Brands today heavily bank on digital channels for business expansion. One such key channel is social media – the quickest way to dive into a sea of target audiences. Communication and messaging on social media have always been the primary medium of impact for brands. But growing dynamism and shifts of social circumstances, and more significantly, the COVID-19 pandemic, has pushed brands to relook at their communications, restructure their messages and rethink storytelling altogether.
In this context, ETBrandEquity.com and Talkwalker organized ‘Social Media Trends Summit’ wherein the panel of experts included Vivek Sharma, CMO, Pidilite, and Harish Narayanan, CMO, Myntra shared key insights in driving renewed brand communications on digital channels and social media during these times. Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker India, moderated the engaging discussion.
Staying relevant: How brands restructured their messages
Just like the world has been undergoing a shift during the pandemic, brands have also witnessed a similar transformation in their way of communicating with their customers.
The pandemic phase has been of fear, caution and conservatism for consumers, and that has reflected on the communication strategies of brands. However, Sharma from Pidilite believes communication of brands with their audiences has not changed. “What has actually changed is what they are saying on social media and how they are connecting with the audience,” he continued. Sharing his own experience, Sharma stated that brands like Fevicol, Fevikwik and Dr. Fixit have connected better with their audiences by being empathetic in their tone and manner. “We have been addressing their concerns – be it of consumers or contractors, dealers or distributors. It is this humane approach that is helping us connect better with our audience.”
Behavior of consumers have changed during these times, and that needs to be taken into consideration proactively while strategizing communication. “A lot of people have been at home during this time without access to plumbers, electricians and so on. Brands like Pidilite have been sending out content to its audience on DIY works using their products like Fevicol, M-seal and so on. We have also been sharing art and craft content for parents and children to stay engaged with using Fevicol,” said Sharma, as he once again stressed on the importance of being human. Being reassuring while maintaining the brand perspective, purpose and proposition remains equally important.
Myntra also ensured to keep their brand messages updated to keep their cultural relevance on social media intact. The brand chose to be the voice of positivity and helpfulness during and post lockdown. “We did so by making a shift from a commerce-focused platform to a content-focused platform. Content on fitness, tips on work-from-home styling, workout styling and which beauty products to use became the focus of Myntra’s homepage,” explained Narayanan. Myntra noticed people in general started consuming content in multitudes, compared to what they did before.
Social media has started playing a major role for brands in connecting with their audience better. Thus, brands are prioritizing their social media strategies. Sharing the future plan of Myntra, Harish commented, “Social media is definitely important for us. How we are treating it as a media platform is only getting better. Our moment marketing on Twitter has been a success. Working with influencers on regional platforms have also witnessed success. So, whichever social media platform our users choose, we shall shift/expand to that platform only.”
Achieving agility to navigate the new age
New-age companies possess notable agility and flexibility – something that many brands strive to achieve. The pandemic has force-propelled marketing teams across organizations to adopt this level of agility to remain relevant. Marketing teams have realized that they must move fast, react fast, and change their messaging fast to cope with the changing circumstances. “This is a very pleasant change I found in marketing, social media connect, as well as in connect creation,” said Sharma. He further stated that the pandemic has ushered in a new type of change where marketing teams are taking up short-term, up to three-months long projects to keep up with the speed of digitization that is currently happening. This, in turn, is exciting and galvanizing customers too.
The changing generations of marketers
Over the years, marketers have evolved and been segmented into generations, not in terms of their age, but in terms of the ideology they carry to promote their brands. The first generation of marketers are those who create and represent a brand themselves and reach out to the audiences like that to amplify their reach.
The next generation of marketers represent a brand but evolves gradually based on the communication they have with their audiences. These marketers interact with customers, take their feedback and constantly modify and upgrade their offerings for a better audience engagement.
The upcoming generation of marketers create a brand, and then step back by willingly letting go of their control on the brand. They let their audience take the steering wheel, for customers become the voice of these brands. The shift to this kind of marketing is challenging, but the serendipity it brings along for a brand helps their voice be predominantly authentic.
According to Narayanan, working with the social ecosystem comes with its own set of challenges. Commenting on the same, he emphasized that the hurdle that marketers need to overcome is the dichotomy of achieving the desired ROI, while maintaining the brand connect and also taking care of the long-term plan for the brand through storytelling. He also stated that going heavy on two-way conversation leads to quality control issues which have to be taken care of to ensure quality content surfaces more from a brand. Finally, finding the right partners and influencers to work with will become crucial for a brand. It has to be more of a talent maneuver program, where brands need to locate talent and nurture them before they become big.
Be authentic and consistent
While rewarding audiences for ideating the right content, at times brands might get deviated from their core value. Speaking on this context, Sharma ensured that defining the core value of the brand to internal stakeholders is very important. Consistency of sticking to the core brand value is also crucial. Getting excited by newer topics tends to shift focus from the core brand messaging. Hence, a check on this aspect by brand custodians will prove to be rewarding in the long run for consistency and authenticity is what ultimately builds a brand.
Here is the complete video of the discussion;