May 10, 2012
The folks at Flowtown have cut through the data on users of geo-social networking and location-based services to produce this infographic – and guess what? it’s the under 30 year old males that lead the way. Delving a little further into the whos and whats shows us that users with spending power look to location-based services to find out what brands can offer them. And with the data showing that those people most likely in the US to access these services on their smartphones are in the higher – the learning for brands is that location-based services can help you find your target market.
April 20, 2012
From 26 May 2012 websites operated in the EU will be required to inform their users that they are being tracked with cookies, and to ask users for their consent. There’s much that brands can do to support site architecture changes by reviewing how they relate to their B2B and B2C customers in two areas:
Businesses using cookies must be completely transparent in how they collect, store and use data.
Businesses must be aware of all cookies utilised within their website – the legislation includes both your own cookies as well as cookies set by a third party. So remember, you are responsible for all cookies on the site and ensuring they comply with the legislation.
Ultimately, when used responsibly and effectively, cookies are an invaluable way of enhancing the user experience and customer satisfaction, as well as providing marketers with a vital tool to improve conversion rates. Transparent and responsible use of such data will safeguard these benefits for both parties.
April 12, 2012
The London Games begin in just over 100 days’ time involving many thousands of spectators, participants and sponsors:- the physical architecture is more or less in place, the infrastructure pretty much on track, the athletes are reaching the apex of their training, games volunteers have been recruited, and trade in tickets, travel and accommodation is ramping up.
Heralded as the ‘Social Games’ (following on from the ‘twinter olympics’ in Vancouver 2010) the challenge for one of the most tightly-protected super brands is to nourish authentic social engagement around what is arguably the biggest show on earth. A snapshot of the twittersphere shows that push marketing is in evidence: – the obvious messages are getting traction [who IS coming down to the CocaCola Olympics Gig in Hyde Park]; along with issues that reflect the UK national news agenda [anti -cuts ‘street parties’ to rival Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympics?]; and the troubled global backdrop [somali Selectors worry will people they choose now still be alive come July?].
The learning from recent Games is that the three ‘Cs’ – conversation, collaboration and community – that underwrite successful social campaigns can be achieved with planning, structure and insight. Not all of which is yet in evidence in official Olympic channels.
By Rachel Moses
March 1, 2012
TV is inherently social; shows have been weekly appointments to gather around the screen and it is a small step from watching a show to telling friends or blogging what we think about it. The proliferation of second screen devices means viewers are able to explore, share and engage with content before, during and after the screening event – and in so doing become users or even contributors.
We are talking about fundamental changes to how programme makers, advertisers and viewers connect, moving from a shout media model to an interactive one. Specifically, developments are in content – how programmes are broadcast and created; in discovery – how we find new shows to watch or information about on screen products; in engagement – amplifying conversations around particular shows or products; and in integration – multi-platform screens and apps.
What this all adds up to is the opportunity for fully integrated campaigns across broadcast, digital, print, outdoor and social media. With the technology and hardware in place brands are starting to create responses that capitalise on diversified touchpoints – but are campaigns reaching their potential?
NBCUniversal’s Telemundo Media premiered their Spanish language drama ‘Relaciones Peligrosas’ that connects with twitter fans to develop the on screen narrative – a slow burn in terms of social media engagement, the real pay off will come as this new show gains momentum.
Coca Cola’s campaign for Superbowl XVLI (with viewing figures of 111 million) involved their polar bear characters hosting a virtual party and interacting in real time with fans via facebook and twitter – a victim of its own success as the facebook app crashed the website, creative content was less impressive leading it to list on polls for the worst Superbowl ad.
Honda’s Jazz car campaign in 2011 is an example of augmented TV allowing viewers to grab characters from the ad by swiping their iphones in front of the screen – a fun idea, well delivered, but the numbers show an incomplete return on investment with YouTube hits at 200,000 after one year (100,000 of which achieved in the first 2 weeks).
Marks & Spencer have launched an app for Samsung smart TVs with advice and buying tools across its product range, although online shopping does not feature – an example of early adoption, possibly too early adoption as the obvious shopping function is not enabled.
