That was the question at the heart of Gorkana’s breakfast briefing last week, and I was delighted to be invited to present our ongoing work with Nokia Connects. It was a fantastic event; not only were my fellow speakers – Warren Johnson, Amy Butterworth and Azeem Azhar - of the highest calibre, but the audience had some super-sharp questions.
I am unashamedly proud of our Nokia Connects programme. It captures everything I believe is essential to a great social campaign:
- a people-focused approach
- the combination of social media and the real world
- the integration of multiple channels and business departments
- fantastic, tangible business results
- an incredibly close and robust relationship between agency and client
- a long-term commitment to bringing a brand closer to its customers, in big and small ways.
Below is the video of my presentation but do visit Gorkana’s site and watch the full set. There is always more to learn when it comes to listening to, engaging with and growing advocacy, and it’s an essential skill for businesses that want to survive and thrive.
Twitter users are being given a chance to win a Nokia Lumia 820 – as well as a personalised 3D printed case with their Twitter handle on the back cover – by tweeting ‘something fun, entertaining, witty’ to the @Nokia_Connects account while using the hashtag #Lumia820.
For a better idea of how it all works, check out this short video:
There will be a longer video and more detailed interviews released next week, but suffice to say the early adopters in the mobile community have been jumping at the chance to combine their love of great devices with the chance to try out some cutting-edge 3D technology.
“We live in revolutionary times and we have forgotten how to see.”
That’s how bestselling author Seth Godin opened his Penguin Live event, and a stirring evening it was too. Vaguely familiar with his books and blog, I was relatively new to the Godin doctrine, but eager to listen to a man renowned for turning conventional wisdom on its head.
Godin’s latest book, The Icarus Deception, reminds us of the myth about the boy who flew too close to the sun, and latches onto the detail we seem to have forgotten – that Icarus was also told not to fly too low to the sea, for fear that the salt water would ruin his wings. Godin draws a parallel with the industrial era in which the norm has become to conform, stay low, and never soar too high – a norm which is turning us rusty with brine.
“The old rules: Play it safe. Stay in your comfort zone. Find an institution, a job, a set of rules to stick to. Keep your head down. Don’t fly too close to the sun. The new truth: it’s better to be sorry than safe. You need to fly higher than ever.”
At the event, and more deeply in his book, Godin asks: “Why are we afraid of our own risk? We built the internet so we could dance, dance with opportunity, fear and connection” – i.e., not so we could watch cat videos. So how do we learn to see clearly again? By trying, failing, apologizing later, and trying again.
Godin calls out for not taking risks. At Penguin Live, he certainly knew his audience. “I am sure you think you are the exception,” he confided, “that you’re doing it differently, and that your company is doing it differently.” Of course, the truth is, we aren’t. Social media types – myself included – pride ourselves on doing things differently, on being disruptive and unexpected. But in reality we aren’t pushing enough boundaries. We shouldn’t just be outside the box, we should be soaring above it. The solution Godin presents is to tap into our NEED  to create art and make a creative contribution to society: an idea, a way of seeing, making, and expressing something in a way that has never been done before.
Lofty goals for anyone in this age – but loftier still for low-fliers in huge institutions who are tied to their jobs and don’t feel creative in any way. This brings us to the most basic point of Godin’s remarks, and coincidentally his closing remark : that in order to see better and thus create art we need to “go make ruckus! ”
“Connect. Make Art. Fall. Repeat.”
What Godin taught me in two hours and is still teaching me through reading his book is that the ruckus is the most important part. I would define ruckus as that individual flavour that each of us brings to what we see and do. We are all creating art by being ourselves – by being unique and embracing our differences. The challenge in this era is to connect, create and collaborate with other individuals without subsuming our own spark.
What can an agency like 1000heads and our clients learn from such high-falutin’ stuff? How do we fly higher, make a ruckus cause revolution? That’s something we’re still working on. But at heart there is a simple dictum that is important to remember in an industry that can be a little too pleased with itself: don’t be smug, don’t be safe. Don’t be embarrassed to aim for art.
 NEED is in caps here because let’s face it – without art, we’re going to lose our souls – well, ok, society will at least suffer greatly.
