GetSocial – The Impact of Social Media on Marketing

“Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker



This is even more the case with advertising through social media, a problem that causes marketers and advertisers all around the globe major headaches in the last years.


As the event title and this quote might indicate, the topic of this DICE “GetSocial” Conference was social marketing and social advertising.

Seven Speakers held presentations providing insight in this complex but interesting matter, that effects each and every single one of us.


DCU’s engagement with social media

Dr. Theo Lynn, Digital Marketing Programme Chairperson of DCU, was the person opening this year’s “GetSocial” event by giving the audience an impression on how Dublin City University is engaged in the field of social media research and social marketing.

A simplification of how data mining works.


Therefore the audience was given an overview of how DCU uses social media to solve everyday problems. This might happen by using data mining, clustering and categorizing content and users or through natural language processing.



As DCU is the nationally leading university in social media research, there are currently lots of project taking place at the university’s research centres.

One project I found very interesting is called “Uonevu“, a Uonevucyber-bullying prevention platform, which automatically identifies non-explicit forms of bullying language via natural language processing and uses its own results to train the system to detect bullying more effectively. Therefore the so triggered machine learning improves the detection process of cyber-bullying even further.


A very alarming fact that Dr. Theo Lynn highlighted concerns social media influence,

For example the fictional advertisement character “Aleksandr Orlov”, a meerkat, has more twitter followers than Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister. Also more people talked about Paul Walker after his death than about Nelson Mandela after his death, a trend that clearly shows, how we as social media consumers have the responsibility to choose sources of information that educate and inform us about what is going on in the world instead of blindly following trends.


A fictional advertisement meerkat having more Twitter followers than the Irish prime minister.


Gajo – Cutting through the Noise

Next Speaker, Deirdre Hogan, a Senior Research Fellow at DCU, is currently working on a project called “Gajo“. This is a research project with the potential to become a spin-off company which will provide advertisers and marketers with a special audience targeting capability based on social media.

In Ms. Hogan’s opinion one of the biggest problems regarding social media marketing for advertisers is to find those people, for whom the special marketing message is relevant.

In her opinion the factor that is disturbing customer targeting on social media most is so called “noise”, which means a layer of content for example on a Facebook news-feed that advertisement has to cut through.


How keyword targeting works in theory.


At the moment the most often used method to locate customers through this noise is keyword targeting. However this method often does not come up with the right results, as the same keywords can be used in posts with completely different meanings.


In order to solve this problem, the developers of “Gajo” want to establish a way for machines to process user generated content on social media, which normally is full of typos, slang and emoticons. This works through a combination of keyword targeting, categorizing of posts and post clustering.


What makes Gajo’s approach to customer targeting different from “traditional” keyword targeting.

This technology would enable producers to locate customers with purchasing intends way easier through all the noise of for example an online forum and lead to better conversion rates.


Think creative!

The third speaker of the conference was Jane McDaid, Creative Director of Thinkhouse.

THINKHOUSE is a youth communications agency. We work with some of the world’s biggest brands to create and deliver innovative campaigns that connect with 18-35yr olds. We’re Brand Strategists, Digital Natives, Social Animals. Publicity Seekers, Guerrillas and Party Throwers. We love what we do, we hope you do too. (from:


Thinkhouse is a company that specializes in targeted marketing over social media. They are especially working on reputation building campaigns targeting audiences from age 18 to 35.  Some of their most well-known customers are Ebay, Lynx, Coca Cola and Three.

Ms. McDaid explained us the “Seven Sins of Killer Content”, seven attributes that can make marketing campaigns go viral:

1. LOL ( = Laughing out loud)

This category contains all kinds of funny advertisements, videos or other content that make you “laugh out loud”.

2. Epic

3. Emotive

Emotional content the viewer can relate to.

4. WTF? ( = What the F***)

5. Zeitgeist

One of the hardest categories, as not only the content has to grab the audience’s attention, but as the project has to be finished in extremely short time, to still be relevant. “Zeitgeist” projects might for example be spots released at the same time as press releases to inform customers or advertisements using certain short-time trends (for example “Gangnam Style” or “Planking“).

6. NSFW (= Not safe for work)

NSFW advertisements normally contain either sexually explicit, violent or in any other way controversial content. The art of making a good NSFW content is making it enough controversial to cause conversation and attention but on the other hand not too controversial, as it might become socially unacceptable and might be seen as vulgar. If done right, a NSFW advertisement is a great way for getting people to know and talk about your brand though.

 7. Informative

The last of the “Seven Sins” is the category of informative content. This category includes documentations, informational movies et cetera. The difficulty lies in making a spot that is informative on one side, but not too boring and long on the other side.

