Category Archives: Social Media

Three Secrets of Apple´s Social Media Strategy

Apple does not have particular social media strategy.

By being quiet, they are one of the most talked about brands in social media. It naturally helps that you make iconic products with almost religious following. They have social media channels though, because they have realized the importance of social media as a reach driver. Apple does a lot of social media advertising to help to sell more of their products. What they are not doing is “joining the conversation”. Social media is eyeballs, not likes or tweets.

applehasnttweeted

Therefore Apple´s Instagram account is refreshing detour for their muted social media presence. They are actually posting things!

appleinstagram.png

But again, it is not about Apple starting a conversation or begging for engagement. They are highlighting photos that iPhone users have taken. They are tapping to existing behavior (#shotoniphone-hashtag has nearly million photos in Instagram). They are not telling about themselves, instead they are showcasing people using their products. Instead of talking about popular culture, they are popular culture.

The odds are that you are not working with iconic brand, so you might need to approach your social media strategy differently. Still, these rules might serve as the golden standard to which you should aim for:

  1. Make products people want to talk about.
  2. Use Social media mainly as a channel for reach, secondly to engagement.
  3. Showcase your users, not your brand or products.
Advertisements
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Blocking The Ad-Blocking

Ad Blocking is nothing more than someone saying your advertising sucks.

Sharon Napier, Partners & Napier

NBA: New York Knicks at New Orleans Pelicans

Ad-blockers are changing the digital advertising landscape drastically. Already quarter of Internet users in US are using ad-blockers and about 50% more is considering to start using them.  If digital advertisers are left with audience who is just incapable of using the ad-blockers, it does not sound like particularly lucrative target audience. We already know that people who are clicking banner ads are not necessarily the sharpest pencils on the drawer. Already in 2011, it was 279.64 more likely that you would climb Mt. Everest and reach the summit than to click a banner ad.

Facebook has started to force ads even if you are using ad blockers in desktop. Publishers are testing different ways to battle ad-blocking. But essentially it will a game of cat and mouse. People have already made their statement: majority of them don´t want to see your spammy ads.

So if you can´t beat em, join em:

  1. Brands should do their own ad-blockers

Maybe Amazon could this. Instead of getting non-relevant harasment, you would get personalized recommendations based on the content you are watching. Essentially Google ad network could already provide some of this level, but many of the advertisers are still quite lazy to utilize all the possibilities. New cognitive ads from Watson could provide interesting alternatives to changing the adspace from intrusion to utility.

It could be also strong statement from brands doing constantly good advertising. For example I would rather see Nike ads all the time than majority of other brands (see D&AD Ad Browser filter)

There are already some ad-blockers who are selling ad space (which sounds a little contradicting, but what the heck). The logic is that you replace the annoying and ugly ads with acceptable and beautiful ads.

  1. Reverse ad-blocker

This could be an interesting art project.

When we are flooded with fake news, actually the ads are only thing we can rely on. So I don´t actually want to block the ads, I want to block the horrible content I waste my time on. Think about it if you could block all the Facebook updates, irrelevant Whatsapp messages and biased online commentary. You would only see the good old marketing communications aimed to make you buy more instead of fake news messing with your head.

Blocking is a part of good defense, but great blockers keep the ball on court.

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New Social Order: Why Everything You Learned About Social Media is Wrong?

nwo

“Messaging is the new web browser. Everyone has a phone. Everyone has a favourite messaging app on their phone. If your new thing can message people via those apps, then anyone can engage with you.”

Matt McAlister (Guardian) 

Social media has been good to me. I used to work in MySpace in its heyday. I mostly made my name after that doing many succesful Facebook campaigns. I have exploited all the useful social media channels in promoting my books, parties and whatever else I have been doing. Majority of readers to this blog come from Twitter and LinkedIn.

That being said, social media is not what it used to be. It has become big business. It has become boring. It has become predictable. Essentially social media has reached the adulthood.

