Ah, Valentine’s day. That magical moment of the year where love is in the air, chocolates sell like mad and passion is the name of the game.
The keyword here being ‘passion’.
Passion is all around us. People are passionate about other people, about their lifestyles, about the things they own… and also about some brands they feel represent and enhance who they are. That, in short, is why we love word of mouth: for its power to facilitate those connections between brands and people.
And that’s why effective word of mouth marketing is remarkably similar to a great Valentine’s date. Don’t believe us? Just flick through our latest SlideShare…
It’s no secret that over the last few years, the growth of connected TV, internet TV and video on demand (VoD) has led to a decrease in real-time TV viewing.
There are now more than half a billion connected TV devices in use around the world. In the UK alone, connected Sky+ homes watch 33% more catch up TV and x3 more VoD than the unconnected Sky+ homes. In short, brands can no longer rely on live TV advertising to reach their mass audience.
Conversely, in Australia, real time TV still remains very popular, and sadly Netflix has yet to reach our shores (at least for those waiting diligently to obtain it legally). Not maybe not for long. A few weeks back, Cricket Australia launched an Apple TV channel, giving fans access to extra content and information beyond the live matches. It is the first Australian sport to launch on the platform, following suit from the US, which has already launched similar channels for the NBA and NFL.
In a similar announcement, Mamamia Women’s Network is soon to launch Mamamia TV. For those outside of Australia, Mamamia began as an independent Australian Mummy Blog and became a runaway social success story appealing to a high number of Aussie women aged 25-45. It also seen as a credible online venue for brands to activate campaigns and connect with their female target audience. An interesting development indeed.
According to their editor-in-chief, Jamila Rizvi, the aim of Mamamia TV is to produce snackable TV-style content for the web. Rizvi claims that, unlike other media companies, Mamamia isn’t having to shift to understand digital or what women want out of content, as their success is down to their online following in the first place. She said the extension of the platform to TV is due to increased demand for their content as they now receive over 420,000 views a day on their site, compared to 20,000 views, 2 years ago.
On a larger scale, Vice TV is also making a splash globally and showing how brands that are willing to be reactive and involve themselves in topical news are met with likes, shares and mentions of their content across the web.
This surge in connected TV usage, combined with the relatively low cost nature of online content production, suggests 2015 will see a sharp change in the way brands create and distribute their content. In many ways, this is the native advertising model for Internet TV – partnering with like-minded publishers to co-create content and in turn build trust and engagement with would-be customers.
In Australia, where the general population is often segmented and hard to reach en masse beyond traditional TV, Mamamia TV and Cricket Australia will offer brands that do not have huge mainstream media or creative budgets, a cost effective way of reaching their audience in a relevant and credible manner.
Conversely, brands that cling to traditional TV advertising may find that while they can still achieve mass reach, their message has little social resonance when compared to brands that are early to adopt and integrate with the bite sized, reactive and topical content publishers like Mamamia and Vice create.
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…
With 1000heads offices located in places as far flung as Sydney, New York, London – and indeed Dubai – we’re lucky to be able to cultivate a globally rounded view of social media marketing. Today we hear from Yazeed Khalaf, one of our team working with clients in the Middle East and North Africa, who takes a brief look at how social and digital marketing has developed in the region.
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As with the rest of the world, the importance of social media in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has seen a steady rise to the point where it is a now a key factor in both people’s personal lives and the way businesses choose to engage with their audience. In 2014 however, it wasn’t just a growth in the social and digital marketing space that was notable, but a clear step change in how companies in the MENA region are approaching and investing in campaigns on social media representing a new level of maturity in the market.
To highlight this trend, I’ve outlined two examples of how companies and organisations in the MENA region positioned themselves using social and digital media to achieve improved results.
THE POWER OF THE COMMUNITY
At the end of 2013, Dubai was successful in its bid to host #Expo 2020 AKA The World Expo, and a direct descendant of 1851′s Great Exhibition. In looking to both secure the bid and kickstart interest in the lengthy run-up to the Expo, the Dubai bid team saw real value in social and digital media. Dubai dominated social channels, compared to competing cities and at the time of the bid, its Facebook page had an impressive 854K fans while its Twitter followers exceeded 94K (and has many more of both now) and among the four candidate cities, Dubai amassed 45% of the total number of Twitter mentions related to the Expo.
With an increasing number of locations seeking to host global events, the power of social media will become more and more important in which candidates receive those events, how the events are perceived by the wider public and indeed the overall success of the event when they actually happen. Dubai’s Expo 2020 campaign is a great case study as such and shows a sophistication of thinking that is a credit to the region.
