Archive for February 2011

People do not want to create content for your brand

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“Why would customers want to create content for our brand?” is a question we commonly come across at FreshNetworks. The truthful answer is often  “They don’t”. In fact, the question is the wrong one altogether.

Customers don’t want to create content for your brand and we see this with many unsuccessful uses of social media by brands. But customers will create content, and they will do it in a way that is really beneficial for you and your brand, but they are not necessarily doing it to help you.

Understanding motivation for doing anything is important, and this is especially true of social media. You may want consumers to show you lots of photos of exactly how they pack their children’s lunchboxes so that you can better design what you sell to them. Or you may want them to comment on and Like your posts on your Facebook page so that they and their friends will be kept up to date with what your brand is doing. But their motivation for doing this will rarely (if ever) be to help your brand. They are likely to do it for other reasons, and it is these that you need to uncover, before you plan any tactic or campaign, if it is really going to work.

There are many reasons people will choose to engage with you online, and many reasons that they will help you to achieve the aims that you have with your use of social media. The important step is to explore first of all who it is you want to engage in social media, and then to answer to simple (well actually not so simple) questions:

  1. How engaged are they with us right now
  2. What do they want from us

Probably exploring current relationships and motivations will let you understand what kind of engagement you can have with people in social media. This is not a one-way relationship; you can’t ask them to do something for you and then expect them to do it. You have to ask them to do something because they want to, something where it is clear what’s in it for them.

It may be that your target audience is looking for advice on how to pack the healthiest lunch for their children, or that they are looking for new ideas of what to feed them. Understanding this helps you to curate an environment in social media where they will be happy to do what you want (send you a photo of the lunchbox so you can better design what you are selling to them) but also provide them with what they want. You can provide experts on nutrition who will compare before-and-after shots of lunchboxes, or you could get mums to share their favourite lunchbox recipes. In both these cases the photos are gathered, just as you need for you brand, but not because you ask for them. Rather, because you engage with people online and they benefit too.

People do not always want to create content for your brand. They do, however, have many other needs that will lead to the same outcome for you. Proper time spent planning and investigating who you are looking to engage and what their motivation is is time well spent. It will help you to understand what both parties will get out of any engagement, and help to ensure that your campaign is not one of the many examples of social media where people really don’t want to engage with you.

The photo in this post is from the great Things real people don’t say about advertising

How to be safe and social: ASA and CAP guidelines for social media

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Image courtesy of ETF trends

Yesterday I attended the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) How to be Safe and Social event.

Of particular interest was the presentation by Malcolm Phillips, the Code Policy Manager at the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP), on updating the digital remit of the CAP code and the new Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines for online advertising that come into effect from 1 March 2011.

Of primary importance to me, and to the way FreshNetworks functions as a social media agency, are the rules regarding the re-purposing of user generated content.

While the ASA and CAP understand that marketers and brands cannot be held responsible for content produced by independent consumers and third parties, it’s how that content is used that will be come under scrutiny. From the 1st March,  if brands decide to re-purpose user generated content in their marketing strategies, they become liable for the content from the time of use onwards - it falls within the same guidelines as any offline or brand-generated marketing content.

So what does this actually mean for brands and businesses using social media marketing?

  • Any user comments re-tweeted by a brand will require proof that the claims made are true. For example, re-tweeting a comment that your brand makes the best coats will require proof that the coats are the best.
  • Drinks companies will have to be very careful with any galleries they create on Facebook as advertising rules governing alcohol promotion state that no under 25s can be shown in the marketing material (CAP code point 18.6).
  • A brand is responsible for any messages it produces that are then re-tweeted by followers. If it goes viral, the ASA may well ask for the brand to clarify the purpose of the message and its content.
  • If any branded messages are re-tweeted with additional comments from the follower, the ASA will not hold the brand accountable for the additional user generated content.

The new rules also raise a number of additional questions that need clarification:

  • At what point does user generated content fall under the brand control?
  • How much additional information do you need to add to a tweet to ensure it isn’t misleading, and will a link to more information suffice?
  • At which point does PR become marketing and visa versa?

The ASA are not actively looking for breaches of these new regulations, however it only takes one complaint from a customer or competitor brand and they will consider making an investigation. This will not be retrospective and will only be applied to content produced on or after 1st March 2011.

All in all, the IAB How to be Safe and Social event has thrown up just as many questions as it has answered. 2011 is shaping up to be a very interesting year for online marketers, especially within Social Media, and there are bound to be a few real life examples that will set a precedent for what is and isn’t deemed acceptable.

