Why SMM of big brands is dull and what to do about it

Hello. My name is Sasha and I, unfortunately, are engaged in the promotion of business in social networks, recently working closely with brands: analyzing competitors, developing strategies for presence in social networks, implementing special projects.

In the process of studying a niche, I noticed that a small business with its "home" SMM "overtakes" its senior colleagues in KPI, the audience responds much better to little-known and new brands than to recognized industry masters.

There is a dissonance. Millions of budgets, world-wide recognition and "tumbleweed" on social networks - how, why, and most importantly - what to do?

Well, let's try to figure out and save the same brands from the deathly silence of millions of admirers, although they did not ask us about it.

Few numbers

Before smearing horizontally, I will fix it with concrete figures - where did I get this, that everything is somehow not very good.

If in a small business content is usually quite a wide range of tasks, then in working with brands everything is much more prosaic:

  • audience engagement;
  • informing about events, promotions and te teh.

The reporting analyzes the main metrics for involvement: ER, the ratio of specific activities over time, mentions. For transparency, we use these metrics to assess the quality of communities.

This article is not a marketing research, so I will simplify the task and look at the numbers of the three pages of brands for different target audiences only from VKontakte.

For girls: //vk.com/venusrussia

For men: //vk.com/gilletterussia

Neutral: //vk.com/indesitrussia

What we see. In Indesit with an audience of 83 thousand subscribers is less than 3 thousand views per post and about zero comments on average. In Gillette with 421 thousand subscribers an average of 4 comments per post. Are there any other comments needed?

Imagine that you have been given a task - attract 400,000 real and living people and make them all silent, maximum 4 comments per post. Can you handle it? Is not a fact.

The first problem. Well, so boring!

Brands are afraid of any deviations from the emotional zero, which ultimately turn the tape of any brand into a mortal boredom with very strained attempts to “be on the wave” with its target audience.

That is why, so humor or provocation performed by Aviasales or Burger King are the “blows up” by recognized masters of the sesame-philosophizing on Facebook — rare examples of when SMM evokes at least some emotions.

You can relate differently to the specific humor of the sites, do not take one away - tasks from the point of view of bare numbers are performed, the target audience "grasps" and follows the brand.

For example, compare the indicators of involvement of the daring "Burger King" and the indifferent "McDonalds" in "VKontakte":

With approximately equal to the average rate of views on the post at McDonald’s, there are ten times fewer comments, 4 times less likes.

And if the same fast food audience has adolescents, with whom it is somehow easier to undermine the statistics with provocations, then when it comes to the older generation, everything becomes many times more complicated.


  1. Misunderstanding of national color by international brands

Most often, translated and slightly reworked content is published on the pages of the Russian representative offices of brands, which is created by a team of specialists from the head office.

For example, if the headquarters is in the United States, then the content is “Americanized,” which means political correctness, “licked out” the American youth, and other plantings of the West. As a result, in the account content that is unlikely to go to a fan of the brand from outside the two capitals.

I specify fun for the sake of. Here is a McDonald's post about the supply of fish fillets from Veliky Novgorod. The image is not very typical fisherman on the background of the mountain landscape of Veliky Novgorod:

We google photo Veliky Novgorod:

And now the task - find the mountains in the photo.

Very seldom, Russian representative offices introduce their own promotion strategies that take into account national peculiarities. Why - the next item.

  1. Godless bureaucracy

I sincerely sympathize with the digital-tops of the Russian missions, who decide to try something “that”. Before the first post comes out, you need to spend about a year preparing presentations, speeches and approvals.

And that, all this dreary way does not guarantee what is allowed.

Therefore, the majority of representative offices prefer to follow the shortest path, on which it is necessary to receive materials, to translate and put in account.

  1. Low level performers

About this a little further talk.

How to change the situation

In this case, the question from the category of "philosophical."

