This year LIQUID SOUL celebrated 10 years in lifestyle sports and entertainment marketing. During this timeframe, there has been no greater impact on our business than social media. It’s hard to imagine, but 10 years ago there was no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a Snapchat may have been considered another way to describe a quick conversation.
Today, these platforms dominate media spending across brands, overpowering more traditional methods of consumer engagement. In its State of Marketing 2015 report, Salesforce polled 5,000 marketers about their budgetary changes for this year. Seventy percent of respondents planned to boost social media ad spend and said that they will increase expenditure on organic (non-paid) social media marketing.
When leveraged appropriately, social media can drive brand awareness and convert that awareness into specific actions (i.e. click-through, purchases, etc.). However, brands must realize that engagement goes beyond the “like”. Social media is most impactful when integrated with traditional and non-traditional consumer engagement methods. This approach allows for both breadth (i.e., reaching mass consumers) as well as depth, allowing brands to have more impactful conversations and experiences with their SUPER FANS.
When taking your brand beyond the “like” here are some simple ideas to take into consideration.
Brand Awareness Must Be Earned
Publicity and or “earned” media is just that. Brand mentions solicited online, television, radio and in print, without the expectation of payment for placement. Notice I did not say that it is “free advertising.” as there is an expense because it is time and labor intensive. Publicity is becoming increasing more important, especially amongst targeted audiences as it more personal than traditional advertising and driven by intermediaries, ideally deemed as trusted advisors and who are attractive to your core audience. As the practice, social media should be embedded within your publicity efforts. Take the time to ensure that all social media hastags, destinations, and call-outs are consistent and communicated in all correspondence.
Personal Engagement Is Essential
Over the past several years as an agency, we have noticed a decline in the amount brands spend on personal engagement through event marketing. However, these opportunities continue to be a worthwhile investment because they offer up the ability to create unique branding experiences and connect personally with consumers, to obtain real-time feedback and develop brand advocacy. Additionally, event marketing can complement a brand social strategy if planned appropriately. One example of this is ESSENCE FEST presented by ESSENCE Magazine. Over the past several years, LIQUID SOUL has partnered with ESSENCE in soliciting and managing its entertainment brand partnerships. This year, the festival not only attracted close to half a million consumers, it generated over 100,000 social media posts, driving over 1.5 billion impressions with trending status on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Content Is Key
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, digital advertising can be divided into three types, concept ads, commerce ads and content ads. Out of the three, the biggest growth has been in content advertising. As an industry, there is steady move to branded content advertising as it provides a number of advantages, especially in regards to social media amplification. Some explanations for the popularity of branded content is because it affords brands the opportunity to:
- Develop “authentic stories” to convey the brand message in ways that do not feel like advertising
- Engage consumers and encourage them to create user-generated content (i.e. Memes, Photos, videos)
- Leverage the influence of social stars and celebrities in unique ways that convey that individuals tone and personality.
Content created in turn helps to drive consumer awareness and if complimented with social call-outs and a clear call to action, can help to drive social engagement and consumer brand affinity.
Driving social media and measuring social media effectiveness beyond the “likes” is critical if brands are to be effective in impacting the decision making of consumers. This statement has never been truer than today as even Facebook the Grandfather of the “like” now realizes its ineffectiveness. When its new API rolls out in forthcoming weeks, it will no longer include “likes” and “shares” in its cost-per-click measurements to advertisers. The reason cited is because consumers accidently click the “like” button all the time. If Facebook has moved on beyond the “like”, maybe we should as well…