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News Plus 24 Jun 2021 - 4 min read

Post and pray? No way: Reckitt marketer says brands must grasp the nettle and tap new social platforms

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

L to R: Reckitt's Saurabh Jain, SBS' Uma Oldham, TikTok's Andrew Cambridge and Zenith's Jonny Cordony.

If Dettol and Telstra can get user generated content right, then what's stopping every marketer? Reckitt marketing boss Saurabh Jain says it's the fear of "getting your hands dirty". Social media remains something of a "post and pray" conundrum, but Jain said the emerging platforms are becoming "table stakes" for marketers. Even though it remains a "nightmare" for most.

What you need to know:

  • Reckitt Marketing Director Saurabh Jain believes UGC remains a "nightmare" for brands
  • On the rise of platforms such as TikTok, Jain said there remain many unknowns when it comes to "controlling the message" on emergent channels.
  • Despite the risks, he said marketers should still "get their hands dirty" and adopt a test and learn strategy if they want to connect with younger audiences.

Post and pray

Marketing Director for Reckitt's hygiene portfolio Saurabh Jain has laid out his guidelines for dealing with user generated content. While it's "a nightmare", he thinks brands can leverage emergent platforms such as TikTok to their advantage.

"Understanding the nuances is key", he told a panel hosted by Zenith focused on second-tier platforms and the implications for marketers.

Reckitt had early success via TikTok last year when its major soap and sanitiser brand Dettol created the #HandWashChallenge initiative, designed purely for the platform.

The campaign, which was about encouraging people to wash their hands amid the first global Covid outbreak, accrued over 18 million views in its first week.

Despite this, Jain said there is still a "post and pray" factor when it comes to launching campaigns with a social message across social media, as having the 'right' message doesn't always mean it will be interpreted the same way.

"It's still a marketer's nightmare in many ways, both in trying to drive brand engagement and at the same time control the message, because once it's out there, it's out there. That's why it has to be less about control and more about steering a conversation," Jain said.

Risk and reward

Brands should keep two key strategies in mind when using UGC and social media, Jain suggested: A clear and concise point of view and the right choice of social media platform.

"There are so many messages out there today and make no mistake customers aren't dying to interact and engage with brands, so marketers need to be very specific about what is the right message that taps into consumer passion point, which ultimately drives that level of engagement," he added.

"Every social media channel has its own inherent strengths, so marrying the right message with the right media platform can go a long way in terms of managing what you are trying to tell your customer."

Andrew Cambridge, TikTok's local Head of Agency, echoed Jain's comments, adding that brands can't approach the video-focused platform the way they would traditional media.

He said while early adopter brands were quick to understand the strategy behind tying up with creators and using the platform to have direct conversations with younger audiences, legacy brands have also surprised TikTok by taking "daring risks".

"When you think about heritage brands, they might move a little bit slower in the world of media and marketing. When Telstra came onto the platform I expected them to move like any giant heritage business," Cambridge said.

"But they did something powerful for me - they hired someone to sit there and answer comments, instead of launching some huge new campaign. They instead acted like any other creator, which allowed them to develop a consumer connection [others may miss]."

Cambridge said the ability to turn live and open forum moderation from a "weakness into a strength", highlighted why brands need to take risks on TikTok as opposed to legacy media.

Jain agreed, adding that brands need to be willing to "get their hands dirty", but suggested that campaigns should be run in small bursts to avoid any major escalations if things go pear shaped.

"The trick here is to not fail big. So make sure, as a marketer, you manage the risks by testing at a scale that works for your brand, then once you've found the successes, you can scale it up," he said.

Table stakes

The Reckitt marketing boss added that the "scariest thing" about trying to drive a brand message across newer platforms was the shift in user behaviour compared to other channels.

He said while there has previously been hesitancy from marketers to play in the social media space, particularly when trying to align with social issues, global brands now see it as table stakes.

"Now there is a real acceptance [of these channels] because it's no longer a top-down view [of the marketing funnel] but instead about driving engagement no matter where the consumer is," Jain said.

"There's now less need to convince your board, provided, as a marketer, you are consistent in your execution and are constantly running small test and learn campaigns."

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