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The 6 Latest Trends in Marketing Technology

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Our own Tom Edwards contributed the lead story in today’s iMedia Connection highlighting current trends in marketing technology.  Here is his article and you can read it at iMedia HERE as well.

The 6 latest trends in marketing technology

The last 13 years of my digital marketing career have consisted of a few startups, hundreds of campaigns, countless technology partners, and the ability to serve as an advisor for a handful of tech startups. This experience has provided me with a unique perspective when it comes to building, evaluating, and partnering with various technology-led products and services.

When it comes to cutting through the hype of the latest innovation trend or the next great marketing technology, I look for products that have the potential to create experiences that move people. The key is to align with partners that understand it is not just about features and functions, it’s about relevant use cases that can be combined with the right brand to create a compelling user experience and ultimately provide value to the consumer.

I recently attended the iMedia Breakthrough Summit and had the pleasure of hearing Adam Broitman, VP global digital marketing for MasterCard, speak about innovation. Broitman asked the crowd to define innovation, and you could hear a pin drop. We throw the word around on a daily basis and are constantly looking for the next big thing. Broitman defined it as creativity with a job to do — not just innovation equals technology.

When we apply this to marketing technology, we can begin to build stories into the products from the beginning. Think about why Apple has been so successful since 2007. Its product stories are carefully crafted with emphasis on simplicity and utility.

With this in mind, I have outlined key industry trends and technology partners that I have partnered with this year. My goal is to share some of the best of breed partners and technologies that can further enable campaigns that are designed around the following trends.

Collaborative commerce

One of the new technologies I am very excited about is collaborative purchasing through branded crowdfunding. I was recently briefed by the Crowdtilt team and was incredibly impressed. Crowdtilt is a San Francisco-based startup with its roots coming out of Y Combinator. It has taken the model made famous by Kickstarter and focused on further enabling brands with its technology.

Collaborative purchasing is the next wave of digital opportunities for brands. Audiences put their money where their mouths are, as a form of communication beyond a “like.” Demand for new products is quantified by real dollars. Branded crowdfunding can also create stronger signals from intent to actual purchase.

For brands, a white label solution with a fully customizable experience is available. Brands maintain ownership of customer data, and there is also an API that allows an organization to build on top of the Crowdtilt technology.

Here is an example: a Microsoft programthat was built on top of Crowdtilt’s API allowing friends and families to fund a Surface tablet.

In terms of use cases, a brand can leverage the technology to launch limited editions of products or validate the revenue potential of “vintage items.” It is also possible to test customer demand through both pre-tail and crowdfunded prototypes. Brands or non-profits can also support cause-based fundraisers.

Curation

Curation has become a key element for strategies that I have defined in 2013. Digital curation is the preservation and maintenance of digital assets and is an incredibly important function when executing user-generated content and co-creation programs.

One of my go-to curation technology partners has been Mass Relevance. One of our large and currently in-market programs AT&T’s #BeTheFan program leverages the Mass Relevance API to pull in hashtagged #BeTheFan cross channel entries for the program.

What I like about its technology is I have the option to only leverage the API and get exactly what I need or have the option to work with its team to creatively visualize the data.

Another curation technology that I use is Flipboard. Flipboard is a content curation and discovery social magazine app that over 85 million people are using. The application visualizes your social feeds such as Facebook and Twitter as well as providing access to curated topical magazines all while allowing users flexibility in how they consume their content of choice.

Over the past few months, more than 60 recognizable brands have launched curated magazines. This includes Callaway Golf, Levi’s, and more. With such a large user base combined with users’ appetite for both curated and original content, Flipboard is becoming an ideal destination to aggregate and present information in a unique and compelling way.

Here is an example from the Callaway Golf Team. The team created a brand magazine to support the launch of its new Apex Irons.

Flipboard launched an online editor earlier this year. The editor allows anyone the ability to create customized titles, and more than 3.5 million customized titles have been created. There is also a paid aspect of Flipboard. For more details please see my previous iMedia post on Flipboard.

Second screen and social TV

The rise of second screen technology, whether it is an app or a device, has been a key development. As a social marketer, I am very interested in the subset of second screen solutions that comprise Social TV. Whether watching television or TV-related content, our ability to share our social reactions and extend the experience of our favorite shows is at the heart of the social TV movement.

Here is an example of the user interface for Intonow.

The Social TV ecosystem consists of a number of different subsets, from automatic content recognition providers such as Shazam and Intonow to social electronic programming guides and rewards platforms such as GetGlue, Miso, and Tunerfish, to social TV analytics firms like TrendrrTV and Netbase.

