Opinion

Always relevant: social’s untapped commercial stream

if “always on” is dead then “always relevant” should be the new norm for brands, writes Red Engine's Paul Isbell.

‘Always on’ was once considered best practice for all social engagement while today – unless you’re Gary Vee – it is considered a dirty word, well, dirty phrase. The mantra from Facebook was fly the flag of “fewer, bigger, better” that is, fewer assets, bigger creative and better reach.

Because why should you create multiple assets that aren’t reaching a tenth of the optimal audience you should be reaching – that’s about 70% by the way – with your brand and affinity tailored social assets?

For marketers this meant throwing the content calendars (with a fixed number of assets) out of the window and either creating less assets or (for the more savvy) integrating social into big brand bursts or campaigns throughout the year to deliver increased ad recall and frequency of message.

This was all well and good for top of the funnel activity, but Facebook had also evolved its lower funnel offering during this period. It is this stream that is often overlooked by Australian brands. You could now optimise for conversions, set up pixels on your website to track and retarget, drive app downloads and target consumers through the Messenger platform – which is probably one of the most effective lower funnel ad units Facebook offers.

However, the conversation has always been that social doesn’t impact sales metrics and loses out in the battle against search and affiliates because of last click attribution, so why bother?

Brands discounted the approach, with internal marketers posting offers over short timeframes (usually three days) on a reach or website click objective and thinking that targeting fans and competitor fan bases (NOT their entire customer base or users who looked like them) was doing due diligence on social. Meanwhile ignoring web users leaving signs of intent – website visits, leads, lookalike audiences – on a daily basis.

The reality is that we have moved into a new era of social. The social media ecosystem and our approach to it is beginning to mature and this means we must employ performance strategy as part of our social approach – and yes FMCG brands this means you too. If you want more shelf space at Coles, Woolworths and IGA, then you need to demonstrate how you are going to shift product.

Social performance takes two forms. You firstly prospect audiences based off third party audiences, website retargeting and lookalikes. You then follow up with a conversion asset related to an offer, product trial or lead gen form. Think of it as social search, run across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, where rather then targeting broad audiences, you adopt a digital retargeting approach, ensuring that in-market consumers are being served with relevant product and promotional content aligned to your retail calendar. The overall goal: drive lower funnel metrics once a consumer has shown a sign of intent.

Consumers are leaving all types of intent signals across all inbound digital marketing that many brands aren’t currently tapping into. Website visits, lookalikes, engagement with content, CRM audiences or third party data. These signals provide an opportunity to adopt a retargeting strategy to ensure consumers who have expressed a sign of intent are being served with content aligned to the products that are relevant to them 24/7. So, if “always on” is dead then “always relevant” should be the new norm for brands.

Starting to think of social in this way opens up a conversation with your retailers and sales team. Demonstrating how this stream of content can add value and impact on commercial metrics. Prompting a sharper focus on relevancy rather than recency when it comes to distribution of action focused content across social.

The additional beauty is why this always-on lower funnel stream is running you can plug your upper funnel “campaignable” moments into it. Because when it comes to social, delivering full funnel campaigns are where you really start to reap rewards and realise the channel’s true potential.

Paul Isbell is strategy and social media director, Red Engine SCC.

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