R[E]D – Research : Emotion : Design

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Major Digital Marketing Changes From The Last 12 Months, Are You Keeping Up?

Last year I wrote a Year in Review article that mainly focused on Facebook: 20 Changes Facebook Made In 2012 That Impacted Marketers. I mentioned, “Facebook was all about refinement in 2012.” If “refinement” was the word of 2012, “streamlined” was the word of 2013.

And this year I want to focus on the broader options that social marketers have at their disposable now.

An influx of new top tier social networks spread user attention thin in 2012 and required a renewed emphasis on key features and functionality.

In 2012, Facebook was on top of the mountain.

It was still the 800-pound gorilla in 2013, but a variety of other networks took their shots at prominence and deserve our attention as well.

Here are the top social media changes and trends introduced in 2013 and the last 12 months.

The Growth of Short Video


Twitter started the year off with the launch of Vine, a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos. Twitter noted on its blog that, “the brevity of videos on Vine (6 seconds or less) inspired creativity. Now that you can easily capture motion and sound.”

Vine saw 403% growth between the first and third quarters of 2013, making it the fastest-growing app of the year. And then Instagram launched video…

Instagram added fifteen-second video functionality on June 20. The number of Vine video links shared to Twitter dropped nearly 40 percent that day. Vine sharing on Twitter continued to drop over the following week, resulting in a roughly 70 percent drop from the nearly three million links shared on June 15. Instagram jumped on the video hype by announcing sponsored ads on October 3.

Facebook learned from the success of Instagram’s video ad integration by rolling out auto-play video ads on December 17, 2013. According to Facebook, the social network began testing auto-play video ads in September and the changes resulted in a more than 10 percent increase in video views, likes, shares and comments.


Twitter Jumpstarts Monetization


In 2012, Facebook’s IPO helped fuel an increased focus on revenue generation. Following a similar course in 2013 Twitter launched their IPO and subsequently increased advertising options.

On May 22, Twitter introduced Lead Generation Cards to help B2B brands drive highly qualified leads. According to Twitter, “These cards makes it easy for users to express interest in what your brand offers. Users can easily and securely share their email address with a business without leaving Twitter or having to fill out a cumbersome form. When someone expands your Tweet, they see a description of the offer and a call to action. Their name, @username, and email address are already pre-filled within the Card. The user simply clicks a button to send this information directly (and securely) to you.”

Twitter also integrated previews of photos and Vine videos directly into users’ streams on October 29. Users see more of the photo or play the video by tapping the preview.

As a result of Twitter’s focus on advertising, the platform saw a 22 percent increase in small business usage.

Pinterest Gets “Rich”


Pinterest helped marketers answer the question, “What are people pinning from my websites?” by launching Web Analytics for verified business accounts on March 12. The free Web Analytics platform helped marketers see Pinterest metrics in categories including Site Metrics, Most Recent, Most Pinned and Most Clicked.

Pinterest introduced Rich Pins on May 20. Instead of linking back to the pin’s origin, each new Rich Pin provides users additional information about that item aimed to better put them in a position to make a purchase. There are three different types of Rich Pins, each with its own unique set of characteristics and opportunities for brands: Product, Recipes, and Movies.

For items like clothes and furniture, the new Product pins offer real time pricing, availability, and where to buy the item. Recipe pins allow brands to provide information like cook time, ingredients, and servings to help foodies and food bloggers create new creations using branded pins. Movie pins contain content ratings, cast members, and more designed to provide a new layer of information about these movies.

On September 19, Pinterest announced it would roll out Promoted Pins as its first advertising product with select partners. Promoted Pins allow businesses to insert pins into search results and category feeds similar to sponsored advertising options offered by social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Promoted Pins started to appear in users’ feeds in early October.

LinkedIn Grows as a Content Portal


LinkedIn expanded its business offerings through the launch of Showcase Pages on November 18. Showcase Pages are dedicated content hubs enabling businesses to extend their Company Page presence, effectively segmenting audiences and enabling businesses to deliver the best message to the right audiences. Somewhat similar to LinkedIn s existing company pages, Showcase Pages are designed to give individual brands and business units within corporations the ability to create their own segmented marketing channels on LinkedIn.

In order to amplify the reach of its marketers messaging, LinkedIn continued 2013 2s sponsored advertising trend by rolling out Sponsored Updates on July 22. Sponsored Updates appear in a native format as a natural part of a target audience s feed and can be used to promote thought leadership content, to generate leads, or even as a PR tool.

