility of being able to access their favorite social networking sites, connect with friends, check emails and shop online anytime and anywhere.  Smartphones and tablets are the devices that give consumers that flexibility they’re demanding. More so since data plans have become more affordable.

The Second Screen Phenomenon 

Data from Nielsen reports that 40% of Americans use their tablets or smartphones while watching TV at least once a day, and twice as many do it at least once a month. In the past, it was through their computers and laptops that consumers connected online, but now with the emerge of tablets and the smartphones, accessing online content is easier than ever before. No waiting for boot up, faster connectivity and on-the-go capability is what makes the latest tablets and smartphones more and more people’s favorite device to get online.

It’s also noteworthy to point out that because these devices are now in most households, connectivity and the adoption of new technology is no longer limited to the young and tech savvy. According to the Nielsen report, “while watching TV, 36% of people age 35-54 and 44% of people age 55-64 use their tablets to dive deeper into the TV program they are watching and nearly a third of tablet users age 25-64 check sports scores.  Across the board a majority of users use apps while watching TV”

A New Connected Community 

According to Dounia Turrill, Nielsen’s Cross-Platform Practice Lead, “when we now talk about this growing connected community, we really are talking of a group comprised of multiple generations, crossing ethnic and racial boundaries and breaking down socio-economic barriers.  With these trends pointing to continued increases in media consumption, it could be said that consumer choice is driving more than watching, it’s also creating stronger bonds with audiences of all sizes and in all places.”

What Does This Mean For Marketers?

It is imperative more than ever advertisers understand the correlation between TV consumption and Internet consumer behavior using portable devices as it opens doors for brands to create a dialogue and influence purchasing behavior to happen instantaneously.  Advertisers must take advantage of social media because of the huge impact it has in terms of increasing consumer interaction. Forty four percent of 18-24 year olds and close to 50 percent of 25-34 year olds visit social networking sites on their smartphones during both commercials and programs while watching TV.  Ads on TV must also match the advertiser’s online marketing message and their products or services be readily available for consumers to buy on their mobile devices as 29% of 25-34 year olds shop on their smartphones while watching TV.

Not only do marketers and advertisers need to focus on their message, it is also crucial to make their website content mobile and tablet ready. To get a better picture of how mobile friendly your website is, you can test it’s mobile readiness here or view your site as it might look on a  multitude of devices here

One can also choose to employ a responsive design on their site. The idea behind this concept is instead of using mobile sites or themes, the design utilizes media queries to determine the best way to display the content based on the user’s device.

Whatever option is most compatible for your marketing budget and time, it is imperative to do it now. Consumers are not waiting, they are adopting mobile at record speeds.  Consumers want access to more content at their finger tips. Is your brand ready? How are you adapting to the changes? I would love to hear your thoughts.