A New ACID Test for Spreadable Campaigns

The rise of social media as a form of publishing or sharing content has suddenly and permanently changed the media landscape. The vast majority of content being circulated today is shared socially over the Internet.

As people’s behaviors shift to meet this change in their environment, the traditional model of publishing is becoming obsolete and as a result the public has a much better ability to select the content that they want and ignore what they don’t.

For advertisers this means that the ability to directly buy exposure for your messages will be diminished as not only will the share of voice that is buyable reduce but people will also increasingly reject this type of content as alternative non-commercial (or less commercial) sources become more widespread and credible.

We already recognize the power of creativity in marketing. As an IPA study has shown creatively awarded campaigns are 11 times more efficient at growing market share than un-awarded campaigns. But the importance of powerful creative work in a few years time may be greater than ever before – I fully expect something of a creative revolution just over the horizon. In the near future, reach and frequency will be a lot harder to simply buy; you’ll need to put your wallet away and instead think about the best way to entertain, interest, or be useful to your audience because you’ll need your audience to value and share your content if you hope it to reach enough of them.

On the other hand, is appealing to your audience and driving shared reach enough? Ultimately we’re communicating with an objective in mind and unless the communication is strongly branded (so the audience knows who it’s from) and prompts people to progress in their journey toward a desired behavior, you won’t achieve your objectives no matter how many people you reach.

So what are the qualities that signify a creative idea that actually works in this earned media world? Below are my suggestions for four top symptoms of having a great idea on your hands, which could be used as a crude but easy to apply ACID test of campaign ideas. What do you think? Are any of these redundant? Have I missed any? It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

The New ACID Test (Beta)

Is the idea… Actually sharable? This is the big one. The A may make for a better acronym, but it’s the “actually” word here that’s really critical. We’re all guilty of loving the smell of our own roses but be brutal – would a typical member of your audience really be inclined to share this idea? There’s no cast iron unbiased test for this, so it’s hugely subjective but maybe ask a few impartial members of your audience. Do you like it? Would you use it? Would you tell your friends and family about this or send it to them?

Is it… Credible coming from your brand? If the idea is out of character for your brand, then your audience will have a hard time accepting it. Most brands, even if it’s only in the mind of the consumers, have a territory in which they belong and can credibly speak. If they step outside their territory it just doesn’t make sense.

Does it… Involve the audience? Modern branded communication is a two-way affair. Some form of participation is an all but essential part of a great campaign.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to feature your audience in everything (fast becoming a new marketing cliché) but allow them to give feedback and take part, lead a movement, or have a discussion. What’s a creative and interesting way to have the audience literally take part in what the brand is doing?

Does it… Demonstrate a shared passion? Not only does the idea need to sit in a territory that is credible for the brand, but this territory also needs to be of interest or use to the audience. Find the thing that your brand is passionate about and your audience has some interest in and focus there.

So those are my four. Let me know what others you would have/remove. Try not to stuff up the acronym though. We all love acronyms.


By Craig Page, digital strategy director at Havas Worldwide in Sydney.

You can also catch me on Twitter @craigdpage

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