I have operated in the multi-channel retail space for sometime and am constantly amazed at the speed of ongoing changes driven in the main by dynamic consumer behaviour.

For the past 2 decades the consumer adoption and ease of access to all manner of affordable technology solutions, especially social media platforms has grown at an exponential rate.

Are you on Instagram and FaceBook?

I read that 1 in 4 post on those platform are now Ads.

I also read that in order to maintain demand (and revenues) that Insta is now ramping up even more of those intrusive ads, and if you're one of those people who've clicked on an ad before, then hold onto to your digital Insta pants because your feed will no doubt get flooded with even more adverts. 

Facebook’s own documentation also makes clear that ads are served based on a user’s engagement across its platforms — not just your engagement on Instagram alone:

Ads are shown to you based on your activity across Facebook companies and products, such as:

  • Pages you and your friends like.
  • Information from your Facebook and Instagram profile.
  • Places you check in using Facebook.

You have to ask yourself the obvious question which is 'WTF' is all this doing to the brand and user experience at the expense of short term revenues?

My blogs tend to steer away from religion, and especially politics  - after all who on earth can predict the ongoing direction and impact on you and me with the current mood of global Xenophobia by all major economic governments?

However, as an avid observer of consumer behaviour we see that in many ways China is in fact continuing to lead the way with digital innovations. 

The speed at which Chinese innovation is becoming ingrained in user behaviour in China provides us in the west with a window of opportunity to not only watch and learn, but to also start to test ideas for ourselves.

What we can see from a social platforms perspective is that western rivals like FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Microsoft have either started to develop copycat versions of many features within both TikTok and WeChat, or as in both Microsoft and Twitter's case even trying to buy them. 

For sometime I've been talking about 'employee advocacy' in order brands and retailers can develop and authentic relationship in a 'social' way with potential consumers.

For some retail companies this has been translated into getting employees to 'put stuff about us out there' which rather defeats the point of the strategic exercise for me, and yet another symptom of a 20th Century retail mindset.

There is an alternative way, but it relies on brands going 'cold ad tech turkey' for a period of time.

Your customers spend a lot of their free time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks, so it’s the prime place to get in front of them. In fact, when you add it up, the average person spends over an hour a day on various platforms.

Take a moment to consider the following industry stats;

  • Less than 2% of Employees regularly share or create employer related brand content.
  • Over 33% of Employees are unclear on what to post and how it could benefit their employer.
  • There is a 561% increase in audience for your brand message when shared by employees vs sharing via the corporate channel.
  • 90% of your employee network is new to your brand meaning you are opening up previously untapped audiences.

How about investing in upskilling your employees to use social media as way of providing a genuine and authentic voice, rather than the corporate message, or an extension of your customer service department.

It relies on going back to basics with storytelling and creativity, it relies on those brand being prepared to 'listen' to it's audiences, it relies on those brands becoming more socially engaging.