When Tom Ollerton and I co-presented at Social Media Week (#humblebrag), our big message was this: innovate, or die. In our world, if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards – and that’s only cool in figure skating.
Anyway, as Barry White would say, you’ve got to ‘practice what you preach’. This is why the Curiosity Stop, our monthly report of what’s new in social thinking, evolves every month. We refuse to publish the same humdrum report each month. Instead, we regularly take a look at what’s working and what isn’t – which is why you might notice that this Curiosity Stop has had a new lick of paint. This month, we’ve also decided to tackle some innovations of our own, within the report. Innovative to the core, we are.
Have a read of this month’s Curiosity Stop, and immerse yourself in a world of virtual reality laser tag and flower bouquets with hidden messages. If a particular innovation piques your interest, simply click on that familiar blue bird to tweet it to your followers. You might like the sound of Paystobesocial, an app which pairs you up with people making the same train journey, so you can nab a group discount. If so, tweet it!
Pinterest Palette might be more your cup of tea – or should we say nonfat triple-shot chai latte? For SS16, Topshop teamed with Pinterest to create a piece of tech which scans your Pinterest board, then reveals your unique colour DNA. Using this palette, Topshop offers up matching items from their website. Want to share this with your fashion-hungry followers? You know the drill. If you find all our examples interesting, go ahead and click ALL the little blue birds – who are we to judge?
And if all of that has got you in the mood to talk innovation, we’re trying a little experiment this month – we’ll be hosting a live conversation about this month’s Curiosity Stop on Blab. Not heard of it? Blab is a new platform which allows you to take part in live video conversations with people all over the web. It’s designed to instigate lively debates and discussion, and we’re hoping to be one of them. We’ll be blabbing today over here from 5.30pm BST (UK) / 1:30pm EDT (East Coast US) / 10:30am PDT (West Coast US) – hope to see you there! If you’re too busy innovating to tune in, you can always catch the recorded version later.
Find yourself a comfy spot on the sofa/tube, and tuck into 12 fresh examples of innovative social thinking. Remember, if you like this month’s Curiosity Stop, please tweet it! No pressure though, seriously.
A few weeks ago, I presented at the International Advertising Association‘s What’s Coming Next conference, joining a stellar line-up of speakers that included Bollywood superstar, Shah Rukh Khan, cricketing legend, Sachin Tendulkar, and the renowned yogi, Sadhguru.
The topic of my session was ‘The Disruption of Interruption‘*, and as you’ll see in the SlideShare embed of my presentation above, I explored a variety of ways in which social media is changing our understanding of – and approaches to – advertising.
As I stressed in my presentation though, it’s critical to acknowledge that social media will not ‘kill’ advertising.
In fact, social media may well be one of advertising’s greatest saviours, because the insights that marketers and agencies can gain from activities such as social listening enable us to redefine our approach to creating and distributing brand communications.
Disrupting the Brief
As fans of Philip Kotler will know, marketing is all about the profitable satisfaction of people’s wants, needs and desires:
However, this poses two distinct challenges:
- As per the famous Steve Jobs quote, and a similar statement from Sony’s co-founder Akio Morita before him, people often struggle to express what they want until they see it.
- Marketers aren’t very good at knowing what people want either, mainly because mass marketing doesn’t offer a cost-efficient way to research a large number of those people’s wants, needs and desires.
But social media has changed this.
Through proactive social media listening, marketers can now tap into large volumes of real-time, organic insights, wherever and whenever they need them, at a fraction of the price of traditional market research.
The insights available in social media don’t replace traditional research, of course, but they do offer some hugely valuable additions to the marketer’s toolbox, notably:
- The ability to build meaningful audience profiles using audience’s public social media profiles;
- The ability to understand which problems or concerns marketing communications should address using analysis of complaints in social media;
- The benefits or ‘reasons to believe’ that people value most, based on an analysis of favourable mentions in social media conversations;
- The optimum occasions and contexts in which the brand can engage its audiences.
By tracking these valuable resources and activities on a regular basis, marketers and advertising agencies can build a richer and more accurate understanding of the audiences they hope to engage, and use these new insights to craft better briefs that result in more targeted and relevant brand communications that add real value to both brands and audiences.
