Over the past 10 years, there’s been a dramatic shift in the world of marketing. Digital media is now mainstream, taking multiple forms and co-mingling with the traditional offline fare. Well utilized social media can create a vital connection with a company’s target audience whether that audience is comprised of consumers or corporate decision-makers.
The question becomes how can a CMO navigate this tsunami of new channels and use them effectively?
The best place to start is with the basics: content development, channel selection and cross promotion to increase reach. Make these your priorities and you lay the groundwork for digital success.
Develop Relevant Digital Content
The foundation of any successful digital marketing effort can be summed up in one word: content. It is both the building block and springboard of every company’s digital platform – and it’s not something to be taken lightly.
To be effective, the content itself has to be relevant, meaningful and engaging – and it has to be continually updated to not only attract followers and ignite conversations, but to keep those followers coming back for more.
When some companies entered the social media world, they kept their “A” teams on offline efforts and hired younger, less experienced individuals, to produce their digital communications in a vacuum. This approach is typically ineffective, whether you’re a B2C or a B2B company. It’s not about volume but quality of content that will engage your target.
I’ll use Wipro as an example.
If you look at any of our digital channels, you’ll discover pertinent information and research about the future of business. We spent a significant amount of time developing our topics, performing analysis, gathering research and pulling together real, insightful data on the topics we choose. After creating the highest quality master document possible, we push parts of the content to multiple channels in the most appropriate way.
A lot of work, yes! But it’s something that has paid off in our 1 million followers. They follow because we are bringing content that has value. It’s an investment, but investing in content development is essential to the digital success of any company.
Realize that it’s Not “All About You”
It’s also important to note that with social media, the conversation – the message — has dramatically changed. With off-line channels, the content typically focused on who the company was, what products or services it provided and the benefits of each. That feature-driven, “what we can do for you” messaging won’t earn you a following in the digital world.
Being effective in social media is like being the favored guest at a party. Instead of talking about yourself, you‘ll gain a greater following if you start a conversation, and then listen. It’s a delicate balance of promoting your brand but engaging your audience while doing so.
One outstanding example of this concept in action is Gillette®’s recent campaign for Old Spice, a 75-year old aftershave brand that most Baby Boomers remember because it was their fathers’ scent.
The question became: how does Gillette make Old Spice new and relevant for a younger demographic?
It started with a younger, sexier Old Spice man (Isaiah Mustafa) who brought a new twist to traditional broadcast media with the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign. From there, the company launched what was – to date – one of the most popular viral digital campaigns in history.
How did they do it? A set of 87 YouTube videos initially, produced for individual fans and followers, promoted through Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, 4chan and blogs. Millions of views; and ultimately, a brand repositioned from something old and stodgy to something incredibly relevant and cool – without ever talking about the product itself.
Unilever enjoyed similar success with a campaign for its Dove® beauty bar around the theme of “Real Beauty.” The original effort, which targeted 35-55 year old women, used these real women as models. Instead of talking about soap, the messaging asked web and Facebook visitors to “imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.” Essentially, the effort challenged beauty stereotypes, included scientific research on body image, and opportunities to join the conversation.
Millions of “likes,” thousands of comments and ongoing expansion has kept this conversation going strong across digital and offline media for the past nine years.
Choose Your Channels Wisely – then Keep the Conversation Going
While it is true that there are many different types of social media, it is important to recognize that not all platforms are created equal. Each channel has its own purpose, strengths and weaknesses. To create an effective digital presence that delivers the kind of results you want, choose the right channels for your target, your content and your goals.
For example, Facebook is designed for sharing experiences and engaging visitors with pictures, videos, images and text – then getting their reactions. The idea is to open a conversation, taking advantage of all of the different types of media available.
Twitter is also an interactive channel, using text, links, and images. Even if the follower doesn’t comment, he or she has the opportunity to do something (click on the link) to engage. The real secret sauce of Twitter is the ubiquitous hashtag (#) placed before a relevant keyword to categorize Tweets on that topic.
YouTube enables you to “show” something that shares a thought or starts a conversation in the form of a short video. Consumer goods companies often post “how to’s,” and consumers get involved by posting their own tips on how to use specific products, as well as product reviews. It’s a social form of “show and tell” that is very successful.
B2B companies may be well served by working through LinkedIn, which allows, for a premium, companies to identify particular designations and associations. This capability enables CMOs to target messaging to smaller, individual markets, as opposed to going for big hits.
Every company will have its own perfect blend of digital channels. But once you identify these channels, frequent, relevant communication is key. At Wipro, we post 5 updates on our Facebook page, 5 on our Twitter channels and one blog every day. That frequency, with well-thought-out topics of conversation, has become the foundation of our success in the digital channel – and, more than likely could be yours.
Use One Channel to Expand the Next Channel’s Reach
It’s a simple fact: you can have an outstanding campaign, well-crafted content and deliver it all through the right channels, but without promotion, you won’t achieve your desired reach. To be successful with digital media, you have to drive followers through cross-promotion. If you have an incredible blog post, Tweet about it and link. Promote it through your web site. Tweet when you have new Facebook posts, and then use your Facebook presence to drive readers to other content. Promote all of your channels at events, on your collateral and on your business cards. The continually linking and movement from one channel to the next will ensure you achieve a strong following.
Continually Assess Your Strategy
In every way, the world of marketing is changing, fueled by digital channels that bring great potential to CMOs who use them well. The good news is you don’t have to wait six month so see if your strategy is working. With social media, you can get a good barometer of your progress every day, so you can adjust strategies quickly until you begin to achieve the returns you desire.
Although every company’s approach to digital media is a little bit different, these truths apply industry wide: content is king, channel selection is critical and the best way to increase followers is to cross promote your posts and insights through your other digital channels.
Then, good things “follow.”