As the blazing influence of social media continues to burn bright, brands are desperately eager to harness the power that the most popular platforms can provide. Simply acquiring more followers, however, does not necessarily equal more customer engagement, but it can equal more influence. This was among the many topics discussed in San Francisco this week during Ad Tech, a global marketing and technology conference that examines new trends and innovative ideas.
During the session titled, “Cheat Codes for Marketers,” a small group of influential marketing professionals discussed how brands can build customer engagement, increase followers, and grow businesses by systematically leveraging the power of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
Moderated by Eric Mitchell, Founder and CEO of SocialHangout, the informative panel consisted of David Lloyd, Adobe Senior Manager of Global Search Marketing; DeeAnna McPherson, Hootsuite VP of Marketing; Megan Estrada, R&R Corporate Media Director; and Nick Mattera, the Director of Digital Engagement for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Each speaker offered up specific examples of highly successful social media campaigns, followed by expert insights that highlighted many of the reasons behind their accomplishments. Attendees were also provided with a number of key takeaways to consider.
R&R Corporate Media’s Estrada spoke about the agency’s incredibly popular “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign, which was created for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to help drive tourism.
“Last year R&R was happy to break all of our records to become one of the most visited destinations in the United States when we broke 41.1 million visitors, and a large part of that was because of the social sphere,” said Estrada. “Our goal via social is to take a monologue conversation, that we’ve had with our prospective visitors for years via traditional channels, and translate that into a dialogue with them so the customer can really own it.”
By opening this dialog, R&R was able to create an idea of Vegas that meant something to each individual person as a real experience, versus simply being a destination. The success of this social media campaign, however, was also based on R&R’s ability to focus on and understand the algorithms of major social media platforms. R&R succeeded where many fail by understanding that these algorithms do not favor the sheer number of followers or “likes” a brand has. Instead, they favor engaging content.
Simply put, the better content, the farther the reach.
“When you think about developing your content, and the media around that content, you really need to be focused on the consumer and in creating something that actually resonates with them, something that they can own,” Estrada said. “This, in turn, will actually allow the customer to amplify that content for you. By creating engaging content you will inherently acquire more users within social and, inevitably, meet your business goal because they will turn into consumers.”
Marketing 101 states that brands must consider their audiences before designing messages. But since social media is so new for many companies, numerous brands do not yet understand the new ways to effectively maximize this approach through new platforms.
With this in mind, the speakers also highlighted ways to “play” with data to make audiences more receptive to messaging. For example, at any point during a campaign, new primary and secondary analytics allow brands to discover and measure what types of customer engagement mechanisms mean the most to the most valuable consumers, and then skew the content and delivery accordingly, to better reach those users directly.
Adobe’s Lloyd expanded on this topic and stressed the need to be analytically driven to constantly test new platforms, and to never underestimate the benefits of frequent collaboration between teams. When recently launching a new product, Adobe turned to social to generate awareness and drive demand through a number of strategies designed to amplify and promote content. Compared to previous projects, Adobe saw a huge number of conversions with this new launch, which Lloyd attributed to an enduring commitment to the value he had stressed earlier.
“The real story is how to move toward persistent marketing,” Lloyd said. “Having ongoing announcements, iterative marketing support throughout the entire customer lifecycle geared towards employee advocacy, and continually reinforcing the main themes through effective storytelling across all touch points.”
HootSuite’s McPherson also touched upon the benefits of using effective content when designing a social media campaign. Promising not to give a product pitch, McPherson spoke from the position of a social marketer, and talked about Hootsuite’s mission to creatively educate and entertain brands about social media best practices.
“We know the bar is so high right now because there is a tsunami of messages and content out there in social channels,” McPherson said. “So you really have to find a way to stand out.”
To overcome this problem, Hootsuite developed two relevant and exciting events that capitalized on the zeitgeist of the moment. Since Dr. Seuss’ birthday was coming up, Hootsuite leapt at the chance to create a best practices Seuss-style infographic for brands that offered Twitter success tips. Not only did the guide provide helpful advice, it also sparked a social media frenzy of its own.
“People had a lot of fun with this, and began writing comments with their own Seuss-style tips,” continued McPherson.
The second example featured a take on the extremely popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, which is a Hootsuite client. To begin, Hootsuite wrote a blog post about how the different social networks were building up their own walls and kingdoms and not connecting with each other. The crux of the piece was to demonstrate how things could become united again. By harnessing the power of pop culture, Hootsuite noticed a dramatic spike in social media customer engagement.
It then created an entire video in the style of the Game of Thrones opening sequence. This further capitalized on the existing social media momentum and continued to gain traction for Hootsuite as it positioned itself as the unifying solution to a variety of disparate social media problems.
The video gained 1.5 million views almost immediately, and put Hootsuite in a position to extend the organic reach of its original message by delivering relevant content. This relevancy was the engine that drove the entire success of the campaign.
“We talk a lot about content because content really is still king,” said Estrada. “But that content is changing. You see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram really focus on video content and rich content, and favoring that content over text. When you look at engagement rates and where social is going, it really needs to be relevant, but it also needs to be relevant in five seconds or less. So content is more important than ever, in a very dynamic way.”
It is becoming clear that every brand should be doing social media marketing. But now that most are already onboard, it becomes a question of how they do it.
“Today, social media is becoming a skill that needs to be done across the company, not just in marketing,” said McPherson. “It is part of the way you support customers and sell products. And social media teams need to start becoming more than just the doers, they need to become the center of excellence.”
About the Author: Mark Johnson
Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.