The Importance of Brands in the Social Media Sphere

Facts and figures are boring. Yet almost every B2B brand relies on facts and figures to tell the story of their products or services. Countless whitepapers, videos and presentations wheel out the features and functions or a particular platform, technology or product line, yet everything that we know, as marketers, as data analysts, tells us that there is a better way. A more efficient way. In fact, neuroscience has provided vital clues that help us understand not the power of logic to drive purchase, but the importance of emotion to tip our decision-making.

So at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. In fact even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.

But it is one thing to know something and quite another to do something about it. Just imagine being the marketing director pitching in a new campaign to your CMO where there is little reference to product features and functions. Imagine the questions. The feedback. The personal-professional risk.

This week I recorded a podcast with the NewsModo team. We talked about branding, social media and content marketing. But mostly we talked about how storytelling allows brands to tap into the minds and emotions of their customers. One of the examples I had in mind was this video from the recent election campaign. The video captured my imagination because it’s a great example of how facts and figures can be incorporated into a campaign that drives not just action but activation. In fact, if brands (and political parties) can learn anything from the election results, it is this … listen to your audiences, understand what drives their collective mindset and help or encourage them to act on that mindset.

When you have a moment, check out the NewsModo podcast. There have been some great guests – and it may just inspire your next, best idea.

B2B Marketing Leader Interviews: Andrew Cornell, Managing Editor, ANZ BlueNotes

In the leadup to the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2016, I took the opportunity to speak with the Andrew Cornell, Managing Editor of BlueNotes, the ANZ newsroom about brand publishing, strategy and content.

Gavin Heaton: Earlier this year, eConsultancy published an article saying that the trend of brands becoming publishers is a nonsense. But BlueNotes has found success. What are the top three things that you are doing differently?

Andrew Cornell: Having worked in the traditional media for 30 years, I’d describe Fairfax and News as brand publishers too – a minority of their actual revenue comes from either subscriptions or direct purchase of articles. Audiences too, particularly when not familiar with the mastheads, have no pre-conceptions. The critical elements are audience understanding and quality content. So for BlueNotes, the three things are:

  • Truly understand your audience and what they value (and how they want to get their content)
  • Provide actually compelling content – which can’t be marketing or direct promotion. It needs to be thought leadership (as it has long been with Economic and business research the traditional media has always used)
  • Ensuring BlueNotes looks interesting in its own right, not as a “brand” site, although we’re clear our “publisher” is ANZ.

 

Gavin Heaton: At the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum there is a theme of linking marketing with the bottom line. What does that mean for BlueNotes – and perhaps as importantly – what does that mean for ANZ?

Andrew Cornell: For ANZ BlueNotes is a kind of online weekly magazine version of the thought leadership the bank has always done with economic research report, industry insights and major analyses like Greener Pastures and Caged Tiger, our long studies of the agricultural opportunity and the transformation of the Asian financial system. The “marketing” advantage for ANZ is reputational, not direct sell. This is a bank that is innovative with content, authoritative and able to provide genuine insights

 

Gavin Heaton: Where would a CMO start with a program like BlueNotes? Is it strategy? Is it vision? And what would you recommend?

Andrew Cornell: Start where any good journalism needs to start: who is the audience? How do they get their information? What do they want? Each is necessary. The content especially has to be authentic, genuinely insightful and valuable in its own right – audiences increasingly source information from multiple sites and mastheads so there needs to be a reason to come back – and that’s quality.

The B2B Marketing Leaders Forum 2016 runs 25-27 May in Sydney, Australia. It equips B2B marketers with the skills to cut through the technology hype and keep up with the many changes in digital disruption, industry and societal change and learn strategies for turning their departments into revenue generating machines.

Hack the Hacker: Using Analytics to Respond to Cyber Security Threats

When your computer network, PC or laptop is compromised you know you are in for a world of pain. Not only do you face significant down time, there are additional problems:

  • Identity theft – have stored passwords been harvested and shared via dark nets like 4chan?
  • Credit card fraud – have your credit card details been sold in a bulk lot online?
  • Business data – have you exposed your company or employer to reputational and other damage?
  • Digital reputation – has the breach caused Google to take your site or platform down?

The problem is the scale of the challenge. In 2014 there were:

  • Over 42 million cyber attacks worldwide
  • Representing a 50% increase year-on-year

The thing is, 100% – that is, all – cyber attacks used valid credentials. Which means you need to be thinking proactively about your cyber security. It’s too late once the attack has started.

