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Facebook on your face: Social media marketing and where modern-day tech is taking it next

Setting out to raise the social media literacy of New Zealand businesses is a bold task to embark on, but social media specialist agency Mosh thought it could teach companies a thing or two about the online realm. Managing director Jeremy Marks breaks down the state of the New Zealand business social media scene, as well as the direction technology is taking this form of marketing in in the future.

Firstly, what inspired you to found Mosh?

As part of my MBA back in 2009, I had to complete a six-month research project. I chose to look into the business use of social media and attempted to piece together some ‘best practices’, learning from the likes of Vodafone and Air New Zealand, who were trailblazing at the time. What emerged was a clear need for help by the hundreds of other brands who were struggling to get a grasp on how to use social media. So, despite being in the middle of a recession, Mosh was born.    

What did you set out to achieve?

Managing social media properly took a lot more investment than most brands realised or were prepared to dedicate. And those organisations that did take the plunge, quickly caught on that it was actually a real burden. Our aim was to remove that burden for our clients, and create a sustainable business model in doing so.

When you began in 2009, how would you describe the social media literacy of New Zealand businesses?

A little lacking. No, a lot lacking. So much so that for the first two to three years of existence, we had to educate prospects on the power of social media before they’d become paying clients. The lack of understanding in New Zealand meant social media wasn’t taken seriously by many in the early days. It happens less now, but back then, being a social media agency meant we got asked to build websites, run adwords, or magic up some SEO for clients. It was entirely within our capabilities and tempting to do, but what we wanted more was to stay true to our specialism ­– social media marketing.  

Now in 2017, do you think they’ve improved in their approach?

Absolutely. We spend a lot less time educating our clients these days. Marketing departments throughout the country are very aware of the need to be using social media properly and a lot of the time they call us knowing exactly what they want. Our job then becomes about executing the social media activity for the greatest return. And being a

specialist social media agency, we’re in the box seat to do so.

What are some mistakes that are commonly made when companies create their own social media content?

Some brands absolutely nail their content with little need for an agency, but some brands get it wrong too. Common mistakes are things like posting about their products all the time (we get it, you sell widgets) not maintaining a consistent frequency of content, and being off-brand with voice and tone. All of these things can result in negative outcomes for a brand, and unfortunately, they’re all too common.

Do you think companies struggle to find the balance with being too promotional of their own products or services on social media?

It’s pretty common and we regularly find the sales-like posts perform in the ‘poor’ zone. Social media is great for branding and customer engagement, but unless you’re ‘Daily Deals R Us’, people don’t hang out on social media to be sold to – that’s what Google is for. We often wheel out the party analogy, where the guy who talks about himself all night and tries to sell insurance doesn’t make many friends. But the storyteller – they can have the whole room in the palm of their hand.  

How do you approach creating content for each client?

We are very process-driven, which means our content production is pretty slick. And it has to be, when you’re making 400 to 500 pieces of content a month! What our efficiency also allows is time and thought up front, at the ideation stage. Generally speaking, we have brand pillars and social media objectives to tie all content back to – it’s really important that everything we create has a purpose.

How do you ensure that content is engaging and authentic?

Staying true to a brand’s identity and knowing what engages a brand’s audience is absolutely key. While all our content has a purpose, traceable back to an objective, it also has to be sexy to the intended audience. And it’s actually okay to be boring and conservative if that’s what the customers need. The beauty of social media is that we can measure all these things and make calls based on absolute numbers, rather than stabbing in the dark.

We often wheel out the party analogy, where the guy who talks about himself all night and tries to sell insurance doesn’t make many friends. But the storyteller – they can have the whole room in the palm of their hand.  

Creating marketing collateral for social media is a time-consuming process. How have you streamlined this?

With such a high volume of content, we need to be streamlined to (a) get the best results from each piece of content and (b) have enough time in the week to sleep. Streamlining has been an absolute necessity for our business and it’s what sets us apart I think. We use a bunch of productivity apps, we’ve developed and refined our own processes, and we regularly have ‘Mosh OS’ meetings, where the team get together and refine how we operate. In a nutshell, always looking for efficiencies.  

