At Social Media Week NYC Laura Simpson and Nadia Tuma, the global and deputy directors, respectively, of McCann Truth Central, gave a presentation on privacy and sharing in social media. They spoke at length about the varying attitudes people of different generations possess regarding the ownership and use of their online data.
At the end of their presentation, they unveiled a pyramid graph entitled “the hierarchy of compensation.” Organizations scale the pyramid by using an individual’s data to provide benefits that are increasingly intrinsic in nature. In other words, companies move from merely providing transactional benefits to enabling self-actualization by using the personal data they collect to actually make the lives of their customers better (as opposed to just making their purchases less expensive).
One of our big goals for the year ahead will be to ensure that the distribution of our findings works harder for the company. If our research is empowering us with empathy around our customer’s lives, then we’ve got to make sure that empathy is served on a never-ending conveyor belt so everyone across the company can easily pick learnings up all day long.
Empathy is the key to ascending the hierarchy of compensation Laura and Nadia created. Whether a B2B or B2C organization, if you aspire to provide not merely cost-saving solutions but life-altering ones, deeply understanding the challenges and concerns of your customers is critical.
Great marketing, like any form of storytelling, needs to make an emotional impact. But in order to do so, you have to understand your audience. You have to empathize with them. In the third, social and mobile-driven phase of marketing technology, we can do so in ways never previously imagined. The data we now have access to, both in terms of its scale and its specificity, is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s dramatically changing the ways in which marketers can make their content compelling.
When discussing our audiences, we can talk in terms of billions, not just millions. At the same time, we can target small groups of individuals with highly tailored messages. And we can do them both on the very same platform. The more information an individual provides, the better we can ensure we’re telling stories and providing solutions he or she will be impacted by. We can ensure we’re talking to the right people on the right platform and in the right ways.
I mentioned that Laura and Nadia’s presentation was actually about generational attitudes regarding privacy, sharing and the corporate use of data. How do marketers ensure that the content they create – content that appears in feeds along with photos and messages from friends and loved ones – will be well received? Empathize with them. Produce content that genuinely speaks to the reality of their situation, and distribute that content at the appropriate time through the appropriate channels. If you do so, branded content won’t feel invasive. It will be welcomed.
When we started Percolate just over three years ago we did so with a thesis: Content is the atomic unit of all marketing. When we looked around at the technology landscape, we saw a lot of tools for brands built around campaigns and publishing, with no one focusing on the day-to-day challenge of creating content to meet the every-growing demands of a social + mobile world.
At this point I think it’s safe to say the advertising world agrees that content is the future of marketing in a social + mobile world.
With that mission and momentum in mind, I’m incredibly excited to announce that we’ve partnered with WPP, one of the industry’s unquestionable leaders, to help continue to make our vision a reality. Because of their position working with brands of all shapes and sizes, WPP has had a front row seat to this shift to content. As the demands of content marketing continued to explode, they made a decision to partner with us to help their clients implement a systematized approach that drove at efficiency, effectiveness, and brand governance.
Needless to say, we continue to be more and more excited about the space, the opportunity, and the products we’re building. Today, more than ever, marketers need a system of record to help manage every step of the content marketing process and, with the help of partners like WPP, we can continue to ensure that our solution gets into the hands of the world’s best marketers.
The below presentation, The Content Marketing Revolution, kicked off our event at Social Media Week, a track of programming that was developed to explain how social and mobile have forever changed content marketing. Our ability to understand what happens next revolves around studying how technology not only changes media but also how it changes marketing and the marketer.
I realize calling anything a revolution can sound a bit silly. What I want to do is back up the statement with the changes in technology we are now living through and how the last 3 years have really changed media, marketing and marketers.
So let’s get started. First and foremost, we are Percolate. We are company of about 100 people and growing based right here in NYC. We are 3 years old and if I could use one word to summarize us I would say, ambitious.
We have a vision to redefine marketing through technology and a goal to be the content marketing platform of record for every marketing department.
When Noah and I first started the company we struggled with the term content marketing. For years 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:
Content marketing is any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.
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, eMail and micro-sites.
So what happened? How did everything change? 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 of sustained communications, where marketers needed to figure out what to tweet about on a daily basis.
Noah and I knew the world had forever changed when marketing conversations moved in this direction. From campaign based communication to sustained communication. 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.
There was no global social platform. Almost all leading platforms around the world were constrained to the country they were building in.
What social at this time did is it created a new category of marketing technology. What we call the second phase of marketing technology. The important thing to understand though is social at this time was still largely about the web and the technology reflected it. For a marketer, as the data showed from 2010, social wasn’t global or strategic.
What did social mean for the marketer in 2010?
On one end you had marketing technology that helped brands build microsites on Facebook. Remember Facebook tabs? Yes, I’m glad they are gone as well.
The other side of this new phase of marketing technology was customer service. Brands increasingly were made aware of the ability for others to help praise their brand or hold it hostage (war rooms!) and they bought technology to help with the monitoring and routing of customer conversations. Technology that is still in use and thriving to this day.
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, as social platforms were largely siloed by the countries they were built in.
So what happened? How did social become the dominant driving force it is today?
Social had it’s moment largely thanks to the most disruptive force we have all lived through in the last 4 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. Content creation and consumption now happen in the same stream.
The growth in mobile is like nothing we have ever seen before. Android recently passed one billion activations and iOS will pass 1B users sometime this year.
The output of mobile created an entirely new social landscape. At the time of this speech…
Facebook is now worth $163B, has 1.19 billion monthly active users of which 874M of those users accessed the site from a mobile device. They also own one of the fastest growing mobile-first social platforms, Instagram.
Twitter has gone public. Almost all their growth and monetization is 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
This is a chart showing just how quickly a new player in social and mobile like WhatsApp can grow vs a traditional digital communication company like Skype.
Google has come out to say that G+ is the social spine of the company. Using G+ as the identity layer of Android.
Mobile totally changed the value chain and with it, new types of companies emerged.
You don’t have to look further than this graph to see just how much value has been created by social/mobile companies. They are now amongst the largest media companies in the world. For marketers is important to realize that the market has voted and they believe in the future, more and more marketing will flow towards social/mobile companies and away from traditional media companies.
So with all this value and content created, what is next? What does it mean to be a marketer in 2014? We are in the midst of a great transition and how can the marketer capitalize?
Let’s start by understanding how technology is changing what it means to be a marketer. Noah has always talked about looking at these changes through the lens that Marshall Mcluhan looked at technology. McLuhan said, “The ‘message’ of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.”
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.
Scale: Global. Marketing is no longer about reaching millions, it is about reaching billions. Look where we were in 2009:
To where we are now:
Thanks to mobile and the consolidation of platforms, in just 4 short years we have been able to globally consolidate on platforms like Facebook and others.
Twitter’s growth, along with most maturing social platforms, is international.
Social is also no longer a zero sum game. Multiple platforms can thrive in a social, mobile world and the individual platform numbers and their growth reflect this pattern.
Pace: Mobile is the form factor that all marketing needs to live by.
Everything in the future is dictated by how it will perform in mobile. 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.
Pattern: Content is having it’s Moore’s Law moment.
Over 1 billion photos are shared daily across just four of the major social platforms – WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Even Search, the last great business model of the pre social/mobile world is dictated by social now.
Content acceleration is happening.
So as a marketer how do you win? With these sweeping changes, what does it mean to be a marketer? Will you still be judged based on how your 30 second commercial performs?
As a marketer you need to think about systems that touch the whole organization and the massive global audiences that social and mobile now reach. The ability to do all this creates a new marketer.
The CMO and the marketing department have the potential to touch a much larger part of the organization than they ever did before. Every employee is on social and every employee is mobile. Never before, in the history of the enterprise, was there more of a transitional time for a department to expand their reach.
A marketer has to move from campaign-based communication to sustained communication.
What all these profound changes create is a new type of marketer. One that controls both messaging and systems inside of the organization. These changes can create a more strategic marketer that moves from an average tenure of 24 months as a CMO to being the most strategic executive in the organization after the CEO.
