Archive for the ‘social media’ Category
21st April 10
I first met Grant McCracken a long long time ago when he was writing on the anthropology of consumer culture.
Grant (@grant27 on Twitter) now splits his time between his academic research into the anthropology of American culture, and consultancy work with big brands focusing on the area of the role of culturally aware visionaries and leaders within organizations.
His most recent book is Chief Culture Officer. McCracken argues that every company needs a chief cultural officer to anticipate cultural trends rather than passively waiting and reacting. CCOs should have the ability to process massive amounts of data and spot crucial developments among an array of possibilities; they will be able to see the future coming, no matter which industry they serve, and create value for shareholders, move product, create profit and increase the bottom line.
In this video, brought to our attention by We Are Social’s Nathan McDonald, McCracken outlines in brief what a CCO is, and why it matters.
Challenging stuff; who is the Chief Culture Officer in your business (or which group performs this function)?
Do you think you need that function in the first place?
Did you *ever* have someone or a group performing that function?
Who does it well, which companies?
19th February 10
Here at BBH Labs we’re big fans of all things social. We’ve spent time evangelising about the power of the social web and speculating about a future dominated by social businesses. We’re inspired and excited by a future where we can take our social graph with us anywhere we go on the web-a future beautifully articulated by Undercurrent’s Mike Arauz.
”There is no longer any interaction that an individual may have with a brand, company, product, or service that disconnected from all the people they know, and the people that share their interest in that experience.”
So we were more than a little taken aback by the findings of the latest Edelman Trust Barometer that shows we trust our friends and peers as a source of information considerably less than we did two years ago. The decline is particularly marked in the US where just 25% of respondents view friends and peers as very/extremely credible-a decline of 20 percentage points on 2008-but is also reflected in the global data.
It’s an extraordinary finding which calls many of our assumptions into question. The trust consumers place in peer to peer recommendations versus corporations has been one of the primary drivers of the social web, the excitement we feel about the potential for social business and the shift of marketing dollars from above the line to social media.
So has all our excitement been founded on a false set of assumptions? Is this simply an anomaly in the data? Or is social media sowing the seeds of its own demise? Read full post
28th January 10
Now social media has made it possible for everyone to become a broadcaster, is it inevitable that everyone becomes an advertiser?
In the early weeks of 2010, there’s already been considerable debate (and indignation) around brands, businesses and even bands incentivising users for Tweets. Twincentivisng, if you like (and I must admit I can’t resist a pun).
Should brands pay for tweets? Should twitterers take the cash or resist? Is there a sustainable paid for media model here or a fundamentally misguided reaction to the rise of social media? Is pay-per-tweet the end of the Twitterverse as we know it?
In many ways this is an inevitable response to a number of factors:
- The extraordinary rise and equally extraordinary media profile of Twitter
- The increased premium placed on peer to peer recommendations
- The collapse of on-line display advertising and the rise of SEO
- The socialisation of search
Any and all of these factors suggest a pressing need for brands to find a way to harness the power of social media and for media agencies to find a way to monetise it. Viewed from one perspective, the asymmetric nature of Twitter relationships make it particularly ripe for the adoption of a “broadcast” model. 1 in 5 tweets already mentions a brand so monetisation of these mentions seems, from that perspective, to make eminent sense.
15th December 09
Jointly posted with Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology, BBH New York
With the holidays now in full swing we thought we would get into the spirit of giving and share an idea we have been playing with in BBH Labs. It’s nice and simple. So simple in fact that we can’t imagine that someone has already done it (tweet us a link if you have seen it in action).
The idea is QR codes that instantly create tweets.
Simply shoot the QR code (below) with a reader on your phone and you have a tweet ready to send out to the world (note: you may have to log-in to Twitter).
Make the URL (just change the red bit)
Use these codes for special characters – (%20 is a space) (%40 is @) (%25 is #)
To make it even easier try using zeek interactive’s tool for generating the link
Paste it into a QR code maker.
