Don’t bother with ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ for social media marketing, buy ‘reach’

On an almost daily basis we’re told how social media marketing can be a low-cost way to build brand loyalty and advocacy – what you hear much less about is how TV-sized audiences can now be reached through social channels.

For certain brands, social media campaigns need more than a few hundred (or a few hundred thousand…) people ‘liking’ their content.

If social channels are to change from the place where firms do branding and advocacy to instead fulfil core business principles like growing share and revenue, then fans alone will not be enough – or so says Sonia Carter, head of social and digital media at Mondelez Europe (formerly Kraft).

Marketers need to ‘get excited about reach’ not fans, Carter recently told Marketing Week Live. To achieve this, marketers need to accept that putting a brand in front of as many people as possible on social media means paying for promoted posts, rather than just relying on free ‘earned media’.

FMCG brands, she added, can treat social media like a broadcast channel, as considerable ‘reach’ can be achieved amongst a targeted demographic.

Traditionally, FMCG brands suffer from a lack of loyalty, she said. Given that backdrop, her firm’s need to sell 52m individual Creme Eggs in the UK last year – in a sales window that lasted only from New Year until Easter – required social media to reach as many people as possible.

To help achieve this, Mondelez used social media to tell stories about Creme Eggs via promoted posts for the duration of its three-month sales window. Content was first made public on Facebook and those pieces that chimed well with its core audience were then boosted with cash.

That strategy meant 15m people aged 16-24 were reached on Facebook over the three-month period – that’s almost equivalent every 16-24 year old on Facebook in the UK.

The approach made social media almost as effective as TV for driving sales, she added. Facebook now accounts for 18 per cent of Creme Egg purchase considerations, while television accounts for 20 per cent.

Too often, Carter said, brands encourage time-consuming interactions across social media, many of which are out of step with how people really use those platforms. Instead of asking people to download an app, or upload a picture, creating content that engages a user on their newsfeed is sufficient, she added. Brands only really need to distract people for five seconds at a time with great storytelling to get their promotional messages across.