Hey, you. Pause that cat-that-looks-like-Justin-Bieber-doing-the-Harlem-Shake video. YouTube is going through some changes, and if you want your brand to keep up, you’ve got some work to do.
Recently, Google rolled out the new YouTube ‘One Channel‘ design to help brands create a unified channel appearance across all platforms. The new features include cover photos, trailers and the ability to contact non-subscribed viewers (to name but a few). Google promises that regular, independent content creators (the users that have made it what it is today) are likely to generate more revenue, but it also claims the new layout will increase new subscribers, channel visits and visibility for brands across mobile web and TV.
Here’s our quick guide to getting the most out of your branded channel, based on a mixture of features available to users both before and after the One Channel re-design.
1. Think multi-platform
One of the most important factors to keep in mind when designing your new channel is that it should look consistent across multiple platforms. You don’t want your brand identity to be compromised by easily avoided sizing errors, and there are specific guidelines and templates available to ensure that your creative time is not wasted. Get started with your channel art here; a simple, consistently attractive design will triumph over a masterpiece that looks rubbish on mobile.
2. Create a customised welcome
You will have both subscribed and unsubscribed viewers landing on your channel, and YouTube has now given you the chance to cater for both of these audiences. When subscribers land on your page they get a customised view that helps them discover what to watch next on your channel. However, unsubscribed viewers can see a channel trailer that pops up on arrival; designed to explain what your channel is about and why you should subscribe as a new viewer. Think of movie trailers you love; if you want people to buy the tickets and the popcorn – or in this case subscribe – then you need to sell them the dream, super-fast. (That doesn’t, however, mean you need to hire this guy.)
3. Nail your SEO
It is essential to optimise your videos for good SEO, which will increase the likeliness of them showing up in organic Google search results. A good starting point for improved SEO is to make sure the video title, description and tag copy are all relatively similar. Repetition is key.
Title: include target SEO keywords and be as descriptive as possible.
Description: only the first 27 characters are displayed (before you click ‘show more’), so try and include the link to your website near the top. You can drive lots of traffic to your home page by simply including a link, so why not add two?
Tags: very important for classifying your video. Use roughly 10 tags per video and remember to mirror the title copy. So if the video title is ‘Justin Bieber Cat Harlem Shake’ then the first five tags will need to be….yep you’ve guessed it.
4. Include video annotations
Annotations are interactive sign posts that can be added to your video after it has been uploaded. By adding linkable annotations to your videos, you can drive traffic between videos on your channel and also external URLs. So the call to action might be to subscribe to the channel, watch a similar video on your channel playlist, or visit a URL that has more information about the content viewed. This means you can build a larger community on branded social networks, drive up video views and even increase product sales. Generally you will be creating more awareness around your brand/channel/campaign.
5. Craft a content strategy
Last but not least, you have to think long and hard about your content strategy. What is going to make someone return to your channel? What is going to make someone want to share and interact with your videos? How are you going to keep someone on your channel for an extended period of time? Are you regularly sharing your videos across other social networks? Do you have an adequate amplification strategy in place once your video is live? Have you looked at what the competition are doing? All of these questions will help you build your YouTube community. A fine balance between quantity and quality needs to be met, along with how YouTube fits into your overall social strategy.
And for homework? Here are some success stories from YouTube which I strongly recommend you take a look at.
Facebook announced yesterday that they will be “rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics”. The big news in the first instance is the introduction of hashtags to the platform, but Facebook also stated that this was just a “first step”.
The changes will be rolled out gradually, as we’ve seen with Graph Search, but they are another indicator of a transition Facebook is making. Twitter has “traditionally” been the platform people have used to engage in broader conversations with people they don’t know – whereas Facebook has generally been for communication and sharing among friends. With the launch of Graph Search and now hashtags, Facebook are keen to change this and open things up.
Doing so will obviously help their commercial offering. Hashtags should provide advertisers with better data: what users say in status updates is likely to be a more accurate reflection of their interests than the pages they like and the information they provide on their profiles. So, as with most of Facebook’s changes and new features, it’s good news for advertisers.
The new feature will also mean that we’re likely to see hashtags featuring ever more prominently in brand campaigns – now that they are relevant for Facebook as well as Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and other platforms. Campaign hashtags are likely to travel further – and it will be easier to track conversation about them, too. Many social listening tools have difficulty picking up conversation on Facebook, but this is unlikely to be the case for much longer.
It will all still be dependent on privacy settings, of course: a user whose posts are all private will not be participating in the “interesting discussions” Facebook talk about in their statement, and will not have their data available to advertisers. But those who do set their status updates to “Public” should be aware that the implications of that word in the context of Facebook are evolving.
