Social media has been around for more than a decade now, and a lot has happened in these years. While it began with MySpace, things have changed way too much. These platforms have grown from letting people share things with their friends to help build brands and close more sales. Platforms like Facebook have become a hub of social media. However, Facebook isn’t the only platform.
There are many new and emerging social media channels that you may or may not have tried out yet. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest etc. have been here for long. Have you explored the newer platforms like Snapchat, Vine, Periscope, and Meerkat?
What is Snapchat?
It’s a mobile app that lets people click photos and send to each other. Very popular among teens, it is also being used by companies and brands to target their teenage customers. Snapchat Discover is an interesting new interaction and enhances storytelling by the brands to their consumers. Digital marketing has come of age, and now is a good time to explore how Snapchat can help your brand.
What is Vine?
Vine is an emerging trend of creating unique six-second videos. As the internet has a lot to offer, attention spans of people have reduced, and they want to be entertained quickly. This is what makes vine so special. A vine tells a story, is generally funny and entertaining, and lasts for just six seconds, making you want more of it. You can casually slip your brand name in a vine. For example, if you own a pizza store, make a funny story related to a pizza. Vines have the ability to go viral. If you visit Youtube and search for funny videos, you’ll land on a lot of vines, because they have become popular on the internet these days. No wonder how a larger social media platform like Twitter couldn’t resist buying and adding Vine to their portfolio.
Periscope / Meerkat
How does it feel for users to broadcast their lives? With loyal and interested followers from social networks, people are getting more open to sharing their lives and experiences as they take place. This latent need was beautifully brought out by Periscope and Meerkat - two latest platforms that have seen tremendous growth. But then, what’s a brand or marketer to do with these? The beauty of these platforms is that they give you amazing latitude to innovate on storytelling - be it about your brand, your consumers, or the way your brand uniquely influences your consumers’ lives.
Yes, the social media space has indeed become crowded. As the users are spoilt for choice, they keep experimenting with new platforms and migrate to the ones they like the best. In today’s world, most people are present on at least two social media channels. This has created segments within the sphere of social media.
What does this mean for marketers?
Both good and bad. While marketers have many options to choose from, (which allows them to be creative and experiment on a number of social media channels), it also creates a lot of confusion. Most marketers still depend on Facebook and Twitter for social media marketing, and these entire channels can make things a lot more confusing.
Vines, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, Instagram, and so many other platforms - Social Media has become significantly fragmented. But instead of getting overwhelmed by it, you can use some techniques to make fragmentation work for you.
For successful marketing, you need to know your audience, wherever they are, and communicate with them effectively. If you’re trying to create a brand name on social media, the first and foremost thing to do is to get a fix on your target audience. Once the target audience is defined, what you need is a clear set of objectives and corresponding platform(s) that help in meeting that objective.
There are different social media channels for different age groups and interests. For example, Instagram and Pinterest are mostly used by women, and Snapchat is more popular among school kids and teenagers. Social media marketing would have been easy if only your audience was at a single platform.
What should you do?
Here are some tactics that can help you market to the fragmented audience:
1. “Land and Expand”: Start with one channel + one campaign, and then expand too many
When you’re beginning your social media journey, creating and setting up campaigns on all platforms would be confusing and time-consuming. Something as simple as the preferred image size for your campaign visuals means you need at least 3 images per channel! This challenge is amplified if you are a startups starving for time (or starving for money).
But here’s what you can do. For example, start a hashtag campaign (one campaign) on Instagram (one channel). Grow it. Later restructure it for Twitter (second channel) and expand it to drive engagement (second campaign). Similarly, you can turn your YouTube effort into a content voting campaign on Facebook. With a simple campaign, you can build a bridge across several channels to increase your presence to various social hubs and maximize your reach.
2. “Build Once, Deploy Many Times”: Empower your content across multiple channels
Facebook claims to have a billion users. So if you market your content on Facebook, it will get a wide reach. At the same time, you can use the content you put on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, and post it on Facebook. The main change you’ll have to do is to customize the visuals and media according to the channel (think different sized images, videos etc.). The good thing is, there are many platforms that help you package your content for various social media channels, out of the box. This will drive traffic and help you post regular content – believe me, posting fresh and unique content is a difficult thing to do. When you post your Pinterest “pins” on Facebook, they can be viewed by a bigger audience. Some of these people might not be on Pinterest, but they might find it interesting and engage with your brand message. This tactic has the advantage of building a following in multiple channels.
3. “Let the Network”: Make the social media channels work with each other
When all the channels start working together, brands have a chance to earn the maximum benefits. To post on all social media channels, you can use some online tools such as Hootsuite. With these tools, you can view several feeds from a single interface, along with checking different analytics offered by the software. In fact, if you want to make it big in the social media world, you need to use some kind of a tool and the right kind of expertise to go with it. Tools (paid or free) and marketing agencies together can help you jumpstart your outcomes on these channels. When you fuse different experiences together, you can capitalize on your social impact.
With the fragmentation issue, social media marketing has certainly become more interesting. The audience of social media platforms doesn’t just differ by age groups and gender, but it also differs by their locations. For example, chatting apps such as Line and WeChat are more popular in China, while Whatsapp is mostly used in India and South East Asia. When it comes to social media, there is no longer any one-size-fits-all approach. With so much competition in each genre of social media, you’ll find different people on different media.
As you can see, the solutions are to have presence on a number of social media channels and make sure all your accounts are coordinated. Also, you need to campaign on mobile based channels as well. Take care that your social media campaign doesn’t just revolve around desktop based channels, but also covers mobile-exclusive platforms such as SMS, Apple iMessages etc. With the advent of chatting apps, not a lot of people use SMS anymore. This has given a new form to SMS marketing. Send your messages through mobile chatting apps such as Snapchat, Line, WeChat, and Whatsapp. With these networks, you’ll get to interact with another kind of audience – there are people who don’t like open forums such as Facebook and Twitter. You’ll find them here on these chatting apps.
If you’re feeling confused over multiple social media channels, you need to understand that fragmentation can actually bring better results for you. All you need to do is know what to do and how. Once you’ve made your presence on several platforms, fragmentation can actually give you several playgrounds to have fun on.
Fuse together your campaigns to create a big one that covers all social media channels from one interface. While your audience might be fragmented, your campaign need not be. Share short interesting posts on Twitter, cool images on Instagram and Pinterest, and in-depth conversations on Facebook, and let your audience soak it in on multiple channels. Turn fragmentation of the media into your advantage.
Sridhar is the Cofounder and CEO of Credibase - The discovery and insights platform for businesses.