Today marked a day that we have been anticipating for a few weeks now. No not leap day, but the launch of Facebook’s timeline for Brand Pages. Brands have an option to now preview or publish their brand pages with the comprehensive roll-out happening on March 30, 2012.
Instead of going into a lot of detail out of the gate, I am changing the normal format and going with a more visual representation of changes as well as guidelines for some of the changes based on my roll-out of the BlackFin360 Timeline Brand Page.
Below is an example of the Legacy posts / Brand Milestones. Note the ability to append location & date and to post current & back-dated updates without pushing into the newsfeed. Also note that milestones will appear as full-page width updates vs. the staggered approach used for regular updates.
Once the milestone is published, you have the option to “pin the post” to create a semi-static piece of content towards the top of your brand timeline. Pins can be stories, photos, videos, campaigns, tab cross promotion, contests, etc… this is handy for promotions and highlighting key events or even simply highlighting your fan of the week. Once you have pinned a piece of content it has a “bookmark” signifying that it has been pinned.
Example of a pinned post
In future posts we will explore the ins and outs of the changes as well as what happened to custom landing pages as well as Like gating. But for now enjoy the visuals.
Linkedin has proven to be an incredible asset for B2B Social Media Strategy & execution. With Hubspot defining Linkedin (45%) as the most effective B2B source for lead generation followed by Facebook at 33%.
Linkedin is now expanding the ability to follow a company beyond it’s core domain and now enabling organizations to allow individuals to follow them directly from their branded homepages or other owned properties by adding a quick code snippet to their branded pages. Brands such as Starbucks, AT&T and American Express are initial launch partners.
Similar in its impact as a Facebook like, the individual will receive status updates via their Linkedin feed. By extending the reach of the follow beyond Linkedin, the over 2 million companies in it’s network will have even greater opportunities to execute B2B content strategies both within Linkedin & their branded & owned channels.
Because B2B social is generally more targeted than B2C social, the ability to drive targeted interaction in one location while also providing a comprehensive footprint throughout the channel is key. Now with the ability to more closely associate the follow externally, it enables a more dynamic experience for the brand. As Linkedin can serve as a hub of services & 3rd party validation of those services via recommendations.
For those interested, here is the location to add the new company follow button to your branded website.
Tom Edwards’ recent iMedia article about the impact of brand integration with video games…
The impact of gaming
Video game culture has evolved and now impacts politics, television, music, and Hollywood more than ever before. The power of the mainstream games market was recently on display on November 17, 2011 when Activision launched its latest entry in the “Call of Duty” series, “Modern Warfare 3.” The release quickly set new sales records with 6.5 million copies sold on launch day and raked in $775 million in sales in just five days.
This figure has beaten theatrical box office, book, and video game sales records for five-day worldwide sell-through in dollars. Once thought to be more of a niche market, gaming has become a part of everyday life with new releases rivaling the biggest summer blockbusters in terms of revenue.
In 2011, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reported that the average age for a gamer was now 37 years old. This is attributed to more individuals from the first console days adopting the current systems. The ESA also reported that the gender distribution of console gamers shows 58 percent of gamers as male and 42 percent female.
Those numbers flip when discussing casual and social gaming, but equilibrium is close when it comes to reaching both segments. Another telling statistic from the ESA is that 71 percent of people age six to forty-nine in the U.S. played video games, with 55 percent of gamers playing on their phones or mobile devices.
With such reach and engagement potential, brands have capitalized on this cultural shift in many ways. Brands have historically executed many types of gaming programs. Above the line tactics — such as the original 1996 cult classic Chex Quest (based on the Doom engine) — was available as a free CD-ROM on pack to consumers have been a staple of gaming programs.
Below the line tactics such as Adidas billboard displayed in the foreground of the multi-console1994 FIFA International Soccer are now standard in many of today’s sports simulations as are product placements.
Brands have also attempted to capitalize on through the line advergaming such as the recent “Lost Experience” (Based on the show “Lost”) with the likes of Jeep, Sprite, Monster.com, and Verizon integrating traditional and digital programs into the expansive gameplay with the goal of creating immersive digital experiences and campaign extensions brought to you by the brand.
Brands have found innovative ways through the years to create compelling gaming related experiences. Below are five brands that are leveraging different facets of advergaming, social gaming, branded games, and total immersion to reach new audience segments and reward brand enthusiasts.
