While we can all acknowledge that there are many hard lessons to be learned from 2016, from a Marketer’s standpoint, one in particular stands out for me. The nature of traditional media and social media becoming two contrasting superpowers that must be wielded with collaboration and caution.

The recent US presidential election may have the most lopsided traditional media vs social media messaging the world has ever seen. Hillary Clinton had over 200 mainstream media outlets supporting her campaign – Trump had 6.* Social media on the other hand, was a wildly different story. Trump’s highly sophisticated social media targeting campaign paid off, with overall chatter and positive sentiment seen to be building around him. In short, the key messages around Clinton on traditional media were not aligned with the messages on social media – spelling total disaster for her Presidential campaign.

Here in Singapore, we know that to achieve sustainable and favourable brand equity, an organisation’s messages must be communicated across all relevant channels. What is less common practice is the ongoing monitoring and analysis that is required to ensure that messages don’t slip off course. In today’s media jungle, traditional media pinches stories from social media and social media puts its own spin on traditional media stories. Buzzfeed has built its entire existence on this practise. As a result, it’s becoming trickier for organisations to manage their brand reputation. Consumers don’t see a traditional media strategy and a social media strategy, they just see the brand. If misalignment of brand messaging becomes more visible to consumers, it can be very dangerous territory. Consumers feel the brand isn’t connected with them (its customers) and that the brand is maybe trying to cover something up.

We can illustrate this point further in infographic 1. It shows that there are many potential message gaps in the communications chain that leave an organisation vulnerable. For example, when an organisation communicates its messages to the traditional media, it is maybe doing so without having assessed the appetite for the specific messaging on social media and vice versa. Furthermore and the most importantly, there is likely to be a message gap in what the company is pushing out as its key messages to traditional media, and what consumers are actually discussing and engaging with on social media.

Using the example of a local Trade Agency, who was keen to look at this message gap in more detail. From studying the messages communicated to traditional media against the key messages being discussed on social media, Isentia were able to identify clear gaps and areas for improvement.

As you can see, there was a clear disconnect in how the traditional media was discussing the issue against the actual consumers on social media. This is particularly stark for the example of Jobs Growth, where the net sentiment around the prospect of Jobs Growth was -16. To help shift the negative sentiment for this particularly company, it comes down to improved online visibility. Armed with these insights, the organisations can team up with relevant micro-influencers to help in clarifying the messages and humanising the overall campaign.

What can brands do to ensure coherent brand perception across traditional media and social media?

  • Listen. Do you know how your last brand campaign played out on traditional media vs social media? Media monitoring tools are an essential in understanding when, where and how you have been mentioned in the media.
  • Measure. Now you have done the listening, what are the actionable insights that can be gained? Where should your team focus their time?
  • Diversify. Diversifying your communications assets can be hugely beneficial to aligning your media strategy as it means it’s not just one voice pushing the same message – for example, utilising the right micro-influencers, creating a content hub and facilitating unique brand collaborations.

References:

*Politico.com

**Favourability scored worked out in accordance with CARMA methodology, providing a score out of 100, with 50 being the neutral point.

***Net sentiment= positive sentiment – negative sentiment

Featured at Singapore's Australia Chamber of Commerce magazine