Tuesday Mar 04, 2014

The Secrets to Making People Care About Your Social Marketing Content

boring social media contentI write about social marketing…a lot. And I’ve found that the more tech innovation comes along, the more relentless expectations by brand leaders are that marketing be executed purely from automated, algorithm-driven machines.


The tech tools are stunning in their ability to gather, analyze, inform and direct customer interactions. I’m lucky enough to be with the only company with the depth and resources in business software across the enterprise to build a fully integrated marketing and customer experience environment. If I were a brand, I’d be nervous about messing with anything else.


But success unavoidably keeps boiling down to making content that attracts, holds, and inspires people. That is a human artistic endeavor. How do you make people care about the content you’re putting out? You don’t. You take what they already care about and craft your content from that foundation. Here’s what they care about.


1. Looking Good

Being associated with you is either going to be embarrassing or empowering. Your users want to look cool. If you give them content that makes them look cool if they share it, they’ll do it. If it makes them look like your salespeople, that’s embarrassing.


2. Not Being Played for a Chump

If you bait me with an awesome headline then fail to deliver value or generate interest in the first couple of graphs, I feel tricked. And I don’t like people who think so little of me they try to trick me. 38% of people who land on a page bounce almost instantly.


3. Feeling Like They Belong

Guess why people are on social to begin with. To connect. If they don’t feel they’re getting insider info or special deals from you, they don’t regard it as much of a connection. If they praise or reach out to you and get ignored, that’s full-on rejection, one of the deepest human fears there is. Heart+Mind Strategies found 72% of US users shifting back to using social primarily to stay in touch with family and friends. Brands are losing them.


4. Feeling Known

If you care enough to know what platforms they prefer, what kind of content they respond to, when they tend to be online, what kinds of images grab their attention, which of your products they use, etc., they’re far less likely to blow off or gloss over content that comes from you.


5. Not Having Their Time Wasted

That means your stuff better either entertain, inform, or both. Keep content fresh. If you can solve a problem they’re having, solve it. If you can make them smarter (overall, not just about you and what you offer), do it. If you can make them laugh, do it.


6. Being Able to Trust You

Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University writes about six “Weapons of Influence.”

Several revolve around authority and trust. Our default is to trust authority. Brands have a head start. You’re an authority…until you violate that trust. People also commit to and defend the choices they make. They’ll go to distance to support their choice to Like you, but can be pushed too far. And they trust groupthink. If your fans are happy and participating, there won’t be much dissent. But if the tide turns against you thanks to bad content, the dominos will fall quickly.

7. Things Being Fast and Easy

Resist your corporate urge to make things as complex as possible to prove to the people up the hall how hard you work. People move through social content lightning fast. Overthink what you’re doing and they’ll say “eh…” and move right past your stuff. Quick and easy to consume, quick and easy to share.


Some brands have started to question whether social users want content from them at all. eMarketer shows over half think brands should be creating timely digital content. So much for that excuse. They want content, they just want it to be good. And they’re working diligently to edit out the noise.


Don’t be noise. Test your content, make sure it touches on basic human emotional triggers, and you’re on your way to users looking forward to your content and turning into brand advocates.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jan 14, 2014

Content Marketing & Social Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Content MarketingSocial Marketing used to be the buzz phrase. Now the buzz phrase is Content Marketing. But is it fair to call something a “buzz” that’s been around forever and is the foundation of human communication?


It’s kind of odd that it wasn’t until social media came along that marketers got serious about connecting socially with customers. Likewise, now we’re talking in a surge about content marketing. Really? We didn’t know until recently our customers would appreciate quality relevant content, or that it’d make them feel good about us?


We’ve been a social species since we were hassling wooly mammoth. We’ve been storytellers since we figured out we could make a mark on a cave wall. Yet marketers seem to just now be evolving into what we learned back in the Ice Age.


Here’s the difference between content marketing and social marketing.


Content marketing is the story you etch on the cave wall. You know viewers will relate to it, want it, and will like it.


Social marketing is the wall. It’s the distribution channel, the stage you put your story on. Your audience might already be sitting in the cave, or you might have to go tell people to come look at it.


Don’t Do This


The biggest mistake you can make on social is to have a blank wall. It might be the finest wall around, but if there are no stories on it, why would I look at it? I come to expect nothing from that wall.


Do This Instead


We seem to be in a place right now where we’re getting pieces right, but not the whole puzzle. The puzzle consists of:

  • Resourced, consistent quality content
  • Served up or promoted on social
  • Supported by paid efforts to expand reach and exposure
  • A way to listen for boos or applause
  • Using what you hear to tweak future content
  • Tapping into the loyal, trusting audience you’ve built to offer a solution from your brand that will make their life better.


There. You’ve just been given enough content and social strategy to hassle a mammoth.


Are Brands Serious About Content?


No.


A Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs study shows 23% of B2C marketers don’t even know how much of their budget is allocated to content. Of those that did know, 17% said it was getting 1-4% of it. The walls are blank.


Well, that’s not fair. They aren’t blank. They’re full of ads.


That might be because marketers are finding content creation intimidating. After decades of commoditizing creative skills, turns out finding people who are truly great at it isn’t easy. The long held belief of “geez, anybody can write” turns out to be far from true. You can’t fake it, because the content has to compete. You need entertainers.


Content & Social Need Each Other


Can there be social marketing without content marketing? And if so, what is that social marketing comprised of in the absence of content? The two are increasingly moving toward a healthy codependency.


