The campaign creation process seems to be getting forever tighter with less time available to produce distinctive ideas. At the same time the industry sees and is calling for technologically driven ideas that can overcome peoples basic indifference to normal advertising and not just engage but enchant as mega Tweeter Guy Kawasaki puts it. But there is a major disconnect here right? It’s a false economy to suggest we can create distinctive campaign executions with little time. The pre-thought that goes into distinctive executions like Virgin’s recent Echo Temple as well as its execution must be vast. Ok that may be a bad example, Mini’s iPhone [ARG] game that involved users holding or stealing a virtual Mini to get an actual one is also a bad example because they were obviously tied to campaigns and massively ticked the distinctive box. But how can the industry consistently come up with ideas that are this distinctive with reduced timeframes?
What process can we follow so that distinctive ideas are common place for brands in a country like Australia? Do we employ a parallel process that explores ideas against no tactical strategic objective but instead against the brand idea itself and the aim of creating enchantment with the brand via a highly distinctive idea. Of course this route will not always yield a positive outcome, but maybe it shouldn’t be pressured to. Maybe it should be a work in progress route that if it yields something great but if it doesn’t it doesn’t jeopardize a brands broader marketing plans because normal campaign idea generation is in progress as well.
This is probably what W+K are doing with the launch of Dam Armada blogged about today in Campaign brief see ref: http://bit.ly/pyvq2H
It is also interestingly a process we are seeing more of in regards to Facebook community engagement. Ideas that are campaign agnostic and are designed in line with the brand essence but are there to engage this one audience. Like this then we may be able to invent another channel, the uber engagement channel, a channel that is like Facebook independent of campaign executions but can only be populated by ideas that are uber engaging or as Guy Kawasaki puts it enchanting.
Original campaign refs: http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/virgin-mobile-freefest-the-echo-temple-installation/
In digital marketing of any form there is a constant eye kept on what value we are adding to users and how we are incentivising them to engage with or participate with branded initiatives. The incentives can be many and in many social media initiatives takes the form of free stuff. In digital executions it involves positive user experience or entertainment. But an incentive that is central to the idea of social media is that of making kudos available to the initial user. If you can not just give someone something directly but allow them to derive social kudos as a result of participating in the brands initiative that is much stronger than rewarding them individually.
Viral video is a great way of doing this because it lets the initial user derive social kudos if they were the first one in their immediate social circle to break the viral. It is an act of giving by the initial user to their friends in return for social capital, kudos. So lets look for other ways to leverage this directly. One way I am increasingly a fan of is enabling advocacy in this way by letting fans give something to their friends instead of giving to the fan. It is something I have currently in development with a couple of clients and I think it could work very well. So for example instead of the fan getting something for free, they get a link that is Facebook connected through which they select a friend which will get something for free. Its earn social capital for the fan, the friend gets something for free, and in the case of Facebook communities might also earn the brand an additional fan.
Its fair to say that brands and content providers of all descriptions are continuing to develop greater presences on Facebook which unabated would just lead to cluttering and spamming of the all valuable newsfeed. So Facebook have to make it harder for brands to access a user’s newsfeed or the user experience will decrease and so too the users demand for Facebook. It was always inevitable.
The changes make it harder for brands to connect with fans but to me that highlights two things: firstly that brands have under delivered on the level of engagement that should be delivered to a brands fans, and second that the fans of a brand, i.e. the ones that actually have a conversation with the brand in Facebook will end up being the true fans of the brand, adorers not just passing interestees.
Its a tangible reminder that people are largely indifferent to bland messaging and that brands have to now, and should have always anyway, over delivered on the engagement front.
Several years ago now the industry of digital marketers spoke of engagement beyond the click and it soon became the catch cry of deepening engagement with users via digital. Then the industries attention was turned to ‘likes’ and now it has become a metric of focus. This metric of course focused on the size of a branded community the brand had mustered which was worn like a crest of honour around organisations by their marketing teams. This metric is still very important and a ‘like’ is quite reasonably but still arguably much more valuable than a click. But the industry is now moving past this metric as the main focal point. Engagement again is becoming the focus with response or feedback being the goal. This is in part a mandate now from Facebook with it’s Edgerank algorithm but it is also best practice if a brand is to properly leverage it community.
There is a further extension of this idea of beyond the like though and that is leveraging the other major dimension of social media which is advocacy. A recent comScore research report stated that:
“…typical approaches that focus on raw fan counts, or the total number of engagements on a given piece of content, fail to depict the potential and realized scope of social media brand impressions.”
