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Social Brands: The Future Of Marketing eBook by Simon Kemp


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The world’s best brands don’t just predict the future; they define the future on their own terms. However, it’s the brands that define their future in terms of the enduring value they add to people’s lives that are most likely to succeed. This eBook presents a series of provocations to help you define your brand’s vision of the future, and helps you to start bringing that vision to life today by building a more social brand. Find out more at

Published in: Business, Technology

Social Brands: The Future Of Marketing eBook by Simon Kemp

  1. socialbrands! the future of marketing!simon kemp
  2. the most successful brands don’t just predict the future; they define the future on their own terms.! 2
  3. SocialBrands:TheFutureOfMarketing You have permission to print, post and share this document for free in any online or offline channel, provided you make no changes or edits to its contents or format. In fact, I’d be delighted if you shared it with everyone you know, so I’ve included some ready-made tweets throughout the document to make sharing easier. Simply click this symbol whenever you see it: Please note that the right to sell this document, or any of its contents, in any format, is strictly reserved. 3
  4. Introduction
  5. SocialBrands:TheFutureofMarketing The world’s best brands don’t just predict the future; they define the future on their own terms. However, it’s the brands that define their future in terms of the enduring value they add to people’s lives that are most likely to succeed. This eBook presents a series of provocations to help you define your brand’s vision of the future, and helps you to start bringing that vision to life today by building a more social brand. 5
  6. The8PrinciplesOfSocialBrands 1.  Social Equity Drives Brand Equity 2.  Communities Have More Value Than Platforms 3.  All Your Marketing Must Add Value 4.  Go Mobile Or Stand Still 5.  Evolve From Big Ideas To Leitmotifs 6.  Move From Selective Hearing To Active Listening 7.  Experiences Are The New Products 8.  CSR Must Evolve Into Civic Engagement 6
  7. 1 social equity drives brand equity
  8. StartingOutRight The key to delivering returns on marketing investments (ROMI) is to set clear business objectives at the outset of marketing activities, and to ensure that everything the brand does is then focused on delivering those objectives. This goes for social media too; if social activities are not focused on delivering bottom-line benefits for the brand, they quickly become a dispensable cost. However, many brands are still stuck in short-term, cyclical marketing, and objectives are often overly focused on each quarter’s financial results. 8
  9. As a result, marketers often set short-term, sales- related objectives for social media, instead of thinking about the longer-term benefits of an approach that builds meaningful engagement with audiences over time. This is also partly because relationships take time to deliver their full potential – often too long to satisfy Finance’s relentless demands. Consequently, brands often miss the wood for the trees when it comes to social ROI, and focus on delivering short-term increments at the expense of valuable, enduring relationships. 9
  10. DeliveringLonger-TermValue However, deep audience relationships offer a different kind of value. Once brands achieve a certain level of affinity and engagement with an audience, the returns become more sustainable. So ‘returns on relationships’ aren’t limited to one- time results; they’re the marketing gift that keeps giving. But how do we build these meaningful relationships? The answer lies in understanding the reasons why people choose to talk about brands. 10
  11. The Sociology Of Choice
  12. Humans are highly social creatures, and it’s important to remember that people don’t make choices in isolation. Our decisions are often influenced by our expectations of other people’s reactions. The more confident we are that those expectations will be met, the greater our conviction when making those choices. As a result, the conversations we have with other people are one of the most important factors in determining our brand choices. 12
  13. Conversation Drives Compensation
  14. TalkIsCheap,ButConversationsHaveValue Humans are inherently social beings, and we like to share our discoveries and experiences with others. As a result, brands that inspire favourable conversations between people are more likely to achieve higher awareness, interest, and trial. Brands that can manage these favourable conversations over time are also more likely to " build enduring loyalty and value. 14
  15. the brands that drive the most favourable conversations are the brands that will achieve the most favourable financial outcomes. 15
  16. It’s the conversations between people that matter most, though, and these are not necessarily the same conversations that they have directly with the brand. Conversations don’t have to start in social media for them to have value, either; everything the brand does – from its packaging to its advertising, and from its customer service to its recruitment – should be designed to inspire meaningful, peer-to-peer conversations. 16
  17. 17 products customer" service pos activity advertising packaging recruitment Everything Should Drive Conversation!
