Here are all of the posts in the ‘News’ category.

Building a social marketing mix

by Simon Kemp in News

For the opening keynote in the Social track at ad:tech recently, I shared our vision for how brands can achieve far greater social success without investing a single penny more in content or media.

That might sound like a lofty promise, but the logic behind that vision is actually very simple: enduring success in social is determined by what other people say about you, and those third-party conversations are driven by what you do, not just what you say.

So what should you be doing differently?

The answer lies in adopting a ‘whole brand’ view of social: using everything your brand does to inspire organic social conversations that broaden brand awareness and increase social engagement.

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More specifically, brands need to adopt a socially optimised marketing mix: we need to explore how we can use activities such as packaging, advertising, customer service, HR, and even procurement to drive social success.

You can read the full story in the SlideShare embed above (or read it here), where you’ll also find a whole host of great examples from brands in different industries around the world.

We’re always looking for new examples to support this vision too, so if you’ve spotted any great ‘non-social’ marketing that’s driving social conversations, please let us know – just share a link in the comments below, or drop us a note on Twitter: @wearesocial.

The Virtual Reality Gold Rush: Part Two

by Don Anderson in News

Following on from the first piece in this three-part series, in this second entry, Singapore Managing Director Don Anderson examines the impact of Oculus Rift and other virtual reality devices, and how they are poised to launch a new revolution in branded content.

If you look at the popularity of ‘virtual reality’ as a search term, you’ll see a significant spike of interest around 2014 and continued growth from there on in.

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Google search volumes for ‘virtual reality’ 2004–2015

The reason? Oculus Rift, the invention of a then 18-year-old Californian named Palmer Luckey. It’s this device that is being credited as having singlehandedly reignited interest in virtual reality technologies.

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Frustrated by the poor performance of available head mounts for gaming, Luckey created his first Oculus prototype in his parents’ garage. By the time he got to his sixth generation prototype, he decided to take his work to Kickstarter to crowdfund a DIY kit. He raised US$2.4 million, close to a thousand times his original target.

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And then Mark Zuckerberg came knocking.

In March 2014, Facebook paid US$2 billion for a company and its technology that was barely a year old. Zuckerberg gushed on his Facebook page about the potential opportunities and how it would usher in a new platform for communications.

Although he saw it having a future in gaming first, Zuckerberg felt the social implications wouldn’t be far behind. However, he has also admitted that the device needs to sell 50 million to 100 million units to reach scale and find real meaning as a communications platform. So far, it’s sold 150,000 test units to developers.

And of course the Internet quickly reacted with mixed feelings.

Since then, Oculus Rift has dominated search volumes, starting with the spike around Facebook’s announced purchase, and later with a fake Facebook-Oculus Rift commercial on YouTube.

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Google search volumes for ‘Oculus Rift’ continue to grow.

Of course, it’s one thing to talk about virtual reality. It’s quite another to experience it.

In Asia, apart from Cardboard and a host of cheap OEM options that litter eBay and other C2C ecommerce platforms, the availability of more mainstream and refined devices is still somewhat limited. Unless you are a developer and have been lucky enough to get your hands on an early Oculus unit, those hoping for a full experience will just have to sit tight and wait, or attempt to live vicariously through the experiences of others who have detailed their journeys on YouTube.

Yet no less than five major technology companies including Samsung, HTC, Sony, Google and Microsoft have now announced their own hardware solutions for bringing the metaverse to life.

The Samsung’s Gear VR was one of the first to market. This costs around US$200 but you need to add a smartphone, which means you get your VR experiences for under US$1,000 — considerably more than Google’s Cardboard.

By comparison, Oculus Rift is likely to be priced upwards of US$1,500, and will only work with high-powered PCs. And sorry — no Macs.

From HTC and Valve comes Vive, which reviewers say provides a Matrix-like experience.

Sony’s Project Morpheus, meanwhile, will support 3D audio and a feature called ‘Social Screen’ which lets users extend the gameplay from the headset to their TV so others can play alongside.

Even Lenovo’s getting into the game. At their recent TechWorld event it announced its own headset to compete with Samsung, Sony, Google and HTC.

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Lenovo’s virtual reality entry.

And for younger audiences there’s the remodeled View-Master, a collaboration between Mattel and Google that will debut this fall.

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The next-gen View-Master, a Google-Mattel collaboration set to debut later this year.

Beyond this is a generation of highly advanced hologram-based augmented reality technologies supported by the likes of Microsoft and Google along with investments from a raft of venture capital firms, such as Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins.

With all this going on, brands have only just started to get their footing in this space. For many, it’s an area of uncertainty in terms of the real value it offers organisations.

It’s akin to the debut of the iTunes app store and the initial surge of marketing investments in branded apps that saw little, if any, returns following launch.

However, those brave enough to be early adopters are seeing the opportunity to experiment, and this is yielding insights on the expectations and behaviours of target consumers around this technology.

