The TSC guide to Social Marketing and Social Business Trends
The decline of organic reach, the rise of the micro-influencer, a new focus on video and the refocusing of marketers’ gaze from Millenialls to Generation Z. Social media continues to serve up greater opportunities and even greater expectations to those firms that have fully embraced Facebook and friends, but where will it go next? To answer the question, TSC, Sitel Group’s Customer experience and digital agency business drew on the experience of working with over 40 international brands and with 350 digital marketing professionals to examine the key future trends touted in 2017 to see if they’re starting to come to fruition and to help business leaders understand how these changes could impact their companies this year
“Today, so much content of every type is being pumped out that brands are now fighting to be heard and seen on social networks and are struggling to distinguish themselves from each other. Thanks to this proliferation of publishing, organic reach is in free fall and the sponsored content that would have pushed brands towards consumers has started to repel social media users,” says Geoffrey Boulakia, TSC General Manager EMEA. “It’s crucial to create solutions that deliver the right content, on the right channel at the right time to the right people and generate leads that are not strictly quantitative, but qualitative.”
A new social algorithm
It’s a change of focus that’s in line with Facebook’s own shifting priorities. The world’s largest social network has updated its algorithm so that what it calls trusted content is now prioritized in its users’ newsfeeds. The hope is that it will reduce the proliferation of fake news and the impact of brand content while generating conversations and interactions among friends and family members with a higher emotional value.
"One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent," said Mark Zuckerberg in a statement announcing the changes.
"Many brands are going to be negatively impacted by these changes. They will see their reach decrease significantly," says Jean-Baptiste Ong, Head of Social Media at TSC. “But, on the other hand, there will still be a place for brands in the new newsfeed if they adapt their marketing and editorial strategies. We strongly believe in strategies that aim to create conversational content. Strategies that follow the equation: visibility of a page = quality content (formats) + conversation (engagement) + media coverage (media buying).”
The era of social selling
Social Networks can be said to have three superpowers. They have the ability to strengthen social ties, to influence societies and to impact established business models. And for firms in the new digital age, it is the latter that should be getting their undivided attention because social is now everybody’s business. Gone are the days where a company’s social network activities were confined to the actions of a social media manager. Today they represent a veritable playground for sales teams looking for new prospects, to maintain existing relationships and to engage its customer base and earn its support for new projects and ideas.
The time has arrived for the ROI-zation of Social Networks and the evolution of KPIs accordingly so that users’ experiences and emotions are at the heat of marketing campaigns that aim to boost commitment and conversion rates. However, companies will have to be able to take these emotional indicators and act on them to make social networks mean business - something that could prove challenging for some firms.
The major impact of micro-influencers
Faced with the decline of the organic reach plus the wholesale rejection of sponsored content in its current guises, it’s not surprising that influencers are plugging this commercial gap and becoming key to driving an emotional connection and brand commitment particularly among younger consumers.
The move to influencers has also seen the rise of the micro-influencer, who, unlike the macro-influencer has built his or her following on related expertise and knowledge, rather than the cult of celebrity. They may have fewer followers, but their authenticity and credibility means that each fan has a higher commitment rate. According to a Digiday report, micro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 subscribers generate an 8% commitment rate. This drops to 4% for influencers with 1,000-10,000 subscribers and down to 2.4% for influencers with a fan base of 10,000-100,000. Once an influencer boasts more than 1 million followers the commitment rate plummets to 1.7%.
Micro-influencers are essential not only for engaging consumers but also, through this interaction, generating qualified, and actionable data for brands.
Selling to Generation Z: not as easy as ABC
As internet users’ attention levels continue to shorten – it now stands at 8-to-15 seconds for 12-to-25-year-olds – the number of platforms receiving this attention is multiplying. Little wonder that Generation Z, a cohort that’s grown its online footprint by 100% in recent years, has been nicknamed screenagers. Nor should it come as a surprise that they are two-to-three times more likely to be influenced by social media, rather than traditional channels or marketing approaches, when it comes to completing an online purchase.
Generation Z values what other members of its generation do and the recommendations they share on social networks, more than the product itself. This means that companies may have to realign their brands accordingly. Club Med claims that this will mean that companies will have to start with “Why?” Answering the question “why you do what you do?” rather than conveying what it is that you do. That’s the selling point for the next generation.
The mission of creative marketing: GET REAL
"Information is valuable today only if it is shared," says Fabienne Blanquart, Head of Social Intelligence of Canal +, “We need to find the formats that promote dissemination and link the data to creative marketing to identify innovative formats in the image of users.”
Beyond attempting to personalize content, authenticity, emotion and experience should be the watchwords, especially for a generation that is being exposed to an excess of fake news. Therefore the formats that best meets this description are those that exist in real time and therefore can’t be edited or gamed, such as live video streams.
Video goes omnipresent
"Our thumbs scroll through almost 100 meters of content every day,” says Geoffrey Boulakia. “The amount of platforms serving content seeking our attention is growing all the time, yet our attention spans are shortening.”
That’s why live video and real-time content are emerging as the secret weapons in the war brands are waging in order to reengage consumers and why brands are now running campaigns via Snapchat, Facebook Live Ads, Instagram stories and Youtube bumper ads.
In the US alone, YouTube users watch a combined 4 billion video clips (and spend a combined 1 billion hours) every day on the site, making it more popular for 18-49-year-olds than any US television channel (Hubreport 2017). By 2020, it’s forecast that 75% of mobile data will be given over to video consumption meaning that the days could well be numbered for any brand that hasn’t already adopted a video-first strategy.
But as well as YouTube, Facebook has made no secret of its desire to replace the TV. Alongside Facebook Live, its video offensive includes Watch and Watch party – currently in its testing phase.
"The internet has become a video platform, and brands must become media companies," says Jérémie Clévy of Meltygroup.
Will Facebook face off with Tencent?
For many, Facebook is seen as the all-consuming social network, in terms of time, users and even its competitors. Even when it hasn’t been able to acquire a company - think Snapchat – it’s managed to ape its USP and seamlessly integrate it into its own offering. However, while Facebook continues to dominate the west, we mustn’t discount the growing power of social platforms and tech conglomerates on the other side of the world. In November, Tencent, overtook Facebook in terms of share price and is now focusing its business intentions on the western hemisphere with strategic investments in everything from Snapchat and Tesla to Spotify and, most recently a licensing deal signed with Google. And if anything is going to challenge the combined might of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon on their own turf, it will be Baidu Tencent Alibaba and Xiaomi – BATX.
If Facebook is the top social network in terms of its 2 billion users, YouTube comes a close second and Chinese social networks come third, but are growing fast. WeChat now has 963 million users. Weibo, the Chinese take on Twitter is continually adding partnerships with television and Chinese production studios. The network already boasts 30,000 influencers (called Key Opinion Leaders) and are considered the best in the world at what they do. For example one Key Opinion Leader, Mr Bags, managed to sell 80 Givenchy bags in just 12 minutes, netting 1,192 million RMB (about 162 140 €) in the process. All of which is why there’s good reason to believe that the future of social could be written in Chinese.
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