I am very interested in the ad serving platforms that connect all aspects of video and audio fingerprints of connected TVs, second screen apps, and devices that allow for association of various types of ads be it mobile, digital, or social. I recently met with the Samba TV team (Formerly Flingo) and was impressed by its offering.

I have also been working closely with Twitter as this platform continues to develop analytics and partnerships such as its recent initiatives with Nielsen and Comcast, as well as its ability to associate conversations and targeted media with recently aired content. One of the areas of opportunity to be mindful of is the increase in connected televisions and the ability to associated device IDs for connected devices (29 percent of U.S. households will own a connected TV in 2013 according to eMarketer), as well as mobile IDs, to increase the impact of targeting programming and activating socially.

Rich social media

Facebook has stated that 88 percent of engagement happens in the news feed. Having the ability to create compelling in-stream experiences beyond driving to an app-based destination in Facebook has been a key strategic point of emphasis in 2013. A number of campaigns that I have worked on recently have shifted the model from app-based solutions to rich and responsive in-stream solutions that are also trackable and oCPM-optimized for Facebook media and Twitter card rich media solutions.

My key partner for rich social media has been Shop Igniter. Its solution allows our campaigns to reach social and mobile fans in-stream. I initially met the team via an intro from Facebook and it has been a great partner. The technology is highly mobile-friendly and designed to drive mobile engagement at a significantly higher rate than standard units. Also note that you can leverage Shop Igniter’s technology to create a rich responsive domain experience.

Here is a detailed white paper outlining the new promotional engagement models of Facebook, including a section on in-stream.

Crowdsourcing

Jeff Howe of Wired Magazine coined the phrase crowdsourcing, and he defined it as the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the province of a specialized few. My agency has an adage that ideas can come from anywhere, and we back it up by leveraging a highly effective crowdsourcing platform that I architected called Flockstar.

Flockstar takes on traditional concepting or asset creation and offers the ability for agencies and brands alike to activate beyond their team or engage their existing brand fans.

The technology allows for public or private video briefs to be posted, and it facilitates the process of submission, edits, and moderation all through a highly engaging user interface that can support disparate teams. Brands have the option to create a brief to access the existing Flockstar creative community or have the option to white-label the technology to support crowdsourcing campaigns.

Social and CRM

A key area of discussion over the past year has been big data. I almost cringe when I hear the term, but big may not even describe the amount of data that we are creating. I recently heard a stat that we produce as much data every 48 hours as we did from the beginning of time to 2003. The scary part is that two-thirds of the world is not yet online.

With massive amounts of data comes the need for insights, analysis, re-targeting, and the need for greater promotional effectiveness. Combine all of this with social conversations and the task of mapping data, and it can be a significant challenge.

I work closely with brands to optimize promotional effectiveness and how to drive consistency of data collected and how that can add value to their existing CRM strategy. Another technology that I developed is called Crowdsworth. For any socially executed Facebook promotion, it is possible to embed the Crowdsworth SDK into any execution that leverages Facebook authentication.

The platform then pulls in the user’s social graph data as well as offers the ability to drive real-time insights directly from the experience. The data collected can then be fed into the organization’s existing CRM program, driving greater efficiency.

Hopefully the trends and solutions outlined above can spark a test or proof of concept to support your agency or brand. There are other technologies that we are actively reviewing such as wearables, social loyalty, social and search, and retail activation products.

The key is to find partners that are willing to ideate and innovate with the goal of creating experiences that move people rather than simply push the technology.

Tom Edwards is the VP, digital strategy and innovation for the The Marketing Arm and Fanscape.

On Twitter? Follow Edwards @BlackFin360 or for more information on Flockstar or Crowdsworth please DM via Twitter. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

“Technology” image via Shutterstock.

Pinterest Partner Event Recap

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I recently attended the first ever Pinterest Partner Marketing Summit in NYC. This invite only event unveiled their emphasis on developing a strong partner program and also served as an opportunity to introduce new staff to the Pinterest partner team, new resources for brands and agencies and best practices to maximize the platform.

Pinterest Event

There were five primary areas of focus for the event.

1) Why Pinterest
2) Pinterest Interest Graph
3) New product enhancements (Rich Pin & Mobile Pin It)
4) Analytics & Partner Tools
5) Partner case studies & Best Practices

WHY PINTEREST

Ben Silbermann, Pinterest Co-Founder & CEO started the day by telling the story of Pinterest. He discussed his love of collections when he was young… stamps, butterflies, baseball cards, etc… he saw an opportunity as there was not an elegant solution to organize collections online.