Jeep has had a long association with gaming over the years. In 1992, they released “Jeep Jamboree” for Gameboy and the titles kept coming.
In 1998, it launched the multi-platform “Jeep Thrills” and then proceeded to produce branded games including a geocaching focused title as well as a fantasy title called “City Bounce.” Jeep definitely understands the reach of the medium.
Jeep’s most recent effort is tied to its current association with Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.” Jeep executed an integrated marketing campaign during the pre-release buildup of “Modern Warfare 3” and on November 8 released a special edition Jeep Wrangler titled the 2012 Jeep Wrangler “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” special edition.
The release was also supported by traditional media:
This was the second time they partnered with the Call of Duty franchise, as they released a Black Ops edition in 2011.
By timing the release of the vehicle close to the game release, and driving traditional broadcast, print, innovative OOH, and social media — including a Facebook Jeep-Ops promotion giving away one of the Special Editions — Jeep truly capitalized on the synergy between the “Modern Warfare 3” game and it’s product.
Frito-Lay’s Doritos brand has immersed itself into the gamer community. Having initially showed up as in-game sponsors in the 1999 title, “Jet Moto 3,” Doritos then went on to create Xbox live gamer pics and branded advergames — in addition to executing creative crowd sourcing — proving that the brand has created truly innovative and relevant user driven programs.
My first exposure to Doritos association with Xbox Live was their 2009 “Dash of Destruction” Xbox Live arcade game. It was one of the first branded advergames that also offered real Xbox Live achievement points (200). This proved to be a key driver in the success of the game as Xbox Live achievement points have become incredibly relevant social currency to gamers. As an Xbox Live gamer, your gamerscore affords you status and bragging rights to your peers.
Doritos has also executed a number of promotions tied to Xbox Live and retail activation including their “Halo Reach” campaign, “Honor the Code” — which tied directly with “Halo Reach,” and Mountain Dew which gave away multiple Halo and product related prizes.
In 2010, Doritos held the first Unlock Xbox advergaming competition. This was an incredibly innovative execution as it leveraged the power of gamers to crowd source game ideas that led to two finalists working with Microsoft developers to create what became two new advergames, “Doritos Crash Course” and “Harm’s Way.”
Also In 2010, Doritos partnered with EA Sports for a yearlong “Change the Game” program that covered three phases of the launch of Madden 11.
I recently connected with Chris Erb, vice president of brand marketing at EA Sports, to talk about the Madden 11 program and the partnership with Doritos.
“Doritos has proven to be an incredibly innovative partner. Both brands want to deliver unique experiences that have never been done before. From the first time EA Sports enabled users to vote for the cover of Madden, to the creation of two new promotional flavors of Doritos tied to exclusive Madden content, Doritos has been a great partner for our content.”
The first phase of the program was tied to the “Pick the Cover” program. Doritos partnered with EA Sports to crowd source the cover athlete for Madden 11. Doritos offered specially marked packages with former Madden cover athletes that drove to a Micro-site where the voting occurred. The voters eventually selected Drew Brees for the cover and a dozen winners got to meet with Drew Brees in Times Square.
For the launch of Madden 11, Doritos developed two new promotional flavors of chips, Stadium Nacho, and Tailgater BBQ. This was the first time Doritos created flavors that were truly inspired by the game and the NFL experience. This was also one of the only times a promotional chip ever outsold Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch. The sales were also driven by exclusive Madden content in each bag.
For the holiday season, Doritos and EA Sports wanted to do something unique for consumers. Prior to shipping the game, EA Sports had built a 3D mode into Madden 11, but the only way to play Madden in 3D was to unlock it from a bag of Doritos.
In August 2011, Doritos and Mountain Dew supported “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” with a 7-11 retail activation by placing a buy one, get one free coupon in each copy of “Modern Warfare 3.” By offering an incredibly relevant incentive — double XP to allow gamers to level up faster in the multi-player mode of “Modern Warfare 3” to double the rate they accrue experience points for a limited period of time — they drove their target users to action. The results, between Mountain Dew and Doritos, over 1.8 million consumers redeemed over 18 million codes.
Doritos truly understands its audience and by partnering with another PepsiCo portfolio brand, Mountain Dew, Doritos has garnered the respect and dollars of gamers.
Oakley products have routinely appeared in popular movies, especially action films. From a gaming perspective, Oakley’s approach has been to embed their products into relevant gaming genres.
