I was reading through Kathi Kruse’s post on 10 surefire ways to fail at Twitter this week when I found myself faced with the great dilemma: to continue following or unfollow?
Allow me to elaborate.
I’m a HUGE fan of a particular consumer brand’s content marketing. It produces exceptional content that is entertaining and continually resonates with the audience – I find it captivating, even mesmerising at times.
It also does a great job of sourcing content from its community and incorporating it within its efforts, and invests a great deal in getting out and about on the road with its consumers.
So, why would I press the unfollow button?
In the years that I’ve followed, mentioned, tweeted and blogged about the brand, I’ve not received one reply. In fact, the only reply I received was from a local store that stocks the brand after I posted about it (an excellent piece of real-time marketing and communication – hat tip David Meerman Scott).
I don’t know if I’m being over-sensitive or expecting too much of the brand here, but after all the mentions and shout-outs, it makes me wonder how much they care.
In this case, my contributions would relate directly to ‘social’ and ‘self-esteem’ needs. That is, belonging to a community and being recognized accordingly for those contributions.
The strange thing is, even if I do unfollow the brand on Twitter, I can’t bring myself to unlike it on facebook; such is the quality of its content and posts in this space. Even if the posting is more representative of a straight broadcast model of content distribution without replies or discussion, I find myself unable to turn away.
Does that make me a social media hypocrite? Can I continue to advocate for community but still like a brand that hasn’t responded to my calls for engagement and fulfilled my hierarchy of needs?
More importantly, what does that say about the relationship between content and community?
In an ideal scenario, I believe in the power of content and community to work together to achieve business and communication objectives. With regard to social tools, these can range from driving sales to servicing and supporting clients with questions and issues that may arise before, during and after the purchase process or product development.
Now I’m not privy to this particular brand’s marketing plan and KPIs, but it may just be that broadcasting posts across facebook, email and including strong calls to action in both is driving more traffic and sales than it planned for, and that its in-person events are a spectacular success.
However I can’t help but see this as a missed opportunity for the brand (and others who employ the same strategy) – an opportunity to build an organic community of connected bloggers, evangelists and consumers willing to help spark that next rave about the brand, and to support it through the good times and the bad.
An opportunity to connect even deeper with the people behind the brand and extend the experience more than before, and to grow product use, knowledge and sales further.
The problem is, while tools exist to monitor and evaluate leads, calls to action and sales for this marketing content, it’s harder to measure the value of missed opportunities.
Then again, when it has fans like me willing to subscribe to its feed and purchase its products despite the lack of response and community engagement (yes, I’ve tried a purchase boycott but failed dismally), perhaps it doesn’t factor into the strategy and resources.
Only time will tell whether this is a sustainable strategy for the brand.
Should I press the unfollow button?
What do you think?
Is content alone a sustainable marketing and communication strategy for ongoing growth without community?
Am I being a social media hypocrite by championing community but supporting and subscribing to a brand that doesn’t actively respond to or acknowledge me?
The team at AMC's Mad Men have gone back in the show's timeline - giving brands a reminder of the great opportunity that the tool brings.
A few weeks ago I watched on facebook as the team over at AMC’s Mad Men added a host of images and events to the show’s timeline.
For those who haven’t checked it out, the added content includes pictures and plot from every episode, as well as major awards and milestones for the show.
In essence, it tells the Mad Men story – and is a great resource that I’ve sent my friends who are just catching up on the series to check out.
Why should media organisations (and other brands) care?
Because with tools like timeline, the past is just as important as the future in creating content that connects and resonates with an audience, and communicates where you’ve come from, and where you’re going.
Without getting too meta on you by citing Mad Men within a Mad Men post, but I think Don was on to something in this video (sadly not available to embed). That is, timeline is a way to put your history on show and allow others to identify with your thoughts, products, culture and values – and in doing so take them to a place in their own story that they identify with.
To quote Mr. Draper: “Technology is a glittering lure, but there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash – if they have a sentimental bond with the product.”
The question is: What’s your story and bond with your audience?
For media companies and brands, I’m sure this is just the start of what will be some great innovation and use of this tool as audiences engage and invest socially in characters and stories more than ever before (are we going to see major events and exclusive pictures of Dick Whitman and the other Mad Men characters appearing on the timeline soon, perhaps? Maybe some images and clips from the past exclusive to timeline?).
Hearst Corporation is another example of a media company doing a great job of this with its magazine portfolio.
Nice work and kudos to the team over at AMC – I look forward to seeing what comes next (or should I say what came before) in the timeline (insert Mad Men opening theme).
What do you think?
Do you have any favourite examples of brands telling a story and utilising timeline? What about their story and content resonates with you, and why?
How did caffeinated content fuel Costa Coffee's facebook community?
If you didn’t know, in addition to media and communication I’m a bit of a coffee fan – so when I saw an update from my friend Adam Vincenzini at Paratus Communications about the recent growth in Costa Coffee’s facebook community, it captured my attention.
I mean, caffeine + communication – what’s not to like?