Unless you’ve been living under a fairly large pebble you will have heard that micro-blogging platform Tumblr has recently been acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion dollars. The headline has received a somewhat negative backlash, after the younger demographic of users feared their creative platform would become an advertising playground. There was a petition; some users promised to leave; others voiced their concern over content being filtered which they feared would leave the vibrant platform a little, well, vanilla. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer responded to these concerns by “promising not to screw up” and, here at 1000heads, we think the evolution of Tumblr is going to be an interesting one.
Tumblr offers brands something no other channel can: a place to tell stories, uninterrupted, with the built-in community of millions. The site gets 18bn page views per month, with 12bn of these coming from the Tumblr dashboard. For many, a Tumblr account is a step up from Twitter in terms of commitment – but not quite as serious as joining a blogging platform like WordPress. The site currently calls itself home to 108 million blogs and considers itself the perfect platform for photos, animated GIFs, memes and anything else that contains striking, emotive visuals. Here are five tips for how to make it work for you.
1. Show some love
Don’t just sit there and wait for followers to come to you; get immersed. Take advantage of the explore function by searching for relevant and popular topics that other members are talking about. Re-blogging keeps the eco-system of content creators alive; 90% of all posts are re-blogs. Don’t save something, then upload it as your own content – that’s not cool. Re-blogging ensures images are credited to the owner and avoids making any online enemies. Liking and commenting builds relationships and gains exposure to your page. Every time you ‘like’ a post, your name and link will appear on that post, so don’t be shy. Good Tumblr etiquette goes a long way. Oh and just a little heads up, it’s important to ensure the ‘Let people answer this’ box is checked when posting a question.
2. Know your audience
If you’re under the impression that Tumblr only appeals to tweens posting animated GIFs of Harry Potter and sloths wearing lipstick, think again. The current 18-34 year old demographic are obsessed with Tumblr, with the average visitor spending 1.5 hours per month on the site. Thanks to the tagging system employed by the vast majority of users, audience segmentation is in-built. This means that audiences interested in certain topics are grouped together and easily identifiable.
The beauty of Tumblr is that virtually everything on the platform can be customised, giving you complete control over the layout, URL and overall look and feel. Remember less is more; auto-playing music on the landing page is annoying and will send people running for the cyber hills. Treat your Tumblr presence as an extension of your brand. Your content should allow you to communicate the soul of your brand whilst encouraging engagement and nurturing relationships with a new audience.
Curate bite-size content that will appeal to your audience. The fast pace of Tumblr means that short nuggets of content gain the most interactions. Most Tumblr content is consumed from the Tumblr dashboard: so, unlike WordPress, you have a ready-made audience for your blog within the platform itself. Make the most of eye-catching visuals that will be relevant and appeal to your audience. Re-posts tend to work best, with the addition of an opinion to give it a unique perspective. Tags are also an important way of ensuring your content reaches the right people. Tag-based discovery gives content staying power, meaning that users will be able to unearth backdated posts. The shelf-life of these posts has proved to have more longevity than content pushed out from Twitter and Facebook.
The subject of tagging brings us nicely to our final piece of advice: discovery. Tumblr is an amazing way of sourcing current and relevant content. If you’re looking for the hottest memes, the funniest GIFs or the most stunning photography then this is where it’s at. The site is a goldmine of incredible content – make sure you put the time into rooting out the nuggets. Like this.
This week, WordPress celebrates its tenth birthday, and I for one will be raising a brimming glass. With nearly 70 million websites now running the open-source software – from humble one-person blogs to full e-commerce sites pimped with specialist plugins and themes – WordPress has shucked off its reputation as a timewaster for midwestern housewives and become a massively powerful engine for word of mouth.
With so much focus on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, it can be easy for brands to underestimate the continuing power of the blog. So here are my five top reasons why blogs remain an essential driver of advocacy today.
1. Blogs are built around passions. Unlike most social networks, which are based around who we know, blogs are based around stuff we love: books, breakfast, being a parent. Social media is revolutionary because it allows us to look beyond our existing friendship groups and connect with likeminded strangers. Blogs are generally much easier places for brands to engage with than Facebook; connect with those whose passion coincides with your product, and you’re not interrupting a personal chat, you’re contributing to a relevant conversation.
