Archive for the ‘Our thoughts’ Category
Friday, March 7th, 2014
Whenever a certain kind of person asks me: “Robbie, which do you think is the best film ever made?” I tell them that it’s Iron Man 3. This is normally met with derision, but I persist. It’s a curious fact, after all, that many people like to shun what’s popular before giving it serious thought.
Sure, this shunning is a good way to form an identity. And it’s not a bad way to showcase your developed taste and accrued knowledge. But I tend to think of this mindset as a little damaging. What’s popular is popular for a reason. Something worth pondering rather than dismissing. And unless you’re working undercover (or are terribly keen to be a hermit), then it’s good to be popular.
Popular is what gets your message out to more people. Popular is what helps your cause and furthers your agenda. Popular is what makes you money.
In fact one could quite reasonably argue that what’s popular is, by extension, good. Especially if your measure of success is quite simply being popular.
You know, the kind of measure that’s counted in views, or shares or likes or eyeballs. The kind of measures we apply to a lot of marketing…
When I tell people I like Iron Man 3 better than all the other movies ever made people tend to think I’m a bit odd. But it’s OK, because I’m armed with facts to dispel their cynicism.
Iron Man 3 is the 5th biggest grossing film of all time. Iron Man 3 made over $1billion profit for the good people that made it. Iron Man 3 knocks all Batmen, Supermen and Spidermen aside.
When it comes to being popular that is. When it comes to generating coverage that is. When it comes to the numbers and the metrics and the data that is.
Or is it.
Is Iron Man 3 really the best film ever made?
No, of course it’s not.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Marvel’s The Avengers, Titanic and Avatar are all better. They all made more money. Although Gone With The Wind is actually the highest grossing movie of all time when adjusted for inflation.
Which means it was seen by more people than any other. Which means it was most popular. And most goodest.
Or maybe not. Jesus, the 1979 film that roughly follows the Gospel of Luke is – according to some sources at least – likely to be the most-watched motion picture of all time.
Which means it’s the most popular. Which means more eyeballs have seen it than any other movie. Which means it did the goodest.
Jesus (the 1979 movie, not the guy in robes) is the winner!
Or at least it is if you take a certain view on popularity as a sole measurement…
When assessing the quality of your marketing you need to know what you’re trying to achieve. It could be building awareness, or it could be shifting boxes. It could even be something else entirely. But it’s probably not generating numbers in a spreadsheet. If it is I suggest you hang your head in shame.
1 million views mean nothing when it comes to judging what’s best for you. 10 million likes mean nothing. 100 million mentions mean nothing. Not unless they translate into meaningful, long term success against a more considered measure.
One that works for you. One that delivers tangible, indisputable results.
Iron Man 3 isn’t the best film ever made.
Gone With The Wind isn’t the best film ever made.
Jesus isn’t the best film ever made.
At least not simply because the numbers looked good.
This article originally appeared on 12ahead.com
Friday, February 28th, 2014
How accurately do your social media conversations reflect your actions in the real world?
I spend a lot of time helping marketing teams to acknowledge and understand the living, breathing people behind the tweets, photos, videos and blogs about their brand. But I also like to remind them that our glimpse into the preferences and passions of those people is highly edited. The gregarious, fashion-savvy, culture-loving woman who features in my social media feeds is very different from the one who likes to gossip about trashy magazines on the sofa with crusty scrambled egg on her Marks & Spencer sweatshirt.
Our online personas, however authentic, are only a particular and partial shadow of our true selves.
Image: Chris Isherwood
So if brands want to influence our offline behaviour – whether that means buying more coffee or using a different sunscreen – is social content a reliable indicator of what we will do once we’re in the shop or on the beach? Listening to word of mouth online then using that data to improve products and create content has become very big business; Altimeter report that monitoring platforms represented the biggest social media spend for companies in 2013, an average of $62,000. But are we spending thousands of dollars drawing insight from simplistic, self-censoring avatars rather than complex human beings?
