Monday, May 19, 2014

Marketing Entrepreneurs: Here’s How to Reenergize Your Social Media Strategy.

Today, there is no question your high value markets are increasingly mobile. Companies are struggling to balance the demands of younger and older markets. In search of reaching millennials and younger audiences, traditional brands (Buick, FordGE, Neiman Marcus) are beginning to experiment on Vine and other hot apps (Tinder, etc). As a graduate marketing student in the Northwestern Medill IMC program, I have found two articles relevant to these challenges you will find interesting.

In a recent article in Fast Company, "How the Most Successful Brands Dominate Instagram, and You Can Too," Rachel Gillett analyzes how Instagram has become one of the most effective, yet most underutilized apps by marketers. Research shows that Instagram has the highest conversion rate from browser to shopper among social networking platforms. Gillett shows how the best brands are using Instagram with great success. The highlights? She recommends personalizing your brand by taking them behind the scenes and using a fans-first approach. Post rich videos and images to drive viral marketing and create buzz around new product launches or campaigns. Instagram is a great way to empower communities of fans to engage with your company and create their own content. Instagram makes it easy to shoot quick, low-budget content that makes your brand relevant and interesting. More importantly, Instagram posts are easily integrated across platforms, including Twitter and Facebook.

Nike consistently ranks the top brand on Instagram. Photo found on Floranet

Jeff Revoy, CEO of Viralheat offers a different perspective in his recent article for Fast Company, "Breaking up with Facebook? You Better Think Twice." Revoy analyzes why increasing your presence on new apps won’t replace Facebook marketing. Facebook has been the dominant social media platform for well over 5 years: every second, 684,478 things are shared on Facebook. With more than 1 billion active users, Facebook’s user base would make it the third most populous country in the world. Revoy reminds us why we shouldn’t cut ties just yet. For Facebook to grow, he points out, it must continue to develop innovative ways to measure audience engagement and provide content that users want. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat are underutilized, but do not face the same pressure to innovate as Facebook.

Based on my assessment of these two articles and on my marketing work at Medill Northwestern, here are three actions I recommend you consider when developing your social media strategy:
  •  Build space into your content strategy for new and popular apps. Understand how they work, who is using them, and how to best represent your brand.  
  • Change the way you’re using Facebook (or at least, your expectations of Facebook). Understand how the demographics are changing and how to use it for better co-creation.
  • Blend the two. Facebook allows for a deeper, qualitative interaction with your customer. Co-creation stemming from this platform can lead to integrated content across other apps.

Limiting your aperture to Facebook and Twitter is a way to get frustrated with your engagement metrics quickly. Expand the scope of your marketing plan to include new apps, especially Instagram, to maintain and foster better engagement with your target markets. Facebook will continue to drive innovation in social media marketing; but don’t just sit around and wait for the next big thing.

Emily Heaslip is currently pursuing her masters in Integrated Marketing and Communications at Medill Northwestern University. She is focusing on innovative digital marketing, with an eye toward start-ups and entrepreneurship in the tech sector. While at school, she’s worked on projects studying Warby Parker, LYFE Kitchens, and Miller High Life. Questions or comments? Tweet to @IMCEmily

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