You’ll hear every social media marketing guru, expert and armchair commentator spout the basics: “it’s a dialogue” or “socalise your brand”.
Once we get past these trite little nuggets, it opens up the question of how the traditional advertising creative fits into this new many-to-many-facilitating-dialogue-engage-the-community way of talking to consumers.
In the past the creative’s job has been packaging the client’s message in stories, jokes or beautiful images. They’re in charge of crafting the carrot to win consumer engagement. Thing is, on social media, the carrot is built in.
People are there to engage: to talk, ask questions, share information and whine about stuff. Getting people to engage with brands is more about being relevant to the platform, being likable and being active than it is about jokes, stories or quirky characters.
I don’t mean to say that successful social media campaigns aren’t tricky. It’s just that the hard bit is in the strategic managing of conversations and communities– something that creatives traditionally haven’t had a lot to do with.
Air New Zealand’s @AirpointsFairy was essentially a way to get people talking to and about the airline. Its success lies in giving people something they want, and then being available when they want to engage.
The part the traditional creative plays is in creating the story around it – making it a fairy, giving it a personality, having it grant wishes, illustrating the avatar as a cute, partially-clad blonde etc. Arguably the campaign would have been just as effective with a different story: an @RobFyfe profile, a rogue employee, or a treasure hunt.
If anything is to survive online it needs to be strategically pitch perfect – relevant and targeted to audience behaviour, not just the coolest, most creative or most innovative implementation technique. So when it comes to social media campaigns the mantra shouldn’t be “creative is king”. It’s “creative is important, but only if it fits the strategy”. So where does that leave those carefully disheveled, part-time filmmaker/musician/artists loitering around the creative department?
If they want to stay relevant to the digital consumer they’ll have to pack in the foosball and go learn from the nerds in planning. They might make Latin jokes and wear too much corduroy, but in the digital world, they’re the real kings.