How the doughnut sign gets us chatting
When the light shows red at Krispy Kreme it means the donuts are fresh and it gets us talking. This was just one of the many examples that the Global Head of Social at OgilvyAction, Matt Gierhart pulled out of his sleeve addressing yesterday’s media industry audience at the PANPA Future Forum. Pat Griffiths reports.
Why the donuts? Mr Gierhart’s message was that consumers are creating their own culture, their own customised language and esoteric communities around products often without brand interference. His challenge: to catch up with the consumer.
“If you look at this idea, there are some brands that have this space of talkability, have this aura where people come together and gather around it, that’s what I’m actually interested in and how we start creating those scenarios.”
Addressing newspaper moguls and reporters alike, Mr Gierhart explained the importance of social media as a tool facilitating understanding of consumers and a means to tailor content and heighten relevance.
“Social media isn’t something that is really new. It’s not something that was invented over the past few years. It’s something that’s a part of human behaviour. It’s just that now we’re finding these new ways to kind of track it, to measure it.”
The advertising campaign of an Irish beer company in the 1940s, Mr Gierhart explained, provides an early example of social media. Based on the premise that “if people stayed in pubs longer they’d buy more beer,” they printed fun-facts on their coasters as conversation starters.
As Mr Gierhart said, “the secret wasn’t about the content, the content really wasn’t that interesting. It was the conversation that created around it. It was the social media that this brand was able to leverage – and of course that brand is Guinness.”
An understanding of social behaviour, the simple pleasure of conversation, is something that brands should leverage as they craft their products. Regarding the consumers of newspapers, both advertisers and readers, Mr Gierhart revealed that: “We start to kind of see this interesting trend, that the basic idea, in an over-simplified way, of the business model of the newspaper industry is content that brings people to advertising.”
“Now the challenge is that for the newspaper industry there’s something really different going on compared to Google, to Facebook and to Twitter … There is increasing demand coming around the idea of content from the blogs, from different types of media sources.”
Mr Gierhart contrasted the average person’s number of sources of daily information in the early 1980s to 2012; an increase from three to an average of 20 different sources.
This dramatic increase in demand for content is met by a shift from reach to relevance in regards to effective advertising. Issuing a challenge for newspaper brands to chase the successful tailored advertising campaigns of Facebook and Google.
“The key word there that has been buzzing for the last few years is ‘relevancy’ and that’s been the big shift that I think social media has really brought about. It’s this idea that its not just about getting my idea to as many people as possible, its about getting the right message at the right time at the right place.”
Brands are now looking at every ‘touch-point’ of interaction with consumers not only as a means of increasing their connection with them but also in better understanding them, Mr Gierhart described.
Papers such as the Washington Post are now working with Facebook to allow stories that their consumers read to be published to their Facebook wall – a means of increasing brand engagement in consumer dialogue.
The significance of this choice of news source and public sharing is described by Mr Gierhart as: “The idea of people using media outlets more and more as identity armour and the idea of me being able to identify with a particular news press or media outlet to define who I am.”
Essentially for Mr Gierhart, for brands, the product is not their identity; it’s the consumer’s story.