Category Archives: Influencer Marketing

Prediction: Perceived Personalization

Written by: Eric Fransen
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It was sometime between my first battle with an Uruk captain and overthrowing my first war chief that I realized something was special about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. While the gameplay itself was fantastic, it was something in particular about the game’s enemies that struck me. Each Uruk had a unique name, appearance, and set of weaknesses, strengths and fears. Each Uruk had its own personality that was only present in my game. If I fell in battle to one, he made sure to let me know the next time I saw him — in alarmingly specific detail.

This is all thanks to Monolith’s Nemesis System. What the Nemesis System has managed to accomplish is something extraordinary — and noticeably lacking in many other of its AAA game brethren: perceived personalization. It wasn’t a matter of going after these Uruks because the game said I had to — I went after them because I wanted to. For sweet, sweet vengeance. It was no longer purely a game mechanic. It was personal. It was as if I KNEW the Uruk and he existed purely to antagonize me and make my life more difficult. All of this made it that much more satisfying by the time I was able to exact my revenge by parting his head with his shoulders.

So what does this all have to do with digital marketing? Everything.

You see, Monolith has stumbled onto something utterly brilliant. Mechanics that go a long way in making you, the consumer, feel like you’re having a completely unique experience. At its core, the Nemesis system is essentially a bank of possible names, attributes, personalities and sound bytes that combine to form randomly created characters. But it’s how it all comes together to form a cohesive experience that’s where it really shines.

You could apply this same logic to attributes in product design, custom web experiences, or experiential events. If you feel like you’re the first and/or only person to experience something, how much better of an experience is that compared to a one-size-fits-all approach? By creating something truly unique, you’re creating social currency and empowering your consumers to speak on your behalf.

But why perceived personalization? Isn’t it just personalization? Yes and no. Yes, the experience is unique and personalized to me, the end user. But where I see the differentiation is the fact that it’s unique without any additional input from either the development side OR the user side. It’s a highly sophisticated automated system that makes me FEEL like it’s built specifically for me. That’s the magic. And something I believe we are going to start seeing even more in 2015.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook Launches New Places Directory to Rival Yelp
Facebook has quietly launched a new Places Directory, which lets you search for the best destinations in cities across the world. The results are ranked by user ratings and show comments from friends and others in your Facebook network.

Social Spend Will Double by 2018
Social media advertising spending will more than double in just five years, according to a new forecast from BI Intelligence. The group predicts social ad revenues will jump 40 percent from $6.1 billion in 2013 to $8.5 billion this year and 195 percent to almost $14 billion in 2018. Factors driving this growth: increased reach, improved targeting, improved measurement capabilities, and the rapid expansion of programmatic buying options.

Twitter Announces Several New Features
During Twitter’s Analyst Day event, the company promised to launch new services including new messaging, video creation, and content curation features in the coming months. The goal is to make the social network more engaging to new and existing users. Some of the new features announced include: Timeline Highlights, Instant Timeline, breaking news alerts, real-time video editing and sharing (native Twitter video), improvements to private messaging, and more stand-alone apps.

Facebook Debuts ‘Say Thanks’ Video Feature
Facebook launched a new feature called “Say Thanks” that helps users create “video cards” for friends and family. To create the cards, Facebook automatically combines content featuring users and the person they’ve chosen to commemorate. Users can then edit that content and choose from different card themes before sharing them.

YouTube Unveils Music Streaming Service
YouTube launched its new music streaming service this week. Music Key will be ad-free and begin on an invite-only basis with a promotional subscription price of $7.99 per month — discounted from $9.99. YouTube is also adding a music-focused tab that includes favorites and recommended playlists. YouTube’s Music Key also includes a subscription to Google Play Music.

Global Social Media

The Countries Where Facebook Censors the Most Content
As Facebook expands, countries are increasingly interested in making content on the social network disappear. Censorship on Facebook increased 19 percent between the first six months of 2014 and the last six months of 2013. But censorship isn’t distributed evenly. Some countries are more trigger-happy than others. India leads the list with 4,900 pieces of content restricted. Turkey and Pakistan follow closely with 1,800 and 1,700 “pieces of content” removed. Facebook only restricts content when it is “illegal under local law.”

