Here are all of the posts tagged ‘marketing’.
The most successful brands don’t just predict the future; they define the future on their own terms.
To that end, we’ve developed Social Brands & The Future Of Marketing – a series of provocations designed to help you shape your brand’s vision of the future, and to start bringing that vision to life today.
We’ll be sharing all 8 provocations on the We Are Social blog over the next few days, and we’re kicking things off today with a contention that addresses one of the thorniest questions when it comes to social media: “How do we deliver real ROI”?
Social Equity Drives Brand Equity
As we’ve highlighted before, the key to delivering meaningful ROMI is to set clear business objectives at the outset, and to make sure that everything the brand does is focused on delivering those objectives.
However, many brands are still stuck in short-term, cyclical marketing. For reasons often beyond our control, marketers are still overly focused on this quarter’s results, and as a result we often miss the wood for the trees when it comes to social ROI.
The reality about relationships is that they take time to deliver their full potential.
However, once relationships reach this potential, the returns keep coming; ‘returns on relationships’ aren’t a one-time result.
So how do we build these meaningiful relationships?
The secret lies in understanding why people choose to talk about brands.
The Sociology Of Choice
The observation that people are highly social creatures is hardly a revelation, but it’s important to remember that people don’t make personal choices in isolation.
Indeed, many of the choices we make are influenced by our expectation of the reactions those choices will elicit from those around us.
The more confident we are that these expectations will be met, the greater our level of conviction when it comes to those choices.
As a result, the conversations we have with other people are one of the most important determinants of our brand choices.
Conversation Drives Compensation
Again, that’s hardly a revelation. However, many brands appear to be missing its commercial significance.
The reality is that brands which succeed in inspiring more favourable conversation are the ones that will succeed in building the greatest propensity for trial, and that are best placed to form lasting relationships with their audiences and consumers.
Therefore, more favourable conversations drive a more favourable financial outcome.
Critically, though, it’s the conversations between people that matter most, and not necessarily the conversations that those people are having directly with the brand.
Similarly, the conversation doesn’t have to start in social media for it to have value; everything the brand does – from packaging to advertising, and from customer service to recruitment – should be designed to maximise the greatest volume of peer-to-peer conversation.
Brands Worth Talking About
The implications of this are huge; for example, when it comes to a ‘content’ strategy, we shouldn’t start with the usual suspects like video or ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ status updates.
More importantly, we need to stop relying on conversations about content, and look at content as a means of inspiring and fuelling the conversations that really matter.
This means re-thinking our approach to brand communications.
Talk Is Cheap, But Conversations Have Value
We need to start by identifying what we want these brand conversation to be about, and then work out the most engaging and motivating ways of inspiring conversation.
That inspiration can come in many, many forms, and only a small number of them need to start in social media.
However, before you make any investments, be very clear about why the audience might want to be a part of this conversation.
Be honest with yourself – will they actually care? Is it really worth talking about?
ROI = “Return On Interest”
The good news is that getting this right has huge financial potential; a brand worth talking about is a brand that people are willing to pay more for.
In order to take advantage of this potential value, spend more time working out how your brand can become a relevant ‘social entity’.
Ultimately, building your social equity will help you to build your financial equity.
Want to join the conversation? We’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions, so why not share them in the comments. In the next post in this series, we’ll explore the importance of building communities instead of buying audiences.
Over the past few months, we’ve been spending lots of time with senior marketers from some of the world’s biggest companies, and our conversations have culminated in a robust and actionable framework that enables brands to seize the opportunities presented by Social Media.
Today, we’re delighted to share the core of this new framework with you too.
It builds on our hugely popular Making Friends & Influencing People guide, which sets out We Are Social’s principles for effective and efficient Social Media Marketing.