We think there are some really interesting ways to use this and would love to hear of any ways you find to bring it to life making it valuable for people and brands.
4th November 09
Lots of smart people have made compelling arguments recently for the shift from campaign to conversation thinking. We were particularly taken with this post by Kenneth Weiss courtesy of Rick Liebling at Eyecube which clearly and neatly maps the differences between the two approaches and we very much enjoyed this RGA film talking about the importance of long term brand platforms.
We’re big fans of conversation thinking. The danger, however, is that we believe we can simply shine a spotlight on the conversation, abandon the campaign and leave consumers to it. It’s dangerous for a number of reasons:
- They may not be saying very much at all. Writing about launching “Brands in Public” Seth Godin observes “If your brand has any traction at all people are talking about you”. That’s partially true of course, but only partially. If you’re say a bread brand, a detergent brand or a toilet paper brand they may not be saying a lot. As Oscar Wilde so memorably put it “The only thing worse than been talked about is not being talked about”. Or is it…
- In the absence of something positive to respond to, the conversation may be dominated by customer service issues or by mischief making. The Skittles experiment is a case in point where without a conversation starter from the brand the conversation is effectively high-jacked. Indeed many brand owners’ reaction to the Brands in Public initiative seems to indicate that simply letting the conversation run without interesting brand stimulus and curation is problematic for any number of brands.
- Our brands become the guy with no opinion-the one who responds to every question with “I don’t know, what do you think?”
16th October 09
(Jointly authored with Greg Andersen, our MD in BBH New York)
The imminent publication of Forrester’s new report on the challenges facing clients – “Adaptive Brand Marketing: Rethinking Your Approach to Branding in the Digital Age” is a welcome turning of the spotlight toward client organizations. Without question agencies of all sizes, shapes and persuasions need to get their collective acts together and transform into leaner, more agile, more creative, & more technology- and data-fuelled businesses. The best in the business are no doubt all plotting how they can come out of this recession leaner, meaner, quicker, better.
But that’s kind of pointless unless clients adapt too.
We’ve not got hold of the report yet; we’re looking forward to getting stuck in, and are intrigued by the ‘new 4 Ps’ presented in the report: permission, proximity, perception, participation (AdAge covered some more of the detail in this piece from last week). But the idea of adaptive brand marketing is something we’ve been kicking around for a while at BBH.
We believe marketing communications are already being forced to become increasingly agile; particularly for more youth-oriented brands. In such a fast paced and dynamic media environment, relevance is increasingly determined in the moment. Recency matters. Audience and attention are fleeting. Fame spikes … even for the famous. For brands to achieve and maintain fame in this context, it’s our view that communications for certain types of brands must make a dramatic shift from highly polished epic launches to a continuous and diverse stream of messaging and content designed to ride hyper-current cultural trends, consumer attitudes and competitive maneuvering. The performance of this diverse activity continuously monitored and optimized like a portfolio of stocks … kill the under-performers and reinvest in the ones showing returns. However, this ‘continuous beta’ mentality is a big leap from 18-month planning cycles and dogmatic, rigid testing protocols, despite its more real-time and real-world feedback.
Just as this is culturally challenging for many agencies, so it will prove for marketing organizations. As marketing becomes more technology-powered, with learning more real-time, it will be critical to identify who is responsible for leading within marketing organizations … and more importantly, who is empowered to make decisions on the fly. Committee decision making and hierarchical organizational structures, for all their perceived benefits, won’t hold up to the strain of an accelerated process.
So in advance of the full report, here are some of our starters for ten (or seven, actually) on how client structures, skill sets and approaches might adapt to deliver ‘adaptive branding’. We’re learning as we’re going, and as usual we’d value your input, opinions, builds or disagreements.
We’d particularly like to hear about clients that are exploring new ways of engaging agencies, and new forms of leaner, faster, more iterative & curatorial process. Again, there’s much we can learn from these pioneers.
