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Social media now accounts for up to a quarter of marketing budgets, but brands need to do more to connect it to the “lifeblood and workflow” of wider business, according to new research published by Hootsuite.

The ‘Social Transformation Report’ takes a deep dive into how modern businesses are using social media to not only generate and connect with new leads and increase brand value, but also to drive greater operational efficiency across the business.

The first major insight is that investment in social media campaigns is growing. The process now captures between 13% and 24% of overall marketing budgets and is having a positive effect in a number of key areas.

Almost three quarters (73%) of the 2,162 respondents say that social media has enabled them to engage with prospective clients and customers in a way that is more efficient than other channels or media.

Perhaps more importantly for marketing as a whole, 63% claim that using social media is actually driving a greater level of efficiency from other forms of media.

In addition, when social media is integrated business-wide and each department is able to use it to build strong relationships, its value increases significantly, which suggests that the practice can lead to “organisational transformation”.

Two-thirds say that social media is now being used to forge closer bonds with their community, while a large number also believe that it is doing the same for employees and partners.

The findings indicate that social media works best when it extends beyond the marketing department, though the act of publishing high-quality content is generally the catalyst for all the subsequent benefits.

“For social platforms to work for organisations, they need to do more than simply post to the social platforms but also leverage social listening, use data to make better social decisions, integrate with their existing tech stacks, and seek the training and education to achieve their overarching business goals,” Hootsuite’s CEO Tom Keiser said in a statement.

Keiser added that social media needs to be focused on the customer’s experience first and foremost, and that more employees should be involved in the planning and execution of strategies on social media.

Those able to build a ‘mature’ approach to social media do benefit. Six in 10 of these organisations say that it has laid the groundwork for building stronger relationships – something that continues to benefit the business day in, day out.

Mature social media marketers also report a 300% increase in the improvement of brand sentiment. The report noted that this has been particularly important this year following the outbreak of COVID-19 as brands have often struggled to conduct conversations and develop relationships with customers.

In order to maximise the power of social media, Hootsuite advised organisations to use social listening to understand the needs of audiences with the view to building stronger relationships. The next stage requires the integration of social into the fabric of business culture so that everyone can use it as a strategic communications tool.

Effective social media management, whether built in-house or outsourced, is a “stepping stone” to wider digital transformation, a senior industry analyst concluded.


Social media marketing will play a crucial role in the effectiveness of marketing campaigns during the next two years after more brands pivoted to connected channels amid the pandemic and the number of users soared to a record high in July, a new study by Econsultancy has found.

The ‘Future of Marketing’ report found that social media is now arguably the de facto outlet for content consumption for people of all ages as it is now embedded into the routines and habits of day-to-day life.

COVID-19 has accelerated this trend as new data shows that 3.96 billion people are now regularly using social media around the world, which is a 10% increase from a year ago.

The sheer scale of this number means that the fear of missing out is strong for companies of all sizes.

It is now easier than ever before to reach and engage with a wide audience regularly using content on social sites.

The social media boom, something that started more than 10 years ago with the rise of Facebook and Twitter, is set to continue during the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

Econsultancy found that two-thirds of marketers believe that social media will become intrinsically linked to the quality and effectiveness of marketing strategies and campaigns during the next two years.

Econsultancy also went into detail about a range of trends that it expects to see in social media marketing during the final five months of the year.

It noted that while organic social and content continues to take up greater shares of marketing budgets, ad campaigns have slowed since the start of the year, which is not wholly surprising considering the impact of the pandemic.

The lockdown also had an effect on influencer partnerships, something that could lead to a re-evaluation of relationships over the coming months.

UK social media users are still very much engaging with influencers regularly.

Fitness coach Joe Wicks was one of the most prominent content creators when stay-at-home measures were in place, but marketers are now taking a step back to consider the best way to use influencers moving forward.

Econsultancy noted that brands have been focusing on publishing ‘how-to’ style content recently as this allows them to provide vital information covering a range of topics from cooking to exercising at home.

Brands will also attempt to capitalise on the continued growth of TikTok in late 2020.

“Consumption on platforms such as TikTok and YouTube look set to continue,” Campfire’s CEO Joe Gradwell said.

On advice for marketers, he added: “There’s still time to build your presence across social networks you’re not yet operating on – build your TikTok strategy, begin the podcast series you often talk about.”

The onus will be on brands to experiment with new social media campaigns and management during the second half of the year.

After the disruption during the spring and early summer, brands now have an opportunity to try new things and optimise strategies to best suit the needs of followers.


