In the digital era, Cineplex President and CEO Ellis Jacob has kept his company ahead of the curve by diversifying the business and embracing change.
Bridgitte Anderson is General Manager of Edelman Vancouver and an award-winning former journalist who also served as Press Secretary to former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell. Edelman is an independent communications marketing company, part of a network of wholly owned offices in 65 cities worldwide.
The explosion and fragmentation of online information is unprecedented. One recent study by digital marketing firm Smart Insights Ltd. showed that every 60 seconds, there are 3.3 million Facebook posts, 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube and nearly 425,000 tweets.
Consumers are demanding more than ever of their brands and taking to social media to engage. Yet social platforms have developed complex content-filtering algorithms that have resulted in the average piece of content reaching only 9 per cent or less of their followers without paid media amplification, according to 2015 data collected by communications marketing firm Edelman.
Rather than flood channels with quantity, brands need to be more strategic with their digital and social media content. They must engage authentically and transparently, be creative and determine the best tactics to reach their audiences – often through paid media.
The public’s trust of an organization is increasingly key to successful engagement. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, there is a huge shift in trust between the general population and those who are more informed and better educated. The traditional pyramid of influence has been turned upside down: The most influential group in society is no longer the elite but the other 85 per cent, who also happen to be the least trusting. The result is a peer-to peer, rather than top-town, communications dynamic. CEOs and other leaders are being replaced by a “person like me” as the most trusted sources of information.
The Trust Barometer also shows that there is a significant expectation on business to solve societal problems. The public is calling on companies to take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where they operate. This means not just telling people you are helping
society but showing it too.
The shift in trust to peers and the public’s growing expectations of business provide a big opportunity to engage through social media while building trust. So, how do companies do that?
1. Inform and educate. Engage your consumers and offer transparent information so they can make educated choices.
2. Have a purpose. Show that you have value beyond your product or service.
3. Be unique. Inspire your audience by demonstrating new and different thinking.
4. Live with character. Be engaging, solicit input, and let your consumers participate in your brand.
5. Leverage your employees. They are essential advocates. The 2016 Trust Barometer results show that employees are more trusted than CEOs and other executives to talk about financial earnings, business practices, and the treatment of staff or customers. They’re also important subject matter experts who can provide different perspectives from and engage with a wider audience than your C-suite executives.
6. Speak peer-to-peer. Recognize that your audience uses many different social media platforms, depending on factors such as demographics. The 2015 Edelman Earned Brand Study shows that peer-to-peer channels had a six times greater impact on changing opinions than advertising.
7. Co-create content. Work with influencers to develop and share content creatively and credibly with key audiences where they’re already engaged.
8. Make video a key asset. Canada leads in the pack in consumption of online videos, and social platforms are upgrading their native video capabilities. New technology allows the creation of quality videos at lower costs, and video content helps to break through the clutter and tell stories that get shared.
9. Create experiences that are social by design so that third parties can share with their own networks and help promote your value.
10. Always listen. Help to protect your brand with an always-on listening approach, and make sure to reply in a timely manner to those who are engaging with your social channels. The public expects a response in 60 minutes or less.
Consumers no longer just use products and services; they make them part of their lives and will advocate on behalf of companies they believe in. Successful organizations recognize this shift and embrace authentic, two-way engagement.