The Consumer Electronics Show takes place in Vegas each January, and with it comes a strong indication of the impact that technology will have on consumers and how they will soon be spending their precious time.
The variety of tech on show – and hype that surrounds it – can be overwhelming at times, and so too is the process of identifying and interpreting how tech will impact people’s behaviour.
To combat this, applying an intelligent filter to the tech news pouring out of Vegas helps structure thinking around the subject. And so, in an effort to extract a meaningful interpretation of the implications for brands, we asked a series of questions of each product announcement or trend identified.
What problem is this solving?
Where/how will it change the way people spend their time?
How does it allow people to discover new things?
How might it bring connected or like-minded people together?
How does it empower people to change the way they are perceived by others?
Though there are rarely definitive answers to all of the above, the process helps solidify thinking in a manner that can help brands avoid a panicked rush among their peers to ‘do something cool’ with the latest tech. Rather, this thinking can help in allowing them to spot opportunities that can add genuine value, utility or fun to people’s lives.
If that sounds like something you’d like to get on board with, here’s a SlideShare that summarises 1000heads’ take on trends emerging from CES 2015 and their implications for brands…
It’s a great time to work with social media, and an even better time to be a science geek working with social media. Why? Because we’re entering a phase where people aren’t just spending time trying to understand what happens in social and how it happens (collaboration, sharing, abnormal amounts of tweets per second, explosion of mobile, and so on) but why those things happen and what we can learn from that.
Last Friday, at the second edition of the London Social Media Cafe, I heard Pulsar’s social media researcher Jay Owens deliver a great presentation on how stuff spreads, via a real experiment done using four different pieces of content including music, advertising, a meme and a user generated video.
You can check their research here and here, or skip to our own conclusions below. Or both!
1. The venue matters (a LOT)
Both editions of the London Social Media Cafe happened at Timberyard, a coffee shop in Old Street with a hand-crafted mood, delicious food and lovely staff. Why does that matter? A nice venue is like a powerful TV show intro: it immediately sets you in the right mood for what comes next. Now, you’ve heard that ‘context matters’ over and over again. But that’s not just good social media advice, it’s good advice for anything that involves people doing things. Like an event, or a research project, or your next campaign, or a nice conversation. However, that brings us to lesson number two…
2. Context matters, but so does distribution
I usually say, if content is King and context is Queen, then distribution must be the maid (without her none of those get food or clean sheets, I guess). The point is, how can we care about anything if we’re not aware of its existence? And to distribute it, we must learn about how it spreads. Jay talked in terms of “diffusion patterns” determined by scale, frequency and triggers. Scale is a no-brainer. Frequency makes sure that the distribution is more effective (especially since different people use different media at different times of the day). And triggers are what drive that impulse to share a piece of content (e.g. a strong punchline or call to action). But while people aren’t absolutely predictable in terms of why they share what they share, Pulsar’s data also taught me that…
3. You can devise models for sharing
Pulsar’s research defined two main models of content spreadability: spikers and growers. Spikers typically have the largest peak very early on and then go into long tail mode, which means people keep sharing it but it’s more spread over time. This is supported with further research from Marketing Charts. What about growers? Well, they typically spread more organically and have more sharing peaks over time, even if at lower overall intensity. Think of spikers as a ski slope, and growers as a BMX track. In the graph below, Commander Hadfield’s video is a clear spiker, while the Ryan Gosling meme is more of a grower.
4. Audiences work as modules
After figuring out how these pieces of content get shared, Jay talked a bit about audience modularity. What is it? Basically it basically determines how connected a community is (e.g. among 1000 people, how many know all the others?), and how sub-communities form. For example, the data behind the shares of Commander Hadfield’s video singing Space Oddity in space revealed a more homogeneous community sharing it, probably from a more techy and scientific background, so there’s a strong interest connecting them. But if we look at the results behind Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, the sharing involved far more sub-communities which weren’t necessarily connected to one another – because it resonated with a lot of different types of women. Audience modularity helps us understand how tightly knit various sharing sub-groups are within an audience, which can help us understand why people shared something in the first place.
