Facebook has won social media and we can all go home now

It’s been a while since I’ve done some social media strategy work on a big, mainstream FMCG grocery brand. 

I had a real Big Daddy to work on last week and, as I sat down to pull together my data for the reverse brief I was hit by just how much Facebook has won. 

Facebook is the social web. 

The target demographic for the product I was working on was families, economical blue collar working types and then older, empty nesters. Mainstream, high volume value brand stuff. 

The supermarket goldmine demographics that every large supplier wants to hit because they do huge revenues. Facebook was an obvious choice because the brand page had around 35 million page likes already but I’ve got so used to doing multichannel plans my instinct was to look around for other ways to reach consumers. 

I tried to liven things up with a bit of Instagram but then I saw this stat “people between 18-34 make up 70% of total users in Australia -females are 60% of users”. This is not my blue collar, mainstream user. 

Twitter only got a brief look in as part of the PR strategy to identify possible influencers. We could have put our video content on YouTube as a secondary channel but again, it skews younger and why would we do that when we have the reach of Facebook video and the ability to target and retarget?

All roads led to Facebook for both organic and paid conversations. As I dug deeper, and thought about Facebook’s unashamed push for, and favouring of video content, I realised this was the strategy for my brand: Facebook video with around 50% organic and 50% paid conversations

Mark Zuckerberg's dog Beast

Social media strategy and platform use can get very subjective but if you stick to the user data and keep your own, and your client’s own preferences to the side, all you can do is Like the photo of Mark Zuckerberg’s dog on your Facebook feed and congratulate them on winning the social web. 

Why you need a centralised model for marketing automation

Here’s a great post from Brad at Mailchimp on how to do an email segment for your database and get some automated responses working. It looks simple and people tend to gloss over automation posts and presos and think “so what, that’s pretty easy?”

The real issue with marketing and email automation is not carving up the data and developing custom emails for each audience (well, you know know more than the standard everyone is an expert on email marketing creative stuff but you can cope with that). 

The real issue is getting various parts of the business to stick to the schedule so you get a true customer value metric or some sort of ROI. If you get the R return number great but most people struggle with the I because they aren't actually capturing everything. So you end up measuring what's easy to measure- say a paid media schedule from an agency- and not all the other activity that goes on across the org. It's annoying because it means that teams are penalised for having sophisticated and open tools (stuff that's easy to read and measure) and all the ad-hoc rando behaviour gets subjectively filed into people's own view of awesomeness and effectiveness, usually based on Creative and not anything transactional like conversions. 

In short, people tend to measure the crap out of everything at head office and refuse to believe that there is a whole lot of rogue customer emailing going on from private accounts and other databases that people have hacked together for themselves. 

I don’t blame people for doing that (I’ve done some of it myself) but it is important that marketing leadership make it clear “we are responsible for the email relationship with the customer and everything goes through one system”. Barbie understands this. 

#feministhackerBarbie has a system

I know it’s a bit utopian but that’s why it’s so important to be fierce about multi-user and getting everyone on one system so they can login and see all the planned and actual activity. There needs to be an organisation-wide promotional schedule so the activity can me measured and prioritised and so the database doesn’t get burned out and so the brand is not speaking in word art or text speak. Then you have all the anti-spam regulation stuff to consider. 

Historically, retailers tend to be good at this stuff as all the marketing activity is centred around the in-store promotional schedule and pointed at customers. Omni-channel makes it harder as online and offline customers can get hit from a few angles but if you are serious about getting any real measure and not just same faux vanity metrics then you have to control the scheduling. 

We can see the sophistication of the Mailchimp automation and the only way you will get this type of result is if you have a framework so everything can be measured. Attribution is challenging at the best of times (let’s not get started on assisted conversions with email/ social signal tracking)  

Here’s the Mailchimp schedule in theory. 

