Percolate is very excited to announce that starting this week, our customers will be able publish both long-form and short-form content to Google+ directly from our platform.
This announcement is important for two reasons. First, Percolate’s core mission remains to help brands create content at social scale. One of the most direct ways to describe the seismic shift that’s taking place in media is to point to the growing number of platforms where brands can reach large masses of consumers. With Google+, our customers can now reach another potential 540 million people through Percolate, easily and effectively.
Second, our integration with Google+ is a signal of a much larger trend, one that brings social much closer to search than it ever has been before.
We’ve been very interested in a study from earlier in the year by the SEO company SearchMetrics, correlating the impact that various factors have on search rankings. What is most apparent is the rise of social: 7 of the top 8 factors affecting search results are social signals.
Since it’s inception, the Google search engine “makes use of the link structure of the Web to calculate a quality ranking for each web page…largely by counting citations or backlinks to a given page. This gives some approximation of a page’s importance or quality.”
Clearly Google’s approach to search has evolved over the years to stay authoritative, but links are still tremendously important. Social has always been a great source of link references as people share content with one another. It’s perfectly reasonable to see social signals rise in authority as platforms mature.
What does this mean for brands? A social strategy is an SEO strategy, and high quality content has to be at the center of both.
Areas where brands have traditionally spent on SEO (ie. keyword position or HTML length) have decreased in importance, with social signals (primarily based around reactions to content) taking their place. Google’s own advice is to focus on producing high quality content that creates a good user experience. Percolate is eager to help, and happy to welcome Google+ as a new partner.
A version of this presentation was given by Dan Gentry, Assistant Brand Manager for Braun North America, during Percolate’s Customer Summit earlier in the month.
Over the last 10 months, Braun and Percolate have been working together to scale Braun’s content presence across social channels. Most of you are likely familiar with the Braun brand, if not through its current products in the personal care space, then through its rich design heritage inspired by Dieter Rams. Among all consumer brands, Braun stands out as unique and identifiable.
As social became a more important focal point for the brand, they were presented with a challenge: How does the brand build that unique, consistent identity as content needs escalate to a new scale? Former methods of content creation were inefficient and time-consuming, with a community manager doing much of the research and copywriting manually – while also splitting time with other brands in the P&G portfolio.
When Braun started working with Percolate, there was a distinct identity that they were looking to cultivate across social channels – a confident, declarative voice, speaking in a concise manner. They wanted to surround topics that were important to their target consumer and while preserving the visual identity that Braun is known for.
Working with Percolate, Braun was able to establish a consistent brand, even as community managers have changed internally. It’s no secret that employees are going to move around, and having a system in place to help create content allowed the team to not miss a beat during the transitional period from one employee to another. Percolate helps community managers build real-time content and visuals to create meaningful conversations with the Braun audience.
With better creation efficiencies came better results. Braun was able to produce more content, engage more users, and reach a larger group of consumers on an organic basis, saving the Braun team time and money by handling content at a scalable level.
As the relationship with Braun continued, Percolate has launched new features to help with content production.
Braun has recently launched the new °CoolTec shavers line, billed as “quite possibly the most technologically advanced dry shaver in the world.” As part of the CoolTec rollout, the brand hosted a launch party at the Clevelander Hotel in Miami (the Braun team is based in Cincinnati with the majority of the other P&G brands).
To document events in the past, the Braun team would have someone on site with a camera or phone documenting the event. Clearly they couldn’t give out the publishing credentials to a broad group, so this would require a lot of emailing and downloading, a difficult process to manage in real time.
Percolate’s Photographer app allowed the Braun team to better manage workflows for live events. They had a team down at the Miami event from several agency partners – Starcom, Barefoot Proximity, and Porter Novelli – all equipped with the app. Throughout the event, attendees could walk around and take photos of the event feature live tests of the new CoolTec razors. Each of these photos would then automatically sync to the Percolate dashboard, appearing in the Braun Media Library.
From there, the images could be branded with the Braun logo, cropped, had filters added on top, and then paired with copy and published. The Braun team has used the image editor extensively throughout our partnership, and having the ability to easily create branded photos makes it considerably easier and more efficient to generate on-brand content in real time.
By the conclusion of the event, Braun generated 40 photos for the team to use on social, and ultimately 8 pieces of custom content were created over the course of the day. A team of 5 people were feeding real-time content to the Cincinnati-based social team, who could get, adapt, and post the content without leaving the Percolate platform.
Percolate’s mobile app made the entire process considerably easier, according to Dan Gentry, Assistant Brand Manager for Braun North America:
The app functioned to the level of Instagram, which speaks well to its design. All agreed that it was easy to use and saved us lots of time compared to the alternative of emailing and downloading.
A version of this presentation was given by Andrew Bowins, SVP of External Communications at MasterCard, during Percolate’s Customer Summit last week.
