Experiments to evaluation: social media gets serious

You might notice there's something of a theme to this week's issue. We spotted it too, and decided to embrace it with a flash on the front cover: Social in focus.

It would be satisfyingly neat to claim it as a carefully planned editorial strategy, with each piece - from an audience with Google+'s Marvin Chow (page 14) to Simeon Duckworth's essay on digital data (page 10) and how to play social-media validation (page 28) - thoughtfully commissioned to the theme.

It didn't work like that, though. These are simply the issues preoccupying our readers (and so our writers); the fact that they have all come bundling along together this week is a coincidence that reflects a growing obsession with getting social right.

Gone are the days when a luxury car marketer excitedly told me how clever he'd been buying a social strategy on My Space (average audience age: hmm, 12 maybe; average weekly pocket money: £2.50). And it's been months since one of the biggest ad agencies crowed how it had finally persuaded a small FMCG client to sign off its first social-media campaign: a competition on Facebook that, the agency beamed, had attracted, wow, more than 1000 entries. From the agency's glee, I assumed its fee for coming up with this lame idea involved a rather bigger sum.

Simply being seen to use social media is no longer an objective for marketers, nor even their agency partners. As Gordon MacMillan writes (page 21): 'If 2011 and 2012 were about first experimenting and then putting a social media strategy into play, this year has to be about starting to think what is working and what is not.' While the recession has brought so many pressures of accountability to bear across many aspects of marketing activity, social media has too often escaped such rigours and the social specialist has grown fat.

The marketing principles of clear objectives, accurate planning and robust evaluation are overdue in the social-media space. Last week's WARC report, 'Seriously Social', concluded: 'It is time for social media to be taken more seriously.' Like all good reports, it does a fine job of stating the damn obvious, but gives us the license we need to admit it and act on it. Finally it feels as though marketers are starting to get social into perspective.

Claire Beale is editor of Marketing

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer