How marketers can drive engagement across social channels

Consumers are spending more and more time consuming content across an increasing variety of digital devices, posing an ever-growing challenge to marketers to drive the right kind of engagement with our audiences.

This is especially the case on social media, where consumers are becoming more and more willing, and in many ways increasingly expect, to engage with their favourite brands almost continually.

A recent CMO survey revealed that marketers plan to double their spending on social media in the next five years, indicative of the rising importance of social but also of how mobile is driving its adoption.

But how can marketers make sure the consumer experience across social is as relevant and personalised as possible, without impeding on the motivations consumers have for using social media in the first place?

Adobe’s recent European Best of the Best 2015 report took a closer look, benchmarking how today’s top brands are driving consumer engagement online, and revealing some fascinating trends (as well as areas for improvement) in the ways in which Europeans are engaging with brands on social.

Platforms driving brand engagement

Unsurprisingly, the study found that Facebook is still by far the most widely used social network across the board. Interestingly, of the 89% of Europeans who use Facebook, an impressive majority (92%) interact with brands on the platform.

Twelve years on from its launch, Facebook is living proof that you can be an industry leader while remaining innovative. The company has adapted brilliantly to the shift toward mobile and video, moving far quicker than its competitors and reaping significant gains from digital advertising on these media.

Despite Facebook’s lead, it’s great to see newer platforms enter the fray too, bringing interesting and varied investment opportunities for marketers.

There’s a long way to go, but brands are clearly listening – increasingly delivering content that is more personalised, engaging and sharable.

As visual forms of communication become essential to grabbing consumers’ attention, we’re now seeing over half of Instagram consumers using the service to interact with brands, and a third of Snapchat users doing the same.

Twitter and Pinterest continue to have impact too – 53% and 42% of consumers, respectively, are using those platforms to engage directly with brands.

Meanwhile, video continues its rapid rise in social channels, and our research found that mobile has steadily continued to increase its share of video views, with smartphone share up a significant 75% in 2014.

The surge in brand engagement on newer platforms, particularly visual platforms, demonstrates more than ever how marketers require strategies that consider engagement across multiple media formats and devices.

They also need to be considering how consumers move and transition between these media: Every channel or touchpoint is increasingly interlinked as part of the social experience, and mobile engagement is now a given.

Differentiation for brands in this new world is not just down to data capabilities but also producing and delivering content that is both compelling and relevant to consumers. Channels like Instagram and Snapchat are starting to play host to some truly brilliant marketing content that doesn’t distract the consumer from their day-to-day social use but instead cleverly—and relevantly—integrates itself into the browsing experience.

It comes as no surprise that millennials are the fastest growing consumers of visual content – according to the research, over 70 percent of them are using Instagram to engage with brands. It’s vital that brands continue to meet millennials with the right experience on the right device, without detracting from their main motivation for being on social media in the first place.

Content is king

Our study also found some significant differences between industry sectors when it comes to driving social media engagement. The media and entertainment industries are driving the most traffic to websites via social – 7.6% compared to a timid one percent or less for industries like telecommunications or, more surprisingly, travel.

This is not surprising given media companies’ heritage in creating content, but clearly there is a wide-open opportunity in most sectors to do better.

Meanwhile, less than half (45%) of European consumers agree that social media channels are getting better at providing relevant content and ads. A third of them, however, note that social media posts from brands have started to become more relevant over the past year, particularly for consumers in the 18-24 age group.

There’s a long way to go, but brands are clearly listening – increasingly delivering content that is more personalised, engaging and sharable. The challenge is not just personalisation, but personalisation at scale – particularly in an environment where the variety of user segments, channels and devices continues to grow.

When you deploy your next social marketing campaign, make sure to consider the efficacy of your content, real-time engagement, and personalisation efforts.

The wheels are in motion, and as we can see with consumers across Europe looking to engage more on social channels, the leading companies are those that both understand social, and structure their business around it.