Here are all of the posts tagged ‘digital’.
For the past few decades, marketing has been dominated by a mass-media paradigm.
During that time, we’ve defined the ‘best’ marketing as that which makes the most efficient use of broadcast media, and as a result, we’ve spent decades perfecting an approach that’s all about reducing the cost of interrupting people.
The result is communications that have been distilled down to their lowest common denominators: a selection of sound bites designed to be shared as succinctly as possible across a range of media, repeated again and again in the hopes of eliciting a pavlovian response that will deliver optimum scores in campaign tracking.
But this paradigm is broken.
We’ve become obsessed with media efficiency, and as a result, we’ve lost sight of what effective communications look like.
[As an aside, effectiveness is about doing the right thing, while efficiency is about doing that thing right]
Back To Basics
The very roots of the word ‘communication’ highlight where we’ve been going wrong.
The English word stems from ‘communicare’, a Latin verb meaning ‘to share’.
Critically, therefore, real communication is about creating shared understanding.
So, at its essence, communication isn’t really about what you say; rather, it’s about what other people understand.
However, as part of marketing’s relentless drive to maximise media efficiency, we’ve become overly fixated on ‘the message’ (i.e. what we want to say), and consequently, we’re missing the huge opportunities that come with building a better, shared understanding of our brands and their offerings.
In Context: Brands As Social Entities
But in order to build a better, shared understanding, we need to get a better understanding of our audiences’ motivations, and the dynamics that drive our exchanges with them.
We’ve already explored motivations in a previous post in this series that covered the evolution from ads to added value.
However, in order for brands to achieve their full potential, they also need to integrate more actively into the social dynamics that define the contexts in which they come to life.
Sadly, many brands still behave like newborn children: entirely egocentric, and almost totally oblivious to the needs of others.
However, studies have found that the traits we find most appealing in other people are those that are socially oriented (more on that here).
Interestingly, these appealing human traits are the same as those that define great brands:
Popularity is more pull than push, and trying to become popular through hollow flattery and false mirroring is unsustainable. Impressing people is much easier if you lead by example instead of screaming for attention. As a result, it’s far better to champion the cause than it is to ride the bandwagon.
People appreciate a good listener, so don’t talk about yourself all the time. Take time to hear what your audience wants to say to you, and not just to work out what you want to say to them. Embrace the everyday people as well as the celebrities.
If you want to build trust, give before you take. What does your audience want, need and desire? How can you help them achieve it through your communications alone?
Stay true to your ideals, but don’t force them upon other people. Strength, honesty, humility and kindness are far more valuable brand values than ‘dynamic’ or ‘cool’.
Conversations are as much about the social discourse as they are about the sharing of information. Avoid an over-reliance on monologue and one-line statements, and engage in dialogue as much to reinforce bonds as to establish new relationships. Treat others as you’d hope to be treated yourself, and always be ready with the proverbial olive branch.
For brands, this last point – Be Social – is perhaps the most important when it comes to building enduring success.
Of course, as a conversation agency, we’re biased here, but our positioning isn’t an accident; here at We Are Social, we genuinely believe that there’s far more value in dialogue than there is in the broadcast paradigm of a repetitive monologue.
But how do brands ‘grow up’, and evolve from their current communications infancy to become more socially engaged entities?
The Art Of Conversation
To start with, it’s important to remember that you can’t ‘win’ a conversation. Conversations should be about a mutual exchange of value; if you’re trying to win, that’s an argument.
A significant part of this mutual exchange of value is the opportunity to deepen bonds and strengthen relationships, at the same time as sharing information or knowledge.
This is one area where marketers often fall down: in our arrogance, we believe we have more to teach audiences about our brands and offerings than we might learn from our audiences in return.
However, it’s only the brand that exists in our audiences’ heads and hearts that has any value.
To this point, there’s a wonderful post on Wikihow entitled “How To Stop Talking About Yourself” – it’s a fascinating read, and offers this wonderful piece of advice that brands everywhere should heed:
Respond to questions without turning the focus onto you. When asked, “Did you see Survivor last night?”,
[Avoid:] “Yes! I never miss an episode; in fact my husband and I watch Survivor, American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars. Did you see how well Kristen danced last night?” You answered the question, but redirected the focus onto you.