After Egypt suffered a disappointing 6-1 loss to Ghana in qualifications for the 2014 World Cup, tournament sponsor Coca-Cola had to rethink their strategy to reaching football fans in Egypt. Their solution? To embrace the negative side of this situation and turn it into something positive. In doing so they ended up with this comic ‘EPIC FAIL’ ad starring Egypt international Wael Gomaa.
The ad resulted in over 2.5 million views on Youtube, but it didn’t stop there. Twitter also played an important role in the World Cup campaign by engaging with users on a daily basis to extend the tone of the campaign throughout the tournament and offer Egyptians a chance to go to the World Cup, even if the players weren’t…
The confidence to activate integrated campaigns like this in social and digital media is another shift in the region that has fully matured over 2014 and something we’ve long worked towards, and are excited to be part of.
Last month Alexander Wang unveiled his new collection in collaboration with high-street retailer H&M, via a fashion show live streamed on his website. From 1st October to 17th October, there were 12,584 mentions of #ALEXANDERWANGxHM on Twitter, reaching an estimated 240 million people (Sysomos, 17.10.14).
The digital landscape is alight with conversation, images, video and desire, and the buzz is set to continue in the build up to his collection going on sale today.
But amid all the hype, I can’t help but think that Wang and H&M missed a trick. Nowadays, if you’re going to release a high/low fashion collaboration that will bring your label to a new audience, it seems a no-brainer to put that customer at the heart of the story.
According to a recent IBM Customer-activated Enterprise study, 82% of CEOs plan to use digital technology to interact with customers in the next 3-5 years (Vision Critical blog,). Most businesses have already woken up to the important role that social media can play when it comes to engaging customers. But are they making the most of it?
Raymond King, CEO of Top Level Design, told Business News Daily that, ‘The fact that many companies use social media in a superficial way, basically as a public feedback forum that never finds its way into decision making, limits its effectiveness’. And this is where the real opportunity lies – to allow customers to actually influence business decisions.
Brands like Topshop and platforms such as Cut on Your Bias are already experimenting with this approach. So what could a truly customer-centric, socially-driven fashion collaboration look like? Here’s one vision:
A brave fashion-forward retailer could launch a collaborative campaign to crowd-source next season’s guest fashion line; a YouTube video with all the information could be posted at the start of the campaign with shorter teaser videos fed out on Instagram and Vine inviting the community to participate
The customers could be given the chance to vote for their mentor for the collaboration from among three incredible designers and this person would help guide the campaign from start to finish, working with the community at every step of the way
Customers could create mood boards on Pinterest as the inspiration for the collection and using various social platforms they could vote on colour palette, select the types of clothes items to be included, input on fabric choice and finishing details or even send in textile patterns they designed for use in the collection
Social competitions could be run to find five or ten members of the community to actually go to the designer’s atelier to help pull together the ideas and make decisions on the collection, and these people could take over the social channels of the retailer to provide a behind-the-scenes look at creating the collaboration
All interviews could be held via Q&As on Twitter or Facebook or as Google+ hangouts
Once the collection was ready, the retailer could source models from the community and live stream the show via social channels with special attendees live tweeting the event
Select items could be made available for purchase only through social channels, and using gamification techniques the retailer could reward certain social behaviour with points that could be redeemed for discounts on purchases made online
There is always some risk when you let customers be so involved in your brand, but the resulting connection and engagement the brand developed with their customer would be worth it. That would be a collaboration truly worthy of the buzz.
Pinterest isn’t for everyone – and that stands for both brands and consumers. It’s a beautiful place to visit when design, style and aesthetics are integral to your product (or piece of almond sponge). It’s not, however, a platform that every business should immediately incorporate into their social media strategy.
When Pinterest was launched back in the dark days of 2010, t was a place to go when you needed tips for making your home beautiful, your cakes prettier, and your style more… tastefully dishevelled.
It’s still great for the above. However, over the past four years (and that’s a huge epoch when it comes to the social sphere), Pinterest has got serious.
Crucially, it’s become a place for brands to mix creativity with sales and show their consumers how they fit comfortably and effortlessly into their lifestyle. Through the power of the click-through (and Pinterest has better click-through rates than most other social platforms), the user just needs to be intrigued by a brand’s pin to leave the network and start exploring the brand’s website. You don’t need me to tell you that that, in itself, is valuable.