While we are far from mass consumer adoption, VR is allowing brands to provide new, more dynamic and immersive experiences.

While many of the initial attempts have been written off as gimmicky, some brands are succeeding at integrating the technology to produce compelling content experiences while capitalising on first-mover advantage in capturing earned media exposure.

At the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Nissan Europe combined a treadmill with virtual reality to create a physical, Bladerunner-like experience for visitors around their Nissan Juke vehicle promotion. Standing on an omnidirectional treadmill, the user wears an Oculus Rift which transforms them into an android character within a virtual world.

In similar fashion, Castrol overlayed VR atop a real car, with the user experience occurring in both real and virtual worlds. The result is essentially a combination of video gaming and VR in a simulated world.

There is no question that VR and travel have a great future together. Interviews with no less than a dozen notable VR practitioners, technologists and content producers revealed that almost all saw travel as the top opportunity for application.

Marriott has been pretty quick to capitalise on this opportunity, rolling out a travel booth in New York City where visitors could explore the beaches of Hawaii or London’s Tower 42. The experience also included sensory elements such as heat, wind and mist, based on different virtual locations.

But the range of brands entering this space doesn’t stop at automotive and travel. Fashion and cosmetic brands are also getting in on the act with Dior recently announcing the launch of its own virtual reality headset. This will provide users with exclusive backstage access to its runway shows as well as tours of the Dior universe.

At the same time, not all branded VR initiatives have been well placed.

Earlier this year Samsung launched what it called “The world’s first live streaming VR birth”, which allowed a father to witness and participate — sort of — in the birth of his child, despite being 4,000 miles away. While the stunt was intended to demonstrate the features of Samsung’s VR technology and how it can change people’s lives, some critics deemed it a little too close to comfort. The moral of the tale? Some stories may not necessarily be ready for VR.

Compare that VR experience to one Patron launched last month that provides a virtual tour of the Hacienda’s agave fields. Here, the on-site experience is replicated and viewers get to see how tequila is produced.

The company’s agency customised drones equipped with seven GoPro cameras and 3D audio capture, with assistance from certified pilots, to bring this initiative together.

Again, it’s early days for brands in this space, with the output generally still somewhat questionable in terms of adding real brand value. But it is encouraging that some brands are willing to venture further afield into this unchartered domain while grabbing first-mover insights.

Next: The Virtual Reality Gold Rush PT III: US Billions at Stake, 3D Paul McCartney, and the Future of Journalism.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #268

by Nick Mulligan in News

YouTube viewing time grows 60% in a year
Q2 looked good for YouTube, as overall viewing time grew 60% year-on-year. Mobile was particularly strong; the average viewing session on mobile grew 50% in the same period to 40 minutes. According to Google’s chief business officer Omid Kordestani, more people now watch YouTube on mobile than watch video on any US cable network.

Facebook is working on a virtual assistant
Facebook is developing a virtual assistant for its standalone Messenger app. The feature’s details are still under wraps, but we can expect the ability to ask real people for help with searching for products and services. Oh, and it’s being referred to internally as ‘Moneypenny’, making it the closest most Messenger users will get to being James Bond.

Facebook to create fully shoppable pages
Facebook is building ‘Shop’ pages, where users can enjoy the entire shopping experience, from discovery to purchase, within the network. We don’t know exactly what they’ll look like yet, but here’s a mock up for the impatient among you:

Facebook shop pages

Snapchat moves Discover front and centre
Snapchat has made it easier to find its Discover feature. It’s moved the content publishing service within the Stories tab, from the top right hand corner to top, front and centre (as below). So, now you can discover Discover.

Snapchat new Discover placement

‘The Power of Four’ from 20th Century Fox and We Are Social
To promote the upcoming Fantastic Four film, 20th Century Fox and We Are Social’s Singapore office have created ‘The Power of Four’. It’s a content-led Instagram campaign that asks users to work in teams of four and locate hidden visuals across each character’s feed, for the chance to win tickets to an exclusive movie screening.

The Power of Four

Pinterest and Waitrose form partnership
Waitrose has launched a Pinterest campaign dubbed #TasteOfSummer, which asks customers for input into what makes the ultimate ‘taste of summer’. Interestingly, the platform actually approached the supermarket about the campaign, as it looks to test content and introduce advertising into its business in the UK.

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Laphroaig to project tweets on its distillery wall
Laphroaig, the Scottish whisky, is celebrating its 200th anniversary by projecting tweets about the drink on its distillery wall. The move, called #BigOpinions, is part of a larger campaign, #OpinionsWelcome. That means all opinions, good, bad and everything in between. Here’s one of our favourites.

Brands and World Emoji Day
Put it in your diaries, July 17th is World Emoji Day. Naturally, brands were keen to get involved last week (as we’re sure they will be next year). Here are some examples of their work.

Master baiters: rise (and fall?) of click bait

by Alex Cole in News

The Drum recently published this article by me about the advantages and disadvantages of click baiting. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.