Here’s what it would look like in reality. 

week 1

Sales send an event reminder email because the number for their Sydney event is low

Training send a course commencement email because their course numbers are low

Account manager sends a “Hi I’m Beyonce and I’m your new account manager for Sydney” email from her personal Outlook

week 2

Event numbers are still low, two for one email sent to all customers in Sydney

Account manager Beyonce is having a coffee group on wednesday and sends an email invite to her Sydney database i.e. her Outlook contacts

Training don’t like the email that marketing sent so make one themselves in MS Word with word art

There is no unsubscribe link on the email that Training sent and Marketing tell them not to send random email because they’ll get a spam slap from the regulatory people

week 3 

Sales only fill half the room for their event because “marketing wasn’t good enough”

5% unsubscribe rate on Sydney database as customers get sick of all the emails

Two for one deal not approved by Finance. Event runs at a loss. No more email marketing deals without ROI calculations ahead of time

week 4

Beyonce leaves and takes all the contacts in her Outlook to a new company. GM wants to ban LinkedIn. 

Training go to a tech expo and buy an enterprise marketing automation system for themselves because they don’t realise the company already has one

Press release sent to All Customer database because ‘who cares, they might be interested. All media is good media amiright?”

week 5 

Marketing person asked to produce ROI on all marketing and communications

I know, lots of moans and not a lot of solutions in this post and that's why people give up because they can't be bothered wading through the reality of activity outside their department. It's that cross functional/ collaboration thing again that's going to solve it and you need Barbie leading your team to get everyone on the same system and keep Steve's hands off the cable.  

Personalising customer care when you have a bit of a fail

It’s Māori language week so I’ll give you a personalisation lesson and a Māori language lesson at the same time. 

So once I got in trouble for writing kūmaras on a big in-store sign retail hanging aisle banner thing. It’s a tricky word because kumera is also correct and you often see it spelt incorrectly as kumura and nobody really knows what Ipomoea batatas -sweet potato is. 

 “Peel kūmaras …”

That’s what it said and a woman called the call centre and complained that she was going to take the company to the Māori language commission for hate crime against her language. After going through about three tiers of call centre staff, she was put through to me in marketing which was a bit of a fluke because as it turned out, it was my fault. 

The woman launched about the deep offence it had caused her and that companies like mine deserved to be taken to account for colonial imperialism something and lack of respect for something else and we needed to be held to account for our ignorance and oh dear it was getting very serious. 

You see the plural of kūmara is kūmara and I had butchered the word by adding the English -s ,and, as an official language of New Zealand it deserved to be written correctly and not anglicised. The Māori language has no ’s’. She had a point. 

“Yeah that was me. I actually knew that one... ‘kumaras’ — wow that is a shocker. Sorry about that.”

The woman stopped her download and started laughing. She actually started laughing. 

“That was you!? Do you write the recipes? Look, it’s not a big deal it’s just that I’m a Māori language teacher and I hate seeing people learn the wrong way in public spaces. That’s a really common one.”

We had gone from letters to the editor and formal government office complaints to laughing at the ‘kumaras’ because I was a person who made a mistake and not a giant retail brand with no respect for te reo Māori. 

We talk a lot about personalisation from an ad serving or search point of view but don’t lose sight of what it can do for you from a communications point of view. That same conversation could equally have happened on Facebook, Twitter, or a company forum. Getting your real people to explain (or say sorry) can make a big difference and customers will be a lot more understanding if they can see that you are human like them. 

“Peel kūmara …”

So there it is, no ’s’ in Māori.

Social and search lead US Top 15 Smartphone Apps list

Of all the millions of iOS and Android mobile apps that US humans could possibly want to choose with their own freewill to put on their mobile phone communications device that number one app is -- Facebook.  Just stop and have a little think about that. People have Facebook in their pocket. Now scroll down the list of the other 14 apps on the list. What do you see? A lot of Google. So search. Search and social. Instagram, Twitter. Social. Maps and discovery. Music and entertainment, YouTube, Pandora. Plus the amazing Yahoo weather app that you should have on your phone just for looking at the tiny windmills on because it's really pretty. Information. 

Search, social and mobile are all great little friends from a customer perspective, it's just the companies that haven't quite figured out how to make money off all this new behaviour so keep that in mind when you get a bit gimmicked out with omni-channel social contextual programmatic realtime demand bidding. The customers are there and they are active. Figuring out how to get the best information to them and how to do something useful with all the search and social signals is the challenging part. 

Facebook ranked as the top smartphone app, reaching 75 percent of the app audience, followed by Google Play (51.8 percent), Google Search (49 percent) and YouTube (48.8 percent) Comscore May 2014

How do we know if our paid online advertising is working?

