Social media is taking over the world of content. Source: Shutterstock

Exclusive: Why citizens and companies love social media

WHEN you think of news, sports, entertainment, and other content these days, you think of social media. It’s where you get your daily diet of information.

In fact, many Asians, especially the millennials, have terminated their subscriptions to traditional media sites.

And it looks like traditional media sites are moving on from being big news outlets by themselves to building a place for themselves on social media.

Geoffrey Pickens, leading strategic sales partnerships with Tech, Telcom, and Entertainment verticals across Southeast Asia at Facebook, in an exclusive interview with Tech Wire Asia, talked about what gives social media platforms such an advantage.

Q: What is it that social media platforms bring to the table, that traditional media is finding difficult to compete with?

I think there are three key advantages social media platforms have.

Firstly, at its most basic sense, social media provides a personalized interactive platform that allows people to connect, create, share and act on things they care about.

This is a quantum leap from traditional mass market one-way communication. Social media not only provides mass communication, but the essence of interacting in a community is what makes it richer.

It is also “stickier” than most traditional media, where content you value drives high dwell times.

With 20 percent of consumers’ daily mobile time spent on social media platforms, that represents media inventory to advertisers. But more importantly, on social media you have their eyeballs.

Look at any person scrolling through Instagram or their Facebook News Feed: they are highly engaged, looking at the screen. Social media does not have an engagement challenge like traditional media does, but it does have the challenge of “thumb stopping” consumers as they scroll.

The next key advantage is reducing friction to conversion on the other end of the consumer journey. The back-end AI architecture enables flexibility to explore valued content and reduces friction to act to a conversion.

For example, with traditional media we might see an event or a product that we want to engage with but then we would need to take several steps to bring that into our orbit.

We might need to visit a website, sign up for a membership and might even go to an actual physical location to purchase an item. Where it’s inconvenient for the consumer.

For example, even on online platforms, 60 percent of e-commerce site visitors leave without taking an action (BCG, 2017), representing trillions of lost dollars in sales.

One can imagine that a “traditional media ad to offline purchase” consumer journey is even more efficient. This is where social media reduces that friction.

Lastly, digital signals provide a wealth of real-time quantitative data, enabling faster intelligence and optimization. This is true on social media as well as on e-commerce, streaming, and search engines.

Q: What can social media players do to stay ahead and meet those demands?

Embrace a fluid mindset to test and learn. It is ok to fail.

It is not ok to bury your fears and not try new things. Marketers are terrified of being left behind by digital media and senior leaders are often uncomfortable by its demand to be nimble.

Social media continues to evolve dynamically, so best solutions for media players 12 months ago may have evolved.

But the back-end AI architecture allows us to embrace that test and learn mindset in three relatively painless ways:

  1. Micro-second adjustments to drive efficiencies in areas such as bidding and dynamic creative selection,
  2. In-campaign tactical adjustments to drive effectiveness, and
  3. Post-campaign intelligence that enables future scaling to a business’ portfolio or across geographies.

Marketers and business leaders who embrace this mindset and learn these optimization tools will be best prepared to succeed.

Q: In the next three to five years, how do you see consumer habits changing?

Three years is a long time away for social media! There are existing trends we expect to accelerate:

  1. AI enables increased customized interaction and consumer preferences for that – Messenger bots is a good example of that.
  2. A more “frictionless future” in the lower part of the consumer journey. Consumers are already demanding this – if you are not doing it, you are not in the game.

I don’t think human needs and desires will fundamentally change.

Five years from now, they will still want to be entertained, they will want to contribute, they will want more time to do things they enjoy instead of things that have friction.

The mind will continue to process information faster and integration with technology is already underway.

Q: What is the most important thing businesses should remember when looking at improving their engagement with audiences?

There are three main things:

  1. Everybody is a content producer today, so if a brand wants to be relevant and credible, it needs to create content that is not only optimized for mobile, it resonates with millennials who are producing online content multiple times a day.
  2. Understand your audience pain point and relieve it
  3. Create “sticky” content that is thumb-stopping and persuasive on-the-go in the upper part of the funnel. In the lower part of the funnel, create a frictionless journey to conversion as much as possible. Oh, and design for mobile first – design for where your consumers are.