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Boycotting social doesn’t mean ignoring social

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Immediate Future offer some advice for marketers confused over whether they should boycott social media. / Unsplash

As the Stop Hate for Profit movement gathers momentum, marketers are faced with a need to rethink their plans through July and even beyond.

For some brands the boycott has meant pulling out of all social, for others an advertising hold on the Facebook group of brands. Either way, there is likely to be a return to social media marketing at some point and a bit of thinking and revaluation now, could mean a more efficient and effective future.

Social is such an all-consuming task. The everyday of production and posting means many brands don’t get time to reflect, be experimental or understand audiences better.

It’s a time to experiment

Stepping away from the day-to-day allows you to be bold and do something new and untried. It’s time to pause and enjoy the luxury of time to experiment. Trying something fresh will not only help brands short-term, but it will open stakeholder eyes to future innovations.

If you’re not standing down from all social, now is the time to experiment with channels other than Facebook and Instagram. A time to create some ‘proof of concept’ campaigns. For instance, you can look at widening your reach on Pinterest and creating shoppable links, or using TikTok to build brand awareness and trial an acquisition programme. And don’t forget Twitter, where you have a chance to invest in your audience and go beyond customer service by chatting with your brand advocates.

Of course, you can always re-think your content too. There is never enough time for social content planning and right now it is quality content that will cut through the noise. It’s a chance to think deeply about building an ecosystem of rich content that will build trust, gain interaction and drive results. Put your social-first hat on and sketch out content narratives that will resonate with audiences and fill the rest of 2020 with social that will have impact.

Audit and renew

Take a look at all your owned profiles. Deep dive into performance and review what works and what doesn’t. Set and reset goals for this year and 2021.

Start by looking at core community metrics such as engagement and interactions, but you must also look at clickthroughs, conversions and business metrics that prove value. You are likely to find some hidden gems in the data. Studying the elements that delivered business results will help you plan and optimise once you turn social back on.

If like most of our clients, you have produced a surfeit of content over the years, now is the time to dig it out of the cupboard and look at it with fresh eyes. Is there anything that can be repurposed. What worked well and can you work out why it worked.

Take some time to be curious and ask yourself some challenging questions. Given the rest of 2020 is likely to be bumpy having a variety of strategies up your sleeve will help you be more agile once the social taps turn back on.

Whilst it’s quiet have a listen

You don’t need to spend ad monies to listen. Tune into your audiences and take a look at what they’re talking about. Right now the social world has shifted a great deal. Covid-19 has meant we are seeing behavioural change, new interests and more time invested.

For instance, our latest automotive report identified that consumers were motivated to buy a car because they didn’t want to use public transport. We know that home cooked pizza is on the rise, along with cycling and yoga. Check out your own categories and look for the opportunities that will see you return to social with relevant and resonating content.

Time to talk to Facebook

I rather like Unilever’s approach. They want to talk to Facebook. They’re keen to drive change, which requires an open dialogue. So they’re investing in an open discourse to drive through change. A grown-up approach to a challenging issue.

According to The Drum, Aline Santos, executive vice-president of global marketing said: “We have been really engaging with the social media players, not in an activist way, or fighting against them and then shouting at them. We are we have been very much at the centre of the discussion within those companies.”

If you have an account manager at Facebook or are a Facebook partner (like us), now is the time to raise your voice and start talking about responsible advertising.

A final word of advice. It might seem obvious, but do have a think before you shout about your decision to boycott Facebook. Some brands have had a bit of a backlash. Make sure your own house is in order if you plan to make a virtue over the issue.

Don’t miss this rare chance to take a breath and create new strategies, innovations and insights. And enjoy the peace and quiet whilst you can. Social will be busier than ever when you get back.

Katy Howell, chief executive officer at Immediate Future.

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