Remember at least the story of H & M. The fact that in the USA caused discussions on Facebook, in Nigeria led to the pogrom of shopping centers, and in Russia - a thousand Memesians among the youth and an absolute ignore among the older generation.

So here you can understand the manual - it is impossible to take everything into account and, in order to avoid the risks of being misunderstood, you have to be extremely careful with the “national flavor” and, especially, with humor.

On the other hand, it is also obvious to everyone that in this politically correct boringness, more “borzoi” competitors come off ahead, so that measures are already being taken and in the coming years, I am sure, brands will increasingly provoke audiences to react.

The second problem. Corporate nobody

In addition to audacity, the presence in the content of the author's IMHO also affects the emotional response from the audience.

If content is created on behalf of a brand, all communication looks artificial, cloying and dull.

For example, look at the Venus post:

Reasonable questions that may arise for the reader community:

  1. Who asks me and what does his (her) wink mean?
  2. What does he want from me?
  3. What happens if I answer yes? Some guy will start writing to me with proposals for a meeting, put him in his "Solaris" and take him out to the forest belt, or worse, live for Saratov to his mother?

Compare with the post in Belmarko, a company that deals with children's furniture:

It is noticeable that the post was written on behalf of a real mother, who spoke about the problem, gave her assessment and asked to share her opinion.

In the first post, the text was written by a copywriter, in the second - by the author with feelings, emotions and his personal attitude to the content. Hence the difference in numbers:

  1. Venus, a global brand. 700 thousand subscribers, 7.5 thousand views on the post, 0 comments.
  2. Belmarco, a small manufacturing company. 150 thousand subscribers, 12 thousand views on the post, 450 people participate in the voting, 20 comments.

In this regard, now there is a trend for personal communication with the audience, though before that, when it becomes a common phenomenon - as before Beijing in a half-bent position.


  1. Domestic brand policy

Someone once said that it is interesting to someone to communicate with the "brand", and not the people who represent it. Belief in this dubious dogma lived quietly for a long time, until social networks arrived and the communication itself became so transparent in terms of numbers.

People want to read, argue, admire, bewilderment with people, not with "managers of mvideo." Any creature hiding behind a brand automatically causes mistrust and irritation of readers.

  1. The system of relationships with performers

Without delving into the fingers - what the brand’s interaction with the performers and agencies looks like:

  1. The agency wins the tender for the development of SMM-strategy and project management with a price tag of six zeros.
  2. The agency hires a subcontract to create a strategy for a price tag of five zeros.
  3. A subcontract hires a sub-subcontract to create content on a four-zero strategy.
  4. Sub-contracting hires a sub-sub-contract copywriter at three zeros.

And now, attention, question. Will the agency show this copywriter and what is the overall level of a copywriter with a price tag of three zeros (this is up to 9,999 rubles per month)?

  1. Low level and routine staff turnover

Surprisingly, the level of applicants for the position of full-time SMM-specialists from brands "so myself." I speak from the experience of three interviews that I did for brands.

I don’t know a single SMM specialist who worked well and worked on freelancing and has grown to the office. Usually the path is different: a freelancer somewhere outside the Moscow Ring Road → hiring helpers → your agency.

The reasons are commonplace - money. The work of the SMM in a cool brand, but a full house and office for 60-100 thousand rubles in Moscow looks less kosher than freelancing: a beach in Phuket, 3-4 projects for the same, and most often big money.

The consequence of this greedy problem is the constant turnover of personnel due to dissatisfaction with the performer, who “climbed” at the interview, but did not pull in the process, or the departure of SMM players who turned out to be good, to freelance or somewhere else.

How to change the situation

It is necessary to change the format of communication with the audience. Instead of an impersonal "brand" voice of a multi-armed SMM-manager, an open personality should appear that communicates with the subscribers of the communities.

Let's call it SMM evangelist. This is a real person who is essentially the content manager of the project, creating content and communicating with the audience of the brand.

