Integration or Individualization? In Social, The Answer Is Both

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Building an audience on any social-network platform requires a significant investment in both time and money. Establishing a presence, creating a voice and deploying paid advertising to activate your audience requires focus. But with billions of consumers spending more and more of their time in these environments, it is not a question of “if” to invest, it is a question of “how much” and “into how many platforms?”

The social-media landscape is expanding at the speed of light, yet diverging in every direction. Each of the major platforms is their own expanding universes, and with the birth of new social ecosystems every day, audiences are constantly migrating in search of new experiences. Raise your hand if you had heard of WhatsApp before last month’s acquisition announcement.

While the resulting fragmentation presents an increasing level of difficulty for marketers to reach their core target audiences, the variety of social-network platforms is also providing marketers with an entirely new set of opportunities. Each of these platform is evolving to meet a very specific consumer need. Since most of the advertising executions are “native” to each platform and unique to their consumer experience, the marketer is able to creatively develop strategies with these various experiences in mind.

With the individual nature of each social network and their complexities, how do brands create media strategies that can be applied across multiple platforms?  What are the best ways to manage it all?

The new reality is, in order to maximize reach against a target audience, marketers need a paid media presence across multiple social networks. But while marketers should take an integrated approach, the biggest gains can be had in maximizing each networks’ individual marketing opportunities.  In some ways this might sound contradictory, but technology is enabling both “integration” and “individualization.” A unified media strategy with consistent marketing objectives and performance metrics which is executed across multiple disparate social platforms which have virtually no commonality.

Some artistry comes into play when developing this “unified strategy.”  This does not mean trying to apply the same strategy to each platform.  Nor does it mean attempting to make one creative approach fit across multiple platforms.  Brands should be doing exactly the opposite. A very different set of tactics can and should be employed with each individual platform as a way to exploit the unique opportunities that each has to offer.

The unification is realized at the highest layers; who is the core audience whom the brand wishes to engage across their integrated effort? What is the primary marketing objective? Is the goal to increase awareness, drive engagement, generate sales, etc?  Through advanced audience modeling and targeting, as well as full-funnel measurement solutions, much of this unification can also be accomplished through technology.

This is no trivial marketing challenge.  Deploying a simultaneously “integrated” and “individualized” social marketing strategy requires sophisticated technology and a deep understanding of each social network, as well as strategic and executional cunning.  But the results of a well executed cross-network advertising campaign are extremely powerful and have been proven to drive business results as effectively as any other marketing activity.

The original article can be found on MediaPost.