Social media marketing must move beyond buzz baiting

European brands are spurning chances to convince and convert social media fans into long-term leads by concentrating on attention-grabbing campaigns instead of functional content created to serve a specific purpose.

Seb Joseph

Marketers know the likes of Facebok and Twitter are key to online success but all too often talk about “likes” and “retweets” as indicators of success. Granted, buzz is important when tussling with competitors for share of voice. Nevertheless, with all the data and tools at a marketers disposal surely the need for more long-term objectives is far bigger.

It has not gone unnoticed by Twitter. The social network is letting advertisers from today (8 August) create content focused on specific marketing goals or what it dubs “objective-based campaigns”. It is part of a wider masterplan to get marketers to think harder about campaign objectives with the business realising its cost-per-engagement will only go so far before brands shift social media strategies to be more business focused such as driving web site visits or app downloads.

The dearth of maturity when it comes to social media marketing is highlighted by Forrester in a recent report on social media (mis)use. Social media is a “tick box” activity that focuses on attention-getting campaigns across Europe, it found, as many Europeans show lower interaction and trust levels to social marketing than any other region. The report goes on to draw parallels to search natural search engine results, which a third (33 per cent) of Europeans’ trust in comparison to 45 per cent of US consumers.

It points to the lack of advancement in standard operating procedures for social media marketing across Europe. If a campaign fails, there is a tendency to blame social media not working in that market. In fact, the discipline works just fine in European markets; strategies are just off.

However, there are brands making structural changes to enhance their ability to produce content based on consumer preferences. Pernod Ricard, Adidas and Mondelez have all restructured to give more local spin to their marketing, which could bring about social efforts that better reflect the intricacies of a market’s social media usage.

Like, many marketers, all three are working to find the right balance between global and local, particularly when it comes to digital activations. Key to this charge is community management, one of the most underrated marketing roles and tools. By understanding local nuances and what makes your local fans tick, marketers can augment their investments to secure long-term value though stronger advocacy and ultimately sales.

The need for better social infrastructure investment is pivotal as social spend is tipped to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6 per cent from 2012 to 2017, according to Forrester. With more people using social networks to explore brands, brands need to be more surgical in their efforts to tie activities to users’ preferences and usage of Facebook and Twitter. 

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