He had roots with Google and was enamored by how the search giant was able to so seamlessly focus on enabling search & retrieval across the web. If you know what you are looking for Google provides an ideal platform for search & retrieval.

He actually related Pinterest more to Google & search than to other social channels such as Facebook. With Pinterest people vs. bots are indexing the webs content and organizing them by interests, something that is a bit more subjective but aligns with human behavior.

One of his key points was in defining Pinterests role in discovery of content.

Discovery on the web is an unsolved problem & massive opportunity” – Ben Silbermann

Ben

With Pinterest, people are making discovery possible by organizing the web’s content around interests. This is their key point of differentiation as the platform is about discovery and action.

It was interesting to hear Ben’s story about the roots of Pinterest and it also provided insight into where the platform is going which leads to the Interest Graph.

INTEREST GRAPH

The Pinterest team spent a good bit of time discussing what they coined the Pinterest Interest Graph. An interest graph is an online representation of the specific things in which an individual is interested. And because the focus of Pinterest is based on what people are indexing on the web and then categorizing by interests, the Pinterest Interest Graph is the foundation for their business moving forward.

A key point of differentiation between Facebook’s Social Graph & Pinterest & even Twitters interest graphs are the fact that Interest Graphs are used to create people’s interest networks whereas Facebook and other social networks are organized around an individual’s friends and connections that follow them across the web.

The key to the interest graph for Pinterest is the ability to create personalized experiences that change based on an individuals life stage and interests. The association is less with people and more with things. This may include life events such as marriage, children, etc… and Pinterest hopes that by focusing on interests they are building a sustainable platform that can grow with users over time and continue to provide both utility and relevance based on discovery.

The key to the interest graph from a brand perspective is that a single product can be repined into other areas. As the single object passes across the interest graph across categories you are able to leverage the network of interests and passions vs. pushing a message and see how your product resonates in real time. This leads to driving discoverability by interest as well as distribution and lengthens the shelf life of content as it continually gets repined.

Interest Graph in action for me… I like Robots

Robots

PRODUCT ENHANCEMENTS

Pin it Button – the theme that was repeated the most over the course of the event was the focus on the Pin It button. Pinterest reiterated that a strong Pinterest strategy starts with enabling your domain. By enabling and focusing on driving & optimizing pins down to the individual product level are the key to driving more engagement and driving higher referral traffic.

Pin-It-Button-30-Designs

Mobile Pinning – Earlier this week Pinterest launched the ability to integrate the Pin It button into a brands mobile application to further drive discoverability via mobile for both iOS & Android via SDKs. The SDK allows a brands users to create Pinterest content inside the branded app. Currently, this only supports pinning from the web, but the ability to pin local images is on the roadmap as well.

Here is an example of Mobile Pinning in action from the Brit + Co (launch partner) mobile app

mobile pinning

Rich Pins – Also tied to this weeks launch was the release of Rich Pins. Pinterest hopes that Rich Pins lead to action and by adding more brand data to a pin tied to products, recipes & movies that more direct attribution and value for brands and users will be apparent. Product pins from a brand can showcase active inventory as well as price & references the source directly from the pin. Recipe Rich Pins allow more data to be added directly to the pin and movie pins offer insight into reviews as well as cast directly from the pin.

Product Pins

Product Pins

Recipe Pins

Recipe Pins

Movie Pins

Movie Pins

Implementation – In order to implement Rich Pins meta tags need to applied to your domain and decide on the type of rich pin you want to apply for. Then once the meta tags have been validated you can apply to get them from Pinterest.

From a brand perspective, this is the first step to further enabling brand content and attribution. Especially the product pins can be of value to further drive action when discovered.

ANALYTICS & PARTNER TOOLS

On March 11th, Pinterest launched their data analytics tool. This was another key discussion point during the course of the event. The analytics tool supports Pinterest’s position to enable a brands .com as the suite focuses on content pinned directly from the .com and focus on how many people are pinning from the website, impressions & reach over time and which pins receive the most repins and who pins them as well as what other content people are pinning alongside them.

webanalytics_3

This data can be extremely useful when incorporating top pins into tailoring content for the website as well as other social channels. Nordstrom was a presenting brand and the key takeaway from their presentation was their focus on curating pins and using analytics as a driver for surfacing content on their website, e-mail as well as in store. By leveraging Pinterest in this way, Nordstrom claimed increased sell through in stores and online.

