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IPA Social Principle 05 – Marketing with people not to people

[ photo courtesy ]

You’ll no doubt have seen a few posts referencing the IPA Social initiative – well now it’s all kicking off, and this is where we hope to make this a really social endeavour. I’m thrilled to be a part of this project; I hope you’ll join in too.

On October 6th the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) are running an event (at which I’ll be talking) to have a conversation around what social really means for our industry. In the run up to the event, I’ve been working with a terrific crew of likeminded people from across the industry who all had a point of view on this nebulous thing we call social, and we’ve worked up ten principles to start the conversation. This introduction (written by Amelia) gives the proper context:

Social Media is a conversation. That seems to be one thing that we can all agree on.

But given that Social Media is a rather noisy and opinionated conversation, what value do we think we will have by adding our voices to it?

We are not Social Media gurus. In face we are rather sceptical of people who claim they are. We are simply 10 people from across a wide range of communications disciplines in the UK and the US who would like to share some thoughts. Thoughts that have either been bugging us or inspiring us, thoughts that we believe could form some of the building blocks for succesful Social campaigns. We came together to respond to and add our voices to some work that the IPA had done earlier in the year.

We have each defined a Principle which we feel is important in this Social world. You will find each principle up here but they are also on our individual blogs where we will be curating the conversation which we hope they will generate. Please do get involved, maybe you think these principles don’t apply, are there better ones? Are there changes that you would like to make? Are there examples that you could add to help illustrate them? The only thing that we ask is that as part of the advertising and communications community that you become part of the conversation. After all the more opinions that are being shared and built on, the more intersting and stronger the outcome. At least that’s what we are hoping.

Thank you in advance.

The IPA have created a hub for all ten principles, along with a fantastic summary of the big picture written by Mark Earls, all of which you can find here.

Each of us is writing about a single principle and encouraging as much debate through our own blogs, and around the #IPASocial hashtag on twitter, and the event itself:

1. People not consumers – Mark Earls
2. Social agenda not business agenda – Le’Nise Brothers
3. Continuous conversation not campaigning – John V Willshire
4. Long term impacts not quick fixes – Faris Yakob
5. Marketing with people not to people – Katy Lindemann
6. Being authentic not persuasive – Neil Perkin
7. Perpetual beta – Jamie Coomber
8. Technology changes, people don’t – Amelia Torode
9. Change will never be this slow again – Graeme Wood
10. Measurement – Asi Sharabi

These ten principles are just a starting point; provokers of conversation, thoughts, ideas… an invitation to you (yes, YOU) to join in. Why? Our aim with this project is to move the debate beyond simply the theoretical, and into the practical; examples of approaches that have worked, and which have not. What does success look like? What do you need to do first?

We believe that by sharing information and case studies around ’social communications’ we will all, from the largest agency to the nimblest freelancer, from the most traditional client to the youngest start-up, benefit from this open source of knowledge.

So please join the debate by leaving your thoughts around the principle I’m writing about in the comments below, and see the other conversation starters here


IPA Social principle 05 – Marketing with people not to people

Marketing is something you do with, not to, people. Successful brands realise that being social isn’t about where, it’s about how.

For the last 30 yrs or so, brilliantly controlled brand management was the perfect approach for persuading a mass market of credulous consumers who eagerly put their faith in brands.

[ image courtesy ]


But things have changed. The brands who will thrive most successfully in the new age of communications realise that marketing is no longer something that you do TO people, it’s something that you do WITH people.

People aren’t receptacles waiting eagerly for your advertising message. They’re savvy and value their time. Why should they allow a brand into their world unless they feel the brand values them? From involving people in an entertaining brand experience, to inviting participation in creating what the brand does & the products and services it offers, to simply listening to people when they have something to say – being interested is as important as being interesting.

And this can take numerous forms – there’s no one size fits all. Orange’s Playballoonacy rewarded participation on numerous levels – for some it was the chance to win the grand prize, for others the reward was simply the fun of playing an entertaining game, whilst for others it was getting enough points to beat their mates, or the opportunity to drive additional traffic to their blogs. Walkers ‘Do Us a Flavour’ campaign demonstrated how interactive and involving communication can live and breathe even within the most seemingly traditional campaigns. Whilst Dell Ideastorm and MyStarbucksIdea both put listening to people at the very heart of their communication – they flip the funnel, putting the user at the centre, rather than the brand.

Ultimately, social marketing extends beyond campaigns. It can and should be a core part of how brands behaves. It’s every interaction people have with your brand – and involving people should be something you do all year round.

Because, after all, we need to remember that the most powerful marketing of all is what people say about your brand to others. If you can create opportunities to involve people in your brand communication, and deliver an enriching and rewarding brand interaction, people might just talk about it positively to their friends. It’s not just that marketing is something you do with people – if you do it right, people become your marketing.


Ten good pieces but one question remains – what makes you think that people use social media in the way you need them to?

Are we actually talking about social media or has the advent of the internet simply revealed that the advertising emperor had no clothes and should have obeyed the tne principles all along?

Posted by John on 29 September 2009 @ 11pm

You’re all preaching to the converted here, but one question nags at me. Is this really about social media or has the pervasiveness of the internet merely revealed that the advertising emperor had no clothes and should have been observing these ten principles all along? Don’t let this become siloed.

Posted by John on 30 September 2009 @ 10am

Really nice post from Rachel Clarke adding to the IPA Social debate about how social should be embedded into everything a company does, and not just a bolt on:

Posted by Katy Lindemann on 30 September 2009 @ 11am

Excellent points John – and I think I’d definitely agree. I really think that social media is a pretty useless term as it’s not the media that’s social, it’s just that the socialising of the web has meant the acceleration of the removal of the emperor’s clothes. Being a provocative so and so, I’d agree that frankly this is how brands should have always behaved, but I’d say that it’s the case that the increasing socialisation of the web, and how people interact with brands and business, means that it is (or should be) harder for brands to ignore how they interact with people. I don’t think we’re talking about social media at all, it’s a bit of a useless term. We’re talking about social behaviour – at least that’s just my personal view on it, I’m sure many many disagree (bring on the debate!)

Posted by Katy Lindemann on 30 September 2009 @ 12pm

And also amen to social not being a silo. It’s not about a line on a plan – the social media bit. It’s not about the media! It’s about the behaviour – social should be injected into how a brand and business behave, so it SHOULD be a part of everything they do, not a silo-ed department or line on a marketing plan.

Posted by Katy Lindemann on 30 September 2009 @ 12pm

[...] Be interested, and interesting. Take ‘Doritos iD3′ for example – not only did we openly engage in conversations across key social platforms, but created a memorable and entertaining brand experience. Being interested is as important as being interesting. [...]

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