Noteworthy Campaigns

JetBlue Launches Fly It Forward
JetBlue Airways recently introduced a new program called “Fly It Forward” that enables customers to spread goodness from one to the next. The program is inspired by the airline’s crew members and is carried on by customers passing along one ticket on a continuous journey throughout the JetBlue network. To celebrate the launch, JetBlue released a video featuring the first four fliers to participate in the program. The video also calls for the public to submit their own nominations for deserving travelers. Consumers can follow stories as they unfold at jetblueflyitforward.com and help write the next chapter by submitting their own entry through Twitter using #FlyItForward.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Twitter Introduces Audio Cards
This week, Twitter announced that it is introducing a new type of Card to your timeline: the Audio Card. The new tool lets you listen to music and podcasts directly from your timeline. The first Audio Cards will be shared by a small group of partners including NASA, David Guetta, and the White House.

Social, Digital Brands Lead 2014 Loyalty Index
Apple, Amazon, Whats App, Google, YouTube, and Kindle are the top dogs in consumer loyalty this year. In Brand Keys’ 2014 Loyalty Leaders List, an annual survey that gauges how connected consumers feel to 721 brands in 65 categories, 36 of the top 100 are new brands. Most new arrivals are around social and digital, including tablets, smartphones, and social networks. The only non-digital or non-social brand that rated in the top 20 was Dunkin’ Donuts.

Facebook Stickers are Now Available in Comments
Facebook expanded its stickers feature to comments on Timeline, Groups, and Event posts. Stickers, which are Facebook’s emoji-like icons, have been available within Messages and in the Messenger app for some time, but were not available elsewhere. Stickers in comments will work the same way – users begin with only a few stickers but can get more from Facebook’s in-app Sticker Store.

Google is Testing Video Chat with Real Doctors
Google has confirmed that it is testing a system that would offer video chats with doctors to people whose search terms involve medical symptoms. Google is paying for the feature while it’s in the testing phase. It is likely that it would be a paid feature if it is rolled out to the public at large.

Global Social Media

Global Millennials Share Ideas and Desires
According to the first-ever global “Cassandra Report,” millennials share attitudes about commerce, brand preferences, and life goals regardless of where they are in the world. The study argues that millennials are a world demographic (Global Y’s), representing half the population on earth. Seventy percent of global millennials surveyed said that they use social media as a source of news on current affairs. Seventy-five percent said that traveling the world is an important life goal. Thirty-eight percent said that they prefer to communicate with pictures instead of words (cue Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat).  This global group is three times as likely to wear socially conscious brands over luxury brands, and 40 percent are willing to pay more for products/brands that are eco-friendly (especially in China and India).

Noteworthy Campaigns

McDonald’s Launches Transparency Campaign
In an effort to gain more trust from consumers, McDonald’s is launching a transparency program called “Our food. Your questions.” The move comes as the chain battles sliding sales and works to improve perception about McDonald’s food quality, particularly among millennials.  As part of the effort, McDonald’s has dedicated a section of its website to the campaign, as well as a video series featuring former MythBusters co-host Grant Imahara as he visits multiple suppliers for the chain. In addition to the company’s website, the videos will appear on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  McDonald’s will respond to questions with behind-the-scenes webisodes and other social content that will provide facts on ingredients, how food is made, and how it’s prepared.

The Anti-Facebook? Meet Ello

Written by: Tom Edwards
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With the recent shift towards a reach and frequency model and organic reach hovering at 3% (with plans to go lower by the end of the year), Facebook has now created a void in the social networking eco-system.

fb-organic-reach-blog

This is what maturing enterprises do. They refine and evolve and sometimes this change has significant ramifications on existing best practices. Facebook is still an incredibly powerful digital platform. I would no longer classify it as a “social network” at least from a brand marketing perspective. Facebook has moved away from KPI’s such as engagement to focus on becoming a highly effective direct response tool.

