Paul Fabretti, chairman of the judging panel for this year's Social Buzz Awards, discusses the event and his thoughts on the entries and the judging process itself.
The Social Buzz Awards which took place last week represented a significant milestone in the way that social media should be recognised in the UK. I also felt I needed to add a few observations as to not only why the awards were such a success, but also how social media needs to change/improve based on everything we, as judges, saw this year.
Whilst the argument for social media to be considered an integrated discipline is a perfectly sound one, from every entry we saw, the creativity and innovation which encouraged sharing and participation most certainly deserves recognition.
So here are some thoughts:
The awards are only as good as the judges evaluating the entries - in this regard, it was a privilege to work alongside some incredibly experienced, but moreover, respected people. Whilst I was Chairman of the Judges that is in no way to undervalue the massive experience and skill of everyone else on the panel. I most certainly learned as much as I talked (which is saying something for me!) and I hope that their skill and experience was one reason why so many entries were received.
There was a HUGE number of entries from both very large and very small brands - the quality of which was genuinely outstanding. It was clear that every entrant had spent a significant amount of time on their entries which I hope also reflects the standing of The Drum as a valued and respected industry resource. It was fascinating to listen to in-depth conversations taking place about some of the minutae of entries - a beauty parade this was not.
What was particularly interesting to note (and impressive) was the level of sophistication of the entries. In the last 2 years, I've seen lots of award entries and this year above all, the entrants provided more detail about their campaigns than ever. By this I don't just mean they padded their entries out - far from it, but there was a much more considered, detailed approach to what people had done - suggested that people were taking a much more strategic approach to their social media.
As judges, we weren't just following the entry sheet to make sure everything had been filled out properly. We were looking to see that there had been a beginning, middle and an end - that entries demonstrated a reason for the campaign/activity and that the objectives were clearly detailed from the outset. Moreover, we were looking to see that creativity using social tools and channels was being harnessed in ways which business could evaluate - and therefore see the benefit. As nice as it is to see great, cool ideas - unless they can be assessed effectively then social media will always be a "nice to have" rather than an essential part of the marketing mix.
It is to this last point that there is a lesson for so many brands when it comes to making more effective use of their social media activity - measurement selection. By this, I don't mean just hitting big numbers, but being able to select the appropriate ones to measure the business objective. Whatever the business objectives (and by this I certainly do not mean solely financial ones), there are any number of metrics and the skill is in understanding which metrics most accurately reflect the business goal.
And, whilst I accept that what I'm saying is not exactly rocket science, it is the one sure-fire way of making sure that business and budget holders respect social media as part of the communications mix, especially with budgets being scrutinised more than ever.
The 2012 Social Buzz Awards demonstrated that there is an increasing level of sophistication in both creativity AND business awareness in social media - and the winners can be genuinely satisfied that their award was richly deserved.
See you next year!