AAAA Media Conference 2009

4A's Social-Media Panel: Be Patient, and It'll Pay Dividends

Marketers Can Use Networks to Target Their Audiences or Pass Along Messages

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NEW ORLEANS (AdAge.com) -- The final morning of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Media Conference & Tradeshow opened with CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer, who told attendees that in his 40 years of covering news stories from hubcap thefts to arms-control talks, he always came away with an opinion about what should be done. But the current economic mess? He has no idea if the government plan is right or not. It's just too complex.

Bob Schieffer
Bob Schieffer Credit: Art Beaulieu
Attendees at the meeting could relate. Most said they aren't sure how this year is going to end up but are hoping for the best. Mr. Schieffer was followed by a panel on monetizing social media, another complex idea that many marketers and agencies are trying to form opinions about.

Sarah Fay, Aegis Media CEO, told the crowd that setting up a social-media community for your brand is akin to an annuity: You have to pay into it to get it started, but eventually it starts to pay dividends. However, if you pull out early, there's a penalty. And that penalty is leaving consumers behind when they thought they were mid-conversation with your brand.

Two ways to approach it
Social Vibe President Joe Marchese explained that there are two ways to approach social media. The first is to use the information you collect to target your audience, and the second is to get people to let you use their social graphs on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the like to pass messages to their friends, a word-of-mouth model.

"Don't confuse those two conversations," he said. "One recognizes people as who they are, and the other recognizes people as broadcasters."

Later he added, "You need to realize people are your source of media, and respect that."

Sarah Fay
Sarah Fay Credit: Art Beaulieu
Ms. Fay urged attendees not to silo social media separately from rest of a marketer's efforts. "It's like science: A little drop can make a big explosion, in a good way." She said MMA, a marketing-mix-modeling firm, is now taking social media into account and is finding that marketers that use it are seeing a lift across all media. "It needs to be woven into the overall fabric, not something that stands on its own," she said.

Nielsen's Pete Blackshaw was reassuring to those who find the ins and outs of planning for Facebook and MySpace a bit daunting. "Let's not get lost in this new vernacular. If we get to the core foundation of what we are trying to do, we'll get it right."

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