 In case you are wondering if I only listened to the opening and closing remarks of Seth Godin’s talk – you’re wrong. I just don’t want to ruin all the amazing anecdotes that can be found in his book – so go read it!
“Humans are to thinking as cats are to swimming: we can do it if we really have to, but we’ll do all we can to avoid it”, says Mark Earls, paraphrasing Daniel Kahneman, a thought leader of behavioural economics.
This, for me, was the most pertinent point of the recent Merlin Lecture hosted by The Marketing Academy at which Rory Sutherland spoke on the topic of behavioural economics and its role in marketing.
Marketing and advertising has evolved from the challenge of moving someone’s hand a few inches to the left to pick up your product as opposed to your competitor’s. The challenge now is to change someone’s behaviour in a world where brands are becoming increasingly totemic.
Brand loyalty isn’t the biggest obstacle. It’s the largely irrational, subconscious computing processes that the human brain goes through that change behaviour. The cogent part of the brain then post-rationalises this change in behaviour and this is what we, as advertisers and marketers, are up against.
Rory’s example of P&G changing the public’s frame of reference in their carefully thought-out launch of Pampers in the 1960s is a perfect case in point. They artificially launched a prohibitively expensive nappy brand into the market and advertised it. As the brand predictably failed to take hold, they launched Pampers at a lower price and it was a success. The more expensive brand was then allowed to disappear quietly.
By allowing the public to feel that they were getting a bargain compared to other products in the marketplace, mass behaviour was changed.
Therefore, as individuals who are in the business of changing consumer behaviour, we need to be thinking about moving frames of reference to make it easier for people to post-rationalise their irrational decisions.
This month saw London’s Science Museum celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first text message (LOL. Wtf. Rlly?) with a special edition of their free Lates events devoted to ‘the Science of Communication’. Two intrepid explorers from 1000heads took the tube to South Kensington for an evening gathering insights to take back and feed into our work.
Our first stop was to get up close and personal with the famous Twitter dress originally worn by Nicole Scherzinger to promote EE, Britain’s first 4G network. For those out of the loop, the dress showcased live tweets sent in by individuals using the hashtag #tweetthedress throughout the night, and was made out of silk chiffon, Swarovski crystals and more than 2,000 LED lights: which incidentally is probably less than the number of Christmas tree lights at 1000heads HQ . Although there was unfortunately no sighting of the ex-Pussycat Doll at the Science Museum, we were still excited by the prospect of getting our name on to the dress, and it’s an interesting manifestation of the ‘internet of things’ phenomenon which this year’s Le Web conference tipped as the big social trend for 2013.
The real highlight of the evening was a talk on ‘Is Social Media Making Us Stupid?’ by Ryota Kanai, a cognitive neuroscientist from the University of Sussex. Despite the provocative title, the lecturer’s approach was tentative, balanced, and raised many more questions than it answered. Here’s a sample of his best points:
1) There is considerable strength in weak ties. Social networks today are typified by weak ties, and we gain the most new information from the weak ties in our network. The best application of this is social recruitment, such as through LinkedIn. The worth of weak ties lies in their numbers and the diversity of connections they can yield: our close friends may not be able to put us in touch with someone who works at an FMCG company, but the ex-colleague’s new flatmate could be a whole different story. When thinking about word of mouth, it is easy to place too much emphasis on influential individuals and to neglect the overall structure of the network. How can marketers leverage weak ties to drive results?
2) Our primary use of the Internet and social networks has evolved since the 90s, when it was used to meet new people – now the focus is on maintaining or strengthening existing relationships. Research conducted as far back as 2006 suggests that Facebook users spend more time searching for individuals to whom they have an existing offline connection than they spend on simply browsing for new people to meet.
3) Social media is not making us antisocial! Kasai’s research indicates that people who have more Facebook friends also tend to have a larger group of close friends offline. He also finds a positive correlation between the number of Facebook friends an individual has and their level of empathic concern, and a strong negative link between the number of Facebook friends and the level of neuroticism. So don’t feel guilty next time you post a status update…
Kasai’s research is currently unpublished, but certainly suggests many exciting avenues for exploration. It is fantastic to see social media receiving attention in academic circles, and the insights from such studies will doubtless prove valuable for marketers of the future.
