S2: E2 – How to choose the best social channels for your business goals

Hello hello helloooo, we’re back for season 2 episode 2 of the Marketing Mindset club podcast.

How are you doing this week? Are you making progress and achieving the things you want? Tell me what you’re working on at the moment, I’m curious to know. If you’re struggling with a barrier, share it with me on Instagram @MarketingMindsetClub and I might cover the topic in a future episode.

Did you enjoy last week’s episode? Thanks everyone who’s getting stuck into the season and downloading the episodes. I know I say it every time but it really does make this all worthwhile to know that this is helping you out.

I’m a little late recording this episode, and we’ve just heard the devastating news that the notorious RBG has departed this world. For those who don’t know who I mean, I am talking about the legend that is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was lately a Supreme Court Justice in the US, but so much more than that. She championed equality and represented both men and women in over 400 discrimination cases. We owe so much of what we think should just be ‘normal’ when it comes to gender equality to legislative changes and precedents she achieved. If you want to know more about this amazing individual and why her life’s work matters so much, check out the Legendary Tales Podcast episode devoted to her work and life.

Anyway, this season in the MMC is going to follow the same structure as season one, so each episode is going to cover

  • The digital news bit and what matters about the top stories

  • The learning bit where I’ll deep dive on a tool, technique or strategy you can use

  • And the real-life lessons bit where I’ll talk about results I’ve seen or have been shared from other marketers

The digital news bit

So, onto the digital news bit. First off.. The C word. Not that one… or that one.. But Christmas! By the time this episode comes out it’ll be about 3 months to the day until Christmas. Ahhhh! I am so excited. I am a real fan of Christmas and nothing is going to dampen my spirits about it. But this year, the experience might be forced to be different. There may yet be limitations in place on how many family and friends you can get together with, or how many households can be in the same space. The nation and indeed the World has been through a trauma this year thanks to COVID-19, so it’s going to be difficult to have a full ‘bells and whistles’ Christmas. Mark Ritson recently spoke to this in an article on Marketing Week, suggesting that brands need to gauge the emotional state of the nation when planning their Christmas ad campaigns.

If you listened to episode 1 of this season you’ll know that I spoke about research that found shoppers were planning to buy earlier this year. The online Christmas shopping experience is due to start early, however Ritson quite vehemently thinks this survey was and I quote ‘100% stupid’. From what I can gather his main gripe with it is the notion of asking people how they will behave in six unpredictable months from the time of the survey.

Now I’m not sure I agree with his take on this. Yes, there is undoubtedly yet more uncertainty to come that will impact our families and our lives, but for people who are truly invested in the Christmas experience - the true Christmas nerds like me - it doesn’t matter what happens over the next now 3 months - Christmas is still going to be fabulous! Because we’ll make it so! And that doesn’t have to mean big expenditure - and perhaps that’s where the nuance of his comments lay. For brands who rely on the Christmas period to generate between half and 80% of the years’ revenue, consumer spending and the propensity to shop will probably vary between now and then.

So, if you’re a retailer or an affiliate, there’s still a very good reason for getting your e-commerce offer as optimised as possible. There will be on some level, a Christmas-hungry audience out there. If you can diversify your offer or increase your presence across a number of marketplaces - plus make good use of your existing customer data to drive repeat business, you’ll be in a good place.

Also in recent news, Facebook and Google announced they are going to become carbon neutral businesses. This means they join Apple and Microsoft to become net-zero carbon businesses. The next step is these businesses committing to becoming powered by green energy only, which is on Google’s list to achieve by 2030. The article also says that this fresh commitment from the top 4 puts Amazon at the back of the pack. Their distribution network is the big challenge, and although they’ve purchased 100,000 electric vehicles, those aren’t due to hit the roads until 2030. So, they are lagging behind. And it made me think back to something I read a few years ago that was a study on the carbon footprint of the Internet. I’ve linked it in the show notes, but back in 2010, the Guardian estimated that powering the Internet generates 300m tonnes of CO2 a year. That’s the same emissions as more than half the fossil fuels burned in the UK that year. It said servers processing, sending and reading a spam email would create 0.3g CO2e, a real email would create 4g C02e, and a long email with a tiresome big attachment would create 50g CO2e. And this got me thinking. Every time we do a junky bit of marketing, send a less than engaging email, we’re creating carbon waste. I think more than doing the brands we’re doing a disservice, we’re also doing our planet a disservice. If there was ever a time when we needed to be mindful of our impact, it’s now. So I’m just putting it out there the next time you’re not 100% happy with something and you’re thinking about just chucking it out anyway, please reconsider. Be mindful about the waste you’re creating but also the impact (or lack thereof) that you’re creating for the audience.