Marketers took a while to learn the ropes of social media. Now we have to unlearn everything we knew about social media if we want to succeed in the new marketplace:

  1. Social media listening is becoming meaningless

70% of the social discussions cannot be tracked because they happen in ”dark social” e.g. in messenger platforms and to lesser extend e-mail and SMS (older demographics). All the social media listening tools are focusing heavily on Twitter with some Instagram and Facebook mixed in. That is hardly a representative of almost any audience. Social media listening tools focus on Twitter because it is easy to monitor. That is like only doing biceps at the gym, because it is the most convenient movement to do. The reality is that you don´t know what your audience is talking about in digital and most likely will not be able to know in the near future.

Regard social media listening as a pulse (or weak signal) of what is happening, but not the full accurate picture of your audience and what they are talking about. Unless your audience are ”social media gurus” and celebrities.

  1. Engagement with your audience is a myth

Facebook is not social media; it is paid media. There is no organic reach for the brands anymore. You have to approach Facebook with same tools and methods as TV (expect with slightly better targeting opportunities). The most interesting bit about Facebook is the whole ecosystem with WhatsApp, FB Messenger and Instagram. Referring to previous point, we might not know what people are talking on WhatsApp but soon we can target ads based on what they are talking.

Forget always-on, approach Facebook through campaigns. Do less, but bigger things. For smaller things, automate as much as possible.

  1. Chatbots are the magic bullet to bring utility to social and make brands meaningful

The whole digital experience will start to revolve around messengers. The real value brands can bring is not in human relationships, but in human-machine relationships. Community manager –model is not sustainable as it requires actual people running it. Seeing a social post of pizza will not improve your life, but ability to order pizza from the messenger will (or make it worse depending on how many pizzas you eat a week). Conversational commerce will be the biggest opportunity for the brands in the short run to become meaningful in digital sphere.

Define how you can bring value to your audience through messenger with chatbots. Move fast because your competitors are most likely thinking about the same things as well.

  1. Influencers and partnerships are the key to borrow relevance

Ad-blocking is becoming more and more prevalent. Whether your ad is in Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the default setting for your audience will be to block it. Only way to overcome ad-blocking is Again brands should not play in human-human relationships, but as an enhancer and enabler of star-human relationship. You have to start working with relevant influencers and start creating native content with the relevant media entitities. The answer to ad-blocking is not making better ads, because once you have blocked your ads you will not unblock them just because quality of interruptions has improved.

Go where your audience is and play with their rules.

  1. Forget social media

Like said earlier, the digital behavior will start (has already started) to revolve around messengers. That will be a melting pot of social, mobile and eCommerce and you have to understand that whole melting pot to succeed in the new marketplace. Our audience is not slicing and dicing their life. Messengers are lifeline of their whole existence and there is no boundaries between real-life and digital.

Your audience does not live in silos. You should not select your vendors to specialize in silos either. 

New social order has been here for already quite a while. Is your company ready for it?

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The Referee and The Player: Digital Media´s Dilemma

“We have also been calling for a long time for media owners like Facebook and Google not to mark their own homework and release data to ComScore to enable independent evaluation. The referee and player cannot be the same person.”

– Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP CEO)

The most successful companies of digital age are data companies. The data is their core business, so it is quite understandable they are not particularly keen to share their most valuable asset to third party companies. There is a worry that competitors could get to learn their secrets. The dilemma is that some of the secrets are crucial for business success, but other secrets are quite dirty.

“I don’t lie. I just massage the truth.”

– Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

Facebook inflated numbers for their videos for over two years. I was not particularly shocked. 56% of display ads are never seen. Majority of the ads that are seen, are not really seen by humans but bots. 100 of millions of people are blocking mobile ads every single day, so you are most likely serving your ads to less digital savvy audience.

Digital advertising has always been prone to fidgeting with numbers. Anyone who has worked in digital media, knows that there are tricks to inflate certain KPIs when your monthly report is due. Companies are not exactly telling lies about their numbers, but they are not telling the whole truth either. Everyone reports their main metrics a little bit differently, so that the numbers match with their sales pitch (not the other way around).