  18. Building Brands Worth Talking About
  19. The implications of this are huge; for example, when it comes to a ‘content’ strategy, we should not start with the usual suspects such as videos or ‘fill-in-the- blanks’ status updates. We must stop relying on conversations about content, and use content as a means of fuelling the conversations that really matter. This means re-thinking our approach to brand communications. We need to start by identifying what we want conversations to be about, and then identify the most engaging and motivating ways of inspiring those conversations. 19
  20. stop fuelling conversations about content; use content to fuel the conversations that really matter. 20
  21. ConvertingToConversations That inspiration can come in many forms, and only a small number of those catalysts need to originate in social media. Before you make any investments, be very clear about why the audience might want to be a part of this conversation. Be honest with yourself; will anyone actually care? 21
  22. ask yourself: is it really worth talking about? 22
  23. ROI Becomes Return On Interest
  24. SocialEntitiesDriveSocialEquity The good news is that getting this right has huge financial potential; a brand that’s worth talking about is a brand that people are willing to pay more for. In order to take advantage of this potential value, we must spend more time working out how our brands can become relevant ‘social entities’. By building social entities, we in turn build social equity, and, if managed consistently over time, this social equity builds financial equity. 24
  25. 2 build communities, not platforms
  26. SocialIsABehaviour,NotAChannel Most people visit social networking sites to connect others: to stay in touch with friends and family; to share things with colleagues and peers; and even to meet strangers with similar interests and needs. There are times when technology plays an important part in facilitating these connections; the filters on Instagram, or the sharing features common to most social networks, are important parts of the social networking experience. However, for most people, social media are just means to an end, with that ‘end’ being social interaction. 26
  27. PeopleBeforePlatforms People connect around the personal, social benefits the technologies provide, not the functionality itself. Critically, if those social benefits don’t exist – if the people we want to connect with are not present, or if our networks move on – then the platform quickly loses its value. We’ve seen this happen many times before; the declines of Second Life, MySpace, and Friendster were all driven by the migration of their audiences, not by technical failures. 27
  28. Single-Serve Audiences
  29. Sadly, when audiences move on from incumbent platforms – and they invariably do – marketers quickly lose out. The investments they’ve made in building a large, platform-specific audience stop delivering meaningful returns, because such audiences are invariably ‘non-transferrable’. How many brands succeeded in migrating their Second Life audience over to Facebook without paying for the privilege? Marketers need to stop buying attention within specific platforms, and find a more enduring way of managing social media engagement. 29
  30. From Platforms To Communities
  31. We need to stop thinking of social media as media, and instead focus on the motivations and behaviour that drive people’s social activities in the first place. Instead of buying attention in the biggest platforms of the day, the successful brands of the future will spend time understanding how to deliver value to audiences across different settings and contexts. They will nurture active communities that choose to engage with and around the brand and its activities wherever and whenever they can. They will use new platforms to offer incremental value, and not simply to interrupt people in new ways. 31
  32. use new technology to add new value, not just to interrupt people in new ways. 32
  33. From Eyeballs To Heartstrings
  34. CommonUtilityForCommunities The secret to building ‘migratory’ communities is to understand people’s wants, needs and desires, and to build relevant and engaging connections around them at every opportunity. We need to understand what brings communities   together, and build our strategies around their shared interests and passions, and not around technical functionality or platforms. Above all, we need to add value to our audiences’ lives at every opportunity. 34
  35. build strategies around passions, not platforms. 35
  36. 3 all your marketing must add value
  37. Too much of today’s marketing relies on elaborate spectacle to divert people’s attention. Brands have come to rely on interrupting people with increasingly shiny distractions, placing their emphasis on short- term gains instead of longer-term, mutual value. The result is ‘one-night-stand marketing’: transactional relationships based on pick-up lines and instant gratification, at the expense of more meaningful, enduring relationships. However, this approach is unsustainable. We need to think about getting engaged. 37
  38. shouting for attention rarely wins people’s hearts. 38
  39. From Interruption To Interaction
  40. BetterEngagement,BetterResults The secret to better marketing is not about finding more efficient ways to interrupt people. Rather, it’s about finding new ways to engage people as effectively as possible. The secret to this engagement lies in understanding what people want, and in adding value at every possible opportunity; offering people things that make their lives better, and adding to their experiences instead of interrupting them. 40
  41. in the future, marketing that doesn’t add value will simply be ignored. 41
  42. From Ads To Added Value
  43. MarketingMustBeAboutThem,NotYou This shift from interruption to added-value interaction will impact media too. Publishers will need to evolve from ad-funded models that are inherently value-detractive, and rethink their business models around an approach that delivers a more integral value proposition. It’s the shift to an audience-centric model – rather than a brand-oriented, media-centric model – that will have the greatest impact on marketing though. If we are to succeed in this future, we need to put our audiences’ needs, wants, desires first. 43
  44. engage people around their passions, not your products. 44
  45. 4 go mobile or stand still
  46. MobilePhonesAreEverywhere Google tells us that more people around the world now own a mobile phone than a toothbrush, while the UN tells us that more people have access to mobile phones than toilets. However, despite the mobile phone’s ubiquity, a recent study revealed that just four in ten brand advertisers in APAC consider mobile to be ‘very important’ to their current marketing, while a scant three in ten actually have a mobile strategy at all. So why aren’t marketers’ plans more in tune with their audience’s existing behaviour? 46
  47. 47 north america latin america africa middle east western europe central & eastern europe asia pacific 103% 114% 71% 109% 128% 132% 100% china 84% india 56% Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2013 Mobile Penetration By Region, June 2013!
