From Media140, London
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Robin Grant (@robingrant) is Managing Director at We Are Social;
Mel Exon (@bbhlabs) is Managing Partner at BBH Labs; Gareth Jones
(@GJ) is Editor of Revolution Magazine; Scott Seaborn
(@scottseaborn) is Head of Mobile for Oglivy Group UK, and Nuria
Garrido is Digital Marketing Innovations Manager at British
Airways. Chair Kieron Matthews (@IAB) is Marketing Director at
Chair Kieron Matthews begins by asking a few questions to the
assembled dignitaries, before opening it up to the masses.
Kieron: Let’s start with brands. We’ve deliberately opted for a
slightly spurious title, which we’ll get to a bit later on. Mel:
you’re at a leading brand ad agency, where do you see social media
Mel: Primarily it’s about recasting perception. Especially if your
brand isn’t particularly agile / approachable / human. If social
media is done well, it can have a real impact. Brands doing well
are the ones that are born in that space: Amazon, Dell, etc. Their
culture is geared around it.
Robin: Perception is shaped by what
people are saying. Social media is
“Advertising has to
making brands transparent. Social media
is climbing the Google rankings. Social
come from the heart
media defines a brand. now. If it doesn’t,
Kieron: You mean before social media we people will kill it.”
didn’t have defined brands?
Robin: Companies look at brands as
something they can control and shape.
Pre-internet and social media that was true. Ultimately now it’s
about collected experiences.
Scott: We love Twitter. Lots of us [at Oglivy] use it. As a
creative agency we’re in the business of using human understanding
to create business advantage for our bands. Twitter is word of
mouth on crack.
Kieron: But brands got on okay without it before...
Scott: There’s been a paradigm shift. Brands realise that
consumers now have the power. If you’re going to advertise to them
then it needs to come from the heart. If it doesn’t, people will
kill it. Give people the tools to be more powerful on behalf of
Kieron: Social media is working with products and brands from the
digital dspace, but you’re miles away from that space aren’t you?
Gareth: Instead of pushing our story out to consumers, we have a
dialogue now. What Robin says about transparency is true: brands
are interactive, brands are transparent. It’s very difficult to
Kieron: How are British Airways dealing with Social Media?
Nuria: We know that when people interact with us it’s at the
airport or on the plane. What social media gives us is the ability
to speak to people who might not necessarily consider BA a ‘human’
brand, or an attainable brand. It humanises BA to people.
Kieron: Robin, isn’t social media a made-up phrase? It’s just PR,
let’s be honest.
Robin: That’s an interesting
question. There’s a lot of push
back from people about the phrase,
just like there was with ‘web
2.0’–Media is the wrong idea. It’s
PR in a sense that the original
definition of PR is public
relations: that is, ongoing
discourse with different
‘publics’. It’s not in the modern
sense of the word in terms of
tactics, press releases, et
cetera. So yes and no, really.
Kieron: Traditional Ad agencies are quite a distance from PR
agencies. This relationship feels like it’s getting closer...
Mel: From an agency perspective we founded BBHLabs because we saw
that it was going to be impossible for us to do everything. Ad
agencies have very high walls. They aggressively run
collaboration. Frankly I don’t care where you come from; whether
it’s PR or a more recent social agency: if you’re any good we want
to work with you.
Kieron: How do you use social media to get your news story?
Gareth: Social media will never change the way that we approach
journalism. You can’t beat contacts and engaging with people one-
to-one. What it does allow us to do is follow people we’re
interested in, and get to know them. That’s one of the reasons we
follow BBH Labs, incidentally.
Mel: Steve Rubel said something quite interesting. He thinks that
agencies use Twitter as spokes to their hub, whatever and wherever
that might be. In BBH’s case it’s our blog. Robin does the same.
Paul: Media is a channel. Social is a definition of a segment
within that channel. PR is a discipline. PR is to do with news.
It’s interesting that people don’t get the different uses of
Twitter. Twitter has replaced RSS for me.
Kieron: I never understood RSS in the first place, it just seemed
like endless noise.
Nuria: Social media is easy for companies born on the web. For BA
there are complexities around operational head office; who is
involved; at what levels do you involve people... it’s difficult
to get people onside. Many people internally still don’t get it.
That is changing. Departments where we thought we would encounter
barriers are beginning to help. PR department at BA are a
challenge to work with. It’s taken a while to get them proactive.
Unfortunately there are so many BA stories that the PR department
have to deal with, but we do have them onside.
Kieron: It’s all about ROI for brands. Social media isn’t the
greatest measurement of ROI. Isn’t that the barrier?
Robin: There’s no magic bullet. Everyone is working very hard on
it. Social media council is a good example. There are various
bodies in the UK itself, let alone at a global level. in an
advertising and marketing context, the spends on individual
campaigns are hard to work with. They’re small. We’re getting
better at it, though. We are Social has gone from two employees to
twenty since May 2008. We’re doing very well with what clients
Kieron: Won’t you get found out eventually? This is just web 2.0
all over again, surely...