[To learn more about social media listening and how you can start using it, take a look at our fantastic free guide here]
Insights have little meaning without a strategy to bring them to life, however, so it’s important that we understand how to use insights in the context of the brand’s needs and objectives.
The role of a communications strategy is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing activities – a careful balancing act that ensures the brand does the right things, as well as doing those things right:
However, the mass-media broadcast model that has dominated advertising for the past 50 years means that our approach to this balancing act is no longer balanced; the rising cost of media has meant that brand marketers are often more concerned with mitigating distribution costs (i.e. media) than they are with creating the optimum content to distribute in the first place.
This approach is clearly doomed though; there’s very little point in reaching people if the things we’re reaching them with have no relevance, meaning or impact.
If we’re to reverse this broken paradigm, we need to remind ourselves that brand communications’ role is to influence and persuade people; not simply to shout at them more loudly and more often.
Social media can help here too, but not because social media are ‘free’ [they’re not], nor because they’re relatively efficient media thanks to the targeting they offer.
Rather, it’s once again because social media listening can help us to identify and understand that effectiveness aspect – i.e. what the ‘right thing to do’ should be.
By identifying and analysing organic conversations about our brands, we can understand the difference between what people currently think and feel about our brands, and what we would like them to think and feel about our brands – and how big the gap between the two really is:
We need to bring the strategy to life before it can add value, of course, and social media can play a valuable role here as well.
As with all marketing activities, the critical starting point should be an understanding of the difference between the advertising you will make, and what that advertising should make happen:
Once we’ve identified the optimum approach to bringing the strategy to life – what we might call the ‘big idea’ – social media can help us craft the best experiences to share that idea with the right people in the right places and at the right times:
Right People: social media allow us to target right down to the individual level, but also to amplify those niche stories to millions of people. The trick is to engage the people who matter most, not just to try to engage the most people.
Right Places & Right Times: by thinking in terms of the most relevant occasions and situations that we identified through social media listening, we can craft communications that engage people on their terms and in the contexts where we can add the greatest value, instead of continuously trying to interrupt the greatest number of people at one go, regardless of where they are or what they’re doing.
Best Experiences: instead of merely advertising at people, social media environments allow us to add real value to people’s lives. Part of this is because social media enable us to understand what that audience value looks like in the first place, again thanks to listening (see the chart below for some ideas on what that value might be). Another benefit of social media listening is to deliver continuous improvement; by analysing the on-going conversations about the brand and its activities, we can optimise communications in real-time, tweaking creative and messaging based on what’s working best. The ‘communal’ nature of social media also makes it easier for brands to create experiences that people can share with each other, improving both reach and resonance on a personal level.
The nature of the media aspect of social media also allows us to completely rethink our concept of frequency. Instead of relying on the same, repetitive creative over and over again for months at a time, brands and agencies can create and distribute a wide variety of content based on an evolving conversation:
If we approach these opportunities with an open mind and challenge the ‘accepted wisdom’ of broadcast communications, we can ensure a more effective approach to marketing communications.
* Yes, I’m already tired of the word ‘disruption’ too, but the title was a nice play on words, and it was ideal for the context of this presentation. But we should really stop using it. Ahem.
Having overcome the Northern line, London’s rental market and 9.30am starts, we made it! Four weeks in and Alexi, Meghan and I already feel like part of the We Are Social furniture. As the shiny new grads, we’ve been treated pretty well so far; everything from social media office visits to our very-own bespoke rotation scheme.
We kicked off the month by visiting Twitter, where we had a tour of the offices; we learned 6,000 tweets are sent per second and how Madonna’s Brits-slip exploded on the twittersphere. Our second visit was to LinkedIn HQ, where they demonstrated the importance of personal branding. Not only do we want to show the world how great We Are Social is but, also, that we are top notch grads, so having a 1-2-1 tutorial was an invaluable experience.
Facebook lived up to the hype you’d expect, showcasing its new developments and social insights – I’d love to tell you all about but it’s top-secret, sorry. We also enjoyed our time in Facebook’s free sweet shop, as you can see from the picture below.
We concluded our social tour at YouTube and Google, by delving into the analytics tools they offer and checking out some best-practice campaigns.
