Social marketing often feels like running a race against an unlikely competitor: your own customers. In the social media world, consumer behaviors and technical functionality evolve so quickly that the minute you feel good about your social presence and perhaps have even pulled neck-and-neck with your customers’ social media behaviors, they surge ahead and leave you in the dust. What’s your technique to keep up with this superior runner in this course-shifting race? Do you have a methodical training approach before the big race or do you improvise after you push off from the starting block? Most runners will tell you that it’s preferable to be in the former camp and not the latter.
The pace of social technology change and the volume of short shelf-life content make social networks a real-time media channel. Yet, marketers have trouble managing social content at the speed that it demands. Unlike traditional media channels (TV, print, and even digital banner ads), “social media” and “we’ve got months to do this” are rarely uttered in the same breath. As part of our new Social Marketing Playbook launch, the Processes chapter gives marketers a structure for managing social content in real-time and striking a balance between inbound inquiries and outbound messaging. Marketers ultimately need:
Marketers face continuous uphill battles when it comes to social media. Whether it’s an emerging social network, an algorithm change within an existing social network, or the technology that enables social across an enterprise, change is constant. And these changes don’t even account for behavioral changes among our prospects and customers. The situation will only become more challenging, so we urge marketers to embrace the POST process when developing marketing initiatives and to figure out where social can bolster your initiatives.
POST — which stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology — is a tried-and-true process to create relevant marketing initiatives. Don’t get lost in the chaos of constant changes in social media. Samantha Ngo and I have written a new report to reinforce the benefits of POST; it highlights how to think through the process and shares details and examples to help you develop social tactics that further your marketing efforts. This report will help you:
Understand your customer’s view of social media before developing your marketing initiative
Define your marketing objective and its impact
Determine the best tactics to tie your audience and objective together
Find the right social technology to help you implement your cohesive strategy
What did we find this year? In 2016, the average US online adult receives an overall score of 40 and fits into our Social Savvies category. Social Savvies consider social tools a part of their everyday lives. On average, US online adults score highly for explore and discover— they use social tools to discover new products and also to explore them when they’re considering their purchases. Compared to last year, US consumers are slightly more social media savvy in 2016: The Social Technographics Score for the average US online adult has increased from 37 in 2015 to 40 in 2016.
Forrester’s POST methodology for social marketing success dictates four steps:
Often, marketers lead with T, but they need to start with P. The $64,000 question about People is not whether customers use social media, but rather if they want to engage with brands on social media at all, and if so, how. That’s right, the first and most important question is not whether your competitors are on social media or if the latest social network has the coolest ad format; it’s what your customers want from your brand. Marketers need to know this to guide how (or if) they add social to their overall marketing strategy.
The explosive popularity of social media over the last decade led many B2C marketers to launch social programs, often without any strategy or even an understanding of what they hoped to accomplish. Since then, nearly all marketers have jumped on the social media bandwagon launching Instagram accounts and influencer programs, putting UGC on their websites, buying listening platforms and ads, and, yes, maintaining a Facebook page -- but many are struggling to articulate the value of all this “social.” What’s going wrong and where do marketers go from here?
In order for marketers to take back the reins on their social practices, they must realize two fundamental things:
First, that “social media” is not one single channel. It is a collection of technologies -- from social networks to blogs; ratings and reviews to full-blown communities; and everything in between -- that allow people to connect with each other, whether that’s friends connecting with friends, consumers connecting with brands, or employees connecting with each other.
And second, since it’s not a single channel that you can turn on and off with the flick of a switch, it’s not something for which you need a single dedicated strategy. Instead, you need a marketing strategy in which social tactics and technologies are employed and deployed where they’ll help you make the most progress toward your goals.
Bloomberg recently reported that Snapchat surpassed Twitter in daily active users. Kudos to Snapchat, which is only half as old as Twitter, but why do we keep comparing Snapchat to Twitter? Or to Instagram? The industry is desperate to neatly categorize Snapchat under social media, but I would argue that Snapchat is equal parts messaging app and social network, putting it in a class of its own.
Let's break it down:
Messaging apps are built on the premise of private conversation: 1 to 1 (yes, group chat exists, but it's contained). You send specific messages tailored to the individual recipient. See: WhatsApp, WeChat, Skype, Viber, LINE, Telegram, Kik. With the exception of Asia's sophisticated app hybrids, today's messaging apps are not intended for blanket broadcast messaging.
