The lovely folks at Hootsuite invited me to present at their Future of Social event in Singapore last week. The event was a massive success, and we’ve received loads of requests for the slides too, so I thought it would helpful to share a summary of my session here.

If you weren’t one of the hundreds of people who attended in person – or the thousands who tuned in via the live-stream – you can watch a recording of the full event here.

If you’d like to dig deeper into the slides from my presentation though, you’ll find them all in the SlideShare embed below.

Read on for a recap of my essential tips too.

The Digital Landscape in November 2018

As we’ve seen in our ongoing series of Global Digital reports – published in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite – more than half of the world’s adult population now uses social media.

Global Digital Overview November 2018

Social media also accounts for a significant share of people’s online time, so it’s safe to say that social should be a key part of most brands’ marketing mix.

Social Media Global Platform Ranking November 2018

But social media success isn’t just about jumping onto the hottest new platforms, or buying up the latest ad units.

In fact, taking a more measured, strategic approach will probably deliver you better results in the long-term, and should help you prove the ROI of you activities too.

Here are seven tips to help you achieve more enduring social media marketing success.

1. Start with strat

Too many marketers get caught out by planning tactics before they’ve clarified their business objectives.

In order to ensure your social media activities have the best chance of creating brand value, you need to answer a couple of simple questions before you go anywhere near content development:

  1. Why are you doing this – i.e. what are your objectives?

  2. What does success look like, and how will you know if / when you’ve achieved it?

These might seem like obvious questions, but that’s fine – as long as you know the answer to both questions, you’ll have much better chances of succeeding.

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Start with the End in Mind.png

2. Don’t get distracted

New technologies and social platforms can offer great new opportunities for marketing.

However, it’s also very easy to get distracted by shiny new objects, and – as a result – we often lose sight of our true task: creating brand value.

So, while a big part of your job is staying up to date with all the latest tech developments, you have an equal responsibility to assess whether these new technologies can actually help you create better returns for your brand.

My tip: focus on the activities and technologies that offer the greatest opportunity to deliver ROI, rather than spreading your resources thinly across lots of ‘innovations’.

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Fewer Bigger Better

3. Always add value

Do you really need to publish that much content, or are you posting every day simply to fulfil a content calendar that was conceived a few years ago, when brands still achieved organic reach?

(Hint: organic reach ain’t what it used to be – check the stats in the full deck above to learn more).

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - The Content Calendar Trap

Make sure that each of your social media posts fulfils some kind of useful purpose, and isn’t simply noise for its own sake.

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Calendar vs Purpose

The trick here is to identify how each of your post adds distinct value to your audience’s world – by sharing information, providing entertainment, inspiring new ideas and opportunities, helping people to build valuable skills, or even helping them to bring their plans and intentions to life.

Another quick tip here: many marketers seem to focus on developing ‘entertaining’ content, but the further your activities are towards the right-hand side of the chart below, the greater your opportunities to create enduring, distinct value.

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Finding Ideas for Content with Value

4. Listen and Learn

Social listening is a hugely valuable source of insight and value, but for some reason, marketers don’t seem interested in it anymore.

Top tip: if you want to prove ROI – and if you actually want to create new value too – social listening should be your best friend.

Social listening allows you to identify what your audience cares about, which means that you can align your efforts with their needs.

This helps to ensure that all of your marketing activities create mutual value, instead of simply interrupting people with yet more boring ads.

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Marketing Success is Mutual Value.png

What’s more, social listening doesn’t just help you to plan better social media content; it can also help you identify which social platforms you should be on, and – as we’ll see in tip 6 below – it can also inform every aspect of your marketing mix – and even your broader business strategy.

5. Choose your channels carefully

The future of social will inevitably involve lots of new platforms and new ad formats.

But are they right for you and your brand?

A few simple questions will help you to identify whether new options are a potential source of value, or simply another distraction:

  • Better Efficiency: does it help you achieve your goals at lower cost?

  • Increased Reach: does it help you reach new people that you can’t reach on other channels?

  • New Formats: does it offer you the chance to tell your brand’s story in new ways?

  • New Contexts: does it allow you to engage people in more relevant or more valuable settings?

  • New Kinds of Value: does it allow you to create a new kind of experience, product or service that will create mutual value for your brand and your audiences?

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Evaluating New Marketing Channels

As before, the mantra here should be fewer, bigger, better: focus on those channels which deliver disproportionate returns on your investments of time, effort and money.

However, you also need to ensure that you don’t become overly dependent on any single platform, or one kind of channel.

“Paid, owned, earned, and shared“ might seem like a cliché because it’s been so widely used in recent years, but the advice is just as valuable as ever: don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Paid Owned Earned Shared

6. Social is an outcome

Social media success doesn’t just depend on social media activities.

In fact, everything your organisation does – across its full marketing mix, and even beyond marketing into areas like recruitment – can inspire social media success.

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - A Fully Social Mix

The real social media opportunity is to build a brand worth talking about – not just content that gets a few comments and likes on social media.

And that leads us neatly to the last tip…

7. Measure what Matters

Are you tracking metrics that actually help you to identify the brand impression you’ve made, or are you simply counting the content impressions that you’ve delivered?

As an industry, we’ve fallen in love with metrics like “engagement”, but engagement doesn’t really have any value of its own

As the inimitable Seth Godin noted in a recent blog post,

“The Mona Lisa is massive on social media. Her picture is everywhere. But she doesn’t tweet. She’s big on social media because she’s an icon, but she’s not an icon because she’s big on social media.”

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - The Mona Lisa on Social

My top tip here: measure the contribution that your activities make to brand value, and not just the level of distribution that you’ve achieved with your content.

Kepios - Hootsuite Future of Social - Contribution vs Distribution.png

Wrapping up

So there you have it: 7 simple tips that should help you prepare for the Future of Social – whatever it may look like.

Still have questions? Tag me in a post on LinkedIn, and we can have a chat.

And if you’d like to dig deeper into any of the stats in this presentation, you might like our comprehensive new collection of reports from the past 7 years over at