Opinion: The 5 steps to conquering digital in 2016

Claire Lim, Asia digital practice lead at Bell Pottinger, gives her thoughts on the five key things firms need to focus on to succeed in digital in 2016.

Claire Lim

Bell Pottinger recently held a roundtable event with leading brands in Singapore to discuss this year’s upcoming digital trends and the key to online reputation management.

Participants highlighted various issues and challenges that companies are facing on the digital front. Having worked with a range of companies over several years and seen multiple trends come and go, here are my top five factors for successful digital PR work:

1) Content marketing

Content generation has reached unprecedented levels, with a massive influx of ideas being released each second. In fact, a recent LinkedIn study shows that 77 percent of marketers will increase content production in the next 12 months.

Brands constantly find themselves in a competition to grab the consumer’s attention, and the traditional approach alone is no longer sufficient to achieve results that will resonate with a brand’s target audience.

Content development has shifted from purely brand-created to user-generated to what we see now: the emerging trend of co-creation. Nowadays, brands need to look into designing a content strategy that builds a narrative not only based on relevant topics but more importantly one that hits the receiver’s passion points. 

2) Social advertising

As Facebook continues to change its News Feed algorithm, a decrease in organic reach for business pages is inevitable. Despite having thousands of fans on a page, the reality is that the content that is published only reaches 5-6 percent of that audience – unless brands pay to promote it.

Gone are the days when it was enough to simply create content and wait for consumer to stumble upon them– presently, it is the other way around: the content must find its consumers. 

3) Influencer management

The power of an influencer cuts across all industries, products and user demographics - and this continues to grow in 2016. Word of mouth recommendations (35 percent) are only second to search engines (41 percent) as a source of brand discovery and information dissemination.

This proved true for local agency CTC Travel when the engagement of local bloggers for their "CTC Travel to Australia" campaign saw an increase of US$30,000 in revenue, reflecting an ROI of 167 percent.

With the continued decline of ads in magazines and newspapers, it’s clear that influencers are here to stay. Brands need to build influencer lists in the same way they would a media or journalist database and find out what motivates each type of influencer to understand the best way to engage.

4) User experience

Primarily focusing on how digital experiences look and feel, user experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of an end-user's interaction with a company and its offering. A strong UX provides a wide range of benefits — better task completion, higher conversion rates, an increase in revenue per user, customer loyalty, the list goes on.

Take for example the region’s leading e-commerce brand, whose customers increased four-fold from 1.4 million active customers in H1 2014 to 5.7 million in 2015.

The brand undertook several user opitmisation initiatives, including a dedicated mobile site and mobile applications. The process of developing a great UX may take months, but it is well worth it. 

5) Digital transformation

In a nutshell, "going paperless" is how to define digital transformation. Brought about by the changing behaviour and needs of today’s consumers, digital transformation is the integration of technology into human society to make people’s lives easier and more convenient.

From the forward-thinking use of Twitter as a portal for service update, customer service and industry news, to the seamless integration of social media into each stakeholder touchpoint, this trend allows companies to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technology.

A recent Deloitte study published earlier this year ranks Singapore as one of the leading countries for digital advancement, and it follows that consumers in this region have a faster uptake compared to most. This tech-savvy audience pushes brands to play digital, and play it well.

With constantly evolving algorithms, staying on top of the latest trends is key — and only when brands have a good handle of this space can success be ensured in using digital as a powerful communications platform.

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