If you're tired from leaning in you can now be seated


Much has been written about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In mantra and I don’t really want to add to that. Or maybe I do.

I read the book (audible audio book to be exact) and I was impressed with the tough road that Sandberg described. But on reflection I don’t think leaning in is my problem. If anything, I probably over-lean and the thing I need to work on is of a different nature.

 TD Jakes cracked my code with his own posture statement: Be Seated.

Be Seated gives you permission to take the position that has been given to you and function in that place.

Over the years I could never understand why people seemed to want to move me out of my position all the time. People questioned my authority and would look puzzled when I turned up to meetings “are you the brand manager?”” “”they used to hire more senior people to be communications managers…”’ and the seed would be planted that I wasn’t really meant to be there and I would start selling and justifying my position to other people.

I guess it is related to the ‘”imposter syndrome” that Sandberg says she still suffers from but I really like how Be Seated provides an answer. Don’t be surprised if people try and steal your seat  -it happens-and the more valuable your seat is, the stronger the winds will blow to try and move you.

I did a little Be Seated experiment a few weeks back at a conference. I was allocated a seat at a round table that just happened to be next to the keynote speaker. He was a Silicon Valley tech advisor and we made friendly banter about the weather and his sightseeing around Sydney. Suddenly, the seat attacks commenced. People hovered around and tried to push into my conversation “can I just get passed you?”’, “can I just get my chair in there?”

I remembered to Be Seated and ignored the swooping. The keynote speaker started showing me a new SIM card that’s being tested by the US military. The swooping intensified. All I was doing was sitting in my allocated seat and chatting to my neighbour but I started to realise that the activity had nothing to do with me

They wanted what I had. I had a good seat.

Then I started to realise "I've always had good seats and that's why I've always had people trying to unseat me.""

If you are currently experiencing swooping and elbowing in your allocated position remember, it’s a positive sign. Other people have seen what you have and they want it. Be seated, chat to your neighbour and enjoy your good seat. You might learn something about US military SIM cards and it's less tiring than leaning. 

Things that I went to

It was a busy week of ‘things that I went to’ and they were all very informative and lovely and well run and definitely worth going to. Rackspace Solve was the standout with a most excellent conference at the Shangri La hotel. The focus was on managed cloud and it showed Backspace responding to the commoditisation of cloud services by dialing up there high-level customer service and support offering. 

Rackspace ANZ general manager Angus Dorney -wants to manage your cloud
So now you’ll see Rackspace talking about Microsoft Azure and VMware and even Google and Amazon (although not so much) as hyper scale, bulk providers and demonstrating their OpenStack and managed cloud expertise which is a clever move I think. The Rip Curl Search GPS wearable watch that tracks all your surfs was the case study darling (it’s worn by His Royal Shark Puncher Mick Fanning) and some of the spiky traffic load stuff on virtual sports games and government transport sites was also very interesting. And while I didn’t win the Apple Watch raffle, I did get a drink bottle, phone charger, T shirt, some excellent branded pens and a lot of lovely photos of Sydney Harbour from the 36th floor of the Shangri La hotel. 

Sydney looking glorious from the 36th floor Blu Bar. Look at it, it's beautiful. 
Can I also mention that event and conference production values matter a lot when you are blabbing on about managed systems and customer service (if you can’t organise a cup of coffee for 50 people then I have limited confidence in your ability to manage my cloud) and the Rackspace event was off the charts excellent so well done clap clap clap etc. 

Adobe systems Darling Park, Sydney swish and a nice breakfast too thanks
In a less infrastructure more content way, the Sydney content marketers converged on Adobe’s offices on Wednesday and that too was an excellent little gaggle of like-minded people. It was mainly people from large marketing and content teams. 

Content marketers- assemble!
I was a little surprised that people were still asking whether or not they should be producing their own content or if they could just curate (there are no easy paths to content quality and if you are a big brand then yes, 95% of the time you need to produce and distribute your own content) and at the low level of analysts usage (Google analytics of Adobe Omniture as a nod to our host :)..) so it would seem we are still at the early stages of full in-house brand publishing models. Great to see all the IRL faces behind the brands as always. 

