Part two of a five-part interview series about the challenges and opportunities that social media presents to the brand idea.
To succeed in social channels, marketers can embrace one of the things that social media does best: the sharing of content. Social channels have a voracious appetite for content—users want to comment, like, tweet, blog, and pin. Branded content answers those needs by offering up entertaining and stimulating material. But, as Ingrid Bernstein, Director of Experience at JWT New York, tells me in our interview, marketers need to take on strategic and production hurdles to turn their brand into a content brand.
What do you see as the greatest challenge for brands making a foray into social media?
When you’re in social media, there’s much more need for real-time production. I think that’s one of the biggest pain points for brands right now. Brands need the resources and ability to do it, but also the body memory within those organizations that are used to the cadence and process of ad creation. These are very, very different things. Brands often try to bring that same ad creation process to content that should in reality be more real-time—a bit more loose, a little less precious, more culturally relevant, more timely.
What else are marketers typically struggling with as they invest in social media?
Another thing that I think is really difficult—this is the elephant in the room—is the ROI piece. What’s in it for them? Brands have a hard time figuring that out. There’s a really good reason for that: it is really hard to figure out. What is a Facebook ‘Like’ worth to a brand? How do you quantify that?
Building an ROI model for a brand is quite elusive for most brands. Part of the challenge is that brands advertise because they want to sell more and sometimes it’s hard to measure the impact of a social media strategy on that outcome. There are all these other intermediary outcomes. Things like the number of ‘Likes’, the amount of comments, the amount of social validation, the amount of participation, the amount of sharing. Brands have to be comfortable with that being a measureable goal.
One of the things we’re seeing in the marketplace is pressure for all brands to become content brands. Is that a realistic path for all brands?
One of the factors we take into account with brands that want to get into content marketing is asking: “Is there a white space for that brand?” Is there a place that they can add value in a way they can own within that category?
When brands make content they aren’t competing with other brands; they’re competing with other publishers and other content creators. If you’re in the beauty space for example, it’s very hard to find white space as a brand. The same is true of culinary food based brands. It can be done; it’s just that finding that own-able territory is the big challenge, and the key to success.
How do you judge whether an idea will be a success in social media?
One of the biggest things I think about when I look at ideas is, “Will someone want to do this?” We talk a lot about value exchange—whether we’re asking more of people than we’re giving them. This is a very fundamental question that has to be asked. What will actually motivate people to want to participate? If there’s not something in it for them, there are so many other things competing for their time.
Be sure to watch this space for a new interviews each day, as well as the white paper Why the Brand Idea Still Matters in the Age of Social Media on February 15th.