01 July 2014

The Great Facebook Bait & Switch

It's no secret that Facebook's organic reach has long been in decline. I recall sitting in a room with a client five years ago selling the channel as a cost-efficient means of talking to your consumers regularly. This was long before EdgeRank when your News Feed was sorted chronologically.

Of course, a great deal has changed since then. What was presumably once 100% organic reach of active users is now down to single digits and continues to fall. The impact of which you can see in this example highlighted by Rhys Hillman.

This is the same piece of content, posted at the same time by Snickers on two different channels.

The Facebook post, distributed to a potential 11 million fans generated only 6,000 engagements. Yet when the same content was published on Twitter to a 99.5% smaller audience, it generated 1050% more interaction.

But, to be fair, the Snickers post on Twitter is an outlier of success. In fact it performed so well, that the number of engagements was actually higher than the brand's total number of followers.

So let's take a look at this more reasonable, less 'viral' post from Bud Light.



Although not as drastic, Twitter once again hugely out performs Facebook. Anecdotally, this is consistent across a number of brands I reviewed, both big and small, as well as international and local.

As this organic reach falls to nearly 0%, we become apparent of Facebook great dirty bait and switch. Facebook have encouraged brands for years to build their community (and invest significantly in media buys for acquisition) under the pretense of being able to engage with them often and for free. But that is no longer the case. And their 'solution' is to invest even further in promoting posts.

At the end of the day, the above examples make it increasingly difficult to justify the significant resource it takes to manage a Facebook community effectively and I wouldn't be surprised if clients start shifting their budgets elsewhere.

04 June 2014

Borrowing the Audiences of Third Parties

Here's something I've been thinking about lately.

We often talk about bought, owned and earned media planning. But there is another category; borrowed.

Borrowing the audience of third parties to drive reach. More and more I'm finding myself thinking about how we can bring in more vested interests who have audiences we can speak to.

Celebrities. Venues. Other brands. Bands. Publishers. Suppliers. Manufacturers. Bloggers.

Increasingly these parties are both building their own communities, and are looking for relevant content.

If you bring them on board, it becomes win/win/win.

At least that's what I'm thinking.

21 April 2014

Networking Is Giving Away More Than Your Business Card

A few weeks ago I gave a talk to some Monash students about how to stand out from the crowd. It was my usual spiel about how I met Russel Howcroft who gave me my first job and from which I learnt the easiest way into the industry is to make something.

Afterward a number of the students asked about the best way to network. But the thing is, I'm not so good at networking in the traditional sense of the word.

As a student I attended similar events to the one I spoke at, and had no idea how to meet industry people and make an impression. The smartest thing I ever did was ask Russel for a photo to put on my blog.

But a few years later, I do have some thoughts. And the best piece of advice I have has nothing to do with 'networking events', but rather a very simple two words:

Give something.

If my advice for getting into the industry is to 'make something', then it seems only fitting my advice for networking is to 'give something'.

Here's an example of something you could give, even as a student (but you don't have to be).

I'm a craft beer fan. I had an idea for an article about Little Creatures changing the recipe of their Bright Ale, and I wanted to write about it. But I didn't have any where to publish it, figuring it probably wasn't of interest to the existing readers of this blog.

So I emailed the editor of Brews News, an Australian website about all things beer. He asked me to write it up and a few days later, he published the article.

This doesn't mean I now have a relationship I could exploit, but it's certainly a contact I've now made which I think falls neatly into the definition of "networking" (plus I have somewhere to occasionally publish my beer ramblings).

Here's another example of giving things away. I recently noticed a number of websites I read didn't have an icon for when their site was bookmarked on iOS. Instead they used the generic versions you can see on right. It's a pretty easy fix, so I sent the website owners an email with instructions on how to do it.

Thus far, the response has been extremely positive.

By giving these two things away, I've introduced myself to interesting people, given them something of value and started a conversation I'm sure I could pick back up if I ever needed to.

Much more interesting, and dare I say effective, than attending a networking event and handing out business cards.

31 March 2014

So It's Called 'Content Marketing'

Two years ago, almost exactly to the day, I wrote a post about making things for your customers.
"Build it and they will come."
"I can't help but think it's a completely underrated and underused digital strategy. This idea of building something rad that's relevant to your target audience and then using them to spread your idea."
It turns that approach now has a name; content marketing. And while it's quickly become 2014's buzzword of choice, I think it's still underrated and underused by clients.

