Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

As Brands Get Social, They Must Listen More Than Talk

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

As Brands Get Social, They Must Listen More Than Talk

Article excerpt

Byline: Gideon Spanier

[bar] IKE A lot of senior people in marketing, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO boss Cilla Snowball now has a second computer screen in her personal office at her Marylebone HQ. This is not for following share prices and financial news, although Snowball is certainly mindful of that since her clients include Sainsbury's and BT. Her new second screen is dedicated to following social media.

"It's always on in my office and an incredibly useful, real-time snapshot," says Snowball. "I stole the idea last year from digital agency Weapon 7 -- now our partners -- who had a similar screen in their reception. Like theirs, mine tracks the key conversations around our AMV Group clients and new campaign launches."

Monitoring social media is now a key business priority. Among firms surveyed by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and ad agency group Havas, 72% said they are now "monitoring conversations about their brand". The only surprise is that it isn't 100%.

According to ISBA, around half of these companies have been using one of the new breed of specialist monitoring agencies such as Brandwatch, Radian 6 or Sysomos to help them.

Brand managers recognise social media has become not only too big to ignore but also integral to the marketing mix. Consumers are spending more time, not less, on these sites as they shun email, particularly to talk with friends. "Facebook will tell you privately they are already close to one billion users," claims the boss of one leading marketing firm.

Little wonder that 68% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) say they feel underprepared when it comes to social media, according to IBM's authoritative survey of 1700 CMOs worldwide.

Brands are desperate for guidance and help while advertising agencies, PR outfits, digital shops and online monitoring firms all battle to offer their services.

The challenge for CMOs is to decide the purpose of their social media strategy.

The temptation for brands has been to accumulate lots of friends and followers and to jump into the online conversation. As is often said, consumers are having these online conversations regardless of whether the brand has chosen to get involved or not. …

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