This blog post is by Faris Yakob, co-founder of Genius Steals, a strategy, innovation and ideas practice, and the co-author of the book Digital State. Here he shares his thoughts on The Warc Prize for Social Strategy in an extract from his article Integrative Ideas and Social Brands: Insights from the Warc Prize for Social Strategy.

What stood out to me, across the winning entries to The Warc Prize for Social Strategy, was that 'social' was an understanding on how the world is now. Social is the backbone to truly integrative ideas, where each component has a role and feeds the others, which in concert drive business results.

The Doritos Mariachi band took the Grand Prix. This was a strong content play: a Mariachi cover band that could appeal to a broad spread of audiences went on tour. Television drove awareness of the idea, and the tour itself became a content generation engine, distributed at appropriate apertures – moments and platforms. They understood that there is no conversation without content – talking about products endlessly is from an older age. Every element and department must work together seamlessly. Content that performs well in social should be amplified. They measured the total reach achieved – television levels at a fraction of the cost, and could demonstrate the sales impact.

Evian won a Gold and Special Award for Long Term Idea with its Baby&Me. Watched more than 135M times on social networks – 20M in the first 48 hours – the ad spun off an app that let you create your own BabyMe. While nine million of the views were bought, the rest were organic. Pandering to our need of the Selfie generation to put themselves into the picture – literally – it garnered millions of shares on Facebook and Twitter. This content source then informed the traditional media campaign, outdoor advertising and photo booths, t-shirts and product packaging. The campaign "facilitated profitable growth, in terms of sales volume, in new markets, with similar success in mature markets". It would have been nice to see some numbers here but even so, glad they mentioned the business results.

Mercedes A-Class #YouDrive campaign was a collaboration between four agencies [sidenote: more agencies should enter awards this way, to reflect how the world is now]. It won a Gold and the Channel Thinking prize. The idea demonstrated an understanding of media as one system: social interaction drove the broadcast spot in real time. Active interaction drives consideration – not the other way around. As Yves Behar has said, participation is the new loyalty. Engagement is a function of cross platform – transmedia – storytelling. Behavior is more impactful that messaging. Launched via video trailer on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, YouDrive allowed consumers to direct the narrative using their preferred hashtag to drive how the story ended. Over the course of the campaign the #YouDrive hashtag was used 103 million times. It had an immediate impact on brand perception and business leads. Searches for the car rose, visits to the websites did also, e-brochures were ordered, test drives were requested.

They understood that people aren't naturally interested in brand content – they gave them a reason to be interested. The interaction of broadcast and interactive engagement is what made the campaign work.

All communication ideas should be developed this way. Nurturing, growing, testing, engaging and then leveraging ideas that emerge from the rich protean substrate of social. Planted in the relatively stable environments of traditional media, where the passive can enjoy the engagement of the active. Born online, broadened in broadcast.

Social strategy is not really about hashtags or Facebook – it's about finding ways to interest people in your ideas. Interest them enough to interact in some way. Interest them enough to allow your brand to move through their streams. Social strategy is about understanding the mediascape as it flows now rather than how it used to be delineated. All media are inherently social – they are conduits for ideas between people. What has changed is that brands now need to behave socially, being entertaining, responsive, addressing unspoken needs and customer concerns. Being social as a brand doesn't come naturally, they are used to being heard and not spoken to, which suggests a robust ongoing role for their agencies. If they can find ways to be social amongst themselves.

For more, read Faris Yakob’s article: Integrative Ideas and Social Brands: Insights from the Warc Prize for Social Strategy.