Oakley has shown a very strong connection with first person shooters (FPS). In 2010, Oakley’s were worn by special ops operators in the 2010 “Medal of Honor” title.
Recently, two of the heaviest hitters in terms of FPS, “Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 3” and “Battlefield 3” both featured Oakley products as well. Action plus FPS equals Oakley
In “Modern Warfare 3,” every scene with a Delta Force character shows the tan Oakley hard knuckle gloves.
This constant placement leads to millions of impressions as users trying to reach and surpass Prestige status via “Modern Warfare 3’s” multi-player mode are constantly shown the iconic “O” throughout gameplay.
For “Battlefield 3,” Oakley SI assault gloves are worn by the Marine Force Recon throughout the game.
Having a pulse on the latest trends in athletics and relying on editorial endorsement of athlete influencers has been a primary awareness driver for Oakley over the years. This applies to gaming and its sponsored athletes.
A recent example is Shaun White’s snowboarding games. Oakley’s association via product placement is subtle yet expansive as Shaun is one of Oakley’s sponsored athletes and his signature Oakley A Frames grace the cover of his initial 2008 game and Oakley branding is on his board for the 2009 follow-up.
Shaun is sporting his signature Oakley Shaun White A Frames on the cover.
Oakley understands the importance of aligning their products to specific genres that are relevant to their core consumers.
As I mentioned above, brands have been placing real world vehicles into games for years. Note franchises such as “Grand Turismo,” “Forza,” and “Need for Speed.” Toyota even capitalized on a free Xbox Live Arcade game in 2007 with its Yaris model as the central character. This was the first time an advertiser created an Xbox arcade game that was distributed over Xbox Live.
Recently, Hyundai unveiled the Veloster model at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The very next day you could take the car for a test drive in “Forza Motorsport 4” as free downloadable content.
Not only was the car available in game, Hyundai has also tied an in-game time trials event that awards the winner with the best time with the real car.
Hyundai has also engaged the “Forza” audience with events such as the THR Secret Car Design Contest. The contest allowed “Forza” players to submit their virtual in-game Hyundai-centric custom designs and the winner won a new Hyundai Veloster.
Here is the winning design.
Hyundai also created an iPhone app, “Hyundai Race,” and promoted it via a Times Square event allowing people in New York City to play the game on the LED screen on 47th and Broadway. This was an impressive execution as it incorporated mobile as the central gaming platform and also created a significant amount of buzz for gamers and non-gamers alike.
By executing timely and relevant programs across multiple platforms, Hyundai has begun to establish itself as a brand that understands how to leverage gaming to drive awareness of its real world products.
Coca-Cola is a true powerhouse when it comes to gaming innovation. With partnerships with EA Sports, downloadable content, retail promotions, and even a gaming zone on MSN, Coca-Cola understands how to harness the power of the medium.
Once again, I spoke with Chris Erb, vice president of brand marketing for EA Sports, about his partnership with Coca-Cola and some of the innovative programs that he has executed in partnership with the Coca-Cola Zero brand.
“Coca-Cola proved to a be a great partner for us. EA Sports is a great content supplier and Coca-Cola provides an incredible channel for content distribution. Together over the past four years, we collaboratively worked to provide positive experiences and reward our customers.”
The Coca-Cola Zero brand and EA Sports partnered together to crowd source the cover athlete for NCAA Football 2012 via EA Sports NCAA Football Facebook Page.
The team also partnered with EA Sports and AMC Theaters to drive purchase at a participating theater that would lead to $10 savings on EA Sports NCAA 2012 title plus free shipping on NCAA 12 Football.
EA Sports, Coca-Cola Zero, and Wendy’s partnered together in 2010 to allow users to play the Big Score. This expansion of NCAA Football 10 allowed users to play with customized teams of Coca-Cola Zero and Wendy’s branded teams.
Coca-Cola has been involved with the World Cup since 1978. In 2010, they partnered with EA Sports to build a mode inside the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa game. The mode allowed users to recreate compelling moments as they happened brought to you by Coca-Cola Zero.
Coca-Cola Zero also partnered with EA Sports for a custom black cover of NCAA 12 in addition to sponsoring the online dynasty mode within game.
Coca-Cola has also partnered with publishers to deliver compelling downloadable content for the “Guitar Hero” and “DJ Hero” franchises.
For “Guitar Hero,” Coca-Cola sponsored “My Chemical Romance” DLC that consisted of four songs.