@mikestiles
Photo: picaland, stock.xchng

Friday Nov 08, 2013

Say What? Podcasting As Part of Your Content Marketing

microphoneWhat do you usually do in your car on the way to work?  Sing along to radio? Stream Pandora or iHeartRadio? Talk on the phone? Sit in total silence? Whatever it is you do, you could be using that time to make yourself an expert in any range of topics…using podcasts.


We invite you to follow or subscribe to the daily Oracle Social Spotlight podcast, a quick roundup of the day’s top stories around social marketing and the social networks.


After podcasts arrived in 2004, growth was steady but slow. The concept was strong: anyone with a passion for any subject could make a show for anyone who cared to listen. Enter the smartphone, iTunes, new podcasting platforms, and social, and podcasting became easier than ever and made more sense for both podcasters and listeners. Stats show 1 in 5 smartphone owners are podcast consumers and 29% of Americans have listened to a podcast.


The potential audience is also larger than ever. “Baked in” podcast apps on over 200 million devices expose users to volumes of audio content with just a tap. 97 million Americans are driving to work every day by themselves. And 38% of Americans listen to audio on a digital device each week, a number that’s projected to double by 2015.


Does that mean your brand should be podcasting? That’s part of a larger discussion about your overall content strategy, provided you have one. But if you do and podcasting is a component of it, here are some things to keep in mind:


  • Don’t podcast just to do it. Podcast because you thought of a show customers and prospects will like that they can’t get anywhere else.
  • Sound quality matters. Good microphones are not expensive. Bad sound is annoying, makes your brand feel cheap, and will turn today’s sophisticated ears off.
  • The host matters. Many think they belong on the radio. Few actually do. Your brand’s host should be comfortable & likeable. A top advantage of a podcast is people can bond with a real person. It’s a trust opportunity, so don’t take it lightly.
  • The content matters. “All killer, no filler” means don’t allow babbling just to fill enough time for an episode. Value the listeners’ time, because that time is hard to get.
  • Put time, effort and creativity into it. Sure you’re a business, but you’re competing with content from professional media and showbiz producers. If you can include music, sound effects, and things that amuse the ears, do it.
  • If you start, be consistent. The #1 flaw in podcasting is when listeners can’t count on another episode or don’t know when it’s coming. Don’t skip doing shows just because you can. Get committed.
  • Get your cover art right. Podcasting is about audio, but people shop for podcasts by glancing through graphics. Yours has to be professional, cool, and informative to get listeners interested.
  • Cross-promote your podcast on all your channels. The competition for listeners is fierce, so if you have existing audiences you can leverage to launch your show, use them.
  • Optimize it for mobile. Assume that’s where most listening will take place. If you’re using one of the podcast platform apps, you should be in good shape.


Frankly, the percentage of brands that are podcasting is quite low, and that’s okay. Once you move beyond blogging and start connecting with real voices, poor execution can do damage. But more (32%) marketers want to learn how to use podcasting, and more (23%) were increasing their podcasting throughout this year.


Bottom line, you want to share your brand’s message and stories wherever your audience might be and in whatever way they prefer to take in content. Many prefer to do that while driving or working out, using the eyes and hands-free medium of audio.


@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng



Tuesday Sep 03, 2013

Content for the Masses…Fails

empty seatsI know, you want all your content to please everybody and make them all want to buy your stuff that instant.  That would be cool. But once we come back from daydream land, we should grasp that all content is not the same. All content is not made for the same purpose. And all content is not made for the same audience.

Have you ever shopped for a car and within 10 minutes of being on the lot were asked by the pushy salesperson, “Hey, what do I have to do to get you in this car today?” Maybe you’re just researching. Maybe you’d like some info or a test drive first. The salesman hit you with the wrong message at the wrong time. His content was not crafted for or aimed at the target.

Annoying, yet as brands, we’re doing this every day, sometimes multiple times a day. We’re making whatever content we can, then throwing it out there to see if anything sticks. Content should be aimed at a specific audience with specific problems, goals, emotions and motivations.

Just as there’s a sales funnel (which has actually shifted into a sales cycle or buying journey), there should be a corresponding content funnel that respects and acts on where the intended consumer of that content is in the buying journey. Do that and you’ll wind up with something you might not have at the moment…a content strategy.

Most organizations do this by developing personas. Note that “personas” is plural. There are a lot of different stages, motivations and variables in the buying cycle. Creating content customized and accurately targeted to each is a huge task…one that comes at a time when most brands are struggling just to create quality content at all.

Which is all the more reason to make sure the content you are going to resource and make will be as effective for you as possible. That means intimately knowing whom you’re talking to via data and social listening tools, learning how likely a prospect they are, predicting through analytics what questions they have, and serving up content that will move them into the next stage of the cycle where further targeted content awaits.

Remember, a significant amount of the decision-making process is already done by the time actual contact is made with the vendor. Customers at the top of the funnel are information gathering, staying in the shadows as much as they can. Their openness to your product and message is quite different here than it would be closer to the sale. Even the wording of your messaging must take into account that prospects have a different relationship with you at each stage, just as in real life.


Six Revisions has a really nice snapshot of
what the content funnel looks like at each stage.