A recent paper for the Journal of Marketing Research, ‘On Brands and Word of Mouth’, found that “online data does not reflect well the offline behavior. Word of mouth is not channel neutral. One cannot automatically generalize the results from online to offline.” Using a large data-set incorporating online word of mouth (provided by NM Incite), offline word of mouth (provided by the Keller Fay Group), brand equity (provided by Y&R’s Brand Asset Valuator), and custom research on brands (conducted by Decipher), the authors analysed more than 600 of the most talked about brands in the US, across 16 product categories, over three years between 2007 – 2010. They found that the brand categories we discuss online are very different from those we focus on in person. For example, food and dining comprises 4% of our brand WOM online, but 12% offline; media and entertainment dominates 32% of online content yet only 7% face to face.
Crucially, the factors that motivate our conversations about brands differ markedly, depending on whether we’re sharing on or offline. The study identified that “consumers spread the word on brands for three fundamental purposes”: functional (“the motive to provide and supply information; social (“the motive to send social signals to the environment [such as expressing uniqueness, self-enhancement, and a desire to socialize or belong]”) and emotional: (“the motive to share positive or negative feelings about brands in order to express these emotions or balance emotional arousal”). The primary drivers of online word of mouth are, in order of importance, social, functional, then emotional; but the primary drivers of offline word of mouth are the exact opposite: emotional, functional, then social.
“Offline conversations, which are mostly in one-on-one settings, are more personal and intimate by nature and thus allow people to share emotions such as excitement and satisfaction,” the authors explain. “Online WOM, which usually involves ‘broadcasting’ to many people (e.g. Twitter), is more appropriate for social signaling (e.g., uniqueness).”
This doesn’t mean that we are ‘fake’ online and honest IRL. Our digital and real world networks serve different purposes and provoke different conversational approaches. But the research is a timely reminder that gaining meaningful social media insight requires analysis of the motivations that drive consumers to create content, rather than a simple focus on the content itself. Understanding what consumers are likely to talk about and where – rather than attempting to extrapolate their overall feelings and behaviours from their actions on a single platform – demands a far more nuanced and multi-channel social strategy than many brands are willing to accept.
Last December, CBS’s Chief Research Officer Dave Poltrack revealed that conversations on Twitter, as measured by Nielsen’s SocialGuide, are less likely to reflect TV ratings performance than offline WOM, as measured by Keller Fay. Moreover, only two programmes on the Keller Fay top 10 -The Voice and Once Upon a Time – also made the Twitter top 10 list. Poltrack’s message was clear: online conversation does not necessarily reflect what is happening in the real world, and securing social advocacy demands several distinct strategies.
As ‘content marketing’ continues to dominate industry headlines, we need to remember that content depends on context. If you’re looking to drive truly powerful word of mouth, you need to consider the why and the where, not just the what.
Friday, February 21st, 2014
Whenever I’m given a creative brief my first response is to ask ‘Why?’ Sometimes out loud, sometimes in my head, but always with purpose.
Why are we doing this? Why in this medium? Why are we saying what we’re saying? I don’t do it to be difficult. I do it to make things easier.
There’s a great quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening my axe”.
Once you get past the oddity of the US President being timed in a tree-felling challenge – though it would no doubt make great Saturday evening TV – you’re left pondering two things: preparation and efficiency.
1000heads Foursquare vending machine for Nokia
Preparing, organizing and planning is one of the secret weapons I bring to the creative process every day and I urge everyone around me to do the same. It’s preparation – from asking difficult questions to undertaking detailed research; from the hours spent fueling the mind in galleries and dark rooms, to serious contemplation of the issue at hand – that leads to efficiency.
As Einstein later said (probably not while wielding an axe): “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Preparation leads to efficiency.
The Morning After Brewery for YouthNet from 1000heads on Vimeo.
So what does that mean for communicating with young people? For me it boils down to knowing what you want to say. You need to be prepared for the conversation you’re entering into.
Whenever you communicate (and whatever audience you’re addressing) it helps to know what you want to say. If you’re communicating with an audience you’re not naturally comfortable with, or one that’s likely to be wary of what you have to say, then you won’t get away with anything less than clarity.
Jed Cullen skates Barcelona with the Nokia Lumia 900 from 1000heads on Vimeo.
