A simple guide to social and engagement marketing, designed for people who don’t live and breathe it every day.
If you’ve got any principles you’d add to the list, please do share them in the comments!
a collection of things worth sharing
Russell posted a recording of Hyperland a few days ago. It’s an amazing documentary from the early 1990s that foretells the advent of the Web.
As I was re-watching this wonderful piece of web history, I was reminded of a significant upcoming ‘birthday': the anniversary of the first internet banner ad:
The banner, for telco AT&T, appeared on the HotWired site on October 24th, 1994.
15 years ago.
From some perspectives, that feels like yesterday.
But considering how much things have changed, it also feels like a lifetime ago.
Back in 1994, my prized possession was a Walkman cassette player. I had to decide which cassette I’d take with me when I left the house. My music collection was vast, and one whole wall of my bedroom was covered in shelves full of CDs, cassettes, and vinyl.
If you got lost, you had to ask someone for directions. They had whole sections on how to do that in foreign language classes at school.
And because a telephone was something that was wired into the wall in your house, you had no way of letting people know you were lost and were going to be late. Friends stood around, with nothing to do, waiting for hours for their mates to arrive.
Social groups stayed in touch by letter. We had penpals.
Photography was cumbersome. Most people sent their camera films off to be developed (and Kodak adverts were everywhere). You had to stick all your developed photos into an album and cart it round to your granny’s house.
If you needed to research something, you had to go to the library to look in the encyclopaedia. Those nice people at Britannica used to come knocking at the door, trying to sell 30-volume editions that would fill a room in your house.
But today, my iPhone brings all of that – and much more – to my pocket.
I honestly can’t imagine what things will look like 15 years from now.
But looking back at how far we’ve come in the past decade-and-a-half, I’m excited.
And I’ll be raising a glass in honour of that first HotWired banner next Saturday.
The latest update in the “Shift Happens” / “Did You Know…” series – version 4.0 – was released earlier this week.
Just like the previous versions, it’s full of useful data nuggets, soundbites, trivia, and statistics on the evolution of media and technology:
They’ve even produced a wiki with all their sources.
Many thanks to Tom for the pointer.
Over on his adliterate blog, Richard Huntington shares some great thoughts on the perceived dichotomy of short-term and long-term objectives.
It might be an idea to read the post first in order to get some context for what follows below.
In light of some recent discussions on this theme, it appears that the issue of sales vs. brand is actually getting more complex, even though we’re allocating more resource to addressing it.
In his post, Richard raises an important concern about ‘digital segregation':
“Online brand activity seems far more segregated into ‘like the brand’ and ‘buy from the brand’ than offline, into apps and experiences on the one hand and cheap and cheerful direct response advertising on the other. Fine if these are just tools to compliment other marketing activity, but not much of a future as a stand-alone industry.”
One of the things that attracts marketers to digital communications is the fact that they allow us to perform straightforward cause-and-effect analyses. It’s easy to prove whether specific activities drive sales, and that’s very useful. However, we seem to have become caught up in the reporting, and we’re increasingly focusing on the activities that are easiest to measure. We obsess about measurement, rather than on the outcomes the measurements should assess in the first place.
However, by not measuring the more complex, brand half of the equation, we risk returning to a commoditised approach. We’re placing greater value on linear returns, and as a consequence, each interaction is in danger of becoming a one-off transaction.
Perhaps this imbalance stems from a disproportionate emphasis on short-term results. Our focus on the present quarter means we’re losing sight of longer-term planning and the continued growth and success of the brand. There’s no denying that each quarter’s sales are critical, but to the same point, so are next quarter’s sales, and those 5 years from now.
But this is a classic case of missing the forest for the trees: we don’t need to choose one over the other.
Building brands and driving sales are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they should exist in symbiosis. They’re the yin and yang of brand success; we need to balance both in order to survive.
In that respect, any activity that prioritises one over the other is a sub-optimal compromise.
Some brands have already proven that we can achieve this balance. Ben & Jerry’s have shown that free sampling can be used to build a strong, durable brand at the same time as driving quarterly sales. Their success lies in the fact that everything they do engages people on an emotional level, rather than merely enticing them with free or cheaper product.
Of course, this strategic model requires more up-front thinking, consistency of purpose, and patience, but nothing worthwhile ever came without effort.
Critically, any brand can achieve that same balance.
I recognise that theory will not prove this point effectively, so I’d be more than happy to respond to any specific queries on how it can work for any (your) brand.
Many thanks to Richard for his inspiring post.