"Stay Stupid" And Other Lessons You Missed At The Social Ad Summit

Though some brands have taken the plunge, most have only dipped their toes into the waves of social media marketing bound to erode linear and search engine-based advertising in the coming years. Those who attended the third Social Ad Summit, Friday’s Advertising Week finale, heard about the trends, the tools and the talent contributing to the advertising industry’s most significant transformation since the introduction of TV. They left with their laptops, iPads and imaginations full of actionable advertising ideas – ideas I suspect they will want to take “social” inside their companies.

After the jump, takeaways from the Social Ad Summit.

“The real secret to social media success,” according to Aaron Shapiro of digital agency Huge, “is creating something that will want to be shared with friends and makes a connection to the brand.” Talking about putting social media marketing initiatives to the “I gotta share it!” test, he said that copycats are welcome, as these contribute to the spreading of the original element.

Shapiro warned the attendees not to eliminate email from their campaigns – a Pepsi campaign’s highest activation was though emailing to friends. He also touched on the ability to use real key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of social media marketing, but advised that social media activities be considered a portfolio, measuring the effectiveness of the whole rather than individual elements.

Larry Weintraub, of social media marketing agency Fanscape, noted that social touches companies’ marketing, public relations, customer service and market research. (I would add sales and human resources.) Beyond the usual challenges of staffing, know-how and budget, social media may require a company to initiate cultural change.

Social Times and All Facebook‘s Nick O’Neill noted that the action on Facebook is on brand Pages and Royce Carvolho of Johnson & Johnson described how his company’s “action” increased sales of contact lenses with a Facebook Page targeted at teenage girls. The campaign consisted of engaging content and a calendar of actions to start conversations and keep them going – an excellent example of how integrated Facebook campaigns are more likely to succeed than “orphan” pages.

The advertising potential of social gaming was discussed by Chris Emme of gWallet and David Stewart of Playdom. Stewart explained the gaming business model based on user’s life time value and acquisition cost, as well as presenting a model for virality first used by public health scientists.

According to Anna Banks of Organic, “The silver bullet is to marry social data to other customer data.” She discussed the importance to companies of bringing their customer relationship management (CRM) and social media into alignment. “It’s not about your social strategy. It’s about your total consumer conversation strategy.”

Honda is a great example of a company that has segued its brand to social media. Joe Baratelli of agency RPA discussed how Honda’s linear advertising was all about one driver referring the brand to another; the challenge was to effectively transfer the message to the social media in a manner that would continue to resonate across all platforms.

Opening with, “If anyone tells you they can see any trends in the coming year, they are lying,” Euro RSCG Worldwide‘s Fernanda Romano wowed and inspired the participants with a closing session on where hints of the future and may be found and her sources for creative inspiration. “Stay stupid,” she advised. “Don’t assume you know.”