What’s On

Got creativity? ‘Cool’ will follow

How are digital, social and mobile changing people’s behaviours and expectations today? How will these changes impact marketing communications in 2016? And most importantly what you could do, in the coming days & months, to embrace and navigate these changes for your brands.

First off, hat tip to We Are Social for the rich information they share generously. In their latest South East Asia Report, you’d notice the biggest social platforms in SEA; Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter compete with messaging apps like WhatsApp, Line, Messenger, QQ, and WeChat for time and attention. No surprises here. The social channel adoption patterns in SEA mirror that of most markets, without firewalls or censorships, around the world.

The standout SEA metrics to focus on are the growth rates. Internet access, active social usage and active users of social via mobile devices grew by double digits in 2015. If this rapid growth and exposure continues, rapid maturity of the SEA audience will follow. It’ll be a matter of time, before the majority in SEA expect, and behave like the digital natives of today.

To better engage this rapidly changing SEA audience in 2016 and beyond, brands could consider the following tweaks & checks across their social efforts:

1. Define/revisit your plan for social
GrabTaxi, Uber, Redmart, Netflix, Google Maps etc. are conditioning people to believe that the world revolves around them, on their terms. Brands should acknowledge this change, but stay true to what drives them. Brands needn’t be everything to everybody. Focus efforts on your best prospects. Data, insights and past learning should lead your plans. Finally, ensure your plan has defined success, has a solid tracking, measurement, and course correction plan in place.

2. Pick your core channels
Vine never took off. Periscope fizzled after SWSX. Secret came and went. A few more may launch in 2016. As a rule of thumb, choose your core social channels based on three key criteria; reach amongst your core audience, receptivity to your proposition within the culture of the channel and your capability to manage the channel well with available budgets and resources.

3. Add a premium to creativity
Social channels are noisy. People are more inclined to share negative reactions to brands and services. But yet, time and again creativity proved its impact on social effects if it is original and fresh. Move away from creating mundane content calendars to creating social content that is worthy of sharing, is ready to be shared, and right for the channel.

4. Plan for adequate media budgets
The days of free distribution are over. Pay to reach is the new norm. Before you create social content, make sure you have enough budgets to drive reach, and support creative wear-in frequency. Data also proves social campaigns work best, when they work in tandem with other high visibility media support like TV & Outdoor.

5. Unless you have to, don’t compete with news
Oreo may have set the trend, but news jacking is difficult and expensive. Your participation may come across as lame if your brand has no right in a trending topic or you turn up late. It may even backfire. Save the newsroom for big events, a smart guerilla campaign or when you’re dealing with a real crisis.

6. Staff for a dialogue
When you open a social channel, prepare to respond. This will need tools to track conversations as well as trained staff to watch, moderate, escalate and respond to fan posts and questions. Ensure you have a response plan, with workflow and processes aligned across departments in place, to moderate and manage two-way conversations with speed.

7. If possible have experts on tap
The social landscape is complex and changes fast. It’s often difficult for junior staff in the trenches to operate without expert counsel. Hire a small expert team on tap for counsel. The SWAT team can advice on strategy, measurement, tools & platforms, changes in the social landscape and percolate implications /recommendations to the trenches. This is great investment, if you are serious about your social marketing.

Lastly, data proves social strategies are more effective when they take a long-term view.

Suresh Ramaswamy

Suresh Ramaswamy is the Digital Lead – Regional Director at Grey Group Southeast Asia.