Here are all of the posts tagged ‘Faris Yakob’.

The Intention Economy

by Robin Grant in News Google+

David Gillespie has been burning the midnight oil producing this epic 260 slide presentation, which covers a lot of ground, including his thoughts about the ‘Intention Economy’, in an incredibly compelling way. As you’ll see from the opening slides, it has a particular resonance for us here at We Are Social. Over to him:

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IPA Social: 10 conversation starters

by Robin Grant in News Google+

Social Media is a conversation. That seems to be one thing that we all agree on

Last week, Nathan, Sandrine, Leila, Simon, Seb and I went along to the launch of IPA Social, where Neil Perkin presented their 10 conversation starters:

You can read all 10 in full here (which I highly recommend doing):

  1. Mark EarlsPeople not consumers
  2. Le’Nise BrothersSocial agenda not business agenda
  3. John WillshireContinuous conversation not campaigning
  4. Faris YakobLong term impacts not quick fixes
  5. Katy LindemannMarketing with people not to people
  6. Neil PerkinBeing authentic not persuasive
  7. Jamie CoomberPerpetual beta
  8. Amelia TorodeTechnology changes, people don’t
  9. Graeme WoodChange will never be this slow again
  10. Asi SharabiMeasure and evaluate

As the IPA’s President, Rory Sutherland says:

At a time when the population of Facebook is now greater than all but three countries in the world, and when BT is delivering customer service via twitter, this is an area which forces us to question many of our ingrained assumptions about advertising, brands and intangible value.

and from Mark Earls’ scene setting essay:

For all the excitement today around the Twitters and Facebooks, the tougher problems for the advertising industry to get to grips with are all rooted in the way social media – the stuff that connects humans with other humans – changes the game for our clients and society at large.

IPA Social is an admirable initiative, one which we’ll continue to participate in, and their 10 principles are an excellent overview of how brands need to come to terms with social media, representing the thinking of some the greatest minds in modern advertising (all of whom are good friends of ours). The launch event was also a great evening, focused on starting conversations rather than presenting a revealed truth.

However, it still was very focused on traditional ‘advertising’, with a large proportion of time spent hearing about VCCP’s Compare the Meerkat campaign. We split out into groups towards the end of the event and in the group I led, we discussed whether campaigns like Compare the Meerkat are really social media campaigns. Although the campaign has rich presences in social media, we’re weren’t sure that was a factor in it’s success. We felt it was the strength of the creative idea and the media spend at work here – and the fact that Oasis’ Rubberduckzilla has substantially more fans than Aleksandr the Meerkat on Facebook, despite no attempts to engage with social media helps re-enforce this point. It was felt that real social media campaigns are ones where the conversation itself drives the success of the campaign (like our This is Now campaign for Ford).

I also couldn’t miss joining in the discussion about which types of agency were best suited for social media. The point I made was as follows. Over the last ten years digital agencies stole a march on above the line agencies by building bigger, better and more motivated specialist teams. This let them innovate faster and develop a critical mass of best practise that accelerated the skills gap between them and their above-the-line competitors. Specialist social media agencies will do the same to digital and other agencies. To use We Are Social as an example, who else has a team of twenty experienced practitioners, entirely focused on innovative, creative and effective social media marketing and communications? Each day and each new hire widens the gap between us and those in pursuit.

Overall, I left feeling comforted that the specialist agencies’ lead in social media was safe for some time to come…

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Be nice or leave

by Nathan McDonald in News Google+

Faris Yakob hits the nail on the head in this month’s Admap:

Understanding how to behave in social media is easy: be nice or leave.

A succinct, simple truth that applies to social situations, both on and offline. However it’s more than just a catchphrase. As background, Faris explains the interplay of relationships, trust and relevance:

Social media is centred on people talking to each other, one to one and one to many, establishing and reinforcing different kinds of relationships.

Advertising has clung to the idea that communication is about the transmission of messages, but most communication transmits little semantically. The function of the interaction is phatic — it establishes and reinforces relationships. Status updates don’t transmit data — they keep relationships alive.

Brands need to find a way to be relevant in social media. Research from Universal McCann has found that people are more likely to believe a random blog post than a TV commercial. As consumers spend more time consuming each other’s content, share of mainstream media will erode.

But thinking about social media with a media buying mindset isn’t going to help. As Russell Davies has observed:

Blogging is mostly a social thing, social norms apply, especially between bloggers. But, naturally enough, when brands want to engage with bloggers they act as though market norms apply; to most brands, blogs are just another media choice.

Social media isn’t media, it’s social, and as Faris remarks, people are both emotional and rational:

Economics has espoused the myth of homo economicus — a rational being, who makes cost-benefit analyses in every situation and will respond to a monetary incentive with an increased
propensity to perform an action. This is nonsense. You can test this: next time someone cooks you a meal, to show your appreciation and encourage this behaviour, leave a tip.

Social and commercial behaviour don’t mix. Acting commercially in social spaces can seem insulting, which is perhaps why corporations have found it difficult to act socially.

Or, as Russell Davies puts it:

When social exchanges and market exchanges are mixed up people get uncomfortable.

