POEM and the tweeting bra

Over the past decade we've seen momentous changes in the media landscape with the emergence of the (social) media of the masses that have become increasingly intertwined with traditional mass media although the latter have had to deal with convergence from their old platforms to the Internet. As a result, many have claimed that brands have themselves become media, that they now control the channel and are supposed to produce and distribute content associated to the brand so as to orchestrate new forms of marcoms. While this is true to a certain extent, brands face real challenges and complexity in organizing their communication and in using the various channels that are available to spread its messages, interact with specific and increasingly fragmented audiences and acquire new customers. Principal challenges are as follows:

  1. the limited ability to fully grasp the importance and nature of new forms of (social) media in order to be able to put them to use in a consistent manner
  2. a relative lack of creative thinking in putting together structured campaigns that leverage all types of relevant media, whether traditional or social
  3. a profound lack of skills, tools and processes required to produce and distribute relevant good quality content to specific audiences
  4. often there is a disturbing disconnect between the marcoms initiatives and the business strategy, the business model and the fundamental business assumptions of the brand
  5. assuming all challenges above are addressed properly, there remains the issue of putting together and actually assessing systematically proper indicators of performance measured by one or more analytics platforms. In this area there is often too much focus on the tools and too little on the skills of the analysts, on the methods of analysis and on the focus that has to remain very close to the things that matter in a given business or industry
Leading consulting firms in the digital space have produced impressive output when it comes to characterizing types of content and kinds of channels that can be used by a brand. Among those there is the below overview of content, channels and formats by the Altimeter Group and the social media brandsphere by Brian Solis.

Working on a project involving the assessment of social media initiatives and contributions to putting together a marcoms strategy for a new business, we developed a simplified framework for structuring a brand's approach of paid, owned and earned media. This framework was partly inspired by an analysis of owned, paid and earned media done by Forrester which can be found at this link. The BusinessQuests framework is aimed at:
  1. defining the three kinds of media in a simple and unambiguous way
  2. identifying their primary purpose and possible unintended effects
  3. outline the relationships between the three types of media as an effort to contribute to dispelling some myths, e.g. that digital and social marcoms can be done without any significant financial investment or that an agency can orchestrate a viral campaign out of thin air
Our framework is as follows:
BusinessQuests' framework for paid, owned and earned media

While earned media is highly desirable it is also elusive and difficult to generate "artificially" because it takes something special in the content or in the nature of a given initiative to convince channels that have an established relationship with a given audience to relay a brand's content. Many experts give the example of how Apple has been consistently able to get substantial free coverage in the media for new versions of its iconic smartphone, however they fail to show the ties between the excellent work done in the past to build the brand through expensive campaigns in the (paid) media and they also omit the fact that Apple is able to attract attention in great part because of its ability to preserve secrecy and control the flows if information within the company and between the company and outsiders. So it would be really hard for most brands to aspire to such levels of achievement when it comes to earned media without first investing in various aspects of their business, paid media being the least critical or impacting. A better example might be provided by a campaign called "Tweeting Bra", which was run by Nestlé in Greece in October 2013, i.e. during the breast cancer awareness month. That campaign, which was put together by OgilvyOne Athens combined magnificently traditional paid media in the form of TV ads, star power in the form of a lady celebrity journalist, social media both as part of the initiative to raise women's awareness about good practices to prevent and cure breast cancer and as a medium for viral transmission of the info of the first "tweeting bra" ever. Here's the ad that aired on Greek TV to drive traffic to the microsite:

The initiative achieved its primary goal which was to generate traffic for a microsite dedicated to the issue of breast cancer, which was released by Nestlé as part of the campaign that was associated to Nestlé's Fitness line, whose primary target is the same as the audience of the initiative, i.e. women caring about their health and well-being. But more remarkably, the campaign also achieved significant exposure in unpaid media, i.e. earned media often in remote countries thus giving Nestlé's initiative an impact well beyond what the company initially aimed for.