Social media has changed the way we view the world. The evolution has been exponential; for example, in Pakistan, Facebook has gone from 11 million active users to 34 million in the past four years alone. The way people use social media has also evolved. Nowadays, they don’t go online to connect with family and friends; they go there to express themselves about anything and everything. It has also changed the way we view and interact with the world and the communities around us, and it has changed the way consumers behave online.
• Audiences are less concerned with privacy. Since Facebook is free, many people do not necessarily realise that they are the product. ‘Likes’ and ‘comments’ are the currency that most Millennials and Gen Z thrive on and so, they give away vast amounts of personal data publicly to gain popularity on social media. The Pew Research Centre for internet and technology finds most young people more than willing to hand over their personal details. Ninety-one percent post photos of themselves, 71% post the city or town where they live, more than half give their email addresses and a fifth, their phone numbers. This gives advertisers a great deal of leverage in terms of data-backed targeting, which they never had before.
According to a Forbes consumer study, 82% of consumers are more likely to trust a company with a digital media presence.
• Brands need to adopt causes and give a collective voice to their consumers. It was the Arab Spring that gave traction to the idea that anyone can bring about a revolution on social media. Consumers know how powerful a social media platform can be and are willing to use it, be it for political issues or consumer complaints. As a result, brands need to tread carefully on social media as a single piece of negative news can snowball into a business damaging situation.
• Consumers are more likely to trust a brand with a social media presence. According to a Forbes consumer study, 82% of consumers are more likely to trust a company with a digital media presence. It adds to the transparency, two-way communication, engagement and in some cases, social responsibility as well.
What is the effect of all of this on how brands advertise on social media? Pakistani brands have become savvy. They have come a long way from acquiring ‘likes’ on Facebook and realise that simply posting on their social pages will not do anything to give them traction online. High levels of clutter and increasingly distracted audiences means that brands need to invest in breaking through the barrier of limited organic reach and create engaging content.
In a world where customers want instant gratification, social media provides a platform where the consumer can connect to brands whenever they want. Being always-on and ready to answer consumer queries goes a long way towards building brand credibility.
Here are some examples of how brands are using social media to its full potential:
1. E-Commerce. E-Commerce has grown in an extremely interesting way on social media. Not only has it benefitted large-scale online retailers such as Daraz and Goto.pk, which use the platform to drive large numbers of traffic to their websites, it has helped a huge number of small businesses reach out to their customers with as little as Rs 100 per post promotion.
2. Influencer Marketing. The ‘democratisation of stardom’ is what this phenomenon is being called globally. Micro-influencers and vloggers have become huge social media celebrities without ever having been on the big screen. They have grown via popular demand on social media and are people which audiences can relate to. As a result, a lot of brands have signed on social media celebs such as Zaid Ali T and Ali Gur Pir to be their brand ambassadors, leveraging not only their popularity, but their individual social media profile to secure incremental and relevant reach.
3 Customer Service. In a world where customers want instant gratification, social media provides a platform where the consumer can connect to brands whenever they want. Being always-on and ready to answer consumer queries goes a long way towards building brand credibility. Facebook has made this process transparent by making public the ‘response time’ badges on brand pages, so that customers know the approximate time by when their queries will be answered. This is now considered to be an important KPI for social media management. Brands like Careem and KE have added to their credibility by actively responding to messages.
Social media and the way consumers use the platform will keep evolving at a rapid pace. Media experts need to be ahead of the curve and leverage new trends to their maximum potential.
Urooj Hussain is Associate Director Digital, Brainchild Communications. email@example.com
First published in THE DAWN OF ADVERTISING IN PAKISTAN (1947-2017), a Special Report published by DAWN on March 31, 2018.