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).
If you’re in media/communications/marketing/social media and have an hour to spare, I highly recommend checking out the full hour-long video discussion regarding the future of journalism. As an add-on, you might also like to check out the discussion on Twitter via the #heraldsunfoj hashtag.
Moderated by Steve and featuring Phil Gardner, Campbell Reid, Renee Barnes and Russell Howcroft, it discusses not only on journalism, but topics including marketing, advertising, paid content, communications and the wider use of social media by media organisations (particularly newspapers).
Pixels & Ink: A Discussion About the Future of Journalism
‘Media as a snack’ vs ‘Media as a four-course meal’
Steve described two types of media content in the current environment – that which we snack on in bite-sized pieces, and that which we delve deeper into (the four-course meal). Media need to understand consumer engagement with each form, as well as the ability they provide the consumer to share this content.
Content surplus as a bankable trend
In an era of self-publication (for brands as well as individuals) and increased noise we’re all faced with the problem of too much content and not enough time. For media companies, scaling this information and providing value through quality curation is a great opportunity to solve this problem for the consumer.
Steve’s top tips for being a quality curator:
Be knowledgeable and well read on your subject matter of choice
Save materials for later reading – it’s all an opportunity to be well informed and provide value to others
Focus on depth, not breadth. As Steve said, he knows a lot about a few things, and little about most things.
People want to engage with people
People ultimately want to engage with people. The same applies for brands and media. That is, people want to connect with the human element of a brand and those that work for the organisation. Just look at the spectacular success of Zappos and the introduction of Reuters’ ‘social pulse’ as examples of this.
Journalists and media are now community managers
Following on from the previous point, with media personnel now across social media as part of their day-to-day function sharing, curating and creating content – they now have to be adept at managing a community.
Those leading in the media field understand this, and see their role not only as a reporter/journalist/presenter – but as a brand ambassador who is able to acquire consumers and an build an audience through these channels.
Steve cited The New York Times’ Brian Stelter as the best example of this media professional – and I most certainly recommend following Brian and his colleague David Carr on Twitter and subscribing to them both on facebook if you’re interested in media and communications particularly.
Media need to understand the channels
Media need to invest the time and resources to not only understand the distribution process for established and emerging channels, but to investigate how content is being spread, which particular content is being spread, and by whom.
Steve’s top three emerging trends for media?
Building business models that incorporate curation,
Increased data mining and analytics about real-time engagement with media content (Steve used the particular example of chartbeat during the discussion), and
The increased importance of facebook’s open graph. Those media that understand and utilise the open graph to increase views, shares and engagement will improve their edgerank greatly. In short, those media that engage with facebook in this manner will be more valuable than those that don’t.
The public no longer sees media and social media as separate
The one point that Steve wanted the audience to take from the discussion is that the public don’t see media and social media as separate – they see them as one. For that reason, it’s up to media organisations to embrace and understand these channels, and how their story pervades across those with which they choose to engage.
What do you think?
Do you have any additional tips for being a curator or trends you think we’ll be seeing in media?
Were you there last night, and if so did any additional points stand out for you from the discussion?
What are your favourite media brands and who are your favourite media individuals engaging in social media. What about their practice do you particularly admire?
I was taken aback last week on my regular train commute to work when I noticed that my favourite piece of graffiti wall art had been trashed – literally.
What was once a fierce panther had been covered by another artist’s tag. Now I’m no graffiti artist, and have no idea what the codes and conventions are among these artists, but I took this personally – and can’t begin to understand how the original artist must be feeling.
Thinking about it further, the feeling was not dissimilar to that I’ve had in the world of the virtual wall when people have trashed a brand that I love and whose community I am a part of.
So, what does the trashing of this brick wall teach us about the trashing of the virtual and digital walls?
People are talking about your brand
It’s been written time and time again that whether you know it or not, there are people out there in the community that are talking about you and don’t like your brand. Much like this graffiti artist (I really should try and find out their name), each and every brand is now a target for discussion and tagging on the virtual wall.
You can identify the voices
Unlike the graffiti example above, the virtual wall gives you the opportunity to identify those talking about you and hear their praise and gripes. This equals opportunity; opportunity to hear their words, engage on their level, and work towards a collaborative relationship through dialogue. Imagine if the street artist above had been afforded the same opportunity to hear feedback from the wider community and possibly re-work this wall canvas to be something even more spectacular?
You have the gift of community
In a recent video rant from the heart, head, and hip, Gary Vaynerchuk described community as a great gift. If your brand is willing to enter this space and treat its community as such, they will be there to advocate for your brand in the event that you do take a trashing. That’s not to say that it’s entirely up to them – but throughout crises and trashings in the social space, I have seen, and continue to see communities enter into conversations in order to advocate for brands. Don’t take the gift of community for granted.
Nobody wins in a slander match
Looking at the trashed piece of wall art above, I get the overwhelming sense that neither party has won anything out of it. The same can be said for brands. Don’t get me wrong – I have no doubt that many members of online communities have highly valid reasons to take issue with brands (truth be told I’ve done it myself), but dialogue is two-way, and responsibility rests with both sides to come to the table to engage.
What do you think? Do you know any brands that do or have done a great job of working through issues with the community? Have you seen any poor examples of company response following a trashing of the digital wall?