5. Frameworks don’t solve the world, but they help us understand it
I am a big fan of frameworks because they help us identify patterns. So of course I was thrilled to see Jay finish off with a framework of her own, involving triggers, validation and escalation. Triggers are the emotion behind a piece of content (Jonah Berger has a pretty good book on this). Validation is the community in which we see or experience it, as well as the timing and topic itself. Finally, escalation is how it spreads afterwards, which can depend on context but can also be boosted by influencers and press coverage, for example.
Of course, as all science geeks will understand, none of this is set in stone and more testing is necessary (and welcome!) for us to start realizing what patterns are there for us to figure out and use for our own benefit. Pulsar is not alone in this quest for a more objective truth behind how stuff spreads, particularly in the context of social media, and I am glad that it is so.
We need more people talking about this because it’s the very best shot we’ve got to increase the effectiveness of our approach beyond unsupported opinions and industry buzzwords, and actually start speaking the same language. It benefits clients, it benefits us and it benefits our industry as a whole.
We use big data every single day. Having an idea about how people think and feel is a useful starting position, but scientifically, strategically and methodically investigating their mood and opinions is essential to provide weight and evidence behind what we do.
So when we found out about the British Library’s Beautiful Science exhibition, on the history of big data, and the monumental change that visualising data has caused in altering the way we understand the world around us, we knew it would be a great source of inspiration.
The exhibition demonstrates how picturing scientific data has helped us contextualise what might otherwise remain obscure. It focuses on many life changing discoveries, such as John Snow’s unravelling of the causes behind cholera; but we were particularly taken by how historical data analysis has shaped our understanding of that most British and pervasive of topics, the weather.
When Dutch company CLEVER°FRANKE set out to visualise the weather in the Netherlands in 2012, they didn’t only rely on meteorological fact, but felt that public perception of the weather would provide necessary context. Effectively the question they were asking was ‘does the way we report the weather in our public lives actively correlate to the metrological reality?’
To begin, they analysed 714,848 messages on Twitter and other places online and compared them with weather data provided by KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) The end result was beautiful, but also provided useful insight such as: ‘sunshine is prominent in the way most people rate the weather.’
This kind of insight – the gap between perception and reality – is the life blood of social marketing. Once we know what is important to people, we can join in, adding useful and entertaining information, rather than trying to dictate the direction of conversation. If people want to talk about sunshine when they discuss the weather than this offers us crucial insight into the kind of conversation and content we offer our community. It’s not about us, it’s about them.
Coincidentally, last summer, we made a brief analysis of conversation around the weather using tweets from people in the UK.
Our insight? People in the UK never stop moaning about being too cold or too hot… apart from late April and early May. At a couple of points, the weather is considered too hot and too cold in equal measure. Is that ridiculous? Maybe. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is how people feel, and how individuals response differently to the same events.
Having this kind of insight is essential in influencing how we engage with people on the topic in a nuanced and effective way.
The Beautiful Science exhibition at The British Library brilliantly shows that the visualisation of this data, which might otherwise seem obscure, unattainable and too expansive, allows us access to an immediate understanding that might otherwise be buried in the minds of data experts. Dr Johanna, lead curator of Beautiful Science explains, “Big data is becoming a topic of such huge interest; we particularly wanted to show the important connections between the past and the present. Data that is centuries old from collections like ours is now being used to inform cutting edge science.”
The exhibition shows how our understanding of the world around us has evolved almost directly alongside our ability to represent, its data over time. It also reminds us how this can be used to influence and support all fields, from medicine to meteorology to marketing. If you’re not making data accessible, attractive and inspiring for everyone in your team, you’re limiting your collaborative analysis and insight.
The streets of New York may have been bitterly cold, but last week’s NYC Social Media Week 2014 was still brim-full with die-hard social media enthusiasts, marketing professionals and members of the general public keen to absorb the latest thinking, case studies, startups and debates.
Couldn’t make it to the Big Apple? Found it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff with so many sessions taking place? Never fear. Our 1000heads team trekked out into the snow to seek out the best insights across various categories such as social data, influencers, global and new tech. Welcome to our super-streamlined guide to the best of SMW NYC.