The marketer that wins in this new world will embrace the technological changes that are changing the scale, pace and pattern of media.
To conclude. The content marketing revolution is absolutely here.
Social was the catalyst for redefining Content Marketing
Mobile was the catalyst that changed the scale of social
Social is at the center of marketing, mobile is the vehicle, and content marketing is the best way into those essential spaces.
Finally, only about 40% of the world is connected to the internet. By 2018, almost everyone will be connected through mobile, social technologies. This will continue to have compounding effects on what it means to be a marketer.
We live in truly amazing times to be a marketer, let’s take advantage of it.
This post is an open letter to Art Directors working at advertising agencies. It’s based on a presentation I gave at Social Media Week NYC where I shared some thoughts on how Art Directors and Designers can help their clients create more effective social marketing in 2014.
The first thing you should know is these thoughts are coming from a former Art Director. Before joining Percolate, I was involved in the conception, planning and execution of digital campaigns at agencies in London and New York.
Over the last 10 years I have seen how the web, social and mobile have shifted the ways teams create brand campaigns and content marketing. Let’s take a look at how this went down.
The year is 2004, I have just graduated from the University of Huddersfield with a degree in Multimedia Design. For those of you who haven’t visited Huddersfield before, we were surrounded by all the sheep.
Shortly after graduating, I swapped the sheep of Yorkshire for the red telephone boxes of London and began working on marketing campaigns at digital agencies.
My first job was to make fish come out of computer screens for Sony.
Well, not quite. It was about mastering the art of designing banners. You know, editing graphic details, optimizing messaging placements in an effort to get down to a 15k file size.
We also helped telecommunications company Orange sell phones.
Over the course of our relationship we moved away from creating “big idea” campaigns and started turning out a piece of interactive content every month. Simple, fun ideas designed to be shared on Facebook walls.
We worked for the Observer newspaper to promote their monthly magazines: music, food and sport.
Here we created a weekly email newsletter to inspire subscribers to pick-up a copy of the paper that coming weekend. This was about picking up our photoshop template and setting content in place each week.
Another one of our clients was high street fashion retailer Topshop.
We redesigned Topshop.com from the ground up. Brand guidelines helped us understand the fonts, color palettes and photography direction styles we could use to structure and shape the new editorial templates we introduced over the commerce foundation. Templates that would be used to published 2/3 blog posts a week.
On moving to New York, I started working with Samsung. They wanted to raise awareness of their new laptop, which came equipped with an Intel processor.
We created Boosted, a series of mini campaigns that played out in Facebook tabs and microsites. This was also the first time I had been involved in the planning and creation of three solid weeks of content updates and status messages.
This brings us to 2010. I like to refer to this moment as the big design pile-up. Design requests were coming in at an amazing rate. The social web stage of marketing was well and truly in full force. There was so much stuff to make.
You can see the shift from creating campaigns to sustained marketing illustrated below. What we’re looking at is how we moved from a delivery of banners every four months, to a constant flow of social campaigns — campaigns full of design assets.
Our response to the need for so many assets? Photoshop. Of course Photoshop was our answer. When you are holding a hammer, the only thing you see is a nail, right?
But Photoshop didn’t solve our problems. Things got worse. From here the growth continued as more and more brands created campaigns across social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, whilst new platforms like Tumblr started to emerge as places brands could reach new audiences.
This is when we introduced a new member to the team: the Community Manager. This was someone who mostly worked client side. As an agency we needed Community Managers to guard the front lines during campaigns.
These were people who had been on Myspace as early as 2007. Back then they were responding to fan wall posts and handling the trolls.
They quickly got known for customer relationship management skills and their ability to handle weird customer enquires, but they did far more than that.
Since 2011 I have been following Community Managers and all the jobs they do as we’ve built our technology platform. They have gone beyond the frontline. They are playing a leading role in defining brand strategy and content design for some of the most successful brands on social.
The reality is, if you want to make good work today, the Community Manager is the most important person you can work with. If you are an Art Director, the Community Manager is your new creative partner. An absolutley vital member of your team. Let me explain why.
Let’s not worry about the design thing. You know, when you say keyboard shortcuts, they think keyboard cat. Paul Rand is met with “Ron Paul?” And your favorite typeface Gotham, well that’s got to be Batman.
They pick up things fast. And what they bring to the table is huge. They are going to help you grow.
They understand the pace of platforms better than anyone. Their Photoshop is an application made up of streams of social content. It is what they are using everyday to craft communications. From here they understand the pace and the perspectives of your brand’s audience.
When the social platforms introduced new visual news feeds they became flooded with images fans related to the brand. This only increased with the mass adoption of smartphones. A new visual language arrived. Simple, human photography won the day. When representing your brand, this is the new creative.
With this huge influx of fan imagery, community managers had a new source of content. This obviously included cats. These images created new post styles like “Fan Photos.” Here Community Managers developed a more personal dialogue between the brand and fans, when previously there had only been cold messaging and direct promotion of product and services.
This wasn’t just about Facebook. As new platforms grew, Community Managers got to know how the room responded across all platforms. They knew how to craft the message as they shifted the brand look and voice from Facebook to Twitter, as they transitioned from day to night, from one audience to another.
They have an ability to pay attention to the world around them, understand trends, and react to all of this. They made planking Pepsi cans into a real thing. This ability is what built followers and friends. This is what gave brands a moment of fame on social.
With the rise of mobile apps such as Pic Stitch, Meme text generator and later Instagram, Community Managers became more and more confident in making design decisions. With these apps they are doing the work we used to do for a couple of hours a week (cropping and manipulating images), but they are doing it in minutes.
Community Managers connect brands with cultural moments. For example: It’s Christmas. Everyone is watching Home Alone. Suddenly Pepsi’s Community Manager brings back Fuller and makes sure no one over does it. This is a great example of how they married the visual language of social to a timely and relevant piece of culture.
Today, Community Managers are working with some of the world’s largest brands to tap in and understand what makes their audiences different, and then work with the team to create content for them specifically. Oreo’s Daily Twist Campaign is the example I’m sure you are all familiar with. The team won a Grand Prix at Cannes last year.
So lets talk conclusions. What am I asking you to take away from all of this?
First and foremost, you should hang out with your Community Manager more. I know some of you won’t be in the same office each day, but make it happen. Get together for an hour a few times a week.
This will be quality time for you to share learnings from both sides of the table. On your agenda should be how your audiences are developing across platforms, the latest social tools and formats (today this is Vine and Snapchat and the next ones are coming soon), talk about events happening in the real world you are excited about for the brand and get into design: discuss what’s happening across campaigns, industry and social.
The number one thing you need to work on together is context. Ensure the content and campaigns you are creating doesn’t fall on deaf ears. Understand why each platform is unique. Understand what time of day people on each platform are online and engaging with content. Understand what they are talking about and reacting to. This is the most important thing you need to do.
So this week, drop your Community Manager an email. Invite them to get coffee and chat. Get this going. Trust me. You’ll both be better off for it.
A brand’s employees play a critical — and often overlooked — role in its social identity. More than ever, individual employees are using social to build and share their personal brand, giving rise to conversations where personal and professional content converge. As more and more employees become content creators and broadcasters, how can companies best use their workforce to amplify content, extend conversations about the brand, and help with valuable activities like customer service, advocacy and recruiting?
In a new phase of marketing technology centered around the mobile, social enterprise, CMOs and marketing departments now have a direct path to engage their employees on social: mobile, where nearly every modern employee is active. Both the challenge and the opportunity for marketers is managing the creation and distribution of content company-wide with centralized oversight. According to research from Altimeter, developing internal education and training for employee social media use is a top priority for CMOs, despite the fact that only 38% of brands currently have one in place.
