Social media common sense – Unilever’s Jon Goldstone

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 14.18.36How refreshing to hear a some long overdue common sense on the role of social media from Jon Goldstone, Unilever's UK VP of brand building for food and ice cream. Jon was giving his predictions for 2014 in Marketing magazine.

1. Treating digital as part of your research budget

It was interesting to read Jon saying, "We've gone through a period of digital experimentation and are getting to a place where we can prioritise areas where we get the best return." I posted 18 months ago here on the idea that social media should be part of your research budget, not your marketing budget, as it was totally unproven. It sound like Jon and his team have taken the smart approach of neither ignoring social media nor pushing it as THE next big thing, but rather learning by doing. It sounds like they are now in a place where social media can show them the money.

2. Adapt your approach by brand

Jon rightly suggests that the right digital marketing approach differs by brand. Through experimenation his team discovered the following for four key brands:

Magnum: mobile works best, the approach can vary based on weather/temperature and vicinity to a store

Knorr: online recipe search

Marmite and Ben & Jerry's: Facebook is effective as the brands are more about entertainment

Again, this makes a lot of sense. Rather than saying, "Come on, what's your brand's digital strategy?!", it asks "What's your brand's strategy in a digital world". It recongnizes that social media such as facebook works for certain brands, not others. As Jon says, a key consideration is how "social" a brand is by nature i.e. is it an entertaining brand people like to talk about, as I posted on here.

3. TV aint dead yet

Another bit of fresh air was reading Jon saying that "The continued strength of TV has been a bit of a surprise". As I posted on here, "old media" is far from dead. In fact, according to Thinkbox research, the ROI of TV advertising is actually up +22% in the last five years, owing to growing commercial TV viewing and lower costs.

Jon rightly points out that the way we consume TV is changing, commenting about "The interaction between TV and social media, with tweets and posts about TV content." Another report actually goes further, suggesting that Twitter actually increases TV viewership!  Twitters COO, Ali Rowghani, is quoted as saying here that "Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming.”

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In conclusion, lets hope other marketing leaders show the same business focused approach to digital marketing and social media. Will 2014 be the year that the hype and hysteria ends, and common sense prevails at last?