Marketing directors and CMOs are under intense pressure to make their social media marketing exciting and engaging.

Content is being churned out at an exponential rate, and digitally inclined brands are keen to employ all their resources to improving their content strategy and customer engagement practices.

Savage Marketing caught up with Toni Hopponen, Co-founder and CEO of Flockler for his insights into Social Media Marketing, Data in Marketing and Brand Engagement Strategy in 2018. Flockler aggregates all social content in a single hub and makes it easier to address customers with responses backed by real time data.

A silly competition might not cut it as there’s probably not much engagement around a competition entry.

S: Is organic social media marketing still relevant?

TH: I’d say organic social media marketing is much more relevant today than it was in 2017 but marketers will need to learn new tricks. All social channels are prioritising posts from friends and peers, and the reach of organic content is decreasing for brands. How do you overcome this challenge? The key is to get your customers talking about you in social channels, mentioning your profile page or branded hashtag. A silly competition might not cut it as there’s probably not much engagement around a (somewhat pointless) competition entry. Instead, ask your customers to provide product feedback and recommendations and amplify the most popular UGC on social channels by liking, commenting, and re-posting. To maximise the engagement, ask your audience to share content mentioning someone they value and cherish – most likely both of them have a motivation to share and engage with the post, and the reach is automatically higher.

Conversions are always business and context-specific, but personally, I’m inspired by e-commerce retailers, such as GlassesUSA, creating social shopping experiences by combining social content and their products GlassesUSA – Social Shop. On the other hand, user-generated content can be very emotional and shareable helping brands to increase engagement and build brand awareness. For inspiration, I’d suggest checking #SheInspiresMe by Women for Women.

S: Do you see any change in the form of content used to activate and engage audiences to brands in 2018-2019?

4 steps of social media marketing - Flockler

TH: I guess 2017 was the year of the video and paradoxically Facebook’s live videos were one of the big drivers. Why I say paradoxically is that at the same time Facebook seems to be losing importance, especially among Generation Z. It’s not a coincidence that Facebook announced News Feed to have a significant change in 2018 – they plan to show more content from our friends and family and less from the brands we follow. Other social channels will follow suit.

Why is this relevant for marketers planning content forms?
It’s increasingly important that the content sparks interactions. Live videos often encourage comments and their importance will grow further.
We’ll see fewer brands talking about themselves and more companies engaging with influencers to encourage their audience to like, comment, and create content too. This will increase the organic reach.
Some of the discussions and social interactions continue to move to dark internet of messaging apps. As a tech nerd, Facebook Messenger and the ability for brands to build their own apps feels compelling and it will be interesting to see if WhatsApp provides something similar soon.

S: While evaluating the various customers and case stories, do you see trends in content marketing and customer engagement in 2018?

TH: There are 2 trends we’ve noticed lately:

Plenty of our customers have realised that influencer marketing is something much more than sponsoring an Instagram post or two of a celebrity. A successful influencer marketing campaign requires a long-term approach, and the values of influencer need to be aligned with brand’s values. Often the best influencers are your employees and customers, and by analysing UGC, you’ll be able to identify people who are both influential and already connected with your brand.
e-Commerce sites are looking at automated ways to match the social content and their product database and then provide UGC as social proof on their product pages. Lately, we’ve been collaborating with Clarifai, an image recognition technology, to help our customers analyse images on Instagram, match with their products, and automate the curation process.

S: How can marketers improve mobile marketing to align with conversion KPIs?

TH: Google (organic and paid traffic) is still relevant, and there are many other forms of mobile marketing too, but if we discuss social media and mobile marketing, I’d suggest concentrating on two key points:

First, optimise your content for mobile and each social channel. A simple example: Facebook users prefer to view videos in vertical mode. When creating your content plan, think how you can tailor the same content to each social channel and how users are using the specific mobile app.

Second, make sure you have installed the relevant social media tracking pixels and created a funnel of content to optimise conversions. On social media, users are often looking for entertaining content and connecting with their friends and peers, and they might not be ready to buy your product straight away. The key to increasing conversions is to create a flow of content helping the audience to get to know you and get inspired, learn how other customers are using the product, and eventually, to convert as customers. Too many marketers say social media advertising (the majority of it on mobile) does not lead to conversions, but often the real reason is the lack of content strategy. The basic principles of marketing, such as AIDA model, apply to social media marketing as well!

S: There is an increasing trend to employ AI or machine learning tech in real time customer interaction, you can see this through KLM, Booking.com, Trainline and much more. How can marketers prepare their organisation for this change?

TH: It’s easy to predict the importance of messaging apps and chatbots to grow in 2018. Personally, I’m more interested in technologies helping brands to gather and match customer data from different sources – those technologies power personalisation of the customer experience and can make chatbot discussions and other real-time messaging a lot more useful and relevant to the customer. So as a digital director of a brand, I’d probably go through the data sources available at the moment and select marketing automation tools that make it easy to utilise the data for personalisation of the shopping experience in messaging apps and beyond.

You may also like to read: AI Assistants, Chatbots and Advertising: Insights From Microsoft

S: What role does social data play in the over all product and brand marketing strategy?

TH: There are two levels of social data available: general global and local consumer trends (e.g., #metoo) and business specific data gathered from a brands’ customers. I’m passionate about social data enriching the existing customer data and helping brands to personalise the customer experience. Unlike the historical data stored in your CRM, customer data obtained from social channels is by nature real-time and up-to-date. It gives you an overview of a customers’ interests outside of your services, and the analysis of the data enables you to predict a customers’ behaviour in the future.

When you gather and analyse a mass of user-generated content from your customers, you’ll be able to recognise themes and trends that make your customers tick. Those insights help you to optimise your content marketing and build better products and services. The data will also reveal the most influential and engaged customers, and at the time of decreasing organic reach, the forward-thinking brands are building relationships with these micro-influencers by amplifying their content. Lastly, the social data can be used to personalise the messaging on the website and in all other customer communications. If you have stored my social profile to your CRM, say Instagram account, and with tools like Flockler you are able to identify some of the things I’m interested in, why would you display the same products and call-to-actions to me?

Don’t miss your opportunity to meet data driven brands like Google, Philips, Buzzfeed and other digitally charged companies in person and learn more on developing a seamless customer experience at the Savage Marketing 2018 Conference. Make sure to sign up to receive a notification whenever a new speaker is announced here.

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