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4A's Conference

Which Brands 'Get' Social Media? Amex, Audi, Griffin's, Say Facebook, Twitter Execs

At 4As Conference Conversation Turns to Digital Platforms

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In a panel moderated by Group M Chief Digital Officer Rob Norman at the 4A's Transformation Conference yesterday, executives from Twitter and Facebook discussed their "online hero marketers." And they weren't all top-name brands headquartered in the U.S.

Adam Bain, president of global revenue for Twitter, and Blake Chandlee, VP of global partnerships for Facebook, both pointed to American Express as a brand with admirable work in the social sphere, including initiatives syncing tweets to actual card purchases and discounts. For example, the brand launched a capability that enables consumers to make an online purchase through only a tweet and a hashtag. Mr. Bain also pointed to the "unique relationship" that Audi has built between Twitter and TV, referencing its status as an early adopterof including Twitter hashtags in TV commercials.

But Mr. Chandlee noted that it's not only the big global brands that gain that "hero" status. He referenced an example in which a New Zealand cookie company called Griffin's listened to consumers who rallied on Facebook to ask the company to revive a shutdown brand, Choco-ades. The company brought back the brand, and as of only a few months ago it's the number-one biscuit brand in the country, he claimed.

"What is exciting is that brands realize you do need real-time content," said James Gross, co-founder of digital content-marketing startup Percolate. "Red Bull is creating 100-200 tweets per day. It's a leading indicator of where brands have to go. I'm fine with the newsroom metaphor [for brand marketing] if it leads us to brands creating more relevant content."

Still, brands need to go beyond these strategies when it comes to effectively connecting online ads and content with the right customers, explained Michael Zimbalist, VP-research and development operations at The Times Co. He referenced Ricochet, a product the Times launched last April that lets advertisers bind their ads to specific articles from a publisher's archive for a period of time. The technology then creates a unique URL for the selected articles, which the advertisers can then distribute to their social networks. (The company announced yesterday that it opened the technology to a host of publishers, including Ad Age.) "We want to add value for brands and give them an opportunity to fix advertising for that content," he said.

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