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.

Morrisons….

And while I’m at it – why is the Morrisons one not perceived as sexist? Just because it’s using humour?

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….

Take this lollipop

It’s been a while since I’ve seen something on Facebook that not only makes me share it but also makes me actively go and do something and, in this case it was check all my security settings on my profile!

This is sure to be a massive viral hit so check it out and, when details of where this has come from (and to prevent me giving the game away) – freak yourself out a little bit and check this out….

So go on… Take this lollipop

Britain’s Greatness

I was en route home from another meeting heavy day in London and reading The Times this evening when I stumbled across an article on a new campaign by Mother, promoting Great Britain. (Note I’d link you to the article but I dont pay The Times subscription fee – a similar article can however be found on the Metro.

In both articles they report a negative reaction to the new campaign, designed at getting overseas visitors onto our shores, pulling apart the campaigns portrayal of GB citing the big complaint at intending to get

“people to think, British people are the most talented in the world. That’s wonderful, I’ll come’ The alternative is that they will think: ‘Says who? I’m from the United States and I think we’re better”. – The Times.

Mother's latest ad campaign

This is a valid point. Yes, the advertising undoubtedly reeks of us Brits going out there and boldly claiming that Creativity, knowledge, heritage, music, sport, entrepreneurs, innovation, shopping, green and countryside is Great (Britain) . And yes, by claiming they’re great appears to claim by default that we’re superior but, let’s be honest, all advertising is self-obsessed “look how great our product is” in one way or another, more so when it comes to travel. Let’s take a reality check perhaps you just wouldn’t meet many Americans anywaywho dont believe we are a nation of pompous old fools who believe in an empire, wear tweed and definately think we have the upper hand.

David cameron on the other hand, defends the two-thirds publically funded campaign

In 2012 there will be only one place to be. There are so many great things about  Britain and we want to send out the message loud and proud that this is a great  place to do business, to invest, to study and to visit – David Cameron IN Metro

Yes David, I agree with all of the above but to then state that its a great way to counteract the rioting picture,  showcase modern Britain and celebrate Olympic excitement  (which is increasingly creeping up on us like a corporate wicked witch) is definately not the case.

No it doesn’t address Britain as a multi-cultural destination, it doesn’t challenge perceptions or showcase the reasons why Britain should be a must-visit destination in recession hit times. It simply reads as a conceited CV of someone you wouldn’t employ. A list of all of our Greats and no acknowledgement of the human qualities that actually make Britain great and totally unique. The family-owned bakery, the old man’s pub (if you can find one), the iconic curry house, the crazy man on the corner and the fish and chips on the pier. In keeping it Grand  we’ve lost the reality and charm that people do fall in love with.

Maybe the line should have been “Holidaying is Great <Britain>” – cue picture of suitable old guy propping up the bar with fag in hand and guiness in the other. Actually scrap that. There is no bar, there is a smoking ban and, god forbid, we even start to suggest binge drinking…..!

Facebook Interaction: When’s best to post?

One thing clients have always asked us is “How can I optimize Facebook to my advantage?” and, until recently, it has been really nigh on impossible, without dedicating a full team to manually trawl external brands Facebook pages, to sucessfully find the right information.
Today someone pointed me in the direction of a study done by a company called Momentus Media based in San Francisco. Yes it has it flaws, and admittedly is out of the US but definately provides more food for thought.

From a methodology point of view the study was done by compiling a list of 20k top pages and then looking at 15k individual posts (Phew). Based on this they were then able to develop some key learnings (distilled into a whitepaper that is accessible here).
Check out some of the key findings below!

1. What is the best time to post?
a. Weekends and off-peak hours.

2. How many times should I post
per day?
b. As many times as you want.

3. What type of content elicits the
most interaction?
c. #1 Photos, #2 Statuses

4. Should I ask fans to Like and
Comment on my posts?
d. Yes! Asking to Like increases interaction 216%

5. Should I ask my fans
questions?
e. Questions don’t increase interaction rate, but they
do increase commenting rate. Make sure to ask
fans to answer your questions with a comment.

