Marketing information company Warc’s “Seriously Social – a casebook of effectiveness trends in social media campaigns” report found of 800 award-winning marketing case studies from 2012, cases including social media activity were shorter in duration, involved lower budgets and were less likely to cite a quantified business impact.
The report says: “Many brands still view social initiatives as short-term and experimental…social media might not be the right choice for every context, but in order for marketers to extract more value from their investments in this field, it is time for social media to be taken more seriously.”
Overall, cases with a social media element accounted for more than 55 per cent of the 800 case studies in the sample, but only 51 per cent won the top industry awards such as the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions, IPA Effectiveness Awards and the DMA UK Awards.
Of the sample studied, those that included social media elements were most often (44 per cent) found in the lowest media budget category of $500,000 or under, but only 28 per cent of those were gold award-winning.
The authors of the report urge marketers to adopt a “social mindset”, prioritising the creation of content that consumers need or want to share with a clear brand idea – such as P&G’s Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like Responds to the Internet” campaign. Including key “social media currency” staples such as breaking taboos, unusual use of celebrities and calls to participe are also likely to lift the virality of campaigns, the report says.
The report urges marketers to move away from treating social media like a project and demand standards of proof from their agencies or insight teams to prove the commercial effectiveness of campaigns – rather than relying on metrics such as impressions or “largely unproven assumptions” about the value of likes and tweets – in order to drive up budgets and duration.
Warc advises: “Identify the single most pressing ROI question about social media within your organisation. Consider diverting resource from a planned campaign element into a research study to tackle this. In addition to providing valuable research, the study may help you to win over peers who are skeptical about your social initiatives.”
Of all the brands featured in the analysis, Unilever was found to be the “most social” – with 46 award-winning case studies with a social element. Its closest rival in the list was also one of its closest business rivals P&G, which had 31 winning case studies (see above-right).
Warc has indexed all case studies on its service according to the type of media channels used. Since 2009, the annual proportion of case studies on Warc that use social media has tripled. Of all the business sectors indexed by the analysis, the public sector had the highest proportion of social media campaigns and utilities the fewest.