Sky UK are working with Zeebox to integrate their TV schedule and content into the app that syncs to Facebook and Twitter to create a social media TV companion – and rolled out during Sky UK’s Premiership Football coverage on 3 March 2012. This tie in offers a powerful all in one solution that knows what viewers are watching, shows them what their friends are watching and provide links to shop for products and download.
Social TV has great potential for brands to enliven the conversation that they have with consumers, to engage with a light, playful touch and to build mass communities around their products and services. And the building blocks are accessible, so even smaller budgets can get cut through and benefit from longer touchpoints.
By Rachel Moses
December 20, 2011
When Google+ launched it was about connecting people on a personal level, but the search engine giant always maintained that they would be launching a solution for brands to promote themselves on the platform.
In November 2011 Google finally unveiled brand pages for Google+, allowing businesses and brands to join Google’s social network.
So why should your brand care about Google+ pages? Initially it would seem there is little difference from Facebook. Google+ brand pages are similar to Facebook in both appearance and layout. However, it’s been claimed that Google+ is not a Facebook ‘killer’ but is rather an evolution.
So, while Facebook may be at the centre of the social world, Google is positioned firmly at the centre of the business world – and a closer look at Google+ reveals added benefits that will help businesses make closer connections with their audience.
For these reasons, and because of its unique features, businesses must seriously consider establishing their presence on the channel. While at this early stage Google+ pages are where businesses interact with early adopters and Facebook is where you interact with everyone else (Facebook boasts 800 million users, while Google claims around 50 million) there is a lot to suggest this could well change in the future.
Here are our top 3 reasons why brands should consider using Google+ brand pages:
Demonstrates commitment to innovation and offers unique features to engage
Launching a Google+ brand page now will help set your brand apart, marking you out as an early adopter – and puts you in a stronger position than your competitors. It also demonstrates your willingness to be innovative within your field and shows you are ready to engage with your audience on the latest platforms.
While Google+ pages at first appear very similar to Facebook there are a range of key differences – not just in terms of appearance (though Red Bull’s use of Gifs in their page is worth taking a look at) but in terms of the unique functionality which allows you to engage with fans in new and powerful ways.
One of the main features of Google+ is Circles which allows users to group followers in specific categories. While it may appear initially a challenge (you can’t add a person to a brand page’s circles unless he has first added your brand page to his circles), once you have won the right to be in a person’s Circle you can create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most by sending targeted, relevant messages to niche audiences sets.
Google+ Hangouts offer brands another unique feature, allowing them to hang out with followers or customers through video chat. This is a great feature for customer service for example and could potentially also be used to host live events.
Brands can also use competitions to build engagement. While currently, Google+’s content and promotion policies page states you cannot run promotions DIRECTLY on your Google+ page, you may link to a separate site (such as your website or blog) that promotes your competition.
Google is also adding a feature that will allow users to “check-in” via the Google+ mobile application in order to receive time-sensitive deals or discounts. This feature is mentioned in Google Places’s Help documentation, but has not yet been made available to business owners using the Google Places service.
As Google continues to build on its initial model and offers brands greater and more compelling ways to engage with their audience we will see a rise in its effectiveness as a way to drive traffic, raise brand awareness, increase audience reach and engage with your audience in more powerful ways.
The Google App-roach
The vast reach of Google and its range of apps will allow you to reach and engage with its huge existing audience base – this offers almost limitless potential.
Apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome and YouTube – to name just a few – are tools that many online users make use of everyday — and can be tied back to Google+. By aligning Google+ with these platforms extends the reach of the platform and by extension your brand page.
We are already beginning to see opportunities arise – Google is using social to integrate their apps, providing a personalised approach and helping to drive users through to Google+ and enabling users to easily share content with friends.
YouTube is a great example. The deep Google+ integration has seen Google add a YouTube search tab along the top right edge of each Google+ screen. Plus, when logged into Google all the subscriptions and channels you follow are organised into a left sidebar, which makes it easier to see videos that are shared from people within your social circles on Google+. When users search for a video, they now see a pop-up video player and playlist of related videos, and each one can be +1’ed and shared with the user’s Circles.
