Monthly Archives: January 2014

Anatomy of An Insight: Sorry, Coke & Pepsi.

The SodaStream ad for Super Bowl is quite vapid creatively. As a guy, I naturally do not complain having Scarlett Johansson on it but I have seen her in way more interesting settings. The beauty of this ad is that it is already banned:

The reason for the ban is the line in the end: “Sorry Coke & Pepsi”. Apparently Fox was afraid that it would upset those big advertisers and we will not see this 30 s clip in Super Bowl. That hardly does matter as the ad has already been seen over 2 million times. Daniel Birnbaum, the CEO of SodaStream acts furious, but is probably laughing all the way to the bank:

“What are they afraid of? Which advertiser in America doesn’t mention a competitor? This is the kind of stuff that happens in China. I’m disappointed as an American”

Insight: If you are challenger brand, you have to aggressively confront the bigger competitors. People love underdogs. This ad further solidifies SodaStream challenger position while making competitor look as evil giants. When your ad is banned, it actually gives extra credibility to your message. Although Coke or Pepsi might not have anything to do with the ad ban, this raises speculation about conspiracy.

Too often brands do not act as challengers or market leaders, but fell in the middle ground. As a brand you are either David or Goliath, there is no middle ground.

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How To Approach Your Social Media Strategy in 2014?

Year 2014 will be turbulent for both brands and agencies working with social media channels. Because of the recent IPO´s (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), the previous rebels have started to resemble more established media houses. It is a double-edged sword. Many agencies are not as stressed out as the social media ecosystem is more predictable (and none of the innovation labs is making money anyway). On the other hand, the activities have been and increasingly will be quite dull and unimaginative.

Beginning of the year is the time to think your social media strategy. For majority of the brands, year 2014 should be year of revolution instead of just evolution:

1.Facebook is the channel for reach.
Majority of your social media paid media investments should happen in Facebook to maximize the reach. In terms of sheer amount of users, it is dominant. However, the recent developments have been really worrying for brand (and other) pages as well. Certain pages have seen dips as low as 88% in organic reach. Even Facebook itself is not talking anymore about free organic reach, but instead brand pages as a way to increase the reach of the paid media. This is natural advancement and should not surprise everyone familiar with market economy. So I believe that Facebook will get bigger media share in 2014, but actually less focus in terms of engagement. I would invest more in those terms with Twitter (customer service, real-time marketing) and to visual platforms (content creation).

2.Use Twitter as the channel for real-time and customer service.
I am not saying that every brand should necessarily be in Twitter, but if you want to jump on the real-time marketing bandwagon, Twitter is the place to be. I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter throughout the years, but despite all the shortcomings the service has proven its worth. It does certain things really well (like customer service), and provides more natural ways to engage with audience than Facebook. Here is example of random interaction with Warby Parker, after I shared their innovative annual report:
Warby Parker Tweet

3.Invest heavily on visual social media channels.
Whereas online media money is going to Facebook, I would concentrate majority of the production and engagement investments to visual social platforms. No one has time to read text anymore, unless you are able to condense it to 140 characters or say it in photo.
Online video has been the fastest growing online ad format for couple of years. Naturally the pre-roll is the TVC of the new generation, but creation of good content provides great reach & engagement opportunities for brands. Video is a great tool for customer service as well:

Besides video, the photos are naturally huge and I expect the short-form video content to rise rapidly (Instagram video, Vine). Especially tutorials are naturally fit to for shorter video content (Check: #lowesfixinsix).
Many companies should actually rethink their community manager talent pool. In 2014 if you cannot take great photo or shoot a great video, you should not probably be community manager.  Social media used to be more verbal, but now it is increasingly more visual.

4. Embrace the renaissance of anonymous randomness.
Contrary to what Facebook says, many people want to remain anonymous while online. 6% of all adults on Internet use Reddit. People engage way more on Tumblr blogs nowadays than on Facebook brand pages. One reason is that not all the people want to attach their Internet personality to real-life. In Internet you can be that backpacker hiphop-dude you really are and do not need even remotely to try to sound smart. It actually reminds me of the original promise of MySpace. You did not need to use it with your real name. You could make a site for your cat if you fancied. Anonymity can naturally bring some problems, such as hate-speech, crime and stuff but it also enables refreshing randomness that is currently missing from Facebook. Many people are more interesting talking about things they are interested and not about themselves (assuming they are not completely narcissistic). So do not underestimate the power of “anonymous” social media channels. Maybe Yahoo was on to something when it bought Tumblr.

5.Experiment with the new upcoming channels.
I have written before about how you should approach your social media strategy like investor. The landscape in terms of the hot newcomers changes really rapidly. Global brands should nowadays be more tuned into what is happening on local level. Experimenting with various social media channels goes hand in hand with that. For example if you had done tests with Path, it would be easier to utilize the learnings in Indonesia (which is the third-biggest Path user country). The innovation in social media sphere is also not limited only to Silicon Valley anymore so cutting-edge firms should empower their local teams to experiment with local social media channels as well. For example WeChat is way more advanced than WhatsApp. Competitive advantage can come from everywhere. The trick is to identify it, experiment with it and scale it.

There will interesting year ahead. In 2014 companies need to dramatically update and revamp the social media strategies. Which is great. Whenever there is turmoil and crisis, there is always an opportunity.

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Right after Thailand declared a state of emergency and the unrest in Bangkok increases, I received this mailer from yesterday:
Did it caught my attention?
Did it make me want to book flights or hotel to Bangkok.
No, not really.
I have partied before in Bangkok, but the current party is not really something I would consider right now.

