Rob Blackie is Director of Social at OgilvyOne and is on the judging panel for the Warc Social Prize 2016

The range, depth and ambition of social is expanding rapidly, so this is an exciting time to be in the industry, even if we all constantly have to race to keep up with the speed of change.

As a judge for the Warc Prize for Social Strategy, I’m longing to see what award entries will teach me about the state of social this year.

Social is transforming society in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. From the explosion of online dating to the ability of any group, however obscure, to find each other online and discuss their niche interests.

The use of social in marketing is evolving fast. Too much is still some version of adapting an above the line ad and spamming people. But more and more is well targeted. A quick look at my Facebook feed today shows that not one of the ads I’m seeing is untargeted.

So, as a Warc Prize for Social Strategy judge, what does good look like for me?

Most importantly work which addresses a real business objective, that can be quantified in a way that a CFO, or their government and charity equivalents, would find credible. That means sales, leads (if qualified), reductions in customer churn or credibly measured improvements in customer satisfaction.

Smart measurement

Bad measurement plagues the marketing industry. There’s no excuse for it. The data, the software and the skills are now widely available to measure outcomes. Even for small campaigns it should be possible, making a few reasonable assumptions, to make an estimate.

Lego’s measurement system is a great example of this. It measures:

  1. Direct sales
  2. Brand Affinity
  3. Marketing Efficiency
  4. Damage control and Risk Mitigation

It’s not perfect, but it’s practical, simple and everything obviously maps to a business objective that a CFO would understand.

Seamless integration

Secondly, social needs to be deeply integrated with other channels. Normal people switch seamlessly between email, social, phone calls and the web. Custom audiences, lead gen products, and - with at least 80% of social happening on smartphones - phone calls are deeply intertwined. Smart campaigns integrate these.

A recent example was KLM’s use of Facebook Messenger to allow flight bookings and check-ins: this combines customer services, social and product innovation.

Another simple combination that works well is to drive more advocacy from existing fans. Justgiving is a good example of a company that’s innovating by joining up messaging channels like WhatsApp to its web platform.

Strategic insight

Thirdly, there’s use of social for strategic insight. While social listening has become mainstream in the marketing industry, it’s often used in unimaginative ways (volumes, sentiment) rather than to spot gaps in the market or new user behaviours.

Test and learn

Fourthly, testing as an inherent part of the strategy. It’s now almost as easy to A/B test social advertising as email. There is huge potential to test messaging approaches as well as tactical creative and conversion mechanisms. The budgets are tiny, so innovators like Dennis Yu run fascinating campaigns on ‘dollar a day’ social advertising campaigns.

The power to differentiate

Fifthly, differentiation. By definition this is something that big brands can’t really do, but for smaller brands it often establishes a powerful niche. Lings cars breaks all the rules, insulting rude customers, complaining about stupid suppliers and taunting her staff, with a website that is quite unique. It’s hilarious, business-focused and works brilliantly.

If you want to share your thoughts or any entries with me via Twitter in advance of submitting your papers on 28 April, I’m at @robblackie_oo