Today, we’re thrilled to share a new, powerful tool for marketers looking to activate their brand’s biggest social advocates: Percolate Employee for iOS. Available in the Apple app store, Employee lets marketing teams publish brand content to employees’ phones — whether that number is in the dozens or thousands — with the full tracking and oversight of Percolate’s Complete Content Marketing Platform. Here’s how it works:
With the Employee mobile app:
1. Important brand content is shared directly to employee groups
2. Employees can easily add hashtags and get permission to natively use and share content to their personal social feeds
3. Employee “favoriting” provides easy two-way communication feedback to marketing about content quality and relevance
4. Marketing teams maintain full control and oversight of their content, and also receive valuable feedback data about how employees are responding to and sharing their work
Effective enterprise social media advocacy starts with sound planning, thoughtful employee training, and diligent executive education, and it can be deployed at scale to deliver real-time socially engaged employees with Percolate Employee.
Most important of all, the introduction of our Employee app means that brands and their employees are now completely connected around the atomic marketing unit of content. Employees can create visual content with Photographer and sync it to a brand’s central media library, and now take digital assets published from central or regional teams and amplify them. Best of all, CMOs and their teams can track and manage the entire lifecycle with Percolate’s monitoring, analytics and social governance software.
Employee extends marketing’s reach to every department in the company, activating a brand’s best social advocates at scale. With Employee, everyone in the organization is empowered to be a marketer and brand advocate.
When I started my career in digital marketing 10 years ago we were living through the first phase of marketing technology. This was a world of banners, microsites, search and email. As a digital marketer you didn’t work with much technology but if you did, it most likely revolved around a category called advertising technology with DoubleClick or Aquantive for banners, marketing automation for email, or analytics like Omniture for your website. This phase of digital can be thought of as the web phase of digital. A snapshot of this phase can be seen here:
1st Phase: Web
Largest internet media companies in 2005 by market cap: Google ($100B), Yahoo ($15B), AOL (~$1B)
During the first phase Google established itself as the most dominant marketing company in the world by owning search and they also made big acquisitions with marketing technology like DoubleClick.
The challenge for the first phase is advertising technology breaks down as the PC becomes less relevant. Almost all advertising technology, outside of email, revolves around web browsers and banners. This technology thrived in a browser based world that allowed for cookies to be dropped on users and retargeted through messaging that primarily came in the form of banners.
Social and more specifically mobile renders almost all this technology ineffective. Social gathers almost all it’s data from first-party information, in other words, the data that you naturally give to a platform like Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn. Mobile eliminated any additional space that banners once occupied and forced both platforms and publishers to think about a native offering that strikes at a more consistent user experience than what banners can offer.
If you believe, like we do, that the first phase lives and dies with the PC, then the trend doesn’t look great:
This brings us to the second phase, one that started to really gain traction in 2009 as Facebook passed 300 million users. Social in this phase for marketers was still on the web (ie. in the browser) and marketers spent millions of dollars on building Facebook microsites, often called tabs. A snapshot of the second phase can be seen here:
2nd Phase: Social Web
Largest internet media companies in 2010 by market cap: Google ($140B), Yahoo ($14B), Facebook ($10B)
A new type of technology emerged in this second phase called SMMS (Social Media Management Systems). This technology served two functions. The first was focused on helping to build out the equivalent of microsites on Facebook in the form of tabs (to be fair, at the time this was really the only marketing solution available to brands). When Mark Zuckerberg spoke in the summer of 2013 and said Facebook was a mobile company moving forward that was an official signal that Facebook tabs were over and brands needed to re-align their focus on Facebook to take advantage of their mobile marketing solution, sponsored posts.
The second technology function that SMMS served was to help manage the explosion of CRM and customer service inquiries that occurred on social. The goal of this technology was to help brands build out their monitoring and response solutions, everything from being a new 1-800-number for social to building out customer profiles to crisis management. The Altimeter Group put together a nice slide on how SMMS differentiates itself along these lines:
What are the two critical elements missing from this chart as it relates to opportunity that marketing now has and the internet that we are now dealing with?
Content and Mobile. Without a vision for content or mobile, part of SMMS marketing technology is left behind as a PC-centric solution and one that Facebook no longer actively promotes. The customer service solution side of SMMS is still thriving but it doesn’t solve the most strategic opportunity platforms and marketers have. That new opportunity brings us to phase 3.
3rd Phase: Social + Mobile
Largest internet media companies by market cap: Google ($400B), Facebook ($170B), Twitter ($30B), LinkedIn ($25B)
The combination of social + mobile creates an entirely new phase of marketing technology. From a media perspective, the promise is mobile media companies have larger global audiences and more sophisticated data and targeting than we have ever seen before. This is reflected in the market caps of social + mobile companies, for the first time ever, they are the largest media companies in the world:
In all cases, the native ad unit on these social + mobile platforms is content and marketers have been forced to move from creating a few pieces of content per year, like they did in traditional media, to creating hundreds of pieces of content per day as they have the opportunity to reach global audiences at a moment’s notice.
The media opportunity is only the outward-facing effect of this third phase.
The other opportunity for the marketing department that the third phase creates is how the marketing department changes inside the enterprise in a social mobile world.
The CMO and the marketing department have the potential to touch a much larger part of the organization than they ever did before. Every employee is on social and every employee is mobile. Never before, in the history of the enterprise, was there more of a transitional time for marketing to expand their reach.
What a marketer needs now is a system of technology that manages the creation and distribution of all this content with centralized oversight. The marketer moves from someone that once only moved content to audiences, to someone that needs to move content through the whole organization. In this new world the marketer has the ability to touch sales, HR and almost any department that puts social and mobile at the center of their activities.
This is our vision at Percolate and what we are building towards every day. For the marketer, we want to create a way for them to easily touch the whole organization and the massive global audiences that social and mobile now reach. The ability to do all this with Percolate creates a new type of marketer. A marketer that moves from campaign based communication to sustained communication. A marketer that moves from buying media to building systems. A marketer that moves from an average tenure of 24 months as a CMO to being the most strategic executive in the organization after the CEO. A marketer that puts technology at the very center of their marketing process.
This is the next phase of marketing and we are excited about building it.
Jonathan Glick wrote a thoughtful piece on re/code entitled, The Rise of the Platishers. In the piece Jonathan talks about the new media companies that are developing and how they are a combination of a publisher and a platform.
What should we call a publisher — like Gawker — that provides a tech platform on which anybody, not just its staff, can create content? What should we call a tech platform — like Medium — that has a team of editors and pays some contributors to create content? It’s something in between a publisher and a platform — something that weaves together the strengths of both. A platisher.
Crazy term aside, Jonathan is noticing a very important trend. We see this at Percolate where our job is to be the content marketing platform of record for brands. Offering our technology to to help brands create and distribute content to any platform they would like.
How did this happen, why do publishers need to act like platforms?
From the image at the beginning of the post, where your content is your ad and your ad is your content, we are seeing some of the best publishers in the world follow the model that was pioneered by social platforms. The rules of the platforms are very simple – there is no traditional ad unit and the brand is treated the same as everyone else on the platform. The only advantage the brand has is they have the marketing budget to create great content and can pay to promote that great content.
Here are a few reasons why platforms and publishers smash together, and a glimpse at what is next:
The technology trend leading the charge is social and mobile. They are the catalyst for how brands are now are taking a content-first and platform-specific approach to all their marketing
Brands follow time and attention of their audiences. Some of the largest media companies by market cap in the world are now social/mobile platforms (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest)
Publishers are innovating fast to try and catch up and are launching their own native or sponsored content models.
The challenge for brands revolves around publishers becoming another channel to create content for. This isn’t trivial given the new demands on content creation and the costs associated with it. Publishers have responded by trying to create all this content for brands through their in-house creative teams. This model can be threatening to brands and their agencies and creates a different workflow than what they have with platforms, where content creation is independent.
In order to scale like a platform, publishers have to let the brand create the content themselves by establishing frameworks that all content should live by.
Much like Facebook has their educational Publishing Garages, the more platforms or publishers can teach brands and their agencies how to create great content on their platform, the faster they should be able to drive adoption and revenue.
I’m excited to see where publishers go and we are deeply invested in trying to build scalable content models for our clients. We see publishers as a big part of where brands want to send their content and the more the publishers can build pipes like the platforms, the closer we can come to seeing publishers thrive like the platforms have.