Lesson for the marketer: Targeting your message is not enough, you have to remember the timing of the message as well.

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Sharing is A Selfish Act

Why people share things?

Honestly, sometimes I really do not know. For example this clip below has gotten over 1M views:

Many times, it is easier to say why they are not sharing your content. Often the reason is that your content just sucks. And while it sucks, it does not suck enough to commemorate ironic share (like the video above).

While you may theorize the psychology of sharing until the end of the day, I find it relatively easy. You share either useful or funny content. Being useful is more multi-dimensional, as it might mean that the content is useful to either the sharer or the expected receivers. This is the reason why the world´s most uncreative people share all these creativity links and quotes on Facebook.
Stop it. You are not fooling anyone.
We attribute sharing to our individual image, but it is quite seldom even a slightest reflection of who we really are. When people are anonymous (discussion forums, Reddit, 9GAG, etc.) in Internet the content that is share is completely different. In real social media, what is truly shared is anti-social content. Anonymous comment is much more authentic representation of human spirit than airy-fairy “we-are-the-world”-share from the self-help guy in newsfeed near you.

It is gross misunderstanding that this age of oversharing is increasing openness to our culture. Facebook is just homogenizing what we share and has people showing their polished desired images. My feed is overpopulated with engagement announcements and baby photos. It is not even statistically possible that there is so much mating going on in my network every single day. You feel forced to like and comment those photos, which creates vicious cycle of boring content to my newsfeed. This is the reason I have decided to like every negative status update from now on to show my support to reality and attitude in 2014. Sadly, I have not been able to walk the walk and my own personal status updates are nowadays only about my sport accomplishments. Facebook has become a commodity, which has made it commercially interesting but same time really boring on an individual level.

We said in our book “Digital Fooprint” in 2010, that in digital age everyone is personal brand. Unfortunately we were right and the social media is full of overtly self-conscious personal branders optimizing every like and comment.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Denham Psycho

Although making fun of “hipsters” starts to be quite passé, this video still gets a pass. This brilliant piece showcases one hipster doing his best Christian Bale impersonation while having product integrally in the film as well:

Insight: If you do branded content, it has to be interesting content first and foremost. Brand comes later. If you are paying homage one of the nihilistic and violent movies of our generation, you have to be violent as well. Denham is not competing against other jeans brands in YouTube. It is competing against all the content out there. The quality criteria of our target audience has gone up and we either match it or become obsolete.

Denham Psycho is not everyone´s cup of tea. This is not a concept getting lukewarm reception in meeting room. You either love it or hate it. And that is how it should be. Advertising should be discriminating. Your marketing communications should make a clear distinction between them and us. Messaging strategy is not only about thinking to whom we are talking to. It is also about deciding, who you will leave out of your party. If you do not get popular culture reference to cult movie, maybe you are not Denham target audience to begin with.

When creating branded content, it is balance act between brand relevancy and brand controversy. As a jeans brand, Denham is in in the lucky position to dial up the tone to the latter spectrum.

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100th Post: Year 2013 in Review

This is my 100th post on this blog.   Tennis clap. Or even Nolia clap, if you are really excited about the fact.   If you want to read my point-of-view about this year´s digital trends, I recommend reading these predictions.   I started this blog for one simple reason: I wanted some channel where to express myself verbally about (marketing) subjects that tickle my interest. I used to blog in Finnish to the biggest marketing & advertising magazine, but stopped it immediately when I moved to Singapore in 2012. It would have felt odd to blog in Finnish weekly when you are living abroad. So it was also naturally to switch the language to my second one, English.

This year I was asked to write a regular column (once every third month) in the biggest business daily in Finland. It has been great to write in Finnish again and surprisingly I also always get feedback from those columns, although they are only published in offline format. Maybe print is not dead after all. In terms of written output, I am still more of a digital guy, so I regard this as my main channel for verbal expression. Also because I can write here as often or seldom as I want. Also there are no size restrictions and I can have as long-winding introductions as I want (which might be a bad thing as well).

I do not stress too much about writing these posts. Sometimes I write daily, sometimes there is even a month break. Last year I wrote 52 posts: exactly on steady weekly pace. I do not worry that much about views or comments either. Blogging for me is one method of working and thinking. When you have to condense certain topic (like Google Search Algorithm changes) to blog format it automatically sharpens your thinking. Planning is not only research, but more about finding and presenting insights influenced by research. This blog is one tool to do the research, find and present different insights and opinions. Hopefully also in a format which is interesting for readers.

Luckily I am not the only who is reading this blog and the most popular posts have gotten thousands of views last year:
The Most Read Blog Posts
Read them below:
1. Rethinking the Advertising Agency Team Structure
2. #Lufthansafail: Why You Cannot Separate Customer Service and Social Media?
3. The Seven Characteristics of a Great Concept
4. Craft Your Presentation like FBI Interrogation
5. Psycho Marketing 101

Expect for the Lufthansa-post, the top five list comprises of timeless content (three of them actually written in 2012) and some of them are my own favorites as well. It is interesting to analyze what kind of post strikes a chord with your readers. For example, I do not know why FBI interrogation techniques and marketing of Psycho movie are more popular than critical analysis of selfies. I liked the latter way more, but eventually the audience decides the value of every post. The most popular post was not a surprise though. I have talked about the subject and that particular post with many people from our industry, and it feels that I have been onto something with it. Not yet entirely sure what.

This year I will continue to write when I feel like it and about the things I feel passionate about. Thanks for everyone who has read these rants thus far. There will be plenty more. Stay tuned and Happy New Year to everyone!

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