NEWS15 March 2017

Brands ‘must bring something of value’ to social media

Impact 2017 News Technology UK

UK – Brands engaging with consumers on social media must bring something of value, before they expect consumers to share data or be receptive to messages.

Social media crop

That was the message from insight experts today at Impact 2017, the MRS’s annual conference.

Periscope star Alex Pettitt, who has more than 250,000 followers on the live video-streaming service, said: "Give them value, then once you’ve provided value, you can ask for something in return. With some of the brands I work with, it can be frustrating because all they want to do is market the hell out of their social platforms. The smart ones are the ones that want to build a community that love their brand."

By sharing content that people enjoy, Pettitt earns the right to target them with sponsored content and marketing.

Simeon Duckworth of GroupM said that it was no longer technology holding personalised marketing back, but understanding of how best to use it and to understand its value. "It’s not so much that we haven’t got the capability to do it, we just don’t know how advertising works well enough. The limitation is as much on what are we looking for, as it is on what’s technically capable."

Celina Burnett, head of marketing analytics at, warned that personalisation can go too far and start to turn people off brands if it becomes creepy or inappropriate, or if people are concerned about how their data is being used. This effect depends on age: “The younger the age group the more comfortable people typically are with you using their data,” Burnett said.

Jessica Salmon, head of research at O2, said that the EU’s forthcoming new data regulations, which will require brands to be more transparent about what they do with personal data, represented “a huge opportunity” for brands that behave in a responsible and open way online. "It’s the right thing to do, and will cut out a lot of the slightly creepy stuff we’re all concerned about, and the bad personalisation," she said.

But Salmon also warned the research industry that, in a world of personalisation, it needs to stand up for its own value and expertise. "I think we have a challenge as an industry, with this drive towards data science and personalisation, that it gets picked up by media agencies, by analysts and all of those things. Our skills as a research industry are in our understanding of human beings and interpret it and tell a story regardless of where that data comes from. So from an insight perspective it’s about bringing that synthesis and that customer understanding, and I think that’s immensely powerful and we should be owning that and stepping up to take that proactive role. I think we’re in danger, if we cling to old ways of doing things, that we’ll be obsolete."