We want to be treated like people, not as a demographic. The move towards personalisation has been a priority for brands in 2018. Social media has become a staple for marketing strategies this year, with many focusing on stories to be more direct with consumers. Rob Coyne, General Manager EMEA at Hootsuite, looks at the social trends brands need to watch and adapt for.
Retailers are taking notice of the power of social. Whether it’s the ability to drive sales or the direct-to-consumer communication opportunities, its well and truly cementing itself as a key part of retail marketing strategies. With fashion powerhouses such as Burberry launching a social media-only London Fashion Week collection, and the e-commerce giant ASOS getting the backing of a social strategy from its boardroom, there should be room in everyone’s digitalisation plans for social.
Hootsuite’s 2019 Retail Trends Report recently unveiled how brands can utilise social to better connect with customers, build trust and improve social shopping. Despite the scrutiny social media platforms have received recently, a new social paradigm is emerging, and brands are already adapting to it. Consumers want to be treated like individuals, not demographics. The demand for real, personal and authentic social content is here, and it’s time for brands to answer the call.
Trust will always be number one
In the social history books, 2018 will be a year to remember. Both Facebook and Twitter were under pressure to tighten security measures and expel troublesome bots and fake accounts, which had a detrimental impact on consumer trust towards social networks. In fact, according to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Report 60% of people no longer trust social media companies. Consumers are reverting back to trusting immediate friends, family and traditional news sources. Despite this fresh doubt, brands are presented with the opportunity to start rebuilding trust from the bottom up.
Because of this, brands need to be more human and more relatable on social channels. They need to put themselves on the same level of consumers and work on personalising content to better suit demographics’ changing needs. One retailer that is listening and making a change is John Lewis. The department store has created a new app that will allow members of staff and customers to engage on a one-to-one basis, helping with queries and questions. The employees using the app will be provided with the knowledge and content to become expert ambassadors of the brand. This will help them better create a stronger, more meaningful relationship with customers, boosting sales and increasing loyalty in the process.
Stories are here to stay
For a long while now, social platforms have been navigating themselves away from purely text based media, towards a more visual, mobile-only set of networks, with Stories acting as the perfect fit to compliment the move. Stories are overwhelmingly visual and are meant to be created and consumed on the move, with nothing more than a smartphone and a creative eye. Adopting more visual content is widely being welcomed by consumers, with nearly a billion users across Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat opting to use Stories to share information with friends and family.
Stories also give brand-to-consumer communication a more personal feel, something that is widely being picked up by big companies. So much so that 64% of Hootsuite’s business customers have either implemented Instagram Stories into their social strategy, or plan to do so in the next 12 months. ASOS has seen huge success from its use of Instagram Stories, with the CEO Nick Beighton commenting on how it has brought the company ‘fantastic engagement’, and 244 million views during 2017/8. With just over eight million followers on Instagram, the e-commerce retailer has used the feature to craft campaigns that resonate with its audience and showcase the wide variety of products it stocks. The focus on Stories has also reduced the brand’s overall marketing spend.
Competition fuels creativity
We are in the midst of a pay-to-play era, with one in every four Facebook pages now using paid media, and marketers noticeably increasing social ad budget — up 32% in 2018 alone. So what does the increase in paid social mean for marketers struggling to get noticed? Listening to your audience, and treating them like individuals is key. Some people are more receptive to ads than others, this is why creativity is so important. As consumers are bombarded daily with ads, it’s the brands that are doing something unique with their content that are getting noticed. Social teams are recognising the importance of investing time, creativity and pinpoint targeting of ads to amplify organic content with paid boosts.
eBay, Wish.com and Guess have all seen early success with Snapchat’s shoppable ads feature, with all three reporting better engagement when compared to Snapchat’s previous ads tool. What it comes down to is brands being able to respect and engage their customers as individuals, rather than a mass demographic, and providing content that adds value to their lives. The brands that succeed are the ones that do this effectively with minimum costs.
Cutting through the noise
Time and budgetary constraints will always be an issue for brand marketers, made even more challenging with the growth of paid-for-play opportunities fuelling the competition. Brands need to consider new and creative ways to cut through the noise and target their consumers. Social media is the perfect direct-to-consumer platform for brands to create personalised content that resonates with its audience as individuals. From small independent retailers to worldwide organisations, social has an important and permanent part to play in every brand’s marketing strategy.
By Rob Coyne
General Manager EMEA