6. How long should my status
messages be?
f. Long or short, we found no correlation between
length and interaction rate.

7. How long do my posts last in
the Newsfeed?
g. 50% of clicks happen within 1 hour, 90% happen
within 9 hours.

I think whilst this can provide some great cues to point brands in a direction that could be more effective this should by no means be taking as red. Take, for example, the comment that photos then status’ work best for interactions. Their methodology is based on total numbers of likes and comments / number of lifetime fans – argely because imps isn’t an available metric if you’re not a page admin. In addition (and perhaps this is a UK specific trend) our experiences on some of the leading brands we work with shows that it’s actually polls that generate the highest interaction rate, whilst status’ win every time if you’re wanting written feedback.

Another note worth remembering is that Impressions can play a vital part in formulating when’s best to post. Not only should you consider your interaction rate but also your reach – at first glance the recommendation is that off peak hours cause the highest interaction rate. Yes – this makes sense. Think of your own facebook feed. You personally will see a dip in the volume of items from your friends, and brands as it gets later in the evening or early hours in the morning. You have less to compete with at this time and, as a brand, can benefit from more interactions but an issue with this is that the impressions will be a lot lower. Is it interactions or Opportunities to see that are more important to your brand or your message as this should also play a vital part in informing when you’re posting.

Optimum time of day for Facebook post interactions

Frijj – incredibles campaign

Whilst doing the mundane weekly shop in Tesco this week I stumbled across the new range from Frijj – 3 brand new milkshakes that had absoultely no appeal to me but, at a guess, I’d say I’m not the target audience for these raspberry jam, honeycomb choc or Sticky coffee range! Admittedly I stumbled across them as they had taken off the whole of the reduced items section (something that might not suggest positive sales or poor over-ordering by the Tesco buyers) but this isn’t a critique of stock replenishment at my local store…

New Toffee frijj milkshake flavour

Toffee frijj - not my cup of tea!

Having a snoop around online when I got back I soon found this is a new brand launch and has been supported by a digital campaign to embrace the unexpected – with an initial digital game of “You LOL you lose” which will be followed in September with a pet translator app…

The game sees you confronted with multiple YouTube clips and using webcam technology you have to keep a straight face.

Unfortunately the technology is hyper sensitive and is a very false environment. The slightest twitch of the head, sticking your tongue out or even fast blinking (yes I tried all of the above) causes you to lose even if you stay firmly straight faced. The video clip I stumbled across promoting the game equally shows individuals with such an exagerated laugh I was begining to wonder if I simply dont find YouTube funny as I’ve certainly never found anything as amusing to justify a head back gaffaw – a gentle giggle and a share maybe…
With the predictable share functionality to beat and share your scores amongst your Facebook or Twitter clan this campaign feels like it could have done something much bigger, or cleverer. The concept of using facial recognition for scoring is great but due to its hyper-sensitive and false environment it really feels this is a try it once gimmick – maybe like the milkshakes….

Social specialists (Arghhhhhh……!!!!)

No really.

I get that when new channels emerge new specialists spring up. Mobile = mobile agencies. AR = AR agencies. Apps = Application agencies I agree with this, I’d use these agencies and I understand the logic that not all agencies have all the skills (nor should have the skills to do everything under one roof) but what I am getting increasingly frustrated with is agencies that call themselves “social”.

Social agencies, as they call themselves, are positioning themselves as the future of digital. Clients, whom previously have never seen senior support are suddenly being asked “how will this campaign work on Twitter/Facebook” and, in response, we’re seeing new agencies being added to rosters as the social specialists.

Okay – I work at 20:20, a full service digital agency and yes, I’m responsible for social media so perhaps I am bias BUT I dont believe the future of social is going to be maintaning a brands Facebook Page or Twitter account. Give it 18 months and consumers (and brands) will be sick of receiving status updates from brands asking them what they are up to this weekend and, yes, yet again, we will be back full circle to it being about content. Yes social agencies can create applications (or at least have the ability to outsource them) but it’s back to the age old problem. Digital is constantly changing. A good full service agency will evolve to take into consideration these skills because, of course, they are VITAL to the success of the brand and use these, along with the skills and experience it’s learnt over the last 10 – 15 years to understand it’s role in the digital strategy.

Facebook isn’t a strategy – just like ITV isn’t a strategy. It’s a tool. There are lots of them about. Understanding what’s in that toolbox and using everything to the best of the ability is what makes great digital campaigns and for the future creating meaningful connections via social channels is key in that success.