Social media content strategy

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising.

Why platform selection affects the quality and quantity of social media content

Social media, love it or leave it, is hard to get away from. What started as digital networks where like-minded users could connect and share information has grown into a multi-billion dollar network catering to sophisticated brand advertising and user generated content.

Platform selection influences quality of social media content

B-to-B brands seeking to use social media for engagement need to understand the strengths and limitations of their selected social platform. Where Facebook is perceived as a more B-to-C retail platform, there are numerous examples where B-to-B brands have used the platform to connect with rural outlying communities where their facilities are located.

Each platform has its own particular tone and style. Understanding this allows for social media content to be developed to show a more human side of the brand or a more technical competency based on the objectives of the social media effort.

Objectives can include the following:

  • Community relations
  • Recruitment
  • Health and safety
  • Product comparison
  • Thought leadership
  • New product introduction
  • Forwarding of content via social network
  • New business inquiry

Achieving any of the above identifies content that is conceptually sound, produced with a purpose, and deemed valuable by its intended audience.

Content that lacks strategic direction is hastily cobbled together, short on authenticity, and not tied to a specific objective is probably a waste of time and resources.

Key take away: Having a platform presence without a strategy is not sustainable and will quickly lead to abandonment.

Integrating social media content with other marketing tools

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising. This complementary function is much like the support of public relations. Done correctly, social media content can capture an influencer’s attention, leading to additional content generated with the appearance of endorsement.

Key take away: Social media content is a complementary tool not intended to carry the entire marketing load.

How much social media content is needed to be effective?

The internet is a content eating machine. In order to stand out in the sea of sponsored display advertising and user generated content, advertisers should be prepared for a long term commitment to social media content development and treat it with an evergreen journalistic approach.

Key take away: The best strategy is to develop a library of content that has a long shelf life.

Social media has its limitations

The one thing social media can’t do is provide sustainable scale. By its very nature, it is fragmented – subject to the reader’s value system and point of view. Accuracy of regenerated content cannot be guaranteed and may do more harm than good.

The use of social media by B-to-B brands is accelerating. Taking a strategic approach to integrating social media into the marketing mix requires creativity and a willingness to try something different.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to write effective online copy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: Ryanair, the marketing brilliance behind the commodity-priced airfare

Call it what you may, Ryanair’s marketing is shrewd and laser focused

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary recently called his customer “idiots.” Having never had the pleasure to fly Europe’s largest low cost carrier, I was glad not to be classified as one of the above. Yet from the decidedly colloquial North American viewpoint, it is a revealing look into Ryanair’s branding strategy.

Ryanair at a glance:

  • Founded: 1985
  • Current fleet: 294 Boeing 737-800
  • Passenger traffic: 75.8 million
  • Revenue: €4,325m
  • Profit after tax: €503m
  • Number of routes: 1,500+ per day operating from 51 bases in 28 countries

Ryanair practices marketing known by such names as gotcha marketing and aggression marketing. Gotcha marketing is based on pushing the boundaries of acceptable advertising in both truthfulness and taste, and penalizing customers that don’t follow the rules.

The penalties for not following the rules come in the form of additional fees such as:

  • Administration fee,  €6
  • Boarding pass fee,  €6
  • Reserved seating fee, €10
  • Airport boarding card re-issue fee, €60
  • Infant equipment fee, €20
  • Sports equipment fee, €60
  • Musical instrument fee, €60
  • Flight change fee – based on season, €30 – €90
  • Name change fee, €110 – €160
  • Government tax refund administration fee, €20
  • Oxygen reservation fee, €100
  • Checked bag fee, €15 – €150
  • Missed departure fee, €110

Advertising plays a critical role in these forms of marketing, starting with media placement. One-color ads are placed in tabloid newspapers. The fare prices are misleading because they don’t include the multitude of gotcha fees and usually include provocative imagery that is associated with tabloid journalism.

Because the ads are offensive to some, what follows is a formal complaint to the British Office of Fair Trading or the European Commission for Mobility and Transport. Interestingly enough, O’Leary has called the commission an evil empire populated by morons.