Nordstrom Top Pins via .com

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.20.55 AM

Nordstrom in store

Nordstrom

Pinterest also rolled out new partner tools starting with a revamped business.pinterest.com as well as a new business blog that will focused on enabling partners and will serve as the location for new product feature announcements. The team also announced that they will soon be providing webinars on best practices to further enable partners.

Unlike Facebook & Twitter, Pinterest is less about working directly with their partner teams and more about enabling the platform to allow brands to maximize their presence.

CASE STUDIES

During the course of the event four brands were represented including Target, Sephora, Nordstroms & Sony Electronics. I have already referenced how Nordstroms is leveraging Pinterest data to drive their content & in-store strategy. Below are a few key points from the Sephora & Sony Electronics presentations.

Sephora

The most compelling elements from the Sephora case study was their laser focus on identifying trends via pins. Their goals were tied to making it easier to pin from Sephora.com, use e-mail to encourage Pinterest engagement and encourage clients to pin their beauty shopping lists.

Sephora

  • Focus on top pins to inform content strategy across channels
  • Content goes beyond simple product to incorporate DIY type content
  • Testing various types of Pin to Win initiatives that are cross promoted

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.41.13 AM

  • Embedded Pinterest across social channels such as Facebook
  • Created pinnable e-mails drove significant results including a 60% increase in referral traffic from Pinterest that has not subsided
  • Focus on creating a shoppable experience on Pinterest
  • Claimed that shoppers are closer to purchase in the path to purchase and stated a statistic of 15x the sales impact vs. Facebook

Sony Electronics

I was most impressed by the work of Sony electronics of the four brands that presented. What I liked about their story is they are not the first brand you think of when you think about the Pinterest platform. They are a manufacturer vs. retailer and their audience is a younger, high tech male group who is not the primary audience of the platform. They had very clearly defined strategy objectives of driving sales, acquisition and brand affinity on the platform and they have leveraged the social power of their internal organization as well as consumers to power their experience.

Sony Electronics

  • Audience (Sony electronics appeal to more than women)
  • They curated content that existed, retro products, artist style, influencers who shoot with their cameras etc…
  • Launched presence with an employee contest to educate and curate relevant content across the organization
  • Drove awareness via the Sony Electronics blog & e-mail
  • E-mail is a critical component to their Pinterest strategy, pin, collect, share –> Pinterest focused messages get double the open rate
  • Inform their content strategy based on Pins
  • Leverage 3rd parties such as Curalate to identify influencers
  • Executed innovative programs such as Pin Deals – unlock via 20 pins – flash sale & Pin it to give it – repins = $1 to charity and received 13,000 pins

pin2givePindeals

  • Partnered with relevant brands to enter new categories such as Pinterest partnership with American Airlines to enter travel

Travel and Tech

BEST PRACTICES

The following is a list of best practices that were discussed during the course of the event. This is not a comprehensive best practices list, but does highlight the key points that the Pinterest team & brands represented did speak to repeatedly.

Strategy

  • The Pinterest team reiterated that the best Pinterest strategy starts with your domain.
  • Remember boards are not destinations, most of the interaction will happen at the Pin level
  • Pinnable E-mail is a critical component to a successful Pinterest strategy, enable content to be pinned on the individual content level

Platform

  • Add Pin-It Button to domain
  • Verify the business with Pinterest
  • Enable Domain Analytics
  • Activate & Incorporate Rich Pins to create a cleaner connection to inventory and enabling action
  • Leverage the Mobile SDK’s to further enable sharing directly from a brands app

Content

  • Learn from top pins, timely relevant pins that map to domain are key
  • Optimize pins, Sony’s audience preferred product shots while Target’s audience resonates with Lifestyle images
  • Short Captions are key, the goal is to tease to promote click through
  • Focus on content that will drive repins
  • Pin your product along with other inspirational content to boards
  • Focus on creating ripples with content vs. “feed stuffing”

Contests

  • When it comes to Pin It to Win it type of initiatives, it is important to ensure that there is a variety of content to pin
  • A pin from a Pin it to Win it is good, but the focus should be on repins. Repins are the key to successful promotion on the platform

SUMMARY

The first Pinterest partner event was definitely insightful and the event closed with the following points:

1) Discovery on the web is an unsolved problem & massive opportunity
2) People are making discovery possible by organizing the web’s content around interests
3) You can make your business more discoverable by inspiring people to pin