  48. Although it’s difficult to measure these things accurately, data suggest that more people around the world now subscribe to a mobile phone plan than have access to TV. In other words, it’s highly likely that, around the world, more people now use mobile phones than watch TV. That’s a huge shift. Moreover, according to Ericsson, global adoption of mobile phones is still growing at a rate of 130 million new subscriptions per quarter. 48
  49. 49 mobile subscribers television viewers 4.5 billion 4.2 billion VS Today’s Media Reality! Sources: mobile subscriber data from the Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2013; television viewer data extrapolated from data cited by
  50. MobilesAreOnTheMove Of course, many people around the world still rely on relatively basic ‘feature’ phones rather than the more sophisticated smartphones, but these devices still provide a level of intimacy that TV can’t match. What’s more, the shift to internet-connected smartphone devices continues to accelerate, and Ericsson reports that global mobile data usage is currently increasing at close to 30% per quarter. 50
  51. 51 Q4" 12 Q1" 07 Q2" 07 Q3" 07 Q4" 07 Q1" 08 Q2" 08 Q3" 08 Q4" 08 Q1" 09 Q2" 09 Q3" 09 Q4" 09 Q1" 10 Q2" 10 Q3" 10 Q4" 10 Q1" 11 Q2" 11 Q3" 11 Q4" 11 Q1" 12 Q2" 12 Q3" 12 Q1" 13 0.2 EB 0.4 EB 0.6 EB 0.8 EB 1.0 EB 1.2 EB 100% growth" in 12 months 1.4 EB 1.6 EB Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2013. Figures represent total global monthly mobile data traffic (uplink + downlink) in exabytes (1 exabyte = 1 million terabytes) Global Monthly Data Traffic!
  52. Out Of Sync
  53. Perhaps more tellingly, people are increasingly emotionally connected to their phones too. 70% of people in China say that they “can’t live without” a mobile phone. People used to say the same of TV, but ironically, many people now download ‘TV’ content to watch on their mobile phones whenever they choose, without the adverts. This isn’t about replacing one medium with another, though; TV still has a vital role to play in the mix. 53
  54. InvestmentsToGo On the contrary, mobile has a big part to play in the evolution of TV, by enabling and promoting phenomena such as second-screen interaction and trans-media storytelling. But in a world where mobile helps us reach more of our consumers, more of the time, in more contextually relevant ways than TV, we must invest more of our time and budgets to explore how mobile can help us succeed. 54
  55. If It’s Not Mobile, It’s Not Going Anywhere
  56. Mobile offers a very different kind of audience experience to TV. The latter is still largely a communal device; a centrepiece that takes pride of place in our living rooms. However, mobile is more personal; its primary purpose has always been to connect us with other people, rather than to deliver passive entertainment. Critically, people have more control over their phones. They alone decide which activities they participate in, what content they consume, and where and when they do so. 56
  57. 57 93% 52% 70% 55% 40% 44% 81% 80% 43% 84% 58% 67% 62% 59% 39% 71% 75% 43% 45% 17% 15% 26% 11% 8% 13% 15% 7% China South Korea India SMS! Email! Instant" Messaging! Mobile" Shopping! Web" Browsing! Using" Apps Video &" Mobile TV! Streaming" Music! Social" Networking! Source: Nielsen 2013 mobile consumer report (Feb 2013). Figures represent the percentage of respondents in each country performing the specified activity on their phone in the past 30 days Activities Performed On Mobile Phones!
  58. My Precious
  59. Because of their size and flexibility, mobiles have also become many people’s most important devices, following us to the boardroom, to the bedroom, and even to the bathroom. Surveys have found that one in three American smartphone owners would rather give up sex than give up their phones, although 20% of young Americans also admit to having used their phone during sex. Perhaps because of this device intimacy, however, people don’t welcome interruptions on their phones. As a result, interruptive broadcast approaches are definitely not the best use of the medium. 59
  60. Car PublicTransport Travelling LivingRoom Kitchen Bedroom HomeOffice InStores Friend’sHouse Outdoors School Work Restaurant Library 60 51% 68% 74% 67% 53% 65% 31% 74% 22% 60% 75% 58% 65% 20% Mobile Web Usage Locations! Figures represent percentage of US smartphone users who access the internet via smartphones in each location. Source: Forrester’s North American Technographics Online Benchmark Survey, Dec 2012
  61. 1 in 3 smartphone owners would rather give up sex than give up their phone. 61
  62. Social By Design
  63. ConnectingPeople Mobile phones started life as a truly ‘social medium’; they were always intended to be a means of connecting people. However, as they’ve evolved from voice-and-text handsets into today’s multi-purpose connected devices, the scope of social interaction that they offer has increased dramatically, to the extent that telephony now only accounts for a fraction of our mobile activities. 63
  64. Crucially, the importance of social networking on mobile devices continues to grow. 819 million people accessed Facebook from mobile devices in June 2013, accounting for 71% of the site’s total user base, and British smartphone users check Facebook an average of 14 times every day. Meanwhile, American smartphone owners spent 40.8 billion minutes using social media mobile apps in July 2012. On an annualised basis, that’s close to 1 million years of human time spent on mobile social activities in the US alone. 64
  65. J.D. Power found that American smartphone users spend an average of almost two hours per week using social media apps, while comScore reports that 55% of all social media activity in the US takes place on a mobile device. These trends aren’t unique to the US either; our recent SDMW research indicates that mobile’s share of social activities around Asia is even higher. What’s more, with the increasing use of mobile instant messaging apps like WeChat, Line, and Kakaotalk, mobile social’s share of our attention is only set to increase. 65
  66. Marketing Implications
  67. FiguresOnTheGo–GoFigure Mobile doesn’t just offer new opportunities to drive attention and engagement though; it is increasingly becoming a key channel for conversion too. Here again, the role of mobile social media comes to the fore, with around half of Facebook’s users in the UK checking the site while in physical stores. Within the next few years, marketing strategies that don’t come to life on mobile devices will never come to life at all. 67
  68. 68 China Australia India Vietnam Thailand South Korea Philippines Indonesia Malaysia Japan 55% 24% 26% 15% 23% 37% 23% 26% 17% 22% Web Users Making Mobile Purchases! Figures represent internet users who have made purchases via their mobile phones. Source: Global Web Index, “The State of Global e-Commerce 2013” (Feb 2013)