1. Consumer intelligence at the center
We wholeheartedly agree with Forrester’s points around a more prominent role for research. We all have an increasing number of highly sophisticated, real-time and granular measurement tools at our disposal, especially in interactive environments. Adopting an agile approach to using this data becomes more significant; if one can measure everything, one must decide what really matters to avoid drowning or becoming paralyzed. Less, but better measurement, enabling more responsive data-powered marketing, should be the ambition (what Tim @ Made By Many called ‘Agile Measurement‘). These observations suggest an elevated role for the insight & research functions that can quickly distribute and integrate learning in real time.
2. Marketing as a catalyst for change within the broader company
This points to a potentially larger opportunity. It’s not just the marketing organization that needs to reorient itself given the now normal digital age, but the company itself should consider how it reorients itself around its marketing organization. In most progressive companies, it is the marketing function that has most quickly and deeply engaged with the new interactive toolkit. This expertise can play a role well beyond the traditional confines of marketing communications. For example, a proper understanding of social media tools and the proper employment of resulting insights could impact everything from new product/service innovation to customer service to crisis management.
What some, such as Dachis, are calling ‘social business design‘ is a significant opportunity in which marketing teams could play a leading role in driving efficiencies and creating new models internally. Marketing as a revenue source and a genuine competitive advantage, not just a cost. If marketers want a seat back at the big boys’ table, this is one potential way of getting it.
3. The networked organization
The structural definitions of, and relationships between, agencies and marketing organizations must change if companies are to ensure access to the very highest quality and leading-edge partners delivering at speed. With the emergence of what Forrester call “the federated organization” (we prefer ‘networked’) Global brand leaders and directors need to be able to cast elite teams of people (talent that spans several departments, companies or geographies) to get best results and avoid capacity bottlenecks.
This places special emphasis on an evolved role for ‘lead agency’ partners, both providing the conventionally critical services around quality control and coordination, but also performing a new casting director role for marketing directors; knowing whom to bring into a project, and when, and then managing that engagement. Further, client organizations must foster a culture of generosity and collaboration both within their organizations and across multi-agency teams to get the most out of them. Just as dogs and owners look alike, so do clients and the culture of their agency roster (but let’s stop right there with that analogy).
4. Brand leaders as curators
Without question, global brand leaders do need to become more responsible for evolving marketing assets and them adapting to local markets (in many cases this is already happening, for example with some of the Unilever brands with whom BBH works). However, we believe this evolved role needs to go well beyond adaptation and coordination. We envisage an increasing role for both client and agency organizations as not just creators of content, but as curators as well. In a world awash in content, time can be saved by smart curation and the hacking of existing properties. Not everything needs to be conceived of, crafted and produced from the ground up every time. This is particularly important as brands move beyond the development of the traditional ‘campaign’ and start evolving more ongoing platforms that need growing, managing, sustaining and refreshing.
5. Reframing investment timelines
With campaigns evolving into programs and platforms, the annual planning & budgeting framework currently used to allocate monies needs revamping. This is clearly challenging, but if some marketing activity is designed to build long-term enduring platforms and other marketing is to be more opportunistic, then it seems sensible to begin to think about marketing investment in a parallel fashion. We agree that a more active and fluid approach to marketing investment is the correct approach, but this places even greater emphasis on agile and, as much as possible, live measurement.
6. To fail is to learn
We think client organizations need to find new comfort in failure and place increased value in learning as long as both happen for real, and in close to real time. Embracing more of a continuous beta mentality means getting communications into market more quickly and less expensively … with early real learning as the result. This beta learning can help redirect the program while it’s still being developed instead of after its finished. A marketer can spend 10 months of theoretical testing in artificial environments and a highly polished, highly researched program still has a chance of failure, or in many cases creates no real impact one way or another. What good is the post-program audit? The budget is gone and the market has moved on.
