By Jan McQuillan

October 15th, 2015

This week, 5000+ brands, vendors and digital marketing specialists converged in London’s Olympia for ad:tech. I wanted to share some of the key themes from the event, and provide an insight into the challenges faced by some of the world’s largest and most innovative brands.

Here are some concrete examples of acting on social data from Nestlé, Dove, Direct Line–even the indie band Snow Patrol.

Brands with purpose listen first.

It was Thomas Malleschitz, CMO of Three UK who said it best:

Tom from 3

Almost every session I attended touched on the ongoing importance of data – gathering it, analyzing it, and leveraging it to make smarter decisions and more meaningful connections with consumers. In terms of the latter, brands using social data evidently came into their own this year, becoming more authentic and useful for consumers through smart social listening.

Unilever’s product Dove partnered with Twitter to analyze social data and find out what women were really saying about their body. On identifying insecurities and anxieties, they tweeted personally to these women as part of their celebrity-endorsed #speakbeautiful campaign.

Direct Line delighted customers by following the London Tube Strike hashtag and sending out useful supplies as part of their #DirectFix campaign.

The band Snow Patrol uses listening data to schedule their tour dates, venues, and even their setlist.

Aggregation of social data is allowing brands to make more purposeful, personal, and “delightful” connections with consumers.

Social is best out of its silo.

We heard that social teams have accounted for the biggest areas of growth in terms of headcount for the past few years. It’s clear that digital marketers will continue to invest in the people and resources that underpin social media functions. And when it’s working well, it’s breaking out of siloes and involving staff at all levels.

Nestlé CMO Pete Blackshaw’s presentation of their Digital Acceleration Team (DAT) was a clear example of how this works in practice. It’s essentially a training and development program that is cross-function (sales, marketing, e-commerce) and across all markets. Members of the DAT are trained on core social media skills such as listening and content creation, and the program also fosters leadership skills, empowering individuals to pitch social projects and share insights throughout the company. In bringing a ‘start-up culture’ to Nestlé (focusing on agility, digitally-powered brand building, and speedy solutions through ‘hack-a-thons’), DAT effectively tackles some of the challenges of decentralization within the global brand.

Social starts at home

Pete Blackshaw is leading change within Nestlé that goes beyond how they use social media to engage with consumers and drive sales. In the spirit of unifying the brand, he developed an internal social networking channel called the ‘Nest’ (which he moderates himself, by the way). Nest posts include meeting agenda items, which he encourages employees to comment on and ‘like’ before a meeting, promoting effectiveness and commitment from all stakeholders.

According to Pete, “Nestlé is our social network and sharing is our currency”.

The speakers at ad:tech were unanimous: social media budgets will grow in 2016. It’s time to amplify the influence of social within your organization, if you’re not already leveraging listening insights to direct your marketing efforts you’re likely to be left behind. Take the first step by analyzing which social media tactics worked best for you in 2015, and use this knowledge to build a social data strategy that will help you drive more value from social in the new year.

Data strategy insights direct from Twitter:

Watch the recording of Falcon’s webinar with Twitter & the Arizona Coyotes and learn how to use social data better

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