In 2023 social media truly became the wild, wild west of the internet. Meta's launch of ‘Threads’ threw a spanner into the well-oiled social media marketing machine, with many asking if they should join their business or brand on Threads, and what they should even post? Likewise, Twitter's sudden rebrand to ‘X’ had the internet buzzing, leaving marketing departments in a frenzy with the re-positioning from social media platform to an "everything app". Meanwhile, the e-commerce prowess of TikTok became a revelation that businesses could no longer ignore - proving that short-form video is a trend that is not going anywhere.
In today's digital age, brands are presented with a plethora of platforms, each promising new avenues to engage customers and amplify their reach. However, with every shimmering opportunity comes the challenge of decision-making. With each new channel, delivering customer-centric experiences becomes increasingly complex. How do you adapt quickly to meet customers where they’re at, whilst staying true to your brand The fine line between staying relevant whilst maintaining brand authenticity is a challenge facing many social media marketers.
When Threads launched, our marketing team met immediately to discuss its potential. Together, over hot coffees and shared screens, we evaluated its alignment with the marketing activities of our brand and our clients’ brands. While it's tempting to embrace every new platform, by undertaking the steps we’ve outlined in this blog, we recognised that Threads might not perfectly align with our customers’ journeys and our target personas. However, for certain clients, it seemed an ideal fit. The fine line between staying relevant but not too reactionary, while remaining true to your brand, is certainly tricky to navigate when a new social media platform is launched.
Upon reflection, we were reminded of our core marketing principle: it's not about being everywhere but being where it truly matters. So, instead of immediately jumping onto the Threads wagon, we evaluated the platform within our omnichannel framework, ensuring we remain authentic and strategic in our marketing efforts.
As businesses, like ours, pivot to embrace an omnichannel approach, seamlessly integrating various channels to offer customers a cohesive experience, the question arises: when is the right time to incorporate a fresh, new social media platform into your mix?
Omnichannel - everything, everywhere, all at once
With an omnichannel communications strategy in place, your aim is to meet your customers where they are, regardless of the context. Creating a cohesive brand presence and messaging across diverse platforms, including both online and offline channels. The result? A consistent and personalised experience for your customers.
In an omnichannel strategy, the focus is on the customer journey, recognising that your customers interact with your brand through many different channels and devices. This strategy goes beyond a multichannel approach, which simply involves having a presence on multiple platforms, instead emphasising the importance of connecting these channels for a unified experience.
All omnichannel strategies will use multiple channels, but not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel. Consumers engage with an average of 11 touchpoints across various in-person and online channels, using multiple devices before making a purchase. You can have engaging social media campaigns, a vibrant shop-front and a beautifully designed website but if they’re not seamlessly integrated, they fall short of offering a genuine omnichannel experience. Failing to implement an omnichannel strategy can leave customers frustrated, sales slipping and brands scrambling in the competitive market.
You may also be familiar with the term omni-digital, which is where a business focuses on providing a consistent customer experience regardless of the digital channel used. The difference to omnichannel, is the business’ focus on delivering the right content, on the right channel at the right moment to provide the most value to their customers.
In a successful onmnichannel marketing and communications strategy, the channel is second as the customer experience is the main focus.
Vegemite exemplifies a great omnichannel brand experience. They maintain a consistent brand voice tailored to each platform and streamline in-store and online purchases through the use of QR codes.
Embrace the new - considerations for adopting a new channel
When there’s a new kid on the block, it’s important to step back and consider how to make it work across all your brand’s touchpoints. A dynamic marketing team must stay agile and forward-thinking, aligning with customers by either embracing or sidestepping new platforms as they do.
By embracing emerging social media platforms, businesses can expand their reach and engage customers in innovative ways, ensuring they stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing digital landscape. However, it's crucial to approach the adoption process strategically, with careful consideration for how the new platform will integrate with existing channels for a cohesive, seamless and unified customer experience.