Victor Dominello MP, food, and award festivity at the Fishies
Friday night was Fishburners night with NSW awards announced for GovHack Sydney. While my team didn’t pick up any prizes, it was good to see the winning hacks and eat some Mexican food and watch the politicians in full award handshaking, smiling-for-the-camera action. The Ministers for Innovation and Small Business turned up as did some Sydney Water people and a few Councillors so it was good to see the event getting support from NSW government. 

Obama's strategy man campaigning hard for Uber

Uber has strangely boxed itself in a corner as the bad boy of new technology with a startup jerk comms vibe it can’t seem to shake even with boxes of orphan kittens. 

Enter David Plouffe, the newish VP Policy and strategy for Uber. 

President Obama and David Plouffe even share computers

He has the techno-positive pro climate, pro jobs, freedom of everything rap combined with the strategy brains and superior communication skills of someone who can lead Obama to win the 2008 presidential election- because that’s what he did. 

David Plouffe is an excellent communicator and has better work stories than you

Speaking at the old boy’s clubish University of Sydney Great Hall last night, Plouffe was the star of the show and even some academic policy wonk think tank types who thought they should have a reserved seat were left to stand squished down the side behind the media crews in a pile of extension cables. Hopefully by now you know that anything presented by [insert last name of someone who is dead and did some civil deeds + Institute] = a political lobby type exercise and this one was hosted with the McKell Institute just so all the journalists can vent their disgust at the Americanisation of Australian politics and that a loaf of bread doesn’t cost ten cents anymore like it did in the good old days. 

There’s no argument that the Uber technology is superior and that’s not why Uber hired David Plouffe to tell awesome Obama campaign war stories. 

They hired him because of ‘the taxi thing’. The ‘taxi thing’ is the weird symbol on your Uber app that doesn’t make sense.. Uber Taxi. 

I pressed the button once accidentally because no UberX drivers were available and a normal New South Wales registered taxi turned up. Odd. The driver was fantastic and very pro Uber, the superior technology. He showed me his screens and how it works, how much more he made and how good it is for him that you almost never get no-shows, the drivers also like being able to communicate with the passengers. I was confused by his optimism because I thought taxis were anti-uber and he basically summarised David Plouffe’s role in one sentence

“I am pro Uber, I am anti the illegal Uber X cars” 

The Uber taxi man is a registered New South Wales vehicle operator who has to pay a fee and do a test and some screening and some other stuff like meter checks and ID cards and- oh look I don’t know the regs but you get the idea. The ‘illegal Uber X’ chaps have no legal standing, aren’t registered as a business and fall outside of the current state laws. 

To be clear, Uber wants their drivers to be regulated but in a very light touch way. A “hi I’m not a sexual predator/axe murderer” check, something about vehicle safety and if I had my way, a Google maps test.  Prem Mike Baird will probably win New South Wales (good) and he’s having a solid run on health as long as The Tony Factor stays the hell away from his campaign so not much will change this side of the state election but when you are quoting jobs numbers like “we have 2000 drivers on the road in New South Wales, we could have 20 000” you can see that Uber will get meetings and start to make policy inroads -pun definitely intended. 

'can you direct me to your location? -no that's your job'

I’ve said this before, I am very pro-Uber and the sharing/collaborative economies. I’m not a big fan of swimming against superior technology that everyday people like and I currently use Uber about three times per week. It has a few teething issues as any rapidly growing company does. For example, the head of Uber AU told me that “Uber drivers don’t get lost”…yes they do and it’s my pet peeve as a passenger when I get asked to navigate and when drivers are using a mapping system that isn’t Google Maps Sydney which is a most excellent product and why the hell would you not use it and how come you found the pickup location but suddenly as soon as I get in the car you can’t be bothered thinking? I love how the drivers are mostly new migrants and it gives them a job. I like the two-way feedback system and I’m pretty sure there’s something on driver feedback that says “she gets really shitty if you don’t use Google Maps” because all the drivers seems to have a conversation with me about navigation systems as soon as I get in the car.  

The best part about Uber is that you can communicate with the driver and get true door-to-door service which, when your leg has been smashed through a brick wall and you can’t walk- is super useful. 

