Navigating the social media maze

DANIEL HATCH
Navigating the social media maze

When Australians are on Facebook for an average of 1.7 hours a day and 1.2 million Perth people are active Facebook users, can your business afford to ignore it as an advertising channel?

No, is the answer from Clarity Communications strategy team leader Andrew Mathwin, but it should be used with other traditional advertising platforms such as radio and print.

Figures released by Nielsen last week showed Australians check Facebook about 14 times a day, any time of night or day, and 35 per cent have discovered a new business or product on the platform. Globally, one of every three minutes spent on a mobile phone is spent either on Facebook or one of its apps, such as Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp.

“So if I’m an advertiser that gives me a lot of opportunities,” Mr Mathwin said.

“People used to look at four minutes on a website as great. Now you can target 1.7 hours on Facebook — that’s pretty good eyeballs for a brand.

“This is a legitimate channel for brands and business if used correctly.

“The targeting options we have on Facebook are just so powerful.

“So if you’re a travel agent you could actually see that about 52,000 people (want) to travel in the next one to three months and work out exactly who is likely to travel and who to target.”

But Mr Mathwin — a digital specialist and former Jetstar social media manager who has run big social campaigns for brands such as City of Armadale and WA Day — said Facebook campaigns should be backed by other advertising to drive results.

Facebook advertising was also cheap — with packages starting at less than $5 a day — which made it attractive to small and medium-sized businesses.

“If you were a cafe in Subiaco for instance for $5 you can target people who live in Subiaco and offer them up a special to get them in store,” Mr Mathwin said.

“Once it starts to work, you can work out whether you need spend to more, or whether its more effective than the flyers you’re doing or an ad in the paper.”

But Facebook is not the only social media channel with huge audiences. Twitter has about 2.5 million Australian users, mostly in the 20 to 39 age group, with a bit of a skew towards men.

Clive Bingwa, Perth managing director of global media planning agency Mediabrands, said Twitter was a great platform for different audiences — particularly those active in conversation about news, current affairs and sport. They wanted opinions known and were happy to share.

“Twitter is fantastic at connecting like-minded communities together in real time around big events or even TV shows,” he said.

“It gives brands a great opportunity to connect with people through finding relevance in an already existing conversation.

“Twitter’s key strength is in its ability to connect many people together at the same time via the use of hashtags. Events like key sporting games are where the platform thrives.

“Businesses have the ability to gain the halo of real-time interaction with consumers at key times without necessarily making direct investments in events nor necessarily being involved with the moment.”

Twitter has several options for advertisers, including promoted tweets and trends, video player cards, promoted accounts and website cards.

But, Mr Bingwa warned, it is a narrowcast channel and brands require an intimate knowledge of their audience for it to work.

“The strength of Twitter is that it’s an effective two-way communication channel and the glue is authenticity,” he said.

“It’s reliant on modifying messaging rapidly through ‘careful listening’ and, as such, creates a high-touch contact platform that requires consistent refinement to get it right. If you are not prepared to invest in the human capital to drive engagement via Twitter, then stay away.”

Like Mr Mathwin, Mr Bingwa said social media was not a “silver bullet” and needed to be used in combination with other channels and tactics to be effective.