Rather than attending the same old marketing conferences, we’re big fans of events which take a sideways look at word of mouth, social triggers and the psychology of sharing. Keep an eye on the Meet Us @ sidebar on the blog front page to the right of this blog post to find out where we’re going, and let us know if you’re planning to come along so we can buy you a drink.
Last week saw Le Web 2012, the global internet conference, hit Paris. The high-energy three day event hosted some great presentations from the likes of Dominos’ social head Ramon de Leon; Microsoft’s community evangelist Steven Guggenheimer; entrepreneur Yossi Vardi; and cyborg anthropologist (yes, really) Amber Case, but my personal favourite was Martin Oetting’s myth-busting turn on word of mouth.
Martin, who we brought over to London a couple of years ago to speak about his book The Ripple Effect, is Partner and Chief Research Officer for trnd AG in Berlin, a highly intelligent and insightful chap, and prone to saying a lot of very sensible things.
Below, with the help of a puppet fox (go with it, it works), he smashes through a number of false assumptions, such as:
- Consumers are not scary: the risk of a negative social firestorm such as United Breaks Guitars is tiny, fomented by mercenary social media consultants.
- Negative word of mouth is not more prevalent or influential than positive.
- Brand storytelling doesn’t matter – consumers are not talking about the brand, but themselves; brands must stop trying to be liked and start liking people instead.
At 16 minutes it’s longer than your average one-gulp blog-watch, but brew a coffee, settle in and enjoy. It’s easy viewing with a serious message, and well worth your time.
“Millennials know marketing when they see it, and they run the other way.” Thus I started my third and final day at the WOMMA Summit.
In a presentation based on his book How Cool Brands Stay Hot, Insites Consulting’s Joeri Van Den Bergh defined Generation Y as stimulation junkies. Bred on H&M and Forever 21, they want to see new offerings from brands every day. Their top role models are their peers, followed by their mum, then their dad; this tight relationship with parents as well as friends represents a radical change from the Boomers and shows the intense influence their close networks have. Oh, and they also have 146 brand conversations every single day.
How to get into those conversations? By being CRUSH (Cool, Real, Unique, Self-identifiable and focused on Happiness). But it can be hard to convince a cynical, marketing-savvy audience that you are authentic. They’ll boycott crowdsourcing (such as Next’s model competition) if they think it’s a gimmick , so strong brand values (such as WWF Hungary’s green leaflets) and consistency is key.
Anna Zanghi from Mastercard Worldwide explained how their Superflash brand – which involved co-creation, exclusive early-adopter schemes and newly designed branches – managed to turn a credit card into a lifestyle, doubling their Gen Y consumer base since 2011. Their Priceless campaign has also been based on Millennial values – promoting experiences around passions such as music, instead of stuff.
After a triple-shot coffee, it was on to the case study from H&R Block, which provided a refreshing example of how a big, non-sexy brand (they offer tax preparation and online tax services) strive to be truly social, local and mobile (SoLoMo, if you’re into that kind of thing). Scott Gulbransen explained how they were inspired by Target’s use of geolocation, Oreos’ creative, flexible use of brand imagery and Charmin’s Sit or Squat crowdsourced mobile travel app to transform not just their company but their industry.
Working with strict regulations from the IRS, a highly competitive environment and a particularly personal and emotional service, H&R Block faced plenty of challenges. Zena Weist of Expion explained that the first priority was to get customer service, HR and IT deeply involved, “layering in social through all the divisions in the organisation”. They developed an operational response model so everyone could listen and respond quickly and consistently, with clear revenue-based KPIs. Structurally, the company has become much more horizontal, with each unit driving its own social programme with guidance and co-ordination from a central mission control team.
Local offices and retailers got control of their own social presences to make content and outreach super-local, intimate and relevant: “we give our implicit trust to people at a local level”, said Gulbransen, spending time to find passionate owners of social for each region. People can also now make H&R Block appointments and buy ancillary products via mobile. It’s been a tough journey and they’re a work in progress but they acknowledge that constant change is the nature of the beast. This was a truly brilliant presentation from people who are walking the talk.