There’s a lot of padding around choice, jobs, emissions and, I seriously heard this term used to describe an apartment build in Melbourne the other day- densification of cities but the real issue is the ‘illegal Uber X cars” and Uber need to get their drivers out of the grey zone before the incumbent taxi unions bury them in legal challenges and old-world legislation. 

exactly how I look arriving at my hospital appointments in an Uber X

Uber need to lose the bro-ness and start talking to mainstream customers in a more inclusive, less startup jerk way and I think a smart head like David Plouffe is a weapon in them achieving this. 

The one thing you can do today to properly understand social media

If you want to understand how social media works, listen to the Facebook earnings calls. I tell people this.They don’t listen to me. 

That’s why I’m happy to tell you my little secret here, because you probably would rather pay two thousand dollars to go to a half day workshop and listen to people who aren’t Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg talk about social media. That’s up to you. 

Facebook has the family lunchbox users and Twitter wants them
And then Sheryl would have explained to you that social media is still a very small part of most brand’s marketing mix and that there is still a big job to do with marketers getting them to understand how to use and measure the ad products to demonstrate ROI. That would have explained to you the Twitter Australia/ Nielsen TV presentation last night and also the overly sorry apology from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo for not zapping enough trolls because they need to reposition Twitter as family friendly. The proactive communications machine roared into life well before the Twitter earnings results this morning which showed that, other than the Google deal, there wasn't much to say. 

Tony-hater of keyboard warriors, the Internet, coffee and the future of the free world
Apparently the Twitterati trolling politicians like former Prime Minister of Australia Tone Abetz for calling social media ‘electronic graffiti’ is not good content for top media buyer Woolworths selling 85 cent loaves of bread to working families so everyone needs to be a bit nicer so Twitter can attract newer, more gentle, kid’s lunchbox users and take some TV ad revenue. You would have heard Mark Zuckerberg explain very clearly to you that social media updates started as text and then went to photos- where Facebook got the big mainstream growth surge from- and that the next wave is mobile video. So if you want to make your posts to rank well on Facebook, perhaps you could post a video? Just a thought… 

If you are the one person that heeds my advice, then the Twitter earnings call this morning is a walk in the park to understand. You would have heard Sheryl talk about the growth of video on mobile and instantly understood why Twitter have incorporated video into their mobile app this week. 

You would have heard Mark talk about search and providing a search experience that ‘nobody else on the internet can provide’. By that he means Google. So then you would understand why Twitter has restarted their deal with Google to index data for search because everyone seems to go through the process of figuring out that a walled garden always seems like a good idea for ad revenue but it’s a big fail for content and discovery. 

Next gen products-mobile, visual, hyper social friend networks
You would have heard Sheryl talk about ‘next generation’ products like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and understand why Twitter launched group direct message functionality.You would have heard the Facebook CFO chappie Dave say (at great speed) that ad prices went up 300%, mainly due to growth in mobile video ads and because they can measure stuff better now. Um what? Yes the prices are going up. 

It’s brilliant, Facebook tells you everything. You have to be a bit more Turing code-breaker to pick the winners in the Google call because it’s basically everything they aren’t talking about that’s interesting. Analysts are spooned up some token numbers about ad network rates that don’t really mean much and then there’s a dismissive hand waggle to ‘emerging non-ad business’ and Google for Work’s plans to take over the world with their operating systems and work tools …look at the self-driving magic Noddy cars everyone!

Today, Facebook is setting the pace in social, definitely in a commercial sense and arguably in an innovation sense and they are worth listening to to give you clarity about the big chunky things that matter in the industry whether you personally like Facebook as a platform or not. 

But that’s up to you. 

Flip your media plan to understand what the hell you're doing

There was this guy who taught us tennis once and he was really good at hitting backhands. Will Starling is his name and he’s all about backhands. 

His theory is that a backhand is a more natural stroke than a forehand, (that’s if you hit the big bottom to top Roger Federer single hander and not the Agassi lycra bike pants in my shorts double hander)  it’s just habit that everyone walks on to a tennis court and hits forehands. Over time, you will get better at forehands just because you’ve hit more of them. My backhand is way better than my forehand because Will Starling used to make us hit backhands first and hit lots of them. 

