One of my go-to quotes is from Seth Godin: “If you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting.” I mean, how accurate is that for the world we live in? It emphasizes the need for adaptability and innovation, especially for all brands that are striving to stay relevant.
A lot of them are lagging because they haven’t kept up with the times and resisting change. Even though keeping up with the latest trends isn’t that hard, most companies struggle to do so. Meanwhile, brands like Lush and MoonPie are slaying it by being in tune with the latest social media developments.
This resistance to change and the reluctance to stay current is exactly what's stalling the growth of many businesses. Interestingly, a report by the Data & Marketing Association revealed that almost 60% of marketers reckon that changes and innovations in the digital ecosystem are their biggest challenges. And then there's the whole ongoing debate – whether to hop on new platforms and apps like Threads or not? To follow an Insta trend or let it pass by?
In this sea of choices, how do you even figure out if a social media platform or trend is worth the hype? And how to create engaging social media content for each platform?
Marketers find themselves in a bind about these new platforms and viral trends. For some brands, it’s a no-brainer to jump on the latest trends or build a following on a new platform. For others, it might seem like yet another bump in the road. But let’s get one thing straight — if you want to connect with your audience and grow your brand, you need to be everywhere and stay updated with the latest trends.
So, how do you choose what’s best for your brand without letting your own personal bias get in the way? How do you keep your content fresh and relatable across all your channels while still staying true to your brand voice?
Honestly, it all comes down to knowing your brand inside out and understanding what your audience expects from you. But hey, we all sometimes overthink things and end up making no-so-great decisions. It happens to the best of us.
But don't worry! We’ve got your back with some handy tips on making the most of various channels and knowing when to say, “thank you, next.”
Keith Murphy, principal solutions architect at Sprinklr, had a candid conversation with Sanaz Masoud Samadi, corporate marketing manager at Emirates NBD. They chatted about why marketers should think of social media marketing as a mixed bag of strategies and how to get the most out of their brands’ online presence.
Below are the key takeaways from the conversation.
Takeaway 1: How to build a consistent brand experience on different channels
Today, the rapid evolution of social media poses a significant challenge, especially for marketers. Merely maintaining a brand presence on the standard platforms is no longer sufficient. To stay relevant, you need to strategically expand and diversify your presence across a good mix of platforms. As Sanaz points out, this approach is essential to engage savvy consumers and stay competitive in today’s market.
Right now, short video content is ruling social media, with YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and TikTok videos captivating audiences worldwide. At the same time, there's a noticeable shift towards community platforms such as Quora, Reddit and Discord, indicating a growing trust in community opinions and reviews.
Sanaz's point rings clear: brands can't just coast on the traditional channels. According to her, it's important for brands to spread out and not just stick to the most popular social media channels. With consumers becoming savvier, embracing a mix of new and emerging platforms becomes necessary.
Let's break down why it's so crucial to diversify and have a broad channel coverage.
To stay relevant
Gen Z, a key demographic for many brands, is always on the lookout for what’s new and trending. To remain relevant and competitive, brands must keep pace with the ever-changing trends and algorithms that dictate the social media landscape.
To better connect with your audience
Being active on platforms where your audience spends their time facilitates deeper engagement and helps forge stronger relationships. It’s not merely about selling products or services; it’s about being authentic and getting what your audience needs and likes.
To grow your brand
Expanding your channel coverage means more opportunities for your brand to get noticed by a broader audience. It also allows you to play around with different types of content to determine what clicks with your audience the most.
To navigate the (new) social media terrain
While it’s crucial to widen your presence, it’s equally important to do so strategically. You must identify the platforms that align with your target audience and comprehend the type of content that performs best on each. For instance, short video content reigns supreme on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, while in-depth discussions and community engagement thrive on platforms like Quora, Reddit and Discord.
