Tag Archives: social

Social creativity

Messaging in the stream. Not a new Kenny Rogers / Dolly Parton collaboration, rather the aspiration of marketers wishing to bathe in the warmth of earned media. The idea goes like this. The brand creates a social home that people can join, like or check in to and as a consequence allow the brand to join their news feed and the streams of those they know. This feels good. “N” people take an action and “N x friends of N” are potentially exposed to the resultant flow of comments or messages. This makes for a fine CPM calculation and thus one rather “media like” basis for valuing a friend or a follower.

Am I alone in finding this a little unsatisfying? It pays to spend a little while in brand sponsored social environments, before gifting your client virtual Kool Aid, simply to follow the type and volume of exchanges that take place. The sad fact is that most of it is somewhere between lame and prosaic and its disemmination is unlikely to be of any real value.

The wise Miles Young CEO of Ogilvy has taken to quoting Abraham Lincoln on the subject of social media. Lincoln posited that “character is like a tree, reputation is like its shadow”. This is a useful reference and pushes one towards the necessary question “what does your tree look like?”.

If you are Pepsi (Refresh Everything) or American Express (Members Project) you have a pretty good answer to the tree question. You have created participation with purpose. The same is not true for everyone and suggests that more time and energy needs to be devoted to developing a real social strategy in which participation in the stream creates value for the participant and the interlocking streams of their social graph.

This brings us to the question of “what is social creativity?” put simply it’s  creativity that people want to keep and share. It does not have to be social as in socially responsible but that’s as good a space to start as any. It can also be socially valuable; inside information that it’s worth being on the inside of (Bergdorf Goodman for example) or service / experience enhancing (Best Buy, Dell, Jet Blue, Macy’s, Starbucks). All these cases are ones where the value exchange between the brand and its friends are clear.

The attraction of these strategies is also that they support long term marketing effect objectives in a channel that has been dominated by short term strategies and the pursuit of the last click. The good thing about trees is that they live long lives and cast long shadows.

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Delivery and Discovery

Amidst the noise and the cacophony of the new it’s sometimes worth looking for simplifying thoughts. For generations advertising has been a message delivery function. You decide what you want to say, you decide to who you want to say it, you identify the media consumption habits of the who and buy exposure in those media to deliver the what.  You measure its effect. That’s it.

Today message delivery remains important, there is no dimunition of the craft skills, on the contrary creating messaging that engages, and aggregating reach in environments that consumers care about is both harder and more important than it’s ever been. If you aspire to selling millions of units you just have to reach millions of people.

The flip side of delivery is discovery. The multiple billions of searches and social actions represent a complex puzzle that reveals a great deal about consumer behavior and intention. This presents a creative and media challenge  that can be summarised as “where should I be found? what should they find? what will they do with what they find?

Developing a discovery strategy is the real heart of the emerging marketing practices of search and social media.  It involves asset creation, optimization and distribution and is, in a general sense, a far more atomized approach than advertising with a far higher failure rate.

To operate such a practice at scale offers limited economies and requires more human inputs from both clients and their agencies and it’s probably true to say that vigorous supply side optimization on both sides over many years has hampered progress. The current economic unpleasantness is hardly helping as the emphasis of price over value has never been greater. The simple truth is that every brand needs more and more complex creative assets to push into the ecosystem, it needs more channel experts that understand discovery and more resources to apply to both. In the delivery business brand owners have received a recession dividend in reduced costs per thousand. The smartest ones will re-invest the delivery dividend in the assets and processes required to win in discovery.

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Social Gyroscope

A device for maintaining orientation. Goodness we all need one. Among the many places it would be handy is in our online social interactions in which our work chums, families, friends, casual acquaintances and those with whom we share our double lives are scarily co-mingled.

If we were minded to we could do Facebook for friends, Linkedin for work, A Small World for posh friends, Twitter for – actually not so sure about that – and Second Life for the alter egos of all of the above.

That possibility is neither practical or very satisfying – thus the need for the Social Gyroscope ™. Its role is straightforward. Whoever you connect with, regardless of when or  how, the SG orientates all of your other contacts and places them in a neat hierarchy of relevance and frequency of connection and also provides a handy “oh shit” filter to prevent accidental combustible interactions.  As a consequence you have the right folks on hand all the time on any device and any network.

Thus far the Social Gyroscope is in alpha test only and its prospective users will have to continue to rely on a remarkable but slightly unreliable device called the human brain for a while longer. First round funding anyone???

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The confluence of influence

Noise in our business is dominated by the latest technologies and applications from a disparate range of companies with one thing in common namely an unimpeachable view that their view of the world is often the only view and always the right view.

In terms of weight of press Google and Apple dominate and everyone else is either an imitator playing catch up or one of the old guard leaning back on the ropes trying to make it look like the latest punch did not hurt. What you got Joe?

There’s nothing wrong with this until it starts to effect how marketing and media decisions are made. Too much noise can equate to inappropriate emphasis and allocations of time, effort and money chasing news induced dreams.

Today, we are at a tipping point. Broadcast media still delivers massive albeit declining audiences, millions still consuume print and radio, almost everyone who wants to be online is online and, soon enough, everyone who wants to be an active or passive participant in social media will be. In all cases the numbers are huge and by inference so is their influence on decisions people make on what to think and what to buy.

As a consequence we have a confluence of influence that is unprecedented and as a result a complex but delicious opportunity for integrated and interactive marketing in which consumers are stakeholders and participants as well as ‘audiences’.

With the opportunity comes what might be the defining  challenge for communication planners and traders; the simultaneous need to achieve intra-channel and cross-channel optimization  with an increasing amount of data available in real time.

The answers are  of course technical but they are also philosophical and for the agency community the two are of equal import; critically a confluence of influence requires a confluence of consideration in planning.

There is simply no primacy between the broadcast, the addressable and the social and agency and client structures need to recognize that truth before they have a reasonable chance of solving the puzzle it presents.

 

 

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