A youth audience – and I’d urge you to think of all people in this way, it’ll make you a happier person – aren’t stupid. Echoing the aesthetics of their heroes and mimicking the tone of their peers won’t fool them into believing something that has no value to them. My plea therefore as a creative, and on behalf of the audiences who have to consume the content brands create for them, is to consider the ‘Why’ before you consider the ‘What’. We can handle the ‘What’ in a number of ways (from ‘very simple, but won’t put anyone off’ to ‘exquisitely inspired’) but without the ‘Why’ we may as well be crafting a corsquinelle. No idea what that means? Exactly.
Effective communication with young people needs to say things that are of value to young people. If you’re not convinced you’ve got something of value, then all the graffiti and txt spk in the world isn’t going to save you.
Originally written for Voxburner.com
Thursday, February 20th, 2014
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.
Image: Environmental Illness Network
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.
We’ll keep you updated – in the meantime let us know your own pledges, policies, strategies and tips.
Friday, February 14th, 2014
With the inexorable rise of social media fuelling more and more brand campaigns, we’re seeing the volume of company budget and resources being pumped into these channels increase, in the battle to create ever bigger, bolder – and occasionally better – executions. According to Altimeter’s State of Social Business 2013 report, at least 13 different departments within a business now regularly include dedicated social media staff and 25% estimated that they would have spent between $100,000 and $500,000 last year on social alone.
However, it isn’t just businesses and agencies that benefit from this investment. There’s definitely a chance for marketers to consider how benefitting others can fit into the corporate social media mix. The cliché tells us that doing a good deed unto others actually does good for us, and social media activity tends to bear this out with surprising power. Accept this doctrine as a given, and it can open up some refreshing – and effective – avenues for marketers to explore when we’re conjuring up our next social move.
It can be hard to push financial gain to the back of your mind when boards are clamouring for directly trackable results, but if you can liberate your thinking and focus on helping somebody, not aggressively shifting products, acquiring new followers, or chasing numbers, the results are, ironically, much more likely to come. Commit to real world problem solving and storytelling for a few months, and see the affect it has on your brand conversation, your advocacy – and yes, your bottom line.
Word of mouth will be the medium that achieves your aims but again, don’t get hung up on twibbons or hashtags– the purer the act, the more likely it is to spread. In some cases the message or medium can even be contradictory to what you are promoting on a daily basis, but it’s important not to panic – the very definition of virality is something that spreads beyond your control.
As an example of how this works, look at Werner Herzog’s short film for AT&T’s ‘It Can Wait’ campaign. For a company that promotes using mobile every day, it’s slightly contradictory to warn against the dangers of constant mobile use. But it’s the right thing to do. The film takes its time to unravel the dangers of texting while driving, illustrated by horror stories from real people who have experienced the consequences. It’s brave and genuine, an unexpected gem with a selfless agenda, and with over 2 million views to date and piles of positive advocacy, its success speaks for itself.
You need to start by understanding the timely issues where brands can make a real difference. With the majority of families still suffering from financial difficulties, tackling the areas of unemployment and lack of personal empowerment is a particularly rewarding approach. Jos. A. Bank’s risk free suit programme is a great case study; if you buy a suit and lose your job, you get your money back. Here it’s win-win for both the customer and the business. It wouldn’t work if the customer had to buy one of their more expensive suits to qualify, however, so make sure the details are always thought through.
More recently Casey Neistat took things into his own hands by turning an offer from 20th Century Fox to make a video about fulfilling your dreams into a true show of altruism. Neistat spent the whole video budget on a trip to the Philippines, in order to provide relief for those most affected by typhoon Haiyan, and demonstrated how scalable the concept is by receiving 2.7 million views in 1 month.
So why aren’t more brands doing this kind of thing already? Fox must be thinking they missed a trick. No doubt it’s because it can be difficult to justify making these bold moves without sales data to back them up. But that’s exactly what keeps brands repeating mediocrity, without ever achieving the success that individual good-doers seem to garner so easily.
Imagine a car company teaming up with a local council to fix potholes. Tweet images of potholes in your district and the car company will help to fund and fix them. Will this directly impact sales for the car company?
But will everybody love them not just talking about a common problem but doing something about it too?
As time goes on traditional ways of working will start to become less successful when compared to altruistic approaches. Young people are introduced to information and culture through the online networks and apps at a far younger age than ever before. There are plenty of campaigns talking at and around them, struggling to grab their attention even for only a moment. So looking to employ your brand in the service of another, more compelling story will soon become one of the biggest keys to success.
