Is social ready to lead campaigns over TV?



In a recent article published in B&T, Julian Ward, MD of We Are Social Australia talks up the opportunity of using social media as a conversation starter to lead campaigns.

Marketers who launch a brand campaign with a social media push instead of a television ad have “backed themselves” and show more belief in their idea, according to a social expert.

Julian Ward, managing director of We Are Social, said he “respects” clients that lead with social. Qantas and Virgin Mobile are two big brands that recently launched social driven campaigns.

“In backing social as the lead communication, they have in turn backed themselves – basically a belief that the idea will resonate,” Ward said to B&T.

“The alternative is throwing a TV campaign against the wall and hoping some of it sticks. A fly on the wall might be able to tell us what people do in ad breaks?”

However Sam Mutimer, director of social media at Think Tank Social, prefers to have social follow a television advert.

“I personally think right now it [social] would come after with a big driver from a TV ad to social,” Mutimer said.

But Ward believes a social platform is a good place to launch an above the line campaign if it is done well.

Last week Qantas launched a new campaign as it rebranded to the ‘Spirit of Australians’ but shunned television in favour of social media, print, digital and outdoor.

Meanwhile, Virgin Mobile started the ball rolling for its ‘Fair Go Bro’ campaign with a digital spend and social media activity.

While television is set to be utilised by both brands at a later date it is a different tactic for big advertisers such as Qantas, which spent an estimated $32.5m between May 2011 and April this year according to Nielsen.

What do you think of starting a campaign on a social platform before taking it to TV? Is it the future?

The growing reach of social sites is making marketers re-think their ‘television first’ mentality.

“There’s a noticeable trend, but one that can often be explained by simply launching a campaign where the eyeballs are,” Tom Kelshaw, head of digital at Maxus, said.

“Social platforms are no longer niche – Facebook and YouTube can attract more audience than specific shows over a few days,

“We’re seeing this more in the USA than Australia, where audience fragmentation on TV (especially amongst young males) makes it incredibly hard to ensure awareness for a launch.”

Qantas will use TV for its Olympics activity and Virgin – which frequently launches its campaigns on social platforms – to give its new execution added reach.

Nicole Bardsley, head of brand and acquisition at Virgin Mobile Australia, believes more brands will start to adopt the social first strategy.

“It is very topical but from a Virgin point of view it’s something that we consider ourselves a pace setter in,” Bardsley told B&T.

“Social media for us is really the key for getting our message out there,

“From Virgin Mobile’s point of view we can’t spend as much as the other telcos because we don’t have as much to get our message out there.”

Virgin Mobile spent an estimated $7.3m on main media between May 2011 and April this year, down from $12.6m a year earlier according to Nielsen.

The telco’s earlier social driven ‘Fair ride for all’ campaign resulted in a 30% increase in traffic to the Virgin Mobile website and strong engagement levels, Bardsley said.

The aim of Virgin Mobile’s current social push is to create a “ground swell” and to allow consumers to engage with the idea.

Kelshaw believes this is a key benefit of social led campaigns.

“Choosing to introduce a new product or positioning on social channels gives customers a chance to respond, ask questions, comment and yes, even critique,” he said.

“A social feedback loop is two-way, giving brands an immediate indicator of perception around a launch, but they have to be ready to respond.”