Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Twitter

How I Did With My 2017 Predictions

Snapchat Stock

We’re in the home stretch of 2017. I don’t foresee anything dramatic happening between now and the 31st that would impact the assessment of my 2017 predictions. I’m using the same rules as I always do. Each prediction will be evaluated critically. An accurate prediction will garner 1 point. A miss, earns a fat 0. I try to avoid the middle, but if a situation should arise where a prediction could be considered accurate by some, it will generate 1/2 a point.

For a recap of my 2016 predictions, click here. The headline for 2016 was 8.5/15 or 56.7%. This was even worse than, my 2015 predictions where I scored a 6.5/10. I’ve been trending downward since the high of my 2012 predictions where 90% were right. The 2014 predictions had an 80% success rate, but that was better than my 2013 predictions, which scored 60%.

So, let’s get on with it! The original prediction from 2017 is listed first and in bold font. The analysis follows.

  1. “Voice” will be the new battleground and by the end of the year, we will see Amazon, via Alexa as the clear cut #1, in the category. As part of this, Apple will release a Siri home product, but it will not succeed in besting Amazon or Google. Ding, ding, ding! In June, Apple announced the HomePod. Originally scheduled to launch in 2017, it’s now been delayed til 2018. Apple has a long way to go to catch up with Amazon.
  2. The prevailing theory is that the iPhone 8 will be a revolutionary step forward for phones in the way the original iPhone was. It won’t be, as measured through new hardware and software features. Despite that, the iPhone 8 will outpace iPhone 7 sales, globally. This is the classic case of earning 1/2 a point. The iPhone 8 was not a revolutionary step forward, but it has not outpaced iPhone 7 sales. However, this comes with the caveat that I, nor did anyone else see the iPhone X coming.
  3. In a similar way to how vinyl is propping up music sales, we will see a renaissance in real books. Yes, books, the kind with actual paper, will see growth. Since this is supposed to be the “clear cut” section, I believe as a %, books will outpace the sales growth of digital/ebooks. This definitely happened. Per CNN, “The same trend is on display in the U.S., where e-book sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.”
  4. The term “predictive analytics” will displace “big data” as the buzzword du jour for marketers. This will happen as companies realize they already have lots of data, but they need to start using it in a way that isn’t about looking back. We will measure this with Google Trends. This did not happen, was not even close. Epic fail. I actually do think this is happening at organizations, but it hasn’t become mainstream enough for Google Trends to pick up on it.
  5. The Verizon-Yahoo merger will continue as planned. It will be the 1st of 3 large such mergers that will be announced or close in 2017. Consolidation is the only path forward, when 99% of the digital ad growth is split between Facebook and Google. This happened. Verizon and Yahoo! became Oath. What were the other 2? Well the AT&T – Time Warner merger was announced, but hasn’t closed. The other? Well, that’s the hotly debated Sinclair – Tribune merger.
  6. We will see a significant decrease in social media sharing, but not necessarily usage. There will be more consuming of “content” than there will be in sharing that content. This drop in sharing will be fueled by 3 reasons. First, with the continued rise of “gotcha journalism” and social justice warriors, people will think before they tweet, so to speak. The fear of retribution for posting something, initially thought of as innocuous, will decrease the willingness to share. Second, the rise in the combination of “paywall” type approaches to content with “fake news” will make people less inclined to want to share. Third and last, as Facebook and others become more and more of media/content creators, the walled garden approach to building networks will stunt cross platform and network sharing. 20%!!!! That’s how much sharing is down on Facebook. Dang! Yeah, I nailed this one.
  7. Facebook will see the wrath of the new administration. In a similar way to how Microsoft was seen as monopolistic and anti-competitive, Facebook will be targeted for the same reason, in addition to being targeted for their perceived control over how what media is consumed. The attempts by Facebook to curb “fake news” will backfire. Fiscally it was a good year for Facebook. But, reputation-wise, it was not a good year. My prediction accurately forecasted that Facebook would be targeted by the administration and the attempts to fix fake news, did not work.
  8. In 2016 we saw a handful “startups” get acquired by the legacy companies they compete against. For example, Dollar Shave Club’s purchase to Unilever and Jet.com’s purchase to Walmart. In 2017 we are not only going to see more of this, but we’re going to see it happen in unique and unexpected ways. For example Whole Foods acquiring Instacart or Target purchasing Refinery29. So, yeah, this happened A LOT this year. Take your pick. We have Amazon buying Whole Foods. Then we have Ikea buying TaskRabbit. I still expect Instacart to be purchased by a retailer at some point.
  9. Twitter will sell to an unlikely buyer. For example, Bezos (not Amazon) will buy it and then bolt it on to WaPo. Another unlikely buyer would be someone like Microsoft, who would then integrate it into things like LinkedIn and Yammer! An example of a likely buyer would be Google. Fail. Total swing and miss.
  10. I’m bringing forward a prediction from 2016. I think I was spot on, but a year early. Snapchat will IPO, but the IPO will flop. Did I say flop? I should have said crashed and burned. The IPO started at $17 and then rose to $24. It sits below $15 now and the future does not look bright at all.

