How to make your social media marketing effective?

Most of the digital strategists, who’ve read this post by Brian Bolard,  stopped asking this question, why social media posts on the brand pages gets so little number of likes and comments organically?

The social media world has converged to one and only one thing ” More Money = More Reach = More Engagement ”

What about More customers?

Last I checked, marketing was all about gaining newer customers (loyalty?? What’s that?).

I am sure, for most of you (especially if you are a client who has spent a lot of money in acquiring those fans), the bugging question is “why did those people liked your page in first place?”

As a digital practitioner, I’ve made some personal observations (more of a point of view really) about social media and digital.

One of the observations was around the utilisation of social media platforms as an advertising medium.

Fundamentally, social space was not supposed to be intruded by ads. One of the reasons, as to why Twitter didn’t started monetisation of their platform for a long time. (Read : Is data mining the future of twitter’s monetisation strategy?)

The reality is that nobody likes ads in social media. Or let me put it even more bluntly.

People do not join Facebook to like BRAND PAGES!

They join to connect, converse & stay engaged with the “people” in “their lives”. Brand pages or businesses are an aberration if they are not relevant to the environment.

Also Read: Here’s why you should stop worrying about your Facebook page likes

Lets deep dive a little more into this.

 

Social Media Fans vs Customer?

If I put this question to top Fortune 500 Companies CMO’s, whether they are looking for more fans or more customers from their social media pages, I am sure, just like anyone else, they would take few moments to understand the difference.

What’s the difference between these words?

Turns out it’s not just a difference of definitions, but also of mindset and therefore, changes your entire social media strategy.

When you think of the word “customer,” you envision someone, cash in hand, ready to buy your product. If you take it one step further and think of a loyal customer, then it’s someone who repeatedly buys from you and perhaps even refers your business.

Scott Ginsberg of the Womma blog defines them so:

“A customer is someone who comes to a store to buy a lamp and never comes back. Fans crave experiences unlike any others.”

The word customer originated in the 1540s and meant “a person with whom one has dealings.”

The word fan originated much later in 1889. It meant “devotee” or “ardent admirer” and was primarily used to describe baseball enthusiasts and as a short form of fanatic.

Since first being used in a sports connotation, the word fan has now expanded to encompass many other industries. Musicians have fans. Movie stars have fans. And today, thanks to the Facebook lexicon, businesses have fans too.

Finding Real Social Media Fans For Your Brand

In 2008, former Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly wrote an insightful and very popular blog post called “1,000 True Fans.”

Copyblogger goes on to further extrapolate on this concept and discusses 20 steps to finding your true fans by teaching and promoting your knowledge.

Clearly, they are also pointing you in one direction, creating valuable information in a smart package which builds context, connect and relevance with your audience.

Content Marketing is no more ‘just’ the King, it is the entire kingdom

Clearly, the rise of social media platform is not because people are consuming more advertising, but because they are consuming more content.

Imagine it like a coffee shop. Those who love to drink coffee often have their favourite cafes or go-to joints.

They frequently visit a chosen venue because it’s a great place to hang out.

A lot of them even know the owners of the place and other frequent visitors, who, like them, regularly drop in to socialise.

But without the rich aromas and great tasting coffee that the place serve, would they still go there if there was nothing to drink?

Social media marketing is pretty much like that coffee shop, so long as you (brand) would keep serving your audience real and meaningful content (coffee) , you’ve got a great hangout place for your audience. 

But more often than not, brands tend to focus on securing their presence in the race to catch up with competitors. They get the coffee shop in the form of a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube presence, but forget what they’re serving (advertising).

Digital Case Study – Maruti recreates the National Anthem in #DZire2Unite

Digital Case Study

#DZire2Unite –  An Initiative by Maruti Suzuki

The youth of today is eager to unite for a cause. A recent example of the same was when everyone used rainbow filters on their Facebook DP’s on the legalisation of gay marriage in USA.

