It's not your father's Internet anymore. Gone are the days when you as a marketer simply shrugged and accepted the value of banner ads, cookies and hyperlinks that your marketing budget got you because it was "digital". No longer do you need to sling your brand into the digital abyss and cross your fingers that your message will find your intended audience. Thanks to the power of social media and the rich set of user data that collects, you can target the consumers that you want to reach with near surgical precision. It's the difference between inferring a consumer is part of your target audience, and knowing you've reached your target audience. This difference is why social media may be one of the most effective marketing mechanisms known to date.
With this power to connect businesses directly to specific consumer audiences, social media outperforms every other form of online marketing (and of course offline too.) Knowing this, it's high time to reconsider how you think about digital and how you spend your precious marketing dollars.
The social space is still in early innings and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Let's get into some important recent developments to the social space and how they're shaping the future of direct response marketing.
It's the data, silly! Without addressing the cognitive dissonance that compels users to share all kinds of information on social media one moment, but fret over privacy issues the next, let's just agree that the depth and breadth of data available via social media platforms for marketing is extremely robust. While it sits behind a walled garden, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (and soon others to follow) allow this data to be utilized (or "rented" if you will) in a protected way for targeting advertising. This makes it possible not just to identify appropriate targets, but tailor campaigns and even creative assets in ways that are meaningful to the individual. Or better yet, you can use your own first party company data to build an audience, a look-alike audience or the inverse of an audience. The possibilities to engage (and be seen engaging) with the consumers you want to on a one-on-one, at scale are limited solely by your imagination.
It's a two-way street. It is important to remember that social media is not a typical marketing "channel," but should be considered as something new altogether: a way for you to reach and engage your customers AND a way for them to reach and engage you back. This means you need to be ready to respond, whether that be in response to product questions, a customer service issue or almost anything else. Silence and lack of response are not options, so plan, budget and staff accordingly.
Great conversions still need great content. This is a fundamental principle of marketing that does NOT change with social media. Content is still king. It also means that content must evolve to fit its new surroundings without looking out-of-place, whether that be a newsfeed video post, or an eye-catching photo as part of a sponsored tweet. Be thoughtful and don't just repurpose creative...your audience will notice.
Hang ten while channel surfing. As social media platforms advance in internal capabilities, so too does their cross-channel compatibility. Every day, social networks seem to connect a wider swath of channels across the digital spectrum, from traditional laptops to mobile devices and all things in-between. With the majority of social interactions taking place on untethered devices, a social strategy is also a mobile strategy. As well, other emerging technologies such as Facebook's use of Atlas are pushing social targeting into the realm of traditional display advertising. Look to take advantage of all of these opportunities while keeping a consistent message and appearance.
You have to pay to play. I know of many marketers who are still angry that the promise of organic social engagement for marketers seems to have left the building. But there is no going back and thus paid social advertising is that way to get there. There is no such thing as a free lunch...and the fact of the matter is that it's worth it. You will be paying for performance that exceeds all the other digital advertising which you are already spending money on. Putting in the effort to expertly navigate paid social advertising will be pay great dividends and give you peace of mind that your ad dollars are working for you.
Hopefully, this sheds some light on one of the most dynamic and fascinating trends in modern day marketing, and motivates you to start working with paid advertising on social media. And to paraphrase comedian Billy Connolly from one of his classic rants on routines: and the demands will all be changed (tomorrow) so (expletive) stay awake!