Lots of Trends, But the Direction is Mobile

In the marketing world, we love trends. We use them to help us spot and understand what is happening in our marketplaces and what is shifting in the worlds of our customers. They can also be used to help us identify where we have gaps in our customer engagement strategy or where a competitive advantage is opening up.

But so often we focus only on the trend and miss the greater underlying movement that is taking place.

Take a look at this presentation from Edelman Digital. The focus is on trends across Asia Pacific – but the reality of this is, that the same can be easily applied to any country. We are, after all, globally connected. And when I say “we”, I mean “consumers”.

As the presentation points out, trends like “touch (see) and go” and “convergence emergence” are not just on the horizon – they are happening and visible in our marketplace now. And tying this to the Edelman Trust Barometer – a measure of the trustworthiness of our institutions – shows precisely why social networks and dominating the thinking of so many business executives.

But for my money, it’s not the trends that are important for us all to consider. It’s the direction. The report touches on this under “Trend 8: Device Freedom” – but reading between the lines, it’s clear that there is a substantial shift in consumer behaviour underway. And it will impact every angle, every industry, every message and every business – whether we like it or not. It’s the ever increasing ubiquity of the mobile phone (particularly the smart phone). It’s already changing the way we shop and the way we work, but it’s going to go further than most businesses are ready for.

Those that prepare and move earlier will be well placed to guide the customer experience and transform the notion of trust that is at the heart of our often fragile sense of brand loyalty. Those that fail to move may find that they fail in more ways than one. It’s taken well over 10 years to get to the year of the mobile, but the trending time is over – the direction is clear and it’s in the palm of your hand.

Trust + Scale Trumps Bright and Shiny – Australia Post Goes Digital

You can tell when you are in a Post Office by the smell. You open the door and you get the feint mustiness of paper, humidity and light glue mixed with a light dusting of body odour and desperation. It’s the same smell that has been around since I was a boy – and it greets me whenever I have to trudge my way to the local post office to pick up a package.

A cynic would suggest that it is entirely manufactured – that a consultant somewhere had manufactured a brand experience, turned it to liquid and issued it en-masse to every Australia Post location around the country. It is a smell that reeks of authority. It smells like my grandfather.

And visiting the local post office is just like spending a weekend with a half crazy relative. The in-store displays and products are as haphazard as Aunt Mable’s crocheted rugs – lots of bright colours, incongruous items and bargain basement prices right next to first day of issue stamps and rare coins.

But all that is about to change. Well online anyway.

It’s only taken twenty years, but Australia Post looks like it might just be going digital.

I’m pretty excited to see this transformation. The Australia Post Digital Mailbox promises security, accessibility and convenience. Imagine being able to store valuable documents like your passport somewhere easy to reach. Or being able to access account details, pay bills and receive registered email. It sounds almost too good to be true … and I would say that it was if it was an offering from anyone else.

But despite the external appearances – Australia Post clearly understands scale, the importance of trust and security. They understand what it takes to deliver services at volume and speed. And with an ageing population, a brand like Australia Post may well just deliver greater online participation and a deeper sense of trust than newer platforms and brands have been able to manage.

It’s great to see Australia Post take this bull by the horns, finally. My grandfather will be happy!

Social, Digital and Mobile in Asia

We Are Social Singapore are showing impeccable timing in releasing their Guide to Social Digital and Mobile in Asia – especially as I will be focusing more closely on the Asia Pacific and Japan region through 2012.

There are some fascinating statistics dotted throughout – but the most powerful aspect is the sheer scale of social media adoption that has already taken place across Asia. Just think – there are 750,000,000 social media users across Asia. And that accounts for over half of the population in Brunei, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore.

But if you are thinking social media in Asia – don’t think Facebook. It ranks a lowly fourth with 172 million members. That’s way behind Qzone with 536 million, Tencent with 310 million and Sina Weibo weighing in at 250 million.

And social is only part of the story. The clincher is mobile – with three quarters of the population (or almost 2.8 billion people) registered as mobile subscribers. Over one in five of these have access to the internet via their mobile phone – that’s 623 million people who use their phones to access online services.

But enough with the powerful, mind blowing statistics. Spend some time with the data in the report – but when doing so, think about behaviour. What is taking place with your customers in Asian markets? How does their usage, interest and even the limitations of mobile internet services impact the way you can engage them? What are the opportunities? And what shifts that lay ahead in 2012 can you use to surprise and delight your customers (and confound your competitors)?

Walkers, Talkers, Stalkers and Baulkers

Walkers, Talkers, Stalkers and Baulkers

 

Walkers, Talkers, Stalkers and BaulkersIn almost any field of endeavour, you are going to come across four different types of people. Your project may be some form of project implementation for your company. It could be that you have a creative idea for an advertising client. Or you may just want to go back to university to complete a degree. But no matter your focus, you will have to deal with walkers, talkers, stalkers and baulkers. In some cases these people will be your boss, or a member of your staff. They may be parents or friends.

But whether you like it or not, you need to figure out a way of dealing with each type. Let’s take a look at their characteristics.

