LONDON: Marketers risk being distracted from the fundamentals of brand-building by chasing new platforms, according to a leading social marketer.

In an exclusive video interview with Warc, Pete Blackshaw, Nestlé's global head of digital and social media, argued: "We tend to ignore the fundamentals as we pursue the shiny new object."

Brand-builders who remained focused on "the core fundamentals of marketing" tended to "get ahead the fastest and justify the biggest budgets," he added.

Blackshaw is the chairman of judges for the Warc Prize for Social Strategy, a global case study competition to find social ideas that drive business results. The competition is free to enter and has a $10,000 Prize fund.

In the interview, Blackshaw stressed that it was important to anchor social activity to pre-existing brand truths, then build from there.

He referred to his own company program, Brand Building the Nestlé way (Warc subscribers can read more on this approach in this article). Its principles include creating engaging brand experiences, knowing the consumer deeply, and delighting with product experiences. Social, he stated, flowed from all these different areas. "What could be more social than engaging experiences?" he asked.

Empathy was another important attribute for a social marketer, as Blackshaw noted the tendency to jump into a conversation without listening. "In this new conversational economy we really have to listen before we engage," he declared.

That meant fostering discipline and sometimes going more slowly than one would like.

At Nestlé, "We're feeling very, very good about the impact of digital overall in building our brand franchises," said Blackshaw. And he outlined the ROBBI concept – return on brand building and investment.

He said social, if done correctly, could have a significant impact on such metrics as reach and engagement. Social was also a route to a "de facto sales force" of advocates.

Again, if managed well, such advocates would have a positive influence and, he observed in an aside, "may even be your best defence force if your brand gets into trouble".

On the subject of the Warc Prize for Social Strategy, Blackshaw revealed he was looking for entries with ideas based on great consumer insights. He hoped to see how brands had then leveraged the power of social "whether conversational or advocacy or amplification or earned media" to bring those ideas to life.

The first 10 judges for the Prize have been announced today. They include executives from Unilever, McDonald's, Diageo and Facebook.

Data sourced from Warc