  69. in the future, strategies that don’t come to life on mobile will never come to life at all. 69
  70. Connecting
  71. So how do marketers make better use of mobile apps? The answer doesn’t need to be about building native apps. Indeed, even when native apps are available, people don’t always use them. Mark Zuckerberg reported that ”there are more people in the world using Facebook on mobile Web” than using the iOS and Android native apps combined. To make better use of mobile devices, we first need to understand why people use them; what are the wants, needs and desires driving their behaviour? 71
  72. Simple principles for better mobile marketing: 1.  Deliver value: utility, entertainment, or social interaction. 2.  Harness mobile context: tailor experiences to the different situations in which people engage. 3.  Streamline the experience: adapt content for a range of different devices and connection speeds. 4.  Make it portable: enable people to continue their experience across devices, especially when sharing things. 5.  Offer varying depths of immersion: e.g. for people with a 30-second work break, or with a 30-minute commute. 72
  73. Stay In Touch
  74. SociallyMobile Take advantage of the fact that most people use their mobile devices in some kind of social context, whether they’re in the company of others, or simply connected via social media. People’s social media activities will increasingly come to life on the go, so marketers must integrate mobile and social seamlessly in order to provide the best possible experiences, wherever and whenever the audience chooses to engage. 74
  75. 5 the rise of the comms leitmotif
  76. RethinkingTheModel For the past few decades, marketing has been dominated by a mass-media paradigm. During that time, we’ve defined the ‘best’ marketing as that which makes the most efficient use of broadcast media, and as a result, we’ve spent decades perfecting an approach that’s all about reducing the cost of interrupting people. 76
  77. The result is communications that have been distilled down to their lowest common denominator: a selection of sound bites designed to be shared as succinctly as possible across a range of media, repeated again and again in the hopes of eliciting a Pavlovian response that will deliver optimum scores in campaign research tracking. But this paradigm is broken; we’ve become obsessed with media efficiency, and as a result, we’ve lost sight of what effective communications look like. Note: effectiveness is doing the right thing; efficiency is doing that thing right. 77
  78. Back To Basics
  79. A quick look at definitions reveals our fundamental error. The English word ‘communication’ evolved from ‘communicare’, a Latin verb meaning ‘to share’. At its heart, therefore, communication is about creating a shared understanding. It isn’t about what you say; it’s about what other people understand. However, as part of our relentless drive to maximise media efficiency, we’ve become overly fixated on ‘the message’ (i.e. what we want to say), and we’re failing to build a common understanding of what our brands and their offerings stand for. 79
  80. communication isn’t about what you say; it’s about what other people understand. 80
  81. Brands As Social Entities
  82. Before we can build a shared understanding with our audiences, we need to gain greater clarity of those audiences’ motivations, and the dynamics that shape our exchanges with them. However, in order for brands to achieve their full potential, they also need to integrate more actively into the social dynamics that define the world in which they come to life. Sadly, most brands are more interested in themselves and their egos than they are in the audiences they are supposed to serve. 82
  83. most brands behave like new-born children: entirely egocentric, and totally oblivious to the needs of others. 83
  84. However, studies have found that the traits we find most appealing in other people are those that are socially oriented: !  Be Natural !  Be Considerate !  Be Generous !  Be True !  Be Social For a brand to function as a meaningful social entity, it must embody these traits too, so we’ll explore each of them in detail over the coming pages. 84
  85. BeNatural Popularity is more pull than push, and trying to become popular through hollow flattery and false mirroring is unsustainable. Impressing people is much easier if you lead by example instead of screaming for attention. As a result, it’s far better to champion the cause than it is to ride the bandwagon. 85
  86. leading by example impresses people more than screaming for attention. 86
  87. BeConsiderate People appreciate a good listener, so don’t talk about yourself all the time. Take time to hear what your audience wants to say to you, and not just to work out what you want to say to them. Embrace everyday people as well as celebrities. 87
  88. BeGenerous In order to build trust, give before you take. What does your audience want, need and desire? How can you help them achieve it through your communications alone? 88
  89. in order to build trust, give before you take. 89
  90. BeTrue Stay true to your ideals, but don’t force them upon other people. Strength, honesty, humility and kindness are far more meaningful brand values than ‘dynamic’ or ‘cool’. 90
  91. BeSocial Conversations are as much about social discourse as they are about the sharing of information. Avoid an over-reliance on monologue and one-line statements. Use dialogue to reinforce bonds as well as to establish new relationships. Treat others as you’d hope to be treated yourself, and always be ready with the proverbial olive branch. 91
  92. For brands, the last principle – Be Social – is perhaps the most important when it comes to building enduring success. Of course, working for a ‘Conversation Agency’, I’m biased in this regard, but We Are Social’s positioning isn’t an accident; we strongly believe that there’s far more value in dialogue than there is in the broadcast paradigm of a repetitive monologue. So how do brands ‘grow up’ and evolve from their current communications infancy to become more socially engaged entities? 92
  93. The Art Of Conversation
  94. It’s important to assert here that you can’t ‘win’ a conversation. Conversations are about a mutual exchange of value; if you’re trying to win, that’s most likely called an argument. Beyond the sharing of information and knowledge, a big part of the mutual exchange of value in a conversation is the opportunity to deepen bonds and strengthen relationships. But this is an area where many marketers fall down: in our arrogance, we believe that we have more to teach our audiences about our brands and offerings than we might learn from those audiences in return. 94
