Stop campaigning and start committing


We had great news last week when we got the go ahead from Ford to continue into next quarter with This is Now, one of the pan-European campaigns we’ve been working on with them, meaning it will reach its 1st year anniversary in September.

Aside from being an amazing achievement for the team here at We Are Social who have been working so hard on it all of this time, it made me reflect on a discussion Sandrine had with Neil Perkin and Asi Sharabi in the comments of a post Neil wrote about the campaign just after it had launched.

Both Neil and Asi referenced Paul Isakson’s presentation on modern brand building:

Which has this killer quote:

Start looking at your marketing as a progressive story instead of as quarterly campaigns

Now this is something that all of us who have drunk the social media Kool-Aid take as gospel (and rightly so), but it’s often hard for both agencies and clients alike to actually implement in practice.

Although we’re finding progressive clients at all sorts of brands who get this, there are others who are perhaps more nervous of such a wholesale change in their marketing practices.

Then there are the structural issues to be overcome – Brand Managers typically change roles internally every two years and Marketing Directors don’t hang around much longer, which it makes it hard for any real long term commitment (especially if people new to the roles are keen to make their mark with a break from the past).

There’s also the question of the client’s other marketing activity (and their other agencies). It’s important that all of their marketing, from their advertising campaigns to their PR and experiential activity, works in unison and makes up a coherent whole and do not sit as isolated strands. Social media should be no different.

We have our own thoughts on this on how to deal with this dichotomy (and I have to say, we also have plenty of great case studies of successful short term social media campaigns), but it’s always more convincing to hear it from others. Over to Forrester’s Josh Bernoff:

Social [media campaigns] take a while to build, but last a long time. Think about the effort it takes to get people reading your blog, following your Twitter feed, viewing your YouTube videos, joining your community, or friending your Facebook page. They all start with zero viewers, but the more they grow, the more powerful they become.

Ad campaigns move at a faster pace. More importantly, they have a beginning and an end. You rent a chance to get some attention for a few months, then you see whether you moved the needle.

Since advertising people often get responsibility for social elements of marketing, this creates a fundamental disconnect. Marketers who tap into these two forms of communication can get whipsawed – the social builds too slowly, and the campaign ends too quickly, to make it easy to synchronize them. Even when they do succeed, there’s huge waste. If you’ve assembled 100,000 customers into a community behind your brand, what happens when you’re done with them? Send them a thank you email and say good bye? That’s a tragic waste.

The answer, as my colleague, Sean Corcoran, discovered in the research behind his report “Using Social Applications In Ad Campaigns”, means thinking of social fans as an asset that you can build with a campaign and then tap over and over again. To do this, you must also make sure you connect with and feed them between campaigns, to keep them interested.

Read the rest of Josh’s post over at the Groundswell blog