Influencers can amplify the power of content marketing campaigns and 84% of brands are now running at least one campaign involving endorsements from celebrities, experts and other high-profile people on social media, according to a new report published by AspireIQ.

The study, titled ‘The State of Influencer Marketing 2019: An Analysis of the Social Media Ecosystem’ brings to light the pervasive use of influencers and their evolution from being a nice-to-have to an essential part of campaigns throughout the year.

More than three quarters are now planning to or are already managing ‘always-on’ influencer campaigns due to the wide-ranging benefits, which include increased awareness, reach, impressions and engagement.

Almost nine in 10 are running multiple campaigns a year, and over 50% say that they manage five or more.

The non-negotiable tactic has been driven in part by the sheer scale of audiences that influencers can tap into, which now numbers more than two billion across social media platforms.

Complementing high-quality content marketing with influencer-generated content (IGC) on social via emails and ads has also become a popular practice, as the latter gives influencers the freedom to use their unique voices to create more authentic content, which can engage with an already established audience.

Two-thirds of brands are now using IGC in some form and 21% have set their sights on leveraging it during the next 12 months.

A wide range of content is being produced, and output has evolved from the static images and photos that were once the staple for influencers.

Eight in 10 expect to invest in video content in late 2019 and into 2020, while 55% will tap into the current trend of storytelling to move and engage audiences.

Written content is also hugely popular, with 42% planning to focus their spending in this area.

The types of influencers that brands are looking to work with is also changing as the move away from high-profile celebrities to micro-influencers with smaller followings continues.

Research shows that smaller channels and influencers have 42% higher engagement rates than their larger, macro-based counterparts.

AspireIQ’s founder and president Anand Kishore said in a statement that we are now in an era when influencer marketing is about more than just promoting a brand on social – influencers now power content engines to assist brands with telling a consistent story on all of the channels in which their users are active.

Kishore added that brands and influencers are going to work even closer in the future to build communities that have a shared passion for what the brands make.

The age of influencers is also trending lower due to the rise of TikTok, with data showing that 70% on the platform are now teenagers between 14 and 19.

Meanwhile, brands are spending $10k on average on campaigns on TikTok.

Influencer costs are rising though and the average price now stands at $0.26 per post, while cost per engagement has also risen sharply since last year and is expected to increase further next year.

Fortunately, return on investment (ROI) is high at 423% from the $6,249.91 per campaign budget.


Restaurants brands may be missing out if they fail to leverage the power of content marketing on social media platforms, according to a new report by MGH, which found almost half of the diners in the US go to a new eatery after reading or watching a post published by a brand online.

While restaurants are traditionally centred around offline experiences and interactions, supporting standard marketing efforts, such as local ads with digital content, can help to attract new diners, improve brand image and increase customer loyalty and retention. MGH, a full-service restaurant marketing agency, said social content can have a “great influence.”

The power of content may have been overlooked in the food industry, as 42% of diners have now interacted with a restaurant in some form via a social media platform, and two-thirds say these positive experiences make them more likely to order more food from the restaurant and visit in the future.

Restaurant-to-consumer engagement is beneficial in several ways, including enabling brands to tap into new audiences and reach more people. About 45% said they ventured to a restaurant because of an article, blog or video, while 22% said that type of content has enticed them to return.

“For restaurant marketers, it’s clear that high-quality social media content, along with active engagement practices, still has great relevance to consumers,” MGH Social Media Marketing Director and Executive Vice President, Ryan Goff, said. “When done right, social content marketing can have great influence over where diners choose to spend their hard-earned money.”

Brands that regularly post content online have a better chance of accruing more followers and friends, which, in turn, increases engagement and the potential for consumers to spend more on food. Three-quarters of respondents who actively follow a restaurant brand on social platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, say this relationship makes them more likely to visit.

While the upsides for social content are plentiful, MGH did sound a word of warning, as 13% of US diners admitted that a low-quality post has discouraged them from offering repeat business to a restaurant. The takeaway here is that content must be relevant and meet the needs of consumers to ensure they do not hold a negative view of the brand.

Social media has become nearly ubiquitous for diners in the US, as 89% have at least one active social media account. This means brands may be missing out on reaching potentially millions of customers if they do not manage content campaigns on social and across the web.

Six in ten also say they log into social media three or more times during a single day, and four in ten follow restaurants. A further 39% said they keep track of a restaurant’s social account to determine whether they want to dine in or out.

MGH conducted the latest survey of US diners in February when it asked 1,069 adults about social content and their food eating habits. Those who responded all regularly dine in, order takeaways and get food delivered.