These days I'd approach it pretty differently. More pragmatically. Segment the audience and understand their problems and needs. Then build things to solve those problems. Plan for distribution across bought, owned and earned media. And wrap it up by measuring and learning.

Where I think things become really interesting is when you move beyond 'content' in the traditional sense of the word. Then you start talking about interactivity through things like apps or games. You start thinking about utilities, education tools and even time-killers.

And if it works, then you role it out as a program, not a campaign. Regularly building and distributing highly targeted, highly relevant things that consumers will use.

Or in other words, making cool shit that people play with and share. Much more exciting than a banner ad.

23 February 2014

Better Late Than Never

I have this weird aversion to technology where if I'm late to the party, I'm very hesitant to attend at all.

For example I really missed the boat on Instagram. For a long time I considered signing up, but the fact that I had committed to not doing so meant I held out on not doing so for even longer.

The barrier, for some strange reason, was that signing up to Instagram meant I'd be starting fresh. Despite having hundreds of photos already on my phone I'd want to share from the past few years, there was no way to 'back date' the awesome graffiti I saw in Mexico or the first tomato that grew in our garden.

I have a similar problem with Untappd, an app that allows you to record and discover craft beer. Over the years I've had beers that were limited edition never to be made again, and a few that were so bad I wouldn't be again. Perhaps I'm thinking about this too much, but it's a barrier for me when there's no way for me to go back in time and record those beers.

I'm wondering if I'm not alone. And how technologist should think about those customers who arrive well after the tipping point. For those who missed the boat, how can you make it not only easy for them to board, but to appear as though they've been on board the whole time?

Interestingly I eventually jumped onto Instagram (about two years too late) and am loving it. I've discovered a new means of sharing photos more frequently than what you'd post on Facebook and really enjoying seeing those of my friends.

So I should probably set up that Untappd account too.

12 November 2013

Ideas From 2013 That Didn't Happen

There's a list on my phone called 'Crazy Ideas'. Some of the items are starting to collect dust so it's time I cleaned them out before next year.

But before deleting them, I thought I'd share. Maybe you can do something with them that I couldn't.

So the following is a collection of ideas I had this year that didn't or aren't going to happen. I either didn't know how to start them, discovered they'd already been done or, after further consideration, decided they were shit.

  • An app for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to easily make and change bookings. It would also remind you when you're due to donate again.
  • A website to connect casual investors with wannabe inventors. Think Dragon's Den meets Kickstarter.
  • An 'In Case of Emergency' app that sits on your phone if you're in an accident. Ambulance Officers would have a unique password to access information about who to contact and what you're allergic to.
  • Beerend that works on glass shelf fridges.
  • An app for sharing a single shopping list across multiple users. There's a few already out there but they are expensive and naff.
  • A WordPress plugin to easily create wedding registries where each item is tagged with an affiliate marketing link. This revenue would help pay for the couple's honeymoon.
  • A companion app to allow for asynchronous media consumption discussion.
  • An eBook for university students about how to get a job in digital marketing.
  • An app to make and track casual bets among friends. Most likely called Bets With Friends.
  • Single charge iPhone power packs for festivals and emergency situations.
  • An app to easily block out or censor information on a photo/image before sharing it online. Possibly called Blackout.
There's a few others on the list that I might share another time (hopefully not this time next year) but if you think you can do anything with any of the above, let me know how you go.

10 November 2013

Asynchronous Media Consumption

I'm the sort of person who points out the Wilhelm Scream in a movie. I subscribe to subreddits about television shows and check in on the post-episode discussion weekly. At the end of every movie I'll read its trivia on IMDb or look up what the Internet generally thought of a book I've just finished. And I think there's nothing better than a conversation among friends walking out of a cinema.

In fact, I almost enjoy talking about the media I consume as much as I do consuming it.

But the problem is, increasingly our media consumption is becoming asynchronous. No longer do we all consume the same thing at the same time. Podcasts, catch-up television and torrenting means we not only consume how we want, but when we want.

This creates a problem for my post-media consumption discussion. Individually our media stories progress at different paces and any conversation is quickly stopped by an urgent "NO SPOILERS" demand.