Type Description How to help them
Walkers You want the Walkers on your project. They deliver. They understand the terminology and the goals and they know how to achieve outcomes. Because the Walkers are so busy resolving issues, achieving outcomes and so on, they may not communicate “up” as much as is necessary. Add regular communications into their mix of KPIs.
Talkers The talkers are evangelistic. They are great at the start of a project, picking up the terminology and the ideas and transmitting them to others. The Talkers are often purists which means that they are sometimes unwilling to compromise. Help them see the win-win outcome – but also push them to move from “talk” to “walk”.
Stalkers The vast majority of the population are Stalkers. They will watch from a distance but don’t personally commit. They won’t get in the way but they won’t participate either. The Stalkers will often do a great job – but will only do as they are instructed. Inertia is the domain of the Stalker. You can use the Talkers to engage and activate these folks. You can point towards the Walkers as aspirational role models, but the challenge is in building momentum.
Baulkers The Baulkers are the intransigent group. They may be active detractors or simply explain all the reasons why your project will not succeed. They can sometimes feign support but will often move back to an inert or negative position very quickly. The Baulkers have the power of negativity on their side. As we generally don’t like change, the Baulker appeals to our risk averse natures. They discredit the ideas underpinning your project and those who support them. Leave them in a room with a Talker.

 

Any long term project success requires the activation of all four of these types. The important thing to remember is that you don’t need to change these people. They won’t change for you.

But they may change their opinion of your project.

Take the time to understand the motivations of each of these types and play to their strengths and weaknesses. It is about playing the person, not the project.

Working with the people will deliver your project – but focusing only on the project will more deeply entrench the positions of the Walkers, Talkers, Stalkers and Baulkers. Your challenge is to create movement between the categories – and the best way to do that is activate their talents.

Give it a try, you might just find you succeed wildly.

Ditch Your Fans and Find Your Lovers

UPDATED: Almost any article about social media that you read will focus on “likes”, “fans” and “friends”. At first glance, “social” media appears to have equated positive relationship terminology with relationship.

But when you look at the motivation behind “liking” a brand on Facebook – it’s decidedly transactional. There is a focus on discount and promotion, exclusive content and so on. Now, while a strategy addressing these desires will build your “fan base”, I’m increasingly sceptical that it will build you anything more than a glorified mailing list. In fact, researcher Dan Zarella has shown "The amount of 'conversation' that happens on your Facebook posts has nothing to do with the number of people who will see it" – suggesting Facebook Conversations Don't Achieve The Marketing Boost You Desire.

For those brands that want a little more from the investment they are making in social media, you need to dig a little deeper.  You need to look for those whose pupils dilate at the mention of your name.

It’s time to ditch your fans and find your lovers.

This is no easy task. You need to listen. Monitor. Pay attention. Dig. Analyse. Engage. Converse. Respond. And measure. You need to rinse and repeat. What I call continuous digital strategy.

But thanks to Sean Howard, you can now follow a step-by-step guide to using social media monitoring to find the people who already love your brand. The approach uses live data to help you truly understand who your real brand advocates are – and as is almost always the case (as is shown in the Nikon case study) – your most powerful advocates are rarely those with high klout scores or large follower bases. They are the people who consistently generate content and comment around your brand properties and digital assets.

I know this will make you cry – we all love the large numbers and the occasional mention from a social media superstar. But if you want to build lasting social media value for your digital properties, it’s time to ditch your addiction to “fans” – because when it comes to social media, it’s all about the love. Baby.

What Makes People Follow a Brand?

When I first really became interested in social media, I was working for a marketing and promotions agency as head of their interactive division. This gave our work a particular skew – we were always looking at the performance metrics of our efforts – how could we drive trial, influence people to consider and love our clients’ products – and how do we measure and improve on this over time. And since that time, it has been clear to me that social media really is about promotion – in that industry sense.

And now the GetSatisfaction team have put out an infographic that confirms at least part of this theory – the largest proportion of people surveyed follow brands so they can learn of special offers and deals (36.9% on Facebook and MySpace, 43.5% on Twitter). So if your online strategy doesn’t have a promotional component you’re going to be disappointing much of your audience.

infographic-follow-brands-large-570x1836

Global Map of Social Networking 2011

GWI_Mashable_23-06-11 The folks at Global Web Index have investigated the patterns of consumer adoption and pulled together this infographic map. On this scale, it’s easy to see where (and how) trends become markets and how patterns of use become opportunities.

Look for example at China’s massive online population, sitting at 155 million – dwarfing Australia’s paltry 7 million. Look also at the behaviour types – who are the sharers, which populations join and create groups? Then think about how these behaviours impact your marketing:

  • Are there already existing behaviours that you can incorporate or amplify?
  • Are there social and digital channels that you are ignoring?
  • Are there opportunities that you are leaving on the table?

The data may not have all the answers – but it should prompt some questions for you. Or for your agency.

Via Mashable.

Help Young Writers Be Published

I can well remember the excitement of seeing my first piece of writing in print. And yes, even in this age of easy access to web publishing and on-demand printing, there is still something visceral that comes with your own name in print. On a page. In a book.

