Q & A with John Bell - Social@Ogilvy

John Bell,
Global Managing Director, Social@Ogilvy
E-mail | 202-729-4166

Back to Social@Ogilvy

1. What are some of the challenges clients face, and how does Ogilvy address them?

Our team is filled with digital practitioners - we plan and deploy digital word of mouth programs online that engage influencers and activate networks. That's what our clients want - people who know strategy and have experience engaging publics online in a way that is authentic and effective.

All of our clients are embracing digital - it's where their business, communications and marketing is going. Our clients have different levels of knowledge in this new space and their organizations are at different points along the digital adoption wave. Some clients are very knowledgeable personally and professionally. For them, we need to deploy sophisticated programs that can be measured and compared to their other marcom efforts. Some clients need help discovering how best to engage with social media and word of mouth. They need a trusted partner for try-and-learn programs, training and expert counsel. We need to help both types of clients and the myriad in-between.

Clients want a trusted partner who gets the new culture of conversation, can bring best-in-class and scaleable digital solutions, and delivers measurable programs. We've organized ourselves and grown our business to be that trusted partner.

2. What is your process for developing ideas for your clients?

Every client engagement is unique. Still, we have defined a process based upon truths we have learned throughout our careers in digital and word of mouth marketing:

  • Always listen first
  • Provide a way for people to participate and engage
  • Whenever possible invest in relationships
  • Measure program performance now

Essentially, we know how to identify and engage influencers in any affinity group online. And we also know how to activate networks or communities to share, participate and recommend products and services. It's not always about finding the most popular blogger. Just as often it's about connecting with a network of people who love crafts or computers or car DIY and giving them something of value so they become engaged.

Digital Influence Strategy
Every client engagement starts with a strategy. Our strategy includes specific steps. It's not a rigid or overly complex system. It's more like a toolbox. Here's what's in it:

Influencer & Network Planning - identify who are the 10-20 most important "voices" online - from bloggers to message board participants to social network members - for any given subject or brand. We also chart the people networks from Facebook groups to niche networks within BlogHer to the web of reades/commenters on blogs. We need to understand what communities matter.

Conversation Map - what are people saying about a particular topic and where are they saying it. We inventory everywhere people are having conversations or expressing themselves online: social networks, communities, opinion and review sites, blogs, video and photo sharing services, wikis, gaming services - you name it. Our goal is to have a comprehensive snapshot of people's digital lives and conversations no matter the platform. This intelligence is really a part of identifying influencers and understanding what our publics think and say about a brand or issue.

Engagement Plan - this is the fun stuff. It's also where we build content and experiences that drive people to "care to share." At the heart of any word of mouth program is delivering some value to the people we would love to talk about us. These experiences may invite consumer generated media. They may be built around a contest or sweepstakes. They may include a "social good" outcome. Or they may be some ongoing value we provide like establishing a branded community or offering visibility to a network of mombloggers. We create an engagement plan for each of our influencers identified through Influencer Planning. How can we involve each one? Is it as simple as a sneak peak? Do we help them run a micro-contest on their blog? Do we invite them in for their feedback?

Engagement Plans serve as a blueprint for a comprehensive social media-based program.

Visibility Program - how will people discover and share our experience? How will we turn word of mouth receivers into "relayers?" We all consume so much more than text these days - it's video, audio podcasts, images. And we don't go to web sites anymore, we go to Google results. Through aggressive Search Engine Optimization (SEO), multimedia placement and promotion we make our work highly visible, easy to discover and share, and ultimately help reach and engage our audience. Everything we do today has a visibility program of one sort or another. That's how we jump out of the haystack called the Web with bright, 'click-me' or 'talk-to-me' colors.

That's a little description of how we do the voodoo we do-do.

3. How are you an Ogilvy person?

I am insatiably curious. That's why I have acquired attention deficit disorder (no offense to those really struggling with ADD). I drink from the firehose called the Internet everyday and still wind up a little thirsty. And I look at life - and work - as a series of wonderful adventures. That's why we are blazing these interesting trails through 'digital' - it's a series of adventures that just happen to build our clients' brands and business.