Four Lessons on Social Media for Brands

Branded-Hashtag1

As I shared with the class, I worked at a large highly visible firm that leveraged their corporate social accounts. As part of my role, I had the privilege to work on a major sports sponsorship activation from 2010 to 2017. Certainly, the rising influence and importance of social media in our planning and execution efforts grew exponentially in that time frame. I will share four lessons I learned throughout the experience:

    1. This may sound obvious, but make the time to develop relationships with the social teams of other brands, influencers and leaders. In pre-planning the culminating event or content, discuss the approval process for posts, suggested copy inclusive of hashtags. If there is a speaking program, a prep call may take place and the figure head often has a social media staff not on the call. It is important to coordinate the digital effort, often still an extra step for PR soldiers built pre-2007.
    2. Hashtags are the threads, digital crumbs and puzzle pieces connecting an experience or narrative. The longer the hashtag, the less likely your audience will spend the lengthy letters to include it on posts. If possible, pick a short hashtag. Do your best to use it for even longer than it feels reasonable. Often, we have a desire be fresh, relevant and of the moment. In this constantly evolving environment, things feel stale when you are on the activation side very quickly. But, resist the urge to constantly reinvent the hashtag for every campaign. I found it takes a long time to create deep positive associations with brands in a noisy digital world. The point of social is to engage customers, future customers, employees, future employees, shareholders, community and whoever else is important to your organization. Make owning the conversation with your audiences easier to follow by keeping some elements consistent.
    3. Everywhere means everywhere… use the campaign hashtag in the headline of all press releases, signage, video recaps, mastheads and digital banners. Bigger font size for the hashtag is the new ” can we make the logo bigger”.
    4. The better performing posts are seldom free. Even a small media buying budget goes a long way. I was always shocked at how different the analytics were for organic posts versus paid posts. If you want to increase visibility, traffic and engagement, followers, then supporting the posts should not be debated.

Now that we covered some tactical elements, let’s review a case study on how to integrate the moving pieces. My favorite example of a brand leveraging social media effectively across the “old” and “new” channels is the P&G campaign “#LikeaGirl” for Always. The brand pre-seeded the video created by Lauren Greenfield, a documentary film director, by sending it to various influencers and celebrities, inclusive of Vanessa Hudgens and Bella Thorne. The brand also alerted traditional media outlets to gain earned media coverage. The video was unveiled on the Always Youtube site. The #Likeagirl conversation grew online with organic support from Maria Shriver, Chelsea Clinton and Melinda Gates and many more. The premise of the campaign was to reposition a derogatory phrase that underscored unsettling data insights about attitude changes of lower confidence for young girls. The support for #Likeagirl was so positive that P&G gave the campaign a larger platform with a super bowl ad that amplified #Likeagirl.  According to the Institute for PR, “#LikeAGirl dominated the news cycle with 4.64 billion online impressions and 1,623 overwhelmingly positive placements, trending nationally on Twitter and Facebook (over 4x longer than the next-closest ad/brand) with 1.1 billion social impressions & 597,261 #LikeAGirl mentions, including over 150 organic tweets from influential leaders, actors, singers, athletes & activists.” One important analog improvement to note is, “Prior to watching the film, just 19% of 16-24s had a positive association toward ‘like a girl’. After watching, however, 76% said they no longer saw the phrase negatively.”

See for yourself…

5 comments

  1. Jobabes121 · ·

    Nice post! I especially agree with your point on the overuse of hashtags, and often times the variety kills its effect. Keeping it concise and using it on every possible media outlet beyond social media sound like the best way for consumers to remember the hashtag and associate the brand or company with that slogan. I see too much of #somanyhashtagsoninstagram whenever someone makes a post on just a selfie, which sometimes gets annoying and misses the point of hashtag. As blogs with strong yet concise message have a lasting effect, the same goes with the use of hashtags.

  2. markdimeglio · ·

    Cool post. It always amazes exactly how much goes into a successful marketing campaign. I think part of my perception is that when advertising campaigns are successful it seems almost effortless on the side of the consumer.

    You adeptly pointed out that, in fact, marketing involves being cognizant of a variety of things. One thing that I found interesting is your discussion of paid posts vs. unpaid posts. Its clear that if you want to really promote your brand you have to be really sure about the content you’re putting out there and be willing to literally put your money where your mouth is.

  3. mqzhang · ·

    Thank you for sharing your great experiences during all of those seven years! The fact that you stuck with such a long-term project must have allowed you to view unique insights on the evolving nature of marketing as the rise of technological trends has affected everything from brand engagement to sales.

    I think it’s very telling that social media and networks have become the fastest-growing frontier for advertising in this new era. Paid posts, as you have mentioned, would have been an appalling concept decades ago, and no one would have signed off for a budget to accommodate such expenditures. But here we are, with massive corporations posting on Instagram and Snapchat for the sake of engaging with their audiences. I think we are more engaged with our favorite products that ever before, with digital tools at our disposal that have never before existed to such an effective capacity that allow us to communicate more effectively with corporations about our wants and needs.

    In the end, marketing is a field that is highly responsive to changing trends in communication strategies. As this landscape continuously changes, I can’t wait to see what the next big leap in marketing technology will lead us!

  4. kennedy__bc · ·

    My thoughts after reading this post went right back to our in class presentation by the BC social media team. While presenting, much like you, they discussed the differences in organic vs paid advertisement statistics and it got me wondering about how much is too much when it comes to overloading consumers with advertisements. It’s a slippery slope when it comes to over saturating the market with hashtags vs leaving to small of a digital footprint.

    Although I have heard about the #LikeAGirl campaign this post opened my eyes to just how impactful and well coordinated its execution was. The statistics you brought up were mind blowing and impactful. The power of celebrities when it comes to spreading a message is a amazing tool that I think people are just beginning to understand and partially due to this class it helped me recognize it as well. Great post Yasmine!

  5. JohnWalshFilms · ·

    First of all, this is a really cool ad, and it’s incredible you had the chance to be behind-the-scenes promoting such a popular and effective campaign.

    As a coworker of Melissa and part of the BC Social Media team, I’m so curious what the paid sponsorship was like at a large corporation. For a non-profit, educational brand like BC, it’s almost strange to see sponsored posts, but with a large corporation, I feel like it’s something consumers come to expect. The impressions and stats on this campaign are incredible – especially the 150 organic celebrity posts – which I think is an indicator of great content and the perfect marriage of sponsored marketing. It’s clear to us that poor content, no matter how much money you throw at it, simply won’t generate viewership, and I’d love to know the kind of budgets you invested in this awesome campaign and how much that bolstered the already – strong organic viewership.

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