Day 2 of Goafest 2014 started off on a promising note with an insightful presentation by Preethi Mariappan, Executive Creative Director at Razorfish Germany. Giving real-life examples to highlight each point, Mariappan outlined the new focus areas for brands in the current digital and social world - content, experiences, influencers, fans and social data.
This “social transformation”, according to Mariappan, can be seen since in the way the metrics used by advertisers have changed over the years. 2009 was the age of likes, where one would do anything, including offering free stuff to get people to like your page. Around 2011, we had Facebook apps as the panacea for everything. Right now, we are in the age of social relevance. “Today, social metrics center on customer conversations, meaningful connections, branded experience, relationships and lead generation,” she said.
So, how does one achieve social relevance? According to Mariappan, it can be achieved by focusing on great content, reaching out the right influencers, using fans for amplification, creating meaningful experiences and using social data to identify customer problems.
Speaking on content, Mariappan said, “Only 74 of the top 5,000 channels on YouTube belong to brands. When you think about content on the internet, remember you are going up against the likes of Disney, Lady Gaga, etc.” The trick here is to differentiate your content from everyone else. Along with this, brands should also identify, which are the right platforms for their target audience. Giving the example of Maggi, she explained that to reach out to their target audience of young, working people looking for a quick recipe, Maggi started creating Vine videos that gave cooking tips, e.g., ‘How to slice mushrooms quickly’, etc. The idea was to communicate with the TG in a manner that would be relevant to them and through a platform that they were comfortable with (since most of the TG would most likely watch the videos on their phone while travelling.)
Celebrity endorsement is still a big money business, due to the idea that celebrities can be great influencers. However, Mariappan pointed out that an “influencer” need not always be a movie star or a famous footballer. She introduced the concept of ‘micro influencers’, basically a person who has a lot of influence among a certain section of people on a particular medium, for example, fashion bloggers, popular Instagram photographers, etc. “10 per cent of people can convince the remaining 90 per cent, but brands need to trust these influencers,” said Mariappan. She gave the example of Mercedes Benz, which invited four of Instagram’s most popular photographers to a 4-week road trip on the Mercedes CLA. The challenge was that the photographer with the most likes on their Instagram page during the period would get to keep the car. No professional photographers were involved and the photographs were not touched up. Everything was in real-time. The campaign, informed Mariappan, generated nearly 8,70,000 Instagram impressions with about 2,50,000 likes on Instagram.
The third point in her presentation was on amplifying experiences using digital and social media. “All life experiences are amplified socially. Brands need to create a social experience that is memorable while reaching the user’s own social network without interruption,” she advised. Speaking about the importance of fans in any campaign and how a brand could use them as brand advocates, Mariappan cautioned that this form of fan advocacy was not feasible for all brands. According to her, it works better for “passion” brands, like, a rock band or a car brand like Audi. “Typically, a fan value discussion is dollar discussion. When you can convert a fan to a brand advocate, it is a powerful tool that you can leverage; if you can do it right,” she pointed out. For this to happen, it is imperative that brands celebrate their relationships with their fans by identifying highlights or flashpoints or the ‘passion’ will die out, warned Mariappan.
On a parting note, Mariappan spoke about the importance of social data. Data derived through social networks is considered more valuable than all by advertisers. However, not many seem to be using the data to its full potential. According to Mariappan, no one cares about a new campaign. What people want are solutions to their problems. Her advice to brands was to go through social data to learn the real behavior and pain points of their consumers and then anticipate and solve these problems before or as soon as they occur.