Social media is less snake oil these days: James Whatley from Ogilvy & Mather discusses awards and social coming of age

By Ishbel Macleod | PR and social media consultant

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james whatley article

August 6, 2014 | 3 min read

“Our clients' success is our success and vice versa,” says James Whatley, social media director at Ogilvy & Mather, discussing winning three awards at Cannes Lions for his Travel Yourself Interesting Twitter work.

Stating that awards “inspire both clients and agencies to deliver better work, day after day”, as well as having an impact on business results, Whatley points out the IPA's findings from a recent Gunn Report, which discovered that Creatively awarded campaigns are 11 times more efficient than non-awarded ones in terms of market share growth they drive per point of ESOV (excess share of voice).

His knowledge of winning awards will come in useful as Whatley joins 21 other big names on social to judge the Social Buzz Awards, in association with iomart.

Set to look for “Creativity. Genuine achievement. Envelope pushing. ROI. - all that jazz” when he is judging, Whatley believes that the social world has come a long way.

“I was speaking to someone recently who mentioned that they felt that 'social' had finally come of age. It had matured. The exact words used I believe were 'Social media has finally congealed'. There seems to be less snake oil these days. Yes there are still holes (some listening platforms report reach as all followers) but we're getting there, at last.

“The other major shift, which I discussed on The Drum at the turn of the year, is the focus on the media part of social media. These channels are now not only recognised ad platforms in themselves but also have the tools and analytics to back it up. We've come a long way indeed.”

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For Whatley, the social channel that is most important is the one that can give his clients the best growth against their business objectives.

“I couldn't honestly say 'Well it's obviously Facebook' because that might not be true for all businesses. In fact, there's no might about it: it isn't true for all businesses. The most important channel is the one that can yield the best results, either long term or short term, and that you find out through social listening, research, and planning.

“In all fairness, one could argue that the platform doesn't matter, it's the idea that counts. And, depending on the articulation of that argument, you might be right. But more often than not it's a genuine mixture many things, from platform, to audience, to idea, to media support, to cultural moments and tensions... it all adds up.”

If you feel that you have a social campaign – across any channel – that will catch Whatley’s eye, enter it into the Social Buzz Awards before the 13 August deadline.

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