Proving its worth: anchoring digital into integrated marketing

Every day we’re confronted with waves of content. Whether it’s push notifications on your personal device teasing you towards new content, advertising campaigns, browsing or discovering the web at your own leisure. Content is a 24/7 industry, 365 days a year. We know that due to the rise of mobile and superfast 4G – with 5G just over the horizon – we’re consuming more content than ever before. But just how much? IPA data shows that in the UK, adults spend, on average, eight hours a day consuming media. That’s almost half of most people’s waking hours. Unsurprisingly, watching TV/online video takes the top spot, taking up four hours 30 minutes of time every day. Social media accounts for almost three hours a day and the internet, just over two hours. And, as you may not be surprised to know, social media consumption increases to nearly four hours each day for 15-34-year-olds.

Social media landscape

Social media is no longer the new kid on the block, but the king of the playground with people spending more time than ever connecting, interacting, discovering and browsing. At an all-time high, 83% of the UK population use social media. So how can a B2B brand use social to its advantage? Tapping into the power of social media means different things to different organisations, and quite rightly so, depending on a company’s vision and business strategy. From snappy, informative customer service feeds, to ultimate brand and influencer feeds. But what unites them is the opportunity to reach a desired audience, grow the personality and voice of a brand and convert business. It gives an organisation the power to interact, engage and learn from its customers and followers. It also provides the opportunity to build trust – something which should never be taken lightly.

For any B2B firm, running a brand-owned social media channel across one or multiple social accounts, can be challenging. The need to keep them consistently performing at optimum and aligned to social and business objectives never stops. The trick is continuous testing, evaluating, learning and – the most important part – acting. By far one of my personal favourite aspects of social media as a communications method, is the analytics capability and the insights I can gather for our clients. It gives me, and other professionals like me, the authority to make a difference, demonstrate business impact and prove the value of social.

Content is key

There is perhaps a simple social media basic that is sometimes overlooked. Content. You can’t have one without the other. Content is the fuel that drives a channel and the channel is needed to share the message and amplify reach. Whether the content is a press release, blog, long-form video, or whitepaper. Social media thrives on content especially when applied with a native platform approach in mind.

It’s not as simple as just posting good content. Every post shared must be accompanied with an aligned social tile, such as a graphic, photo, chart, GIF or short video. It’s a ‘no brainer’; social posts shared with images have a greater impact. This is true for every social channel: tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without and Facebook posts with images receive over double the amount of engagement than those that don’t.

It’s important to remember that social tiles should, in most cases, be designed for each specific platform. The varying size dimensions should be respected, algorithms considered, and the imagery used should resonate best with the audience to encourage engagement.

Digital first? Or digital together?

Standalone digital campaigns sometimes have a place. If done well, they can reach millions of people at the fraction of the cost of traditional marketing activities. We’re starting to see more companies lead with digital-only campaigns, particularly in the B2C sector. I believe that B2B brands with a strong digital presence could follow suit in the not-too-distant future. This autumn,  Marks & Spencer ditched its broadcast budget in favour of a digital only campaign – Marks & Spencer Must Have. By combining its social media activity with paid search, SEO and other digital tactics the campaign will certainly reach its desired audience.

Yet my view is that, for the most part, when well-thought through digital campaigns are partnered and layered with other marketing activities, more input will mean more results, and the campaign really comes to life. The holy grail of marketing is an integrated campaign. Easy to say, but sometimes harder to achieve. In the UK, research from Kantar finds integrated campaigns are 31% more effective at building brands. And messages are more effective when repeated. So, let’s consider, that eight-hour window again…  When all external promotional avenues align one with a piece of content from a campaign, that’s manipulated, customised and designed accordingly, it’s no longer a small piece of content in an eight-hour ocean. It becomes a powerful set of messages. A memorable message with cut-through.

Emma Slaughter, Digital Account Lead