I jumped onto the #followateen bandwagon last week. Founded by writer David Thorpe in December 2011 and resurrected in April 2013, #followateen encourages adult Twitter users to pick a “random teenager” to follow on the platform and report back their findings. Some of my favorite tweets from my #followateen:
Unfortunately, my experiment came to an abrupt halt when my #followateen started following me back. I became a victim of #followanadult, causing me to shy away from reporting back the findings of my #followateen. It was a rude reminder that transparency in social media is a double-edged sword (for the voyeuristic). Sometimes, we have too good a connection with our social peers.
People love this cartoon. I love this cartoon. It’s a great reminder that consumers don’t appreciate being talked to as if they’re walking, talking moneybags. Instead, they gravitate toward brands that are honest and real—brands that try to connect with them on a more personal level (sometimes, anyway).
Recently, market trends have supported this idea, pushing brands to be more personable and transparent. Have a personality, the experts say. Be authentic. Make relationships with your customers. As a result, consumers are seeing some pretty cool brand communications, as well as some that, quite frankly, fall a little flat.
Let’s take two (semi) recent events that required advertisers to respond quickly on social media and decide just how authentic they were.
First, the 2013 Super Bowl. Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” tweet was not only a relevant message coming from that brand, but a true expression of their quirky personality. I’d say it was received quite well—the brand got more than 15,000 retweets within 24 hours. And then there’s the Buffalo Wild Wings tweet, which absolutely earned high praise, as sports make up the very core of the brand.
Some brands didn’t get quite as much love. Jim Beam forced a connection to the power outage, and cars.com simply used the excuse to put the spotlight back on their commercial. Not exactly authentic; not exactly likeable.
Now let’s look at an entirely different kind of event: the recent Boston Marathon bombing. In the midst of news updates, opinions from friends, and updates from family members, I found myself reading brands’ expressions of grief on social media. And I wondered, is it okay for brands to play a role here? The Super Bowl has brands all over it, but a national tragedy? Definitely a grey area.
Brands like Southwest Airlines shared pertinent information that helped those affected maneuver the days that followed, and brands with no relevant ties simply stated “our hearts go out to Boston.” And then there were some brands, who just couldn’t help but shamelessly promote themselves.
So back to my question: Is it fair for brands to insert themselves in situations like these? Are they being authentic and real? Do people want to punch them in the face?
Like most things, I believe it’s best done in moderation, so I’ll paraphrase a great Disney learning: If you don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t say anything at all.
Around the world October has become well known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today, in a world that is more connected than ever through social media, it would seem like an easy task to reach people by using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. However, during this pink-filled month, it takes innovative thinking for brands to be seen. Many brands are accomplishing this by reaching women on multiple platforms through creative campaigns, which invite users to share personal stories. Social media allows information to be shared instantaneously, which provides a huge opportunity for brands to join the fight against breast cancer.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have made it so much easier for individuals to raise awareness for breast cancer, and each year we see an increase in brand participation to find a cure. Through different social initiatives, brands have created various ways for their communities to share personal stories and connect with those fighting the same battle. There are many brands that have joined the fight for a cure, but there are a few that stood out to me this year.
These three campaigns are just a few of the many from brands that are using their social media platforms to raise awareness about breast cancer. Social media has made communities more connected than ever before through the sharing of stories and pictures, so people don’t have to fight this battle alone.
What brands have you seen using social media to raise awareness for breast cancer?
22squared, as evidenced by the success of many social campaigns, is one of the first full-service agencies to integrate a social department into the traditional agency model—an integration that entails creatives, social strategists, producers, media, client performance, brand planning and client leadership working intimately at every level of the process.
The result of this approach is work that is not only innovative, but also strategic, amplifying natural user behavior across social channels. But what makes a campaign effective in the social space? Below are just a few of the learnings we’ve derived from some of our successful social campaigns like Costa Rica’s Gift of Happiness or Buffalo Wild Wings’ WOMMY winning, Flavor Fanatics campaign.
Social insights driving strategy: Understanding how fans are organically engaging with a brand gives clear direction on how to build out the campaign. Traditionally, planners have depended on focus groups or surveys in order to understand these behaviors, but why miss an opportunity to listen in on the online conversations or amplify the interactions that are already going on? For example, Baskin Robbins fans were checking in through Facebook Places by the droves. We built out a local tab that aggregated that behavior, thereby also providing real-time insights about markets where consumers were highly active and could be targeted for local promotions and deals.