Facebook Redesigns its News Feed


On March 7, Facebook revealed a News Feed redesign that featured larger visuals, a mobile-first user interface and more opportunities to filter by specific types of content.

The changes made good photos look even better in the News Feed, but also made lousy photos look even worse — reemphasizing a need for marketers to invest in quality imagery.

Facebook Focuses On Quality Images, Not Marketing Images

Facebook’s 20% Rule required text to appear on less than 20% of Cover Photos (and Promoted Posts), another attempt by Facebook at ensuring a quality visual experience for its users.

Not all features made it to December though. Facebook quickly backed away from automatically placing image captions and descriptions on top of photo page posts, preferring to keep text and image separate in the News Feed.

Facebook Page Tweaks

Facebook continued its redesign the following month with a new layout for Pages. The new Pages layout changes included a simplified look, easier ways to connect with businesses and streamlined page management.

Facebook Loosened Contest Rules

With a greater push for mobile and more real-time content, Facebook simplified its contest promotion guidelines. Its new set of rules allowed pages to run contests in the news feed without a third party application, ask people to submit answers in exchange for chances to win a prize, and to use Likes as a method of entrance into a contest.


Facebook Became A Mobile Social Network

In 2012, Sheryl Sandberg predicted a future of more ads in Facebook’s mobile News feed… and she was right. Facebook’s mobile-first emphasis in 2013 resulted in more users embracing the social network on the go. 54% more users logged into Facebook on a daily basis in Q3 2013 as did in Q3 2012, an increase from 329 million to 507 million in one year.

Mobile-only users doubled during that same time span, from 126 million in 2012 to 254 million in 2013. Significantly more user activity results in significantly more mobile advertising inventory available for marketers.


Confidence In The Newsfeed Wained

While mobile users swarmed to Facebook in droves, not all marketers were thrilled with the social network’s changes. A set of late 2013 News Feed algorithm changes resulted in an extreme drop in organic reach for many Pages, as much as 44 percent in many cases. The algorithm changes were intended to place more relevant news stories into the News Feed, especially from sites that Facebook deemed as “high quality” sources.

Facebook did little to quell marketer concerns when it put out an announcement recommending that they could make up the difference in reach with advertising.

Facebook Ads Got Simpler (Kind Of) And Better

To further emphasize this, Facebook rolled out a series of ad changes in 2013, eliminating at least 13 ad units and increasing ad-targeting opportunities.

Marketers told Facebook that its ad products were too complicated and redundant, which led to Sponsored Stories shifting from a stand-alone product to integration into most ads, which would “automatically add social context to boost performance.”

Facebook added Partner Categories to connect together online and offline user data. Partner categories use data from select third parties, including Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon, to target ads to more categories of people.

For example, a local car dealership could show ads to people likely in the market for a new car who live near their dealership. Facebook also simplified Interest Targeting by combining Precise Interest and Broad Categories into a single step, making it easier to select the audience most relevant to what’s being advertised.

Advertisers looking to target customers who considered a purchase on their site but didn’t complete the transaction gained a new Facebook alternative to FBX in October. The new retargeting tool, “website and mobile app custom audiences,” works when marketers affix tracking software to their websites and create corresponding custom audiences based on user activity data.

Search Got Easier on Facebook

Facebook started 2013 with a bang by announcing its long-awaited advanced search product, Graph Search.

Graph Search provided users the opportunity to easily search and examine trillions of relationships that live within Facebook’s ecosystem. Facebook also added support for searchable hashtags in June, thereby acting as a new connective thread for users to share their thoughts to a larger audience on social networks.

Graph Search has a lot of potential and is just the beginning of opening up the massive amount of social connection data that Facebook controls, and charges for. We can’t wait for LinkedIn to do the same.

Author / Ryan Cohn
Source / socialfresh.com


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Personalized products and content-led conversation will win in 2014

The global e-commerce industry is expected to generate $1.2 trillion in sales by the end of this year, driven largely by the changing shopping habits of consumers, as they increasingly browse and buy across mobile, tablet and even social networks. Despite this predicted growth, 2014 will not be a year for retailers to rest on their laurels.

human-head-with social-network-icons

Retailers will have access to more information about their customers’ preferences and shopping habits than ever before and retailers must take steps to better understand the purchase journey. This insight will give retailers the understanding they need to develop relevant content and personalize deals, and ultimately help to generate more sales. Shoppers are looking for a richer, more personal shopping experience and retailers must reassess both how they sell and what they sell if they are to thrive.

