The Social Gap: The Campaign Jump from TV to Social Media


INFLUENCER: Boys & Girls’ Aoife Murphy on why you shouldn’t wedge a TV shaped brick into a social shaped hole


You’ve got a stunning TV ad that researched well, has been meticulously planned, the media spend calibrated and a PR release primed. Then someone asks the question: “what are we doing on social?” 8 times out of 10 the answer will be; “oh, we’re launching the film on VOD and social media with heavy spend.”

In campaign planning the gap between TV and social media is too often navigated with video. It’s easy to see why – the asset format is the same, there are added metrics to be tracked and that we can target. Arguably, no other channel gap offers marketers the same luxury.

Social media has grown up. It’s no longer a channel reserved for the intrepid marketer, you might even say it’s mundane. Its presence on media plans has long been accepted with cheap reach and low cost-per-view thanks to the explosion of social video.

Content saturation and death of organic reach has made an ‘always on’ content strategy less appealing – leading social media to deliver diminishing returns for many brands.

The problem likely lies in digital marketers’ affection for shortsighted metrics that offer small uplifts in engagement objectives (likes, followers, shares etc.) but are difficult to prove to have an affect on business success. To compensate many brands now use it as a reach platform for campaign amplification – a smart approach but a big loss in creative opportunity.

High reach and low cost-per-view are compelling reasons to use a platform like Facebook to get more eyeballs on your TV ad but the distress signal should be in the asset name – TV ad. Successful billboards are not those that are copied and pasted from a print campaign, and great radio ads are not those that follow the same copy as a direct mail. Well-constructed, effective campaigns require assets that are fit for purpose – and social media is no different.

Research has shown that social media can contribute to long-term brand health through two metrics: sustained online searches and conversation (social mentions) and a campaigns’ efficiency in cutting through to drive those digital signals.

TV’s reach is still unrivalled in most countries. If its job is awareness through reach, your campaign on social media should be targeting a more in-depth awareness goal like familiarity.

With creativity, awareness is table stakes. Familiarity with your brand and/or campaign is the cut through necessary to drive memorability and talkability. It has long been a facilitator of brand choice and is something that social media facilitates naturally.

A great creative idea will flex to fit multiple channels. TV and social media are a powerful combination if the execution is tailored to the channel. Understanding channel context will allow you to orchestrate the right channel ecosystem for an idea. Context gives us a window into consumer behaviour in the channel, message resonance as well as format nuances.

Back to the problem at hand, your TV asset attempting to cross the social gap. I’ve identified three ways to bridge the gap with examples below. But the right answer for your campaign will ultimately lie in its own marketing and business objectives.


Leverage online behaviour

In Geico’s latest car insurance campaign, their TV ad is a slightly obscure concept featuring raccoons scavenging through rubbish and egging on their mates to try their revolting treasure.

In social media, rather than playing or cutting down the original film, Geico leveraged the current trend of recipe tutorials online, creating their very own take on creative cooking by re-introducing their characters through a video series call Ra-cookin. A tactic that in its execution actually helps make the TV ad more entertaining.


Moment marketing

Social platforms like Twitter have long been delivering results for real time campaigns. Programme sponsorship and live events can benefit greatly from extended reach through earned media. With the rise of live video (Facebook live, Periscope) the temptation to copy across the format from TV to social media can be high.

Creatively, social struggles to give the same big brand feel as TV so we need to find ways to captivate people in the ‘moment’. Steinlager, a New Zealand lager, did this with their live tweets from a world record-breaking attempt broadcast for Kiwi free diver, William Trubudge. Rather than restrict the tweets to Twitter itself, the brand used digital outdoor sites throughout Auckland to broadcast the tweets live alongside the TV event.



Cheerios ‘How to Dad’ campaign is a great example of navigating the gap through social insight. With dads portrayed in the media (especially online) as bumbling support acts compared to mums, Cheerios decided to hero dads in their parenting endeavours.

The scripted TV ad set up up the concept of the relaxed, yet serious parenting style of dads as something to be proud of.  The insight was used in social media to fuel the #howtodad movement by showcasing real Dads and their unique parenting styles. Using reblogging platforms like Tumblr Cheerios were able to create an ecosystem of user generated content that gave Dads a source of entertainment as well as confirmation that they were doing it right.

When planning a campaign where TV and social media are viable channels, social should not be relegated to a reach platform. Using social’s unique context, an idea can have more resonance as well as sustained benefits for brand equity. So ask yourself sooner rather than later, “what are we doing on social?”


This article first appeared on Little Black Book on 2nd December :