Late last month, Percolate’s Speakeasy community hosted our second annual celebration of Community Manager Appreciation Day. Thanks to everyone who came by, and if you weren’t able to make it, check out photos from the event on our Facebook page.
Over the last year, we’ve hosted a series of Speakeasy events, ranging from meetups to happy hours to panel discussions on social media marketing. Not only have we been able to bring together a great mix of community managers from various industries, we have been able to create a resource for the community where CMs can share ideas, network, and learn from each other.
But why did Percolate create Speakeasy?
Speakeasy was designed to build a community for our users – a resource for community managers across the industry. Noah wrote about the importance of building communities on this blog earlier, and one of his points stands out with Speakeasy – communities make connections.
Community managers in particular are in a strong place to make connections. By nature, they’re on the front lines of the marketing organization, and are primed for more senior roles within the organization – moving from the CM to the CMO. By building a community for CMs, we hope to help people build relationships across the industry and develop their careers.
Additionally, a platform technology company can only scale with a strong user base of developers, testing our platform and providing their feedback for future products. At Percolate, community managers are like our developers. We want to design the best experience possible, and the feedback we get from our users is extremely helpful.
This year, it is Percolate’s goal to build the biggest community for community managers. If you are a community manager and are reading this post, please join us at any of the events we host each month.
You may have heard about the release our new image editor. We put a lot of development into this feature and today we’re pleased to release some of the underlying source code to the public.
The Percolate image editor (codenamed “Predator”), allows Percolate users to manipulate images in the browser by applying custom text, graphics and filters. Predator consists of a client for previewing changes in the browser and a node.js service for editing full-resolution images in the background.
Carapace: Stepwise canvas manipulation for the browser and the server
Neue let’s you load fonts in a web page dynamically and invokes a callback when the fonts have been rendered. It has a super simple API and can be used with any font provider that serves CSS with @font-facedeclarations (e.g. Google Fonts, Typekit or roll your own).
Creating real-time content at live events just got easier. The latest version of our Percolate Photographer mobile app lets event marketing teams capture visual content and secure image rights in a matter of minutes (or less). Photographer is the only end-to-end mobile solution for branded photography, making it a powerful content creation and digital asset governance tool for events, conferences, retail locations and offices.
How fast can you take a photo, get a media release and sync it with your brand’s media library for use on social ? Just see for yourself:
The latest version of iOS Photographer provides:
1) A streamlined, end-to-end process for creating branded imagery with built-in media release workflow
2) Age verification
3) Signature capture
4) The ability to sync images to your brand’s global media library in seconds for instant use on all content channels
5) Photo tags and metadata to organize images by specific events, campaigns or brand themes
Many of our clients like Braun have already used Photographer to collaborate across event and social marketing teams, capture live events and create on-brand content in real time. To learn more about how Percolate Photographer is helping some of the world’s leading brands capture and share their best moments, get in touch.
With the former, I was initially saddened until this post by Jay Edlin, author of Graffiti 365 made me realize I lacked a meaningful understanding of the medium.
The materials used in both graffiti and street art are not intended with long-term viewing in mind. Spray paint, ink, or wheat pasted paper don’t stand the test of time when living outdoors. Graffiti involves creating the work completely on the spot. The most a writer brings with him to a wall is a sketch…The adrenaline felt by kids risking their liberty shows through in the work.
Ok, so what the heck does this have to do with Snapchat? What I took from Jay was that there is true power in ephemera. There’s excitement in anything fleeting.
Snapchat’s newer speedometer feature speaks to the joy of speed. Rather than laboring over the perfect shot, the credit comes from your velocity.
So, as Snapchat enters its “fish with feet” stage of a platform – billion+ valuation, 25 million+ users – how do brands get involved? The platform is becoming too big to ignore for many brands looking to engage a younger audience of 16-30 year olds.
My hope is that brands put a system in place and embrace the speed. Know what you stand for and then put yourself out there fast. Embrace that your post will be gone in a scant 10 seconds. At most, your moments are woven together as a Story for 24 hours.
I’d love to hear from you in a reply to @brosbeshow on what you’d love to see a brand Snap, but here are some back-of-napkin ideas to get started:
Training for Sochi Mens Halfpipe, a rider give fans a sneak preview of the cab double cork 1440 that is going to get you to gold. Fun fact, this trick is actually called a YOLO.
Your brand is revealing your new luxury hybrid vehicle next month at the Chicago Auto show. You’ve hidden two tickets with exclusive passes somewhere in Downtown Chicago. Your Story gives fans clues to where the tickets are hidden. When found, a new Story shows the celebratory moment when a lucky fan finds those tix. Extra Credit: New Stories show what happens at the show and so on.
Your creatives get together and make fast video clips & images about what makes those crazy cereal squares so delicious. I’d love to see Snapchat’s sketch tool in the hands of an artist. A longer Story could be a narrative, maybe even a light parody of more serious fare like ‘Her’ or ‘Downton Abbey’.
You’re launching a new collaboration with a famous designer? Awesome! Snap out teasers of the clothing, with never seen before looks. If you want to engage farther down funnel, an expiring code for early access to the items. Create a Story that shows your brand behind the scenes at New York Fashion week.
So how is this being done in practice?
If you look at the recent examples of HBO’s Girls on the platform, their fans celebrated the intimate message and cross promoted it across other platforms:
The snap was a clear reference to the show that only Girls fan would get while tapping the simplicity and speed of the medium.
This cross pollination across platforms is natural and really amplifies your different platform strategies and shows how they might work together. With a system in place to monitor mentions of your brand & Snapchat, you’ll be quick to respond to this engagement.
In Sports, Alex Restrepo of the New Orleans Saints outlines their Snapchat strategy in this excellent podcast here.
Right off the bat, one thing I loved was that Alex aims to take 10 minutes of every hour to respond to fans. Alex maps out just noticing that more and more of his friends were using Snapchat daily which is always his spark a platform matters to his brand.
Stories, with a 24 hour window that anyone can see, enables Alex to show fans the storyline of an NFL game day. Traveling with the team enabled Alex to give the fans the behind the scenes view on their favorite players.
I’d be thrilled to see more brands join the platform. As our CEO Noah Brier noted recently in Ad Age, “good creative, is good creative.” Regardless of format – be it your flagship Super Bowl commercial, or a 6 second Snap – you have a message, you have content, let it fly.
Since Facebook adjusted their News Feed algorithm in early December, there’s been a considerable amount of coverage about the decline in organic reach for brands. As more data emerges, the story becomes more apparent: one study documents a drop in organic reach from 9.5% to 7.7%; another cites a 42% decrease in fan penetration; a third claims declines can range as high as 88%.
While these studies generate a lot of clicks and attention, the recent uproar around organic declines misses the bigger opportunity by a large mark. With social, marketers can think of reach in terms of billions of people, not just millions. With organic reach already capped around 16% of fans, many brands were stuck measuring reach in the thousands.
The signal is clear from social platforms about what they offer marketers: massive scale and the data to make good use of it. As targeting capabilities mature, the real-life applications become almost farcical – for example, the ability to message several millions of moms 34-45 in the United States that have purchased frozen pizza in the last six months.
Social platforms – now some of the largest media companies in the world – have structured their businesses on sponsored and targeted content. The shift away from organic shouldn’t come as a surprise to marketers. And despite recent attention, it actually hasn’t – Social@Ogilvy and others began predicting organic declines of 40% as early as 2012.
As the idea of an “organic post” goes away, the job of the marketer is to capture attention and deliver messages that fit the brand. With a focus on paid promotion, brands will create two kinds of content in 2014.
Promoted Brand Content
If brands are no longer able to reach mass audiences without sponsorship, social starts to look a bit like television. And indeed, the language being used by social platforms themselves has leaned towards a TV advertising narrative. On Facebook, any moment can offer primetime reach. On Twitter, second screen activity plays a nice complement to any TV advertisement. The growing focus on visual storytelling in social aligns more closely to the pattern of content TV advertisers are accustomed with.
The News Feed is designed to deliver “the right content to the right people at the right time” – and brands should take full advantage of this. Test multiple pieces of promoted content to small segments, and learn before promoting content to larger audiences. Create specific messages for niche groups, and promote content only to the people that will find that message valuable. Place a lot of small bets, and go big on the content that works.