[Try:] “I missed it; was it good?” Simply answer the question they asked you, and give them a chance to talk with you. After all, they like the show, and it was their topic.
In other words, making people feel like they’re an important part of your brand’s world, and welcoming them into your communications, are both huge opportunities to improve success.
Of course, for most brands, it’s still financially infeasible to have one-to-one conversations with every individual member of the audience, but channels like social media make such interactions much easier than they were when we only had broadcast channels to choose from.
Having said that, taking advantage of ‘conversational’ channels involves a very different approach to the lowest-common-denominator approach we’ve become used to.
Change Is Coming
It’s becoming increasingly clear that Big Advertising Ideas are not as relevant to social communications as they are to TV.
A single-minded comms approach may be the key to driving media efficiency, but it only works effectively if we get it right first time, and the reality is that most people’s brains work in slightly different ways.
This isn’t a new assertion of course; the wonderful Mark Earls has been challenging it for a number of years now:
One of the reasons why this approach is rarely the best option is because lowest-common-denominator messaging rarely delivers the highest possible value.
The challenge is that single-minded communications are only designed to convey that single message, and that’s only truly efficient if conveying that single message successfully establishes the desired understanding across the whole audience.
Conversely, in order to maximise effectiveness, we may need to convey our ‘message’ in a variety of different ways over time, and to different groups of people, before we can establish a sufficient level of shared understanding across the whole audience.
That wasn’t often an option in an expensive, TV-dominated world, but our media mix options have evolved.
It’s time to rethink our commandments.
Enter The Leitmotif
In musical theory, a leitmotif is:
“a musical term referring to a short, constantly recurring musical phrase, associated with a particular person, place, or idea… In particular, [it] should be clearly identified so as to retain its identity if modified on subsequent appearances, [but] it is transformable and recurs in different guises throughout the piece in which it occurs.”
If that all sounds a bit complex, this Star Wars explanation nails the concept beautifully:
“Each important idea [and character] in Star Wars has its own leitmotif. At the beginning of A New Hope, Luke watches the suns set, wondering what his destiny in the world could be. His leitmotif [or 'Luke's Theme', if you will], is played wistfully and slowly to reinforce this idea. Later, when he is in the midst of rescuing Leia, his theme is stronger, more percussive, and rhythmic. Essentially, the same notes are being played, but the style with which they are played makes all the difference in the tone of the scene.”
Critically, a leitmotif does not represent the constant repetition that defines music like techno (and broadcast advertising); it’s about a theme that changes and evolves over time to add new value or meaning.
Adopting such a ‘communications leitmotif’ may hold the key to more effective marketing within the reality of today’s multi-channel media mix: rather than relying on repetition of the same message over and over again, marketers can adopt a broader, richer ‘communications agenda‘ which enables them to use a variety of activities to build towards success in different ways over time, engaging more of the audience in more meaningful ways, and ensuring a greater chance of success.
Evolving The Story: From Theory To Practice
There are a variety of different ways to bring a strategic leitmotif to life – here are some we’d advocate:
The Dandelion Approach
As Cory Doctorow asserted in this seminal post from a few years back, the dandelion doesn’t put all its eggs (or seeds) in one basket. Rather than investing all its efforts in nurturing a single offspring, the dandelion spreads as many seeds as possible in the hopes that at least some will fall on fertile ground. This is not about random dissemination though; despite slight variations in each seed, every one contains the DNA of its parent plants, and each one is designed to travel as far as possible. Critically, though, the ‘costs’ associated with producing each different seed are low enough that individual failures are not an issue.
The Tapas Approach
Meals comprising many small, shared dishes are popular all over the world, from Tapas in Spain to Dim Sum in the Orient. Each individual dish can be quite different, but they all ladder up to an overall meal ‘experience’ which is both reliable and enjoyable, even if not every dish is to everyone’s taste. This approach can work well for communications too: by harnessing a variety of smaller, disparate creative executions across a number of different channels, brands have a greater chance of delivering something that resonates with the different members of the audience, and shares the necessary understanding.
