Resorting to type.

I had a brief in recently that made me look again at quizzes. Not the intellectual type – but those little addictive Buzzfeed or Facebook feed quizzes that invite you to find out where you should live,  your ultimate pet or your inner Mean Girl.

The sheer volume available online could keep you busy for years, whilst the content itself continues to offer irreverent viewpoints on your personality (today’s top trending are around you inner celeb , Puppies and  the aptly titled “you can only call yourself a cake lover if you’ve eaten at least 22 of these cakes“)buzz2

Traditionally associated with the 15 year old girl filling in Angst ridden magazine quizzes to find out if her crush is really into her, the personality quizzes of today, (and these are the ones making up 77% of all personality quiz types (Source: PlayBuzz.com)) are attempting to appeal to one of three key needs for the user:

  • Personality Type: Borrowed from the premise behind Myers Briggs your answers effectively reveal dominant personality characteristics and thus give you a type. Admittedly on Buzz feed it’s more warrior princess but the need remains the same. People want to know what their personalities reveal about them.
  • Projected Type:  The quizzes that give you a whiff of the future. The potential of who you could be when you grow up. More often than not founded on little else than a great copywriter the ones that work are the ones that offer the user a future self that is either a #fail (comedy value) or dramatic improvement (Ego lift) on their reality. People want to know what their potential could be.
  • Discovery Type: These are the ones that are voyages of self-discovery. Uncovering if you should listen to new artists, visit new holiday destinations or move into a canal boat the questions allow you to discover something about yourself that is inherently fresh and challenges your preconceptions.

For the end user the scientific, or psychological basis of these tests is largely immaterial (discounting the actual real scientific tests that are based out there!) But, as discussed by Robert Simmermon, Ph.D., a psychologist in Atlanta Ga, when chatting with the Huffington Post “It reinforces a sense of ourself, whether it has any legitimacy or not,we know it’s not literal, but we hold out maybe a little secret part of ourselves that hopes it is true.”

So should quizzes play a part in a brands content strategy? Undoubtedly with the right personality, a fabulous copywriter and the right mindset tapped into it can help engage this audience with content in a way that very few other opportunities allow. So what are the principles of great quiz content.

  • Know your purpose. Audience insight, brand engagement or product sales. Know what you’re after before the typologies even start to flow!
  • Brand over Banter…. It’s easy to get caught up in the creative of the quiz but think about how the audience will feel about the brand after. Be consistent with how you should behave, but don’t necessarily behave how they would expect. (Great example from Lloyds here)
  • Share versus Interactions. Some quizzes can be hugely successful by the volume of interactions and the 1:1 quiz / user relationship. Not every quiz needs to end with a shareable result to achieve it’s initial purpose.
  • Seeding the content. Creating a quiz can be as easy as good copy, great stock imagery, but a quiz that is created without any thought to inviting respondents is a very lonely quiz! Consider mailing lists, social media, influencers,  website UX and SEO – then consider if that’s enough to achieve your goal or a cash injection is needed to drive the right volume of visitors through to the quiz.

 

And with that this is a Pocahontas, Chocolate ice-cream flavored 37 year old signing off.

P.S. One of those results was spot on!

 

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New and improved…. #iClone

Today Campaign published an interesting article examining the unrivaled popularity of the iPhone. How attached and habitual we, as consumers, get with a handset but through it’s updates be it handset, or iOS, we can refresh our handset without the need, in the majority of cases, to even consider Android devices (shudder).

It got me thinking around my own mobile phone journey, the Nokia (SMS and snake), Blackberry (first business phone) and then the iPhone – where I’ve sat for over 10 years happily getting the handset upgraded without question. It has the familiar UI that I can feel mildly frustrated with at every iOS upgrade as its the same but different, the camera, the email, the appstore, the indestructable case for my continued dropping of it (thankyou Otterbox). I take an interest in Android, because I need to for my job, but I have never even questioned the need to personally swop sides. I’m what the article would refer to as a pure iClone.

YetNokia1100 considering that the Nokia 1100 sold over 250 million units (iPhone6 comes in at 220 million) consumers can, and even I will, take part in absolute revolution as far as technology is concerned. When it seemed like there was no rival to the Nokia kings at the top of the tree we suddenly reconsidered and most importantly shifted device, the familiar UI, the functions, feature and brand. We knew there were options and these other options offered very distinctive fashion, feature and technical benefits. But could that work now? With Apple mastering the upgrade and refresh model could we see the same sort of handset revolution in the next 15 years?

The difference between the iPhone and it’s predecessors is that  it’s also absolutely unique to the handset owner. The article considers that in the iClone world the iPhone is a social leveler, it’s desirable, has status with no iPhone being better than the next, But, it is, every iPhone has a unique ubiquity – it’s yours, or mine, or theirs.

