Social Media – in particular Facebook – has certainly been trending. And not always for the right reasons. From small business owners venting their frustration about Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, to the more recent outrage around the Cambridge Analytica ‘data scandal’ - you’d almost be led to believe that surely this popular platform was on its way out.
However, when Nathalie Morris, GM Data Powered Marketing at Qrious, asked a room full of marketers at the recent Marketing Association Brainy Breakfast whether they were planning to #deletefacebook, the resounding response was no.
There is still a lot of value and benefits to be gained by using social media in business, and the three case studies presented at the recent Brainy Breakfast showed how an engaging campaign can not only ‘go viral’, but present incredible value for an organisation.
The New Zealand Police, Contiki, and New Zealand Water Safety each used social media to reach, connect and engage with their audience, and spread their message.
So how did they find success?
They used real people
The challenge for Contiki was translating an international campaign to resonate with a New Zealand audience. They realised early on that ‘influencers’ and celebrities weren’t going to get them the engagement they wanted – and needed to change tack. Instead, they opened the competition out to every day New Zealanders who could plead their case – in a video uploaded to Facebook - as to why they should go on this trip of a lifetime. Votes and likes on the content decided who should go.
This approach not only enabled Contiki to keep their costs low through user generated content, but also through increased organic reach. Rather than having to boost posts to reach a wider audience, the engagement from people liking and voting for their favourites ensured that posts got a wider reach, banking on algorithms that push high engagement further.
Likewise, New Zealand Police put a great focus on using their own people to create content for their social media feeds, and to show their individuality. Rather than trying to show an ‘ideal’ or what we ‘expect’ a police officer to look like - they show the real people behind the uniform.
It’s important to note though that this doesn’t mean ‘influencers’ don’t work – you just have to be careful who you use. The NZ Water Safety Swim Reaper campaign benefited greatly from carefully selected local influencers, familiar to New Zealanders, to spread their message and increase awareness of their social media activities.
They took risks
Each of the campaigns presented could have been a huge flop – Contiki’s almost was until they flipped tactics – and they just as easily could have gone viral for all the wrong reasons (Kendal Jenner’s Pepsi ad anyone?).
But risk averse isn’t something you can be in the current social climate. And take a risk is exactly what New Zealand Water Safety did. They needed to get the water safety message out to one of the most risk prone demographics – young, male and unlikely to ‘listen to authority’ - so developed the ‘Swim Reaper Anti influencer’ character.
Taking a multichannel approach, they brought in influencers and bloggers - relevant to their audience – to help their target audience ‘discover’ the @iamtheswimreaper social accounts. From there the Swim Reaper took, over, sharing macabre messages highlighting the most common factors contributing to water related injuries and fatalities.
They understood their target audience
A risk like New Zealand Water Safety took wouldn’t have seen the same success if they didn’t have such a clear understanding of what resonated with their target audience. The Swim Reaper campaign managed to reach 65% of their target audience of males aged 15-29 in its first run, and after its second season had a following over 230k on Instagram.
The NZ Police recruitment video had the key objective to attract a more diverse, inclusive police force – rather than just white and male. The video reflected this diversity using characters that resonated with everyday New Zealanders from every background. It resulted in a month’s worth of interest in becoming a cop within the first 16 hours of it going live.
They had a secret weapon
Unlike Contiki and New Zealand Water safety, whose campaigns were time specific, the New Zealand Police had another objective: to build trust and confidence, and to continue to engage with the public on an ongoing basis.
As their social media is ‘always’ on they understood that the secret to effective social content was to make people laugh, give them a behind the scenes look and evoke emotion. And they make tactical use of their secret weapon - puppies.! They post a mix of policing work, puppies, memes, jokes, and follow popular social media trends to keep their audience engaged. With 24.5k followers on Instagram and 149k on Facebook – their formula certainly seems to be working.
Brainy Breakfast poll - social media effectiveness
There’s no denying however that, recently, reaching your audience via social media has gotten harder. Organic reach has declined, and often paid advertising is required to augment reach. For our Brainy Breakfast poll we wanted to know how effective the attendees found paid advertising on social media for their organisation.
The majority - 60% - said that it was ‘somewhat effective’, 24% said it was very effective – and 12% said they don’t pay for advertising on social media. Our follow up question however showed many were looking to implement it in the future, or increase their focus on this channel.
Our follow up questions asked if the effectiveness had changed at all – and how. Most people replied that the recent algorithm changes, and competitive advertising environment, has meant they have needed increase their spending, be more targeted, and more creative with their advertising. They’ve also noticed that they’re having to spend more to reach the same audience, but added that despite this, it was still more cost effective than traditional advertising.
Social media continues to be an effective channel to reach and engage with your audience. As with most channels, marketers need to adapt to the changing expectations of their customers to provide an experience and sense of authenticity to achieve cut through and gain the most value. For a long time, social media seemed to be a cheap and easy way for marketers to reach new customers and a great alternative to traditional advertising. It is important though that we treat activities on social media just as we would any other advertising or campaign activities to get the most value.
If you're interested in learning how to integrate Social Media into your multi-channel data powered marketing programmes, get in touch.