360 Degree Marketing Redux: How the Social Web is Changing the Marketing Communications Ecosystem

I have previously written about how the center of gravity of 360 degree marketing is shifting from TV commercials to online communities and how the sweet spot for 21st century brands lies at the intersection of social as in connecting people and social as in benefiting the society.

Here’s my latest riff on the 360 degree marketing redux theme where I explore how the social web is changing the marketing communications ecosystem –

PART 1: 360 DEGREE MARKETING REDUX

The old 360 degree marketing was designed around an inside-out brand positioning captured in a 30-second TV commercial. Even though each TVC-centric 360 degree marketing campaign attracted attention, it did not retain attention. So, each campaign started and ended with zero attention.

The new 360 degree marketing is designed around an outside-in social object, realized in an online community. Each community-centric 360 degree marketing campaign not only attracts attention from brand evangelists, but also retains their attention over the long-term to grow the community.

360 degree marketing redux is characterized by six seismic shifts, each triggered by the increasing importance of the social web –

Shift #1. From inside-out brand message to outside-in social object

Shift #2. From TVC-centric to community-centric

Shift #3. From short-term campaigns to long-term commitment

Shift #4. From interruption-based to permission-based

Shift #5. From brand commercial to branded content streams

Shift #6. From paid or earned media to owned and shared media

PART 2: THE PEPSI REFRESH PRODUCT CASE STUDY

Pepsi Refresh Project is a good example of how big consumer brands are embracing the  360 degree marketing redux approach.

Shift #1. From inside-out brand message to outside-in social object

In 2009, PepsiCo committed to the promise of “performance with purpose” and launched Pepsi’s Refresh rebranding.

Shift #2. From TVC-centric to community-centric

In January 2010, PepsiCo launched the Pepsi Refresh Project with a budget of $20m to support ideas that refresh local communities.

Shift #3. From short-term campaigns to long-term commitment

Apart from monthly contests in which 1000 ideas compete for $1.3m, Pepsi created a series of celebrity campaigns to energize the community.

Shift #4. From interruption-based to permission-based

People opt-in to vote for and promote their favorite projects and receive updates on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, apart from the website.

Shift #5. From brand commercial to branded content streams

The Pepsi Refresh blog includes announcements, how-to tips, case studies and grantee stories to educate and energize the community.

Shift #6. From paid or earned media to owned and shared media

Pepsi Refresh content is created by celebrity ambassadors, contestants, and supporters on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, apart from the website.

The Pepsi Refresh Project has been so successful that PepsiCo has extended it for one more year and decided to launch it in several new markets, starting with Canada.

PART 3: THE NEW MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS ECOSYSTEM

As the social web is transforming 360 degree marketing, it is also changing the role of each type of agency in the marketing communications ecosystem.

The old 360 degree marketing was driven by paid media, and supported by events and earned media. Word of mouth was often an afterthought and almost never measured.

The old 360 degree marketing is designed around word of mouth and creative, experience, paid media and earned media all have an important role to play.

Here are six ways in which the social web is transforming the marketing communications ecosystem –

Shift #1: The social web is not a new media channel, it’s a web of social relationships.

So, while media buying agencies led on display and search ads, public relations agencies are likely to lead on the social web.

Shift 2: On the social web, word of mouth conversations are now measurable.

So, more brands are likely to design 360 degree marketing programs with conversations and community at the core, and involve multiple agencies at the planning stage itself.

Shift 3: On the social web, everyone is an influencer.

So, public relations agencies need to fundamentally rethink what influence is and build capabilities to engage with influencers at scale.

Shift 4: On the social web, viral sharing acts as a multiplier effect on paid advertising.

So, advertising agencies need to create viral, sharable or contagious ideas and media buying agencies need to seed them so that they can spread via viral sharing.

Shift 5: As the social web becomes location-aware, offline interactions and online conversations are merging.

So, public relations agencies and event agencies need to create compelling brand experiences that trigger conversations, both online and offline.

Shift 6: On the social web, brands are engaging consumers directly by creating branded content, or owned media.

So advertising agencies and public relations agencies need to move from brand commercial to compelling branded content streams that attracts attraction and gains permission from brand evangelists.

PART 4: THE NEW ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS AND EVENTS AGENCIES

In this new communications ecosystem, public relations and events agencies have the opportunity to play a leading role by creating sharable content and experiences that create conversations and catalyze the coming together of communities.

1. Share insights on which social objects (lifestyles, passions, causes and professions) resonate with both influencers and brand values.

2. Influence word of mouth conversations by identifying influencers and highlighting the connection between brand values and social objects.

3. Host brand communities that connect influencers around social objects and convert them into evangelists.

4. Create compelling branded content to highlight the connection between brand values and social objects.

5. Create compelling online-offline experiences to highlight the connection between brand values and social objects.

6. Measure the strength of the brand’s relationship with influencers and evangelists on the social web.

This new mandate for public relations agencies is very much in sync with the comments made by P&G’s global marketing head Marc Pritchard at a recent event (see AdAge) where he said that “PR is the key to build meaningful relationships with consumers (and) turn consumers into customers and customers into brand ambassadors.”

Will PR agencies seize this new mandate? In my new role as the digital and social media lead at MSLGROUP Asia, I’ll do my best to ensure that we do.

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