Content, Creativity and Ingenuity 3 Key Drivers for Successful Social Media Engagement
I attended the New Media Age’s “Social Media – Building a Strategy for your Business” (#nmalive) event last week – as I was intrigued to hear from O2 and the BBC - to see how they were managing and engaging from a large brand perspective – and indeed to hear the UK’s Group Head of Agency Sales from Facebook, to better understand their plans going forward. The line up
- Chris Buckley, Head of Agency, Headstream (very good)
- David Parfect, Group Head of Agency Sales, Facebook (excellent but got a hard time)
- Sophie Brendel, Head of Digital Engagement, BBC (lucid and on point)
- Alex Pearmain, Head of Social Media, O2 (entertaining and clearly a bright young thing)
- Conor Ryan, Co-Founder and COO, Betapond. (would have like to have heard more)
It was a lively and purposeful event (just 3 hours) – and the focus was very much on ‘brand engagement’ and how agencies (those managing those brands) should be considering leveraging the platforms. I enjoyed it – and agreed with 98% of what they were talking about, therefore, I didn’t learn that much from a ‘how to’ perspective, but viewed some useful case studies, and I met some interesting people over coffee and connected with some new relevant folk via Twitter.
Of course – when reading Marketing Week or attending such an event – the entire focus is around ‘big brands’ – how the likes of O2, the BBC, Proctor & Gamble, BT, Kraft, Nike etc are engaging with consumers.
Such brands in many ways should find it easy to engage in the social platforms, as they and their products already have large ‘fan bases’ of loyal consumers just waiting to be engaged with on the social channels. Hence why the likes of Coca Cola has a Facebook Page with around 35,000,000 people that like it.
Now, I’m not saying that the brand on its own will conjure up such followings – but it certainly helps. What also helps is the fact that such huge brands already have design teams and creative teams readily to hand – and usually large marketing budgets at the ready to create the all important ‘creative and compelling’ campaigns designed to engage consumers.
Compelling Content is Key
I’ve said this before and I will continue to say it – content is king. The content that you share on the social platforms is more important now than ever before. And for some businesses and brands, this is easier than for others. For example: some of the compelling content out of the BBC is the programs they create, think of Strictly Come Dancing. There’s already a whole fan base at the ready to engage with. The program is the compelling content. So for brands such as the BBC or others that have ‘natural’ compelling content to share (just by the nature of what they do) – content creation is going to be simpler. For small businesses, that don’t naturally have ‘compelling content’ to share – then they have to start thinking about what content they can create that is going to be newsworthy and compel others to share it and engage with it. They need to be building a ‘content strategy’ into their planning.
Creativity and Ingenuity are key drivers
Of course, it’s not just about the ‘brand’ but also about the execution and this is where I believe most businesses, and indeed many brands fall down from a ‘skill set’ perspective.
Thinking creatively about how you can be engaging consumers is a tough call for most. Hence why creative agencies such as Saatchi’s, McCann, Mother, Grey, Leo Burnett, JWT (and others) are revered as superstars in the advertising and communications world – with leading brands seeing their partnership with them as a badge of honour.
And it’s these large agencies, and the thousands of less known, smaller and much smaller (yet still equally capable) agencies – that are striving to come to terms with how they leverage the social media channels.
The same basic marketing principles apply to social media marketing, as they do to any other form of marketing:
- Listening (doing research into the market)
- Relevancy (considering which message and mode is relevant for which audience)
- Targeting (creating targeted compelling content and messaging, campaigns for that specific audience)
- Engaging (ongoing conversations – developing loyalty, being creative in how you engage)
- Action (call to actions, getting the consumer ultimately to do what you want them to do)
- Measuring (understanding impact and continuous learning)
The overriding challenge with ‘social’ – is that the pace is such that reach and response levels are running faster than any other medium. People can respond in real time – and at any time – and so brands, businesses and agencies need to be equipped to manage such ‘networked’ and constant communications and responses in an engaging and purposeful way.
There’s no point having a Facebook Page and investing in a campaign to engage consumers if no one is then given responsibility to manage those responses and continuously work to engage those engaging. Better to do nothing at all than do it badly.
So, for all brands and businesses great and small – the key message is, think about what you have that you can be sharing – what’s your compelling content, who, what, where and when and how will you encourage customers to engage with you and share with others to grow your reach.
Think creatively about how you engage. You don’t have to have a huge marketing budget to get creative – try new things, create a think tank and get some ideas going, watch what others are doing that’s working and think about what you too can be doing. But get creative.
The social media channels provide the chassis – and very sophisticated, exciting and far reaching ones at that. However, what they don’t do is ‘do all the hard work for you’ (which many brands, agencies and businesses seem to expect).
If you take one message from this article it's - "What you do on the social media channels is totally up to you".
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