About two years ago, MasterCard was looking at about 32 million potential brand exposures from issuers, merchants, and MasterCard itself, but only owned about 1% of the conversation – people actually engaging with the brand. Even more alarming was that 0.5% of that 1% was people talking about things relevant to MasterCard.
To be more relevant in this new environment, MasterCard needed to shift their approach to content. Brand newsrooms are something that you hear increasingly about in the industry, where brands mirror the way media organizations operate. With the launch of the Mastercard Newsroom, the brand hoped to increase their share of voice against competitors while being able to articulate their unique position as a payments company.
MasterCard has implemented the Conversation Suite, which you can see here, putting technology at the center of their real-time approach. It was critical that to build an open and adaptive environment that was mobile-ready and future-proof, and that they operationalize the Newsroom approach from the very start.
You can be more innovative than your competitors, but that’s only going to get you so far. To compete with some competitors that have very strong brands, MasterCard needed to have an emotional, culturally relevant perspective with all the content they are creating. The goal with Newsroom was to change this through an innovative approach to digital marketing.
With tech as the backbone, the success at MasterCard has also been driven by creating a culture of listening at the organization, and giving employees the tools to take action. It’s not just about getting a social media presence established, you have to create the need to listen and understand what your consumers are saying about your brand.
Traditionally, listening online has been about listening to what your customers are saying about the brand. This listening is critical for all sorts of key metrics, but most of the time it isn’t going to make you more interesting and relevant to people that may not already have you in their consideration set.
As the cliché goes, “we were given two ears and one mouth so you should listen twice as much before you speak” – listen to understand what people are saying, but use that to inform what you say.
So with the idea that you need to listen to understand, you still need to produce to be relevant. Rather than close off in a room and listen in a traditional sense to what was happening, MasterCard has been listening around the category and then bringing the brand’s story into those conversations.
The goal was to earn the credibility to speak to these communities around the vision for a world beyond cash and the value digital payments provide.
Here you see the MasterCard Newsroom, projects powered by Percolate. The purpose of the new site is to encourage more engagement, promote visual storytelling, and allow for more digital content that can be created, shared and published real time.
The Newsroom is set up to prompt employees to create content based on a smart understanding of what their consumers are passionate about. A world where as a marketer, where we no longer buy boxes on a webpage, but are expected to created alongside consumers in real time.
The framework of ‘listen to understand/produce to be relevant’ doesn’t end there. Content production is cyclical, and there’s a great desire to take what you can learn from the past and apply it to future content creation. Listen, Test, Learn, and then Innovate in the future.
With this approach, great brands aren’t limited by past opinions; they can build, create, and inspire new thoughts. Don’t take analytics as a warehouse of knowledge – MasterCard was very mindful to not allow the newsroom to turn into a place where we analyze past performance.
MasterCard has a team of 60 people in 43 markets and 26 languages who create content following a style guide created by the newsroom. Traffic to its sites is up 35% since January, and in the last six months, 135,000 people engaged directly with the content, generating 500,000 conversations and shares.
As mentioned earlier – 2 years ago, we had 32 million potential brand exposures, but only 1% of the conversation. Now, MasterCard is looking at 1.3 billion brand exposures.
Over 560,000 people around the world are now taking the time to create conversation streams about the brand.
The purpose of these numbers isn’t to invest in social for its own sake – MasterCard is looking to take the organization to a place where big data meets traditional storytelling and frame social in business terms.
We have to rethink how we communicate in order to deal with the new world of marketing. The MasterCard Newsroom has been a success as a System of listening, creating, and learning. When you combine this new approach with amazing employees and great technology, you open your brand to entirely new possibilities.
A few months ago we launched our first iOS app called Media Uploader. The idea was simple: Give brands an easy way to procure photos from employees and events. The app allowed anyone associated with the brand to take photos with their phone, tag them, and post them directly to the brand’s Percolate Media Library (without giving them access to any of the other functionality the brand wouldn’t want them messing with).
With a few months of usage under our belts we saw the opportunity to extend the app to solve another crucial need for brands. The new 2.0 version (which also comes with a name change to “Photographer”) includes the ability for the brand to access their Media Library on the go and post any photo directly to Instagram from the app.
If you’re a brand you know how much of a problem this solves. Because Instagram is still mainly focused on users it doesn’t allow brands to switch between accounts. This means there is usually just one “Instagram phone” around the office or in the hand of a community manager. If that person isn’t also the one out taking the photos there’s a painful process of getting the photos, saving the photos, and then posting them to Instagram. With the new version of the app the official Instagram poster can now watch the images stream in from employees and brand events and push them straight into Instagram in real time.
The update is available in the app store now, so if you’re a Percolate customer you can head over and download it immediately.
If you’re not a Percolate customer and you’d like to learn more about the Instagram integration, or about our Photograph App Case Study with P&G’s Braun team, please be in touch. It’s awesome.