  95. To this point, let’s borrow a section from a Wikihow post entitled “How To Stop Talking About Yourself”: Respond to questions without turning the focus onto you. When asked, “Did you see Survivor last night?”, avoid an answer like: “Yes! I never miss an episode; in fact my husband and I watched Survivor, Idol, and Dancing with the Stars. Did you see how well Kristen danced last night?” You answered the question, but redirected the focus onto you. Instead, try something like: “I missed it; was it good?” Simply answer the question they asked you, and give them a chance to talk with you. 95
  96. thetruespiritofconversationconsists moreinbringingouttheclevernessof othersthaninshowingagreatdealof ityourself;hewhogoesawaypleased withhimselfandhisownwitisalso greatlypleasedwithyou. –JeandeLaBrùyere “ “ 96
  97. Making people feel like they’re an important part of your brand’s world, and welcoming them into your communications, both have huge opportunities. For most brands, of course, it’s still financially infeasible to have one-to-one conversations with each individual member of the audience, but channels like social media make these interactions much easier than they were in a broadcast-only world. However, harnessing ‘conversational’ channels involves a very different approach to the ‘lowest- common-denominator’ communications most marketers have become used to. 97
  98. Change Is Coming
  99. OneRingToRuleThemAll? It’s becoming increasingly clear that the ‘matching luggage’ approach associated with Big Advertising Ideas is not as relevant to social communications as it is to broadcast media like TV. A single-minded communications approach may be a great way to drive media efficiency, but it only works effectively if we get it right first time. More importantly, most people’s brains work in slightly different ways, so the search for an all-powerful Big Idea is often as futile as the quest for the Holy Grail. 99
  100. One of the reasons why this approach is rarely the best option is because lowest-common- denominator messaging rarely delivers the highest possible engagement or audience value. The challenge is that single-minded communications are only designed to convey that single message, and that’s only efficient if conveying that single message successfully establishes the total desired understanding across the whole audience. 100
  101. In order to maximise effectiveness, therefore, we may need to convey our ‘message’ in a variety of different ways over time, and to different groups of people, before we can establish a sufficient level of shared understanding across the whole audience. That was rarely an option in an expensive, TV- dominated world, but our media mix options have evolved, and we have new opportunities. It’s time to rethink our commandments. 101
  102. Enter The Leitmotif
  103. RiffingOnATheme In musical theory, a leitmotif is: “a musical term referring to a short, constantly recurring musical phrase, associated with a particular person, place, or idea… In particular, [it] should be clearly identified so as to retain its identity if modified on subsequent appearances, [but] it is transformable and recurs in different guises throughout the piece in which it occurs.”[ source ] 103
  104. If that all sounds a bit complex, this Star Wars explanation nails the concept beautifully: “Each important idea [and character] in Star Wars has its own leitmotif. At the beginning of A New Hope, Luke watches the suns set, wondering what his destiny in the world could be. His leitmotif [or 'Luke's Theme', if you will], is played wistfully and slowly to reinforce this idea. Later, when he is in the midst of rescuing Leia, his theme is stronger, more percussive, and rhythmic. Essentially, the same notes are being played, but the style with which they are played makes all the difference in the tone of the scene.”[ source ] 104
  105. Critically, a leitmotif isn’t the same as the constant repetition of music like techno, nor that of broadcast advertising for that matter. Rather, it’s about a theme that changes and evolves over time, adding new value or meaning with each evolution. As a result, a ‘communications leitmotif’ may offer a route to more effective marketing. Rather than relying on the constant repetition of a single message, marketers can adopt a broader, richer communications agenda, using a variety of activities to engage more of their audiences in more meaningful ways over time, thus ensuring a greater chance of success. 105
  106. Leitmotifs: From Theory To Practice
  107. TheDandelionApproach As Cory Doctorow asserted in a seminal blog post a few years back, the dandelion doesn’t put all its eggs (or seeds) in one basket. Rather than investing all its efforts in nurturing a single offspring, the dandelion spreads as many seeds as possible in the hope that at least some will fall on fertile ground. This is not about random dissemination though; despite slight variations in each seed, every one contains the DNA of its parent plants, and each one is designed to travel as far as possible. Critically, the ‘costs’ associated with producing each seed are low enough that individual failures are not an issue. 107
  108. TheTapasApproach Meals comprising many small, shared dishes are popular all over the world, from Tapas in Spain to Dim Sum in the Orient. Each individual dish can be quite different, but each combines to deliver an overall meal ‘experience’ that is both reliable and enjoyable, even if each individual dish doesn’t meet everyone’s tastes. This approach can work well for communications too: by harnessing a variety of smaller activities in different channels, brands have a greater chance of delivering something that resonates with each member of the audience to establish a common understanding. 108
  109. TheKaizenApproach Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better“, and is a central part of a continuous improvement approach. The same concept lies at the heart of effective conversations too: each time a participant in the discussion shares new insights or information, the other participants can refine or modify their opinions or approach, in order to reach an optimum, collective understanding. The Kaizen approach is a bit more direct than the previous two, but it has a clear role to play in a variety of brand situations, particularly where the topic is more complex, or where rational motivations dominate. 109
  110. 110 Sharing a wide variety of disparate content that " appeals to people in different ways at different times Bringing a variety of approaches and themes together at the same time to deliver diverse engagement dandelion tapas A test-and-learn approach where the brand constantly tweaks variations on themes to build deeper connections kaizen Alternatives To Homogenous ‘Big Ideas’!