Organic One-to-One Response
As brands create less and less unsponsored content, the role of organic communications shifts towards consumer response. Twitter in particular has become a critical CRM channel for certain industries like airlines, restaurants, and retail chains. And according to Altimeter, many consumer expect to be responded to within an hour.
However, there’s a gap between consumer perceptions and social reality. 4 out of 5 messages from consumers don’t ever receive a response, and the majority of top brands engage directly in a very limited fashion. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have redesigned to move consumer responses to side channels separate from the main brand feed.
This isn’t to disparage consumer response or downplay the effect that a one-to-one interaction has from a marketing perspective. Ignoring a customer on social could sour him or her on a brand indefinitely. With some individuals having influence and audiences that rival brands and media companies in size, tracking who is interacting with your brand becomes particularly important for brand management.
Is there overlap?
Customer interactions can also be used as a trigger for original brand content. Often, the same team is responsible for both creating brand content and for managing consumer outreach and response.
For example, Oreo and KitKat used one woman’s tweet as inspiration for original content between the brands. Denny’s regularly riffs with its followership, using comments as inspiration for real-time, often bizarre, content creation. SmartCar used an off-hand joke as inspiration for a light-hearted infographic.
With the above examples, the focus is still on the brand, but with consumers as the context. This not only gets the brand’s name out in a clever, potentially viral manner – it actually furthers the perception of the brand as receptive and responsive to their consumer base. Organic interactions can be complemented by paid promotion and take full advantage of the massive targeted reach social offers.
Facebook announced their latest earnings on Wednesday, posting $2.59 billion in revenue and beating analyst estimates. The market has responded in kind – Facebook’s market value went up by more than $20 billion in a single night, and the stock is currently trading at near-record highs. Apart from the effects on Wall Street, the latest from Facebook presents a series of clear signals for marketers about one of the largest media companies in the world.
What can the latest earnings announcement teach us about Facebook?
Facebook is officially a mobile company
In 2013, Mark Zuckerberg announced that “Facebook is a mobile company” and the latest news makes it official. For the first time, mobile ad revenue was greater than desktop ad revenue, now accounting for 53% of all ad revenue, or $1.25 billion. The company posted its first billion-dollar mobile revenue quarter, more than all revenues combined the previous year. Mobile ads generated $8 million on Black Friday alone.
Mobile usage is also the key driver of gains for Facebook. Mobile monthly active users have more than doubled in the last two years, growing to 945 million. More notably, mobile-only users now account for a massive portion of Facebook’s user base, with nearly 300 million people accessing the site exclusively through mobile. As marketers think about their future on social, mobile teams can’t be divorced from the planning process.
Social provides global scale
One of the most important trends to note in Facebook’s growth is its international focus. Facebook gained 2 million users in North America in Q4 and another 6 million in Europe – but grew by 17 million in Asia and by another 14 million across the rest of the world.
The potential for global scale is massive, and even with 1.2 billion people on the platform, the company is still very early in its plans for international expansion, with Mark Zuckerberg admitting “We’re still a small part of the world’s population.”
As the largest social network, we can look to Facebook as a leading indicator of broader trends for all social platforms. International expansion will be a key focus for almost all social platforms, and marketers need to plan for how their brand is managed, portrayed, and controlled on a global scale.
Facebook side-rail ads are going away. Facebook tabs are gone.
Facebook side-rail ads and tab experiences have been declining for some time, but the latest revenue figures signal their status as a marginalized tactic.
News Feed ad revenue drove Facebook’s gains, up more than 65% in all of the regions of the world Facebook tracks. They also outperform other advertisements and continue to drive up the price per ad. Facebook’s ad prices increased by 92 percent in 2013, citing that the positioning and quality of their advertisements – ie. in-feed – matters far more than the volume.
Mobile has no place for side-rail ads and doesn’t easily host tab experiences. If Facebook is seeing more revenue, better rates, and better consumer response from News Feed ads, we can reasonably expect them to downplay display ads and tabs in the near future, or completely eliminate them as with the Sponsored Stories product. Once a go-to tactic, Facebook tabs are experiencing the same siloed treatment that brand microsites did in the early 2000s, and should be off the table for any forward-facing marketer.
Content is the atomic unit of Facebook marketing
If we take the above three trends – mobile, global, and a focus on the News Feed – then the future of Facebook revolves around content. The leadership of Facebook echoed this sentiment from all sides, with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
“We have this long-term goal of making the advertising quality content as good and as relevant and timely as the content that your friends are sharing with you,” Mark Zuckerberg stated on the call. “Our plan is to continue focusing on improving quality, since we think this is the best way for us to improve the experience for people on Facebook, returns for advertisers, and our own revenue.”
For marketers, creating great content has to be the biggest focus when planning for social. This is the biggest win for all parties. Advertisers see better reactions from potential consumers, Facebook sees greater revenue, and Facebook users have a better experience on Facebook with less interruption from brands.
During the holiday I was catching up on some reading and picked up an article Noah shared that laid out a market research approach from HBS professor Clay Christensen. The piece went down well with me, and in places mirrored the research our design team has been doing here at Percolate. As we look to push our research further in the coming year I was interested to reflect on what has been working so far.
Let’s begin with the premise of the article:
Looking at the market from the function of a product really originates from your competitors or your own employees deciding what you need, whereas the jobs-to-be-done point of view causes you to crawl into the skin of your customer and go with her as she goes about her day, always asking the question as she does something: Why did she do it that way?
So what Christensen is saying is that it’s beneficial to carry out market research that will give you an understanding of the jobs your customers need to get done day to day, rather than ask questions that deliver a functional specification e.g. Customer A needs product capabilities X,Y and Z.
The article goes on to share how a fast-food restaurant chain used the research approach to develop the ultimate morning fruit milkshake to fit the job of bored commuters. It’s worth a read when you get a moment.
My love for banana milkshakes aside, getting meaningful data about the job of your customers is tough. Looking back it was pretty daunting actually. Simply put, you’ve got to find ways to connect with your customers, create a format which allows interviewers to learn on the job, and thirdly, figure out how to coach people to pull out the most valuable stuff (shifting from the mindset of identifying functions to insights around jobs customers need to do).
With these challenges in mind, here are 5 learnings from our market research to get you started:
Routine, not special occasions
It’s easy to think about doing research in preparation for building milestone features. A year or so after formalizing our approach here at Percolate, we have seen huge value in pushing the team to do weekly customer interviews. Work with people across your company to help you identify the right interview subjects; we’ve found interviews work great with prospects as well as our existing customers. Look to line up at least one interview a week to inspire thinking and conversations around the challenges and opportunities your customers face.
Prepare to press record
Any sort of note taking during an interview is distracting for everyone. Make sure when you sit down with a customer (in person, on the phone, Skype etc.) all you need to do is press record to get going (dictaphone app, camera, whatever works for you). As the interviewer you need to focus on listening and responding. Here’s a couple of things we do to prepare; get the low-down on who you are speaking to, develop a script of questions to prompt you through key areas you want to cover, and find a space away from your desk to focus on the conversation in hand.
Start small, and don’t stop digging
The goal of your customer interview is not to work out how to iterate on a current product design problem. Take that pressure off from the start. Your goal is to see the world from your customer’s perspective. To do that you need to create a script of small, open questions that enables you to build up the picture block by block. Before going into their current job, simply start by getting to know them and their previous experiences. Setting the scene with this approach will get you in the mode of asking follow-up questions and digging into why and how your customers do the jobs and make the decisions they do.
Moving beyond playback
Creating heavy interview documentation creates too much work for your team when it comes to reviewing reports. Early on we developed a simple report format that helped people steer clear of over-sharing, and instead focused on sharing concise learnings around the interviewee’s profile and specific jobs they are doing. This approach helped designers separate unique insights from common facts. This lightweight format lends well to pulling out workflow patterns when comparing customer perspectives, and it also provides you with bite sized chunks ready to drop into project briefs.