*Awareness: the customer is becoming aware of your company, so content answers very general questions about your space or industry.
*Interest: their curiosity about you is piqued, so content answers questions about the product.
*Desire: they want your product, now content should move it from their wish list to their to-do list.
*Action: they’re doing what it takes to buy it, so content should answers purchase and service logistics.

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” is the
biggest unscripted show in cable history and close to becoming the biggest cable show in history period. If your content can be mass appeal and that successful, knock your lights out. But for marketers, success means conversion of unaware all the way to purchase, and that takes a lot more personalization.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Jul 02, 2013

Seriously, It’s Time to Get Your Content Act Together

spectrumBranded content, content marketing, social content, brand journalism, we’re seeing those terms more and more. Why?

The technology tools are coming together. We should know. We can gather big data, crunch it, listen to the public, moderate, respond, get to know the customer intimately, know what they like, know what they want, we can target, distribute, amplify, measure engagement and reaction, modify strategy and even automate a great deal of all that.

An amazing machine, a sleek, smooth-running engine has been built such that all the parts can interact and work together to deliver peak performance and maximum output. But that engine isn’t going anywhere without any gas. Content is the gas.

Yes, we curate other people’s content. We can siphon their gas. There’s tech to help with that too. But as for the creation of original, worthwhile content made for a specific audience, our audience, machines can’t do that…at least not yet. Curated content is great. But somebody has to originate the content for it to be curated and shared. And since the need for good, curated content is obviously large and the desire to share is there, it’s a winning proposition for a brand to be a consistent producer of original content.

And yet, it feels like content is an issue we’re avoiding. There’s a reluctance to build a massive pipeline if you have no idea what you’re going to run through it. The C-suite often doesn’t know what content is, that it’s different from ads, where to get it, who makes it, how long it should be, what the point of it is if there’s no hard sell of the product, what it costs, how to use it, how to measure it, how to make sure it’s good, or how to make sure it will keep flowing. It could be the reason many brands aren’t pulling the trigger on socially enabling the enterprise.

And that’s a shame, because there are a lot of creative, daring, experimental, uniquely talented entertainers and journalists chomping at the bit to execute content for brands. But for many corporate executives, content is “weird,” and the people who make it are even weirder. The content side of the equation is human. It’s art, but art that can be informed by data.

The natural inclination is for brands to turn to their agencies for such creative endeavors. But agencies are falling into one of two categories. They’re failing to transition from ads to content. In “Content Era, What’s the Role of Agencies?” Alexander Jutkowitz says agencies were made for one-hit campaigns, not ongoing content. Or, they’re ready and capable but can’t get clients to do the right things. Agencies have to make money, even if it means continuing to do the wrong things because that’s all the client will agree to.

So what we wind up with in the pipeline is advertising, marketing-heavy content, content that was obviously created or spearheaded by non-creative executives, random & inconsistent content, copy written for SEO bots, and other completely uninteresting nightmares. Frank Rose, author of “The Art of Immersion,” writes, “Content without story and excitement is noise pollution.”

In the old days, you made an ad and inserted it into shows made by people who knew what they were doing. You could bask in that show’s success and leverage their audience. Now, you are tasked with attracting, amassing and holding your own audience. You may just want to make, advertise and sell your widgets. But now there’s a war on for a precious commodity, attention. People are busy. They have filters to keep uninteresting and irrelevant things out. They value their time and expect value back when they give it up. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says, "Your customers don't care about you, your products, your services…they care about themselves, their wants and their needs."

Is it worth getting serious about content and doing it right? 61% of consumers feel better about a company that delivers custom content (Custom Content Council). Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people follow brands on social (Content+). 78% of consumers think organizations that provide custom content want to build good relationships with them (TMG Custom Media). On the B2B side, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company info in a series of articles vs. an ad.

So what’s the hang-up? Cited barriers to content marketing are lack of human resources (42%) and lack of budget (35%). 54% of brands don’t have a single on-site, dedicated content creator. And only 38% of brands have a content marketing strategy.

Tech has built the biggest, most incredible stage for brands that’s ever been built. Putting something on that stage is your responsibility. Do a bad show, or no show at all, and you’ll be the beautiful, talented actress that never got discovered.

@mikestiles
Photo: Gabriella Fabbri, stock.xchng

Friday May 24, 2013

Facebook Tabs and Apps: Your Page’s Attractions

swingsThe last time you went to an amusement park, did you just walk around and look at the rides, or did you actually ride them?  Seems like a silly question, but it’s not quite enough to just go somewhere. You want to experience something once you’re there. In the amusement park that is your brand’s Facebook Page, Tabs and Apps are your attractions.

Because Facebook is often described as a platform in “permanent beta,” Tabs have changed and evolved. In the olden days, they were always visible to the left. Brands could set a default landing page using Tabs so new visitors would see a promoted offer or other desired Tab.

Then came Timeline. Tabs became…boxes, which fell quickly out of view as a visitor scrolled down the Timeline. PageLever reported tab engagement dropped 53% since Timeline’s full implemention. Most thoughts and efforts turned to the News Feed, since that’s where users far and away spent the bulk of their Facebook time. Studies showed only 2% of fans would return to a brand’s Timeline after liking the Page.

Wow. No wonder many started ringing the death knell for Tabs.

Facebook was nudging brands away from controlled, one-size-fits-all Tabs experiences and toward one-on-one fan interaction and relevant content creation for the News Feed. But it’s hardly an either/or proposition. Well-crafted Tabs experiences give brands something to draw people toward via the News Feed. The News Feed can be the barker that gets users into the attraction.

