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

By Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the IAB.

At the end of last year I wrote about the top priorities for digital media regulation in 2010. One of which was the industry’s extension of the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) into new areas digital media space.

Last week the advertising industry announced this extension. The aim of the proposals is to include areas of non-paid for space, such as marketing communications on advertisers’ own websites and within social media, within the ASA’s existing self-regulatory remit. ‘Traditional’ paid-for digital advertising (such as PPC search marketing, display, video, mobile etc) already falls within remit.

The announcement has been publicly welcomed by the Government and the Conservatives alike. This week, in response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee report on alcohol, the Government welcomed and encouraged “the action being taken by the regulators and industry in reviewing these areas.” And, also this week, speaking at ISBA’s annual conference, Conservative Media Spokesperson, Ed Vaizey, praised the move (he also signalled more government marketing online if the Conservatives win a General Election).

Making as bold and significant an announcement as this with few details to determine the potential impact may not be the ideal strategy, but given the level of recent political concern on marketing to children – particularly from the Conservative Party and Dr Linda Papadopoulos’ report for the Home Office – industry will need to understand why this was done now and to also agree the principle of taking this step.

So let’s start by outlining why this is a significant step for the internet and advertising, and why digital advertisers should welcome the extended self-regulatory rules:

1. We need to deliver the same level of consumer safeguards that exist for paid-for digital media in areas on non paid-for space. Internet users need to trust the media that they’re consuming.

2. We need to ensure that the likes of social media is trusted by marketers as well. This is vital for brands to continue their strong investment in the platform.

3. We’re by no means off the hook: we need to continue to reassure policy-makers that we can self-regulate. This is  particularly important in the digital media space where more formal regulation or even (dare I say it) legislation will restrict commercial innovation. Look at the mess we’re potentially facing with the Digital Economy Bill. Justin Pearce in NMA is absolutely right: we’re doing the right thing.

But – as always – the ‘devil is in the detail’ and these are industry proposals that need to be agreed and ratified by the rule-setting body, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). The IAB also supports public scrutiny of these proposals so that the wider industry (and internet users themselves) can have a say. But the detail is where industry now needs to focus its attention. We have the momentum but, for social media, we need to agree what we consider is ‘in’ and what should be ‘out’. It won’t be easy and the IAB will deploy the greatest thinkers in social media to help us get this right.

by Rob Salmon, Director of Digital Marketing, Torchbox. Follow

Back in 1987, BROS’s top quality (in my opinion!) pop song demanded an answer to the question: ‘when will I be famous?’

It is a question that I reckon thousands upon thousands of social media campaigns could ask of their owners.

You could have the best content offering in the whole wide world (we looked at the importance of social media content last time round) but unless you go out and shout about it, there’s a good chance it will remain anonymous.

Back in the late nineties, I was the sponsorship manager on Carling’s Premier League sponsorship. We paid lots for the rights – but then we paid lots more to make the sponsorship famous through PR, advertising, relationship marketing and via a competition website.

In my mind, social media campaigns should be no different. You get the offer up and running. Then you do all you can to make your target market aware of it. ‘Build it and they will come’ might work for a minority of campaigns but for the majority you’ve got to get out there and shout about it. Think Tears for Fears – ‘Shout Shout Let It All Out!’.

So how do you do that? By utilising all the marketing tools you have at your disposal.

Let’s take the example of a Facebook page with the simple objective of growing a community of brand loyalists (yes, I’m sure you’d have more comprehensive objectives that that…)

Advertise: There are hundreds of thousands of Facebook pages. To achieve stand out, consider advertising it with Facebook. It’s not rocket science to say that if your target market is aware of your offering they are far more likely to interact with it.

PR: Get out there and PR the new page. Source relevant blogs, forums etc. Let them know about your offer and what makes it newsworthy.

Your Media Channels: From email newsletters, to website integration to TV commercials, to business cards (surely you’d be better off listing this than a fax number?!) to email sign off. Put it out there. Shout about it.

Do this sort of stuff for a compelling offering and you’re far more likely to trigger a viral spread where friends share with friends who share with friends…

Whatever you think of BROS and their infectious pop songs. There’s one thing you can’t deny. ‘When will I be famous?’ was a massive hit. If you want your social campaign to be similarly successful, it’s worth asking your agency how they are going to make it famous.

PS If you have no idea who BROS are, I’m guessing that it is down to the fact you are lucky enough to be too young to remember them. Hey ho. Fear not. You can view ‘When will I be famous?’ on Youtube.

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…

By , Associate Director – Social Media, Tamar

Before I start this blog, I must apologise for both the tenuous nature of my analogy, and the actual origin of the story too. Both may make you chuckle, or they might simply make you wonder “What the hell was he searching for THAT for?” – but hopefully you can see past my eccentric search habits and make it through to the end of my story, for therein lies the gold… Read more…

by Rob Salmon, Director of Digital Marketing, Torchbox,

Did you watch any of the ski cross in the Winter Olympics? The one where four top class skiers line-up before racing down a rocking and a rolling rollercoaster of a track over bumps and jumps at blistering speeds in a quest to beat the rest and make it to the bottom first. Like a James Bond ski chase where you don’t know whose going to triumph. It was incredibly compelling content.

I made a point of watching as much as I could. I told my family. My friends. My workmates. Maybe they too went and watched and then told their circles.

So what relevance does this have to social media?

Well, if you want people to become a fan of your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter or share your iPhone app, I reckon you had better make sure it has a compelling content offer.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with a Winter Olympic discipline akin to watching paint dry. And I don’t think watching paint dry is ever going to command a large or highly engaged audience (although maybe this YouTube link which has been watched 33k time proves that wrong!?). Read more…

By Iain MacMillan, RMM and the IAB Social Media Council education sub-group

When considering how to make best use of social technologies and media, it can be hard to know where to start. Making an organisation’s interactions amongst its employees, customers, enthusiasts or prospects more social can have numerous benefits -and can be achieved in many and various ways.

With this in mind, we believe a broad framework of social media activity types would be most beneficial – not only for those who lack experience in this area, but also for people for whom a simple check-list might be a useful aide memoire.

We’ve devised a list of six ways in which brands can use social technologies to impact upon a business’ marketing function.

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…

Amy Kean, senior PR and marketing manager, IAB.

The results of an IAB and Opinion Matters survey amongst brands appeared in Marketing Mag today under the headline ‘Major Brands Sceptical of Social Media’. The article presents a few stats from the study, which investigated the views of 80 senior-level marketers.  These included the fact that almost a quarter (22%) of brands have made social media a core part of their communications strategy, whilst our research found that only 7% of respondents haven’t yet embraced social media in any way. Read more…