2. Blogs are the natural home of the advocate. They are soap boxes: perfect for people who want to stand up and pontificate about what they love, without interruption or formal constraint. 140 characters is not enough for someone who wants to explain exactly why the semi-colon is the best punctuation mark (oh yes I did). Ergo, these are the people you want to get talking about you, in just this strident, evangelical way.
3. Blogs encourage storytelling. You need space and time to tell a great story; although updates, tweets and images provide instant emotional hits, nothing compares with the unfolding tale of a life or a love. And as we know, storytelling is at the heart of great brand engagement. Make your brand part of a blogger’s story, and watch the emotion explode.
4. Blogs give context. Plugins allow blog posts to integrate a range of media and opinions – images, videos, links, quotes, tweets, audio clips, slides – in one place. They act as hubs, signposting out to other relevant content and communities. This means they can provide a much more balanced picture than a single, real time or media-restricted platform, and build a dense, polyphonic masterpiece of advocacy.
5. Blogs influence people.According to BlogHer, 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs and 61% have made a purchase based on blog recommendations. We trust them as a source of independent expertise – it takes more effort to create a blog than a tweet or a photo, after all. And that effort translates into impact.
Might it be time to get over your Facebook obsession and lavish a little more love on blogs?
LinkedIn used to be the drab ugly duckling of the social media family; today, it’s the world’s largest professional network, with over 225 million users in over 200 countries. Brands have realised that LinkedIn really can help them reach a speicifc and motivated audience, but with regular changes to the way company pages function, the platform can be tricky to master. Here are our top five tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn.
1. Stand out visually
Following the lead of many other networking sites, LinkedIn recently treated itself to a much-needed facelift. Becoming much more image-centric, the platform now allows users to add a logo, profile picture and banner image to their page. This is basically a free billboard for your brand, so make sure you take advantage of it with style. Some brands now have a bank of different banner images, reflecting everything from campaigns and events to company selling points and products, which they rotate on a regular basis. Think how you can make yours as vibrant and eye-catching as possible; you might want to take a look at what we’ve recently done for Nokia.
2. Complete your profile properly
‘Nothing screams rookie like an unfinished profile’. It’s vital to complete your profile properly and highlight your brand’s strengths. As well as the aforementioned imagery, be sure to fill in not just your page’s about section, but the careers, products and services tabs too. The LinkedIn setup wizard helps you upload your logo and location and allows you to add a feed for the company blog to your profile. Pay attention to detail; a comprehensive profile with a professional, engaging tone implies a flourishing brand.
3. Keep things interesting
As with any other social presence, it’s easy for brands to get stale when it comes to producing consistently good updates. Think regular, specific and relevant; take a look at IBM’s page for a bit of inspiration. Who is your audience? Why should they care? Never post for the sake of posting and don’t forget that, as with Facebook, other users can like, share and comment on your updates. Try to spark a discussion and respond quickly to any engagement; if you’ve put your page out there, you should be willing to actively participate. 24 hours after posting you’ll be provided with some key page analytics so you can gauge what works, fast.
4. Target the right people
LinkedIn’s targeting options mean you can now select specific groups of followers that are most relevant to each piece of content, from a range of industries, functions, seniority levels and geographical regions. Use this tool properly and you’ll avoid the historical LinkedIn issue of force-feeding users content that they’d rather not see. Also, get to know LinkedIn’s Sharing Bookmarklet. It allows you to share web content with your network as an update, tweet, group discussion or individual message. Handy.
5. If you don’t ask, you don’t get
Let’s be honest. For individual users, LinkedIn is the place to shout about your skills, achievements, references and all-round awesomeness. As a company, this means you can be much more blatant about trumpeting your awesomeness, too. Ask your community members (in an upfront but engaging way) for recommendations on your products – if you don’t ask, you probably won’t get. We all know that recommendations from individual people are gold dust. They’ll do wonders for your brand’s credibility.
More than ever, brands must learn to symphonise with our lives. Not try to pull our attention away from our passions and towards their advert. Not pretend to be our friend when we have plenty of real ones. Not push their content when we’re busy sharing our own. I don’t use the word ‘synchronise’ because is too suggestive of automated processes. What we’re after here are brands with a deeply human understanding of how we live and buy. Brands that harmonise beautifully with those needs, helping us find greater harmony in the process.
Of course, brands should also surprise us, in a way that is meaningful and helpful. But the best don’t aim to intervene in our lives, steal our attention or distract us with their messages. They aim to integrate seamlessly into our multi-channel lives and occasionally surprise us in a way that gives us more of what we really want – time, fun, productive work and love.
They are the facilitators, not the hijackers, of our passions and our days.
Which sort is yours?