Brands in the travel and hospitality industry are turning to content marketing to deliver more personalised messages to audiences, according to new research by digital enterprises MailCharts, Liveclicker, SmarterHQ and Cheetah Digital.

The study, titled “Marketers Are on a Mission: The State of B2C Marketing,” takes an in-depth look at the various marketing activities that brands in the travel industry are leveraging to connect and engage with customers. There is currently a laser focus on content, as it allows brands to deliver higher-quality ads and messages compared to “mass marketing” methods, such as email.

Almost three-quarters of millennials are frustrated at the number of “irrelevant” emails they receive each day, so it is perhaps no surprise that brands are looking to use more engaging and innovative forms of communication to appeal to both young and older audiences. In fact, two-thirds of B2C marketers in travel are now aiming to provide personalised messages rather than a one-size-fits-all message.

“While ‘personalization’ has been a buzzword with marketers for years, it’s clear that brands have yet to master tailored messaging; as consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by generic communications that don’t align to their specific tastes, interests, or behaviors,” SmarterHQ CEO Michael Osborne said.

Data has been a headline topic in recent months with the arrival of GDPR, and travel brands are eager to make use of the growing mass of information they collect to serve up better content to people across the web. More than half of the respondents said personalisation was a priority; however critically, the report noted that brands still must get better at using data to support their marketing objectives.

“When it comes to personalization, data is paramount,” Cheetah Digital’s executive vice president for global marketing, Judd Marcello said. “Customer data is typically underused or used inefficiently. It tells brands, especially retailers, so much about where they can improve or what their customers want, and they can use that data to make a big impact on their business.”

There are now a variety of digital touchpoints available for brands to engage with audiences. In fact, almost one-fifth of marketers are planning to spend more to improve their multi-channel content output, with social media and mobile apps among the most popular platforms. Marketers are also investing more in running ads across a variety of channels rather than opting for a single channel approach.

While customers often see email marketing as a nuisance, 54% of the brands surveyed said it still delivers the best return on investment overall. The technology has been in place for some time now, making it a cost-effective and consistent means for getting in touch with customers. Behavioural emails will take centre stage in the future, with 30% of the brands planning to spend more in this area, which again shows the need to make better use of big data and analytics. Around 30% of the brands are also turning to cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence, to improve their marketing methods.


Snapchat announced the arrival of a new Stories Everywhere feature earlier this week, but the drive to get users to share more content on the platform is unlikely to win over marketers and advertisers, who continue to focus their attention on Facebook and Instagram for targeting buying audiences.

Stories Everywhere is basically Snapchat’s way of connecting with the services users rely on every day. Any user-generated content will soon be able to be posted in emails and text messages, as well as Facebook and Twitter, without having to navigate away from the mobile app. The feature will arrive alongside a complete redesign in the coming weeks and is aimed at keeping more users locked into Snapchat.

However, its usability for brands is limited, and a spokesperson for the image messaging site even admitted the latest changes are consumer-focused and will not appeal to advertisers, as there won’t be any impact on ad units. Snapchat said in a statement that Stories Everywhere would make it easier for users to share their favourite moments with “friends and family outside of Snapchat”.

With that statement being aimed squarely at the general public, it is no surprise that some brands and agencies have confirmed that they will not be investing any more money into content and other experiences on Snapchat in the near future. Deutsch’s Senior Vice President Rachel Mercer said the move felt like a “Hail Mary” effort, as the platform has a diminishing relevance in the social media landscape.

Snapchat revealed that it has 178 million users during its third-quarter earnings report, but that was just a 4.5 million uptick from the previous quarter. Mercer believes advertisers already on the platform may see a small boost in engagement but that it would only be a “short-term gain”.

She added: “The reality is that the sophisticated advertising platform, from a targeting and marketing perspective, leans heavily towards Facebook, Instagram and depending on the context or needs, Pinterest and Google. Generally, Snapchat is most effective for awareness plays, and with diminished user reporting, I don’t know if it’s still applicable.”

Wavemaker Managing Partner Noah Mallin echoed these sentiments and added that social users will be less inclined to migrate to Snapchat now that there is the ability to share stories on other platforms. However, he claimed that may change “down the road” if Snapchat can bring new users to the platform.

T3 Director of Connections Angela Yang also believes that Snapchat’s walled garden was one of the reasons why it has been successful and is seen as a potentially viable alternative to the bigger social hitters. She said one area where it could differentiate itself is via visual content and strengthening its commitment to be a “camera company”.