Google has also created integrations with Google Reader and Chrome. As they add to this they are increasing the opportunities for brands to drive people to their Google+ pages – and this is a great benefit for brands. It means as Google+ grows it will be able to further promote its social network — and the branded pages within it — in ways that are inaccessible to Facebook or Twitter
Being the largest search engine in the world certainly gives Google a massive advantage – one which they are taking advantage of. This is where Google has a competitive advantage over Facebook. That’s because creating an engaging brand experience on your Google+ page will help improve your search rankings.
Now that users can +1 your brand (the equivalent of a “Like” on Facebook), your + 1 will begin to affect the rating and placement of your brand in the search results, especially Google’s. Google’s Product Management Director Dennis Troper said Google will add up all +1 button clicks — from brands’ pages for Google+, websites, and search results — and the single total will be used to determine relevancy in Google’s search ranking results.
Google.com attracts over 1 billion unique visitors per month so this is obviously a massive benefit for brands and by implementing a strategy that is focused on keywords and optimising all relevant terms, brands can use Google+ to really benefit their search engine rankings.
Google is also debuting a feature called “Direct Connect” so that users who type “+” in front of a company’s name in Google’s search field will be connected directly to the company’s Google+ Page, if there is one.
Google + Brands = audience growth
While Google+ is still in its relative infancy it is clear that it has grown at an impressive pace and offers brands new and compelling ways to reach their audience. With such a huge range of apps and platforms at their disposal and a willingness to integrate these in social ways, Google is showing that it can challenge Facebook and provide brands with the tools and data they need to target their audience – which means you need to be there to talk to them.
December 9, 2011
Back in March 2011 we reported on a significant day in the history of digital and social media marketing and advertising. When the ASA’s (Advertising Standards Authority) remit was extended to cover all brand owned websites, their social media pages as well as video and mobile campaigns.
The changes to the Cap Code meant the ASA had the power to regulate all online and mobile marketing communications and ensure compliance with the Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (The CAP Code). This covers all businesses, regardless of size, and extends to other non-paid-for space online under your business’ control (e.g. messages you post on social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook).
This Code also extended to cover not just what the brands themselves posted but also rules on how brands should not retweet messages or Like comments on Facebook that a user has written which are incorrect as they will still be liable based on them endorsing the content.
The intention was to make all online communications more transparent and ensure people reading online content are receiving honest and truthful messages. However, since the laws have been implemented brands have still unintentionally broken the law within social media, and the IAB has had to launch guidelines to help brands comply with consumer protection law around the payment for content to promote products within a social media environment.
Recently Saville Home Management was found to have Tweeted misleading and unsubstantiated claims on the Twitter feed of cmRENT estate agents that “cmRENT have 93 Rental properties available” and “cmRENT have 105 Rental properties available”. They were reprimanded by ASA and the offending tweets were removed.
It is clear that brands need to be more mindful of the laws that have been put in place and agencies need to be offering their clients greater guidance as to what is and isn’t allowed as part of the Cap Code. At agency:2, as one of the Founders of the DMA, we have constantly adhered to strict ethical guidelines. We are proud of always working ethically and legally for the good of our clients – brands must be increasingly aware that whatever they post on social platforms must be transparent and clear.
December 1, 2011
At it’s first-ever U.S. press conference yesterday, Spotify unveiled their new app platform, which they hope will be the next big step in social music.
The platform allows third-party developers to use the streaming service’s music library and community to create personalised and tailored services for their users. Initially the Spotify Platform is only launching with a dozen apps but more are expected to appear shortly.
Spotify have so far confirmed they have partnered with the likes of Rolling Stone, Last.fm, Billboard, Songkick and The Guardian, as the online music service aims to build on its current offering and enhance the user experience.
An app launching its own app platform is a fascinating move and also an exciting one – it should allow companies and services to use Spotify in new and inventive ways.
For music publications such as Rolling Stone and Billboard, apps offer a way to allow users to read a review while silmultaneously listening to the album. However there are even more exciting and compelling ways that services can use Spotify. Let’s take the example of the Last.fm app within Spotify.
Last.fm is the world’s largest online music catalogue, powered by your scrobble. Spotify has long allowed users to integrate their Spotify listening to their Last.fm accounts. Now, the integration is bolstered with customised playlists. The new Last.fm app allows users to generate related song playlists based on the track they are currently listening to – by clicking “Similar Tracks Playlist,” Last.fm will generate a playlist of similar tracks of music available to listen to or subscribe to within Spotify and suggestions for users.
