LONDON: The winners of the inaugural Warc Prize for Social Strategy will be announced today in London, with 18 papers from 12 different markets picking up awards.

The Prize set out to find the best example of a marketing strategy that drives conversation, sharing, participation or advocacy. Entries were asked to show how their strategies had delivered credible business results.

Some 37 cases, from a total of 130 entries, were shortlisted, reflecting a wide mix of social and 'earned media' marketing ideas from around the world. Of these, 18 will win Gold, Silver or Bronze awards, and six will win a share of the $10,000 prize fund.

"I was really impressed with both the quantity and the quality of entries," said Prize Chairman Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital and Social Media at Nestlé.

He added that the Prize had left him "really encouraged" about the efforts to show the business impact of social strategy and he hoped to take advantage of what he had learned "from the origination of the core idea and the insight all the way to the social strategy and ultimately to... business results".

Fellow judge Molly Flatt, from word-of-mouth agency 1000heads, echoed those sentiments. "People were able to focus on what their strategy was doing rather than other aspects that had driven results in the campaign," she said.

She distinguished between social strategy and social media. Social media was simply a tool, she argued, while she was seeking to reward strategies that were "inherently conversational, about relationships, about encouraging deep emotion and deep behaviours".

Michelle Klein, vp of content, digital and communications at Smirnoff, singled out those cases "clearly pointing out the unique benefit that social had on the overall business impact", and welcomed a distinct shift away from simply counting impressions, clicks and likes.

She saw clients and agencies alike "embracing a changing tide of media" so that social was becoming "much more part of our vernacular and planning process than it was a few years ago".

The winners will be announced at an event at the London offices of Deloitte.

Data sourced from Warc