Social media has been marketing’s stellar performer for nearly two decades. From 2002’s launch of LinkedIn through to 2018, close to 3.2 billion people have ‘gone social’ – that’s a 13% hike on 2017. Understandably, businesses have rushed to where consumers now spend more of their time. But recent events have tarnished social’s golden egg and the fallout shows that marketers need to follow their customers – not channels.
Learning the lessons
Don’t panic, social media isn’t going anywhere and nor is the influence it brings you. In 2018: the global social media advertising spend exceeded US$51 billion; people spent more time on social media than watching TV; a million new users came on stream every day; and in countries such as the UK, social media marketing spend rose faster than in any other year.
But it would be foolish to ignore the trends that are likely to impact social media marketing. 2018 will be remembered as the year of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook affair. It truly shook confidence, both in the platform and social media. Surveys suggest, for example, that 1 in 10 Americans and 1 in 20 UK users deleted their accounts in its aftermath.
The good news is that confidence appears to have returned. But it has taught us a very valuable lesson: the status quo can be swept away in an instant and your business needs to be where your customers are today – not where they were yesterday.
Hyperpersonal – not hyper-intrusive
How do marketers stay in step with customers? The answer is, as always, the smart application of technologies. And in this specific instance, technology’s ability to hyperpersonalise your interactions with customers. Whilst this demands the comprehensive collection and analysis of customer data, it is the polar opposite of the data ‘hijacking’ seen with Cambridge Analytica. This isn’t a case of using data covertly to unduly influence, but using data responsibly to give consumers the experiences they want.
The right technologies ensure that you harness the full mix of channels – exploring every aspect of a customer’s experience ─ to refine marketing approaches precisely to their needs. In understanding more about your customers you will also act first and fastest should their channel preferences shift – with this agility embedded and automated.
Social media is still marketing’s golden egg – and will be for some time to come. But after a tumultuous 2018, the ‘fine’ line between hyperpersonalisation and hyper-intrusion has been made very much more distinct. And it’s technology that will keep your marketing on the right side of it ─ and in step with your customers.