The Econsultancy Marketing Budgets 2014 Report already highlighted increasing doubts by the marketing community about the overwhelming dominance of Advertising and Paid Search in Marketing budgets:

  • For the first time, 15% of companies announced their intent to decrease their investment in Online Media and Paid search (with the exception of Mobile).
  • Content, social and natural search topped declared areas of investment.

The same report also shows that driving conversion and developing and improving brand awareness were the leading marketing objectives for brands in 2014.

However, when asked about their main challenges, the same marketers point to the creation of engaging content and to the measurement of the impact of social and content. Only one third of US based B2C marketers consider themselves effective at content marketing according to the Content Marketing Institute.  

To summarize, we are now supposed to write 2015 budgets in a situation where:

  • Digital spend in 2015 is expected to rise very significantly.
  • There’s a key objective to increase customer engagement and reinforce the brand presence online.
  • Many marketers agree that budgets and focus need to shift from media to a more balanced mix of content and socially driven strategies.
  • Marketers face major operational challenges in executing and measuring the impact of such strategies. 

So, in this complex budgeting environment, I thought it could be useful to share here a framework that came out of a discussion I had with the CMO of a global electronics brand a few months ago, as we were looking at their different social media programmes and investments.

Segmenting the audience on impact

Segmenting your target audience based on the impact of each individual online will show a high concentration of the impact generated in the hands a few original contributors of content and influencers. Our research shows that only 3% of individuals usually generate 90% of the impact. 

Conversely, a huge majority of the audience engages mostly with a small circle of friends and family and have limited impact beyond that circle.

Segmenting your programmes

Based on this audience segmentation, our proposed framework encourages brands to build specific approaches by audience type in order to optimize their investment. 

Social Platforms

Brands already heavily invest in Social Platforms to maximize the reach to their target audience.  However, with organic reach at an average 1-2% for brands , Social Platforms have now become another media outlet. Forget about engagement, forget about social “interactions”; brands focus their budget on Social Platforms because they provide simple, scalable and measurable reach to a target audience. 

Media Relations

At the other end of the spectrum, Media Relations are increasingly incorporating social media top influencers to their traditional journalist outreach, focusing on specific programs for those stakeholders that could provide a huge impact through their own media or through the publication they work for. See Apple’s invitation to fashion influencers at their latest keynote

The untapped potential for many brands seems to lie in the middle, where individuals with most impact could help your brand achieve their objectives.

Advocacy programmes

Advocacy programmes such as the Samsung Friends programme counting 15,000 members in France -focus on those individuals who demonstrate a natural appetite for the brand.  “Advocates” are expected to generate engagement and organic reach at limited cost because of their natural propensity to share content from their preferred brand.  

Advocacy programmes however have demonstrated strong limits that put pressure on their economics; first, not all brands have advocates (think detergent); second, most advocates are not influencers and actually have a limited impact. Lastly, advocates are mostly already customers. 

It is therefore not surprising that many smart Advocates Programmes now focus on employees as their first target audience.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing concentrate brands efforts on those few individuals who will maximize the impact of engagement because they have the capability to shift opinions and behaviours within their community. Brands such as IBM or P&G for example have built successful influencer programmes.

Why Invest in Influencer Marketing? Influencer Relations have been challenging for brands: identifying the right individuals, building relevant content and engagement plans.

However, following the initial confusion around social scores and Klout programmes, best practices are now emerging based on long term relationship programmes , based on collaboration and shared value for influencers and brands alike.


If you are a CEO/CMO you might be wondering how to allocate your extra digital marketing spend for 2015. You are probably conscious that you need to realign your main traditional buckets of spend (Ad display, Paid-Search, CRM and emailing) to strategies that generate stronger customer engagement and better alignment with your brand values.

This framework to social media marketing should help you ask the following questions to your teams:

  • How much do I/should I invest per type of audience ?
  • How can I customize bespoke programmes to maximize the global impact for my business?
  • More specifically, do I have a structured employee advocacy and influencer marketing programme?
  • What are the key KPIs that will help me measure my return by type of relationship? 

Let us how you are planning your 2015 budget ? Are you thinking about an audience specific approach ?