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@ pcAds: How Brands Use Social Media

When it comes to social media, an area dominated by the consumer, where do brands fit in? At paidContent Advertising, Adam Ostrow, SVP of content and executive editor, Mashable; Laura O’Shaughnessy, GM, SocialCode; and Beth Waxman-Arteta, chief marketing officer, JWT New York, in a panel moderated by ContentNext executive editor Ernie Sander, discussed the potential for brands, what they’ve seen that has succeeded, and what’s next.

It’s not the size that counts: What kinds of marketers have the most competitive edge? Waxman-Arteta says it’s not necessarily the bigger companies that do well; it’s the one who are fastest with social media. “Our role, as an agency, is to help organizations change how they’re thinking about marketing and how they’re executing it. If I were the CMO of a major organization, I’d ask myself: Are we flexible enough? Do we have a structure that responds in real time? Am I, the CMO, personally involved?”

Customer service benefits from social media: Ostrow stressed the importance of the customer service component of social media. For example, he said, people like to complain about travel. Airlines like JetBlue and Virgin maximize their social media platforms to proactively solve customer service issues and as a result, they come out ahead of their competitors. Other airlines who mute themselves on these platforms add to the bad rap the industry has.

With the customer service aspect comes the human aspect. O’Shaughnessy brought up the notion of what’s acceptable and non-acceptable in a social world — and how it’s not all that different from the real world. “The more human you behave in the moment,” she said, “the better for the brand.”

Deeper analytics: Determining social media success is about more than just the number of followers or the number of retweets. O’Shaughnessy says it’s about the impact you have, how you engaged in the conversation. “As a brand, you can enter the most powerful conversation — the one between users.” Ostrow talked about Nielsen Insight’s offerings and how they don’t just show how many people retweeted something, but also the potential audience the tweets reached.

Opportunities for marketers: Ostrow says what marketers are now asking for, in addition to display advertising, is content integration. Mashable, for example, has an arrangement with Diet Coke that facilitates a conversation, showing links to other coverage, tweets and whatever other links there are tracking the discussion. Advertisers want this integration — they want to see their names attached to something getting a thousand Facebook Likes.

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