helping brands make perfect sense of social media, from IAB UK’s social media council

By Amy Kean, senior PR and marketing manager, IAB.

columboLast week some of the IAB Social Media Council hot-footed over to     Barcelona to host a session at IAB Europe’s Interact Conference. Featuring , Tom Smith, , and , our job was to take some serious social media stats and decent case studies to cut through all the waffle surrounding social media, and present stuff with substance.  We were given the brief to talk about ‘social media and brand-building’ and this delivered, from Brad’s latest research results with Facebook to Tom’s Skinny Cow case study and Robin’s work for Marmite.
I won’t go into too much detail about the presentations because they’re all available to download from the website, but what struck me as most interesting were the questions upon questions that followed the case studies shown during the session, largely from other agency folk:
“What was your ROI to the nearest decimal place?”
“How does the amount of friends correlate to the amount of products sold in the month of June last year, before the campaign ran?”
“That may have worked for your brand of washing powder, but there’s no conversation about my brand of washing powder, so where do I even begin?”
“What the hell would you have done if someone said something rude on Twitter?”*
*not the actual questions asked, but you get the picture.

Part of my role requires me to attend social media events on a regular basis and I can confirm that these were not exceptional circumstances. Social media case studies are subject to a type of scrutiny that I haven’t quite seen in the rest of digital, which is perhaps why you see so few of them of the public eye.  I think there’s 4 reasons why this happens. Read more…

by (vice SMC chair), Head of Buzz Metrics, nielsen

When something you don’t like reminds you of something you don’t like…

You know one thing I really don’t like? Sugar cubes. They really frustrate me. I mean, for something that is supposed to be so sweet and tasty, they are so annoying. Sugar cubes take forever to dissolve, and to speed up the process, I just keep stirring and stirring, making my drink cold. In addition, their form factor is supposed to be superior, but I don’t get it. I still have to use a spoon to take one and put it in my drink, just like granulated sugar. Also, there is no way to have a half a cube of sugar in my drink like there is with the other stuff. What is this post actually about, you ask? Well, I was at a meeting this week – stirring away – when I heard yet another major company talk about how they were ‘doing social media’ as they were ‘doing Facebook and Twitter.’ When I asked them why they were using these platforms, silence filled the room and puzzled expressions came across their faces.

You see, here is how many very well known companies seem to get involved in Social Media:

  1. First, an executive sees a presentation at an event, reads an article, or has a meeting with a consultant who talked about the Armageddon that is social media and the end of advertising models as we know them.
  2. This triggers a basic corporate reaction – the message flows downhill. This executive then turns to PR, Marketing, Brand, Research, etc. and tells them to put ‘Social Media’ on their list of objectives in 2010 and to go out and ‘do social media’.
  3. The final stage of this process includes the selected department determining that social media is Facebook and Twitter and therefore they launch a presence on these platforms.

Thus, when I ask them why they are doing this – i.e. what are their goals or objectives in using these platforms – they draw a blank. Social Media is a huge topic with so many activities, platforms, technologies, and aspects that it can overwhelm the most sophisticated and experienced business leader. The topic is so broad and vast, that trying to label or define it can become comical (just ask the IAB UK Social Media Council).

Rather than measure ‘social media,’ I believe companies should place much more emphasis on listening and using social media for strategy creation rather than jump right into execution or engagement. Listening and learning from this then can inform decisions to focus on destinations like Facebook and Twitter. Alternatively, companies and brands should look to define their objectives first, then determine if social media is a viable way to meet these objectives. For example, a brand may want to increase awareness, advocacy, retention, or churn, or decrease negative discussion and identify threats. A brand may want to begin to measure and treat each mention like an impression, something they are more familiar with measuring.  Each of these components is much easier to breakdown into its individual parts and measure accurately and effectively. Otherwise, in my mind, social media measurement becomes as useful as a sugar cube.

By Amy Kean, senior PR and marketing manager, IAB.


milkYesterday we (the IAB) released the latest results from our biannual online adspend report with PwC, and it’s fantastic news.

Numerous analysts predicted that the medium was set to experience a decline in revenues in 2009, with others believing it would remain static at best. In reality online adspend actually grew 4.2% throughout last year, topping just over £3.54 billion.

But what does this mean, I hear you cry? Well let’s refrain from comparing online with other media for a second, and instead look at it in the context of the wider UK economy. We’ve done our research, and it turns out that the online advertising market, at £3.5 billion, is the same size as the UK dairy industry.


Even more interesting? It’s the same size as the UK commercial sandwich industry. So there you have it fact fans, online is also as essential to the economy as BLTs. (But not the side orders like salad, Kettle Chips, Branston Pickle etc.)

