Read on Marketing Interactive

Social networks are an essential part of the marketing mix. Brands can utilise the 15+ social networks dominating the Asia-Pacific market to leverage consumer behaviour and purchase intention to generate real-time exposure across multiple screens.

But as usage continues to grow – with 967 million social network users in Asia-Pacific expected by 2016 – marketers are faced with the challenge of reaching the right audience on the right device, with relevant messaging. What’s more, social media marketing is not always free of charge, often requiring paid social amplification to cut through the noise and gain vital consumer attention.

While each social network requires a unique strategy, there are a number of best practices marketers can keep in mind before launching a social media campaign.

Step 1: Define marketing goals

Social media allows marketers to execute campaigns easily and instantly, but this makes it tempting to rush in and optimise to the wrong metric. Fans, likes, shares and retweets may not equate to actual purchases and need to be evaluated differently.  For maximum impact, it’s crucial that marketers identify their overall goals before creating and launching a campaign. Possible goals include: gaining new social fans or followers; increasing brand engagement; acquiring new sales leads; driving purchases; or increasing interaction with users.

Different goals or objectives mean different social advertising channels and buying and bidding strategies for optimising campaigns. These goals need to be clearly established before marketers choose the appropriate types of ads, placements, and targeting options.

For example, marketers looking to drive brand awareness will benefit from promoted content that incorporates a reward – such as a discount code – and creative that represents the brand’s personality and values. For marketers looking to increase conversions and sales, targeted paid advertising is the route to go. Successful paid social ads should incorporate a strong call to action, reward consumers for engaging, and employ a creative visual that grabs attention in seconds.

Step 2: Understand the data potential

One of the major benefits of social advertising is the robust audience data generated by social networks. However, data for data’s sake is not enough. Marketers must be able to understand social media statistics and gain actionable insights from them to optimise their campaigns and achieve maximum ROI.

Demographic and intent data should be used in such a way that campaign briefs change based on real-time signals. A/B testing – essentially splitting ads in a segmented approach – answers deep marketing questions about the consumer and how and when to best to engage with them. In Asia, where smartphone use is the highest in the world, a granular approach is key to winning attention and building brand loyalty.

Marketers should also use advanced third party ad servers and analytics tools such as Sizmek and Google Analytics to measure all parts of the customer journey. Utilising a social advertising management tool that integrates with third-party tracking platforms will combine previously siloed data sets into useable insights to improve the entire marketing plan. Social advertising tools allow marketers to onboard their own first party data, including CRM lists or cookie data, to track the lifetime value of a user and remarket to individuals with dynamic personalised messaging.

Step 3: Create personalised, localised content

Marketers should ensure messaging is specifically tailored to the target audience, social platform and country. Repurposing content and strategy will lead to failed campaigns with poor performance. Regardless of a marketer’s desire to pay a premium for exposure, all social platforms have a quality score that influence the algorithms that determine ad placement and price. On Facebook, this is now represented as a 1-10 relevance score that should be used by buyers to improve optimisation and targeting decisions.

Step 4: Select the right technology partner

Putting together a social media strategy may sound complex, but with the right technology partner, brands can execute large-scale campaigns across multiple social platforms with ease. Marketers should look for a technology partner that has access to native social network data for advanced analytics and targeting, and works across a variety of formats including display, mobile, and video. A marketing operating system with an integrated social advertising platform is able to serve these diverse ad formats across multiple social and native marketing networks – from a single point of creation – to deliver scale and efficiency. It allows marketers to manage disparate campaigns – from engagement and direct response to mobile – and enables testing and optimisation to ensure marketers achieve their marketing goals.

As social network use continues to grow throughout Asia-Pacific, it becomes an increasingly important marketing tool for brands to reach relevant consumers. As long as marketers set clear goals before creating campaigns, invest in tools to help them translate data into actionable insights and take the time to create and test tailored content for targeted audiences – all steps that the right technology partner can assist with – social media will become a vital and dynamic advertising channel.