So, how did I do? 7.5 out of 10. I missed on Twitter selling, predictive analytics over taking big data and the while the iPhone 8 was in fact not revolutionary, it did not outpace iPhone 7 sales. If we go back to 2012, my 5 year total to 71% (42.5/60). This was a good rebound year. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on my 2018 predictions. There’s going to be a lot chew on for next year.

How Am I Doing With My 2016 Predictions?

With a 1/3 of the year gone, I thought it would be a good time to see how my 2016 predictions are looking. There’s been a lot of activity already. So much so, that I might need to add new predictions into the mix. The full list of predictions is available in the link above. I’m only going to focus on those that are heating up.

3. Marissa Mayer, will choose to pursue other opportunities and the board will thank her for her efforts and service. – Looking good so far, with activist investors looking to replace the entire board, sell Yahoo! and fire Ms. Mayer. The irony of course, if this were to happen, is that, it was activist investor Daniel Loeb who paved the way for Marissa to be hired. She joins a long list of ex-googlers who, while brilliant, couldn’t lead people.

4. There will be a major hack of either “connected” cars or the connected home. You will see a major exploit of something like HomeKit, Weave or BMW’s connected service. – No mass hacking…yet. But, every day, we see how vulnerable cars really are.

12. Twitter will rebound and regain 25% – 30% of its previous stock, high point of $69. – Well, we’re not off to a great start. To get to 30% of the original $69 high, we need twitter, to be above $20 a share. Currently, it’s at $15…and, it doesn’t look good.

13. Cell phones will reverse trend and get smaller, not bigger. – Well, hello, Apple iPhone SE

Not a bad first quarter. Where’s my drone delivery, Snapchat IPO and foursquare purchase?

Don’t Make Your Strategy Platform Dependent

Two things, this past week, caught my eye. The first, was a great article from The Economist, titled, “The message is the medium.” Take the time to read the article, in its entirety. It’s definitely worth your time. But, since we all now, everyone seems to be TL;DR, these days, this is the one graphic you need to remember:

Texting Is Dying

After years of hockey stick-like growth, we’re seeing SMS, flattening, and ultimately, declining. This doesn’t mean that messaging is declining. WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger…and yes, even snapchat, are exploding in growth and eating SMS for breakfast.

The 2nd thing that caught my eye was this article from AdWeek, that outlined YouTube “star”, Michelle Phan’s plans to launch her own content/influencer network, called Icon. Michelle’s growth came from YouTube. Without YouTube, you could very well argue, many of us wouldn’t even know who Michelle Phan, was. But, to be loyal, in this space, is to miss out…or, as Michelle, stated:

“I’m platform agnostic,” Phan said. “I’ve been platform agnostic ever since I went online. I’m not saying I’m jumping ship (from YouTube). Platforms—they come and go, but storytelling is forever.”

Well, first, she states the obvious, that she’s not leaving YouTube. Difficult to leave the golden goose, eh? But, what’s really important is what she says about platforms. Platforms, indeed come and go. 20 years ago, it was AOL. 15 years ago, you had things like GeoCities. Nearly 10 years ago, Newscorp, purchased MySpace for $580M…only to be sold 5 years later for…$35M.

