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Don’t be afraid of controversies on social media (Content 360: Part 2)

Content marketing has become a staple in the marketing diet, but seems to be awash with jargon and misconceptions. Some of the best minds, savviest brands and top marketing experts came together at Marketing’s Content 360 conference to challenge these misconceptions, and take a good hard look at what good content is, and how it should be used in marketing. See here part 1 of our two-part post-event coverage, and read on for part 2.

Put yourself into customers’ shoes and be true to them

Tin-tin Siapno, head of marketing communications at Nestle Hong Kong, recalled an almost failed call-to-action attempt by her staff: as the team put up a QR code at its materials to stimulate consumers to scan for more information, she realised the QR code was too small to be noticed. “QR codes are supposed to be accessible, so consumers can scan the code conveniently; in this case, it failed to serve the purpose, and we changed the materials.”

“Sometimes, we catch up with the consumers so hard, we forget we are consumers ourselves; as minor as the accessibility of a QR code, a sense of human touch could be great enough to differentiate and hold the content to the light,” she said.

Chris Reed, global chief executive officer and founder at Black Marketing, added that it is crucial to make the content authentic and organic.

“If you force everyone to agree, the content is just a boring industrial product. It is usually the negative comments and controversies that propel a conversation; the haters that make your brand go viral.”

There is nothing to fear about the uncontrollable on social media either, Reed reassured, as controversies can be an opportunity to educate the customers. “Don’t just stick to one metric – it is not always a black and white, but it is about how the customers are feed-backing.”

MOViE MOViE’s general manager, Joycelyn Choi, said letting KOLs be authentic is equally important for effective content marketing.

“Treat KOLs as your partners but not your employees,” she said. “If they treat it as a job, the content feels fake, and no one would read it. Instead, build a relationship with the KOLs, and let them have fun with your brand,”

GRANA’s social and content director, Suhani Jain, said the brand is paying more attention to a particular type of influencers which it has been ignoring: the ones who do very honest views of comments. “They may do direct comparison between our products and that of our competitors, or point out all the pros and cons of our garments. But they are actually converting way more traffic than the high-paid influencers, because they let consumers see the garment on themselves, not on stylish models,” Jain explained.

The brand’s strategy with the KOLs is to walk them through the brand’s mission and stories behind. Initially, the brand would do face-to-face meetings with new KOLs, to build a brand concept by letting them meet the faces behind the brand. Then, they work together to drive engagement levels on social media. Finally, the brand shares a promotion code with KOLs, to drive purchases among their followers.

“Millennials” is a mindset

When brands are equipped with attention-grabbing, authentic content, what’s left is the right timing.

“How do you break through all the noise, and hit consumers at that one second when they are ready to listen?” asked Amadou Doumbia, Ovolo Group’s PR and communication manager.

Identifying moments on a customer journey, which includes the time when a consumer “want to get away”, when it is time to make a plan, time to do the bookings, or when all plans are done and the consumer is waiting to explore, the team creates different content to meet needs at different times.

Furthermore, he advised brands to identify moments anytime, anywhere, with a “millennials-like mindset”.

“Stay mobile, constantly look for a way of life, be tech-savvy. Millennials do not essentially need to be a specific group of people. ‘Millennials’ is a mindset,” Doumbia said.

Bonnie Chow, head of marketing, corporate, City Super Group, agreed that real time demand is no longer a characteristic of the young generation, but a general consumer trend.

Quoting figures from the Global Consumer Executive Top of Mind Survey 2016, released by KPMG and the CGF, Chow recognised that 77% of consumers look for detailed and transparent product information, and 76% consumers shop online for the best value.

“We have to stay innovative and constantly create new marketing content with product information,” she said. “The old ways of thinking are not working anymore.”

While over 50% of Morning Star Travel’s customers are aged 40 and above, Wilson Yeung, director of marketing at Morning Star Travel, said challenges are to transform the old marketing methods, and translate contents into the right languages as well as share them at the right moment.

Several tactics Yeung learnt from a series of trial-and-error on social media included an image-first approach, listing products to generate clicks, and avoiding wordy messages or images with logos. “We tried many times in order to learn these truths,” he said.

Stepping into the new era of social, marketing campaigns may fail fast, but all you need is to be as open as millennials are to new technologies and approaches, and learn faster.

Nestle’s Siapno pointed out that marketers are relying so much on data, that they dare not initiate a campaign or the next action without enough research support.

“There is one thing that we have to remember all the time,” she said. “We are marketers, and we should never lose our guts.”

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