Facebook-Reach

We are currently at a significant cross-roads from a social marketing perspective. The mantra of reach through engagement is really only applicable on Tumblr & Instagram (for now). Twitter is shifting towards an algorithm driven approach to showcasing tweets in your feed and organic reach has continued to decline and it will be interesting to see how much of the feed is “real-time” moving forward.

twitter

With all of this movement away from what made social… social, you should expect to see new platforms emerge that essentially provide what Facebook used to be, an actual social network.

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One such platform that is starting to pick up momentum is Ello.

ello

“Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers” according to the founders. It is designed to be an ad-free digital zone.

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One of the selling propositions to join yet another network is the fact that they state they won’t sell data to 3rd parties.

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The core of the experience is similar to what you would expect, it supports GIFs, comments on posts and reply directly to friends. You also have insight into how many people have viewed a post but there is nothing revolutionary with the platform, it simply is what Facebook used to be.

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This is still in it’s early stages and is very similar to the early stages of the social networks that came before it so there are still some elements that need to be refined but there is a need for platforms such as Ello that provide an alternative to the increasingly ad driven models and allow for more organic connection and discovery of content.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 18.53.10

Be sure to sign up for an invite.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

The Marketing Arm Digital – September 2014 Newsletter

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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We published our monthly newsletter! Check it out below, and to see it in all its glory with working links, click HERE.

Sept-Newsletter.2014

How To Make Trends and Influence People

Written by: Eric Fransen
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One of the proverbial Holy Grails of social marketing has been to get your brand to trend on Twitter. It signifies scale and social value of your brand, it’s easy to explain, and not everyone can do it. Or can they?

First, let’s begin with some definitions.

What does it mean to trend on Twitter?
It means appearing in the top trends box on Twitter’s home page and mobile app. The trends are tracked and viewable at a global, national and city level.

What are trending topics?
Trending topics represent what people are talking about the most at a given time. But it’s not just a traditional word cloud, tracking individual words — rather, Twitter uses an algorithm to identify the larger conversations related to topics and distill them down to hashtags and keywords. By clicking a trending topic, you can see all related tweets, profiles, and headlines.

How does something become a trending topic?
The most certain way to trend on Twitter is to pay for it using Twitter’s Promoted Trends product. These opportunities are offered once per day at a fixed rate — typically $100,000 – $200,000 for 24 hours. While this is a surefire way to get your brand in front of the massive Twitter audience, what we’re discussing today is how to do it the old fashioned way: organically.

There are a few things to note about organically trending topics. 
First, there’s no telling how long or short their time to trend is going to be. I’ve seen trends last less than 20 minutes and up to a majority of the day. It really comes down to the size and nature of the audience that’s engaging — that is, fans of One Direction and Justin Bieber are incredibly passionate and show up in the millions to create organically trending topics quite frequently.

Second, a big part of the algorithm that causes content to trend is based on two things: frequency and volume over time. That is, the more people are tweeting about a given topic in a shorter amount of time, the more likely that content is to trend. This is why you see topics related to live television like sports and The Voice trending — the viewership is so massive and active on social media that, at any given time, thousands upon thousands of conversations are occurring about these cultural events.

So, what does this mean for me and my brand?
When it comes to trending topics, there’s a lot to do with chance — right content, right time — but there’s an equally important part that can be affected with the right strategy to put your best foot forward. Here are a couple thought starters that should get you on your way to your first trending topic.

1) Live Events
What better way to replicate the momentum achieved by a live television or sports event than to create one of your own? I’m not saying you need to produce a television show or host the next Dodger game. Quite the opposite, in fact. You can create an online event targeting a smaller but passionate audience. The most common example of such an event is a Twitter Party — an event hosted by a popular Twitter personality, centered around a hashtag, and designed to get their audience talking about a topic. Another type of live event that I have personally seen success with is a live trivia event. Working with a gaming client, we devised a program that offered up high value prizes to the first Twitter follower to answer each of a series of increasingly difficult trivia questions using a designated hashtag. We hosted a similar event for four weeks and organically trended three of the four times.