What I found especially interesting was that even though I did not know the company “Thinkhouse” before, I knew many of their advertisement spots for other companies. This has clearly shown me how marketing agencies act behind the scenes and how average consumers might not even be aware of them.

RTE’s Digital Journey

The last speaker of the first half of GetSocial was Lucy Campbell, Marketing Director of RTE DigitalRadio Television Ireland has launched its digital service in 2004 and today is one of Ireland’s forerunners regarding mobile content optimization.


The Irish digital market has become huge in the last years.

With an annual audience growth of 10%, Ireland has the second fastest growing online audience in Europe, a clear incentive for producer to optimize online content, even more as 73% of Irish mobile users have a smart phone that enables them to demand content via mobile internet.



What is alarming is that only 4% of Irish Companies have mobile optimized sites even though mobile optimized content is provides a clear advantage in competition for audience. With, the RTE player and the RTE news now app, RTE Digital was able to achieve 135 million unique page impressions per month in 2013.

One of RTE Digital’s newest project is GAAGO, a subscription based GAA sports channel, which is worldwide available.

Ms. Campbell highlighted how the Irish population nowadays is steadily becoming more digitally connected, and how the main share of impressions today is becoming “on Demand”. This poses two problems on marketers: First they have to make sure to optimize their content for many different platforms in order to make it steal appealing for a more and more selective audience and secondly they have to make sure their audience wants to watch their content as opposed to “traditional” ways of advertising, as in commercial breaks on TV.

In my opinion another big problem for marketers isAd-blocking-by-browser-PageFair-300x270 the rise of ad blocking software. A report of PageFair released in August last year stated that around 23% of web surfers are actively blocking advertisements. This figure was expected to rise at a rate of 43% per year. This might indicate that the times of overwhelmingly much advertisement surrounding users everywhere will come to an end as on demand advertisement, which has to stand out with its creative and interesting content, is on the rise.


“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – Aristotle

The first speaker after a short break was Alan Coleman, CEO of Wolfgang DigitalWolfgang Digital is an award winning digital marketing agency based in Dublin.

Mr. Coleman noted that the Irish online economy is at the moment growing at 41% per year. This is between 20 to 25 times faster than Ireland’s general economy. What this tells us is that the Irish online market is extremely fast expanding, so it is an extremely valuable market segment to invest into.


Top SEO Ranking-Factors 2014.

When Wolfgang Digital was still a very young agency it specialized mainly in search engine optimization in order to help their clients become more successful in the fast expanding online environment. However due to recent changes in the search metrics SEO ranking factors Wolfgang Digital has also moved into social media. The reason for this is that today 7 out of the 8 dominating factors in search engine optimization are social media factors. For SEO agencies this means in order to achieve good results a social media campaign is inevitable.

Another thing Mr. Coleman highlighted is that today’s media is extremely fragmented. Just a few years ago there were still only a few TV channels and the internet did not have a big impact. Today there are hundreds of TV channels available and the influence of the internet on purchasing behaviour and advertisement is steadily growing. Although in Europe as a whole TV still is a more frequently used media, in the United Kingdom the internet overtook television this year and this trend will surely continue in other countries, too.


Narrowing the pool of possible brands down to the final purchase decision.

An often used metaphor for the consumers way to a purchase is the funnel: The journey starts with the consumer becoming aware of brands and products. This can happen easily through social media such as Facebook or Twitter. Then he or she becomes interested and looks for more information, often through search engines such as Google. By gaining access to more and more information the pool of brands and products is getting narrowed just like a funnel until a purchase decision (Action) is made.

In the eyes of Alan Coleman this funnel is not enough to represent the consumers purchasing journey nowadays. As consumers often stay in a relationship with the brand they bought their product from, the funnel has to be supplemented by the keywords loyalty and advocacy. A pleased customer often stays loyal to and advocates his brand of choice through consumer reviews or social media posts and becomes a brand advocate. This leads to more awareness by peers and friends of the original customer. Such kind of media value is often referred to as “earned media value”.

In the article “Branding in the Digital Age“, published in the Harvard Business Review, David C. Edelman pictures a consumers purchasing journey similarly, only through the eyes of a consumer, as can be seen in the image below.


The Consumer Decision Journey (from: David C. Edelman, “Branding in the Digital Age”

A topic that I personally found very interesting in Mr. Coleman’s presentation was the Google outage on Thursday the 16th of August 2013. On this date Google and all of its services went black for about four minutes, shortly before midnight. In those four minutes the whole internet traffic dropped by approximately 40% and Google lost around $545,000 in revenue.


For almost 5 minutes internet traffic drops by almost 40% during a Google outage in August 2013.