  111. ListenAndLearn There will be many more ways to bring such an ‘evolving theme’ approach to life, but the approaches that win through will be those that deliver a new kind of efficiency: the ability to identify when the desired understanding has been shared with the audience, and when investments can move to a new communications task. In order to achieve this efficiency, however, marketers will need to get much better at listening to – and measuring – audience response and reaction, and using these inputs to refine their communications approach. 111
  112. 6 from selective hearing to active listening
  113. As we saw in Chapter 3, marketing is all about creating mutually beneficial exchanges of value. The nature of that value exchange will vary between brands and audiences and over time, but in order for marketers to deliver maximum value to their brands, it holds that they need to understand what that value looks like to their audiences. This isn’t just a case of asking people what they want, though; as Steve Jobs astutely pointed out, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” 113
  114. MarketersNeedToBePeopleWatchers If you want to deliver real value to people, you need to understand them as people: their behaviour, their attitudes and beliefs, their motivations… In short, you need to understand their lives. Conventional marketing research is great at finding specific answers to specific questions, but the real magic for marketers lies in modern-day anthropology – not the 19th Century ‘home-stay in Borneo’ variety, but a fresh, always-on digital approach to meaningful people-watching. 114
  115. if they are to add real value, brands need to understand people’s lives, not just their demographic profiles. 115
  116. Enter Social Media Listening
  117. Every day, hundreds of millions of people around the world share valuable insights about themselves via publicly accessible social media. Not all of these posts mention brands, but that doesn’t mean they’re not of value to marketers. Indeed, almost all public posts can help inquisitive marketers to build a richer understanding of their audiences that they couldn’t obtain elsewhere. Even those ubiquitous ‘photos of my lunch’ can reveal powerful insights into an audience’s worldview: do they opt for expensive restaurants? Do they look for healthy alternatives? Do they mention brand names, or stick to generic topics? 117
  118. It’sThereIfYouListen When we explore people’s social media activities with an open mind, we’re almost certain to find something of value. However, almost all marketers miss this value, because they’re too busy ‘listening’ for explicit mentions of brand names or campaign hashtags. As a result, we’re leaving far too many rich insights uncovered in the feed. 118
  119. From Big Data To Big Insights
  120. One reason why we’re missing this value is that marketers are too often caught up in the demands of a quarterly sales cycle, and the ‘quick wins’ that offer the easiest way to achieve short-term targets often come at the cost of bigger, longer-term opportunities. This focus on ‘delivering the numbers’ means marketers spend too much time looking for ways to barge into audiences’ lives and conversations. 120
  121. We spend too much time looking for ways to interrupt people. But it doesn’t need to be that way. Indeed, this interruptive approach – even though it’s become ‘industry standard’ – contravenes one of the most important rules of communication: when you’re talking with someone, actively listen to what they’re saying, and don’t simply wait for your turn to speak. Sadly, too many brands don’t even wait for their turn to speak though; they’ve become far too used to interrupting people whenever they have sufficient budget. 121
  122. Even amongst those brands that do listen, most only do so on an ad-hoc basis, usually by paying a research agency to ask a series of brand-oriented questions. The danger with this approach is that marketers only pay attention to a summary of aggregated findings, and miss the motivations and context behind people’s statements and behaviour. In order to become more successful, marketers need to move beyond ‘brand egocentrism’, and start to think of their activities in the context of people’s lives. We need to spend more time actively getting to know our audiences, by being personally involved in the listening process. 122
  123. Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring
  124. Fortunately, rich insights are readily available to marketers with the willingness to listen. By paying attention to the statements and conversations that people share in public social media, we can gain a far deeper understanding of what people actually want, need and desire. We don’t need to collect everything in one go, either; by spending just 5 minutes a day actively listening to the conversations of a subset of your audience, you’ll quickly gain an affinity for the things they care about. 124
  125. SocialValueBeyondSocialMedia More importantly, these insights can add value well beyond your social media activities too; most people [i.e. non-marketers] use social media to talk about a wide variety of their everyday lives, so proactive listening can inform every aspect of your brand’s value proposition: advertising, packaging, CSR opportunities, in-store activities, and even R&D. In order to do this effectively, though, we need to move beyond ‘ego monitoring’. Instead of listening only to what people are saying about your brand, use more generic keyword terms in your searches. 125
  126. PeopleBuyBenefits For example, if you’re a shampoo brand, don’t just listen out for mentions of Pantene, Dove and Head & Shoulders; ultimately, people don’t pay for shampoo, they pay for beautiful hair, so listen out for the broader conversations they’re having about hair. By adopting this broader approach, you’ll quickly gain insights into people’s problems and motivations, their preferences, and their needs. 126
  127. 127 products customer" service pos activity advertising packaging recruitment Social Listening Can Add Value Everywhere!