The company also partnered with DJ Tiesto to create a “DJ Hero 2” mix pack that users could gain access to the DLC via http://www.mycokerewards.com/. I personally downloaded the Tiesto mix pack via the mycokerewards site back in 2010 and thought it was a great idea for a brand to sponsor DLC that would normally cost 600 MS points.
In June of 2011, Coca-Cola engaged NASCAR fans with a socially driven trivia game that was featured on both NASCAR.com andYahoo.com which generated over 500,000 total views in June and nearly 20,000 “likes” on Facebook.
Recently, the Coca-Cola Zero Gaming Zone set MSN records with over two million visits. This is an interactive gaming platform that the brand launched across nine European markets in May. Coca-Cola is using gaming as a relevant way to actively engage its core audience of 18 to 25 year-old men. The gaming zone consists of the latest in gaming news, reviews and access to games, quizzes, cheats, and trailers as well as exclusive contests.
With incredible global reach, Coca-Cola understands the importance of compelling programs that add value to gamers while driving brand affinity.
There are many other brands that warrant mention. Nike, Adidas, 7-11, Burger King, Dodge, Reebok, and Sobe have all shown great strides in terms of integrating their product offerings and driving innovation through gaming.
The key is to create programs that truly add value by enhancing the experience and offering incentives that are compelling to the target audience. Social currency, virtual currency, physical, and downloadable products are key elements to driving awareness and engagement in this medium.
Look for me on Xbox 360 — my “gamertag” is TheBlackFin.
We’ve all been waiting for two things from Facebook: 1) the IPO and 2) the new “Timeline” layout for brand pages. We’re not sure which one’s secrets are more heavily guarded. While the IPO is imminent, the word on Timeline for brand pages is that the unveiling is only days away. Facebook is hosting their FMC conference in New York City on February 29, and rumor has it that all will be revealed on that day. Here are some things we’ve been reading about Facebook…
Several media outlets are reporting that Facebook is in the process of launching Timeline for brand pages with an official announcement to be made on February 29, during its invitation only Facebook Marketers Council. Considering the narrative style look of Timeline, brands will have to find different ways of engaging with their audience in the new format. Mashable provides some insights into what Timeline brand pages might look like. You can view them here.
A month after releasing 60 new Timeline apps, Facebook touted initial results showing a big increase in sign-ups and traffic for participating sites. Pinterest has seen the number of Facebook visitors grow by more than 60% in the last month. Fab.com has had a 50% increase in Facebook traffic. Foodspotting enjoyed a threefold gain in visits and activities shared. Among the first batch of Timeline apps, Spotify, Songza and Deezer have collectively allowed people to share more than 5 billion songs. Facebook has approved thousands of new actions for Open Graph apps in the last month with brands like Vogue Paris, Votizen, Identified, Boxee, MetaCafe and Shopkick introducing new offerings in recent weeks.
Facebook will start allowing prominent public figures to verify their accounts and then opt in to display a preferred nickname instead of their birth name. Those with verified accounts will gain more prominent placement in Facebook’s “People to Subscribe To” suggestions. Birth names will still be shown on the user’s profile About page, but the verification prevents people from subscribing to public updates of imposters. It will also arm Facebook for its battle with Twitter to control the interest graph.
We have all dealt with “YAN” in one form or another over the past few years. YAN stands for Yet Another Network login. This stems from brands using proprietary authentication methods vs. leveraging Open Authorization (OAuth) such as Facebook’s Graph API (OAuth 2.0). To put it simply, brands like to use their own username & passwords vs. allowing a user to login with their Facebook or Twitter ID’s.
YAN is an even bigger issue when combined with the fact that 88% of online buyers had at some point intentionally left registration information blank or used incorrect information when signing up for a new account, up 12% from 2010. Also, the expectation of consumers for brands to support Social Sign-On has increased significantly as eMarketer and Janrain recently reported that consumer desire for Social Sign-On has increased to 77% of US Online Buyers in 2011.
The importance of leveraging a single sign on authentication platform that is socially enabled becomes the key to unlocking a brands social CRM strategy. The reason for this is that Social Sign-On can lower the barrier of entry for a user, increase validity of data via the users social graph as well as increase stay rates.
According to recent research from Gigya, web users who log into 3rd party sites with Facebook’s Graph API spend 50% more time on those sites, and view twice as many pages. Think about the impact to a Fortune 500 retailer with 50% increase in stay rates and how that may impact purchase frequency.
