What is the most common activity we think of when we talk about the internet? Today we would all probably still picture ourselves in front of a browser, perhaps starting from Google search.
This scenario was once the main (and almost only) possibility for users, but now many more options are arising, challenging the unique domain of web browsing and search as the way we live the internet. According to form Chris Anderson, who a few months ago stated that "The Web is Dead", the main elements to blame for this situations are apps, subscription services and freemium.
Another big player must be considered as one of the main elements changing our behaviours: social network's feeds, like Facebook's News Feed or LinkedIn Signal. Browsing in Facebook is - for many - integrating (or replacing) standard web browsing, based on search as a way to find an answer to a need and as a user experience enabler. According to a research, time spent on Facebook is more than time spent on Google for US audience.
The way we think about the internet is changing forever thanks to Facebook: the activity of liking, commenting, updating our status and instant messaging is gradually replacing the model of searching and finding content. As Fast Company points out, this is particularly true for 21 - 29 years old females?
There are many signs about it, including the increase of time spent on social networks by users.
Facebook is also asking users to make it their own home page.
What do you think about this trend? Will social network browsing slowly replace standard browsing? What do you think about it?
I love video games. And so does Tom Chatfield, author of one of the most inspiring TED Talks I've watched lately. He tried to understand why games have such a big impact on us and why they often succeed in engaging people so much.
Tom pointed out five methods games use to make an impact on players. The interesting thing is these solutions work well in real life, too and are the key for involving people actively. This means these five techniques can be applied to marketing to build value through a relationship (not only between users, but also between users, their community and brands).
Here are the five elements of gaming that work very well in marketing:
- Measure progress: it's very important for people to know where they are. At which point of the relationship with your brand do they belong to? Tell them if they are newbies, superstars or advocates and treat them accordingly. This will encourage them to reach "the next level" and to become ambassadors for your brand;
- Long and short term aims: don't build a relationship that can only be divided in big parts. Give people the opportunity to make small investments (of time, money, emotions) along with big investmenst. Don't sell them only the "big product", try to focus on the accessory, too. Not just to increase your revenues in the short term, but also to nurture your relationship;
- Reward and effort: make people feel special. In the end, they really are for your brand, so give them rewards for what they do. Don't let those rewards only consist in the opportunity to use your product, give back to people who give to your brand, who talk about it, who promote it;
- Give feedback: are you listening to what people say? Good first step. Now let them know. If your brands appreciate content created by people, recommendations they make, questions or answers they give, let them know. The more wanted feedback you generate, the more positive actions you will stimulate;
- Elements of uncertainty: making a safe and known path can be interesting, but it's much more engaging to be able to discover it while you do it. Build new, unique experiences for your people, don't propose the same experience every year. They will talk about it. If it's unique, it will be more precious, personal and able to generate an impact;
It looks like a common situation for brands that want to include new social technologies in their tactics: when the tool is still young, companies seriously consider the opportunity of building their own, instead of joining an already existing one.
We saw this with social networks and branded communities. Perhaps you can remember a post that Jeremiah Owyang wrote in 2008, highlighting how many companies were thinking about building their own community and avoiding to join existing ones.
Today we're seeing this trend with geolocation: the technology behind it is still very young and the adoption is growing quick but is far from being mainstream. The cost of developing apps that rely on geolocation is often lower than the investment it would take to build a community, so brands are often considering the possibility to build their own tool. Hardees and Carl's Jr. are two examples of this choice.
Given that the adoption of location based services is not so strong yet (only 4% of online adults use services like Foursquare or Gowalla, according to Pew Research), companies consider it can be a good solution to say no to current adoption base of those services in exchange for a totally customized experience.
There are a few factors to consider, though. Brands planning to build its own location base app:
- are choosing not to rely on a small (but still existent) user base;
- need to promote the application totally on their own channels, without leveraging on "network effects" activated by people who already participate to location based social networks;
- are defining a totally new user experience in their applications and users will need to learn how to interact with it, because they don't know it yet;
- build a higher entry barrier: users will need to discover, like and trust the brand's initiative before interacting with it;
- will need to update and adapt the environment created on their own;
- are not taking any advantages from already existing ecosystems;
- are not building a relationship with early adopters of location based social networks, who can be very important to spread your initiatives;
- totally customized experience;
- consistence with brand identity;
- smaller but more compact group of users;
- more control of interaction;
- more control of user base;
This post was originally published on the Italian We Are Social blog.