When I had my Nokia (along with ever student I went through university with) we snakeall played snake, occasionally space impact and without a doubt never opened pairs. We had 4 games, the same features and a limitation to how long that screen could hold our attention. The only way to add our own personality to our phone was a clip on case, a £5 ringtone (delivered by SMS) and a pixelated screensaver. They were a social leveler but they were also customized, not personlised.

Jump forwards 15 years later and our iClone is truly an extension of ourselves, skip away from the obvious photos, whatsapp and social accounts, but just consider the powerful statement that no 2 phones are the same – they reflect our interests, and our must-haves, the utility and the entertainment. The fact your iPhone remains the champion is because it holds exactly what you need.

For when you ask the question ‘What does your iPhone say about you?’ the answer is all-too-often ‘not a lot’.

The iPhone may be a blanket purchase for generations X, Y and Z, and the comfort blanket our pockets can’t be without but by no means is it’s identity served by it’s mass penetration. It’s success and it’s future evolution continue to be steered by the the fact that no 2 iPhones are created equal, nor are superior.

It’s about more I, less clone.

 

 

 

 

 

Must be fashionable and code….

Top Trend overclaim NO’ 1: Marketers will become coders…

 

The other day I stumbled across an infographic which claimed that one of the Top 10 trends for 2015 would be marketers becoming coders…

Seriously.

Admittedly my personal ability to learn coding is probably more likely than becoming a designer (drawing was never my forte) but equally the entire make-up of a person who is driven by marketing, and a person driven by code is entirely different. You only have to stumble through any agency and you can easily transition from design studio, to development studio, to marketing team and instantly see the difference in ambitions and personality by the desk space alone…!

In my mind the trend we will see over the next 10 years (so lets not jump the gun here) is that coding was always seen as a bit of a dark art. The creative you can judge, the marketing plan you can query but the code… Well god knows until you’re testing it and jumping up and down when you realise functions are missing.

The education sector is driving a new generation growing up constantly plugged in to understand and know the basics – this will be the biggest drivers of change. Companies like Barclays with their code playground look a darn site more interesting than the Amstrad blinking green-screen I once tried to create basic code for at the grand age of 10. Kids will feel more compelled to learn as its a faster, more immediate output suiting their “want it now” demands,  and equally their peers will be able to do it. Who wants to have the latest social page if it hasn’t been customized and you’ve had to resort to (shock horror) default settings. elephant

As these kids come through the system they will be more critical of coding decisions and more able to contribute to the debate, in the same way the average “marketer” can critique a design approach).  The pressure of this on management will be to learn and understand more to kep up with the new generation rather than it being something left for other people to understand. And yes – there will be the marketers who dabble in code, WordPress blogs, even manage to build the odd page template or code up an email but by no means do I think these disciplines will converge in the same way. There is a clear line between marketing and design, there will be a line between marketers and code.

2015 wont be the year that  marketers become coders. It will be the year that they start to place more importance in understanding itand start to decipher what’s involved. Coding for brands will be left to the experts and if a marketer can add value to discussion and have an understanding of what’s involved with “code” then that will be a big enough leap for me in 2015.

 

Spinning through the seasons

Yesterday I entered Sainsbury’s with the motivation of nothing more than the mundane “I’m going to eat 5 a day” NYresolution weekly shop and the purchase of a new frying pan (having charred mine with an experimental dinner that didn’t quite work out).

Little did I know in one foul swoop this consumer machine would shunt me from Christmas comedown to Easter menu planning in 20 paces.

Located in the doorway was a tasting station, not just a sample of one baked delight but instead offering me a mincepie  titbit(reduced to 50p per 6 box) and a hot cross bun slice (new into store!)

Just like that forced to decide.

Am I hanging onto Christmas or ready for the springing lambs, bird song and daffodil fields that make springtime.

Well Mr Sainsbury I for one am neither (and with some willpower resisted either trial). I will not be catapulted through life at such an alarming speed that in one guilty bite you transport me past Valentines day, My first wedding anniversary, 2 family birthdays, Mothers day and most importantly MY birthday. Consumerism races us through one occasion to the next – each year seeming to up the ante and need for consumers to invest (and yes as a marketer I too admit I look at opportunities to do this) but seriously. Hot cross buns. In January? To taste?

What happened to the craze of moment marketing – transporting consumers to make the most of now?

Google "Easter" search results 2014.

Google search trends (Jan – April 2014) Easter date 2014: Apr 20th.

And what bright-eyed merchandiser thought this could work – that Easter can be dragged out for 3 MONTHS!!

A simple search on Google enlightens you that Easter is in fact a one month occasion (on mass level). Trends don’t build to a lovely crescendo they hover and slightly over-index in advance of the occasion but BAM  hit when the kids holidays do and isn’t one we’re actively trying to seek out to get ahead of the game,

Stop trying to flog me hot cross buns – they’re tea-cakes till March, and instead focus on passing off mini-eggs as a perfectly acceptable all round treat. That I buy into.

Asda: Sexist or PC gone mad?

I read the article in the observer yesterday citing the 160 + complaints that the Asda ad had generated from the public so far.

