Trinna Leong is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Why Engagement Should Be Spelled A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N, hosted by SocialVibe.
“If you are asking for someone to pay attention, you are probably doing the wrong thing.”
Engaging consumers has been a difficult task for all advertisers in today’s fast paced age. The day’s panel of five industry experts in the field of advertising and marketing came together to discuss what works and what doesn’t in capturing audience’s attention.
“People are more interested in being the curator, purveyor,” said Vanessa Montes, Vice President of Integrated Marketing at Fuse. All panelists agreed that consumers usually pay attention through “word of mouth” when friends introduce an item or brand.
That said, brands would want to generate positive talk-ability amongst its audience. Examples given by the panel included the Chipotle ad that aired at the Grammys; an ad that Adrian Barrow, Head of Planning at JWT’s New York office, thought was “artful” (while stating that overall “brands have developed the touch on how to behave on entertainment channels”); and the PETA ad that Michael Learmonth, Digital Editor at Advertising Age, felt strongly against. With the PETA ad, Leamonth felt that the message was that being vegan increases sex drive, but by painting a woman who looks sexually abused, PETA was not sending out a positive message.
Another key point brought up by the panelists is that in social media networks, brands have ended up looking at numbers instead of content. Quantity has been ranked higher than quality, causing brands to lose sight of engagement with their audience.
“Social media is a media that exists between people. For it to pay off, it has to be nurtured,” added Ian Schafer, CEO and founder of Deep Focus.
“Instead of focusing on number of likes and posts, advertisers should focus on what people are talking about on the page,” said Schafer.
The general consensus from the panelists was that advertisers in the midst of trying to pull in more fans end up failing to determine what to do with the fans they have on social media. The worst metric to measure is one that measures how long users spend on a page.
Barrow also argued that consumers now want “something that can help them make the best use of their time” because then “they’ll award brands with some attention.” This defines a new role for agencies to produce new ideas that is useful for consumers.
Panelists also commented on the importance of brands making sure that their brand stays relevant by encouraging audiences to talk about the brand instead of the celebrity that endorses it. Ultimately, the main takeaway for brands is to have engagement fueled by consumers not by brands.
Trinna Leong is from Malaysia and had two years of work experience in the online advertising industry before deciding to trade the sweltering tropical heat for a chance to pursue journalism at Columbia University. Prior to switching fields, she has worked on projects for Nike, IKEA and Citibank. You can follow her on Twitter at @trinnaleong.