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I have a lot of respect for the pioneers of advertising who created a discipline that has shaped how we communicate, market and sell.  Bill Bernbach, one of three founding partners of Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1949, was one of those amazing people.  His impact lasts well beyond his own lifetime.

Bill wrote an impassioned letter to the management of Grey Advertising where he was creative director in 1947.  Here we are in 2016, 69 years later, and we’re about to host a roundtable at CES on Wednesday with top thought leaders in this same world to discuss what is relevant to our future.  In preparation for our roundtable, I thought I would “respond” to Bill’s note due to its timeless common sense.

Here are quotes from his letter and my response.

“I’m worried that we’re going to follow history instead of making it, that we’re going to be drowned by superficialities instead of buoyed up by solid fundamentals.” 

Agree.  In today’s world, we can spend too much time analyzing every new social media channel, start-up, unicorn or new technology.  The fundamentals of marketing and communications have not changed.  However, they do evolve.  The key is to stay focused on solid fundamentals, e.g. how we tell a story, how we handle an issue, how we build a brand’s reputation as we concurrently evolve that same model via new technology.  What matters is how we evolve the fundamental models.  If we focus on chasing each new butterfly, e.g. new channels, start-ups and technologies only, we do simply follow history as it is created.  It’s our job to think ahead, yet slow down enough to realize what will actually work in the marketplace.  Don’t let the endless parade of new innovations distract us.

“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

Times have changed.  Great stories now combine science and art to optimize their ability to persuade.  You can create the coolest ad in the world, but if no one sees it, who cares.  In today’s world, we focus on audience architecture, so we know where our customers are, what content they prefer, when they go online, which media outlets matter to them and who influences them.  We can see how persuasion works in a market without advertising.  Now, it is becoming our job to catalyze interest in topics, pull through stories throughout the ecosystem of a customer (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and mainstream media outlets) and identify those customers who are as persuasive as any ad could ever dream of being.  Science shows us “where”, “who”, “how” and “when”.  Great content provides the “why” and that can come from agencies or customers themselves.

“In the past year I must have interviewed about 80 people……..But look beneath the technique and what do you find? A sameness, a mental weariness, a mediocrity of ideas.  But they could defend every ad on the basis that it obeyed the rules of advertising.  It was like worshiping a ritual instead of the God.”

Agree.  In 1947, agencies could defend their actions with their own persuasive arguments.  In 2016, we don’t care, since we can see what our customers think about our campaigns, stories and general content.  Mediocre ideas are exposed for what they are in hours, not months.  Bill would probably love the fact that all of those arguments he thought were bogus would now be exposed.    Our ability to listen to our customers and create agile content that shapes behavior every day is replacing the long-winded, hard to produce campaigns that are outdated the day they hit the streets.  This raises the game for all of us.  Our only ritual now is to listen, learn and act on what the market needs and wants (or could want) each and every day.

“All of this is not to say that technique is unimportant.  Superior technical skill will make a good man better.  But the danger is a preoccupation with technical skill or the mistaking of technical skill for creative ability”. 

Well said.  The answer is never just a data scientist just as it is never just a creative director or never just a consultant.  We now live in a world where we must have the most relevant and timely insights about our target audience from data scientists to inform agile content that is informed by the industry and client knowledge of the consultant.  Creative, Data and Consulting all live as one team.  The speed of the market due to technology and the ability of customers to act self-sufficiently without any intervention from a brand demand that we all get along to build a new approach to creating, delivering and evolving persuasive content.  This is a journey with no end.

“We must develop our own philosophy and not have the advertising philosophy of others imposed on us.”

Agree 100%.  Bill left two years later to start his own firm in 1949.  Entrepreneurs know that they must respect the fundamentals of marketing and communications, yet never just accept what worked yesterday as being good enough.  In fact, those folks who say “well, we used to do it this way at our firm” are often the ones holding back innovation.  The most creative people in our world are forward-leaning in how they apply data and ideas.  They know that Insights + Industry Knowledge + Ideas = Innovation that matters.

“Let us blaze new trails.  Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art and good writing can be good selling.”

One of his most famous lines of all time and his closing sentence.  Insights differentiate.  Being dissatisfied and always searching for the edge matters.  No matter how big or how small you are, nothing changes in this reqard.  We should always “blaze new trails”.

On Wednesday, we’ll discuss how we stay true to the fundamentals of our business as we absorb the continual innovation of industry and blaze new trails that are relevant to today’s brands.  Our job is to stay focused on pragmatic disruption of the status quo.  Innovate where it improves sales, leads to a better health outcome or it makes a difference that our clients and our customers care about.  The rest is just noise.

