Category Archives: Marketing

What could Facebook Home mean for brands?

Earlier in the year I made a mistake – I tried to write about Facebook Home when it was brand new. So far, it hasn’t really worked out as planned for the Android launcher from Big Blue.

Nonetheless here’s the article, which originally appeared in the spring edition of Greenlight Digital’s magazine…

The Impact of Facebook Home

Despite describing his company as a “mobile first social network”, up until now Facebook’s mobile offering has been largely fragmented and unreliable; a main Facebook application, with separate apps to improve features such as messaging, managing brand pages, photographing and even Poking. Although Zuckerberg has regularly assured consumers that “it’s not the right strategy for us…to build a phone”, anticipation had built prior to their most recent summoning of press to their Cupertino base around what their latest mobile release would involve. They announced Facebook Home.

Home is not a standalone application, rather it’s a Launcher for Android which adds a complete integration layer on top of the Android OS. Users will witness a complete overhaul of their phone’s UI and Facebook are promising three standout features: Cover Feed, Chat Heads and App Launcher to place people, rather than applications, at the centre of your mobile experience.

Although their intention is to place people at the forefront of mobile devices rather than applications, it appears that with Home, Facebook are placing additional emphasis on quality; of relationships and of content (not too dissimilar to the way Google rolled out Panda and Penguin updates to add additional weight to the quality of a link back to your site when organising SERPs). Their mechanism for doing so is fronted by a dynamic home and lock screen (Cover Feed), populated by imagery and content from your friends and pages that you’ve liked. Without the quality of this content being to a high standard, users of the Android launcher may very quickly be turned off; unless your network is populated exclusively of professional photographers, it’s highly likely your home screen will become inundated with pixelated images of your friend’s babies and food.

Equally, users of Home may find themselves scrutinising the quality of relationships they maintain within Facebook (between friends and brands). Once the relationships become the focal point of a device you use as often as your phone, it may soon become apparent that there are many connections that just don’t warrant the exposure Home could give them.

What could Facebook Home mean for brands?

Zuckerberg has already expressed his intention to use Home as an opportunity for brands to purchase premium advertising real estate. The potential for this assumes the success of Home and uptake by Android users. However, were we to make that assumption, what impact does it have for brands?

1) Focus on quality content

Your brand’s latest update could find itself front and centre, in the palm of your customers hands when they glance at your phone. With this in mind, the quality (resolution, visual appeal, lighting etc) needs to be better than it’s ever been if you’re to stand out and grab your customers attention. On the contrary, if the quality is poor, you will not only be losing an opportunity but also may find yourself losing fans and engagement.

2) Focus on building a better relationship with your customers

By investing in the relationship with the people who use your Facebook page, you’ll be building a foundation of trust that will bring your fans to a place where they’re more receptive to your content; a place you’ll need to be in if you don’t want your fans to grow tired of seeing your content on their phone home screen.

3) Promoted Content

How Facebook intend to use Home for promoted content is yet to be announced, although Adam Mosseri, Facebook Product Director, says “We’re designing a lot of really high-quality ad units for Cover Feed.” At this stage I would anticipate it to involve the opportunity for Brands to pay a premium rate, above that for Promoted Posts, to reach their existing fan base through Home. Anything other than this and we could confidently say that Home will become nothing more than opt-in spam.

What other opportunities could Home introduce?

Inadvertently it’s possible that Facebook have heralded in a new a dawn of opportunity for brands. And it doesn’t involve Facebook Home.

Currently the Android ‘launcher’ marketplace is relatively small; instead consumers opting to trust and use the built in UI. With this in mind and, again, assuming the success of Home, it could raise awareness and drive adoption of the launcher marketplace.

With more consumers realising the potential of a Launcher, this could open the door for brands to take a leaf out of Facebook’s book and build their own. I know, for one, that if a brand, company, band or sports team were to build an app that afforded me the opportunity to have a mobile experience centred around them, I’d be keen to take it up, especially West Ham.

Conclusion

Facebook Home is new, and there’s more to it than just the Cover Feed. Chat Heads, for example, allows messaging to take place in an overlay on top of other applications so you never have to stop what you’re doing to chat. Equally, the Cover Feed could always be turned off. However, once you take that away and reduce the Launcher to just Chat Heads and App Launcher (which is just a menu), what’s really left for users to get excited about?

Regardless of whether Facebook Home is popular, brands could do a lot worse than improving quality of content and investing in fan relationship. By getting this right your brand page and content will become a far richer and rewarding experience. And if Home proves popular, you’ll be in a great place to leverage what it potentially has to offer.

Context will be King – A Prediction for 2013

This article originally appeared in Greenlight Digital’s monthly magazine [PDF]. The theme of the magazine was predictions for digital marketing in 2013

Context will be King

Take a look back through one of your old, printed, photo albums. Even with the benefit of the scrawled notes on the back of each, how much about the photos from, say, 20 years ago do you clearly recall? Take away the notes on the back of each photo and you’re left with how I currently believe social media monitoring tools see the social web; small snapshots of the past with no context other than who is in each photo.

