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Brands and Social: Finding the Perfect Fit

  |  March 14, 2014   |  Comments

When deciding on a strategy for social, brands much ask themselves if a particular social network allows the brand to represent itself in a way that's authentic and sustainable, while capturing the attention of a large segment of the target audience.

As Facebook turns 10 and the proliferation of social networks continues, brands find themselves with a difficult decision - how to be all things, to all people, in all places.

Over the past year, more and more brands have sought to get into the real-time and content businesses. Sometimes these two merge, but often they are, at best, complementary strategies for reaching an audience. But where to reach them has become as challenging, if not more challenging, as what to say when reaching them.

After years of explaining that a 30-second TV spot would not work on the Internet, brands don't need the lecture when it comes to social media. They understand that even though Instagram and Pinterest are both visual networks, they require different communication plans to maximize the consumer connection.

So, with the demands of at least six, maybe 10, credible networks vying for attention from brands based on consumer usage, what should the brand strategy be to achieve success?

The easy answer is that it depends on the brand.

Or even that you need to be where your audience is, and they are on ALL of these networks.

But perhaps the more measured answer may be to let the creative canvas dictate what you do.

There is little doubt that, with the scale across all of these platforms, you could be everywhere. But, can you afford to be everywhere? With the growing acceptance that paid media must now support owned and earned, and the varying creative opportunities of platforms, the right answer for many brands may be more focused on casting a wide net.

It's a tough sell for brands that have been throwing social network logos on TV commercials and that want to be associated with the next big thing. But brands need to ask the following: Does this site allow our brand to represent itself in a way that's authentic and sustainable to us, while capturing the attention of a large segment of our target audience?

If yes, then invest. If no, then step back and shift focus to those properties that do allow you to create relevant connections. Tell your story in the formats most natural to your brand and be comfortable with the properties best suited for that. If social media is based on authenticity, then you have an obligation to deliver for your customers and, in this case, less will be more.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare). The focus is participating with those companies leading changes that most impact consumer media consumption, brand favorability, and purchase behavior.

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP. Together, GroupM agencies represent almost $30 billion in overall North American billings (RECMA).

Chris helped guide the development of GroupM Next, which was established to deliver the best thinking and new insights from within the GroupM community. The unit also focuses on technology innovation connecting all media channels, but especially, online, social, mobile, and addressable.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments are the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which managed $1.3 billion in search billings globally and grew to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries. In 2009, Chris created the research division of GroupM Search and developed research studies that deepened the understanding of consumer behavior across search and social media for leading brands and garnered global traction - most notably: The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption; The Virtuous Circle: The Role of Social Media in the Purchase Pathway;and From Intent to In-Store: Search's Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile.

Chris entered the digital industry in 1996 when he joined search marketing agency WGI (later acquired by Tempus Group). He has been with the WPP and GroupM family of companies since 2000 when, recognizing search as an emerging media channel with incredible potential for brands, WPP acquired Tempus Group and CIA, and ultimately rebranded the search marketing agency as Outrider. As senior partner and managing director of Outrider, Chris delivered on GroupM's vision for the channel, leading the organization to 500 percent growth with global presence over five years, and establishing award-winning search marketing strategies that have become industry-wide best practices. In 2002, Chris successfully implemented the integration of search into the cross-channel media planning process at MEC, creating the first search marketing practice to sit within a media communications and planning company. In 2007, he guided the business expansion of search marketing practices into all GroupM agencies. In 2009, Chris was named CEO of GroupM Search, where he was responsible for driving global search strategy for the organization, while fostering the innovative application of search as an integrated channel. In his role, Chris also provided digital strategy counsel for clients, including AT&T, Dell, Audi, Volkswagen, and more.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace and how the space is evolving, and serves as a regular resource to national and industry press. Chris contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com. In fall 2013, Chris was honored as an inductee into the ClickZ Digital Hall of Fame.

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