February 10, 2015
Recently Facebook announced the reduction of “overly promotional page posts in news feed“, a move which probably sparked quite a few headaches within the marketing and digital community.
While some have started the tedious task of reworking their budget sheets to accommodate additional funds for Facebook ads, others are riding the waves as they come, unperturbed by a move which signals that consumers are tiring of ad-driven social and – to some extent – traditional media channels.
So, what would be the right marketing move in this case? Are there strategies to help hedge against such changes in future?
The answer lies in the same practices employed by successful financial investors and that is in smart diversification. Just like how no investor would put all his funds into one investment, no marketing or public relations specialist should rely on the popularity of one particular channel to push out their story.
However, using too many channels isn’t a good approach either and there is a tipping-point where over-diversification can lead to wasted funds and resources. Here, having a good story makes a huge difference in the number of channels you should invest in to achieve the desired reach. So, what is that tipping-point?
Are there any magic formulas to determining it? The simple answer is no. If there were one, we would all be living in a very different (perhaps utterly boring) world. However, there are a number of principles that can be followed to achieve your desired targets, be it awareness, leads or conversions. To explain, lets look at an example of a buy-and-reward initiative by Uniqlo, where consumers needed to make a purchase to get a gift.
“Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing” – Warren Buffet
A proper brief combined with clear objectives and goals will help lead the way and set the direction for your strategy. Referring to the Uniqlo example, first look at the number of giveaways available. Then, determine the number of people to be reached in order to achieve those purchases. Next, determine the proper mix of communication channels that would help achieve that reach by looking at historical statistics or obtaining audited reach figures from relevant neutral bodies.
This would then lead to budgeting and approvals. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the reach, the higher the investment needed to fund those channels. If there is a budget constraint, apply the process with a more realistic target until there is a consensus for the targeted amount. While this seems simple enough to apply we all know that sometimes it just isn’t that straightforward, which brings us to our next principle.
“A good story never dies” – Roberta Williams
While Facebook’s new move creates a hurdle for initiatives such as the one by Uniqlo, one should never undermine the power of a good story to grow organically and achieve the desired targets. The best example in this case is Endgame, a multi-media adventure launched in October 2014 utilizing GooglePlus, YouTube, public relations, a movie deal, a USD$500,000 contest prize and mobile game based on a good, intriguing story.
Movie-deal aside, author James Frey used relatively few communication channels to garner global interest in his story and contest. He relied primarily on public relations as the main medium, then let the storybook – along with its social-media woven puzzles – do the job of creating widespread word-of-mouth. So, how do we know if we have a story that’s good and can sell itself?
Good story plus smart diversification of communication channels = winning strategy
This brings us to principle number three. While there is a formula we can derive on a winning strategy and a more-or-less straightforward approach to diversifying your communication channels, the difficulty lies in the ambiguity of what makes a good story.
What makes a publisher throw out one novel in favor of another? Check out this blog post by my colleague Gijs for some pointers on the principles of good content and some best practices that can be applied in order to make that story more engaging for your target audience.
We would also love to hear your thoughts on what you find interesting – let us know in the comments below. After all, sometimes the best and simplest approach is to ask yourself what you would call a good story.