When you think about or sketch up a media plan you probably do the same thing: TV, print, radio, outdoor….oh and then some digital. Over the years, you’ve probably got used to thinking and working this way so it’s not surprising that you feel more comfortable and proficient working with this type of plan. 

Trad media is the forehand of the media plan and digital is the backhand that everyone walks around and thinks they aren’t good at. 

The way to get better is to start with ‘digital’ and get more experience and practice. Split the generic ‘digital’ out a bit more and it will make more sense to you. For example if you look at the research below you can see they have split out online, search, directories and general advertising (online display, email marketing, integrated site content and online video). 

Of the main segments of the online advertising sector - online classifieds, search, directories, and general advertising (online display, email marketing, integrated site content and online video), search advertising grew 23% in 2013, online general advertising 12%, online classifieds 11% and online directories just 4%. Harpur adds, "From 2013 to 2018, the search market is expected to continue to outperform the other three major segments (online classifieds, online general and online directories), growing at a CAGR of 16%, its proportion of the total online search and directories market increasing from 83% in 2013 to 91% in 2018."

The fastest growing segments in the Australian online advertising market are mobile and online video and both segments are expected to outperform the market significantly over the next five years. Mobile advertising grew very strongly in 2013, driven by high consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets, as well as growing media agency acceptance of mobile channels. It is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 39% between 2013 and 2018 and video advertising is forecast to grow at 31%. By that time advertising served on tablets is predicted to account for 70% of overall mobile advertising expenditure, whilst adverts served on smartphones are predicted to account for 30%.Frost & Sullivan's report, The Australian Online Advertising Market: Year End Review and Market Outlook,

Marketers often have different agencies (or a combination of in-house and agency) working on different parts so you get four or five schedules and never see the complete picture with everything integrated. For your own understanding, pull the numbers out and put them into one spreadsheet so you can see the total activity and spend at a media mix level. Yes- media mix is still important. 

Christmas activity stops on 3 Dec uh oh

Just chunky big numbers, you don’t need all the placements and everything. If you think you don't have time for that just think about how much time you spent making sure the Christmas Creative was 'Christmassy' enough. Exactly. 

You’ll also notice you have overlap. The social media agency is serving display ads on Facebook that isn’t in your online display budget. The Creative you are using on taste.com.au can also be used on Twitter and Facebook. Why are you getting two versions developed? The more you fiddle around with your numbers you’ll start to find better ways of doing things and get more confident to ask questions and not just say yes to all the agency recommendations. Ban yourself from Creative fluffing around and editing and focus on the media and what it’s doing. 

More backhands and less forehands and you'll find digital a lot easier and more natural for you. 

Hoodies up it's time for marketing tag management 101

Lots of little hoodie wearers are going to be visiting your marketing teams talking about ‘tagging’ so it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a crash course first so you don’t get confused panda about the whole thing. 

It's just really seeing 'did the customer come this way?'
Measurement and attribution has always been a pain with both online and offline conversions so companies want you to ‘tag’ up your sites so we can all see what’s going on and what paths customers are taking and where referrals have come from and that sort of thing. 

Web page tagging is a lot like graffiti tagging. Companies use their third party tag’ to show that users have visited somewhere. So companies like Facebook and Google want you to put their tags on your pages so they can show that customers visited your pages on their customer journey. Metrics and research providers like Kissmetrics and Nielsen also use tagging technology to measure who is doing what on a page. A tag is a snippet of code that goes in the html in the page.

"We have nerds that do that, I’m just the marketing person. I think we have all that anyway"

Tagging for mobile

Yes and this where it starts to get interesting and you do need to know this for yourself. You might have heard this week about Facebook launching something called Atlas for ad serving. When you think Atlas think mobile and think mobile video —those auto play videos that are turning up on your Facebook iPhone app.Central to Atlas are Facebook custom audiences. You create a Facebook custom audience by putting a ‘tag’ Facebook Custom audience pixel, on all  your pages. The current FBX ad serving stuff is limited to desktop inventory only. Custom Audiences from Your Website allows targeting across browsers, overlaying of Facebook data, access to mobile inventory, and usage of all Facebook ad units, all of which are not available on FBX. It's the thing that gets read and messed about with in Atlas so they want you to put it on all your things. You can read more about it here

Ok but what about if you don’t really use Facebook, why is this important?

