It has taken a while to get my notes from this key note seminar at the TFMA (Wednesday 25th Feb 2009) event in London together. There was a very interesting panel of speakers with a number of important points raised that should be considered when developing a social media strategy for any business. We’ll be building on some of the points raised in future posts.
On the panel were key representatives from Facebook, Reuters, BBC and YouTube, read on for a summary of the key points raised .
The session opened by explaining the success of social media marketing in President Obama’s campaign for the White House. It was the first time that social media had been used on such a scale in a political race and was used to great effect by Obama’s team to gain massive advantage in terms of winning support and engagement from voters.
Blogging was discussed as an important element of any social media strategy. Pete Clifton, Head of Editorial Development at the BBC, commented that his view and that pushed at the BBC, was if the content is no good there is no point in having a blog. Blogs need to be updated regularly and provide value. Key to this is that the person responsible for the blog needs to be prepared for the commitment (although it doesn’t look like Pete is as his blog was last updated 9 months ago – at the time of writing). He explained that the stronger the focus of the blog the more likely it is to provide value. Interestingly he commented on how his editorial team are using blogs to explain the difficult decisions that they make and how they can use it as a device for being open and accountable.
This really reinforces the advice that we give to our customers on blogging for business. Through out the discussions, there was a recurring theme that marketing needs to be authentic. Customers are much savvier to marketing and respond much better to honest messages. Blogging is a fantastic way of presenting an open insight into your business or organisation and expressing its personality.
Tim Faircliff, General Manager at Reuters Media explained some of the challenges and opportunities social media is presenting at Reuters. How it is very important that they integrate the latest technology without undermining their core values. He explained how the business’s core values are clearly set out for all members of the business. He also stated the importance of having an anchor around an individual or subject when using social media. This point reinforces the message of focus when using blogs and social media.
Another interesting example that Tim raised was Twitter. He explained how their lead business editor David Schlesinger posted on his Twitter feed from the Davos World Economic Forum. These tweets beat the Reuters wire and apparently caused a bit of stir.
Stephen Haynes, UK Sales Director at Facebook, was asked about his view on Facebook’s meteoric rise to success. His view was that it was Facebook’s simplicity, its ability to encourage users to express themselves and the priority of the whole business to put users first, that are the secrets to its success.
A question was posed about where a not for profit should start in the world of social media promotion. The advice was to look at it as a long term strategy. Facebook would be a good starting point with its primary user demographic between 24 and 40. Creating a page on Facebook and allowing supporters to engage with the brand would then drive awareness to friends through their newsfeeds.
Marmite was given as a good example of a brand making use of a Facebook page for engaging with customers. Using the love it or hate it approach Marmite has built a substantial following on Facebook, providing an important marketing channel for the brand.
Another important concept expressed by the panel was that brands are owned by the consumers not the companies that legally own them. This is the power of social media to tap into the real owners of the brand the consumers, get feedback on it and engage in real dialogue with the people whose opinion will really affect the success of the brand.
The challenge of how to measure the success of social media marketing was raised, especially advice on which are the best metrics to use. Pete Clifton explained that the BBC bases their metrics around measuring unique users against weekly targets and expected targets for the year.
User interaction was also a key factor; however he expressed the BBC’s challenge with the current levels of volume of user generated content and how it should be managed. He also explained that the BBC was going to be much freer in letting more of the content go, to maintain the reach of the business. He gave the example of BBC produced and hosted video content which will be able to be taken and placed on own readers own blogs and websites, so that it can be consumed where ever viewer are most comfortable consuming the media.
A marketing director of a consumer FMCG brand expressed that whilst they loved using social media for themselves, how terrified they were of how to protect their brand. This really came back to the message that the business doesn’t own the brand the customers do. The example of using Mentos and diet coke to create a fountain was used. Coke tried repeatedly to prevent the video being shown on YouTube. However, they finally realised that it was a great marketing opportunity. The message was that there is always going to be good and bad feedback and that it was best not to try to control but embrace the energy to your advantage and to act on the feedback it is now so much easier to receive.
Brands that are completely open and embrace the openness of social media get a much better response. Negative comments generate positive comments
Pete Clifton from the BBC explained how twitter is changing the traditional media landscape. He gave the example of the Mumbai bombings where twitter allowed their journalists to tap into exactly what was happening to real people on the ground. He also gave the example of how the technology editor can use it to tap into bang up to date user experiences of software and the latest technology releases.
Another question was raised by WPP a leading advertising agency, who expressed that they were finding that social media isn’t generating returns.
To counter this the example of Youtube was given. Bruce Daisley explained that the site is very big with under 34 audiences. Monty Python episodes were very commonly viewed on the site and Monty Python kept fighting to have them removed. But then they realised that it could be used to promote their full films and DVDs. Using this realisation drove up sales of Monty Python DVDs by 23,000 percent, pushing them to second in the Amazon chart.
Closing comments expressed by the panel were as follows:
- Advertising formats are going to change significantly over the next few years, becoming far more interactive
- There will continue to be an explosion in the mix of business models, with Spotify as an example of this
- Traditional media sites like the BBC will be embracing more of the functionality like Facebook
With the closing thoughts:
- Transparency is vital to success– Barrack Obama
- Be yourself – don’t do a Cillit bang and try to be something you are not
- Nobody is in control
Social Media Marketing