One more key takeaways of Mr. Coleman’s presentation was that even though in the last years specialists, specializing in either social media, or SEO or other niches won the battle for customers, as the whole digital market is expanding so rapidly, “it’s a full-time job, keeping up with each of [the niches]”, he still thinks that agencies who can connect all those different tasks and who can basically be the “man in the middle” will win in the long run.


Get Linked and Stay Linked


The Network of Nicolas Cappiello visualized.

Today’s sixth out of seven speakers was Nicolas Cappiello, EMEA Sales Director of LinkedIn. He talked about the power of a network and how LinkedIn can help us staying in contact with colleagues, friends, family and many more, to build a large and rich network of relationships.  LinkedIn’s goal is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. On the long term they want to visualize every economic opportunity in the world and every skill required to obtain them.

LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to experience high quality content from peers, professionals and thought leaders to always get more educated and informed and to aim higher.


The thing that really separates LinkedIn from other social networking platforms is the quality of its content as nowadays we do not have a shortage of content but it becomes increasingly harder to find the kind of content that helps you improve yourself.



The Social Media Crisis of Faith

Today’s last speaker was Eric Weaver, Chief Social Officer of IPG Media Brands.

His presentation was mainly about the crisis of faithCrisis_of_Faith in social media that is taking place right at the moment. By this he means a phenomenon that has already happened with the Internet and most likely dozens of times with other innovations before. Around 2006 social media started to become interesting for companies, as more and more people got involved with it.

2009 finally there was a “social media hype” in which dozens of companies and brands decided to launch their own social media campaign. 2013 the once so “cool” and “hip” social media trend has become normalcy.

Now in 2014 there is a global disillusionment taking place as everyone realizes it’s nothing “special” or “interesting” anymore as a brand to be involved in social media, as everybody does that anyways. To say it in Mr. Weaver’s words: “There’s no sexy left in that; everyone’s on social.”

As a brand the thing that can set you apart from other brands on social media though is good content. With good content people get engaged, you can get people talking and you can establish a good reputation. The downside of this however is that content is expensive. And one thing that has always been a problem with social marketing is that the impact cannot be directly measured in money. Nobody knows how much a “like” or a “share” is worth in money. So how can you justify your cost for social marketing?

Also Facebook has implemented a system of paid advertisement boosting, so “free” advertisement now have far less impact as they used to have and paid boosting seems like a necessity. This further increases the costs of social media marketing.


Good content and ad boosting drive up the costs of social media marketing.

And there are even more problems: How can you compare the impact from social media advertisement to TV or print? Is this content doing anything meaningful? And is the social media team doing a good job?

This is where IPG Mediabrands promises a solution:


This is how a guidance sheet of the “Performance Measurement Model” looks like.


In their opinion it is necessary to look at “earned media value” to measure the value and impact of social advertisement. Earned media value means the value of people talking, posting and discussing about your brand. That means if a brand posts content for their fans and this content is getting shared 100 times, that is the “earned media value”.




The value itself is calculated by comparing how much money the brand would have had to spend in order to reach the same number of impressions by “traditional” marketing methods such as TV and print. IPG Mediabrands developed a “Performance Measurement Model” that measures the impact and compares it to the costs of other advertisement methods automatically. This way brands can easily view their social media success and make decisions based on numbers, not on pure guessing.


This is how a comparison of the “Performance Measurement Model” can look like.

Two factors play into the measured value: The number of people seeing the content and liking it on the one side, on the other side how much of a conversation is created. Therefore the method does not measure the exact impact of social marketing, but it comes as close as we can get at the moment and helps brands to optimize their social marketing campaign.


How I experienced GetSocial 2014

After all those presentations and learning so much more about different views on social media I was first and foremost astonished what a giant issue and branch social marketing is. Everything from a 30 words Tweet to a documentation campaign can and will be optimized today, without most of us users even knowing what is going on behind the scenes. A short tweet from a brand like T-Mobile might sometimes come across as just a funny idea of an employee, whereas in reality everything is part of a thoroughly planned marketing model.

I myself could imagine working in social media, especially in agencies such as Thinkhouse , so a plan for my personal future might be an internship in a similar company.

I think the potential of social marketing is huge, especially considering how “traditional” marketing methods such as TV and print more and more lose their impact on consumers. On demand advertisement is the way to go which will offer a major challenge to all kinds of brands and enterprises in the next years.

I am happy I had the opportunity to attend the GetSocial event, as it gave me insight in a lot of topics that effect me on a daily basis and that will steadily become more and more important.

Thank you to everyone who is reading this until the end, as it has become quite a long post, you will be hearing form me after the next conference or on my Twitter or Facebook page.

– Jannis Beck



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