Which leads us back to the brilliance of Ryanair’s marketing. The formula starts with aggressive advertising, which leads to a complaint. Then CEO Michael O’Leary, stokes the fire with an inflammatory remark, escalating the pitch of the conversation while gaining free PR in the press and attention for the low cost carrier. This ultimately turns a $30,000 ad campaign into a million dollar public relations bonanza.

Ryanair understands its customers – price sensitive travelers. Ryanair’s brand promise is cheap fares and on-time service. Their customers understand the value proposition – do it yourself, follow the rules, and get from point A to B for as little as possible.

Ryanair and O’Leary are comfortable in their own skin. Each knows what they are –  the premier low cost carrier with a master marketer who knows how to differentiate his product and turn a profit in a super-competitive business.

The changing role of Public Relations in aviation marketing

Jet Blue external communications

Public Relations should be viewed as a tool for engagement and brand building.

At the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (4As) PR conference, industry thought leaders and influencers came together to provide their views on emerging trends influencing PR in the digital age.

I want to recognize 4A’s information specialists Rebecca Samson and Christine Pelosi for pooling their impressions from the conference and drafting their original observation document. Below is my interpretation of these themes and how they could affect aviation marketers.

From Jet Blue to Google to IBM, three areas emerged that aviation marketers should consider when developing public relations and social media plans.

The power of the influencer

Thomas Gensemer, Managing Partner, Blue State Digital, focused on changing role of today’s influencers. No longer are celebrities and urban cities setting the trends. Influencers can come from anywhere, aided by accessibility and quick distribution models of social media.

Gensemer cited 3 factors involved when conducting a campaign to embrace influencers:

  1. Participation: Encourage supporters to become involved in a campaign using real-time and digital events.
  2. Integration: Integrating both traditional and digital media into the campaign allows the brand message to reach the largest possible audience.
  3. Celebration: Social media has given fans a chance to enter the conversation and have a hand in trend-setting.

Transparency builds the brand

Jet Blue communications team attributes the airline’s focus on transparency, both internally and externally, as one of the key factors responsible for building the Jet Blue brand.

Externally, Jet Blue has an excellent crisis management strategy in which it responds quickly and truthfully to issues while updating information frequently, using multiple social media platforms and networks.

Internally, Jet Blue practices open communication between management and employees. By implementing companywide email, internal Facebook pages, and having a CEO actively posting to his Twitter account, Jet Blue engages employees in day-to-day issues. Such transparency enables employees at all levels to become brand stewards.  They are trained on the Jet Blue brand story, empowering them with knowledge to serve their customers as the company serves its employees.

Telling your story through brand journalism

Ingrid Bernstein, Director of Experience at J. Walter Thompson (JWT), touched on the theme of brand journalism. Digital distribution has created a world of fast news cycles, decreased attention spans, and brands have less control over their story.

Ingrid suggested that, in response to these factors, brands practice brand journalism – an editorial approach to brand-building that uses journalistic practices and assumes non-fiction stories can be more interesting than fictional ones. The goal of brand journalism isn’t to sell products but rather the brand’s expertise.

9 rules for brand journalism:

  1. Access = success. Give people access to the story behind the scenes.
  2. Don’t be afraid to show difficulty.  Obstacles can be framed as opportunities for transformation.
  3. Drama comes from conflict. Setting up tension gives people a stake in the story, driving engagement.
  4. Transparency is powerful. Transparency is a storytelling device influencing the emotional connection with the brand.
  5. Embrace the trolls. Listening to and engaging your detractors can help develop the brand story.
  6. Identify and follow characters. You may not know who they are, but always be on the lookout for them.
  7. Show passionate customers. Integrate brand advocates into your story.
  8. Leverage good news. Connect with the news cycle and be responsive.
  9. Create an empowered approval team. Develop a rapid approval process with high-level executive involvement.

To view the research insight report, click on the following link: “Observations from the 4A’s 2012 PR Conference.”

photo credit: baratunde via photo pin cc