As you’ll see in the full ‘Sharing Is Caring’ deck (above), this framework brings together a wealth of stimuli to help you start planning your own social media strategy, including:
- Best-in class case studies
- We Are Social’s core social media marketing principles
- Our powerful 8-Step Process
- Links to a variety of other resources that will help you maintain momentum and start bringing plans to life.
To give you a flavour of our thinking though, here’s an overview of our core principles:
Before you do anything, set your business objective: what do social media need to do? Only when you’ve answered this question should you start to plan your actual approach, as that approach needs to be tailored to deliver these specific results.
1. Start with people, not technology
At its heart, Social Media is a human discipline, not a digital one, and the most powerful social strategies start with the needs of your audience rather than technological platforms and digital novelty.
2. Build conversations, not campaigns
Broadcast comms do a great job of introducing brands through the marketing equivalent of a pick-up line. However, it’s difficult to build enduring relationships through one-liners and tag-lines alone. Instead, use social media to build the everyday conversations that deepen bonds with your audience and help to foster a real sense of brand affinity.
3. Use content as a means, not an end
As Cory Doctorow says, “Conversation is king; content is just something to talk about.” It’s true that content is always vital to a conversation strategy, but it’s what people do next, as a result of consuming that content, that ultimately delivers brand value.
4. Add value to the audience’s life
Spamming people with endless updates about your products through social media is the marketing equivalent of going on a date and only talking about yourself, and is unlikely to produce the desired results. You need to add value to the audience before you can add value to the brand.
5. Listening is the new shouting
The real value in a conversation lies in the listening. The good news is that people share a huge amount of honest and spontaneous information via social media, and there are a variety of tools available that enable marketers to listen to these public conversations and so learn how to deliver better value to their audiences.
6. Spread the love
Building a great social media presence doesn’t guarantee that people will come. Like all the best parties, you need to invite people to join in, and to keep the vibe alive once they’ve arrived. Advertising can help build this momentum, but engaging influencers and inspiring them to engage others is often more effective and more efficient.
7. Always be prepared
Murphy reminds us that if anything can go wrong, it probably will do sooner or later. Social media is a highly public environment, and things can go wrong. However, preparing a 3As plan – Alert, Assess, Act – can mitigate risks and ensure problems (and opportunities) are dealt with in the most effective way possible:
- Alert: set up tools and processes that raise the alarm if certain things happen.
- Assess: have a process in place that ensures the right people can determine the scale of the issue at hand, and what needs to be done about it, by whom, and when.
- Act: define clear roles and responsibilities so that everyone understands their role and can get moving quickly.
8. Measure your progress
If you can’t prove the ROI of social media activities, you probably need to rethink your approach. However, ROI isn’t just about sales and revenue, because everyone in the business ultimately contributes to those. When it comes to social media measurement, the important thing is to focus on your objectives, and track how social media is contributing to achieving them.
9. Optimise as you go
Social media are not a ‘set-and-forget’ environment; the opportunities for constant feedback and effective test-and-learn approaches mean that marketers can optimise their approach with every single activity, post and comment.
10. Make a commitment
When it comes to success in social media, The Supremes had it sussed as far back as 1966: “You can’t hurry love.” Meaningful relationships always take time to build, and the same is true in social media. Marketers need to make a concerted investment of time, effort and financial resource, but doing so strategically can deliver considerable returns on those investments.
As you may realise as you go though the deck above, the Sharing Is Caring approach is designed to prompt more questions than it answers, but does so from the perspective of ensuring that senior marketers understand which questions and processes can help them to build social media plans that actively contribute to their brands’ bottom line.
Critically, the framework delivers its greatest value when we share it in a truly interactive setting, so if you’d like to experience its full power for yourself and see how it can work for your brand, we’d be delighted to come in and present it to you and your teams; simply email us via firstname.lastname@example.org with some background to your brand and the opportunities and challenges you’d like to explore, and we can take the conversation from there.
Are you a spontaneous type who thrives on adventure and new experiences? A self-confessed social media addict who loves taking and sharing photos too? Well, you’d better listen up!
