If you’ve been a part of the digital marketing world in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “mobile first.” In 2018, where in the US, we are rapidly approaching 200 million social network users (only 32 million behind the entire US TV audience and more than double the number of adult magazine readers, according to eMarketer), we find ourselves at a pivot point in digital marketing planning and execution. Forget mobile first; we are now living in a social-first world.
The meaning of “social first”
Much like “mobile first,” “social first” is actually shorthand for “audience first.” Indeed, today’s consumers are constantly surrounded by technology. They are time-starved and highly distracted. They demand digital experiences that are extremely relevant, easy to use, allow them to accomplish their task quickly and take into account who they are and the context that surrounds them.
In this hyperconnected age of the consumer, people are reducing the number of channels through which they discover content or allow themselves to receive push marketing. More and more frequently, social media is where they go for that connection. Today, across all age groups, U.S. social media users spend about an hour a day on platform. The majority of teens and young adults who represent the next generation of consumers spend upwards of 2-4 hours per day, according to eMarketer.
The result of this growth is that successful marketing is no longer based on what brands say about themselves – building a campaign from one print ad, billboard or TV spot. It’s what customers say about brands through social media that truly has an impact. More website traffic is driven by social than organic search. For the most visible brands, the top traffic drivers are now social, paid, then organic search in that order.
Taking a “social first” approach maximizes reach by building experiences and creating content that elicits a desired response from consumers. This requires taking into account the social elements of your campaign and considering how social media users might react to your content.
Don’t Be Fooled
“Social first” doesn’t mean social only. The best brand experiences are fully integrated across channels, providing the opportunity to connect at scale with segmented, relevant messaging.
Here are a few imperatives to consider when thinking about your own “social first” approach:
- Listen First– Social listening is a powerful tool that is still often underutilized. By analyzing the context and larger trends around consumers’ conversations, you get valuable insight to better plan how you can best speak to and serve your target audience.
- Fish Where the Fish Are– Analyze and target the social platforms that your audience engages on. For example, if you’re targeting a middle-aged demographic or Moms, you should probably choose Facebook. Instagram is the platform of choice for Millennials.
- Be Contextual With Your Content– Each social media platform – and therefore each user – has its own rules of engagement. Be aware of and create content that makes sense for each specific platform. Avoid cross-posting to maximize the effect of your initial post.
- Give Them a Safe Place To Land– If someone clicks on the call-to-action in your content, the page they land on should reinforce the original message and be optimized for the device that they are currently on for a seamless user experience.
- Get Your Audience Involved– Curate original content from your audience. Social audiences love when brands respond and, most importantly, share user-generated content. Don’t forget to get permission and give credit!
- Think About How You Respond– A responsive messaging strategy is no longer an option in today’s world, it’s essential. Consider how social media will perceive your campaign, your actions and your communications and plan your response and service approach accordingly.
Consumer expectations have never been higher and most audiences are sharing wherever they go on social media. A “social first” approach allows brands the opportunity to travel with their audience using nimble content that impacts not only their actions, but the actions of those around them too.