7. The time is now
Historically, recessions have proven to be crucibles of change. The current recession is already turning out to be rather more of a complete reset for the industry than a temporary dip in revenues. Structurally, the smartest agencies and agency groups have been quietly plotting not only their future size, but also rebuilding their capabilities, simplifying their processes and gently retooling their skillsets. The smartest marketing organizations must ensure they are doing the same.
So who’s doing this well?
No doubt the Forrester report will be full of strong cases of where this is already happening. We look forward to that.
But we’re after your examples of clients re-inventing process, resourcing models, cultures in the pursuit of better work, produced more efficiently. Whilst it’s perhaps easier to highlight examples of where this *isn’t* happening, let’s try and stay focused on things we can learn from.
Let us know.
3rd September 09
In a world where it’s too easy to get used to things coming in 140 character-sized packages, everything happening in real time, and thinking about the future and what it might bring means having a debate about whether Tumblr is better than Posterous, it’s always refreshing to have something more substantial to chew on. A proper three-course meal versus repeated, ultimately unsatisfying, trips to the snack cupboard.
We’ve been digesting – and debating – a post by Walter Naeslund on his very excellent blog. Naeslund is, in his own words, ‘an internet freedom fighter and CEO of the Stockholm based communications agency Honesty. [He] also give lectures and runs workshops on Internet Trends, Modern Communications Strategy and Social Media.’
Naeslund’s post, from Tuesday, was grandly-titled “What the World Will Look Like in 25 Years“. The whole thing is worth a read (it’s not long). He offers a range of more speculative thinking around the way the world might be going, and the emerging role of the web within those scenarios; as I said, a welcome contrast to an increasingly myopic focus on the now.
But what struck me in particular was a short paragraph in which Naeslund speculates on what one might call future ‘ethics’:
It’s an interesting contention, that there are fewer hiding places in a world of instant access to perfect information, and total transparency. Even if it is likely to never be that flawless in practice (& actually, would we want it to be?), the pronounced increase in sharing of everything about one’s personal life in digital form (what Naeslund characterizes as the merging of physical and digital identities) will undoubtedly bring both costs and benefits.
It’s the last line of that paragraph that intrigues me and that has stuck with me.
Is there any evidence of better behavior and less cheating?
How do we think that might manifest itself, if and when it does happen?
On one hand it all sounds a little Utopian (and some might argue, less fun). On the other, it does sound rather attractive.
What do you think?
28th August 09
The firehose that is the social web pumps out thousands of links, articles and potential insights every day and we often find ourselves missing strong, provocative thinking.
This is something we stumbled across in the last 24 hours which is worthy of yanking out of the river and saving (if I was going to stretch the analogy I’d say ‘saving in our little Labs lake’ but I’m not prepared to say that).
It’s a fantastic short piece about the design process at Facebook. Simply called: ‘Design at Facebook’. We found it compelling not only because of the insight it provides into the design process of such an important interface as Facebook, but also because it’s not about theory, about speculation, about supposition . . . it’s about doing.
The four key hypotheses outlined by the author, Luke Wroblewski, are as follows:
1) Designers need to be there start to ship: from strategy to launch. This is different from other companies.
2) Share early and share often. Sharing with the team and users helps make the design better.
3) Get your hands dirty. Important that you understand how Web code works. All designers write a bit of HTML, CSS, and maybe PHP.
4) Don’t fall in love. Software is impermanent –it is always changing and you need to accept that.
Resonating with us and challenging us right now are the following additional points Wroblewski makes:
- There is no creative director at Facebook (we find this particularly challenging, and wonder how processes work with the speed they clearly do without the focus that a decision-maker provides).
- There is a culture of continual internal sharing between and across the group, and they utilize software to help this happen more smoothly and inclusively.
- In his view, Designers tend to err on side of over simplicity. Engineers tend to err on side of more functionality.
- The culture sounds exhausting: ‘More than ever our work is never done’.
Excellent stuff, plenty for us to learn from. Have a read of the full post at: Design at Facebook.
