While you’re thinking about it, also look at what Umbro have done, because it’s superb and we all like a good case study for reference.
Just in case you’re expecting something else, I was working on defining what a brand should do in the world of social networks, including the likes of Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, Bebo, MySpace, YouTube, Blogging, etc…
My six main learnings were this:
Be consistently present – don’t ‘dip in’ and then forget to update
If you don’t continue to build your presence, you quickly find that you’ve got a lot of online properties that look untended – it’s the social media equivalent of a derelict shop with some old products in the window. Or a silent guest at a dinner party.
Have personality – probably through a person
One of the major failings of brands who go onto social networks is that they do so on ‘transmit.’ They send out missives like PR releases and expect people to lap them up. In reality, if you talk like a stiff, formal brand and don’t listen in return, you’ll be treated like a bore at a party.
A tip I got was to focus on who does the socialising more than what they’re going to say (although that does come later!).
Be generous – but only on occasion
About a third of people claim to follow brands because of the free stuff they get, which is pretty fair really. Who doesn’t like free stuff? But, if all you do is hand out vouchers and competition prizes, you’ll end up stale still. Make sure that you give away things that are uniquely available through this channel and do it with spontaneity. Make it a treat. Don’t let your social networking sites become your discount outlets.
Fit in, rather than trying to force-fit
Seems obvious really, but there are two huge traps here.
The first is to try desperately to get people to come to your newly created social networking site, rather than building yours on Bebo, MySpace, Facebook, etc… Why? Facebook has 350 million people. You have none. Build it where people are, not where you are.
The second mistake is to go into an environment and treat it by your rules rather than the rules of your host. Don’t. Just because you put your feet on the seats at home, doesn’t make it OK in a cab. So I’m told, anyway
Offer different stuff for different people
Not everyone wants to take part in a competition, write a poem, create music, design a new football boot, spot differences; or vote on other people, and other peoples’ creations. But lots of people do like all of these things.
So, find lots of different levels of involvement and lots of different things for people to get involved with. And don’t put everything in one place. Spread the joy.
Start something, but let other people build on it
The best brands and people are opening up and letting others build on what they started. It doesn’t have to be ‘user-generated’, but let people add to what you’ve got and make it better or change it a tad. It’s part of this ‘letting go of control’ thing that’s going on.
You could start by adding to this…
Repost: First posted at WARC Blogs
I know you want to keep them, because they’re familiar, pithy, sometimes single-minded (at least, the good ones are), they form the central part of the strategic brief and you’re probably quite brilliant at finding the right one. Also, frankly, a well-crafted proposition is the strategists showpiece – an opportunity to encapsulate your strategy in a soundbite worthy of Oscar Wilde (or maybe Edward Bulwer-Lytton if you really know your stuff).
The problem is, propositions belong in a world where marketers and advertisers find messages. Things to say to people. Brilliant things that will change hearts and minds, but messages nonetheless.
Yet the world of brands has changed. The most effective brands are finding ways to share beliefs with their audience, to involve them, to engage them. And, although that can involve telling the audience something, it often doesn’t.
Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not trying to say that we should abandon traditional media, which seems more obviously geared to deliver a message. Absolutely not – all media can be effective beyond simply delivering a ‘message’. Nor am I suggesting that the communications world has gone digital, leaving ‘messages’ behind. It has, but not to the absolute demise of everything else.
I believe we should be looking for “thoughts” – organising principles that can gather together the stuff that a brand does, shares and tells the audience. We should be digging for experiences, stories, beliefs, opportunities, utility, and so on – things that people can relate to, pass on, use, get involved in, or simply enjoy. These thoughts can still be expressed with the same single-minded, pithy, quotable brilliance, but they’re not propositions – and they don’t propose ‘messages’ we will broadcast to our ‘target consumers’.
I’m challenging the assumption that we’re looking for messages to give to people – and, therefore, that a proposition is the strategic goal. Because a proposition demands a message – at the very least, you could argue that it demands action, which is still too restrictive.
I’m suggesting we ditch the search for a proposition and start looking for what a brand does with/for an audience, not just what it says.
What do you think?
Repost: First posted at WARC Blogs
Find out what percentage right and left brained you are (if you believe a test can tell you such a thing!). Maybe not the most scientific thing, but certainly good fun… go here to find your own results.
I got 40% Left, 60% Right.
They say: “You are more right-brained than left-brained. The right side of your brain controls the left side of your body. In addition to being known as right-brained, you are also known as a creative thinker who uses feeling and intuition to gather information. You retain this information through the use of images and patterns. You are able to visualize the “whole” picture first, and then work backwards to put the pieces together to create the “whole” picture. Your thought process can appear quite illogical and meandering. The problem-solving techniques that you use involve free association, which is often very innovative and creative. The routes taken to arrive at your conclusions are completely opposite to what a left-brained person would be accustomed. You probably find it easy to express yourself using art, dance, or music. Some occupations usually held by a right-brained person are forest ranger, athlete, beautician, actor/actress, craftsman, and artist.”