Whilst in other media outlets we talk about the breakdown of the different formats (search, classifieds and display) and what sectors are spending the most in online, my favourite stat from this report is a secret one that I’ve saved for this blog, and one that we chose not to include in the press release.

Much has been made about the growth of social networks and the significant part they play in the digital economy, but until now the IAB has never really had much data to back this up within the PwC study. However in 2009 we have been able to estimate that social networks and community sites in the UK now represent around 9.3% of all online display – an impressive figure, given that a few years ago, it probably would have been pretty non-existent! So there’s the proof, social media contributes significantly to online ad revenues, it’s growing, and no doubt we can look forward to it getting bigger and better next year.

By Iain MacMillan, RMM and Robin Grant, We Are Social - IAB SMC Ambassadors for Social Media and Customer Service.

Customer service is arguably one of the most intriguing elements of running a successful organisation, given that:

  • It can impact on, and be impacted by, every department in the organisation
  • Different customers may perceive the same level of customer service quite differently
  • In today’s marketplace social technologies mean that everyone can see what you’re doing

We’ve outlined below ten traditional aspects of customer service, and how the emergence and adoption of social technologies has fundamentally changed the game in each.

Read more…

Fleur MD of Pass it On Media was interviewed by IAB’s senior PR and marketing manager, on social media influencers. This 10 minute video covers how to spot a worthwhile influencer, how influencers help campaigns and how they can be detrimental in a PR crisis. Fleur talks through the processes at Pass it On on how to recognize a worthwhile influencer, what tools they use for this and how important it is to keep an influencer fully involved with the campaign and be honest and transparent throughout the whole process in order to gain the best results.

At the end of the video Fleur also mentions her involvement with the IAB social media measurement sub group and how they are currently working towards setting actual usable metrics for the industry.

By Harriet Clarke, IAB

Mobile creativity has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 12 months. There are great examples of creativity in the mobile space, whether it’s been through apps or general mobile campaigns. At the IAB we’ve even decided to set up a Creative Showcase award dedicated to mobile (more on that in the next week or so, watch this space!). One of these reasons is because WE NEED MORE CASE STUDIES! We know social media on mobile is big, but there needs to be more proof… Read more…

One of my most endearing traits is consistently wanting to annoy the hell out of people, so hopefully the entire time you’re reading this you’ll have the ABBA song floating around your head and with any luck it will stay there of the rest of the day.

Now that’s the pleasantries out of the way… At the IAB we’re always eager to get our heads around the roles of ‘paid for’ and ‘earned’ media, and the relationship (sometimes conflict) between the two. Last year we hosted a debate on whether social media should be paid for, and I’m often asked why as the ‘Internet Advertising Bureau’ we discuss WOM at all. Well the IAB will be keeping its name for now but we’re always at pains to stress that as a trade body for digital marketing, we’re totally format agnostic – if it’s relevant for brands, then it’s relevant for us. In fact, we’ve been banging on about SEO for years and no one’s batted an eyelid, but with social media getting the lion’s share of attention at the moment, it’s a question that’s regularly posed.

With my background in PR, in fact my heart and head lie much more with the earned side of online communications – relationship building, researching, putting the time in to get to know your audience and impressing them with tailored messaging and content relevant to their interests. Getting a namecheck or coverage as a result of all your hard work is the result that PR practitioners yearn for, and I believe that not everyone has the ability to achieve it. But despite my PR snobbery, in this post I’ve decided to talk about the industry’s bread and butter: the advertising dollars that get ploughed into online making it the largest UK marketing medium, and where this dirty cash fits within the social media landscape (do you have THAT song going round your head now as well?)

Read more…

Peter Kwong Senior Planner at Publicis Modem asks what should clients ask for…

As everyone looks forward to 2010 being the year of social media it has become more apparent that brands will be asking increasingly for activity that leverages it. But what should they be asking for, especially from their agencies? It is not common for clients to call up and say “ you know what I would really like to do an iphone app” or “we need a facebook page”. The question of why they want to do it should be one that we ask back.

Some brands can take to social media more easily, Burberry’s facebook page has 829,000 fans at the time of this post and their commitment to building on their loyal fan base has been seen as vital to their increasing growth. For many however creating such a following doesn’t come easily but can be built given the right platform and I would say the right idea.

Another choice quote I had heard that was asked of an agency was a client wanting a “meerkat” style campaign. We all know about the success of the Aleksandr Orlov the meerkat with 669,000 fans but it is idea behind this campaign that makes people want to engage with it not because it is on a social network. It’s the same reason why people share their runs logged on Nike Plus with friends and fellow runners because these are excellent ideas that engage, entertain and are useful to peoples’ lives. As a result they do a great job in building a connection between a brand and their audience.

I hope this will be the year of great ideas that come to life in social media and the one where we can encourage brands to ask the right question.