Robin: That’s one of our fears, both internally at We are Social
and at other agencies too. There are clients who are only
interested in social media. They’re chasing the new toy. This will
create a backlash.
Kieron: Scott, anything to add on ROI? Googling the definition
there I see...
Scott: This from the man who said he didn’t “get” RSS. I’m
interested in mobile. Clients, to be frank, always have an issue
with defining reach. If you have a TV ad it’s like an x-ray on a
rock [prolonged and slightly incomprehensible x-ray/rock analogy
here] Reach has changed. It’s up to people like us to explain to
clients that the social web works. It’ll help you sell more cars
and beds and things.
Kieron: Mobile and social media sounds like a match made in
heaven. Sex on a stick. How does mobile integrate?
Scott: I just tweeted from here. Took a photo of everyone and
tweeted it. It makes instant word of mouth much more instant.
Traditionally in advertising you have a great idea and then it’s
left for consumer’s to resist it. With SMS marketing there was
this idea that if you catch me at the bus stop, the chances of me
logging on are pretty much zero. But Twitter changes that. It
changes push and planning of impact into pull and engagement. If
you have a strategy for that (engagement via activate)–if the pull
is turned into a gift (nice piece of brand engagement) then the
power of the pull is increased. Mobile has a very serious part to
Nuria: A brand perspective on ROI: social media gives you
potential revenue. If you’re not already in social media you need
to work out what’s important to you as a brand. it might not be
the revenue, it might be the relationship with users you don’t
already speak to.
Mel: I’ve never met a CFO interested in metrics and measurements.
They’re all interested in transforming their business. Starting
with how businesses can be changed–look at change not revenue. Set
expectations based on this sort of performance. Use emotive
language, not analytical language.
@Lesanto: Give us some examples.
Scott: Here’s one. For Wimbledon we came up with a new way of
using Twitter. We made an augmented reality application for IBM.
Twitter in an experiential fashion. There were numerous IBM scouts
wondering around Wimbledon, sat navving at key points like taxi
ranks. You could look around using a device and see how many taxis
were at a rank, or when the toilets at Henman Hill were broken.
@Lesanto: But what was the benefit to the brand?
Scott: They had the chairmen of the world’s leading companies in
an executive box. We gave them 14 Google Android phones to get
scores on all courts, and information from five-hundred points–
live–from in and around Wimbledon. It was about making Wimbledon
work better for people.
Robin: Skype put in place an overall media strategy. Listen and
respond in real time a la Comcast. Looking at how DirectGov should
be responding to citizens in social media. pizza express doing
their new pizza on social web. Blogger lunches and things.
Kieron: Tweet Bake is a great example. A bakery in Shoreditch with
a gadget by the oven. Every time the croissants are ready they
send out a little message and people get a Tweet saying that there
are fresh croissants if they want them. Genius. BakerTweet I
Q: Curious about the need for agencies to shift their business
models from one that talks about campaigns and launch and die and
peak and valley to one that is more sustained in terms of the
conversation. Social media is intrinsically social. If you walk
out, you’re not having a conversation. How do you face the fact
that it’s sort of indefinite? How are you guys tackling that as an
Mel: You’re right. We really are witnessing a huge shift from
short-term campaigns. Metro Twin is a platform we built for
British Airways. It’s a social media. It twins things in New York
with things in London. We prefer to talk about social ideas than
social media. I don’t like the term viral, for example. If
agencies cannot put together platforms and programs then they
aren’t going to be around for long.
Gareth: Social media is forcing us to rethink. We’ve been trying
to figure it out for a few years. The rise of Twitter is making us
look at all our different platforms. Presences are becoming
Nuria: BA do have their teams in a
holistic capacity. They control
how many Twitter streams and
Facebook pages there are because
each marketing team wants to be
involved and present. They do ask
about the long term commitment–if
there’s a campaign above the line
for two months it’s bad. People
in the social media space expect
a relationship and not something
short-term. BA are trying to keep
everything together: for example,
BA UK supports BA Highlife and
Businesslife.com so they don’t
have to have their own individual
streams. They were converged to
help preserve longevity.
Q: For a brand like BA that’s in trouble, isn’t social media just
another way of keeping the wolf from the door? Social media for
brands that are in trouble is seen as a loyalty thing not an
Nuria: Obviously we’ve had to refocus, but that doesn’t mean that
we’re not sincere or are excluded from fighting our corner in
other spaces. Digital is important for BA. Yes there is loyalty
involved, but social media is about building a relationship. After
you’ve built that relationship, hopefully people choose BA.
Kieron: Look at EasyJet’s @tweets and there’s some very colourful
language. It’s a real chance for brands to tackle perception at
Q: Mel, what happened to Scamp? [Ed–Scamp was BBH copywriter Simon
Veksner’s popular blog, which ran for 3 years until June 2009.]
Mel: Has it been taken down? I genuinely don’t know, I’ve been on
maternity leave. It sounds like maybe Simon decided to do
something else. I genuinely don’t know.