This infographic from Sumologic sets out facts and figures that will make your eyes water. But what is clear is that cyber security is no longer just the responsibility of the CIO. It’s now an important part of your brand.

Sumo-Logic_Security_IG_Final

Big Data and the Trust Paradox

We have all become blasé about the information that we share on the internet. We openly tweet, share updates, create photos and post images about where we are, what we are doing and who we are with. We carry our mobile phones with us everywhere – and have become so reliant upon them that we have had to name a condition for the state of anxiety we find ourselves in when we leave our phones at home. It is “nomophobia” – literally the fear of having “no mobile”.

And just as our internet connection is “always on”, so too is our phone. And being always on, it’s always collecting, sharing and posting data about us. Even when it’s sitting “idle” in our pockets it is triangulating our position, beaming our latitude and longitude to satellites, connecting to wifi hotspots and cellular phone towers. Many of the apps that we use also collect and share our location – some are obvious like Google Maps and Facebook. Others not so. But it’s when we start using the phone, that the data really explodes.

The following infographic is now quite old, being originally published in 2010. It shows the “meta data” – the hidden data that is relayed along with every update that you make using Twitter. It’s not just the 140 characters of your message, but hundreds of additional characters that accompany your message, including your:

  • User name
  • Biography
  • Location
  • Timezone
  • Follower / following statistics.

And more. So much more.

AnatomyTweet

Trading privacy for convenience

The accepted wisdom is that users of these services are knowingly trading privacy for convenience. The reality is vastly different. After all, when using the internet, we are not working in full knowledge. In fact, our understanding of what we are doing, how much information we are revealing and where our data goes is extremely limited. And even when we choose to share location information with an app or when we accept notifications, chances are that we will forget that consent has been given. Or the context in which that consent was given will become lost in the daily grind of our busy, connected lives.

This plays well for those platforms that collect, harvest and sell the data of their users. In fact, it’s one of the business models that many startups rely upon – data collection, harvesting, sale and exploitation is the name of the main game. But there is change in the air, and we can expect that these business models will increasingly come under greater scrutiny and pressure. A 2014 an EMC poll revealed that only 27% of those surveyed were willing to trade their private information for a more convenient online experience. And over half (51%) straight out said “no”. Moreover:

The majority also believed “businesses using, trading or selling my personal data for financial gain without my knowledge or benefit” were the greatest threat to their online privacy.

These beliefs and expectations were further reinforced in the Pew Research Center’s Future of Privacy report, where “Some 55% of these respondents said “no” they do not believe that an accepted privacy-rights regime and infrastructure would be created in the coming decade”.

Yet despite an inherent and ongoing suspicion of corporations and governments, the Edelman Trust Barometer for 2016 reveals that the general sense of trust is improving. Edelman’s research describes a well educated and well-resourced segment of the population (approximately 15%) as the “informed public” – and measures trust in the wider population as well as this narrower segment. To qualify for the segment “informed public”, people must be:

  • Aged 25-64
  • College educated
  • In the top 25% of household income per age group in each country
  • Significant consumers of media and report high engagement in business news.

This also means that the “informed public” would be considered a “tech savvy” audience.

While trust has grown overall, it has accelerated faster between 2015 and 2016 in the “informed public” segment. And this is what makes this report so interesting. Despite a wide and growing concern around big data, meta data and data analytics, those who are MOST LIKELY to know and understand the use to which their data will be put, are reporting an improvement in their sense of trust.

And it is this “Trust Paradox” which offers both hope for business and a warning. For while trust has been improving, business and government is only as trusted as the last security breach or unexpected outage. The IBM/Forbes’ Fallout Report estimates that “lost revenues, downtime and the cost of restoring systems can accrue at the rate of $50,000 per minute for a minor disruption”. A prolonged problem would take an even greater toll on brand reputation and business goodwill.

The risk of a breach or outage, however, is not shrinking but growing, thanks to the proliferation of “shadow technology”, expanding supply chains and growing online activism. And as digital transformation continues to take on an ever greater role in customer experience, the potential for consumer impact and reputational damage also grows.

John Hagel suggests that as brands work towards a “trusted advisor” status, that they will have a “growing ability to shape customer purchasing behaviour”. But brands will only have this luxury while the Trust Paradox works in their favour. At present, the Edelman Trust Barometer suggests the balance of power remains with our peers. We trust them more than anyone else. And that means securing or “scaling trust” (using John Hagel’s terms) remains our real challenge in the years ahead.