It is not necessarily with everyone interest to have 3rd party assessment for the biggest platforms, but it would definitely help. Other important thing would be to have more unified metrics across the main platforms:

  1. For big reach channels with minimal ad interruption (e.g. Facebook) it should be the average audience in any given minute.
  2. For more interruption and visible formats (e.g. YouTube pre-roll) it should be the time seen and actions taken.
  3. At the end of the day it should always be about the eCommerce sales. Actual transactions are harder to fake with bots and different reporting standards.

It might also be that recent “videogate” does not change anything. The literacy for marketers regarding numbers and data is unfortunately still quite low.

“The issue is being hugely overblown. Marketers do not care about it, and it has zero impact on spend.”

Jason Stein (Laundry Service CEO)

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5 Reasons Why Snapchat Spectacles Will Become a Hit

Google Glass failed because it was used by uncool nerds in shower and maybe due to some other reasons as well. Snapchat recently announced Spectacles, their first hardware offering.

Compared to Google glasses, I see rosier future for the Snapchat spectacles:

1. Hardware supports existing Snapchat product.

You can immediately envision how the new Spectacles actually enhance your Snapchat user experience. Spectacles are slave for overall Snapchat use case and provide natural gateway to deepen your relationship with brand. Google Glass was more branded as a separate product.

2. They are more lifestyle than technology.

spectacles

The glasses look cool. They totally embody Snapchat brand. Spectacles are so LA. They are not looking like bunch of engineers designed it, which has been the Achilles’ heel of many wearables. Wearables should be approached fashion-first, technology-second. Usually it is great if you can create a tribe of followers, unless they are called glassholes.

3. They are meant for only one thing.

You can only record 10s video with it, that´s it. We don´t need swiss army knife wearables, we need wearables that are good at doing on particular thing. The videos are not just replicas of what you would be creating with smartphone. They are circular, which resemble more of human vision. The videos created with Spectacles are unique.

4. They are affordable.

“They’re positioning it as this fun toy for people to engage with, not something that you need to think about as your next big technology investment.”

– Josh Elman, Greylock Partners

They only cost 130 dollars, so teens are more likely to drunk buy them from eCommerce site instead of Apple watch.

5. Spectacles have nothing to lose, but much to gain

“It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.”

– Evan Spiegel (Snapchat CEO)

The CEO of Snapchat calls the spectacles a toy and there will be limited distribution in the beginning. Snapchat will not live or die with Spectacles. However, if Spectacles will become hit, it could have interesting implications for Snapchat. They could free themselves from the confinement of smartphones. Snapchat has already forced brands to create vertical video, maybe this will change on how we approach digital photography in general. Philosophically it is also interesting that Spectacles are meant for the selfie-generation but the focus is outwards. You are filming what happens around you, not yourself.

What starts now as novelty, could become a true game changer.

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Economic Graph: Why Microsoft bought LinkedIn?

“You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of those emotions. Every member of exec team has experienced the same, but we´ve had months to process”
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn Ceo

LinkedIn was bought for $26.2 billion in an all-cash deal this week. It is one of the biggest acquisitions this year and the biggest acquisition in the history of Microsoft. Failure rate of mergers and acquisitions in general is somewhere between 70% and 90% and Microsoft has not really been an exception. This deal might still actually make sense. Below I present some of the main points why Microsoft bought LinkedIn.

“LinkedIn will become the social fabric across all of Microsoft”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Data is power
Firstly, Microsoft is mainly buying access to the lucrative professional audience. LinkedIn has 433 million users of which pretty much everyone is on their target audience. LinkedIn will be run as a separate entity (a bit like Instagram within Facebook), but naturally there is vast amount of insights to be gained from the platform that would benefit Microsoft in multiple ways (product development etc.). Microsoft will want to create an economic graph, alike to Facebook´s social graph but with people with money.
economicgraph
Better productivity: Goodbye work-life balance
Microsoft has been aggressively pushing their cloud solutions. The first possible use cases Satya Nadella mentioned in his memo were around connecting Office 365, Dynamics and LinkedIn database. You could for example get articles in LinkedIn newsfeed based on the actual project you are working on. Or Office could suggest you to connect with expert to connect via LinkedIn to help you complete a task you are working on. When you are going to a new business meeting you would get automatically the background information from LinkedIn. Great functions, but are they worth the $26 billion price tag?

