January 29, 2016

How Brands Should Approach New Social Platforms

When it comes to new social platforms, a brand can feel a bit like a kid in a candy store. Shiny new social startups with delicious-sounding names like Peach and Mint and Avocado, pave the way for new and unexpected opportunities to reach out to and engage consumers. Think Instagram. Think Pinterest. Think Snapchat. Once social startups, these platforms have become big players in a competitive field where brands are constantly seeking new ways interact with people as well as publish content they’ll care about sharing with friends. But in a world saturated by apps, how do brands know which new apps to invest in and which ones to avoid?

Every day, developers submit over 1,000 apps to the Apple App Store. Furthermore, with more than 800,000 mobile apps available in the Apple Store, only 80 generate more than $1 million in revenue during the fourth quarter of their first year, according to research firm Distimo. In other words, if an app isn’t in the Top 80 by the end of its first year, it’s likely that it’s a dud. With so much competition, an app must be original, have a simple user interface, and most of all, outdo what its competitors are already doing, in order to endure.

It’s Apps and Peaches

The most recent example of an app creating a stir in the social sphere is Peach, a cool kid’s kind of Twitter created by Dom Hofmann, one of the co-founders of Vine. With the ability to post updates that use “magic words” such as GIF (to search for a GIF within the app), here (to add your location), and draw (to make a doodle) just to name a few, the platform seemed to provide its users with a more creative and emotionally expressive outlet than its competitors. As soon as it was released on January 7th, Peach went viral. Several brands and publishers including ASOS, The Chicago Tribune and Merriam Webster jumped on the opportunity to publish creative content on the platform, claiming their own handles before squatters could steal them.

Since its release, however, it’s difficult to say whether or not Peach will survive in a highly competitive social sphere where people often have a difficult time dividing their time between multiple social platforms at once. Additionally, all content published in Peach is contained within the app. There is no web app nor any way to view posts publicly. The only way to share content would be via SMS. Moreover, in order to view and share content with other users, you have to “Peach” them first, which can take a little time as you wait for them to accept your request. So, as of now, Peach isn’t brand-friendly… But that doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future… That is, if it has a future.

Peach 1

 

Though national news outlets are still gushing about the “fun-ness” of Peach, it hasn’t seemed to sustain the same pace with which it started. As of this week, it is nowhere to be seen in the top 100 apps within Apple’s app store, which isn’t a good sign since it’s been out on the circuit for less than a month. It’s safe to say that unless PR and marketing efforts or a complete redesign of the interface allow the app to surge back to the top of the charts, Peach will likely no longer be palatable to the social-savvy public.

So, how do we reconcile the shininess of a viral new app with the potential to make or break an opportunity to reach out to consumers in an entirely new way?

Anonymous Audience

Whisper. Promise. Secret. These apps sound more like lingerie stores than legitimate social platforms. Yet, as their enigmatic names suggest, these apps deliver to their users an anonymous messaging platform on which they don’t have to worry about their data being shared with third parties wishing to seduce them with buzzword-y jargon. So, how have advertisers approached this new form of social?

It’s been more of a question of how (and if) they should be breaking into the clandestine universe of anonymous messaging in the first place. For some, it is a means to acquire insights into their audience, that whether they like what they hear or not, can help build their advertising strategies. For others, it is a way to perhaps generate additional PR. “Like other social trends, brands can experiment with anonymous social apps as a way to test and learn within niche communities,” says Liz Whittaker, the Group Managing Director of Digital Operations at mcgarrybowen.

In the end, it is up to the brand how much time they are willing to invest in a social experiment, or rather, a situation with a lot of risk and potentially not very much reward.

Whisper

 

How to approach shiny new apps and unexpected social opportunities…

Using the preceding examples of Peach and anonymous messaging platforms as guidance, I believe we have several avenues for approaching new social platforms.

  1. Sit, watch, and wait. If there aren’t enough people using the app, then there’s no reason why a brand should be there. Peach, for example, does not have the numbers of users yet that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have. Once (or rather if) it does, then a brand should watch how people use it and interact with one another on it. Like all unique social channels, a brand can only succeed if its content is tailored to its unique traits. Whether the content is inspiring photos of products on Instagram, raw and quirky stories shared with Snapchat, or DIY tutorials published on Pinterest, a brand must always adapt its voice to the channel or it won’t successfully engage with its audience. So, keep a close eye on a new social channel and get some thought-starters going should you decide to pursue it in the future— it might even be a good idea to claim your handle before a squatter does. Should the social channel prove to be the next Snapchat (and is a viable and appropriate channel for your brand’s message), it might be a good idea to invest time and money into creating some great content for it.Free People                                 Free People's Snapchat 
  2. Consider the story. Think carefully about whether or not this new channel is even relevant to your brand’s message. Though shiny new apps might be appealing in theory, if the tone of the channel doesn’t make sense for your brand, then it’s probably best to leave it be. Additionally, you only have so many resources to spread across different social channels. If this new one isn’t necessary, it may be pertinent to focus on creating quality content for the channels you already own rather than spreading yourself too thin. However, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the platform and see if, like Ello and Yo! before it, it evolves into something new and potentially brand-friendly.YO
  3. Take a chance. If you’d like to go forward and experiment like the brands that hopped on the Peach bandwagon, be aware that the time (and money) spent could potentially be a waste if no one is there to actually engage with the content. For unexpected social channels like anonymous messaging platforms, it could be a risk worth taking if you’re looking to get raw and real reactions from your target audience.