If you wanted to talk about the amazing end of Breaking Bad's Season 4 today, you couldn't do it without reading spoilers from Season 5. And imagine I could see my friend's response to the first book of Game of Thrones as I put the book down, even if we read them five years apart.

I need a utility to engage in conversation in 'unreal' time. Like SoundCloud allows people to comment throughout the song, we need a companion technology to share thoughts over the course of a television series, movie, book, series of albums or just about any media.

I don't know what it looks like but I suspect an iPad app would compliment our existing media consumption, and the need for discussion about it, quite nicely.

26 August 2013

Sweat Everything (Especially The Small Stuff)

Everything you do in digital is a chance to generate a lot of conversation. Positive or negative.

If it's interesting enough, word will spread. People will share it. Reddit will make it big. And four days later the mainstream media might post it as well.

Even the small things can go far. Good or bad.

But I particularly like this App Update description from Commonwealth Bank.

It wasn't briefed into a copywriter. But someone put two seconds into what would otherwise be another update you wouldn't read. And it resulted in a smile. And a few people even shared it.

That's why it's always surprised me that Community Management is generally considered an entry level or junior position in most organisations. If consumers notice and amplify the small stuff, imagine how they'll react to what's said to the community.

Your next Facebook post or online customer service response could be on the front page of Mumbrella. For good or bad reasons. So it might be worth the extra two seconds.

01 July 2013

Ideas Are Cheap. And So Is Making Them Happen.

Ideas are cheap. You've probably heard that before. We all have lots of them, sometimes everyday. That's the easy part. But an idea is nothing without someone to bring it to life. It's the people who can actually make shit happen that are the successful ones.

And in the past, you couldn't blame someone for not making something happen. It can be a pretty big ask, especially if you're making it up as you go.

But these days, it's never been easier to make an idea happen.

  • Alibaba let's you easily source cheap manufacturers overseas.
  • 3D printing means you can prototype for next to nothing.
  • WordPress means you can build a website without needing to know a single piece of code.
  • And tools like PayPal and Shopify do the same for online stores.
  • And if what you need is more complicated, Elance will find you cheap freelancers and Tweaky will make your small problems go away.
  • Pozible and other crowdfunding tools make raising capital easier than ever. And almost risk-free.
  • It's easier to find grants and apply for them (like the Awesome Foundation).
  • Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn connect you with the friends of friends you need (like the time I needed a 3D printer).
  • Social media is a promotion engine and a research one too.
  • If someone is searching for something, you can tell them about your idea insanely efficiently through AdWords.
  • Between YouTube's how-to videos, Wikipedia's knowledge and the rest of the web - no question will go unanswered.
  • No matter what your passion, there's a forum or website dedicated to it full of other like-minded people to talk about it.

Just having good ideas is not enough. It never has been. But now it's easier than ever to make them happen. So get off your arse and move fast and break things.

01 June 2013

Why I Want To Work In The Porn Industry

I was chatting to someone the other day about my job and they asked me who would be my ideal client. Which brand or account would I be most interested in working on?

And after some thought, I decided it would be a porn website.

There's two reasons.

Firstly, porn is, and always has been, a leader of the marketing industry in technology. Their first-to-market innovation is so significant it's often adopted as standard practice.

  • They decided to distribute content through VHS over Betamax, a standard quickly adopted by the rest of the market. 
  • Later they would choose Blu-Ray over HD-DVD, again adopted as standard. 
  • They had mobile optimised websites when we were using WAP to connect to the Internet on our cool flip phones. 
  • They were live streaming video content with interactive forums long before Google Hangouts.

Secondly, a popular website would have crazy amounts of data to use to drive strategy and optimisation. Imagine spending just a day exploring their website analytics.

  • What keywords drive the most traffic? 
  • What categories of content are most popular? 
  • How long does the average person watch a video for? 
  • What's the value of niche (long tail) content (fetish categories perhaps)? 
  • How important is SEO (remembering they can't use any SEM)? 
  • What are the click-through rates like on banners (both their own ads and those they serve on their sites)? 
  • What portion of users convert to monetised models and how it is optimised?

It's an innovative industry with rich data to make decisions with. Could be fun.

Either that or a bank. And that would probably be less gross.
The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. Also ponies are evil.
Pigs Don't Fly © Copyright Zac Martin 2012