CONNECT AT EVERY STEP
Devasish Auddy says social is central to strategy.
We live in a more connected world today than ever before. At almost every step of our daily lives we cross paths with different marketing stimuli, from roadside billboards and elevator screens to online banners and social media ads on our mobile devices.
The consumer’s journey is a very non-linear one and purchasing decisions can be triggered from anywhere. This is why brands need to ensure that they remain connected with their consumers, through every step of the journey. Once consumers express interest in a product category, brands need to capture their attention and ensure that they remain top-of-mind at any touch point in the journey.
When planning the marketing strategy, marketers should look at what kinds of touchpoints have the highest penetration and what kind of affinity they have for a target audience. These two criteria are the most important when deciding which channels are worth prioritising.
In the MENA region, for example, where internet penetration is higher than the global average at around 58 per cent, and with GCC counties such as the UAE and Bahrain reaching more than 90 per cent , digital channels are a crucial part of the marketing strategy.
At the same time, print media affinity is declining, playing a much smaller role in a marketing campaign. This is why at HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, all our content is created with a digital purpose, and particularly for social media.
Social media is driven by content, whether videos or images, news or livestreaming. With consumers being exposed to less organic content and more sponsored content, brands are compelled to ensure that their content is relevant for the social media platform it is shared on.
Most marketers create content for one social media channel and share it across all their platforms in the same format. This is a misalignment that can cost them engagement and followers in the long-run. The reason consumers prefer one social media channel over another is because of their consumption behaviour.
Instagram, for example, is proving to be more engaging than Facebook, with the UAE leading the MENA region with the highest Instagram adoption rate and second-highest number of daily users, at 1.2 million.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is YouTube’s largest market globally in terms of per-capita consumption, with video being the most popular online activity for young people. Therefore, the content and message should be tailored to suit the target audience for each individual channel.
Video content, for example, is very well received, with 70 per cent of
smartphone users in the UAE and Saudi Arabia watching videos on social media at least once a week, more than the global average. Share-ability is higher for videos, but they receive fewer comments than photos or static posts.
This is because social media videos typically run for one to two minutes, so the time spent on that particular content is more. If viewers spend their time watching the entire video and they like it, they will share it with their followers as well. Therefore, to stand out from the clutter of video content, brands need to ensure that the videos they post are engaging and relatable, to keep the viewers’ interest until the very end.
Furthermore, engagement and conversations with your followers are crucial to maintain a brand’s reputation and grow its audience. Brands should share content that is relevant to their target audiences and encourages them to feel part of the story.
Whatever the form of the content, there must be a clear call to action, so that the audience knows what they are supposed to do with it next, whether it is sharing, liking or commenting. Community management is also important, since comments and questions show what kind of engagement the content is generating and how well received the content is.
Finally, it is important to measure the success of the social media campaign. Apart from key metrics such as engagement, marketers must also look at the role the social media campaign has within the overall marketing mix and how it affected the consumer journey, either by redirecting the audience to the website or triggering a purchasing decision. Throughout the journey, the consumer should encounter the same user experience. Only then can brands truly stay connected with their audiences.
Devasish Auddy is regional head of marketing at HMD Global