PAPER – THE LATEST FACEBOOK REINVENTION

Check out our update on the newest evolution of Facebook – as it innovates to stay relevant to its vast userbase, and especially younger users (the prize-catch of all big-time marketers).

Facebook released a new iPhone app in the US earlier this week: https://www.facebook.com/paper

Facebook Paper Waggener Edstrom Social Innovation

It is a new, cooler way to use the channel – I can only imagine that it has been released as a new app rather than an update to avoid a flood of complaints. Every time Facebook updates its newsfeed, timeline or whatever, there is ardent support for the former incarnation. I think they are trialing Paper and, in time, it will replace the existing newsfeed (at least on mobile and tablet).

The app includes your newsfeed but you can also select topics (headlines, sport, humour etc.). It looks and feels like Flipboard. Users can then browse between themed feeds, much like they can browse boards on Pinterest. If you have a US iTunes account then you can download the app and start using it now.

I love it – the UI/UX is awesome and it’s a great way to filter content. From a user perspective it is really cool and Facebook are smart in that it means people are more likely to stay within their platform to consume content (not just their own newsfeeds, but other curated feeds). Also, though I am sure it will change, Paper currently does not have ads which makes for a much more pleasant experience!

So what does Facebook’s latest reinvention mean for  communications and marketing agencies?

Unlike other Facebook changes, the introduction of Paper will not have a huge impact immediately (even if it were available outside the US). However, it could make a major difference to how brands communicate via social in two key ways:

  1. It is yet another indicator of the shift to mobile consumption and the need to be aware how the content you create, whether it is pitching a newstory or creating a video, will ultimately be consumed by your audience.
  2. The curated feeds on Paper seem to be based on sharing/interaction etc. (though right now they are obviously US-centric) so driving redistribution becomes even more important (if that’s even possible) – if you don’t want to pay a fortune to get a lot of views, you no longer have to rely on your audience hearing about your content from a friend. Now, with curated feeds, popular and highly-shared content goes straight to users irrespective of who they know.

Content is truly taking centre stage on Paper and, through this latest reinvention, Facebook is transforming itself into a fully-fledged media company.

The key takeaway is that we need to tell stories by creating content which travel easily, across today’s prevalent communications devices. In a nutshell, communicators need to make mobile content that people want to share.

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GOING VIRAL ISN’T THE ENDGAME (UPDATE)

Previously I wrote a blog post about a viral marketing video by Cadbury. Marketing asked me to re-imagine it for their publication – below is the updated version. The original post can be found here.

viral video, content marketing, social media, virality, singapore, peter mcfeely

Content marketing is probably the most discussed topic in communications at the moment. Brands and agencies are, rightly, putting a lot of effort into creating content which will engage audiences and be shared digitally. However, in chasing the viral effect, many content creators are overlooking their primary objective of creating a business impact.

In the past month, there have been several high-profile videos which have achieved widespread online exposure. The most recent example is the Carrie telekinesis prank in a New York coffee shop. Others in the past few weeks include The Beer Factory’s angry customer stunt, NTUC Fairprice’s offer of a home cooked dinner, and Bourneville’s failed wedding proposal in a shopping mall.

These videos have achieved very different degrees of success, from consumer backlash and a negative impact for The Beer Factory and NTUC, virality but negligible business impact for Bourneville, to expected commercial success for Carrie. Here’s the verdict: ‘going viral’ is not, in itself, a true indication of success or substantial ROI.

Measuring ROI

On first viewing many of these videos appear to have been created on the cheap by the man-in-the-street, with a smartphone. Thousands of views + low production costs = High ROI – Right? Wrong. In reality these videos are carefully coordinated and incorporate costs across logistics, branding, and venue/talent hire. More important is how the content is distributed – Bourneville admitted that its video was seeded and distributed to bloggers, which means media fees. Before measuring the ROI we need to objectively assess what the actual investment was.

In any case, measuring success goes well beyond simply counting the number of video views. In terms of business impact, success can only be achieved if the viewer knows what product is being marketed. Both NTUC Fairprice and The Beer Factory made entirely unbranded videos which deceived the viewer and resulted in negative sentiment. Bourneville’s branding was too subtle and the focus of the video was on the scenario rather than the brand proposition.

