Jury out on social

Jury out on social

Colm Carey

Using social media to build brands among hard to reach consumers has become something of a Holy Grail for marketers. We all know there are lots of people out there engaging with Facebook and Twitter but using these platforms to develop commercially viable relationships is proving a bit elusive.

Millward Brown hooked up with the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in an attempt to provide the insight that will help harvest social media potential. Not surprisingly, 96 per cent of marketing executives interviewed expect to spend more time and money in this area in the next year. To say otherwise would be so counter intuitive and so uncool that it would destroy your marketing credibility.

If you can't hold your own in social media these days, you might want to consider a career change. The survey shows that everybody wants to be at the party but the rub is that most marketers have low expectations of what they will get for their money. Just 23 per cent believe they will get a good return on their investment so it looks as though we are still at a pioneering, entrepreneurial stage of development.

WFA members believe the game is about generating insight, advocacy, loyalty and engagement rather than increasing short or long term sales. In other words, we think we should be there but don't blame us if we can't show a clear return on investment. It makes mainstream advertising look like a safe bet.

With the move to online surveys, respondents do not have to be as polite as they are face-to-face. If they do not like questions, they just log off leaving you with a lot of incomplete questionnaires. Consumer panel company Lightspeed Research has come up with a list of things to avoid if you want to hit your completion quota.

Putting a confidentiality clause early in a questionnaire is a major turn off. If it's that hush-hush maybe asking the public is a not a good idea. Complicated grid questions get people so frustrated and confused that they drop out.

Asking people to name brands they bought from a long list results in many abandoning ship leaving a survey on the rocks. The people dropping out are more likely to be older males, aka grumpy old men. To maximise your completion rates you need to follow a few simple rules. Firstly, keep the survey as short as possible.



Esomar reports that the decision by Unilever to use real people in Dove ads came about by interviewing the wives and daughters of male Dove executives on the impact of being bombarded by images of perfection and the feelings they provoked. Armed with the feedback, the marketers made their pitch to abandon the traditional approach.

The old need-to-know versus nice-to-know rule applies. Avoid complicated grid questions. If you are showing a product, pack design or advertising concept get to it early in the survey because it will keep people interested. Do not use industry jargon; talk like a normal person. Keep your questions short and to the point, too much waffle makes respondents hit the escape key. Don't give away too much information in the survey introduction because this allows people to opt out straight away.

If they start the survey, they are likely to keep going so long as the above rules have been followed. Finally, invite a few objective people to test drive the study before it goes live. If they get bored, confused, annoyed or frustrated, so will your customers.

In an interview with Research Live, advertising strategist Jacob Wright makes the case for putting more resources into post testing rather than pre-testing advertising. Wright believes that we can learn a lot from understanding why a successful commercial hit the jackpot and why another crashed and burned.

Wright says this understanding, combined with econometric measures, could form the basis for a pay by results relationship between agencies and clients. When you post evaluate a concept or campaign you generate a lot of insight based on the consumer's real life experience of the advertising rather than getting reactions to an idea that has not been experienced in the context of the overall marketing and media environment. Post campaign evaluation delivers great understanding and provides the basis for highly relevant strategic and creative advertising briefs. It brings the consumer into the equation from the start of the new campaign planning, not near the end when a lot of time, energy, emotion and cash has already been invested in generating concepts. Post evaluation removes a lot of angst and puts the horse firmly before the cart in the creative process. In relation to the age old conflict between research and creativity, “to have someone come in and tell you, ‘If you moved this scene from here to here then your ad would be better' is a difficult thing to swallow – and quite often wrong, because I don't think, by and large, the people who are writing those research debriefs are people who have made many successful pieces of advertising in their lives.” Oh dear, such harsh words and just when it seemed we were getting along so well.



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