In the past six months, Costa Coffee’s facebook page has doubled in size to 500,000 members – an impressive community for any brand.
Ever generous, Adam was kind enough to answer a few questions (below) about this campaign and case study, providing a great glimpse behind the scenes of the campaign – from research to planning, execution and evaluation.
Congratulations and many thanks to Adam and Costa Coffee for sharing these insights – I hope you enjoy the interview.
I’ve included a few of my thoughts on lessons for brands and communicators following Adam’s responses.
1. Adam, what was the brief from Costa Coffee behind this latest growth in their facebook presence?
Costa wanted to create an online haven for coffee lovers, a place where people who are passionate about the subject can receive their daily ‘fuel’.
By creating this environment, the fan base would be better equipped to act as advocates of the Costa brand amongst their networks of friends and help tell the Costa story.
2. Can you talk us through some of the background research that was conducted to determine the strategy for the campaign?
A great deal of research was undertaken prior to this campaign using our four stage strategic process: Listen, Create, Engage and Analyse.
The ‘listen’ element involved a look at what Costa’s competitor set had been doing across social media to identify a unique space for Costa to own.
We determined that in order to be popular, we needed to be different, and focus heavily on the enjoyment that comes the subject matter.
Having a coffee with a friend is a fun part of your day and this applies for the ‘Costa breaks’ you have on facebook.
3. You mentioned in a facebook comment that you attributed the success of the campaign to a new content strategy, a bespoke app and sponsored stories. Could you take us through the reason for each, and why you chose the combination of these three communication elements within the platform?
The approach was quite straightforward once we completed the listening phase.
The new content strategy was pretty obvious, as the previous approach was light on substance and post regularity. As for content matter, once we had an idea of what ‘coffee lovers’ liked sharing and talking about, we just made it easier for them to access this content.
The app was important because it gave people a reason to visit the page every day during March. Encouraging this type of regular interaction boosted the presence of Costa’s page in people’s streams and consequently drove up referrals/likes from those people.
Sponsored stories played a key role too because they allowed this great new content to be seen by a wider audience.
“The Magical Coffee Machine” – A Costa Express Production (embedded on the brand’s facebook page)
4. Doubling the facebook community to half a million across a six month period is a great result. Do you have some metrics and figures around the campaign that demonstrate just how much this strategy has increased engagement and earned media across facebook for Costa Coffee?
Some of the key metrics included:
- Page views of the Costa page increased from 1,500 to 10,000
- Average reach of each post / status update increased from 50,000 to 100,000
- The ‘talking about this’ figure peaked at 38,000 in March 2012 after hovering at about 2,000 in December 2011
- Average ‘virality’ of each post increased from less than 1% to 2.5%
5. Did any of these results surprise you?
Yes and no. This community has been asking for this type of presence for a while, and once we were able to get everyone on the same page, the response was as we’d expected. However, the speed in which the results were delivered was a pleasant surprise. Most encouragingly, people haven’t been leaving the community either. We are adding new fans and retaining them.
6. Which form of content is driving the most engagement for Costa, and why do you think this is the case?
Photos, definitely. Your facebook stream is such a busy and competitive space and unless you are excited by a updated in the blink of an eye, you’ll scroll down to the next thing. The right imagery, supported by a fun and light-hearted commentary, seem to generate the best results.
7. The digital space is moving so quickly – something you keep a running commentary and analysis of on your own blog. With that in mind, were there any challenges in bringing this strategy to life given the rapidly shifting landscape of paid, owned and earned media?
Luckily, people don’t change. What is interesting to you and me will always be interesting even if the way we discover it changes relatively rapidly. While each platform has its own nuances, the theory doesn’t.
8. We’ve seen in the past brands build a significant following and community, only to disengage from the space after a defined period. How is Costa resourcing to make this content and community engagement part of their ongoing communication efforts?
This is the blessing and the curse of social media. Once you have established a ‘service’ expectation in the mind of your community, it is very hard to walk away from that.
From this overview, there are some great lessons and take-outs for brands and communicators, including:
While the brand may set-up and play host to a social space, these spaces are a place for your fans and consumers. Plan your content strategy, engagement and design accordingly.
Consider how you will take the offline elements and experience of your brand online within the given channel, and how this fits within your consumers’ online behaviour and use.
Be selective and strategic with your tactics.
Consider using the full suite of paid, earned and owned media available to you (within budget and objectives, of course).
One thing I was prepared for when I returned to New York recently was queuing – especially at restaurants and cafés.
Out in Brooklyn last weekend, some friends and I managed to score a spot at a popular local café with a wait time of an hour or more (yes, there was a crowd of people patiently queuing with take-away coffees outside), while right across the street another venue sat half-full on a bright and warm Easter Sunday.
Why? The popular venue had a better product (and no doubt better word-of-mouth marketing to go with it).
The same can be said for brands, organisations, consumers and content.
Just as consumers are happy to wait out on the pavement for a spot to sit and a good meal, so too are fans happy to subscribe to brands online, and interact with and share content they deem of value.
