The growing acceptance of digital as a medium for advertising is being helped along in no small way by the rapid growth of social media and particularly Facebook. One of the biggest advantages of Facebook is that you’re not looking at intangible metrics anymore – the people who follow and like your brands are just that; people. Their names and faces and their opinions are all there right up front for any brand which wants to build a strong interaction with loyalists or reach out to new customers.
The costs involved are significantly lower than other platforms, and the versatility of the platform allows brands to share video, plan engagement, gain feedback or create highly vocal communities. The advantages of a social media strategy are visible to anyone, but for many first time advertisers, there are a few common problems which agencies must help them address first.
1. It's about Conversation, not communication
While it’s easy to set up a Facebook page and blast it with updates from your brand, that sort of communication is destined to go the way of the dodo. Today, brands need to focus on conversation, not communication, and must see how their messaging connects with the consumers.
Rajesh Lalwani, Founder and Principal, Blogworks, said, “They don’t always think about how their social media presence connects with the consumer.” This connection is what provides value to social media in the first place, he added.
Yashraj Vakil, COO Red Digital, said, “Random buying of fans results in a lot of frivolous users who don't quite connect with the brand but are simply happy clicking 'like' on everything they see. We have seen this trend being very prominent in the age group of 13-18. This reduces the interaction rate on a page in spite of a huge number of fans. However, the same might not be true with brands which connect better with audiences due to a common factor such as cricket, where the fans interact a lot with the brand.”
2. Think NEW media
An all too common problem is to take concepts and ideas that have been developed for print and television, and try and bolt these onto social media platforms. That will work about as well as trying to use the same ad on television and the radio.
Lalwani said, “Often brands merely copy ideas from case-studies, or from mainstream marketing, without innovating and thinking about the concepts themselves.”
Vakil said, “Brands need to have objectives for being on social media. Being there because the competition is there is not a reason. So for example, for Monginis, we have enabled e-commerce on Facebook, while Mumbai Indians is using the medium to help ticket sales while Adidas is building brand engagement.” The platform is versatile and allows a lot of different approaches, he added.
3. Be patient
Lalwani said, “They don't spend enough time at senior level and, money, on building a program – they only spend on short tactical campaigns.”
Vakil, too, felt this was the biggest mistake brands made. “Accumulating a huge number of fans for a particular campaign and abandoning them is not only a waste of the brand's money but also a waste of an opportunity to build a long term relationship with your brand,” he added.
Once you’ve created a page and gathered the fans, they won’t go away just because you’re not running the campaign anymore. Except that if you stop updating and interacting, then you’re just hurting your fanbase and your brand. A social media strategy is a long term program, which can include smaller one off events as part of the strategy, but can’t be defined by them.