By Pablo Di Meglio, Social Director for Headway Digital
It has been a while since Social Media has ceased to be a mere trend or an isolated phenomenon. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram have dominated the digital scene for a few years now, and have transformed the way companies approach marketing and advertising.
The figures are overwhelming, with penetration rates growing exponentially every year. In Latin America alone, 95% of Internet users are on at least one social channel, and we spend, on average, over 10 hours a month on them, which greatly overcomes the figures for other regions.
In this context, the coming of age for the Social Media Marketing industry –which rushed through all possible stages in very little time– finds us at a turning point in our strategies and priorities. Over the last few years, brands have been occupied building their “social status”, strengthening their presence in social media, making their audiences grow through content, apps and contests, and trying to get their messages and communications through to the largest audiences possible.
Yet, nowadays, “traditional” Social Media Marketing strategies have been less successful and have seen a dramatic drop in results. Competition for content –over 80% of companies at a regional level are on social networks– and internal changes in how users consume content –bear in mind recent discussions about Facebook’s algorithm– demand that we redesign our strategies and rethink how we connect with, and become relevant to, our consumers.
We are forced to ask ourselves: Is investment in Social Media worth it? Is it efficient to keep on putting our money into channels like Facebook and Twitter? And the answer is yes, we have to continue investing, but in a different way. Now the focus is not on content, contests and apps but on advertising, on Social Ads. We have to see Social Media as much more than Likes and Retweets. We have to take advantage of the current relationships ecosystem to create segmented, customized and real-time advertising. Nowadays, Social Marketing strategies are not likely to become fully successful without paid distribution.
Several articles on Forrester, AdAge or Forbes already acknowledge it: Social Media strategies have changed. Social Media has ceased to be the management of free resources to become an opportunity to connect with consumers using advanced segmentation tools. In accordance with this, a recent study by Salesforce states that 70% of Marketing managers and leaders globally are confident that Social Media advertising will be “critical” in 2015, overcoming organic Social Media and even mobile.
It is a huge opportunity. We’re talking about highly segmented advertising through channels where millions of registered, active and mobile users share content and openly promote what they like.
And the challenge for brands, advertisers and companies is just as big. It is very important to know how to make the best use of the segmentation possibilities, how to work with real-time bidding process automation, how to get more data on user behavior and how to focus on the ROI, on how we impact the company’s real business. In order to try and overcome these challenges and make the most of the advertising possibilities provided by Facebook or Twitter (among other networks), certified platforms and technologies are the global trend. In this case, technology provides functionalities and tools to help us improve performance in our campaigns, and so have a positive impact on the return on investment of all our actions.
It is a big gamble. We have to internally change our tune for how we use Social Media in favor of our marketing, communication and advertising strategies.