3 min read
Austin Williams - Mar 14, 2017

One on One With Jonathan Lopes of DigitasLBi: The Myth of Virality

During Social Media Week, Digimind had the chance to catch up with some notable influencers and industry leaders. In this series, we chat one on one with digital media's best and brightest, starting with Jonathan Lopes of DigitasLBi.

Amid Social Media Week, Jonathan Lopes, Digitas' Vice President/Director of Strategy & Analysis aired out a few opinions that may surprise the average digital marketer.

"This might sound like blasphemy for Social Media Week—I'm not sure how your audience is going to respond to this," Lopes warns Digimind over the phone, during our coverage of the conference.

"We're getting to the point where a like, or a like rate...it just doesn't matter. It's not correlated to business impact. Researchers have proven that likes don't really matter in terms of generating sales for a business or a company."

While jarring, this observation is less shocking once you consider the way Lopes and his "D&A team"—data and analytics—regard the service they provide their clients.

"We try to be our clients' marketing investment bankers," Lopes explains. "They invest tons of money in marketing and we're helping them make decisions on where to place it, what should be said, and what is the most efficient way to accomplish the business results that we're ultimately trying to produce."

According to the seasoned data expert, virality alone is not a bankable way to produce those business results.

"You went viral—so what? You got 500,000 people that mentioned you today. What does that really do for your brand at all? The challenge of the analytics professional is to answer that question. More times than not, we're finding that just the idea of virality actually isn't really leading to anything beyond lifts in chatter. Now, there may be some long term effects that from an analytics limitation we just can't measure, but at least out of the gate right now, one of the trends is pressure testing the assumption that virality is going to drive your business."

Jonathan Lopes isn't your grandfather's marketer, though, skeptical of every metric of social media monitoring. On the contrary, he truly lives up to the title of his department, and tries to think of analytics as strategically as possible.

"We're trying to figure out the signal from the noise in terms of what social data we should be paying attention to," he says.

Speaking to how brands can benefit from social media analysis, Lopes notes "it depends how they want to use it."

"If they're trying to solve a business challenge about creating awareness, [social] can play a greater or lesser role. If they're trying to manage, perhaps, customer care or servicing, it can play a greater or lesser role. If they're trying to drive sales, it can play a greater or lesser role—no matter what the brand is trying to do, there's a role for it on social."

The only quibble for Lopes seems to be the assumption that in its specific role, every aspect of social—namely likes and virality—contributes to every brand objective, which just isn't the case.

"We're starting to shift the focus a little bit and say look, all those social response metrics that are readily available, let's use those maybe to optimize certain creative or get an idea of what content is working, but in terms of what's actually driving business results, that's a totally separate thing. So, with that in mind, we start to shift our attention toward creating closed loop sales lift studies and things of that nature to prove the effectiveness of social."

The very last thought Lopes left Digimind with was "we evaluate [social] campaigns on their ability to create sales lift, consideration lift, or awareness lift."

For Digitas' Strategy and Analysis division, the separation of those three objectives is key, and the idea of virality doesn't always fit in each one.


Written by Austin Williams

A New York based writer and pop culture enthusiast, Austin is your best bet if you ever want to know about the MTA or Love & Hip Hop.