Not many people are privileged enough to visit these social giants, so we feel it’s necessary to share the insights we learnt. Therefore, I have ranked our visits by quality of snacks:
Our three-month rotations
My mornings are kept busy working within the Editorial team, aka The Secret Society of Words, who I will ultimately join once the rotations are complete. Each day begins with Newsroom; an opportunity to discuss recent developments in the news, from sports to economics, and how they could be relevant to our clients. Not only is this the most time-efficient way of learning what’s going on in the world, it also enables We Are Social to become reactive with our content. As the chief reporter of ‘weird news’, I’ve covered breaking stories that have swept the world off its feet, everything from racing pugs to alien jellyfish.
Another aspect of my role is to undertake the role of Social Media Community Manager for one of Britain’s most-adored food brands. This covers everything from brainstorming with the creative team on campaign structure to creating engaging content. Great content is the backbone of a successful campaign and rest assured this is no easy feat, but I’ve found it interesting learning how tone of voice and channel approach can differ.
In addition to spending time with our ‘home’ departments, we also get to work with the agency’s other teams. My first rotation was with the Research & Insight team, focussing on a ‘Luxury Fashion Brand’ new business pitch. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly concerned that my time in R&I would consist of number crunching and regurgitating graphs – knowledge that is safely tucked away amongst other useful GCSE topics.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. The team were eager to get my take on the fashion industry… luckily they’re still unaware that I stand by socks and sandals. Throughout my two weeks, I began to understand the capabilities of R&I and the insight it brings in creating a social strategy. Training on analytic and social listening tools meant I was able to code conversations, develop a social audit review and create a final brief around the fashion-giant, leaving me feeling like this:
But that’s enough about me. Alexi has been working with the Creative department, transforming creative briefs into big ideas. An important role of the team is brainstorming angles and approaches for pitches and campaigns. Alexi also got involved at all the different stages of a live creative concept, from playing around with platypus hands in pre-production meetings, getting lost in a warehouse in North Acton sourcing kitschy props and even dabbled in casting actors.
Meghan has been working with the Production team as part of her rotation and now considers herself to be a modern day Spielberg. We Are Social’s production team takes creative ideas and brings them to life, across various social channels. Meghan even had the opportunity to go on an actual client shoot but this is currently all hush-hush so I can’t divulge into the specifics. However, I can disclose that there was a dog and a concrete mixer, which Meghan has assured me breached no health and safety guidelines.
But wait, there’s more…
Life at We Are Social definitely varies from day-to-day. For example, on day four, Alexi and I signed-up (were coerced) to the annual inter-agency 5k run (not to forget, Meghan; chief cheerleader and head-paparazzo) with team We Are Sprinting. What we lacked in physical ability, we made up in enthusiasm.
Just when we thought we had to mastered who sits where, We Are Social decided to upgrade to a snazzy new office. The old HQ was no longer big enough to accommodate us so it was time to take We Are Social to a new home in Finsbury Square. We are now privy to London’s first cycle-in office, a rooftop terrace and sparkling water on tap, literally on tap.
And to sum up a pretty awesome grad scheme, we are even going on the company Ski Trip in January – you can’t make this stuff up!
Stay tuned to hear next month from the more glamorous grad, Meghan, to find out what our second month holds.
Over the last year we’ve been working hard with our client base of forward-thinking brands to produce some amazing, creative, socially-led campaigns and strategies. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved.
But it’s also fantastic to get external recognition, putting the industry stamp of approval on our work. So, we were delighted to discover last month that we’d received a huge haul of nominations in this year’s People’s Choice Lovie Awards.
As you may know, The Lovies are kind of a big deal, and we’d love to pick up one (or two!). So, if you’re impressed with any of our shortlisted campaigns, it would be great to get your support. It’s really easy to vote, all you have to do is login with Google, Facebook or Twitter, and then follow the links and click on the picture. Thanks!
YouTube wanted to take beauty vlogger Zoella to a far wider audience. So, we showed there’s more to Zoella than styling tips. Like thousands of young people, Zoella is affected by panic attacks. So with #dontpanicbutton, we created a symbol of solidarity her fans could wear and share on World Mental Health Day. This would help overcome the feeling of isolation that comes with anxiety.