2) Mass Appeal
Don’t have the means to make an event of your own? You can try appealing to the masses with something that holds a universal truth or can be entertaining to everyone. A program I created for the same gaming client was designed to tap into the passion around nostalgia for a particular franchise and the result was the topic trended within the first 10 minutes of publishing the original tweet. It comes down to understanding your audience and their motivations. What are they passionate about at scale?

Clios In The House

Written by: Digitally Approved
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clio-sports

In the ad world, there is no higher achievement than the Clio. In Advertising, it is the equivalent to the Oscars. If you are a Mad Men watcher, then maybe your remember when Don accepted the Clio for his work on GloCoat. But Peggy was insulted that he didn’t thank her.  Then Roger held the Clio hostage unless he acknowledged that it was a team effort.  But we digress.

clios

There are a number of Clio awards given for specific industries and they recently handed out statues for outstanding work in Sports. We were lucky enough to receive two of them and we’d love to give a shout out to the tremendous work exhibited by the entire creative teams at The Marketing Arm with special nods to Brandon Stuart and Marc Gilbar who accepted the awards for the Callaway Golf “Hit the Links” and PepsiMax “Test Drive 2” campaigns.

Buzzfeed Is Word of Mouth at Scale

Written by: Tom Edwards
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One of the more interesting briefings that I have taken part in recently was provided by Buzzfeed. The rise of native advertising publishers has created a lot of excitement with brands. The level of sophistication and scale provided by publishers such as Buzzfeed cannot be understated.

Buzzfeed Stickers

At it’s core Buzzfeed strives to create content that people want to share. With 130+ million monthly uniques & 50% of users coming from mobile, the easily consumable & sharable content makes Buzzfeed a marketing platform that demands attention.

Buzzfeed Homepage

From a native advertising standpoint, Buzzfeed represents a “closed” publisher. Meaning they own their contextual inventory and brands & agencies will need to partner directly with Buzzfeed to execute programming.

Here is an example of a custom execution tied to the launch of Anchorman 2

Buzzfeed Anchorman 2 feed

What is interesting in their approach to empowering brands is how they strive to align their content offerings with the path to purchase, highlighting their focus on impacting opinion, consideration & preference. This is one of the reasons many CPG brands have chosen to partner with Buzzfeed.

Here is an example of a Bud Light integration

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With the decrease in organic reach for brands, leveraging the reach of platforms beyond owned properties is becoming increasingly important from a social perspective. The key to navigating social beyond simple reach is to continue to focus on creating engaging & sharable content to generate word-of-mouth. Here is a link to my recent whitepaper outlining the shift.

Even with the recent seismic industry shift, consumer behavior is still true to form, meaning consumers are looking to discover, engage and share content. In the new world of decreased organic brand reach, more emphasis and control resides with the consumer to carry a brand message or association forward.

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There has been a heavy focus on content creation over the past two years. One of the key driving factors was Facebook’s shift towards visual storytelling shift with the revised timeline in March of 2012. This led to new theories and approaches (Many that my team and I created for our Fortune 500 client base) followed by various Facebook publishing garages outlining the new best practices to further segment content hierarchies driven by content themes and pillars to create engagement.

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Sophisticated efforts were made to maximize the impact of content to drive engagement with participants. Now with the recent shift from engagement to a reach and frequency model has/will impact brands approaches to content themes and strategy.

While brands continue to reduce the number of content themes and shift from “reach through engagement” strategies towards the new normal of paid reach, publishers such as Buzzfeed are still able to capitalize on various content themes to drive a connection with their audience. Be it thematics around Emotional, Identity, Informative, Funny, editorial content is crafted to resonate with various audience segments.

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What is very interesting is that Buzzfeed does not target their content, their approach is based on the behavior that consumers will find the content relevant to them. Their mantra is that “Great Content Finds It’s Audience”. This goes directly in the opposite direction of social mega-powers such as Facebook and Twitter where there is an apparent arms race to further target and segment users.

Buzzfeeds approach to advertising is truly an example of contextual native advertising. They are focused on telling a story that is relevant to the audience, involve people emotionally and are not heavy-handed. But one key element to consider is that their content is currently favored within Facebook’s algorithm, even over certain competitors.

