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Best practices from key digital media and strategy experts at the Digiday Brand Conference

As Emma mentioned in her post yesterday, two of the most common topics at Wednesday’s Digiday Brand Conference were social media and branded content. Throughout the day the speakers raised many questions on both topics, and circled back to the same questions on metrics, establishing business value, and the differences between new media and traditional media.

Today’s post will tackle three of the questions raised at the conference and feature some of the responses from speakers and presenters.

1) Which metrics should be used to determine the success of a social media campaign or a social media strategy?

Erich Marx, director of social media marketing at Nissan North America, said his current strategy is to look for responsible growth from individuals who are already brand advocates or who have the potential to be. This means that he is not as focused on the number of followers and on reach as he is on the quality of the audience and the quality of involvement with the brand.

Nate Elliott, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, warned companies to stay away from individuals and agencies trying to sell them on a single metric for assessment. “One size does not fit all”, Elliot stated. Rather, brands should determine how social media can work for them and at what stage in their customer’s journey, and use the social metrics relevant to that specific stage.

“If we sell sneakers, it’s a win”, said Remi Carlioz, head of digital marketing at Puma. While he contended that the number of followers/comments/likes and the time spent engaging with the brand are undoubtedly important, social media is still a form of marketing and promotional outreach to advance business goals.

2) What are some of the key frustrations and challenges that brands have in this new digital playground (aside from metrics and assessment)?

Speaking from a financial brand’s perspective, Linda Descano, managing director and head of digital partnerships & branded content at Citi, spoke on the challenges of “earning a place in the consumer’s trust circle” as a reliable source of information. She also stressed that it requires patience, persistence and partnerships to get worthwhile campaigns approved internally.

Adam Kmiec, director of digital marketing and social media at Campbell Soup, urged employers looking for digital talent to avoid trying to find the mythical “digital unicorn”, an individual who has deep knowledge and years of experience about various digital technologies (as well as strategy and execution) across all platforms. Kmiec emphasized that in an industry where there is a shortage of amazing jobs as well as amazing talent, “social media has allowed us to mask our deficiencies”.

3) What should brands keep in mind when producing custom content or when trying to establish the relevant channels for distributing that content?

Looking at companies from a publisher’s perspective, The Economist Group’s Elena Sukacheva reminded brands that rather than focusing on platforms (which is what many agencies are inclined to do), they should be media-agnostic and focus on the idea. In today’s world, brands should focus on what business communications message they want to send out and to which target audience, and then on which media properties and platforms would be the best fit.

When it comes to branded videos with content, both Joshua Nafman, digital brand manager at PepsiCo, and Aubrey Flynn, brand content director at Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka, stressed the importance of keeping the videos short, funny and informative. Nafman suggested 15-45 seconds is the ideal length, while Flynn argued that one to two minutes is better. Nafman also advised brands to have low expectations. “Brands make assumptions on what goes viral”, he said, but often times, expectations don’t translate into reality.

Below you can find the video of Elena Sukacheva’s discussion on “The Integrated Marketing Imperative: The Brand vs. Publisher View”: