The role of social media for brands is changing, with increased concern over the true value of social platforms. However, despite recent scepticism, it seems brands are continuing to increase ad spend on these channels.
A report released today (April 9) by the IAB, PwC and YouGov, shows that digital is growing with digital ad spend up by 14% to £7.2bn for 2014. This includes social, where ad spend grew by 65% to £922m in 2014, with mobile accounting for more than half (56%) of social media spend and nearly a quarter (23%) of digital spend.
Here are some of the key takeaways from yesterday’s event, which focused on giving brands advice on how to finesse their digital and social marketing strategies.
Align social with business objectives
American Express has over 800,000 followers on Twitter and five million ‘likes’ on Facebook, but Carl Barkley, its head of social media and customer experience said that the brand needed an overhaul of its social strategy to align it with business objectives.
Barkley explained: “We wanted to leverage social in that we’d spend money to gain back for the business.”
To achieve this, Barkley said American Express started to look at its social content as a supply chain across its 165 markets around the world.
Not only did the brand ensure a more streamlined strategy by making sure that teams across sales, PR and marketing were aligned with a core brand purpose, but also that there were the right tools and processes in place to ensure that there is a common language for measuring KPI’s.
“The hardest part of trying to galvanise teams together is the need to structure meetings and systems and agreeing how we do this across markets,” said Barkley.
Have a consistent tone of voice
In Europe, Honda says it previously had a dispersed brand presence across social, with varying logos, themes and tone of voice. Claire Dunford, European social media manager for Honda said that over the past year the brand worked on creating a unified brand message across these channels.
Dunford said: “There is too much content out there and as a brand it is really important to stand out.”
Honda overcame the issue by defining a brand purpose on social, by deciding on the essence of how the brand should act on social and choosing 3-4 topic points to base content plans on.
The direction of brand purpose comes from a central team where training and governance takes place to ensure that key messages are aligned across Europe.
“It is absolutely key to write down and tell people internally what you are doing with creators, stakeholders and throughout,” added Dunford.
Find the right influencers
Brands across industries including Snickers, Nationwide and Domino’s have started to use influencers as a tool to spread brand awareness, but Martina Mattioni, influence and partnerships manager for TMW Unlimited said that it is essential that brands choose the correct influencer or it may have a negative impact.
Mattioni describes an ideal influencer as: “Someone who is an expert or passionate about a topic and has a network of people dedicated to what they have to say.”
For brands to decide on who is best for their objectives they must consider three things; the appropriateness of the influencer of the brand, whether the influencer is an advocate of the brand and who they are actually influencing, according to Mattioni.
So, as an example, she pointed to margarine brand Stork, which launched a campaign with a creative named Ruth Clemon, who didn’t necessarily have a wide scale for audience. However, she had a small network of loyal followers likely to be an appropriate audience for the brand.
There are also notable examples of brands getting it wrong. ITV2 was set to launch a new show with prominent social media influencer and comedy character Dapper Laughs, but it was quickly cancelled when the creative (and its creator) were criticised for inappropriate and sexist content.