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Their approach to editorial content creation mirrors that of a hybrid social & creative agency, where they take into consideration the brand voice, evergreen content and brand pillars and then leverage the branded content activation to create word-of-mouth at scale. Buzzfeed is also getting into the video content creation space by creating custom video content on behalf of brands

Purina Cat’s guide to taking care of your human

Luvs – 9 super cool baby tips

From a measurement standpoint, Buzzfeeds approach to supporting brands is a combination of impressions & social lift. Whereby they guarantee x amount of impressions and incremental shares off of that through a combination of Buzzfeed inventory & social seeding.

Buzzfeed is just one example of an extensive list of open & closed publisher networks. Depending on the type of campaign that is being explored, if creating word of mouth at scale is of value then Buzzfeed may be a publisher to consider.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Pinterest’s Web Search is About to Get Much More Powerful
Pinterest’s new Guided Search Feature, which the company first unveiled on mobile in April, is coming to the web. Pinterest users will soon see a new search bar when they visit Pinterest.com. The search feature will recommend keywords intended to help generate more specific queries or better search results. For example, searching for “BBQ” on Pinterest might surface other keywords like “wings,” “recipes,” or “chicken.”

Twitter’s Video Hashtags Automatically Add Video to Text
Twitter has joined forces with Visa and Adidas (two World Cup advertisers) to experiment with video hashtagging. When a user types #visa and then a space, they will see a paper clip prompt, which will allow you to attach a video when clicked. Adidas is also testing the feature using the hashtag #allin, which will lead to this video.

Amazon Starts Prime Music
Amazon has introduced an ad-free music streaming service with more than one million songs.  Prime Music, designed to compete with Apple, Beats Music, Spotify, and Pandora, is available to subscribers of Amazon’s $99/year Prime Program.

Facebook Extends Ad Targeting to Web, App Use
Facebook is significantly expanding how it targets ads by including information about the sites that users visit and mobile apps they use outside of Facebook. The social network is taking the controversial step of extending that data collection to include the third-party sites and apps they use to improve the relevance of their own ads. Example: If you are thinking about buying a new TV and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps, Facebook may show you ads for deals on a TV.

Global Social Media

Less Than Half of the Earth’s Population Has Internet Access
The Internet continues to grow at a rapid pace, but there’s still a long way to go in terms of extending access, especially in poor and developing countries. The number of people with access to the Internet is expected to reach three billion by 2015. That’s up from one billion in 2005 — but still just 41% of the earth’s total projected population of 7.3 billion people in 2015. Internet access is of course higher in more advanced economies like North America, Europe, and Asia, and is lower in Africa, The Middle East, India, and parts of Latin America.

Instagram Introduces Advertising in UK, Canada, and Australia
Instagram users in the UK, Canada, and Australia will start seeing advertisements in their feeds. The platform has amassed 200 million users since its launch. Growth outside of the U.S. is particularly strong, with an estimated 165 million hailing beyond U.S. shores.

Noteworthy Campaigns

“Share a Coke” Bottles & Campaign Hit U.S.
Over the summer, Coca-Cola will replace its brand logo on some of its 20-ounce bottles with one of the 250 most popular names of U.S. teens and millennials. In addition, the logos on 1.25 and 2-liter bottles of Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero will be replaced by group names like “Family” and “Friends.” 12-ounce cans will feature nicknames like “BFF,” “Star,” “Bestie,” “Legend,” “Grillmaster,” “Buddy,” and “Wingman.” 8-ounce cans will bear the “Share a Coke” message.  In addition, Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain dispensers will offer to consumers who have the Freestyle mobile app the ability to scan a QR code to send a friend a coupon for a free Coke. Also, as part of the campaign, consumers who share Coca-Cola related stories using the hashtag #ShareaCoke will earn chances to be featured on brand billboards across the country and on the ShareaCoke.com gallery.  Starting this week, users can visit the campaign website to create virtual personalized bottles and share them on social media channels.  For those whose names aren’t featured on the real bottles, Coke is launching a national 500-stop tour where people can get customized mini-cans with their names for themselves and a friend.