And that’s exactly what Vibewire is now working on. Their quarterly anthology captures captures the short stories, articles, art and photography drawn from the Vibewire community. And you can help make this a reality! By supporting the Vibewire Anthology you will not only receive a beautifully produced edition, you will be providing vital support for young people starting their creative careers. Isn’t that what we all wanted way back when?

The Perfect Landing Page

One post that consistently garners traffic here on my blog is Every Page is a Landing Page. It’s not really a post about marketing, or branding, or strategy. It’s just a post about the most important page on your website – all of them.

So, if every page on your site is important, what does it look like? What story does it tell? Here’s an infographic from the folks at Formstack.

LandingPage-Infographic

Facebook Bait and Switched My Life

Today is Quit Facebook Day – and I am in two minds. On the one hand, Facebook has been great, I have been able to easily connect to people all over the world, keeping in touch with their daily updates, their photos, the changes in their lives and the things they are reading, watching and thinking about. And it is not that I can’t do this in other ways, it’s that Facebook made it so easy for me (and for them).

But on the other hand, I have been a marketer and a technologist for over 20 years, and when I look at Facebook, I see a goldmine. I can see millions of people logging on, interacting, sharing their interests, their behaviours, their likes and dislikes not just with their “networks” but also with Facebook. And maybe even with Facebook’s partners. It is this latter form of sharing that concerns me.

The Age of unPrivacy

Anyone you speak with will have a view of privacy. Governments create legislation to enforce minimum standards on businesses, individuals join “do not call registers” to maintain some distance from brands and marketers and all the while, commentators announce the “death of privacy”.

Clearly as we shift more of our behaviour to the web, it becomes searchable – the great Google web spiders reaching out and collating the minutiae of our lives like the all-seeing eye of Sauron. If the Devil is in the details, then the scattered breadcrumbs of our online lives provide more than just a glimpse into our behaviours – they can be aggregated into patterns, codified and predicted.

This is even more pronounced in the walled garden of Facebook where our tastes and interests can be fed back to us – by Facebook ads, recommendations and suggestions. Take a look for yourself – create your own Facebook ad and you’ll see how minutely targeted your personal advertising campaign can be.

What Facebook are doing is pushing its members to allow ever more public access to our private information. It is doing so, not out of some grander view of the shifting nature of “privacy” as CEO Mark Zuckerberg would have us believe – there is real money to be made. As Chris Saad points out:

Most of Facebook's very mainstream users, however, still just want a private place to keep up with their friends and family. In short, the economic interests of the service are not in line with the interests of its users. Despite this, Facebook has been forced to smashed big cracks in its privacy blanket and started forcing its users, en mass, to adopt more transparent and public online personas.

Forrester analyst, Josh Bernoff suggests that Zuckerberg may well be right – that privacy isn’t a cultural norm anymore. But my view is that those active in their concern over these changes at Facebook are well ahead of the mainstream – that the issues presented won’t impact the early technology adopters in a significant way (after all, the Reclaim Privacy site has been doing a roaring trade for weeks). It’s the other 99% of Facebook’s 500 million members who are either confused by the changes, unaware of what the impact will be or simply don’t engage with these types of issues.

The Bait and Switch

At the end of Simon Mainwaring’s article on this subject he asks the question – “do you believe Facebook is to blame for a bait and switch?”. To that, I’d say yes. What was on offer has now materially changed.

For most of us, joining Facebook meant entering a social compact – we’d share the content, context and contacts of our lives – and we’d do so using Facebook’s social networking platform. We’d be able to control who had access to what we share and Facebook could monetize this in ways that worked in good faith. Accordingly, we (the public) joined en-masse. We tagged ourselves. We made Facebook the #1 photo sharing site on the web. We made it the largest social network in the world. And we helped it to transform from a bit player in the crowded social networking space to it’s leader.

Changing this compact now is difficult – and has not been communicated well. Rather than being transparent about their intentions, Facebook have opted to spin the changes, suggesting that the world has changed and that Facebook is moving to accommodate this.

As Bruce Nussbaum suggests, Facebook’s challenge is not to do with the purchase or products or services, but the exchange of value in what has become a cultural product.

Ownership in the social media world of networks is different from selling products and services in the traditional marketplace. Understanding the underlying cultural context of "free," "gift," and "creation" is important to businesses, including and perhaps especially high tech companies. It is not impossible to monetize that which is free. Apple did that with 99 cent songs on iTunes. But it is difficult.

I am always amazed to see that social networking sites such as Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Twitter) undervalue or misunderstand the importance of trust and transparency in the prosecution of their businesses. The TRUST that once existed between Facebook and at least some members of its user base has been seriously damaged in recent weeks – and the Quit Facebook Day is yet another milestone that will be marked.

So, Will You Delete Your Account?

I have a feeling that the Quit Facebook Day will come and go without a great deal of impact. At least initially. But for me, it is a turning point. It is the day on which Facebook reached its zenith – and from here the long, slow slide from prominence will begin. It happened with MySpace (which of course is still around). It happened with Friendster. And it will also happen with Facebook.

And now, I am off to delete my account. It will be replaced with a business account to manage aspects of my work – but the connections, the flavour and the personality will disappear. It’s time to find a new way to share.