The climax to the Summit was the Socialocalypse, a hard-hitting four-lawyer panel geared towards helping brands avoid social media meltdown.
American Express ‘Cyberlawyer’ Mark Bisard talked about speed: “the velocity of risk” is huge in social media so you need a pre-prepared recovery plan in case of mistakes. He also discussed the importance of setting internal data security and privacy safeguards, especially considering the rise of employee collaboration tools within companies such as US defence contractor Lockheed Martin.
Key takeaways? Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because of fear of getting caught. Keep improving your knowledge and evolving new strategies: this stuff changes fast. Above all: disclosure, disclosure, disclosure, using the emerging industry standards.
So, after three packed and eclectic days of what has definitely been the best Summit yet, what final question is circling in my head? After seeing all the ambitious, difficult, brave work going on within businesses to better serve their customers, it has to be a shut-up-and-act call to arms.
What single, tangible, bold step can you take today that will start to change the way your company connects with people?
Day two, and first mention must go to our hard-working team for winning us a silver WOMMY Award for Say It With Skype. Coming off the back of five nominations and three commendations in last week’s Dadi Awards (for Say It With Skype, Nokia’s Social Innovation Programme and Nokia/ELLE Style Correspondent), it is a worthy acknowledgement of some seriously talented and committed people.
Me and Shana Pearlman from Skype, coming over all proud
The Awards ceremony was the climax of another insight-packed day, which kicked off with a keynote from Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital and Social Media at Nestlé. Blackshaw’s account of how the company connected and trained twelve aspiring digital leaders from across the globe – the ‘digital acceleration team’ – emphasised the importance of using social media as an operating principle, not just a marketing resource. How? By applying social to existing core values rather than changing them to fit. By listening more, whether that’s internal, social or through wider research. And by combining resources: Blackshaw used case studies from Gerber, Contrex and Nespresso to demonstrate cross-channel success. The key message? “Think outside of the silo” and empower the right people to spread that thinking throughout the company.
Airlines tend to be hit particularly hard by social media crises, so going to hear American Airlines’ Jonathan Pierce talk about community management seemed a no-brainer. For his team, both great service and failed service are positioned as social opportunities. Referencing the recent Alec Baldwin furore, Pierce explained how they responded instantly to Baldwin to show they were listening but then gathered as much information as they could from flight personnel. While the negative buzz escalated, they had to hold their nerve and believe in the validity of their actions, expressed in a later Facebook post. Continuing to share information, standing by their brand values and maintaining perspective – and a sense of humour – was essential in a scenario that saw millions of mentions spread across the space. Bottom line? Be prepared, be quick and react intuitively. And when appropriate, stick to your guns.
Next up, IMB’s impressive survey into the concerns and challenges for today’s CMOs. Carolyn Heller Baird discussed the main findings of the study; for her the”money slide” shows that the vast majority of CMOs feel underprepared to manage the impact of key market changes. 80-82% plan to increase their use of social media and other collaborative technologies, but cost, uncertainty around ROI and lack of confidence with technology are holding them back. I’d urge you to download the full study; by understanding the conflicted feelings of CMOs today we can better learn how to position social media in a way that speaks to their needs.
Another highlight was the panel on word of mouth and advertising, which brought together an advertiser, a media company and two ad agencies to examine how the two disciplines can collaborate. It was great to see word of mouth being considered outside of social media as part of a wider marketing context. “Advertising and word of mouth are close cousins,” said Greg Pharo of AT&T. “Advertising works its way into conversations and underscores significant interactions online. The two play off of one another.” From advertising and WOM studies that have been conducted by Keller Fay to the 2010 WOMMY-winning research Graeme Hutton of Universal McCann on Sony Electronics (see below), it is indisputable that brands must consider the two as colleagues, not competitors.
Finally, I moderated a panel on the challenges of running international social media campaigns, featuring Shana Pearlman from Skype, Natalia Perez from Coca-Cola Colombia and Jesse Desjardins from Tourism Australia. We discarded presentations in favour of simply asking the audience: what do you really want to know? The answer turned out to be: how to keep things glocal. Yes, how on earth to maintain local authenticity and nuance whilst also achieving consistent global messages and standards. Trusting your local teams is essential, as is having a tight mechanism for sharing learnings; finding common best practice for ethics and the law; and agreeing metrics for success. We could have gone on for hours thanks to a brilliantly engaged and informed audience, but it was the beginning of a great conversation we firmly intend to keep having.