A friend of mine, who wrote an article about Peach for Teen Vogue the weekend it was released, asked me earlier today why I was still writing a blog entry about it since it was claimed dead on arrival last Monday. I told her I wasn’t writing about the virility of Peach, but rather to discuss how, like the hideous fashion trends of velour track suits and harem pants that Teen Vogue may have initially espoused in the past, apps can cause quite the stir at first, endorsed by brands and national news outlets alike, then suddenly disappear without a trace. Or, like the mullet that is MySpace, every once in a while will attempt to redefine itself, but with little to no avail.

In the end, it is not brands that make social platforms run, it is the people. And if there are no people giving it life, then there’s no reason for a brand to be there.

What do you think? At what point should a brand approach a new social platform?

September 17, 2015

AMP Agency Named 2015 OMMA Award Finalist for Play-Doh Work

AMP Agency was named a finalist for the 2015 OMMA Awards, which honor agencies and advertisers that push the potential of digital advertising. AMP is being recognized for best 'Newsjacking: Campaign' for 'Hasbro's Play-Doh in Pop Culture.' AMP utilized Play-Doh's Facebook page to inspire fans and drive engagement by recreating memorable, pop-culture moments with Play-Doh. Winners will be announced on September 28th 

To read more about how Play-Doh inspired inventors, click here and view some of the work below.

 

Royal Baby[2]

 

Left Shark[3]

 

 

 

 

August 3, 2015

Understanding Your Shopper on Social Media Outlets

How Understanding Your Shopper on Creative Social Media Outlets can Humanize Your Brand

 

Millennial travelers are the target opportunity in the travel industry. Making up 27% of the US population and 25% of the labor force, millennials will account for half of the US labor force by 2020 (Skift). By 2030 they are predicted to outspend baby boomers. But where is all that spending power going? As work experience is gained and a steady income acquired, millennials will put that spending power behind their restless passions of wanderlust.

 

Why Is This Important?

Social media outlets serve as some of the most utilized mediums through which travel brands are able to connect with the millennial demographic. According to AdWeek, millennials spend on average 18 hours a day with media, with 71% checking social media at least once a day. Excelling in social media communication can be a difficult feat because of the disconnect between buyer and seller, therefore making the understanding of an audience a high priority. By using social media outlets to humanize a brand, understanding habits and connecting successfully with millennials will become simple and familiar through these personalized interactions. As users become more familiar with the brand's voice and creative presence, a sense of trust will be gained between brand and consumer as marketing goals are achieved.

 

Mediums Brands Should Focus On

There are a myriad of social media sites utilized by millennial travelers around the digital world. Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram are three mediums utilized by millennial consumers of all sorts, traveler or otherwise. While specifically targeting travelers will directly affect current consumers, attracting a wider range of users across these social mediums boosts awareness and credibility. Expanding a brand's consumer demographic is important for awareness, but attempting to successfully target every millennial is impossible. By catering to a specific demographic, new followers can be gained, consisting of the specific millennial demographic as well as other interested millennials. Having the ability to reach all millennial audiences, while targeting a single millennial demographic, can be effective and conducive to a brand's social strategy.

 

Demographics are tough to target. Millennials are even tougher. By focusing on an identified persona within a specified social medium instead of an entire widespread demographic, branding can become creatively diverse in a personalized and original way. Here are a few examples of social mediums through which brands should become familiar with their specified audiences:

  • Pinterest, with followers who enjoy DIY projects, allows brands to engage with consumers on creative and conscious projects and ideas.
  • Twitter allows brands and millennials to directly interact, enabling amplified activation and brand voice while gaining insight into consumer opinions and trends.
  • Instagram gives brands the opportunity to visualize consumer mentalities and inspirations, opening an interesting window to reminisce and engage in a creative way.

 

So What??

