Here are all of the posts tagged ‘social media’.
Audiences and critics alike are heralding AMC’s Breaking Bad as one of the all-time great TV series. The sixth season of the Emmy® Award-winning drama returned to US screens for its final eight episodes this month. And the show’s millions of fans are showing no sign of addiction remission for Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and co.
In the lead-up to the final season, the AMC team here at We Are Social in New York conducted extensive research around the show, uncovering fan conversations and content sharing across Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr and tons of other social platforms.
With the aim of increasing anticipation and tune-in, we wanted to further galvanize these millions of fans and convert them into fervent show ambassadors.
To do this we tapped directly into the obsessive nature of the Breaking Bad fanbaseto create #BBaddict, a social experience which asks fans what they are willing to sacrifice in order to prove their addiction to the show.
We created a series of socially-based activities and weekly challenges that asked fans to engage with Breaking Bad on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GetGlue, and Vine.
We incentivized engagement and sharing by offering rewards such as exclusive film access, DVD box sets, A1 car fresheners, Breaking Bad t-shirts and sweatshirts, and more. One grand prizewinner will also be flown to the finale taping of Talking Bad, the talk show series that airs after AMC’s newest drama Low Winter Sun, and will receive star treatment from the cast and crew.
The buzz over the last few weeks has been incredible, both in how the campaign has been received, and also how much we’ve enjoyed working on it. If we weren’t all fans of the show before, then We Are Social New York is definitely full of #BBaddicts now!
When people buy brands, they’re usually paying for something more than a core product or service.
For example, they don’t really pay for the liquid inside a shampoo bottle; they pay for beautiful hair, and for the confidence which that brings.
Ultimately, people pay for benefits; products and services are simply a means to an end.
The most successful brands understand that broader, benefit-led marketing allows them to extend their impact beyond core products and services to deliver ‘augmented’ offerings that create far greater value to both them and their audiences.
This approach applies to brands across almost all categories:
- Nike sees large-scale participative events like its We Run races as core revenue streams in their own right, not just activities designed to increase sales of the brand’s apparel.
- Apple’s App Stores and iTunes Store move the brand from a manufacturer to a lifestyle brand whose impact extends well beyond the technology sector.
- Madonna purportedly earns more money from concert ticket and merchandise sales than she does from album sales.
- Red Bull has gone so far as to reposition itself as a ‘media and experiences company’, using its ‘extreme stimulation’ proposition to extend the brand’s offering well beyond its heritage of energy drinks.
- American Express doesn’t just offer payment services to its merchants; it uses activities like its OPEN forum and Small Business Saturday initiatives to become an overall ‘partner in success’.
It’s clear to see why this approach works: augmented experiences offer people something more than a mere means to an end, and as a result, they succeed in delivering a differentiated value proposition that people are willing to pay more for.
Moreover, these experiences are inherently more ‘social’ than simple products and services too – it’s easier for people to share an experience than it is for them to share most products.
Critically, there are also more compelling reasons for people to talk about great experiences than there are for them to recommend specific products.
As a result, augmented experiences can inspire a social media impact that extends well beyond the reach of customer reviews or the brand’s own social media posts.
So, when it comes to your brand’s social media, don’t just think about how you’ll drive greater engagement with your own social media posts; use augmented experiences to inspire organic audience conversations, and become a brand that’s always worth talking about.
Read more in the Social Brands series by clicking here.
The nature of that value exchange will vary between brands and audiences and over time, but in order for marketers to deliver maximum value to their brands, it holds that they need to understand what value looks like for their audiences.
This isn’t just a case of asking people what they want, though; as Steve Jobs astutely pointed out,
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” (from this great collection of Jobs quotes)
If you want to deliver real value to people, you need to understand them as people: their behaviour, their attitudes and beliefs, their motivations… In short, you need to understand their lives.
Conventional marketing research is great at finding specific answers to specific questions, but the real magic for marketers lies in modern-day anthropology – not the 19th Century ‘home-stay in Borneo’ variety, but a fresh, always-on digital approach to meaningful people-watching.
Enter Social Media Listening
Every day, hundreds of millions of people all over the world share valuable insights and information about themselves via publicly accessible social media.
Not all of these posts mention brands, but that doesn’t mean they’re not of value to marketers.
Indeed, almost all public posts can help inquisitive marketers to build a rich understanding of their audiences that they couldn’t gather elsewhere.
Even the much-bemoaned practice of posting “photos of my lunch” can reveal powerful insights into an audiences’ worldview: do they opt for expensive restaurants? Do they look for healthy alternatives? Do they mention brand names or generic topics?
When we explore people’s social media activities with an open mind, we’re almost certain to find something of value.
However, almost all marketers miss this value, because they’re too busy ‘listening’ for explicit mentions of brand names or campaign hashtags.
As a result, we’re leaving far too many rich insights uncovered in the feed.
Big Data vs Big Insights
One of the reasons we’re missing this value is that marketers are often too egocentric when it comes to their brands.