After reading this post from Jay Baer earlier in the week about the make up of users’ facebook news feeds and Americans’ distaste for receiving brand promotions in social media (according to this study from Exact Target they prefer good ole email), I started unsubscribing to a number of brands that were blasting away with the promotions.
Much like we all have a magic number for the amount of social networks we can maintain engagement with (hat tip Scott Monty), I believe we also have a limit to the number of brands whose content we wish to queue for and welcome into our news feeds – and we don’t need to wait an hour in line to join or unsubscribe.
The good news is that in general, I feel that the current content being produced by a lot of brands is falling short of what fans would like to see and genuinely engage with or share.
Why is that good news?
While it may sound pretty negative, I believe it equals opportunity for brands to step up to the plate and provide value in their online marketing and communication.
Doing a bit of an audit of the brands I follow, subscribe to and share, I identified only one brand that I would actually rave about, and whose content I actually look forward to receiving in my feeds.
That said, there’s still plenty of room for more brands to capture my attention and to be added to my list.
Just like I’ll always be happy to wait for a great café or restaurant, I’ll look forward to new content from those brands that I know care and are in tune with what consumers find of value in these online spaces (hint: it’s not coupons).
The question is: Is your content worth queuing for?
What do you think?
Are the brands you follow producing content you deem of value? How many brands would you actually rave about when it comes to content marketing effort? Or am I being too harsh here as brands begin to learn these new channels and develop their ongoing content marketing strategies?
Now I’ve not been to the festival before, and am not certain to what extent social media has been included in previous festivals, but as a communicator I admired the the work of those behind the festival to integrate social media content and communication to drive engagement, and more importantly, sales.
As noted by Mashable’s Lauren Indvik in her round-up of the recent Fashion 2.0 awards, the industry has moved forward with innovation since the latter half of 2010 when it “was sincerely behind other industries in its adaptation of social media, live streaming, mobile and 3D (or, in some cases, “4D”) technology.”
The ongoing work of the team at LMFF this week is testament to that momentum and those strides forward made by the fashion industry.
To break it down for you, here’s an overview of the social and digital communication currently being executed by the LMFF team.
The LMFF website is the hub for everything festival related – including links to tickets, designers’ stores, images, festival highlights, news feed, city maps, seminars, sponsors and added social media properties. It also allows visitors to download their own festival planner, subscribe to the official newsletter (Swingtag) and receive the latest looks from the runway (not a bad way to build a nice database of fashion conscious consumers to communicate with, wouldn’t you agree?).
More than that, something about the site design almost has a bit of a Pinterest feel about it (or maybe that’s just me). Perhaps that will be the next platform to join the campaign for 2013?
If that wasn’t enough, the home page also houses links to the festival’s facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blog and iPhone app – so you can be sure there’s no shortage of timely content for festival-goers and fashion fans to consume and share at their convenience – and no shortage of points and platforms on which to spark discussions, float questions or provide feedback (they’re also using Instagram through their Twitter and facebook pages, and integrating YouTube advertisements that I’ve seen on videos these past few days).
To add to this, the festival is also playing host to a plethora of fashion bloggers, with the crowds creating their own fashion show and playground for fashion writers to snap and interview fellow fashion forward individuals. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen so many bloggers in one place since Blogworld New York in 2011! While I’m sure there are some bloggers receiving greater access to the shows and designers than others – the organisers clearly understand the rise of the blogger and citizen commentator in the industry. We are all self-publishers.
Shop the Runway
Of course, at the end of the day the consumer of this content is left with the burning question: Where and when can I buy these looks? Enter ‘Shop the Runway’ (video above). Allowing the consumer to purchase in-store or online, the site capitalizes on all the great content by giving them a portal through which they can take virtually immediate action with their designer(s) of choice (it’s available via web and the iPhone app). Each designer is allocated their own page, incorporating YouTube footage of their runway show, still images of their collection, and a map of the country with a stockist search by postcode.
Communication + Commerce
The team at LMFF clearly understand that with the connectivity and reach of social media, and the appetite and expectation of the marketplace to consume and share content related to products and brands they love and want, they are now communicating not only with a trade audience, but direct to consumers.
More than that, the LMFF are dealing directly with consumers who expect the ability to take immediate action and seek instant gratification not only in the form of sharing and dialogue, but equally (if not more so) in the form of purchase.
With their content marketing coordinated across an array of media, they are able to track engagement with individual designers, as well as clicks through to online retailers (measuring communication efforts). This connects community and content to commerce and sales, and demonstrates and positions the festival not only as an economic boost for the local economy, but also of direct value to the designers, retailers and exhibitors.
Yes, new platforms and tools will emerge, but with this latest initiative and communication effort, the LMFF has positioned itself as a bridge between this content and commerce for both consumers and designers – and with all the results and lessons from this year, I’m sure that the platforms and communication will only continue to get better as the fashion industry takes even more steps forward in this field.
Kudos to the social media and communication team at LMFF on all their great work. Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got in store for 2013.
What do you think?
Do you have any favourite fashion or luxury brands employing social media marketing and communication? If so, what is it that you enjoy about their communication? Which platforms are they using especially well to engage?