Six Principles to Build a Great Content Brand

All brands should start to act like publishers.
— Every consultant

No doubt you’ll have heard that brands need to start to act like publishers. And I am as guilty as the next person/consultant of using this concept – but I do so advisedly. You see, many moons ago, I worked in publishing. And now I don’t. In fact, many people have started their careers in some form of publishing and have either been forcibly ejected from the industry through some form of disruptive change, or they exited strategically to reinvent themselves.

But the plain fact is that publishing is in decline.

However, knowledge of publishing has never been more necessary.

Good publishers have known forever that their best asset is their audience – and that strong writing, creative and content is what attracts that audience. Many businesses, from startups to enterprises, think that “content marketing” is simply a function of production – that you just need to feed the various channels so that you can cover all your needs. But this is 20th Century thinking. It’s broadcast masquerading as social media.

To be heard in a noisy, always-connected world, you need to be relevant. And that requires some rethinking around your content strategy.

Luckily, the folks from Velocity Partners have done the hard work of distilling this challenge into six key principles:

  1. Be the buyer (ie know your customer)
  2. Be authoritative (ie know what you are talking about)
  3. Be strategic (ie connect the dots for your customers)
  4. Be prolific (ie produce regular, reliable, quality content)
  5. Be passionate (ie have a point of view)
  6. Be tough on yourself (ie make an effort to produce good work)

In addition I would add a final point to this – buddy-up. Most of us are not geared towards producing enough content – let alone producing enough QUALITY content. This means partnering. It’s worth experimenting and collaborating to find a team that is right for you. After all, you’re building a great content brand, right, not just factory farming content?

ANZ Bank Retains Most Valuable Banking Brand for 2014

Rankings. I can take them or leave them.

But Brand Directory’s evaluation of banking brands for 2014, in association with The Banker, does an interesting job of placing a monetary value on the intangible asset that is an organisation’s brand. And this year, as shown below, ANZ pips CommBank at the post, to take out first place in the Australian rankings.

BankBrandValue2014

In simple terms, brand valuation calculates the difference between book value and market capitalisation. But Brand Directory use a range of calculations in an attempt to get a handle on what a brand may actually be worth. Their methodology is called the Royalty Relief Method.

RoyaltyRelief

Now, I prefer more straight up calculations – less opinion and more fact – but there is something quite appealing in the brand strength index. The use of a balanced scorecard across a range of business indicators sounds great. But I digress.

The real reason these kinds of rankings are useful is that they allow those within the business to get a sense of whether the brand is resonating in the marketplace. Not with analysts, but with potential and existing customers. It marks you out as a player or a stayer. And because leaderboards shift and change over time, it helps to determine, relative to your peers, whether your brand/marketing efforts are shifting the dial.

And if I was on the brand side trying to go deeper with these statistics – I’d bring my own, internal knowledge into play. I’d look to assess, year over year, what my spend and resourcing commitment was – so that I had an even better insight into what works or doesn’t. And then maybe, just maybe, there’d be an ROI figure that I could apply to my efforts. But this would be my own little secret. Another intangible that I’d add to my brand value.

Get More from Instagram

I have been a fan of Instagram for some time. Not just because of the filters … but because it has developed an interesting and engaged community of users. Instagram has become the Flickr that the internet didn’t forget.

But there is a vast difference between using Instagram as an individual and using it as part of your business marketing toolkit. But many of the things that you love about Instagram personally, can be usefully applied professionally – with a couple of caveats:

  • Think with your brand hat on: Consider the content, composition and colour of the photos you are taking. Try to provide some form of visual consistency
  • Let your personal creativity and personality shine: Just because you are working on a professional presence doesn’t mean that it is a personality free zone. You got your job due to your unique talents. Apply these to your Instagram efforts
  • Connect in and connect out: Make sure that your Instagram efforts are connected with your broader marketing and business strategy. Remember, likes are not revenues, so don’t get carried away with a flurry of interest. But do take advantage of the high levels of community engagement available through Instagram – it’s a great way to connect out to your community.

This great presentation on Instagram by Ross Simmonds provides some fantastic guidelines for doing more with Instagram together with samples of brands that are doing the right things.