Volvic are on the hunt to find top-class, naturally bursting with life Content Creators to form part of Team Volcanicity 2013.
As you may have read in Marketing, we’ve recently launched a facebook app for Volvic UK which allows fans to apply to become part of the 2013 team who’ll be responsible for bringing ‘moments of Volcanicity’ to the masses, by capturing photos and sharing the scoop from festivals, gigs and trips up and down the country live on the Volvic UK facebook wall.
Those lucky enough to be selected will be supplied with a state-of-the-art camera plus funding towards adventures, or, exclusive access to some of the hottest gigs and events of the year.
To enter, fans simply have to upload a photo which expresses their Volcanicity along with a short description of what their idea of the best 2013 ever would be.
Entries are being accepted up until midnight on Friday 8th February (so if this is your thing, there’s still time to enter!).
In order to drive as much reach and engagement of the campaign as possible, Volvic are asking facebook fans to vote on their favourite competition entries. Those who vote will be entered into a weekly prize draw to win a Red Letter Day voucher so that they can choose an awesome Volcanicity experience of their choice.
Voting closes at midnight on Thursday 14th February and the top 5 entrants with the highest number of votes will be fast tracked to the next stage in the selection process, by-passing the judges. The remaining finalists will be selected based on the amount of Volcanicity expressed in their entry photo, in addition to whether the description of what their idea of the best 2013 is catches the panel’s attention.
One of the challenges which was put to us before launching this campaign was to make sure we help Volvic’s facebook fans to understand what ‘Volcanicity’ actually is…and because we love a challenge, we gladly accepted it. The output? Well, from the beginning of this year, not only did we ensure the facebook content was actively engaging fans with light-hearted ‘Volcanicity’ related games and updates, but we also reached out and secured 3 influential bloggers, who already demonstrate Volcanicity on their blogs, to introduce to the Facebook community as Team Volcanicity’s Founding Members.
We’ve already started sending our Team Volcanicity Founding Members on trips and adventures to capture content to share on the Volvic UK facebook page. We’ve been posting their content daily to firstly build buzz around the types of activities and events fans could take part in if they’re selected as part of the final team and, secondly, to demonstrate the sort of content we’re looking for from our entrants.
The quality of the entries so far have been really promising – there are definitely people out there who are already capturing moments of Volcanicity as part of their every day life, and it’s these people who are likely to be winning their ticket to the next round in the selection process.
What’s really exciting about all of this, is that finding the team is just the beginning for Volvic. The big idea behind the campaign is to be one of the first brands to put the Facebook content in the hands of the fans.
As we know, Facebook is pushing brands to deliver content that’s as relevant as the status updates we see from our friends. Ultimately, Team Volcanicity will become the page’s Community Managers, so that the content which is posted is much more likely to resonate with their peers and drive engagement.
The launch of the Team Volcanicity campaign has been a great kick-start to the year for Volvic – be sure to check out the Volvic UK page over the next few weeks to see who makes it into the final Team and follow their adventures as they bring Volcanicity to the masses.
Why do we talk? We look for information, we develop social bonds, we offer our help and we try to influence the way we’re perceived. Maslow theorised on the hierarchy of needs more than 50 years ago and they were revisited a few months ago by Adams in a study of the way we use social media.
What’s extraordinary about social media? One of the most unique elements is that it has offered brands the opportunity to suddenly use modes of communication that have been restricted to people for thousands of years. It’s not about an interaction based on interruption any more: we’re not talking about providing an experience, blocking it with a message and hoping for attention from the audience. We’re talking about building value together with people, through conversation.
At We Are Social we’re glad to work with one of the brands that relishes this change: BNL BNP Paribas. Today, in the august setting of Ara Pacis in Rome, an event took place titled “People, Projects, Technologies: from conversation to trust”. Italian journalist Luca De Biase was the moderator for a discussion about how brands can generate value with people. And to mark the occasion, BNL announced the project we’ve been working on with them, a new way to think about the relationship between brands and people – BNL People.