This isn’t a judgment on marketers as people, mind – more often than not, this selfish focus is driven by a the demands of the quarterly sales cycle, and the quick wins that are invariably the easiest ways to achieve short-term targets often come at the cost of seeing (or seizing) bigger, longer-term opportunities.
This focus on ‘delivering the numbers’ means marketers spend too much time looking for ways to insert themselves into conversation.
Put simply, we spend too much time looking for opportunities to interrupt people.
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
Indeed, this interruptive approach – even though it’s become ‘industry standard’ – contravenes one of the most important rules of effective communication: when you’re talking with someone, actively listen to what they’re saying, and don’t simply wait for your turn to speak.
Sadly, too many brands don’t even wait for their turn to speak though; they’ve become used to interrupting audiences whenever they have sufficient budget.
Even amongst those brands that do listen, most only do so on an ad-hoc basis, usually by using traditional market research techniques to ask a series of brand-oriented questions.
This approach does offer a certain value, of course, but the danger is that marketers only pay attention to a summary of aggregated findings, and miss out on the opportunity to dig deeper into the motivations and contexts behind people’s statements and behaviour.
In order to become more successful, marketers need to move beyond this ‘brand egocentrism’, and start to think of their brand’s activities in the broader context of people’s whole lives.
We need to spend more time actively getting to know our audiences, and being personally involved in the listening process.
Social Listening vs Social Monitoring
Fortunately, rich insights are readily available to marketers with the willingness to listen.
By paying attention to the statements and conversations that people share in public social media, we can gain a far deeper understanding of what people actually want, need and desire.
We don’t need to collect everything in one go, either; by spending just 5 minutes a day actively listening to the conversations of a subset of your audience, you’ll quickly gain an affinity for the things they care about.
More importantly, these insights can add value well beyond your social media activities too; most people (i.e. non-marketers) use social media to talk about a wide variety of their everyday lives, so proactive listening can inform every aspect of your brand’s value proposition: advertising, packaging, CSR opportunities, in-store activities, and even R&D:
In order to do this effectively, though, we need to move beyond ‘ego monitoring’.
Instead of listening only to what people are saying about your brand, use more generic keyword terms in your searches.
For example, if you’re a shampoo brand, don’t just listen out for mentions of Pantene, Dove and Head & Shoulders; ultimately, people don’t pay for shampoo, they pay for beautiful hair, so listen out for the broader conversations they’re having about hair.
By adopting this broader approach, you’ll quickly gain insights into people’s problems and motivations, their preferences and their needs.
Furthermore, by moving beyond the simplistic measurement of ego metrics like share of voice or campaign engagement, you’ll start to find opportunities to join organic audience conversations where your brand can actually add real value, without needing to interrupt them.
The bigger opportunity in social media listening is that it can help us use communications to add value and become welcome participants in bigger conversations.
The first step towards uncovering these rich insights is to identify who you want to listen to.
Don’t restrict this definition to your consumers; listening to broader groups such as influencers, advocates, detractors and even NGOs and regulators can help add rich and unexpected insights.
Once you’ve defined your audience, you’ll need to find where they are in public social media.
You don’t need to find everyone in your audience of course, and you certainly don’t need to analyse every one of their posts.
The way I usually get started is to find a few dozen people talking about something generic (but brand-relevant) on Twitter, and then read through some of their other recent posts. Inevitably this will include some photos of lunch, but I start to get an affinity for who they are as real people.
Once you do this a few times, you’ll probably want to adopt a more systematic approach.
Start by putting together a simple list of keywords, and make a regular ‘appointment’ to listen to the people who’re talking about them.
Select a few people from these conversations at random, and take some time to listen to what they’re saying about other things too; this way, you’ll quickly build up an intuitive understanding of your audience that goes well beyond demographics.
Using social listening tools can help make your anthropological efforts more effective too; harness the power of always-on listening tools like Tweetdeck and HootSuite, as well as powerful aggregators like Sysomos and Radian6.
Once you have your tools set up, you’ll only need to listen for a few minutes every day before you start to identify new ways to add value to your audiences’ lives and to your brand’s bottom line.
Go on, try it out now.
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.
Social Brands Part 4: On The Go Is The Way To Go
It’s official: mobile is literally everywhere. Google tells us that more people around the world now own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush, while the UN just revealed that more people have access to mobile phones than toilets.
Here’s how things break down by geography:
However, despite the cellphone’s ubiquity, a recent WARC study revealed that barely 39% of brand advertisers in APAC consider mobile to be ‘very important’ to their current marketing plans, and a scant 29% actually have a mobile strategy.
So why aren’t marketers’ plans in tune with their audience’s existing behaviour?
In other words, it’s highly likely that, around the world, more people now use mobile phones than watch TV:
That’s a huge shift. Moreover, global cellphone adoption is still growing at a rate of 140 million new subscriptions per quarter.
Of course, many people around the world still rely on more basic ‘feature’ phones, but these devices still provide a level of intimacy that TV can’t match.
