12th September 2016
Social Media Week returns to London for its eighth year tomorrow. The week long digital conference, also known as #SMWLDN, will be showcasing the latest innovations in the industry plus bringing together brands, suppliers and agencies from the world of entertainment, media, marketing and technology. Brands include Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, Warner Bros. Pictures , Google, CNN, Forbes, and Adidas.
Having attended one of the first ever #SMWLDN gathering back in 2010, where the line up was considerably smaller, the event has grown into a truly global conference with with annual gatherings occurring in 27 major cities worldwide.
Whilst applying our social media expertise at another agency, I (the MR in our team) was invited to speak at the 2011 event. Organised by Chinwag, the former organisers of Social Media Week London, the session covered Facebook Marketing strategies and was attended by Brand Executives from Microsoft, Dell and Channel 4.
I spoke about “Keeping it Real-time” using my client Chelsea FC as a successful case study demonstrating how live content marketing and in the moment interactions with customers help to build brand trust and rapport. To think this was all before live video streaming from a mobile phone – a lot has changed in five years! Other speakers who later joined me on a Q&A panel on the subject included social media personnel from big (expensive) integrated agencies which included We Are Social and Wieden+Kennedy London.
Five years is a long time in digital. I can remember when brands (some of which approached me after my talk) were focused on on collecting Facebook Likes and were obsessed with growing fan numbers on Facebook and Twitter to beat their competitors. Boy oh boy have times changed – with Facebook leading the way on raining on everyones parade by moving the goal posts for brands and business on the platform.
Over the years Facebook has increasingly become a ‘pay to play’ platform for brands – which in case you didn’t get the memo; has been the consequence of Facebook increasingly making changes to what is shown on people’s home News Feed. In a nutshell, since 2014 organic content, not supported by advertising budget, posted by brands is dwindling. As the sheer number of users, brands and organisations flock to Facebook, the social media giant has increasingly prioritised updates from user’s immediate friends and family on the News Feed – rather than brands and businesses a user may have ‘Liked’ in the past. This was a blow for many businesses that invested considerable time and money on building a Facebook following, to have the rug pulled from beneath their feet. Facebook’s rationale for their most recent update to their News Feed algorithm can be found in their Newsroom announcement back in June.
The rules of the game have been rewritten for brands and the early assumptions that they had unlimited, free access to the entire fanbase that they nurtured have been well and truly curtailed. In the ‘old’ days marketers were able to show a positive ROI on every campaign or initiative they ran for their clients as Facebook Likes and the subsequent engagement was all organic – the upside was limitless. Then came the inevitable gold-rush to provide social media services to clients and the trend for outrageous job titles like ‘Social Media Ninja’ and ‘Social Guru’ emerged, which confused everyone, including clients.
This bafflement, shrouded in the excitement of the new, resulted in less digitally savvy clients taking a back seat when it came to the details and decisions around their brand on social media channels and letting the youngest person, with a wacky job title in some random agency / in their office manage the whole social media management process. This was a recipe for disaster and made way for a backlash that tainted the social media profession and the genuine social marketers producing measurable business results.
Gone are the days when social media channels are just a replication of your website, company brochure or relegated to a secondary channel to post inane corporate bulletins that nobody cares about. Our mission here at MR + MRS Digital is to not only attract your audience and customers through original and creative content that’s valued and useful, but to keep them coming back for more – because they value your business or brand in their lives. It is because of the value that we produce (with you) for your audience that generates positive experiences around your brand. Then when the time comes to purchase a product or service related to your sector – you become the shortlisted brand of choice because you’ve earned their time, attention, and invested value in their lives. This increases the chances of them converting/investing in your product or service when the need or desire is present due to the relationship we’ve shaped. Together.
Julian Ferguson, Operations Director for the trade organisation WOMMA UK (Word of Mouth Marketing Association), put it best when he stated: “Successful WOM is about making your brand part of your target audience’s social fabric so that talking about it comes naturally. It doesn’t matter whether conversations are online or offline, recreational or business-based, just so long as they are happening and positive.”