Here are 5 top tips for those retailers wanting to stand out from the crowd next year using personalization:

1.     Content shopping will be king
The lines between entertainment and shopping are blurring further and 2014 will see more retailers offer shoppers a richer, content-led shopping experience. Driven by the media, which have become retailers in their own right to bolster dwindling revenues from advertising and subscriptions, savvy retailers are using multimedia content to make the shopping experience more engaging. Retailers recognize that shoppers are no longer satisfied by the vending machine model of the last decade; they want to be entertained and informed as they browse the web and make purchasing decisions.

2.     Social will steer retailers’ stocking decisions
Social media’s power to influence what people buy is widely recognized and in 2014 it will also influence what retailers sell. The rapid growth of social curation communities like Pinterest, where consumers curate their own collections of products that they like, offers retailers access to invaluable insights in near real-time, something that traditional market research simply cannot compete with. Savvy retailers will use social shopping communities as a temperature check for popular product trends and use this insight to inform and refine stocking decisions.

3.     Omni-channel will require a single customer view
In any given day a shopper could interact with a brand on multiple devices and through multiple platforms, from mobile browsing in the morning, to lunchtime shopping on a work laptop. In 2014, a top priority for retailers will be to join-up the dots between these channels so that a more comprehensive customer profile can be developed. Insight garnered by analyzing the purchase journey of shoppers will help retailers to streamline the channels through which they sell and personalize the shopping experience, helping to boost bottom lines.

4.     Hyper targeting will take the online personalization in-store
The long-held dream of being able to target shoppers in real-time, with relevant and personalized location-based offers took a big step forward in 2013 with Apple’s launch of iBeacon, which allows precise, low-cost indoor tracking in stores. There has been much excitement about the prospect of hyper-targeting shoppers on the go and in 2014 retailers will begin to take this proposition more seriously. We expect to see a number of high profile trials of hyper-targeting technology as retailers grapple to deliver the highly personalized experience that shoppers now expect online in their high street stores.

5.     Mass customization will make products feel personal
Consumers today want something that’s unique and reflects their personality. Retailers understand this and we are seeing more companies offer personalized products, from custom engravings to the ability to select bag zip or pocket colour in advance. There is a huge opportunity for small to medium enterprises to carve out a market niche against bigger retailers, while adding value to existing products through customization. Furthermore, the concept of customization should extend beyond the product itself; retailers need to look at how they can offer a more customized shopping experiences online by using insights gathered in customer profiles.

by Shingo Murakam

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How MasterCard Enlists Employees in Social Media

Over the past year, MasterCard has been working hard on shifting its culture and public perception as a financial services company to that of a tech company. A big part of this process means making sure its employees are all digitally savvy.


Two or three yeas ago, MasterCard didn’t really have much of a social media strategy. Today the brand has a strong following on its main Twitter account and several other accounts for different topics and services. It has a content site, a blog and a “newsroom” that sits in the center of its headquarters in Purchase, N.Y. While all of this has enabled MasterCard to attract and interact with a larger audience –18 months ago MasterCard was exposed to more than 30 million people per month globally through social media, while today it is exposed to more than 40 million people per week globally, according to MasterCard’s data – the next phase is about getting its 7,500 employees company-wide comfortable with social media and, even more than that, turning them into social media brand advocates.

“We work hard to get third parties to advocate on our behalf, but it’s important that we don’t overlook our own employees and let them know it’s OK to tweet and comment and share,” explained Marcy Cohen, vp and senior business leader for worldwide communications at MasterCard. “Not only is it OK, it’s encouraged — that’s a big focus for us in 2014.”

MasterCard is one of many companies that have discovered that one of their strongest social media assets is their vast workforce. Like many companies, however, MasterCard has evolved from looking at employees sounding off in social as a risk to a big opportunity. The trick is how to do it right.

Learning the ropes
Before anyone could start tweeting, the first step in getting MasterCard employees more comfortable with social was updating the company guidelines. As Cohen explained, earlier this year, she and the communications team had found from asking around the office that people were intimidated by the company’s social media guidelines.

“The guidelines were fairly rigid, and people were scared about doing the wrong thing, so we felt there was a big opportunity to simplify the guidelines,” said Cohen.

The old guidelines were longer and needed to be pared down and also updated to include newer social platforms, as Cohen explained.

“The guidelines focus on using common sense, understanding the public nature of social channels and being transparent about your affiliation with the brand,” said Cohen. “In addition, we developed social media playbooks on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn for our employees.”

