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Social Native

Social Native SXSW Panel: The Power of Personalization

April 5, 2018

Jackie Giordano

In today’s always-on world, one thing is for certain -- consumers have grown to have very low attention spans. They’re spending just 1.7 seconds with any piece of online content. That’s not even 2 whole seconds on something it took weeks and potentially thousands of dollars for a brand to create.

So, when it comes to branded content: What works? How do we get consumers to click, convert, listen and hear our message? What are brands doing today with content and what has changed in the last year? The answer lies in utilizing personalized content marketing solutions to predict content relevancy and increase performance. To zero in on this hot topic, Jeff Ragovin from Social Native, David Godsman, Chief Digital Officer from The Coca-Cola Company, Johanna Murphy, former Chief Marketing Officer from Rag & Bone, and Kaitlyn Wilkins, Director of Account Management from Facebook came together for a panel discussion. Below are some of the key takeaways from the event.

Connect With Consumer Content Creators

It’s time for brands to tap into the power of their most valuable asset -- their consumers. We’re in a new media landscape, where traditional ads are seen as intrusive, and a one-size-fits-all advertising strategy no longer works. Given the growing popularity of ad blockers, brands are being challenged to show personalized content to their target audiences. As Johanna Murphy says, the key lies in creating content with the goal of connection, not reach.

“When creating content, be a human first. Brand content can be jarring when someone is consuming content from friends. Brands need to live natively in these channels. Facebook and Instagram work because they feel natural.”

The explosion of smartphones has opened the floodgates to more creative and innovative marketing messages that leave lasting, positive impressions. In an era where nearly 3 billion people carry HD cameras in their pockets at all times, everybody becomes a content creator and potential brand ambassador. When the traditional barriers to personalized content creation are removed, the possibilities are endless.

Savvy companies, such as Coca-Cola, are scoring improved engagement and conversion rates by empowering their consumers to tell their brand stories. These talented consumer creators are producing content that rings more authentic than slickly produced campaigns. What’s more, they’re able to generate unique assets on-demand at a fraction of the cost. At Coca-Cola, David Godsman says they’re increasingly turning to user-generated content to fuel their marketing needs.

“Our consumers create content with our products every day. You have a connection and a moment in time, and we leverage that. We harness that community of co-creators to deliver personalized content at scale.”

Optimize for Mobile

Marketers also have to think about tailoring their content for mobile. There are several ways that marketers must treat digital advertising a little differently from traditional forms of media, and it all comes down to the user behaviors and expectations. First, marketing on social platforms needs to be mobile-first.

In times like these, production quality matters less than building for mobile.

To zero in on the importance of mobile, Kaitlyn Wilkins shared that Facebook uses a 70/20/10 model for how people consume content.

“70% of content is consumed on-the-go (on a mobile device).  20% of the time consumers are leaning in (standing in line). 10% of the time they’re leaning back (relaxing on the couch).”

Embrace the Shift to Video

Of course, marketers need different content to fuel the various consumption experiences. Sending the right content to the right person at the right time is the definition of personalization. However, considering that the majority of a brand’s assets will be delivered on mobile screens, marketers need to optimize their creative to work in this space.

So, what are brands to do? The panel discussed the video as a key component of unlocking the full potential of advertising on mobile and provided the following advice:

  • Use Video --It doesn't have to be a high-production, expensive video ad -- even a small amount of movement from a cinemagraph or a gif is enough to catch a person's eye as it auto plays in the feed.
  • Designed for Sound ff -- Knowing that most people will consume video content in a mobile feed without sound, brands should design their video to clearly communicate in this environment. This means using text, especially captions, and graphics to help people see, rather than hear, the core message.
  • Grab Attention Fast (15 seconds or less) -- People make lightning-fast decisions about what content they’re going to engage with on mobile. Capturing people’s attention from the first second is key. The goal is to develop creative that’ll stop people as they scroll through their feed. >
  • Explore Vertical Ratios -- People watch videos on mobile just inches from their face and, most often, in vertical orientation. According to Facebook research, videos shot vertically have a 9 point lift in ad recall.

Close the Loop: Optimize Technology in the Physical Environment  

Thanks to rapid technological advancements, there’ve never been more ways or channels with which to connect with consumers. What’s more, with the evolution of big data, advertisers now have more information on consumer behaviors and demographics than ever before. While data is at the core of true 1:1 marketing, modern marketers need to aspire to engage consumers on a human level as well.

This marriage of technology and human interaction is the driving force behind a seamless customer experience. Johanna Murphy provided the examples of StitchFix and Wag. She also explained a project she’s been working on with a fashion brand that has been using sophisticated software to have bloggers engage with customers after they leave the store. This helps create retention, as it follows consumers through the entire path to purchase journey. In Johanna’s words:

"It’s basic CRM, but it’s not robotic.”

To bring personalization beyond the digital forum to the physical product, Coca-Cola even went so far as to redesign their packaging to inspire millions of Coke-themed posts with its “buy a Coke for” campaign. Bottles and cans bearing the names of individuals encourage customers to seek out their own name, or that of a loved one, in the wild and to post selfies and other collateral when they find it.

As the barriers between digital and physical blur, the ultimate goal is personalization. Marketers should strive to learn new techniques by putting themselves in the consumers’ shoes and blending technology and the human-touch to evolve their strategy and optimize it every step of the way. In the ever-evolving creative industry, one thing is for certain -- brands cannot be afraid to experiment and push new boundaries. When brands test, learn, and invest in what works for consumers, the implications are huge.