Strategies can’t be platform dependent. Building your strategy on top of a platform is like building a house on quicksand. It just doesn’t work. Don’t take my word for it, ask Zynga or DataSift. This isn’t to say that a platform shouldn’t be part of your strategy. For example, your consumer connection strategy, might indicate a need to understand, “Hopes, Wishes and Dreams.” That might mean, Pinterest, is a critical part of bringing that strategy to fruition. But, while you’re riding the Pinterest wave, you need to be keeping an eye out for the next wave, and more importantly, the right moment to move on to the next wave.

As exciting and initially lucrative as it can be to invest in a specific platform, your strategy, needs to take into account an understanding of your business, your customer and the macro-level environment. As, Brodie, told Rene in Mallrats, “Breakfasts come and go, Rene, but Hartford, “the Whale,” they only beat Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime.” Today, platforms, come and go. And instead of Hartford (the underdog) succeeding only once, maybe twice in a lifetime, it’s more likely that the underdog, we weren’t paying attention to, becomes the leader. Platforms are quicksand. Be careful where you step.

Friday Five – August 29, 2014

Want to See Aziz Ansari’s Next Stand-Up Show? Check Twitter, Then Give Him Your Phone Number.
Talk about a heck of a promotion and a great use of twitter to build personal relationships and tap in to your most rabid fans. “Here’s how it works: Ansari sends out a message from his Twitter account, telling fans who live in Chicago to head to his site, where they enter their cellphone numbers, which enters them into a lottery for tickets — all without knowing where the show will be. When Ansari did this in San Francisco, he got 35,000 signups in three days.”

A closer look at the #Emmys
Social and TV, go together like beer and brats, BBQ and bourbon, and of course happy and healthy. The twitter insights team composed a detailed breakdown of how viewers tweeted, during the Emmy’s. “There were 1.1 million Tweets about the show (+-3 hours) during the live telecast (8-11 p.m. ET) according to Nielsen.” Not too shabby, eh?

Newcastle Asks Fans For Photos, Which It’ll Convert (Very Badly) Into Ads
Must have beer on the mind…I know, it’s the 2nd beer themed content for this week’s Friday Five, but it comes from Heineken’s competitor: Newcastle. They’re asking fans of Newcastle to submit photos, which Newcastle will turn into ads to promote their beer. This is crowdsourcing at its finest. It’s a simple and cost effective way to scale content, while making the customer part of the brand experience.

If a Self-Driving Car Gets in an Accident, Who—or What—Is Liable?
Bonus time!!! Yes, this week you get 6 in Friday Five. This is just such a cool and interesting article. As the ideas of self-driving vehicles starts to become a reality for consumers, who’s to blame when an accident happens? The answer might surprise you!

E-Commerce Is Not Eating Retail
This article will make you feel great about the direction we’re taking. It’s not about Ecommerce vs retail; it’s all about serving the needs of the Omnichannel customer. Think “and”, not “or”, when it comes to commerce.

Friday Five – July 18, 2014

Google contact lenses: Tech giant licenses smart contact lens technology to help diabetics and glasses wearers
Talk about the internet of things, being something more than just a scale that can tweet your weight. Google and Novartis are partnering up to create contact lenses that among other things, could measure a wearer’s vitals and eliminate the need for painful blood tests.

How The World Cup Played Out On Facebook Versus Twitter
Good insight. I won’t bury the lead, “Twitter is where people go to talk about surprising, unexpected events as they’re unfolding. Facebook is where people go to record their feelings about big, shared milestones somewhat after the fact. The World Cup told us what we already know.” definitely worth reading and for a more in-depth analysis check out twitter’s publicly released info about the activity surrounding the World Cup http://bit.ly/1zMVxCM

People remember ads more when they binge on TV shows
“A binge watching audience is different than the traditional one because binge viewers are more invested in the content on the screen, and that includes the ads, said Pamela Marsh, director of primary research and insights for Annalect, which conducted the study.” While this is great for advertisers, it could be bad for people in general. A recent study indicates that binge watching TV kills us faster http://nbcnews.to/1zMVPtc

Publishers have an updated evergreen strategy: Make the old new again
Publishers are starting to realize that “news” and “content” doesn’t have to be new to perform really well. Content from a few months to a few years back can be just as engaging, if not more, than content that’s new and fresh. This really isn’t too crazy when you consider the great images that are shared by people, across social networks, on every Thursday (aka Throwback Thursday). As Don Draper once remarked, nostalgia is potent.

