Brands should get more sociable on Social Media

Habib Amir, Head of Digital, Clarion Communications

Stream 2011 delegates agree 'Not every post needs to be about selling'

Brands need to campaign less and instead become more sociable when it comes to social media – one of my conclusions from Stream 2011, the three-day global ‘unconference’ organised by WPP Digital.

This year the September event took place in Athens, Greece, with around 350 of the most innovative minds in the creative, media and technology industries coming together to debate the future of communications and technology.

Speakers at Stream, now in its fifth year, included senior digital experts from major brands including Facebook, Google, Coca-Cola, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Adobe and Ford. A reoccurring message at this year’s Stream is that brands need to think more about engaging with, and less about selling to, audiences on Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks.

It’s vital for a brand to offer its audience more than just information on products and services - too often in the past there’s been too much focus on a brand’s core offering in the social media arena, but increasingly an audience wants a much better reason to stay around.

The underlying message from Stream 2011 was clear: All digital presence will soon become ‘social’ and there is more to ‘social’ then creating a social media page. The key is in a cohesive social strategy that fulfils the brand objectives, while offering the audience unique value – so certainly not every post needs to be about selling.

Another reoccurring theme at Stream was the inter-agency collaboration; There needs to be a more consistent collaboration across agencies, to ensure the core narrative is right from the outset. The core narrative, both for online and offline in particular requires PR and digital agency involvement at the start of a campaign.

And according to one well-known global brand at this year’s Stream, digital PR at the outset of a marketing campaign – and then in regular on-going bursts - is vital, as the brand believes it can provide better long-term ROI than a multi-million-ad campaign.

My Top 10 Learnings from Stream 2011:
  1. Marketing activity which can’t live across all platforms will sooner or later become void

  2. Brand channels on social media need to offer audiences a much better reason for staying than merely information on products and services

  3. Digital campaigns mostly fail because the core narrative is not right – both online and offline planning requires PR involvement from the outset

  4. Brands and their communications agencies need to work closely with digital agencies to get the tone right

  5. Brands need to stop campaigning and start being more sociable on social media channels – not every post has to be about selling

  6. It’s better to execute regular chunks of Digital PR activity than multi million pound ad campaigns for longer-term ROI

  7. Support user generated content and communities by being a part of it - only then you can shape its narrative

  8. Create rich and sophisticated digital communications with meaningful narratives but while planning for tomorrow, don’t forget the audience expectations today

  9. Which agency should manage a brand’s social media?  Whichever knows the brand’s heritage, tonality and PR

  10. The concepts of ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ marketing are no longer – they are now both one

More info from Stream:

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