19 September 2013

Social Media Connect People with People, not People with Products

Twitter brought a coincidence to my professional life yesterday, and it made me think about how brands use -- and misuse -- social media.


For me, Twitter is a way to learn about #Marketing and #Advertising and network with people who do the same.  Somewhere along the way I met David Schwartz, a.k.a. @1ad_dad, a consultant from Nashville, Tennessee.  David is an enthusiastic networker, connecting groups of people in #FF (Follow Friday) groups, and I’m in one of those.  Occasionally I’ve spoken with a couple of marketers in the group.


Yesterday one of my colleagues said we were scheduled for a phone call with Justin Campana of JC Decaux.  Justin Campana?  That name sounded familiar.

Sure enough:  It was @Justin_Campana from the #FF gang.


We are so totally networking right now!
It was a fun phone call.  Building on the friendly hellos from social media, we realized we went to adjacent high schools and both like the New York Yankees.  Not incidentally we had a productive business conversation that will surely lead somewhere for both of us.

What are the lessons for marketers?

Connections are authentic.  Neither Justin nor I were really “selling” each other, and if we had been, neither one of us stalked the other on Twitter as part of a prospecting plan.  David had already introduced us, and we made the connection.  Frustratingly, though, many marketing messages barge right in on your social media experience with messages like "Isn't it time you cleaned your toilet?"  Social media connects people with people, not people with products.

People + People = Networks.  An early epiphany working with social media was that individual people rely on their networks (read: groups of friends) as gatekeepers.  Thus, the job for marketers is to figure out how you are going to connect with  -- be relevant to -- these networks.  Most marketing on using social media just tries to break through and rack up Likes or Followers.  

Connection first, conversation second.  In the same way, most social media conversation topics ("Did you know today is Talk Like a Pirate Day?") are just borrowing interest.  Your favorite brand of cookie has more fans or followers than the population of Venezuela because people like the product.  That allowed their genius to shine when the clever messages went out later.

Be patient.  Wait for coincidences like the one that arrived at my door yesterday.  You can artificially drive up Likes or Followers, but that won't cement any connections between people and your product.  That kind of relationship can only develop by being the best product you can be, and showing a genuine interest in others.

16 September 2013

Small Media Agencies Far from a Dying Breed (UPDATED)

Last week's news about KSL Media going bankrupt sent one trade publication jumping to conclusions.  AdAge.com blared:  "KSL Bankruptcy Calls Into Question Marketer Appetite for Indie Media Shops".  The gist of the story was that KSL had to go out of business because it was losing clients to big, holding-company media agencies.  Indeed, Bacardi left KSL for Mindshare this year.  Could one client loss really kill a small media agency?
If only it were just $8,000

It's actually a much more dramatic story:  Former KSL controller Geoffrey Charness is accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars.  (We hasten to add he's innocent until proven guilty.)

It’s no crime, however, to be an "indie media shop".  Independent media agencies serve clients that the big agencies overlook, and do it well.

There's no question that scale counts when negotiating low CPMs on a big budget.  But scale isn't everything in media.  

“Media” and “Creative” aren’t mutually exclusive

Media has become more creative in recent years, driven by the development of hundreds of new ways for brands and consumers to connect with one another.  In other words, media isn't just about scale, it's about innovation.  

Large media agencies have no more of a monopoly on innovation than do large creative agencies.  It's interesting to note that TurboTax recently awarded its creative account to Wieden + Kennedy -- and then, two months later, also gave them the media planning and buying assignment.

We'll find out how the KSL-embezzlement-bankruptcy storyline plays out over the next few weeks.  It won't be pretty for the employees who faithfully executed their duties every day, coming up with ideas to build their clients' businesses.

But it’s safe to say that we'll still have "indie media shops" far into the future, continuing to build clients' businesses in ways we can't even imagine.

UPDATED 11 October 2013:

The plot thickens.  Today MediaPost is reporting that KSL Media loaned millions of dollars to senior execs, even in its waning days.

10 September 2013

Digital Out Of Home Media is All About Engagement

This past week the Digital Screenmedia Association held a symposium which captured the big trends in -- well, a kind of media that goes by several names.  Digital Out Of Home, or DOOH.  Digital Place-based Media.  Digital POP.  If there’s no consensus on what to call it, you know it’s a dynamic part of the media universe.  Watch this space!  (Literally and figuratively.)

What is Digital Out of Home?

Just to give it a little more definition, DOOH includes electronic billboards, stadiums, in-store video, and place-based networks reaching into doctors’ offices, gas station pumps, public transit, ATM machines, bars, malls and many other nooks and crannies of daily life.  Penetration is especially high in Europe and some Asian cities, and increasing in North America.

Now THIS is consumer engagement!
These screens are popping up everywhere because the technology behind them is getting cheaper to build and install.  Moreover, people are on the move so much that marketers are looking for new ways to engage them.  Still, there’s a sense that marketers under-utilize digital out of home.

That may change when some of the following trends start to materialize.

Engagement is the future of digital screens

Throughout the two days, engagement was a constant theme.  Technology permits not only a million screens, but ways for consumers to use those screens to get more information, get entertained or get some useful information.  Many of you know about R/GA’s interactive billboards for Nike.  In the future it might look like this scene from Minority Report, which Tom Fishburne delightfully sent up with one of his cartoons.  We’ll know the technology jumped the shark when Jaws 19 comes out.

Mobile is the tool

Here and now, Mobile will propel consumer engagement with DOOH.  It’s been clear to me for some time that Mobile isn’t a way for brands to reach consumers, it’s a way for consumers to reach brandsIf they think you'll help them shop, save, win, laugh or learn, you’re in.  DOOH gives brands another opportunity to earn consumers’ invitations to their mobile devices. 

DOOH Engagement:  What’s Next?

QR codes are teaching the behavior of holding up your phone to a scannable image, but there are new, easier ways for the consumer to invite you in.  What’s next?

In Chicago, elevate Digital is deploying truly interactive displays in and around the Loop that encourage participation via social media, connecting with consumers via their own experiences.  In New York, Perch Interactive designs point-of-purchase displays that encourage interaction with a product -- and deliver information about it in the ten seconds that a shopper handles it.  Numerous companies, like Ocutag, GroundCntrl and ShopOne, are developing new ways for CPG marketers to connect with shoppers in the grocery and mass retail channels.

In-store is Out-of-Home

DOOH also happens in the retail environment.  Jennifer Nye, retail channel manager for Kohler, pointed out that “the store isn’t dead; it’s where customer loyalty can be built.”  To be sure, she added, “It’s not just a matter of putting up screens.”  There must be a strategy.  

Lindsay Wadelton, the Flagship Customer Experience Manager at AT&T’s new store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, described a store where they don’t dramatize the product, but the experiences the product delivers.  Digital, interactive signage makes it possible.

Hello, Mr. Yakamoto, welcome back to The Gap

We may be a long way from Minority Report, but DOOH is showing us the way there.  Especially in an era of consumer privacy concerns and enhanced government snooping, the key for marketers will be to earn consumers' invitations into their lives.