Is great social media marketing paid or earned?

While it’s official – social media has become a paid medium – the most engaging brands and examples grow organically.

In an age powered by social media, the possibilities are incredible.

“If you look at the data you can get on TV ads, social media, comparatively, has more data,” said Jan Rezab, CEO and founder of social media analytics firm, Socialbakers, at its Engage Prague conference.

There is a great breadth of data available on social media for all kinds of purposes, even national security.

The trouble is most marketers only use this data for reporting, when the possibilities are huge. For example, Kickstarter is a project completely powered by social media, Rezab said.

“There’s a great potential to use it in business strategy,” he said, and marketers need to use it to get a seat in the boardroom.

Also, most brands complain that social media has become a paid media, he added. It seemed that while some felt this was necessary, others seemed to prove this was not always the case.

“Marketers often ignore the best inspiration, that is the media and journalists.”

He cited the example of most media outlets, 90% of which have driven their social growth organically, and said that brands needed to think more about operating in a similar fashion.

One brand who also takes this perspective is Lamborghini.

Roberto Ciacci, global head of digital for Lamborghini, declared the brand did not do advertising, and said he had internal teams working on digital content. “Buying paid media is like forcing a conversation,” he told Marketing.

We don’t need advertising, that is our stand. What (activity) you see on Facebook is purely organic.”

Another marketer Marketing spoke to, however, disagreed, saying this depended on the brand and category.

“If you work in a luxury brand then yes, you might not need this. But what if you market milk? Do you think people would want to follow you as easily?”

Meanwhile, Socialbakers also announced its new tools at the event. One of them was its dashboard, which now allows brands better reporting capacities such as automated reports and benchmarking, as well as to measure, report and benchmark the social activity against up to 10 competitor profiles.

It now also allows for Instagram integration in its analytics as well as video analytics. The latter focuses on the “churn rate” and behaviour of the user when he or she is watching the video. That also means its dashboard can analyse when users stop watching the video, skip particular parts of the video or leave the video completely.

Finally, it is also able to track how much the overall industry promotes, including brand competitors.

Socialbakers paid for this journalist’s accommodation and trip to the event.

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