The dominance of short video content
YouTube Shorts attracts billions of daily views, proving to be a powerful tool for brands aiming to capture the attention of a vast audience
Instagram Reels have surged in popularity since the feature’s inception, offering brands a creative way to showcase their products and services with bite-sized videos
With over 2 billion downloads, TikTok stands as a powerhouse platform, giving brands the opportunity to tap into a highly engaged user base
Trust in community platforms
Quora boasts over 300 million monthly active users, making it a prime platform for brands to showcase their expertise and build trust
Reddit, with a daily active user base of over 50 million, offers brands a platform to engage in meaningful conversations with their audience
Discord, home to over 140 million monthly active users, is a hub for communities and presents an opportunity for brands to connect with their niche audiences
While it's great to engage with audiences on these community forums, it’s also important to consider the challenges and opportunities that come with expanding our digital presence.
Takeaway 2: New developments are unfolding across the digital world
Both Keith and Sanaz raised a common concern about having a varied digital channel mix. Brand dilution, off-brand content and diminished ROIs are some of the pitfalls that come with a varied channel mix. They also pointed out the elephant in the room — the insane amount of content bombarding us on every new social platform.
With the avalanche of new social channels and content, our feeds are practically buried under. This makes it challenging for brands to come up with unique and new content that not only makes the brand stand out on all platforms but also keeps the brand message real and true. Here’s how Sanaz outlined what’s happening in the digital world.
Riding the content wave
Sanaz mentioned that viral content can put your brand into the limelight like nothing else. “But for that to happen, your content — be it a social media post or blog — must instantly grab the consumer’s attention,” she added. In a content-saturated world, recent studies reveal that 60% of marketers find it challenging to produce content that truly engages consumers.
A lot of brands are vying for attention in an overcrowded space. Sanaz highlighted a common mistake that brands make. “Just adding to the noise isn’t the way to go, right? With all the new social channels and platforms, there’s an overflow of content flooding our social feeds." In this packed digital world, she underlines the need for brands to be both unique and consistent. Sanaz advises that standing out isn't just about being different. “It's about sharing a consistent and innovative message that cuts through the noise and truly connects with the consumers,” she added.
Building upon Sanaz’s insights, it’s equally important for brands to diversify their content types and channels. Different things work for different people, right? Videos, infographics, blogs, podcasts — they all connect with different audiences and can be shared across various platforms. And as Sanaz mentioned earlier, short video content is ruling the roost now, with trends like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts keeping people hooked to their screens.
The power of user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is often dubbed the “secret sauce” of social media marketing and there’s a good reason for doing so. It involves content created and posted by everyday users and customers on social media, which brands can leverage for their promo campaigns. The real beauty of UGC lies in its authenticity. It’s seen as more genuine and relatable than content created by brands. Plus, it’s cost-effective and tends to engage the audience more.
So, does that mean a photo of a Samsung mobile taken by a random social media user, let's say John Doe from Oregon, could be more persuasive than a professional HD shot from Samsung’s website?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
It might sound like I'm exaggerating. (Although, who knows? John Doe might have a knack for photography). But data doesn’t lie. Time and again, studies have proven that peer opinions and word-of-mouth recommendations trump brand-created content when it comes to earning consumer trust. In fact, a report from Stackla highlights the significant influence of user-generated content on buying decisions, with a notable 79% of people stating that it greatly influences their choices.
To emphasize the impact of UGC, Sanaz shares the details of a very successful UGC campaign “Fast with friends challenge” on Instagram by Emirates NBD. "We asked our followers to join and fast with a non-Muslim friend. And for every day they fasted, Emirates NBD donated 100 dirhams to charity, gunning for 500,000 dirhams for a good cause,” she added. This campaign not only echoed the brand's values but also generated a ton of user-generated content through active participation. No wonder Emirates NBD have decided to run it again next year.
Another notable example of UGC strategy is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign. It encouraged users to share photos of themselves with bottles that had their names on it, creating a flood of user-generated content across social media. Airbnb also leverages UGC by sharing stories and photos from the Airbnb community, reinforcing the idea that it’s not just about the property you can rent; it’s about the experiences you can have in them.
