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  • The digital citizen 10:41 am on September 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Digital PR, , flickr, myspace, online advertising, ,   

    Social Media campaigns: Whose job is it? 

    A war has started in media land. Who is going to own the digital PR space?

    By digital PR I mean social media campaigns that incorporate the creation of content, organisation of events etc on social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or Flickr.

    Unlike most wars, this is a 3 way war, the parties being:

    • Traditional PR agencies
    • Digital departments of traditional media buying and planning agencies and
    • Digital creative agencies

    They all claim that this space belongs to them.

    PR agencies claim de facto rights, although they have, so far, failed to show exactly why they should be responsible for digital PR campaigns, other than they are PR agencies. Replicating offline campaign will not work with online and a better understanding of the power of social media is required, which I am not convinced that PR agencies have. Firstly an online press release will not work, it is not engaging enough, in fact it seems patronising within the social media environments, where dialogue is key. Secondly, when it comes to online, you need to be ready for the public’s reaction; this means that the responsibles for these campaign have got to be able to move swiftly towards any directions required by the users, being ready to respond to a great or a not that great public reaction. A great degree of proactiveness but a greater degree or reactiveness is requires when dealing with social media which I am not convinced the traditional PR agencies possess yet.

    Digital departments within media agencies were the first to test advertising, albeit display, on social media. They were the first to understand the importance of some sort of social media presence for their clients. There is no doubt that they have been great contributors to the growth of social media.

    However there is a clash between social media campaigns and what media agencies are employed to deliver to their clients, which is return on investment (ROI). The objective of dvertising is to sell. Social media should not and cannot be used as sales platforms. The results of advertising are scalable, social media are not.

    Also media agencies are strustured in such a way that the planning floors have got the last word on the budget splits. As it is rare to find planners with a sufficient understanding of social media, most of the money still go to TV and press.

    Finally, social media need a long term commitment, not budget coming out of a campaign PO. As long as social media is seeing as part of a campaign only, instead of a stand alone project which aims at engaging the brand with the consumers, clients will not be able to see their real potential.

    Having said that, some media agencies forsaw the growth of social media, creating relevant departments and employing passionate social media strategists. These agencies have got a good chance of winning this war, as long as their agencies understand that they cannot treat these departments the same way they treat their display planning and buying media teams.

    The last contenter in this war are digital creative agencies. Creative agencies need social media campaign ownership, as they predict that the need for display banners will decrease in the future, making digital PR a new source of income for them. However, there is a cultural clash between social media and creative agencies. Web designers tend to focus on how their creations look rather than engagement. Social media campaigns often do not require any creative at all. Creative agencies often fail to build websites that make the customer journey quicker and more pleasant; often they fail to reflect the brand’s culture with their creative executions. How can they be expected to draft social media strategies designed to listen to the consumer and to reflect the values and culture of the brand?

    If I could place a bet, I would put my money on full service digital agencies. There has been a lot of doubt on whether the niche digital agencies can survive at a time that clients consolidate their accounts to save money. Full service digital agencies can offer client teams that consist of creative, PR and media people that can work closely to each other to ensure the utmost consistency in their campaigns. They have a clearer picture of the effect of one medium on the other which puts them in a better position to draft future strategies.

    This is a great chance for the underdog to shine!

  • The digital citizen 11:41 am on August 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

    Social Media Campaigns: The good, the bad and the ugly 

    My clients are increasingly asking me if there is space for social media in their campaigns.

    Personally, I am a loud advocate of social media and their importance in getting your brand heard in the age of dialogue we live in. However, I do not think that all of my clients are ready for social media campaigns, as they are not ready to engage with their audience in the way social media require brands to engage.

    Having seen many successful and unsuccessful social media campaigns, 3 broader categories stand out:

    The good:

    This is a social media campaign that has everything you expect it to have. It is built on the foundations of dialogue. The brand listens and responds to the public.

    But the most important thing is that the brand has a clear vision, an understanding of its position among its competitors and is on a mission to monetise on what it does best, developing at the same time and with the help of the public the areas it might be lacking.

    These brands are gaining new fans purely on the basis of being demographic and honest. People like them because they are allowed to participate and contribute to a team effort. As long as the products and services are equally good, if not better than their social media engagements, these brands are on their ways to great successes.


    The bad:

    Quite often in our office, someone, often me, sends an email around about a new social media campaign that seems exciting. Usually I keep a close eye on them but soon disappointment strikes.

    Some brands use social media to brag about how great they and their products are. The use the social platforms to sell and even worst, they measure the success of their campaigns based on conversions the social media campaign drove, rather than on the buzz and brand awareness created as a result .