That’s not all – the “Now Playing” section of the Last.fm app allows users to get more information about a track or band.
The future of social music?
Having launched in America, begun its subscription model and formed a partnership with Facebook it has been a busy year for Spotify. These new apps will help to continue to build the brand and add a new and exciting dimension to Spotify’s user experience.
November 29, 2011
The last year has seen the rise of ‘social’ within search. The huge growth of social media, together with search engines now increasingly focussing on providing the best possible user experience, has resulted in a greater prominence being given to social platforms when search engines return results.
Google, Yahoo and Bing now index social comments and use this information to tailor and personalise users’ search results. Google’s ‘+1’ button now has a large impact on page rank, while Bing has partnered with Facebook to display data from the Facebook ‘Like’ button as well as users’ profiles.
One of the most important effects of this shift towards social is the impact content now has on improving your brand’s online visibility. The phrase being constantly repeated is that ‘content is king’.
Brands therefore need to devise a highly effective social media content plan that takes into consideration the importance of search optimisation. This means creating fresh content which is optimised with relevant keywords and encourages people to share, retweet and engage with it across the social web.
Yet, competition is fierce. There are 27 million pieces of online content shared daily and 1 in 5 social media messages include links to content on the web.
So, as a brand, how do you stand out? With SEO success focusing increasingly on a brand’s social presence it is not enough to just ‘have’ content.
Your content needs to provide something unique and valuable to your audience. Ask yourself: does it convey your brand accurately and provide value to your audience?
The aim is to create active content so that your audience are participating and interacting. Onsite this could be encouraging them to comment on posts and rate articles, while offsite you need to maximise the number of social reactions, such as Facebook ‘Likes’ and tweets.
Here are my recommendations on key considerations when creating content:
WHERE you say it
Social media offers a range of tools that will provide unique insights which allow you to understand your audience. It’s vital you use these tools to research, monitor, understand your audience and make sure that you are where your audience are and using the most relevant and effective platforms.
Your social media content plan should reflect this. It also needs to be continuous and flexible as well as multi-channel. Brands must leverage a range of relevant channels. Twitter and Facebook seem the obvious choices but there are several channels that will help boost your SEO – these could include blogs, LinkedIn, Q&As, podcasts as well as virtual events. Also consider creating a presence on video sites, photo sites, social bookmarking sites and review sites. These will all help to boost the amount of ‘high quality’ content you have and boost your search optimisation.
WHAT you have to say
When creating content, think about the user’s online journey – how will they find your content? This is where search engine optimisation is vital. With the rise of social search, investing in original, quality content is essential to your SEO success.
Google itself has stated that their algorithms are aimed at helping users easily find high quality content. The launch this year of Google Panda, a major upgrade of their ranking algorithm, has resulted in what can be seen as a transformation in search optimisation.
Preference is now given to websites that publish high quality, original content on an ongoing basis. There is also a new focus on social mentions so that the more times people retweet, +1, ‘Like’ or share your online content the higher it ranks.
It means that brands must have a strategy in place for creating regular, relevant and optimised new content as well as growing and engaging your presence on social media networks.
Keywords, meta-tags, alt tags, anchor tags, page titles and heading structures all need to be optimised with the keywords that are most relevant for your brand. It is also vital to be aware of what your competitors are doing and what keywords they rank for and bid on. Putting in place an effective content marketing strategy that is fully optimised and continually updated will have a significant effect on your ranking position on search engines.
However, remember that optimisation of your content shouldn’t be to the detriment of the quality of the user experience or how compelling the content is – it needs to be both optimised so that search engines will find it and compelling enough that your audience will read and share it.
HOW OFTEN you say it
It’s often said that the secret to social media is timing. This means that you must schedule your social media activity and make sure you post at the optimum times for your audience.
Brands often ask how frequently they should post on their Facebook Page and when is the best time to post. The answer is that each campaign and brand is different. As a rule of thumb early mornings as the working day commences, lunchtimes and early evenings straight after work provide the most engagement. Facebook’s Insights data provide an invaluable understanding of how often and when your fans are engaging with your content – and help to ensure that you connect with your audience at the optimum times. Posting at these peak times will have an impact on the viralability of your content, with people more likely to connect with it and share it.
