LONDON: Originality is far more important to the overall success of a social media campaign than other factors like utility and incentives, according to a new Warc report.

Seriously Social, an analysis of social-driven case studies by marketing consultant Peter Field, indicates that creativity has become an essential driver of organic social reach while also boosting paid reach.

In the report, Field analyses shortlisted case studies from the 2015 Warc Prize for Social Strategy, a global competition that rewards smart social and earned media thinking that leads to business results. The competition defines social strategy as any activity designed to generate participation, conversation, sharing or advocacy.

He identifies two currencies for social success: the innate "sharing power" of the social idea and the money required to deliver reach.

Fully 83% of case study authors felt that the originality of the idea was most important to success; some 42% cited utility and 38% a worthwhile cause or experiential element.

Offers and prizes were bottom of the list. "While this tactic is often cited by brands as a preferred strategy for social, it does not drive long-term effects and value for the brand," Field noted.

The second, literal, currency is investment in paid social, since changes in social media algorithms have restricted brands' ability to achieve exposure without paying for reach.

In 2015, the average budget of shortlisted campaigns had increased almost 40% from the average budget in 2014.

One consequence of this trend has been a shift in the timescales marketers are working to as they need to demonstrate returns from social investment.

Field reported there is now a greater short-term focus, which "has seen a reduced emphasis on using long-term measures of brand equity, and reduced usage of emotions, storytelling and consumer-generated content in the campaigns".

All this points to an emphasis on short-term sales rather than longer-term brand building.

Peter Field will be discussing his takeaways from this in-depth analysis of the world's most effective social media campaigns in a webinar on Wednesday 28th October at 4pm GMT (11am EDT). More details are available on the webinar registration page.

Data sourced from Warc