An Actually Useful Version of Yo Is Warning Israelis of Rocket Strikes
Have you heard of “Yo!” – it’s a messaging app that lets you say “Yo!” to all your friends. Yes, I’m serious. Stop shaking your head. It’s real. There’s no shortage of jokes about the app. As ridiculous as the concept seems, Yo! Is now serving a higher purpose. “Yo users can now follow “RedAlertIsrael” to get a “Yo” at the same time that the sirens go off. The user typically receives a warning via smartphone 15 to 90 seconds before a rocket hits.” Impressive and innovative.

Friday Five – March 14, 2014

The mobile single-purpose app strategy
Probably one of the best reads I’ve come across in a while. 1 app to rule them all is a concept that can’t sustain and it doesn’t drive growth fast enough. You can see this play out in Facebook’s app strategy. By having multiple apps, they’re able to learn faster, introduce features and then improve the main Facebook app quicker. Google has a similar approach. Amazon, ditto. If you’re thinking about your mobile app strategy and you’re not considering having multiple apps, you might want to rethink your approach.

Soft Skills Are Hard to Assess. And Even Harder to Succeed Without.
Great post. Assessing the soft skills and seeing their value is one of the critical elements that separates good managers from great managers. When you go beyond the things that are highly quantifiable, things get tougher. But, having the “soft skills” is what makes for high potential employees.

Office Depot Puts Customer Experience at the Center of Its Marketing
Refreshing insights directly from a company about how their changing based on consumers needs. The whole post is solid, but this last line is tremendous: “But most of all, Office Depot considers its experience from the individual customer’s point of view. “We treat different customers differently,” he said. “All marketers need to think about customers not as an ID number, but as individuals.””

Twitter Data Shows When We’re Happy, Sad, Hungover
On the one end of the spectrum, this is just cool and yet another example of how much fun data can be. On the other end of the of spectrum, if a brand was pulling the same data and analyzing it similarly, they might change the communication strategy based on the data. For example, if there’s a clear time period when people are hungry and you’re a snack brand, you have a match made in heaven. A tweet is not an insight. Many tweets can be.

Mondelez Inks 52-Country Ad Deal With Facebook
Bonin Bough continues his PR onslaught. I actually think, Mondelez has cloned Bonin so that he could attend all the events he speaks at. Following on the heels of their global partnership with twitter, Mondelez inked another deal with Facebook. One thing you have to admire about Mondelez and Bonin is that when they say they’re going to do something, they actually do it. They’re committed to digital and it shows in everything they do.

The 15% Rule Has No Place In Today’s Digital World

Read “Where The Suckers Moon.” Seriously. Before you continue with this post, go to Amazon, add it your cart and check out. Get the Kindle version and the softcover version. Why? Simple; it’s the greatest book ever written about the advertising industry. That’s broad. For the purposes of this post, Randall Rothenberg in a few hundred pages, gives all the background you could ever want or need, to help understand why the 15% model was created and why it’s been so challenging to move off of that outdated model.

In the earliest days of advertising, an agency took a straight commission off of placing and buying media. That commission eventually settled around 15%. There were companies still using this model 10 years ago. Old habits die hard. That 15% commission became a defacto standard for how much an agency should be compensated relative to the media spend. If you spend $10M in media, you shouldn’t spend more than $1.5M to produce the creative needed to satisfy that media buy. Depending on who you talk to or what association you belong to, that 15% is as low as 10% for some categories or as high as 20% in others. But, the general average is STILL 15%.

The model was simple. It was clean. It enabled planning to be easier and faster, because everyone knew the compensation model. It was also a model that was born when we were only planning against a limited number of communication channels: TV (3 channels at most), print, radio and outdoor.

The model worked well for legacy media channels, because the distribution was expensive, but production was relatively cheap. Let’s take a real world example: the cost to create a commercial is roughly 600K. The media cost for a 30-second Super Bowl spot is roughly $4M. This places the ratio of agency spend to create the ad, right at 15%, which is right in line with historical averages used for the last 50 years. It’s also quite consistent with reports from major industry associations and reports.