This article originally appeared on 12ahead.com
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
I love this keynote from Steven van Belleghem. Why?
Because it’s a passionate, persuasive rallying call for established businesses to feel the fear and innovate anyway. Van Belleghem quite rightly insists that, unless both organisations and individuals adapt to emerging technologies and behaviours, they will get destroyed by the next generation of socially-savvy businesses (or the next wave of disruptive offerings from the current big boys such as Google and Amazon). His presentation includes the requisite stats for the sceptics, case studies from lots of different industries, and a number of concrete questions that will help brands challenge their own weak spots.
It probably makes harsh reading for a lot of organisations but, like exercise, the more it hurts, the more you need it. Slap it on your intranet, bring it to your next team meeting, staple it to the coffee machine.
Time to wake up.
Friday, February 7th, 2014
I’ve been advocating the implementation of social media policies within organisations for a long time. With good reason; there are so many instances of social media failure in commercial contexts where (often young or ignorant) employees have damaged the reputation of a firm by acting in an inappropriate manner online.
But over the last few years I’ve been more frustrated by the restrictive nature of most social media policies than with the instances of social media #FAIL – which, for the most part, are characterised by a complete lack of common sense rather than a lack of corporate policy.
The problem is that most social media policies are written as a set of ‘red light regulations’. That is, they talk about what you can’t do online. Where they use ‘green light regulation’, it is often in terms of who is allowed to speak and in what context or platform. It’s highly restrictive, and will often prevent the kind of sharing or conversation that will generate operational improvements for the firm, or lend a brand any sense of openness or authenticity in its online behaviour.
This red light approach is a legacy of formal PR practices from a bygone era. The PR-drive to always present the firm in a positive and productive light has blinded organisations to the opportunity for genuine feedback and engagement on issues that could actually help them improve their business. For instance, policies that prevent individuals from speaking on social media about the way they do business, and their experiences of tools, processes and emergent ideas, will also prevent the firm from being exposed to others with similar experiences, as well as possible alternative tools and processes. Limitations on sharing result in reduced opportunities for improvement.
There are better policies out there; those that take a more common sense approach. Employees and managers who are given free rein to speak about their work on social media, while being requested to be cognizant of their role in representing the firm, are more likely to share content of interest to their communities as well as to ask questions and to engage more deeply with their audiences and colleagues. Information regarded as directly confidential should still be avoided, but where managers in particular are seeking feedback on ideas and tools, this should not be seen as a breach of confidentiality, but rather a research exercise.
Conversations that exhibit evidence of this research are not going to compromise the competitive advantage to be gained through adoption or testing of a new tool or new process. The competitive advantage of any tool or process arises from its effective implementation, not from the tool itself.
Firms need to be aware that social media policies should not be implemented in such a way as to become a communications straitjacket. The more controlled and restrictive a social media policy, the less genuine a firm’s employees and managers will appear. It’s a delicate balance between openness and (what should be) common sense restriction of commentary. But it’s a balance that should be striven for, and one which costs less than the value it generates.
Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Almost every brand has a suite of social presences nowadays, but few of them display real creativity or leadership in how they inspire their fans to engage with them. IKEA Norway is a great example of how to do it right.
This month IKEA Norge mobilised its 130,000 fans on Facebook with a clever campaign that not only launched awareness of their 2014 catalogue but increased traffic to their website, rewarded their most passionate customers and bolstered their social following – all using a very simple mechanic.
The Social Catalogue initiative converted IKEA’s physical catalogue into a treasure trove of shareable social snippet. They asked the fans to take a photo of a page containing their favourite product and to upload it to Instagram using the Norwegian hashtag #Ikeakatalogen and the name of product they wanted for a chance to win exactly that. Within four weeks, the contents of the entire catalogue had been posted, the number of fans on Facebook increased to 151,000 and the official IKEA Norge Instagram account gained 13,770 followers, from a base of virtually zero.The reach of tweets around the campaign exceeded half a million impressions in one month.
Simple, product-focused, democratic, image-heavy, playful and with impressive results: now that’s the sort of strategic creativity we like.