Seeing a new world
Our product design team isn’t broken down by research, UX or visual positions. We have a product designer role. We ask all designers to solve problems from start (strategy, research, prototyping, scope) to finish (visual design, QA, user testing), and everything in between. We’ve seen market research play a key role in developing the internal UX department of designers at Percolate. These experiences have helped people see the world from our customer’s perspective and get excited by our vision to transform marketing with our technology platform. It’s grown designers from knowing ‘how’ to execute a solution to ‘why’ we are building the platform we are.
One of our big goals for the year ahead will be to ensure that the distribution of our findings works harder for the company. If our research is empowering us with empathy around our customer’s lives, then we’ve got to make sure that empathy is served on a never-ending conveyor belt so everyone across the company can easily pick learnings up all day long.
Our immediate step is to get stuck in and ask better, more thoughtful questions to understand the future jobs brand marketing teams will be tackling 18 months from now. These learnings will help us continue to design a technology platform which integrates into the lives of our customers, one that will help them become better at their jobs. That’s what we’re getting after. Come help us.
For marketers working to deliver consistent, relevant brand experiences to their audiences at scale, user-generated content can be an efficient way to source authentic and timely media directly from fans. But despite the fact that friend recommendations and online consumer opinions are the two most trusted information sources for consumers making purchases, only 3.3% of online retailers use user-generated photos as part of their content marketing strategy.
With digital content volumes continuing to grow across networks like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, the pool of potential UGC available to marketers will be even richer and more diverse in 2014. So why is UGC marketing so difficult for brands?
The first obstacle for brands working with UGC is legal rights; brands need the appropriate permissions to use third-party content without the risk of copyright infringement or other mis-use. The second complexity is managing UGC at the speed of social. Often, even when marketing teams can get permission to use third-party content, obtaining the necessary media releases and legal approvals takes too much time. Finally, marketers need tools and processes to consistently curate UGC while maintaining brand voice and content quality.
Shinola’s Twitter feed is full of examples showing how UGC can be a conversation opportunity for a brand to engage and acknowledge its fans in real-time.
Backed by FanBranded, Shinola curates UGC imagery straight from followers who include the campaign hashtag #MyShinola, using Percolate’s integrated media release software to obtain image rights to the content. FanBranded lets Shinola secure full legal rights to user content in minutes, eliminating the need for repeat social media compliance checks.
In a short amount of time, this new workflow has helped Shinola grow its media library without costly photo shoots or recurring legal reviews, increase visual post frequency and engagement on its Facebook page, and show thanks to its fans by publicly featuring their signature looks.
For your brand to have the same real-time success with user-generated content as Shinola, it’s important to align your UGC strategy with these five recommended best practices:
1. Set internal, agreed-upon UGC guidelines that determine the quality and types of images that meet your brand’s content standards. It may also be helpful to create up-front goals for the amount of different types of content you want to procure.
2. Be an attentive social listener through the use of monitoring tools. Cultivating dedicated campaign hashtags like #MyShinola can help focus social listening at scale.
3. Use sincere, transparent communication when you interact with your fans and follows around UGC.
4. Set up a streamlined process for securing legal rights to digital assets directly from Twitter, leveraging cost and time-saving technology like FanBranded and the Percolate Photographer app for iOS and Android.
5. Have a plan for where and how you’re going to deploy your brand’s new UGC assets.
When Shinola’s customers show their pride for their favorite products on social, not only is the brand listening, its also using Percolate to save its marketing team time, energy and resources, while delivering consistently great, real-time content to its followers.
Last year’s Super Bowl was the third most-watched TV show in U.S. history, drawing an audience of nearly 109 million people. With more than 80% of viewers using their mobile device as a second screen, tens of millions of tweets were also created during the game.
Social was already primed to complement a mass-media event like the Super Bowl when last year’s blackout opened a large dialogue about social, rapid response, and real-time marketing. Many marketers are asking themselves the same question:
What’s the best way to plan for a live event like the Super Bowl?
In this free report, we walk through some of the best ways to set your real-time marketing up for success at a major event like the Super Bowl. We also share several different ways Percolate’s content marketing platform helps brands of all sizes tackle the challenges associated with live event coverage and content creation.
Prior to 2010, digital marketing was defined by search, banners, and microsites, with a small percentage allocated among a long tail of other tactics. Over the last three years however, spending patterns have dramatically shifted towards tactics focused on content marketing.
What happened? What inspired marketers to focus their thoughts around content?
Two phases of digital communications have occurred since 2010, driving a revolution in content marketing – Social and Mobile.
In our recent whitepaper, The Content Marketing Revolution, you’ll learn what has happened in the last three years, how Social and Mobile have fundamentally changed media, and how these shifts have signaled a radical transformation in terms of what it means to be a marketer.
We’ll also examine the massive changes Social and Mobile have brought about in the scale, pace, and pattern of communications, and what all of it means for a modern brand.
If you work in marketing, you’ve undoubtedly seen a presentation featuring a Lumascape diagram at some point. They’re an easy, visual way to organize and showcase complex software ecosystems. They’re also a bit of fun – a kind of Sgt. Pepper’s album cover for the tech sector.
We’re happy to be a part of the latest Marketing Technology Landscape diagram under the growing category of Content Marketing. The macro view on the marketplace is helpful when tracking the overall growth of the industry – the number of companies featured has grown three-fold each year.
(It’s also worth noting that the Lumascape is a solid example of content marketing from LUMA Partners – a firm that provides strategic advice on media and technology (ie. the kind of consultancy that helps wade through complex industries). They own the style of presentation, and there are now “Lumascapes” not even associated with LUMA like bitcoin or photo tech.)
At a certain level though, the brand of these diagrams centers around confusion. This kind of macro view on the industry deliberately underlines the complexity of modern day marketing. Apply the Lumascape framework to any industry and you can make the similar complexity seem obvious – with a New York hotel, for example, you could feature hundreds of potential vendors for staffing, security, laundry, food, liquor, bookings, shipping, insurance, furnishings, lighting, PR, events, real estate, and so on. Any economy can be as complicated as you make it.
What makes the Lumascape stick around? And why are they so popular with tech?
With tech, there’s a perception that things should be simple – that It Should Just Work. Everything should integrate with the same simplicity we’re accustomed to in consumer devices and software. Enterprise software has long neglected design and user experience, and the popularity of Lumascape diagrams represents a lot of people collectively saying “There must be a better way!”
At Percolate, it’s our bet that content is the common element to tie everything together. As Altimeter said:
Content is the atomic particle of all digital marketing. Everything. There’s no owned media without content. There’s no social media without content. And there’s no paid media without content.”
Several of those marketing tech categories listed – email marketing, mobile marketing, SEO, search, social ads – are all dependent on having content to push out first. We’re also hoping to bring design and a great end-to-end user experience through every phase of the content creation cycle, and extend the enterprise seamlessly onto mobile. Marketing can seem complicated – but it doesn’t have to be.
When we found out brand marketing teams were using spreadsheets to plan and organize their marketing content, we felt there must be a better way. This is exactly the type challenge we like to solve here at Percolate.
Today we’re proud to announce the release of Content Planner 1.0: a new planning tool within Percolate that connects the job of content planning with creation and distribution. As a product designer at Percolate, this was a great project to work on, and I’d like to share some of the process that goes into designing a feature as involved as our content planner.
We started by listening to our client needs. Our research connected us to a diverse set of brands, from GE to Smirnoff, to find out how they currently plan content, what tools they use and their biggest challenges in the planning process. We closely examined the structure of planning calendars, how they were being shared and how teams were collaborating and adding content to them.
Our client interviews revealed some common pain points brands faced when planning content. These included difficulty sharing and updating planning documents, difficulty tracking and grouping conversations around specific topics or campaigns and the lack of flexibility in how teams can view and organize content. We used these insights to lay the foundation for a tool that would give teams more efficient, collaborative and visible planning workflows.
Next we began to ideate. We held a workshop with our internal teams (Design, Engineering, Client Solutions, and Accounts) to discuss and sketch ideas. We explored approaches to connect brand teams and agency partners, to give team’s the ability to manage content across platforms, build campaigns, schedule events and leverage content from various regions and partners. These sessions started to shape and give form to our planner.
