Posts Tagged 'digital'

how to make friends and influence people

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!

just did it

You might have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet round here for the past few months.

That’s because I decided to take my own advice.

Around this time last year, I made a commitment that 2010 would be about less talk, more action.

I’ve stuck to that commitment, but after this prolonged silence, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to.

The context

I spent the first few months of 2010 trying to encourage clients to make better use of social channels.

It was a tough challenge; while most of them seemed interested, none of them seemed ready to commit to anything.

Their main fear was that these ‘new channels’ were unproven.

None of them wanted to be the first to take the plunge, so I was caught in a Catch-22: nothing could happen until someone changed the equation.

It soon dawned on me that I would have to be the first to do it – on my own brand, and with my own money.

So, exactly 5 months ago, I put a little experiment into action.

My ‘brand’ was my DJ alter ego, eski, and my simple objective was to share my mixes with as many people as possible.

It’s probably worth noting that, before I started this experiment, fewer than 100 people had ever listened to my mixes online.

That number looks very different today.

The Results

If you’d told me 5 months ago that I would achieve so much in such a short period of time, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

I appreciate the irony of that.

Sure, I was less skeptical than my clients, but I didn’t realise just how powerful social channels could be.

But I now have tangible proof that they really do work – here are today’s ‘stats’ from eski’s facebook page:

Many of those 50,000 have found me thanks to this simple banner:

I’ve also promoted the page by posting on other related pages on Facebook, and through some basic twitter activity.

But aside from the numbers, what has this ‘little experiment’ taught me?

1. Time is your most valuable resource

I always knew time was the biggest ‘cost’ when it came to social media, but I was still surprised just how much time and effort it requires.

Sure, the media costs next to nothing, but the content needs significant commitment and dedication, and the surrounding conversations need constant fuel, even when the audience is passionate about the subject.

I spend an average of 10 hours a week creating content, and then another 15-20 hours interacting with people.

That’s the same number of hours as a full-time job.

2. Content is everything

People usually only do things when they see a personal benefit – even if that benefit is simply feeling good about themselves.

Again, no surprises there, but this experiment has shown me just how fickle audiences can be.

The only reason people ‘Like’ eski, and keep coming back to the page, is that they like the music.

If I don’t publish content for more than a few days, return visits drop very quickly.

3. Targeting is saving

The difference in cost-per-conversion between my targeted and un-targeted ads is about 5,000%.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

If hadn’t targeted my ads so carefully, I would have needed to invest more than $50,000 to achieve the same results.

Needless to say, I spent an awful lot less.

There’s no easy answer on how to do this – you’ve just got to spend time understanding your audience, what they like, and what they want.

But then, that’s true of any channel.

4. Just do it

It goes without saying that proof is considerably more persuasive than strategy and theory.

So, if you really believe something works, find a ‘brand’ of your own to prove it on.

And if you don’t have anything suitable to try your ideas on yet, create something!

If you think laterally about what you enjoy, you’ll probably find something relevant – a ‘DJ’ might not be the most obvious choice when thinking of brands, but ultimately it’s still the same thing.

You might do it with your own photography, cake decoration, or anything else – the trick is to choose something you care about.

The reason why doing it for yourself (i.e. your brand, your money) is so important is that your level of involvement changes everything.

I quickly realised just how much emotional involvement impacted my judgment; it coloured my decisions, and it brought totally new perspectives to my ‘marketing’ activities – especially when it came to how to spend my money.

But, as a result, I understand the whole process so much more clearly.

Now, I have a solid case study that shows how to grow something from nothing, but I can also talk objectively about the experience from both sides (i.e. client and advertiser).

I know what it feels like to take those first hesitant steps.

I know what the first tastes of success feel like.

I know what it’s like when you get things wrong.

I know how it feels when someone criticises you or your brand on your own page.

But most importantly, I’ve had lots of experience dealing with it all.

And that’s worth way more than any number of theory charts.

5. Stay true to your purpose

One of the starkest discoveries has been that numbers can be distracting and addictive.

Seeing a fan base grow every day can easily become an aim in itself.

But an overemphasis on numbers quickly destroys what you set out to do in the first place; growth for its own sake has no benefit, and will eventually destroy your soul (more on that here)

I started this experiment to learn how to use social media to build a brand, and that will remain the objective.

The fact that it’s been so successful simply means that I can now start experimenting in different ways.

6. Rinse and repeat

Like many other people I’ve talked to who’ve done something similar, I only wish I’d started sooner.

In fact, I’ve enjoyed building the eski page so much that I’ve already set up another 2 pages of my own (more about them another time), and I’ve also joined teams on 5 other related pages.

So, in the process, I’ve succeeded in another of my resolutions for 2010 as well (from here):

How about play rises instead of pay rises? More time to do the things that feed your souls, not just your bank balances (think Google’s 20%).

7. Never stop learning

Although I’m amazed at what has happened over the past 5 months, this is still just the start of the journey.

I’ve barely begun to optimise my activities, and I’ve only explored a fraction of the tools available to make things more interesting.

So, I’ve set an even more challenging objective for 2011.

But that story will have to wait until the next big milestone…

In the meantime, I hope you have a great festive period, and I wish you all the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2011.

150 not out

Innocent Drinks – those masters of simple marketing – have just released a lovely new piece of activity:

“Hello… My name is Alex Horne and I’m trying to set a World Record to one day be the oldest man in the world. I have been attempting this death-defying feat non-stop for the last 31 years and 7 months and although I’m now getting tired, I am still confident that I can keep going.