Thank you Bill for a timeless piece.

Note: My next book, Storytizing (available March, 2016) will discuss more on the history of advertising and its relevance to today’s digital world. 

Column published in the November 23, 2015 issue of PRNews

It’s relatively easy to anticipate macro trends in technology for 2016.  It is much harder to predict how those trends will change the communications profession.  Based on work with large brands and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes, here is a list of top trends that will matter most for the Chief Communications Officer and his/her team.

  1. Audience Architecture Starts to Replace the Coverage Model: We now can see exactly who our audience is online (all social media channels and mainstream media), so we can listen to its needs, align our story with its desires and measure our success in reaching the target market for our brand or topic. Getting coverage is only one piece of this puzzle. Why? Blogs and Twitter drive 2/3s of content flow. Mainstream media has become a catalyst that blogs and Twitter drive. Think of the audience as becoming more important than the outlet. When you get coverage, the PR pro’s job is just beginning.  He/she needs to ensure that this coverage reaches the audience; the job calls for sharing it via social channels so it gets to the right people.  The end game used to be coverage itself. No more.
  2. Responsive Experience Replaces Responsive Design: Since more than 50% of content is consumed via phone and that figure will rise to more than 75% in three years or fewer, we have to provide the right experience the first time our customer looks for it online. If we direct people to a website and make them hunt for the desired information, we will lose most people and they won’t come back. We have to deliver the exact content right away.  Since people tell us what they want via search, e.g. “company x, product y pricing”, we can deliver this exact content on the first visit.  The search words serve as a trigger for the right content, which you have pre-packaged, to show up.  Imagine preparing for ten types of customers to visit your site.  Once you know who they are via their search terms coming into the site, the content changes to meet their needs.  This is simple technology we can all use today.
  3. We are Entering the era of the 9%: In the 1,9,90 model, fewer than one percent of people create content, approximately nine percent share the content and 90 percent lurk and learn, benefitting from the 1 and the 9. The first ten years of social media have been about the 1 percent. Now, technology advance has made it super easy for the 9 percent to share content, add comments and continue the conversation in any channel and on any device.  This is the second sales force for a brand.  We must know who they are and start building far better relationships with the 9 percent.  They are the best friends of the one percent and should be of us as well.
  4. We Have Fewer Than Three Seconds to Make an Impression via Video: Facebook boasts 8 billion video views per day, so it knows a thing or two about how users react to video. Its data show that we have fewer than three seconds to grab the viewer’s interest. The result is how we produce video must change. We need to create a strong first impression and should be investing in a wider range of lower cost video, not longer, expensive video.  Disagree? OK. But I usually avoid arguing with what we learn from 8 billion views per day.  That’s a big enough focus group for me.
  5. Internal Communications will Start Learning from External Audiences: We have long made the mistake of examining only internal metrics to measure internal satisfaction of our employees. Now, we realize via new models that we can identify what matters to specific employee groups by analyzing their external activities: where they hang out (social channels, forums, blogs), talk, share and learn from each other.  The answers to how better align with employees can be found outside of our walls and inside their tribes.
  6. The Full Story of a Brand Must be Delivered to the Customer: We can now use technology platforms to deliver the full story of a brand (think 4-6 articles and 2-4 links) directly to our customers in any social channel. We can then watch what they like, what they share and dynamically change the content in all channels in seconds. Interactive storytelling is emerging as a new discipline, since we can deliver content anywhere, any channel, anytime.  It’s time for us to go to the customer, not ask him/her to visit us.
  7. The Agile Campaign Starts to Replace the Traditional Campaign: Since we now can see what our audience is doing and thinking in close to real-time, we can introduce the right content into the market based on their current needs. This means that we need to proactively build out libraries of content, so we have pre-approved material ready to share. The days of spending 6-9 months to create a campaign, get approval for it and then enter into the market are ending.  In the future, we’ll only do that when we have a specific end date, e.g. when we have a product launch or a drug approved.  When we have a choice, we’ll move to agile campaigns 365.

Overall, communications is moving into an era that I call Storytizing, which represents what is possible beyond advertising.  We can align directly with our customers via earned, shared and owned media and supplement these interactions with the strategic use of paid media.  Our job now is to meet customers on their home turf and pull our stories through the customer’s entire ecosystem in full alignment with their needs.

A new era calls for new techniques and the full embrace of what technology has to offer.

Contact: @bobpearson1845

Note: Bob Pearson’s next book, Storytizing, will be available in March, 2016. 