The end game is to connect company data with Facebook data with customer data. The uses are wider than Facebook and the model is one being explored by lots of advertising companies so the more you understand it the better. 

For example, if you go to the supermarket and use a loyalty card, the supermarket has point of sale scan data linked to your personal data on the loyalty card. Using Atlas, the shopper’s data can be imported from a big enterprise database like Oracle and analysed to create highly targeted audiences back into Facebook and, ultimately across online and offline ad networks. Cookies aren't that great on mobile and advertisers want to get to user-level rather than session level measurement so you can imagine with mobile phones, getting down to an individual with a lot more context like geo-location becomes possible. 

WOAH. Yes woah and that’s why you need to try and understand as much of this as possible. 

Step 1 I would suggest is make sure Google Tag Manager (there are other tag managers but this one is free and there is a lot of info around on it to learn from) is managed from client side for your brand and that you can access it. Don’t let the tag management sit with an agency or outside your company if at all possible because you need the agility to manage your own tags.  Google Tag manager means that you can change the tags on your sites without having to get developer resource. Tags such as Facebook Custom audience pixel and Google analytics tracking sit inside the tag manager. Get Google Tag Manager installed and then your team manages it. If you don’t know how then start to learn, it’s really important. 

That is the end of my blog post. 

PS:

If the technical stuff is scaring you and you like the investor strategy stuff then maybe start with this recent interview with early Facebook investor Peter Thiel who just happened to write a book with the partner person for Facebook talking about Atlas Shrugged weird magic-nomics which basically says that there was Microsoft and they missed mobile and Google are good at search stuff but Facebook is good at mobile stuff (shhh don’t mention android) and that there is a massive global ad industry and Facebook is all over it so you should invest. 

Then Marc Benioff tweeted that he’s all about Facebook and Atlas and Salesforce exacttarget are doing some partner stuff with the partner person who wrote the book with Peter Thiel and so it’s donkey kong o’clock but we love competition but monopoly is also good and hey, it’s all about the customers SMILEY FACE :))))

Useful resources for getting unstuck on your social media campaigns

It always amazes me the that people working in marketing and communications industries have such a blind spot about asking the technology vendors how to best use their products. I was working on an FMCG Facebook campaign for an agency in Sydney the other day and we weren’t sure about the best way to consolidate pages that had been run by various agencies and marketing teams over the years.

We got a bit stuck about what you could and couldn’t do so I asked for their Facebook account manager’s contact to get an answer. 

“Um. We don’t have one. There was this guy that called once but…why would you call Facebook?”

“Can you call Facebook? It’s just a sales office I don’t think they help you”

In Australia and New Zealand we have got very used to being self sufficient and not having any product support but remember that things have changed and many companies have had their hands forced into putting boots on the ground in market including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Often the resource is targeted at accounts over a certain spend or certain verticals they’re targeting but in the least, you should be going for their resources and guides to get you unstuck as a first point of call. 

Sometimes it’s just to get a download of the latest resources and examples. I find 20 minutes with an account manager can give me an idea of what campaigns they are benchmarking off, what their latest tools are and any metrics we might want to pay more attention to. 

Use their resources and guides as much as possible and don’t be weird about ‘they just try and sell us ads’. Of course they do, and aren’t you in business too? Learn from them, get some logins for their client resources, ask about latest tools and best practices -it’s their product and it beats everyone sitting around stuck. 

Useful resources
Facebook Media http://media.fb.com/

LinkedIn Sales Navigator http://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/training.html

Twitter for Business https://business.twitter.com/

Google mobile playbook http://www.themobileplaybook.com/en-us/

Social media campaign benchmarking by country http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/australia

YouTube advertising guide http://www.youtube.com/yt/advertise/

The one book you need to understand how TV actually works

I love TV and one Sunday afternoon I picked up a book at a dodgy secondhand book store on K Road that completely changed my understanding of it. You see, most new media discussion on TV falls into three broad categories: how people get TV, how people consume TV and how it's made and funded. I didn't know much about the third part until I read this book and parts of it have since been made into a documentary so you can learn about TV, on TV -amazing. 