When it comes to frequency there is a delicate balance to be found: post too often and, though you will see an immediate increase in impressions, you will also see a loss in fan numbers. Post too infrequently and you will miss out on opportunities to reach your fans. In general, tweeting 1 – 4 times per hour and posting at least once a day on Facebook will provide the best results.
HOW you say it
As a brand you will have a tone of voice that permeates your organisation. When you create a social media content plan you need to consistently communicate this tone of voice across all platforms.
There are several fundamental factors and ideas that you should focus on when creating your content plan: use your brand narrative to tell a story through social channels. And present this story in a fresh and interesting way by using a range of media – videos, polls, photos as well as text.
One of the most important things, and one that many brands often seem to forget, is that social media is about having conversations. Be engaging, start conversations with your audience and build a real community – this will make your audience much more receptive to your brand and more likely to share and comment upon the content that you are posting.
You must use your content to associate your brand with specific topics and segments that are relevant to your brand and will position you as the experts within your field. It must also be entertaining, informative, and deliver some quantifiable value such as exclusive deals or products.
Quality AND quantity
The rise in the importance of social media to search requires brands to devise a content strategy that provides both quality AND quantity. The real time nature of social media means that content has to be posted frequently in order to stay ahead of your competitors. However, if you want to really stand out your content must also be compelling enough for your audience to engage with it.
Creating optimised content that is tailored both for your audience and for search engines will result in conversations, sharing and high visibility on search engines – in other words, social media success for your brand.
November 25, 2011
The launch of the new iPhone 4S showcased a new feature that has had everybody talking: Siri. The voice-recognition tool has proved a revelation since the release of Apple’s latest mobile, allowing you to use your voice to send messages, update your Twitter feed, schedule meetings, place phone calls and more.
Now Wishpot, the social shopping service that lets users build online wish lists, are taking advantage of the technology to do something festive. So, with Christmas fast approaching, there is now one more thing you can use Siri for: adding items to a Christmas wish list and getting a text response.
With many people currently making their Christmas lists it’s the ideal time to launch the app – and it couldn’t be easier to use:
How it works:
It really is simple: if you are a member of Wishpot you tell Siri the product you want (you can also read aloud barcode UPC and ISPN numbers). Siri’s technology then sends it to Wishpot, which automatically sends you a message telling you the lowest price for the item – and also notifies you when the price drops.
With brands like Amazon and Starbucks rolling out tools and apps to help boost sales during Christmas, Wishpot’s use of Siri demonstrates the brand’s innovation and is a great way to keep track of everything you want to buy. Particularly today – it is, after all, Black Friday.
November 24, 2011
With the launch of Google+ the search engine giant has been taking steps to more closely integrate its platforms – and this has now extended to YouTube.
Last week they announced a new design of their video platform and this week it was rolled out to certain users. The revamped design features a new look and places a much larger emphasis on social integration.
The look and feel includes an updated sleeker design which is less cluttered and also easier to navigate. YouTube may be the biggest video sharing platform on the web but its design has never been the most appealing, especially compared to other video sites such as Vimeo. This new design goes a long way to improving this. The design also provides users with more sizing options for their videos and also makes recommended content ‘pop out’ when clicked.
The greatest change, however, is the deep Google+ integration. When logged into Google all the subscriptions and channels you follow are organised into a left sidebar, which makes it easier to see videos that are shared from people within your social circles on Google+. This means it’s simple to watch videos that people who you trust have recommended. There are also recommended content category sections tailored to your needs.
This is a smart move by Google, providing users with a personalised service and integrating their services – and in the long term it should see Google+ grow their user numbers.
How to enable the new design
The new design is currently being rolled out in phases to certain users and will not be available to all video users for a few weeks. However, there is a way you can start using the new design right now.
It’s relatively simple to do and will only take a couple of minutes. When you’re on the YouTube website, you need to open up your browser’s developer tools — Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + K in Firefox; Ctrl + Shift + J (Win) or Cmd + Alt + J (Mac) for Chrome — and input the following code. Alternatively to put it more simply – right click on your mouse, in the pop up box click on ‘Inspect Element’ then click on the ‘Console tab’ and copy paste in the line of code:
Close the pop up box, reload the site and you should then be viewing the brand new YouTube design.