The panel of awesome
This was the best day yet, and the one question it left resounding in my mind was: Can an open, sharing, hack-happy culture be embedded in a large, global organisation without becoming chaotic?
So I’m finally here at the 2012 WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) Summit in Las Vegas and what a mammoth gathering it is too: hundreds of brand and agencies from around the world sharing social case studies, research, innovations and stories about harnessing consumer conversation. Tomorrow I’ll be moderating the annual panel on International WOM but for now I’ll be posting a brief daily blog with a summary of the day’s insights. I’ll also be posing the one question the day has left me pondering - and which might just make you ponder too.
Day one kicked off with a memorable keynote. Rick Harrison of the History Channel’s reality show Pawn Stars showed how a struggling small business used storytelling to secure a passionate fan base. A self-admitted ‘media whore’ from humble origins, Harrison’s unremitting drive to turn a pawn shop into an entertainment brand is genuinely admirable. “I can make a story out of anything”, Harrison explained, giving examples of how he finds gaps in markets and makes unexpected connections to develop innovative business mashups. “You can’t sweat the haters; there will always be one percent who oppose what you do, and the only response is to make your product as good as it can possibly be.” Comment of the day? “In the end, it’s all just stuff,” he said, meaning: people don’t fall in love with the thing, they fall in love with the story behind it.” Amen.
Next I chose the session from WOMMA’s MEAP (Members Ethics Advisory Panel) on developments in social media law and ethical guidelines. Aa anyone who knows me is aware, promoting ethics is something of a personal mission, so it was great to see our good friend Tom Chernaik from CMP.LY explain how companies can remain functionally compliant. Obviously it was a US-centric view but the best practice is applicable wherever you are. From active disclosure of connections to regulations around competitions, this is a constantly changing landscape so it’s essential to keep upgrading your knowledge – and not just after a problem has arisen. Preparation and education is essential, especially when a lot of companies don’t even realise they’re treading on regulated territory. You can start by download the latest FTC-approved WOMMA guidelines.But looking beyond the theory, perhaps the biggest challenge is this: how can you get your people, and those who you work with, personally and passionately upholding social media ethics?
I’m always looking for ways to improve our WOMAcademy training programme, so I couldn’t miss Todd Watson‘s presentation on how IBM made the transition to become a consumer-centred business. IBM knew that transforming the way they communicated internally would be the spur for wider change – as Todd put it, “culture eats strategy for lunch”. The most important driver? The degree to which each individual felt confident and empowered to exploit the social realm. Getting IBMers to participate internally was essential before they could even think of taking that approach to consumers, and initiatives such as InnovationJam have helped achieve that shift. Their challenge now is how to structure and harness the multiple social presences and fragmented content created by IBMers into a more cohesive “social enablement ecosystem” using aggregators, centralised tools and hashtags, educational sessions, agreed metrics and more. Onwards and upwards indeed.
Finally, author Jackie Huba shared insights from her new book Monster Business: Loyalty Lessons from Lady Gaga. Sure, it’s easy to get 49 million Facebook fans and 20 million Twitter followers when you’re an international pop diva, but Huba argued that Gaga’s team are using strategies which can be adapted by any brand looking to inspire rabid loyalty. They’re not radical – know your values, name your most loyal advocates, embrace shared symbols and so on – but it’s always salutary to see how they translate in action, and boy does Gaga make them translate. The book is an easy one-gulp read with plenty of other business examples woven in, and would be a particularly good gift for social media virgins who need to get excited about the possibilities of the space.
After all that stimulation, today’s one takeaway question has to be: What is the inspiring story around your product – and how are people going to feel part of that story?
Last week 1000heads was privileged to invite Mark Earls, author of creative communications bible Herd, to our event on behaviour change in Sydney. Based on his new book, I’ll Have What She’s Having: Mapping Social Behaviours, Earls treated the Sydney marketing community to a journey of decision making in the modern age, and challenged us to consider the way ahead for a society that is more connected than ever.
