Top 5 Reasons a Brand’s Social Strategy Will Fail in 2016

Keeping up with the ever-changing advancements in the social media landscape is an incredibly challenging feat for marketers. Today’s “next frontier” could be tomorrow’s old news, and if the thought of getting left behind hasn’t yet crossed your mind, you’re likely already at risk for missed opportunities. In the rapidly evolving world of social, technology innovations and consumer demands are setting both the increased pace and the growing need for brands to continuously stay on top of, adapt to, and even lead new developments in social media.

Our goal is to shed light on the key themes that must be top of mind when laying the framework for your 2016 social strategy, as well as share some examples of success we’ve seen over the recent past. We believe these top five “threats” are the reasons that some brands may fall off the social media map this year, and so we’ve provided some important insight into how marketers can ensure they don’t fall victim to these common mistakes.

  1. Missing the Connection
  2. Too Much Brand Speak
  3. Lackluster Visuals
  4. Lack of Innovation
  5. Too Much Content, Less Punch

Let’s dive in!

  1. Missing the Connection

Doing social well doesn’t just mean talking at your followers, it means forming a meaningful connection with them. The Content Council developed a study around “navigating the path to engagement” on social media, and polled a group of 448 marketers from agencies, brands and media providers about the daily challenges they face in this particular initiative. Among the top challenges cited were a lack of budget, proving ROI and “breaking through the clutter”; but the biggest cited challenge, which we were not at all surprised by, was a “lack of engaging content” at 63%. Today, the phrase engaging is unfortunately a bit of a cliché. And for some reason, it’s been redefined by a completely overcomplicated understanding of what consumers really want from us. To be engaging doesn’t always mean being the most sophisticated voice out there, rather to authentically engage means telling a great story. Not so complicated, right? And with the level of access we have to consumer data, we have the means to not only tell a great story, but to tell stories that are compelling to different individuals. Find out what your followers care about by listening, conversing and learning from them.

Remember that social media is a two-way street, where people expect to interact through genuine, meaningful conversation. The average consumer spends three hours of their day on social, and so any content that isn’t adding value to their lives will simply not make the cut. Consumers are looking to be entertained, intrigued, educated and inspired, and so if your current strategy doesn’t keep these needs in mind, you’ll want to consider a revamp of some sort. Take Kate Spade’s infamous #missadventures video series, starring budding actress, Anna Kendrick. In this example, Kate Spade customers can be entertained by Kendrick’s uncanny ability to land herself in the most unfortunate of situations, while simultaneously exploring this season’s new arrivals. Through a simple, yet hilarious storyline, the brand has been able to capitalize on Kendrick’s captivating personality, while finding creative ways to feature their products.

Miss Adventures

2. Too Much Brand Speak

While in your world, the sun may rise and set on your products and services, it’s certainly not all your followers want to hear about! Marketing, especially on social media, isn’t about your brand. It’s all about the consumer. Today, there are a multitude of opportunities to creatively tell your brand’s story – and truth be told, you don’t always have to be the one narrating it. Modern consumers have a fierce desire to tell and share their own stories with the world, and it’s our job as marketers to inspire creativity and expression in a way that makes us a part of that story too. In fact, in almost every single social media audit we’ve done in the recent past, brands that implement user generated content (UGC) into their strategies perform and connect better. A study done by Crowdtap found that millennials in particular view UGC as 20 percent more influential, 35 percent more memorable and 50 percent more trustworthy than any brand content they interact with.

Remember Starbuck’s #WhiteCupContest? The brand brilliantly leveraged Instagram and Pinterest as platforms to celebrate the original cup designs of Starbucks coffee drinkers. In providing a venue for consumers to express their creativity, and more importantly, receive recognition for it, they increased their following by massive numbers and likely gained many loyal customers.

Starbucks White Cup Content

As a result of the phenomenon of UGC, social media marketers now devote a substantial part of their strategy to engaging influencers, including artists, musicians, bloggers, athletes, thought leaders and other “celebrities” in various areas of expertise. Because influencers already have an established level of trust with their audiences, it gives a brand the opportunity to tap into that network, and engage via the “language of the locals”. The fashion and beauty space, for example, has recently become dominated by influential beauty bloggers and YouTube stars – in fact, the potential audience reach of the modern YouTube beauty “vlogger” is somewhere around 26 million, far more than any professional makeup artist or brand marketer. There is a true value exchange to be had between brands, creators and consumers, and if you haven’t yet thought of a way to incorporate influencer outreach or UGC into your program, you may want to get thinking about it stat.

