How to manage your brand and customers in 2018 - a Twitter perspective

Many brands are investing heavily in social media listening, only to realise there’s always too much to listen to.

Being live, predictive and personalised is key in helping brands navigate today’s customer conversations

From a year of free chicken nuggets to Nike’s #Breaking2 challenge streamed live to millions of Twitter viewers, businesses and brands have seen some of the most unimaginable and disruptive moments in 2017, which opened up new avenues for understanding and engaging their customers.

It is also a dynamic year in marketing, as the most creative minds in the industry race to capitalise on cutting-edge technology while avoiding the dangers that lay in wait.

2018 is shaping up to be another dynamic year, and we would like to highlight the trends that marketers in Asia Pacific should be ready for when managing their brands.

1. From social listening to social predictions

Many brands are investing heavily in social media listening, only to realise there’s always too much to listen to - from posts, comments, to user-generated videos. With close to 2.8 billion social media users around the globe generating copious amounts of content every day (including hundreds of millions of Tweets), how do brands understand what’s happening online and make the best use of the ever-evolving social content from their customers?

The answer is: brands need to keep exploring and stay innovative when listening to and analysing their customers. From social listening of past behaviours to real-time engagement, the next wave of marketing is capitalizing on AI and machine learning in a new way. This brings forth new approaches to understand real-time trends and predict future narratives, enabling brands to get ahead of what their target audience will care about next.

Imagine you are a brand manager at a consumer product goods company looking to stay ahead of the latest superfood trends. To do this, you need the latest insights on emerging ingredients within the healthy food conversation on social media, in order to capitalize on the trend ahead of its prime. Take for example, ingredients like #moringa or #camucamu.

Traditional social listening takes a ‘top-down’ approach to trend identification which involves using predefined keywords to search for topics of conversation. However, there is a limitation to this technique - any conversation which is not covered by the original keyword query may be missed. In this example, traditional techniques will not help you discover emerging trends like ‘moringa' or 'camu-camu'. However, predictive analytics avoids this problem by taking a more natural ‘bottoms-up’ approach to trend identification. Unlike traditional keyword-based searches, predictive analytics relies on techniques like statistical analysis of word usage and distribution.

“Social Prediction - that is: predicting consumer behaviour and trends using Social Data, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence – is radically changing how progressive consumer-led companies are implementing and leveraging data to shape some of their most exciting innovation projects,” said Steve King, chief executive, Black Swan Data (@blackswandata). “PepsiCo’s Global Insights team, for example, recognised a strategic opportunity to detect emerging trends and growth spaces faster than the competition and be smarter in determining how and when to respond.”

PepsiCo has leveraged real-time social data with advanced predictive AI technology to prioritize which trends were most likely to sustain growth. The result is a tool which gives a holistic and prioritized view of the key trends impacting PepsiCo’s marketplace and consumers -- for example trends related to ingredients -- enabling smarter decision making and resource allocation planning for Innovation, R&D and M&A purposes.

“We’ve long known there’s power in the crowd, but never before has it possible to really harness it smartly. Brands can gain invaluable insight into consumers’ needs, desires and beliefs by understanding what’s being said online. But listening is only the tip of the iceberg. The scale of data available combined with advanced data science techniques opens up the possibility of prediction,” said Tim Warner, VP, Insights & Analytics, PepsiCo.

2. Live video: Are you fast enough?

Beyond simply responding to queries or recovering angry customers, brands in 2018 will seek ways to engage and delight customers in real time, nudging them to be brand advocates, via all online and offline channels.

Creating and safeguarding a stellar customer experience will be key, and video is expected to continue to play an increasingly important role in this process. As we shared last year, live video brings opportunities for brands to interact with their customers real-time, but as more brands crowd into the “live” scene, the fight for customers’ limited attention span is also on the rise. How can brands optimise a millennial customer’s brand experience within the first five seconds after he or she clicked on “play”?

Therefore, having a speedy, efficient and effective live customer strategy is crucial for marketers to win the war on real-time engagement in 2018. Moreover, marketers may explore further usage of the video, not just as an attention-grabbing or awareness-raising tool, but equipping it with more interactive features to create a personalised experience throughout the entire customer journey. Imagine you are desperately looking for a dress for your best friend’s wedding next week, and a video pops up on your feed right after you searched “dress for best friend’s wedding”, recommending a handful of nicely cut choices with your favourite song in the background. Your next action? Add your favourite piece to the shopping cart and become a fan of the brand thereafter!

3. Marketing gets personal at scale

As marketers drive engagement across digital platforms, there is often a temptation to over-index scale over context. A native ad for a smartphone device launch next to posts of baby niece’s photos is reach without context, which can often be ineffective. Technologies enabling automation of voice, text and media content in a personalised manner is how we see marketers make strides in 2018.

Imagine creating a memorable experience by having a user who may have discovered for example, a Tweet to enter into a personalised environment that replicates a mobile showroom, wherein the attendant asks for relevant information like preferred screen size, battery, etc. and then recommends a device that fits the user’s requirements.

Such 'personalised marketing at scale' is no longer a fantasy as we are seeing early efforts by marketers, whom with the aid of AI and voice powered interfaces, are creating environments that allow for one-to-one marketing. Marketers who have experimented with bots in 2017 will take this a step further in 2018 where they will marry reach with personalised marketing.

Maya Hari is the managing director for Asia Pacific at Twitter.

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