There are also certain things that every Indian youth holds close to his heart. For example, our National Anthem has an emotional connect with the people and it still gives goose bumps to every Indian, each time they hear it. Our National anthem is such an important symbol that it has been rendered afresh by bollywood Actors, Music celebrities and artists like AR Rehman etc.  And now, the crème de la creme of the music industry consisting of 11 of the country’s best musicians will collaborate to recreate the national anthem.

However, it is easy for stars and big names to recreate the national anthem.

Maruti (along with Talenthouse) discovered that if the same opportunity was presented to the passionate artists of our country, they would put in their heart and soul to do the same. Hence, this Independence day, Talenthouse created a short contest and opened it to its database of filmmakers, singers, actors, directors etc. And the response was phenomenal. We received around 200 musical compositions and scripts, recreating the national anthem. The top five were the most moving.

This artistic desire to unite through the national anthem resonated with the brand ethos of Maruti Dzire, who celebrate this desire and passion in people. On the occasion of 1 million Maruti cars being sold, the brand decided to support these young passionate artists by pitching in.

Our young artists recreated the anthem with great enthusiasm. For eg. Raghav Mehta is the young composer who has worked for talenthouse projects like Nerolac, Axe etc and Harpal Singh is a young film maker who has directed for several Talenthouse projects like Horlicks etc . These two artists have been living with the Desire to Unite Anthem plot for the last two years waiting for it to see the light of the day. Given the chance, they’re all set to release.

This Independence Day, Maruti & Talenthouse will release the national anthem recreated by these young passionate artists and encourage people to like and share it.

Updated Controls for Facebook News Feed – Boon or Bane?

If you are chasing your “million likes on Facebook page” dream, drop it! as soon it may become a futile exercise.

According to the latest update from Facebook, they are making some deep changes to its news feed which would make it difficult for brands to reach out to their page followers.

Over the years, Facebook has modified and transformed the way we consume content on our wall through its News Feed. News Feed is where you go to catch up on what’s happening with your friends and find the content that matters to you.

What you do in News Feed helps determine what you see in News Feed. You decide who you want to connect to, and what Pages and public figures you want to follow.

Needless to say that Facebook has become a universal choice of brands & businesses around the globe for reaching out and engaging with their target audience.

Facebook revenue has continuously beaten all expectation in the past and still going strong. In this process, what has really happened is that the average number of pages liked by any individual on Facebook has gone up significantly.  Here’s a graph from Social Bakers that demonstrate the fact quite clearly:

Average number of Facebook user likes per country

Average number of Facebook user likes per country

 

In India, on an average 22 pages are liked by each Facebook user (which is much smaller compared to 70 in the US). Now add to that, the unstoppable Facebook feeds of your friends and the newly added content feeds of publishers. How much of a chance does any brand has to make an impact and grab your attention?

Updated newsfeed control can potentially kill your Facebook campaign

In their latest update to newsfeed, Facebook has provided the users the option to prioritise the kind of feeds they want to see first. They can chose their best friends, their favourite branded content which would appear first in their timeline.

In their statement, Facebook clearly mentioned that they are allowing people to select the kind of content they want to see and engage with.

News Feed is a personalised stream of stories that you build from the people and Pages you’ve connected to on Facebook. The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you. To do this, we use ranking to order stories based on how interesting we believe they are to you: specifically, whom you tend to interact with, and what kinds of content you tend to like and comment on.

But this could be a bad news for the businesses who’ve spent precious marketing dollars for getting those page likes. It would seriously impact the content engagement rates in days to come across all brand pages.

Facebook-Newsfeed-prefrences

Here’s what Greg Marra, Facebook’s product manager has to say in an interview given to Mashable on the Facebook News Feed:

Feature was modelled after News Feed’s “unfollow” feature, which allows people to choose not to see posts from specific pages and people in their feed. “The thing we were constantly hearing was: ‘there’s a few people that I really care about and i want to make sure I don’t miss stuff from those people.

This could be a positive move from user experience standpoint, but brand pages would soon feel the after effects of this change.