Takeaway: It behooves any brand to take advantage of the incredible focus group that is their Facebook community—you have a captive audience that is actively providing their opinions about your brand so pay attention to how they are naturally engaging with your brand and amplify it. Also, your community can give you a real-time pulse on overall brand sentiment—a crucial lifeline that can help alleviate or divert potential brand crises or catastrophes.
Make the user experience enjoyable and simple: We never build something that would confuse our fans or force them to engage in a user experience that would be unfamiliar. Let’s be honest, the average user is too impatient to figure out a complicated app, and with simple, intuitive design becoming the industry standard, they shouldn’t have to. Look at native behaviors inherent to the space and piggyback on them— Facebook, along with many social platforms, have an open API that is ripe for a developer’s picking. Just check out our Tampa Bay Lightning Seat Seeker that leveraged the Twitter API.
Takeaway: Want to build engagement? Don’t reinvent the wheel—the most successful apps and executions are the ones that supplement natural user behavior rather than augment that behavior. To do this right takes not only an understanding of the space, but also an understanding of the predilections of your consumer.
Integration across digital and social: Where most traditional agencies miss the mark is keeping these departments in separate silos when they should be working in tangent. Of course, what kind of media you buy and the digital destinations depend on the overall campaign goal, but there are opportunities to run content across several platforms or to make your placements more sharable and social. Most publishers are accommodating for these digital/social integrations and leveraging the technology available with the right partnerships can create some truly unique creative. A Break media partnership for our Flavor Fanatics campaign for Buffalo Wild Wings created custom brand content that was used on Facebook, YouTube and a branded break channel.
Takeaway: No matter what your budget is, integrated campaigns are more efficient and more impactful. Find opportunities to maximize your relationships and strategies to create a cohesive brand experience, regardless of the user entry point (whether it’s a banner or social channel). Additionally, with the ability to share across social channels, ensure that the brand message showing up on user’s Twitter feeds, News Feeds or emails drives to the appropriate platform for where its being shared (i.e: Facebook updates should drive to the page, NOT to a website).
Coca-Cola is dialing up its efforts to combine social media with outdoor events, following a successful initiative around a Paul McCartney concert. In a goodwill effort dubbed “America Is Your Park” (AIYP) that runs through July 15, Coke is inviting Foursquare users to check in to their favorite local, state or national park. The check-ins equate to votes in a contest where the winning public park gets a $100,000 grant from Coke. Consumers can also vote online. AIYP is in its third year, but it’s the first time Foursquare has been employed (and reportedly is only the second time Coke has run a Foursquare-based promotion in the U.S.
Qatar Airways launched a Twitter-powered global race that connects people around the world. The “Tweet-a-Meet” campaign enables teams of two to turn tweets into miles for a flight. Contestants simply log onto the company’s dedicated site – tweet-a-meet.com to register for the race through their Twitter account. After selecting a race companion, the teammates select any one of Qatar Airways’ 117 international destinations as their meeting point. Twitter users can accumulate miles based on the number of tweets that includes #tweetameet. The first three teams with the highest number of tweets at the end of the race will each win a pair of business class tickets to their chosen destination while other pairs are entered for chance to win one of five pairs of Qatar Airways Economy Class tickets to their dream destination.
On July 1, 2012 Taco Bell launched “Operation Alaska” a special mission to deliver 10,000 tacos to the isolated town of Bethel, Alaska. Back in June, local residents staged a prank leading people to believe that Taco Bell would be opening a restaurant. When the chain restaurant found out about the prank, they decided to bring Bethel residents what they had been craving. However, the fact that Bethel is accessible only by air or by river complicated plans. They used a military helicopter to fly a Taco Bell truck over the ocean.
This past weekend, Twitter took NASCAR fans onto the track and into the pit at the Pocono 400 with twitter.com/#NASCAR. Twitter and NASCAR partnered to use a combination of algorithms and curation to surface the most interesting tweets to bring fans closer to all of the action happening around the track. In a single timeline, fans could discover the best tweets, photos and perspectives from NASCAR drivers, crews and fans.
Corresponding with this new experience, Twitter ran its first TV ad during the Pocono 400 race showing driver Brad Keselowski snapping a picture with his iPhone and ending with a call to action to go to Twitter.com/hashtag/nascar page. Beyond getting attention from NASCAR Twitter followers, they caught the attention of social marketers who are seeing for the first time a revamped page displaying search results for a typical keyword, a hashtag.
