OP/ED: Five tips for consumer electronics brands to get ahead in social media in 2015

Guest Post by Daniel Young

Social networks have driven a cultural change in the way products and services are marketed but consumer electronics brands and retailers in Australia are not yet making the most of the available channels.

We recently completed a study that looks at the social marketing performance of 10 consumer electronics brands in Australia. We concluded that consumer electronic brands and retailers are not using social in an effective way to tell stories and engage real people.

The Path To Engagement report covered 22 official brand pages across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. More than 2,000 brand posts and 130,000 brand engagements were analysed over a three-month period.

Based on the results, here are five strategic recommendations for brands that want to grow their sales through effective social marketing in 2015 and beyond.

1. Stop pitching products

Facebook talks about its network as a way for brands and users to tell and share stories but there are very few examples of genuine story telling by consumer electronics brands in Australia.

In fact, there is a heavy creative dependence on product-led content that looks like it has been transplanted directly from a traditional catalogue. Perhaps this explains why the average engagement rate per post is just 0.17 per cent.

One exception is Lenovo, which does a good job of relaying product message via a real human story.

Consumer electronics brands need to find creative ways to put their products at the heart of emotive and useful content. It comes back to an appreciation for the role of social as a channel of engagement and influence versus direct sale.

2. Pitch the right products to the right people

The data shows that the larger the community, the lower the engagement rate. Samsung has the largest footprint by far but a lower than average engagement rate. This is due to the fact that larger communities are by definition made up of a more varied mix of people.

Similarly, HP has one of the smallest Facebook communities in its sector, yet it boasts one of the highest engagement rates. This is likely due to the fact that it has attracted brand loyalists who are pre-disposed to be favourable to the brand’s content.

We also found a correlation between the breadth of the product range and engagement rates. The pure PC brands tended to perform better than the likes of LG and Panasonic who have a more diverse portfolio spanning home electronics, white goods, cameras and smartphones.

The solution is segmentation, of audience and content.

Brands need to break their audiences down into sub-sets and then target content and products appropriately. Third party research shows that followers are more inclined to buy your products; the key is to ensure that you’re focused on the right products for the right prospective buyer.

Segmentation results in better spend efficiency and a more relevant experience for the end user, which is more likely to keep them engaged.

This segmentation strategy applies equally to brands that want to grow their community from a low base, as it does to marketers managing large numbers in social media.

3. Everyone loves a deal

To complete the study we hand-coded 2,000 brand posts and categorised them. We wanted to see what type of content performed best. One interesting conclusion from this process was the high performance of ‘promotions’. This included posts that related to special offers, sales, discounts and bundling deals.

We concluded that fans were keen to encourage promotions even if they weren’t directly engaging with each offer. Again the research shows that one of the main reasons why people engage with brands in social is to access special offers and discounts. They want value and that value can come in the form of rewards or benefits for their loyalty and time.

To really maximise the opportunity, brands should look to build socially engaging elements into their product promotions and special offers.

4. Face it – Facebook is pay to play

The issue of declining organic reach within Facebook is well documented. A recent announcement from Facebook outlined its plans to penalise promotional posts from brands as of January 2015.

That should set the alarm bells off for marketers in this industry, particularly given the their reliance on Zuckerberg’s company.

Collectively, the 10 brands in our study have accumulated a total social fan count of 1.63 million people. A massive 97 per cent of those relate to Facebook Page Likes.

Our study also found that 75 per cent of brand engagements on Facebook relate to paid promotion. Well-targeted ads have an important role to play on Facebook, but be wary. Marketers that shift the emphasis too heavily in favour of traditional advertising on Facebook will suffer.

Remember, paid media can only buy you reach; it can’t buy you engagement. That will come back to the quality of your content.

5. New sources of organic engagement

The acquisition by Facebook of Instagram and WhatsApp is a sign that the company is hedging its bets in social and you probably should too.

Newer networks like Instagram, Pinterest and instant messaging apps like Snapchat offer rich potential for organic engagement, much like the early days of Facebook.

Our study found that the average engagement rate per post on Instagram was 4.94 per cent compared to 0.17 per cent on Facebook, 0.08 per cent on Twitter and 0.23 per cent on Google+.

2014 saw brands like HP, Samsung and Lenovo launch their first forays into Instagram with a local market presence.

Conclusion

The dynamics of social media have shifted considerably in the last five years. Users are more savvy and perhaps more cynical. There are more brands and publishers competing for attention. There are more limits and rules being applied by the networks themselves.

Competition is higher but the fundamental challenge for marketers in the consumer electronics industry remains the same. You need to translate product messages into a format that people seek out in social media and in doing so create returns for your business.

Daniel Young is the general manager of Brightpoint Digital, a content strategy agency based in Sydney.

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