Along with modifying the social media guidelines and providing real-world examples of employees doing a good job advocating the brand using social, Cohen and the communications team brought the company together for a meeting in the newsroom to have an open discussion about the guidelines so that people could ask questions and understand what isn’t and is allowed when it comes to social. The legal team was involved in the meeting too to help answer questions.

Once people were more aware of company policy on social and that it is encouraged at MasterCard to use social media in their personal lives, social media education became the next focus.

“A lot of agencies have turnkey solutions and these sorts of black-belt programs — and we did talk to some other companies about implementing some of these approaches — but in the end, it was just me and a couple of my colleagues raising our hands and saying, ‘We can teach this; we don’t really need to bring in somebody for the outside,’” explained Cohen.

Cohen and her team organized the first social media education session, which was held at the Purchase headquarters. It was a very basic introductory program that went over different social platforms — the usual suspects, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. As Cohen explained, a lot of people across the organization just needed help with the first steps of getting into social media, as simple as how to set up an account. The session was recorded and turned into shorter videos that focus on each platform. MasterCard also created a special section on its intranet site called MC Mashup to house the social media tutorial videos for company-wide use and as a place for people to ask questions and share information.

Cohen and her team also shared this first social media education program with the global communications staff so that they could use it as a template for holding similar sessions at their offices around the world.

“Reverse” mentoring
This first initial social media education session inspired Victor Nordensen, senior analyst at MasterCard, to spearheaded another social media education initiative called YoPros (short for young professions). The program involves younger employees at MasterCard giving reverse-mentoring sessions to older MasterCard employees who may not be as familiar with social media. These sessions are meant to be casual one-on-one meetings where people can reach out and ask about getting some help with different social platforms, even if it is not related directly to work.

“They all come in with a very different level of knowledge. For some, it’s as simple as asking what a hashtag is and setting up a Twitter account; for some, it’s learning about retweeting MasterCard posts,” said Nordensen.

The YoPros program launched just this past October and has so far conducted about 30 one-on-one tutoring sessions with older execs. The YoPros reverse mentoring is now available at six of MaterCard’s global offices, and the plan is to continue expanding it globally.

Cohen herself and others on her team also participate in giving tutorial sessions. For example, Cohen was approached by a MasterCard employee who wanted to finally learn how to really use Facebook and Twitter after many promises for lessons from her kids went unfulfilled.

“Now every time I see her, she is bubbling over with excitement about how many followers she has,” said Cohen.

Still, there is work to be done.

“Has it happened at mass scale yet? No, but I think we are well on our way,” said Cohen. “We have a lot of support from senior management and being able to rely on and empower some of the people who are already doing social media well is like having a big extended team.”

MasterCard isn’t the only brand trying to make sure its older execs are up to speed on digital and social. Campbell’s Soup created a “digital fitness accelerator kit” earlier this year that included  devices like Roku and JawBone, recommended apps and suggested reading, including online news sources and books like “Six Pixels of Separation.”

In the coming year, MasterCard plans on continuing its internal social media education with more tutorial sessions that go beyond the basics.

“If our first session was social media 101,” said Cohen, “next year we are going to be doing 201 — more classes that go deeper.”

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The 10 Best Influencer Marketing Campaigns of the Year

So digital marketing is dead? Here’s what I have to say to that, and I am positive P&G’s Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard will agree, Great! I couldn’t be happier that it’s dead. It’s now the era of creative campaigns, of engaging people with authenticity and building brands. It’s a new venture of getting closer to the customer, of connecting her to the brand in innovative ways.

If that sounds like some kind of a Rube Goldberg advertising model, you wouldn’t be far off. But this new model is brilliant and the results are astonishing. So how are the best companies delivering on it?

If there is any endeavor whose seeds are bearing fruit, that endeavor is surely influencer marketing. Harnessing the power of word-of-mouth and the trust that consumers have in their peers, colleagues, thought leaders and local-celebrities can translate to immense marketing power.

Targeted influencer marketing in targeted niches drives 16x more engagement than paid or owned media, according to a recent SocialChorus report. So it should come as no surprise that top brands are paying attention to this powerful new marketing method.

Recently, Huffington Post contributors and influencer marketing experts Sam Fiorella and Ekaterina Walter joined Chris Heuer (CEO/founder at Alynd), Erich Joachimsthaler (CEO/founder of Vivaldi Partners Group) and me to better understand this new method of marketing. In an era where advertising is floundering, marketers need to understand who’s doing influencer marketing best, what experiences they are creating for their audiences, and what’s coming out of it.