The Kaizen Approach
Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better“, and is a central part of a continuous improvement approach. The same concept lies at the heart of effective conversations too: each time a participant in the discussion shares new insights or information, the other participants can refine or modify their opinions or approach, in order to reach an optimum, collective understanding. The Kaizen approach is a bit more direct than the previous two, but it has a clear role to play in a variety of brand situations, particularly where the topic is more complex, or where rational motivations dominate.
There will be many more ways to bring such an ‘evolving theme’ approach to life, but the ones that will win through will be those that deliver a new kind of efficiency: the ability to identify when the necessary understanding has been shared with relevant audiences, and when investments can move to a new communications task.
In order to achieve this efficiency, however, marketers will need to get much better at listening to – and measuring – audience response and reaction, and using these to refine and evolve their communications approach.
We’ll cover these Active Listening techniques in the next post in this Social Brands series.
The online environment in Pakistan is changing rapidly, as a quick comparison between today’s report and our first edition from December 2011 will testify.
The key headlines from this second edition are as follows:
- Pakistan has almost 30 million internet users, although penetration remains low at just 15%;
- Social Media use has grown by almost 50% since our last report, passing 8 million monthly users in the past couple of weeks;
- Mobile continues to grow quickly, with the country’s telcos adding more than 1 million new subscriptions each month in 2012.
As ever with our SDMW reports though, it’s the more focused details that tell the best stories.
With more than two thirds of Pakistan’s 190 million inhabitants below the age of 30, it’s clear that the nation benefits from a young and dynamic population.
Furthermore, despite financial challenges – the average income in Pakistan is less than $3,000 per year – Pakistanis are embracing connected devices and the content that they offer.
Interestingly, 80% of Pakistan’s netizens spend more than one hour each day on the internet, although the average ‘internet session’ lasts just 5 minutes, suggesting that Pakistanis go online multiple times each day for short ‘browsing snacks’.
The majority of netizens use laptops to access the internet, although 30% of internet users go online via a mobile phone – perhaps unsurprising given that more than 100 million mobile subscriptions have been activated in Pakistan to date.
Mobile penetration still remains relatively low however, at just over 60% – well below Asia’s regional average of 82%.
Social media penetration also remains acutely low, with barely 4% of the country’s population using Facebook, even though the site appears to maintain its position as the most popular social network in the country.
Social media remains a largely male preserve too, with men accounting for almost 70% of the country’s social media users.
However, Facebook is adding new users in Pakistan at a rate of one every 12 seconds, and 28% of social media users make use of 2 or more platforms, suggesting plenty of potential for growth in social media use in the country during 2013.
Crucially for marketers, two thirds of the country’s Facebook users are below the age of 25, and more than half of them come from the country’s richest 10% of households, resulting in a highly concentrated social media audience of young, affluent consumers.
Nearly three quarters of these users log in to Facebook daily too, and spend an average of 40 minutes on the site each day, mostly between 6pm and midnight.
Twitter users hover around the 2 million mark, although some estimates put Pakistan’s Twitter population closer to 3 million. Google+ also appears to have a certain popularity in Pakistan, although exact user numbers are harder to come by.
As with many countries around Asia though, the real excitement lies in mobile. Someone takes out a new mobile subscription every 2 seconds in Pakistan, resulting in growth of 46,500 new subscriptions every day.
Despite this impressive growth, however, mobile internet usage remains sparse, and just 15 million people in the country access internet services via mobile, even though the government reports that 64% of the population has the potential to access mobile internet services.
Of those who already access the internet via mobile, 75% do so via Symbian-powered devices, and most people in Pakistan continue to rely on feature phones.
Lack of 3G coverage may play a role in the slow uptake of mobile internet, and extending the coverage of these faster networks beyond today’s paltry 0.4% of the population would likely boost the country’s online connectivity.
These numbers all point to significant opportunities for growth though, so Pakistan is certainly another one to watch for 2013.
The sources for all the stats can be found at the bottom of each slide in the SlideShare deck above. You can download a high-res PDF of this report here.
Bangladesh is one of Asia’s giants, with a population of more than 160 million.
This ranks the country 8th in the world in terms of population size, ahead of Russia, Japan and Mexico.
Goldman Sachs also includes Bangladesh in its ‘Next Eleven’ economies, indicating that the country has a high potential to be one of the world’s biggest economies in the coming years.