The UnQuiz Powered by UnMetric, a social media benchmarking company, was a highlight when it came to the gnarly issues of social data. Before the quiz there was a chance to meet Lakshmanan Narayan, also known as Lux, the CEO and co-founder of UnMetric. Lux spoke briefly about the three dimensions to competitive intelligence for brands on social media: channel intelligence, campaign intelligence, and content intelligence. Brands need to be monitoring and drawing insight from all three if they are to benchmark, justify and improve their social activity, and with ROI as hot a topic as ever, this kind of competitive data can give true meaning to your measurements.
For the UnQuiz, a panel of social media experts answered a series of quick-fire questions using hard social data. One hot topic was whether fans “unlike” a page after they’ve entered a contest. David Berkowitz, the CMO of MRY said that people get distracted and usually forget to do so, but that brands should always expect a decrease in audience numbers after a contest campaign finishes. It’s a sobering reminder that ‘forcing’ likes on people doesn’t have much meaningful brand equity. To test your and your colleagues’ smarts when it comes to social data, ciick here to take the Unquiz yourself.
Our old friends WOMMA hosted Influencer Strategy – Developing Trust and Advocacy through Content Co-Creation with a panel of experts including Barbara Jones, CEO and founder of Blissful Media Group and Katie Welch, Executive VP of Brand Innovation at Weber Shandwick. Conversations were around fresh ways to engage with influencers over multiple social media platforms and strategies to maximise influencer relationships.
As a brand, you’ve hand-picked your influencers, and they each perceive your message in their own individual way, so it’s vital that you let them be creative with your core message. This resonated for us thanks to our recent Skype Rerouted campaign with Travel Brand Ambassador Mike Corey, which allowed Skype fans and users around the world to direct Mike’s travels through video messages and tweets to @SkypeMoments.
The handouts on the chairs at the event outlined the different kinds of influencers used in marketing strategies: advocate, ambassador, citizen influencer, professional/occupational, and celebrity. It’s a simple guide for those who may be new to the community field – if there are still a few people in your business who don’t understand the difference between a journalist and a social advocate, pass it on.
We loved the screening of the feature length documentary film Web, that investigated the tension between interdependence and cooperation online. Michael Kleiman, the director, spent ten months in the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Jungle in Peru where he became acquainted with two villages and followed the families involved in the One Laptop Per Child program. Palestina, one of the villages he stayed in, lacks running water and roads; residents can only leave the village by boat, and the nearest city is ten hours downriver.
These villagers were removed from society even before the world was online. By bringing them online, they are given a similar level of global awareness to the rest of the world. If twenty children are given a laptop and working Internet, in a few weeks, they will most likely surpass the intelligence and global knowledge of their parents and every adult in their village. It opens them up to the possibility of a better life not only for their immediate family, but for their village, as well.
The film is currently being submitted to festivals so keep an eye out for it in an art-house cinema near you. The social media industry can be a bit of a bubble, and this restores a big dose of perspective – and a renewed sense of wonder for the power of the web.
Some ideas about where social media might go next were showcased in Social Media Week’s Wearable Tech Fashion show, hosted by Tech in Motion to demonstrate the most exciting emerging wearable tech trends. Some of our favorites included 3D printed nail art by TheLaserGirls, the Florabrella by Leslie Birch, an umbrella that changes color based on your outfit, and 3D printed shoes by Continuum Fashion that look bulky, but are actually very light. Other fashions presented included Google Glass, high performance business wear, and pieces that changed color based on your mood and brain activity.
With investment in prototypes exploding, it’s surely only matter of time before demand for wearable tech fashions goes beyond the realm of early adopters and tech nerds. However, the sweet spot here will be combining novelty value with real function. Tech that distracts will only irritate us in the end – we want design to be useful and integrate seamlessly into our lives, helping us to experience the world around us better.
A model sporting Google Glass on the runway of Social Media Week’s Wearable Tech Fashion Show hosted by Tech in Motion. Photo courtesy of Vicky Sullivan, aspiringsocialite.com.
