Ad-blocking. Algorithm changes. Augmented reality.
The marketing universe is riddled with buzzwords and hyperbole, which shouldn’t be so surprising – after all, this is an industry of storytellers. For all of the excitement that comes with the fast-paced nature of digital, it can be easy to get swept up in the headlines and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Brands, agencies, and startups, recently convened at the Union Square Ballroom for a Katalyst Live event entitled, “The Next Wave of the Social Web.” There, panelists from BBDO, Havas, UM Worldwide and The Daily Beast explored where social is headed next.
Here are five marketing myths debunked by the panelists:
“Real-time marketing happens in real-time.”
Real-time marketing, or RTM for short, is a bit of a misnomer. When brands react to live events during key cultural moments, they are more often than not deploying a game plan based on a set of predicted scenarios. Erin Rech, SVP of Digital Innovation at UM Worldwide, notes that when Coca-Cola sponsored this year’s NCAA tournament, the brand planned against “at least 75 scenarios” – including, yes, a power outage, a la the famed Super Bowl blackout.
Content teams can approach their reactive marketing efforts in two ways. There are those unplanned moments of virility for which brands and agencies must be nimble enough seizeß – e.g. blue dress vs. gold dress phenomenon – and there are those planned events – like Mother’s Day or even the release of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” – that brands can get ahead of with a sophisticated editorial calendar.
“There’s a big myth that real-time is real-time,” says Larry Lac, Head of Social Content & Strategy at Havas. “But I assure you that most of this content is planned in advance.”
“Being first is a viable innovation strategy for brands.”
Digital platforms come and go. There’s always a new app, a new technology – a new way to reach people. Some marketers get caught up chasing the next “big thing” but fail to step back and ask if the partnership is an appropriate reflection of the brand. These moves are an effective way to capture a headline or two, but they often fail to resonate with consumers in the long-term.
Lac suggests that a solid rule when vetting emerging technologies is to start with your brand story instead of the sheer desire to be first: “When you strive to be first you can overlook what your brand is all about.”
For example, Havas client Dos Equis recently used virtual reality to allow bar-goers to experience a masquerade party thrown by “The Most Interesting Man in the World” during his final days on Earth. (The brand recently sent him on a one-way mission to Mars.) This was a natural fit because it gave fans a chance to experience an epic party from the vantage point of the iconic character.
“Messaging apps and bots remove the human layer from customer service.”
Messaging apps have grown steadily for years, and with the announcement of Facebook chat bots at this year’s F8 conference, the one-to-one communications potential for brands in social has never been so great. While correspondence in these spaces takes place virtually, bots can help humanize brands by allowing people to talk to companies as they would their friends.
Colin Jones, Director of Social Media for The Daily Beast, says that the potential of chat bots is especially powerful when you consider the ability to add push messaging to the mix. “The next wave of push notifications begins in this ecosystem,” he says. “This isn’t the savior of advertising, but it is a step forward.”
Consider a scenario in which you purchase movie tickets from Fandango, and then get a push notification a few hours before the showing, reminding you to show up at the theatre. Retailers might also be able to promote a limited time offer or flash sale.
“Consumers over 35 aren’t digital natives, so social won’t work for them.”
Just because the generations that preceded millennials grew up with less technology doesn’t mean that they can’t be reached via digital channels. This is an obvious concept, but one that could get lost in the seemingly endless sea of stats around millennials and teens and their relentless social media behavior.
Consumers in the pre-millennial sets engage in social media, but they do so differently than their millennial and teen counterparts. As Rech puts it, these consumers “use Facebook as it was intended to be used.” They post and engage with more content within that channel, and they favor a more traditional messaging style.
Remarks Lao, these generations prefer to be spoken to honestly, and they respond well to emotion. Further, they favor facts-based messaging that provides valuable information: “Don’t hit them with click-bait; just give it to them straight.”
“As a startup, you can’t win dollars from brand budgets unless you’re a heavy-hitter like Facebook or Google.”
Not all digital spend is going to the big fish. In fact, an increasing number of brands maintain innovation budgets that are strictly reserved for testing and learning within emerging platforms. Pernod Ricard, for example, invests in an incubator called Absolut Labs, which is designed to explore new ways for the brand to own the intersection of nightlife and technology.
Coca-Cola consistently invests in “tried-and-true” platforms, says Rech, but the brand is also committed to staying on the pulse of culture, innovation and technology. Reach and scalability are always important for the brand as a CPG marketer; however, a critical piece of the puzzle is identifying new places where the target audience is spending their time. She notes that teens can be fickle when it comes to their platform behaviors, and they will go where the best content is.
“If you’re able to capture the right audience in the right moment, you’ll get the money,” she says.
As brands rewrite their best practices for the age of social media, they will need to think like a publisher to determine the best ways to achieve relevance and deliver value. As Jones puts it, marketing should not be about capitalizing on a trend or cultural moment – “It’s about becoming a voice that consumers want to hear.”
Image Credit: Tiph Browne / Nerdscarf Photography