At its core, marketing is about reaching a targeted audience with a specific piece of brand content. Platforms set the stage for content; without them there would be no way to reach our customers and prospects.
While the brands we talk to tend to be very tapped into the rapid evolution of social platforms, we’ve noticed that there are a few crusty ideas that can sometimes lead marketers astray. We’d like to clarify a few of those myths here.
There are still major brands out there who wonder if social media can truly rival television when it comes to reaching massive audiences. Certainly, TV has enormous reach: the 2010 World Cup final saw 909 million viewers tune in, making it the largest televised event in history. (For our US readers, this is the viewership equivalent of eight 2014 Super Bowls.)
The counter point to that of course is the fact that just three social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) reach 1.5 billion people every single day: over 50% more than the World Cup. And with the new IAD numbers that were just released, we see that Internet ad spend hit $42 million in 2013, surpassing Broadcast Television for the first time ever. The industry has responded.
As platforms go, Facebook is a big one. As the social media giant turned 10 this year, 57% of American adults are on the platform and nearly two-thirds of them visit the site every day. It’s also the leading social network in both North and South America, Australia and most of Europe, reaching 757 million daily active users.
Still, focusing on just one platform, even one as big as Facebook, is a mistake. There are now 25 social platforms that reach 50 million daily active users, each with a different demographic, frame of mind and context.
YouTube, the #2 most trafficked social network reaches audiences in a very different way compared to WeChat, the mobile messaging platform that’s dominating China. Simply the fact that Facebook has spent tens of billions of dollars acquiring multiple social platforms should indicate to brands that its leadership position is not absolute.
One response to the challenge of new platforms and increased content demands is simply to repost. A recent Forester report suggested that brands should simply repost content to Google+, a practice we don’t recommend. As Gary Vaynerchuk, not one to mince words, puts it in Jab, Jab, Right Hook:
“Posting the same content on Tumblr as Google+ is the equivalent of the tourist deciding that since he can’t speak Norwegian he’ll just speak Icelandic and it will do. That’s stupid.”
Each platform has its own style, pace and audience, and to be successful, a brand must understand those. Beyond that though, the definition of “platform” for distributing marketing content continues to expand. While we once thought of only email or Facebook, platforms now include dozens of different social networks, landing pages, micro-sites and even publishers, who increasingly make their audiences directly available to brands in the form of native advertising.
Successful brands see past the commonly held misconceptions about platforms. They are thinking long and hard about the channels that will bring their content to their audience.