I also wanted to talk about the recently launched Pret coffee subscription initiative. This follows a summer of closures and job losses, and even though the country is getting back to work in some areas, branch footfall is estimated to be down by about 80%. They’ve come up with a subscription plan that for £20/month gives customers up to 5 drinks per day. It’s designed to get customers coming back into store, rather than just for the convenience, they are trying to create loyalty. And it got me thinking, what can we learn from their strategy? I think there’s a couple of things -

  1. If you have a business that’s hospitality focussed, is there a way you can create a subscription model for some of your products or services? If you’re a cafe or takeaway, can you create a ‘dining club’-style rewards programme that gives back to customers after a certain time or spend level?

  2. Or if you’re in the FMCG world, that’s fast-moving consumer goods for those unfamiliar with that abbreviation, can you do a subscription service that offers added value, reward points or discounts for certain levels? Amazon has already got into this game by offering a small discount for products you want to order on a regular basis.

  3. The other thought I had is about loyalty and this applies to any business that values repeat sales. I caveat that because I once heard that a cold sales caller tried to convince a wedding dress owner of the value of repeat business, before he’d established what sort of business it was! Loyalty matters to most business, so beyond creating the best possible experience and delivering the best possible products and services - what can you do to promote loyalty? One thought I had is about context. Your audience is experiencing the upheaval of a COVID, and all the parents in the country, also now dealing with children going back to school. If you can understand the context that your audience is in, you can work out how best to help them and consistently showing up as the solution, the escape, the antidote is going to build loyalty. So, how do you understand context?

  4. Social listening - listen to what your audience is saying on social channels. You can do this with tools like Awario, Sprout Social or Mention.

  5. Comments - really read the comments your audience are leaving on your content

  6. Content testing - develop some test protocols where you minimise variables and test out different types of content at different types of day

  7. Use the AIs - if you’re doing ads, make use of the AI-generated contextual and in-market audiences. People’s behaviour changes so frequently, you can use the AIs built into platforms like Google Ads and Facebook to create your audiences.

The learning bit

In this week’s learning bit, I wanted to talk about why it’s important for most, probably all, businesses to grow their following on the appropriate social channels.

Now, let’s start by quantifying what I mean by the ‘appropriate social channels’. Not every business is right for every social media channel. I’ve also never yet met a business that has the resources to grow a following on every single social media channel out there effectively. So there are a couple of questions here.

  • How do you decide which social media channels are right for your business?

  • How can you leverage different aspects of each platform to grow your following?

Let’s start with addressing that first one - how you decide which social media channels are right for your business?

1. Goals

So, the first point is - what do you want to achieve by growing your following on social media? We know it can be a crucial part of generating awareness, engagement and sales for so many businesses - but what specifically do you want out of it? Think back to the very first episode where we talked about the SWOT analysis and how to develop strategies based on your situational analysis. You could be building an attacking or growth strategy, or you could be working on a defensive strategy to fend off the competition. What’s your key goal? For instance you’re launching a new product, social media could play a part of getting your new offer in front of a new audience. Maybe you want to drive repeat business from your existing customers, your social media program could add value and help create loyalty.

2. Brand

This point relates to which social media channels are most relevant to your brand? That’s not the same as complimenting your brand, because it might not be your strategy to fit in, but it’s about deciding which channels are most likely to help you achieve your goal. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a bad fit, there’s just unconventional. For instance, I can see lots more luxury brands coming to younger channels like TikTok, because they want to cultivate the future generation of customers. I can also see more meme-style content coming to channels like LinkedIn, because after all, we’re all human and even in a business-environment, we still have personalities!

3. Target audience

And that brings me onto your target audience. And this might be a bigger defining factor that influences your channel choice than any brand considerations. Understanding where to find your target audience is crucial for achieving your goal, so how do you find out who is on which platform? Answer - look at the freely available demographic breakdown of the audiences on each platform. There’s a ton of articles out there that cover this. A recent one I’ve seen from Sprout Social collated demographic data for the top platforms from various sources into one article, which I’ve linked from the show notes.

