It is no surprise that our timeline on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram — is usually sprinkled with heavy doses of sponsored posts by numerous brands. Social media is no more limited to just promoting a product, as brands are seriously driving reach and engagement. Even several SMBs (small and medium businesses) are opting for these platforms, making it an integral part of any campaign. In fact, as per EY’s recent report, 50% of consumers state that regular updates on a brand’s social media channel help increase their loyalty and encourage them to make repeat purchases.
Take the case of Maggi, which leveraged social media to announce its re-launch through the #WeMissYouToo campaign, followed by #WelcomeBackMaggi and #NothingLikeMaggi. Maarten Geraets, GM, food, Nestlé India, says, “The campaign brought alive the diverse roles that Maggi plays in the consumer’s life, both emotional as well as functional.”
How is social media moving the dial for businesses and influencing the marketing strategy of most brands?
Changing the game
It started with Google when it launched certification programs that allowed advertisers and agencies to use the platform. Facebook did this with Blueprint; Twitter with Twitter for Business (a micro-blogging platform). So whether it’s using Facebook’s Canvas or Instagram for Stories, LinkedIn’s InMails or Twitter’s FirstView tool, platforms are going beyond the regular hashtag to offer more to brands.
Facebook India MD Umang Bedi explains, “We offer measurement and RoI solutions and the advertiser only pays Facebook for advertising. We constantly track how we can grow the partnership with brands.”
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Budgets allocated to digital and social media marketing within the overall marketing budget seem to be increasing — 44% of brands spend more than 20% of their marketing budget on digital marketing while 24% of brands are spending 16% or more of their marketing budget on social media, the EY report mentions.
Deepika Tewari, GM, marketing, Titan Jewellery Division, says, “Social media offers us a creative canvas to share stories with our customers.”
For Tanishq’s sub-brand Mia, whose primary consumer base is working women, the brand uses LinkedIn. But it witnessed college going women also purchasing Mia. “So we found it wise to promote our campaigns on Facebook and Instagram too. We also leverage the audience base of YouTube for our thematic stories,” says Tewari.
Taranjeet Singh, business head, Twitter India says, “The consumer is always on a platform in real time, giving brands an opportunity to interact with them on a daily basis and we help them to build plans, strategise and educate them on how to be ‘always on’.”
Vodafone collaborated with Twitter to create a Super ZooZoo emoji linked to the hashtag #BeSuper. The campaign garnered 90 million+ impressions in four days with an increase in share of voice of 250%.
“Our close association with social media pages allows us to use their platforms innovatively and introduce differentiated campaigns in a competitive environment,” highlights Siddharth Banerjee, national brand head, Vodafone India.
SMBs like The Label Life and Magic Sewa have also used Twitter to raise brand awareness, push engagement and app downloads. This is primarily done through video, as platforms like Facebook and Twitter see more people engaging with video content when brands used different formats of video.
But for a professional networking platform like LinkedIn, business works differently. Akshay Kothari, country manager and head of product, LinkedIn India says, “The biggest growing business is sponsored advertising. Marketing budgets are moving and our focus is to be able to grow content and traffic. We see a lot of B2B companies using our platform and have seen fair success with B2C clients as well.”
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Too little too soon?
While many brands are using platforms and tools, judging what amount of business these platforms help garner is still a question.
For example, online brands like Foodpanda see online presence as core. Hence, experimentation is the key for them. Saurabh Kochchar, CEO and co-founder, Foodpanda, states, “You have to map your audience well and know what messages you give on each platform. The RoI for each is different and we do around 100-200 experiments to determine what push or campaign would work best.”
Saurabh Mathur, planning director, VML India cautions that social media should not be eyed as a silo, as the real power of social is seen when it gets integrated with other channels and its impact is measured in the larger context of a campaign. But the fact remains that from the total advertising budget 12-13% is allocated to digital, out of which around 6-7% is spent on social media by brands, state experts. However, it could be a challenge to attribute offline store sales accurately to a promotion on, say, Instagram.
Data metrics, therefore, is key in measuring effectiveness. Apart from traditional metrics including reach and frequency, the fourth metric that has emerged is engagement. However, content marketing in India is at a very nascent stage. “Most companies only look at CPR rather than seeing how the content is working and how users are converting,” Kothari points out.
But the digital ecosystem is on the right track, believe experts. Rajiv Dingra, founder and CEO, WATConsult says agencies have started to create special wings or teams who focus on digital media. Bigger agencies have started to de-compartmentalise in an effort to be platform agnostic.