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on a panel titled, Millennials Unplugged: What Are We Learning from Millennials? Moderated by my colleague, Bob Pearson, the panel was part of an event put on by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) and hosted at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. Joining Bob on the panel were Natalie Malaszenko, SVP of Marketing at Overstock.com and Founder/Provocateur of MoStrategy, LLC, Maureen Craig.

Bob-Natalie-Mo panel

As the title suggests, the focus of the panel was what we (brands/marketers/communicators) can learn from Millennials. It’s clearly an important topic due to the fact that in the U.S., Millennials just overtook Baby Boomers as the largest demographic in the country. This not only changes the way marketers need to market, but also how employers think about the needs of their employees. I spent a little time covering this very topic in one my recent Marketingland articles discussing the real meaning of what it means to be “mobile first.

During the panel, Bob asked (and occasionally answered) questions of Natalie and Maureen. All three did a great job keeping their answers informative and pithy. A few of the key soundbites I took away were:

  • Millennials want to engage with brands differently. They are willing to do it emotionally.
  • It’s important as a brand to have heart, soul, purpose when story telling with Millennials. The key is to the find balance of analytics/insights with gut instincts.
  • Bob mentioned a recent article where Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest announced the visual search tool for the social image site making it a “search engine for experiences.”
  • Metrics are important to understand how customers are consuming content along their journey – but how does this impact how we measure?
  • With so much data, importance on using gut to guide is stronger than ever. Also critical to look at how the consumer’s (and in particular, Millennials) media is shaped.
  • At the end of the panel Q&A, Bob referenced the impetus of the panel which is a blog series he created with his 19 year old daughter, Brittany. The format for Millennials Unplugged is that they pick a topic and then both answer from their own points of view, often with other Millennial voices pulled in.

For the second half of the panel, Bob fielded audience questions through a tool called Pigeonhole. Not only was it a cool technology but made it easy to field questions from the audience in an orderly and weighted fashion (the audience gets to vote on the relevance of each question).

Here were a few that piqued my interest:

How has cutting the cord impacted TV advertising dollars when engaging Millennials?

  • Mo – Millennials get a kick out of Boomers and GenXers anachronistic use of tv (similar to land line phone).
  • Natalie – key word is storytelling. Ads need to be created with storytelling in mind and that ads could/should have life beyond tv.

Beyond the headlines of 3-second attention spans and lack of brand loyalty, what are some positive opportunities for marketers in learning from Millennials’ habits and expectations?

  • Natalie – key is to enable Millennials’ behavior vs. trying to change it.
  • Mo – takes offense at the idea of a three second attention span (not accurate). She thinks of Millennials as t-shaped – tremendous depth and huge reach (via new social/digital platforms). Can apply what they’ve learned from Call of Duty to shopping for groceries. What can we do to congratulate that and take advantage of that?

How do you value sharing vs. reach & frequency?

  • Natalie – don’t diminish importance of reach and frequency but sharing is the ultimate metric. It is a sign of passion.
  • Mo – her company is constantly looking at what it takes to encourage a climate of sharing.

With this quote by Jack Welch, Bob Pearson finished his talk at the W2O PreCommerce Summit in London today. The President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group, encouraged the audience to remain nimble to be able to adapt to future trends and changes and shared some of his insights into tomorrow’s world of brands, customers and media.

As described in his book PreCommerce, Bob sees the biggest value for brands in decreasing the distance to their customers and focus on pre-commerce phase vs. the actual point of sale: Only those who are able to listen, will be able to respond and adapt to market needs – maybe even before those needs actually exist.

The digital age definitely enabled brands to be much closer to their target audiences than ever before; however, the structures, relationships and stakeholders, as we have known them for years, will no longer exist in the future. Bob Pearson summarizes this development in four key game changing trends:

  1. Our Definition of Audience Is Changing

If we look at the 1-9-90 model, we can clearly see the former content creators and outlets are no longer as relevant in the online conversation as the 9%, which we define as brand advocates, those who spend their time inside social media channels, who are part of strong peer groups and, who add their views to existing content, that will share the future of your brand’s or company’s story. With this development, the audience is now more important than the outlet.

  1. The PESO model is flipping

As the 9% grow in importance, so does earned and shared media. This requires us to integrate a new media planning model that defines an insight-driven social media channel and influencer strategy, which roles out into campaigns, content and experiences. As part of this model, paid media amplification remains an important part to break through the “noise”, but it will follow conversations and communities more than news.

  1. Markets Don’t Wait for Campaigns Anymore

Digital conversation is dynamic and to be able to participate, brands need to be agile. Providing customers with what they need, where they need it and when they need it, is a challenge that includes our creative approach. Those brands who are able to use data and respond to trends in real-time, with content dynamically changing based on interest, will make the 365 campaign become real.