What’s more, the shift to internet-connected smartphone devices continues to accelerate with each month that passes, with global mobile data usage currently increasing at close to 30% per quarter:
Out of Sync
Perhaps more tellingly, people are more emotionally connected to their phones too: as we highlighted in our recent report on the country, 70% of people in China – the world’s largest consumer market – said that they “can’t live without” their cellphones.
People used to say the same of TV, but ironically, many people now use their mobile internet connections to download ‘TV’ content to watch on their mobile phones (sans adverts).
TV clearly still has a vital role to play in the marketing mix of course, and this isn’t about replacing one medium with another. Indeed, mobile has a big part to play in the continuing evolution of TV by enabling and driving phenomena like second screening and transmedia storytelling.
But in a world where brands can reach more of their consumers, more of the time, in more contextually relevant and intimate ways through mobile than through TV, marketers must spend more time – and more of their budgets – exploring how mobile can help them engage audiences and reach their objectives.
If Your Marketing Isn’t Mobile, It Isn’t Going Anywhere
Mobile offers a very different kind of audience experience to TV.
The latter is still largely a communal device; a centre piece that takes pride of place in the heart of our living rooms.
However, mobile is more personal; its primary purpose has always been to connect us with other people, rather than simply delivering passive entertainment.
Critically, people have more control over what they do on their phones.
They decide which activities they participate in, what content they consume, and where and when they do so:
Because of their size and increasing flexibility, mobiles have also become many people’s most important devices.
To put things in perspective, a recent survey found that 1 in 3 American smartphone owners would even give up sex before giving up their phones.
And with more and more of our activities shifting to mobile devices, this intimacy for mobile seems set to continue.
But, perhaps because of this heightened sense of device intimacy, people don’t welcome interruptions on their phones.
As with so many of today’s big marketing opportunities, interruptive, broadcast approaches simply aren’t the best use of the medium.
Social by Design
Critically, mobile phones started life as truly ‘social media’ – they were always intended to be a means of connecting people.
However, as they’ve evolved from voice-and-text handsets into today’s multi-purpose connected devices, the scope of the social interaction they offer has increased dramatically, to the extent that telephony has dropped way down the list of activities people use their ‘phones’ for.
Meanwhile, the importance of social networking on mobile devices continues to grow.
Smartphone users check Facebook an average of 14 times every day, and American smartphone users spent 40.8 billion minutes on social media mobile apps in July 2012. On an annualised basis, that’s close to 1 million years of human time spent on mobile social activities in the US alone.
Meanwhile, another recent survey from J. D. Power found that, across all age groups, American smartphone users spend an average of almost 2 hours per week using social media apps.
comScore now reckons that 55% of all social media activity in the US takes place on a mobile device.
These trends aren’t unique to the US though, and based on our recent round of SDMW research, mobile’s share of social activities around Asia is likely to be even higher.
More importantly, with the increasing role of mobile instant messaging apps (MIMAs) like WeChat, Line, and Kakaotalk, mobile social’s share of our attention is only set to increase.
Mobile doesn’t just offer new opportunities to drive attention and engagement though; it is increasingly becoming a key channel for conversions too:
Here again, the role of mobile social comes to the fore, with around half of Facebook’s users checking the site while in stores.
As a result, within the next few years, marketing strategies that don’t come to life on mobile devices will never come to life at all.
That shift requires a significant re-evaluation of the way we approach communicating with audiences too.
We won’t be able to rely on interruption anymore, and as we saw in the previous post in this series, marketers will need to get much savvier at adding value instead of finding more efficient ways of distracting people.
Consequently, it’s imperative that marketers explore mobile-social synergies, and build contextual engagement into the core of their engagement strategies.
So how do marketers make better use of mobile apps?
First up, the answer doesn’t have to be about building native apps.
Indeed, even when native apps are available, people don’t always use them; as Mark Zuckerberg revealed recently, “there are actually more people in the world using Facebook on mobile Web” than using the iOS and Android native apps combined.
The real trick is understanding why people use mobile devices – what are the specific wants, needs and desires driving their behaviour?
The best mobile marketing embodies a few simple principles:
- Deliver something of value, whether it’s utility, entertainment, or social interaction;
- Take advantage of context, using mobile devices’ portability to offer different experiences depending on where and when people engage;
- Keep things streamlined, with content that’s easily accessible and suitable across a range of different devices and connection speeds;
- Build in device portability, allowing people to continue their experience across phones, tablets and computers if they choose to, especially when sharing things with other people;
- Harness layers of detail, allowing people to enjoy a rewarding experience whether they’ve got just 30 seconds on their work break, or 30 minutes on the bus home.
Stay In Touch
Lastly, don’t forget that mobile is still primarily a social channel – a reality that presents a huge opportunity.
Social media experiences will increasingly come to life on the go, and here at We Are Social, we’re already planning on the basis that mobile and social should be seamlessly integrated to provide the best possible social experiences, wherever and whenever the audience wants to engage.