NB. I’m presenting on ‘Learning to Think Like a Social Consumer’ at the Online Marketing Summit 2013 in Berlin if you want to delve into this in more detail. Come along!
Instagram! Everybody knows what it is; everybody kind of knows how it works; but few brands are making really good use of it. The key ingredients for success are thought, strategy and time. You need to know precisely why you’re there and what you’re going to do. Otherwise it’s all too easy to look dull, aimless and imitative, and nobody wants that. Here are five ideas for how to lift yourself above the competition.
1. Show what your products can do
Don’t turn your Instagram account into a catalogue of product photos we can already find on your website. Be inspiring. Show your products in action. Bring your brand identity to life. GoPro uses Instagram to demonstrate exactly how awesome its cameras are. Every single image on Red Bull’s stream shouts ‘energy!’ Sharpie’s mission to illustrate the everyday provides a visual exemplar of both the product and the brand spirit.
2. Go live and get behind the scenes
Photos of live events taken by a real person, on the field, using a smartphone, will make the content of your feed aspirational and addictive. On top of that, it’ll inject some humanity to your brand, bringing your customers closer to you. American Express is a great example. Disrupting the finance industry’s reputation as bureaucratic and rigid, AmEx’s cool backstage photos of sponsored events such as concerts, fashion shows and the US Open brings a fresh, authentic and exclusive shine to its images.
3. Engage like a human being
Be natural. When you post images, include simple questions and affirmations to stimulate conversation and sharing amongst your followers without being too intrusive. Also engage reactively, browsing hashtags or locations in order to grow your community. Let’s take the example of the teddy bear manufacturing company Paul used in his post on Twitter. As a teddy bear brand, you can simply search for #teddybear and find 623,092 teddy bear evangelists from all over the world (and this figure doesn’t include #teddybears & #teddybearswag). That’s a hell of a lot of relevant people to engage with. And perhaps you might want to turn their beautiful teddy photos into personalised printed cards using Copygram?
4.Determine your frequency
Too few photos and you’ll sink in obscurity. Too many and you’ll annoy your followers; users mainly browse the app on their smartphones and too many photos from the same brand over a short period of time looks like spam. So you need to find the right balance and keep it consistent. Think about the best moments to share your photos, in order to maximize your reach and your engagement: how many days a week, how many times a day and at what time will you post? There’s no equivalent of EdgeRank on Instagram (yet..) so use your common sense and learn from when you get the most reactions to your content.
5. Challenge people
One of the best ways to engage and retain your followers is to challenge them. It’s very simple to arrange competitions or collaborations on Instagram. Find a theme, create a new hashtag so you can track the participants, and you’re ready to go. The reward mechanism can be as simple as judging the best photos, crediting the participants and post them on your feed; giving others status and traffic is an easy win. Instagram has been running the Weekend Hashtag Project for a while now – a series featuring designated themes & hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team and then featured on their blog - and it works fantasticly well. Sure, Instagram has the advantage of 23 million followers, but the basic principles are the same, whatever your scope.
Criticising brands who make social media mistakes is an online blood sport.
Business Insider recently published their 10 Worst Social Media Fails Of The Year So Far, including HMV live-tweeting the mass-firing of staff and SellItOnline.com swapping Tasmanian bush fire crisis donations for Facebook Likes: major face-palm moments that inspired a thousand finger-wagging blogs.
Similarly, two different conference organisers recently asked me to include ‘case studies of mistakes and crises’ in my speech. Screw appreciative enquiry. Lets’s learn through fear!
Let’s not. I hate this approach. An ability to FAIL WELL is at the absolute heart of social media success, and it does not come from fetishising brands’ mistakes.
In their book The Wisdom of Failure, Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey interviewed 1,000 managers and leaders and found that “real failure doesn’t come from making mistakes; it comes from avoiding errors at all possible costs, from fear to take risks, and from the inability to grow.” Using your instincts, reacting quickly and venturing an opinion are essential ingredients in a good social media conversation. All of those things incur risk.
Fear of public failure is a huge obstacle when training teams to be social, and industry scaremongering only shuts them down further. So ponder these thoughts instead:
1) Most examples of social media failure are due to a lack of people acting with a lack of basic human ethics or common sense. That is not a social media problem, that is a staffing problem.
2) In the majority of cases, if you make a genuine mistake, very few people will notice or care. If they notice and care because you have 20 squillion followers and each of them hangs off your every move, that is an excellent problem to have.
3) Saying a quick and heartfelt sorry – then showing how you will change so it won’t happen again – sorts out 99% of genuine mistakes.