Comscore did a really good paper with a stupid name about four years ago ‘Whither the click’ (?) and it gives you some good foundations for understanding performance on paid digital ads. 

Like most things in marketing it’s important to not oversimplify to the point of removing the quality audience discussion. So if you were to say ‘does advertising on TV work?' anyone worth their salt would say ‘well it depends on the placement and the reach and the promotional mechanic and the creative execution and what you were trying to achieve in the first place' and work backwards from there. You know- ‘customers’ and all that jazz. With digital you do the same thing however, I think there are a couple of things we can start with. 

First, are you talking about display or search campaigns? So when I go to Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald this morning the first display ad I got served was cloud host Rackspace

If I search for 'cloud provider Sydney' in Google then I get their paid search campaign too (now that wasn’t planned, I was actually looking for a Retail ad to go into the point below from the stupidly named report but you get the idea).  

A combination of display and search. So when you start talking about ‘the online ads’ or the ‘I don’t think the web ads are working’ be clear what you are talking about; display or search. 

Second, it’s very rare in any media plan that one channel is doing all the work, they work in together. Yes that’s annoying and it makes things difficult to measure but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one instance or one channel is making or breaking your campaign outcome:

"In the Retail category, it is also clear that while the lift in sales from a display ad is lower than the lift from a search ad, the reach of a display campaign is typically far higher than that of a search campaign. When the sales lift is weighted by reach, display campaigns generally outperform search campaigns. However, the combination of a display and search campaign delivers substantial synergy, with the sales lift from the combined strategy being greater than the sum of the individual components." comscore 'Whither the click'

So it’s the combination of display and search that results in the retail sales lift in this example. We’re seeing this pattern across a number of industries and you just need to spend some time in paid search forums to see analysts summarising their campaign results with ‘we got the best result from a combination of paid display and search’and then looking at how they can take the intent identified in the search and make it into a display ad to influence behaviour change and/ or conversion. 

The third thing (this applies across all forms of advertising and communications) don’t assume it’s the Creative that is or isn’t doing the work and getting the result you want. 

If you stare at this bar chart for a little while, you can see that the eight bars represent eight different campaigns the company executed. The red bits are display ads that totally missed the audience. Green were bang on and there are some other colours in the middle. It would be easy to look at eight different campaign executions and get in a big discussion about fonts and images and copy without understanding that it was actually the campaign delivery (target and frequency) that was changing in the background. Does that makes sense? The easiest way I think of it is imagine you are in a conference centre with lots of breakout rooms. If you go and deliver eight different presentations to eight different audiences it’s not only the font on the Powerpoint slides that is changing. The audience is changing, so start with the figuring out ‘which room has the best audience for what we’re trying to achieve’ and work back from there. The frequency is how often you deliver that presentation to that audience. Some rooms may cost more to access than others, but if they contain the right people who are going to transact with you, then it’s worth the investment and better than talking to a cheapo room full of dud leads. 

And in the grand scheme of your campaign, the whole room probably isn't going to rush at you with their cash and buy what you're selling after you deliver the first slide. It makes things trickier to measure, this is true but since when has marketing and ad performance been easy to measure? The most important thing is that you have a good understanding of what's actually going on first before you get scrambled in the data. 

Ad agencies shocked to discover Facebook is a media company like the other media companies

One of my favourite Twitter accounts (their blog is also pretty rad) Arena Flowers covered it pretty well in their tweet: did you seriously think that tricking people into telling your their favourite colour/flavour/character/cheese was going to last forever and make your brand amazing and profitable while companies like Proctor and Gamble and Coke spend billions of dollars a year on paid?

Ad agencies shocked to discover Facebook is a media company like the other media companies?
Advertiser shocking realisation -you have to pay money to access quality audiences?
Customers just really like Facebook and Facebook knows this so that’s why you have to pay money to go there just like you have to pay money to advertise on TV for the SuperBowl?

Any other alternative headlines for the ground breaking 'Facebook Zero' data presentation from Ogilvy 360?

Snark aside, you guys knew this already right?

