Too many companies create silos to wall off their social media presence from the rest of their marketing efforts, argued a panel at Social Media Week on Monday. Social media should be a part of every component of a brand’s media strategy — even its paid and owned media — provided it’s done in a transparent, honest way that respects the audience and maintains the integrity of the brand.
Social integration starts with breaking down barriers between personnel in various departments, said MSNBC Senior Director of Field Sales Moritz Loew. It’s important to get everyone responsible for some aspect of the brand in a room and get them to understand that social is a tool and not a department that one person owns. Social is something that has to touch every part of the brand. “Now that all media is social … all media campaigns should be inherently social,” said Tom Beeby, executive creative director and Beeby Clark + Meyler.
Jenn Creegan, Microsoft Advertising’s senior director of brand advertising, argued that social components belong in every part of the purchase funnel — whether you’re trying to build awareness of the product or trying to get customers to tell their friends about their purchases. Ideally, users will experience a kind of continuity between a brand’s earned, owned and paid media presences — and social media will be common bond they all share, she added.
Some companies even use social comments as a component of traditional display ads, the panelists note. If a brand has great social engagement, having a running crawl of Twitter mentions can act as a steady stream of testimonials within a paid ad. Loew said advertisers can think of using social testimonials as “micro [user generated content].” Beeby added that while it’s a good idea to filter such social crawls for profanity, it’s not necessary to weed out negative comments. Being willing to showcase negative mentions can enhance the authenticity of a brand’s image — particularly if the brand is willing to step in and address those concerns in real time.
Beeby expressed frustration with the fact that so many brands are willing to let agencies handle every other part of their public life, but worry about getting help with social, out of fear that it will damage the authenticity of the brand. Beeby argues that ad agencies have long been stewards of brands’ identities — and that as long as the company is willing to communicate with the agency, the agency can continue to speak authentically for the brand online.
The panelists argued that who controls the presence isn’t as important as ensuring the brand has a vibrant, consistent identity. Brands need to be able to explain what makes them unique and interesting in a way that’s consistent across all platforms. “Advertising gives brands a voice, social media gives brands a personality,” said MediaVest Senior Vice President Jon Halvorson.
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