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Back to basics for social marketing

News, 13 April 2016

LONDON: Marketers need to re-engage with well-established, traditional principles of marketing science if they want to make their social media campaigns more effective, an industry figure has said.

Contrary to what some people may wish to believe, social media isn't really a new way of doing things, claims Gareth Price, Head of Insight at The Social Partners and a judge for this year's Warc Prize for Social Strategy.

In an article for Warc, How to use the few to get to the many: what marketing science means for effective social strategy, he maintains that old-fashioned metrics like reach remain a critical component of any successful campaign unlike intermediate measures such as click-through rates.

Marketers are now grudgingly accepting the need for paid social to achieve reach, Price points out, and they should revisit other key principles of how advertising works – as outlined by the likes of Byron Sharp – to understand how they can still be applied in this newer context.

"Despite all the available evidence, the way social media marketing in particular is practised today continues to be underpinned by philosophies that run counter to … established truths," he writes.

Price cites research from Facebook showing that, in 99% of the campaigns it evaluated, sales generated from online branding ad campaigns were from people that saw, but did not interact with, ads. "Just like TV advertising, it is reach that drives revenue for online brand marketers."

And while social can offer tight targeting opportunities, some degree of "wastage" is desirable, he adds. "Reaching people who aren't presently considering buying from a category helps to create shared cultural meanings around the brand that strengthen price sensitivity."

Social media does, however, offer a unique opportunity to involve people in campaigns that isn't always present in traditional media.


However, says Price, "we have to recognise and acknowledge these people effectively offer a way to drive additional, earned reach (on top of paid media) and, in most instances, are not the ultimate target audience".

Entries for the 2016 Warc Prize for Social Strategy are being accepted up until Thursday 28th April. The Prize, a global competition with a $10,000 prize fund, is free to enter and open to clients and agencies in any discipline.

Data sourced from Warc