LinkedIn as a CRM Platform
Currently Microsoft is at fourth place in CRM software, behind Salesforce, Sap and Oracle. Merging databases with LinkedIn could bring Microsoft much needed advantage in this field. Of course around 75% of CRM implementations fail, but that also means that there is target market not particularly happy with their current products.

This deal might be really good thing for the future of LinkedIn. The platform has not really evolved from recruiting site, which is a challenge if majority of your audience is not actively looking for a job. Although some argue that LinkedIn is a content company, only 25% of LinkedIn users return every month to the site. Connecting with Microsoft might give it a boost that it needs to stay relevant in the competitive social media space. Twitter could do with similar boost.

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Bots and The Rise of Conversational Commerce

Messaging is the new browser and bots are the websites.
Mike Roberts, Kik Head of Messaging and Bot Experience

Bots have been all the rage last weeks. Whether it has been the NSFW Microsoft bot (not only racist, but also encouraging pot smoking in front of cops) or the ability to build chatbots on top of FB messengers.

Why sudden interest in bots?

They are not really a new phenomenon. Eliza was already created in 60s (test it here) and Siri has also been around for a while (test it in your phone). The main reason for the chatbots to gain importance especially now is because of the changed digital landscape. For majority of users, messenger is their digital starting point. Users don´t want to use messaging over Internet, they want to access their Internet to from their messenger. Therefore ability to help, serve and sell to users within messenger is paramount. Short text message (or emoji) is the default way of communicating, should it be also the way to communicate with the brands?

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.” 
Chris Messina

We are still having long way for the bot economy and below are the core things to fix before chatbots will evolve from novelty to actual user behavior:

1. The bots need to understand normal talk
“They aren’t taking natural language; they are taking menu names,”
Bruce Wilcox,the author of Rose, the winner of the most recent Loebner annual chatbot competition.

Many of the recent Facebook bots are still quite clunky in terms of discussion. People are more casual when they are thinking that they are conversing with real person. The challenge is for the robot to be casual but at the same time providing the transactional value. Current examples have not been particularly promising as they are either pushing you products in unnatural way or trying to be funny but not providing any value:
poncho

2. The bots need to become more predictive and fast
Going back and forth with your bot to order a pizza is tedious process. Getting weather details in an hour is just ridiculous. They need to become way more intuitive to use to really rival Google for getting your fast answers. The novelty factor will wear off quickly. If bots are not able to give you solutions fast, they will not be used.

3. Bots are not a destination but a way to enhance the existing discussion
E.g. instead of going to separate weather bot, you should get the weather details when you are chatting with your friend and need that info. Mark Zuckerberg raved about bots as replacements for apps, but with the current experience, it is actually just easier to go to that weather app and get your answer. Ideal situation would be that your messenger would recognize opportunities for commercial interaction from your discussions, but how to build that experience so that it is not creepy?

We are living in the early days of conversational commerce. Using messenger for repeated purchases (like pizza delivery) seems like a no-brainer, but will people actually start browsing products within messenger and asking help from the chatbot?

That depends on the user experience. If AI behind the chatbot actually would know your taste and it would be effective and enjoyable to chat with, messenger economy could become true game changer. Opportunity and potential demand is there, but building a good recommendation engine alone is difficult not to mention that you have to add enjoyable interaction with a robot on top of that. And the core question is, will people want to interact with bots?

Time will tell.

One thing is for certain. Bots will not kill the web, but they will permanently alter it.

