THE BLOG
09/28/2016 04:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Three Ways to Transform A Brand Through Social Media

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Alec McNayr, Co-Founder and Head, McBeard

With so many distractions in the advertising business––trying to win awards, new business, and creative street cred––it’s sometimes easy to forget what’s at the heart of this endeavor: bringing people together. Try watching the latest Apple spot without feeling the urge to call Facetime your family. You can’t, because that commercial wasn’t just a commercial––it was advertising elevated to a poignant emotional connection.

That feeling is why we marketers do what we do. But so much can get in the way and keep us from that purity of purpose. Technical complexity distracts us. Rapid, unpredictable shifts in media consumption stymies us. Internal and client politics can take us down the wrong path. We fight an agency arms race to chase down every hot micro-trend and in doing so, squash it.

And in doing so, we turn moments ripe for real, human connection into a dirty word: an ad.

Is it any surprise, then, that when people discover that they have the ability to stop seeing ads, they do so immediately? But even as they dodge, duck, dip, dive, and every ad they can, they expect brands to cater to them--even entertain them!-- in the exact way they want, on the platform of their choice, when they want it.

In a post-website centric marketing landscape, it’s unlikely for fans to find you unless you’re hanging out where they live everyday--on social platforms.

I will posit to you that creative campaigns led by traditional, mass media strategy are too cumbersome to meet the multi-platform demands of today’s audience.

I fully believe that now, with all the tools and strategy we have available in 2016, you can re-engineer your advertising strategy to put social first, instead of being an afterthought. Instead of just “slapping the TV spot on the Facebook,” you can test and learn and listen on social platforms first to better inform your traditional tactics. Social first.

Lean into this new mode of multi-platform, video-centric community building, supported with an intelligent paid media strategy, to achieve an advertising trifecta: precision, feedback and connection.

Precision

It wasn’t too long ago that the term “social media marketing” was a proxy for simply being on Facebook––the only social destination that mattered. Now, there are several platforms for audiences to spend their time, which means more places your brand needs to create an engaging presence that speak to the “why” behind audience behavior. With a cross-platform approach, it’s possible to reach the same person on multiple channels with completely different messaging and visuals. This is doable because every platform allows audiences the opportunity to express themselves differently depending on why they’re using the digital space, whether it be creation, collection, sharing or listening.

Understanding why and how your audience is using a social platform is critical to creating content that makes real connections and builds relationships. And, when you pair those deep audience insights and honest human psychology with the razor sharp targeting tools available across major social networks, you can create a very effective and precise paid media approach.

Feedback

In order to keep your approach nimble, it’s important to consider two types of feedback from your social media consumers. The first is aggregate, which includes data science, mass listening, and reporting. When employed properly, it can build your case to building a master strategy based on real learnings. But it only tells half the story; the rest of which address the second type of feedback: human conversation. While less scalable, being able to act, sound, and feel like another human actually receives the best response. It adds “delight” into the otherwise cold, analytical conversation.

Brands that utilize both types of feedback have the best chance at fully understanding fans enough to inform an entire campaign, from KPIs to creative to budget. This is especially pertinent with social media because it’s the only marketing platform that encompasses both the dissemination of content and the ability to immediately share it. For that reason, it’s the best channel to receive a steady feedback loop, where creative generates a response and that response informs creative.

Considering the power this type of data provides, brands have an opportunity that really didn’t exist before this year––to use social media as a vehicle to drive larger investments in more traditional channels. Brands and marketers are now able to use social campaign insights and creative to inform out of home, print, and TV--all more efficiently than before.

Connection

The result of this precision targeting and feedback leads to real connection with individuals; a relationship with fans that lasts longer than 30 seconds. Social media is inherently designed to accommodate thousands of touch points, instead of just a few. And, with social, brands have the chance to humanize engagement with fans in a way that just isn’t feasible on other less malleable channels.

At the end of the day, the precision, feedback, and connection aren’t nearly as dynamic without great content. What is great content? It’s finding that sweet spot between what the brand desires and an audience loves. Once you discover what that is, you can go love (and measure) it together.

For more discussion around creative, data-driven content strategy, social platforms, engagement, video optimization, monetization and the ever-changing digital landscape, join me and a panel of guests (Freeform, Mattel, Mary Kay) for a conversation around successful brand transformations at AdWeek, Thursday, September 29 at 10:30am.