So please get behind me, wish me luck and warn me of any imminent dangers. Keep checking this site for regular blog, video and twitter updates and watch me avoid the reaper for another century at least.”

Alex’s video tells more of the story:

Equally mad are his 10 reasons why he believes he’ll succeed in living to be the world’s oldest man:

The whole thing is totally daft, but (I think) that’s pretty much the point.

Overall, it’s a great fit with Innocent’s brand personality, but it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to sell me anything.

Obviously the concept of living to be the world’s oldest person fits well with a brand that promotes a healthy lifestyle, but there’s no overt mention of any Innocent products (at least for now).

Other great elements of this initiative include Alex’s blog:

His twitter page:

And the selection of random bits on the website:

Including this great little competition:

They’re supporting it on their wonderful Facebook page too:

Overall, a lovely bit of fun that successfully deepens my relationship with the brand.

I look forward to seeing how this one evolves.

See for yourselves at Long Live Alex.

like for like

As many of you will already know, Facebook recently moved from “Becoming a Fan” of a brand to simply “Liking” it.

The change is now live on the site, and I’m already noticing some brands taking advantage of the shift.

One example that stood out is this sneaky little advert from Heineken:

I like the creative aspect – what’s not to like about a brand cheering me up on a Monday?

But here’s where the clever bit comes in.

The button at the bottom of the ad – the option to “Like” – appears to be set up like the normal “Like” button that appears below friends’ status updates and photos.

However, click on this particular “Like” button, and you’ll become a ‘fan’ of Heineken.

That means the brand’s status updates and other activity will show up in your News Feed until you choose to ‘unfan’ them.

From a certain perspective, this seems quite a clever use of the feature, but from another point of view, it seems dangerously close to spam.

What do you think?

The image at the top borrows shamelessly from this rather intriguing Facebook page. If it’s yours and you’d prefer me not to use it, please just drop me a note and I’ll take it down.

the fifth dimension

Various forms of technology that once existed solely on the desktop are becoming increasingly interwoven into the broader spectrum of everyday activities.

They bring extra layers of detail, interaction, or entertainment to analogue experiences, allowing technology to come to us, instead of the other way round.

For example, Google Maps mashups and Layar add a richness of detail to physical locations.

Meanwhile, apps like foursquare and Gowalla are taking social network into real-world interactions.

But the possibilities of augmented reality (AR) are the ones I find most exciting.

If we look beyond the novelty that characterised much early AR, and explore instead the ways in which normal, everyday objects can become interfaces that trigger a ‘fifth dimension’ of reality, things get very interesting.

Suddenly, everything can become so much more than it already is.

This has massive potential for every brand in every category around the world – from the simplest to the most complex.

Ever the pioneer, Adidas has been exploring what that might mean for its shoes.

Not content to limit itself to producing hugely popular fashion items, the brand has recognised that its products can deliver even more value through this fifth dimension:

Watch out for an explosion of activity like this from other brands in the coming months.

Many thanks again to Alexander and the whole Cultural Fuel team for sharing yet another gem.

looking back


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.

Faris has a fantastic review of the film and lots of background over on TIGS – I highly recommend taking a look. You can watch the film there too.

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:

AT&T banner

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.

We had a VHS player connected to an enormous box of a CRT TV that dominated one whole corner of the living room. We only had 4 free-to-air TV channels.

Most people didn’t own computers, and many of those who did had black-and-white monitors (although our home computer was an awesome Apple Mac Classic).

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.

As Iain pointed out recently, the world today is amazing

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.

counting sheep puts people to sleep

counting sheep

To everyone obsessing about how to increase page views, followers, or ‘friends’ on social networking sites,  here’s a simple word of advice:


Forget keeping score: it doesn’t matter.

Reach doesn’t equate to engagement, and people are only ‘friends’ if you interact with them on a regular basis.

Let’s focus on what really matters.

Over to Seth

Many thanks to Niall over at Simply Zesty for sharing this video
UPDATE: seems a few people have run similar stories in the past day or so too – this post from All Facebook is one of the best examples

shift keeps on happening

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.

new media


The ‘media landscape’ has changed significantly in the past ten years. 

Digital, mobile, social networking… every year seems to bring its own ‘new media’.

It’s all very exciting.

However, despite their excitement, many marketers still have a very limited concept of ‘media’.

I’ve mentioned before that I believe advertising is

the process of sharing the right things with the right people in the right places at the right times.

This has significant implications for ‘media’.

On the one hand, it necessitates a more tailored approach to establishing audience connections.

The conventional model focuses on reaching an audience, but what does that matter? As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water… we need to ensure that the horse drinks as well.

This means being much more specific when it comes to identifying where and when we can engage people with what the brand wants to share.

It’s about relevance and resonance, not reach and frequency.

On the other hand, we need to be a lot more open-minded when it comes to defining ‘media’.

Why limit ourselves to the conventional choices?

There is nothing* a brand cannot use to communicate.

Our imperative is to identify the best opportunities for sharing things in the most efficient and effective manner.

To do this, we need to plan around people’s whole lives, not just around paid media and their associated ratings.

More on that here.

Really, nothing. If you’re doubtful, give me an example of something you think couldn’t be used as ‘media’, and I’ll try to think of a way it could be used.

the symbiosis of brand and sales

short-term vs long-term

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.

Share your challenge via the comments section below, or via twitter: @eskimon.

Many thanks to Richard for his inspiring post.


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