Ultimately, success can only come from creating a desire for the product. NTUC Fairprice came across as disingenuous, The Beer Factory made drinking beer look unappealing, and Bourneville’s ‘clever’ depiction of the not so sweet messaging didn’t translate into an appetite for a bar of chocolate. Only the Carrie team successfully created a desire amongst its audiences – they tapped into the fact that certain movie-goers want to be scared and translated it into a real-life scenario which is likely to drive people into a cinema.

So what are the lessons we should learn from these examples?

Creating shareable content

1.       When we create content we should focus on solving a business problem – for instance, selling more chocolate. Part of that is about having ownership. Unbranded candid videos just don’t work – they are created to try to engineer a viral effect but getting eyeballs that don’t understand your message doesn’t mean much. It’s like having 100,000 Facebook fans in the wrong demographic or getting coverage in the wrong language in the wrong newspaper. The scene created must be recognisable (like Carrie) or contain overt branding.

2.      While the video needs to be fun, creative, and worthy of sharing, the message needs to be clearly communicated. The general online audience is not one of marketers and film students – people don’t analyse a video after they see it or try to pick out the subtext. There’s a small window to make an impact and if your message isn’t clear it’s a missed opportunity. Marketers need to think like consumers and create content for them, not for their professional peers.

3.       Nothing goes viral on its own anymore. From a marketing perspective, there is always a big spend involved, either in production or promotion (or both), so it is not enough just to make a video and put it out there. Marketers need to make strong, intelligent content and have an integrated amplification plan to drive viewership and, more importantly, sustained conversations – preferably on owned platforms – around the value proposition and product features. Virality should not be the endgame – business impact must be.

Though content marketing is the current craze, the fundamentals of communication are still the most important factors. There is no point in producing and promoting content if it doesn’t convey a clear message and actually achieve impactful business-focused objectives.

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IN CONTENT MARKETING, VIRALITY IS NOT THE ENDGAME. IMPACT IS.

Originally posted on http://accelerateinfluence.com/asia-digital-blog

In recent weeks, one of the most talked about pieces of online content was a failed wedding proposal video in a mall. While there were a lot of shares and comments sympathising with or mocking the would-be groom, many people figured out the video wasn’t real. Some even correctly surmised it was created by Cadbury for their Bourneville brand (the miniature train in the clip carries branding).

Cadbury have since publicly claimed responsibility in the hope of riding the crest of the wave. According to an article in Marketing, they’re estimating the video has been viewed 7-8 million times across all platforms. Impressive numbers, but it would seem to me that the video was created purely with the objective of going ‘viral’ and the actual ROI may not be as great as initially perceived.

WHAT WAS THE ROI?

1.       On first viewing, the video is a cheapo production on a handheld camera or smartphone. Guerilla content at its best you might think. In reality, it’s a carefully rehearsed stunt which will have cost a pretty penny to coordinate in terms of props, branding and location. More importantly, reading between the lines of the statement, significant money was invested in driving initial views. The video was ‘seeded’ (i.e. distributed via paid syndication advertising) and pushed through (paid) bloggers. There may be millions of views but I’d love to know the actual investment in production and promotion – the theoretical cost per view might not actually be that low.

2.       The video might get views and align with the Bourneville proposition of ‘not so sweet’ but the branding is too subtle and most people didn’t know it was intended to sell chocolate. It’s great that the video has been viewed so many times but has it had any real impact on Cadbury? Most of the people who saw the video, via a friend’s Facebook post or such like, didn’t realise it was for Bourneville and will never see the news article revealing Cadbury created it.

3.       Even for those people who are aware of the connection, the scenario in the video doesn’t create a desire for the product. It aligns to a proposition or brand value but does seeing a failed wedding proposal in a mall make you want to buy a bar of chocolate? I’m guessing at no… and that would be supported by the fact the Cadbury spokesperson won’t reveal sales impact. Reading between the lines again, it has been negligible at best.