From here we demonstrated our vision to clients using a planner prototype. Prototypes provide a useful and efficient way to quickly validate design decisions and communicate our thinking. Clients were quickly able to tell us exactly what their challenges were which allowed us to refine our designs. For example, users in the final version can plan content across multiple topics for any social platform, giving teams the flexibility and organization they require. Since we discovered this requirement early in the prototyping stage, the product team was able to rethink our engineering approach to meet our clients’ needs.
Through our research and prototyping phases we arrived at a solution that solved the inefficient and disjointed workflows we had identified. But we didn’t stop there. We’ve built what we believe is the first content planner that is integrated into the entire creation and distribution workflow for brand marketing teams. Among our content planner’s core features:
1) A week view populated with events and posts organized by the brand’s platforms and business initiatives for long-term planning and campaign management.
2) A day view offering a deeper look into the events and posts scheduled for any given day.
3) Events, providing a collaborative space to help brand teams contribute content ideas, links, and media – and then execute posts based on those concepts.
4) Event-based conversation streams to help teams communicate around specific posts, events, and campaigns.
We’ve already begun onboarding our clients and learning from their experiences to further iterate and build upon this tool. We obviously have a few plans up our sleeve, too. We’re excited to release this new feature today and help make the job of content planning awesome.
Will 2014 see the rise of user as marketer? Will the average unverified Joe or Jane start putting paid promotion behind their content?
Take a step back from the groans that ensue when people talk about their “personal brand” and instead, start with the motivations behind advertising.
Why do brands advertise? In simple definition, it’s to create awareness for their goods & services.
On Facebook and Twitter recently, I was given clear prompts to market “myself” to my friends & followers, to put paid promotion behind my content and presence to increase visibility.
So, what’s going on? What motivated these platforms to activate me, as a user, to advertise? I’ve made no declarations as to be a “brand.” I’m not a business owner. This is me, regular “Joe.” And the prompt had no affiliation to my employer or industry.
1) The Long Tail of Brands
As platforms scale revenue, they activate the “long tail” of brands, going far beyond the Fortune 500. There are already over 18 million small and mid-sized advertisers on Facebook, and it makes sense to extend that figure to the billions of smaller user advertisers potentially contained in the general population. The above prompt was subtle enough that it was more likely to be noticed by the more power users within the community.
Users aren’t going to consistently declare themselves as a “brand” or business owner, but the side hustle is evolving from anathema to an almost standard practice.
3) It’s All About the Stream
Much like Buzzfeed has evangelized that an experience that varies from serious to frivolous is normal for readers, the platforms have already normalized an experience that interweaves organic content and paid promotion.
It is natural that the next wave of user behavior will be we will pay to promote our posts that matter.
Here are a few examples that could become commonplace for paid promotion by our friends or followers:
Our house is for sale!
My son is seeking a college internship in Architecture
So if we are truly going into the new wave of “Brand You,” how do you decide if you want to get involved?
The mantra here is to embrace change. This is one to watch. Platforms are moving away from likes and followers as your standard of reach. Think about who you’d really like to reach and why. If it’s important, why not advertise?
Our latest milestone on the road to enabling better content across every device is the exciting launch of Percolate Photographer for Android. Percolate’s first Android release, Photographer lets our Android mobile customers easily take, tag and sync photos to their Percolate Media Library. Percolate Photographer 2.0.1 for iOS, which introduced direct publishing to Pinterest from media libraries, has been available since December.
Android is a platform we are excited about in 2014 and are investing heavily in to keep delivering on the same promise: giving brands and agencies the best tools for their employees to easily create real-time marketing content.
If you’re a current Percolate customer you can download Android Photographer in the business section of the Google Play Store today. The app is compatible with Android 4.0 and up.
If you’re not a Percolate customer and want to learn more about how our Photographer App is helping brands like P&G’s Braun capture their best moments on mobile, come introduce yourself.
When it comes to providing office snacks we know that what we put in to our bodies will fuel the work we put out. With this in mind, from the start we’ve aimed to stock our office shelves with foods that are fresh, accessible and healthy.
What began as a shelf of vegetables in our orange Percolate fridge has expanded to organic almond butter, gluten free crackers and fresh fruit scattered all over the office. Sometimes we even get a little creative with our “pairings” and suggest snacks like avocado on rice cakes (don’t forget the sriracha drizzle) and The Elvis peanut butter & honey on banana.
So what’s the Percolate snack that never lasts long on our counter? Granola. Yep, we’re not fancy, just into the crunchiest, tastiest treat around on yogurt, with milk, or just straight out of the jar.
My recipe is in line with our thoughtfulness around what we produce – it’s gluten free, sweetened with honey, coconut oil, raw or toasted nuts and dried fruit. I created this recipe, not only because we’ve got friends in the office that like their oats gluten free, but also because sometimes a simple, healthy treat is the best.
We want you to get in on the deliciousness so we’ve started jarring up fresh granola every week and sending it out by request. Stop by the office and pick up a jar – take it home (or eat it in the back of the cab on the corner of Mercer & Grand). Bring the jar with you next time you come in and we’ll refill it for you. Healthy granola plus recycled jars? Win.
In trying to write up this post recapping 2013, I kept trying to come up with a way to define the first three years of a startup’s life. The first year is clearly about identifying the problem. We spent 2011 with a clear sense that there was a challenge to be solved in helping brands create content with technology (because James and I had lived it in our previous lives in the marketing world), but we still had to prove it was something we could solve and would drive value for our clients.
By the end of year one we had some great clients and a good sense for what needed to be done. From there we spent year two proving it. We started to build a bigger team and bring on more and bigger clients. By the end of year two (2012), we had seen real client success and continued to see momentum in the content space (especially from the big social platforms, who after Facebook’s IPO in May, 2012, were taken a lot more seriously by the business world).
Year three, last year, was about building out the business. We nearly tripled the business in 12 months (we’re now almost 90 people), shipped an incredible amount of product, and brought some of the world’s best brands on board as Percolate customers. As a co-founder it’s a crazy and amazing feeling to walk into our office and feel the buzz of that many people working on delivering great marketing technology for clients. That our mission, to be your content marketing platform, has stayed the same only makes things feel even better.
But, of course, the life of a startup isn’t about looking back. So what does year four (2014) hold for Percolate? I’d say this is the year we fully establish ourselves in the market. We’ve learned enough (both over the last three years of the company and the course of our careers), to know definitively that we are solving the number one challenge in marketing: How to create engaging, relevant content on a continual basis without throwing an unlimited amount of money against the problem. We also know that we have built the best product and team to solve the problem, so this year is about making sure everyone else knows those things, as well as continuing to bring top-tier service and features to our clients day-in-and-day-out.
Finally, the last note here is a gigantic thank you to all our clients, both new and old. Their support, guidance, and ideas, have really driven our product, and more broadly business, through the last few years. It’s a cliche to say that without clients you don’t have a company, but it’s also very true. So, to all of you who are reading this, thanks for all the support. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you and it’s our commitment to continue to go above and beyond expectations (surprise and delight as Kiva, our VP of Sales likes to say). Keep being awesome.
At Percolate, we talk a lot about how social media has been the catalyst for change in the scale, pace, and pattern of human interaction. For brands, this catalyst has driven an obvious shift from campaign management towards real-time communications.
The strategy and practice of responding with immediacy to external events and triggers. It’s arguably the most relevant form of marketing, achieved by listening to and/or anticipating consumer interests and needs.
The report itself is a helpful overview, and there are a series of takeaways that we’ll be keeping an eye on in the coming year at Percolate.
1) Real-time marketing requires proactive process, not just reactive response.
Many of the challenges associated with real-time marketing are process problems. The Altimeter report identifies the perceived barrier of approvals as the biggest obstacle in the adoption of real-time tactics.
It’s not enough to “have a great relationship with legal” – the most successful brands have pre-defined systems to reduce the friction associated with real-time content creation. Having content assets locked and loaded helps facilitate the appearance of real time to customers. Proactive management of processes and guidelines establishes confidence for all stakeholders and allows for shorter production timelines.
