Social media and the campaigns that drive brand success, are nothing without the people who make things happen!
Each week we profile one innovative industry executive and get them to answer 12 questions. Then, we share their insight with you!
Also Read: 12 Questions With Matt Desmier
So today is kind of a big deal, and I know you are all anticipating the next big interview, so let me start by saying: “Get excited!” Today, I will be introducing you, not one, but two social media experts, based here at London agency, Impero! So with that…
Hello Michael & Lauren!
Michael: Hello! So, let me go ahead and tell you a bit about myself! Currently, I am the Director at Impero, a leading creative, social and digital agency that started in Auckland, New Zealand and is now based in Wapping, London. I am also the Director of Flicks.co.nz / Fliks.com.au that serves the great nations of New Zealand & Australia with all things cinematic – uber fast-playing trailers, user and press reviews, session times, cinema profiles, film reviews, film news and a panel of talented writers, all bundled up with an unashamed, passionate to the point of disgusting love of the movies.
Lauren: And I’ve been working in marketing for the last 6 or so years, beginning my career in technology PR. Social however, was always something that interested me on a personal level, and the opportunities for brands in the realm of social media, has become a big interest of mine! As this started to become something more on brand marketing team radars too, I made the move towards a purely digital role.
Awesome thanks guys! So without further ado, let’s get started!
About Social Media In General
1. Which is your favorite social media platform? (please briefly explain why)
Lauren: I would say Instagram or Snapchat are my favourite, and the ones I use the most. Facebook has become something I browse on, but rarely post on. I watch a lot of video on there. I use WhatsApp to talk to my friends + family, but when I’m looking for things I’m genuinely interested in Instagram is my go-to, and Snapchat is the way I communicate in a fun way with my friends.
Michael: Platforms are like every product out there, they have got to have a defining reason to exist. I mean you could be number 1, number 2 or maybe even 3 in the market, but there is no point in having a product that has 20 of the exact same thing. So when people say “X” is their favourite platform, its because they like what it offers. For me, Facebook is too old. Twitter, I just have other ways to get that same type of information, but I will say, Pinterest I do like as well. To be honest though, I don’t even really think of Pinterest as “social media”… I think of it more as a scrapbook or curation platform. Ultimately, it’s a tool.
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2. Which social platform is used most by your brand/agency?
Michael: Well, we look at it obviously from an advertising point of view, right? So ultimately, its not about having a favorite platform, it is more about what is right. Personally, I believe in agnostic platform content. I think you should make content for your plan. We would NEVER answer a brief by thinking about the platform first. And I think that is one of the biggest problems with social media plans, because at the end of the day, what we do is advertising, so the first question we need to ask instead is: “What is the current problem the client is facing?” and “What’s the solution?” or “Who or what is the objective that needs to be reached, and how are we going to do that?” and THEN, “what is the platform that is going to do that the most successfully for us?” And it has got to be in that order. I mean, if you get a brief from a client that says “cool, do Facebook“, you’re thinking the wrong way round. You are putting the platform first, your goal is to create messages and conversations, and while there are platforms that are good at doing that, you’re missing the ideas for conversation and engagement.
Lauren: I totally agree with Michael. In terms of the platform we use the most, it is probably Facebook, because historically it has been the one that has been there the longest, and it’s the most comprehensive for brands, especially when it comes down to its media capabilities.
Michael: It has the most advanced media and analytics offered at the moment, and those things do matter. So saying that, Facebook is an effective platform for tracking performance, but just because it tells you more and gives you more insight, it doesn’t mean it’s doing more.
3. In your opinion, what is the future of social media, and which platforms do you think will lead the way?
Lauren: Right now, leading the way certainly comes from Facebook. It launches all the new features, and others follow. Twitter has even gone so far as renaming “favourites”, “likes”. Saying that, Facebook does own a fair share of other social platforms, so I think they are kind of moulding things to their design. In terms of the future, video is a hot topic and is where many brands and agencies are investing money. We’re creating and consuming video more than ever before, and the future here for ‘regular’ consumers is very exciting – be it VR, 360 video, or augmented reality.
Michael: It’s like ANY industry. Social media is not Facebook. It’s not Instagram. It is an idea. And we went from “someone publishing something and I would read it”, to “I will publish something and share it with people I know, they would share it with their network, they will talk back to me and we will socialise”. So that won’t go away. What form it takes though, will be entirely up to the platforms, and how they respond to the needs and desires of their users. Essentially, social media platforms are brands. And brands are not going anywhere. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t see social media going away either. Where social media goes from here is up to the platforms themselves, future startups, as well as users . What it seems to have come down to is the younger generations. If a trend, or habit is started early, there’s a better chance it will stick, provided we give or tell people what they need, and hold their interest. Companies are starting to realise that new platforms are only successful if they can grow and develop at the hands of their users. Ultimately, it’s a lifecycle.
Lauren: I think brands are going to have a certain amount of influence on the future of social media as well. At the moment, everything is geared toward making a sale, but there is no direct link between what we do on social media, and our post-purchase experience. I think social will begin to have a bit more of an effect post-sales point, because at the moment it’s a lot like “Look at me. Buy Me. Like Me.” When one does just that… then, that’s it.
Michael: At the moment, brands and companies have to pay for it through advertising on Pinterest getting sales, and clicks, etc. However, companies realise that social media and consumers go hand-in-hand and they are willing to pay for it. If people need social media, brands need social media, point blank.