#dontpanicbutton was trending before school that day. Within hours, over 3000 young people had sewn on their own buttons and uploaded their pictures. Vloggers, teachers and anxiety sufferers everywhere helped spread the word, reaching an audience 10 times greater than the Zoella TV ad during X-Factor. Months later, fans were still wearing and talking about their buttons.
La Banque Postale: SA Vine
We helped French bank La Banque Postale to engage with its clients in a very different way, with SA Vine. A social media analysis identified the 15 most frequently asked questions by La Banque Postale clients on digital channels, and we used this to create a campaign that allowed the bank surprise its customers show off its innovative side.
We created 15 paper stop motion Vine videos to respond to the frequently asked questions, so that each time a client asked one of these queries on Twitter, La Banque Postale replied with a tweet embedding the dedicated video. We added a bespoke message for that extra personal touch. The videos were played over 200,000 times on Vine and the campaign caught the attention of media – and the online community – all over France.
YouTube: Epic Slow Memes
YouTube wanted to make the Slow Mo Guys more famous, taking them to new audiences across the web. So we decided to help fans spread their fame for us with ‘Slow Memes’ – a collection of epic slow-motion Gifs that can be used to express emotion on any social platform.
Slow Memes spread fast, featuring on Mashable and Buzzfeed, with over 1.5 million people watching the making-of video. Over 70,000 fans clicked to get the Gifs, sharing them across major social platforms plus thousands of fan forums.
Nikesh Shukla: Meatspace
This campaign aimed to generate an increased awareness of the new novel Meatspace by Nikesh Shukla. The novel is centred around a hilarious and troubling analysis of what happens when our lives become nothing more than an aggregation of shared content, when our online personas are more interesting than real life. The book is not about meat or space. Meatspace is another word for the physical world, as opposed to cyberspace or a virtual environment. But let’s not overcomplicate things. Get meat. Send it into space.
Facebook predicted to be Mondelez’s biggest e-commerce channel
After recently announcing an e-commerce tie-up with Facebook, Mondelez International has claimed to have already seen a 5% increase in overall sales of Philadelphia. The snack brand has been successfully experimenting with online selling on the platform, such as allowing consumers to buy products through Facebook videos. A great start towards Mondelez’s ambitious target to raise e-commerce sales revenue from less than $100m today to $1bn by 2020.
It’s time to pimp your Facebook profile picture
Some exciting new changes are afoot at Facebook. Probably the jazziest one is that you will soon be able to add a 7-second looping video as a profile pic a la Mandy Cheng. I know what you’re all thinking: can I do this with a hand dryer in the loo at work? Much to my chagrin and heated face, I can confirm it’s a no.
The option to select a temporary profile picture is also being rolled out, so you can select a special picture with an expiry date for when it will revert back to normal.
There is an improved personal information section, to sit at the top of your profile so people can quickly learn a bit more about you / Facebook can mine a bit more data about you – but that’s none of my business 🐸☕️. A new mobile first design also means that profile pictures will now appear centred and bigger for a more visually engaging experience.
Facebook unveils clever new ad targeting product
A new Facebook ad targeting technique has been announced called brand awareness optimisation. Instead of targeting ads based on other page likes, it analyses the quality time Facebook users spend viewing a certain newsfeed, video or display promo. Graham Mudd, Facebook’s director of ads product marketing said:
We can see if a consumer spent more time looking at that ad then they typically spend looking at ads. When you see someone slow down and consume the ad in ways that’s different from his or her previous behaviours, that’s a very strong predictor that the person will remember seeing the ad.
Using common interests, Facebook then finds other users who it predicts will have a similar reaction, as well as weeding out those who probably won’t engage with the campaign.
Are the days of the 140 character Twitter limit numbered?
Although a Twitter spokesperson has declined to comment, it is alleged that Twitter is developing a product which will allow users to go beyond the 140 character limit. There has also been talk of removing links and user handles from the total character count. Jack Dorsey continues to shake things up at Twitter HQ in an attempt to reach a more mainstream audience – but as we’ve only just picked ourselves up after the ‘Instagram pictures no longer need to be square’ shock revelation, one has to ask oneself, is nothing sacred anymore?
