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Social Advocacy Summit: Retail And Facebook Execs Discuss Shift To Converged Marketing

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The continued influence of social media has encouraged many retailers to rethink their marketing strategies. Facebook is one “tech titan” significantly altering how brands develop and share marketing messages and campaigns to generate buzz, increase engagement and garner long-term loyalty.

During the inaugural Social Advocacy Summit, a one-day event held during mid-October 2012 in New York City and sponsored by Extole, marketers across industries and verticals gathered to learn how to better amplify their brands on Facebook. In addition, event presentations uncovered how the Facebook Open Graph is impacting marketing decision-making and investments across channels.

Rebecca Lieb, Analyst at the Altimeter Group, hosted a panel featuring executives from companies including Facebook, Williams-Sonoma, Inc., and Seamless. For the session, titled: The Convergence Of Owned, Earned And Paid Media, Lieb revealed how different forms of media content are merging together to help organizations create one central brand message fueled by the voice of the customer.

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Lieb defined converged media as “two or more channels that come together and create a hybrid media type.” She went on to define owned, earned and paid media formats as the following:

  • Owned media: Marketing content developed by an organization.
  • Earned media: Comments from users on social networks such as Facebook, as well as other behaviors, including “Likes” and shares.
  • Paid media: Traditional ads necessitating a media buy.
     

As social media adoption continues to grow, owned and earned media are influencing decision-making for paid media, Lieb reported. “This is the opposite of how marketing once worked,” she said. “Since advertising typically is the most expensive, this paid media guided the use of other types of marketing content and media.”

In the new era of customer engagement, many retailers now are pinpointing brand messaging and executing campaigns based on customer feedback and overall sentiment generated on social networks. For example, Seamless, an online restaurant ordering service, relies on customers to share what they enjoy most about the site then establishes marketing campaign themes and messaging, Steven Young, Head of Acquisition Marketing and Brand Awareness for Seamless, revealed.

“We want the voice of the customer to fuel our marketing content and strategy,” Young explained. “Food is very intimate: It is comforting to people and an integral part of their lives. Therefore, we decided to use the feedback we receive across social sites as a centerpiece for our marketing campaigns.”

Because today’s consumers are more eager and willing to share brand and product insights across social media, retailers should embrace the instant communication provided via Facebook and other sites to generate ongoing dialogue with followers, according to Chris Maliwat, Strategic Partnership Development of Commerce at Facebook. Relevant and compelling marketing campaigns, he added, will flourish from there.

“People are going to talk about your brand whether or not you ask them to,” Maliwat said. “Marketers must shift from a more broadcast model of communication, to a conversation. Organizations must strive to provide the right content that will help seed the social conversations they want to take place.”

Williams-Sonoma Evolves From Legacy Marketing To Converged Media

Williams-Sonoma, Inc., a furniture and home goods manufacturer and retailer, eagerly is transitioning from traditional marketing mediums — such as catalogs and email campaigns — to more integrated, cross-channel methods. As a result, the company has been able to garner more engagement and loyalty for its variety of brands, which include Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, PB Teen, West Elm and Rejuvenation.

“Our converged media strategy is very complementary to the direct marketing heritage that is integral to the Williams-Sonoma brands,” said Jenni Zaidi, Director of Online Marketing for Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Zaidi is responsible for the content and community within the Pottery Barn Kids and PB Teen brands. An Extole client, Williams-Sonoma, Inc., leverages Facebook to generate buzz around contests, and make smarter decisions regarding paid advertisements on the social network.

“Using social media is such a powerful way for us to connect with our community,” Zaidi added. “Social networking drives everything from awareness to acquisition, as well as loyalty. But social media isn’t really a channel: It’s a horizontal layer that touches every part of the organization and has become a key tool in our marketing arsenal.”

Pottery Barn Increases Amplification Of Impressions 50-Fold With Open Graph

Innovative retailers are utilizing the Facebook Open Graph to blur the lines between their earned and paid media. The Open Graph protocol enables third-party web sites and pages to integrate with the social graph. New enhancements to the protocol allow organizations to create more descriptive actions for consumers to publish on Facebook timelines, creating richer social experiences and conversations.

Pottery Barn successfully rolled out contests on Facebook by leveraging owned content in conjunction with the Open Graph. In one instance, the brand tapped the viral nature of Facebook to better reach brand fans and followers with sweepstakes information, according to Zaidi. “We developed content to get people to come back and enter to win $100 gift cards on a daily basis,” she said, “and released videos and other forms of messages on Facebook to drive referrals using Open Graph.”

By leveraging the Facebook Open Graph, Pottery Barn experienced a 50-fold amplification of impressions from its baseline, which currently rests at 1.8 million, Zaidi revealed. In addition, more than 50% of contest entries were derived from Open Graph messages.

“Open Graph actions are extensions of the ‘Like’ button and offer consumers the ability to express themselves more descriptively,” Maliwat said. Facebook currently is developing additional customer actions for the Open Graph “that feel natural” and weave more seamlessly into the social networking experience, Maliwat reported. In early October 2012, news broke that Facebook began testing a new feature called “Collections,” which includes a “Want” button. Brands such as Michael Kors, Pottery Barn and Victoria’s Secret currently are testing the button in an effort to converge social content and commerce.

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