About Great Social Media Campaigns
4. Please tell us about the one social media campaign you liked the most this year.
Michael: Um… well I’m going to go ahead and talk about my favourite campaign we did. We did a REALLY low budget Guerilla style campaign with Popchips, and found that people really hate eating their lunch at their desks (which is exactly what I’m going to do after this meeting), and they started taking photos and tagging it with the hashtag #popmylunch #dislunch – Popchips wanted to make it a bit more fun, so we hired an illustrator, Jose Mendez, who came in and re-drew the Instagram posts, turning your lunch into something else – i.e. turning a bowl of soup into a swimming pool that people were diving into. So that was fun, and really successful for a low budget campaign.
Lauren: I’m loving the “female empowerment” trend in advertising at the moment. One campaign that springs to mind, is a recent “Imagine the possibilities” Barbie campaign. There is some great video content with a fantastic message to get young girls to feel confident, and realise their potential. It was designed to mimic the whole concept of “play” within the imaginative world young girls enter with their Barbies. Just brilliant.
5. What about the latest campaign your brand or agency was involved in?
Michael:I really enjoyed the work we did recently with Beefeater Gin. One interesting fact about the company, despite its scale and global presence on the gin market is that every drop of Beefeater Gin is actually made here in London, by a team of four guys. And that story, up until our campaign, was virtually unknown to the rest of the world. Let’s face it, we live in a world of conversation and story-telling. So for this campaign we really wanted to pay homage to their story, and their message – “they’re not just a factory that makes the gin… they are real people and a craft establishment”. They have just kept hush about it all these years. So, there was more to their brand story than just their product. It was about the people making it, and the craft process of the globalised brand. The one thing I really liked about the digital and social realm for this campaign, was that it may not be the “hero message” you want to lead with. Instead, we took it a step further, taking into account their story and their product, and related it to the people that consume it. Social media allowed us to build that story. We went behind the scenes and shot video of how these four guys make the Beefeater Gin that can be found all over the world.
Lauren: So, the campaign was three different videos that showcased the distilling process (most of it done by 2 people), the history of the company itself and its untouched recipe, and its hand crafted nature, that we then distributed out through paid on Facebook. The campaign itself is on going so stay tuned!
Michael: I mean essentially our goal was to showcase a different side of the brand…
Lauren: We are actually promoting it many different countries as well, and its going really well.
Michael: So yeah thats ongoing. But I guess the moral of the story is that it’s got to be personal. The consumer has to come first.
6. What is the most important thing brands and agencies must keep in mind, in order to build a successful social media campaign?
Michael: As I just said, anything in the social/digital sphere has to be personal. Its got to be consumer-centric in order to be successful. The problem isn’t necessarily the brand, but rather consumer perceptions of brands. We need to start including our consumer in our advertising, and focusing on what we can do for them, as opposed to what they can do for us.
Lauren: It’s just like Michael says, we need to ensure what we do in our brand marketing has the consumer at the heart. It sounds obvious, but so often this gets missed out or overshadowed by what a brand wants.
7. In your opinion, which is the most important KPI to watch during a social media campaign?
Michael: KPIs must be linked directly to your brief. Your brief is very rarely a number problem. It’s generally all about awareness. You have to find a KPI that best fits your brief, because like platforms, there is no standard. They all can be applied differently based on your objectives. And while it’s easier to track the quantitative, it may not always be the KPI that fits the best. It’s all about what problem you are trying to solve.
Lauren: Building on that, it is also important to think about what the business objectives are for your brand. This could be a change of perception of a brand or an increase in sales, but hitting this KPI will ensure that you’re making your brand manager’s boss happy!
About The Future Of Social Media Marketing
8. What will be the role of social media in the marketing mix of the future?
Michael: Well that’s a hard one. Facebook went from being just a social media platform to being a kind of media platform… I think if we break it down, social will play a big role in getting the message to the consumers, and allowing the development of a relationship with a brand. We might just find that social will go as far as smashing TV and print ads – This has been the case lately. So, to be honest, I don’t really have an answer to that.
Lauren: I think that’s the interesting bit about it. Social media has become much more of an advertising platform, and I think the success lies within our ability to reign the engagement aspect of social media back in, and create that conversation/ relationship with our consumer, that will add a personal touch to advertising again. And hopefully it will have a large impact on the marketing mix, but for the better.
9. What would you say is the biggest obstacle within the field of social media marketing?
Michael: Making people care. I think brands overestimate how much people care, and as an agency we always have to underestimate it. There are just so many messages, and so much going on in their personal lives… and that’s probably the challenge of all marketing professionals to be honest. If there is one thing social media and digital have exposed, is that people really don’t care.
10. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone who has just started out in the industry, what would it be?
Michael: Work. Work hard. Anything you do has to come out strong. Everyone thinks that advertising is a bunch of people that sit around and slack off, but it’s hard work. It’s not a “feet on desk” job. It takes a lot of time to come up with an idea, develop it, and implement a strategy. It’s really not that easy. It’s a really competitive industry, and young people really need to learn how to work hard. You just cannot undervalue hard work. Yes, be knowledgeable, and understand how brands work, consumers work, economics, human behaviour and etc. but work hard. There are VERY few shortcuts in this industry.
Lauren: I think what you were saying about the human psychology aspect of advertising is really important as well. Everyone always gets so caught up in what’s needed from them from all different people, you need to take a step back and think about your work from the eyes of a consumer. How does he or she consume the products, and what can I do to get the consumer interested? Otherwise you are just putting something out there that just won’t stick.
Michael: That in itself will provide with a HUGE advantage over your competitors.
11. In your opinion, which is the “ad format of the future”?
Michael: With ad blockers about to become more of a reality, the ads that succeed will be the ones that create their own news.
12. Finally, tell us one thing someone would NOT be able to find out about you from looking at your social media profiles.
Michael: I LOVE Cricket!!!
Lauren: I HATE cricket!!! Only joking, erm…perhaps that I studied Ecology at university, quite different to what I do now.
Awesome guys! Great interview!
Stay tuned for more great interviews with experts!