YouTube introduces its most native ad yet
We’ve all enjoyed ads on YouTube right? Currently they’re usually found at the start and dotted through the middle as well. Now just in case you haven’t been made aware of pregnancy tests enough at those opportunities, ads are going to be incorporated into the actual videos themselves, so you can shop the products as you see them in any videos. This comes from YouTube’s insight that product videos (such as reviews and tutorials) have seen a 40% viewership growth in the past year, making this new ad format a natural way to monetise this growing trend.
Snapchat gets clever with new advertiser-funded selfie lenses
Snapchat has introduced sponsored selfie lenses, with brands paying up to $750,000 for just one day’s exposure to its young, digitally native user base. After quickly ditching more traditional ad formats which went down about as well as a Facebook outage on a Thursday afternoon, Snapchat will be hoping this one will prove more popular.
Pinterest ramps up buyable pins
Given that Christmas is literally just around the corner, social platforms are making sure they’re providing brands with as much incentive as possible to invest in them. Pinterest, which rolled out Buyable Pins last June, has now brought on three new e-commerce companies to power 60 million pins, up from 30 million that initially launched. Sounds painful!
LinkedIn rolls out new content sharing platform called Elevate
A new content curation and social sharing platform has been designed by LinkedIn that turns employees into brand advocates for their company. Employees already post positive news and stories from their companies on LinkedIn – Elevate formalises this behaviour, with companies like Visa, Unilever and CEB among the first to try it out. Visa’s social media team has worked to collate the stories from inside the business and from the web at-large which are then fed into Elevate. Employees can then log on and select content they’re interested in to share with their personal LinkedIn network. At CEB they’ve reported that profile views for those using Elevate have increased by an average of 150% and job views by 100%.
Facebook trials its Place Tips at Disney World Food and Wine Festival
Facebook has partnered with Walt Disney World to offer live event coverage for the park’s annual Food & Wine Festival. Anyone attending the festival with Facebook will, as if by Mickey magic, be presented with a banner notification in their newsfeed when opening the app, along with a map of the park, special event information and a reminder of who your nearest and dearest are for when you’ve sampled too much grappa*.
Lenovo invites you to discover your #GoodWeird
We Are Social has been working with Lenovo to launch a new multi-year campaign called “Goodweird” based on the idea that often innovations that become familiar and accepted started off as frankly, a bit weird looking. Lenovo has recently been pursuing greater brand awareness among millennials in particular by designing a new logo and through a series of different video campaigns. The brand has tasked prominent YouTubers and Viners to create videos around the Goodweird theme, with Buzzfeed also creating content. Quinn O’Brien, VP-global brand strategy, content and design at Lenovo has said:
The whole goal around this is to get people to engage with Goodweird and put it out the right way so people associate Lenovo and Goodweird. We want to push people to go out and look at the world and see what is good and weird and tag it with the hashtag.
I have of course submitted a small video of my intricate but ultimately satisfying hair-removal techniques. #GoodWeird
Twitter’s blue tick continues to elude Captain Obvious
After months of campaigning for Twitter verification Captain Obvious (a Hotels.com spokesman) is still chasing what the Pumpkin Spice Latte has already achieved, verification from Twitter. The account, which has 216,000 followers and has commented on everything from the GOP presidential debate to National Punctuation Day has, and I’m sorry to state the obvious, been a bit moany about it as well.
— Captain Obvious (@CaptainObvious) July 29, 2015
Twitter’s FAQ doesn’t give away much on how it decides which accounts get verified stating just:
We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas.
Hollister target high school students with Snapchat geofilters
Hollister has partnered with Snapchat to geo target 19,000 high school students in the US and Canada who will be able to overlay ‘Friday Vibes’ onto their snaps in the form of a filter. It’s the first time filters have been used at a high school according to Snapchat and Hollister but they declined to comment on pricing at this time.
Joe Boxer undies take a tour Down Under
We Are Social has been working with the international underwear brand Joe Boxer as they embark on a journey onto the newsfeeds of Australians to celebrate their introduction to much loved Aussie retailer Best&Less. In a series of videos users will be introduced to the underwear as they personify a typical American family getting to grips with some of the interesting nuances of Australian culture.