  1. Micro Segmentation Replaces “Personas”

Or in Bob’s words “We always knew that top-down persona-driven segments of “five audience types” was wrong”. With each person and each audience having their own media ecosystem, the roll-up of these ecosystems defines the media network. In order to customize content to their target audiences, brands need to understand how the audience and their attention are fragmented. Therefore, the future media leaders will excel in audience architecture.

About Bob Pearson

Bob Pearson is President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group. Bob has a unique combination of social media, marketing and communications skills acquired during nearly 25 years at three Fortune BobPearson500 companies and a major consultancy. In 2011, he published his book “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together”, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. He is currently working on his next book, which will be available in March 2016. “Storytizing” will focus on the importance of creating a compelling and at the same time relevant narrative for your brand.

Fireside chat with Bayer’s Jessica Federer and W2O Group’s Annalise Coady at the 2nd Annual #PreCommerce Summit in London.

Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer at Bayer

At last year’s W2O Group’s London Summit, Jessica Federer talked about the origins of social intelligence and the need for Pharma to adapt to digital changes. Today, she shares insights of her one year journey in her new role as Chief Digital Officer at Bayer.

Bayer’s Biggest Transformation in 150 Years

In the last year, Bayer went through the biggest transformation in 150 years, incorporating digital into its DNA: a top-down, CEO-prioritized digital strategy. This change has been implemented with a digital council, a digital circle and digital transformation teams. According to Jessica, priorities lie with the creation of digital structures, enabling great people to do great work. In other words, the secret for digital transformation is money and people.

While not naming explicit inspirational companies, Federer highlights the impact of partnerships with big, established digital leaders that help Bayer find specific solutions. Equally important are cooperations with start-ups, such as “Grants4Apps”, an accelerator program by Bayer that gives start-ups a space for collaboration – currently one of Jessica’s favorite initiatives.

jessica bayer

Insider Goodies

Lastly, Jessica Federer provides two health-care insider treats; the first being the importance of reading The Economist and The New Yorker, but also Vanity Fair, as digital transformation is driven by society and cultural trends. As her second “audience treat,” Jessica spills the secret that despite strict healthcare regulations, talking to regulators will drive innovation, as they want to innovate just as much as you do. Nonetheless, it is crucial to “follow the rules”.

Stopping the focus on digital

Ultimately, Federer hopes to soon end this newly adapted focus on digital. She continues to explain this seemingly paradox statement: “What you do well, goes away,” meaning that digital transformation teams won’t be necessary once all marketing becomes digital and a natural aspect of Bayer’s business.

 


About Jessica Federer

Jessica Federer works at Bayer, a global enterprise of 113,000 people focused on advancing ‘Science For A Better Life’ through health care, agriculture, and high-tech polymer materials. Within Bayer, Jessica has held positions in Regulatory Affairs, Market Access, Communications and Public Affairs. She received her Master of Public Health degree from the Yale School of Public Health, and her Bachelors of Science from The George Washington University. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Jessica now lives in Dusseldorf, Germany. Jessica is passionate about translating digital developments into public health advancements, and is an avid supporter of global childhood education.

 

 

 

 

 

Lifecycle of a Technological Revolution_today

With the revolution of media and technology disrupting the marketing industry, and business models altogether, marketers are trying to navigate through the storm. On the communications side, TV dollars are shifting to digital. But, digital ads aren’t nearly as effective nor transparent as we want them to be. The traditionally distinct and siloed roles of marketing communications (once upon at time, just known as ‘advertising’) and PR are converging.

Because of the advent of social media, and the frustration with traditional and digital advertising, marcomm is moving into earned media with influencer marketing, native advertising and more responsive campaigns and editorial content teams. Because of the rise of the new influencer – everyday people and celebrities using blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, SnapChat, Periscope and other platforms to create personal media companies – PR is expanding beyond traditional media relations and ‘the pitch’, and into influencer marketing, sponsored content and responsive editorial content teams as well. It’s a race to the middle where the lines are blurred. That’s why agencies and publishers are partnering to create wholly new content companies that service brands.

If we take a step back from the race, though, things haven’t changed much since 2009. The big three: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had launched and matured as three distinct and valuable social communications platforms for users. Since then, other social platforms have launched – Foursquare (and Swarm), Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, SnapChat, Meerkat and Periscope being the most touted. But, each of these just feels like an iterative evolution of the discontinuous leaps that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube made. Platforms, and the content they enable, shifted to become more visual, shorter and ephemeral. When Meerkat and Periscope launched, didn’t it feel like they already existed? And, the fundamental rules for how to engage audiences on those platforms is the same; we must adhere to the Reciprocity Theory.