Strategic and technical tasks are delegated to contractors, which guarantee the transparency of the construction of all internal processes, that is, which are actually engaged in SMM, and not the resale of leads to sub-subsubsubsubs-sub-contractors.

With this format:

  • reduced requirements for the staff performer, which helps to get rid of the turnover and improve the quality of the produced content;
  • the technical part is delegated to contractors, of which there are a great many and prices for services which are dramatically less than the allowance of a full-time specialist or a large agency;
  • strategic tasks and special projects are delegated to creative agencies that specialize in such tasks.

The third problem. Outdated principles

Brands believe in the steadfastness of the rules from the annual return in memes of 2007, when content on social networks is more often and in forty minutes, on the knee. And it does not matter that they are diapers or a large consulting company. All make up weekly content plans for 5-100 posts in the topic or without.

At the same time, there are a number of trends and events that in no way take into account this construction:

  • according to my observations, all social networks are now actively cutting off organic traffic in communities, trying to fill the user's tape with only “personal” content. If earlier it concerned only Facebook and Instagram, now the same VKontakte followed this path;
  • small contractors have learned to grasp brand ideas in a matter of days and weeks and implement on a huge number of projects;
  • Tools have appeared in social networks that allow advertising and marketing content to be shown to users outside the community feed.

As a result, the same simple interactives, entertaining gifs and videos, tips and useful materials are now in all communities from MTS to Tambov’s cookie shop.

Worse yet, a simple mass of advertising content that kills organic community reach and subscription conversion and increases the number of posts in the community. It's sad.


  1. Natural amorphous brands and large SMM-agencies

As for brands, we have already dealt with this aspect earlier, speaking about the difficulties of making new decisions and godless bureaucracy.

So let's talk about the amorphousness of large agencies, without which there is nowhere.

In any agency, there are internal regulations for working with content and advertising, which are determined and changed by top management. The logic is trivial: the larger the agency, the more regulations, the more bureaucracy, the more difficult it is to make changes in content strategies and the more difficult it is to introduce new formats and new principles for promoting projects.

That is why if you look at any streaming major player in the market, then there are ideas that are six months or a year. The year in SMM is almost an era.

On the other hand, any small agency "grasps" trends and implements any simple innovation in a matter of hours.

  1. Low financial liquidity to create complex expert content

On my own skin, I was already convinced that it is extremely expensive to create some new stories in the content.

For example, this simple post with interesting facts about Russian business required much more time and effort than creating five or ten simple interactions or advertising posts:

For this infographic to appear in the community, it is necessary to go through the following four circles of hell stage:

  • creative idea: before proceeding with the preparation of the post, will have to dismiss many pans. Something will turn out to be a trash, something unrealizable - in the process of the brainstorm hundreds of ideas and suggestions are dismissed, only a few remain.
  • coordination of ideas: it’s not enough to come up with a cool idea. The customer is the master, and he ultimately decides what should come out in the community. So get ready for the flow of iterations;
  • information search: when you came up with the idea and agreed it with the customer, be ready to go through hundreds and thousands of materials to find all the necessary information;
  • technical implementation: after collecting and selecting information for the post, it is necessary to think about the presentation format (infographics, video, video infographics), visual style and presentation in social networks.

Each of the iterations involves coordination with the customer, which multiplies by about two all the time spent.

And time, as you know, is the main currency in SMM, so it is obvious that it is more profitable to sell simple publications, rather than trying to tackle complicated stories.

On the other hand, it is also more logical for a brand to choose a quantity, it is easier to justify it on pieces of paper.

  1. Global changes in the SMM market

As I have already said, organic coverage is universally clipped, which brings about changes in the approach to SMM as a whole: in a couple of years organic coverage will be scanty, attracting an audience to the brand community is unpromising, promotion of each publication is vital.

