The 3 Most Important Things About Marketing in the Social Landscape

I was recently asked, “What are the three most important things that brands should know about marketing in the social landscape and why?” I found this question particularly interesting and thought-provoking. How do you whittle down the vastness that is social media marketing into just three things?

In order to help answer this question, I reached out to a few social media thought-leaders here at Ketchum. With the help of Jim Lin, Gur Tsabar and Amit Wadehra, we came up with the following three insights:

1. Influencers:
No surprise here, as influencers are at the top of all marketers minds these days (and have been for a couple of years now). But, more often than not, influencers aren’t used to their fullest potential. Influencers are the best way to make your brand content relevant to different audiences. This is because influencers incorporate your message or product into the content that their audience already likes and engages with, in essence serving as a lens that positions your product in a hyper-relevant way to their audiences. Because relevance is the key ingredient to effecting influence and engagement, online influencers are invaluable in today’s marketing mix, where being able to navigate niches is becoming increasingly essential.

That relevance is easily found within any influencer’s Instagram feed, blog articles and/or YouTube (for example). Speaking of YouTube… YouTube will replace the television. Not in terms of hours of video watched (the site has already far exceeded it), but in terms of the influence the content creators have over their audience. Pop musicians like Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and mainstream celebrities like Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Johnny Depp collectively have less influence over young teens than top YouTube creators like KSI, PewDiePie, and Smosh among teens aged 13 – 17.  As this young audience grows up, the traditional celebrity endorsement is anticipated to fall by the wayside. Brands can get ahead of this by developing relationships now with relevant influencers that truly connect with their audience, ensuring relevance now and in future.

2. Un-owned Conversations:
Brands spend so much time and capital structuring, crafting and owning their brand message, but in comparison not nearly as much thought is put into the conversations that brands cannot control. You need to be extraordinarily mindful of the un-owned conversations happening around your brand and the conversations you do not own nor control in any way, shape or form. Why? These are the public’s conversations. And whether you choose to recognize them as such or not, you should at least know that by way of these conversations, the public is literally defining and iterating for you the invisible boundaries of what you can and cannot say, and what you can and cannot do.

Collectively, these conversations, in part, are defining your brand’s permission and reputation. And your ability to understand your permissible space at any given moment in time, to truly grasp at a most visceral level what it is the public is telling you and what it is they’re asking of you, will make or break your ability to effectively engage and communicate with them on a day-in, day-out basis.

The solution? Pay attention to your brand’s un-owned conversations, activate social listening and nuance your brand’s communications accordingly.

3. One-Size Does Not Fit All:
My personal pet peeve is when brands take one social media post and copy and paste that content across all of their owned social channels. Why can’t brands take this easy, one-size fits all approach to social media, you may ask? It is because each social channel provides different engagement opportunities, user experiences and best practices. Taking one piece of content and pushing it out across all social channels, without optimizing it per channel, invariably results in low engagement and performance.

On that note, brands shouldn’t even be on all social channels to begin with. Each social channel must be assessed for its relevance (there’s that word again) to your brand, audience and message before creating a brand presence.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the primary social channels and the lens for which brands should view them through:

  • Facebook: Where brands generate awareness and traffic (through paid media; you must pay to play here)
  • Twitter: Where brands converse in real-time
  • Instagram: Where brands inspire
  • Pinterest: Where brands empower
  • Snapchat: Where brands build their image and personality
  • YouTube: Where brands share how they think
  • LinkedIn: Where brands share thought leadership

If your brand doesn’t have the right content to match user expectations per social channel, then don’t create a presence there. And, if your brand is already there, then reconsider if it makes sense to be there and if so, optimize each piece of content accordingly.

In total, there are so many factors, variables and hurdles to contemplate when marketing in the social media landscape, but hopefully this article helped to provide you with a few new things to think about, or ways to think about things differently.

Based in our New York office, Alana is Vice President, Digital Strategy & Account Management.