Social media is empowering startup brands and forcing established brands to create new measures of success for their campaigns. The day and a half I spent at the Social Media Strategies conference was a buffet of problems, solutions and more than a few predictions of what lies ahead for the advertising industry in the rapid evolving social media landscape.
My takeaways include restatement of social media marketing basics worthy of repetition and some fresh ideas for you to consider as you move your campaigns forward.
#1 — Social media is motivating brands to provide more responsive customer service
Several speakers expressed that it is essential that brands monitor social media conversations for complaints about their brands and suggesting the right “formula” of on-platform and behind-the-scenes resolution. It’s great that a consumer can voice his or her grievance on Twitter and get a rapid response. It stinks that so many brands have been failing for years to provide this respect for its customers via its support channels. If brands provide better service in response to a tweet than to a phone call, are we going to inadvertently create a culture of public “whining”?
#2 — The microsite may not be dead
Whether a “pop-up” for a launch, to differentiate brands within a large company or to call out a brand’s competitive feature, the microsite concept remains viable. Many companies are using hub and spoke systems, not just to integrate among platforms, but to direct consumers to the correct choice of site within platforms. Moving a consumer between sites carries risks — s/he may get lost along the way or never make it to the next destination. Sometimes, though, content needs to be packaged in smaller, more easily explored doses.
#3 — Location, location, location
No surprise here — location awareness makes social media more like real life. Current mobile applications at the intersection of social and location have just the beginnings of services that use data on where you are, what you like and with whom you are friends as the basis for serving up personalized content, activity recommendations and advertising. It’s possible location-aware social media platforms will soon provide a layer on top of iOS, Android, Windows 7 Mobile, etc. that touch multiple mobile apps.
#4 — Games are important for brands; game mechanics are essential
“Farmville is not the game. Facebook is,” said Bill Goosman of hi5. He also noted that social gaming was viral, not social. David Rosenberg, JWT, observed, “A database of people with common interest can be used to create a ‘game’ on almost any platform, including B2B.” Commenting on Farmville’s popularity with women aged 35 to 50, appsavvy‘s Michael Burke said, “Social gaming killed the soap opera star.” Burke also questioned whether an activity that never ends can be considered a game.
#5 — Without linear media legacy, new brands can use social media as a shortcut to success
Hearing from J&D’s Foods, The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and Cheezeburger Network, one can conclude that by giving your brand a personality that includes a genuine sense of humor, paying close attention to your social media activities and modifying those activities rapidly based on consequences, small brands can achieve big things.
#6 — Letting go is the new aggregation
Clicking on a link in Twitter and being directed to a new site is a nuisance. Clicking on a link in Twitter and being directed to a new site is an act of discovery based on the recommendation of someone who influences you. Quite a two-fer.
#7 to #10 — Pithy quotes always get Neil’s attention
“On the Internet 1.0, no one knew you were a dog. On Internet 2.0, you are telling everyone you’re a dog.” This paraphrases Adweek‘s Brian Morrissey citing an old New Yorker cartoon. He also noted, “Groupon is not whizbang. It’s scalable email.”
“The majority of dollars spent on TV advertising is measured with 15,000 users.” commented StumbleUpon‘s Anthony Napolitano making a point about the nascent field of social media metrics. When asked about an engagement metric, he responded, “No one has done it really well.”
“There are two Twitters. One is an echo chamber and the other are tweets of what people had for lunch or how cute their cats are.” Elisa Camahort Page of BlogHer said this as part of a discussion about how messages need to be different on different platforms. Separately, she noted that the percentage growth of blogs in recent years tracks that of social media in the US.
“A brand has to be its own biggest influencer,” according to Andrea Harrison of Razorfish, while discussing how brand marketing objectives are evolving from creating experiences to creating conversations. I could not agree more.
The bust of Kevin Bacon pictured is made of bacon. J&D’s Foods auctioned it on eBay to raise funds for charity and as a social media promotion.