How to Achieve Social Media Marketing’s Holy Grail

A sales boost may be expected by communicating in a way that is both straightforward and consistent. All else is simply background noise.

When promoting a business, what factors contribute to a positive social media experience? Is it more exciting-making or more informative-leaning messaging? Incredible images and/or emotionally powerful soundtrack? Influential celebrities and their seal of approval? In addition, how exactly does this impact sales?

How to Achieve Social Media Marketing's Holy Grail
A sales boost may be expected by communicating in a way that is both straightforward and consistent

Given that 3.6 billion people use social media and that social media ad expenditure is expected to top US$200 billion by 2024, it is crucial to identify the characteristics of effective social media message. Along with two other authors*, I conducted an in-depth two-year investigation into how various forms of FGC (firm-generated content) affected product sales for a major consumer electronics multinational. Hedonic messaging, which aims to elicit feelings of pleasure, playfulness, enjoyment, and excitement, was shown to be more effective in increasing sales than more pragmatic approaches that put more focus on the items’ actual uses. Nevertheless, this impact was only noticeable when the message was both straightforward and of high enough quality and consistency to be heard.

Being the first research of its kind to compare hedonic and utilitarian FGC techniques in the setting of a multinational corporation, our study highlights the significance of consistent and integrated marketing communication based on the tenets of high quality, reliability, and ease of use.

The research

Our research focuses on a big international consumer electronics and manufacturing company that consented to participate in exchange for confidentiality. In our review of the database containing information on its marketing and sales programs for 2016-2017, it provided us with daily sales income, expressed in US dollars, for each product. The company maintained active social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter during the two-year period in question.

We collected all of the company-made content and user-generated content (such as comments, posts, shares, and “likes”) from both networks. We then personally analyzed the postings’ quality, consistency, and complexity to determine if they were hedonistic or instrumental. Also, we analyzed how buyers responded to the FGC. Our criteria for each measure are as follows:

Hedonic or utilitarian

Utilitarian statements emphasized the product’s usefulness in solving consumers’ issues and making their lives easier, such as by helping them accomplish specified chores more quickly and easily. The hedonic arguments emphasized the positive emotional responses to the product. In addition to being inventive and ambitious, they were also immersive and multimodal.

Superiority of the message

Each message is evaluated by three experts, and the average of their ratings on a scale from 0 to 10 for originality, freshness, and credibility is used to determine the message’s quality.

Aim constancy in messages

Three raters examined each message for compatibility, consistency, and congruence with the company’s brand image of “cutting-edge, future-oriented, tech-savvy innovation, world-class, and experiential,” and the average of their scores was used to determine message objective consistency.

Complication of the message

Advertising material readability was used as a proxy for the complexity of messages. We determined the relative difficulty of the company’s Facebook and Twitter communications by averaging their readability scores (using the Dale-Chall technique) for each product category.

Keep it simple, keep it consistent

According to our findings, hedonic messaging is more effective at increasing product performance (as evaluated by daily sales income) than is utilitarian marketing. Most importantly, the quality of the message and the consistency of the message’s goals played a critical part in deciding the marketing outcome.

How to Achieve Social Media Marketing's Holy Grail
Keep it simple, keep it consistent

Whether the postings were meant to be hedonistic or utilitarian, they needed to be of a particular quality and regularity to start driving purchases. A minimum quality score of 4 (out of 10) was required for hedonic messaging, while a score of 6 was required for functional messaging. The lowest possible consistency score for each kind of communication was 0.

The effect of hedonic messages was also more sensitive to message quality than was the effect of utilitarian messages.

Simply put, when the marketing was hedonic rather than utilitarian, high-quality messaging increased sales more for the company, while low-quality messaging decreased sales more for the company. Both sorts of marketing solicitations were moderated by message consistency.

How to make excellent content

Despite the expanding corpus of literature on FGC, our research is the first to empirically examine the impact of high-quality, consistent, and straightforward online marketing communication on product sales.

How to Achieve Social Media Marketing's Holy Grail
How to make excellent content

So, how can businesses get that elusive holy grail of distinctive, consistent, and easily digestible communication? What follows is a list of questions they might ask first:

1.Is it interesting to read?

The best FGC is useful in some way, whether it’s via addressing an issue a user is having, answering a question a user has, expanding a user’s interest in the product, or establishing confidence in the product. Successful FGC on social media also interacts with its audience in other ways, such as by replying to comments made by its audience members.

2.Is there a nice visual and logical progression throughout the text?

Without using a variety of material, such as photographs, videos, music, and infographics, will result in users clicking away from your page. But don’t forget the basics; poor spelling and grammar may undermine even the most compelling message.

3.Is the tone consistent with the company’s branding?

The brand’s values, benefits, and goals should be reflected in the messaging used consistently. Style-wise and tonally, it fits nicely with the rest of the brand’s materials. Brand recognition and trust among customers are both boosted by consistent FGC.

All this depends, of course, on whether or not businesses have defined brand positioning and brand standards that are communicated to all internal and external stakeholders. This will aid in maintaining uniformity in the presentation of FGC across all products, themes, markets, and platforms.

Read more: How Slow-Motion Video Ads Make Products More Luxurious

Believe Apple. When it comes to carefully crafted statements that reinforce a company’s primary identity—in this case, that of making stylish, cutting-edge products—the “world’s most valuable brand” has few competitors. Walmart is another exemplar, since the company constantly promotes its low pricing and value creation for customers in its FGC.

Alternatively, customers receive conflicting messages when FGC deviates from the brand positioning. Yet, although the brand’s own material often communicates a sleek, professional image, the local dealer’s messaging is often amateurish and poorly executed, leading to a significant disconnect for consumers and damaging sales for the brand.

4.Is the material clear and easy to understand?

Brilliant, long-lasting FGC is written in a way that is sharp, convincing, and unambiguous. It makes people feel good and shows them how their lives may improve by buying the company’s wares. This is why it’s important to do a readability test on all social media posts before they’re published.

Keep in mind that the harder to understand the material is, the greater the chance that it will be disregarded.

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