So, I actually take a contrarian point of view: innovation has slowed in media technology. We’re at the tail end of our current technological revolution’s lifecycle, moving past the discontinuous revolution and into the iterative evolution. While folks in the industry are making claims that: “Advertising is dead.” Or that, “Data will tell us what content to make, so we don’t need creatives anymore.” I’m claiming that we need creative more than ever. The discipline just needs to evolve too. As the roles of advertising and PR converge, storytelling becomes an even more critical discipline for marketing.

Just pushing the message through TV and radio and print and display ads is lazy creative and lazy advertising. Great creative has always been about great storytelling. Now we just tell that story across new media platforms/channels in partnership with the new social influencers and in partnership with our customers. Sometimes those influencers and customers are the same. Great creative (‘the story’) is the glue that holds the story together, wherever we’re telling it. It’s what inspires people to participate.

In the late 2000s in the entertainment industry, we began exploring transmedia storytelling. This is where we would develop a core story – characters and the world in which they lived. And, then we’d plan out those stories across media (books, graphic novels, movies, TV, web series). It was a shift away from the linear model of: writer publishes book –> studio buys book and makes movie –> network turns movie into TV series. Instead, we developed it all at the same time. They lived together as extensions, or chapters, of the same story instead of separately as different and distinct adaptations of the story. This style of storytelling became particularly popular in the fantasy/gaming/comics genres, as we could delve deep into the story of a world we were creating.

Now, in marketing, we have the opportunity to take the same approach. How do we create a core story – the story of our brand, which reflects the story of our customers and employees – and tell that story through new (and traditional) media platforms and people? Like a vision, the story we tell requires an intuitive leap of faith. It must inspire. It must create new possibilities. Is that so different from great advertising fifty years ago? Maybe. Maybe not. But, in an increasingly ephemeral world, wouldn’t it be nice to have some moments that impact and last?

—–

This post originally appeared on The ReciprocityTheory blog.

And just like that, the social updates you knew from June are tweaked, more defined and bound to change again before next month. It’s a beautiful world of social that we live in, but you’ve got to keep up with the trends. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube have made some big changes to their platforms in July and we’re sharing the Social Scoop here!

Facebook: ‘See first’ -Good for Users, Bad for Marketers?

What It Is

Last month, Facebook announced it was launching a new feature called ‘See First’ in which users can select who/what they want to see at the top of their News Feed. The concern for brands, is will your Page be on users’ ‘See First’ list

How It Works

  • ‘See First’ allows users to prioritize up to 30 Pages, friends, and/or groups they want to see first in their News Feed
  • Everything is set up through the user’s News Feed preferences, where they can:
    • ‘prioritize who to see first’
    • ‘unfollow people to hide their posts‘
    • ‘reconnect with people you unfollowed’
    • ‘discover new pages’

What It Means For Brands

While this new feature is great news for consumers, it’s not so great for brands. Quality of content is always key, but brands will have to revisit their social strategies and step up their game in order to avoid falling by the wayside. Getting content in front of your followers will be the challenge, but once your brand has made it into your followers ‘See First’ list, you’ll know that your content is impacting the right people. While brands cannot tell their followers to list their Pages as ‘See First,’ there is a twist here. This new update brings changes to Facebook’s algorithm, in which Facebook’s “Discover New Pages” will choose similar pages as suggestions for users based on the Pages they have liked. Brand recommendations are based on user experience now, so targeting the “Discover New Pages” section should be part of your strategy.

Facebook: The Floating Video Has Arrived

What It Is

Video, on video, on video. Facebook understands the power of the video and they’re letting everyone know. This month Facebook is testing out a new feature that allows users to detach a video from their News Feed and move it to a different location within the browser to view while scrolling through other content or to save for later. This is only available on desktop as the feature rolls out to some users.

How It Works

  • The option will be built into the video player so that when users click the icon, the video will detach from it’s original source, and allow users to drag the video to a different/preferred section of the website browser
    • Users select the small box, within the larger box on the video screen in the lower right corner to detach the video and enable it’s relocation

What It Means For Brands

Users can watch more videos at one time, as they can continue to scroll through their News Feed, and pull out the videos they want to reserve for later viewing. This feature encourages users to view longer and remain on Facebook “video” for all of their video viewing needs, so the more video content you produce and share on Facebook, the great chance you have that consumers are watching all of your content.

Facebook: Taking Another Step Forward In E-Commerce

What It Is

Facebook is building shops within Facebook Pages that allow brands to showcase their products directly on their Page. This is another part of Facebook’s push into e-commerce, which also includes money transferring through Facebook Messenger and the buy-button, introduced earlier this year to increase the online experience, from discovery to purchasing on one platform.

