In light of the Meltwater Digital Summit: the Future of PR, Marketing & Tech, we interviewed one of our keynote speakers, Mike Blake-Crawford from Social Chain. He is known to have helped big brands with ‘breaking the newsfeed’. One of the central questions he has been focussing on for years is “What exactly is it that makes people stop scrolling, sit and engage with a brand's social media profile?” During the Meltwater Digital Summit he will answer this question and uncover the best strategies to stand out - and break the newsfeed. As a warm up for the summit, we already asked him some questions on the most important changes of this volatile year and how to prepare for 2021.
Based on your experience and clients - what kind of changes have you seen in the landscape of social media this year?
When analysing the social landscape there are two critical inputs to understand: platforms and people. Both have undergone some significant changes this year in light of the externalities we’re all facing. Social media has been the saving grace of the marketing and advertising industry in 2020, with budgets increasing here despite cutbacks in nearly every other channel.
As a result of the wider budget shifts, the platforms are going through a phase of consolidation. We’re seeing homogenisation of ad formats cross-platform, which is a critical step in securing more budget from advertisers, as now social ad creative can be scaled across multiple platforms easily. It does make things more competitive however. We’re also seeing a focus on e-commerce integrations, primarily the building of integrated tools that allow for platforms to capture more of the user journey i.e. Instagram Shops and Checkout. This is a clearly a long-term play aimed at minimising the impact of ITP integrations in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. All platforms are elevating mobile-first video content e.g. Stories, again another ploy to appeal to advertisers, but also one driven by user behaviour. Finally, this was the year that TikTok took over! It’s now a serious threat to Facebook and Instagram’s long-term dominance, especially in context of Snapchat’s resurgence.
User behaviour is changing to reflect the post-pandemic lifestyle. Longer content is thriving on platforms once solely focused on short-form content and there has been a greater focus on socialising within private spaces like Facebook groups.
Could you tell us a bit more about how brands have been adapting their strategies during this time?
The key shift from the most successful social-first brands is a focus on leveraging consumers as brand advocates. It’s interesting, as more traditional brands are still rooted in top-down communications based on legacy media, but savvy brands have identified that consumer trust is focused on real people and influencers so have therefore shifted all of their efforts on elevating these ‘real’ stories. Gymshark, HelloFresh and Glossier are great examples of this.
What kind of role is tech playing in all of this?
Tech is central to this. When Facebook and Twitter were conceived, you logged in on a desktop or laptop; modern social media like Snapchat and TikTok is built around the smartphone, the UI of these apps is a camera app UI! While millennial audiences used social media to connect, gen-z audiences are using social to create due to the creative power of smartphones. TikTok’s biggest ad product? The Challenge - this is the future of social marketing.
What should definitely be part of your game plan for 2021?
A solid social media CX strategy. Organic social is pretty much dead for brands seeking to differentiate or be distinctive with storytelling. Algorithms have forced brands to replicate the methods of success used by publishers and influencers yet with everyone doing the same thing, it’s almost impossible to stand out. The real opportunity is how you use social organically to build stronger relationships with your community and customers.
A current trend is that marketing, PR and tech are growing closer together. How are you and your clients experiencing this trend?
We’re embracing it!
PR and marketing have always been about communication and now our communication is being driven by tech developments that have brought businesses and consumers closer together. The resulting blurring of boundaries was an inevitability.
One of the key shifts from a social media perspective is seeking to leverage PR opportunities more frequently within campaign executions. Viral campaigns are ultimately driven by talkability through emotional resonance. Scaling this effectively needs a focus on both people (your audience) and publishers, therefore most social creative sessions now have a PR lens applied throughout; whereas historically that was something developed in silo and typically brought in at a later stage of campaign planning.
You can RSVP to the summit, completely for free, over here.