But Pinterest offers more than that. Take Topshop for example. The fashion giant worked with Pinterest under its Dear Topshop campaign last year, when its pins were heroed according to certain gift types on Topshop’s website. Via the pins, consumers were encouraged – and helped via a clear user journey – to share the products via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest – ultimately spreading the word about the brand and encouraging a wider audience to interact, and buy, the products.
Still not convinced that Pinterest has the potential to offer real business value? Well, last year, the platform rolled out its paid ads (aka Promoted Pins) to a small group of businesses. Through Promoted Pins, businesses can select the pin they’d like to promote and specify which search keywords they want to attach to it, as well as the gender, device, location and language of their target audience.
With a small branded logo below the caption, Promoted Pins are designed not to be disrupt the user journey, and to sit comfortably within the feed. It’s still early days, but it’s likely brands will need to respect the platform here and produce suitable content emphasising quality rather than quantity.
The platform has also introduced guided search, which makes it easier to target specific content more effectively. Want a red apron with a flower pattern? No problem; guided search has got your back. This alone is the perfect way to discover new brands and businesses relevant to your needs. No wonder Pinterest has been coined the new Google…
Armed with analytics now available to businesses on Pinterest, marketers will also soon be able (these Promoted Pins are not yet available to all) to quantify the success of their Pinterest campaigns. Through analytics, it’s possible to see valuable insight, including the average daily impressions of pins, average monthly viewers and average daily impressions. It’s also possible to see the amount of clicks, repins and likes – important metrics to test how active your community has been when it comes to engaging with content.
This all being said; don’t let me tease you to get ahead of yourself. Yes, it has 70 million users and counting – that’s a tempting figure when it comes to opening brands to a new audience. However, it’s vital to question if these pinners are useful to you. Currently, approximately 80% of users are women, with the largest demographic aged between 35-54 years old. Not only that, most popular topics include cooking and dining, and DIY and crafts.
But f that’s the audience you already know like the back of your hand (whether that’s via social or in the real world), Pinterest is becoming an increasingly powerful platform to drive interest, engagement, and ultimately – sales. Considering with how much the platform has developed over the past year with business value in mind, it’s only going to become even more so.
For you, it really is time to join the visual revolution. Get pinning.
If you’re a user of social mobile apps (and who isn’t), you’ll be well aware that the swipe is emerging as the next like – sibling to our other ugly social verbs the poke and the favourite.
Executed in less than a second, our beloved new one-handed digital gesture leaves a flurry of digital footprints in its wake.
Annabel Sampson likes your photo.
Annabel Sampson has poked you.
Annabel has favourited your tweet.
You’re a match with Annabel!
Annabel is omnipresent, permeating all social platforms, and it’s not yet 8am.
How does the swipe impact our attitudes and behaviours? The swipe delivers instant results paired with instant gratification, making it hopelessly addictive and hugely empowering. So easy in fact, it seldom involves pause for thought.
Tinder was the tipping point for the swipe. The light-hearted hook-up app that allows us to swipe through potential matches based on age, location and gender has turned the agony of dating into a ruthless gladiatorial game and it continues to grow at a rate of 10% a week.
So is the swipe the solution to millennials’ fish-like attention span? A conveyor belt of opportunity grasped with next to zero kilojoule output – and hardly any intervention from our more sophisticated ‘system two’ brain (to use the terminology of behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman?)
Other start-up teams certainly seem to think so. Tapping into the success of the swipe interface are JobrEstately and Daily; gamifying the fields of recruitment, real estate and news reading in an attempt to entice addiction in different, somewhat drier landscapes. All attempt to match you with your perfect fit and sell themselves as the Tinder of their field.
But is this a logical adaptation? Tinder lends itself to the swipe because it’s immediate, visual and shallow. It’s a snap decision, comparable to a burst of attraction in a bar. But applying this instinctive gesture to more complex areas risks trivializing them. Do you really want to swipe to find your perfect home, job, even pet (see bark buddy)?
The swipe is inherently fickle with overtones of callousness. Should gamification be left in the realms of Grand Theft Auto and Super Mario Kart or is it normal to build real lives, real conversations and real relationships through a sloppy thumb-slash?
For brands, the rise of the swipe reflects the need for them to provide instant visual appeal and improve clumsy purchasing processes. In our increasingly impatient culture, consumers expect action with one casual move. Shopping in a click, same-day delivery services, contactless payments, storage within a digital “cloud”, answers on tap through Siri, movies and TV shows streamed in seconds, smart phone apps that eliminate the wait for…cabs, dates, food.