The kind of insights this type of data provides are that Facebook usage is most prevalent in 25-30 year olds, and upwards. So, it’s not going to be great to reach a younger audience in volume. India and the USA boast the largest volumes of Facebook users, and the US, 73% of those are in an urban area. If you’re interested in Instagram, you might like to know that 75% of 18-24 year olds use the platform. Users are also more likely to be female than male.

By understanding who is using the platform, you can build a picture of their context and the needs met by consuming your content.

4. Content

Which brings me onto my next point. Content. What are you going to fill your own profile with and how are you going to bring value to the community on the platform? Remember, as a marketer, you’re always trying to create a value exchange - giving of something in exchange for something, usually a sale or sign up. So you need to decide what resources your business has for creating content and which platform is best suited to displaying that. For instance, if your business is largely virtual and provides research reports, Facebook might not be the best place to grow an audience. You might want to consider Linkedin, where the context of the audience is more business-focussed and open to receiving your content. On the other hand, if you have a boutique that sells products, you might consider instagram as you have access to a large potential of visual content. It’s about deciding on what’s the best fit for your resource as once you start growing your social footprint, it’s worse to just stop.

And that’s the final takeaway from this section - when you’ve considered your goals, your brand, your audience and the channel - the final question is about sustainability? How will you maintain a regular output and continued interaction with your growing community? It’s important to have those answers before you set out.

The real-life lessons bit

So, my experience recently has been about battling various ad platforms to get creative to go live and stay live. For various different reasons we’ve been coming up against some things I’ve not experienced before, so I thought I’d share the top two issues that have been challenging me this week.

The first was an issue that popped up in Google Ads in relation to some search and display ads we’re running for a client. So, ads were running just fine, referring traffic to an event registration page and then over one weekend we saw that the ads had all been disapproved due to malicious software on the site. Now, the site itself was still live with no obvious issues, there was nothing showing in Google Search Console where you’d usually expect to see security issues highlighted, so our natural assumption was that Google Ads had somehow got this one way off base. We spent the next week appealing the issue every day and continuing to get rejected. We got the point where Google support asked us not to contact them for 24hours! So we then went back to the idea that there could be something wrong with the site. And then finally we managed to find what was triggering the issue. It’s a very curious bit of malware that seems to only divert users the first time they visit the site from their IP address. Anyway, at the time of recording, the hosting company of this particular site (not my company I hasten to add) are still investigating. So, I guess the lesson here is the next time Google disallows some ads, they might not actually be totally wrong!

The second issue was an unknown delivery error with several Facebook ads. We’ve got 8 different ad sets running for one client right now. Each ad set has at least 6 different creatives and sometime after we got all the ads up and running and approved at the beginning of the campaign, we started to see delivery errors appearing on some but not all ads. The issue presented as a red triangle in the ad interface with an error message that said ‘You do not have permissions to access this profile’. That’s odd, seeing as how not all ads were affected. Now, nothing we can see had changed in terms of user credentials, page or ad account passwords, we hadn’t suddenly been removed from any of the key properties, so what on earth was going on? I scoured the account for a good couple of days, I tried giving permissions to a different individual on the account and they still couldn’t get the ads to launch. So, in time honoured IT fashion, we decided to turn it off and on again. I got our client to remove all our credentials from their business manager account. I then re-requested access to create ads on their page and admin access to the ad account. Low and behold, solved the problem straight away. We’re re-launching the ads and they are going through with no issues. So, I’m none the wiser about the exact issue. It could have been a glitch, but just to say, if in doubt - turn it off and on again!

And just before we close out this episode, I wanted to share a story posted on instagram by @thenextweb. It’s about a curious case of broadband blackout, every day at 7am in a welsh town called Aberhosan. Every day at 7am prompt, the village would lose its internet connection and for 18 months, it baffled technicians who investigated and replaced numerous cables in the meantime. The culprit? An old analogue TV set. A spectrum analyser eventually picked up the source of the interference and led them to a very embarrassed resident, who had absolutely no idea what was going on. They felt mortified. And the significance of the 7am time? It’s when their favourite show was on.

And that’s all I have for you this week. Thank you so much for coming back to the Marketing Mindset Club for season 2. I’m so glad you tuned in! If you haven’t yet subscribed or left a review, please consider doing so if you’re getting value from the show - it really helps me out in my goal to grow this club.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions so head over to Instagram @MarketingMindsetClub and I’ll see you next time.

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