New research shows marketers are caught in a love-hate relationship with social media

OnBrand, a leading publication that features insights and opinions on the latest in branding and marketing has revealed the results of its State of Branding Report 2019.

The report, developed annually with Bynder, a global leader in digital asset management (DAM), aims to get inside the head of the modern marketer and reveal their biggest challenges for 2019, their priorities, and how they plan to stay on top of the latest trends within marketing and branding.

The data, representing 501 marketing and branding decision-makers at organisations based in the United States and the United Kingdom, shows that identifying the right technology to serve as an extension of a brand continues to be a top challenge for today’s brands. Similarly, while marketers still rely heavily on social media to reach their consumers, they are becoming increasingly wary of how continuous algorithm changes may be disrupting engagement opportunities with their audiences.

The top five key findings include:

  1. Brands are more reliant on social media, but not without some hesitation: Respondents identified social media networks as the most fruitful channels for reaching audiences and influencing buyer behaviour. However, 65% feel algorithm changes are the biggest threat to online brand engagement.
  2. Owning a strong customer experience is key in cutting through the digital noise: 29% of respondents felt “excellent customer service” was the most effective way to differentiate a brand and engage consumers -more so than the product itself (13%) or the quality of brand campaigns (15%).
  3. It’s time to ramp up investment in branded visual content: 67% of marketing decision-makers will invest more in creating branded visual content than they did in 2018. Why? To boost visibility and engagement with their target audiences (42%) and to stand out from the competition (22%).
  4. Brands are striving to personalize, but are struggling:Last year’s report revealed “personalisation” was top-of-mind for branding and marketing decision-makers. It seems brands are still figuring out how to ensure personalized content targets the right audience, and if their company is equipped with the right tech to support personalisation efforts. This year, when asked about the biggest challenges associated with personalization, 25.7% of respondents mentioned they’re struggling to get that personalized message to the right audience, 23% are caught on identifying the right technology to support personalised experiences, and 21.8% find it difficult to balance personalisation and brand voice.
  5. Investing in tech: emerging vs. established: 94% of respondents feel it is “very” (63%) or “somewhat” (31%) important for their company to invest in new technologies in 2019, with customer experience and engagement proving to be the number one motivation. Experimental technologies such as AI (45.1%), virtual reality (36.3%) and voice assistants (40.3%) are on investment radars, but more established outlets—such as mobile apps (65.7%), progressive web apps (50.1%), and digital asset management software (46%)—still make up the largest slice of most marketing budgets.

“At a time when brands are struggling to identify what technology and channels are most effective at reaching audiences, it’s important to remember that creativity and story go a long way when it comes to differentiating your brand,” said Jennifer Harvey, VP of Branding and Communications at Bynder. “We are seeing more brands invest in branded visual content and owned channels like mobile apps, both of which present a compelling and creative opportunity to engage with consumers. Brands that are able to break through the noise and prioritise customer interactions will emerge as winners in a rapidly evolving arena.”