And attractions are what Tabs and Apps should be. Done well, they can be real engagement monsters. Content for the News Feed is of prime importance. But usually, it’s a quick look from the user and then it’s on to the next item. Tabs are a way to not just get them, but hold them. A video on the News Feed is good. A video that’s episode 1, directing people to a YouTube app where the whole series can be watched is great.

A quality social relationship management platform is most likely going to give you a nice menu of Tabs content that can be easily customized and implemented. To give you an idea of the many “attractions” available, Oracle Social offers:

Basic:

  • Calendar
  • Causes
  • Coupons
  • Events
  • Posts
Interactive:
  • Comments
  • Gifts
  • Google+
  • Google Map
  • Like
  • Poll
  • Quiz
  • Twitter Follow
  • View to View
  • Like Gate
  • Pinterest Follow

Feeds:

  • MailChimp
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Instagram Feed
  • Pinterest Board
  • Pinterest Feed
  • Twitter Live

Forms:

  • Custom Form
  • Newsletter
  • Signup
  • Survey
  • Sweepstakes
  • Video and Photo Contest

Media:

  • Banner
  • Fan Media
  • Flickr
  • MP3
  • Photo Albums
  • Photos
  • Slide 
  • Spotify
  • Videos
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube
  • YouTube Channel
  • Instagram Moderation
  • YouTube Embed

Custom:

  • Flash
  • HTML
  • iFrame
  • JSON
  • CSS Override
  • Fan Counter

As you can see, there’s not a lot you can’t execute as a brand within the Facebook environment, where most social users are spending their time.

Looming on the horizon is yet another possible change to brand Timelines in which the Tabs boxes return to actual tabs, as they are already on personal profiles. Will users discover your attractions on the Timeline itself? Far more likely they’ll see what you have to offer as you actively promote these Facebook Tabs (perhaps with some paid effort behind it) in your News Feed content. Your barker has to give them enough to make them want to come in for the ride.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

Easy Ways to Look Really Uncool to Your Fans

sleazeHave you as a brand ever paused to think about what an honor it is for somebody, anybody, to Like your Facebook page or choose to follow your tweets?  Outside of business reasons, how many brands have you followed on social? It’s a big deal for John Q. Public to invite you into their circle of friends and ask to hear from you. What kind of social content are you rewarding them with?

Below are quick, easy ways to immediately make someone regret Liking you. You see, they only want to self-identify with cool companies, and the things below make you markedly uncool.

Posting too much
A bigger issue on Facebook, but even on Twitter, each post should be new, breaking news type info. If you hog feeds, you’ll be seen as “clutter.” People like to clear clutter. Plus there’s no way you’ve got that much A-grade material. I’m not just making this up, a Lab42 study found posting too frequently is the #1 reason users unlike a brand.

Using social as a one-way megaphone
You’re not listening, you’re not responding, in general you’re making your fans feel like they’re there for you and not the other way around. The above study cites bad customer experience as the #3 reason fans dump brands on social. As for not listening, you’re only hurting yourself. 86% of consumer feedback online is being missed by brands, and 70% of marketers collect no social data about their competition.

Desperate selling
Do you really think your fans don’t know you want them to buy your product? So chill out and don’t make every post a breathless pitch. A Vanson Bourne study found 48% don’t want marketing messages at all. Another study (MediaBrix) shows people find ads disguised as content annoying, and 85% said it changed their opinion of the brand negatively if it had an effect at all. Yet…the study also found a great many marketers think this kind of disrespectful fake-out is effective.

Proving you’re uncommitted and/or lazy
Inconsistent posting that swings from radio silence to spammy barrage, auto-DMing that ruins the human-to-human social advantage, connecting social networks so Twitter hashtags show up in your Facebook posts, meaningless posts (“tell us your plans for the weekend!”), using an inhuman corporate voice, all prove to fans that for your brand, social is a pesky afterthought. Considering social makes up just 10% of brands’ digital marketing spend, and annual digital marketing operating budgets were a whopping 2.5% of company revenue in 2012, lack of commitment probably starts at the top.

There are certainly other annoyances: going hashtag crazy, not targeting or mis-targeting offers (studies indicate a 66% increase in engagement with proper targeting), asking fans to jump through hoops for you with no reward for doing so, etc.

But there are two bits of really good news. One; social management platforms now exist that make posting, listening, targeting, responding, and analyzing easier and more of an integrated process than ever. Doing social the right way is more do-able. And two; the rewards of not chasing fans away are great.

The Vanson Bourne report shows 68% of social users researched a product or service recommended by a friend, and 15% of those bought based on the recommendation. Win your fans’ trust, and they’ll get you new customers without a frantic hard sell. And 82% of respondents to the Lab42 study said Facebook is a good platform for interacting with brands, with 50% finding the page more useful than the brand’s www.

So your fans are quite predisposed to keep following you. Only you can mess that up and become the uncool kid they don’t want to be seen around.

@mikestiles

Tuesday Apr 09, 2013

Do You Have a Clue What to Do Other Than Advertise?

Warning: before entering the social tech/marketing world, my background was about content creation. On radio, TV, stage, digital, or print, very little enthused me more than making “stuff” that informed and entertained the public, putting it out there and seeing what they thought of it. So I tend to get a little impassioned when I see what’s going on with marketers and content.

