Social media magic: Knowing your audience and standing for something

Off the back of Mosh Social Media unveiling its 2021 New Zealand Facebook and Instagram Report, Head of Strategy and Partner Julian Thompson talks to StopPress about the best-performing brands, how businesses can better leverage Facebook and what social media developments we can expect. 

You’ve been tracking more than 24,000 Facebook pages and over 11,000 Instagram accounts since 2014. What stands out as the most significant and interesting changes you’ve seen?

Since 2014, the lack of change has been interesting; Facebook and Instagram still reign. Creating engaging content is still paramount. The need to pay to play across social media to comply with algorithms has grown considerably. The sophistication of the targeting has increased a LOT – that’s been surprising.

The big change we’ve seen is how much more competitive the space is now, however that’s balanced by the increase in audience size and increased time spent on the platforms.

The importance of video is a major change – especially short and snappy videos.

Seeing brands be rewarded for being honest, authentic and human is a welcome change – audiences see through fakeness from brands, especially here in NZ, we don’t like brands who try to be something they’re not.

Likes going backwards was a really surprising change that stood out for us this year. What we assume is most of these brands actually attracted a large number of new fans over the period last year. So for the net number of likes to go backwards, we suspect that a large number of people have actually un-liked these pages.

And it takes a bit to actually do that, you have to really overcome quite a lot of apathy in order to go through and unlike a page.

How did the events of 2020 impact New Zealanders’ use of social media?

On Facebook, live video viewing spiked by 50 percent during lockdown periods and Instagram Live went wild in 2020 as well, with usage increasing by 70 percent in a single month.

A snapshot of how the pandemic has and will continue to affect social media and internet usage in New Zealand includes the increased daily use of online shopping which rose 170,000 purchases in 2020 from 2019.

Brands that stayed active and did it in a way that was sensitive to the situation really did well out of it. They really got a lot of brand love and positive reaction.

The most-liked Facebook page in NZ for 2021 is the All Blacks. Why is the brand so good at maintaining engagement?

Kiwis feel a lot of passion towards our national sports teams, and there’s no one bigger than the ABs.

Part of their success is because people starved of watching rugby went to Facebook to get their fix. The AB’s social media team was ready for them with content to fill that need. Highlights from old games, player profiles, and posts about merchandise.

Nostalgia was an important part of their content strategy when games were halted. Nostalgia is something that is always received well on social media, particularly on Facebook which skews a little older. People love to reminisce.

They stayed active and maintained engagement during the pandemic in a way that shows they are in tune with their fans.

dish featured in the report as one of the top social media pages. Could you expand on why the magazine title has done particularly well, and what other titles could learn from them?

It’s simple. Instagram accounts that understand their audience, and cater content to them are rewarded with high levels of engagement from their audience. Great quality content – great photography, mouth-watering imagery, a blend of easy to more challenging food inspiration. And a mix of static and video. Instagram also rewards a very focussed content strategy – sticking to your niche works well. In contrast, Facebook is more tolerant of a broader content strategy.

What does the biggest social media buzz tend to be around?

New platforms such as TikTok always get a lot of discussion – returning platforms like YikYak also cause a stir. However, for marketers we would encourage them to focus on what delivers results for their brand, and avoid buzz for the sake of it.

In New Zealand in particular, we’re heavy Facebook and Instagram users, and these platforms are very brand friendly compared to say TikTok which is still finding its feet when it comes to the commercial side.

How can businesses better leverage Facebook as a marketing medium?

Know your audience and create content that they want to see. Promote your content, use the targeting tools to reach your audience (set up a Business Manager account and learn about Facebook ads if you haven’t already. Start here: business.facebook.com).

There is no excuse these days with the tools available to just blast your content to everybody and anybody. Retailers, large and small, now need a real understanding of their audience, and then from there to understand the tools that they have at their disposal to be able to target these audiences.

Have fun with it – stale and boring sucks.

Any other key takeaways from the report we can implement in our own social marketing efforts?

In addition to the above, know your brand and know your objectives.

When it comes to your brand, it really helps if it can stand for something. It doesn’t need to be a world-saving cause (although that would work), just some topics that the brand is passionate about and relate to what you do.

If you’re a fashion brand, you’ll be into fashion of all kinds (not just your own label). If you’re a family-friendly FMCG brand, you might be passionate about healthy families. Try to push beyond just talking about yourself and how great you are, that’s where social media magic happens.

Knowing your objectives is equally important. Be specific – online sales? Growing a database of email subscribers? Brand awareness? Product education? Get that part of your strategy straight before you start. And when it comes to tactics (e.g. running a giveaway), stay focussed. It’s difficult to shoehorn more than one objective into a single tactic. If you’re running a giveaway in order to increase engagement, grow brand awareness, drive traffic to a stall at a tradeshow, and get email list subscribers – you’ll fail. Pick one!

Going forward, what social media developments can we expect?

The landscape of social media is always interesting, but change tends to be a lot slower than people think. The big players will continue to jostle for share of audience (The Facebook Empire, Apple, Google), and the smaller players (TikTok, Snapchat) will continue to keep things interesting.

Here at Mosh, we would love to see more diversity, so we’re cheering for the little guys.

Read more on the 2021 New Zealand Facebook and Instagram Report here.

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