WARC uncovers current social strategy trends for effective marketing

3 months ago

WARC, the global authority on advertising and media effectiveness, has today released the Effective Social Strategy Report 2019, outlining key social marketing trends following an analysis of some of the world’s most effective campaigns. 

Drawn from jury discussions and metadata of the shortlisted and winning entries of the Effective Social Strategy category of this year’s WARC Awards – a global search for next-generation marketing effectiveness – the report identifies the main drivers that link social strategy to business success.

Lucy Aitken, Managing Editor, Case Studies, WARC, comments: “We’ve scrutinised the case studies to find out what makes a social campaign successful and to offer actionable insights to marketers and the wider industry.

“What we see is that social offers immense opportunities for participation-led campaigns, but overall, not enough brands are playing to its strengths.”

WARC’s Effective Social Strategy Report identifies three key themes:
Social can fulfil both long- and short-term business objectives

As social matures, it is increasingly being positioned at the heart of business and is delivering impressive returns for brands. Two brands from this year’s WARC Awards – Starbucks and McDonald’s – demonstrated social’s ability to combine brand activity with a promotional mechanic to steer commercial results.

Alex Steer, Chief Product Officer, Wavemaker, says: “Social is more than capable of a fair fight and it can make real impact on brands, customers and business results.

Social can facilitate creative judo

Creative judo enables brands to be Davids taking on Goliaths, and social provides a good context for this strategy. Callum McCahon, Strategy Director, Born Social, points out: “Social still brings an unrivalled ability to form a crowd, to break down barriers and smash convention. If you can’t be brave on social, you can’t be brave anywhere. Own the problem. Be tactical and proud. Divide and conquer. That’s how to apply creative judo on social.”


Winning case studies that embraced this strategy include Burger King in the US that leveraged an opportunity on Twitter when rival Wendy’s discontinued its spicy nuggets; and Coca-Cola, which tapped into the relaxation of Saudi Arabia’s driving laws to appeal to young women in the country and gain market share.

A smart influencer strategy can drive growth

Approaching influencer marketing as a long-term strategy, investing time in selecting the right influencer and using an influencer for co-creation can lead to engagement and effectiveness.

Jakub Hodbod, Global Head of Strategy, Ogilvy Social.Lab and Chief Strategy Officer, Ogilvy Czech and Charlotte Tansill, Executive Director of Social, Ogilvy, comments: “The future of influencer marketing is about the dynamic relationship between influencers and brands, expanding their impact from amplifiers and advocates to growth-drivers.” 

The United Nations enlisted Sir David Attenborough to deliver a speech through a livestream on Facebook, reaching 1.3 billion people; and Vans used influencers to successfully broaden its appeal among teens and young adults in the US. 

A sample of the Effective Social Strategy Report, Lessons from the 2019 WARC Awards, can be downloaded here. The report in full is available to WARC subscribers on warc.com and includes in-depth chapter analysis with views and opinions from the judges; what the trends mean from advertisers, agencies and media owners; data analysis; and summaries – objectives, insights, strategies and results – of the winning case studies.

The 2020 WARC Awards will open in October 2019. Free to enter, there is a USD$40,000 prize fund for the winning papers. View here for more information.

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