Also Read: Here’s why Facebook likes should stop bothering you

Conclusion

While the average total likes for Facebook Pages went up in many cases in February 2015, very recently Facebook Inc. made a new announcement for business pages due to which a lot of pages saw a dip in their average page fans by 3 to 4%.

Facebook is not been able to balance its priorities in the recent times, and with this recent change, it may face significant backlash from advertisers around the globe.

Facebook Fan Acquisition has become irrelevant In Social Media?

The above presentation would come as a slap on the face to many “Social Media Gurus” (especially here in India). The beautiful part about this presentation is that all the points mentioned in this presentation are sheer common sense and does not comply with any ” marketing strategy template”.

I would like to quote a very famous statement made by Rene Descartes,

“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”

Since the days of orkut (and now Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and many more), marketers have forced themselves to believe that ‘the money is where the audience is‘. By the way, that is not entirely incorrect. However, the very idea of a brand engaging with the audience is highly over rated & misnomered (BTW, did I say anything bad about the digital or social media agencies yet? Hell no! 🙂 )

How many times, as social media marketers, we genuinely think about the sales or business objectives of the company ahead our present marketing objectives? Often the approach used by the agencies is based on a common template which created for all the clients. This leaves little room for debate around how should the business objective be linked to the social media strategy.

It is becoming increasingly programmatic and how,

Step 1: A marketing manager creates a social media brief.

Step 2: He gives it to the agency.

Step 3: Who (the social media agency) comes up with a plan.

Step 4. Agency waits for an approval.

Step 5. The agency executes the campaign.

Step 6. The final report (with weekly, monthly likes, followers, retweets) is shared.

Step 7. Invoice reaches the client’s desk.

Step 8. Mission accomplished.

Sorry for being so dramatic. No offence to any digital or interactive agency. I think there are quite a lot of media companies with some fascinating talent who are trying their best to do great work in the space.

Also read: The Good, Bad & Hilarious world of Social Media

But lets come back to the main point.

Do brands really need to get over obsessed about the term engagement? I know most of you may not agree with me on this point, but it is practically impossible for audience to engage with so many brands. Facebook defines engagement rate as the percentage of people who saw a post that liked, shared, clicked or commented on it.

But is that engagement worth spending your precious time, money & resources?

In his article “5 Tips for a Better Facebook Brand Strategy in 2015“, Peter  Stringer-Vice President, Digital Media at Boston Celtics wrote about the Facebook’s definition of audience engagement:

But the first two of those (metrics) are basically worthless. Post likes are meaningless. OK, not completely, as a post’s likes do impact its organic reach, but realistically, a like is a one-second long, one-click engagement. How valuable is that? Do you remember the last post you liked on any platform?

facebook-engagement-is-not-the-only-metric

One of the biggest misunderstandings about Facebook likes is the assumption that once a person “likes” your page, they are going to keep coming back for more. A “like” on a page doesn’t guarantee that they will ever come back to that page and participate or even read any updates. According to an AdAge article , only one percent of fans on the biggest brand pages actually engage with the brand at all

Top reasons why people unsubscribe from facebook pages

Most of facebook likes are just casual observers or lurkers. This leads to a one-sided conversation led by the brand, or frankly no conversation at all. One of the major reasons.

The whole idea of increasing the number of likes and treating it as a mantra for social engagement success is absolutely B*ST. I am saying this because unfortunately this is how most of the social media professionals are talking these days. Needless to say, when so many people say the same thing, clients (most of them) believe it to be true. But is it really true?

According to a research published by a Denmark firm, Komfo:

Engagement is not the only social media marketing KPI, reach & fan penetration is another critical element in this puzzle. According their findings, smaller communities perform better (see below) on Facebook both when it comes to fan reach and engagement.

Facebook community page engagement metrics

Facebook community page engagement metrics

You can read their complete findings here.

No wonder, social platforms, notably Facebook, are starting to shift away from the airy talk of “brand engagement” and instead offer more nuts-and-bolts ad offerings. Engagement.

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PS: opinion expressed in this post are strictly personal.