The extraordinary storms and floods that have hit the UK over the past couple of months have helped to put the conversation about climate change firmly back on the agenda. But it can be all too easy to participate in the social media debates without lifting a finger. What can – should – creative agencies like ours do to help?
Last Friday the design and advertising association D&AD invited creatives from agencies across London to gather together to tackle just that topic in an intensive day of talks, brainstorms and paper prototyping. We jumped at the chance to participate .
Climate change scientist Kevin Anderson kicked off by explaining that fuel consumption is growing, carbon emissions continue to rise and we are now on a trajectory towards a 6°c temperature increase, which would have devastating consequences for the planet. The long-term solution is to stop building planes and power stations, and invest in a low carbon energy supply. But that won’t be enough to avoid 6°c, so in the short term we must reduce energy consumption by 10% year on year. The responsibility lies with all of us.
But aside from the inspirational speeches and one-off workshops, can the creative industry actually do anything to help? I think we can. Here’s how.
1. Stop passing the baton
A lot of the discussion at the workshop cantered around how clients need to change, so that we in turn can tell the general public to change. It would be great to get more social briefs, yes, but what this comes down to is people changing and ‘clients’ are people too. Let’s take responsibility for our actions and commit to changing on a personal and professional level. The two big questions for me are: 1. How do we need to change? Is it adopting company policies such as ‘Skype not flight’? Is it a code of practice for creative production? Is it wasting less food, turning down the heating and turning up the recycling? 2. How can we communicate these ideas to make it easier and more appealing for us and others like us to make these changes?
2. Start talking
If the creative industry is going to be authentic in trying to reduce carbon emissions then we will likely raise difficult questions about our own lifestyles. Let’s talk about about climate change in order to raise carbon literacy. Let’s not let the fear of not wanting to ‘tell people what to do’ translate into not telling people anything at all. There’s an opportunity here to experience new ways of doing things and create a dialogue that allows us to live in line with our habitat.
2. Get political
Presently carbon reduction is not being prioritised in government, mainly because there is no clear demand from civil society. Instead, we have seen tax breaks for shale gas, rejected decarbonisation targets and planned expansions of airports. In order to let the politicians know that we care, we have to prioritise. It’s evident that some difficult choices will have to be made. We need to dramatically shift our mindset from perpetual growth to collective wellbeing.
Ultimately we need to act; educate ourselves and turn our knowledge in to clear and targeted action through communication. Here at 1000heads, we’re going to use the day as inspiration to reinvigorate our environmental policy. From gamifying our recycling bins, to sourcing meeting snacks with minimal food miles, we’ve pledged to achieve at least 15 specific and active ‘climate changes’ within our office and with our clients by the end of the year that will measurably decrease our energy consumption and carbon footprint. We’ll also be investigating how we can harness social and WOM to surface this debate amongst our friends, partners and clients across the world.
It’s the home stretch for WOMMA Summit 2013. After the smorgasbord of sessions on Days One and Two, my brain is getting a little over-stuffed with insights, just like my belly is groaning under the weight of all that Nashville pulled pork. But there’s room for one last word of mouth blast.
Today’s schedule focused on the power of the image. I’ll kick off by summarising the case studies from the quick-fire ‘creativity showcase’, examine how to make your visual storytelling sing, then wrap things up some thoughts on the future of WOM ROI.
Creativity Showcase | American Express, Finish Line, Delta, Green Mountain Coffee, Nissan
American Express, Mona Hamouly
The Amex card itself remains at the heart of their social campaigns, and is brought to life through visual storytelling. Simple, beautiful imagery is key, and surfacing old ads, card art and more from the Amex Archive has had a fantastic reaction – bringing the old into the new. They’ve used the same approach in creating little assets to surprise and delight their community, such as the Amex card towel, which became a conversational object on the beach. They encourage members to tell their own stories via a newly launched Facebook app, and they’re syncing card user data with their social profiles to harness social CRM. Explore further.
