As increasing numbers of brands shift to a mobile-first approach, how can marketing best practices be utilised to enhance brand perceptions in Southeast Asia? This was the question asked at the top of the 1000 Brands Singapore session chaired by Campaign Asia’s Head of Content, Gary Scattergood.
“Any publisher will tell you that building a strong, robust and engaged audience, is a challenging and complex mixture of art and science. It requires fine judgement by content creators.” Gaging this is where some brands go wrong, says Alistair McEwan, the BBC’s SVP of Commercial Development Asia & ANZ.
For McEwan, it’s all about being unafraid to try different publishing models and tailoring services for different regions. “Experiment, and take a leap of faith,” he says. For example, in India, mobiles platforms WhatsApp or WeChat will help brands “reach communities who might not have access to desktop digital, or even television.”
The age of ‘one size fits all’ is over
Deborah Goldingham, Head of Marketing in Southeast Asia at MasterCard Worldwide, agrees that it’s a market-by-market approach. For MasterCard, there are two key considerations she says; engaging the consumer from a brand perspective through various channels, and adapting approaches to payment methods depending on the region. For example, rather than receiving a piece of plastic, credit card customers in some countries may be better off getting P2P payment functionality delivered directly to their smartphones.
McEwan acknowledges that mobile is an important platform, but that ‘mobile-first’ can be something of an erroneous term. “I think it’s really a multi-screen approach that marketers need to adopt,” he says. “We need to recognise that audiences have a different ecosystem, different mind-sets for different parts of the day. Context is critical in terms of being able to effectively reach, communicate and engage audiences.”
Recognising and understanding which networks in that multi-screen environment consumers are using to engage with them will be different for almost every brand. “Each social media platform may offer a slightly different push-pull experience,” says McEwan, citing the example of the BBC Shorts videos which aim to tell a complete story in just 15 seconds, or BBC Pop-UP on mobile, which allow users to get an instant sense of the BBC’s news reporting standards.
Always aim to inspire and entertain
“Branded content done badly is an indictment of our industry,” says McEwan. “When brands think about their brand first and publish content that consumers don’t value, it will damage the brand and it will damage their potential for good content marketing.”
“If you try to create a branded story that’s fabricated, consumers are going to pick up on that in about 20 seconds,” says Goldingham, “or worse, they’ll turn off in two or three.” Goldinham’s team uses social listening technology to pull through genuine consumer insights. This, she says, is what people really respond to, and advocates building a highly engaged community “associated with” your brand, as opposed to a community that consists entirely of one-sided conversations and tone-deaf branded posts.
“Stay true to the brand,” adds Oliver Chong, AVP of Brand & Marketing Communications at StarHub. His commandment for any content is the consumer should always learn, be inspired, or be entertained.