How It Works

Within the “Shop” section of the Facebook Pages, businesses now have the opportunity to showcase their products directly on the Page. Users can make their purchases without leaving the site.

What It Means For Brands

This new feature gives brands a secondary platform to connect with its primary audience. Users spend roughly 80% of their time on mobile apps, smartphones, tablets, or computers and Facebook has created a way for brands to utilize this by putting buying options on the Pages platforms.

Snapchat: Talk About Updates!

What It Is

Snapchat is making a LOT of moves (at once)! The days of ‘hold-to-view’ is a thing of the past, users can now “Add Nearby” friends (in bulk) to their snap contacts when in close proximity of others, and a new two-factor security authentication feature makes it harder to hack another user’s account.

How It Works

  • Viewing: Users can simply tap on a snap they want to view without holding down on the picture for the entire viewing time. Users can also tap through snaps or swipe down to close the story.
  • “Add Nearby:” Under ‘Add Friends’ there is now a tab called ‘Add Nearby,’ which allows users to add contacts (either one at a time or in bulk) who are in close proximity to that user.
  • Security: The newest security feature can be enabled from the ‘Login Verification’ menu in the app’s main settings.

What It Means For Brands

This new update makes it easier for users to view content on Snapchat. Again, content is key – advertisers don’t want to worry about their ads being skipped over because users can tap through or swipe down to exit their content without actually viewing it. The ‘Add Nearby’ is a nice opportunity for brands that are using Snapchat to connect with users who are in close proximity to their businesses, and in return, users can discover brands that are on the platform that they may not have realized have a Snapchat presence. Additionally, the new security authentication should be built into a brands social strategy and required for all community managers and admins to keep accounts safe and hack-free.

Snapchat: ‘Stories’ Has A New Look

What It Is

Snapchat has redesigned their Stories section, prioritizing content from media partners over pictures from a friends.

How It Works

  • When users open Snapchat, the updated Stories ‘tab’ features (in this order) personal stories, ‘Discover,” ‘Live,’ recent updates and all stories
  • Users will still see friend content, but they will have to scroll down to find it
  • “Discover’ content still exists on its own tab

What It Means For Brands

Now media content very hard to ignore. Snapchat is continuing to find ways to monetize its app and this is their way of boosting engagement without disrupting the activity from it’s core user base. Surfacing content in more areas of the app will help with ad revenue (more viewing opportunity) as well as boost user interest in branded content.

Twitter: Are Your Tweets Being Indexed On Google?

What It Is

In May, Google and Twitter announced their partnership, enabling tweets to show up in Google search results on mobile devices. Since then:

  • Stone Temple conducted a study that looked at several factors which may be influential in Google’s tweet selection
  • The data showed that tweets from profiles with higher follower counts were appearing more often in Google search results
  • Tweets with higher social authority based on Followerwonk’s metrics for social authority also showed up more often

What It Means For Brands

Of course it wasn’t going to be as simple as just tweeting and having your content show up on the top of Google search results! Google has made it clear that a brand’s Twitter presence and authority will provide major value to SEO. It also means that handles with a lower following and less authority may still be missing out on having their tweets indexed.

Twitter: Say Hello to Auto-Expanded Link Previews

What It Is

Twitter continues to strive for visual excellence, rolling out auto-expanded link previews (to a small amount of users) that will show content previews automatically for links provided in tweets.

How It Works

  • Expanded previews are a new Twitter card opportunity that the platform has rolled out to advertisers (Summary card with a large image)
  • Advertisers must enable the card in order for users to see the auto-expanded links

What It Means For Brands

Brands have a higher chance of engagement when posts include a large image. Tweets with auto-extended links will allow brands to tweet out richer content that’s more visually appealing to followers, but keep in mind, it’s going to cost you!

Twitter: What’s With All the White Space?

What It Is

Twitter has removed wallpapers from users’ home and notification timelines – everything is white. Users can only see background images while logged-in and on public pages (i.e., Tweet pages, list pages, and collection pages).

What It Means For Brands

By removing the ability to have user’s change their background, Twitter has taken away the uniqueness of each user. They have essentially unbranded everyone – so once again, your content is key. There is nothing else that drives people to your Twitter Page at this point, other then your content and brand interest.

YouTube: Mobile Videos Are Lookin’ Good

What It Is

YouTube is focused on ‘mobile, mobile, mobile’ and their latest update reflects just that. They have redesigned their mobile app to optimize a vertical video mode to display better content. In addition, they have streamlined their app to include tabs that focus on a user’s homepage, videos users subscribe to, and account pages.

