Constant truths amid seismic shifts

Social media has reshaped the landscape for brands in the past few years but, despite the tech challenge, the fundamentals of marketing remain paramount.

It was from the rubble of an earthquake that it emerged.

Line , now the world’s fastest-growing social network, began as a way to connect people in Japan when the public-phone networks had ceased to function following the Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2011.

The app, which provides free IM and calling via smartphones, tablets and desktops, recently notched up 50 million followers. And Line claims that research it commissioned found that 60 per cent of Japanese women in their twenties and thirties use the platform every day.

More than half of female users follow official brands, its research says. Plus, 63 per cent of all users read brand messages, 32 per cent have used a coupon delivered via Line, and 27 per cent have clicked on a link.

It was in the social medium of our roundtable in Cannes last month that I first heard of Line, courtesy of Karl Gregory, the managing director, UK & Ireland, of He talked about the rise of niche networks that have taken the best elements of Facebook and Twitter and are making massive inroads with both consumers and brands.

Asia could change the social media orthodoxy, he believes, and he makes a compelling point. We Chat (Weixin), owned by Tencent, the biggest internet service provider in China, is another social media site that appears to be gaining traction – and investment.

But, whatever platform social media brands use to connect with audiences, there are certain precursors to effective communication, according to the authors of the thought-leadership pieces in the following pages.

Despite their modern approach to a modern challenge, their savvy thinking and their expertise, in many ways, these experts evidence marketing fundamentals that have always been true – although not always adhered to: understand your customers; be honest with them; admit your mistakes; be guided by your brand purpose; create interest; measure its result; and work collaboratively.

For brands looking for a way through today’s complex social media tumult following the UK media landscape’s own seismic shift of recent years, the enduring relevance of such guiding principles will be particularly interesting. And, like Line to the Japanese in the Tohoku aftershock, it should also be distinctly reassuring.

Suzanne Bidlake, consultant editor, Campaign