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Social media shift under way

News, 23 June 2015

CANNES: Brands will have to rethink how they use social media during the coming decade, increasing their investment in paid media, addressing the rise of Chinese platforms and moving away from the prevailing culture of self-promotion, a leading industry figure has said.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions Festival, Peter Kim, chief digital officer at Cheil Worldwide, told his audience that popular culture was "reinforcing the idea that being social is actually about self-promotion", Marketing reported.

"We are long overdue for a course correction, which will require brands to stop feeding consumer egos and start working on platforms for social good," he stated.

Some companies are already embracing a marketing trend based around purpose: Dove and John Lewis, for example are often held up as exemplars of purposeful brands, while Unilever CEO Paul Polman has argued that a purpose-driven business can be profitable.

China is another area that brands will have to address, as Kim contrasted the experience of shopping festivals. Tech giant Alibaba alone recorded sales in the 24 hours of Singles Day more than twice the sales of all ecommerce sites in the US on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Alibaba and its rivals are now expanding into international markets and brands will need to react accordingly.

Kim also emphasised the need for brands to abandon any lingering thoughts of reaching consumers organically on social media. "It's like Facebook offered brands a five-year free trial and now companies will have to pay in order to retain that same level of functionality," he said.

He suggested that organic social media would shift to programmatic, as "it has the ability to let publishers de-clutter sites and get advertising more relevant and be native in a way consumers will accept".

Programmatic and advertising context is the subject of one of the sessions that Warc is running on strategy, planning and effectiveness in the Palais at Cannes tomorrow (Wednesday). Creative Effectiveness judges will share their discussions and explain why the winners stood out, while other sessions will cover learnings from the Warc 100 and the future of strategy.

On Thursday an Admap Prize event at Le Rooftop will see senior marketers and agency staff debating the conflict between data and creativity.

Data sourced from Marketing, The Drum; additional content by Warc staff