This presentation debuted at at MEC’s 2012 EXPO event for clients and media owners. I felt the industry needed to be provoked as at the time so many social activations were still separate from other campaign and communications activities. The presentation argues that if brands integrate social behaviour into their business plans they will achieve brand benefits including enhanced reputations, relevance, relationships and ultimately revenue.
Take-away message: Social needs to be seamlessly integrated into campaigns and company strategy from the get-go! It is not an optional add-on or afterthought.
This was my last big presentation at MEC and really fun.
Katz Kiely and I kicked off the 2nd annual Augmented Reality Summit held in London on June 13th with a ‘shenote’ speech covering aspects of our lives including health and relationships that we believe will be enriched by augmented reality.
We also touched upon some potentially negative applications of augmented reality the most extreme of which is depicted in this rather unsettling video of a futuristic dating experience:
Is the honey moon is over? Has resentment started creeping in to our love affair with social media? Reading the tirades of Mark Ritson and others on the eve of Facebook’s IPO it would seem a backlash is evident. So after all the initial excitement, where have things gone wrong and how can we find a grounded way forward?
One simple reason for the backlash is a lack clarity regarding what we mean by social media and the role it can play not just in the marketing mix, but in the wider business. Critically, social media has a number of use cases – reflecting the different roles it can play. Moreover, unlike traditional broadcast channels, social media unlocks multi-model communication enabling citizens to easily create and share their own content.
Ritson refers to this capacity, yet applies board brush strokes in his dismissals. It is inappropriate to say ‘ ‘treat it like any campaign’ when social media being used for customer service, to host a brand community, or to gather intelligence to inform npd. Indeed the business case/roi is extremely strong in these situations so it is irresponsible to write them off. New opportunities for brands require new methods of evaluation and measurement.
Social plays with other media – it does not replace them
If used in a marketing campaign, in many cases, social will not ‘compete’ (say, in terms of reach) and was never meant to. Typically it is best used as a complimentary channel in an integrated campaign and as part of a longer term brand strategy. Whilst some popular global brands (e.g. Burberry) are capable of social-only product launches, most brands would struggle to get the necessary reach using social only. In fact, it is the interplay between paid for advertising and earned and owned where the richness lies.
Savvy marketers understand this fact and how things are going to get even more ‘mashed up’ with our increasingly converging culture. Advertising fuels online conversations about brands just as much as customer conversations deliver insights about customer needs and behaviours. Increasingly we are seeing earned media integrated into owned and paid media as the voice of the customer can be more powerful and persuasive than the brands’. The question is not about social being pitted against trad media but about traditional media becoming more social.
What is fascinating about our current media landscape is the nuances (plurality) created by social media. The fact that we are in a post-broadcast age where customer now have a voice means a reframing of comms is required. Some of old rules still apply, but new ones also need to created.
In the current economic climate, organised anti-consumerist activity is increasing and we are seeing visible signs of discontent in our communities. Whilst current social movements like Occupy have made it clear they are unhappy with the current state of affairs, a clear vision for an alternative order has not yet been put forward.
So what can businesses do in response? Corporate Social Responsibility is one answer. However, as no consistency is guaranteed in the way it is manifested, its impact is much less than it could be. As we are living in an age of internet enabled tranparency (wherein it is difficult for businesses to hide negative impacts and easy for consumers empowered with online tools to organise protests), perhaps the time for real change has come.
The slides below were prepared and delivered as part of a lecture at Greenwich University’s Business School and attempt to scope out the anti-consumerist agenda and business responses in the age of radical transparency. In my view, business considerations must go beyond PR tactics to be fully embedded into core business purpose and practices. In this season of over-consumption, I’m pleased that this presentation has been featured on the homepage of Slideshare.net today.
Samasource uses crowdsourcing via the internet to connect people in developing countries with opportunities to work on the delivery of data projects.
Leila Chirayath Janah gave an inspiring speach about the work of the organisation recently as part of Linked In’s speakers series.
Linked In encourages every employee to volunteer one day a month (“InDay”) to help good causes. It might be worth considering how your organisation could work with Samasource organisations. I can see opportunities for out-sourcing data analysis related to social media monitoring with my company, however our finance team would need to investigate and make the necessary changes to work with international suppliers.
Such effort could be worthwhile on several different levels – such projects could be completed more cost effectively - whilst saving time and creating new employment opportunities for some of the worlds’ poorest people.
Given our obsession with Facebook, no wonder brands are flocking to use it to reach their target audiences. The question is why they are not moving beyond treating it as just another media channel amplifying their messages and into the world of social commerce.
Facebook itself is articulating this case through its ‘The New Word of Mouth’ video. It claims businesses can benefit directly from word of mouth recommendations propagated through its 500M fans’ social graphs – earned media supercharged by the reach of paid for media and its socially enabled ads.
Yet in spite of this potential, many brands set up a profile in Facebook with woolly objectives shying away from hard core outcomes like sales. It would seem they are still afraid that people don’t want them to be there, when the evidence suggest otherwise. Millions of people happily engage with brands on a daily basis making recommendations, sharing product information and also demanding better customer service.
In this regard, ASOS (As Seen on Screen) — the UK online fashion retailer is one to watch. It has a popular page — with c. 550K fans (at the time of writing) holding competitions to keep its fans engaged – but it went a step further than most UK retailers by trying to move fans from ‘liking’ to ‘buying’ launching a fully transactional shop application within Facebook earlier this year.
The evidence suggests social commerce is gaining momentum — look at Farmville (where social gamers purchase currency to enrich their game experience) and Groupon enabling friends to get better value by making purchases together. Facebook is already preparing for this next wave with its new ‘Deals’ designed to challenge Groupon and take social commerce to a new level (fcommerce).
