A look at how to build brands in a digital-first world
By Arun Srinivas
The last one year has unleashed unprecedented disruption across every sphere of society and economy. As the world moved online, the year 2020 didn’t just become a tipping point for digital transformation, but also a catalyst for the next decade of innovation and growth. The digital acceleration over the last one year has already fuelled new business models. A 2021 report we released, which delves into conversation topics that gained momentum on Facebook and Instagram, revealed that ed-tech saw a whopping tenfold growth in conversations in 2020. This is corroborated by the tremendous growth of ed-tech businesses that we have seen across our apps.
As business after business explores digital to grow, there are a few steps that the marketer in the digital age can take to avoid friction in the path-to-purchase, while creating a newly powered environment for strong business results.
Fish where the fish are: In today’s environment, people are consuming messages and interacting with brands across several mediums. From traditional mediums such as TV and print to the wide world of the web, there are hordes of consumers on specific platforms, posting and sharing, and watching short and long form videos. Gen Z today has an attention span of less than two seconds and doesn’t watch too much TV. Many millennials have replaced their TV watching hours with OTT and digital. How will marketers help them discover their brands? The need of the hour is to constantly figure for each brand the suitable media mix and dynamically allocate spends and hopefully, hook the fish!
Create for each medium – different but ‘same-same’: Historically, marketers have always developed assets for each medium. From the outdoor ads of the ‘Amul Girl’, to the iconic Liril ads on TV and the equally lovely innovations in print, each of them was designed for the medium. Today marketers have to step up on this. Over the past decade, ads have been designed for TV first, and are then sliced for digital. These are not thumb-stopping at all. When creating for digital, marketers have to develop engaging mobile-first content built for the medium – short-form video is different from social feed content which is different from a poll on the net. Creatives therefore need to be different but ‘same-same’– landing the same message from the brand.
Constantly refresh creatives: Digital allows marketers to churn thousands of fresh creatives every day, week, and month. This is literally the manna from heaven that agencies and marketers wished for. Yet not many do it. Refreshing creatives will help build constant salience and buzz, and we all know from Byron Sharp’s principles, salience is directly proportional to sales of the brand. Brands will need to build ‘creative machines’ – remember all the backup ads and scripts we listened to as ideas? Well, we need many more of them to go live now.
Engage in conversations with consumers directly: Digital allows you to start talking to consumers on chat platforms. Now more than ever, this capability needs to be built. How brands leverage customer conversations will not just help solve friction, such as issues in product, delivery, and billing, but will also make a meaningful difference in their perception.
The consumer shifts that we are witnessing right now are structural rather than temporary. The coming five years will see a lot of churn and change in the fundamental business models. Digital marketing is making way for digital business models and marketers who adopt this will thrive from this tectonic shift. Businesses that are able to pivot and reinvent themselves in line with changing consumer behaviour will be able to grow and build for the long run.
The author is director and head – global business group, Facebook India