Denny’s had a plan – establish itself as America’s Diner and use that positioning to reestablish relevance for the brand and drive growth at the register.
The fastest growing segments of Denny’s customer base are the most represented on social networks. Social would be a key to their future marketing strategy. What they didn’t anticipate was the change that they would go through as they executed this strategy.
As of the Customer Summit, Denny’s has been working with Percolate for 16 months.
In that time the brand has had 2 agencies managing their social presence.
They tested 3 different approaches to marketing Denny’s on social – from curation to conversation to creation.
Importantly, over those 16 months Denny’s had 6 different community managers creating content on their behalf.
The lesson of this is that your audience is there to be entertained and engaged. Change is of no consequence to them. Keep the content coming.
Denny’s did just that, producing over 2,700 pieces of unique content in that 16 month period. That’s 173 per week, nearly 25 pieces of content per day.
Denny’s tested a series of tactics, leveraging user generated content to drive engagement. This post had more than 30,000 notes on Tumblr.
The results speak for themselves. 63% increase in shares on Facebook since Denny’s started posting at social scale.
Twitter was also impacted positively by a strategy of greater volume.
Tumblr has been a standout success. Where the Denny’s tumblr is being hailed as the best brand tumblr she’s ever seen, by no less an authority than Digg’s Social Media editor Veronica D’Souza.
Denny’s VP of Marketing understood how technology enabled his agency partners to succeed in this fast paced environment.
Denny’s agency partners, Erwin Penland and Gotham, have been active users of Percolate’s entire toolset, and continue to lead the way among Percolate’s client base.
Ultimately creating content at social scale comes down to removing friction between inspiration, creation and production. Kevin Purcer’s team at Erwin Penland drove this point home with their hugely successful iPhone 5S parody which was RT’d 2,500+ times.
Removing friction creates efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability. In the time that Denny’s agency partners have leveraged Percolate they have generated 400% more content in half the time (we know this because prior to joining Percolate as Director of Client Solutions, I was Strategy Director on the Denny’s business).
It’s those kinds of numbers that showcase the possibilities of creativity at social scale.
This emerging space is a team sport where brands, agencies and technology collaborate to create smart workflows for powering social creativity.
I’ve been an iPhone user since 3G (I stuck with Blackberry through the metal-backed one). Generally I’d say I’m pretty happy and impressed by both the hardware and software. However, as someone who a) is fascinated by technology and b) runs a software company, I thought it was important that I got to know Android a lot better.
So a few weeks ago I started my concerted effort for an Android education. It started with a Moto X I was given to test, which I liked a lot, but since I couldn’t switch out my sim card I couldn’t really get to know properly. I started to try and use it around the house as a tablet replacement, however, and I really liked it. Of course it wasn’t made for that, though, so I went out and bought the Nexus 7, which I thought would give me exactly what I needed to get to know the OS (at least from a tablet perspective).
Overall I’ve been very impressed, but the point of this isn’t to do a review of iOS versus Android (specifically 4.3 Jelly Bean). That seems useful to do at some point, but for now I want to talk about “intents”. This is the function that allows one application to pass you to another for a specific action. The place you see this most is in the share intent, which allows you to hit share in any application and have access to all the other apps you have installed that you might want to share that piece of content on.
This, for me, makes Android feel a lot more social than iOS, which requires each application to hard-code in their sharing functionality (except for the Facebook and Twitter integrations which happen at the app level). This is awesome both from a user experience standpoint (I don’t have to copy and paste anything) as well as a developer standpoint (if you’re building apps you don’t have to make decisions on which platforms to put in/leave out and you can easily register your app as a share service and make it available inside other apps). The Android developer blog has a bunch more advantages to this approach, including:
Forward Compatible with new services — If some swanky new service springs up out of nowhere with an Android Application, as long as that application knows how to receive the share intent, you already support it. You don’t spend time in meetings discussing whether or not to wedge support for the new service into your impending Next Release(tm), you don’t burn engineering resources on implementing support as fast as possible, you don’t even upload a new version of anything to Android Market. Above all, you don’t do any of that again next week, when another new service launches and the whole process threatens to repeat itself. You just hang back and let your users download an application that makes yours even more useful.
Anyway, my point here was really just to highlight a little bit of functionality in Android that totally changes the experience and makes it feel, at least to me, like a more social OS.
If you’re a brand, one of the biggest challenges you have is how to ensure that everyone creating content on your behalf always keeps the tone/voice on target. This challenge only increases with global brands, where you are trying to translate the tone across regions and often languages. If you’re a global brand manager this is the sort of stuff that keeps you up at night.
