Hopefully by now you've emerged from your holiday coma and remembered your email password. The New Year is already in full swing and, as you know, social slows down for no one.
As we look ahead at the challenges and exciting changes happening in the industry, they all ladder up to the three core tenants of Data, Creative and Amplification. So pour yourself a strong cup of coffee, pop a squat and let's talk about what's what for 2016.
Data is to social what oxygen is to fire. And we're not talking about big data, mass exports and useless spreadsheets that are about as exciting to open and read as the Yellow Pages (RIP). We're talking small data. Little pieces of gold that can be extracted from the heaps of numerical nonsense we've called "insights" for far too long. Insights should be based on human experience and wisdom and have very actionable takeaways. What nuggets of data should you be looking for? Well, what problems are you trying to solve? What are your main objectives? Start there and work backwards. What you'll end up with is a marketing plan.
The same goes for understanding your audience archetypes. Marketers often think much too broadly in terms of whom they're trying to reach. Prime example: Millennials. Gag. Let's all make a pact this year to put a quarter in a jar every time the word "Millennials" is used irresponsibly in the workplace. This group can be broken into more than a dozen very specific, meaningful and useful archetypes. Same goes for Foodies. Young Moms. Men 18-24. Tweens. We need to start thinking smaller and smarter. First and third party data, along with social listening, are the gateway to understanding and defining your audience archetypes, so you can actually engage them.
Creative is so fun, right? There is nothing better than seeing an idea go from scribbles on a whiteboard to live and thriving on social. Even for those ideas that don't get green-lit, the creative process embodies everything that makes social so exciting.
Creative teams should be drooling at the thumb-stopping opportunities ahead this year. We have Facebook 360 and live streaming on multiple platforms. We have a blank canvas to tell and start stories with video, cinemagraphs and GIFs -- Oh my! 2016 will be a year to remember in terms of how creative innovation sets a new standard.
But it still all comes back to data. All this great content must be created with those little insightful nuggets in mind. It must also be optimized for each and every platform on which it lives -- for color, length, sound, tone and voice. Data is what allows your creative to catch fire.
Amazing creative is also nothing without white glove community management. We did an experiment recently: We asked 10 major brands a simple product-related question and waited to see how long it took each to respond. One responded within 15 minutes and two within two hours, but the rest exercised their right to remain silent. Best in Class brands on social are known for being innovative, of course, but they are all also known for their community management and how they've made their brand seem human with a distinct personality.
So say you've got a data-driven marketing plan and amazing data-driven content to show the world. Now, you need to make sure people actually see it. It may sound obvious, but your paid media strategy also needs to be optimized for each platform and should only run on the platform(s) best suited to meet your objective (based on available ad units, audience make-up, longevity, etc.).
Which brings me to my next point: Pick one main objective. If you're doing a direct response campaign but judging success based on engagement metrics, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Again, think smaller and smarter. Media can be used to achieve any number of things -- engagement, page likes, app installs, email acquisition, offer redemption and beyond -- but there are dozens of things to keep in mind in order to do it the right way. From social listening to A/B testing to working in tandem with creative to ensure you're maximizing results and ROI, the world of paid media is complex to say the least. But so, so powerful.
For more on the three pillars of social, click to view our 2016 Social Media Survival Guide.
Photograph courtesy of Corbis. The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com / MyersBizNet, Inc. management or associated bloggers.