She added: “For example, I created this amazing video for Snapchat. How much more mileage can I get out of it? It gives brands the opportunity to take pieces of content and get more eyes on it in other platforms. Snapchat’s got to think of new, innovative ways to capture the world around us for this to work.”


Content marketing has become a crucial tool for businesses wanting to increase their exposure and brand awareness. However, it is far from a quick fix and takes many resources to craft and run a successful campaign. All too often, many of the common mistakes occur, even when seasoned professionals are running advertising. Therefore, it is important to regularly review strategies.

Lack of content promotion 

In this era, it is crucial to promote content. Once upon a time, material could be posted onto a blog and then left to gain attention. No more. Now, even the best content has to be shared if it’s to gain the right attention – even if it’s an exceptional piece of carefully crafted content.

Without promoting posts across a varied range of platforms, there is less chance the right people will see it. Though focussing on SEO can help gain more views, organic reach shouldn’t be relied on. Instead, every single piece of work should be shared on multiple platforms to get as many views as possible. This helps build followers, brand awareness and consumer trust.

Publishing content on the wrong channel

There are many platforms available to content marketing strategists these days, but it’s important to publish the right content in the right place. For example, a blog post might work well as a link on Twitter, but it might not gain attention on Pinterest. Meanwhile, LinkedIn certainly isn’t the right place to share personal or funny GIFs, though these can work well as occasional content posted to FB pages.

Focussing on quantity instead of quality 

It’s unsurprising that marketers want to create a lot of content and publish it regularly to remain visible to their target audience. However, focusing solely on producing a lot of content instead of checking for quality is a huge mistake. Content must be genuinely useful to consumers, of high quality and with added value; there’s no point in producing average content.

Failing to harness the power of Google Analytics

Good Analytics is an extremely powerful tool, yet many content marketers fail to use it properly. It can give insights into which content is performing the best, thereby helping creators make material that is most likely to find appeal with audiences. It can also tell marketers which website pages get the most hits, and how long people spend on a website. This information is invaluable, and should be used as a matter of course.

Not listening to target consumers

To get more views on content, businesses need to know what their customers want. And to understand this, it’s vital to actually listen. There are many tools to help monitor specific keywords across social media platforms, allowing marketers to follow conversations about brands, products or people. It is also important to respond to all social media comments and act swiftly to correct problems; showing people the face behind the brand.

By avoiding the above mistakes, content marketers can help hone their strategies, develop better content, and give campaigns the best chance of success.



If the saying ‘a picture can tell a thousand words’ is true, then the use of video, which is essentially a string of many pictures, should not be overlooked when it comes to content marketing. Each month, around six billion hours of video is watched on YouTube, showing just how popular this medium is. Therefore, it is vital that content marketing strategies realise video’s potential and include it in their campaigns.

Educate instead of entertain

A key aspect of video content is to remember that educating works better than entertaining. There are, of course, those viral videos of bizarre and humorous moments that gain millions of views in a short amount of time. However, this often occurs more by luck than judgement. It is, therefore, essential for marketing firms to focus on educating their customers as a priority, even if this education is wrapped up within a funny video.

Educating consumers is nothing new. For example, McDonald’s used a two-minute video in 2014 as a way to respond to negative rumours about their chicken nuggets. Not only did this help to battle bad press, but improved the brand identity of the fast food chain too.

Social media is important

It may sound obvious, but social media remains extremely important, and a modern firm must have an account on at least one popular platform. However, whilst many companies utilise places like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to share their content, a lot still regard video sharing sites as separate entities. This is not altogether true though, and firms would be wise to realise that uploading videos to platforms like YouTube and Snapchat gives consumers the chance to easily share and engage with content.

In addition, diversifying into more platforms gives companies the chance to reach a larger audience. This grows their social media footprint and can result in a bigger demand for services and products.

Vertical videos are on the rise 

Vertical videos have always been avoided if possible. Consumers are accustomed to television’s horizontal frame, and there’s an ongoing debate about the perceived low quality of vertical videos. With the two black sidebars taking up the screen, vertical videos have, traditionally, been mocked.

However, though this video format is not the best for computers, they can find favour on mobile devices. And with the rise of mobile, it’s not hard to see how video formats might also change. The evolution of video means that content creators may well see the ways in which they create video change too. Vertical videos have a narrower format, and the areas at the top and bottom of the frame become more important as they are key focus points. It also promotes a more personal and in-your-face style.

Utilise video for ongoing success

Video is unlikely to go away and is, in fact, continuing to rise in popularity. Therefore, savvy and forward thinking firms would do well to embrace this form of media and build it into their content marketing strategies with increasing levels..


