Opinion: Social Media Marketing & Revenue - Defining the Undefinable Link

Social Samosa
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Tusharr Kumar OML

Tusharr Kumar - OML shares his thoughts on how Social Media Marketing & Revenue has had a greater impact on our lives and gives a run down on your Social Media Strategy.

Social media has permeated consumer lives - it surrounds us, consumes our time (large chunks of it), influences us, and impacts us both personally and professionally. It is no surprise then that it has become an integral part of life in today's day and age, going beyond what it was initially planned to be.

While initially a platform to connect and share digitally, social media has evolved into a business platform as businesses recognized its potential to target audiences more impactfully and drive revenue. This was particularly amplified in the last few months, during the pandemic, when everyone had to depend on technology more than ever. While the new attention shift to digital saw the audience consume content on digital and social platforms as a source of entertainment, escape, and communication - businesses too, in turn, flocked to where their consumers were - on social media. Brands and businesses started relying heavily on digital and social media marketing. Several of them began to use social media creatively, resulting in unprecedented changes in the value the platforms have started delivering.  

From generating vanity metrics like SOV (Share of Voice) for board meetings, social media marketing strategies are now vital to propel real impact - be it a jump in brand health parameters, using the brand's editorial voice to reel in fans (not consumers) or driving business goals. Furthermore, the time spent on social is expected to continue growing even as the audience resumes regular activities in the post-pandemic era; this is driving brands and businesses to utilize user-generated campaigns, increase their relevance and put themselves on their consumers' feeds - thereby leveraging social media to boost awareness all the way through conversion.

At the same time, with the social media landscape bringing more competition, content, and networks into its fold than before, brands and agencies are employing several strategies to break through the clutter. Moreover, looking at the new scene, it is increasingly evident that social media will be a critical driving force in revenue. 

Investing in social commerce integrations

Social commerce facilitates buying and selling products or services directly on/from social media platforms. Already experiencing rapid growth, this trend is revolutionizing and democratizing the overall Indian e-commerce scene.

All major social platforms have tailored themselves with in-built checkout integrations with Shopify to enable direct selling from social content, thereby also empowering small businesses and homegrown start-ups to join the marketplace. 

Also Read: Opinion: Leveraging SEO’s importance while creating digital products

The rise of Livestream shopping 

What accelerated the growth of Livestream shopping on social media was the pandemic since brick-and-mortar shopping was unavailable due to lockdowns. This trend blends entertainment with instant purchasing and is rapidly growing in popularity.

Livestream shopping is offering retailers, brands, and digital platforms a new channel with tremendous scope for creating value. The innovative approach brings the storefront shopping experience to the comfort of your home by linking an online livestream broadcast with an e-commerce store to allow viewers to watch and shop simultaneously. At the same time, it incorporates audience participation through a chat function or reaction buttons, upping its immersive and entertainment quotient and making viewers watch for longer - leading to an accelerated conversion.

Creator economy and influencer marketing

We're seeing the future of social driven by creators and their fans. A recent report on the creator economy says that more than 50 million people worldwide consider themselves creators. And these aren't limited to only social media networks! 

With this creator economy boom, creators influence purchase considerations and decisions and drive revenue directly and indirectly - thus witnessing the rise of innovative social media marketing strategies. Directly by using live stream commerce, in-app purchases, or special codes and indirectly by creating content aiding the discovery of various brands as well as diverse types of branded content. For instance, personal care brands are leading the way currently, with influencers driving recommendations and purchases.

In fact, the impact of these social media marketing tactics is fuelling the rise of several D2C brands - from brands built on the back of social such as Mehfil Biryani by Zakir to brands like Netflix using their own platforms to drive product buy-ins.

Developing a social audio strategy

Audio is not a new-age innovation, but its appearance on social media definitely is, and it includes everything - from radio to podcasts to music playlists.

2021 saw Clubhouse take the social world by storm as well as its downfall. However, the idea stayed on and has been incorporated into other existing social media platforms. While Facebook introduced an array of audio features like Rooms, podcasts, and Soundbites to support audio creators, providing them with more tools for their content in mid-2021, Twitter created Twitter Spaces to monetize it. This enables brands and creators to host audio-only discussions or stream important news, allowing you to expand your marketing channels at a lower cost.

Initially not apparent enough, I believe that the link between social media marketing and revenue has become more evident recently. I was reading a substack by Rishad Tobaccowala where he poetically defines the current evolving digital ecoscape –

"As the mobile device has become the key portal, even these terms of E-commerce, Search, Mobile, and Social have dissolved into goo. If you buy a product while watching a video on Tik-Tok that played after a search for a product or person, is that mobile or social or search or e-commerce?"

"It's all of them mixed up into a goo."

Fact is, the social media landscape is constantly transforming and evolving with the rise of Web3 tech, AR, and VR. What worked yesterday might not work next week - leading brands, creators, and companies to stay on their toes, remain agile and flexible, and adapt quickly. In the upcoming years, digital will have blurred the clear-cut barriers of social, mobile, e-commerce and search - giving way to omni-presence behaviour. To actively generate revenue, marketers will have to grapple and evolve to engage in this new landscape of omnipresence rather than thinking in silos of media.

This article is authored by Tusharr Kumar - Executive Vice President, OML.

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