Exchange - How can brands adapt their social media strategies to include emerging visual platforms?

As platforms like Snapchat and Instagram become increasingly popular, how can brands adapt existing social media strategies to exploit these new opportunities?

With visual content becoming increasingly popular across social media, we asked a panel of senior communicators - Alex Pearmain, Co-Founder, One Fifty, Sama Al-Naib, Senior Digital and Social Strategist, Cohn & Wolfe, Sharon O’Dea, former Head of Digital, Standard Chartered and Steve Shepperson-Smith, Senior Media Relations Manager, Vodafone - how brands can adapt their existing social media strategies to exploit these new opportunities.

"It's really about grabbing the attention of the audience”

Social media has quickly become a very saturated space and even the biggest of brands can struggle to stand out amongst the crowd. The panel agreed that visual content can really help to attract immediate attention and can often be used as starting points for other engagements, the stepping stone that sparks attention and drives footfall to long-form content.

Filters, location tags and facial lenses can all increase the way brands can build engagement on visual platforms; "When Snapchat launched their geofilters tool- this is when it became more interesting for our campaigns". Snapchat takeovers are also a great way of gaining third party credibility and are being seen more often amongst lifestyle, beauty and sport brands. But how can B2B brands join the conversation?

“Emotional intelligence is the priority skill to manage social media”

The panel advised using imagery and emotion to turn sometimes dry, corporate content into something that consumers really want to engage with. The use of imagery to add sentiment to business news has been seen through Vodafone’s use of cat pictures, posted alongside their financial results, warming the tone of what could otherwise be seen as dull content.

The panel stressed that B2B brands should use visual platforms to be bolder in their tone, stand out and give something valuable to their audience; “Reciprocity is key. By sharing social media content you are taking up users’ time. Give them something quirky, contextual and useful in return and they'll warm to your brand”.

“The old platforms aren’t dying, we're just more promiscuous with our social choices”

The panel were keen to point out that although visual platforms are increasing their user numbers significantly, it doesn’t mean the more traditional platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are failing. These platforms are still hugely relevant and add value in different ways. “Twitter is inherently public, it’s like walking the shop floor and really exposes the front line of a business – Snapchat is a lot more underground and with disappearing messages it is easier to keep certain matters private”. Determine what the aim for your use of social media is. "There's no cookie cutter approach to social media". It’s important to understand what the response to your social content is across different platforms, which is done through social listening and evaluation.

“Social listening needs to be ongoing, as audiences and platforms change everyday”

Should brands use fewer channels and do them well or spread themselves across all channels so that they are all covered? The panel stressed that the key to determining this is through an understanding of their own social media landscape and by building knowledge of their audience through social listening. “It’s important for brands to be in the know and shift their focus to where their audience is” Constantly review what you're doing, measure and if something isn’t working, change it. “Success depends on your outcomes. It's not necessarily a numbers game.”

You can read extended coverage of the discussion in the next edition of CorpComms Magazine and catch up on the highlights on Twitter using our hashtag - #KMexchange

Search article

read about our other exchange events

Exchange: One size does not fit all - the challenges of international campaigns
Read more
Exchange: Coping with social media crises
Read more

Find out more about our Exchange events

Claire Melly
Head of Marketing, UK & Ireland

Call me +44 (0)20 3130 7424