As Digital Prefect I had my beady eye firmly fixed on who would win the social media award at last week’s PR Week awards, an industry thumbs up to those boldly leading the way in a field where many PROs are still only delicately tip-toeing.
And I was not disappointed. The winning campaign, the Ikea iPhone App, certainly displayed the key attributes that social media marketing enables: two way communication, integration, adaptation, and functionality.
Perhaps the only element that was slightly lacking was the creativity of the application – which PR week describes as “essentially a PDF version of the store catalogue.” But even this weakness demonstrates where Cake (who developed the campaign for Ikea) is ahead of the social media game; choosing a functional app with longevity over a creative and amusing app which is often only a fad, at best.
So what made an award winning campaign for Ikea and Cake?
- Two way communication – after the first version of the app was released, users were invited to suggest improvements. An improved version of the app was then released a mere three months later based on the most popular improvement suggestions. Two way communication is one of the most powerful tools that social media offers – allowing brands to directly interact with their stakeholders. Many brands neglect this approach for fear of negative outcomes, but Ikea and Cake have demonstrated how powerful stakeholder interaction can be – and that it can be used to proactively to positive effect rather than reactively as a customer service mechanism.
- Integration – Cake used multiple outlets to capture the user feedback with suggestions arriving via email, Twitter using the hashtag #IKEAappideas or by phone. But the integration didn’t stop their, Cake also approach ‘influential voices’ in target areas with exclusive information and videos about the app to encourage them to share the information with their followers. This generated 1,383 tweets and 328 blog posts, the icing on the cake (get it) was that the agency then used the online buzz to secure national print coverage, for a campaign which otherwise would not have been particularly newsworthy for the print media. Leveraging a Digital campaign to secure print coverage demonstrates integration and a well thought out strategy. You don’t need to approach all media platforms at the same time – think about how you can maximise coverage with a tactical approach.
- Adaptation – the three month turnaround for the second version of the application is actually a record for an app update. It demonstrates that there was always a commitment to acting on the user suggestions, rather than merely a PR stunt. And the improvements are of course for the benefit of the brand as well because it develops an app that is more effective for its users.
- Functionality – whilst an online catalogue does not seem the most exciting use of social media, it does have real functionality. When I moved house last year the print catalogue inevitably got lost in the move and this application would have been very useful to plan our purchases in advance rather than running round Ikea like a headless chicken on numerous occasions (never much fun in the run up to Christmas I should warn you).
Award winning campaigns always provide food for thought, but this one particularly demonstrates how social media can cut through the gimmicks and fads to produce a campaign that is effective for the company and its customers alike.
I read with interest Mark Ritson’s article in Marketing Week, rebuking his client for big budget spend on social media and pointing out that Facebook, Twitter and the like only reach a small percentage of a companies stakeholders (largely of course depending on who those stakeholders were). It was wonderfully refreshing to see a Marketing professional that doesn’t blindly jump on the social media bandwagon, but instead recognises that its merits need to be weighed up against a companies individual marketing requirements.
Refreshing though it might have been, I do feel that Ritson also missed the point – social media should not be about mass marketing and reaching out to millions of consumers in the way that advertising or direct marketing might. Rather, it is about a targeted approach, providing useful and interesting content to the digital generation on platforms that they already actively engage with. It allows the opportunity for engagement and collaboration with companies and brands, but it does not enforce this.
If companies ignore this opportunities they neglect to even open the door to engagement and collaboration.
Ritson is also right that it does not need to command a major chunk of marketing budget, but the investment with social media is largely time and that does need to be realistically accounted for.
Social media should be integrated into the wider marketing mix, not necessarily as a predominant element (though again that is dependent on the company) but as another string to the bow, and this in itself emphasises the need for strategy.
This does not have to include an arduous process of months of consultation and a 100 page report before social media strategies can be implemented (by which point things will have moved on anyway) but it should include a thorough analysis of what a company hopes to gain from social media, how this can best be achieved and a realistic exploration of the platforms available to implement this.