Make really awesome content like the Muppets/ Toyota video I watched yesterday and shared. If you can't really do that then pay some money for Facebook ads. Don’t waste too much time trying to ‘game’ the system for organic with junk updates because you’ve already learned that from your Google content experiments right? 

I've banged on for a while about choosing channels that make sense for your audiences and not falling in love with specific apps -remember MySpace? Create quality content and talk to your audiences like they are actually people. Give them things that are valuable and be realistic about reach and conversion rates. 2-4% conversion rates are not 'Facebook zero' they are numbers consistent with other online channels like email and seem more sustainable to me. Pay to play? You guys know this already. 

Go forth and make money Facebook. Good for you. 

The hardest change management I've ever done

I swore (literally volcano of expletives) a number of years ago that I would never do house renovations ever again. Last week, I broke my vows in a sweary deluge of ‘I AM PAINTING IT OR I AM SETTING FIRE TO IT’

I literally barricaded myself in the toilet with a wall sander and some paint I found in the shed and started painting. I did the toilet, the bathroom, the kitchen, living room- I just kept going and hoped like hell that it was going to look OK. True disruption is an unglamorous business. 

So what changed?

My parents are getting older. I’m getting older. 

What to me was a simple decision ‘paint the house yourself or pay someone else to paint it’ for them was 57 Doha Rounds of discussions about the future and retirement and where they want to live and get buried and life and the universe. Big time feelings. 

It was an admission that they are getting older and can’t do the things they used to do. It forced them to break their routine and romantic ideas of former house builds and renovation projects. It forced them to accept that all of that stuff was probably behind them and the tough decisions they had to make for their parents, I was now making for them. It was also going to make a huge mess. 

I needed to crowbar them into the future by putting the feelings aside and acting on the reality that:

-the house needed painting

-hiring a contractor to do it was overwhelming for them and not going to happen

-they had no vision for the next five or ten years; only what had been, so small decisions about redecorating seemed huge

-they had not been part of the renovation I’d done on my own place so they didn’t trust me to take the lead and make decisions about what needed to happen

-I had to break the inertia, even if it required threats of arson

Proper painters will tell you 'it’s all in the prep' and I did none. After the first coat locked in the toilet it looked terrible and I had done more damage and broken the toilet seat by standing on it to paint the ceiling. The random acrylic paint from the shed wasn’t covering. My parent's greatest fear -“Courtney will just paint everything white”- had come true and in a very ugly way. Never mind, that could be the undercoat. 

I went to the paint shop desperate for a better idea and was given a magical enamel paint called ‘Creamy Vanilla’ (thank you Wattyl) that was pretty expensive but the opportunity to bomb the whole house with it appealed greatly at that point in time. Plus, it’s not white, it’s vanilla.

I did another lap of the interior and went to bed hoping for a miracle but also defiant that the house wasn’t going to paint itself so worst case, I got the ball rolling and it was more undercoat. 

After the second coat, I finally unlocked the doors and let my parents look at whatever I had terrorised their house with. It looked amazing. The magical gloss enamel paint had rejuvenated the whole house overnight and covered my cyclone of bodgy brush work. Other than the obviously broken toilet seat, they just sort of stood there and gaped at it for a while. By lunchtime, all had been forgotten and they were phoning carpet layers and appliance places. Seven years of talking about what to do next was over and although there was some initial sulking (it’s not white, it’s VANILLA) the relief at breaking the inertia was much greater than any massive mess I had made. 

It was the hardest piece of change management I’ve ever done not because of the task, but because of the feelings. Much like Milton (pictured- Office Space 1999) actions speak louder than words and sometimes, you have to just lock yourself in the toilet and paint your way out. 

Social media number one online activity in Australia

Typical hour of online activity based on Australia’s internet usage in October 2013.

  • No surprises that Social Media is the number 1 online activity taking up 6m 30s in every hour or more than 10 percent of time. Services which includes email, online chat, messengers amongst other activities adds another big chunk to social time.
  • The next two big categories are entertainment and portals with 4m 36s and 4m respectively. Just three years ago these two segments took up more than 40 percent of online time.
  • The other popular categories in the top 10 include News/Information, Search, Retail, Games, Business/Finance and Lifestyle.

data via comScore MMX

What do US retail real-time shopping trends mean for Australia and New Zealand retailers?