If you work at Percolate, on the other hand, this is the sort of stuff that makes your mouth water. When we spot problems like this we get really excited about finding a way to solve them. It’s just too important an issue to leave to training, PDF brand guidelines, and a lot of hope. Our Client Solutions team spotted this pretty early on and came up with interesting ways to help brands solve for this. One of the methods they developed was a series of questions that Content Creators could ask themselves before they published a piece of content. The idea was to find a way to translate the brand’s voice guidelines (which are generally words like “bold” and “thoughful”), to something actionable like “Does this post tell you something you didn’t already know?” or “Does the image present Percolate as a fun place to work?”.
When the product team saw this they started scheming and came up with a way to translate the idea into the software itself. The solution, which we introduced on Wednesday at our Customer Summit, is called Brand Prompts and allows brands to set a series of questions for a content creator to answer before they are allowed to send the post for approval or out to publish.
Two things about this feature really excite me. First, you can immediately see how this feature will extend past just its original intention. We’re already thinking about rolling out platform prompts to ensure brands are creating content that’s appropriate for Facebook and Twitter and even campaign/pillar-based prompts that ask different questions depending on what kind of content it is. Second, it’s an awesome moment of teams coming together to create something great for clients. The Client Solutions team developed a really smart way of answering a brand challenge and the Product team took that and figured out how to make it scale by building it into the product. It’s pretty much the ideal flow for how the company should function.
It was funny, when we first started Percolate we stayed away from the term content marketing. It didn’t feel big enough, it felt dated and overall, it was poorly defined. You can look no further than Wikipedia right now to see what I’m talking about:
This definition is stuck in what we call the first phase of digital marketing. That is the web phase of digital. A pre-2010 era of the web that was defined by Search, Banners and micro-sites.
Hopefully by the end of this post we can show you how much we think content marketing has been totally changed by the last two phases of digital marketing that have happened in the past 3 years. These two phases have also created a radical change in terms of what it means to be a marketer.
Social was the original catalyst for a whole new way that we create content in the modern day. Social was what got Noah and I excited when we thought about building Percolate.
We were moving from a world where our clients asked us to build out year long campaign calendars.
To a world where they couldn’t figure out what to tweet about on a daily basis. At the beginning many laughed social and specifically twitter as being nothing more that people talking about what they had for breakfast. People aren’t laughing any longer.
Noah and I knew the world had forever changed when marketing conversations moved in this direction. Our job was to start a company to solve these challenges and we went out in the market to make it happen.
In late 2010 though, the idea of social platforms and their businesses was still very much up in the air.
Facebook’s valuation was insane in late 2010. Employees were selling their shares for $11B!
Everyone had an opinion on Twitter and almost all of them thought they would never make money.
LinkedIn was a professional networking site with no content or newsfeed. Updates were for when you were looking for a new job and changed your profile.
Google was a search company with no play in social.
While social was important in 2010 it didn’t have the overall value we had come to find in the largest media companies. As well, there wasn’t a global play in social yet, social platforms were largely siloed by the countries they were built in.
So what changed, how did social become so big?
Social had it’s moment largely thanks to the other greatest disruptive force we have all lived through in the last 3 years, Mobile.
For marketers, mobile changed everything. Banners, gone. Flash, gone. Complicated site architectures that couldn’t translate to smaller form factors, gone. Social has been the benefactor of everything that mobile disrupted.
Most importantly, mobile consolidated us all. It taught us to swipe, capture and for social: share… Instantly. It also taught us that content would sit in the center of the experience and it would unite us all in the act of creating and sharing it together.
The growth in mobile is like nothing we have ever seen before. Android recently passed the 1B user make and iOS will pass 1B users sometime in Q1 of 2014.
And we are just getting started
The output of mobile is an entirely new social landscape. Let’s look at 2013.
Facebook is now worth $110B, has 1.19 billion monthly active users of which 874M of those users accessed the site from a mobile device.
Twitter has gone public, with almost all of their growth and monetization centered around Mobile.
LinkedIn is primarily focused on sponsored content as the growth engine to their business.
Pinterest and Snapchat are the next up and coming platforms
Google has even come out to say that G+ is the social spine of the company.
Mobile and Social have built the biggest companies of our time. This can be well seen with this chart showing the leading social/mobile companies worth almost $1 Trillion.
So with all this value and content created, what is next?
In his book “Understanding Media” he goes on to give an example: “The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure.” In other words, it realigned personal expectations and culture and expanded the definition of local.
In order to understand how social and mobile will continue to change our lives and marketing, let’s look at the future through the lens of Scale, Pace and Pattern.
For marketers, the Scale is Global
Billions of people, Not Millions
That leads to us connecting on global platforms.
Look at where we were in 2009:
To where we are now:
Twitter growth along with most maturing social platforms is international.
Pace is focused around the stream
Everything in the future is dictated by how it will perform in mobile. Where creation and consumption happens in the same stream. All content needs to be shareable.
Pull to refresh is the most used gesture in the world.