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High-power panel discussed social media priorities

Congress at Congress ()

Social media engagement is essential to growing a brand, and developing brand recognition still takes priority over directly monetising such platforms. This was a recurring theme during a panel discussion on audience engagement at the FIPP World Congress in London today (10 October).

The panel included Hannah Ray, Head of Social Strategy and Storytelling at Condé Nast International, Marion Mertens, Senior Digital Editor at Paris Match, and Vince Errico, Chief Digital Officer at Trusted Media Brands, USA, discussed the different ways they use social media across multiple platforms.

Interviewer Carolyn Morgan, Founder of Penmaen Media (CM), began by asking the panellists about their work and backgrounds.

Vince Errico: We’re focused primarily on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest but not Snapchat. We use these three platforms across all 12 of our titles, and I pay attention to how branding and economic opportunities present themselves differently across different platforms.

 
Vince Errico ()
 

One successful example is Taste of Home, our food brand. We have user-submitted recipes which are triple-tested in test kitchens made to model an average kitchen. The result is a really personal resonance with our fan base on social platforms, as they associate the recipes with one of our users, and this creates a sense of community.

Marion Mertens: I come from the “old world” and five years ago I decided that the “new world” was very interesting. I thought I could be a bit of a bridge between the two. At Paris Match, we try to create things that make our fans love social media and love the “new world”, by making Paris Match distinct from other brands - we ask, what do we have that is different, that we can promote across social media?  

 
Marion Mertens ()
 

Twitter is for news; Facebook we use for Live and to drive people to website; and Instagram we have two accounts: our regular one, and one that uses nostalgic images. We notice that young people are highly attracted to things that look old! We also launched a Snapchat Discover channel and we can find new audiences through the different channels, which may then lead them to our website or to engage with us via other means. 

Hannah Ray: My question was, how can we safe-proof Vogue for the digital future? Initially I made some recommendations as a consultant, and we’re now testing a lot of strategies, particularly on Instagram. Vogue wasn’t where it should have been, given its international fashion reputation. Why wasn’t Vogue being a pioneer in digital storytelling? It should be!

We used data to understand the friction between big media brands and individual users of Instagram - after all, Instagram was made for individuals, not brands. We did some simple market research and collected some qualitative data, as well as unpicking each individual account and assessing which posts were tanking and why.

 
Hannah Ray CNI ()
 

One key insight which came from the data was about cross-engagement. Vogue had 47 different Instagram accounts - and we found that only a tiny number of users was cross-engaging. This revealed an opportunity for Vogue to take ownership of certain stories and publish across platforms and accounts, which was really successful.

CM: How do you measure the impact of social media stories on the brand?

Vince Errico: We discount some metrics such as reach, but likes, shares, and comments are good indicators for us. Then we take posts that do well and try to boost them.

Marion Mertens: I knew it was working when a colleague told me his son was talking about an article he’d read on Paris Match. 

Hannah Ray: I’m interested in the qualitative side of things as well. Certain audience members would say things like, “I don’t think Vogue gets Instagram.” These comments drove me to want to change things. We began to gain industry recognition, heard people asking about our Instagram stories, and followed audience comments as well as winning awards (eg. Digiday - Best Use of Instagram). It’s important to remember that while Instagram doesn’t make money, it’s a brand recognition exercise - which is essential for growth and potential revenue in the future. This is something the US understands very well, less so in Europe.

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