Pretty Simple: web, digital, social



Today I found myself in the opulent surroundings of Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel for a breakfast seminar, run by Precedent, on creating dynamite campaigns. The following are some of my notes.

The seminar was lead by John Campbell and Mark Baillie, and John began by considering the good, the bad and the ugly. Examples of good campaigns included:

  • Coca-Cola’s 80s/90s “Can’t Beat the Feeling” adverts – a tune that many of us still recognise today and an excellent example of strong branding.
  • The University of Birmingham’s Circle of Influence campaign to raise £60 million. Astonishingly, they’ve already reached the £50m mark, combining online strategies with a more traditional print campaign.
  • Drinkaware’s drink diary, which allows you to monitor your drinking and compare with friends, adding a social element to the mix. You can even download a phone app. I couldn’t help thinking this could backfire though – imagine people using the diary to compare how much they could drink in a week and actually trying to beat each other!
  • Volkswagen’s Fun Theory website, featuring various viral videos aimed at making people change their behaviour for the better:

John notes that common factors to all of these successes were creativity and innovation.

The bad and ugly examples including Burger King’s Whopper Sacrifice, which asked people to give 10 of their Facebook friends the boot in exchange for a free burger. As a result, a quarter of a million friends found themselves dumped in favour of a meat sandwich. John observes that this kind of campaign, based on negativity, is a very risky strategy and the uproar that ensued was proof of this. The campaign was quickly pulled.

Perhaps an even uglier example is the infamous Toyota Yaris advert, Clean Getaway, which managed to offend scores of people with its sexist (and, some argued, potentially incestuous) content.

(Note: for more examples, see my list of Social Media lessons learned the hard way)

6 steps to success

We are then talked through 6 steps to a successful campaign:

1. Understand your audience

An essential first step: make sure you know your audience and understand how they consume media. Where are they? What do they consider effective, or cool? Mark shows us an example of some face-to-face street research they had done, enabling them to build up personas to better understand their target audience. He stresses that you can only get certain knowledge from that sort of engagement.

2. Confirm your objectives

What are you trying to achieve? Is it realistic? Again, research is critical, and we are shown a number of useful tools which can help in measuring social media:

  • Google Trends – shows what people are searching for – especially good for filtering info by region to get a more local flavour
  • Google Alerts – email updates about Google results for keywords
  • Social Mention – a social media search and analysis platform for aggregating user generated content
  • Alltop – top headlines from popular topics worldwide

These sorts of tools can be especially useful for researching the competition and setting realistic targets accordingly.

3. Plan the customer journey and content

Taking what you’ve learnt from your earlier research, you should then decide the main message you want to get across, and which tools are going to be most suitable. This is the step that may sound the easiest, yet is perhaps one of the most complex, and requires a broad and deep knowledge of social media platforms in relation to marketing. We have all seen obvious examples of companies stumbling into social media without any real strategy or purpose, and they are usually found out very quickly.

As an example, John looks at why we might want to use Facebook:

  • Go to the audience – we know that many people are already using Facebook, so to some extent we have a captive audience.
  • Viral by nature – viral campaigns are undeniably the most successful, and see users to spread the word amongst themselves. Something recommended by a friend will surely carry more weight than a traditional piece of ‘push-marketing’.
  • Understood by audiences – people are familiar with Facebook and its functionality, so you’re not asking them to learn new concepts.
  • Achievable – low cost and easy to set up.
  • Socially connected – if we reach one person, we may then also reach their friends too. Not to mention lateral links to other platforms.

4. Touchpoint strategy

Usually the ultimate goal of a campaign is to get people to your site. There are various ways of driving people through, from feeds and widgets to online ads and mobile integration. It’s important to have a strategy, though, of how to manage and optimise these initial points of contact, or touchpoints.

Mobile devices are arguably the perfect engagement tool:

  • They are portable and convenient
  • They are becoming increasingly hi-tech
  • Users have a very high affinity with their devices – they love to use them
  • They are always present and always on
  • They are ready made for the job

Mark talks us through a number of intriguing uses of mobile devices, from the Golf GTI speedometer app, the ability to take a photo of a person and have it converted to Lego, and BMW’s Expression of Joy – augmented reality technology which sees Mark driving a virtual car around his desk. These are all excellent and entertaining apps in their own right, but ultimately exist to drive people to the end goal (be it ordering some Lego or booking a test drive).

5. Continual engagement

Launch day is, of course, not the end of the story. In fact, it’s only the beginning. Continual engagement is crucial – keeping the content fresh and keeping your audience informed. And again, making something viral is a fast-track to success. John mentions another tool, Kontagent, which analyses social networks and offers a range of viral tools.

And critically, all of this needs to come full circle and deliver a compelling website, where your users will end up. Without that, all of your efforts will be for nought. A decent main website has to be part of the strategy.

6. Measure, update, measure – and so on

Finally, you’ll need to measure your ongoing success. Update and adapt. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to drop it and try something else. Don’t let any part of your strategy fall slack – work it all and make sure it is working for your audience.

Again, tools to help you measure your success include the excellent Google Analytics, which now offers integration with Facebook; Click Tale, which tracks user journeys and lets you watch movies of people browsing your site; and Twitalyzer.

10 commandments

John concluded with a mention of Augustine Fou’s 10 commandments of modern marketing:

  1. Thou shalt not target customers with messages they don’t want
  2. Thou shalt be truthful
  3. Thou shalt respect your customers
  4. Thou shalt make it easy for people to find you
  5. Thou shalt be useful
  6. Thou shalt make it easy for people to pass along
  7. Thou shalt measure and optimize
  8. Thou shalt listen to customers
  9. Thou shalt remove any organizational barriers to speedy, collaborative innovation
  10. Thou shalt not do brand-ing

Fou’s 10 commandments of modern marketing

Thanks again to all at Precedent for a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring morning. They run a whole programme of such seminars in various locations across the UK.

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