This column was co-authored by AJ Vernet of Sizmek and Joseph Epstein, a former Vice President at Sony Pictures.
In the past few months, Facebook’s algorithm has significantly diminished organic reach, minimalizing the value of the millions of fans collected over the past few years, much to the frustration of social media brand managers everywhere. Facebook now requires these brands to purchase in-feed ads to reach their consumers (whether they are fans or not). This has limited the value of the long-practiced tactic of binge-posting, where brands force-fed posts multiple times per day in an effort to generate enough user-driven earned media. (Hey, it was free reach. Why not?)
Content-driven brands (which should be all brands, especially when it comes to social media) need to develop new ways to engage with their audiences -- and quickly. It’s time to put their money where the memes are.
But Facebook isn’t the only one who’s undergone some changes. Consumer media habits have changed, rather dramatically. Yes, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remain our go-to social behemoths, but our social behaviors are diversifying across a rapidly growing cadre of platforms: Snapchat, Tinder, Instagram,Pinterest, G+, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, LINE, Vine, Tumblr, Secret, Paper and Whisper. For those keeping score, that is 16 separate platforms in which we friend, fan, like, share, heart, comment, tweet and report. Oh, and more and more we are forgoing our PCs and engaging with these platforms primarily through our smartphones. What’s a brand to do?
While the ground continues to shift under our feet (it is, after all, always shifting), smart marketers remain focused on adapting cornerstone marketing principles. Effective, targeted reach. Consumer engagement and brand immersion that creates fan-to-friend analytics. Data discipline and increasing institutional knowledge of what moves the needle.
Enter rich media. Not the old school 2008-animated gif style rich media but the concept of grabbing a consumer’s attention and enabling him or her to dive deep into your brand without leaving the social feed. You can still have the same attention-grabbing pithy cat meme (brand appropriate, of course) for your audience to like, share and comment on. But in a social environment, that same audience can click on the rich ad for a far more meaningful and share-friendly brand experience.
Social rich media units enable brands to include multiple videos, photos, games, tap to download app messaging, live events, coupons and more. For example, Hyundai’s Walking Dead Chop Shop included videos, photos and an app to build your optimal zombie apocalypse survival car. X-Men: Days of Future Past created a media brand experience featuring a trailer for the movie, video, photos, a movie synopsis and an app to “X” yourself. Built with responsive design, these rich media ads work seamlessly across PCs, tablets and mobile. The result is a multi-screen apples-to-apples comparison among the social platforms.
So while our digital marketing world continues to change, the latest versions of tested engagement tools make it possible to succeed in the social space regardless of the latest Facebook algorithms. Let’s use creative to trump data.
AJ Vernet is the former Founder and CEO of Republic Project and Red Lever. AJ is now Global VPof Social at Sizmek following its acquisition of Republic Project. Sizmek fuels digital advertising campaigns for advertisers and agencies around the world with cutting-edge technology to engage audiences across any screen and channel . AJ can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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