Stating that the friends of fans should be a crucial part of the social media strategy and went as far as to say that it is the friends of fans that should be the real target of social media activity. It makes sense, another study by Opinionway showed that 84% of Facebook fans are existing consumers, which is hardly surprising but it is a reminder that we need to focus on this important dimension of social media as well being advocacy and not just that of the two way dialogue between the brand and the people that already consume it. It depends on the category of course. For something like a chocolate bar it pays to stay top of mind and maintain affinity with a community given people routinely eat chocolate, but why stop there? If a friend of a fan of the chocolate bar sees their friend engaged with good content and posts it will have a positive effect on that friends propensity to consume the same brand of chocolate bar.
So its time we raised the bar on engagement through social media and it’s not just to make sure our fans are seeing our posts instead of a more engaging competitors but mainly because advocacy is the most powerful form of advertising.
When we put series of case studies together to alleviate clients anxieties about strategies we are employing we can run into trouble. The problem with case studies is that they are supposed examples of the kind of thing we proposing but they dont take into account all of the cases that followed this route but failed, so we cant take what is evident in these successful case studies as proof our strategy will work. There is also a ‘confirmation bias’ here as we can always find cases that support our hypothesis but again this cannot account for all of the variables that are at play.
Say we want to create a piece of content in the intention of earning views and hopefully reaching that critic mass we refer to as ‘viral’. We can find a bunch of case studies that will confirm we are on the right track and we should but we should not blindly accept this study as comprehensive and should take an extra step by also looking for unsuccessful cases which is much harder to do which is why it is sometimes referred to as ‘hidden evidence’. Then we can analyse these as to the reasons we believe they were not successful, something that the advertising community does much less of than it does celebrating and attempting to emulate successful cases. If we look at both why some succeeded and why others failed we will then have a much better understanding of the variables at play and can then have more confidence in our strategy.
In his book ‘Black Swans – The Impact of the Highly Improbable’, Nassim Taleb talks about how corporate culture’s obsession with focussing on successes obscures its view from learnings from the unsuccessful, which when you think about it should be treated with equal importance.
I would like to see a repository of unsuccessful case studies with commentary on perhaps why it didn’t work and what learnings could be applied ‘next time’. What a great strategy planning resource that would be ! It would however take a fair amount of courage to use such an idea as it means making our failures visible and public. Who wants to go first?
This is a follow on from the post “Social media as a guiding principle” which argued that if a brand wants to utilise social media properly it needs to have something worth talking about and if it doesn’t have something worth talking about it should create something.
Recently Proctor & Gamble used social media successfully to market its tampon product by creating a content driven social media portal. The results were very successful as Josh Bernoff from Forrester Research explains.
This is a great example of a brand creating meaningful content by looking to consumer issues peripheral to the product and its use. Its unclear if this campaign was extended to mainstream social media platforms particularly given the nature of the subject. But the ground work has now been laid by the brand to continue a meaningful dialogue with its consumer which is an excellent position to be in as it conveys a positioning of understanding the consumer and a willingness to offer experience above and beyond it’s product benefits.
Its clear to everyone now that brands can derive benefit from engaging in social media but the important thing for a marketing team to ask themselves before embarking is “have we got anything worth talking about?”
The hard thing about social media isn’t getting marketers to sit up and pay attention to it, they all want to know how to take advantage of all of the hype, its actually executing which is the difficult part and that’s because often times the brand doesn’t have anything really worth talking about over social media. Its a lot like the difference between someone on Twitter telling you what they had for lunch versus someone actually giving you information that benefits you somehow (which is the yardstick through which participants on the medium are generally judged). If a brand wants success on social media it needs to have something worth talking about otherwise like the guy sitting in his office with his ham salad sandwich no one will care about what the brand has to say on Twitter, Facebook or Youtube and their foray into social media marketing will be a waste of time.
Its very well established that a dialogue communication model is superior to the broadcast model so going full circle in the context of the depth of social media penetration if a brand doesnt have something worthwhile talking about then really this is an indication that their marketing is somewhat off compass in terms of creating dialogue strategies and they should look instead to recalibrating and directing their strategy towards something that will yield something worth talking about.
In fact I would go so far as to say that if a brand doesn’t have anything worth talking about on social media like Twitter then they should rethink their entire strategy and select thinking, initiatives and ideas that ARE worth talking about. In this way the guiding principle of deciding on which directions and ideas to promote is based around the notion of whether or not its something worth discussing with and between consumers on social media.
[I'm working on a diagram here to show how this can all fall into a cycle of planning, executing, sharing and evaluating so please wtach this space.]
I have to admit I am very slow to the whole Twitter phenomenon even for an Australian which is itself fairly laggard in terms of its embrace of the [new] social media. This talk on Ted by Twitter Co Founder Evan Williams is short and sweet but he portrays its uses as being of profound potential. I have to say it is almost moving to hear of some of the ways users are not only using the medium but shaping it to form a truly user empowered means of distributing and sharing information.