Finish Line, Wendy Hofstetter
The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and Facebook photo posts attract 140% more comments than text-based posts. Obama’s re-election victory tweet – a photo of him hugging Michelle – was so successful because of it’s iconic imagery. But you also need to go beyond the image and provide prompts for people to get involved in a wider campaign; add some cultural and storytelling context around each image; partner with influencers to co-create personal content; and don’t limit content creation to your marketing team but get other departments involved. Explore further.
Delta, Judd Hooks
Delta have transformed their social strategy over the past year. They’ve learnt that real time social is essential; you have to stay on top of trends and be reactive or you’ll fall behind competitors. They started photoshopping images of their planes in response to award wins and celebrities, and created quirky content for the Royal baby, Star Wars day and the Game of Thrones season finale. They also use archive footage in their ‘Throwback Thursday’, put their popular cookies in visual content to make sure the brand stays front of mind, and provide hardcore engineering/design content for their core plane-geek advocates. They collaborated with TED to explore the science of sleep with a ‘photon shower’ – a conversational offline experience that translated online. They’ve also been capturing social data for their Sky Miles customers, so they can integrate existing customers with social activity. Explore further.
Green Mountain Coffee, Derek Archambault
Combining shopper and social data is key to the Green Mountain social strategy, which focuses on communicating their fair trade philosophy. By understanding what, how and where their customers are buying, then looking at what they are saying in social, they ensure their social activity will drive real value. Demographics are too generic but deep behavioural data enables personalisation, so they use this to personalise how they display their products in stores and what conversations their customers want to have, to avoid lecturing and hit the buttons that will make people buy. Explore further.
Nissan, Chad Jacoby
In the auto business, innovation and differentiation is key for the design of a car, but it can hard to be equally innovative and unique in its marketing. To launch the Versa Note hatchback, Nissan jumped on the emergence of Vine and Instagram Video, crowdsourcing their TV ad by asking people to use downloadable images of the car in videos which showed them ‘doing more of what they love.’ They then introduced ‘The Passion Portrait’, a Facebook app that mapped the likes and connections of their fans to produce a “personalized, interactive visualisation of themselves.” Finally, they’re planning to sell one of their cars on Amazon and deliver it in a box on a flat-bed truck – game-changing the whole purchasing process. Explore further.
Marketing Without Words | Garrett Lane, Scripps Networks, Deb Berman,Curalate
Idea: Don’t just focus on images you create, but those that your consumers create. Over 400,000,000 images are shared daily on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram alone, and they pack a huge emotional punch. Brands are good at producing aspirational images, which allow them to bring joy and beauty even to everyday or functional products, but fans are good at relatable, storytelling images; make sure you have a good mix of both. Your interaction and responsiveness with imagery on social has to be as fluid as your conversation with words.
Action: Tune into what your consumers are posting, both about your brand and in general. Spend time monitoring and browsing every day. How can you respond to and harness what is already out there? Be experimental; try different sorts of imagery, monitor the data, and see what sticks. Don’t forget that imagery can be used to teach and prompt discussion too, from infographics to graphic how-tos.
Example: FrontDoor.com’s Pinterest-led ‘Cool Houses Daily‘ taps into our hunger for property porn. Also check out our own ‘London Life‘ social photography campaign for Getty Images.
WOMMA Research Council ROI Panel | Peter Storck, House Party, Ashley Libby, The Anca Group
Idea: The biggest obstacle to investment in WOM marketing is marketers’ inability to prove ROI. WOMMA is launching a new initiative to create an authoritative word of mouth ROI model – combining both on and offline WOM – described in language familiar to marketers. Currently, the picture is complex and incomplete, partly due to the proliferation of new platforms, but we also have more data than ever before. We need to bring the same rigour to WOM ROI as to other marketing disciplines (if not more!) and produce comparable measures so an integrated picture can emerge.
Action: Keep an eye on WOMMA’s progress via their research blog. Make sure you are integrating brand metrics with conversation metrics. Try to run pilot projects that only use word of mouth as a marketing tool, so you can compare the results to other programmes. Benchmark against competitors. Ask advocates what effect their relationship with the brand has had on their purchasing and recommending behaviour. And employ trackable tactics (such as discount codes) to isolate WOM-driven sales and footfall.