Here’s what’s going on. Very little.

stageNew research from Forrester recently re-emphasized (and I’m not sure how many different times and in how many different ways the public can emphasize this for us) faith in digital ads continues to drop.

9% of Americans and 8% of Europeans trust texts from brands. 10% and 8% trust web site banner ads. Mobile apps are trusted by 12% of Americans and 10% of Europeans. 18% of Americans trust emails compared to 11% of Europeans.

So there you go. The best you’re going to do when it comes to the public believing your digital ad is 18%. And that’s if they read it or watch it. But ads are what we know, so ads are what we keep doing, thinking the world is wrong…not us. As with many things, the consumer is showing us what they want from us, and we’re not listening. We want what we want, and we want full-on sales pitches. We feel like we’re not doing our jobs if we’re not pounding the product.

It’s a new day. You win with the quality of your product. You win by knocking customer and prospect socks off with CX and service. That’s the new marketing. But to get the public close enough so you can wow them with your goods and service, you’ve got to give them something else they value. Welcome to branded content.

The study showed many marketers still aren’t even quite sure what branded content is. Forrester defines it as “content developed or curated by a brand to provide added consumer value such as entertainment or education. It’s designed to build brand consideration and affinity, not sell a product or service. It is not a paid ad, sponsorship, or product placement.” That’s a good definition.

It’s noisy out there, and branded content is the window to something that’s harder to get than ever, awareness. That’s especially true on social. You have a stage, you have an audience sitting there staring at it, what are you putting on it? Or here’s another question. Have you even hired a producer to put on your show?

Forrester points out that even though almost 80% of marketers say they’re spending on branded content, few CMO’s have actually staffed for it. Some agencies get it, and are creatively capable. But their clients inevitably double-clutch and end up pushing the end product as close to a traditional digital ad as they can get it. And then they scream, “Why didn’t my ad go viral?!” Money wasted.

Get your in-house entertainer/journalist sooner rather than later. Their prices are about to leap. Loosen the grip on your content calendar so you can capitalize on trends and breaking news (think Oreo). Believe that as the presenting brand, viewers will give you full credit for giving them content they liked. And if you show people how awesome you are with your products and customer experience vs. trying to talk them into something with ads, you won’t be able to keep the raving fans away or stop them from spreading the word about you.

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

Friday Apr 05, 2013

Multitaskers Force Brands to Be Everywhere

multitaskingThe old joke used to be that someone couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.  Now we can walk, chew gum, do some needlepoint, play Words With Friends, listen to an audiobook, do isometric stomach crunches, hum, take in the smells of the city, and mentally go over your to-do list…all at the same time.

We are a multitasking species. We’re everywhere, and we’re using everything at our disposal to accomplish tasks, amuse ourselves, or take in information. Multiple people multitasking means multiple devices, which leaves brands trying to figure out which devices to focus on.

Well, you are also expected to multitask. So the answer is “all of them.” Your instinct might be to say, “Hey, they’re only going to engage with us one device at a time, and if we’re on every device, we’re just going to have our device strategies cannibalizing each other.”

A presentation at Oracle CloudWorld NYC with SVP Product Strategy for Oracle Social Reggie Bradford and NBCUniversal CMO John Miller showed otherwise.

The Olympics were the most watched event in TV history - 217 million viewers. 82 million were reached via digital platforms. There were 2 billion Page views, 65 million live streams and 8 million app downloads.

As it turns out, the more screens/ways there were to experience Olympic content, the more time was spent on all devices, with no cannibalization. Overall usage and engagement simply went…up.

With TV only, time spent consuming was 4 hours, 19 minutes. When the PC/laptop was added in, it was 5:18. Add in mobile, it was 6:50. Toss in tablets and we’re at 8:29. Not only did more screen increase overall consumption time, the addition of secondary screens such as tablet resulted in increased viewing on the primary screen, TV.

Consumer multitasking doesn’t hurt, it helps.

25% of time spent watching the competitions on TV was accompanied by the use of another screen. 50% of site, app, and mobile users watched while watching TV. And, of course, social fueled engagement, with 7 out of 10 viewers 13-34 saying it “made them more interested in watching the Games on TV.”

Okay, you might not be the Olympics, but the message is that when people find content they like, they seek out more of it in multiple places. That means we should strategize across all devices based on consumers’ multi-device behaviors, which a Microsoft study broke down into 4 categories in order of frequency.

Content Grazing: using 2+ screens simultaneously to do unrelated things.  
Investigative Spider-Webbing: using one device to get info related to what you’re doing on another.
Quantum Journey: using multiple devices sequentially to accomplish a task.
Social Spider-Webbing: sharing content on one device about what you did or found on another.

Does this apply to brands and revenue? Google/Nielsen found out 63% of shoppers used multiple devices to help with holiday purchases last year. And PricewaterhouseCoopers says 56% of US consumers spent more with a retailer since they started shopping across multiple channels.

What brands offer must match what consumers are doing. And that means multitasking on multiple devices.

@mikestiles

 

Friday Mar 29, 2013

Let’s Play! How to Win With Gamification

I was late getting to work today.  My daughter had my iPhone and was intently popping bubbles. Every time I asked for it she replied, “Hold on, I’m on a roll.” She showcased the utter simplicity of gaming’s power.

medalsMashable describes gamification as “the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. The technique can encourage people to perform chores they ordinarily consider boring.” Let me guess, you have a list of things you want customers to provide or do for you, but have given little thought as to why they should. Maybe that’s why fan engagement with brands is at around 1%.

