Social media still plays a significant role in the marketing plans of Asia’s brands for 2014, according to Campaign Asia-Pacific’s annual Marketers’ Survey, conducted in conjunction with Ipsos and publishing in February. But the challenge companies face is to create meaningful conversations that move past engagement and actually expand business.
“Brands need to know what business solutions they need before tapping into social media, and move from getting social media KPIs to business KPIs,” said Derek Tan, IPG Mediabrands’ executive director of social media for Asia. “The purpose of creating content and how it drives commerce or branding are the new forms of meaningful measurement.”
As the level of content consumption continues to grow across the region, marketers can expect the browsing public to be more selective about what they are wiling to sit through. Therefore, personalised content, video and even e-commerce hold the most promise to add value for consumers on social media.
“Creativity, content and conversations have been set free with the evolution of social media,” said Juan Adlercreutz, Coca-Cola’s APAC interactive marketing director. “Opportunity lies in leveraging these conversations to increase engagement with the brand.”
Direct marketing on social media platforms such as exclusive vouchers and coupons have become somewhat common across Asia but social networks in China have taken a lead in social customer relationship management (CRM) and social shopping, thanks to the country’s strong e-commerce sector. Sina Weibo connects with shopping site Taobao to drive e-commerce. And WeChat has integrated Tenpay, Tencent’s online payment system, to enable users to make online and in-store purchases. By comparison, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter seem to be lagging behind.
Barney Loehnis, head of digital at Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific pointed out that the examples in China indicate brands have an opportunity to converge media channels into a platform for e-commerce, customer service and real-time communication.
“Facebook needs to be more creative, using its messenger as a customer service platform for brands to add value to users,” he added.
Also, touchpoints such as reviews and ratings on e-commerce sites are further metrics for brands to interpret and understand purchase behaviours. Companies can collect and overlay social profiles and site activity and match those to real customer IDs and buying behaviours.
“Tracking the co-relation of buzz and meaningful conversations about brands, from positive advocacy to recommendations and complaints, can tie back to commerce in the real world,” said Tan. “Generating positive advocacy from the everyday person will fuel commerce and relevancy in conversations and brand recognition as top of mind to commerce decisions.”
Campaign’s Marketers’ Survey has logged increasing investment in digital marketing year over year but where social media fits into the mix depends on whether brands view it as a platform only or as a way to lead campaigns.
Tan expects to see a dedicated digital marketing budge between 20 to 50 per cent go to social media this year, depending on the maturity of organisations and categories.
Loehnis added that part of brand investments are likely to go to community management and part for content development. And paid media will also figure in, as brands may need to boost the quality or quantity of what they offer on social media channels. “That’s why creating decent content is becoming more important,” he said. Quality of content streaming is another concern, except for in a few mature markets like Singapore, Japan and South Korea where significant infrastructure is already in place to support data intensive formats. However, Loehnis still expects to see short-form videos leading the way.
“Text and eventually static imagery will take the back seat as visual giants that facilitate videos continue to grow their influence,” said Magnus Teo, innovation director at Dentsu Möbius. “This includes chat platforms that facilitate video messaging in-app.”
However, Tan stressed, brands have a responsibility to craft appealing content that is relevant across platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Vine, as well as any new media stages that emerge. Campaign’s February issue also has a feature examining how brands have used video to tell stories that extend beyond the initial film clip.
Overall, the focus ahead has to shift to building the right social media ecosystem, said Tan, starting with understanding the purpose of being on social media in the first place. The idea is no longer just about how to create great advocacy within the social media space but how to make interactions active and influential enough to drive business objectives.