What It Means For Brands

More than half of YouTube’s views come from mobile devices. With this new update, brands have the opportunity to engage more users with mobile friendly versions of their videos, keeping users on their channels longer from their mobile phones, and giving them the freedom to continue to explore brand channels directly from their mobile device. YouTube (and the rest of the video sharing world) has discovered that vertical videos better fit the aspect ratio of smartphones and now brands have the ability to utilize this to optimize video viewing. But just keep in mind – you’ll have to size your videos to ensure they match the new mobile sharing specs.

Special contributions to Chantelle Patel, W2O Shared Media Intern

 

 

Snapchat has increasingly become a topic of discussion among brands in terms of driving business value and ROI. It has evolved since our initial evaluation of it in 2014, citing it’s lack of data tracking and its ephemeral nature, but it still has some gaps to fill. Our team has some strategic ideas around optimizing the platform currently and some that could hopefully come to life in the near future. You can view the complete list of insights here and below:

 

#1 If Snapchat can provide full transparency on users of their service, advertising can be done in an appropriate and highly focused manner. The data can be anonymized to respect privacy, while still achieving targeting goals. This data must be accessible to the brands advertising. It cannot be held only by Snapchat, since it is critical for planning.

  • IDEA — Open up a limited API, ala Facebook’s 30 days of data – brands must be able to access anonymized data to plan. Facebook has shown the way on how to do this and still preserve the integrity of the data.

#2 – Work with brands to develop relationships with Snapchat Stars – we all know the power of influencers. The stories feature of Snapchat is where influencers are emerging that have major impact for a brand. These stars are similar to what is occurring on YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other channels. For example, if BRAND X focused on beauty brands and emerging influencers for make-up tips, how- to’s for skin care and other related topics, this increases authenticity, supports the drivers of Snapchat traffic and helps your brand understand who has influence in Snapchat vs. other channels.

  • IDEA– Enable a brand to work directly with influencers in a category – this leads to more targeted earned and paid media; it helps the influencers gain additional influence; and it adds much needed authenticity for any advertiser. It is widely believed that advertising alone will not be accepted by the Snapchat audience, so new models of partnership are key to success.

#3 – Create a “Snap to Buy” feature – we need ROI. If Snapchat creates a “snap to buy” feature where users can purchase products or download important buying information for later use, we can better track funnel activity. This can work for a brand by partnering with emerging stars, “map” them discussing a topic, provide the option to buy direct (within the chat), and deliver directly or to a local outlet. For consumables, this scenario could generate simple couponing or co-marking opportunities.

#4 – Develop new content partnerships between talent, media networks and brands – a traditional ad won’t work in Snapchat. However, new models can open up opportunities. In other words, brands will sponsor other brands. Snapchat’s new media service called Discover, which will host branded propertieis for Yahoo, People, Cosmopolitan, the Food Network, Daily Mail, Vice, CNN and others.

  • IDEA – an example can be given for a TV show and a BRAND X brand. BRAND X works with the talent on a TV show. The talent on this show then Snapchats on a key topic that also includes the BRAND X brand. This would be a powerful way to integrate great content, keep the topic aligned with Snapchat user’s interests and work in a brand appropriately.

#5 – Innovate in geo-location – Snapchat is already innovating with picture filters automatically uploaded from your location.  Since interaction with geo-location based content is already accepted by Snapchat users, we think of new ways to build value.

  • IDEA 1– this is purely a matter of creativity.  We could create a contest based on geo-location use of certain backgrounds.  Once a certain level of use is reached, prizes are made available.  New filters that are highly topical could be provided by BRAND X brands, e.g. Olympics and any sports-related shots for certain sports, however the backgrounds feature the local athletes for that user to make it more personal. Or BRAND X sponsors Movember with idea that men are all shaving in the near future.  And on and on.
  • IDEA 2 – align Snapchat content from brands down to the store level.  If the retail networks of a country are aligned to geo-location, BRAND X can offer unique content and coupons/offers at the zip code level and you can snap to buy and it goes right to your closest store.

#6—Improve how “Stories” is handled within Snapchat – the “Stories” experience does not appear integrated with how users typically use the app, which is to interact with friends.

    • Stories are essentially paid content from brands in the Snapchat app
    • Most of the time, people use Snapchat to interact with friends
    • Stories do not appear “inline” when you interact with friends, but rather only if you go to Explore —> Discover in the app, which is a couple clicks off the beaten path
    • This is like moving paid content on cnn.com off the front page and into a section called “Paid Content”
    • If brands are having success, that’s what matters — but it’s an odd way to integrate paid

#7 – Partner with users to create a “brand studio” – populate the studio within Snapchat with brand content (images, video, quotes and other content) that can be used by anyone.  And encourage users to add their own ideas, make requests and participate in making each brand studio as cool as it can be.

