Mainstream Going 2.0

finding value in your shiny objects

Social Beyond Singular Campaigns

Social currency for a brand can grow in two ways: slow and steady or slingshot

The slow and steady growth is more likely sustainable, but as most campaign metrics (and marketing metrics) utilize a traditional purchase funnel, slow and steady efforts often fail to hit key "awareness" benchmarks.

Slingshot tactics are far more gimmick-heavy and generally reach scale quickly, but they generally go dark a couple of weeks later.  These are campaigns in every sense of the word.  Give out a few free Macbook Pros on Twitter and watch your follower counts soar.  Give away seven free iPhones and watch your brand become a trending topic.  Create that incredibly creative Facebook application or visualization of the conversation, and hold up your scaled short-term engagement as your success.

But is Slingshot-value real social value?  It this where most brand will play in the space?

Probably.  As dirty as it sounds, Slingshot Marketing is going to be much of what we see in social over the coming few months.  The strategic vision, budgets and dedication to doing social right just aren't yet there.  Yet.  But with the inclusion of some basic marketing know-how, your slingshot shiny objects can be of value.

Here are a few basic principles:

  • Build ongoing social support into all activation budgets.  If you can't perform customer support triage, it will be very difficult to inspire a new consumer perspective towards the brand.  This doesn't need to be expensive, but it does require some training and strategic setup. 
  • Build for an ups and downs, not starts and stops.  Your brand doesn't need to be inspiring new conversation everyday, but it does need to be present, real, relevant and responsive to the conversation 365 days a year.
  • Slingshot Marketing/shiny objects should speak to your core brand value.  Don't give away an iPhone when you are selling a low-tech pair of socks.  Connect your shiny objects to the brand value prop.  Make your promotions speak to your messaging.
  • Invest in personalities and relationships.  Always have a twitter account available for following, and a brand page on Facebook where people who engage with the application can gather for current engagements and future activation.
  • Level set with key stakeholders that this is a shiny object, not a full social strategy. 
  • Setup your measurement, learning process and KPIs in advance. 
  • Listen to the conversation.  You just may find a few advocates and opportunities.
  • Setup a follow up lessons-learned session before you start.
  • Always bring ideas for a more strategic plan as a next step.  Neither you, nor your clients will find continued success in gimmicks in place of real marketing.

Hulu : Ads as Content - With Ads

We all know that many of our friends and family members tune into the Superbowl for the ads.

In a sense, Superbowl ads are the ultimate short-form branded content. 

And so, Hulu has chosen to run mini-pre-roll in front of the creative spots run during the Superbowl.

Erick Schonfeld over at TechCrunch finds this offensive.  But I find it sensible.

If an ad is a 30 second slice of content, it's only natural to put a 3 second spot in front of it right? (see video below)

My only gripe is with the format.  Hulu should be streaming these ads back-to-back with only the occasional 3 second interuption.  Nobody goes to Hulu's Superbowl Ad page to view just one ad.  Get with the medium, get with the people.

Hulu, you challenged the world once, proving that traditional media could get digital right.  Let's keep the groove alive, ok?

Hulu Superbowl Ad Widget

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social yelling - the day after the superbowl

  • Not everybody likes the loud party guy with all the friends and buckets of charisma.  But lots of people do.
  • Nobody likes the wannabe party guy who is just loud.

Brands may not be expected to "participate in a two way dialogue" on broadcast television, or during a 30 second Superbowl spot (though they should be listening and learning).  Because for those 30 seconds the brands are the life of the party, they have purchased the stature of everybody's friend.

But just seconds later, someone else is the focus of attention.  The second your spot ends, you cease to be the center of attention.  Sure, people may speak fondly of you the day after, remembering your great punchline.  But if you don't join the next party, everyone will have forgotten you in just a few weeks time.

The superbowl is great for mass awareness.  But it would be a shame to throw away all that awareness without the most rudimentary digital/social follow up.

The Game is over.  Let The Conversations begin.


Social and the Superbowl, finding the synergy

99904243_c62c3e6cdf_b A few weeks ago an experienced agency veteran told me that "We are all snakeoil salesman".  He was suggested that our discipline is that of selling refreshment by broadcasting that message, even in the absence of a product that actually refreshes.

I beg to disagree.

I could not market snakeoil as anything other than an ironic accessory for hipsters.  Because the media world I live in is not one of broadcast messaging (for the most part).  I live in a world of conversation.  Broadcast messaging has it's place, but in my world, conversations cannot be bought or sold.

Conversations cannot be generated or seeded, they cannot be created by a brand or media property with white space alone.  Conversations can only be inspired, participated in and fostered.  You cannot force me to talk.  You're welcome to join my table.  But if you would like me to share your message, you're going to have to earn my advocacy (for the most part).

There is no 30 second spot equivalent in social media.  There is no easy mass appeal solutions.  There is no superbowl for social media.

Your microsite may have become a Facebook application, your widget may now be an iPhone app, but without cultivating a meaningful presence or relationship, without tying your efforts to a campaign and your campaign to a brand and your brand to a relationship, what have you accomplished?

This weekend, millions of us will watch brands gamble millions of dollars on fantastically overproduced commercials interrupted by what is often a less than exciting football game.  We will sit glued to the screen as Coca Cola releases their newest expression of excitement, Doritos shows off yet another prosumer inspired vision and beer companies attempt to make us laugh by (a) creating comically awkward social situations or (b) utilize animals as actors in non-traditional settings (hilarious, that one always gets me).  We will see 3 million dollar creative gambles.  And as always, most will fall short of their promise, leaving only a few memorable spots that may be discussed in the weeks ahead.

