There is a perception that with no money behind social media posts, tweets, ‘grams, and snaps, a brand may as well be screaming its key messages to an empty room. While we wholeheartedly agree that a paid component is essential in most social programs, it isn’t a silver bullet to solve all digital strategy woes, and it certainly shouldn’t be the sole focus of a program. At INK, we like to flip the “pay to play” perception on its head, we play to extend the value of our pay.
We approach social as having its own PESO model – Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned. Just like in any communication strategy, all of these elements should be represented to have a functioning program. Take, for example, our recent work with Whole Foods Market 365 and the opening of their new Cedar Park location. With our PESO smorgasbord of social strategy, we were able to serve up one strong (and tasty) program.
Since its inception, Whole Foods Market 365 has cleverly used paid social to create and grow a solid base of followers. In preparation of the Cedar Park store launch, INK stepped in to re-target ad spend, extend audience demographics and geographical parameters, and to engage with the Cedar Park community.
INK’s roots in PR give us a unique understanding of earned media and that extends to earned social media. Earned social is essential in brand building and gives your brand real third party validation. Influencer and user generated content is incredibly important and was a huge part of our strategy to open the store. After all, who would you rather get shopping tips from, the store or another consumer? This earned, organic strategy also allows a brand to develop its own voice authentically, through honest engagement, which is by far one of the most important things any brand can do in their communication strategies.
A lot of people think the “S” in PESO is social, and it is a part of it, but it is also about shared content. In other words, influencer engagement. We targeted a very specific list of trusted influencers that we knew would be proud and excited to recommend the store to their followers and got our influencers, big and small, engaged and excited to promote the new store. We also encouraged our community to share – we asked why they were excited about the store, what their favorite brand is, and what their first purchase would be – and then we rewarded and promoted their responses. Everyone loves to see their name in lights, or in this case, in a beautiful graphic on social channels.
Yes, everyone owns their social channels, but that is just the beginning. Brands have complete eco-systems of owned content that is generated for and delivered on social media. So much so that a large portion of content is now specifically designed with social in mind. Social media is used as a self-publishing and advertising platform, and to use it wisely, you need relevant, quality controlled, social content. To generate this content for Whole Foods Market 365, first and foremost, we utilized existing resources and optimized them to match the voice and intent of each of our channels. To add flavor and spice, we also created a photo booth and had fun coloring pages for the kids at our events, both of which are perfect for capturing and posting on social media by our team, not to mention it was also the perfect opportunity to give our followers a way to join in on their handles, and strengthen our shared, user-generated content.
People often overlook the fact that social channels are also static digital footprints. Posts on each platform don’t just disappear (except for Snapchat of course) and it is more and more likely that consumers and potential clients are going to read your channels in their entirety, not just in a single post in their feed. So, yes, by all means, pay to play. But, don’t forget that you still have to be ready to be found on your platforms, that earned coverage is still important, and that brands are being searched and selected via social sleuthing – so get in front of what you want people to find.