  • IDEA – co-create content with communities directly.

Innovative ways brands are using Snapchat:

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

All the best,

Bob Pearson

This column first appeared in the June 1st issue of PRNews

The new definition of owned media is simple: If we create and approve content, it’s owned. It wasn’t long ago when owned media simply was the content on our website. Today owned media has moved from being a site to becoming how a customer experiences the brand’s voice in any channel

The paradigm has changed so dramatically that we as PR pros are required to meet customers and prospects at their favorite online hangouts. We can and must share the same content that is housed on our website on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and with key bloggers. After all, we are in the business of storytelling and story distribution. Facebook, bloggers and other platforms consistently reach more potential customers than our website. The good news is that our voice has become portable. Good and bad news: we control the official, but often not the initial, experience with our brands.

On the positive side, our websites can do almost anything we want. They can serve as a company store or teach consumers about an issue, a technology or disease.

The goal itself hasn’t changed too much really. We still want to take the company’s story and share our version of the truth directly with customers in the locations they prefer to hear from us.  

Timing has become important. It’s critical to reach customers throughout their PreCommerce journey, while they are learning, sharing or just having fun. Waiting until they visit our website compromises our ability to influence the final outcome. It’s imperative that we touch the majority of conversations, buying decisions and search behavior occurring outside of our official company channel well before final decisions are made about a purchase or even our reputation.

Customers learn about a new product via search, explore what others believe about it in forums, ask friends on Facebook about it and visit a company website to confirm what’s already been learned. After all that, the customer who decides to buy the product will usually do so at a site offering the best terms.  

How effectively we use owned media defines its success and proves our value. Here are five key examples of how to optimize the new version of owned media. 

 

1. Supply chain of language. Normally there are 15 keywords or phrases that the majority of customers are searching for to find your story or a related topic. It’s more important than ever that you develop a supply chain of language, so that you use the same keywords on your website, in social channels, as tags for new content and in press releases and statements. If you coordinate across the owned media supply chain, you’ll greatly increase search engine optimization results.  

Communicators are becoming the new search experts by necessity. Telling a good story is only as helpful as a potential customer’s ability to find it.

 

2. Network coordination. Are you sharing the same messages and a similar story across your website, social channels and via spokespeople? How do you offer different content by channel to match the customer’s journey?

We must become experts in how customers choose to learn about our brands to develop the right network strategy. We need to work as one team. 

 

3. Understand the role of each media channel. Are we teaching customers and prospects via YouTube, answering questions on forums and posting interactive contest on Facebook? What is the role of each channel? Can we imagine the customer journey, document what really happens online and ensure that what we provide matches with the customer’s needs? 

 

4. Ensure visits are customized. When we shake hands, we are connecting with another person. Customers search for certain keywords that lead them to our site. It’s a digital handshake. This little bit of information enables us to provide the exact content they want when they visit our site. 

Are you doing this? Imagine having 10 experiences available to match up with different keywords, so if you are looking for a job, you get the job site right away because you were searching for “company x, engineer of abc.”

 

5. Focus on the customer experience. Are we consistently monitoring all media we own to ensure the consumer’s experience is consistent?  How do we know? When I think of doing this effectively I recall advice from Gayle Fuguitt, president-CEO of The Advertising Research Foundation, who said, “Brands are built in the brain.”

 

Customer’s brains involve ten channels of online media, plus mainstream media, ranging from audio to search to video (see PR News, May 26, 2014). Are we building brands in the brain or are we simply sharing content and hoping for the best?  

 

3 Ways Owned Media Saves Money

Here are three ways I’ve learned to save money via effective use of owned media:

1. Use ads strategically to drive earned and shared media. Facebook ad buys are a great example. Don’t saturate your audience. Use ads strategically to drive your owned media story to the right people. Remember what Daina Middleton, head of global business marketing at Twitter, says: “Marketing through persuasion is over. Marketing through participation is here to stay.” Make it easy to find content you want to participate in.

2. Responsive experience improves conversion. When you provide the right content the first time via a website, your conversion is far higher. Dramatically. Create libraries of content based on the type of person who will visit your site and use targeting expertise to match visitors with the right experience.

 3. Content ‘capsules’ can replace Websites. You can now embed the equivalent of a portable website in any social channel, for example, via Business Wire’s news capsule.  If you take your best content for a story and create this type of portable website, you avoid the costs of driving people to your website and it costs a fraction of what you normally pay.                                      

 

All the best, Bob