3. Lackluster Visuals

If you’re still living in the days of stodgy stock photos, you may as well consider yourself living in the Stone Age, especially considering all things that are visually possible today. And while it’s tempting to stage different campaigns or events to perfection, consumers can sniff out inauthentic content from a mile away. Think about how quickly Instagram exploded in the social media landscape – it gives the everyday person a place to become an artist in their own way. It’s also about crafting the “perfect” shot in the environment you have to work with, which isn’t typically a professional studio with lighting or backdrops.

New York Fashion week is a fantastic example of how even the legacy luxury brands have stepped out of their comfort zones of beautifully staged content into providing something more in the moment and genuine. Throughout the week of February, NYFW reached more than 659 million consumers across Twitter and Instagram using the #NYFW and #NYFW16 hashtags, and many brands also leveraged Snapchat Live Story to give consumers an exclusive behind the scenes experience, and bring the runway to life. See an Instagram from Hugo Boss’ runway show below:

Huge Boss Instagram

4. Lack of Innovation

An essential part of our jobs as social media marketers is to keep our finger on the pulse of all things innovating in the industry. And if we’ve been around even for a short time, we know that new technologies and capabilities emerge daily in our space. While stunning visuals, influencer content and compelling stories certainly do their fair share in intriguing the consumer, today there is a whole new desire to not only follow an event or campaign after the fact, but to actually become a part of a live experience. Rapid adoption of live stream technology like Periscope, Facebook Live, and even Snapchat, are proof that consumer desire to experience offline events and an unfiltered and ‘in the moment’ view of the brand is increasingly growing.  Live streaming apps are allowing brands and publishers to bring live content to the channels in which people already spend much of their day, and opens the door for new creative ways to keep audiences engaged, whether it’s live behind the scenes, broadcasting live events, or sharing exclusive content. As a result of consumer desire, marketers are beginning to see the value of investing in these newer technologies and capabilities; in fact, according to a recent study by telecommunications company, STRATA, 75% of marketers are more interested in streaming video than they were just one year ago. Your peers are jumping on the bandwagon, which means exploring the options, at the very least, is something you should take the time to do.

As these types of social experiences become more popular, the social networks themselves are giving higher preference in the newsfeed to them. Facebook, for example, said in a Newsroom post that its algorithm is treating live videos as a different type of post than “traditional” video posts, and is making an effort to give more priority to live videos while they’re actually live.

Aside from falling behind the technological innovation curve, another critical threat to brands is the inability to produce truly original and creative content. The social media sphere is inundated with content, and if we were to take a really hard look at what’s out there, the majority of it is neither creative nor original. Taking the time to explore, develop and invest in new ways to tell your story should be at the top of your list for 2016 planning. Let yourself be inspired by something that’s on an entirely new spectrum. Take, for instance, the “Art of Elegant Innovation” campaign currently being done by Cole Haan to promote their new footwear collection. They’ve paired real New York City Ballet dancers with the design innovation of the World Trade Center Oculus to tell the story of their new line, characterized as “the authentic collision of craft, style, and engineering.”

Cole Haan

5. Too Much Content, Less Punch

As we mentioned above, consumers are inundated daily, or even more frequently, with content. From posts, to images, to videos, consumers likely feel as if they’ve seen it all, which makes connecting with them all the more challenging. Though it’s cliché to say, quality is much more important in social media than quantity. Simply posting twenty times a day for the sake of being top of mind is actually going to do a lot more harm than good. Instead of flooding the social space with tweets, grams or pins, consider integrating your social efforts across other digital channels to maximize your impact more effectively. This might mean allocating a budget for a little bit of paid social to compliment your organic efforts. It could also mean aligning your social strategy with your email strategy, for example. Email content becomes richer with the incorporation of social, and in turn, it allows you to distribute your social content in a different format than customers are used to seeing, that’s sometimes more conducive to building relationships.

Banana Republic is a brand that’s been very clever with their email and social integration. Through a highly visual email campaign, they feature their “favorite style icons”, or well-known fashion bloggers, sporting the latest products in their Instagram photos. Banana gives customers the chance to connect with the bloggers via social, follow and share the #itsbanana hashtag and click to shop the looks directly from the email.

Banana Republi

Social media marketers are tasked with an enormous responsibility to both keep on top of the latest trends and emerging technologies, and maintain genuinely engaging relationships with consumers. If you feel like you’re falling off the wagon, take some time to consider these five areas and how you might be able to allocate more time and budget to building out strategies around them. Got questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts!

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