Over the past few years, the use of content marketing has grown phenomenally. It continues to evolve at a rapid pace and it is, therefore, essential to stay abreast of the latest changes. However, it is also important to review past months and years to understand how the market has changed.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from 2016 – the first of which is that content marketing strategists are getting better. In fact, 63 per cent of business to customer (B2C) marketers said they’d been more successful than in 2015. Meanwhile, 62 per cent of business to business (B2B) marketers agreed with these sentiments. With growing success, comes the ability to command larger budgets, and the opportunity to balance tried-and-tested methods with new tactics.

Marketing must be mobile

One clear content marketing message from 2016 is that marketers must cater to a mobile market. Both Google and consumer habits are driving the rising dominance of mobile, and neither can be ignored. Google has prioritised mobile, first with a mobile-friendly update in April. This was followed by a mobile-first index update last October. Whilst many websites are now mobile-friendly, a survey in 2016 suggested that 23 per cent of small businesses have not updated their online homes, meaning that many opportunities could be missed.

Email remains a productive distribution network

Though social networks have risen at an astronomical rate, email remains the best channel for content marketers to distribute their content through. A lot of companies still measure success by how many social media likes and shares they’re getting. However, to get eyeballs on content, email is king.

Trust is crucial

2016 also gave credence to the fact that successful content relies on audience trust. Content marketing works best when it instils trust in readers, engaging with audiences who find the content enjoyable, useful and entertaining. Over time, regular fans come to trust what their favourite brands are saying.

This means that content strategists have to be a trustworthy publisher from the very beginning, catching spelling mistakes, checking facts and never misleading audiences.

Content marketing can utilise user-generated material

Finally, it’s been shown that audiences trust recommendations from their friends and peers. This means that user-generated content has a place in a firm’s content marketing strategy. This can take many forms – from customer advocacy and online reviews – to social shares and unboxing videos. Though this content type can be almost impossible to control, it can reap benefits in terms of engagement and, ultimately, conversions. If organisations want to capitalise on this, audiences should be encouraged to write reviews, take part in contests and share content. This can be done with a call to action with an associated incentive.

Content marketing continues to evolve, and technologies will come and go. However, core interactions and connections with consumers remain the same. Figuring out the best way to maintain these relationships is crucial, and by nurturing audiences using the lessons learned from last year, 2017 can be even more successful.



For content creators and strategists wanting to utilise Twitter to boost engagement, a new analytics solution has been launched. Named ‘Engage’, marketers can utilise the official Twitter tool not only to grow and retain target audiences, but also increase the level of engagement too. Twitter has claimed that the group of Twitter users termed ‘popular creators’ will hugely benefit from the app. It will enable a way to increase business whilst maintaining the social interaction that remains the core purpose of the platform.

News of Twitter’s new tool was made public on the firm’s official blog. The company said that Engage could be used to track post-by-post engagement. This is done by reviewing the content published by a user, including GIFs, tweets, videos and any other activity conducted on the platform. By putting the resulting data to good use, content creators should be able to hone in on the types of content creating the most buzz. They will also be able to talk with more relevance about various posts, whilst continuing the conversation through engagement to boost overall interactions. This could help raise content towards the gold zone of going global and becoming viral.

As part of Engage, users can access a Tweet analytics feature. This makes it easier than ever before to track the engagement on a particular post. As an example, Engage can pull the most important @mentions to the top of the pile for marketers to interact with loyal fans and those with influence. Easily understood statistics, such as Retweets and video views across various periods will also be provided.

Twitter has also made it possible for users to access audience demographics with Engage. It means it’s easier to stay in the conversation and boost long-term engagement levels. The ability to watch a unique real-time feed means that content creators can get a much clearer idea of what their customers and fans are tweeting about, including the how conversations might fluctuate and change over periods of time. Combined with the tools to track and review content, it enables marketers to understand their network better, both in the make up of their audience and how topics, branding and other factors change on a daily basis.

The latest launch of Engage sees Twitter take another step towards providing users with native apps capable of providing in-depth insights and meaningful analytics. It was in 2014 that the firm rolled out its impressions dashboard and, until now, many campaign managers and marketers have had to rely on third-party tools to access valuable insights. Now, the dedicated analytics solution will be the ideal option for celebrity users, popular content creators and high-profile brands.

Engage is already available to creators in the U.S., and can be downloaded from the iOS store. Currently, Twitter has not revealed any plans for extending the solution to other operating systems or regions. However, the company did confirm that although this is only the beginning of the rollout, it hoped to integrate the analytics tool with partner services like Nice and Vine.