Really? Is this because people are genuinely distressed by the ad that is portraying such a horrific picture of Mum and Dad in their traditional roles in the lead up to Xmas? Or is this because media is attracting attention to it and people are jumping on another bandwagon.

The ASA are certainly taking it seriously – positioning a direct reference to it on their homepage.

Making a complaint about Asda?
The ASA has received a significant number of complaints about a TV ad for Asda. The ad features a busy mum doing lots of tasks in preparation for Christmas and on Christmas day and ends with a voiceover that states “Behind every great Christmas there’s mum and behind mum there’s Asda”. Members of the public have objected that the ad is offensive because they believe it reinforces outdated stereotypes of men and women in the home.

But really. Seriously? I didn’t watch it outraged. I watched it thinking “looks about right” based on xmas growing up, and xmas in my household now. Yes – Dad does more but Dad is actually in 2 scenes. It’s not like he’s slobbed out on the sofa the whole time watching TV and waving at Mum, he’s simply not the star of the ad. It’s simply paying homage to the fact that Mum, in the majority of households as far as Asda’s target market is concerned (as, let’s all remember they are trying to sell something to us not just entertain us for 45 seconds), plays a big part in the big day. Yes it’s not saying thanks to Dad in this one but, with 80% of Asda’s customers being Mums doing the household shop the job of the agency is to surely appeal to the majority and, I’m sure it’s hard to argue with an insight that was likely to be “Mum’s are a vital part of the lead up to xmas”.

As with anything, I’m sure there could be a cleverer way of doing it (cue John Lewis) but from the pocket slapping retailer is it really that bad?

Mums Net and Fathers4Justice obviously agree (they’ve held their grudge since Asda’s Mumdex) but, for everyone else, can’t we just accept an ad for what it is without turning it into a moral crusade. We know there are households without Mum’s, we know there are households that dont celebrate xmas, we know there are households where Mum is a lazy f*** and Dad does all the work. Actually perhaps the solution is to edit the ad with that as an end frame – just in case the public don’t “get” that it was simply advertising.

Google + – brand pages have arrived

Penetrations at 40 million (worldwide) and with Google+ still being pushed at us with a pretty hefty PR campaign and an assault from some celebs (Britney Spears and Will.i.am), and now from brands, it appears that this social network from Google is here for at least the short term when consumers will ultimately decide who survives.

The brand pages posed an opportunity for Google to give a superior offering to Facebook. At first glance they’ve failed to deliver with no unique functionality that a brand couldn’t be leveraging in another social channel.

So what can a brand do. …

The same as the rest of us. They can upload photos, videos, status updates, start a hangout (The muppets launched one at 4:30PST today) but the issue still is the lack of consumer penetration which means the numbers just aren’t there. All of this is evident from the small followings that brands are picking up, with even Kermit the frog failing to achieve big numbers!

There is also the key issue that any brand needs to consider ” How does a consumer truly see me”.

The whole premise of Google is based on circles. You HAVE to place anyone you want to follow into a circle.  Consider this…

Your mum joins – you add her to your family circle. Your Best mate joins – you add her to friends. A one night stand joins – you create and add them to a circle called “Ex-boyfs”. You see Toyota and create a circle called…. “Brands”.

In no way will brands be able to connect in the same emotive way because consumers will simply put you in a sales / marketing / product / brand bucket. It’s auto-pilot and that’s the whole point of circles. You don’t have to think to use it, it’s intuitive. And intuitive isn’t great when you’re trying to be disruptive or get under the skin of the consumer who’s given you a “marketing shit” label. Yes – until people have organised their feeds you will show up in their central thread but, after then, you are unlikely even to get exposed to your consumers updates and, be honest, how interesting is that? (I’m sure Toyota isn’t interested that I’m drinking a cuppa and eating a hobnob? Nor can glean any insight from it) Where as Facebook clearly got consumer penetration and it then took a while for brands to get on board, brands and consumers are adopting + in tandem and, as yet, the benefit (or opportunity) for brands seems to be limited.

So what should brands consider as useful for Google+ right now….

– Inexpensive market research. The ability to recruit individuals for online, Live streamed, focus groups using hangouts – despite only 9 people being able to interact at any one time, this free service definately has value for quick and fast research.

– Advocacy programmes: Being able to classify, and then market to consumers, based on actions you want them to perform and even talk directly to them – truly being able to differentiate your brand fans from brand consumers. Only snag is you have to know who they are and then create the relevent circles!

– YouTube: It’s massive and it’s inevitably going to have to be THE channel for Google getting this to all work. Video content (and capabilities) are far superior to Facebook’s offering and, as Google+ continues to evolve, and becomes integrated into YouTube’s service, it will become critical to how consumers adopt and use the service.

– Watch and learn: Yes, it’s going to get press but, at the moment it hasn’t got the numbers or reach. A bit of “watch and learn” and a slice of budget pushed aside for if it does hit mass in 2012 is the cautious marketers option….