When people directly mention a brand or a key term, we can measure it and understand it, but in the context only of itself. A single photo in your family album for example. That however is only part of the problem, what we more specifically can’t do is measure and understand what’s being said about your brand when the brand term is not specifically mentioned. A photo in your album that you may have taken but are not actually in, for example. This is the focus of my prediction for social media in 2013.

Working on a daily basis with social monitoring tools has afforded me the opportunity to explore how they viewed me in an area I would consider myself relatively influential (at the very least, passionate!); football. For my sins, I’m a big West Ham fan and since 2006 I’ve been talking about my team regularly on my blog which was fairly successful, and on Twitter since about 2007. So, from a social marketing perspective, there’s an argument for someone like me being either an influencer or someone who would be ideal to seed related campaigns. However, I’ll never be considered so, the reason why: I don’t regularly mention the exact term, “West Ham” and will therefore be very unlikely to appear in influencer search results.

Of course, I regularly talk about West Ham in the context of “the game on Saturday”, “great performance” or (more commonly!), “we’re going to struggle this year”. Importantly Tweets like this regularly garner engagement and interest and often there’ll be some sort of discussion as a result of those Tweets. I’ve not needed to mention “West Ham” for my 1500 or so followers to know what I’m talking about because they’ve come to understand that, in all likelihood, if West Ham are playing at the time of my Tweet, it will most probably be about West Ham regardless of whether I directly mention them. Analysing only volume of mentions also opens the door for false positives or, more precisely, people who have a passionate disdain for West Ham and therefore mention them a lot in what they publish. To the undiscerning social monitoring tools, this person would actually be ranked as an influencer!

By way of example here are some Kred badges of accounts suggested by a well respected social media monitoring tool to be the accounts with the most mentions of ‘West Ham’. There is one caveat however, one of these badges is for my own account although it was not even close to featuring in the ‘most mentions’ influencer list. To add a little more context, one is a football news aggregator, another the official account for the Premier League and another is the official Sky Sports account (apologies for terrible formatting/alignment!):

kredbadges

 

kredbadge

If you’re not familiar with Kred, the two scores displayed broadly represent the following:

 

- Influence: “is the ability to inspire action. It is scored on a 1,000 point scale.”

- Outreach: “reflects generosity in engaging with others and helping them spread their message.”

Ideally you want a high score in both and I, personally, would consider that to be both greater than 700 and 6 respectively. So that rules out 3 from the above list (including the official Premier League account), but not mine. The aggregator and Sky Sports obviously remain (due to sheer wealth of content and therefore term mentions – which actually makes them unrealistic outreach opportunities). All in all from those seven, only two plus my own account (745/7) would be worthy individuals to actively pursue for a digital marketing campaign related to West Ham, yet my own account didn’t appear in the original ‘influencer’ list. It is my belief that contextual analysis of social media accounts will lead to far more accurate, reliable and relevant returns on influencer discovery.

My understanding of contextual analysis would be to study factors such as what events are happening at the time of the Tweet, are there any consistently referenced terms, what key terms are mentioned in Tweets as user replies to or retweets, what content do an individual’s followers  publish and an understanding of what content appears within links that a user shares.

Through Twitter’s Interest Graph and Facebook’s Timeline (why else would they surface entire timelines if it wasn’t to improve insight for marketers?!) it’s evident that not only is this data there in some capacity, but that Twitter are actually already using it. Take this Promoted Tweet for example:


directlineeg

It was delivered to me when viewing the stream for my West Ham account. On the surface it’s terribly targeted; I clearly don’t live in Southampton! However, it just so happened that West Ham had played Southampton just two days before this ad was delivered to me. It’s clearly an example of a bad use of Twitter’s Interest Graph as it doesn’t relate to me in the slightest, but the principle remains.

I’m confident that until social marketers have the tools to accurately translate and work with this data, we’ll always fall short in terms of reaching outreach potential. For 2013 I think we’ll see a rise of interpretations in the contextual analysis space, improvements in accurately targeted advertising and tools that bring this ability into the mainstream.

 

What next for GoCompare?

I cannot stand the GoCompare adverts. I switch them over when they’re on and I do what I can to not use their site as a result.

But the reality is, everyone knows of their site because of their adverts and their work behind the scenes to build the character of ‘Gio Compario’. They’ve achieved what they needed to with the campaign, but sooner or later they’re going to need to move on…how do they phase out the fat guy?

If the ball was in my court, I’d run a new ad – entirely contrasting the current guy.

- An ad that caught people’s attention for the simplicity, but still with a main protagonist.
- Whilst people are left feeling delighted that Gio is no longer, viewers should be encouraged to ‘GoCompare’ which character they most want to feature in the next advert.

I see it running in two ways:

  1. People cannot wait to get rid of Gio that they’re quick to log on and vote for the new guy (spending time engaging with the brand)
  2. People will think it’s funny to feel that they’re winding the rest of the nation up and are quick to log on and vote to keep Gio in office

Either way, it feels to me as a great way to transition away from the brand perception that currently exists…a perception that actively drives people away from the site.