Make a big impact in social by shifting your brand's focus to human insight

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Allianz #schoolstories

Why would a consumer engage with a bank, insurer or energy brand in social media? It’s an interesting question and one we’ve been asked on a few occasions.

Rather than thumbing through updates from your family and friends, considered connections and the odd well loved brand, what can these brands do to stop you in your tracks and grab some of your highly valuable attention? After all they’re low interest, utility brands offering fundamentally the same as one another. Most consumer decisions about them are made on price and the deal that you can get, and that’s why the aggregators exist in abundance.

In 2015 Allianz came to us with this exact query. They realised that social represented an amazing opportunity, however they just didn’t know how to genuinely engage the consumer within the space. ‘Why would a consumer engage with an insurance brand on Facebook?’

After much deliberation, discussion, ideation and hard work Allianz #schoolrunstories was born. The campaign took the client and more importantly the consumer by surprise achieving impact that surpassed some already challenging KPI’s with a modest budget.

We got some pretty impressive brand engagement with 7m reach, 2.5m completed views and 11,000 likes, shares and comments. However we also saw a 29% uplift in prompted brand awareness (Google Brand Analytics) with the Google team stating that these were the best results they’d seen at the time across all brands.

More importantly however, the success of the campaign got the attention of the senior team, and when comparing the results to those achieved through other channels (specifically the advertising campaign) they started to divert investment into social.

So why did this campaign resonate and engage with the consumer so well and what can other low interest brands learn? Here are five key aspects:

Find a genuine human insight

Does anybody really care about car insurance? No.

Do we care about cars? For the majority it simply gets us from A to B.

Is the car a fundamental aspect of our everyday lives? Yes.

Do we think, talk, laugh, cry and sing in our cars? Yes.

And therein lies the opportunity – find out how you’re brand connects to consumer’s lives in a genuine and relevant way. Don’t think about selling them car insurance, think about how your product or service connects to them in their world.

#schoolrunstories connected to the consumer at a familiar point in their day that directly related to car travel and therefore the brand – the school run. At this time your most precious possession is travelling with you and you need to make sure you look after them. The territory is rich; the link to the brand is clear and makes sense to the consumer.

Focus on building relevance

Consumers engage with content that is relevant to them and their lives – things that are additive and entertaining. We’re in the attention game and at Gravity Thinking we remind ourselves daily that our content is not competing with other brands content. It’s competing with the Internet and, more specifically, cat videos! The bar is high, very high.

The Allianz campaign was the epitome of this thinking. Using real consumers in real life situations connected and built relevance with the audience. It was something that people were interested in, it entertained them and it was something they cared about and could relate to.

Many a great idea was killed via poor execution

We need to be able to connect with consumers in their world, on their terms and in a format that they want to engage with. There’s a reason why nearly every consumer on the planet hates advertising. Talking at you, interrupting you, often trying to hoodwink you.

We look to popular entertainment culture to help guide our content and this campaign was inline with this. Real people, in real situations sharing their stories with the world. And that’s why we worked with the production team behind Google Box for this campaign. Experts in bring real peoples emotions to life in an entertaining way, in a format that they were familiar with and which was surprising for an insurance brand – snackable, episodic and accessible.

Listen, respond and act

It still baffles us how many brands are completely unresponsive to the valuable real time data that consumers provide. The tools at our disposal are plentiful and powerful. However, too many campaigns still start, finish and are then analysed, essentially missing the whole point of what we do.

For #schoolrunstories we set up campaign monitoring and ensured resource was allocated, in order to respond in real-time to responses. The impact of this was a key factor in the success and scale of the campaign. We kicked off the campaign with just six films. However, we identified early on that people were seeking and requesting the next and more episodes. Rather than let it lie, we secured more budget to create a further 12 films, quickly filming and editing more of the content that the consumer was craving.

Measure what really matters

Likes, comments and shares are all valuable consumer engagement metrics. However, if you want to capture the attention of the MD you better think bigger and with more impact. They’re not particularly interested in engagement, but are generally more interested in big improvements in brand metrics and changes in consumer behaviour.

We set up a measurement infrastructure (which we do for all our clients campaigns) that would measure the campaign against business objectives we’d been given, to ensure that we were evaluating the success of the campaign against the right metrics, being able to compare the impact of social content against TVC’s in terms of brand metrics made for interesting reading.

For us Allianz #schoolrunstories represents the epitome of how low interest brands can make a big impact in social media. Off the back of the campaign, two more campaigns were born (#schoolrunhero and #carstories), each of which represented a significant shift in awareness of, and interest in the brand.

Stephen Firth is managing partner at Gravity Thinking.

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