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With organic social reach plummeting, celebrity tie-ins gain importance

The potential for brands in pairing mobile with celebrity endorsements is not only significant ? think Samsung?s win with Ellen DeGeneres? Oscars' selfie ? but also increasingly important as brands? organic reach on social continues to nose-dive.

Marketers are increasingly cozying up to celebrities who come with large built-in social audiences to bring pizzazz and virality to their efforts. At the same time, newer mobile technologies such as beacon are opening up a significant opportunity for entertainment brands to leverage celebrities at the point of sale or at a hyperlocal level to drive an action.

?It is getting harder and harder as a brand to differentiate from a content standpoint on a lot of the social platforms,? said Tom Edwards, senior vice president, digital innovation at The Marketing Arm, Dallas, TX. ?You look at Facebook or Twitter, the organic reach tied to those platforms is so low now.

?So if you are a brand, and you are trying to associate and push a brand socially, the likelihood of you driving any type of virality around that content, it is difficult.

?When you look at celebrity and marketing, for brands now it is more important than ever to align with those individuals who can influence your brand message through their audience. And a lot of that is tied through the accessibility of the mobile device.?

Organic social reach
The organic reach of the content published by brands on Facebook dropped from 49 percent in October to 6 percent in February 2014, according to recent research from Social@Ogilvy.

Given social?s continued growth in terms of users and time spent, savvy marketers are looking for ways to increase the reach of their content, with mobile playing a big role by enabling consumer activation while also tying together an overall effort.

The organic reach on Facebook is tanking because of steps the social network has taken to restrict the reach of content published from brand pages.

Marketers have always been drawn to celebrities because they are well-liked by consumers, which can bring an element of excitement to a campaign and positive reinforcement for a brand.

However, in the social sphere, partnering with a celebrity can have a much more tangible benefit as many celebrities have large numbers of followers on social networks. This enables a brand to gets its message in front of a group of consumers, something that is increasingly difficult for them to achieve on social on their own.

During the this year's Super Bowl Game, brands such as Bud Light and Oikos extended their celebrity endorsements on TV into digital via social interactions.

The goal is to get these followers to share the content with their own followers so the campaign builds virally.

Typically, mobile is the key enabler of such effort as a significant and growing portion of social interaction taking place from mobile devices. Additionally, encouraging consumers to take an action involving the brand, such as posting a selfie, is considered a best practice and mobile is a popular way to enable such interaction.

?The payoff has the potential to be huge,? said Walter Delph, CEO of Adly, Los Angeles. ?Think Ellen and Samsung.

?If a brand aligns with the right celebrity at the right time and with the right message, the effect could get them the needed press to spread the word about their brand or product, which could in effect increase their product sales,? he said.

The right celebrity
Not surprisingly, one of the key challenges with leveraging celebrities to drive mobile and social interactions is matching a brand with the right celebrity.

Not only does the celebrity need to reflect the qualities the brand is looking to project and be willing to communicate with his or audience about specific content, that audience itself should be active on social.

For such strategies to be successful, marketers need to make sure the message is authentic. Striking the right balance between the tone the brand wants to take and making sure the celebrity message comes across as authentic as possible can be a challenge.

Such authenticity is one reason for the success of Ms. DeGeneres? Oscars selfie, which quickly became the most popular tweet ever.

?It is fun seeing celebrities do something you and your friends might do - it is aspirational,? said Mr. Edwards. ?Seeing that felt organic, felt spontaneous and so people resonate with content like that.?

New opportunities
Going forward, there will also be new opportunities for entertainment brands to leverage beacon technology and celebrities.

?That is going to be one of the next spaces we are going to see, leveraging the celebrity more at the point-of-sale or at the location level, whether for exclusive content or for opportunities to attend shows or movies,? said Mr. Edwards.

?It is the whole physical to digital connect, or vice versa, where you have the top-line advertisement on TV that then drives into a conversation or digital campaign that then extends down into the retail location or the entertainment property that now can be pushed to mobile devices,? he said.

?It is all about how can we leverage those celebrities in partnership with location to further drive that connection of that endorsement all the way down to the local level.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York