    Often these brands are so arrogant that they do not engage in a dialogue, unless it is to have an argument with whoever dared challenged their greatness. The outcome of their campaigns is negative buzz around their brand and unfortunately, negative buzz is not reversable.


    The ugly:

    Some brands do everything right apart from one thing; they don’t know how to keep the conversation going.

    Social media require constant engagement. Brands, apart from enterprises, are also experts in their field. A bank for example can increase its social media profile by advising people on their banking issues. A telecoms company could participate in conversations comparing handsets. A video game manufacturer can engage and challenge gamers and so on.

    But the conversation has to keep going. Because brands who have stopped it will find it very hard to regain the trust of the people who engaged with them in the first place, only to find out that this was just a campaign and not an ongoing collaboration between the brand and the consumer.


    So when my clients ask me whether we could launch a social media campaign my answer is always the same: Are you ready to dedicate the necessary time, effort and resource to make this work? Are you ready to commit to an ongoing and evolving relationship with the consumers? If the answer is yes, them I will be more than happy to help you build your social profile.

    • bezalel 1:31 pm on August 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      A coherent and strong view! 🙂 I tottaly agree. I believe the “bad” are glued to the details and description of the process, rather than the actual results. As for the ugly, a “give to get” mentality plays out with succesfull campaigns.

      People have to be really sure about what their purpose is. They have to be open to feedback and learning from others. Not many people are like that.

      And you should write more. 🙂

  • The digital citizen 6:42 pm on August 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , teens   

    Digital Realism: advertising to teens 

    When advertisers get it wrong, they get it very wrong. And this is exactly what is currently happening with many advertisers’ perception on advertising to teenagers.

    The Morgan Stanley report on how teens consume online media, written by a 15 year old Stanley Morgan intern, came as a shock to the online gurus/experts/coaches, who, with the social media boom, had all of a sudden developed and unfounded expertise in teens advertising.

    To a certain extend I understand why the hype. Social media are exciting; advertisers can use them to apply innovation and stand out. Ambitious people tend to be more involved with social media, understanding that this is where the opportunities lie.

    Furthermore, with the standard display advertising response rates decreasing day on day and year on year, it is natural for agencies to try to find new ways to engage with their clients’ prospective customers.

    But there is a problem; social media strategies should reflect the contemporary society, not a futuristic one. A good social media strategist has a keen interest in and understanding of sociology as well as marketing.

    The numbers speak for themselves:

    The Nielsen Study (June ’09) on the myths and realities of teen media trends explodes the common, among social enthusiasts, myths and gives an honest and holistic picture on the teen media consumption. What it basically says is that teens are normal. And as such they should be treated, approached and advertised to.

    This is the harsh (for social gurus) reality; teens are highly dependent individuals, with limited (if any) spending power. They are time poor due to their school commitments and in their free time they are more concerned about building their social, rather than digital, image. Remember yourselves as teens? did you rather be at home or out and about with your friends?

    Teens are not a standalone social group but part of a society with contemporary priorities and needs. And as these priorities and needs change, our strategies should be drafted within the context of the society we currently live in and not the one we would like to be living in.

    Sociological analysis is therefore key to a successful strategy to reach teens. Sociology, and not imagination, will help advertisers identify where teens can be found; when and where they are more likely to listen; and how and when to speak to them. Social media can then be (a central) part of the overall human centric strategy, taking into consideration the target’s actual lifestyle choices.

    It is about time that social media gurus, experts and coaches stopped the preaching and started thinking, for their own sake and that of their clients. It is about time they applied some realism into their strategies.

    Unfounded and unsupported by sociological facts campaigns not only put our clients in danger of great failures but also geopardise the future credibility on social media as an advertising platforms.

    • bezalel 7:07 pm on August 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I read the report. Initially one is confronted by a strong feeling of certainty: “I know I probably have the wrong view, but it’s not that far from the reality”, I thought. And then one realizes he is, far from it. It’s frightening really. First, because strategies are drawn by “taken for granted” behaviors and second -now, that’s the REALLY scary part- , because everyone in the market knows it. Of course, the Nielsen June 2009 report is no “light courier”. In the report’s introduction, it’s visible to the reader that the media habits of the teenagers, are more taken from granted than argued about in the marketing industry: “Our findings challenge a whole host of assumptions about media habits of this generation (…)”, we read. And then, one assumes (since assumption is clearly a key word here), that advertising runs with ideas that are drawn into doubt. “How teens use media” – “How marketers develop strategies”. 🙂 No defense here, but I find it the hardest task for a society not to get stuck. The opposite is a real challenge.

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