1. How people get TV
There are two main ways you get TV -over the internet like Netflix or via a satellite type set-top box thing like Foxtel or Tivo. That’s about it. There are channel offers and the product stuff, trying to increase the ARPU by bundling with data and mobile phones and things. Newish player like telcos are going to extraordinary lengths to convince everyone that what they have is something different but it’s usually not really. 

2. How people consume TV
Then there’s the ‘how people consume TV’ part which is on new devices like mobile and marathoning episodes, on demand viewing, time shifting and that side of things and how it impacts on audience and media buying. Getting warmer and slightly more interesting. Twitter, Twitter Sport and second screen viewing has really revitalised interest in this side of TV and tapping how live viewing with other people in community works. 

3. How people fund TV and content quality
Government and private sector funded TV production and distribution. Now this is the really interesting part and I would like to learn a lot more and see more discussion about this side of TV. It’s usually nodded to as ‘quality content’, ‘viewers will pay for quality content’,’advertisers want to work with quality content’.  

So what's the book?

Kerry Packer was the master of wrapping desirable, cost effective to produce content in a model that advertisers wanted to buy and consumers wanted to lie on the couch and watch with his invention of one-day cricket. One of the most important things you can do in your life is read the book The rise and rise of Kerry Packer. You will learn how TV actually works and also how to get the government to buy you an $800 million satellite with taxpayer money so you can launch a pay TV network. It’s extraordinary. The documentary Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War is also well worth a watch

Kerry Packer Melbourne Cricket Ground

Downton Abbey costs $1.5 million an hour to make. According to a Screen Australia report on television funding, the adult drama it supports costs about $1 million an hour. Overall, drama in Australia costs about $550,000 an hour to make, compared with documentaries at $250,000 an hour, a comparative steal.

When you see it
It costs Australian broadcasters far less to buy shows from overseas. It varies widely, but even if there is a bidding war for the top shows, the upper range would peak at about $150,000 to $200,000 an hour.

If you were a broadcaster trying to please your shareholders, why wouldn't you just concentrate on buying overseas blockbusters instead of making an Australian drama? Well, because the government tells you to; 55 per cent of programming on the main commercial channels has to be Australian, except for the overnight shift when anything will do.

Let that sink in. 
Once you get that part of the equation, things like why Disney paid what it did for Pew Die Pie and how much Tyler Oakley makes off YouTube suddenly make sense. Ridiculous amount of money going through streaming companies for major league baseball live sport rights would seem completely logical to Fanta-drinking Kerry Packer. 

Three is the hard part for commercial media and it’s the hard part for branded and owned media like your company YouTube channel or video posts. Products like Google Hangouts suddenly become more interesting to work with when you stop and remember it’s not costing you the 60-100k an hour it costs networks to make a live news chat show. 

Three is the hard part. The content. Releasing a re-stickered set top satellite box and bundling it with other services is a little bit interesting but not really.Measuring how audiences behave and interact with content is getting warmer but getting quality, desirable, cost effective content is hard and any discussion about TV without that crucial piece just misses the point. 

Further reading: Australia - Pay TV - Historical Analysis - 1994-1997 

How to get better photos for your ecommerce sites

Photos are super important for ecommerce sites so here’s a few tips that might help you to improve yours. We were doing this exercise for a hotel and the main places we needed images for was the company, native web site, travel sites like booking.com, google business and maps, Facebook and Flickr.  Run an analytics report in google analytics, the site you’re using like Facebook or Booking.com or whatever you use and a site backup before you start so you can see the improvement. You want to see search and conversion ratios improving and ultimately sentiment and reviews improving as you empower customers with more information. 

