Archive for the ‘social media’ Category
3rd April 14
A repost of one of our monthly tech columns for Marketing Magazine, this one on the globalisation of social media and what it means for, well, all of us. This article first appeared on 04.03.14. It sets the scene for a regular round-up here on technology in China and Asia Pacific by Carol Ong (based on her own newsletter), the first one of which is here.
The comforting phrase “social is local” has echoed through marketing departments for a while now. Comforting because it suggests it’s enough to have experienced, tech-savvy people representing the brand on the ground who know their own community backyard. No question, local intelligence is vitally important. But as this year unfolds, I think we’re going to see some shifts in how social media marketing operates around the globe. Call it a new form of ‘social migration’ that global marketers in particular should pay attention to.
I say this for a few reasons:
1. The growth of the largest social networks now depends on new geographic territories
If you’re Facebook, what do you do once you have 1.23 billion monthly active users on your platform (813 million of which are on mobile, 60% of whom are returning daily)? You take your now mobile-first platform, commit to making it more efficient so that it uses less bandwidth in markets where that really matters and simultaneously set about putting the technological infrastructure on the ground to accelerate providing Internet connectivity “for the next 5 billion”; which is exactly what Zuckerberg is doing via Internet.org, announced last year. This is clearly a philanthropic and a commercial move: two thirds of the world without access to the Internet represents a giant growth opportunity. And Facebook aren’t alone in turning their attention to the rest of the world. Aside from Facebook’s partners in Internet.org (Samsung, MediaTek, Ericsson, Nokia, Opera and Qualcomm), Twitter’s IPO last year revealed it was targetting Argentina, France, Japan, Russia, Saudia Arabia and South Africa for faster growth than the United States.
2. Mobile powers the pace of the shift
New behaviours often make existing services redundant, but the explosion in mobile penetration and usage worldwide*, creating what the World Economic Forum describes as a “dramatically altered business environment” across Africa for example, has allowed the leading social platforms to continue to grow, despite newer players arriving and scaling at vertigo-inducing pace: China’s WeChat, plus WhatsApp, SnapChat and Instagram being amongst the most salient. With social media, if your service is mobile first, a rising tide really does float all boats.
3. Cultural importers can export too
This time last year I was sitting in Beijing, listening to the CMO of Alfred Dunhill, Jason Beckley, speak about bringing a luxury British brand to the world. His words were refreshingly open-minded:
“Our market is in migration,” he summised, “…and we’d be naive if we thought luxury will always be an imported idea.”
The same is true of technology. If you want to predict the future of social and mobile, you’d do worse than watch China. It’s not just about the giant data pool. Historically dismissed for copycat innovation, the market is now home to some trail-blazing companies like the mobile company XiaoMi, with their eyes set on a global marketplace. By way of another example, take WeChat’s early rebranding for global rollout and their omnivorous approach to development (originally a messaging service, they added photo sharing & filters, games and now taxi bookings, with deeper mcommerce on the near horizon). Burberry announced a ‘digital innovation partnership’ with WeChat in February.
In short, I’d suggest we get used to the idea of ‘guanxi’, a Chinese term meaning both personal and business networks or connections, extending into Europe and the US this year. Taobao, Jack Ma’s equivalent of eBay but several times’ the size, recently shared a list of the hottest shopping keywords used in 2013. You may think it’s too early to get excited about keeping up with the rise of tuhao, buying yellow ducks and avoiding peng ci, but as technology businesses go about smashing geographic barriers and consumption get more collaborative, I wouldn’t bet on it.
*According to the content marketing service, Percolate, ‘pull to refresh’ is the most used gesture in the world – for more stats and analysis, check out their excellent The State of Content Marketing piece last year and more recently ‘Weibo, WeChat and the Future of Chinese Social Media‘.
Update: check out more on XiaoMi’s international expansion roadmap here, (via Benedict Evans).