Viral Video Asia Content Marketing YouTube

So what has the video ultimately achieved for Cadbury? I’d say not a lot –it would appear they’ve spent quite a bit of money on something which hasn’t driven a big impact on sales and beyond being mildly clever is unlikely to change people’s opinions on the product or make them want to sample it.

So what are the lessons we should learn?

CREATING SHAREABLE CONTENT

1.       First of all, when we create content we should focus on solving a business problem – for instance, selling more chocolate. Part of that is about having ownership. I’m not a fan of these unbranded candid videos – they are created to try to engineer a viral effect but getting eyeballs that don’t understand your message doesn’t mean much. It’s like having 100,000 Facebook fans in the wrong demographic or getting coverage in the wrong language in the wrong newspaper.

2.      Secondly, while the video needs to be fun, creative and worthy of sharing, the message needs to be clearly communicated. The general online audience is not one of marketers and film students – people don’t analyse a video after they see it or try to pick out the subtext. There’s a small window to make an impact and if your message isn’t clear it’s a missed opportunity. Marketers need to think like consumers and create content for them, not for their professional peers.

3.       Finally, nothing goes viral on its own (OK not nothing, but very little). From a marketing perspective, there is always a big spend involved either in production or promotion (or both) so it is not enough just to make a video and put it out there. Marketers need to make strong, intelligent content and have an integrated amplification plan to drive viewership and, more importantly, sustained conversations – preferably on owned platforms – around the value proposition and product features. Virality should not be the endgame – business impact must be. 

‘Content marketing’ are the current industry buzzwords but the fundamentals of communication are still the most important factors. There is no point in producing and promoting content if it doesn’t convey a clear message and actually achieve impactful business-focused objectives.

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SOCIAL MEDIA: LESS IS MORE

Originally posted on the Waggener Edstrom blog http://bit.ly/ZOpwoG

Recently I presented at Social Media Week in Singapore, on the topic of ‘Where Should You Be Social?’ The session proved very fruitful with more than 60 attendees taking part in an active discussion on how best to rationalize a personal or professional social presence.

The rapid rise of social media has left us with dozens of mainstream options for creating a social media profile, but it’s difficult to maintain a social life if all you do is manage social media all day. We talked about the need to concentrate efforts, either as an individual or a company, in the platforms that really matter. In short, the way to do this is to have clearly defined objectives, identify where the target audience is already active, and understand their motivations for using each platform.

The crux of the argument is that splitting a social presence across too many platforms is not only time consuming, but also ineffective and potentially damaging to one’s reputation or brand. We had all attendees complete a simple survey which backs up this hypothesis – the more platforms created, the lower the proportion actively managed.

  • Everyone’s Everywhere: From a personal perspective, the vast majority (46%) have a presence on 6-10 platforms. A further 23% have a concentrated presence on 0-5 platforms, while as many as 17% have 16 or more profiles.
  • More Presence, Less Activity People using 10 or less platforms tend to use 66% of their profiles on a very frequent basis (at least once every two days) with only 23% logged-into infrequently (less than once a fortnight). However, as more platforms are added, the usage becomes lower – those with more than 16 platforms use just 30% frequently while 57% are infrequent. Of these, a large amount of profiles are completely inactive, but still publicly discoverable.
  • Conservative Professionals People are more conservative when it comes to business – 84% of respondents use 0-10 platforms professionally. Again, the utilization of platforms drops dramatically as volume increases. Users with 0-5 platforms access 48% of their profiles frequently and 19% infrequently, though these respectively fall and rise to 20% and 71% for users with more than 15 profiles.

Inactive and infrequently updated platforms aren’t going to do anything to advance a personal cause or brand reputation. In many instances, they are even going to be damaging as the owner is perceived as disorganized, uncommitted, or unaware. As such, it’s certainly better to have fewer platforms and use them more effectively.

