As little as five years ago, digital marketing was considered an afterthought, or addition, to a marketing campaign. You had the outdoor nailed, the TV spots were done and dusted, and the point-of-sale materials were at the printer. Oh, better do some Facebook posts, though, just to cover social.
Times have changed. Now, digital marketing is a cornerstone of every advertising campaign and takes up a significant chunk of the budget. However, the pendulum has swung so far and so quickly, that digital marketing is now being looked at through blinders. The focus is often too narrow, and in turn, the results are weak or confused. But, shift your paradigm and you can create some astonishing digital campaigns.
Don’t Just Think Digitally
You'll be involved in meetings with people saying “what are we doing on social?” and “what’s our plan to capture more likes and shares?” More often than not, ideas will be suggested that are rooted in the digital space. That’s myopic thinking.
Some of the most successful digital campaigns of the last few years came from what many would consider traditional media; long-form video (just look at Dove) and guerrilla stunts (TNT’s “Push To Add Drama”) can, if executed correctly, have a massive digital footprint.
Digital marketing has evolved to the point that it is now a legitimate avenue for all kinds of content distribution, not just social posts. The big question is: How will you be spending your money to create a splash digitally? Will you be putting it all behind paid media, gimmicky websites, promoted posts, roadblocks, and native content? Or, will you create something that gets the whole world watching, and in turn, drives a torrent of user-generated conversations on social? A great stunt can garner millions of dollars worth of impressions, and cost a fraction of the price of traditional social media buys. Think about it.
Don’t Rely on Social Platforms to Do All the Work
The great Howard Gossage once wrote “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” That was back in the days of direct mail, newspaper, and magazine advertising, but it still holds true today. In fact, due to the very nature of social platforms, words are now more powerful in advertising than they were 10 years ago when copy had one foot in the grave.
People today are inundated with messages across all of the social media platforms. You cannot assume that simply putting content out there on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other trending apps will get you noticed. You are in a sea of white noise. Your message is only adding to that. How will you rise above it and be heard? What are you going to say that makes a statement? We all see thousands of advertising messages every day on our phones, but we only engage with a select few. You cannot rely on these social platforms to do the work for you. What you post is way more important than where you post or how often you do it. Stand out. If you have nothing to say, don’t add to the white noise.
Don’t Work in Silos
Advertising and marketing agencies, as well as in-house marketing departments, are compartmentalized. It’s the nature of the business; it cannot be avoided. However, the way these departments interact daily can have a massive influence, negatively or positively, on your digital marketing campaigns.
When you are starting a new digital campaign, talk to the other departments. What is the media department planning? Is there a big print and outdoor campaign in the works? By bringing it into your digital campaign, you can make the end result far greater than the two working alone. Perhaps PR is planning a stunt that would have way more impact on a social sharing strategy.
If you reach out early enough and collaborate, you can get much more impact for your money. You may even be able to spend less and achieve more.
Don’t Jump on New Apps Without Good Cause
"Oh look, a shiny new app! How quickly can we exploit it?” One of the biggest mistakes brands make with new apps is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. When Vine first launched, there were some truly awful pieces of branded content. They didn’t understand Vine, and it showed. Sorry GE, but no one cared about a six-second clip of your logo being sketched. It was dull. However, GE has since learned what Vine can actually do, and has gone on to win Shorty awards for their efforts.
Right now, brands are clamoring to use the latest apps like Meerkat, Periscope, Super, Zoom Social, and Graphiti. Some will have success. Most will trip and stumble because they haven’t really figured out why the app is relevant to both their brand and their consumer base. Like learning a new language, it takes time before you really start to get comfortable and understand what is going on.
Don’t Overspend on Technology and Skimp on Resources
Your client, or your own company, has figured out that digital is impossible to overlook. It’s no longer a necessary evil and a small line item on the budget. However, although your projects may now be getting the funding they need, you cannot afford to put all of your money behind the technology and media spend. You'll leave no money for the resources you will desperately need.
You can’t rely on unpaid interns to do your Twitter and Facebook posts. You can’t ask the community manager to take on multiple channels and spend 18 hours a day sweating until they burn out. And you cannot automate systems that require a personal touch. When brands use autoresponders on social, the results can be either unintentionally funny or downright embarrassing. Spend the money on talent, and invest in people, strategies, and time. You will grow from this success, and in turn, have even more money to spend in the future.