More: Keller Fay’s WOM Matters blog is a great place to keep updated with offline studies and models, so you’re not just relying on just social media metrics.
My #1 Day Three Takeaway?
Brands need to start treating imagery like a conversation. Drop the idea that visual content needs to be high-cost, polished and product-centric, and instead use it in a fast, responsive, emotional and creative dialogue with consumers.
And now, after three intense days of social goodness, I’m going to go and talk about puppies for the rest of the evening. Over and out.
So, after a night of Frito pies, fireballs, and live music from men in serious beards, it’s time for the second day of the WOMMA Summit, live from Nashville. Catch up with Day One’s insights and case studies here, then keep reading for five more sessions of word of mouth goodness, including Mark Earls, SEO, the intersection between art and tech, and much, much more…
The 4 Consumer Choice Styles That Should Underpin Your WOMM Strategy | Mark Earls, Author of Herd and I’ll Have What She’s Having
Idea: We hate independent thinking; we are herd creatures, and we want what she’s having. “The most important influence on other people’s behaviour is what other people are doing”, and we often overestimate how many of our decisions are independent rather than social. We are overloaded with choices and so you need to help us vividly latch on to why your brand is the best.
Action: Earls emphasises the importance of drawing specific and realistic maps of human behaviour. Once they understand these, brands can deploy a mixture of four strategies to harness them: do better than others, generate expertise and authority, create something striking and unexpected, and fuel herd popularity. There’s no shame in copying what has already worked and give it your own original twist.
Real Time Marketing: The New Prime Time or the Latest Shiny Object? | Rick Murray, Edelman, Chris Kooluirs, VaynerMedia, Stephanie Matthews, GolinHarris, Teca Lewellyn, Kellogg’s, Zena Weist, Expion
Idea: What’s going on in the news today? How can your brand add value? Brands need to be bolder with real time content; they have been getting more conservative thanks to legal fears. But real time is not just about pop culture, but genuine conversations - not a grandstanding ‘moment’, but a long-term series of small moments. And a little bit of chaos is not only necessary, but good.
Action: Establish a clear process flow, not a static content calendar. Empower your staff to be responsive and make changes. Be sure to tie your activity clearly back to business goals and set KPIs, or it can all feel a bit random. Know your audience; don’t force or push content that doesn’t feel absolutely aligned with the way they talk. And don’t forget to change what you do, not just what you say, in response to your listening.
Example: Hilton Suggests is a helpful and responsive Twitter project, without a pushy sales agenda. And #SWIMFORRELIEF was a quick response by P&G to boost Hurricane Sandy aid efforts.
Digital Panel | Kevin Espinosa, Caterpillar Inc, Robin Riddle, Wall Street Journal, Lauren Salazar, Weight Watchers, Rachel Tipograph, Gap, Jay Baer, Moderator
Idea: This year, the conversation has moved from ‘social’ to ‘content’ marketing. Everyone is a digital publisher now, media companies and brands alike. Effective internal systems for data capture and measurement are becoming critical, and social is forcing digital content to be more tailored and responsive. Celebrities still figure strongly in digital campaigns but now include social engagement; every piece of digital content has to do multiple pieces of work.
Action: Use data to understand which digital stories will be most impactful, but make sure there is a surprising, resonant human hook once it goes online. Digital must become more authentic, less flashy, and less sales-oriented. Think of social as teaser content that then leads into your deeper digital campaign. And immerse yourself in LinkedIn: some great conversations from within the digital industry surface here, especially if you’re involved in B2B.
Idea: Look beyond the law to ask ‘what do we owe our audience?’ Key guidelines on social ethics in the States include the well-known disclosure rules rom the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), but also FINRA (an independent securities regulator), FFIEC (Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council), SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission) and NLRB (National Labour Relations Board). There are new FDA guidelines to come in July 2014.
Action: Wherever you’re based, keep an eye on the US guidelines because they’re more mature than most other markets. Have a one-page super-simple social policy but make sure it is discussed and understood internally. Make sure your teams know what questions to ask and feel free to ask them – have a go-to ethics person. It’s your job to educate your agencies, clients, partners and advocates in social ethics, and to monitor your own activity with an eye to ethical compliance.
