Mark D'Arcy on what makes a great Facebook campaign

Mark D'Arcy, director of global creative solutions, Facebook
Mark D'Arcy, director of global creative solutions, Facebook

The way the more successful brands are approaching advertising campaigns on Facebook is evolving fast, with talk of 'likes' being replaced by responsive, narrative-led goals formed by those at the heart of the brand, says Mark D'Arcy, global director of creative solutions at the social network.

Speaking to Campaign in the week the winners of the second annual Facebook Studio Awards were announced, D’Arcy is keen to emphasise the evolution taking place.

"People now are using the native functionality of the platform, it’s not just applications that people are building to do one trick as an interesting piece of social engineering," he says. "There’s now beautiful examples of people using Timeline, or people doing amazing copywriting and craft in publishing."

Walking away with this year’s top Blue Award was the Oreo Daily Twist campaign, created by Draftfcb, New York for Mondelez International (formerly Kraft).

Launched in the summer of 2012, it resulted in 100 ads in 100 days by turning trending news stories into visual promotions. It featured a range of topics, from Pride Week to the Mars Rover landing, but its biggest success came with its "You can still dunk in the dark" ad, posted during the third quarter of the Super Bowl, after a power outage at the Superdome caused the lights to go out.

Oreo adThe campaign spread well beyond Oreo’s 27 million fans to make the news headlines itself – featuring in more than 2,600 media articles and triggering over 1.3 million Facebook interactions, including shares, likes and comments.

The speed with which Oreo’s core branding team had been able to react to events, coupled with the craft of the copy and imagery, all contributed to its social success.

Reconnecting media with creativity

For D’Arcy, he believes Facebook at its best is about "reconnecting media with creativity on a far more real-time basis". His advice for companies wanting to make a "step-change in what they are doing on Facebook" is to go right back to basics.

"First of all, it’s not about intent or talent, it’s really about organisational structure, which doesn’t sound very sexy, but it’s actually a hugely important part of success," he says.

He stresses the importance in making sure the people who create the stories or brand building ideas on Facebook are "deeply connected" with the people who are investing in the media: "It sounds obvious, but often it doesn’t happen."

Taking a leaf from more commercial colleagues like Stephen Haines and Carolyn Everson, Facebook's creative chief is also keen to dispell "the myth of free" surrounding how brands can get the best use out of Facebook. He says that while many companies can get excited by the performance of their branding pages, he knows they are missing a trick if they stop there.

"If you look at where you’re spiking [having] success with things that are engaging with people, to not amplify to the right people [at that point] is just the silliest thing you can do," he says.

He notes how Facebook’s Social Publishing System enables every person invested in a particular campaign – from client to creative agency and PR to media agency – to follow and respond in real-time.

"It’s about getting everybody you trust who’s driving this brand narrative, and they should be core to the brand… the people who are at the heart of the brand, who are listening to what people are saying, that’s the centre of the brand," he says. "And that means when you think about building your marketing structures, put people at the centre of it."

Don't use a stick, build a boat

Noting another change in the way brands are now approaching Facebook, D’Arcy points to "lightweight design", which is less obstrusive and built into a wider narrative. He urges marketers to focus on user experience and consider how people want to receive messages – and that starts with the death of brands adopting ‘a Facebook voice’ – "no, stop it, just have your voice," he urges.

He adds: "A lot of the energy a year or two ago was in trying to do things to disrupt the flow of how content moved across the platform. So people were trying to build applications that did things to prove a point, and that disruption mentality is actually counter-intuitive to how social sharing works. What you actually want to do is not be the person with a stick. With a river you want to build a boat."

Looking ahead, D'Arcy expects the momentum in developing brand messages on Facebook to continue, and has no qualms in shamelessly flattering the UK's creatives in the process, believing "the tone of Britsh advertising is extraordinarily well-placed for this environment".

He adds: "It’s very early days of doing this. I’m so proud of the work this year but I know next year we’re going to look back and say, ‘oh, look where it went’, because we’re right on this curve creatively… we’re in that stage of experimentation, with people looking to explore the form."

Other campaigns to receive recognition in this year's awards are Nike Academy by AKQA (Gold), You’ve Got a Case by BBDO (Gold), The Ted Facebook page by Universal Studios (Silver) and the Newcastle Brown Ale Facebook ‘No Bollocks’ Facebook page by Droga5 (Bronze).

All this year's Facebook Studio winners listed here.

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