When it comes to selecting which service is ideal for your brand, Gigya also released information that shows that Facebook accounts for 61% of those social logins.
Where social sign on really gets interesting is when a brand leverages an OAuth solution, such as Facebook’s Graph API. Instead of depending on a user to input a few sets of pre-determined data, you potentially have access to 180 data points to associate with the user. This includes the ability to access data tied to their feed, friends, activities, interests, music, books, movies, television, likes, checkins and more based on the users privacy settings.
This increases the probability of accurate subscriber data as well as the ability to append your proprietary questions on the back-end of the authorization of the user. Users in this scenario are more likely to share information as they are not repeating the information process. This also means that for a brand, the ability to build a robust profile around an individual beyond the standard data points such as basic demographic data and purchase history becomes a reality.
One of the more progressive brands when it comes to Social Sign-On is Nike.
Nike offers multiple options for authentication.
When you choose to login via Facebook, look at the data that Nike gains access to in one session…
A possible user scenario is as follows. Nike is about to become the uniform provider for the NFL in the upcoming 2012 season. Imagine if Nike had the ability to quickly scan the profile data of those who have authenticated via social sign-on and find team & athlete related Likes, game Checkin’s from the last season (Timeline makes this even easier), team related status updates, etc… tied to the users NFL team & players of choice. They would be able to proactively target those users with highly targeted and relevant offerings around the upcoming seasons jerseys and other merchandise that the user would then be compelled to engage.
This solution combined with other integrated tactics would most likely net better results than engaging in a mass e-mail/traditional campaign. Moving forward, the brands that understand how to leverage the immense amounts of data that individuals are providing via their social graph and then create relevant & highly targeted outreach campaigns will be the brands that will capitalize on socially enabled commerce.
As e-marketer shows below, in 2012 $3 billion in goods will be sold via social media this number jumps to $14 billion by 2015.
The key to this trend is not just positioning products via social channels, but lowering the barrier of entry, mapping CRM & social graph elements as well as highly targeted, relevant and timely offers via social & traditional channels.
The brands that understand how to better integrate their CRM programs with Social Graph data to create robust user profiles that are then the basis for executing their marketing strategy will be the winners.
It should be noted that integration of SSO is a cross departmental effort and this is one of the primary reasons more fortune 500 organizations have not adopted this method. It will take visionary executives who understand the value of data integration to push SSO forward.
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Crash the Super Bowl
5 years ago Doritos had the idea of crowdsourcing their commercials on the biggest stage possible, the Super Bowl. At over $3 Million per thirty second slot, that was quite a risk. Proving that risk has its rewards, Doritos commercials have been consistently rated as the most loved for the past several years. Congratulations to our friends at Doritos, Frito Lay, and all the agencies involved in putting this together and allowing us to play a part. Read a great article about this HERE.
The Pinterest Craze
Every few months something in the social media space raises its hand and demands to be considered for the “Next Big Thing” award. Last year we saw Instagram, Google+, and Quora make a run (none of which have crossed over just yet). Right now Pinterest is the rage. What is Pinterest? Simply put, you see an image on the web you like, you “pin it” and it uploads to your Pinterest page where you compile them into themed “boards.” We fell in love with it early last year and found it great for keeping track of our travels, recipes, fashion, art, and much more. Recently we’ve heard reports that Pinterest is driving more web traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. For brands, we recommend that you think of Pinterest as a place to propel conversations around whatever you make or sell. Read more HERE
As Valentine’s day approaches it is interesting to see the various social media integrations and promotions that brands are using to sell more products. Jeweler Swarovski launched a mobile site called the Sparkling Valentine’s Day Assistant and Heineken created an interactive Facebook page allowing people to ask each other out on dates. Meanwhile for those without dates February 14 doesn’t have to be lonely, that’s the day Angry Birds debuts on Facebook!
Five Trends from Super Bowl Advertisers
Altimeter Group studied the brands that advertised during the Super Bowl and below are some of their findings:
Trend 1) Brands heavily invested in promoting traditional websites
Trend 2) Many did not promote a Call-to-Action
Trend 3) Only a sixth of ads explicitly promoted social media
Trend 4) Hash tag marketing emerged to stimulate continued engagement
Trend 5) Cutting edge marketers teased with new marketing tactics