By Josh Beckwith, Senior Sales Director, Middle East & Africa at Sojern
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, you will have witnessed the rapid growth of social media impacting all aspects of how marketers reach and interact with their audiences. In fact, over three billion people use social media each month – that’s 42% of the total global population. As a travel marketer, should we be concerned about whether or not social media can continue its rapid growth? And perhaps more importantly, are we now facing a point of social media oversaturation?
We’ve witnessed an explosion in social media over the past ten years and while penetration is high there is still significant growth left – in fact, we are 58 percent away from full saturation. Social media hasn’t maxed out its potential audience, and user growth will continue along with the increase of smartphone ownership and Internet access.
In the Middle East, nations such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among the world’s leading nations in terms of social media growth and use, driven by smartphone ownership, high levels of Internet penetration and a large digitally savvy youth population. Instagram usage has grown from 7% of the region’s internet users in 2013 to 42% by 2017; an uptake that shows no signs of slowing. While each social media network will have its own usage ups and downs, you can be confident that the global community of social media users will just get bigger. But despite this growth, will we start to see a segment of this audience become overloaded with social?
Some experts and pundits have predicted that users are now starting to experience a desire for a “digital detox” where they will shy away from their online presence in order to chase mental clarity. While this might make sense for some of the most prolific users of social media like media professionals, I think that for average users, especially Millennials and Generation Z, social media has been and always will be an integral part of their lives. They grew up in a much more connected world than past generations did and they haven’t experienced a media landscape without those tools. As a result, the world seems more accessible to them. They will remain steadfast and loyal.
We all know social media isn’t going anywhere and marketers need to adapt and evolve to keep up with the shifting trends. In a competitive landscape, marketers need to break through the noise on these platforms by providing personalized messages in the right format and context at the right time.
Focus on business objectives
Your social media strategy should focus on your real business objectives, whether that is about driving bookings or increasing your customer’s lifetime value.
Test and learn
You should constantly be running experiments for each of your objectives to figure out what works for your brand, and then optimizing based on your real business objectives. Data science products will help you do this more efficiently.
Automation is a must
Any brand that is still dealing with operational inefficiencies will not be able to keep up with competition and the constantly evolving ecosystem.
Trail the trends
Focus on dynamic content and vertical video. Because travel products, price, and availability are constantly changing, displaying dynamic content is critical for travel advertisers. Dynamic content for travel not only means targeting the right people but also displaying dynamic parameters on the ad and directing travelers to customized landing pages.
Stories are growing 15X faster than feeds resulting in a shift in user behavior so advertisers need to take action to quickly adapt. An important part of this is investing in an easy-to-digest vertical video that captures consumers’ attention.
Social media will continue to grow and become more ingrained in consumers lives. As marketers, it’s our job to keep up with the trends around these platforms in order to reach the goal we’re all striving for – providing personal and helpful engagements with consumers when they need them and on the channels they prefer.