PHD’s Andrea Wolinetz on Building Brand Communities Online

Andrea Wolinetz is the Director, Social Media at PHD, the global media planning and buying agency. We recently asked her about her role and some of her favorite brand communities she has helped develop this year.

The Makegood: How did you become specialized in social media? Was it planned or something you fell into?

AW: It was a little bit of both. Prior to working at a media agency I was doing some freelance work for two small companies that sat in the same office. One was a production company (which thanks to that stint I now have an IMDB page) and the other did market research.  At the time, we were doing a project on user generated content (remember when we called social media UGC?) and I fell in love with studying different approaches to the space.  Weirdly, I’ve also been personally blogging since 2001.

The Makegood: For your clients who are new to working with social media strategies, how do you educate them on the landscape and best practices? What would you say are the biggest hurdles to overcome?

AW: What and how we educate is constantly evolving. Four or five years ago, we had to explain what social media was and how brands could benefit. Clients now, thankfully, are much savvier on the subject. So when we talk about landscape and best practices we’re really able to hone in on a couple of key points: the strength of all media working together (what brands can build, what brands can borrow, and what brands can buy) to have a consistent message wherever consumers go to look for it; what it means to provide content that people want to share; and how important it is to stay engaging and relevant.

The social media landscape is ever evolving, (think of how many times Facebook alone has changed their platform over the past 5 years), so the biggest hurdle is staying on top of the changes and new platforms that are constantly emerging.

The Makegood: Social media is very different from other media in terms of metrics. How do you measure conversations to conversion, proving that social media actually drives sales?

AW: I love this question, and as you can imagine I get asked it often.  We use all kinds of different metrics across the purchase funnel to demonstrate how social media can and does play a role in driving sales. We can determine success against all objectives, whether it’s brand health, brand awareness, brand preference or purchase intent.  Understanding the relationship of the “fan/follower” to “basket size” or “share of wallet” isn’t as simple as clicking on a banner ad and tracking the cookie through purchase. But when we are able to match up data we consistently see that the value of an engaged fan is much higher, and their loyalty runs deeper than non-fans.

The Makegood: Can you describe the campaigns that you are especially proud of this year?

AW: It’s not one specific campaign that I’m most proud of but rather the consistent day to day success of the communities we are building for the GSK Consumer Health brands that stand out.  The work that the team has been doing to help brands like Nicorette and TUMS build consistently engaged and active consumers each day successfully over the past few months has been excellent.  We are beginning to push the boundaries for Pharma in social media and change what clients think is possible.