How to change


Brands need to rely on the production of complex expert and non-standard content and on the development of complex mechanics of engaging and working with the audience, which:

  • distinguish brands from competitors;
  • will be interested in and engage a social network audience that is fed up with standard content.

Agencies should reconsider the format of working with projects, while refusing to work with brands from the usual vertical regulated approach to promoting communities in favor of more complex stories, as, by the way, they do online publications with native advertising.

The fourth problem. Low payback SMM

I'm just a fan of cheap pretentious articles of the "experts" of the digital market, in which they show "fi" to social networks in terms of increasing sales, preferring the usual image mechanics.

If you look at case studies with the participation of major brands, then in support of the position of "experts", it is rarely a question of the number of applications / sales from this marketing promotion channel. Usually covers, subscriptions and likes (reactions if you are trendy).

In response, brands, which is logical, refer to SMM as a purely image channel for communication with the audience and processing of the negative, which is accompanied by modest marketing budgets compared to multimillion PR stories.

Now mentally go back to the analysis of the community Venus "VKontakte". There are two reasons for such terrible numbers:

  1. Initially, the wrong KPI for the number of subscribers who have been caught up with all sorts of contests and are not a solvent target audience.
  2. Nobody cares, because the brand’s sense for the brand is zero.


  1. Wrong Brand Promotion Strategy

Look at almost any brand promotion strategy - they very often use the concepts of fulfilling long-term promotion tasks and evaluate only the indirect effect of SMM on the growth of consumer demand. In kipiai - coverage, subscribers, likes and mentions that do not bind to specific sales.

Some advertising attempts, which is funny, are also evaluated through the prism of coverage, reactions to advertising posts (he himself was in shock) and, rarely, at the cost of traffic to the site.

I have never seen anyone report on CPL, CAC, conversion and other sales figures. Why - below.

  1. Lobbying image SMM and low qualifications of large SMM-agencies

Any goalkeeper with minimal experience in SMM can easily cope with the task of attracting subscribers through a contest to the content community, but when it comes to building sales through social networks, funnels and other tambourine dances, go find a free specialist who will take on this task .

That is why most agencies ignore the possibility of building sales through social networks, preferring to work with image stories, where maybe the money will not be the same, but the risks are almost nil.

  1. Lack of social networking lead infrastructure

This is how my communication with customers in abbreviated form usually looks like:

- We need sales.

- Ok, we will, tell me who will process the application?

- Ok, not needed.

Working with sales in social networks also requires a fairly large participation from brands, because the processing of leads from social networks is very different from the usual work with hot traffic from contextual advertising.

A lead in SMM is an artificially motivated interest that requires careful processing. The potential client needs to be “pressed”, which requires efforts on the part of the sales manager, who is used to sending a standard letter with the address and information about the order.

To work with such leads, it is necessary to create additional infrastructure, which is an extra headache.

How to change

It is time for the brands to stop listening to idlers. There are already dozens and hundreds of successful sales cases through social networks in volumes on the market.

In the brand promotion strategy, subdivide tasks related to sales through social networks and long-term, which is precisely related to image promotion.

These tasks are completely different and it is not necessary to look for a single contractor to solve each one.

In this case, the task of building sales must be approached as responsibly as possible, devoting maximum effort to the creation of an appropriate infrastructure.

Instead of conclusions

If you read the text above, it may seem that I exaggerate or in the industry everything is “well, that's terrible.”

Not really. In recent years, there is a certain trend towards a non-standard approach to the production of content in social networks, which is already being implemented by creative agencies.

On the other hand, brands are now also looking for new approaches to content production, seeing that the target audience reduces activity and loses interest in the content and the mechanics that previously gave positive results.

But the problems are still there and there are still a lot of them, that's why it is about them. Share your opinion on this issue in the comments, I will be glad to your comments. Thanks for attention :-)

Watch the video: 95% of You Will Ignore This 2018 Marketing Strategy. Business Squared Keynote in Australia (September 2019).

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