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

 

12 Examples of Vine in Action

Written by: Tom Edwards
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By now you have most likely heard through the grapevine (last “vine” pun I promise) about Twitter’s new Vine app and it’s many pros & cons. Many call Vine the Instagram of video as it goes beyond static images by allowing for 6 seconds of context tied to pictures, motion & sound in the form of looping videos optimized to be shared.

vine-twitter

Twitter launched Vine on January 24th, 2013 and it has not left the top 20 in the app store since launch. Vine’s six second video loops are quick, lightweight pieces of content that are ideal for social sharing. Initially launched via a mobile app for iOS (Android app in development) this high-level version of an animated gif is quick & easy to capture. Just point your device, touch the screen and the app records up to 6 seconds allowing for starts & stops.

According to Tech Crunch, Vine (2.8% penetration) has taken an early lead over the likes of Viddy (0.5) & Socialcam (0.2). There is significant opportunity tied to short form video assets & social sharing as the same article referenced that 98% of overly active users shared photos whereas only 4% shared video.

With the recent changes announced by Facebook and the importance of visual content that drives engagement, having the opportunity to create short-form content may be a powerful tool for brands to consider.

Cross

Vines can be a powerful addition to a solid content strategy. Whether it’s showcasing supplementary branded content or simply finding a relevant extension of your brand to highlight, Vine can provide yet another option to keep users attention.

Here are 12 examples of Vine in Action:

1) Drive awareness to an experiential event
BeatsByDre teased the opening of it’s SXSW Pill Clinic with this Vine.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.52.18 PM

2) Share Unique Branded Experiences
Urban Outfitter’s SXSW alien teased via Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.41.37 PM

3) Highlight Brand Advocates
Kid Robot highlighted a user’s Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.50.06 PM

4) Pop-Culture Co-Creation in Action
Houston Texans merge their fans & brand with pop culture relevance

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.45.48 PM

5) Preview Products
Intel is leveraging Vine to preview technology

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.42.34 PM

6) Highlight a Cause
OKC Thunder highlighting a social cause via Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.57.32 PM

7) Extend the Brand Persona
Trident is using Vine to extend the core attributes of their brand

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.02.41 PM

8) Preview with visual context
Warner Bros. promoting a movie with relevant context

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.11.45 PM

9) Share Important News
Kickstarter announces a record

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.20.53 PM

10) Drive promotional awareness
Sacramento Kings showcasing promotional items

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.25.17 PM

11) Leverage Vine for promotion
Regal Cinemas leveraged Vine as part of a promotional announcement

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.38.15 PM

12) Fan Appreciation
Chick-Fil-A show fans appreciation via Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.30.22 PM

Be aware when leveraging Vine that there are issues with quality control, as the current version does not allow moderation. The focus should be less on community building & aggregation and more focused on creating content that is then distributed through owned channels.

Also note that it is important to determine the message that is to be conveyed and ensure that it ladders back to the core attributes and persona of the brand prior to just filming.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Evolution of the Newsfeed

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Today I met with one of my local Facebook team members as we were partnering on a client initiative and our conversation sparked an interesting thought about the future of newsfeed publishing and how brands should be thinking about maximizing their publishing strategies as Facebook’s platform continues to evolve.

I have recently written a number of posts on the subject of Facebook publishing from the intersection of Paid & Owned, the importance of visual storytelling and best practices for optimizing content. All of these topics are relevant to this conversation and further frame the importance of the following statement:

Everything happens in the newsfeed vs brand pages

facebook-news-feed-icon

This was an incredibly simple statement that all of us who publish on behalf of brands sometimes take for granted. The numbers definitely back up the statement with 115 billion impressions served daily via desktop and 65 billion newsfeed impressions served daily via mobile.

Think about your own behavior when it comes to interacting with brand related content on Facebook. How often are you clicking through to a brands page to consume their content? This divide is even better visualized when it comes to users mobile interactions?

Where do you consume brand messages on the desktop?

Snickers Newsfeed

This becomes even more apparent via mobile!

Snickers mobile Newsfeed

The reality is most social interaction happens via the newsfeed. Interactions being likes, comments and shares. Most brands approach content publishing from the perspective that users come to the brands’ page and consume their content in a linear manner. The reality is brands need to create a publishing strategy that is optimized for Edgerank and based on deliberate content buckets that are relevant & engaging for the brands audience that can be consumed in a non-linear manner but still represent the core social persona of the brand. This requires a detailed strategy that is grounded in the core attributes of the brand that then leads to content pillars that are designed to maximize engagement.

