Sally O’Dowd has written numerous articles for the Social Media Week blog since 2011, reporting from Paris and New York. The following blog post was published by SMW in 2012.
In the marketing world, we often hear about the importance of having a point of view. If you don’t, you risk being a commodity instead of a unique generator of ideas.
Marc Landsberg is known for having a point of view. Several years ago, just before Facebook launched to the public, he was CEO of Arc Worldwide, the digital arm of Leo Burnett. I was heading up the communications department. As a former print reporter, I fell in love with the possibilities of digital and social media. We talked about concepts such as time-shifting, appointment TV and the lofty “democratization of content.”
Marc has held global roles for most of his career, serving most recently as CEO of MRM and president of corporate business development for McCann Worldgroup. But he has left that world to launch his own start-up: Social Deviant in Chicago. As campaigns are still in the works, I can’t mention his clients just yet. That’s for another time.
I talked with Marc about his new agency, his point of view on social media and who’s doing it well. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
Sally: Why did you start Social Deviant? Tired of all that international travel, I guess.
Marc: I started it for professional and personal reasons. There is a huge market need for companies such as ours. CMOs and CEOs need social media guys who can focus on the business issues, who can deliver larger strategic and conceptual thinking, and link that to objectives and results. Also, I wanted to build something special by attracting the best talent I could find. People who are kind and composed, left-brained and right-brained.
Sally: What’s your point of view about social?
Marc: We believe brands are stories and stories are content. And that content needs to engage and activate consumers. You need more than a Facebook tab. You need content that energizes. It’s all about customer acquisition, retention and loyalty—a content strategy that attracts, engages and activates.
Sally: What is missing in the social work you’re seeing out there in the marketplace?
Marc: There is an infinite amount of new advertising platforms, technology and tools. It’s too hard to keep track of it all. As a result, our opportunity is to help brands navigate the highly complex and rapidly evolving social media landscape, and translate the complexity into business results by focusing on insights and ideas that engage.
Sally: You have a point of view about viral vs. social.
Marc: Big ideas are inherently shareable. You can’t just say, “I need a viral video” or “I need a Facebook strategy.” You need a thematic approach to content that lives across all channels. Talk to us about your business challenge and we will tell you how to address it via a long-term strategy, content that resonates with your customers and appropriate social channels.
Sally: Back in 2004, you were talking about time-shifting and DVRs. People were afraid TV advertising would die.
Marc: People are time-shifting today even more than they used to. Today we can easily binge on our favorite TV series thanks to TV on-demand and Netflix. But because we all have so many devices at our fingertips, the content itself is starting to “shape-shift.” This means that a marketer might create long-form content that people will want to see on TV or a computer screen and shorter content that they will view on an iPhone. Our #1 task as marketers is to engage people in the moment. We used to tell stories in a linear fashion; today, content is consumed in a non-linear way. People can watch and engage in stories and go from segment 1 to 8, to 7 to 10. Our job is to build this mosaic of content, disaggregate it and re-aggregate it. It will be a big challenge over the next five years.
Sally: Who is doing content and social really well?
Marc: P&G’s Secret brand is very progressive. Urban Outfitters is engaging its young customers with its music playlists. GE has a robust content strategy.
Sally: I love GE’s use of data visualization. They have an entire blog dedicated to it.
Marc: Data visualization is a major trend in the overall content play. We’re seeing good uses of infographics and data presented in a visual way. Here again, it’s about being relevant and engaging.