Right. I’m off to find whether I’ve got what it takes to become a forest ranger… Since a lot of this could be questionable for a planner!
Image from Nitin Sarkar on flickr.com
Ed Cotton, over at Influx Insights, asked the question of some people as to what their predictions are for this year.
And, I’m not going to answer it in the usual way… after all, enough people will predict the demise of advertising budgets in the face of a recessionary economy around the globe. And the uplift for “digital” will also be widely discussed – against a backdrop of the last recession being the boom of DM. The potential demise of a once-famous name in the more traditional advertising landscape has been vaunted, and could be a sad truth. And people will speculate on the next merger/acquisition in search advertising… in fact, you can read almost all of that right here at “The Big List of 2009 Marketing Predictions” – albeit an ambitious name and clearly lacking in some of the big names like Ad Age, Campaign, etc… Even The Economist has weighed in this year with a fantastically doom-laden prophesy for our industry – worthwhile reading as part of their “The World in 2009” edition.
So, here’s my thought on 2009… Which is a positive one…
What if we used the realities to change the way we work?
What if we stop being people who go to meetings and become people who deliver more ‘visible value’?
Today, far too many of us planners spend our time going to meetings – because being ‘present’ is the easiest sign of value for a client and agency. If you’re at the meetings, then people know you’re involved and they feel ‘value’ from your presence, your commentary, your input.
There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but in many cases it’s either hiding or preventing us from doing real thinking – making a difference on the results. Because, real planning also involves spending time immersing ourselves in issues – learning all about the behaviours of our audience; finding out what the real connection is with the product/brand we’re marketing; delving into the connections that people have with competitor brands; and so on. Then packaging that information into formats for our clients and our creatives… in ways that inspire.
In other words, the more time you spend in meetings, the less time you spend finding inspirational thoughts!
Ask yourself this:
“What are your success stories from last year?”
“What have you really done?”
Because, if you’ve been ‘present’ and you’ve helped to drive things along, is that really enough?
When, truly, you should be able to point at pieces of thinking, acts of discovery and strategies that you’ve developed which markedly forced change. Your input should result in ‘visible value’ (apologies for the alliterative term!).
Become the person that says “I did XXXXX” rather than “I was there.”
And, finally, the reason for this being a 2009 opportunity rather than something we should always do?
Well, this year we’ll have less people doing more work. So, carrying on as normal will be really difficult. Going to more meetings will be less exciting. And explaining to your clients that you’re going to spend more time producing rather than discussing should be all the more interesting for them.
So, use this year to change the way you work, rather than getting wrapped up in the debate about budgets shrinking… it’ll be a lot more fun.
My apologies – I’m not American, so I’m posting on a subject I only have interest in rather than true knowledge of… but I’m finding the election fascinating – and some of the advertising around it is fascinating too… hence my interest in this… click here (btw, this isn’t a link to follow if you’re a staunch Republican!)
This is interesting… I got this email a bit ago…
MotiveQuest is launching a new website, Brand Advocacy ’08 www.brandadvocacy08.com We will use our Online Promoter Score to predict the outcome of the 2008 USA presidential election.
David, our CEO is so convinced of this metric that if we are wrong, and fail to correctly predict the outcome of the election, he will shave his head on You Tube for your delight. (Sounds like an old Remington ad…)
Every day we gather around 30,000 conversations among 6,000 people and analyze them for advocacy and word associations. Then we update the website with advocacy scores and the top 10 words associated with Obama and McCain. You can also get these updates directly by downloading the BA’08 Widget.
(You may remember that we developed the Online Promoter Score as a measure of online brand advocacy working with BSSP and Mini USA
Let’s see how they do!
Here’s a nice little idea – not a new one, admittedly, but still it’s worth remembering once in a while.
Brought to my attention by this little article in Ad Age – where Andy Berndt explains what he’s planning with the in-house brand agency at Google.
Reminded me that there’s an inherent sense of excitement to your brand when you do that “always in Beta” thing and that you can easily reward some of your more loyal customers with new things to play with – even if they’re not always finished and polished.
At the same time, what if we really did approach communications that way? So, ideas are tested publicly rather than pre-tested. That being the same was less worthwhile than being different all the time? Not to a point of confusion, but definitely to the point where you feel something ‘fresh from the lab’ was being aired or placed or launched online…
Labs.google.com, Google’s technology playground.
Google labs showcases a few of our favorite ideas that aren’t quite ready for prime time. Your feedback can help us improve them. Please play with these prototypes and send your comments directly to the Googlers who developed them.