Last Friday, the global marketing communications agency UM Singapore unveiled the findings of their annual Wave study, revealing again a lot of useful information for their clients.

Six years ago, UM started their journey to explore the impact of social media across the globe, in conjunction with changes occurring in communication technologies, and surveyed in this period more than 136,000 internet users across 64 countries, with Wave 6 comprising the highest number of interviewees (42,000).

Wave already taught in previous years that growth in social media is unprecedented, with new platforms launched and reaching a critical mass with extraordinary speed across vast territories, but Wave 6 revealed that businesses need to be developing more sophisticated social media strategies that will help achieve specific commercial objectives, in order to reach an ever-growing number of social networkers.

The first and most effective approach a brand can take is to simply offer a personal response to customer complaints and queries. Wave 6 identified that brands doing this gain respect and loyalty, calling this point of view “The Business of Social”, tackling the question of how social relationships can deliver results for brands.

Wave 6 now represents more than half of the world’s internet population and intends to build on the story of Wave in two crucial areas:

  1. By understanding the role that social media can play in helping clients meet marketing challenges: Social media will be able to create experiences that are designed from the very beginning to meet marketing objectives if its values are defined first, rather than starting with the most popular platforms and how to exploit them.
  2. By identifying the means with which consumers want to interact with brands: There are now so many ways and different devices available a consumer can make use of to interact with a brand in the social space. Do they want an app, a website, a widget? Do they want to access these via mobile phone, desktop, notebook, tablet device or internet connected TV? Wave 6 tracks the growth of these technologies and allows us to identify the key way to deliver experiences to consumers.

Since MediaBUZZ intends to present a more detailed article on Wave 6 in the next issue of Asian e-Marketing, we kept this article quintessential, outlining the key points of the study:

  • The most powerful social experience is responding to brand issues and customer complaints;
  • The brand website, though still relevant to Singaporeans, is fast becoming a one dimensional experience that could potentially be abandoned as is happening globally;
  • Social media “Likes” aren’t enough to engage consumers - brands and their agencies need to step away from traditional strategic social media plans and try something new by exploring what social relationships online can mean for brands and a consumer;
  • Despite rising concerns over data privacy, peoples' reaction is contrary, they are spending more time on social networks, implying that despite the concerns, they are acknowledging the value social media networks bring to their lives.

“Wave is an important survey that arms our team, and the industry as a whole, with a better understanding of social networks and the ways in which we can leverage its power for our clients. Wave 6 has had a huge impact on both a global and local scale,” said Pat Lim, Managing Director of UM Singapore.

So many social media strategies look the same because advertisers continue to use the same platforms and strategies to achieve the same goals. Wave 6 addresses this issue by looking deeper into what the online social relationships can mean to a brand. Do they make people want to spend more time with the brand, do they make them feel valued as customers, or do they encourage people to recommend the brand to others? The study has helped us better understand these questions and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We are seeing unprecedented levels of social media use in Singapore on a range of portable devices.” said Pat Lim.

The study also demonstrates that some platforms are much better environments for delivering certain kinds of social experiences than others. A smartphone is all about fun and function; about managing your life and filling in downtime, whilst the tablet device is seen as providing a more leisurely experience, such as creativity and learning – and is also seen as a better environment for making a purchase.

Last but not least, some rules of engagement to consider as recommended by UM:

  • Rule#1: To get the most from social platforms we need to know what they do best
  • Rule#2: Understand that consumers want varying degrees of social relationship with brands, ranging from superficial relationships, such as wanting discount vouchers or access to entertaining content, to very deep ones such as helping with product development or being part of a brand community.
  • Rule#3: Each of the experiences delivers a very different outcomes: Giving people access to new news about a computer software brand drives awareness and education, but very little else. Again discount vouchers stimulate transaction and trial but do very little on anything else for a computer software brand;
  • Rule#4: Always Start with the marketing objective: Ask what it is that I want my consumers to feel or do and then look at which Social media experience will drive that, for instance, if sharing information will help or giving consumers privileged access to company resource would be needed;
  • Rule#5: Responding to a customer’s issues is one of the most powerful social experiences a brand can deliver.

The incredible growth in the number of people using social media will keep UM’s global social media survey going and will continue making waves.

By Daniela La Marca