Note to Brands: Make Things People Want

Have you ever wondered why marketing and advertising is such hard work?

We are constantly trying to change the way that people behave and think – positioning brands and businesses in the centre of a relationship that is only ever on the peripheral of our customers’ worlds. And while for us – for the business owner, brand manager or agency – there is a real centrality to our relationship with the brand, it is simply not the case for the vast majority of the people that we want to talk to.

ifyoutalkedtopeople-thumb

As Hugh MacLeod explained back in 2006, “if you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face”.

And while social media awareness has become widespread, many businesses still struggle with it. Where’s the ROI they ask. Where’s the relevance? How will it drive sales? And while these are important questions, they are important questions for a mature channel. Very few businesses have the knowledge, expertise and capability to determine the answers – let alone the capacity to integrate these answers into a comprehensive brand and engagement framework. The channel has matured but our organisational understanding of it continues to lag.

But there is another way.

Rather than making people want things – spending our precious resources creating awareness, inspiring interest and stimulating desire in our customer base, what if we just made things that people want?

What of we went further – and understood our customer’s journey from the outside-in? So, rather than pushing messages out designed to interrupt and stimulate – what if we could participate and engage? What if we provided so much incentive, surprise and delight that this engagement prompted purchase, created a business relationship or turned a “detractor” into an advocate?

What if what we did made someone’s life better?

John Willshare argues exactly this – that brands are fracking the social web – and missing the real opportunity presented by digital and social media.

But what can you do? Practically? Why don’t you start:

  • Small: Rather than thinking of the vision that will change the world, what is your vision that will change one person’s experience of what you do. Have the big vision in your back pocket, but start as small as you can bear.
  • Quick: Stop thinking about doing and start acting. Raid the petty cash tin and think about what you can do with a budget you can hold in one hand.
  • Inclusive: Don’t sit in a room planning – go talk to your customers. Engage with them on social media. Bring them into your process

And I bet that within a week you’ll have a deeper understanding of the problems your customers want you to solve than you have resources to deliver. And that’s the whole point, surely.

EveningCreative Commons License Hartwig HKD via Compfight

A Date with Lindsay Lohan. Or How Celebrity Adds Punch to Your Brand

If there is one thing I love, its when people are publicly honest. Or self-deprecatingly honest. Or self-deprecatingly honest in public. But I love this even more when the person at the centre of the confession is famous. Or hyper-famous, like Lindsay Lohan.

So, imagine that you are the brand manager for eHarmony, the dating site, and you notice that your social media mentions are going through the roof. What could it be? A crisis? A catastrophe? Another cat picture?

Maybe it’s a parody by Funny or Die. Featuring Lindsay Lohan.

Brand Storytelling: Teradata’s Case of the Tainted Lasagna

Brand storytelling can be hard work. Not only are there all the internal hurdles to overcome, sign-offs and legal checks and so on – there is also the challenge of subject matter. What do you do if you have a complex product or solution that you are trying to explain? Which channels do you choose – and how do you incorporate social media into the mix.

I was recently speaking with a financial services industry CEO who lamented that they have the most boring product in the world. He couldn’t see how it would resonate with a social media-savvy audience.

But social media is not broadcast – especially in B2B (business-to-business) marketing. You’re not trying to reach and engage millions of people – you are (or should be) focused on the buyer’s journey and helping to ease your customer’s decision making process. That means selecting the most appropriate channel – and delivering content that provides very specific value to your customer at their point of need. And brand storytelling can form a very powerful component of your content strategy and lead nurturing program.

Still unsure of how this might work for you and your brand?

Enterprise software vendor, Teradata, have been experimenting with brand storytelling for some time and have taken a novel approach that you may want to steal (I mean “learn from”). Tapping into pop culture’s interest in forensic analysis (a la CSI), they have created a series of videos that take a new approach to case studies and product/solution brochures. The “Business Scenario Investigations” or “BSI” team dramatize business problems and then showcase how technology can be used to “solve” the problem.

Each of their videos can be found on the BSI: Teradata Facebook page as well as the YouTube channel. They cleverly provide a powerpoint version of the scenario via Slideshare and share the storyboarding process from problem definition to casting through to resolution.  And while the case of the tainted lasagna may not be to your taste, it’s likely to be very appealing to those CIOs and CMOs wanting to understand how data can transform their businesses. And that’s tasty. Very tasty indeed.

51: CSI: Investigates! Kit via Compfight