Let’s look at why gamification in in-game contexts works.

People Like Simple, Fun, Free Things: 
Free-to-play removes friction. You want them playing within seconds. In 2012, casino, hidden object, and casual games were most popular. Why? Because we already know how to play. And it has to be work technically. Facebook is making it easier for players to have a continuous experience across devices. Social management platforms for brands incorporate skinned social games to increase time spent on brand Facebook Pages.

People Like to Advance and Achieve:
Working toward a goal is addictive. Sure you’re only trying to level up, but as far as your brain is concerned, you’re saving the planet. Farmville still tops the charts, because there’s “work” to be done, a crop to harvest. Other game rewards like virtual goods, extra “lives” or credits are hugely satisfying because they took effort. We “earned” them.

People Like to Compete:
Social gaming, especially mobile gaming, is still rising. Last year, total social/mobile games boomed from 90 million to over 211 million. An IDATE study says by 2016, social games will make up about half the video game market. Facebook had 235 million active gamers in August 2012. You get the picture. You want to play with friends. And once you’ve achieved something, you want to share it.

People Like to Avoid Boredom:
We’re not talking about hardcore gamers who spend 8 hours on the virtual battlefield. We’re talking about the person in a waiting room that just wants to fill/kill time. But without that winning formula of fun, achievement and reward, a game activity won’t last. Playnomics.com found 85% of social gamers drop a downloaded game in one day.

So how can you win by “gamifying” in a non-game context?

Research and Product Development:
Edelman’s Robert Phillips talks about brands setting up “prediction markets” in which users are incentivized to help predict how well a campaign or product will work. A/B testing at its most honest.

Data Collection:
You want my email and a bunch of other information about me? Fine. Then you’re going to have to rope me in where I offer it to you a little at a time, and for the purpose of achieving goals I’m pursuing, such as free products or major discounts.

Social Engagement:
Gigya found out adding gamification to a site boosts engagement by almost a third. Comments go up 13%, social sharing goes up 22%, and content discovery goes up 68%. That makes sense. You’ve given me something fun and active to do on your site instead of just making it a brochure.

Staff Education
I know, you’re the boss and you can order your staff to learn things. But how cool would it be if they learned things not just to keep from getting fired, but approached the material positively and actually retained the information?

Increased Sales/ROI 
Do your customers get any rewards for getting a sale for you? Are they getting rewarded for making multiple purchases with you? No? Wow, I guess you feel they owe you everything instead of the other way around.

HR 
Alert! Employee reviews aren’t fun. Interviewing is not fun. But having benchmarked goals that go on your record and earn you a day off is fun. Working through a practical, real-world exercise related to the job you’re applying for so you can be measured against other applicants is kind of fun…and perceived as fair.

There’s very little that can’t be gamified. My dentist is even thinking about giving us letter grades to make us improve our flossing. But here’s your takeaway: we want the public to do a lot of things for us these days, from sharing to liking to commenting to buying to giving us their data to learning more about us. And they might do it. But only if they’re hooked, having fun and being rewarded.

@mikestiles

Friday Jan 04, 2013

The Value of Short and Simple

StopwatchPeople are busy. You’re busy.

2013 is going to be about helping people find and consume your content and message as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

When people have their time wasted, they’re not happy.

If they wanted to read reams of text, they’d go buy “War and Peace.”

Many brands pat themselves on the back for putting out massive content assets aimed just over their audience’s head. It impresses people inside the organization. Outside the organization, it’s getting skimmed…at best.

While users spend 6.75 hours per month on Facebook and 21 minutes a month on Twitter, the time spent considering an individual post (and that’s if it surfaces in the Facebook News Feed) is lightning fast.

Consider how fast you scroll through your own News Feed and Twitter stream. That’s how long others give your brand’s content as well. Scary, huh?

Yes, there are posting strategies for increasing engagement. But what really makes social users give a post a chance? An eye-catching image and/or a headline that’s so awesome it could almost stand on its own (which it often has to).

Twitter set its 140-character limit because that’s about how long a typical text message is. The public is accustomed to communicating via text. Anything much longer and eyes start to glaze over.

People are retweeting (and thereby endorsing) articles they themselves never took the time to read. C’mon, you know it happens all the time.

Most 20-page missives can be boiled down to a few worthwhile takeaways. The rest is filler and hot air.

If you do have volumes of sheer genius, break it up and feed it to your audience in bite sizes. Give me a bag of Skittles, don’t hand me one 50 lb. Skittle.

Social is the ideal medium for short, clear communication.

But it’s not just social. The value of short and clear applies to nearly all communication, from voicemail messages to emails.

The world and the people in it are only going to move faster in 2013. They’re adopting mobile specifically because they want to multitask and consume content on the go.

Respect the value of your audience’s time and play to it by telling them what you want them to know as clearly and as succinctly as you can.

@mikestiles
Photo: istockphoto

Friday Dec 07, 2012

The Social Content Conundrum

stageHere’s the social content conundrum: people who are not entertainers are being asked to entertain.

Despite a world of skilled MBAs, marketing savants, technological innovators, analysts, social strategists and consultants, every development in social for brands keeps boomeranging right back to the same unavoidable truth. Success hinges on having content creators who know how to entertain the target audience.

You can’t make this all about business-processes. You can’t make this all about technology, though data is critical and helps inform content. This is about having human beings who know the audience, know what they’d love to see, and can create the magic that will draw and hold them.

