Building brands in a changing society

Brands Need to Live in the Here and Now

Social Media Q&A with Thomas Gensemer

Part five of a five-part interview series about the challenges and opportunities that social media presents to the brand idea.

Among the many demands that social media places on brands, it also calls for a shift from episodic campaigns to always-on communications. Marketers are well practiced at producing tidy quarterly campaigns with lengthy production schedules. Most marketing departments are simply not staffed or organized to produce content at the pace of a daily newspaper, nor are they prepared to react as their content provokes response. I talk to Thomas Gensemer, managing partner, Blue State Digital, about how a brand will benefit from connecting with its audience in real time.

By way of background, can you describe the typical client challenge that you face these days?

Clients come to us because of our reputation for defining “movements”, be it a political campaign like Obama’s “Hope & Change”, the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” Project, or Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” fan club. All of these successes, in different ways, have managed to break into the cultural zeitgeist, driving recognition and behavior change well beyond the reach of the client itself by channeling the participation of millions of individuals, online and off.

Unfortunately, although everyone wants a “movement”, there is no secret formula or magic to creating one. So, with clients and partner agencies alike, I tend to play the role of balloon-buster, gut-checking expectations, debunking myths, and preaching the fundamentals of digital engagement.

So you “want a movement,” huh?

I typically come into a CMO’s want for a “movement” only after they’ve spent two or three years investing heavily in digital advertising to buy audiences on social platforms.

In one recent case, just last month, a well-known brand that has over two million Facebook fans, mostly bought, was forced to admit that it has no idea who these “fans” are and no real evidence that they are engaged. The brand’s content is a bit dry, mostly derivative of other advertising efforts, and, by rule-of-thumb, only a tiny fraction of this audience even sees it.

Read the rest on the JWT Blog.


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