However, many Bangladeshis still live on less than US$2 per day, and UNICEF reports that 50% of the country’s population lives below the international poverty line.
Despite these economic challenges, however, use of online media continues the stellar growth that we highlighted in last year’s report.
Internet use in particular has jumped exponentially, and according to figures from Bangladesh’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, users now stand at nearly 30 million across the country.
Critically, 94% of these users access the internet via mobile devices, the vast majority of which are feature phones.
This puts internet penetration in Bangladesh at 18%; that’s a huge leap from last year’s reported figure of just 1% (although that figure did not include mobile internet users).
However, perhaps the most staggering finding in this report is the fact that this figure is lower than the number of people who have no access to any media whatsoever.
Findings from Nielsen (cited here) indicate that 32 million Bangladeshis still have absolutely no access to media – 10% more than those who have access to the internet.
Much of this relates to economics; many Bangladeshi families still can’t afford a television, and an hour’s internet access in an internet café in Bangladesh costs the equivalent of 70% of the average daily income, putting the web well beyond the means of most citizens.
Perhaps for this reason, social media use in Bangladesh remains relatively low too, currently standing at just 2% penetration.
However, Facebook is adding a new user in Bangladesh every 20 seconds, and it’s likely that initiatives from some of the country’s telcos offering ‘free’ access to Facebook will help to boost user numbers well beyond the current 3.3 million in the coming 12 months.
There’s an obvious business benefit to this approach for the telcos too; almost half of Facebook’s users in Bangladesh are aged in the lucrative 18-to-24 age group.
More importantly, mobile subscriptions in Bangladesh continue to grow at a staggering pace, with the total now exceeding 100 million.
This means that penetration already sits at 63%, but this looks set to pass two thirds of the population in just a few months, with the country’s operators registering more than 50,000 new subscriptions every single day in the first 6 months of 2012.
And with a new mobile subscription activated on average every 2 seconds in Bangladesh, the country should easily add another 10 million subscriptions to its tally before the middle of 2013.
With growth like that, we’ll be putting Bangladesh in our ‘Digital Next Eleven’ as well.
The sources for all the stats can be found at the bottom of each slide in the SlideShare deck above. You can download a high-res PDF of this report here.
Today’s #SDMW report focuses on one of Asia’s most exciting markets: India.
With the world’s second largest population, India holds huge potential for marketers from all over the world.
The country’s 1.2 billion inhabitants have embraced social, digital and mobile technology too, and India’s online ecosystem offers some truly startling numbers.
To start with, here are the top headlines:
- India has 137 million internet users – more people than the total population of Japan.
- More than 60 million people in India use social networks – equivalent to the total population of Italy
- India is home to a staggering 934 million mobile subscriptions – equivalent to more than 13% of the world’s entire population
Despite these impressive numbers, however, internet penetration in India remains quite low, with just 11% of the population having used the internet.
The country’s 137 million users still put India in 3rd place on the global rankings by number of internet users though, and this number is continuing to rise by at least 1.5 million users per month.
Moreover, with 56% of India’s population aged below 30 – and a new child born in the country every 2 seconds – it’s clear that India’s digital journey still has plenty of potential for growth.
Indeed, India is the fastest growing online market in the world, and internet usage grew by more than 40% in the year to July.
Indian netizens also appear to spend a considerable amount of time online each day – up to 8 hours each – which adds extra weight to the basic user numbers.
These users spend plenty of money too; The Times of India reports that Indian youth will spend more than US$9 billion on mobile internet activities in 2012 alone. That’s more than the GDP of the Bahamas.
Social Networking continues to be the main driver behind much of India’s increased online activity, although social media penetration in India remains remarkably low at just 5%.
Facebook continues to dominate India’s social media landscape with more than 60 million active users, and the world’s most popular platform show no signs of slowing either, adding a new Indian user every single second.
With social networking use expected to grow by more than 50% in 2012, it’s likely that these numbers are also on the conservative side; estimates from eMarketer and Global Web Index both put Indian social networking users above 75 million.
Interestingly, 60% of India’s Facebook users are under 25, with barely 12% over the age of 35. They’re still predominantly male too, with barely 3 female users in every 10 on Facebook.
