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Social is a top-down broadcast platform

News, 30 November 2016

LONDON: The most effective social campaigns are using these platforms as broadcast channels to distribute brand-generated content, according to a new Warc report.

In Seriously Social 2016, marketing consultant Peter Field scrutinises data attached to entries to the 2016 Warc Prize for Social Strategy and identifies four major global social marketing trends.

One of these is a shift towards 'top-down' (brand-generated content) and away from 'bottom-up' (consumer-generated content): top-down accounted for 93% of winning cases in this year's Prize.

"Four or five years ago we were told that the future of marketing was about giving consumers control," Field told a launch event in London. "Marketers have voted with their feet and decided that is nonsense. In an age of massive risk aversion, people have gone towards the tried-and-tested."

There has also been a marked increase in the use of content in social campaigns. Some 79% of entrants used content in their social strategy in 2016 compared with 41% in 2015 and just 22% in 2014.

And it is video that is coming to dominate content: increasingly, social is becoming a broadcast channel, the report said. Almost three quarters (73%) of entrants used video as part of their social strategy.

"Social has evolved into a content platform to distribute and amplify multichannel ads," observed Field.

The report also highlighted a focus on strategies that deliver better in the short term – one consequence, Field believes, of the focus on short-term engagement metrics.

"The financial pressures on social campaign budgets, coupled with short-termism and the difficulty of achieving organic reach, are having a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of social campaigns," he said.

The final theme highlighted in the report is a growing maturity in how agencies are combining data with social strategy, with many winning papers demonstrating sophistication in how data is used to inform insights and improve targeting in social strategies.

But, the report added, there is still a lack of robust data in evaluating the effectiveness of social campaigns.

Data sourced from Warc