Posts Tagged 'context'

social media – global vs. local: can one size fit all?

This was my presentation yesterday at the Social Media World Forum in Singapore.

Despite research that ‘proves’ “local pages perform much better than global ones”, the reality is that the performance of any social media presence depends entirely on what you are trying to achieve.

There’s also the critical issue of whether you can afford to set up presences in each of your brand’s locations.

My advice is always to do what’s best for your audience, in the context of your brand and its objectives.

Doing so requires a solid understanding of what that audience uses social media for, what they hope to gain from a relationship with your brand, and how they’d like to get it.

That requires some careful strategic planning.

This presentation asks many of the important questions that will help you start that strategy, and offers some examples of different approaches to implementing it too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

facebook place polls

I spotted this interesting little section on Facebook today:

They’re both Places that I’ve previously checked into, so it’s likely I’d have an opinion on the question.

I’m interested to see what Facebook are going to do with this – will they start to publish rankings of the most popular places by city?

Or will they perhaps start to recommend places based on my network’s favourite places?

Whatever the plan, it looks like it has plenty of social potential.

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.

chinese whispers

Many of the things I learned as an interpreter are equally useful in advertising.

One such lesson is the importance of ‘back translation’ – a validation test where someone else translates your translation back into the original language.

This re-translation is the true measure of success, because it shows how well the intended message has survived communication.

Here’s an example:

Original English:

Some Japanese women believe that fairness
is more important than intelligence.

Italian translation:

Alcune donne giapponesi credono che la pelle chiara
sia più importante dell’intelligenza.

The ‘back translation’ – converting that Italian translation back into English:

Some Japanese women believe that pale skin
is more important than intelligence.

However, in the original, “fairness” refers to being evenhanded, not to skin pigmentation.

Looking back at that original, it’s easy to see how this misunderstanding occurred.

But if you only saw the Italian translation, you wouldn’t have the benefit of that context.

You’d only see this contentious statement, which could easily cause offense.

And therein lies the lesson: when it comes to communication, subtle nuances can have a significant impact.

Brand interpreters

Advertisers must navigate such nuances every day, because audiences only see translations.

They never see the beautifully crafted PowerPoint slides.

They never hear the eloquent strategic rationale.

They only ever see the ads.

And if they can’t translate the messages in those ads back to what we intended to share, we’ve failed.

So how do we mitigate the dangers of nuance?

From lesson to learning

During a particularly tough back-translation test, a colleague shared some invaluable advice:

It’s amazing how such a simple change can make a world of difference.

rethinking success

Happy New Year!

Did you start 2010 with a fresh set of objectives?

Grow profits; drive revenues; increase the margin.

Do you have any objectives that aren’t about making more money than you made in 2009?

Defining success

When it comes to measuring success, we often make comparisons to the past.

Companies look at how profits changed relative to previous periods.

Individuals might compare their earnings to previous roles.

Even charities look at the changes in donations received.

By most definitions, we haven’t succeeded unless we’ve grown, and in business, this invariably relates to financial growth.

Indeed, financial growth is often a business’s primary objective, to the extent that any gains are reinvested to generate yet more growth in the next period.

But why are we so obsessed with growth?

Growth vs. greed

In nature, the drive to grow is instinctive: we need to reach a certain size to survive and procreate.

However, unrestrained growth brings dangerous consequences: excess leads to obesity, slowing us down and compromising our health.

In the good times, this doesn’t matter too much, because there’s enough to go round.

But, eventually, excess becomes unsustainable: over-consumption results in scarcity of resources and intense competition.

When this happens, the obese are most at risk: their size makes it harder for them to secure food and escape predators.

They face a stark choice: redress the balance, or die.

Survival of the fittest

This pattern is obvious in nature, but we often miss the parallel in business.

However, just like animals, brands can’t continue to grow indefinitely: eventually, they either reach a healthy equilibrium, or they exhaust all the available resources and die.

Faced with that choice, the decision seems simple.

Sometimes, though, scarcity occurs quite suddenly.

Just a few years ago, newspapers were enjoying those ‘good times’.

Then, out of nowhere, a fitter species appeared and gobbled up all their resources.

Sadly, the newspapers were too obese – too complacent, too cumbersome, too bloated – to react in time.

Now they’re starving, on the brink of extinction.

Their demise holds a lesson for us all.

Fit for purpose

The trick to avoiding newspapers’ fate is stay fit and healthy.

One way to do this is to avoid excessive growth.

So, if your objectives for year ahead are based purely on growth, challenge them.

What’s all that growth for?

And what will you do when you achieve it?

All too often, the euphoria of achieving a growth goal quickly gives way to a desire to outdo yourself again.

It becomes a never-ending cycle; increasing the number becomes the only thing that matters.

But there’s got to be more to life than numbers.

We need to remember the real benefits that growth was supposed to bring.

What would success look like if you couldn’t grow anymore?

Better, not bigger

Most New Year’s resolutions relate to health and fitness.

Perhaps it’s time we set similar business resolutions too.

I’d like to start the year with a challenge:

Why not set one objective for 2010 that has nothing to do with financial growth?

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%).

Perhaps you could initiate pro bono work for issues you really care about? Rather than waiting for someone to ask you, just get on and do it.

Or, why not take on an intern and actually help them to learn useful skills? With a bit of guidance, enthusiastic graduates can do much more than just make coffee and photocopies, and you’ll feel rewarded too.

Whatever you decide, one thing will make achieving your goal easier:

Stop measuring your success by comparing yourself to others.

Innovate, don’t imitate.

It’s much easier to succeed when you write your own rules.

Good luck, and best wishes for a happy and fulfilling 2010!

good vs evil

Most people believe that good will triumph over evil.

This optimism is a core tenet of humanity.

Indeed, it’s so ingrained that we often assume that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ will be easy to tell apart – like night and day.

Sometimes this is the case; some crimes can never be justified, while some acts are universally welcomed.

However, much of our world view dictates ‘good’ from ‘evil’ on a purely subjective basis.

For example, religion will likely always remain a matter of individual opinion.

The same is true of culture.

There’s little doubt that globalisation has led to a degree of homogenisation of attitudes and behaviour, and we’ve lost much cultural variety along the way.

But this is nothing new; the Greeks and the Romans are perfect evidence that even the strongest and most influential ‘civilisations’ rise and fall.

This is because culture and ideas are subject to the same principles of evolution as biological species: only the fittest survive.

And as with biology, the key to continued survival is genetic diversity.

This means we must draw from as many influences as possible, but at the same time, ensure that we do not distill everything into a single, homogeneous result.

I was reminded of this while watching a fantastic TED talk from Dan Dennett (below).

He approaches the topic of cultural propagation from a philosophical angle, but there’s a clear relevance to advertising and planning in there too.

For me, the abiding lesson is that our individual cutural and moral perspectives are never ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

They’re simply subjective perspectives.