4) You will never get better if you don’t fail. Accept the inevitability of failure in any worthy enterprise but, as Samuel Beckett put it, always fail better.
5) Truly damaging mistakes are in fact rare. Much more common is the tendency for brands to pootle along inoffensively, their social output safely chained by rules, processes and safeguards, and inspiring precisely zero advocacy. Which is worse?
Finally, check out this TED Talk from Eddie Obeng. Then go fail. Beautifully.
What does a consumer purchasing journey really look like in 2013?
Marketers love to create them – Edelman’s latest is pretty good – but neat diagrams rarely evoke the messy mashup of influences that determines what we buy. One of my favourite workshop exercises involves getting participants to hand-draw their route to their latest purchase; here’s my sketch of how, this month, I came to make my single most expensive fashion purchase: a pair of Joseph stretch-leather leggings.
It’s a big simplification but my scribble hints at the extraordinary combination of on and offline, multi-media, multi-channel and multi-sensory influences that led me to finally part with my cash. It prompts a few thoughts:
1. This process took 3 years, probably longer. Are aspirational brands patient enough to nurture their potential customers over the long term until they can afford to act?
2. Brands are super-focused on intervening in the online search, email marketing and print PR phases. But are they examining their influence in less tangible places, such as when I’m talking to my friends or seeing trends on the street?
3. Context had a big influence too: the weather, my influx of cash, the fact that I’d opened a pension and felt I deserved a treat. Are brands searching for people talking about relevant life events affecting their moods and needs?
4. A misstep at any point could turn me off a brand. The fact that Joseph had a positive reputation everywhere – in print, online and via face to face word of mouth – had a cumulative effect. If they’d had lots of press attention but little organic advocacy, I wouldn’t have been so affected. Every touchpoint counts.
5. Net-A-Porter offers free returns, so I could have easily got cold feet. But the sheer beauty of the product meant there was no question in my mind that I’d keep them. The whole process collapses if the product isn’t ace.
6. Because it was such a drawn-out purchase, I was eager to evangelise when the special moment came. My post-purchase WOM may well be a part in someone else’s current or future journey towards leather heaven…
Why not draw your own? I’d love to hear what you find out.
Pinterest is great for personal use; when it comes to matching your wedding cake to your dress, nothing else quite hits the spot. But how can brands harness Pinterest’s power? It is, after all, currently the fastest growing social platform. So if you want to achieve both visual and commercial impact, here are five handy ideas to consider.
1: No man is an island
You only want to push your own products, right? So why on earth would you point consumers elsewhere? Well, on Pinterest, the sooner you embrace the concept that sharing is caring, the better. That’s right; look beyond your own goods and consider how they fit into your consumers’ lifestyles and interests in a wider sense. Your consumer is varied and broad and your Pinterest profile should be too.Think of Pinterest as a limitless moodboard which you can use to get across your ethos, your style credentials and your impeccable taste. Anthropologie are a great example of a brand who represent their consumer – they pin their own goodies along with celebrity looks they love, vintage inspiration, cute pets and even pictures of textures that inspire them.
2: Think outside the box
The clever guys at Uniqlo created one of the coolest campaigns on Pinterest we’ve seen, using over 100 accounts to simultaneously pin ultra-long images across different categories, essentially hijacking the platform to advertise their new Dry Mesh range. While it may not have captured the essence of the platform, a bit of disruptive behaviour never did a brand any harm, especially as the platform becomes more crowded with brands.
3: Creativity equals advocacy
You have faith in your products, right? Other people do too. Pinterest taps into people’s desire to spend their downtime being creative, so why not take advantage of that? Challenge fans, customers and bloggers’ creativity by hosting competitions on Pinterest. Encourage people to create a mood board inspired by your new release to build hype, or incentivise them to get creative by offering Pinterest-exclusive rewards. Not only are your advocates happily generating content you, they get to feel like part of the brand, too. Win win.
4: Track the trends
It tends to get overlooked, but Pinterest essentially tells you everything you need to know about what your audience are pining for at the moment. Are people pinning lots of mint green shoes, exotic salads, minimalist watches or red sofas? Know without trying what your customers are craving – then give it to them.
5: Admit defeat
If you’re not sure if Pinterest is for you, you might be right. Put simply, Pinterest is an extremely visual platform. If you’re selling something you can’t see; if your product doesn’t lend itself to pretty pictures; if it’s not in some way inspirational or aspirational – well, it’s probably not going to work. Know your audience. I love central heating as much as the next girl, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pin about British Gas. Sorry, guys.