Value not volume: the primacy of social relevancy

Social / August 2016

Marisa Thomas

As Head of Social at Organic, Marisa is on a mission to make brand content feel as native to customers as possible. When not doing that she's probably on Buzzfeed.

On Tuesday 26 July 2016, we held an illuminating event to shine a light on emerging social media trends, looking at how, by embracing change, organisations can better equip themselves for the road ahead.

#TheSocialStandard was held at The Rooms in Browns on St Martins Lane, where one of the speakers was Marisa Thomas, Head of Social at Organic.

Here Marisa follows up her presentation, ‘Staying Relevant’, by pressing the case for putting relevancy at the heart of your social strategy.

We have more customer data at our fingertips than ever before. Yet so much of it is wasted. By understanding our data better and leveraging the resulting insights more effectively, we can deliver more relevant content, on the most relevant channel, and in the most relevant format for our users.

Defining social relevancy

In the social sphere, relevancy is a term we’re all used to using, most commonly in one of these contexts:

  • If we were talking about ads, we may look at relevancy score to help us find out how it performed.
  • If we were setting up targeting, we’d be thinking about how to make sure the people we’re reaching are relevant to our brand.
  • If we were talking about content, we’d normally look at how the content is relevant to our brand message.

The aim of my presentation was to explore the concept of relevancy more deeply. What is relevancy and how does it impact what we do? Are we using relevancy data to help us serve people better content? Or are we using it simply to help us shout louder?

Furthermore, are we thinking about what’s relevant to our customer at any time of day, or during any given day of the week? Do we consider how our content needs to be relevant to the same person at different points in their journey?

The social difference

No longer typically approaching us at Organic wondering whether to be on social, brands are now interested in how to do social better.

But, while we’re thankfully no longer in the position of often having to justify the need for a social presence, we do have to persuade brands that social will never work like a direct marketing channel.

Rather, it’s part of a wider digital picture, which cannot simply be measured in terms of:

  • Follower numbers
  • Number of likes
  • Reach

Why not? Let’s start with follower numbers. Put simply, followers do not equal customers. In an era where organic reach is declining, efforts are being wasted on growing follower numbers on channels like Facebook and Twitter. That time could often be spent getting to understand your current community and growing their engagement and advocacy.

Moving onto likes, 100 people could have liked your content but if you reached 1 million, what would that that really say?

And finally, when it comes to reach, we could reach one million people with an ad, but they could all have hated the content. This is why relevancy is crucial.

Getting the KPIs right

Brands are rightly focused on how social can impact their bottom line. I’ve been clear on what we should be against, so what should we be looking for social to do? And how can we use relevancy to reach our targets?

Let’s begin with some better KPIs.

Engagement rate is a positive way to look at how your reach and engagement indicate your relevancy performance. And it’s far more powerful than relevancy score alone. As consumers, we’re aware that we’ll see the content again, so this represents a commitment.

Action rate. This is the most powerful KPI, and really helps us start to move customers down the funnel. The user is saying, ‘I’m interested in this.’

Data capture is a tricky one, but by knowingly allowing their data to be captured, the user is opening a clear channel for further communications. Follow-up communications are key here, and social is simply the first step.

Mentions. Advocacy doesn’t come easily, and mentions indicate sentiment – both good and bad – and tell us how we can improve. At this point it’s especially important that we listen.

Choose your channels wisely

Gone are the days of ‘create once, publish everywhere’. While there’s no need to be on every channel if there’s no case for it, each social channel on which you have a presence needs its own content.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Facebook – for push and sales
  • Instagram – for brand and storytelling
  • Twitter – for customer services and events
  • Snapchat – for flash deals and 1:1 moments

None of these channels are the same, so it makes no sense to treat them as if they are.

Think about the value of your content first. The question should be, ‘What value is being added?’ rather than, ‘How many messages can we put out?’

Say, for example, you’re an anti-virus software brand. What value could you bring to your customers on Instagram? Think about which channels you let into your social suite and focus on those you can do well.

So to sum up, in our view, less is more. It’s far better to get two or three channels right than simply to collect them.

Finding the right format

Breaking the concept of relevant channels down further, we need to think about the next destination for our users. This is where format is key.

Is a landing page the most relevant for a given piece of content – would a canvas card or instant article improve the user journey and increase the likelihood that your users will act? Is a video going to say it better than a long-form post? Will a carousel showcase your breath of product better?

Thinking about format at the start of your content ideation will help you land messages better.

Summing up

So why is this all important? Why not focus on what’s only relevant to the business?

Primarily, because people have woken up and are fully aware of the ads they see. That’s not to say that they loathe branded content. It’s just that they crave something that fits into their busy lives. We can’t afford to think only about what we need to achieve. We have to think about how we can enrich our customers’ lives.

What we need to master is when it’s right to join in and when it’s right to stay quiet. And what we can achieve here is a harmony where branded content can disrupt and feel native and the same time, and this is something we’ve not been able to do before.

#TheSocialStandard is just the latest in our ongoing series illuminating of events for marketing and management professionals. Join our mailing list below so you won’t miss out on future opportunities to learn from expert speakers, share ideas with your counterparts and expand your network.

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