Social’s role in marketing continues to evolve as it increasingly plays a role in linking brand and performance marketing and in converting engagement into effectiveness via social commerce, according to a new WARC report.

These are among the conclusions in the 2020 Effective Social Strategy Report, which contains insights and themes from the winners of the Effective Social Strategy category in the 2020 WARC Awards and includes an assessment of the implications for advertisers, agencies and media owners alongside contributions from members of the judging panel.

As well the above, the report highlights the need for social strategies to be relevant not just to the audience they’re targeting but also the platform where they run, and observes that brands can learn from the limited budget efforts of non-profits.

Linking brand and performance marketing

A clearly articulated social strategy can help join the dots between brand and performance marketing. When insights mined from social platforms are combined with the right data, it becomes easier to target the right people with the right message at the right time, boosting click-through rates and subsequent engagement.

German Rail did just that with social video showing young Germans how much money and CO2 could be saved through domestic tourism.

S-commerce is on the rise

Social commerce is becoming more prevalent, particularly due to brands accelerating their e-commerce strategies because of lockdowns: 62% of brands say they will decrease their investment in brand advertising in the coming months, while 32% say they will be spending more on e-commerce.

This year’s winners, particularly those in the QSR sector, offer valuable lessons in how to engage people throughout the funnel and convert engagement into effectiveness. Burger King achieved a sales uplift by promoting its new product through a campaign based on ‘creeping’ on social media influencers’ pages.

More recently, new iterations of social commerce have started to emerge, particularly in China where consumers are starting to purchase more regularly from livestreams and short-form videos.

Audience and platform relevance is needed

Social strategies must be rooted in both platform and audience culture if they’re to be relevant to both the audience they’re targeting and the platform where they run. This is particularly the case when targeting younger audiences. Care must be taken to execute authentically and on the right platform for the right audience: for instance, TikTok is now as popular as Twitter among 18- to 24-year-olds in the UK.

Brands can learn from non-profits

Non-profit brands can offer commercial enterprises some inspiration on developing a successful social media strategy and achieving reach on a limited budget.

For example, a simple Instagram idea, through Facebook Creative Shop for WWF, hijacked Black Friday by targeting people in a shopping frame of mind only to reveal a powerful message around endangered species.

The 2020 Effective Social Strategy Report in full is available to WARC subscribers on and includes in-depth chapter analysis with views and opinions from the judges; what the trends mean for advertisers, agencies and media owners; data analysis; and summaries – objectives, insights, strategies and results – of the winning case studies.

Sourced from WARC