In 2015, an estimated $24 billion was spent against paid social and that number is expected to reach $36 billion by 2017. Marquee sports and entertainment platforms such as the upcoming Super Bowl and Oscars account for large spikes in that spend, but is paid the most effective strategy toward building consumer engagement and loyalty around big events?
We don’t believe it is – especially when it’s viewed as the primary means for achieving reach on social.
What we’ve witnessed increasingly around events like the Super Bowl, is that brands are allocating significant budgets to acquire eyeballs – diluting efforts and making it harder (and less cost effective) for the right content to be delivered to the right audience. This approach employs such tactics as placing a TV spot on YouTube, repurposing it as a pre-roll ad on social media to acquiring impressions – low value ones that fail to elicit any measurable action on the part of the consumer.
This is where paid media fails in the sports realm, not to mention entertainment and other consumer platforms. Social media is not meant to be just another channel to promote your ads. Each social channel excels at connectivity in a different way, connecting brands directly with an audience that is looking to engage, share, and support compelling content. The promise of social has always been organic reach, which, if you put that simple premise at the heart of your process and strategy, even your paid efforts will benefit. Paid on social works best when it serves as a means to deliver great organic content to the right audience that will engage with and share it to further increase reach.
At Taylor, we have more than 30 years’ experience leveraging sponsorships for many of the world’s leading sports marketers such as P&G, Allstate, Capital One, and Mercedes-Benz. The key to building organic engagement with consumers is to understand their mindset, passion points, and the very cultural nuances that connect them to a particular team, personality or event. We take this knowledge and apply it to what we call our Three Core Principles of Social Content:
1. Quality of the content
2. Relevance of the audience
3. Credibility of the source
In collaborating with our client partner P&G, for example, we have always taken the "organic first" approach. Whether it’s creating a unique experience for fans through Tide’s NFL Draft platform or helping Green Bay Packers fans celebrate the legacy of Brett Favre, our brand planners have developed strategies rooted in an understanding of the passion points of NFL fans.
The content we developed around the Draft outperformed the social efforts of every other sponsor by the length of a football field. And the content we produced with P&G to honor Favre before his jersey retirement at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving generated nearly three million views and an astounding 23,000 shares of this Taylor-produced video on Facebook, and more than 11,000 retweets on Twitter. The video was the most viewed brand content posted by an NFL team or player this season – with a minimal level of paid support that nonetheless helped amplify the organic content.
On social, there is no reach without reaction, even with a paid spend. Knowing how to elicit that reaction with a highly targeted audience should be the first step in the creative process for social. And with the multiplying wealth of data available today for social channels, the ability to understand and segment audiences (of which there are many across the sports landscape) has never been more attainable.
With decades of experience as a communications partner and counselor to leading consumer brands, Taylor focuses on fan passion points when creating digital strategies because this is how organic reach is established and grown within a campaign. It is this deep understanding of consumer insights and earned influence why we believe the PR discipline, when built properly with strategic brand planning at its core, is in the best position to build engaging organic content and take the lead on digital strategy for brand marketers.
Dan Gadd is director of digital strategy for Taylor.