Whilst ASOS is making every effort to lead the way in the UK for social commerce, a complimentary example from across the Atlantic comes in the form of the University of Kentucky.
Its ‘See Blue’ campaign attracted a record number of admission applications by letting new students to get to know the campus via the shared experiences of existing students using Facebook Places. The programme was promoted using guerrilla marketing techniques situating Facebook Places icons by campus landmarks as well as a modest online spend. With this approach, buzz spread quickly across the campus and beyond with all levels of the organisation including the University President taking part.
University of Kentucky - See Blue
Not only has the University page achieved an impressive 193K fans (far higher than any of my alma maters), it resulted in a record breaking number of applications to the university.
Brands need to move beyond the now requisite presence on Facebook to create compelling reasons to buy within online social environments. Those brands gaining commercial experience there now will be well placed to benefit from what will likely become mainstream tomorrow.
This video provides the numbers that help explain why brands are so keen to establish a presence within Facebook. But does being there magically translate into engagement and tangible business benefits?
Brands need to refrain from rushing to set up their profiles by considering what benefits they can bring to people in social spaces as well as what kinds of problems they might face.
Whilst people might like to hear about products they like, they usually require other stimulous. Equally the rise of social commerce brings important opportunities for brands to consider beyond just keeping in touch.
So what are the secret ingredients to success for brands in one of the world’s most popular social networks? Examples to follow.
Does the development of new colloaborative platform’s like Nine West’s “Shoelaborations™” signal a new openess in the fashion industry? Whilst it is still hard to imagine elite fashion brands chosing this pathway, it is interesting to see a fairly mainstream one opening its door to new influences even if the selection process of the featured designers has not been made clear.
“Shoelaborations™” is a recently launched open innovation programme enabling talented artists and designers to collaborate with Nine West. Through this process, Nine West aims to bring fresh visions to their customers globally.
The first collection developed in partnership with CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Sophie Theallet tells the story of “Sophie from Paris Takes a Trip to NYC” and includes uniquely designed pieces.
Autumn 2011 will see the launch of the “Giles Deaconfor Nine West” collection. British Designer Giles Deacon is best known for his avant-garde designs with a pop culture influence. His collection promises to be be cutting-edge in its incorporation of technology.
Whist Nine West’s initiative is noteworthy, John Fluevog remains the fashion industry’s primary collaborative innovator. Not only does he provide an open source footwear platform, he is now inviting designers to create Fluevog ads.
2010 was the year when being active in social spaces moved from being an option for a brand, to becoming a necessity.
These brands–whether they be FMCGs, retailers, or financial services–are evolving their communication strategies so they can engage and add value in a challenging medium. It is imperative to monitor and engage in environments where messages can be undermined and subverted, to stop them spinning out of control. A good case in point is Nestlé: earlier this year Greenpeace’s campaign against Nestlé’s role in damaging Orang-utan habitats caused damage to brand perceptions; however, it also showed that transformation is possible through proactive engagement with communities of interest. After being attacked by Greenpeace, Nestlé turned things around by changing its palm oil sourcing policy via a partnership with The Forest Trust. In so doing they turned a brand threat into a corporate social opportunity.
Smart brands demand real-time data, engagement platforms and workflow tools to manage their social presence.
Early warning systems enable brands to spot potential problems and respond with appropriate communications, products or policy changes before situations escalate and tarnish their halos. This places a premium on instantaneous access to consumer generated content. Buzz monitoring providers now need to improve real-time data and engagement platforms, and those that do will flourish in 2011. Access to Twitter’s ‘fire hose’ will become a critical success factor forthese providers as the premier micro-blogging service is now the top source of buzz for most brands.
Service brands need to focus on customer service first before progressing to greater innovation.
Brands such as BT, Vodafone, Specsavers and LBG understand that by providing effective customer services online (leveraging the power of social media), detractors can be turned into visible and influential advocates paving the way for more innovative forms of engagement. Given the negativity that surrounds financial services due to the state of the economy, Lloyds Banking Group in the UK deserves recognition as the first UK high street bank to provide customer service via Twitter in spite of security and other difficulties. As they now build out to branded YouTube channels and the Local Hero initiative on Facebook and other social platforms, they show how savvy brands can tackle the challenges of social brand engagement as a market opportunity.
Eric Cantona’s recent challenge to ‘Kill the Banks’ has quickly spread around the world thanks to social propagation on the internet and the chord stuck by this celebrity. In an attempt to destroy the system, he is calling for everyone to withdraw money from banks in France and elsewhere on Dec. 7th, 2010.
The story broke here in the UK on Sun Nov 21st in The Guardian, and within five days, a number of campaign hubs were set up. His video on YouTube had received close to 200K views on YouTube and 15K shares on Facebook.
The story is being covered and commented upon on mainstream news sites and amplified frequently on Twitter. On Facebook, 22K attendees have already accepted to participate in the event in France. Whilst monitoring the spread of information using automated listening tools can give us a good idea as to the scale of exposure, they have yet to provide information as to how many people are indicating they will actually take part in the protest.
In spite of these uncertainties, the ability to monitor the reach of the story as well as analyse the comments made in relation to it, gives financial services brands more information about possible attacks than has ever been available before. If acted upon quickly, this information can help brands prepare for possible events, if not predict actual outcomes.
Whether or not Cantona’s campaign is successful, the mood it reflects highlights the need for change. Not only do financial services need to continue to rebuild trust with their stakeholders, buzz monitoring providers need to ramp up their offerings to create more intelligent predictive systems by gathering data from a wider range of sources and providing contextual analysis by way of more diverse metrics.
In this case, they need to provide information not only about what people are saying, but also behaviorial information (e.g. about whether or not they are opting in to attend events). A considerable amount of analyst time is still required to put all the pieces together manually as was the case with the information presented above.