Thought Leaders in association withPartners in Crime

What I Learned About Building an Effective Social Media Strategy

Advertising Agency
Montreal, Canada
INFLUENCER: Sid Lee's Catherine Martel shares her takeaways from Social Media Week NYC

When it comes to the realm of social media, one thing is clear: the brands and publishers that stand out are the ones that prioritise individuals and communities. To face industry challenges, leaders in publishing, advertising, technology, and design gathered last week in New York at Social Media Week to discuss the best current content practices. Here are three key takeaways for a successful social media strategy that caught my attention. 

1. Transform your passive audiences into active communities 

Gathering people around a common passion is a crucial ingredient in building an audience. However, it is increasingly fundamental to create a community of strong storytellers made up of experts and super-users. A brand will only be competitive if its fans interact with its content like they would with a friend: with lots of comments and tags. Lila King, Head of Global News & Publisher Partnerships at Instagram, shared that DMs (private messages received from fans reacting to Stories) are the new secret metric brands should pay attention to. Instead of solely focusing on the volume of interactions, we should also be attending to the quality of that engagement. 

Publishers such as Vice and National Geographic, base their acquisition strategy on a strong ecosystem made up of storytellers who bring their brands to life with credibility and legitimacy. Recently, Vice entrusted teenagers across the United States with live coverage of the March 4 Our Lives on their Instagram Story. A risky approach that required the creation of a solid best practice guide to align these young contributors, while sharing an intimate view on the events, with maximum relevance.

With more than 250 million subscribers across their social platforms, @NatGeo is the most competitive content editor on social media. This merit is due to its network of storytellers consisting of about one hundred photographers and explorers who have access to the Instagram account to share their visual stories simultaneously. The success of this media brand – the most followed on Instagram – is based on the clever coordination between creators and their ability to enrich National Geographic’s vision in a consistent manner.  

2. Craft your own language 

For many fast-growing brands, developing the right visual language around a product is a very effective way to build a community in record time. This is the case for Away, a direct-to-consumer travel goods business that puts user-generated content at the heart of its Instagram strategy. Nearly 90% of the content posted on the account comes from fans, who have transformed a simple smart suitcase into a visual totem, which travels around the world. 

Developing a brand-specific language can even inform a product strategy. Tasty, Buzzfeed’s foodie outlet, has revolutionised the way in which the culinary industry produces recipe videos thanks to its top-view shots. This visual signature has inspired them to create a new product, a smart induction appliance (the Tasty One Top) that links to the Tasty app, adjusting the temperature and cooking time to create their recipes. “We try to let the content drive the commerce. In the product team, we strive to have the same expectations that we would have on a Tasty video: its accessible, social, it teaches you something. It has to be cohesive with the brand,” shared Talia Halperin, General Manager of commercial operations at Tasty. 

3. Create immersive video meetings

More than ever, it is necessary to deliver thumb stopping video experiences that transform viewers into active users at the right time, through the proper format. By next year, 80% of bandwidth will be used to view video and the 90 minutes we spend every day to consume this type of content won’t decrease anytime soon. 

Live broadcasting particularly stands out and confirms the decentralisation of the ownership and distribution of video content from big networks to individuals, through apps, into the hands of influencers and celebrities. This transition has been abrupt. Justin Bieber chewing gum on Instagram Live attracts more viewers (about 300,000 people) than the majority of television networks. Even Martha Stewart, on the last day of the conference, confessed that Facebook Live is as important a media outlet for her as television. 

Hot News Alert: at the end of 2017, Buzzfeed launched a new content franchise, AM to DM. This daily live Twitter broadcast, hosted by two young commentators, adopts the essence of a traditional morning show but adds a Twitter edge to it. Tweets are used as editorial topics that will be discussed.

Catherine Martel is content strategist at Sid Lee
Work from Sid Lee
RONA's Renewal
Plasma x LinkedIn
Maestro Culinaire