Q: This is a good example–how long term does the conversation have
Scott: I know he had to invest a lot of
time into it. The more we get into the
social space, whether you’re Nike or “It’s human soul and
EasyJet or BA, it’s human soul and a
shitload of effort. It’s a mammoth a shitload of effort.
investment of both time and emotion.
Scamp I think got a lot of crap comments It’s a mammoth
on the blog that didn’t pertain to what
he was talking about. He had to start investment.”
moderating comments. The premise of
social is that it should be self-
moderating, and you shouldn’t have to be
doing that sort of thing. He wanted to
ask questions and celebrate credibility.
Kieron: Maybe he got bored. If you’re bored that’s a good reason
to end a conversation.
[Ed–he’s now writing a book, for the record.]
Q: I’m interested to know how much conversation you guys are
having with Customer Service (CS) departments that have the
relationship with brands? Marketers don’t have the CS skills.
Robin: We are regularly talking to them. It’s early days and
businesses are still getting their heads around things. Obviously
there’s an awful loot you can get done through pragmatism. Eg. if
CS don’t want to play ball then we can get things moving and prove
the case without them.
Q: Are you going into client briefings and saying “Where’s CS in
this briefing? How do we incorporate it?” Those are the people
with the face-to-face experience. Isn’t it our job to encourage
clients to think in those terms?
Robin: We regularly do have those conversations. To set it up as a
big scary thing is the wrong way of going about it. Organisations
need to evolve and probably start reasonably slowly. It’s not the
end of the world. You start with a small part of someone’s time,
you don’t dive in with a team of twelve.
Scott: You might use mobile to create economic efficiency for
British Gas. Texting your meter reading for example. The idea of
customer service on Twitter is gold. Orange used to have the best
CS in the world and it was a great part of being with them.
Fizzback is a nice example of a text based CS system. Great
dashboard tools. There’s a nice story about National Express using
them. Apparently it’s true: a guy on a London–Oxford bus sees the
little sign on the back of the seat saying “If you have feedback
text it to us on this number” and sends a text saying that it’s
“bastard hot” on the service, and they call the driver who then
turned down the heating. Tweetdeck has become this dashboard for a
whole new generation. Searching Twitter as a CS department within
your call centre is absolute gold.
Mel: Paul Hopkins is head of CS at EasyJet [Ed–And unfortunately
had to drop out of the panel at the last minute, with the valiant
Nuria Garrido stepping up] It was one man deciding to solve
people’s problems first by listening and seeing what is being said
and then actually doing it. Listening is the key. Marketers aren’t
good at that.
Gareth: Just to go back to longevity; clients are doing things
without strategy to ‘tick the innovation box’. Learning about what
they are doing is really important.
Q: On strategy... EasyJet are ‘just doing it’. Sometimes action
happens before strategy. BA are engaging with people who find the
brand too expensive. Aren’t you being reactive?
Nuria: You’ve got to be careful with the brand. You need to know
whether to be proactive or reactive. Don’t follow everyone who
talks about BA, but we do talk to some people. We can’t sit on
Twitter all day.
Q: Social media is more inclusive than old-fashioned advertising.
We should be talking about inclusive media than social media.
Mel: People talk about premium bands being inclusive. Burberry.
High-level fashion brand. They worked with us on their spring/
summer show. We let people (anyone) do live commentary in real-
time as the show goes on. That’s the crack cocaine of Twitter:
when you are given a public platform and allowed to get involved.
Q: Small example of a local goldsmith, having left-over
commissioned pieces to sell. They tweeted about them with some
photos, and the orders flooded in.
Kieron: @minxymoggy would like to hear some examples of what
Mel: I saw one last night on Twitter. A big organisation that
we’re always attacking in some way or another here: BT. [Ed–BT’s
broadband crumbled under the combined weight of a few hundred
Tweeters and thus Media140 happened under a wireless blackout]
There was that hashtagging #oneletterdifferentfilms meme, and
someone had written one called “BT: Alien seeks new broadband
network.” A BT rep Tweeted back “Can we help you?” It’s not a
terrible example because they were sincere, but they just didn’t
get it. They didn’t get the joke.
Scott: The Habitat example is one that people keep returning to.
The intern who hijacked a trending hashtag to spam.
Q: How can an advertiser work out
what a success is?
“When you’ve got real-
Scott: More brands would spend
money on social media if there was time results next to
a metric. If you reduce it to a
metric, though, you lose the your Google results,
essence of social media. Good CS is
the best marketing. When you’ve got you’re dead if you’re
real time results next to your
Google results, you’re absolutely not doing well.”
dead if you’re not doing well.
Q: What success have you had onboarding people form the top down?
Getting resonance with senior management to change business is
Scott: Clients come to us looking for it, so that’s half the
Robin: 50% of our clients are swing-seats. Making a case is
important. Explaining the impact it will have, and talking in
terms of benefits, not features.
Mel: Yeah, show them stuff, don’t talk about it.
Gareth: Our whole model is moving towards social media.
Nuria: Showing it at a director level is essential. Our Director
of Strategy is on it in a personal capacity. BA will get there.
Photos courtesy of Paul Clarke: www.flickr.com/people/34916866@N02