#SMWatOMD - Planning for Tomorrow Today panel report

As one of many panel sessions held during Social Media Week London, Manning Gottlieb OMD and OMD teamed up to host 'Planning for Tomorrow Today'. Anneka Dew, PR and marketing manager for Manning Gottlieb OMD offers an overview of the session that featured words from the wise representing Facebook, Gleam Digital, Atmosphere and Facebook.

Much like Social Media itself, Social Media Week London brings with it the promise of information overload with some 250 events crammed into the space of seven days.

One of those panels took place on Wednesday night, where Manning Gottlieb OMD and OMD UK hosted ‘Planning for Tomorrow Today’ featuring industry experts from Twitter, Facebook, Gleam Digital, and Atmosphere.

Chaired by Tim Pritchard, head of social media at MG OMD, and Tim Denyer, digital development director at OMD UK, the session focussed on five key themes - Context, Content, Talent, Scale and Integration with the aim of providing useful , bitesize guides for brands on social media.

Oli Snoddy, head of planning at Twitter UK tackled the topic of ‘context’, which has evolved from putting an advert on a relevant site to brands becoming contextually relevant to genuine conversations. The social network that boasts 1 billion tweets posted every two days emphasised its public, conversational and real time attributes and the opportunities this brings for brands to join the buzz under the mantra of ‘the moment is a multiplier’.

Demonstrating the power of joining in the conversation, Oli gave examples of how brands such as Morrisons and Adidas leveraged the live context of Andy Murray’s victorious Wimbledon Final, which amassed an incredible 3.2m tweets in 12 hours, as a ‘moment multiplier’.

Ed Couchman, head of sales at Facebook, was also keen to demonstrate the potential for brands to achieve colossal scale on their 1.1 billion strong social network. The importance of scale is irrefutable, great ideas are only great if people can see them, he argued.

Likening themselves to electricity, Ed claimed that the connectivity of Facebook was now a fundamental part of people’s lives, supported by one minute out of every four on mobile spent on Facebook or Instagram. He also hypothesised that Facebook, of which 47 per cent of its users are mobile only, is at the centre of the shift to mobile, not because of technology but because brands are creating utilities and products that make people’s lives better or easier, or just more fun.

Nevertheless, it is not enough for brands to simply aspire to reach a large audience on social media channels. James Larman, head of planning at Drum OMG, was on hand to explain how brands can achieve stand-out in the face of so much choice online. Attention is at an all-time low, and with between 75 per cent to 85 per cent using other devices whilst watching TV, traditional advertising is facing huge challenges. His point, that social media offers a huge opportunity for brands to provide highly valuable content to their target audience. That being said, there is also a large volume of bad brand content out there.

James gave seven ‘best practice’ tips for brands to cut through and successfully engage their audience with valuable content:

• Be a part of what interests people - start with the audience and create content that is interesting, then weave the brand into it, not the other way around. Brands should also take the time to get to know to their community target audience as it’s much easier to join existing conversations than to create your own.

• Act at the speed of culture - Cultural latency has continually diminished and thanks to Twitter is now zero. By joining the live conversation on real-world events brands can gain credibility with viewers who will return. This requires a flexible ‘prepared readiness’ strategy.

• Do it with your audience - social is changing what we expect from content. Fans are actors in brand content, not its ultimate audience.

• Leverage platform talent and their fanbase - as the battle for consumer attention wages on, brands are finding success in emerging environments like Vine by borrowing relevance from influencers that have already developed sizable followings in those spaces.

• Be true to your brand – know why you exist, what you stand for and create content that espouses these values. Be meaningful and real.

• Think about distribution from the start - It’s not just about what you say, but who you say it to, where and when.

• Know what success looks like – make sure your measurement methods correlate to your overall business objectives.

If you think social media is just about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, then think again. Dominic Smales, managing director of Gleam Digital, gave a fascinating insight into the world of social talent, a sea of popularity that is currently running under the radar. For example, ‘traditional’ brand ambassador, Cheryl Cole, has 128k subscribers on her YouTube channel, whereas social talent Pixi Woo have 1.2 million. What’s more, the followers of social talent are dedicated and properly engaged with content, representing a golden opportunity for brands to leverage these audiences.

Whilst there is a wealth of opportunity for brands on social media, the panel uniformly agreed that it is of paramount importance to be true to your brand, and produce genuinely valuable content for your audience. One thing’s for certain, 2014 promises to see an explosion of brands on social channels.

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