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How to Optimise Organic Social Media Strategies

Dash Hudson chief marketing officer Kate Kenner Archibald joined BoF’s Alice Gividen to discuss the channels that matter, key strategic approaches and the metrics to measure for fashion and beauty SMEs today.
Social media user looking at their phone.
Social media user looking at their phone. (Shutterstock)
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Today, brands are spending more than three times the amount to acquire each customer than they did ten years ago — advertisers spent about $29 to acquire each customer in 2022, compared with just $9 in 2013, according to BoF and McKinsey & Co.’s State of Fashion 2023 Report. Customer acquisition costs have also risen on average — 70 percent on TikTok and 39 percent on Meta platforms, and spending on influencer marketing has skyrocketed.

As a result, creating content that lands with consumers and builds a brand voice is increasingly challenging, and those small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) without large budgets and resources are relying on organic social posts to drive engagement — but standing out in an oversaturated market is a key hurdle.

To unpack the challenges and changes in the social media landscape today, BoF welcomed Kate Kenner Archibald from Dash Hudson, a leading social media management platform with a roster of solutions from creative intelligence to social commerce capabilities and AI powered social listening.

As the platform’s chief marketing officer and with a storied career in brand marketing at Estée Lauder Companies, Kenner Archibald shared her insights on a recent BoF Live with associate director of content strategy, Alice Gividen, delving into the complex landscape of social media success for fashion and beauty brands — the channels that matter, platform nuances and the strategic approach to get it right — and the metrics that enable brands to measure awareness, engagement, customer acquisition and retention.

After all, “likes” are a less meaningful indicator of growth and success. Instead, brands are placing greater emphasis on metrics such as engagement, owned reach and posting frequency to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how their content is received.

Dash Hudson chief marketing officer Kate Kenner Archibald
Dash Hudson chief marketing officer Kate Kenner Archibald (Dash Hudson)

Below, BoF distils key insights from the discussion.

Understand how and where user behaviour is changing

KKA: When we look at where consumers are spending their time, the short answer is all about video. We see people spending on average 46 minutes a day on TikTok, 46 minutes a day on YouTube, and for Meta — combined Facebook and Instagram — in total, it’s about 60 minutes a day.

Instagram has also changed significantly over the last year, users are nearly three times more likely to share a reel than they are to comment on it. So what does that mean to you? You are not engaging in the same way on Instagram, but people are absolutely there. On average, a brand has over 2 million followers and people are there. But the way they’re engaging is different.

Short-form video is here to stay and can make a significant impact on your brand health and bottom line. We don’t anticipate consumption to slow down at all, but likely increase over time. So, if I was working in a fashion brand, you want to be capturing this demand in order to stay relevant for your business.

Focus on creating regular content versus building brand desirability

KKA: TikTok’s algorithm is completely different and that’s where it is a bit of a challenge for a brand. Previously, you were served content, whether from a friend or brand, based on who you followed. That no longer remains true in the TikTok world — it’s all about the content you like.

It may seem like a small nuance, but it’s actually incredibly significant — it’s all about the content, not necessarily about your desirability as a brand. So, ensuring that you have the right content on the right channels is so much more important than it ever was before.

The brands that are finding success — with success being defined by engagement rates — are posting short-form video more frequently.

We are seeing that the brands that are finding success — with success being defined by engagement rates — are posting short-form video more frequently. The recommended cadence according to Dash Hudson data is four times per week on TikTok and three times per week on Instagram Reels, so roughly four times a week on Instagram or TikTok.

Boost omnichannel sales by increasing the entertainment value of content

KKA: In the last year, we have helped our customers understand how important it is to entertain their audience. What matters from a social measurement perspective is: are you engaging people and are they staying and watching your content? It’s about shifting your mindset to not just be about, ‘let’s put out content and see how many views we get,’ but ‘are we actually resonating?’