14th October 12
Additional credits: Angela Sun, James Francis, Mark Aronson and Julian Cole
When people talk about brands being more human online, it somehow always concludes with something along the lines of “be honest, be transparent, be good, be nice”. While all these traits are great, we are overlooking one pretty huge issue: humans are not nice online.
First, there’s trolling. In academic terms, Lee Sproull (PhD Professor Emerita at NYU’s Stern School of Business) said it best. He coined the term “flame wars” to describe how we act online: there is “an escalation of critical comments, and an increase in the frequency with which people would respond with short negative comments.” There’s no denying that people are mean online. Look at our own industry blogs like Agency Spy; we all know the comments there are just plain mean.
Sure, trolling is usually done in anonymity, but people are still mean when their identities are revealed. According to a recent article from the WSJ, “most of us present an enhanced image of ourselves on Facebook. This positive image – and the encouragement we get in the form of “likes” – boosts our self-esteem. And when we have an inflated sense of self, we tend to exhibit poor self-control.” Is Facebook is turning us into The Plastics from Mean Girls?
Some of us don’t partake in the mean behavior, but we are all entertained by it. A few of the biggest blogs rose to fame thanks to their snarky commentary. Think Perez Hilton, Suri’s Burn Book and People of Walmart. The internet is vast enough to show the full range of the human experience — including all the gritty, unsavory bits. The internet has also helped normalize these gritty, unsavory bits. We can now air out our guilty pleasures in plain daylight.
So are brands really being more human online by employing CRM Twitter strategies (think Best Buy Twelpforce) and CSR Social Media Campaigns (think Pepsi Refresh)?
While we’re not suggesting that brands should act as online bullies and ditch the nice work they do online, we do think there is space for brands to be more “human” online — brands should not homogenize online. We kicked around a few ideas on how to be mean online, and here are our thoughts. The list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but it should get your creative juices flowing.
1. Brand v. Consumer
People are mean to brands. Why can’t brands be mean to people?
There are some people who will never be your customer (i.e. health nut probably will never eat at Jack in the Box). So when one of these people says something mean about your brand, give them a taste of their own medicine. For example, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a small chain of movie nuvid porno theaters that has a strict policy against people who talk and text during a movie, posted a voicemail from a disgruntled customer who was kicked out of a theater on YouTube. As a result, they received almost 3 million views and a bunch of love and support.
This is a pretty polarizing tactic. But for certain brands, the people who love your brand will love your brand even more when your brand doesn’t back down. The tension between the fans and foes can also strengthen brand love and increase brand advocacy.
2. Brand v. Brand
Frenemies exist. Should brands instigate cross-category rivalries in social media?
A social media conversation between two obvious brands would be a bit predictable (see the Twitter exchange between Coke and Pepsi here). The intuitive rivalry for Old Spice would be one with Axe or even Dove for Men. However, Old Spice keeps us on our feet by creating dialogue with Taco Bell.
This is incredibly smart because the Taco Bell demographic aligns well with the Old Spice target — dudes/ bros. Taco Bell has 265K followers on Twitter and Old Spice has 221K. Though there might be overlap in their fan/follower-base, conversation between the brands helps each gain more relevant followers (biologists call this cross-pollination). For brands with little followings, creating rivalries with highly social brands can help beef up its number of followers, fans and likes.
3. Brand v. Organizations
Haters gon’ hate. What can you do about it?
For brands with the mean gene, good organizations might tattletell. Gossip Girl’s OMFG print ads offended parents everywhere. So much so, the Parents Television Council took enough action to get the OMFG campaign taken down. A season after the campaign was pulled, the CW chose to use quotes from the protesters to advertise the show.
Though this was not a digital example, social media can be a great mechanism for a rapid response, content strategy. If this was online content, the CW could have quickly replaced its banners and other online assets with the revised versions fuelling the fire. The ads would have created even more noise and buzz for the show.