“People” means “clients”, but also the people who work for the bank and in its ecosystem: through discussion, exchange and dialogue, BNL will show its humanity. The employees’ involvement is open, honest and transparent: they will take part in this project telling their own stories, both professional and personal. Their passions, interests and their values will be under the spotlight.
One of the elements that struck us the most while working on this initiative is how the bank chose to tell people’s stories, to give visibility to whom represent the brand everyday, who make BNL a real “enabler”, a “human” institution to support people’s projects.
Toghether with BNL, we’ve created a series of initiatives to showcase this approach. One of the first is an application that allows everyone to create an infographic to understand their own way to be social, with the objective to introduce the “human” element that characterizes the use of social channels.
You can find BNL People on several channels: Facebook, Twitter and the website. Thanks to everyone who made this possible, we’re looking forward to see more and more brands adopt this approach to conversation as a way to build value with people.
The way people shift from awareness to loyalty, through consideration, intention and purchase has radically changed in short, the purchase funnel is no more. The customer journey has become ‘dynamic’, and Altimeter are investigating this as one of their research themes. Here at We Are Social, we’re lucky to be experiencing this evolution up close, from all over the world, and we can see the huge impact that conversations and social media are having.
Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets – connected devices of all flavours are now part of everyday life: being able to connect from everywhere and at any time means a continuous exchange with the people (and brands) we care about. Content has become a part of conversations, a spark to ignite them. To adapt to this age of conversation, content needs to be broken down into small pieces, suitable for continuous micro-interactions. The multiple channels that people use means you can take advantage of specific device characteristics: e.g. location based social networks (GPS), photo sharing (mobile camera and connectivity) or social TV applications (TV syncing technologies).
As Shiv Singh points out, social media is becoming more like “air”: part of everything we touch, see and interact with. While people interact with multiple channels, different types of content, people and brands in different parts of their social graph, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter understand the importance of aggregating various conversations and signals into a unified stream. Think about Facebook integrating external platforms (like Pinterest or Foursquare) into your news feed, or Twitter showing images and videos from external platforms in your Twitter stream. People choose to use social platforms based on what parts of their social graph are also using the platform and because of platform’s functionality. When they want to know what’s going on amongst their social graph, it’s important they have one (or a few) point of reference: which is why social networks often try to act as a personal “dashboard” for your social life.
With over 500m people active on Facebook each day, the amount of content, information, interactions and call to actions that touch people’s lives has grown exponentially. Attention has become the scarcest resource people have: it’s very important to leverage technology to surface only what really matters to them, selecting what should be in the foreground. But while technology is an enabler in this process, the real element that decides what gets people’s scarce attention is trust. With so many devices, platforms, connections and brands converging into a continuous user experience, people prioritise only the relevant and trustworthy interactions. Brands therefore must learn to participate in conversations to which they can add value, in order to build trust and develop a continuous relationship.
Research on brand side
In order to develop trust, it’s fundamental brands understand their audiences from a demographic, psychographic as well as sociographic point of view. It’s not enough any more for brands to know just the typical profile of the people they’re interacting with: it’s crucial to understand the people themselves and the dynamics of influence inside their groups. To do this, both listening to the conversations they are having and having a hands-on feel for the community dynamics are essential to generate relevant and actionable insights. And you must do this in real-time, in order to be able to participate in those conversations and develop effective relationships: brands must structure their offerings and internal processes in order to follow peoples’ paths dynamically.
Conversation is the product
All the changes related to this new dynamic customer journey are evolving the way brands think about their business models. Conversational elements need to become part of their products and services: a reason to consider when making a purchase (or deciding to spread the word about a product) is how integrated it needs to be with channels people use everyday. Since social media is so embedded in people’s everyday lives, offering a service through these channels can be a strong point of difference.