Today, where we have such high media fragmentation this model falls apart. Marketing in a digital world, requires a completely different set of models and requires us to rethink how we’re spending our money. With digital, distribution is relatively cheap. It’s the creative that’s expensive. Those who understand and embrace this have settled between 30% and 40% for the dollars needed to support a digital driven campaign. It makes sense. The rough cost to create the famous Oreo Super Bowl tweet was $2,000. That figure is based on the 15 minutes it took to create and publish the image, multiplied by the list of people who were attached to the Cannes submission for the ad, multiplied by a simple conservative blended rate of $200/hour.

Before we continue, let me clear, I’m not suggesting that Oreo actually paid 360i $2,000 for that tweet. I’m sure the cost to create that tweet, from an already once used image, was accounted for as part of a broader client/agency fee agreement. The $2,000 is a real number however. It’s the real dollars needed to create that tweet as a one-off piece of creative…just like the $600K is the relative cost to create a one-off Super Bowl commercial.

With that said, think about that…$2,000 for 1 tweet. What if you need 8 great tweets a day, every day for a year? Well then you’d be spending $4.38M in just twitter creative. Even with a volume discount of 50%, you’re talking $2.19M per year. AND, that’s just twitter? We know the digital patch quilt world we operate in is much larger than just twitter. We need creative and content for Facebook, Pinterest, your emails, Instagram, your website, Tumblr and so on.

But, for the sake of simplification, let’s just focus on twitter. And more specifically, let’s just focus on a 1 day twitter campaign. The most recent publicly documented cost for a promoted trend is $200K. A promoted trend can generate upwards of 90M impressions as seen my Coca-Cola, more is more generally in the 30M impression range. Let’s split the difference at 50M impressions for an average trend campaign.

Creative wear-out is a reality. If you show someone the same ad enough times they either take action or start tuning it out. With digital display, the rule of thumb is you need 1 creative unit per every 1.5M – 3M impressions. The variance is tied directly to the reach/frequency model you need for your category (eg auto vs. CPG). Twitter, of course, isn’t display. We check twitter several times a day. If anything you’d need more messages/creative units because the wear out would happen faster. That said, since there’s no publicly available data to substantiate that, we’ll roll with the following campaign specifics:

  • 1 Promoted Trend Campaign
  • $200,000 for the cost of the trend campaign
  • The campaign would yield 50M impressions with creative wear-out happening at 1.5M impressions
  • The cost to create an award winning tweet is $2,000

So with the above, we would need 33 creative units/messages at a cost of $2,000 per piece of creative for a total cost of $66,000. At that cost and the cost of the promoted trend, we’ve clearly exceeded the 15% “rule.” We’re at 33% (I did the math for you). If we get our bulk discount of 50%, we’re at 16.5%. Based on my experience, when you consider the cost of the account coordinator to open the job # to the Chief Creative Officer to sign off on the job, the cost is going to be more than $750.

Keep in mind, our example is limited to twitter. We haven’t even started looking at the costs to then produce creative unique to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other large social platforms, across the very fragmented digital landscape.

Screens are getting smaller and more varied.  The number of “media” channels consumers are flocking to is exponentially increasing. Consider that Vine, Jelly, SnapChat, Medium and so many others didn’t even exist a year ago. We’re adding more and more places to visit every day…yet the time we’re spending at those places is becoming more and more fleeting. To me, this means we, as marketers, get even less time to make an impact with our consumers. And that’s why you need award winning level creative every single time. You can’t deliver C-level creative experiences. They all need to be A-level. Creating A-level creative, means making your creative unique to each publisher, placement, consumer segment and person.

For years, traditional marketers have taken issue with a “shotgun” approach to marketing. The argument is that it’s too broad and not focused. Some I’ve worked with, favor a “champagne pyramid” approach to marketing, where you fill up the top glass (usually TV) and only delve into another marketing channel, after the first glass is full. This trickle down approach to marketing spend simply isn’t consistent with today’s digital world; it’s antiquated, but easy to manage.

Is it any wonder that people who cling to a champagne pyramid approach to marketing, still cling to the 15% rule; something created over 50 years ago?

I can’t tell you if the right percentage is 20%, 30%, 50%. But, I can tell you the 15% rule has no place in today’s digital world.

Now, go buy Where The Suckers Moon…now!