Since showing up in the News Feed is critical for exposition and engagement, and since social ads primarily serve to amplify content that’s performing well, I’m comfortable saying content creators are becoming exponentially recruited and valued. They will no longer be commodities. They’ll be your stars.

Social has fundamentally changed the relationship between brand and consumer. No longer can the customer be told to sit down, shut up, and listen to our ads. It’s now all about what consumers are willing to watch or read. Their patience for subjecting themselves to material they aren’t interested in is waning.

Therefore, brands must now be producers of entertainment and information content, not merely placers of ads within someone else’s content. Social has given you a huge stage, with an audience sitting out there waiting to see what you’re going to do. What are you putting on that stage?

For most corporate environments, entertaining is alien. It’s risky and subjective. Most operate around two foundational principles: control and fear. To entertain and inform with branded content, some control has to go. You control the product. Past that, control is being transferred into the hands of the consumer. The “fear first” culture also has to yield. If you strive to never make waves, you will move absolutely nothing.

Because most corporations don’t house entertainers, they must be found then trusted. They’re usually a little weird. The ideas they’ll bring may seem “out there.” But like any business professional, they’ve gone through the training and experiences that make them uniquely good at what they do, even if you don’t quite understand them. It’s okay. It’s what the audience thinks that matters. Get it right, and you’ll be generating one ambassador after another who’s proud to be identified with the brand and will regularly consume and share your content.

Entertainment entities are able to shape our culture and succeed beyond their wildest dreams by being beholden to one thing…what the public likes and wants. When brands put the same emphasis on crowd-pleasing content, they too will enjoy brand fame the likes of which they’ve never seen. The stage is yours. Now get out there and go for that applause.

Tuesday Oct 30, 2012

How to Waste Your Marketing Budget

International MoneyPhilosophers have long said if you find out where a man’s money is, you’ll know where his heart is. Find out where money in a marketing budget is allocated, and you’ll know how adaptive and ready that company is for the near future.

Marketing spends are an investment. Not unlike buying stock, the money is placed in areas the marketer feels will yield the highest return. Good stock pickers know the lay of the land, the sectors, the companies, and trends. Likewise, good marketers should know the media available to them, their audience, what they like & want, what they want their marketing to achieve…and trends.

So what are they doing? And how are they doing?

A recent eTail report shows nearly half of retailers planned on focusing on SEO, SEM, and site research technologies in the coming months. On the surface, that’s smart. You want people to find you. And you’re willing to let the SEO tail wag the dog and dictate the quality (or lack thereof) of your content such as blogs to make that happen.

So search is prioritized well ahead of social, multi-channel initiatives, email, even mobile - despite the undisputed explosive growth and adoption of it by the public. 13% of retailers plan to focus on online video in the next 3 months. 29% said they’d look at it in 6 months. Buying SEO trickery is easy. Attracting and holding an audience with wanted, relevant content…that’s the hard part. So marketers continue to kick the content can down the road. Pretty risky since content can draw and bind customers to you.

Asked to look a year ahead, retailers started thinking about CRM systems, customer segmentation, and loyalty, (again well ahead of online video, social and site personalization). What these investors are missing is social is spreading across every function of the enterprise and will be a part of CRM, personalization, loyalty programs, etc. They’re using social for engagement but not for PR, customer service, and sales. Mistake. Allocations are being made seemingly blind to the trends.

Even more peculiar are the results of an analysis Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins made. She looked at how much time people spend with media types and how marketers are investing in those media. 26% of media consumption is online, marketers spend 22% of their ad budgets there. 10% of media time is spent with mobile, but marketers are spending 1% of their ad budgets there. 7% of media time is spent with print, but (get this) marketers spend 25% of their ad budgets there. It’s like being on Superman’s Bizarro World. Mary adds that of the online spending, most goes to search while spends on content, even ad content, stayed flat.

Stock pickers know to buy low and sell high. It means peering with info in hand into the likely future of a stock and making the investment in it before it peaks. Either marketers aren’t believing the data and trends they’re seeing, or they can’t convince higher-ups to acknowledge change and adjust their portfolios accordingly.

Follow @mikestiles
Image via stock.xchng

Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

4 Ways Your Brand Can Jump From the Edge of Space

jumperCan your brand’s social media content captivate the world and make it hold its collective breath? Can you put something on the screen that’s so compelling that your audience can’t look away? Will they want to make sure their friends see it so they can talk about it?

If not, you’re probably not with Red Bull. I was impressed with Red Bull’s approach to social content even before Felix Baumgartner’s stunning skydive from the edge of space. And then they did this.

According to Visible Measures, videos of the jump scored 50 million views in 4 days. 1,700 clips were generated from both official and organic sources. The live stream was the most watched YouTube Stream of all time (8 million concurrent viewers). The 2nd most watched live stream was…Felix’ first attempt Oct. 9.

Are you ready to compete with that?

I ask that question because some brands are still out there tying themselves up in knots about whether or not they should tweet. The public’s time and attention are scarce commodities, commodities they value greatly. The competition amongst brands for that time and attention is intense and going up like Felix’s capsule. If you still view your press releases as “content,” you won’t even be counted as being among the competition.