Traditional social networks are built on the premise of broadcasting: 1 to many. You build up a network of friends (and, in some cases, the general public) and you blanket spam them with your post. See: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. While they accommodate private conversation (Facebook Messenger is its own rightful messaging app, Instagram's and Twitter's Direct Message, LinkedIn InMail), it is not their primary foundation.
This a guest post by Meredith Cain, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.
As Francis Bacon wrote in 1625, “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Although he did not write this with Facebook Messenger or customer service in mind, the meaning still applies. If customers will not come to your business, your business must go to the customers. In 2016, customer service application professionals struggle to find common ground where businesses can fulfill as many customers’ needs as possible in a seamless and timely manner. With one out of every nine people on the planet already using Facebook Messenger, businesses should start to capitalize on this consolidation of customers by adopting Messenger, rather than attempting to move the “mountain.”
In our recent report, we argue that customer service application professionals should make plans to incorporate Messenger into their service arsenal. Facebook’s recent announcement of new Messenger tools that include business-friendly innovations, as well as Facebook’s already ubiquitous user base, positions Messenger to serve as the bridge between Muhammad and the mountain. As this metaphorical bridge, Messenger provides customer service pros with:
If you’re unfamiliar with it, F8 is a two-day event focused on developers, a crucial part of Facebook’s ecosystem. I was fortunate enough to attend, and though I have many takeaways, which I'll discuss in upcoming posts, the one that surprises me most is Mark Zuckerberg himself.
Zuckerberg’s rousing introductory keynote set the foundation for the two-day event. He kicked things off with an ambitious 10-year road map.
Let’s be honest: The most we see from companies today is a three-year road map or, for the adventurous, a five-year road map. Yes, Zuckerberg caught our attention once he took the stage; however, when the 10-year road map slide appeared, a new type of energy filled the venue. As a result, I couldn’t help but take a holistic look at his approach and name it “Zuckerberg 101.” For F8, this approach consisted of a foundational message, expectation setting, and an appeal to the audience. Take note marketers because this approach is one we can all use to foster connections with our audiences. It also helps us understand Facebook’s long-term strategy, along with its near- and long-term investments. Zuckerberg 101 consists of:
A foundational message. F8 2016's message is that Facebook’s mission of connecting everyone is everything. The 10-year road map echoes this vision with key milestones that aim to provide everyone with the power to share. All subsequent presentations reflected this theme throughout the event, creating a consistent message. Key takeaway: If you're trying to change the world (or anything else), make sure everyone knows why you’re in it to win it.
For the NFL: Of all social networks, Twitter has the most active real-time conversations around football games, and NFL athletes use Twitter as their primary social sounding board. It makes sense to sync live viewing with live social conversation and merge those activities into one platform. In addition, this partnership offers the NFL reach into global markets. While the NFL has worked to establish a UK footprint by flying teams to London to compete, this deal signals real expansion.
For Twitter: Twitter is struggling with user and revenue growth, and this is a huge win for two reasons: the partnership provides 1) the ability to deliver quality content and attract dormant users and, more critically, non-users; and 2) the ability to be a unique provider of a live event plus live conversation viewing experience, creating more engaged users.
For users: Broadcasting live events on social networks isn't new (see: YouTube live concert streaming; Periscope live streaming the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match). But, the NFL is the varsity league: more teams, more games, more fans, and more dollars at stake. And, let's not forget the mobile factor – now users can (theoretically) watch Thursday NFL games on the go.
Is this Twitter's Hail Mary pass to prove it can still compete? Maybe. But, a Hail Mary still represents a chance (just ask Aaron Rodgers).
Instagram announced this week that it is joining Facebook and Twitter and ditching its clean chronological feed in favor of an algorithm-based personalized feed. No one is surprised given Instagram has inched closer and closer to Facebook since its 2012 acquisition.
What does this mean for users? Instagram's initial appeal was its simplicity: mobile only, pictures only, square size only, chronological order, and one-way friendship. In the last year, Instagram has abandoned those simple principles by introducing an inordinate number of ads, varying visual sizes, and auto-play video, seemingly resulting in a40% drop in interaction rate in 2015. The big social networks seem committed to complicating their feeds as their companies mature and financial expectations grow. For purists, replacing an elegant user experience with a bogged down interaction is a turnoff. My own Facebook and Twitter usage nosedived once their feeds became messy; Instagram, currently my #1 social app for time spent, is facing a similar fate.