There seem to be two types of response when it comes to a new social media platform – those that want to jump in to each new platform with both feet, and those that would prepare to see how things pan out, but do we need to be there at all?
Whether it’s Clubhouse or TikTok, whether you’re trying to convince your boss that Instagram Reels are the way to go, or that they really don’t need to get involved in Twitch, a brand’s presence on social media platforms tends to be a question of when – but really, it should be a question of ‘if’. Once a platform reaches a critical mass – a point of stable growth, most brands will eventually create a profile. There’s a strong compulsion to maintain a presence, to ensure we’re not missing our chance to stake a claim, but we only have so much time to care for our social presence, so we risk spreading ourselves too thin.
Byron Sharp, Professor of Marketing Science at the University of South Australia, in an article on his personal blog stated:
A brand’s availability varies across situations, so higher mental availability means being easily noticed and/or thought of in many different buying situations. Some brands do well in some particular situations, some do well in many situations. Some do well with a few consumers, some do well with many consumers. The easier the brand is to access in memory, in more buying situations, for more consumers, then the higher the overall mental availability.
It’s fair to say that you could pull a sentence out of this to use in favour of any position, but the message is fairly clear here that although the temptation is to be available everywhere, each brand will have a specific ecosystem within which it can thrive. However, with the importance of eWOM (electronic word of mouth), the pressure is still there to claim that brand account – especially as, as was pointed out in a theoretical paper called: “The future of social media in marketing” from The Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, society is approaching an ‘omni-social’ situation:
From a marketing perspective, the “omni-social” nature of the present environment suggests that virtually every part of a consumer’s decision-making process is prone to social media influence. Need recognition might be activated when a consumer watches their favorite beauty influencer trying a new product on YouTube. A consumer shopping for a car might search for information by asking their Facebook friends what models they recommend. A hungry employee might sift through Yelp reviews to evaluate different lunch options. A traveler might use Airbnb to book future accommodation. Finally, a highly dissatisfied (or delighted) airline passenger might rant (rave) about their experience on Twitter. While the decision-making funnel is arguably growing flatter than the aforementioned examples would imply (Cortizo-Burgess 2014), these independent scenarios illustrate that social media has the propensity to influence the entire consumer-decision making process, from beginning to end.
However, what you can again see here is the specific examples that the researchers give – there is no one journey through the multiple social media platforms that consumers will now use with regularity. What brands need to be considering in turn is not being omni-present but being present where it will benefit them.
This is not to say that brands shouldn’t enjoy the opportunities that social media offers – DeWalt’s Instagram account, for example, has more than 800k and essentially posts a new DeWalt product image every few days, but they’re good images and they do well, while B&M Bargains – using a mix of promotional posts and memes – has accrued 1.2 Mn followers, which is 5x the official account of the UK government.
For newer platforms, you can look at Gymshark, whose meteoric rise as a brand is down, at least in part, to its adaptability to social media tends and, specifically a particular mastery of the TikTok -including a #standup campaign which makes my knees hurt just to watch:
So what should we do?
There is no easy answer, there are plusses and minuses to being the first to a platform – like Chipotle and its ‘flip the lid’ campaign which cemented the brand at the forefront of Gen-Z interaction on the platform, generating 110 thousand user generated videos and record sales. However, for smaller brands, the risk of a gamble on emerging platforms could represent more risk than reward, and for most brands it should be a case of waiting for at least some of the data to come in before committing to a strategy.
Source: Impact of social media marketing on brand equity, International Journal of Current Research
The article then goes on to discuss some of the benefits of social media as a platform for marketing:
As an integrated marketing medium, social media marketing activities effectively enhance value equity by providing novel value to customers that traditional marketing media do not usually provide. The brand’s social media platforms offers venues for customers to engage in sincere and friendly communications with the brand and other users, so the brand’s intended actions on the social communication scene positively affect relationship equity and brand equity swell (Kim & Ko, 2012). Social media marketing and brand equity are positively and significantly correlated, social media marketing helps organizations in building positive customer relationships, improving brand image.
This, as well as the other studies referenced, place a lot of weight on social media as a potential driver of positive brand associations and, as a result, social media should not be underestimated as a marketing platform. In fact, although quantitative data is harder to come by as it tends to be commercially sensitive, success stories like Chipotle and Gymshark do offer some insight into the possibilities for improved performance through well executed social media strategies.
However, one of the other shared aspects is that a brand’s social media presence should provide a “novel value to customers that traditional marketing media do not usually provide” – and this is difficult to do when a brand is seeking to be present on every social media platform – which tends to result in posting the same content across platforms for the sake of time saving, which is the antithesis of the most successful strategies which seek to provide unique, platform specific content for each platform.
Some tips for choosing your platforms
- Choose wisely, not widely – pick a few platforms on which you can excel
- Create content for the platform – ensure your content is tailored to the platform and is, therefore, in line with what users will expect to see
- Be purposeful, not just present – for many brands, a presence on social platforms is the beginning and end of the strategy, but there should be a drive behind that presence and that drive will help to choose the platform
- Social media is a conversation – whether it’s with the aim to inspire UGC or simply converse with consumers, interaction is key, so choose the platform which caters best to your intention
Some platforms to watch out for in 2021
Our Head of Social, Adam McKinley, has put together some interesting stats to help you assess some of the new and newly important platforms to consider as part of your social media strategy heading in to the new financial year.
- Snapchat now reaches 70% of all 13 to 24 year olds
- Snapchat users open the app an average of 30 times a day
- New feature “spotlight” continuing to grow to challenge TikTok, short video clips, algorithmically
- curated and presented to users
- Media buyers say spending on Snapchat has increased roughly 10% year-over-year with the
- platform accounting for anywhere between 10% to 25% of media budgets now
- Just surpassed 10 million downloads in total, whilst still “technically” in beta mode
- Starting to dedicate resources to building the app on Android too, currently iOS only
- 39% of users are 25-34 years old, 52% being male
- The biggest Clubhouse influencers/personalities lean tech, investment, author and celebrity
- Searches for “clubhouse app” increased by 99x over the last 6 months
“Dispo” – the next Instagram?
- A new photo-sharing app that aims to be an alternative to Instagram – lets you create and share photos that elicit nostalgic feelings associated with using a disposable camera
- Increase in searches for “Dispo” in Google and app store since 2020
- Valued at over $100m at the moment, with 10,000 invite only guests creating a buzz in Oct 2020, increasing in members in the UK since
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