More than half of India’s social media users purport to use more than one social platform too, with Google+ claiming the second largest user base at around 50 million.
Twitter and LinkedIn are also popular amongst Indian netizens, with each claiming more than 15 million users.
YouTube has particular appeal for Indian audiences too, with 20 visitors every single second. Each month, almost 56 million visitors from India consume more than 4 billion videos – 25% of them via mobile devices.
And it’s mobile usage like this that’s leading the charge towards the future.
With almost 1 billion mobile subscriptions, India’s mobile market is second only to China’s.
Critically, more than one third of these subscriptions are from the rural areas that are home to 69% of India’s population.
Many of these rural areas still lack fixed communication infrastructure (mobile subscriptions outnumber fixed line telephones 30 to 1), so mobile holds the key to India’s evolving digital world.
Tellingly, there are already more than 50 million mobile internet users across the country, but this 36% of users accounts for more than 50% of national internet use.
Smartphone use is also picking up quickly in India, and the nation’s 27 million smartphone users each spend an average of more than 40 days every year using their phones – roughly 16% of their waking lives.
With numbers like that, it’s clear to see why we’re excited about India’s digital future too. We’ll see you there.
The sources for all the stats can be found at the bottom of each slide in the SlideShare deck above. You can also download a high-res PDF of this report here.
Following the launch of our regional Social, Digital and Mobile in Asia report last week, today we’re delighted to launch our series of reports into individual countries.
The first of these reports covers one of Asia’s most exciting markets: Vietnam.
With a population in excess of 90 million and an economy that grew by 5.4% in the 3rd quarter of this year alone, Vietnam represents a huge opportunity for brands all over the world.
The country’s social, digital and mobile landscape is evolving at an astonishing rate too, with internet users in the country increasing by 5% since our last report on the country at the end of 2011.
Key figures in this new report include:
- Almost 31 million internet users, representing penetration of 34%;
- More than 8.5 million social media users, but penetration of just 9% shows plenty of potential for more rapid growth;
- A massive 129 million mobile subscriptions, representing penetration of 139%;
- 19 million mobile internet users, equating to penetration of around 21%.
As the figures above suggest, feature phones still dominate Vietnam’s mobile landscape, but smartphone use is definitely on the rise.
We also noted a reduction in the number of mobile subscriptions since our last report, but given that subscription penetration still sits at around 139%, this likely reflects a consolidation towards a single active subscription per user rather than a drop in mobile use.
However, the most dramatic change in the country’s digital landscape this year has been the shift in power in social media. Just 12 months ago, there were only 2.9 million Facebook users in Vietnam; today, there are more than 8.5 million – a growth of almost 200%.
Startlingly, data from Facebook itself suggests that the network’s user base in the country has grown by 500,000 in the past 2 weeks alone. This data is backed up by Facebook metrics experts SocialBakers, who present the following impressive chart:
Although sudden increases like this are more likely to reflect a correction in Facebook’s data than an actual single-day change, these new numbers are still significant.
We’ve also heard anecdotal reports that some of Vietnam’s restrictions on Facebook have been lifted recently, so Facebook’s recent growth may genuinely have been quite dramatic, as local netizens realise they have easier access to the world’s most popular network.
It’s not just the speed of this growth that’s important though.
Up until last week (and indeed as we reported in our regional report just a few days ago), the leader in the country’s social media scene was local network Zing, which claims around 8.2 million users.
Although these latest official user numbers for Zing are a few months old and actual users may have increased since, it appears that Facebook has taken the number 1 spot in Vietnam, meaning it may be another step closer to its quest for world domination, as this revised version of our Social Network Map of Asia shows:
Intriguingly though, there is evidence to suggest that interest in Zing has also picked up again in the past few days, as the Google Trends chart below highlights. Note the sharp uptick towards the right-hand side, which shows that Zing is currently experiencing its greatest volume of search traffic for the past 12 months:
We’re still waiting to hear back from a representative at Zing for more up-to-date user numbers, but either way it seems that Vietnam’s social scene is certainly hotting up.
And given that almost 4 in 5 social media users in Vietnam have ‘Liked’ or follow a brand in social media, we’ll be paying close attention to where things progress in the coming weeks and months.