We expect our products and services to jump to attention, and content from brands must be ever more easy to consume and share. Of course, there’s room for businesses to subvert the swipe, to insist that their offering requires more deliberation and appreciation than a few seconds, but that would be a bold game to play and the goods have to be worth the investment of attention and finger-power.
This would be a good time for brands to assess how swipe-friendly their processes and content currently are. Because if social runs true to form, this tap dance is only going to get more frenetic.
I am not going to turn this post into a book review (although it is a good read), but I will focus on one very salient point that our unnamed hero makes, very early in the piece. Abridged:
“That’s Dubai, I suppose – a country of buzz… everywhere in the emirate are opacities… And so the place makes gossips of all of us whether we like it or not”
In this unique context – and Dubai is unique in its truest sense – ‘buzz’ travels by word of mouth because of ‘opacities’, because of the absence of any real, clear information.
Having lived here for six months I can vouch for the near-impossibility of finding out any ‘real’ info on anything. And, in its absence, word of mouth powers knowledge transfer.
Little wonder then that Gulf News recently reported that parents in Dubai rely on hearsay rather than inspection reports to choose schools for their kids. That’s a huge life decision, but it appears that WOM still trumps ‘official’ opinion.
Social media use in UAE is of course on the rise but it is this hunger for peer to peer recommendation – whichever channels are used to spread it, on and offline – that makes Dubai such an exciting place for us to be.
Whether you want a great book suggestion or a word of mouth campaign for your brand, get in touch.
Last night I was at dinner with a friend explaining what we do at 1000heads. I’d just got going when his attention was diverted.
“What’s that?” asked my dining partner not apparently talking to anyone in particular. I turned in the direction of his glazed gaze.
“It’s wonderful isn’t it…” exclaimed a woman in a state of giddy joy, “…we saw them having it and we just had to order one.” She motioned to the table beyond where a couple looked on with the glow of parental pride.
The ‘it’ in question was a rather wonderful chocolate sundae crowned with a hemisphere of thin, dark chocolate. On the side, a jug full of hot butterscotch sauce was waiting to be tipped onto the crown where it would burst the confectionary bubble and reveal an oasis of cream and popping candy. The fizz and freckle of the butterscotch on candy drew oohs and aahs normally reserved for fireworks.
“Looks great…” I said, “…we should order a couple of those later”.
And so we did.
When they appeared we caught the table next to us peering over.
“What’s that?” asked one.
“It looks amazing!” squealed another.
“It’s wonderful isn’t it…” said my dining partner.
And so the ripple continued.
All in all that evening we observed a chain of twelve sundaes, each directly attributable to the trendsetters at the top table.
“So…” said my friend smearing chocolate brownie across his lower lip. “…1000heads, what is you guys do exactly?”
“We help our clients make chocolate sundaes” I said.
“I thought you were in marketing?” (He never got metaphors).
In an industry forever discussing new platforms, new audiences and new techniques it’s important to remember what we do and why. And hey, it never hurts to have a delicious go-to example to explain what success looks like.
Recently I was asked participate in a print debate for Economia magazine, a back-to-basics scrap between myself and Robert Wynne, President of Wynne Communications. Our topic: Is social media a waste of time for business?
There are still (and quite rightly so) many sceptics out there wondering whether social marketing is all so much smoke and mirrors, so I was delighted to get the chance to articulate why (when done properly) it isn’t.
Look at your audience. Who is primarily on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? Children, teenagers, celebrities and families. What is it you want to say? Probably something important about taxes, a new hire, a new law that impacts your clients, or possibly a new office. Now post it on Facebook, right next to photos of that cute kitty. “Watch out, he’s about to knock over that aquarium. What a scamp. Now what were you saying about your firm?” It doesn’t look appropriate next to that cat, does it?
Some things do well on social media: celebrities who appeal to teenagers, such as Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Games including Candy Crush. But not businesses or accountancy firms. If you post your news item on social media, then send it out via a news release service or to your client list: which do you think will be more successful?
Social media is about conversation and most of that, unfortunately, involves reposting. Financial results, tax advice, new hires; most of that is best posted on your website, your blog or sent directly. The best way to reach your clients, friends and influencers is via email. As Rick Newman, chief business correspondent for the US News & World Report put it: “Social media represents all these new forms of information, but all roads lead to email.”