As we come into the final week's trading before Christmas, here are some quick stats from IBM on their busiest trading day-Cyber Monday. FMCG and grocery retail dollar revenues for Australia and New Zealand should hit annual peaks in-store this weekend with Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 still key foot traffic days. It's important to keep your mobile and social activity working as shoppers browse for hot deals before making a store destination choice.  Focus on getting your content to display fast with clear calls to action- especially on mobile. Work your media plan on social and web accounts to keep interactions friendly and useful- everyone is stressed, lost, and bombarded with competitor activity so be Santa's Little Helper online for your customers. 

Here's what happened in the US:

Online sales grew significantly, increasing by 20.6% over 2012 as Cyber Monday continues to be the biggest online shopping day of the year.

Mobile and social highlights from Cyber Monday 2013:

  • iOS vs. Android: On average, iOS users spent $120.29 per order, compared to $106.70 per order for Android. iOS traffic reached 22.4 percent of all online traffic, compared to 9.1 percent for Android. iOS sales reached 14.5 percent of all online sales, compared to 2.6 percent for Android.
  • The Social Influence – Facebook vs. Pinterest: On average, holiday shoppers referred from Facebook spent 6 percent more per order than shoppers referred from Pinterest. Facebook average order value was $97.81 versus Pinterest average order value which was $92.40. However, Facebook referrals converted sales at a rate 38 percent higher than Pinterest, perhaps indicating stronger confidence in network recommendations.
  • Mobile Shopping Soars: Mobile traffic grew to 31.7 percent of all online traffic, increasing by 45 percent over 2012. Mobile sales were also strong, exceeding 17 percent of total online sales, an increase of 55.4 percent year-over-year. 
  • Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy: Smartphones drove 19.7 percent of all online traffic compared to tablets at 11.5 percent, making it the browsing device of choice. When it comes to making the sale, tablets drove 11.7 percent of all online sales, more than double that of smartphones, which accounted for 5.5 percent. On average, tablet users spent $126.30 per order compared to smartphone users who spent $106.49.
  • Online Sales Set New Record: Cyber Monday online sales grew by 20.6 percent over 2012. Average order value was $128.77, down 1 percent year-over-year.

 IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark  

Related: How well did Facebook ads perform on Black Friday, Cyber Monday?

How do you get people to talk about your knickers?

I mentioned in a post last week the importance of using the correct term when you are talking about ‘marketing’ and ‘advertising”

Why does it matter?

Let’s look at the successful underwear company, Spanx

Which statement or statements are true? 

1. Spanx spends no money on advertising

2. Spanx spends no money on marketing

3. Spanx spends no money no money on paid promotion

4. Spanx spends no money on paid media

I saw an interview on 60 Minutes where the founder, Sarah Blakely and a journalist were talking about the success of the business and how they ‘spend no money advertising’. Some people hear this as 'no money on marketing,' and assume that if they build a better mousetrap, they won't have to invest people or money in marketing activities. 

To say that Spanx spends no money on marketing (or paid promotion) is incorrect. How do we know this?

First of all, the fact that Sarah Blakely was on 60 Minutes, filmed at a Spanx-run fashion show. I’m imagining here that Spanx created a fashion show event,(owned media-event), invited some influencers and media (earned media-influencer management and public relations), and obtained earned media through an interview on 60 Minutes (earned media-TV interview). 

Spanx did not pay for a 30 second TV commercial during 60 Minutes so they spent no money on advertising (paid media). They don't buy paid billboard space or take out pages in fashion magazines. However, the activities they carried out to plan and execute the event, influence and obtain earned media stories, did require people and money investment from Spanx. I’m also imagining that they promoted their event through email lists or social media channels and amplified their coverage on 60 Minutes through their company channels. All of these activities require effort on the part of Spanx and don’t simply happen organically. 

So does Spanx spend money on marketing? Yes. They don’t spend money on paid,third party advertisements but that is not to say they ‘build it and they will come’. Spanx invest people and money to get influencers talking about their products and build preference. Spanx has an excellent product and an excellent marketing approach with a focus on earned and owned media. 

The correct answer is 1 and 4.

Related posts:

Is paid-earned-owned media thinking still relevant?

Dave McClure 'most companies suck at internet marketing'