The basic premise behind a mean brand strategy is to lean into existing online behaviors to build brand allegiance. It takes a lot to break through in the digital space. Perhaps, the benefits of implementing a mean online strategy is worth the risks. It’s a little like life; “the only way to have everyone like you is to avoid taking a controversial stance on anything… You won’t stand out to anyone and you won’t offend anyone. In business, a dull existence means a weak brand” (source: Fast Company 2012).
28th February 12
Author: Sarah Watson, Chief Strategy Officer BBH NY @Sarahmwatson
We had lots of fun last week preparing for my NY Social Media Week panel ‘Who owns this sh#t anyway’. View the archived live-stream here.
The panel gathered individuals from digital, PR, creative and client organisations to discuss the inside scoop on how social media is actually being handled. For me, it was a great moment to take stock with BBH buddies old and new to think about how really, in our heart of hearts, our particular skills and values can help our clients’ brands in this area.
For starters, it was easy to observe how incredibly inefficient the whole system is at the moment. Clients routinely find themselves with 12 different Facebook/Twitter pages, run by different people, doing different things. Agencies which could be fruitfully collaborating are pitted against one another (by design or by default) in an exhausting land-grab. There are pockets of customer service, pockets of CRM, and pockets of brand engagement; often, each with a different client, budget and objectives.
The concerns of my co-panellists were those of industrial-strength Social Media; they had to listen like their lives depended on it – because they did. They had to be in constant command of everything going on out in the community and constantly responding proportionately.
We creative agencies have had our fingers burned in the past by vaingloriously striding out into this fray and getting it wrong. Others have too, for that matter, but our hubris (alas) probably marks us out. So, we have re-shaped ourselves incorporating brilliant people who will make sure we don’t do this again.
But, really, the big gaping hole which emerged is that no one is approaching this entire thing brand first. The ever changing list of new social channels that spring up and flourish, each with its own set of values, behaviors and tone must be understood and used appropriately – but these are simply new lenses through which to view a brand. The more lenses, the more rich and nuanced an understanding of the brand is required.
What makes us creative agencies different is that we look inside first (great phrase, Sam Jesse). We don’t work in red-hot real-time response mode; we might do sometimes, but its not our fundamental default mode. Our centre of gravity lies with caring neurotically about a brand’s mortal soul. Our units of measurement are ultimately the muscularity of the overall brand and how we can flex it to our clients’ advantage when required.
So – what did the panel conclude re: who, indeed ‘owns this sh#t’? My personal shot was that the role for creative agencies is as the ‘priest hood of the mortal anal sex soul of the brand’. In our rush to barricade the land-grab we mustn’t forget that we need to think even more deeply about the powerful, differentiated brand stuff which is going to be so much more exposed than ever before. We also need to take the total holistic view which helps shape the overall ‘flow’ (thank you Jason G) of a brand’s body language and what it means for our coms plan.
In short, look to your mortal (brand) souls; there are nasty algorithms out there, bored consumers and social media overload; if you don’t know truly who you are and why you’re relevant – you’re going straight to social media hell.
1st November 11
Brands like people talking about them in a positive way. Brands love when fans adore them and signify that their life is better because Brand X is in it. This is the Pleasantville of marketing. Reality isn’t so generous. Sometimes the product doesn’t live up to the brand and sometimes the brand doesn’t live up to the product.
Questions, speculations, myth and fan expectations can turn a product and/or brand into consumer gossip. Apple announced the launch of the iPhone 4S, still a kick-ass phone but not the iPhone 5 we were all hoping for. What does the ‘33’ stand for on the Rolling Rock bottle? Why are AT&T cell phone signals so bad in New York and San Francisco?
We spoke with our good friend Nick Denton, self-proclaimed Gossip Merchant at Gawker. We asked Nick how can brands navigate the gossip about them and how Gawker can help them. He brought up three really good points that changed how we view things over here at BBH Labs:
1) Are we listening to the right crazies?