Last year, Dash Hudson partnered with NielsenIQ and uncovered a significant correlation between entertainment-based content on TikTok and omni-channel sales growth. Brands that leverage entertainment as a content strategy grow at a rate 34 percent faster than those who approach the platform with a traditional marketing mindset, according to Dash Hudson analysis. Specifically, beauty brands with an entertainment score of 5 or above grew by an average of 51 percent in their first six months of joining TikTok. Conversely, brands with an entertainment score below 5 grew an average of just 17 percent — a 34 percent difference.

A more recent Dash Hudson study also found that brands with a higher entertainment score on Instagram experienced a 500 percent increase in Link-In-Bio clicks. These studies show that, if brands have the right content, customers will be encouraged to go through the desired journey.

Alice and Olivia is the number one brand from an entertainment score standpoint. The founder extends herself on to the channel and leverages all brand moments, whether a fashion show or making a moment where someone is walking down the catwalk. [It’s about] making every moment that you capture really fun and engaging. Not just sharing news, but making it fun.

Align the data you track to the questions you want answered

KKA: Data in general is there to answer a question. For example, if someone is asking you, ‘how many people watch this webinar?’, you’re going to care about views. But if the question is, ‘did you feel like you resonated with people in this webinar?’ It’s about how many people actually asked questions, how many people engaged, what percentage of people engaged, and how long they stayed on this webinar. So, it’s not that the KPIs have changed, but I think the questions have changed.

It’s important to have a level playing field as an apples-to-apples comparison of what’s performing and why. The devil is in the detail of all this data. Why is that working and how do you adapt your content for each platform? Without that data and analysis, it’s hard to understand how you’re actually performing and what success looks like.

Optimise audience reach with authentic content and collaborations

KKA: A great story is told with the combination of the three pillars: brand content, UGC (user-generated content) and influencer content. That’s where you want to be, and finding the right authentic partners to do so is most important in the short-term, if you can’t create your own brand content, by using influencers or creators. But I would definitely suggest, long-term, that brands find their voice as well.

For example, I think Jacquemus does an outstanding job of leveraging his brand, his own personal life, his fashion shows, and doing so in such a unique and creative way. It just goes back to the content — his creativity is just exceptional.

UGC highlights that you are listening. That’s what people want. They want to feel heard, they want you to answer them.

What’s so important about UGC is it just highlights that you are listening. That’s what people want. They want to feel heard, they want you to answer them. It’s more important now than ever when it comes to deciding which UGC to post. Then, for creators and influencers, it’s all about enabling them with their own creative control.

Mix content and platform use for a holistic marketing strategy

KKA: TikTok and YouTube, as video-first platforms, are strong platforms for engagement. Instagram does an incredible job at reaching consumers. So, your engagement rates might not be high, but you’re absolutely getting in front of the most people when you’re on Instagram.

Any marketer knows that it’s not a one size fits all approach, and there are ways to supplement your journey, whether it be garnering reach on Instagram and then complementing that reach on TikTok. But something that we have learned from our customers is that they also truly feel like each channel has a different audience. So, we think going through the lens of each channel does have a different purpose. You are reaching different people.

TikTok is still an early adopter channel, so on average, brands have a follower size of 400,000. For context, YouTube and Instagram is about 2 million. So, in a month, the monthly follower growth rate is 12 percent. That means on average, brands are seeing a very high monthly growth rate. For YouTube, the subscriber growth rate is actually quite healthy at 2 percent. But that just highlights what an opportunity it is for brands and that consumers want to be there.

Execute a strategic reset across platforms and teams

KKA: I do think a strategic reset is required. Ten years ago, brands had to strategically reset for Instagram. What’s different about this strategic reset — it’s not just for one particular channel. This whole short-form video trend is now on all channels, whether it’s YouTube shorts, Instagram reels or TikTok — it’s everywhere.

My advice for social teams looking to drive this change is to get internal partners, such as the creative team, on board. Help your internal partners understand analytics in an easy way that will make the case for why this pivot is so important. In addition to making a clear business case, you will get internal stakeholders and cross-functional partners excited and involved.

This interview has been edited and developed with supplementary insights for clarity.

This is a sponsored feature paid for by Dash Hudson as part of a BoF partnership.

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