Utilizing these social media sites in order to individualize a brand's style and voice will help brands understand consumer habits and engage with their target demographics. This understanding of both the target and general millennial audience will then guide the brand strategy.

 

Check-in next week on how understanding the rationale of the price-oriented millennial shopper on Pinterest can help humanize your branding.

 

 

November 1, 2013

What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Social Media Marketing

You can learn a lot about what people want to know through Google's auto-complete function. Being in the business of wanting to create impactful and useful content, I turned to good ole' Google to understand what exactly B2B brand marketeres are searching for so I could help to answer the right question. Call it intuition, common sense, or BS, but I had a feeling that questions around how B2B brands can leverage social media would be among the top searches. So, this blog will aim to answer B2B marketers' questions about social.

What b2b marketers need to know about search

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First, all brands need to realize that social is an inherent part of any marketing initiative. It no longer sits in a silo or stands as an afterthought campaign extension. And, if you still need to be sold on social, here are a few data points that should do the trick.

  • Aberdeen Group polled 500 companies and found that B2B brands that aggressively leverage social media generate more leads, close more deals and retain customers longer
  • 59% of B2B buyers engaged with peers online to address their questions
  • 48% of B2B buyers followed online industry conversations on topics to address business challenges

With that said, the following key considerations can be applied to all B2B marketing efforts, but tie more specifically to social.

Root It In Insights

Root what in insights you ask? Everything, your idea, your channel strategy, your content strategy, it all needs to ladder back up to what your target wants to hear from you and how that impacts your business objective. Money and bandwidth are often a concern, but investing in insights can benefit your business well beyond social media. By developing content that resonates, you are connecting with and generating qualified leads. Learning how to connect with your audience should never be short changed, but that's just my two cents.

Make It Sexy

As marketers, we often hear B2B brands express that they don't know how to use social media because their subject matter is boring. Our response, you're selling yourself short.  You don't need to dress up your software in a French maid outfit to make your content sexy, although that probably would get quite a few likes. We're talking about creating information that is consumable, shareable, and helpful. Often times, buyers are looking to you to solve a business challenge, so become a content resource and a thought leader in your space. Here are a few tips on making it sexy:

  • Find a relatable angle
  • Use humor
  • Be genuinely helpful ' this ties back to insights, teach people what they want to learn
  • Share your story visually
  • Use video
  • Use LinkedIn ' it's only 277% more effective at generating leads than any other social network

Take Notes From B2C Brands

As the historical divisions between the enterprise and personal spheres disappear, B2B marketers can learn a lot by monitoring the tactics of counterparts in the consumer sector, who take a more individualized approach to how they communicate with their audience. Successful B2B brands are those that understand that relationships are ultimately between people, not companies, and apply that principle to engaging their audience.

  • Optimize your site. B2C sites are built with the customer in mind. They address how their product or service will solve your problem and then lead you to the product that offers the solution.
  • Branding matters. B2C brands build awareness and foster relationships, which leads to brand affinity and sales. Not everything should be about lead generation at the onset.
  • Get emotional. B2C brands understand people buy because of the emotional benefit. Many B2B marketers focus too much on the features of their product or service and not enough about the emotional benefits.

B2B brands should look at social media as an opportunity to continually earn customers' trust by delivering useful, highly valuable content continually and creating a solid platform of communication. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are the perfect place to facilitate a two-way conversation with prospects and ensure your brand resonates with the right voice.

March 8, 2013

Wheels up to Austin'?¦ as Soon as the Plane is De-iced

I'll be honest. Any illusions of my first trip to SXSW did not start off with battling through a blizzard and the associated travel delays. But if there was one constant piece of advice / forewarning I did unilaterally receive from colleagues in the industry, it was that my experience at SXSW would absolutely not go as expected.

I was told that the unplanned meet-ups, the casual conversations over beers and the 'damn, the session I wanted to go to is full'?¦ I guess I'll go here instead'? moments would prove to be the most valuable. So consider that a caveat as I share a quick overview of what I'm most looking forward to over these next few days. And I'll caveat now that my recap blog posts throughout the course of SXSWi will inevitably cover much different material and venture into much different themes.

Social and Mobile ' They're No Longer Buzz Words, They're Business Plans

I'll admit it. I've been suffering a little bit of 'hashtag fatigue'? lately (a term coined by AMP's own Colin Booth). While I'm as big of a social media nerd as the next SXSW attendee, I'm ready to get past the idea that social is the 'new, shiny toy'? to add to the marketing mix. Looking over the sessions included in this year's agenda, I am really excited about engaging in conversations about the business impact of social and mobile.

