PHYGiTALNOW is a digital marketing consultancy in Dubai, focused on helping SMEs rebuild for growth. Digital transformation can be daunting with constantly evolving dynamics. Often brands are caught unawares when an algorithm changes or a new feature is introduced. Under the BASiCSNOW series, we will publish articles to establish the basics of each discipline within Digital Marketing. In this edition, we focus on Social Media.
‘Horses for courses’ is apt when it comes to choosing the right social media channel. Choose the channels according to the brand requirements. But we need to acknowledge that not all requirements can be met with Social Media as a discipline, leave alone a single channel. Brands often think of channels first before evaluating what exactly the role of Social Media is in the overall marketing mix.
4 questions to determine the ‘role of Social Media’.
- What communication objectives can be met with Social Media?
There are inherent advantages and disadvantages for any discipline and Social Media is no exception. To contextualise it, we can map these across different stages of the buyer journey from Awareness to Retention. For example, if Social Media is to be used in the Conversion stage – the inherent advantage is the ease of use most platforms offer for conversion. Think of Facebook shop page or Instagram shopping feature. These are intuitive interfaces with little friction through the checkout process. But it is equally easy to abandon the conversion journey mid-way and be distracted with other experiences within the channel. So that becomes its disadvantage.
2. What tactics should be used to meet those objectives?
We can use specific tactics to either benefit from these advantages or counter the disadvantages. In the context of Conversion, to benefit from the advantage of friction-free interface for shopping, we can increase the visual stimuli by using features like Facebook Carousel to show a complete range. And the tactic to prevent a user from abandoning the conversion journey mid-way is to incorporate instant dynamic offers.
3. What realistic targets should be set?
It is important to set targets within a framework like SMART. It is not enough to define targets but also get a buy-in from all the stakeholders involved. For example, if using SMART framework, the Measurable target can be based on engagement metrics because the primary function of Social Media is to create meaningful engagement between brand and its consumers.
4. What measurement principles to adopt?
Even though the primary function of Social Media is to engage the audience, it cannot stop there. Social Media is one of the key disciplines to drive traffic to the website. Therefore, the measurement matrix should include 3 elements – Social Media metrics, Website performance KPIs and Business/Brand KSOs. For example, if share rate is the metric being measured, it should be measured against the duration of website visits. Together it tells the story of an engaged consumer/visitor. When these two metrices are measured against any micro conversions like download rate or form fills, the measurement matrix becomes business focused.
By answering these 4 questions, we can have clarity of purpose behind using Social Media. Only then should we move on to the next step, which is developing a Social Media Framework
Developing the Social Media Framework like a leading Social Media Agency
There are two parts to developing a Social Media Framework – strategic and tactical
Strategic framework: Social Media can be defined as 1 Brand, 2 functions and 3 formats. Irrespective how many brands a company owns, the Social Media Framework should be a single brand focused because if the primary function of Social Media is to create meaningful engagement, consumers engage with a brand and not the company that owns the brand. There are 2 types functions that Social Media facilitates – that of building loyalty and that of transaction, what you call social commerce. And there are 3 formats of social media –owned, paid, and earned. The same classification is applicable in the broader context of digital ecosystem also.
When we think of a brand on Social Media – it is mainly perceived through the tone it uses and the value it offers. Think of any brand we interact with on social media – don’t we immediately think of how it speaks? – the tone, is it friendly or authoritative? While there might be an overall tonality for the brand – the tone should be tweaked depending on the social channel – a Facebook post and a LinkedIn post cannot have the same tone. But on the same channel, an original post and a reply post should have the same tone. The other factor we notice about a brand is the value it offers. Does it make my life easier? Choose channels that enhances the brand value. An educational brand offers a tangible value – that of improving knowledge base. Some channels such as LinkedIn can enhance this value. But a brand can leverage its own value over a channel also. Like a financial brand launching a YouTube channel can improve YouTube’s value as a channel.
Brands use social media for two functions – loyalty and transaction. Building loyalty through social media is both time and resource intensive. You need to invest in quality content, create exclusive memberships and recruit champions from your audience to add more credibility. When it comes to transaction, social commerce is growing rapidly. Mainly driven by the channels’ intuitive interfaces that make shopping really easy. These channels are introducing new features regularly, you need to stay updated. Nimble customer relationship process is important in social commerce due to viral nature of the social media. A happy customer and a dissatisfied customer – both have consequences.
Digital Social media is based on 3 formats –owned, paid, and earned. However, brands do not fully own their Social channels as they are hosted on individual social media platforms. But brands can establish unique identities through these channels. It is important that a brand is easily recognised across all channels through common visual elements like logo, colour scheme. But tailor make the content to suit individual platform characteristic. Your Snapchat profile should look different to your LinkedIn profile. As mentioned, these channels are hosted by a 3rd party, the best practice is to have a home base – most commonly the website or blog – where all content is aggregated. Paid channels are those where brands invest to reach specific audience segments. There should be specific brand objectives set against each channel deliverables. It is important to define success metrics before launching any paid activity. And to determine the effectiveness of each channel, measure the results separately. There are specific review sites where brands ‘earn’ attention through reviews and mentions. Even regular social platform become ‘earned’ through shares and mentions. This needs to be treated with utmost care as these mentions can be both positive and negative. Therefore, brand need to set a response protocol for both. One of the most effective ways to use this format is by having a credible brand champion.
After developing the strategic framework for using Social Media for the brand, then and only then, we move on to the next part. Which is choosing the channels – horses for courses.
Tactical framework: It involves 3 elements – objective, channels, outcome.
1. Define the objective. Following the role already defined for Social Media in the overall marketing mix, define the specific objective for each channel – is it to drive traffic to the website or is it to build brand recognition or is it to build social commerce?
2. Identify the channels. According to the objective – select channels. If it is social commerce – YouTube might not be best suited but for brand recognition it is one of the most effective channels. A social media checklist that maps characteristics of each channel against different stages of buyer journey from awareness to retention will help choose the right channels. The characteristic that makes Instagram a viable channel for Consideration is through influencers who use this channel to promote their choices.
3. Measure the outcome. The outcome must pre-defined and only then can you measure the effectiveness. If it is brand recognition, this should be measured. Or if it is social commerce – there should be a value attached to it.
There are many channels to choose from and depending on the target segment – some channels have a natural fit. Snapchat or TikTok for the Millennials and below while Facebook for Millennials and above. But demographic profiling is only the initial step. Social Media allows you to define your target audience with a richer list of qualifiers. An experience seeker, a geek, a culinary enthusiast, a history buff. This can be across age or social class.
A leading social media agency would certainly suggest that Social Media is one of the first ‘entry points’ to digital ecosystem because of the relative ease in getting started, lower costs and flexibility in terms of creative units. However, it is also one of the most mis-used disciplines with brands using it without proper strategic oversight or effective tactics. Good news is that it is not difficult to get it right.
PHYGiTALNOW is a digital marketing consultancy in Dubai focused on transforming businesses for sustainable growth. We use our proprietary strategic framework C.A.R.T. to design industry specific bespoke marketing solutions. The primary focus is to realise the full revenue potential by providing best-in-class Digital Marketing Services – Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Website and App Development, Social Media Strategy and Activation, Email Marketing and Digital Advertising. We also provide E-commerce specific services – online marketplace management, conversion optimisation and basket analysis.