This feature is Twitter’s brand-new ad product, Hashtag Pages, which are brand pages based on hashtags. Twitter will likely be offering these customized pages to brands willing to pay for a more intensive, tailored experience for fans. It gives marketers greater control over the volume and type of content that is shared, allowing fans to bypass the noise that often comes with a normal hashtag. Rather than simply purchasing sponsored hashtags or tweets, advertisers can now curate the experience around what people are saying. Twitter’s NASCAR campaign shows what can be done with a single keyword term.
Twitter may be slower to grow compared to Facebook, but they have been smarter in building a way to curate and repurpose content that is being created by people. It’s the act of curation rather than creation, which is why Twitter’s strategy has legs. There’s nothing better than getting your biggest fans to promote your brand for you.
(Image Source: www.twitter.com/#NASCAR)
The next trend (from our infographic on exponential trends) we’ll be taking a deep dive into is APIs for Everything.
“Users are going to consume new material in any way that they want to, wherever, whenever; and your goal as publisher is to make sure that you have a presentation layer that serves them wherever that is.” – Daniel Jacobson, Netflix lead API Engineer
An application programming interface (API) is a set of rules and specifications that software programs can follow to communicate or “interface” with each other. As important digital platforms (like Google, Facebook, and Twitter) open up their APIs and allow developers to integrate them, digital concepts can become more interesting and complex, because there’s almost no limit or boundary to what can be conceived.
The analogy that’s best helped me understand what an API does is a board game versus a deck of cards. With a board game, you essentially have one option: to play a game using the rules and constructs that the game provides. With a deck of cards, however, your game options are practically endless: there are thousands of different ways to play with a deck of cards. An API takes a digital property from a board game to a deck of cards; it allows users to transform and tailor their experience, using platforms and constructs they may already be familiar with. Want to use Twitter to execute a real world scavenger hunt? No problem whatsoever. Want to host a talent contest and aggregate the entries? Piece of cake. Want to integrate new music functionality into a product with a specific, dedicated fan base? You can, all because of APIs.
We throw around the term “exponential ideas” a lot, because that’s what we’re striving for in all of our work here at 22squared. There’s no one set of rules that makes an idea exponential, but one thing that does seem to set exponential ideas apart from the rest is problem solving. It’s hard to engage consumers: most lead busy lives and aren’t focused on what a brand is trying to tell them. But if a brand can give them a tool to solve a problem that they have (whether they realize they have the problem or not), that’s where the magic happens. That’s where being intrusive stops and being exponential begins. APIs give brands the option (and opportunity) to organically integrate where their advocates already are. What it comes down to is simple: know your customer innately, and use APIs to add value to their experience with your brand.
An online fashion store called SSENSE collaborated with Iggy Azalea, FKi, and Diplo for their music release by creating a shoppable music video. The musicians are wearing designer clothes from Phillip Lim, Givency, and Alexander McQueen and viewers can click on hot spots that will drive them to a commerce experience.
Microsoft and Facebook have partnered up to create A Year in the Like, a tool that takes you on a visual journey through the past year by pulling information from your Facebook Timeline.
Smart Argentina used Twitter to do an innovative animated campaign for its Fortwo microcar in the South American market. Scrolling down on the brand’s Twitter page gives an idea of the concept, but doesn’t fully convey the intended effect, so there’s also a YouTube video combining the total of 455 individual tweets to show an animation of the Fortwo driving through Argentinian city streets, and ending with the tagline, roughly translated from Spanish, “It fits in any space. Why not in 140 characters? Smart Fortwo…a big idea for the city.”
Social is a new type of technology, one that’s much more freeform, unstructured, and unpredictable than the advances that came before it. This means much more innovation, variety, and volume will come from it. It also means it must be managed very differently. The ROI of a social business effort regarded and managed through the traditional IT project delivery process will look very different than a deployment and management effort matched to the technology.
The power of social media and young boy with imagination who raises over $140k for his college fund with one video.
These days, every established company is at risk of having its industry–and its own business–disrupted by a startup. Cognizant of this, companies devote a lot of time to talking about how important it is to innovate. But here’s the truth: most companies can’t innovate because everyone is paid to maintain the status quo.
Skype is on a mission to put humanity back into the way people connect. Skype has released a provocative new campaign, “It’s time for Skype,” putting Facebook and Twitter directly in the cross-hairs. The ads suggest the social networking sites are “degrading humanity” with impersonal communications of 140-character limit and wall posts.
By identifying an enemy, Skype has created a talk-worthy campaign that not only communicates a point of difference in a world of bigger fish, but creates a greater purpose that goes beyond the digital realm. Whether you think it’s too vicious, bitter or brilliant, we can all agree that the world could use a little more humanity.