Here are 5 lessons learned from Red Bull’s big leap:

1. They have a total understanding of their target market and audience. Not only do they have an understanding of it, they do something about it. They act on it. They fill the majority of their thoughts with what the audience wants. They hunger for wild applause from that audience. They want to do things that embrace the audience’s lifestyle and immerse in it so the target will identify the brand as “one of them.” Takeaway: BE your target market.

2. They deliver content that strikes the audience right where they emotionally live. If you want your content to have impact, you have to make your audience’s heart race, or make them tear up, or make them laugh. Label them “data points” all you want, but humans are emotional creatures. No message connects that’s not carried in on an emotion. Takeaway: You’re on the inside. If your content doesn’t make you say “wow,” it’s unlikely it will register with fans.

3. They put aside old school marketing and don’t let their content be degraded into a commercial. Their execs seem to understand the value in keeping a lid on the hard sell. So many brands just can’t bring themselves to disconnect advertising and social content. The result is, otherwise decent content gets contaminated with a desperation the viewer can smell a mile away. Think the Baumgartner skydive didn’t do Red Bull any good since he wasn’t drinking one on the way down while singing a jingle? Analysis company Taykey discovered that at the peak of the skydive buzz, about 1% of all online conversation was about the jump. Mentions of Red Bull constituted 1/3 of 1% of all Internet activity. Views of other Red Bull videos also shot up. Takeaway: Chill out with the ads. Your brand will get full credit for entertaining/informing fans in a relevant way, provided you do it.

4. They don’t hesitate to ask, “What can we do next”? Most corporate cultures are a virtual training facility for “we can’t do that.” Few are encouraged to innovate or think big, if think at all. Thinking big involves faith, and work. It means freedom and letting employees run a little wild with their ideas. There will always be the opportunity to let fear of everything that moves creep in and kill grand visions dead in their tracks. Experimenting must be allowed. Failure must be allowed. Red Bull didn’t think big. They thought mega. They tried to outdo themselves. Felix could have gone ahead and jumped halfway up, thinking, “This is still relatively high up. Good enough.” But that wouldn’t have left us breathless. Takeaway: Go for it. Jump.

In putting up social properties and gathering fans of your brand, you’ve basically invited people to a party. A good host doesn’t just set out warm beer and stale chips because that’s inexpensive and easy. Be on the lookout for ways to make your guests walk away saying, “That was epic.”

Friday Oct 12, 2012

The Social Enterprise: Gangnam Style

chalkboardAre only small and medium businesses able to put social strategies in place, generate consistent, compelling content for customers, and be nimble enough to listen and respond to the social communities they build? Or are enterprise organizations eagerly and effectively adopting social as well?

It depends on whom inside the organization you ask. A study from Attensity looked at who “gets” social inside enterprise organizations. The results were unsurprising. Mostly, Generation X and Y employees who came of age with social as part of their lives and as a key communications vehicle understand it.

Imagine being a 25-year-old at a company that bans employees from accessing Facebook at work. You may as well tell them they can’t use phones and must do all calculations on an abacus. To them, such policy is absent of real-world logic and signals to them the organization is destined to be the victim of an up-and-comer.

After that, it’s senior management that gets social. You don’t get to be in senior management without reading a few things and paying attention. Most senior managers are well aware of the impact social has had and will have, though they may be unsure of what to do about it.

The better ones will utilize those on the inside who do inherently know how to communicate and build virtual relationships using social. The very best will get the past out of the way for these social innovators, so the new communications can be enacted minus counterproductive dictums, double-clutching, meeting-creep, and all the other fading internal practices that water down content and impede change.

Organizationally, the Attensity study found 81% of enterprise companies believe failing to embrace social will result in their being left behind. Yet our old friend fear still has many captive in its clutches. 79% feel overwhelmed by the volume of social data available, something a social technology partner with goal-oriented analytics expertise could go a long way toward alleviating.

Afraid manThen there’s the fear of social having a negative impact. This comes from a lack of belief in the product, the customer service, or both. The public uses social not to go out and slay brands. They’re using it to be honest. If the fear is that honesty will reflect badly on the brand, the brand has much bigger, broader problems than what happens on Facebook.

Sadly, most enterprise organizations still see social as a megaphone, a one-way channel with which to hit people with ads. They either don’t understand social relationships, or don’t want any. The truly unenlightened manager will always say, “We help them by selling them our stuff.” “Brand affinity” is a term, it’s just not one assigned much value in enterprise organizations.

Which brings us to Psy, the Korean performer whose Internet video phenom “Gangnam Style,” as of this writing, has been viewed 438,550,238 times on YouTube. It’s bigger than anything a brand will probably ever publish. Most brands would never have seen the point of making or publishing it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Internet success. The video literally doubled the stock price of Psy’s father’s software firm. NH Investment and Securities said, "The positive sentiment has attracted investors just because of the fact the company is owned by Psy's father and uncle.” The company wasn’t mentioned or seen in the video in any way, yet reaped tangible rewards just for being tangentially associated with it. Imagine your brand being visibly and directly responsible for such a smash and tell me it’s worthless.

When enterprise organizations embrace the value of igniting passions, making people happier, solving their problems, informing them, helping them have fun, etc., then they will have fully embraced social, and will reap the brand affinity rewards of heightened awareness, brand loyalty and yes, sales.

About

Get the latest changes and innovations to social technology platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube, and learn where social marketing trends are headed.

Connect With Us

Twitter

Search

Categories
Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
2
3
5
6
7
9
10
12
13
14
16
17
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today