  128. Furthermore, by moving beyond the simplistic measurement of ego metrics like share of voice or campaign engagement, you’ll start to find opportunities to join larger, organic audience conversations where your brand can actually add real value, without needing to interrupt people. The real opportunity for social media listening is to identify ways brands can use communications to add real value to people’s lives, and become welcome participants in more meaningful conversations. 128
  129. Getting Started
  130. The first step towards uncovering these rich insights is to identify who you want to listen to. Don’t restrict this definition to your consumers though; listening to broader audiences such as influencers, advocates, detractors, NGOs and regulators can add rich and unexpected insights. Once you’ve defined your audience, you’ll need to find where they are in public social media. You don’t need to find everyone in your audience of course, and you certainly don’t need to analyse every one of their posts. 130
  131. ScheduleYourListening A great way to start is to find a few dozen people talking about something generic (but brand-relevant) on Twitter, and then read through some of their other recent posts. Inevitably this will include some photos of lunch, but you’ll start to get an affinity for who they are as real people. Once you do this a few times, you’ll probably want to adopt a more systematic approach. Start by putting together a simple list of keywords to search for, and make a regular ‘appointment’ to listen to the people who’re talking about those terms. 131
  132. Select a few people from these conversations at random, and take some time to listen to what they’re saying about other things too; this way, you’ll quickly build a more intuitive understanding of your audience that goes well beyond demographics. Using social listening tools can help make your anthropological efforts more effective too; harness the power of always-on listening tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, as well as powerful aggregators such as Sysomos and Radian6, to keep an ear open throughout the day and identify opportunities to join other people’s conversations. 132
  133. tools offer little value if they’re managed by tools. 133
  134. TryItForYourself There are a number of great, free listening tools out there too, so don’t let budgets stop you – we regularly use socialmention, addictomatic and twazzup, and great new tools launch all the time. You’ll still need to analyse conversations of course; the tools can’t do everything on their own. However, once you have your tools set up, you’ll only need to listen for a few minutes every day before you start to identify new ways to add value to your audiences’ lives and to your brand’s bottom line. Go on, try it out now. We’ll wait for you in Chapter 7. 134
  135. 7 experiences are the new products
  136. TheDifferenceBetweenBuyingAndSelling When people buy brands, they’re usually paying for something more than a core product or service. For example, they don’t really pay for the liquid inside a shampoo bottle; they pay for beautiful hair, and for the confidence which that brings. The most successful brands understand that broader, benefit-led marketing allows them to extend their impact beyond core products and services to deliver ‘augmented’ offerings that create far greater value to both them and their audiences. 136
  137. people only really pay for benefits; products and services are just means to an end. 137
  138. This approach applies to brands across categories: !  Nike uses participative events like We Run as core revenue streams, not just advertising. !  The iTunes Store moves Apple from a technology manufacturer to a broad lifestyle brand. !  Madonna earns more from concerts and merchandise than she does from albums. !  Red Bull has repositioned itself as a ‘media and experiences company’, extending the brand well beyond energy drinks. !  American Express uses activities like OPEN forum and Small Business Saturday to extend beyond payment services and become an overall ‘partner in success’ for its merchants. 138
  139. ExperiencesAddMoreValueThanProducts It’s clear to see why this approach works: augmented experiences offer people something more than a mere means to an end, and as a result, they succeed in delivering a differentiated value proposition that people are willing to pay more for. Moreover, these experiences are inherently more ‘social’ than simple products and services too – it’s easier for people to share an experience than it is for them to share most products. 139
  140. Critically, there are also more compelling reasons for people to talk about great experiences than there are to recommend products. As a result, augmented experiences can inspire activity that extends beyond the reach of customer reviews or the brand’s own social media posts. So, when it comes to your brand’s social media, don’t just think about how you’ll drive greater engagement with your own social media posts; use augmented experiences to inspire organic audience conversations. 140
  141. the social marketer’s mission is to create brands that are always worth talking about. 141
  142. 8 csr evolves into civic marketing
  143. Society increasingly expects brands to give back at least as much as they take. As a result, CSR is moving higher up the executive agenda, but many companies still think of CSR in terms of corporate philanthropy. While this approach is more constructive than the guilt-avoidance that characterised CSR in the 1980s, it misses a much bigger opportunity. Brands that get CSR right don’t think of it as an obligation; they see it as an opportunity to build mutual value for the brands and its communities. 143
  144. Civic Brands
  145. MoreThanMarketing Many of the world’s best-loved brands started out with a civic agenda at their heart. A great example is Cadbury, who went beyond offering world-leading working conditions to build an entire community around its Bourneville factory: “In 1893, George Cadbury bought 120 acres of land close to [the Bourneville factory] and planned, at his own expense, a model village which would ‘alleviate the evils of modern more cramped living conditions’. By 1900, the estate included 314 cottages and houses set on 330 acres.” [ source ] 145
  146. Modern-day civic-minded brands have extended this sense of community beyond their own workers, and brands like TOMS are defining compelling new standards of ethical business. By putting CSR at the heart of the brand’s proposition, TOMS has created a truly remarkable brand, inspiring so much admiration and interest that people feel compelled to share its story for themselves. 146
  147. 147 TOMS: Making Shoes, Making A Difference!