Friday Five – December 27, 2013

Big Data and the Role of Intuition
Harvard Business Review is always a mixed bag for me. Often the content is basic/fundamental, masquerading as brilliant. But, every once in a while you get something like this gem on the need to remember that algorithms, platforms and machines can only get you so far. You can’t set them to auto-pilot and think the work is done. As a marketer you have a big role to play, when it comes to making sense of what all that big data actually means. Sometimes, your gut, is pretty smart.

Buzzfeed’s coverage of Justine Sacco story: An ethical issue?
Because we’re dealing with the righteous web, let me get out a quick disclaimer. What Justine Sacco tweeted was dumb. It was wrong. It should never have been said or thought. It also pales in comparison to what’s said on Southpark, Family Guy and Tosh.O. I’ve seen a lot of coverage about the Justine Sacco situation. Some of it good. Some of it bad. I came across this article from Arik Hanson and it was decidedly different. It doesn’t analyze Justine, her tweet or even the mob mentality that followed. No, it takes a look at what’s passing as “journalism.” As we saw with the Boston Marathon tragedy, too many people are focused on being first, not focused on being right. First, wins the ratings battle. Being right, but second, earns you a set of steak knives. One other quick note, you know how Forbes or someone will write an article about how more C-suite executives need to be on twitter? When we see situations like this, it’s more reason for not do me on twitter. On twitter, even the average person is a “celebrity” with all of twitter, the largest paparazzi in the world. Think before you tweet. Your job depends on it.

Redefining Advertising: How 2013 Transformed Digital Marketing
The Google Insights team put together a fantastic infographic covering how much change there was in digital marketing in 2013. While I think there was a great deal of appreciation and understanding, by companies, for the changing consumer landscape; there’s still a significant gap between what’s happening (eg mobile, multi-screen) and spend shifts.

The Trends That Ruled Pinterest In 2013
When asked about Pinterest, I often smile. As a marketer, it’s a goldmine. Pinterest is 100% about expression. When you look at what people pin, you get a view into their hopes, wishes, memories and aspirations. The Read Write Web team built upon Pinterest’s top pins in 2013 blog post and went a bit deeper. Who knew so many people wanted to visit Iceland?

Why Is Facebook Blue? The Science Behind Colors In Marketing
I had so much fun reading this post from Fast Company. I won’t steal their thunder. Frankly, their writing is much better than mine. Colors do matter and brands clearly pick them with specific purpose and intent.

The Color Emotion Guide

#Hashtags Are Now The Language That Binds Us

In 2009 I singled out a major problem with twitter…hashtags. That same problem exists today. You and I could be both watching the Grammy’s and tweeting about it. You might be using the hashtag #grammys and I might be using #grammys13. People following each hashtag will be seeing 2 very different conversations, although both hashtags are talking about the same topic.

In 2009, sponsored tweets didn’t exist. It’s existence today and use by companies softened the “chaos of hashtags.” But, the real game changer was the integration of hashtags into mainstream media, like TV shows. If you’ve somehow missed this, turn on American Idol, look at the lower right hand corner and you’ll see a prominently placed hashtag. That hashtag is telling all the people watching to centralize their conversation on twitter against that hashtag. Smart. But, that only helped close the gap; it didn’t eliminate it.

I think the big effort to close the gap came from Nike. No surprise there. Nike is one of the few organizations with the ability to see around the corner, tap into everyday culture and push the bounds of marketing. On January 1, 2013, after being woefully dormant on social media, they came to the party in a big way with their #makeitcount campaign. The hashtag was used in print, tv and of course twitter. But, in the first steps of its kind, it was also used in Instagram. Since launching, Nike’s account rocketed to the top of the most followed Instagram account. More importantly #makeitcount permeated society and became a way people from all walks of life could share their athletic efforts…however big or small.

There’s a general rule in marketing, when Nike does it, the evolution of marketing advances, but people will say, “yeah, but that’s Nike. We’re not Nike.” So the next thing that needs to happen is for P&G or Coke to do whatever Nike did. For whatever reason, that’s the validation we seem to need as a marketing community, before we try something different. Well, if Nike was the first shoe to drop, here’s the other foot:

Coke #showyourheart

Yes, you’re reading that right. It’s a hashtag on packaging. What? Yep, a hashtag on packaging. The hashtag is part of a pretty amazing campaign from Coke, called #showyourheart. It would seem that Coke is really on trend here, especially with Facebook’s very recent announcement that they will begin using hashtags as a way to search their social graph.

