B&T’s been lucky to jag a spot at this week’s Engage Bali (by Socialbakers) Social Media Summit. Prior to the social media love-fest, we put the big questions to none other than the company’s CEO, Yuval Ben-Itzhak (main photo), where he talks social media, its future and what brands need to know now…
You’re speaking at the Social Media Summit, what can the audience expect?
In my presentation, I will be sharing some of the global trends we are seeing on social media as we head into 2018. At Socialbakers we are in a unique position to comment on industry trends on social because of the amount of content and insight we gather on a daily basis. I am excited to share these insights with our customers in Bali this week.
What’s been the most exciting thing to happen in social media over the past 12 months?
For me, it’s really been the impact AI has had on marketing technologies. I am a techie, so seeing how AI, predictive analytics and ML technologies are having such a huge impact on simplifying the lives of marketers is really exciting for me and for our customers.
In the next year, we should see automation take over other integral parts of social media, especially in the area of audience segmentation and building of accurate audience personas for brands. AI will take the small repeated tasks, the marketers are doing every day, and operate them at scale while giving back the marketer 30 per cent of their time to focus on the more creative and complex challenges they have.
What works and what doesn’t?
Personalisation works. No brand ever speaks to one audience. Marketers have been aware of this for decades. The law applies to social as well. Platforms offer marketers countless ways to target, retarget, segment and analyze their audiences in any way imaginable. It allows marketers to think beyond the obvious segmentation by demographics and step into targeting based on interests and behaviours to deliver more personalised messages.
The inverse is true. A lack of personalisation, brands producing a blanket, un-targeted content does not work. It’s a lack of authenticity and relevance alienates and annoys the audience.
There’s a HUGE issue around trust in all forms of media at the moment. What’s your view on that in relation to social media?
I would say we are certainly seeing a need for greater authenticity on social media. Audiences are becoming increasingly frustrated with bland, inauthentic social media ads. As a result, we see brands shifting more towards using social to engage in dialogue with their audience rather than on pushing content at them. By openly discussing topics relevant to your customers, you become more valuable to them as a company.
This growing need for authenticity is also fuelling the demand for influencers and micro-influencers. People are looking more and more to individuals their trust for advice and information and less and less to brands. We can see how this growing demand for more authenticity and trust has impacted the platforms as we have recently seen both Facebook and Snapchat shift their algorithms to prioritise content from friends and family.
How are brands still getting their social media wrong?
The first thing brands need to be clear on is what they want to achieve with social media. I would recommend and brand to start by comparing themselves to the rest of the industry to get a clear overview of their performance, the budget their competitors are putting behind their ads and the value they’re generating with their investments. Once a brand understands how they are performing against their competition it will be much easier for them to work out where they want to be and how to get there.
Where should social media fit in a brand’s overall media/marketing mix?
With over a third of the world’s population on-board, social media is mass media marketing that brands simply can’t do without. It is a great tool for generating leads, as it gives marketers the ability to have a more targeted approach, but it is also a tool for customer services, HR and corporate communications. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to where brands can and should be using social media, but brand who are not using social media is more than likely leaving their audience unattended and leaving cash on the table.
What’s your advice to CMOs confused about investing in their social media strategy?
CMOs need to know that a successful social media strategy is one that reaches the right people at the right time with the right content to inspire conversations and encourage interactions. Being relevant and effective is the name of the game in Social and there a several components CMOs need to address:
- WHO – it is key for marketers to understand their audience, what personas are there, what are their interests, what are they talking about and who are they engage with. They shouldn’t guess the answers and try to create blanket content that suits everyone. Instead, they need to target and personalize per each persona.
- WHAT – it is very important for marketers to understand what engages their audience, what is trending and what their competitors are doing.
- WHEN – Timing is key. Marketers need to learn at what time of day their audience is engaging with content as this is the best time to post. It is also useful to learn about their calendar (holidays, events, important days) as it will drive content opportunities what will engage them.
- WHERE – There are so many networks, so it’s important to learn where on social the marketer’s audience engages with their content. The answer may be Facebook, it may be LinkedIn, but answering this question is key to helping marketers to achieve their goals.
- HOW – Last but certainly not least is measurement. Marketers need to measure how their content performs. Benchmarking results against competitors, industry, region to learn where they stand provides insight on how to improve their performance.
From what we are seeing today, CMO’s have understood the need for social media and the impact it can have on their business, so they want to make sure they are getting the best return on their investment. This evolution has meant that a social media strategy today needs to be one that covers each part of the business from corporate communication to customer service, from executive communications to sales
Who’s a brand (not yours) that you think is nailing its social media and why?
Lego. Aside from being a super cool brand, they are also leading the way in creating authentic, on-brand social content that engages their audience. Lego has taken a customer-centric approach to their social media. They not only put their communities first by creating authentic digital experiences and sharing exclusive content, they also encourage their audiences to contribute new ideas for their products.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc – what’s your platform of choice?
All of the above, plus LinkedIn and YouTube! Each platform has its unique value.
Looking deep into your crystal ball, what’s the next BIG thing coming for brands in the social media space?
We don’t need to look too far into the future to see that social media optimisation is really the big thing brands need to be focusing on moving forward.
There was a time when marketers focused all efforts on getting their websites listed in search results and cutting through to the first page until they realized they have to pay to play. Today, the fast transition from organic to paid social has driven the interest in SMO, and now the trend is reaching its peak. Now instead of paying to compete to be at the top of search result, we contest for the audience’s views on the News Feed.
SMO mirrors SEO. Both are a multistep process and both leverage machine learning to ensure marketers achieve more with the same budget. The SMO process starts by gaining audience insights across social channels to create content that resonates with users. It requires AI recommendations to eliminate guesswork when publishing content and promoting it. It is only valuable as long as the results are benchmarked in a competitive context, both by verticals and regions, as the true proof of success on social. Marketers who stay behind the trend in 2018 and stick to traditional, manual social media marketing methods, will see returns diminish and their competitive advantage fade.
The uptrend isn’t all that surprising. The demand for the audience’s attention is greater than it ever was driving up the ad costs and only the top performers are given space on the News Feed. There is little room for errors left, and for those marketers who are under pressure to succeed and show their contribution to the business, SMO is the cure to their stress. Moving to 2018, it is inevitable that SMO will be the key investment for brands worldwide.