We let people with more time on their hands be more influential. Nick wants this to change. He doesn’t think time is a true metric of influence. He wants to emphasize those that are actually interesting in what they comment about. Why can’t brands do the same?
2) Create a safe space for conversations
Earlier this year BBH Labs wrote a post about Social Flings and this particular tactic falls into that camp. Brands need places where they can answer honestly and openly without general fear of attack. Perhaps AT&T invites an Engineer to explain the cell phone signal issues in New York and San Francisco? Lean into the controversy and squelch it. Gawker network wants to be that safe place for brands with a new offering launching sometime next year.
3) Brands need to be interesting as well
Brands (or brand hired celebrities) can join the conversation online and be a peer. Brands have a point of view on the world beyond their primary business. One example we like to use is, ‘If Red Bull the brand left a review on a skateboard that was being sold on Amazon we would find that review credible.’ If brands appeared in these spaces it could change consumer perception in a very interesting and unboring way.
What do you think of these points? Are we missing anything? Can we look at brand gossip in a new way?
7th March 11
Author: Emily Woolf (@emii), Strategist, BBH New York
It’s Monday. Almost an average Monday at the office, but today I went above and beyond my routine and made myself a salad for lunch! Partially due to the fact that Fresh Direct came this morning and partially because I’ve been attempting a gluten free diet, this leafy green point of pride made today special and I couldn’t wait to share it with the world. Some may call me an oversharer (cough: @barneyrobinson) and some may make fun of my food Instagram tweets (cough: @saneel), but I wasn’t going to let either rain on my parade. So, I sat at my desk savoring my spinach and beet salad, fork in one hand, iPhone in the other snapping away to get just the right shot, then scrolling through to apply just the right filter to capture the magic of my homemade goodness. And I did. And I sent my color saturated, Lomo-fi filtered picture straight to Twitter. And guess what happened? Within 5 minutes @PretzelCrisps had started following me and had Tweeted at me.
Of course I immediately DM’d back, excitedly starting a conversation with a brand that I had no opinion of about 5 minutes prior.
As you can see, the conversation centered around what they could do for me and they always responded within a minute. All in all, an extremely, and refreshingly human exchange.
This experience got me running around, ducking in and out of offices to tell people about it. Everyone was in awe of @PretzelCrisps’ behavior, as well as how they continued to engage me. It was a quick, powerful burst of brand dialogue, in the vein of a social media fling. @PretzelCrisps just proved that creating a relationship isn’t that hard in a conversational environment when you’re adding to the experience (complimenting me) and not asking much for much in return (an address for instantaneous delivery). They just made a huge impression on all of @BBHNewYork, both as consumers, and as industry folks aspiring to help make brands human.
Kudos and thanks @PretzelCrisps.
15th February 11
“In recent years organizations have raced to connect with fans and customers in new ways via social media.
Yet, the results have been mixed. Many organizations are struggling to start up communities, while others that have a community aren’t sure what to say or do with them. Meanwhile, a few companies are racing ahead to very productive collaborations yielding new offerings, better service and more sales.
13th October 10
Posted by Griffin Farley
A few years ago I wanted to be a part of the next theory in strategic planning. Connections Planning had been around for about ten years (in 2009) and I wanted to know what comes next? That’s when I discovered the work that Ivan Pollard from Naked Communications had shared around Propagation Planning.
Over the last few years I dedicated my ‘extra’ time to understanding and cultivating the theory, articles and case studies surrounding propagation planning. I shared everything I learned on my Blog. By sharing, others contributed and the ideas got better.
Sharing and generosity are very important in the advertising industry today. They make all of us better. As they say, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Edward Boches, who is in the process of formalizing propagation planning at Mullen, wrote a great post this week asking a provocative question, “Do you give content sexs away because you want credit?” For me, I give content away to become a member of the club. A club of strategic planning minds that contribute everyday to a greater collective. This club is made up of so many people that I couldn’t possibly name them all here… but you know who you are.