The evolution towards a dynamic customer journey also redefines the way people think about brands and products, putting a strong emphasis on the role of conversation. Companies have a huge opportunity to analyse and evolve their models gradually, allowing conversation to be a visible, differentiating and relevant element of their offering.
It’s very interesting to see brands that have the strength, passion and appeal to actively involve people in a relationship. They do it through outreach activities and by stimulating people’s interest.
It’s fascinating to follow brands that are able to draw attention and engagement to a level that people are spontaneously willing to be involved. In these cases, people find strategies and implement real tactics to be noticed and involved by brands.
Take a look at this interesting post by Juli Ziv about how bloggers can get in touch with brands to get access to an exclusive experience such as the fashion week.
What do fashion brands have in common? How do they spark this level of involvement? How could this apply to your brand?
A fundamental step is differentiating between a “flat”, non-creative approach that can activate a generic conversation (let’s call it “buzz”) and a deep, personalized, creative and direct approach that can generate a real commitment to be part of a brand’s community. Only one of these generates real, long term, unconditioned involvement.
What are your experiences with these two types of relationship with brands? Do you have any examples? Let us know in the comments.
According to recent research by Sysomos, Twitter users have changed. Not only have they grown in numbers: they’ve grown up and have a more mature approach to Twitter.
It’s a collective acquisition of behaviours and uses that shows clearly Twitter is headed towards more engagement and more interaction between people (and brands, too).
A few insights from the research:
- Many have understood the importance of trust: the use of Twitter “bios” to tell people about their identity has increased (31% to 69%);
- Relevance is also important: having a detailed name helps to show a there’s a real person behind the account. Detailed user names have increased (33% > 73%);
- Differentiation is becoming one of the main challenges in social media, and attributes like location or website URL help develop it. Both these parameters have been communicated by many more Twitter users than last year;
- The number of users has increased, but also the average number of followers has grown, proving that new accounts are interacting well, learning from more experienced people;
What do you think about Twitter’s change? Do you feel its users are growing up and have a more effective approach to networking and conversation?
Google launches real-time, social web search
You might have noticed that Google looks a bit different, since announcing last week a couple of very important developments in the area of real-time search.
Google search results now include breaking news headlines, live updates from popular social networks, and blog posts published just seconds before. And the move is fully supported by the ‘who’s who’ of social networking: Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Jaiku, Identi.ca and Twitter.
Forrester: Traditional agencies can’t do digital
A new study from Forrester last week highlighted the complexity of the interactive marketing landscape and the challenges this poses for marketers, and to traditional agencies:
Forrester interviewed about 100 global interactive marketers for the study. Only 23% thought their “traditional brand agency” could effectively plan and manage interactive marketing activities. About 46% thought they couldn’t do it, and the rest didn’t have an opinion either way.
Forrester expects the digital agency space to fragment even more with clients working with specialist agenices in areas such as mobile and social media.
Habbo Hotel launches conversation tracking tool
Habbo Hotel, the virtual world for teens with around 14 million monthly unique visitors, has launched a conversation measurement tool for the site called ‘Habble’. This offers marketers a chance to understand what users are saying about their brands, slogans and key phrases over a defined period.
The tool has been developed to help brands advertising in the hotel and is used in conjunction with click-through rates, time spent and impressions. Brands not advertising within the virtual world can also use Habble to understand what type of conversations are taking place about them.
Germany’s StudiVZ adds support for 3rd party apps
Two and a half years after Facebook, its German clone StudiVZ follows the US social network’s most successful move by adding support for third-party applications.
Nine apps are available as of today and several hundreds are in development.
What sets this development apart is the emphasis that is being placed on privacy. Germany has some of the toughest online privacy laws in the world and CEO Markus Berger-de León has applied tight security policies to third-party apps “to avoid the type of scams that TechCrunch recently dug up on Facebook and MySpace.”