“Australian FMCG brands suck at social media and it’s basically a waste of their time”.
That was the general conclusion drawn at the end of a discussion I found myself in with a dozen respected agency guys earlier this week.
Australian FMCG marketers and senior agency guys suck at determining what success looks like. They’re caught between a past where an ad ‘felt’ successful because lots of people saw it and a future that ain’t quite what it used to be.
In the ’80s and ’90s, ads were part of the shared, collective experience created on a nightly basis by the perfect storm of three TV channels, no internet and no smartphones.
We watched Friends, Ally McBeal and 90210 by the millions, ads and all.
It’s not surprising then, that the ads – for margarine, superannuation, hi-fi systems and tampons – felt successful, too.
They’d been seen by millions of us, regardless of whether we were in the target market or not. Yes, famous ads were great, but let’s not kid ourselves; we also wasted a tonne of money making them famous with people who couldn’t care less.
And while we all know those days are over, we haven’t got the future we were promised, either.
Social was introduced to us as a stunning, revolutionary, two way channel and we ran at it head-first with our cheque-books out.
We thought we were signing up for owned and earned media. We thought we were signing up for free, unrestricted, direct lines into our end consumers.
We thought we were signing up for engagement and brand fans and virtuous circles of adoration between tuna companies and main grocery buyers throughout the land.
But we weren’t. Facebook pulled off the greatest bait-and-switch in history. And here we are, on the other side of it, wondering how to know if any of us are even doing a decent job, when our decoy metrics like ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘community engagement’ are not even worth the paper the post-campaign reports are printed on.
Marketers, agencies, let’s get two things straight.
FMCG brands by their very nature have always been built with reach and frequency. If you’re an FMCG marketer you must, fundamentally, believe in reach and frequency as key objectives.
You must fundamentally believe that getting your message in front of the right people is better than not getting your message in front of the right people. That talking to prospective customers often, is better than not talking to prospective customers at all.
There are more than 14 million active users of Facebook in Australia. Five million on Instagram and a rapidly growing two million on Snapchat.
Chances are, your ‘right people’ are out there, and the segmenting tools built within these very platforms can help you find them.
In 2016, social channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are our best tools for building efficient reach and frequency. Imagining they’ll do anything else is a fallacy. Evaluating them by any other criteria is misguided, regardless of what you used to do or how you thought things were going to pan out.
Under Armour founder and CEO, Kevin Plank, put it beautifully: “If you find yourself in a situation where the terrain differs from the map, I suggest you go with the terrain”.
The terrain tells us that formats make a difference. Video and live streams are being given priority in news feeds above all else.
The terrain tells us that targeting matters. Using the tools within the platforms including audience segmentation and retargeting dramatically reduces our cost per interaction. Dramatically, as in 80-90%.
The terrain tells us that creativity counts, but not how it used to. Today, creativity is about stopping the thumb, not delivering a wonderful ‘ah-huh’ moment after 28 seconds. Punchlines go at the start. Nobody’s hanging around if they don’t.
Australian FMCG brands who go with the terrain and use social to pursue efficient reach and frequency are doing fine.
In fact, many are doing great.
Unfortunately for agency guys, competitors and general snoops, it can be hard to tell who’s kicking arse – especially when all you can see from the outside looking in is how many people liked a brand’s last post – a metric that’s been irrelevant for years.
This article originally appeared on Mumbrella. Check it out here.