Friday, January 31st, 2014
You’d better accept it now: your January detox is bound to fail. The British Liver Trust has described short-term New Year abstinence as ‘medically futile‘, but we don’t need scientists to tell us that attempting to embrace salads and spinning classes at what is possibly the darkest, coldest and most anticlimactic time of year is dumb. Instead, I recommend you stock the boardroom with biscuits and motivate your team to shed some flabby social media habits in time for spring.
Marketers are always being told what to do in social media, but they’re rarely told what to cut loose. So here are three toxic behaviours that commonly clog brands’ communication colons, with ideas for how to cut them out.
Old habit # 1: Monitoring without listening. The importance of social media listening has become such a well-worn truism that it can be hard to remember what it really means. It does not mean paying for the most basic Sysmos service, slapping a bunch of graphs into PowerPoint, then sending them round in a monthly email that no-one reads. It does mean drilling down into specific conversations, so that you can understand the motivations and advocates. It does mean listening for what isn’t there – such as finding the places where your competitors are being talked about but you are not, and asking why. And it does mean making sure that everyone in the company takes ownership of celebrating, stimulating and learning from your word of mouth.
New habit # 1: Qualitative weekly alerts. In practice, specific human stories inspire colleagues far more than impressive-looking quantitative reports. Assign a different member of your team to create a company-wide, super-short, super-visual social listening alert each week (use Email Monks to make it look easily digestible and appealing). This should contain one concrete example of conversation about your brand, competitors or category; one insight that piece of content demonstrates; and one suggestion for what the company might do in response.
Old habit #2: Relying on vanity metrics. The bullshit triumvirate of likes, followers and fans might look good on paper, but chasing empty social actions leads to meaningless content strategies. Frankly, the most valuable word of mouth – the personal recommendations that spread beyond your control and out of your sight, offline as well as on – will always be the hardest to capture. Nevertheless, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is currently corralling a heavyweight panel of academics, brands and agencies in an attempt to develop a rigorous model in language marketers understand. Until then, remember that you need to weight your social metrics according to their level of emotional engagement (a passionate blog post matters more than a neutral tweet; a Facebook share with an added recommendation matters more than one without). That way, you know you’re starting to measure advocacy.
New habit #2: Integrate conversation metrics with business metrics. Set business (not social) objectives and KPIs, and value your social media activity accordingly. Try to run pilot projects that solely use word of mouth as a marketing tool, so you can compare the results to other programmes. Benchmark your presences and volume of conversation 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.
Old habit #3: Obsessing over Facebook and Twitter. Social networking, opinion-forming and recommendation-sharing happens everywhere – on photo-sharing sites, in football team forums, at school gates. If your social media strategy is confined to consumer-facing tweets, you’ve kind of missed the point. Colleagues, partners, suppliers and clients are all potential advocates, and most online sharing is sparked by disruptive, emotional experiences that occur in real life.
New habit #3: Make your out-of-office messages conversational. It’s amazing how strongly emotions are roused, and word is spread, when you apply a conversational approach to the least obvious areas of your business. Brainstorm ways in which you can add a touch of personality, wit or unexpected functionality to your invoices, post-meeting takeaways or delivery boxes, for example.
Of course, you shouldn’t stop at three. Use this month to examine your social media assumptions, oust unspoken constraints and raise difficult issues around budgets, ethics and skills. You might not yet have all the answers, but even just framing the questions will set you up for a more purposeful and productive year.
Friday, January 24th, 2014
Just when you thought you’d had your fill of 2014 trends reports, here is another one.
At 1000heads, we’re always striving to innovate. If a campaign or strategy is a big success, it can be tempting to recycle it for another client, but we challenge ourself to try and reinvent our approach with every brief. One excellent way to interrogate our ideas involves keeping a keen eye on the world around us, and part of this process involves us examining industry trends on a quarterly basis. We do this to keep our teams and clients up to date, but this time we thought we’d open it up to the world.
So, here are a handful of trends we’ve identified for 2014; we hope they will help challenge and invigorate your own thinking. We’ve also included a selection of the hot topics we touted last year, so we can reflect on how our predictions panned out. We’re pretty pleased with the accuracy rate so far (we’ve omitted the ones about hoverboards, extraterrestrial life and David Moyes’ title success).
In the comments below or over on Twitter, we’d welcome your thoughts.