Social on a shoestring: doing big content on a small budget

This post was originally written for, and published on, blonde.net.

There are some truly incredible, groundbreaking social media campaigns happening right now. Interactive content, seamless connections between desktop and mobile design, and a user experience that crosses devices and platforms.

For some organisations, with limited budgets, these campaigns can be a little intimidating.

Smirnoff’s 2013 #YoursForTheMaking campaign involved, amongst other things, collaborating with fans to design nightlife experiences, and using an EEG device to turn brain activity into music. It was epic. It brought Smirnoff 1 million Facebook fans. And it reportedly cost £7 million to deliver.

Few organisations have £7 million to spend on a single social media campaign. Some of you reading this may want to weep at the thought of having a budget a tenth of the size. So you don’t get to play with the fancy EEG devices.

But don’t let that deter you from entering social media spaces. You may not be making quite so many headlines on the frontiers of digital discovery, but there are all manner of ways to generate content that will help you draw followers and build a lasting relationship with them, without spending the GDP of a small country. Continue reading

“When civilisation ends, it ends fast” – Lessons for marketers from The Walking Dead

zombieIf you’re as excited as I am about the return of The Walking Dead (which is about as excited as this kitten), then you’ll also have been watching the companion show, Fear The Walking Dead. Whilst lacking the psychological depth and acting skills of the main show, Fear did have some sage advice for marketers (courtesy of conspiracy expert, Tobias):

The desert will be safer because things will fall apart now. No satellites, no internet, no cell phones. Communications will fail ’cause no one’s there to manage the servers. The electrical grid will collapse for the same reason. It’s all gonna go to hell. And that’s what they don’t get. When civilization ends, it ends fast.

Source: Reddit 

What does this all have to do with digital marketing, you may well ask. Do I need to start preparing a bunker with a zombie-proofed internet server so I will still be able to post content when the apocalypse hits? Not just yet (although if you figure out the zombie-proofing, let me know). What you do need to take from Tobias’ zombiepocalypse school, is that we should never be too reliant on technology. Continue reading

The 80/20 rule for social media (or how to be fun at parties)

This post was originally written for the Blonde Digital blog.

Imagine this: you’re at a party. You’re chatting with your friends, catching up, having a laugh. When someone you’ve never met before comes up to you.

“I’M SAM,” they yell. “I’m really great at football. Look at these photos of me playing football. I have two kids. Look at this cool video of my kids playing. I sell cars. Buy a car from me!”

What are you going to do? If you’re sensible, you will quietly edge away from Sam, find an excuse to go somewhere that is very much not where Sam is, and you will try to avoid Sam in future. That’s what a brand shouting about themselves incessantly on social media feels like.

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You don’t need that social media account

You might think that working in social media at a digital agency involves trying to convince as many businesses as possible of the colossal benefits they could gain from using social media.

This is only partially true.

Most businesses are at least vaguely aware that there is this hot new thing called social media that is becoming quite popular. What this creates is a panicked impulse to get involved in this social media thing, somehow. Anyhow. The fact is, though, that if social media isn’t going to suit a particular business, then it won’t do any favours for them or the agency concerned to plough on with it.

Sometimes, you just have to say no.

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This is why the Ukip hashtag failed

Ok, we’ve all had a good laugh. Time to get serious.

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Ukip. In fact, I disagree passionately with everything they stand for. But then, as the female grandchild of an Italian immigrant, who regularly fraternises with both immigrants and homosexuals, I imagine they’re about as keen on me as I am on them. Politics aside, however, the #WhyImVotingUkip debacle should be a good lesson on effective hashtag management for all those involved in social media.

Ukip attempted to start a hashtag to amplify the gains they have made, encouraging their supporters to tweet #WhyImVotingUkip. It was doomed from the beginning, when it was launched with that death-knell phrase “let’s get this trending”. I’m constantly asked how to get something trending, or how to make something go viral. At which point I have to restrain myself from curling into the foetal position. The short answer is: you can’t. The long answer is: you shouldn’t really try. I may start bringing a transcript of #WhyImVotingUkip along to meetings to illustrate this point.

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The critics are your friends

I was in a meeting this week brainstorming comms activities for the coming year. One idea was thrown out, kicked around for a while, and seemed to be gathering momentum until one senior member of staff expressed concern:

“If we go down that route, we might get some criticism.”

This is not an uncommon reaction from non-communications staff, and it’s actually not as rare as you might imagine on the marcomms side of the fence either. Any activity that might invite a negative response is met with a certain degree of panic. But I am here to tell you, brothers and sisters, that this needn’t be the case. Don’t fear the critics – these people are your friends. Criticism is good.

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The Rise and Teetering-on-the-Edge of the Social Selfie

What’s going on with the selfie?

As far as I know, since the invention of the portable camera, we have all been trying to take photos of ourselves. My photos from my teenage years almost invariably include a close-up of someone’s arm as everyone tried to get into the same picture. In those days, dear children, you couldn’t look at a photo as soon as you’d taken it, so you had to take two or three and hope for the best. Which means many of the photos of my teenage years also include a few headless people, frightening close-ups of eyes and/or cheeks, and are missing the landmark or event at which we were trying to record our presence.

Since the invention of the smartphone, and, following hot on its heels, the invention of the “selfie button”, suddenly we can take photos of ourselves and all our friends whilst also checking everyone’s heads are in place and minimising the camera-holding arm. It’s a revelation. To suggest that teenagers have suddenly become self-obsessed and that it’s a new thing that people want to take pictures of themselves is clearly ludicrous. But, since it’s a well-established past-time, and indeed right of passage, of the over 30s to complain about the youth of today (and to be honest, I didn’t wait until I turned 30 – I’ve been complaining about them since I was about 25), an endless string of commentators has emerged to do just that.  Selfies are apparently bad for self-esteem (definitely not a problem teenagers have ever faced before), and one report even suggested that selfies spread headlice (because teenagers never stand close together or hug each other except when they’re taking photos; this report couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with the new headlice treatment centre that was being launched that day). The prevalence of social media certainly makes it easier to share these photos widely, and for other people to critique them – young people aren’t simply storing them in a photo album in their bedroom like they did in my day. So maybe that is why they’re getting more attention now, but it’s certainly not a new thing.

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