The following graphic represents the % breakdown across interaction types.

Interactions

With so much consumption happening via the newsfeed, shouldn’t the in-stream experience/opportunities be as relevant and compelling as possible? This leads me to what I see as the next step in the evolution of brand publishing and that is going a step beyond visual storytelling and incorporating compelling interactive experiences to enhance the publishing strategy.

The recent announcement and coverage of Stipple’s Facebook support and subsequent usage by Justin Timberlake to provide interactive cover art is a glimpse into the future of newsfeed publishing.

stippled-photo

Interactive posting is not a new concept. I remember first seeing this executed by Vitrue’s platform back in 2011 via the Buffalo Wild Wings example below. Leveraging this type of interactive content publishing was one of the enabling factors that has driven Buffalo Wild Wings to acquire over 9 million fans. Their content strategy has led to an engagement rate of 4.8% over the last 30 days with over 477,000 interactions. Having a point of differentiation in-stream has led to positive results for the brand.

Buffalo Wild Wings

The number of vendors supporting interactive posting in-stream has grown since 2011 with shops such as Shop Igniter providing solutions that are optimized to support rich interactive in-stream campaigns to drive lead generation, giveaways, promotions, etc…

Fiat In-Stream

The real key point of differentiation now vs. then is the ability to create immersive newsfeed experiences for both desktop & mobile by leveraging responsive design. Now it becomes easier to publish across both desktop & mobile to drive in-stream & even in-app (Facebook’s app) interaction.

The example below shows an example from Shop Igniter’s platform that enables in-stream video that then drives to a mobile optimized experience based on responsive design that allows the flexibility of staying within the application, but also allows the addition of an action object in the experience that extends the reach of a users action beyond the newsfeed into the activity ticker. This is a key element to further drive distribution and discoverability of content as well as the fact that the newsfeed does not support action objects directly.

GoPro

The GoPro example is a great example of a light weight execution that does not rely on driving to an end destination to generate engagement & story creation. This in my mind is the next evolution of content publishing in-stream.

Similar to the evolution of static banners to rich media, creating compelling content that is optimized for EdgeRank, light weight in design and contains the experience within the existing stream and Facebook application across both desktop and mobile that also taps into the social graph to append actions is an ideal addition to an owned content strategy.

This also maximizes the principles of real-time paid amplification that I have discussed in the past because these are actual posts being created on Facebook’s platform that can fit seamlessly into a paid media strategy.

The other benefit to this type of publishing is the engagement data on the content level that can drive further optimization of content moving forward. By tracking impressions, engagement rate and social actions, we can directly map to our core KPI’s.

When it comes to Facebook, it is not enough to just have a content calendar. It is incredibly important to have a true strategic framework that outlines the brands publishing strategy and how the content will be optimized to drive targeted reach, but it is also important to leverage interactive assets to drive tangible results and activation where appropriate.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Facebook & Interactive Images

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I have been following Stipple for a while now and with today’s big announcement tied to Facebook support launched the platform to the forefront of my mind to support social content & publishing strategies. What is Stipple? If you have not heard about the service, Stipple allows you to embed interactive hotspots into an image to create additional connections directly within the image. Today’s announcement is key for those who manage owned properties as now Stipple supports direct publishing support via Facebook a feature that has been missing to date.

Now it is possible to add a data driven overlay to an image that can create connections directly from the newsfeed that allow users to take action. Whether it is to drive to a branded destination such as the brands Facebook brand page or .com, create a quick path to purchase opportunity by linking the image to an e-commerce based product, embed a link to videos that relate to the image, or create additional connections as outlined below.

Tag Types

Today’s announcement is a huge addition for those of us who manage Facebook brand properties. Combine this with my recent discussions associated with visual storytelling to drive engagement and you can create a rich experience that can immediately extend the reach of a static image.

With a majority of engagement happening directly from the newsfeed, adding a rich content overlay to images can optimize associations related to the content. The combinations and support possibilities are endless. Whether it’s supporting branded content, promotion, acquisition, etc… the flexibility to tag and append content to an image is a great way to maximize story creation and connection throughout an integrated approach across channels.