Admittedly, as a marketer who likes to push boundaries, I’m jealous of this effort from Coke. I think it’s smart, on trend, a bit edgy and different. That’s why we got into marketing right? Well, besides to drive the business. You get my point. What Coke did wasn’t just smart, it was cost efficient. It’s almost zero cost to change the printing plate to allow for the inclusion of a hashtag. Even if you didn’t want to go that BIG with the inclusion, you could simply replace the URL on the back of the can, box, pouch, bag, etc. with the hashtag…as an experiment. Folks, this is real time test and learn…at almost no cost. It’s certainly a less costly investment than Oreo’s Super Bowl ad with the Instagram hashtag call to action. For those of you who only paid attention to their “dunk in the dark” tweet, yes Oreo had a Super Bowl ad 🙂

In 4 years, hashtags have gone from something geeky to something that’s nearly commonplace language. What we’re seeing with Coke is the tip of the iceberg. With Coke and Nike invested, it’s only a matter of time before everyone else jumps into the pond. My advice, get there fast, while it’s still new, fresh, different and likely to generate an action. The minute it becomes too mainstream you’ll see conversion rates decrease as consumers are overwhelmed with options. Also, don’t stop at hashtags. We’ve seen the evolution of digital calls to action go from “AOL keyword {insert keyword} to URLs to Facebook icons to, now, hashtags. Something else will replace it.

The big lesson here is look for ways to bind your marketing efforts together. If you want to call it, integrating “paid, owned and earned,” have at it. Personally, I think those are bad labels, but if it’s what you need to think about integrating your efforts, great. At the intersection of culture and communication is the opportunity to stretch your dollars and make your marketing all the more effective.

Get your track shoes on. It’s going to accelerate and change fast. #hashtagsarenowthelanguagethatbindsus

Moments Happen Every Day

As we move to an age of what some are calling “real time marketing” we need to consider how to make our marketing more meaningful. This past Super Bowl was a tipping point for brands who might have been on the fence about social media marketing. Efforts by Audi, Oreo and Walgreens highlighted how providing quick and contextual marketing during an event can breakthrough. This post by Jay Baer does a great job of highlighting how hard it is to do great marketing. Notice, I didn’t say great social marketing or great “real time marketing.” I said great marketing. Getting to great marketing is tough. It takes a near perfect storm of the right brand, the right team, the right opportunity and the right stage.

The key for making a lot of this work is being honest about the social currency your brand has. Not all brands have a natural social currency that leads to a natural intersection of pop culture (eg The Oscars) and marketing. Additionally, I can’t stress enough the importance of planning. “Real Time Marketing” or whatever we need to call it, isn’t just about events, it’s about being in the moment…and moments happen every day, not just during the Super Bowl, Oscars or Grammy’s.

I tend to think this is less about real time marketing and more about right time marketing. Real time marketing, as currently conceived, seems almost forced. It’s being fast for the sake of being fast. Right time marketing is more about making sure the right message, is delivered at the right time to the right audience. This isn’t easy. It takes work. It takes effort. It’s a process. It’s a marathon.

It definitely requires some new wiring internally. That re-wiring takes time. But, eventually the muscle memory gets there and it simply becomes the way you create amazing experiences.

As I turn the lens inward, we’ve evolved in the last year. I see progress every day. We, like many brands, definitely stepped up our game following the Super Bowl. For example, this effort by our Campbell Kitchen team during the Grammy’s sticks out as nailing the right moment with the right creative at the right time:

There’s still work to be done. We’re not 100% bright. No one is. That’s the fun.

There’s a certain level of “geek” in all of us. It’s part of what gets us excited when we see a great ad. One of the most challenging things is balancing the inner-geek with what’s right for the business. The inner-geek wants to do the things that are interesting, cool, innovative and headline grabbing. But, I have a responsibility to my team, the great brands I work on and the company who trusted me in this position. The easiest way to temper that inner-geek is to remind myself it’s about driving a brand’s success, not my own personal success.