In 2013, social media advertising increased by 35% over 2012. This increase was driven primarily by the growth of mobile, but also by the increasing ubiquity of the major social networks. According to a Pew research study, 71% of online adults now use Facebook, 17% use Instagram, 21% use Pinterest and 19% use Twitter. As these numbers increase, social media’s share of marketing budgets is expected to rise from an average of 7.4% to 18.1% in the next five years.
As advertising continues to increase, one concern is that social spending will outpace social measurement. Determining ROI for social media is already challenging, and it’s nearly impossible to put a price tag on engagement. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to determine which social channels are appropriate for reaching target audiences. In the past, Facebook’s 1 billion users made the network a default destination for brands. But with the changes to Facebook’s algorithm, posts from friends and news media are now prioritized over posts from Pages in users’ news feeds. This has drastically decreased the organic reach of brand pages to 2% of their total audience. Because of these changes, it is likely that we’ll see those social media spending figures increase even more, as advertisers will now need to pay to reach the audiences they once reached organically.
Brands can no longer rely on Facebook to do their social media heavy lifting. And while not all brands need to have a presence on all social networks, there should now at least be a strategy in place for each channel. More specifically, there should be a strategy for how each channel can work together as part of an integrated campaign. Without a cohesive strategy, social media messages become fragmented and potentially inconsistent.
In a previous post, I discussed the importance of integrating the consumer voice with regard to unofficial blogs. The same argument can be applied to the major social networks. Consumers generate some of the most engaging content about brands. The consumer voice should be considered a collective channel that needs to be integrated into any campaign. Fortunately, there are several amazing tools available that can help brands harness the power of user-generated content. Two of the coolest looking platforms out there are RebelMouse and FeedMagnet. Each digital publishing platform acts as a social media hub for all activity related to a brand. “Given the fragmented nature of social marketing, a social hub can provide a valuable window into a variety of persuasive content that would not otherwise be found all in one place.” By aggregating and publishing social media content, brands can essentially re-purpose consumer comments, photos and videos. These galleries can then be displayed on a brand’s Facebook page or website. According to Friend2Friend CEO Roger Katz, “[Social] audiences can provide content that is authentic, constantly changing, and often beautiful and unexpected. Syndicating brand and fan-created social content can invigorate a corporate website.”
One example of a brand that has employed this strategy is Mercedes-Benz. On its Social Cloud, Mercedes gathers all published material relating to the brand, from independent sources such as blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram, as well as from official brand channels. Another example is Pepsi’s Your Voice page. Fan submitted images are displayed alongside branded content that can be liked, retweeted or pinned.
By aggregating social content, brands can reduce the fragmentation of marketing messages and allow consumers to become a larger part of the brand. Sharing content can potentially increase engagement as well as the reach of brand messages. What do you think? Should more brands employ this approach as part of their social strategy? Are any of your favorite brands fighting fragmentation with aggregation?