Stipple Facebook Overview

In November of 2012, Stipple rolled out the ability to support Twitter publishing. From a single Tweet you can surface videos, photos, etc.. in-stream vs pushing to another destination. Adding a rich content overlay through this media is a great way to extend static images, or link to terms & conditions for a Twitter driven promotion, etc…

Stipple Twitter

I first noticed a Stipple execution by IKEA and I immediately saw the potential. The ability to claim attribution, but also create a centralized experience with various access points is something that create additional value for online retailers. I immediately started to tout the benefits to this approach, but there were limitations to social sharing until today. Now with the additional support for Facebook & Twitter, the value of this platform increases exponentially for those who drive owned asset creation & publication.

Stipple Web

It’s one thing to publish and push content out, but having the ability to measure the engagement and reach of each individual image and the interactions that Stipple creates is another advantage to leveraging this platform. As you can see below, Stipple allows the tracking of engagement and reach so image interactions can be applied into the current KPI’s associated with your publishing strategy.

Measurement

I would definitely recommend evaluating Stipple and the potential impact to your publishing strategy.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Twitter Interest Graph

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Last Thursday featured a rather large announcement from Twitter regarding the future of their advertising product. According to multiple sources the announcements hit the wire. I was at Twitter HQ in San Francisco just a few days ago and the Twitter Interest Graph was a featured topic of discussion. I just received the green light to discuss publicly from Twitter, so here we go.

Now that the news has been unveiled, let’s take a deeper look at the Twitter Interest Graph and its potential impact for our clients. With 140 million users and strong international growth, further developing their ad platform was an obvious next step to drive increased value and offer additional opportunities to monetize their brand relationships.

Currently, the promoted tweets product was focused primarily on amplifying messages to users who were either already following a particular brand or a similar association as deemed by Twitter. Now by introducing the ability to target promoted tweets via other factors such as location and now interests, this opens up the landscape for brands to capitalize on growth and awareness goals that were simply not feasible until now.

An example of this would be American Airlines. Currently, AA could use a promoted tweet to target its 415,000 followers or people deemed similar by Twitter. Now, AA could essentially target new users based on interests tied to travel or destinations.

Google has its Google Knowledge Graph, Facebook its Social Graph and now Twitter has its Twitter Interest Graph. This graph, based on 25 top level and 300+ second level “interest categories” in addition to custom interest segments, uses asymmetrical real-time signals by users to drive the correlation with a user’s interests. In layman’s terms, Facebook shows a direct relationship between an interest and a user via a Like. Twitter takes other signals such as who an individual follows as well as your retweets to make associations of interest. This is also an extension of the logic used by the “who to follow” suggestions on your Twitter homepage.

From an earned media perspective, this definitely changes the game when it comes to driving value from Twitter. I cannot go into the details of the models discussed, but know that based on actual Twitter data the value of a campaign over the course of multiple years is extremely positive.

From a data standpoint, it is still unclear how this data will extend beyond the ad platform. With Facebook’s social graph, we have access to 180 points of data if authorized by the user that includes interest level data. This is incredibly powerful information to create highly relevant experiences and spark action on behalf of a user. As it stands now, and this could change as the graph evolves but today, the data is primarily tied to insights associated with paid campaigns.

Example of Facebook’s Social Graph data points

This is a great next step for Twitter as it continues to evolve it’s platform from simple utility for brands to becoming a major factor in not only impacting real-time and topical events, but harnessing the true power of its 140 million users and more closely associate brand goals with better targeting options to truly maximize opportunities.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Klout Launches Topical Brand Pages

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Back in January I wrote about 3 brand benefits of Klout. Today, Klout launched brand squads, which is their version of brand pages into beta with Red bull as their primary launch partner with more to come in upcoming weeks. Red Bull was also a key innovator with the launch of Facebook timeline for brands as I recently covered as well.

In recent conversations with Klout’s Garth Holsinger, he provided insight into the release of brand pages for Klout. “Previously, a brand was treated like an individual user, which in some cases does not necessarily make the most sense as a Klout score for a brand should mean something different.”

With the new release, Garth’s words ring true in that the new squad pages uncover the top influencers associated with the brand (topic) as well as showcasing the latest Red Bull content and providing a platform for the brand to directly reward influencers with brand centric perks.

Below is an example of the initial beta for the new Red Bull squad page

This presents an interesting dynamic for brands, as they are able to reward those individuals that are already passionate about the brand vs. pushing content to individuals to consume. By aligning influencers directly with the brand, it provides an easy point of connection between brand & influencer.

The example below showcases the top 1000 influencers tied to the topic of Red Bull

The top influencers are determined by +K’s which are given to other users who are influential around specific topics. Note that +K’s are specific to the Klout platform meaning, users who are already engaged with Klout directly are influencing the allocation of +K’s vs. simply using a users Klout score. This is a key point to consider for brands looking to solely use Klout squads as a primary influencer identification & engagement channel.