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It’s been dubbed the ’21st century headline’. Our online news feeds are littered with it. Even the Independent is doing it. That’s right, I’m talking about clickbait.

Following on from prolific ‘baiters’ like the Mail Online, Upworthy and other, less reputable, publications, the Independent has brought its clickbaiting A-game of late as it tries to gain traction in an increasingly competitive digital environment.

In the unlikely case you don’t have a clue what click baiting is, it’s basically a term to describe all those open ended, ‘you’ll never guess what happened’ headlines you see on your social media timelines.

If, like me, you have been clicking to find out the answer behind Kim Jong-un’s weight gain or what exactly JK Rowling said about Draco Malfoy that would make me feel really old, you too have been pulled in by clickbait, don’t be ashamed, it gets to the best of us.

It uses sensationalist words and frequently deceptive statements, crafted to make you desperate to know more. It compels you to click and subsequently makes you feel a little bit dirty (and more than often, disappointed) once you have.

Clickbait has obvious advantages for publishers: more traffic to your site or content, leading to more advertising revenue and better SEO. But marketers need to consider the negative consequences of attracting readers with bait.

While baiters may see a bump in traffic now, this is unlikely to last in the long term. More and more people now consume their news via social platforms, most notably Facebook. Last year, Facebook came out against the clickbaiters, stating it didn’t want its users to suffer at the hands of spammy stories that “drown out content from friends and pages that people really care about”.

According to Facebook, 80 per cent of its users say they prefer headlines that help them decide whether an article is worth reading and as such, the platform’s algorithm penalises the headlines that don’t. This is particularly relevant now that Facebook hosts native video content; a lot of clickbait directs users to videos, something Facebook would much rather its users watch in their News Feeds.

Larger publishers like the Indy will suffer less from Facebook clickbait penalisation than its smaller counterparts. The real hit for the publication will come from loss of credibility; to me, some of the baits feel like the publishing equivalent of David Cameron’s “Call me Dave”. It’s unnatural  –  not expected from a quality newspaper.

Publishers’ reputations are built on their integrity and clickbaiting has long been associated with the way into poor content. The Independent may be doing itself some favours in web traffic numbers right now, but in the long term, is its aim really to become the next Mail Online or Upworthy? I know there’s an argument for ‘adapt or die’, but surely not if you have to lose your identity along the way.

And, from a purely observational point of view, it seems like those bemoaning the baiting by far outweigh the occasional fan sharing one of ‘those’ links. The existence of publications like ClickHole confirms the growing awareness of the tactics, if nothing else.

For now, the Independent continues to try to draw readers towards its ‘snackable’ online content, whilst users try and stop themselves from clicking, and subsequently sigh with disappointment after watching a video they’ve seen already on one of their social channels.

Putting personal opinion aside, I wait with ‘baited’ breath to discover whether this change in tactic will prove to be a master stroke by the Independent, following in the Mail Online’s footsteps by appealing to a non-traditional audience or finding itself alienating just about everyone.

The future of social

by Simon Kemp in News

I recently had the privilege of presenting at the International Advertising Association’s ‘What’s Coming Next?’ conference in London, alongside Sir Martin Sorrell and a host of other inspiring speakers.

The conference focused on ‘the future of marketing’, so it seemed appropriate to reprise our Social Brands thinking around some of the most important changes and trends that we’ve been exploring over recent months.

You can watch my full presentation in the YouTube embed above (or watch it here), and you’ll find the full set of slides in the SlideShare embed below.

To whet your appetite though, here are the five key themes I explore in this presentation:

1. Contentment Has More Value Than Content
When it comes to ‘content marketing’, too many marketers are confusing the means with the end. Our job isn’t to create content; it’s to create value for our brands. You need to spend as much time thinking about the outcome you want content to deliver as you do on creating the content itself.

2. Create Value Everywhere
Most marketers seem to think that the only time their brand can create a value exchange is when they sell their products and services, but this misses a whole world of opportunity. Think beyond your products to identify your brand’s broader value proposition, and go on to identify new opportunities to create and deliver that value beyond your existing portfolio.

3. Stop Repeating Yourself
In a world where we (as our brands) can interact with audiences in real time whenever we choose to, there’s no excuse for repeating the same 30″ story every 20 minutes for three months. We need to evolve beyond an advertising model that was designed to maximise media buying efficiency, and move to one defined by greater communications effectiveness.

4. Listen And Learn
Your audiences are already telling you what they like and love – as well as what they dislike. We need to treat social as an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the people we care about, and not just see it as an avenue to broadcast the things we want to say.

5. Become More Democratic
Most brands still behave like autocratic dictators, imposing their views and ideas on the world. However, the future belongs to ‘democratic’ brands that co-create mutual value with their audiences.

Be sure to watch the video above for all the insights and context, and check out the full set of slides below:

You can also download the complete Social Brands book here.