Brands falling behind Facebook users creatively, warns its head of global creative solutions Rob Newlan

Brands are falling behind Facebook users creatively, according to the platform's head of global creative solutions EMEA Rob Newlan.

Speaking at Bite's Empty13 event in London, Newlan discussed the level of creative solutions that he was seeing from brands, and highlighted examples from Mondelez, Addidas, Red Bull, Budweiser, Barbour, Lego and Ben and Jerry's on Facebook and Instagram as examples of brands that were effectively developing creative solutions on the platforms, but in the main he felt that the level was still sub par from most brands.

As Facebook is under a decade old, he used the example of television and early adverts which he described as "pretty crap" until brands began to develop and understand an effective language through the medium.

He said that the technology was not the important factor, but the people using the technology and having an understanding of the audience that brands were looking to engage with were the most important factor.

"With Instagram, one of the things that we love is that it is an amazing storytelling platform that helps create creativity in a fascinating way and its about craft and what they're doing is capturing incredible moments in time.

"It's doing an incredible thing and exchanging stories and people are exchanging their stories on a daily basis and this is a language which is forming out, and one that people are becoming very proficient in. I would argue that brands aren't as proficient as the people they are talking to, which creates a big gap.

"On TV, advertising was creating an amazing space where it was the entertainment. It was doing a better job than some of the TV programmes. There's a catching up point here."

He stated that as a result of mobile technology everyone now has "incredible super powers" where they can know and contact anyone at anytime, anywhere.

"We are privileged, and the first generation to be so, with all of these connections and having access to all this knowledge. It's overwhelming and how to sort these things is through news feeds."

Newlan said that the main objective of social media marketing was storytelling and that the most popular posts, which may or may not feature a picture of a cat, might prove popular, but they were worthless from a brand's point of view.

"It terrifies me because what it means is that we are crafting stuff to the lowest common denominator. It's like a cheap gag and it has nothing to do with brand, it has nothing to do with purpose, it has no distinctiveness, it has no long-term brand value or impact on the sales."

Newlan also recommended that preparation for social media posting was key in terms of developing reactive creative content and advised that brands invest in news rooms.

He later admitted that this creative point of view was "a manifesto" rather than a real-world view on effective advertising, with display adverts providing effective advertising solutions through Facebook and that retargeting options in front of a relevant audience was meeting many brand needs.

However he added that engagement and sentiment could increase effectiveness. "If it's not moving hearts and still selling cases then a brand can move more cases if it does move hearts," he argued.

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