NO: Molly Flatt
Saying social media is a waste of time for business is like saying humans are a waste of time for business. Social media is simply a set of tools that allow people to connect with each other. Sometimes we use social media to gossip or watch videos of cats, just like we sometimes eat junk food. But most of us also cook nutritious meals, and we use social tools to do things that are central to our lives and to businesses: for example, asking others for advice, giving recommendations or collaborating with others.
And by “we” I mean everyone.
Pew Research tells us that 71% of online adults now use Facebook, including 45% of internet users aged 65 and over. The Interactive Advertising Bureau tells us 90% of consumers would recommend a brand to others after interacting with them on social media. Frankly, if you think that connecting with your clients involves talking about taxes or telling them who you just hired, you’ve got a problem. This is about emotion, not just information. Emotion is what drives people to buy products, remain loyal or spread the word, and emotion is the currency of social media.
Yes, more people are using social media than ever. But are they using it to discover the offerings of a company, to compare prices, to contact customer service or to engage with businesses? Not really.
Look at your own habits. If you have a problem with your Samsung 55-in LED TV, do you check Facebook and Twitter or do you go to the retailer’s website? If you have an American Express Platinum card and want to buy tickets for Adele’s concert using the credit card firm concierge to get the best seats, do you look at social media or “like” a page about Adele on Facebook? Neither – you look at their website.
The same principles apply to accountancy firms. If you need to contact your clients about a change in tax policy, a direct email or notice on your website homepage will be more effective and professional. The same applies when it comes to crises. Twitter may seem to be the best platform to inform the masses but it only works when you lead clients to a live person or team of experts via email or phone.
It’s comforting to believe that all businesses need to do is type in a few words or post an arresting photo and the magic happens. But perhaps it’s better to think of social media as a complementary function that leads people to where they really want to go: to your website or to a live human at your practice. That’s what you want as a customer, isn’t it? So treat your clients with the same respect and efficiency.
Using your own habits to extrapolate what the rest of the world is doing is a classic marketer’s mistake. Let us consider the facts. Research from the Ambassador Group shows that 9% of all social media users engage with brands daily, more than half will do so several times a month, and 33% of people would rather contact a company by social media than by telephone. And this behaviour is increasing.
The Center for Marketing Research in the US recently found that 62% of Millennials like at least one brand on Facebook, 23% follow a brand on Twitter and 11% have pinned a brand on Pinterest. Their top three motivations? Supporting that brand, getting brand news and updates, and discovering discounts.
But although the value of social media for brands – as a channel for broadcast, transaction and customer service – is valuable, it still misses the point. Getting people to talk to each other about you as a brand, rather than talking to them, is where social’s power lies. The best brands spend more time listening on social media than they do talking – and then use that insight to surprise customers or clients.
Take the Samsung example: a savvy competitor could spot that person tweeting about their broken TV and offer them a free trial of their product instead. Or with the American Express example, why not give bloggers early access to your top events, encouraging recommendations with greater reach, trust and relevance than your concierge will ever have?
You can’t just plonk the same old business approaches onto social media. You have to change what you do. And that means prioritising advocacy, not just functionality.
There are great statistics about the rate of people using and enjoying social media, but it’s difficult to find anecdotes about serious businesses actually profiting from social media compared with good websites, their own blogs, and other effective digital communications including email. The example about another TV company bottom fishing by trying to pick up dissatisfied customers illustrates a reactive strategy for followers, not leaders.
Think of social media as another outlet for posting news, stories, anecdotes and hope it brings customers, friends and other audiences to your website or even better, to call or email you directly. I’ve seen marketers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building up Twitter followers and Facebook likes with nothing to show for it but… followers and likes.
There’s a role for social media, as part of an overall public relations, marketing, advertising and communications plan. There are apps used today by Forbes contributors, including myself, that allow us to post our columns to several social media sites simultaneously. Soon anyone will be able to do that. And once the sites and messages can be aggregated, they will seem less unique and just one more hammer or screwdriver in the toolbox.
Social media is not a better or worse version of brand websites or emails. It is a totally different beast, requiring a totally different set of approaches and skills. Businesses are followers, not leaders, in this space. In social media, you need to listen to your consumers or clients, then serve them in the most helpful, timely, relevant and inspiring ways – not try to dictate your superior wisdom or pre-packaged marketing bumf.
Of course, social media can’t fulfil every business role. But it is a way to build genuine and mutually rewarding relationships with your customers. So do keep auto-publishing your fascinating Forbes columns and sending them round via email. That way the rest of us can happily ignore them – and spend time engaging with businesses who approach this space like human beings, not content-creating robots.