Much like video, be realistic about what you can do with your current equipment and skill levels. I have basic equipment (smartphone camera) and very low photography skills so I know from the start this isn’t going to be a National Geographic award winning exercise. We’re talking snappy, point and shoot stuff for social and ecommerce photo albums. If you are entering architectural awards then you want to brief someone specialist like Simon Devitt who is amazing and at a whole different level of skill and budget. The hobby ‘oh look I have an SLR camera’ person can be your greatest time wasting nemesis. 

Get together some people in your marketing team and write a list of what you need for customer and SEO purposes. You’ll find (with customer content especially) you have a lot of the same types of photos. For example, if you are a cafe you’ll have lots of photos of coffee cups and probably none of the toilets. If you are a hotel you’ll have the front entrance and not the layout of the bathrooms. You want product and ‘answering questions’ type photos that communicate features like:

-does it have free wifi in the room? - photo of person on laptop in room and free wifi sign
-is it child friendly? - photo of child at cafe
-what is the room layout? -photo of room layout and floor plan
-when you say swimming pool is it a resort pool or a lap pool? photo of resort style pool

People are looking for lots of accurate information so as much as you want to put your best foot forward, be careful about showcasing your $300 room when you’re $99 room is the one that most people buy on a deal. If your photos don’t show a true representation of what people get, then you’ll get negative reviews and it’s just not worth it. 

Write some groups ‘newly refurbed rooms’, ‘old rooms’, ‘one bedroom’, ‘two bedroom’ and make sure you cover off different options people might purchase. 

Smartphone cameras are fine just make sure the size is correct for output for example booking.com want quite big images at 2048 x 1536. I’ll say that again: SMARTPHONE CAMERAS ARE FINE. Most of the images your customers post will be from mobile so it’s not a big thing to have some that you took in the mix to front-foot parts of the business you want to show. 

The worst thing you can do is wait around for the perfect photo of everything and then have customers tag and upload all their ugly photos because those will be the ones that appear in search and on sites like Facebook. Put your OK one’s up first. 

Release the hounds. Set everyone off to take photos in the group they’ve been allocated. Try and take photos early in the day or in the evening so the light works but again, don’t get too fussy or you’ll never get around to doing it. We just drew up a little grid and had one person responsible for a part of the business e.g. you are doing two bedroom units in the new part of the building and getting everything on your SEO list. Photos with people in them are prioritised on a lot of sites so make sure you ask anyone’s permission before you publish them in an image- customers or employees. 

Set a deadline and have everyone come back for the upload. Taking photos is the more fun part so watch everyone run away when you get to the boring editing, uploading and tagging part. Have one folder for each part of the grid and put all the raw photos in the folder. 

You want everyone editing and tagging so we used Picmonkey because it’s free for basic things like resizing and cropping. If you have multiple computers that can do Adobe Photoshop or something else that’s great- just don’t be restricted by only having a designer to do it because it’s really slow and you won’t get the volume you want in a short timeframe. Picmonkey struggles a bit with the big 2048 images in browser but just stick to cropping and basic stuff because if you fiddle around with colour setting they’ll all look different and the app crashes too. 

Set a file naming convention like ‘one bedroom new 2048 bathroom’ so other people can use the images again. We resized to 2048 x 1536 for booking.com and went to a standard Instagram square because I just like those at the moment and they’re quite handy to have for social sites - 410 x 410. Do both so you should have three types of each picture 1. raw 2. 2048 3.410

The most important ingredient at this point is coffee and headphones because it’s time consuming but listen to Soundcloud and you’ll get through it. I recommend Cay Taylan’s full album for ultimate photo resizing performance. After a Cay Taylan’s album length of time, you are ready to start publishing. 

Start uploading to the sites. Put one person on each site and make sure they’re working off lists so you cover everything. Booking.com has a tagging directory so that can be a good one to follow. Use your SEO keywords lists as well so the images are tagged correctly. It’s really easy to rush this part and not get the most out of it so try and channel the art direction enthusiasm into photo tagging and people will soon figure out there’s a lot to get through and not be so fussy with the images. If the image is 80% OK, use it. You can go back and update the exceptions later but try and stop people rushing off and taking more photos in the first batch because your uploading soldiers will desert you and leave you with three pretty photos of the main lobby and none of the bedrooms. Just remember that your customers will quickly boost up a photo without too much thought and it might not be flattering so get your ones up there and live. 