Everyday social media play a big role in evolving the way we communicate, offering brands new solutions to create a relationship and to build value together with people they involve. This continuous chance pushes us to change the way we think about communication channels, too.
Historically, there have been two big channel categories: owned media (directly controlled by a brand, e.g. websites) and paid media (bought by the brand, e.g. banners).
Thanks to social web, brands have discovered many new ways to establish and nurture a relationship: word of mouth, user's channels and social networks, for instance. These channels aren't controller or "bought" by brands. It has become necessary to introduce a third category: earned media. These channels see people as a channel.
An excellent comparative analysis of these channels is summarized in this table, published in a post by Sean Corcoran.
One of the most interesting characteristics of social media is the speed at which changes happen. This classification, that has been published in December 2009, can already be integrated with a new category that's developing: promoted media.
What is promoted media?
Promoted media is a category of communication channels that are activated by an investment (promotion) by the brand, but that are completely realized only through conversation and interaction. They are very close to the concept of "earned" because they need to earn, through content and conversation, the right to spread. They are also close to paid media because an investment (even if smaller than in paid media) is needed to activate the conversation.
Today we can already see examples of promoted media: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends by Twitter,
in which a message gains importance only if it's relevant for the user and only if it stimulates positive reactions by people who get in touch with it. A promoted tweet that gets few mentions, interactions or retweets will never spread. Facebook Ads can be used as "promoted" media, too, if they're used as the starter for a conversation.
It becomes very important for brands to be able to communicate through a conversation (and not just through broadcast messages). This kind of media have many benefits, for instance: the activation of long term relaitonships, not just a short term interaction related to a campaign. This solutions also stimulate advocacy (for the message, the product, or the brand itself).
The challenge for brands will be to create conversations, not just messages as an effective way to reach people. These conversations will still live on earned media, but through the concept of promoted media they'll be able to spread quickly and farther.
The "media" scenario
This visual is intended to summarize the scenario of "media", positioning promoted media, too.
What do you think about this evolution? What kind of impact will it have on everyday communication by brands? Are there other examples of promoted media that are very effective?
We live in a world that offers so many solutions for people to connect with each other. Finding relevant ways for brands to build a relationship with them is becoming something that can be defined somewhere between science and art, the former being the whole research effort, the latter being planning and creative activity.
If you work for a brand and your job is not researching consumer behavior, chances are that you're noticing changes at a little slower pace. So it can be useful to build up a reminder about how things are changing for people who connect online today.
The bottom line is: your brand is not the star anymore. Don't expect people to treat it like this. People, particularly online, are willing to connect with brands and trust them but they're doing it their way. This trend strengthens everyday: while months and years ago brands wrote the rule for engagement, now the alternatives can be so many and so relevant that if a brand doesn't build a relationship in the way people need and want it, it's likely they will lose a great chance to build value with their "target".
Here are just a bunch of reminders from the past few days:
- People are not waiting for your brand to be ready. If your brand wants to engage with them, the only way is doing it their way. This also means being available when they need you. If your brand is available to nurture a conversation just a few hours a day, it might be a problem. Take a look at this research by Virtue, in which you can see that people are very active in conversation on Facebook also from 6PM to 11PM, not just workdays and from 9AM to 6PM. Are you considering this? Listen, monitor what people say to your brand and about your brand anytime and join the conversation right when they need you;
- People often interact with social media in largely unexpected ways. Here's why a demographic, psychographic and sociographic analysis of your target is so important. For instance, a recent research published by MarketingProfs, highlights that Gen-X information worker are the majority of people who use social networking for business. Not Gen-Y. This could also be because Gen-Y people use social media as embedded in their life, so they don't declare using them so much for work, just because social media is a constant element of their life. Anyway, it's important to be aware of the particular and ever-changing way people are interacting, and not to expect them to adapt too much to the way your brands want to interact;
- As Valeria Maltoni reminds us, the most influential thing a company can do to increase customer advocacy is have a strong customer service culture. Once again this shows how people are unlikely to adapt to your company's processes and habits without a good reason. One of the best way to motivate them to build something of value for and with your brand is providing an excellent customer service experience. This often starts on the most public place of all: social media. There's a very interesting report by RightNow about the impact of customer experience, take a look at it: it's about U.S. but has some interesting insights for every brand.
What do you think about this shift from being at the center of people's attention to being one side of a relationship? Do you notice it in your everyday life?