What kind of technology are you using to assist with this? Is it anything you’ve created yourselves?

We’ve built a piece of software that enables all our contributors ­– copywriters, graphics designers, account managers and clients – to plug themselves in and play their part in the process. It’s one work space for all of our content, so we don’t have different versions of content plans floating around in emails. With all our content plans, everyone is on the same page, or in the case a web-based app.  

What is the advantage of a business getting an outside company like Mosh to handle its social media content?

Where we really add value is solving the ‘what are we going to post about’ conundrum, and on a continuous basis. It’s all meticulously planned, based on the client’s objectives and created for maximum engagement. But done regularly, day-in, day-out, so the client can chill. We also know what works, what makes audiences tick on the different platforms, so we provide that expert perspective. In short, we make content based on what customers want to see, rather than what a client wants to tell them about.

How much time and effort would you estimate is saved?

It’s hard to say without knowing how in-house teams operate, but relative to our own processes say two to three years ago, we’re producing a higher quality of content and more video (which is notoriously expensive to make) in around half the time. Which in essence means we can successfully manage twice as many clients, or twice as much content, without growing the size of our company. For our clients, they get access to the talents of all our staff, without the need to hire three to four different skillsets.   

There’s no point in serving a Pizza Hut post to someone’s glasses if they’re sitting at a table in a Burger Fuel.  

What are some key trends occurring in social media marketing at the moment?

Over the last 18 months or so we’ve seen a massive increase in influencers. We’re generally wary of influencer marketing, as the connection between brand and influencer is almost always obviously fake, which can be detrimental for both parties. Proving a real return for brands is tough as well. But as happens when one trend occurs, technology soon gets wrapped around it, and we’re now seeing influencer-brand matching apps. But social media sees through inauthenticity, so we’re not sure how long this trend will last.

Technology is developing at a rapid pace. How are companies and their social media marketing keeping up with this?

We like to think marketing is technology agnostic. At its core, it’s about making an emotional connection between brand and customer. So, it’s not necessarily about adding the hottest social media tools to your arsenal, it’s about picking and choosing what’s right for your brand and audience. Be experimental but try not to be clumsy when using new toys. The classic example being remarketing – dial that up too much and you will definitely do your brand a disservice, and possibly irreversible damage.  

Where would you say businesses should be at currently, given the state of the sector, and where do you think they’ll need to be at in 10 years?

Mechanically speaking, right now brands should be reasonably sophisticated with their use of programmatic content and advertising, they should be tracking the performance of their content and feeding that back in to optimise further. They should be building, segmenting and refining their customer databases, so as the marketplace (or social media platform) gets noisier and noisier, they can tailor their messages to cut through it all. In 10 years’ time, competition for attention could be so great, only the most relevant messages will be allowed into a customer’s field of vision.

The convergence of technology and marketing is an interesting space. Can you make any predictions about what businesses should keep an eye on in this space in the future?

It’s been a bit of a clash of departments in the last decade or so, as in IT vs marketing. What businesses need to be thinking about is the type of human they hire to execute their marketing. We joke about the term ‘marketing technologist’ here, but it’s true ­– the modern-day marketer needs a fair bit of tech know-how. They also need to keep up with productivity tools, which their marketing technologists will need in order to keep the activity as efficient as possible.

What about augmented reality and virtual reality? Will they play a bigger role?

The ‘digital methodology’ to marketing that we’ve all been gifted will be around for some time yet, but software and hardware will keep changing over the next decade. Mark Zuckerberg is already building some Facebook glasses, which may displace the smartphone. Adding a digital layer on top of our reality is already happening, but as it becomes more normal, we’ll see the importance of being relevant and location targeting even more. There’s no point in serving a Pizza Hut post to someone’s glasses if they’re sitting at a table in a Burger Fuel.