Social media gone wild? How to tame the beast and thrive

Our guide to navigating the complex world of social media to reduce risk and create opportunity. 

As you’ll likely be well aware, the social media landscape is going through a somewhat WILD time.

Social media is rapidly changing. From emerging channels to data and privacy issues, from government bans to Elon Musk’s continual Twitter drama, the social landscape can be hard to navigate.

While some may see this as a reason to avoid social media, many of the issues arising are not restricted to social. The real-world impact of social media on business reputation, customer relationships, trust, and share price means it is critical that businesses have a solid strategy in place that enable them to adapt.

It’s never been more important to manage social media, at a time when it’s never been harder to navigate.

In our webinar ‘Social media gone wild? How to tame the beast and thrive’, hosted by Digital Managing Director, Kinda Jackson, we spoke with three communications specialists from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Champion Petfoods and Russell Reynolds Associates, as well as our resident Brands2Life digital strategy expert to find out how they effectively manage this complex space.

Here’s what they had to say:

Have a robust social strategy in place to enable flexibility in a changeable world.

“A social strategy is our compass to guide us through an adapting world. What lands for our audience three months ago may not anymore due to changing algorithms and macro trends.” Alex Morales, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Social Media Manager

A culture-led, living social media strategy ensures businesses can continually adapt to the changing landscape, enabling us to mitigate risk and manage reputation for businesses.

A robust social media strategy allows us to tell a consistent brand story while being adaptable to the channels we communicate through, tap into the conversations that arise with our audience and react to world events that can shift attention in a heartbeat.

Daniela Andrade, Russell Reynolds Associates, Global Head of Digital Campaigns & Media, says “The acronym VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity and I believe this accurately describes the environment marketers are facing every single day. The key to managing is to have very clear objectives and direction, while at the same time embracing flexibility. Flexibility and preparation are the key.”

Having a social strategy in place ensures businesses are ready to stand up to the challenges and changes that arise.

Use social data to uncover insights and maximise opportunity

“Use data to learn more about your audience. Take time to think about who you want to connect with, who you want to speak with – always keep your audience in mind.” Daniela Andrade, Russell Reynolds Associates, Global Head of Digital Campaigns & Media

It’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of what your audience is talking about, using live data and real-world social engagement. Done right, this can not only help businesses mitigate risk – but also thrive.

First and foremost, you need to understand your audience – who they are, what they believe, what they care about and how they behave. We have an abundance of data on audiences. The key is to filter this data to get genuine insights that help you build a strategy while adapting to changes.

Andrei Lascut, Champion Petfoods, Digital Marketing Manager, EMEA sums it up perfectly when he says “There are different levels of insights. For strategy, I use strategic insights, the kind of insights that are much more focused on human values and beliefs. If there are huge changes to technology, you don’t need to change your strategy if you follow human values, as values don’t change as frequently as technology. For execution, I watch for behavioural and expectation insights.”

When you know your audience, you can be consistently aligned and relevant to them, while adapting to the changes and conversations that emerge. The benefit of social is you get real-world, real-time data and insights, which allows you to continually deepen your understanding of your audience.

Balance brand consistency with trending topics to earn attention

“The magic happens when the two come together, when you can tell your brand story within a conversation.” Penelope Lipsham, Brands2Life, Digital Planning Director

Working with social specialists with ears to the ground on what is happening in the world ensures that businesses understand the context of their content.

Social media content doesn’t exist in isolation. Keeping a finger on the pulse of what people are talking about helps us make decisions: when to pause communication, whether to be reactive on Twitter, if we should tap into a trend or steer clear of a conversation.

Entrepreneurs, like Ryan Reynolds, who use a living social strategy methodology are successful at tapping into relevant trends and active audiences. There is a huge opportunity to capture attention, where that attention is.

However, it’s important not to jump into a conversation blind or add a token ‘Happy International Women’s Day’. Businesses need to participate and actively be involved in conversations they want to join. You need to add something of value.

As Alex says, “‘It can be easy for a social team or stakeholders to want to jump on whatever the next trend is, be really in the moment, and not take a step back – it’s important to ask ourselves, does this align with, not just our social strategy, but our business goals.”

Taking a strategic approach to trends allows us to be both rigorous and fluid, consistent and adaptable. When we find this balance, it unlocks possibilities for brands.

Prepare for new challenges and opportunities as technology evolves

“I think one of the most interesting challenges we’ll face in the near future is determining what’s real and what’s not. As we see the evolution of generative AI, that will empower the creation of fast content that will flood social media. I think this will challenge us to stand out and be authentic” Andrei Lascut, Champion Petfoods, Digital Marketing Manager, EMEA

Social media has been defined by the emergence of technology. It is the intersection of innovation and behaviour change.

When talking about the future of social media, there’s no escaping the rapid adoption and significant impact of AI on the social media space. AI is going to fundamentally change how we create and distribute content. For example, the recent development that Google will launch AI-generated ads into Google search. The key is understanding how we can benefit from the efficiencies without losing the creativity and uniqueness that makes a brand stand out.

And beyond AI, there are opportunities continually emerging with new, accessible technology.

Daniela says “There are so many possibilities right now around data; connecting data with CRM, with our marketing automation platforms, the possibilities are endless. I challenge our audience to think holistically about data.”

Looking at social media in the context of wider activity is more critical than ever, with social playing a role across your whole funnel: from awareness and brand building, engaging and educating, to lead-gen and sales.

Having a fluid and adaptable social strategy will help you embrace the benefits of emerging technologies to enhance your holistic marketing and communication program.

So where to start

Alex put it perfectly when she says “At the end of the day it comes down to finding a balance and taking a calculated risk. I think the beauty and reality of social is testing and learning to see what works.”

At Brands2Life, we want to help businesses take the fear and uncertainty out of social, enabling them to be agile and market-ready, with real-world insights and an adaptable strategy that can help businesses thrive.

To watch the discussion in full, click here and to chat further about how to implement an adaptable and effective social media strategy, get in touch: [email protected]