  • In the Lead: With regards to platform popularity, it’s unsurprising that Facebook comes out on top for both personal and professional use. It turns out that some people actually do not have a Facebook page with 94% using it personally, but a slightly lower 83% for business. What’s interesting is that business pages are used or updated much less frequently than personal pages – 90% and 52%, respectively.
  • Who’s Popular? Other popular personal platforms include WhatsApp (90% use it, of which 85% do so frequently) and YouTube (81%, 63% frequently), while LinkedIn (56%, 25% frequently) and Skype (56%, 27% frequently) are utilized more often by businesses. Despite its continued growth, Twitter only comes in fourth for either use with 77% and 54% penetration in personal and business circles, respectively.

Brands need to reflect the consumption habits of their audiences to take full advantage of their social presence. For instance, the figures indicate that although YouTube is used on an almost daily basis by individuals, less than half of respondents have business accounts and nearly 75% of them fail to use the platform more than once a month. As such, it is often a missed opportunity.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that brands should simply concentrate their marketing efforts on the platforms most popular for personal use. The most important thing is understanding the audience’s motivations for using each platform – it’s unlikely that anyone wants to receive advertising through WhatsApp and, similarly, Facebook isn’t always the right place for marketing.

Our brief study shows that when it comes to managing a social presence, less is definitely more. Individuals and brands need to stick to the three golden rules (identify objectives, establish where the target audience is active, and understand their motivations) and build from the ground up, adding social platforms only when they are ready to pay them the attention they need. That’s the key to understanding where you should be social, and how to be successful when you get there.

SMW, Social Media Week, Singapore, social media, digital pr, Peter McFeely

Less is More – rationalise your social presence on social media. Survey results from Social Media Week Singapore SMW

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Where Should You Be Social?

My blog posted on http://socialmediaweek.org/singapore ahead of next week’s series of events:

Whatever your reason for using social media, whether you’re trying to sell products or build a personal brand, it’s all about making the right connections. But you can’t make the right connections without following a few simple steps…

Find out more at the event itself, details can be found here. Hope to see you there!

MAKING THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS…

Whatever your reason for using social media, it’s all about making the right connections. Make sure you do it right by following these simple steps

1. TALK TO PEOPLE

It might sound obvious but you have to talk to people. Too many social media users just create profiles and push content out, hoping that someone is listening.

Think about it like this – if you went to a party hoping to meet that special someone and stood in the corner talking to yourself, you probably wouldn’t do too well. It’s important to work your way into the conversations people are already having.

2. SAY SOMETHING MEMORABLE

Once you start talking to people, you need to say something that makes an impression. Everyone else at the party is trying to chat up the popular girls but they’re sick of hearing the same thing.

Your content needs to be original, interesting, funny… and relevant. Think about what is going to impress your target, not what you and your mates like to talk about.

3. STOP TALKING

… and give the girl a chance to talk back. In other words, have a conversation. Nobody wants to listen to you talk non-stop, especially if all you’re doing is talk about yourself. Listen to what they say and let them be part of the dialogue.

Ideally, you don’t just want people to be talking to you – you want them to be talking about you. Independent conversations are a strong sign that you’ve made an impression.

4. MAKE SURE YOU’RE TALKING TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Again, this sounds obvious and you’d assume it would be the first step. If you want to meet a nice girl you probably shouldn’t be spending all your time watching football in the pub and talking to other guys. It doesn’t matter how funny or interesting you are, it’s not going to help you meet girls. Right?

You wouldn’t make these mistakes in your social life, but plenty of people make them in social media.

If you want to make the right connections, you have to be talking to the right people. The question isn’t, “should you be using social media?” rather, “where should you be social?”

Rationalising your social presence is the most important step in being successful. To learn more, join Peter McFeely of Waggener Edstrom on Wednesday, 20th February at the Screening Room – sign up for the event now HERE.

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Events » Singapore

Social Media Week Singapore 2013 Where Should You Be Social?

WHERE SHOULD YOU BE SOCIAL?

I’m speaking at Social Media Week 2013 in Singapore next week (Wednesday 20th February) on how to rationalise your social presence. Sign-up at the link below:

Events » Singapore.

'#SMWSG' 'Social Media Week' 'Singapore' 'Where Should You be Social?' 'Peter McFeely' 'Waggener Edstrom'

Where Should You Be Social?