  148. Brands are also increasingly using CSR as a cornerstone of their marketing. American Express’s Small Business Saturday initiative has redefined the ambitions of marketers everywhere, driving billions of dollars in sales for small businesses, and delivering a huge boost to AmEx’s revenues in the process. Effective CSR doesn’t have to be large-scale to add community value though; brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Oreo have incorporated civic-minded messaging in their marketing too, taking a public stance on issues that they believe in and supporting communities that they care about. 148
  149. 149 Earned Media That Money Can’t Buy!
  150. 150 Making A Stand Helps Build A Brand!
  151. AHappyCompromise Most people still recognise that these activities as marketing, but when the alternative is interruptive advertising that’s trying to sell things people neither want nor need, it’s easy to understand why community-minded marketing gets more positive feedback across different audiences. 151
  152. making things people want is much more effective than making people want things. – John Willshire “ “ 152
  153. Giving And Growing
  154. Brands can also use community programs as part of their market development activities. A great example is Nike’s ‘Reuse-a-Shoe’ programme, where the brand recycles old sneakers to create pitch surfaces for inner-city sports grounds. Communities benefit through access to state-of- the-art sports facilities where they can exercise and train for free, while Nike benefits by getting people more actively involved in sports, thereby increasing potential sales and offering the chance to identify star athletes of the future. 154
  155. CSR Should Be Win-Win
  156. This ‘mutual benefit’ approach is the key to sustainable CSR success, and offers the greatest potential rewards too. The obvious goodwill benefits that these activities generate mean civic-minded brands are more likely to be welcomed into people’s daily lives. Beyond straightforward preference drivers, CSR can be a powerful part of a brand’s social media activities too. At the most basic level, CSR initiatives offer brands a meaningful way to engage their audiences in conversation. 156
  157. More importantly, though, audiences are far more likely to share their own stories about brands that make a real difference to people’s lives, and this sharing can result in powerful, organic conversations across social media and beyond. So, instead of an approach that requires brands to reach into their coffers to relieve the corporate conscience, brands need to start thinking of CSR in terms of opportunities to add tangible value to a variety of stakeholders. 157
  158. 158 Rethinking The Concept Of Brand Value! Activities focused " solely on maximising " short-term profits Activities designed to maximise returns for employees and partners shareholder stakeholder Activities designed" to contribute to the" greater good for all societal VSVS VSVS
  159. the brands that will win tomorrow won’t just give back to communities; they’ll actively nurture and build communities too. 159
  160. 9 next steps
  161. You’ll only succeed if you put your plans into action. The sooner you start testing your hypotheses, the sooner you’ll know what works and what doesn’t, and the greater your chances of getting to the future first. So go do. 161
  162. About The Author
  163. Simon Kemp is a marketing strategist and practitioner with a particular enthusiasm for all things social, digital, and mobile. He is the Managing Director of We Are Social in Singapore, where he helps clients across Asia to listen to, understand, and engage in conversations in social media. Before joining We Are Social, Simon was a strategic planner with BBH, Universal McCann, and Starcom Mediavest. He’s also been a global management consultant, with stints at Accenture and ascension strategy consulting. Outside of work, Simon pretends to be a DJ, and you’ll find him around the web under his eski alter-ego. If marketing’s more your thing though, you’ll find Simon across the social web as eskimon. He’d be delighted if you said hello. 163
  164. 164 Connect With Simon! twitter linkedin slideshare email website
  165. About We Are Social
  166. We Are Social is a global conversation agency. We " help brands to listen to, understand, and engage in conversations throughout social media. Our team brings together 350 social media enthusiasts across 8 offices on 5 continents. We’re already helping many of the world’s top brands, including Unilever, Adidas, Intel, Red Bull, Diageo, Lenovo, Heinz, and Louis Vuitton. You can email us at if you’d like to know more, or say hello on twitter via @wearesocialsg. 166
  167. This eBook © 2013 by Simon Kemp. All rights reserved. Find out more at