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Is your ‘social’ performing?

Every week, across Southeast Asia, I’m talking to marketers and agencies about the growing disconnect between their social spend – and its performance.

The 2016 CMO Survey found further evidence of this with top marketers saying they currently spend 10% of their budgets on social media (and plan to double this to 20% in the next five years), yet 40% of CMOs report a below average contribution from social media to business performance.

This spend-impact disconnect is something we’ve begun to explore more deeply at RadiumOne in terms of how brands are framing social and sharing as part of their marketing strategy and investment.

The many channels and platforms consumers use to share the things that matter to them, and the behaviour around this, is evolving by the day.

An example of this is RadiumOne’s latest figures showing that across Southeast Asia, a massive 87% of all outbound mobile sharing from brand and publisher owned assets now takes place via dark social channels (email, instant messaging services and text). Yet, according to eMarketer, over 90% of social and sharing marketing investment is still going to public social networks.

It’s time for brands, content creators and media buyers, to take a broader and more ROI-focused approach to how they think about the sharing economy.

Dark social is a huge piece of the sharing universe, and this interest and intent data source is particularly powerful when it comes to gathering and activating consumer intent data early in the consumer journey.

The opportunity for brands is to track, gather and activate these valuable signals – in addition to the data collected on public social networks – to create a more complete picture of sharing and social.

Technology is now enabling brands to take a channel and platform agnostic approach to keeping up with consumers. Software can now track and collect data when people share entertainment content across all digital platforms: social networks, email, text and instant messaging. Simultaneously, brands can be gathering their own valuable first party data from their owned assets: their websites, apps, social and branded content and eDMs.

Importantly, this unique combination of dark social, public social and first party data needs to be actionable, instead of these insights going into a nice dashboard or campaign report. All of this data can be used to fuel highly effective and targeted real-time programmatic media buying.

The act of a consumer sharing or liking is powerful. It signals valuable interest and intent in the brand or offering. But the true power lies in being able to target the sharer and their intimate social network with relevant and well-timed creative messages.

In the coming years, as the CMO survey predicts, brands will continue to invest in social despite questioning its contribution to business performance.

As consumer sharing channels and behavior advance and evolve even further, I believe it will be the marketers that focus on connecting the dots – between their owned and earned investments, with paid media effectiveness – that will see success. These will be the brands that ultimately close the gap between their social spend and ROI that shifts the needle on real business outcomes.

The writer is Charlie Baillie, regional director, Southeast Asia, RadiumOne.

Hear more from Baillie and on this topic at Marketing magazine’s Digital Performance Marketing conference, happening 18 August at Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore.

To book your seats for the conference, contact Bernadine Reyla at or +65 6423 0329.

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