Example: James Whatley recently wrote a powerful rallying call in The Drum for the UK social media industry to take responsibility for their own regulation, instead of the ASA.
Idea: We need to bring art and technology closer together – make fiction and design influence science, and vice versa.Great stories create unexpected connections between neurons and sear them into our memories, but don’t just focus on the new and the sexy – the best stories can sometimes come from your most functional products (like search and maps).
Action: The Google innovation team pretend they’ve made products and make ads for them – which inspires the tech guys to actually build them. Try this backward method of inspiration – story first, product second. Make your stories relatable, repeatable, relevant, responsive and real. Also ‘break free from the stream’ – create stories that cross channels and integrate into people’s physical lives.
Example: Legendary engineer Elon Musk took the futuristic 3D deisgn process from Iron Man 2 – an exciting story about technology – and made it real.
Over the next couple of years, being successful in a crowded social market will mean brands have to take a leap forward in terms of sophistication – sophistication in terms of understanding behaviours; in terms of integrating channels; in terms of creating inspiring, real stories, even around functional products; and in terms of educating staff in ethics. There are no excuses; it’s time to up your game, or get out.
Also, those nice dark brown slabs that look like expensive chocolate in the break-out area are, in fact, beef jerky. Don’t.
“Word of mouth is no longer optional. It is an essential part of any business strategy.” Thus Suzanne Fanning kicked off the seventh annual WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) Summit, which brings together 500 brands, agencies, researchers and authors explore the best of word of mouth and social media marketing.
Over the next three days of the conference, when I’m not presenting on global advocacy with Nokia, I’ll be (sort of) live blogging in an attempt to share some insights. To keep things digestible, I’ll briefly explain the central idea of each session, define what action you need to take to harness it, give an example of a case study, and suggest more to explore. If you want further detail, or to share your own thoughts, just give me a shout on Twitter or email. Ready? Let’s go.
Youtility | Jay Baer, Author and Consultant
Idea: “Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it.” Focus less on selling through social media, and more on being helpful, and you’ll get much better results: “transcend the transaction” to provide a delightful and useful service.
Action: Deploy ‘strategic eavesdropping’ and find ways to help people; not only your customers and not always driving your products. You have to really get to know your audience to make it work. This is a long term investment in brand good will and “youtility is a process not a product” – big ideas take time to emerge, not in a single brainstorming session.
Example: Nivea Brazil created an awesome print ad that charges your mobile using a portable solar panel.
More: Youtility by Jay Baer, obvs. I also wrote an article on this same topic for WARC earlier this year.
The Fan Effect | Dez Dickinson, Pavilion Entertainment
Idea: If you can recreate the fandom that rock stars inspire, on behalf of your brand – the excitement, the group hysteria, the investment of identity – you can harness mindblowing advocacy.
Action: Focus on “purposeful and strategic creation of moments,” because “the moment is the point of entry into the fan connection and conversion.” Without the big rock-concert emotional spark, the spread will not happen. So create involving real moments for your community to experience and gather around.
The Social Value of a Customer | Barak Libai, Professor, Arison School of Business
Idea: We need to question simple assumptions about the social value of customers, start bridging the gap between vanity metrics and proper academic studies, and combine the language and thinking of traditional customer management with our new social insights.
Action: Look at the value of groups, not just individuals; combine the lifetime value and social value for a clearer measurement for each customer; take into account the ripple effect – A will effect C, not just B; consider acceleration of purchasing, not just uptake; and focus on when, not just how, you invest in social outreach, because customers are far more valuable when engaged early in the product lifecycle.
Making Depend A Pop Culture Phenomenon | Debra Gaynor and Diana Littman Page, Marina Maher Communications; Victoria Azarian, Ogilvy; Jay Gottlieb, Kimberley Clark; Joe DiMeglio, Organic
Idea: Stimulating WOM around sexy products and brands is easy. But getting people to talk about things they don’t want to talk about – like adult diapers – calls for true creativity. By getting NFL players and red carpet stars to trial their product under their tight outfits, Depend created huge social traction.