Tagging can take ages so really perservere and keep everyone on task because you won’t want to go back and do it later. Next morning, have a quick review of the images that are live and then you can make a list of any you missed or that are really terrible and need a reshoot. You want lots of images, about 20-30 on each site of decent size and quality all tagged up with descriptions and albums and any other helpful meta data like hashtags or geotags. 

Put all the final images into folders and back them all up to somewhere central and cloudy like google drive or dropbox -even though they are live on the sites it just makes it easier for the future. Getting urgency on to the job and powering it out in one or two days is much better than dragging it out with designers on $$$$ hourly rates and then you can go back and get some hero shots later if you want for specific campaigns. Hope that helps and when you run your reports again, the conversions are up and the reviews are positive :)

Structuring enterprise social content teams

Choirs of angels. Buzzfeed have come up with a simple, ‘three content bucket’ structure for differentiating between types of social content: Buzz, Buzzfeed News, and Buzzfeed Life. 

When you talk about ‘social media’ in a company remember that everyone usually defaults to thinking about apps and short snacky type content like Facebook updates and tweets.  Buzzfeed call this Buzz or BuzzTeam for ‘socially-oriented, experimental content’. The thing about this type of content is that everyone enjoys working on it and massively overestimates both how good they are at it and the value it brings to the organisation. It’s important to have it in the mix for attraction and content distribution, but is also the most difficult to measure and can result in a lot of junk that doesn’t really do a lot. 

For most organisations, the Buzzfeed News part will form the earned (media relations, PR) arm of your content strategy. Things like live event or conference coverage, industry news, business results, new appointments, store openings and product announcements. Your blog or blog network should be the home base for this type of content on a company-owned online space.

Your Buzz social team will work with the news team to make the content more digestible and interesting to audiences through engaging headlines, attractive photos and updates through various social media channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Skills like writing, video production, editorial and researching skills, as well as media relations and strategy are needed in the News area. 

Buzzfeed Life is the really new area where organisations need to pay more attention and resource up for client-side, branded media production. Buzzfeed say that their Life team has mainly grown out of success with Pinterest for ‘lifestyle content like parenting tips, recipes, or how-to guide’. You can adapt this to your organisation by thinking about how to better equip and help customers with case studies, maps, how-to videos, whitepapers, playbooks, recipes, budget advice, online calculators, restaurant reviews and inspiring photos.  People developing this type of content will be working more like a traditional ad agency. Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, you might also be making paid media decisions in here about placing Google ads, buying Twitter Cards, making and placing Facebook ads and YouTube sponsored content. 

The three all work together.  So if you are doing a new store opening you might have the Buzz team giving away branded vouchers and T-shirts that the Life team produced. The News team publish blog and vlog posts about some brand ambassadors who might be at the store getting photos with customers.  Paid ads produced by the Life team run on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote the new store opening specials.  I know you're thinking 'that's cool for them but we are a boring government agency' but if you work backwards from how a customer or stakeholder might come across and consume your content you'll find it does make sense and the real challenge is getting teams of people who have flexible skills to work across different formats such as blogs, videos and social channels. Buzzfeed are also known for testing and measuring everything so there is also an analytics component to factor in. Most is done at an individual, content producer level and the teams are benchmarked with dashboards to deliver the most effective and shareable formats. 

Start small. Even getting teams that haven't worked together to agree on one hashtag can be a challenge at the start but take the tiny triumphs and try to keep the focus on News at the start as everyone will want to talk about and work on Buzz. Also, try and be realistic with Life content. You probably won't be able to produce a $5 million Samsung TVC in three hours on a $300 Go Pro. Learn to develop formats that you can make with your existing tools and that are sustainable. One simple how-to video per week is a lot more useful than one masterpiece that takes 12 weeks and soaks up hours and hours of time with meetings and sign-off because everyone wants to play movie director. LOL OMG CUTE.  Buzzfeed are awesome at this stuff and it works so learn from them and your content teams will probably enjoy working on projects a lot more too.