We spoke to Merinda Peppard, EMEA marketing director of Hootsuite, about the changing role of social media in digital marketing, and what strategies brands can take to make an impression in a crowded field.
What are the most significant challenges that digital marketers face today?
The emergence of new technologies, channels and audiences is making it increasingly difficult to cut through the noise and make a lasting impression.
In fact, some digital tactics are so new it’s difficult to measure their effectiveness and prove ROI compared to traditional marketing methods. Consumers now expect a highly personalised experience, a far cry from the mass marketing of years gone by, meaning that it’s vital to understand which platforms you should be prioritising.
How often does Hootsuite have to change its working practices? Is the company constantly revising its strategy?
Hootsuite has continuously evolved since the beginning, when our CEO spun it out from his agency Invoke in 2009.
As new social networks appear and customer needs change, Hootsuite is continuously improving and building its platform and services to adapt.
In 2014 we launched Hootsuite Labs, which allows us to explore emerging digital technologies and engage with our early adopter clients to shape the future of social media.
Our latest innovation, Hootsuite for Instagram, allows brands to plan and schedule content for their Instagram channels.
What do you think has been the greatest digital marketing success story of the last 12 months, and what made it so successful?
Instagram – in the last year it has launched a powerful mobile platform for advertisers and as a result expanded its advertising business to eight countries. As a platform Instagram had to market to brands through innovating their technology. As brands find new ways to engage with consumers so the need for creative content and “always on” community management comes through.
What are the biggest mistakes brands make in their social media campaigns?
There has been too much focus on #socialfails which can prevent some companies from taking the step on the channel. The real risk is not doing anything and digging your head in the sand while your customers converse with each other without you. But for those brands active in social, they can ensure higher engagement and credibility by steering clear of tactics such as “like” baiting (using provocative headlines to stir up social attention for likes and clicks).
One of the biggest mistakes those new to social media make is deleting negative comments. Although it may seem counterintuitive to let these damning testimonials be seen at all, it represents a great opportunity to turn a customer complaint into advocacy.
As more social media platforms emerge, is it going to get more challenging for brands to coordinate their promotion efforts?
The rise of newer platforms such as Vine, Snapchat, Whatsapp and Instagram means there is greater opportunity for marketers to reach new audiences. However, this means it’s difficult to ensure a consistent message as content is distributed across multiple platforms.
It is important to know where the majority of your audience are engaging and focus your efforts there. The 80/20 rule works well here too. Drive business results and effort by focusing 80% on traditional social networks and 20% of time on testing new strategies, networks and technologies.
What’s going to cause the next major shift in the digital marketing landscape?
In 2016 and beyond, we will see social mature and become a part of regular business practice. Social has already overtaken search for website traffic referrals and for many brands, it is the new front door for customers.