Apr 03 2014

Can you buy viral success? What’s the organic lifetime of content posted on different social platforms? Chris Tuff, SVP, Director of Emerging media and Partnerships at the standout advertising agency, 22squared , was one of the first in advertising to see the power of working directly with Facebook and other social platforms. In Part II of this blog, he and Anametrix CEO Pelin Thorogood, talk about the “dos” and “don’ts” of promoting brands in social media, and how to be a “welcome intruder” in the lives of consumers.

Pelin: The big question for many marketers is how to deliver content to consumers without driving them away. What are the biggest misconceptions about using social platforms?

Chris:  Social is not another place to simply be publishing your promotional content. It’s where you start a relationship and court individuals. That’s hard for many brands to wrap their heads around, but I think we’re getting there. It’s why Buzzfeed, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter all have departments solely dedicated to teaching brands how to approach their spaces. They are telling us, social is not just another publishing platform.

So you can think about it in terms of the marketing funnel. Social is the place at the top of the funnel where we can start the awareness and create that relationship, provoke that emotion. But we can also follow through with deeper engagements and deeper actions, what we see in the digital side as hardcore conversions where Google has played so well. Now we’ve got Facebook and Twitter in more of those lower-end funnel activities where we see conversions to sales. Social becomes a direct ROI vehicle for both ends of the funnel.

Pelin:  What are the new channels, apps and other social tools that have crossed your radar in the past and become important?  Give us a history lesson.

Chris: I think the big question is how the web is being organized and how we are delivering content. At 22squared, we talk about being the “welcome intruder” in people’s lives. Everything we put into this digital space needs to be a welcome intruder, leveraging the art and science of digital marketing and advertising. That means we need to improve content and take a less invasive path to targeting customers. For example, we need to understand that a lot of content consumption among individual consumers is moving to the mobile device. But the experiences on mobile don’t lend themselves to being a welcome intruder. In fact, the banner ad experiences are really poor. It’s just not the way we should be approaching these newer spaces.

Pelin:  You talk about the “art” and “science” of being a welcome intruder. Who contributes in each of those paths?

Chris: If you break it in down, you can see the “art” is the content that you’re putting out there; the banner ads we’re running, and also the stuff that gets posted in places like Facebook. On the “science” side, it’s how you scale your content in a way that it’s not interruptive to the consumer. It’s targeted to break through the competition in terms of relevance and attention. Facebook is still the most evolved in terms of the native or integrated newsfeed play, as well as the targeting of that content. But you’ve got Twitter following quickly in their footsteps and then Tumblr, and they are what we’re calling “social firsts.”

On the other side of it, you’ve got the different publishers, digitally speaking. These publishers are much further behind than the “social firsts” because they’re retrofitting ways to fit in our content.

Pelin: Clients are starting to prioritize metrics in social media and digital overall. How do you evangelize getting away from superficial metrics that don’t really define success?

Chris: It’s important to me that we’re hypothesizing together and testing. For example, if it’s an awareness play, we need to look not just at the number of impressions, but where those impressions are taking place and how people exposed to that content feel about it. How was their favorability affected by it? So for KPIs in general, it varies tremendously from platform to platform, but we need to be really working with the brand lift and the brand study side of things, instead of just click through rates (CTRs).

Pelin:  How do you advise clients about getting the best mix across paid, owned, earned media with social media so radically changing the media mix and the marketing funnel?

Chris: In one word: testing. We say everything we do enables us to learn, optimize, repeat and educate.  It’s just as important for an agency like 22squared to be consultative and educational in this evolving landscape with new opportunities that are available to us, as it is to provide big creative ideas.

Pelin: So let’s talk virality, one of the big topics among marketers. In your mind, is there a science behind viral success? 

Chris: It depends on the platform, and it takes analysis to get there. The amount of time that a piece of content lives within the newsfeed varies dramatically by platform. Our research shows that your content lifetime within the Facebook feed is about 50 minutes. On Twitter it’s about 15 minutes. Tumblr lives much longer, and Instagram you’re talking about maybe up to 20 hours or so. You need to know about the organic reach within each of these platforms.

On the surface, anyone can buy “viral success” by going to 500views.com and paying for it, regardless of how bad the content is. But that’s not really viral success. You want to instigate content that lives longer, you want people to actually engage with it, and you want to see more eyeballs from generational shares. That is truly a science.  It’s really that relationship between paid, owned and earned media that we need to be toggling that science around. Viral success can be engineered but it needs to be engineered for each platform.  And when you have that perfect mix of art and science, that’s where we see true “hockey stick” growth.

Pelin, thanks Chris. And we look forward to working with you as you continue driving success with clients at 22squared.

Posted by Ryan Montano at 9:01 am

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