This year marketers need to be taking a look back at what they’ve learnt, says Adam Vincenzini, founder and managing partner of social media agency Kamber.
Typically, trends and predictions are supposed to be sexy. They’re supposed to cite the next big thing. They are supposed to be so exciting that they almost become confusing.
I better apologise now because the following isn’t very sexy.
Why? It looks back more than it looks forward.
After five plus years of infinite digital growth and innovation (especially due to the social media explosion), the time has come to take stock, embrace the lessons that have been learnt, and use them to develop smarter solutions (which will give creative thinking more chances to shine).
I really think 2015 will be the year of digital recalibration (with a tiny sprinkle of déjà vu).
There are still so many existing digital challenges that haven’t been solved, and without addressing those things, going after the next big thing is futile.
Obviously, each organisation is at its own level of digital maturity, and some might be well placed to hit the accelerator pedal, but it isn’t the norm.
So, here’s a collection of thoughts about 2015 which had every intention of being sexy, but ended up a little more reserved.
However, I hope they are useful nevertheless.
1. ‘Always on’ vs. campaigns – getting the balance right still eludes many
- This isn’t unique to 2015, but it has become a lot more apparent of late
- The big flashy ideas will normally illicit the most emotional responses from brand guardians, but without a solid ‘always on’ program in place, campaign ‘spikes’ can be futile
- Taking the hard road, spending a sustained period of time building authority, and THEN adding the campaign layers is the formula for success in 2015 and beyond
- If the future is invested in now, success is likely to occur with greater regularity later
2. ‘Borrowing’ influencer audiences – what happens afterwards?
- “That beauty vlogger has how many subscribers??!”
- There is nothing wrong with third party publisher collaboration, but it’s often a short term fix
- If that path is taken, a long term outlook is required – can it be a two-three year partnership?
- Expect to see more and more influencer partnerships in 2015, especially from media buying agencies who are partial to dangling the ‘reach’ carrot
- Collaboration is great, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of developing channels and audiences you own
3. How much budget should we allocate to content promotion? But we’ve been spending…
- A very common question: “What should be spent on content promotion?
- Without knowledge of context, objectives and benchmarks that question is impossible to answer
- The simple answer, which isn’t a bad thing, is that a promotional spend must be part of your 2015 toolkit (but that isn’t breaking news)
- As more is learnt about paid content promotion by businesses of all shapes and sizes, better decisions will be made
- Expect to see benchmarking and testing preached louder and louder in 2015 (and rightly so)
4. Is that what good really looks like?
- An assumption is required here (please don’t hold it against me)
- The social media thing happened, agencies were engaged, different stories were being sold by different people, and real proof was in short supply
- ‘Good’ was (and still is to a degree) defined by the soft vanity metrics – likes, engagement rates etc
- In reality, ‘good’ is ultimately defined by a hard and soft metric ‘cocktail’ and whether or not those targets are being met
- Agencies are being challenged more as knowledge increases (and this is a good thing)
5. Every agency is a content agency, right?
- Many are, and many do it very well, but making content work in the participatory media age is influenced by so many factors
- Content also comes in so many shapes, sizes and formats
- Most importantly, great content ideas aren’t enough on their own, they need to consider the needs and preferences of the online participant
- On the surface, this doesn’t appear to be happening with enough regularity
- This approach, and associated skill set, is in short supply
6. Is this social media caper really right for us?
- The participatory media landscape is naturally suited to the three F’s: Food, fitness and fashion (just ask any Instagram user)
- It doesn’t mean others can’t thrive – technology-based brands are naturally suited to regular publishing as ‘news’ is never in short supply
- But, is the social media thing really doing anything beyond placating senior management? Do other methods of marketing and communication deliver more impact?
- In 2015, we might (and should) see some brands pump the breaks, instead of hitting the accelerator, which reverses the recent trend
7. Channel or content? It should be an easy answer…
- It still appears (in some places) that channels are considered first and content second
- That’s backwards, without having anything valuable to say being active is counter productive
- If the right content strategy is in place it wouldn’t matter if Facebook died tomorrow because an adaptable long-term view has been taken
- Could 2015 be the year for really getting it right? Only time will tell.
8. Ready, fire, aim (yes, that is in the right order)
- We operate in the most fluid and fast-paced era ever and the following isn’t intended to throw all strategic thinking out the window
- Obsessing about getting your ducks in a row for too long almost certainly means you’ll never have them ready because something will change
- This is a huge challenge across all business departments, but especially across the digital disciplines
- Adapting to changes from people and platforms alike (as they occur) is something that needs to be preached (and accepted) with more regularity in 2015
- Start, test the waters, learn from it, and then roll out with greater fervor. The longer the delay, the harder it can get
Wrapping things up
It is my hope is that what you’ve just read isn’t another guest at the echo chamber hotel.
However, I do think that the all challenges addressed and the questions posed are important ones.
The fact that they aren’t especially earth-shattering potentially adds to their weight – common questions are common for a reason.
The digital recalibration has begun and could be THE key theme of 2015.