This is “an entirely different behavioural grammar for marketers,” so Faris outlines the approach brands should take, pointing out that “the media may be free, but building relationships takes huge amounts of time and attention” which is crucial advice we agree wholeheartedly with — consider the way you relate to your friends and family as you read Faris’ concluding quote from Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford:

It’s not about campaigns; it’s about commitment.

If you’ve got the time, you can listen to Faris talking about these issues in his presentation Be nice or leave: A guide to being social.

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Brands and Twitter

by Robin Grant in News Google+


So after being on the front page on Marketing the week before last, this week we’ve hit the pages of Campaign, with our inclusion in a feature article about, you guessed it, Twitter:

Three years into its existence, the recent media frenzy around celebrity Twitterers, including Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross, and Barack Obama’s successful use of the medium in the run-up to the US election, has seen the popularity of the “microblogging” site increase 27-fold in 12 months.

Advertisers could learn a lot from celebrity Twitterers using the site to shape their personal branding, creating a close, one-on-one relationship with their fans without constantly filtering their thoughts through a PR sieve.

Robin Grant, the managing director of the social media agency We Are Social, which advises Fry on his use of Twitter, explains: “The advice we gave to Stephen centred on being himself and having genuine conversations with people. It’s the same for brands. It’s about being human, showing your real personality and allowing people to connect with you on an emotional level.”

The article then gets quite bizarre, with Flo Heiss, the creative partner at Dare giving this advice about who should sit behind a brand’s account:

It could be a real person, such as a receptionist, or character made up by yourself

How about an imaginary friend who’s a receptionist, Flo? On to David Bain, an ‘internet marketing consultant’:

it’s cleverer when you don’t anthropomorphise it. What if an inanimate object was to Tweet, for example?

Why is it cleverer David? And what would it say? Amelia Torode, managing partner at VCCP:

It has to be a friendly, chatty brand. A brand such as Coca-Cola would be too large in its entirety. You need to work less at a higher-brand level and go down to the actual campaigns or smaller brands under the umbrella in order to start up the conversation.

Not quite as unhinged as Flo and David admittedly, but I’d point to the examples of brands like Burger King, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Starbucks, JetBlue and even VCCP’s client O2, who are having meaningful and useful conversations at the higher-brand level. As usual, our friend Faris Yakob talks sense:

Previously we had a model of buying attention from media companies. Now we’ve got direct relationships so we have to earn that attention – we have to earn it by being entertaining, useful and also nice.

To be honest, there is no ‘right approach’, but there are some general principles that apply (as expressed by myself and Faris above) and then there is the hard won experience at the coalface, learning what works and what doesn’t, that brands doing it themselves (and the agencies like ourselves helping them) have acquired. Most importantly your approach should be built around, yes, you guessed it again, the business objectives you’re trying to achieve.

This diagram from Fallon’s Aki Spicer of six different potential participation strategies brands could use is a useful thought starter (each of which of course might be used in combination or not at all), but even the approaches I deliberately ridiculed above could be valid in the right circumstances. Fictional characters can work really well as part of a campaign as VCCP’s own Compare the Meerkat work shows, and I’m sure at least one of Zappos’ receptionists is on Twitter. Even inanimate objects might have their place – in fact I’ve been trying to persuade Kew Gardens to get their plant life on Twitter for a while now.

But deciding on a strategy is only the first and easiest step. The hard work is the day after day of micro-interactions with real people, and striking the right balance between the opportunities and risks presented by having a real person as the voice of the brand, which I touched upon in the hotly debated post on learning to speak human. David Armano brilliantly investigates this dynamic in The Age of Brandividualism and his recent follow-up, Battle of the Brands (both of which are required reading here at We Are Social towers):

For each brand on Twitter, there’s an individual (or individuals) behind that effort. It’s both business and personal. The two have become one. The tactic comes from a fundamental truth when it comes to the social spaces on the Web. People want to talk to other people. They want transparency. They want to know who they are talking to.

The potential reward of course, is the ability to spread surprise and delight, turn negative word of mouth into positive and to really engage people with your brand at an emotional level. There is no greater prize…

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Learning to speak human

by Robin Grant in News Google+

The idea that ‘markets are conversations’ dates back to the The Cluetrain Manifesto, which if anything, is more relevant today than when it was first published:

I remember it seeming so revolutionary when I read it in 1999, articulating for the first time what those of us involved in the internet felt about the coming change it was bringing. That change has taken longer than we thought it would, but the tenets of the manifesto still hold true.

One of its most important points is that real conversations are conducted in a human voice and it gives good advice about how companies can learn to speak human. Our friend Adriana Lukas has more:

It’s something that’s all too easy to forget when subject to corporate groupthink, and something we try our best to help our clients remember…

Update: Jonathan Hopkins reminds me that similar things have been said recently about being nice and being human by our friends James Warren, Faris Yakob and James Whatley. It’s well worth reading all of their posts. I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr Whatley:

Social Media isn’t about Technology, it isn’t about being online or offline. It’s simply about being Human.

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