27th July 09
Author: Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology, BBH New York
This weekend saw the first Town Holler, a meeting (and pub crawl) of foursquare Mayors in New York City. From the photos, it may just look like another fun Saturday evening, but what’s special about Town Holler is that it’s whole reason for being is to create a direct physical world connection using digital platform. Organized by Conrad Lisco (@conradlisco) and myself (@schatz), our goal was to use an existing digital platform to facilitate and enhance a physical world experience, in real time, which, to be frank, should be the goal of any great digital creation.
Imagine five years ago, where a party organizer would, perhaps, illegally take over a warehouse in Brooklyn and throw a rave. Well, using foursquare, we (playfully) squatted on a social platform and threw the party on top of their digital service. We didn’t have to build any software, spend any money, ask permission (the foursquare creators did come along for the journey), or risk being arrested! We hooked into a passionate group of people who had the tools to connect in their pockets–on their iPhones–leveraging someone else’s software and data to curate an event which blended the digital and physical worlds.
29th May 09
Social networking, social media, the social web-some of the most frequently used phrases of the moment but how often do we stop and think about what “social” really means?
One of the easiest (and laziest) answers seems to be that it’s about making friends-being sociable. But it’s interesting to note that while “social” does derive from the Latin “socius” (meaning friend) it does so via “socialis” meaning allied. Somehow enabling allies and allegiances seems like a much bigger and more transformative idea than simply socialising.
Some of the most interesting social sites at the moment actually seem to me to have very little to do with friending people, or poking people, or checking out their holiday pictures. The most interesting initiatives seem to be those that bring individuals together around a common purpose, enabling them to achieve things together previously only possible for major corporations. Ideas that allow individuals not simply to friend one another but to be useful to one another-that cut out the corporate world or conventional distribution mechanics and create a consumer to consumer value exchange.
As Jyri Engestrom puts it in his excellent post on “object-centred sociality”: “The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They’re not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. That’s why many sociologists, especially activity theorists, actor-network theorists and post-ANT people prefer to talk about ‘socio-material networks’, or just ‘activities’ or ‘practices’ (as I do) instead of social networks”
I recently attended the inaugural IPA “Game Changers” event where among other great speakers Giles Andrews from Zopa inspired the crowd by explaining the genuinely radical thinking behind “the social lending company”. For those who aren’t familiar with the proposition, Zopa is a service that puts individual borrowers directly in touch with individual lenders. It not only offers a welcome stream of credit in these increasingly crunched times, it also offers a win-win by offering compelling rates for both parties.
This is a genuinely transformative piece of thinking that uses the fundamental characteristics of the social web-the ability to bring individuals together for their common good, the ability to start conversations-but has relatively limited interest in the sociable web. Concepts like Freecycle, couchsurfing or quirky work along similar lines: I don’t need to be intimate with other users to be of use to them, collaborate with them, fund them, enable them.
Perhaps the most interesting point this raises is that the future of the social web may be driven not so much by friendship but by a new kind of trust. Trust in individuals versus institutions. Trust in people I don’t know (that I’m not friends with) but who I instinctively prefer to the plc and who are brought to me by editor and enabler brands I believe in. As crumbling faith in institutions meets technologies that can genuinely empower both the individual and the crowd, the possibilities are endless (and a little scary). The future of the social web may in fact be less sociable, more (dare I say it) socialist….
So what does this mean for the corporate world? Well, the end probably isn’t nigh just yet. Deriving real utility from social media requires an investment from the individual-in terms of time and in terms of reciprocity. So it will probably remain for a while the preserve of the digitally savvy and time rich. But it may be time to start thinking now about which other services that could previously only be delivered by the might of the corporates that may be socialised next. If lending can be socialised, what’s next? Venture capital? Real estate? What are we already doing on a micro-social scale that could go macro? What else can we congregate around to our mutual benefit? Would be fascinated to know your thoughts….