By Olakunle Yusuf
Media fragmentation has pros and cons, especially for those looking to see their business in the news. For consumers, the trend of media fragmentation means increasing choice between and consumption of a range of media — including online, mobile, television, radio, print and more. For marketing and sales professionals, media fragmentation can create increased difficulty in reaching target audiences. Gone are the days of relying on the daily newspaper to know what’s going on in the world. Today’s consumers can find out just about anything with a few clicks on a smartphone. But, that doesn’t mean that newspapers, television and radio stations are obsolete.
One huge negative that’s come with media fragmentation is loss of trust. Trust in the mass media is at an all-time low. Two-thirds of Nigerians believe the sidestream press publishes fake news. To combat this, you must again figure out your audience. What are they reading, watching or listening to? What do they trust? Those are the outlets, reporters and mediums you should be utilizing to get your message across.
It’s important for companies to remember that different media coverage impacts different people. There isn’t one section of the media that you should ever “write off.” When you think about what ideal media coverage looks like, think about your audience first. Who do you want to target? Business leaders, stay at home moms, college students, entrepreneurs? Every audience has a typical media medium that they tend to go to first for news. Use this strategically when you’re planning your communications plans.
Think about non-traditional news channels too, such as social media. These digital channels are where conversation and personalization of content are important. This can sometimes become overwhelming because of the number of channels that are available. It’s part of what leads to media fragmentation and loss of control and visibility for traditional publishers.
Generating attention and beginning to build trust in a fragmented media landscape is tough. Utilize channels that you control, such as YouTube or your company blog, to help get started. Have a strong communications plan built with strategy for media outlets that you don’t control — such as television news or a trade publication. Finding the right outlets that connect with your target audience can help build trust. Work closely with respected journalists to get your message out there. And, always listen to your audience — after all, they’re the make or break of your brand.
The World Wide Web as we know it began close to 25 years ago with the introduction of the Mosaic web browser in 1993. Back then, planning and executing a comprehensive marketing campaign was relatively simple. The typical agency was much more like the world of Mad Men than what it is today – a world dominated by data and digital. Today, the choices facing strategic marketing planners, creatives and media planners have exploded.
As marketers, we are all too aware of the media revolution. But what to do about it is another story. If we don’t step back and take a careful look at what’s happening, it becomes very easy to become reactive and put our marketing efforts in the wrong places – or miss opportunities to put time, energy and budgets where we should.
Connecting with your audience means placing engaging content at every relevant touchpoint. To be smart about it, you must employ (and deploy) every possible owned and earned communication vehicle (as a side benefit, you may be able to reduce the amount of media spend allocated to paid channels if you’re strategic with your owned and earned media). This provides more benefit than just shifting the emphasis to “free” media (which is a misnomer). Earned vehicles like social media and product reviews are the new word-of-mouth—the perennial number-one source of new customers since the dawn of marketing.
The first step in putting owned and earned assets to work is taking stock of what you have. Make an inventory of all your organization’s owned and earned communication channels so that whenever you start a new effort you are prepared to consider how it may compliment, or even replace, paid media. Keep the inventory list handy and refer to it for each new campaign or program you undertake.
Target audiences are no longer definable in simple demographic terms – they must be understood on psychographic and behavioral levels. Sophisticated segmentation models may be beyond the reach of some marketers, but there are other relatively affordable tools to gain a deep understanding of target audiences.
The alternative to spending more is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. If you need to spend more time and money to do an effective job in more places and to produce a more diverse range of communication elements, the resources must come from somewhere. If you need to pay your agency or hire staff to produce more content for more channels, it may mean spending less on paid media.
How social media fits into the equation of marketing engagement is a much lengthier subject than this article will allow. But let’s hit the essentials, starting with the fact that social media must play a critical role in your marketing programme (apologies for stating the obvious). You must develop a playbook for appropriate involvement in at least the channels most relevant to your audience, most likely including: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram (add LinkedIn if you have a B2B brand).
If you are not already immersed in using social channels in a comprehensive way, then here’s one small nugget of advice on where to begin. Think about social media the same way you would approach in-person socializing: enter quietly, listen to the conversation for a while, then engage in the conversation IF you have something valuable to add. For social media, engagement is king – talking AT people is taboo. Fostering conversations and participating in a way that adds value to people’s lives is the key.
Now that you are shifting your resources from paid vehicles to owned and earned channels, what do you do with that space, time and effort? Engagement is the key to success. Attracting people who want to engage with your brand is achieved by delivering useful and valuable content, compellingly beautiful content or entertaining content. People want quality, credible, relevant content in every form imaginable.
For most brands, the smartest online tactic is SEM (search engine marketing), but SEO (search engine optimization, or organic search) and PPC (pay-per-click, or paid search) both have key roles to play. In our consumer-controlled environment, you need your brand to show up when people are looking for what you do. People turn to Google for answers about what to buy (and they trust Google more than they trust advertising or the news media). Optimizing content to rank high in organic search results—and supplementing that with paid search—is the key to being found. Google’s research shows that the best results are achieved by both SEO and PPC at the same time.
How does your website look when viewed on a smartphone or tablet? If your website is not optimized for viewing on mobile devices, that should be near the top of your to-do list. More people now access the internet via mobile devices than from desktop computers. Your mobile user experience will make a significant brand impression – either positive or negative.
Data is the new black. Marketers are drowning in data but starved for insights. Where to begin? Establish KPIs (key performance indicators) by which you will measure marketing success and ROI across all your tactics.
That’s easy to say, but it can be very hard to do. After defining what you need to measure, you must put the necessary technical pieces in place to capture and analyze relevant data. Employ at least some basic data analysis system (start with Google Analytics and move into more robust analytics platforms as possible) and be sure you are tagging every link in every online touchpoint to enable measurement and optimization.
•Pastor Yusuf, lead consultant, Above Media; 08023423396, [email protected]