Recently, I had the privilege of moderating the CPG panel during the IAB Social Media Agency Day. The title of the event was a bit paradoxical; “Social: Planning for Real Time”, but given that marketers are dedicating more and more of their budgets toward social media, they are increasingly leaning on their agency partners to do something that they haven’t traditionally been asked to do, namely plan for the unexpected. The recent “poster child” for a brand that did this successfully is, of course, Oreos during Super Bowl XLVII (which was jokingly referred to during the event as “Lord Voldemort” i.e. the campaign which shall not be named—precisely because everyone has been talking about it.) Organized by the IAB’s Social Media Committee, this event discussed real time social media planning by different verticals: CPG, Travel, Auto and Sports. “By featuring different categories, we were able to show a great range of real time social media examples”, said IAB committee liaison, Susan Borst, adding, “You don’t have to be a Super Bowl advertiser to have real time social media impact.”
With me on the panel were three social media notables:
Our conversation ranged from the Oscars to the tragedy in Newtown and highlighted key insights that CPG/Food brands and their agencies need to keep in mind as they strive to engage with consumers in ways that are both meaningful to them—after all, they wield the power today, don’t they?—and true to the brand promise.
Phil Ripperger: What does real time mean to you and how does social media fit into the equation?
Emily Culp: Humans are real time, and brands need to be more and more humanized (by the very humans who create them!). This doesn’t mean jumping up in every possible moment. It means, just like a human, that brands should add value in relevant moments.
What is a relevant moment? How do you know as a human? You can feel it. Brands need to be listening, asking questions, and engaging with their consumers in a way that adds value and allows them to feel when topical content or value is right.
As marketers, we go to school to learn classical marketing (5Ps) and then spend the weekend acting as a consumer might. Those two things need to come together, with the rise of mobile. Getting out of campaign mindsets and living and breathing each day is the real value of real time.
How do we do that? It means we need a team full of smart, innovative, pioneering marketing minds and the support of legal, comms, and the executives to support something that might not feel quite as comfortable but will resonate with our consumers & sell more units.
Dina Freeman: At BabyCenter, being prepared for real time means more than pushing stuff out during big events like the Oscars or Super Bowl. Every day, moms in the BabyCenter Community are talking to other moms with similar due dates or children who are the same age, asking for advice and product recommendations. Our Talk Tracker tool can pinpoint when these conversations are happening down to the exact week of pregnancy or a child’s life. This represents an enormous opportunity for brands who want to reach moms at the exact time that they are making decisions about that product or service. That’s as real time as it gets.
GG: Real time is creating and distributing content that is consumed right at that moment about topics that are relevant to a specific time period. Examples - talking about the Oscars DURING the TV broadcast or covering fashion week in NY as it’s happening. The content loses its relevance after a very short period of time. Social is the absolute perfect place to distribute real time content. People are checking it all times, it is interactive, it is short form, and it is highly mobile.
PR: Why is it important that we’re talking about it and what are some examples of how it’s being done right?
DF: When we dissect new trends until we’re all sick of hearing about them, we move the industry forward. As much as people are tired of hearing about the OREO moment, it was monumental in bringing real time social to the surface. It forced brands to pay attention and create a strategy.
One important question for brands to ask is when shouldn’t we be engaging in real time social? When national tragedies hit, like the Boston Marathon bombing or Newtown, it’s wise for brands to immediately take the temperature of their fans and be prepared to remove all posts in all social networks if necessary. We learned this during the Newtown tragedy back in December. When the news hit, we were in shock along with the rest of the nation. While grappling with the senselessness, we forgot to pull our pre-programmed posts, including a celebrity-focused Facebook post that was not right for that moment. Our moms instantly let us know that this was not appropriate and we agreed with them apologizing for the oversight. We then decided to pull all posts for a couple of days because, frankly, nothing seemed right to us either. All of that to say, it’s as important to be prepared and have a checklist for those real time moments when silence is golden.
GG: Because real time / social content is driving consumption on mobile and everyone has smart phones and are using them as content consumption devices on top of communication devices. Brands that take advantage of real world events are doing it well - obviously Oreo cookies but brands like Burberry do an amazing job covering fashion week (both their own brands and other brands) and L’Oreal does a good job having events during the Golden Globes and Grammys.
EC: Social moves units. It gives us context for consumers. It drives them to specific retail locations. And more than anything, it builds a deeper relationship with a brand they actually want to talk to.
At Unilever, we want the best idea to win and fast. So that means we can’t just rely on marketing models with historic data & react solely to that. We’re passionate about our consumers, bringing them closer to us and making the brand a part of their lives is far more interesting.
This is about pre-work, it’s about having your entire team and your agencies working together before that real time moment (whether it’s the Super Bowl or a Monday afternoon that matters in your community). Just as we used to plan ahead for crisis, we should plan ahead for positive moments where a brand can add value.
PR: Now to put my market researchers hat on and ask my favorite question about social media: How do you know if it’s successful—how do you measure it?
GG: If lots of people are consuming the content. If the content is being syndicated on Twitter by both the brand’s account and on tons of influencer accounts, it will be viewed by lots of people. An even better testament is the engagement. If people start sharing and commenting on the content it is even better. Measuring hard metrics like Post views on Facebook, retweets on Twitter, pins on Pinterest etc. are a good start.
EC: We played with content during the Grammys to understand what we would do during the Oscars on Dove. This is about testing and learning. What matters is that our engagement numbers on those pieces of content go up compared to a normal day.
D.F.: Measurement really depends on the platform, but overall, we measure success by the level of engagement. We look at Social Actions, which is any action taken on a post regardless of platform. Comments, likes, shares, photo views, photo submissions, pins/repins, clicks … the list goes on and on. Our clients are also interested in Social Impressions, or the number of times a post is displayed on Facebook and Twitter.
This is the second in the blog series that provides an overview of discussions from the April 3, 2013 “Social - Planning for Real Time” Agency Day including ways that Travel, CPG/Food, Sports, and Auto have planned social for real time to make their marketing dollars work harder, and is also a part of IAB Social Media Committee member initiatives focusing on the intersection of Social with Paid, Owned, and Earned Media Best Practices.
About the Author
Phil Ripperger is Vice President, New Media Solutions at IRI. Phil focuses on driving partnerships with Tier 1 publishers, ad networks, and digital media research companies to create breakthrough solutions for CPG and retail companies. He is a member of the IAB Social Media Committee and on Twitter at @RipperP.