I've copied below a great AdWeek op-ed piece by VivaKi's 2 leaders, David Kenny and Jack Klues. Lays out VivaKi's POV on social media and some of how we are planning to help the VivaKi and creative agencies approach this burgeoning area.
They reference the VivaKi social media summit that I was proud to be part of leading in September. Was a great opportunity to meet industry luminaries and boldly plot the way forward.
The Art of Friending.How to move from conversation to conversion in social media, the communications platform of the future
Consumers seeking a sense of community, camaraderie and conversation have built platforms where they can talk about anything and everything. Portals dedicated to dog lovers, moms, artichoke or political aficionados, sports fanatics, gossip mongers and any other common and uncommon interest groups abound. Social networks are huge and scalable, and they facilitate emotional brand connections more than anything we've seen so far in digital media. Consumers have set up more than half a million custom social networks. Today, there are 100 million Facebook users and close to 1 million active Twitter users, according to company estimates. Marketers are racing to find unobtrusive ways to enter these conversations.
In September, a group of social-media junkies from across Publicis Groupe convened with leading social-media vendors to answer the most pressing question about consumer conversation: "How can our clients use social media to power the connection of people to each other and to brands, globally and at scale?" We determined that the solution is to create a common marketplace for social insights, experiences, ads and outcomes.
Advertising has historically been an exposure and intrusion practice -- get in someone's face and talk about the attributes of a brand. That approach works less and less effectively all the time, and it is absolutely fatal in the social arena. As in every successful marketing campaign, actionable human insights are critical to social media. Understanding the passions, expectations, needs and desires of the people you want to talk to -- or inspire to talk about you -- is vital. Marketers (and those of us who serve them) need to take a close look at what's going on in the consumer's world. We need to listen. That's no small task when you consider the vast number of conversations going on in the social Web, but the truth is we can get plenty of data about social networking from resources like Converseon, TruCast and BuzzMetrics to help us figure out what's happening in the consumer's intimate sphere. This data well augments the rich insights we have become expert at gleaning from other sources and studies.
Want to reach Millennials? Just observe how these 18- to 24-year-olds behave in social sites. Digitas did just that on behalf of Starburst and its new Gummi Burst candy. When Starburst launched its "Share Something Juicy" campaign, it offered Millennials an opportunity to express themselves through an animated Web series called Nite Fite and a Starburst-branded YouTube channel that hosted short "Starburst Moments" videos. By allowing consumers to express individuality and participate creatively in the campaign, Starburst joined and enhanced consumer conversation.
Still enjoying relative infancy, social media does not have a lot of built-in access points or mechanisms to achieve scalable audiences. This has to change. Perhaps the most beneficial thinking we can bring to social media is to push for platforms that help deliver the scale and access of other mass media while remaining sensitive to the unique qualities of social audiences.
Off-the-shelf social-media programs and platforms are a powerful starting point, although not a complete solution. There are a number of vendors and partners in the online space that are developing tools that make activation in the social space easier and more efficient. Leveraging widget and social-application platforms allows us to focus on the messages and the social experiences that bring them to life.
We also need to source social-media audiences at scale. Agencies and their clients can build platforms around brands, much like we did with Audience on Demand (AOD), a partnership between VivaKi and four major internet networks (Google, Yahoo, MSN and Platform A). We need to aggregate social-media inventory in much the same way, reaching keenly defined communities via influencers and with ads that resonate within the social context.
Finally, we need to more carefully align social and search, which feed each other. Social bookmarking, blogs, review sites and social-network listings increasingly influence search results. Social media has opened up new avenues for pay-per-click ads and has created more opportunity for search to be a vital function for each site (e.g., Twitter search). We must capitalize on this interconnectivity to create more points of entry.
With the right combination of scalable social insights, experiences and ads, a social-media program can go far. However, it will fail to succeed until we put the proper measurement mechanisms in place.
Right now, the systems don't exist. Media planners can't pull comparisons of social media and TV, even though social media is quickly becoming a breeding ground for more consumer conversations and interactions. This is a priority for us and for others who want to find the best way to measure social-media engagement. But what is engagement? It must be something more than page views or downloads in this context. Perhaps the number of fans or the number of pass-alongs to friends? User-submitted content, from photos or comments to reviews or full blog posts to well-produced videos, needs different weighting. We must decide, define and deliver.
We believe the solution lies in the intersection of emotion and performance. When we can capture and combine emotional outcomes and performance metrics, we will have a more complete understanding of how well a particular effort is working, and what we might do to make it work harder.
Social media is perhaps the most powerful communications platform of the future. Making it viable is more than a VivaKi priority: it is an industry imperative. An open source, collaborative effort is the most effective way forward. In other words, "friending" all partners.
David Kenny and Jack Klues are managing partners at VivaKi, Publicis Groupe's entity overseeing the digital and media assets of Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group, ZenithOptimedia and Denuo.