But for mass reach, there is nothing like the Superbowl.

Your 30 second spot in the superbowl is only as meaningful as

(a) it is remarkable and

(b) your follow through you offer the day after.

Would your company, client or brand be better served by investing $3 million on mass eyeballs or $3 million in sustainable relationships, in better customer service, in truly remarkable social responsibility?  And if you are investing in the former, don't you owe it to yourself to invest equally in the latter?

If you need to drive awareness with everyone, make a big splash.  Go for broacast TV (and online video).

But if you want to drive your business in the long term, think beyond the splash.  Earn your marketing.

Because social isn't free, and while it may be intuitive, it sure isn't easy to get going.  Nobody can market snakeoil in this social world.  And no, there is no social Superbowl, no way to buy millions of eyeballs for millions of dollars.

Don't substitute shortcuts for marketing. Use them only when appropriate. 

Don't just broadcast, kickstart and converse.


your social efforts aren't social, are they?

Spectacle Think about it.

  • Your widget - is it a conversation?  Or a tool?
  • Your blog - is it a two way conversation? or a publication?
  • Your "viral video" - is it part of something greater? Or a tactic?
  • Are your listening, monitoring or measuring the conversation? Or none of the above?
  • Your influencer relationships - are they relationships, or paid friendships?
  • Your "blogger outreach" - are you forming a relationship, inviting their participation as a two way street? Or are you sending a form letter pleading for free distribution of your campaign?
  • Are your campaigns executional? Or are they part of a broader relationship-building effort?


The key differentiators:

  • Are you making a statement or participating in a conversation? 
  • Are you:
    • a conversational brand,
    • a social object,
    • a broadcast message or
    • a social enabler?
      • Do your efforts reflect this reality?


The truest test of a brand's commitment to a relationship:
Does your customer support online, on the phone or via mail/email offer to same level of support as your social/twitter team, marketing agency, social agency or pr agency?

Key Takeaway: It's easy to care about a relationship in a silo.  It's much harder to commit to that relationship across the board.

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Like this post? Share it on twitter! http://bit.ly/3wcL4f

Inspired by Joe Jaffe's post and the follow up discussion with Craig Daitch in the comments.


inaugurations and celebrations: why?

3004284537_de861a4a79_o Does anyone remember the words of hope and inspiration of the last inauguration?  With generally high approval ratings (in 2005), we (as a whole) celebrated our fight for freedom and democracy.


While my colleagues will be celebrating with free pizza (what agency doesn't give out free pizza at every noon-ish meeting?), I will be joining my friends back home in the place where this all started - social media.  While I'm oversees on vacation, there's nothing quite like a live Hulu stream (Anonymous Mode in Chrome solves overseas IP address blocking) and chatting it up on twitter.

When I shared my plans with my wife, she asked an interesting question, Why do we care about inauguration speaches?  And even if there were meaningful, inspirational and realsitic sentiments being shared, why does this inauguration feel more like more than a political event?


I believe that inaugurations are generally like Superbowl pregame shows.  We're excited about what's to come, and with lots of media hype behind what is often a meaningless speach, we're driven by our friends, family and colleagues to believe in it's importance.  

However, as Obama chose to frame his battle cry of "Yes We Can" into "Yes We Did", this inauguration has become a victory parade.  We are celebrating our own achievements, our own investments in Obama the brand, Obama the man and Obama the movement.  We are celebrating our moment of achievement when we as a nation, elected Barak Hussein Obama.

Here's to hoping that both he and we can live up to the hype, live up the progress, and once again become both a nation inspired and a nation climbing towards better peaks.

facts don't inspire

Facts inform.

Optimism Inspiration comes from an emotional place.  Sure, it needs some grounding in reality in order to feel authentic, but inspiration often needs little more than basic substantiation.

This is where the 24 hour news networks run into trouble.  Facts do no inspire, do not drive ongoing viewership.  Emotional perspectives are far more effective.  And so they often become instruments of perspective rather than reports of the news.

This is where Israel runs into trouble.  There looks to be little room to argue the facts or present historical context when a soundbite or image pulls at your heartstrings.

This where brands need to rethink their value proposition in the months ahead.  Pragmatists may see short-term wins as "value brand" in a down economy, but where will they be once we can afford to spend emotionally?  Once we aspire for more?  For greater? Once we resume spending emotionally?

To that point, how will Obama keep his sunny outlook and inspirational cheer for change and hope while dealing with the pragmatic reality of the presidency?

When real messages find themselves face to face with emotional nonsensical drivers like the Pepsi rebranding video below, what chance does stark reality have without an emotional driver supporting the message?


Kudos to Joanna Pena-Bickley for sharing the Pepsi message and inspiring me to pull this post out of the hopper.
 


Future Visions: Hulu

Hulu's been out for a while.  And while I was at first skeptical, I now regularly enjoy their offering.

But what's next for Hulu? 

  • Will their growth be in a broader library or in added functionality?
  • Will new platforms like Tivo or downloadable content drive increased value?


They've got us watching.  They occasionally have us interacting.  But is this really all they could, or should be doing to grow their business?

  • Isn't there a massive ad opportunity in a Hulu desktop utility with a program guide?
  • Wouldn't a distribution partnership with Microsoft delivering free ad supported downloads drive real equity for a next gen Zune?
  • Wouldn't a section containing all of their advertiser spots, fully embeddable, drive added value to advertisers?  Allowing them to utilize Hulu to launch "viral" video campaigns?

Sure, you need to the content to drive the eyeballs.  But please Hulu, don't forget about breaking the technology mold.  You did it once.  The market will demand that you do it again.  Or someone else will.