So I was thrilled when Mark Lewis and the Planning-Ness conference asked if Mike Monello (Co-Founder at Campfire) and I would share our thoughts on propagation planning. I hope that you can take something away from this deck and inspire your creative and social media teams to develop work that gets spread.
(Best viewed by clicking MENU and FULL SCREEN)
29th September 10
BBH facilitated a Social Media Week event in LA, where the agency has recently opened an office focused on content creation. The subject of the event was “Exploring UX, content, and brand strategy” and was run in the style of a design studio. Brainstorm topics were presented to groups, the participants of which concepted on the topic, then presented their ideas to one other seeking critique.
We were asked to elaborate upon social media flings, a topic written about in a previous Labs post. This is what we shared:
Or you can check out a video of the 15 minute presentation:
(Skip to 1h13m mark)
In summary, the proposed opportunity of ‘social media flings’ is in all of those social environments where people connect online around a subject they’re interested in. The point is simply that a significant gap exists between having no non-paid contact with a brand and committing to a relationship with them in digital environment. Think blog comments, video responses, hashed twitter conversations, and so-forth—a collection of places where a brand can engage if they talk about something other than themselves.
The purpose of the breakout session was to determine how brands can credibly have such flings. The hour discussion led to some great debate. Below are some of the key points we found most interesting:
- The majority of the group felt any brand could have a fling. It wasn’t a matter of how interesting the brand was, but how much the brand stood for beyond itself. In other words, old school brand equity work was the key to opportunity. Although lifestyle brands do this well, there’s nothing keeping Raid (the group’s proxy for the antithesis of a lifestyle brand) from having flings about a subject they could credibly talk about, such as environmental issue, hygiene, etc.
- Alternatively, many participants felt that brands could “buy” credibility on a given subject. By taking a calculated approach to sponsorships, brands with no correlation to a subject matter could earn a voice within it through financial support. For example, Taco Bell and Major League Baseball have no logical relationship, but the brand can discuss baseball credibly thanks to its ongoing sponsorship and use of MLB talent and resources. This opens the door to flings, and could even help brands prioritize sponsorship opportunities.
- Brands can have flings across a number of subjects, not just those with direct ties to the product offering. Starbucks was cited as a brand that could have flings in music, news, technology, environmental issues, community, or even politics. The tangential relationship to coffee and “third space” wasn’t seen as a barrier.
- The biggest difficulty in having flings is making the connection to the product (although even loose association was considered enough by most participants). As a result, if a brand invests in becoming credible in a space (as say, Red Bull has with extreme sports), it actually opens the door for a challenger brand to step in and capitalize on the investment. This is a major opportunity for challenger brands (generally limited by finances). In the fooxy case of the Red Bull example, most participants felt Monster or another competitor, could have flings in and around extreme sports thanks to Red Bull’s commitment.
We’d welcome any further thinking around social media flings. Please let us know of brands taking advantage of this that you think are interesting, positive or negative.
We’d also like to thank Social Media Week for the opportunity, as well as all the wonderful participants that generously shared their thoughts.
18th September 10
Don’t get me wrong. We’ve argued long and hard here in favour of brands embracing new behaviours if they’re to drive real cultural and commercial impact. To invite participation; to get out there and allow their customers in. And in terms of audience appetite for this, we’ve even gone as far as to question whether Jakob Nielsen’s 90:9:1 rule – that states the vast majority of visitors to any website are only there to lurk – will hold water for much longer in this post last year.
We’re going to continue arguing the case for new behaviour, not against. Nonetheless, there have been a couple of instances that have given us pause for thought recently. Read full post
10th May 10
As we’ve said many times before, we like nothing more than a great idea put to good use and we’re very happy to say BBH London have just created exactly that for AMREF (African Medical Research Foundation).