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Still waiting for the social revolution…

It’s been quite some time since I have managed to write something, owing to a combination of professional and personal commitments (Christmas is a hectic time of the year!). I’m currently sitting in an airport on the way home to see my family and thought I should use the time constructively. Otherwise I’d just be sitting around waiting. For both a flight and the social revolution.

The past twelve months have been dominated by uprisings, revolutions and cries of social injustice. From the Arab Spring to the badlands of London, not forgetting the Occupy movement (comical Singaporean attempt to get involved included), we haven’t been able to look on or offline without seeing some masked freedom fighter / yob (delete as appropriate) opposing one thing or another. To nicely bookend the year in which Time has named the protester as their person of the year, a celebrated revolutionary has passed away. That’s Vaclav Havel by the way not Kim Jong-Il…

Much has been written about the role social media played in the popular (and unpopular) uprisings with censorship in the Middle East criticised and censorship in the UK advocated (Shut down the networks! Bring back the gallows!) but one mass uprising that hasn’t transpired is the social network shift.

Google+ promises to be a wondrous thing – it’ll change the way the entire internet works and redefine the interaction between social and search. Now if only people would bloody well start using it.

Despite Google’s appalling track record in creating social networks, critics, influencers and people generally in the know all threw their weight behind Google+. I also jumped on board, creating a profile, following some people and waiting for the magic to happen. But it hasn’t. Everyone else was supposed to sign up and we’d all stop getting crappy updates about Farmville and would live happily ever after on a platform which lets you get only the information you want. It’s not to say we’d stop using Facebook, just that we could somewhere else for more educated conversation. But to be honest I’ve not even really tried to use Google+ much. It’s just not as fun.

Facebook has come back stronger than ever. New and easier (if imperfect) ways of grouping friends, the introduction of video chats, improved tagging functions and, of course, the most recent addition: the timeline. Facebook is a little like the rich kid in the playground: while everyone else is busy swapping football stickers, FB just goes out and buys every packet ‘til he’s completed his album. And he’ll buy the other kids’ stickers too.

As usual, Facebook is awash with complaints about the new layout. As usual, in a few months’ time, everyone will have forgotten what the old layout was like and will have embraced the all-conquering new set-up. Facebook is so effective that Twitter has introduced pages for brands. With every new feature introduced by any major platform the lines are becoming more and more blurred, potentially to the stage where the only differentiator is the URL.

But that’s where Google+ comes in. Forget about the cool features or the ability to hangout with your friends in a video call. Forget about the stuff that other platforms can replicate (and in many instances make better). The complete integration of search is what will herald the social revolution.

Social interactions already influence search performance. Likes and Tweets tell Google (and other search engines) that a page is shareable and is delivering real value to users. That’s the same for a +1 – but if brands create a Google+ page to host its shareable content they are going to appear higher in a Google search.

Search engines also track user history, trying to show you the most relevant results and ads. Until Google+ they couldn’t really track social habits. Now, when Google+ users are logged in, organic search results will be affected by their social history. Even more importantly, so will the paid results, meaning brands and companies will, theoretically, have their content displayed to a more targeted audience resulting in higher click through and greater ROI. So a user is more likely to see your ad or your web page in search results if they have +1ed your social content.

What it ultimately means is that brands and companies who don’t currently have a presence on social media could be compelled to participate, just so that their search results improve. One could argue that any company with a presence online should be taking part in Google+ as it will ultimately improve their search performance.

Of course, that depends on mass user participation on the platform. At the minute, users aren’t adopting Google+ and until they do, a lot of brands aren’t going to take part. Even a lot of those that have established a presence aren’t creating unique content and are just recycling material from elsewhere.

So like the political uprisings we wait to see when public participation will reach the magic tipping point. Google is determined to force users to take part, integrating + with all its other platforms, most recently and likely to be of most impact, YouTube. Once we reach the tipping point we should see a serious shift in how companies use social media and, indeed, the internet.

Maybe 2012 will be the year of the social revolution…

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