Action: Outing taboos and busting through euphemisms can be truly liberating, and become a ’cause’ rather than a ‘campaign’. Partner with celebrities and retailers to spark initial social engagement, but then be prepared to built that out into a more mature and nuanced conversation with real people dealing with these issues – with dignity. Concentrate on creating content where your audience is (in this case, YouTube), then let them spread it, rather than creating lots of brand channels.
Example: Check out the full Depend case study complete with figures here.
How YouTube Is Sparking Social Action | Shabnam Mogharabi, SoulPancake
Insight: We are moving beyond conversation to an era when social content will stimulate real world actions. YouTube has started to move beyond cats on skateboards and towards quality content that inspires powerful change, particularly amongst the coveted 12-17 year old audience.
Action: Don’t be afraid to ask your viewers to do something – something tangible and big. Young people don’t just want shallow entertainment – they respond brilliantly to emotive social causes. Get them involved in a project that really matters, and make sure you have a simple, clear call to action.
Are you wilting at the thought of the dark months ahead? Glued to your screen, lost in the daily grind, blind to the big picture? Desperate for some innovative social case studies that will put a rocket up your team?
Then join us at this year’s Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Summit on 18th-20th November, for three days of education, collaboration and networking with 500 brands, agencies, researchers and authors leading the field in social media and word of mouth. And this year, the summit is being held in Nashville, so you’ll have a soundtrack of incredible live music to accompany your conversations.
We’ll co-present a quick overview of Nokia’s ten year old advocacy programme, then we’ll dump the slides so I can grill Craig with some key questions, such as: how do you ensure global consistency yet allow individual markets freedom to tailor what they do? We want our audience to speak as much as we do, sharing their own experiences and asking questions. Hopefully this means we can be relevant to the people in the room and dig deep into the challenges of running a successful social strategy, rather than being self-congratulatory or comfortable. We want debate! We want dissent!
If you’d like to join us – oh, and a bunch of other people from the likes of Kelloggs, Cisco, Google, Gap, Microsoft, Lego, Unilever American Express, Jim Beam and NBC – just use the code Speak50when you register to get $50 off the fee.
We’re not a social media agency. We’re a word of mouth agency. All too often, attending a social media conference can feel like attending a fax machine or a pen and paper conference. True insight isn’t about channels, but about how to connect with and inspire people, and that’s why we’ve been involved in WOMMA since its foundation in 2004. We believe that WOM is a bigger, more inspiring and more effective discipline than ‘social media’, and WOMMA is the perfect place to meet with and learn from others with the same outlook.
A few weeks ago we brought word of a new 1000heads initiative, called #1000smiles. Well, we’re happy to report that the day took place on Friday 9th August, and it was a real pleasure to get everyone together and use our skills in a different way, to have some fun and to bring some Olympic-style cheer to sunny Soho.
Inspired by movements like Pay It Forward and Suspended Coffee, we teamed up with the awesome Flat White amongst others to surprise Soho people with freebies, asking in return that they use the #1000smiles hashtag to pledge a good deed.
Also on Berwick Street was the World’s Smallest Fete – with games and goodies on offer for anyone willing to stop and chat with strangers.
Cards offering free Gelupo ice cream and other local treats were attached to balloons and hidden around our neighbourhood for people to find.
Anyone with a smartphone could join our pop-up silent disco by connecting to fyidisco’s mobile WiFi network.
We built a machine that dispensed hugs, surprises, treats and tunes at the push of a button – asking only that recipients pay it forward and spread some cheer via #1000smiles.
By the end of the day, we really felt like we’d achieved our objectives. We had come together as an agency and strengthened our relationships with amazing partners like Flat White, Gelupo, the Lyric and Angelic Digital.
#1000smiles had generated over 650 mentions online, reaching 1.3 million people – but more importantly, it had brought people together in our local area. Strangers talked, smiled and laughed with each other in a way we hadn’t seen so much since London 2012.
And so the end result, both on and offline, was something that is so integral to our business: conversation.