In an eMarketer interview late last fall, Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital Marketing & Social Media for Nestle, had a quote that I latched onto. He said, “Social media is less of a stand-alone appetizer than a basic food ingredient for all marketing.” I think the food analogy coming from a forward-looking head of digital marketing at one of the world’s largest food manufacturers is more than a play on words. It is extremely sound advice delivered in a clever, succinct sound bite.
We have a similar philosophy permeating our agency: “Technology is not an idea… but ideas can no longer survive without technology.” This builds on what Pete said. We’ve found that social media, as a technology, has the power to transform an ad into something much more powerful. We believe that social media needs to be intertwined with all other creative elements normally found in TV, print, outdoor, and digital ads. This extends all the way through formerly static owned media such as packaging, in-store display, and delivery trucks. Social media needs to be considered an “ingredient” in the “creative recipe” the same as copy and visual design.
Storytelling is a big part of what we do as marketers. We make consumers feel something. That’s crucial in communicating to consumers what brands stand for, but only PART of the recipe for marketing success. But technology is different and uniquely powerful. Integrating social media and other interactivity into all marketing touch-points instantly gets consumers involved and places them at the center of the marketing experience. Technology is the one ingredient in a piece of creative (not the copy… not the visual look & feel) that infuses the consumer into the actual brand. Sure, it works hand-in-hand with the copy and visual to build the brand story. But it moves beyond making consumers understand something, feel something, or even encouraging them to do something. It makes consumers part of something.
Think of it this way… as a consumer, once you comment on a brand, rate it, like it, share it, post a photo including it, check into it, submit a video incorporating it, or enter a contest and tell your friends about it, you have become part of the brand. In essence, you are now inside the brand’s story and vice versa. Inseparable. Technology in the form of social media affords us the ability to weave our life stories together with brand stories. That is amazingly potent and why marketers are continuing to push forward in the social space, even as it is hard to measure success.
Our advice to clients is to make all your media interactive and social. Everything… a print ad… a TV spot… even the sign in front of your corporate headquarters… should have social/interactivity baked in (yes, another food pun). Each and every tactic should do more than one thing. It must carry the necessary messaging and branding, but it must also drive action in a social manner. QR codes, augmented reality, and hashtags are revolutionizing the call-to-action, bringing immediate satisfaction, deeper brand experiences, and most importantly, the ability to insert the consumer into the brand story through social sharing technologies.
This isn’t always easy. Options are evolving quickly with regard to technologies that provide good social integration. That’s why the creative teams at Smith Brothers are no longer just a copy writer and art director. Several years ago, we added a digital strategist as the third teammate. This fosters creative thinking across all the key elements of copy, visual design, and interactivity (with a focus on social).
So, I’d like to thank Pete Blackshaw for the analogy that efficiently and effectively explains our philosophy that social media is an essential ingredient in the creative and marketing recipes we try to cook up over here at Smith Brothers. We continually try to make consumers part of something bigger than themselves – the brand stories that intertwine in their lives every day.