2) Customer Interactions should be similar to Breaking News
One of the more helpful areas of the report is the use case classification for real-time marketing. While we could talk at length about the graph below, it’s most important to note where Customer Interactions are located:
Public consumer interaction falls into the same category as breaking news – an unplanned, reactive opportunity to showcase clever or favorable interactions with your consumers. CRM doesn’t have to live exclusively in a side-channel, and real-time content doesn’t just have to be about culturally relevant moments. Brands can advertise through customer praise, complaint resolution, or just interactions with a desirable segment of their audience.
3) The brand comes first
Altimeter’s first three steps in preparing for real-time marketing are to understand the audience, define business objectives, and integrate with the brand’s broader content marketing strategy. “Develop a brand compass if you don’t already have one, and apply it to real-time marketing,” explains Sabrina Caluori, Vice President of Digital and Social Media at HBO in the report. By placing the brand’s identity and marketing goals first and foremost in a real-time marketing strategy, teams can move quickly without risking brand equity or disconnecting from larger marketing goals.
4) ‘But will it scale?’ is a very real question
Altimeter cites the current trend in real-time marketing as “considerably more human”. Many companies underscored the importance of having a “War Room” where teams can literally be present and collaborate together in real time.
How companies prepare for real time dictates the effectiveness of RTM programs. Altimeter cites two areas of planning – Strategy and Execution:
The best tools should help with both requirements. The report concludes with an imperative that “enterprises strategically adopt real-time marketing in a fashion that will both benefit the business now and scale to address future requirements.” With the right tools, brands can build systems around real-time content strategies and establish scalable process frameworks for execution.
We spend our time at Percolate living at the intersection of technology and marketing. This space is in a constant state of flux, changing at the hands of both short and long-term trends. I try to take some time at the end of each year to assess the landscape and understand how it will affect our business, as well as the broader worlds of marketing and technology.
What’s most exciting, though, is actually those trends that are affecting the world at large. In fact, the one thing that most excites me for 2014 and beyond is the fact that only 40% of the world is currently on the internet and by 2018 there is a good chance the entire world will be connected. It’s a fun time to be doing what we do.
So, with that context behind us, here are my thoughts on the seven trends to watch in 2014.
1) You won’t create content without promoting it.
The idea of creating content for your ‘followers’ will go away as the potential for the audience you would like to reach with your content becomes realized. With FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest all rolling out smart ad products, the promise of being able to reach the exact audience you want to is here. But, as with most things, it won’t come for free. If you want the reach, you’ve got to pay for it. This is always what advertising has been about. Now the potential is just bigger and better.
2) Android is eating the world. You have to take a mobile-first approach to marketing.
Android, at well over 1 billion activations, will continue to grow in scale and proliferation across the enterprise and the rest of the world. Every piece of content needs to be created first by asking the question, how will that look on a mobile device, and more specifically an Android?
3) Social platforms will focus on the rest of the world and continue to draft off mobile penetration.
The big push by the social platforms will be in wiring and getting downloads for the 60% of the world that is still not on the internet. Mobile penetration has disrupted the natural monopoly that Facebook and Twitter have had in social (see: WhatsApp, SnapChat, Instagram, etc), but mobile has also created a big enough opportunity for social that it doesn’t matter. The overall pie has grown and 2014 will be looked at as building year as Twitter and others will march towards 1B users and FB will march towards 2B.
4) Brands will start to adopt technology that moves beyond simple problems (eg. Marketing Automation/CRM/SMMS).
The trend is already out there that marketers are becoming the largest purchasers of technology. What hasn’t been seen yet is marketers becoming more sophisticated with the technology they are buying. Most marketing automation and CRM software to date is for marketers looking to fill blank boxes, route customer service inquiries, and build dashboards for reporting. While this was important, it isn’t enough in a world where your customers and your marketing strategy is mobile first and real-time.
5) Design finally matters for enterprise software. OR enterprise software that doesn’t work in mobile, doesn’t work, period.
For the most part the largest enterprise software giants in the world have largely been able to ignore user experiences in mobile. As they have cozied up to procurement and other parts of the organizations that have taken a top-down, check-the-box approach to software installation to date they have been able to tell the individual users to kick rocks when it comes to having a user experience in mobile. Those days are coming to an end, fast. If your enterprise technology solutions don’t have native Andriod and iOS end to end experiences it is time to get the RFPs out. Young, fast growing tech companies that are built for the future and out to disrupt an irrelevant user experience.
6) Web banners will be down for the first time ever and it won’t come back.
We are starting to see this with some of the Google Adsense data. In a social and mobile world the ad is your content and your content is your ad. Banners are still important but aren’t growing like the rest of internet advertising (search + social + mobile).
7) China, not the US, is the most important country to watch as it relates to social and mobile.
To find patterns in studying what might happen next it is important to be pulling from the largest dataset you can find. China offers this with the scale and a culture that is largely mobile-first with their adoption of technology. Fast growing companies like Xiaomi are perfect examples of what to watch and also in 2014 we will most likely see a few US tech companies that are acquired by Chinese tech companies.
Google is an amazing company. Beyond all the obvious stuff (world’s best search engine, self-driving cars, crazy computer glasses), Android has been the thing that’s been capturing my mind the most lately. But the point of this post isn’t to talk about Android (I’ll save that for another, longer, post about the pros, cons, and comparisons to iOS), rather it’s to talk about Google+ generally, and specifically its marriage to the world’s biggest mobile platform.
Read more on Google, Android, and G+ from Noah over on the blog.
Google is an amazing company. Beyond all the obvious stuff (world’s best search engine, self-driving cars, crazy computer glasses), Android has been the thing that’s been capturing my mind the most lately. But the point of this post isn’t to talk about Android (I’ll save that for another, longer, post about the pros, cons, and comparisons to iOS), rather it’s to talk about Google+ generally, and specifically its marriage to the world’s biggest mobile platform.
As we all know, Google has very publicly announced its intention to build G+ into a massive social platform at any cost. For awhile I think many simply nodded and metaphorically patted Google on the head, as if to say, “sure Google, whatever you say.” However, as Android has continued to grow, I’ve noticed something incredibly interesting: It seems that Google’s plan to turn G+ into a platform is to hitch its wagon to Android. With over a billion users it’s hard to argue with that strategy.
Specifically, Google has put G+ all over Android: Photos automatically sync with a private G+ photo album, many apps offer to use G+ to sign in, and, in its newest phones, Hangouts take over the SMS responsibilities, creating a unified messaging app. What you get is a platform you can’t help but use. And, since it’s Google, what you start to realize is that it’s a great product.
Where things start to get interesting, though, is when you start to layer on the idea of identity. This, of course, is where Facebook shines. They have established themselves as your singular identity platform. Anywhere you can create an account these days, you’re offered to create it using your Facebook identity. It’s only a matter of time, I’d imagine, until we start signing in at the DMV and authenticating at our banks with our Facebook accounts.
Google, of course, isn’t happy about this. They’d argue, I’d imagine, that they own identity just as much as Facebook does. Their argument, of course, is that all the implicit data you load into Google by way of your searches, locations, emails, and phone calls, makes for a pretty compelling picture of who you are and what you’re interested in.
What they’re missing is the explicit stuff. That includes content you share, the friends you explicitly connect with, and generally, the identity you project publicly. That’s why Google+ is so important: The company has already proven is better than most at using your data and turning it into something really amazing (try Google Now if you don’t believe it), but it hasn’t yet become a place you think of as representing your public identity. The more they can leverage Android to bring people into the G+ fold and show them the power of Google as an identity platform, the more they can catch up to Facebook in the fight for who represents you in the future.
The intersection of technology and marketing is in a constant state of flux, changing at the hands of both short- and long-term trends. As a business in the space, we try to take some time at the end of each year to assess the landscape and understand how it will affect our business, as well as the broader worlds of marketing and technology.
Digiday has our own James Gross’ thoughts on the seven trends to watch in 2014.