Maintaining brand integrity with consistency
It's easy to misinterpret brand consistency as something that’s got to do with the look and feel of the brand. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Brand consistency, as the name implies, involves maintaining a consistent tone of voice, message and values across all channels and customer touchpoints. The devil is in the details and customers are quick to spot slip-ups and discrepancies. For instance, inconsistencies in messaging style and tone can be glaringly obvious and distract customers from the core message.
You want your consumers mulling over your message, not being tripped up by irregular commas or inconsistent formatting. By maintaining precise content and coherent branding, you enable your audience to truly grasp the essence of what you're conveying.
In fact, brand consistency is the secret to customer satisfaction, according to McKinsey & Co. Additionally, Lucidpress reports that consistent brand presentation across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%. This shows the incredible impact that consistency can have on a brand's bottom line.
Throughout the conversation, Sanaz kept stressing on the importance of avoiding brand dilution and ensuring that the brand message and values remain consistent across all channels. “When your audience sees the same message, tone and values across all touchpoints, it builds trust and loyalty among your audience,” she added.
For example, Apple is a brand that epitomizes consistency. Everything from their product design and store layout to their packaging and online presence is unmistakably Apple! This consistency has helped Apple build a loyal customer base and become one of the most valuable brands globally.
Consistency also extends to the kind of content a brand shares. Sharing content that aligns with the brand's values and mission across all platforms helps in reinforcing the brand's identity. For instance, if a brand stands for sustainability, all its content across mediums should reflect this value, whether it is a post on Instagram or a blog on its website.
All in all, brand consistency is not just about the visual elements. It's about ensuring that every interaction a customer has with your brand, whether online or offline, reinforces the brand's identity, values and messaging. This kind of consistency helps in building a strong, trustworthy brand that resonates with its audience.
Now, let's dive into another crucial aspect.
Takeaway 3: How to decide on a varied channel mix?
Keith was curious about the best practices for selecting a varied channel mix and how Sprinklr could facilitate these practices. And Sanaz couldn’t have said it better!
“It's important for brands to incorporate agility as part of their social media marketing strategy. They must consider carefully factors like audience demographic, their marketing objective and the nature of the content itself”, she explained.
She further emphasized that it's not just about posting content willy-nilly on every available platform out there. “You need to be particular about the content while selecting a multi-channel mix,” she added. This strategic approach aligns with a broader industry consensus — 95% of marketers believe that a multi-channel marketing strategy is crucial to their company's success.
But how can your brand be effectively presented across all emerging channels?
Well, Emirates NBD trusts Sprinklr Marketing for its advanced AI engine that helps in adding new channels and executing and tracking campaigns for all omni-channel audiences. “Sprinklr offers a single dashboard that covers all our social media channels providing a simplified view of analytics and insights. We can also adjust our channel mix selection as needed,” Sanaz said.
Ensuring effortless and seamless channel coverage and navigation
Navigating the current digital terrain is a collective effort and needs a diverse channel strategy. It's not just for the marketers or social media managers but for everyone who interacts with customers online. Everyone needs to adapt to the continuous roll-out of new platforms and technologies, a point emphasized by Sanaz.
Think about the different communication channels — WhatsApp, Facebook, live chat and email. Each usually has a dedicated team. But what if a service question comes up on Facebook or a potential sales lead during live chat? This scenario highlights the need for a unified platform.
Sprinklr’s Unified Customer Experience Management (Unified-CXM) platform treats all messages uniformly. It employs industry-specific AI models and sentiment analysis to each message, ensuring every communication is directed to the right team, regardless of its origin. This streamlined approach with Sprinklr also enables efficient management across different channels and the effective use of data.
So as new channels emerge or existing ones gain momentum, Sprinklr ensures you transition effortlessly while transforming channel navigation from a simple necessity into an intuitive and seamless experience.