The 10 influencer marketing campaigns we’ve identified below are all creative, results-driven examples of how brands can adapt to the new marketing landscape, and they serve as powerful lessons for any brand looking to incorporate influencer marketing into their mix.

Why Should Cookies Have All The Fun? by Collective Bias for Tyson Foods.

Last Christmas, dozens of mommy bloggers helped Tyson Foods clear out its entire inventory of Chicken Nuggets in a matter of weeks by decorating the nuggets as Christmas trees, reindeer and snowmen and sharing their creations across their social networks. The nugget decorating extravaganza sparked 8.8 million impressions on the social web – Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube – beating the initial goal by 70% — and demonstrating the path to influence is directly impacted by key social influencers sharing their genuine experiences across social media channels.

#WeekwithILX – Acura ILX Influencer Campaign by Brand Influencers

Late last year, Acura gave LA Foodie, Curves and Chaos, RedCarpetCloset and three other influential millennial bloggers a new ILX for a week to drive around and share their experiences in the form of blog posts, pictures, videos and other multimedia across their social profiles. The four-month campaign drove 750% ROI and boosted sales across the region.

According to Jason Metz, founder and CEO of Brand Influencers, social data was the most important piece of this campaign. “We identified trending influencers within each of [Acura’s] consumer segments, and based on an analysis of social data, we worked with those influencers to create experiences that we were confident would excite each influencer’s audiences, based on what was proving to influence their behavior.”

People StyleWatch Style Hunters Program by BRANDERATI

Branderati invited 1,000 StyleWatch loyalists to join the Style Hunters network, where they receive exclusive content, fashion insights and product offers.

These brand ambassadors share content with their networks on an ongoing basis, with campaigns averaging an exposure rate in the seven figures. Recently, for example, Garnier provided 150 full-size “Curl Calm Down Cream” products, which Style Hunters used and then provided feedback via social media. This campaign drove more than 6 million impressions in a month through hundreds of social sharing’s on social networks, as well as original influencer blog posts. From there, the Style Hunters Team analyzed the tone of the shares, and determined that a large majority of the Style Hunters posted a favorable opinion about the product.

StyleWatch is a great example of taking your existing relationships to the next level by rewarding top brand fans to make a measureable impact. Done correctly, the fans who love your brand become mini-celebrities in their own right and can move the sales needle. (Note: Ekaterina, as a partner at BRANDERATI, did not weigh in on this campaign)

Style Spotters by Emisare, Inc. for High Point Market

High Point Market boosted attendance numbers at the furniture industry’s largest and most successful event by inviting interior décor and fashion bloggers to attend as VIPs. Through the Style Spotter campaign, they were encouraged to snap pictures of their favorite furniture finds at the event, share the pics on their social networks, and get their audience to vote on their favorites. Clearly, dialogues within communities “create an energy that just can’t be obtained by broadcasting monologues.”

Innovating for the Connected Home, Living Room And TV by MWW for Verizon FiOS

Verizon FiOS invited thought leaders and early technology adopters in the innovation and technology communities to mix and mingle, share ideas, and explore new ways to optimize today’s connected home during two major real-life events in Boston and New York – as well as to continue their networking online. During the two meet-ups, Verizon FiOS expanded its database to over 1,000 members of the innovation and technology communities, with more than 20 potential partners and over 400 attendees. Verizon didn’t have a community prior to these events and Alberto Canal, Vice President, Corporate Communication at Verizon is certain that finding the right combination of ongoing social outreach and in-person events is key to building the strongest community possible.

Five other influencer marketing campaigns that rocked 2012/2013 included: “British Airways; influencer Innovation Lab in the Sky” by Text100, during which 100 of Silicon Valley’s more influential science and tech minds brainstormed solutions to the talent problem and presented them to the UN ITU at the DNA Summit; “Sprout it Backyard Takeover” by Geben Communication which encouraged homeowners to snap a photo of their back yards, share them with their networks, and potentially win a back yard makeover; “TNT’s Dallas VIP Visit” campaign, which invited 100 Dallas “super influencers” to an exclusive network and rewarding those who shared the most Dallas content with a trip to meet the cast ; “The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon” at SXSW 2013 by MMW, a campaign that gave Nikon cameras to SXSW Music attendees and asked them to upload their video, ultimately seeing 5x longer viewing times than industry average; and Bing’s “Summer of Doing”, during which people were encouraged to search for obscure and quirky terms, and share their results with one another on social media.