Earls framed the presentation with the concept of mapping. It’s something we all do, consciously or otherwise, in developing strategies, planning for the future and even telling stories. But the problem with mapping, as Earls noted, is that if there are any assumptions involved that lack integrity, or that could impact beyond the short term objectives of a mission, then the journey being mapped out can be seriously compromised. Earls pointed to the historical episode of the Mountains of Kong, a non-existent mountain range that appeared on all maps of Africa from 1798 until the late 1880s, as an example of how one man’s statement of fact was simply adopted by others because it was easier than verifying its existence independently.
We have examples of this cognitive laziness in all social and industrial environments. One of my personal favourites is the myth that gets repeated by chefs around the world that if mussels don’t open after cooking, they must be off and hence unsafe to eat. This has been disproven several times over, but the story still persists. As the advice is often repeated by TV chefs, there is a tendency to believe them rather than the marine biologist who disproved the theory. It is not necessarily due to humans failing to think critically. The problem is the social bias against questioning something that would otherwise be plausible, or questioning the judgement of someone with a certain reputation.
So as strategists, marketers and communicators, when we map behaviours in social environments, it’s crucial that we don’t become blind to the markers in a journey of engagement that could bring about unintended consequences.
Earls identified nudge theory as one of the problematic markers that can bring about short term gains at the expense of long term needs. While UK Prime Minister David Cameron is apparently a fan of nudge theory and has set up a unit for the creation of ‘nudge’ campaigns to change citizen behaviour, there is a question over both their ethics and effectiveness. And when it comes down to it, the subtle gestures of nudge theory fail to take into account the fact that decision making is more often social than individual. It’s not that nudge theory is ineffective as such, it is merely that effectiveness of nudge campaigns is dependent on context.
Earls went on to illustrate his point with physical exercises in social decision making. He paired us up and gave us a brief to solve a short term problem – getting each other off the ground as often as possible. While there were several potential (and creative) solutions to the problem, it took about 3-4 seconds before the entire group was jumping up and down, in response to what was going on around them. In this exercise, because we had no experts and no mastery of the subject matter, it was cognitively easier to copy the actions of others, quickly assessed to be effective. But in a context where there is personal bias, or where an individual feels disconnected from their community, behaviour can be quite different.
(It probably speaks volumes about me that when I performed this exercise, I started jumping then quickly stopped when I saw others were jumping, and desperately tried to think of other methods of solving the problem. I broke the connection with my partner – there were no rules which specified I had to remain connected – and considered using implements to help achieve the outcome. My personal bias towards creative problem solving impacted on my herd behaviour – or lack thereof.)
But the exercise was effective in demonstrating how specific environments, products and attitudes will impact on decision making. And social decision making is more common than individual decision making. Friend of 1000heads Sydney Gavin Heaton captured a quote from Earls’s presentation at just this moment:
The slow burn of social activations and participatory decision-making is potentially far more important than nudge methodology, not just because social decision making is often easier, but because large scale change in social behaviour is more likely to be in the interests of the many, rather than the one.
We can see the impact of this from a business perspective by thinking in terms of incentive marketing. Shallow incentives may provide a spike of participation, but it is social consumption that creates lasting impact for a brand and generates loyalty. It’s not good enough for a business just to sell a product or an idea for short term individual gain. There has to be an ongoing social imperative that encourages adoption on a long term basis.
Earls noted that mapping social behaviours is more reliable when you question the motivations and the context of decision making. He used a matrix of motivation to demonstrate that unless you map social contexts correctly, the path to understanding, engagement and behaviour change can be treacherous.
Earls concluded the session with Q&A from the audience, and responded to the call for a great social campaign, by showcasing (unbidden, we promise) the 1000heads Royal Mail project for Simple Ways to Grow. He noted that the project facilitated slow burn adoption as well as aggregating ideas for the benefit of all who participated. We appreciate the endorsement, Mark!
This was truly a fabulous presentation, the audience were thoroughly engaged and we got some great feedback from the day, so keep your eye out for future events we’ll be hosting here in Sydney. In the meantime, thanks to Mark Earls for delivering a superb session with ideas to sharpen the minds of all communicators.