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Beyond the Numbers: Talking Social Media Strategies with Len Kendall

Vikas Bysani

Joining us this in week’s Beyond the Numbers is Len Kendall, the Director of Social at Havas Worldwide Chicago. He’s also the creator of Cartegram and CentUp. Follow him on Twitter for his thoughts on Social, Digital and other great content.

Read on as we find out how the folks at Havas Worldwide approach digital.

This interview is part of an ongoing series; see other great interviews with industry experts in our Interview archive here to gain insights from the pros on social media analytics, creative inspiration and more.

Len_KandallHow does your organization define social media marketing, and how does it fit into the larger digital marketing picture?

There is no single definition for social media marketing at our company, and that’s how it should be! If you ask one of our CRM guys they’ll tell you SMM is about collecting customer contacts and feeding them back intriguing content and offers, if you ask the Chief Creative Officer, he’ll tell you it’s about producing content that online influencers will gravitate towards and share, if you ask me, it’s taking emerging social technology and platforms and using them in unexpected ways to provide utility and entertainment. Defining social marketing is like defining digital marketing. It’s far too broad to constrain to an all-encompassing description, and has to be tailored to a specific business goal.

 

How have you seen social media greatly impact your business?

Social hasn’t just impacted the business, it’s transformed it. Every single client and every single campaign is now expected to have social elements. The stakes are much higher now that consumers can call BS on any marketer, but the opportunities to build relationships (and not just broadcast) far outweighs that.

 

When is social media data most critical to your efforts: During the planning process; while you’re executing a campaign, so you can change course or allocate more resources; or afterwards, to measure your success?

Social data tends to be most critical during two phases: The first is the selling-in process where you’re helping everyone across the organization understand why a certain execution is worth pursuing. After-all, a TV spot is a lot more clear cut than a Snapchat program. So we find data to show how a social program can lead to those critical business goals that every other channel needs to deliver against. Things like site traffic, foot traffic, and subscribers and more. Secondly, data is most critical during the campaign. Tracking performance on an ongoing basis helps optimize campaigns so we’re creating the best possible content and spending our paid media dollars on the items most likely to succeed.

 

What’s more valuable, competitive intelligence on brands within your industry, or being able to look at the efforts from brands in other verticals?

Personally, I tend to recommend tracking brands in other verticals. It’s natural and comforting to benchmark against competitors, but I think that sets the bar very low. There’s nothing wrong with a B2B looking for inspiration from Red Bull.

 

Social media channels are increasingly moving to where paid content is promoted more than organic content. How do you feel about this, and how has it affected your social strategy?

All social channels (that end up scaling) take the same path: They start off as free (Snapchat). Then they slowly start to introduce ads (Pinterest). Then finally they mature as hardcore ad platforms (Facebook). As a marketer, I think this is awesome. As a human who uses social networks, I have mixed feelings. Marketers can still get organic impressions with really fantastic content, but every day that challenge grows and grows because unlike newspapers or tv programs, internet content doesn’t go away. The pile of entertainment and/or utility that the internet provides consumers is only getting larger, so paid is increasingly becoming the only way to stand out.

 

What do you see as the single most disruptive force coming to the world of social media marketing?

Simplicity is the most disruptive trend in social media. Younger consumers especially are flocking to tools like Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and Secret and regardless of “why” the more important consideration to consider is that marketers stick out there like a very sore thumb. The growth of simple social channels means we need to work harder than ever to avoid being “the creepy uncle” at the party.

 

What are the social media metrics you don’t have access to today but would like to be able to leverage in the future?

I would love to see more analytics platforms track creative-specific metrics. There are hundreds of tools available to measure the effectiveness of paid media, but when it comes to analyzing the success of variables that go into content (copy, length, size, timing, and more) the market is unfortunately quite sparse. As someone who leads social content creation efforts and collaborates constantly with media buying teams, this is something I’d love to see more of.

 Click here to view more social media insights, thoughts and opinions from agency and brand experts.