Panels like Mobile Saturday: Loyalty in the Pocket and Social Circles vs. Social Media promise to discuss the role of mobile and social behavior across online and offline consumer experiences, and I'm hoping throughout the weekend that those conversations snowball into discussions around the business implications and ROI across these two exploding channels. We all know how important mobile and social are based on the latest stats about time spent and growing penetration. Over these next few days, I'm hoping we can all talk about successful strategies and new ideas to further integrate brands across those channels to connect with consumers in meaningful ways.

Data is a Four Letter Word'?¦ the Good Kind

I recently attended an event where the CMO of E*Trade, Nick Utton, stated his belief that marketing is now 75% science and 25% art. His point being that access to more data and an increased focus on testing throughout all stages of campaign development have resulted in more efficient and effective marketing. With that theme in mind, one of the sessions I'm most looking forward to is Saturday's 'Is Intuitive Marketing Dead?'? (analyzing data and predictive modeling) with Nate Silver.

While there is still a lot we don't know when we put a campaign in market, we certainly know a lot more today than we did 10 years ago about our target audiences' preferences and media behavior. Ever-evolving research techniques (including sophisticated A/B testing matrices) combined with growing databases of historical performance data are resulting in powerful modeling tools that make us much smarter on day one of concepting. I'm excited to hear what Nate predicts for marketing's future and to hear this theme explored across other sessions and sidebar conversations over the course of SXSWi.

Fastening My Seatbelt for a 24/7 Marketing Blitz

The other thing I'm excited about is the palpable 'Disneyland for Marketers'? buzz. SXSW is where people/brands go to launch new products, share new thinking, play with the latest app/tools/approaches. And it's already begun'?¦ in-air. A few hours into my flight, JetBlue's marketing team held an in-flight promotion asking us over the PA, 'How many people does Austin's airport estimate will pass through Austin on their way to SXSW?'? One-by-one they collected answers from each flyer with the three closest guesses each receiving a pair of ticket vouchers to anywhere JetBlue flies.

And while I was sitting there thinking, 'this is a smart promotion to run with a plane full of marketers, but you've got  glaring problem ' no WIFI for me to live tweet/blog/post about it,'? they concluded their contest by announcing 'and by next year's SXSW, we'll have the nation's fastest, free wifi'?¦ so we'll play this game over Twitter.'? Be on the lookout for wifi roll-out in June with up to ten planes equipped by the end of the year.  Well done JetBlue ' there's your plug.

And feel free to play along ' share your best guess in the comments section below and I'll reveal the answer on my flight home'?¦ or maybe just before takeoff.

September 21, 2012

Social is Going Mobile, Don't Get Left Behind

In the wake of the much anticipated iPhone 5, a post on the importance of social optimization for mobile couldn't seem more fitting. The latest data reports that

consumers spend more time on mobile devices than any other medium, surpassing TV, web, and radio. The fact that people spend an average of two hours per day on their mobile device shouldn't be shocking news, so why aren't more brands taking advantage of the opportunity this shift creates to interact with consumers?

Oh, brands need justification beyond people treating their mobile device like an extension of their body, taking it to the bathroom, sleeping with it under their pillow, and twitching at the thought of putting it down while driving, to support an investment in mobile optimization of social media initiatives. No problem. More than 72 million Americans accessed social networking sites or blogs via their mobile devices in August, a figure that represents a 37% jump from the same time last year, according to data compiled by comScore. Not to mention, Facebook is the number one most downloaded app of all time, with other social media players like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest climbing the ranks every day. If users access a link from one of these social apps using a mobile device and they are redirected to a non-mobile optimized site, the chances of these users returning drop off dramatically.

It's undeniable the future of social-mobile is bright, so brands need to develop a strategy. Just optimizing your site or your app for mobile doesn't guarantee social growth or soaring conversion rates. It all starts with understanding how your target audience uses mobile and how they use mobile to interact with your brand is critical. As more people access social networks from smart phones and tablets, sharing becomes easier and instantaneous. This means that brands should be thinking about how they can make their content easily shareable and relevant in real-time on mobile devices, in turn creating positive user experiences and increased virality. Mobile optimizations should be developed to enhance conversation and interaction already taking place between consumers and brands, essentially improving the relationship and quality of interactions. For example, making interface actions easy, meaning tweeting something from your mobile site, shouldn't require six steps. Remember to keep mobile short, sweet and to the point by creating memorable phrases audiences can easily tweet out and repost.

Since I'm not sure I can say it better myself, I'll leave you with wise words from, Bart Stein, Co-founder, Stamped. Stein said, 'The best apps won't need to hold you hostage to the screen, rather, they should add dimension to relationships and enable you to engage with others in unprecedented ways, making it easier than ever to make and maintain real life relationships.'?

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