3 things for FMCG brands to consider when using social media

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Consumer goods shopping

When it comes to FMCG brands, social media mostly consists of having some kind of Facebook or a Twitter presence to raise brand awareness and spread word-of-mouth.

Taking social media on a step further, here are 3 things for FMCG brands to think about as part of their social media activity:

1. Social media discount vouchers

According to market research company Chadwick Martin Bailey,  one in four consumers state that coupons are the primary reason to become fans of FMCG brands on Facebook. So there is a clear opportunity to drive an increase in sales in-store through distributing coupons on social networking sites.

Couponstar, a leading FMCG specialist digital coupon/voucher service provider, has  launched “Social Bricks” - a suite of solutions enabling FMCG brands and retailers to securely distribute printable-coupons to consumers through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Social Bricks enable FMCG brands to offer their Facebook “fans” or Twitter followers the opportunity to print coupons which they subsequently redeem at major supermarkets and convenience stores. Social Bricks is powered by Couponstar’s secure coupon technology ensuring that brands can tap into the benefits of social media without worrying that their offers will be distributed uncontrollably.

2. Identifying influencers online

Given the nature of FMCG products they are often discussed online in forums and discussion areas like MumsNet or TopTips (which actually sells advertising space to FMCG brands).

If FMCG brands can identify their social media influencers in forums or other relevant discussion areas, and then successfully engage with them, they can collaborate to produce goods which appeal directly to their needs and requirements. In turn, the influencers will endorse the product, encouraging more people “like them” to purchase from the range.

3. Using real people to engage online

FMCG brands, particularly confectionery, cereals and other food products that are aimed at children, often come under fire in online discussions for their sugar and salt content or their general lack of nutritional value.

Rather than shying away from using social media, FMCG brands need to dive in and justify the value of their product and their presence in the marketplace. This shouldn’t be left to a work experience person or someone junior in the team; quite the opposite in fact. The more senior the person, the more knowledge they will have about the product, the marketplace and the direction things are heading, which will lead to better engagement with consumers and a more informed discussion.

You may like to see how Greg Peterson, the MD of Kelloggs, is working with NetMums to respond to comments about Kellogs Choc n’Roll cereal and their cereal range as a whole.

“Would you like social media with that?”Agencies and social media

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Image courtesy of Victor and Spoils

In the last month or so there’s been quite a lot of discussion about what agency models will look like in the future.

In the context of social media, here at FreshNetworks we have seen a shift over the last year. More and more niche agencies, with services such as SEO, PR, affiliate marketing or other digital disciplines, are reinventing themselves as “generalists”, offering social media alongside their former specialty.

Even large ad agencies are positioning themselves as “360″ or integrated agencies, using social media within their core services.

This is hardly surprising given the rise of social media. As it continues to develop, these agencies are starting to see both the opportunity and also perhaps the threat to their existence, considering that social impacts a wide range of channels.

For brands with small, internal teams, a one stop shop can seem like a more attractive option. However, in a recent interview in Marketing magazine, Keith Weed, CMO for Unilever said:

“the easiest thing would be to deal with one agency, which can lead and integrate, but, frankly, I will go for the best before the easiest”.

“Best” can mean lots of things, but to me the successful agency of the future will offer their clients a service that disrupts the norms with new and innovative uses for social media.

Take, for example, US agency Victor and Spoils. They are the world’s first creative agency built around crowdsourcing principles. They have reinvented the pitch process and are using social media and crowd sourcing to come up with creative concepts.

This video shows the Harley Davidson campaign that was chosen by Harley Davidson from over 100 ideas that Victor and Spoils crowdsourced through their existing online community of creatives.

How did they get the attention of Harley Davidson? Through a tweet of course ( see Victor and Spoils’  blog for more info). Could you imagine a large, integrated agency approaching a client in this way?

Four steps for businesses to get started with social media

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Many businesses want to get started using social media or want to make their use of social media more effective. There is often a benefit of talking to a specialist social media agency. But for all businesses and organisations, whatever their size and whatever their focus, there are four simple steps that will put you on the right track with social media. Make sure you are using it but doing so in an informed way.

The presentation below takes you from listening and understanding what people are saying, to measuring and evaluating the impact you are having in four simple steps. If you want more information on this or on how to get started with social media then look at the FreshNetworks guide to Getting Started in Social Media.