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

By Alison Readings, Renegade Media

The afternoon keynote saw a feisty talk from Roisin Donnelly, corporate marketing director and head of marketing Proctor and Gamble, who last spoke at the IAB Engage in 2007, and today themed her speech around “the consumer is boss”.

“The focus of every brand should be the consumer”, she said. Sounds simple I thought, but the more she went into detail about the deep and extensive relationships Proctor & Gamble builds with their consumers the more I thought about brands I have encountered which aren’t as forward thinking.

I’m not going to name and shame but I think everyone at some point has experience with a brand which clearly is not making any effort to learn about its target audience. And, the easiest way to vent your frustrations is of course via a social network, which as I’ve mentioned earlier and is a recurring topic of today, that everything is in real-time. Once a message is out there, it spreads, particularly a negative comment.

“As a brand, you can no longer tell and sell”, Roisin pointed out, adding that brands need to engage and persuade, connect, collaborate and innovate to drive higher loyalty.

Roisin talked about how feedback from their consumers helped them to build easier ways for consumers to purchase. As a woman and most definitely responsible for 90% of the household budget (as Carol Bartz said earlier), I can’t possibly see how this is good for my bank balance! In terms of enhancing and bettering my shopping experience of the brand, making these processes easier is only a good thing.

Two successful campaigns for which P&G has paid particular attention to social media are sensational Old Spice and the lesser known hair care brand, Aussie. Both campaigns have captured the zeitgeist online and brought the brands to life with emotional connectionsthat transcend into real world. I think each of these demonstrate how P&G has taken the time to understand and gain real insight into the mind of the consumer, and are very clever ways to engage with them to make it real.

I was surprised when Roisin said she initially thought there was no difference between the online consumer and the offline, but it made sense when she explained how she’d discovered there is a certain type of person who spends most of their time online. Gamers and geeks!  100% of their time and lives are online.  She was right to think this in the early days of the web, but now the landscape has changed so greatly they cannot be the same person. We all know a gamer and a geek don’t we – mainly teenagers and lads in the 20s who rarely see daylight and suffer from RSI of the fingers and wrist!

An interesting point she made towards the end was that the line between the media and message has disappeared; we no longer have above the line and below the line campaigns. Everything is one and brand owners need the big ideas to engage with consumers make a campaign successful.

“To supercharge your brand online will be absolutely and utterly at the heart of our campaigns.” I agree with you Roisin.

Roisin speaking at IAB Engage 2010 'Supercharge Your Brand'

Roisin speaking at IAB Engage 2010 'Supercharge Your Brand'

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