Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and its like are used by almost everyone and are therefore a perfect environment for businesses to reach their target audience. Advertisers agree that nothing works in online marketing anymore without social media, even though the strategic integration and measurement of paid social measures is challenging, besides data protection requirements in connection with the iOS14 update or the very different media use by "Generation Z".
But with less and less data available for audience targeting or measuring campaign results, it is high time for companies to develop new strategic approaches and the following points can provide some assistance:
- The buzzword customer centricity has been haunting the marketing world for a long time, which sees the focus on the user as the central element that social media activities should serve. In fact, the old saying “the customer is king” is far from outdated. Users should feel equally picked up, informed, and entertained at all contact points they have with a company – seamlessly and homogeneously. But that's easier said than done, as today's users have a multitude of digital touchpoints: they google, send emails, exchange WhatsApps, scroll through Facebook feeds, connections to professional networks and much more. And all these touchpoints are possible and desired meeting points for advertising contacts and part of the customer journey. Two things should be emphasized when it comes to customer centricity: First, you should know the target group and their social media habits and preferences so that the channels, ad formats, messages, etc. are optimally suited to the potential customer group. For example, young adults use Instagram more or prefer story formats than older user groups, and men use Twitter more than women. Second, the brand experiences and interaction options must be consistent across all touchpoints: the messages, the imagery, the calls for action should be homogeneous and coherent.
- Trust is always an asset, especially in the online sector, since the virtual world opens up scope for forgeries, lies, abuse and false promises. The trusting handling of personal user data and the protection of data should therefore have a high priority because they are the basis of every online activity and every customer contact. Today, users are sensitized to the topic and are continuously confronted with data protection messages and consent banners. Not all users object to the use of personalized data as long as they are informed about the use of the data and trust that the promised use will be kept. It is therefore essential to maintain transparent communication about the use of data and to comprehensively inform users about what data may be collected and how it may be used, going beyond the legal requirements. No covering up, no persuasion and no annoying pop-ups are effective, but communication at eye level with reputable privacy tools. This creates long-term trust, increases acceptance of cookie storage, and has a positive effect on the overall perception of the company as a whole – even if cookies are a thing of the past.
- An emotional level is the strongest bond, intuitive and instinctive. Social media are predestined for emotions since they thrive on visual impressions. Take the opportunity and create a connection between the users and your company with right imagery. Images, animations and especially videos are available to convey the brand message. So, use pictures to symbolize whether your company is open, sustainable, funny, innovative, inexpensive, elitist, environmentally conscious, value-oriented and continuously expand the creative concept to reach new target groups. Trying out and testing are not only allowed but are part of the tools to find the best visual language and to constantly develop it further. Test different ad formats, different channels, different times in your campaigns and stay flexible, because standing still leads to boredom and oversaturation.
- It's no secret that users like convenience: that is, a simple and straightforward shopping experience that requires only a few clicks, no new data to be entered, and no new password to be saved. The more convenient the experience in a channel, the more likely it is that a user will also convert in the channel. Online marketplaces, above all Amazon, have been making use of this knowledge for a long time. Social commerce is now catching up: Instagram, for example, already offers shop functions and Meta has announced functional expansions including checkout. Above all, it is extremely important to offer simple messages in easily digestible formats with quick interaction options that make contact with the company easy and pleasant. Perfectly mobile-optimized formats are a basic requirement here and a matter of course in social media marketing.
- The difficulties in assigning a clear value to each channel remain complex. On the one hand, the database is low in times of GDPR and cookie blocks, on the other hand, as mentioned, users have many touchpoints on the way to conversion. The channels of the touchpoints also use different attribution models, which makes it even more difficult to compare the results. A last-click view, or more specifically a last-non-direct view, often comes into play. But in the end, only one channel gets credit for the conversion, while all other touchpoints in the customer journey get nothing and could be considered useless. The runtime of cookies is also used differently in the channels, so that conversions may be counted several times and falsify the picture. There is no all-encompassing solution to these challenges, but there are valuable approaches to understanding the complex relationships and assessing the effects. In any case, valuable insights are provided by a unified report in which data from both Google Analytics and all other channels is combined to enable a complete analysis across all channels and KPIs. Standard interfaces, so-called APIs, or own programs enable the necessary links to read out the data. With the connection to a visualization tool, the interactions between the channels can be clearly assessed. Ultimately, combining all possible approaches is the best way to arrive at a realistic value assessment of the respective social media channel.
Social media marketing will continue to change rapidly: the "cookie-less future" is just around the corner, social commerce is picking up speed, and new channels and marketing options are opening up. It is important to always be up-to-date and to react creatively and experimentally to changing situations. In all of this, however, it is also important not to proceed unsystematically, but to consistently create a good world of experience for the users and to accompany them in a targeted manner at all relevant touchpoints. The new performance equation paves the way to successful social media marketing.
By Daniela La Marca