Top influencers also have an opportunity to receive a news associated with the brand as well as access to brand perks that are centralized within the topical brand page vs. the normal perks location via the navigation.

Normally, perks are exclusive products or experiences that users can earn based on their overall influence tied to their Klout score that are distributed to select influencers based on their topics of authority, location & score. With the introduction of squads, a secondary level of perk associated with topic specific influencers are also available. I have a request in to Klout to confirm if the topical perks are also associated with a premium cost similar to the existing perks program.

This is a significant step forward for Klout as it creates a more relevant experience for brands vs. treating brands as an individual and applying the Klout algorithm solely based on the brands published content. This new model makes more sense from a brand perspective. It will be interesting to see how the topically driven influencers begin to align as the system is predicated on klout’s proprietary +K’s.

Follow Tom @Blackfin360

The Relevant Web

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Recently, I attended the Facebook Studio Live event in LA. The keynote speaker was author & Facebook employee Paul Adams of the Global Brand Marketing team. Paul provided a very insightful presentation that proved to be the highlight of the event.

In February I wrote about the importance of Social Sign-On for brands. Paul’s presentation reinforced this message and also provided additional insight into 3 fundamental shifts that are key factors to what is quickly becoming the next iteration of the web.

1) The web is being rebuilt around people

2) Amount of information we can access is increasingly exponential

3) Information is everywhere but our physiological capacity to process information has remained the same

From a marketing standpoint, these shifts also represent a fundamental change in how we as marketers should approach campaign strategy as well as the design of brand sites moving forward.

Lets consider the initial statement “The web is fundamentally being rebuilt around people”.  Think about how Facebook has redefined how you as an individual represent your virtual persona. You show affinity towards brands via Likes,  your opinion and interaction with others are the keys to fueling the algorithm that shows you the most relevant content. You select the types of content that you interact with from the sources that you deem have value. In essence, you are now in control.

The side effect to this control is that you are also providing extensive amounts of data via your social graph that now allow for more personalized experiences across the web.

Web experiences have evolved from the early dot com days of simply repurposing marketing materials to becoming more interactive by nature. The web as it stands today, represents incremental innovation when it comes to true integration of social with branded web sites. Strategies today involve “bolting on” social features. This meets a basic need of interconnection, but the brands who will truly capitalize on the next iteration of the web will provide a social by design approach that drives frictionless and relevant engagement to its users.

Examples of this concept are beginning to appear across the web as more organizations begin to adopt open graph principles into their brand presence. One example is Etsy. When you initially look at a site such as Etsy, you see a standard web presence that could be any commerce driven site that you have seen before. The site puts the onus on the user to drill down via categories or assuming the user knows what they are searching for.

By leveraging Open Graph, Etsy is able to create an experience that is incredibly relevant to the end user and their friends by quickly analyzing their Likes & affinities and presenting items that may be of interest. This frictionless discovery increases purchase intent by quickly surfacing items that may be immediately relevant.

An even richer experience is being provided by Amazon’s new Facebook open graph driven beta.

Amazon has been at the forefront of surfacing relevant items based on purchase history. Their relevancy algorithm’s have been a foundational element of their success over the years. It is very telling that they have recently launched a beta that further integrates a users social graph data to provide additional levels of recommendation.

The Amazon Facebook beta experience quickly scans the LIkes of the user as well as the social graph data of their friends to surface targeted recommendations that are based on interaction by friends as well as actual amazon purchase.

By adding additional utility in terms of gift giving for friends and discoverability of wish-lists, a user quickly has access to items that their friends may be truly interested in receiving.

The process of leveraging social graph data to streamline the path to purchase exemplifies the potential of social graph enabled social commerce. Social commerce should be less about seeding products via social channels, and more about creating seamless experiences that are permissible to end users vs. trying to interrupt. More on the topic of interruptive vs. permissive marketing based on this model in a future post.

The relevant web is also incredibly important based on the statements associated with the amount of information that is available as well as our capacity to comprehend information. With the exponential growth of information and choices, our dependency on our closest bonds to help us process information becomes even more relevant.

By enabling relevant experiences that users can seamlessly engage with, the ability for brands to capitalize on these fundamental shifts become fully realized. Those that embrace the social graph and redesign their brand presence to seamlessly integrate with social channels vs. simply bolting on features will realize greater returns.

Follow Tom Edwards @Blackfin360