Wednesday, 10 October 2012

BR Virtual Summit 2012

Brand Republic Virtual Summit 2012

Today I attended what is the future of summits and conferences organised by the well the respected Brand Republic group.

I've been a keen reader of Brand Republic's Campaign publication for the past 6 years and seen it's commentary change throughout that time from traditional type of marketing (billboard/newspaper ads, inserts and paper promotions etc) to digital marketing which is so very much of today's engagement. Opening a copy of Campaign these days and it's coverage is almost all centred around digital media.
On registering for the summit each delegate is asked for their basic details such as  company and position. After a short tutorial on how to navigate through the auditorium you are free to wander through using your avatar and visit the stands on display, attend webinars, download brochures and engage with other avatars attending.
Each stand has a representative from a company there to offer advice and engage with via their own avatar. Brand Republic's own stand was there offering live sessions and I signed up to some on both days.
The first of which was a keynote speech from BR's senior reporter which set the context of the event by outlining where the industry is today. The key note reminded listeners that difficult economics times are still with us and the importance of a more intuitive and better customer experience is essential for any business to survive and expand. 

The growing complexity that faces CMOs are bound together by huge data growth, multi-channel, multi-platform, social media and the shift in customer demographics. Social engagement is a sophisticated business these days and one that can swing positive or negative at any given time. Because of this a combination of good technology and people need to be in place to deliver effectively and with some affinity.

In terms of building a framework that will engage with a social media environment the best advice came from O2's Social Media Manager UK, Kristian Lorenzon. Chris advised "Start small, think big". O2's social media team that now sits at 15 and answers queries fielded through Twitter and Facebook from 1000's of customers. The team of course announce new products and services engaging with customers across all the main social network platforms.
The seminar, partly titled "how to turn a crisis into a triumph",  allowed  Kristian to recount the day in July when O2's network went down. The outage prompted the biggest social media event ever for O2 with more that 120,000 tweets. Several unedited examples of tweets where shown during the seminar which were very direct, very course and included threats to cancel contracts. 
Turning this situation around meant keeping cool and getting the team answering each message individually thus slowly turning the on-line sentiment around. Not panicking, staying in control,  knowing your audience and acknowledging each individual's frustrations were key factors to this slow recovery.
In the days that followed O2 announced a goodwill gesture to all affected customers against their September bill along with an in-store voucher for £10. This prompted over 10,000 goodwill messages in return over the two days that followed.
The case study showed just how powerful the medium is and highlighted the sensitivity of a group needing a vital service.
The seminar ran three interactive polls during the course of the hour with one poll posing the question "What is the main driver for your use of social media". This poll returned a close draw  between "Building brand awareness" and "Creating audience engagement". The theme common to both is that of a relationships.  
The other two choices of "Driving Sales" and "We don't use social media" scored almost no votes. 

You can follow a recording of this live event here :
Social Media - it's great but show me the money !

Later in the day I attended another live event which focused on online advertising guested by Louise Bolt, Digital Marketing Officer, from Macmillan Cancer Support. With a tight budget to work with, taken up mostly by TV  spend, the remainder is spread over running campaigns promoting the many different areas that make up the charity. The big message from this live session is a continual trial and error approach and see what works and what doesn't. By running different campaigns across many platforms responses can be measured by the traffic driven to the charity's website and how engaged each user is when they got there. Working towards an optimised approach that drives engagement is the objective here. By reaching new users and raising the awareness of the charity and targeting contextually on relevant websites the team at Macmillan are able to achieve positive results. Use of analytics to measure user engagement and KPIs are key.
Louise outlined a growing trend towards traffic coming from mobiles with last year accounting for 30% and this area would be tested and tried further as time goes on.

The message I took aware from this live event was testing, trial and error, more testing and learning from what went before. Building as you progress is the approach to gaining a creditable online audience.

You can follow a recording of this live event here :
Online Advertising - ignored window dressing or targeted sales-driver

This was a great conference and would not have been possible without the sponsors:

and of course....

Brand Republic

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