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Facebook Canvas 101

There has been lots of talk about the new ad format for Facebook, so to save your time, here is all you need to know about it:

What is Facebook Canvas?
Canvas is an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products (according to Facebook)

So what does that really mean?
Essentially it is expandable Facebook ad with interactive features. It uses the same technology as Instant Articles, so you could almost call them Instant ads. The main benefit is that they load faster than mobile web in general, up to 10x faster.
fb-canvas

What are the features?
Currently you can add following features to your Canvas:

  • Button
  • Carousel
  • Photo
  • Text Block
  • Video
  • Product Set

What brands will benefit from it?
Not surprisingly many of the first examples have been popular culture properties (movies, TV shows) with a lot of interactive elements.
minions

The real opportunity is in my opinion with product catalogues. Swiping set of different product is intuitive and also gets you closer to actually buying of the product. Good example is Verizon´s Holidone-campaign, which was one of the first uses of Facebook canvas (done by R/GA New York):
holidone

I have seen these already before?
This ad format was previously available to only selected premium advertisers, but it is now opened for every one.

How I can do one?
You can do one by utilizing the Facebook self-service tool. There are easy step-by-step tutorials on how to do them. Technically it is easy, but of course making something cut-through requires lot of craft and innovation.

Is it a game-changer?
On a surface it is just a new ad format. However with more room to play in Facebook (and keeping in mind its massive reach in majority of countries), you should seriously consider do you need to create separate mobile campaign pages. Or maybe it is just better to create interactive experiences where people already are? Clicking to go to a site is just an artifact of the previous generation of Internet. Also whereas social posts are more about branding, with Canvas you can actually create a more utility to your ad unit (like finding your nearest Wendy´s):
wendys

Will we see a sudden surge of crappy canvas ads?
There are definitely early mover advantages reaped out of Canvas. When format gets more common, it will require more finesse and craft to catch the attention. As with other Facebook advertising, the news feed should not favor ads which are not liked:
 “If an ad doesn’t perform well, News Feed doesn’t show it to many people. And the advertiser gets a lot of feedback very early on.”
-Chris Cox, Facebook Chief Product Officer

What have been the best executions in Facebook Canvas thus far?

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Case Nikon Singapore: How to Keep Beating Your Opponent

Many of you might have heard about Nikon Singapore´s photo competition screw-up. They awarded clearly photoshopped photo and apparently a stolen idea. While it is not the biggest failure of the world, it is slightly embarrassing. It would probably be forgotten quite soon, but their biggest competitor Canon does not want us to forget:

Canon Canada

Quite seldom social competition in Singapore catches the attention in Canada

As we can see, the post has gotten over 11k likes and 7k shares. That is quite great number for a Facebook post and a great indicator that people love when brands are bold and have balls.

Bold brands are cheeky, even frivolous. When their opponent (read: other brand) fails, they attack viciously. Business is about winning and losing and if you can help your rival brand lose even more go for more blows. There is three great lessons here to keep in mind when you thinking of competing with your archenemy:

  1. Admit your own mistakes fast and forget them even faster.
  2. However well on your opponent’s mistakes and rub it in their face. Do it as fast as possible.
  3. …but do it with tongue-in-cheek. It is ok to be evil if you smile at the same time.

Some people and brands need to have an enemy to get the best out of them.

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Finnair Stopover Cock-Up

Finnair has a stopover concept in collaboration with VisitFinland.com. In principle it is a great idea to encourage people to come to visit Finland while they are flying Finnar to other destinations. Main emphasis in the term “in principle”.

As I am traveling to Copenhagen this spring, I thought it would be awesome opportunity to utilize tise stopover concept. Expect the booking system does not work. I have tried to do a booking with different browsers, different computers but essentially it always comes back to the starting point. I doubt that tourists are willing to go through too many hoops to be able to come visit Finland. I at least have some vested interest to go the extra mile. Moment-of-truth for your brand is always.

bookingform

That’s not all. Below there is aggregator of #visitfinland-hashtag. Some of the updates are dubious to say at least (like the one in right) and give totally different “feel” to Finnair:visitfinlandfail2

Currently there is no hardcore porn aggregated to the site like last weekend, but I still suppose that having #visitfinland combined with #ihaveburningpussy in your brand´s webpage is not necessarily the right brand association you want have:

visitfinlandfail

Or maybe it is and this is just a smart viral stunt to lure more sex tourists to Finland?

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