The journey ahead isn’t linear
Before integrating a new social media platform into your omnichannel strategy, it's essential to understand the journey your customers take. The traditional marketing funnel doesn’t account for the way modern consumers are moving between channels, often going back and forth between stages or skipping some altogether.
Instead, map your customer’s journey as it reflects the complexity and messiness of real life - circular and non-linear. Identify the demographics, behaviours and preferences of your customers. Prioritise individual experiences across various touchpoints, both physical and digital. Map this journey and understand their habits; this will help inform and identify if a new channel aligns with your audience for adoption in your omnichannel strategy.
Consider if the introduction of a new social media platform leaves a gap in your omnichannel strategy where you may be missing a crucial touch point in your customer’s journey, leaving them unsatisfied.
Consistency is key
Seamless branding is essential for a successful omnichannel strategy. It means ensuring that your brand image, messaging and design are consistent across all channels, from your website to your social media, to your physical stores. This helps to reinforce your brand identity and establish trust and recognition with your customers.
When adopting a new channel, consider how you can meet the expectations of the platform - its tone, post formatting and trends.
For Threads, tap into the prevalent themes of fun, chaos and authenticity. As the platform is yet to introduce advertising features, which are expected to be introduced in future, brands have the freedom to be experimental, playful and in-the-moment (while still incorporating a seamless cross-channel brand experience).
TikTok, the procrastination tool of choice for the chronically online, encourages a similar style of post as Threads does, with a focus on authenticity and humour. Level-up your TikTok game and leverage trending videos and sounds. Spend some time scrolling through your ‘For You’ page for inspiration or explore TikTok’s Creative Center.
People power - understanding your available resources
Integrating a new social media platform into your omnichannel strategy requires dedicated resources, including time, manpower and content creation efforts. Before jumping into a new platform, assess whether you have the necessary resources to manage it effectively. Consider your team's capacity and expertise to ensure you can maintain consistent engagement and deliver relevant, high-quality content on the platform at the right time.
Understand the requirements of publishing to the platform and determine if you have the resources available for a consistent, well-aligned content calendar. Tailoring content to the needs of the platform and the preferences of your customers.
Consider how you can repurpose your existing library of content, adapting and reshaping content to suit the unique requirements and audience preferences of each platform. This way, you not only maximise your content's potential but also ensure a tailored experience across multiple channels. You could publish a long-form blog optimised for organic search, which you then pose as a related question in a Thread and publish as a Reel to Instagram summarising the key takeaways.
Step back, evaluate and listen
By leveraging real-time behaviour cues and performance, start by testing the waters and monitor your brand’s performance on a new platform. Set specific goals and metrics to understand how it helps drive your overall strategy. Use the native analytics of each social media platform as well as reporting tools for other channels including your website analytics (like Google Analytics 4) or any reports from offline channels including in-store sales. Regularly review the results and compare them to your existing channels to determine the platform's effectiveness.
Success isn't just about conversions; while many channels might boost sales, success also lies in fostering brand loyalty, building online communities and generating consistent engagement and follower retention. Establish smart, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals to track and report on the key performance metric for each channel. For example, ‘increase our Instagram community engagement by 25% through consistent interactive story posts and weekly Q&A sessions within the next three months.’
Consider, also, chatting directly with your customers and gathering their feedback on the platform. Monitor your posts' performance in likes, replies, saves, reposts and shares to understand how customers are engaging with your content - know what is working and what isn’t to inform your omnichannel strategy.
To Thread or not to Thread, that is the question
The introduction of any new social media challenge presents both opportunities and challenges for brands considering its adoption into their wider omnichannel strategy. It’s important to assess the platform’s alignment with your customer’s journey. Seamlessly integrating a new social media platform into your strategy requires careful evaluation of resources, customers, consistent branding and a deep understanding of the platform experience.
Ultimately, the decision to ‘thread or not to thread’ depends on your brand's specific goals, audience preferences and capacity to regularly engage on the platform. Stay agile, listen to your customers and adapt your omnichannel approach to ensure a personalised and cohesive experience across every brand touchpoint.