In November of last year, two seemingly disparate things took place: 5 Pointz, the “graffiti Mecca” in Queen’s was whitewashed to make way for development, and Snapchat became the focus of an intense bidding war.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So is real-time, safe and scalable UGC a possibility for content marketers? Absolutely, and we’re building the marketing technology at Percolate to enable it. Here’s a recent example of how Shinola, a retailer of high-quality watches, bicycles and leather goods built in Detroit, is using UGC sourcing and approval tool FanBranded as part of their social monitoring and content strategy to quickly activate UGC and forge closer connections with their customers.
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.
Download the report today and learn how Percolate can help make the most out of one of largest marketing events of the year.
On the blurring lines of stock & flow content. By Neil Perkin
Four years ago, Robin Sloan, a former Twitter manager, argued on his blog that the economics concept of stock and flow was a useful metaphor for content marketing too. Stock, he explained, is “the durable stuff … the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search … building fans over time.” Flow is “the posts and tweets … the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people you exist.”
With everything that’s happened since then in the social and content landscape, is this still a good way to approach creating content?
Read Noah’s updated take on the Stock and Flow framework on AdAge.
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.