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Social Media Content Strategies - A Performance-Based Approach

  |  September 15, 2013   |  Comments   |  

It's becoming apparent to agencies and clients in Asia that it's not just about having a large social media presence but content matters. So how do we make sure that the content is right?

A dawning realization is happening in Asia, finally. It's now becoming apparent to agencies and clients alike that it's not just about having a [large] social media presence anymore but more importantly, it’s about what you do with said presence. It is about the content that populates it and, perish the thought, achieves the business objectives the channel was originally put in place by the organization to deliver.

And as we all breathe a collective sigh of relief and stop counting likes like sheep, (quite often I’ve imagined thumbs-up jumping over a fence as a night-time soporific), we turn to the inevitable question that follows. How do we make sure that the content is “right”?

“Right” can be defined from two different perspectives:

  • From the organization’s point of view - the content is on-brand and includes all the key messages and achieves the business objectives.
  • From the audience’s point of view – is actually engaging enough to the target audience to be considered worth interacting with and acting upon and, importantly, is actually appearing in their feeds when they’re on the social platform.

It’s actually pretty easy to achieve the right content from the organization’s point of view, albeit it is usually a mind-numbingly painful process of planning, proposing, and getting sign-off from the right people internally. But it will not achieve the business objectives unless it also achieves the double-whammy of ticking the box for the audience as well.

And this is where it starts to get messy, because who knows, with certainty, ahead of time, whether or not a piece of communications is really going to hit the mark with the audience? Sure, you can plan and plan and test and test and for a lot of ATL assets, we can and do, but when it comes to content for a fast-moving environment like social media, that approach is really not practical. In any event, I’ve seen creative that tested amazingly and then bombed in “real-life”, so testing ahead of time is still no guarantee of success.

But digital and social media provides the tools for a different approach. Rather then pre-testing, I’m advocating for an experimental approach of social media content optimization. That is, at a very basic level, about creating many different versions of digital assets (at low marginal cost) and rotating variables within those assets. The types of variables we can change are formats (images, videos, copy etc.), messages (subject matter, copy, tone of voice etc.), publishing schedule (time of day, day of week), geographies and platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Weibo etc.). Of course, there are many more variables that we could consider, this article is not intended to be the definitive guide to social content optimization, but you get the idea.

Using very basic tools like Facebook Insights or other third- party tools provides us the data to make objective decisions on which content containing which variables perform best to achieve the organization’s business objectives and takes some of the guesswork out of trying to understand what works from a consumer point of view.

There are some points to be aware of before going down this route. Firstly, an understanding that this is not true A/B or multivariate testing as you might see it applied in, say, website optimization, because the content experiments will take place over time (so you’re not comparing apples with apples necessarily). In addition, for it to yield real returns, the marginal cost of the production of many versions of assets needs to be low. But those drawbacks aside, it is a step toward objective decision-making to help inform and optimize your social media content strategies, removing some of the guesswork to achieving a truly engaging and high performance social media presence.

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Jon  Wade

With an honors degree in economics, and vast commercial and technical expertise in the digital communications industry, Jon provides business, communications and marketing acumen as well as detailed digital technical knowledge to the agencies in the Constituency Management Group (CMG) of IPG across Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, he established the firm's Centre of Digital Excellence in 2012 and also has executive responsibility for the network of in-house digital content studios established across the Asia Pacific region for the benefit of all of CMG's below-the-line agencies including Devries, Futurebrand, Golin Harris, Jack Morton, Octagon and Weber Shandwick.

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