Traditional media key to reach: research

Brands need to back up their social media content marketing strategies with investment in high-impact paid media to see a significant response, leading marketing academic Dr Karen Nelson-Field has said.

Dr Nelson-Field is the director of the Centre for Digital Video Intelligence which studies content marketing at the University of South Australia’s business school.

She recently undertook a two-year study of thousands of online videos to work out what makes them shareable on social media.

The University of South Australia's Dr Karen Nelson-Field

The University of South Australia’s Dr Karen Nelson-Field

Advertisers cannot rely on an audience sharing content without first paying to reach a significant number of people, she said in an interview with The Newspaper Works.

“I do believe we need to rethink the language we’re using,” Dr Nelson-Field said, questioning whether consumer “engagement” with a brand even exists.

“It’s the difference between engagement with the brand, and engagement with the platform,” she said. “Savvy marketers have kind of moved away from [talking about engagement with brands] now.”

“People [are not] obsessed with brands and want to interact with them every minute of the day. People switch between brands, and that’s been the case for 50 years.”

Her research shows that if companies want to generate earned media, they need to back it up first with an investment in paid media.

The average share rate is 24 to 1, which means in a group of 100 people on Facebook there will only be four shares and four opportunities for other people to see the content.

“If you start with 1000 people [because you have built a profile using paid media] but the share rate is the same, you just get more opportunity to get earned media,” she said.

“The reality is that sharing doesn’t happen as often; it’s a much lesser rate than you think … if you want your content to be seen by millions, you have to start with a fairly serious base.”

In good news for advertisers, Dr Nelson-Field’s research also showed that branding content did not affect the audience’s willingness to share it on social media or what kind of response it generated.

“The brand itself is irrelevant,” Dr Nelson-Field said.

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