From Content Marketing to Story Advertising?!

Managers around me get confused about the trend content marketing. What exactly is, and where does it start? A promoted tweet? A long branded status update? An advertorial? Promoted or sponsored content? A commercial that does story-telling? I have decided to discuss this a bit when I came across a great commercial yesterday as Pepsi turns the tables these days again.

But let’s start with another commercial that AUDI launched at Super Bowl this year called “Prom”. Watch it first, so you know what we are talking about. Cool commercial. Nice story. Well thought. No doubt…

Many digital experts defined this in posts or in their presentations at marketing events as content marketing. Somehow, they might have been right as it is telling a story with a beginning, a turning point and an end. And it is not just a well-produced commercial highlighting a product. It is not focused not on pure selling or promoting it.

Former commercials from Volkswagen “Star Wars”, Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” or Blendtec’s ongoing series of product tests on Youtube already went towards the content marketing direction. In their line of mention, they were evolving from a traditional commercial into some form of viral advertising series. These clearly differed from the AUDI commercial as their story-telling was neither epic, nor f(r)iction.

Now, Pepsi comes up with some really clever advertising approach in my eyes. And the question I would like to raise is: Is this content marketing or story advertising?

Most of us have seen the movie “Blues Brothers”. In that film, Elwood must reunite the old band and go on another “Mission from God”. Based on that plot, the Pepsi MAX commercial series gets their food.

After introducing Uncle Drew in the first commercial, the second series starts with a conversation between Uncle Drew and basket ball legend Bill Russell (well played by Morgan Freeman) who sends him on a mission “Get out there and get your team together again!” He shall teach the young boys how to “get buckets” – the claim of the series.

First Commercial

Second Commercial

The third commercial just recently came out and takes this form of story advertising to another level. Uncle Drew visits an underground jazz club in downtown Chicago to convince his old point guard “Lights” to re-live their glory days on the court. Although his wife disagrees, he gets his friend to go out again. What happens thereafter? Just watch it…

Obviously, players and spectators at the basketball courts in all three versions were told that they would be filmed for a “basketball documentary”. However, they enjoyed some special show of basketball magic by Kyrie Irving.

Spot On!
Story advertising could become a new form of content marketing. Pepsi MAX doesn’t even play a supporting actor in these films. It is a series around a brand, but the brand is not the star. It is there but just doing what it’s meant to do: Max taste – sugar-free. Pure enjoyment. By creating a series of commercials with main characters coming back, a real plot around a team reunion, and some really extraordinary testimonials doing what they can do best, consumers feel like being somewhere between the movies and the sports stadium. Illusions made real. They will be waiting for the next part to come out, and hope they become part of it. It’s branded content but not in a traditional way. It is like “24” or “Mad Men”, just in the commercials. It creates excitement for the next version, engages the audience to talk about basket ball (the sports that Pepsi MAX spends their marketing bucks “buckets” on), and will become viral. This is a new dimension. This is what I would call: Story Advertising.

PS: Maybe they could have left it open until the last version when the team is together again, how Pepsi did this human transition. But that is my view, how about yours…?

Travel: The Hyper-Connected Digital Elite (Infographic)

When I am on (biz) travel to see clients, I am very much a cross-platform user. Sometimes, I book and buy from my tablet, then from my smartphone, and less often via my laptop. In the hotel room, I use my laptop, at the airport lounge the tablet comes into play, and between meetings more often I just use my smartphone: 3 screens, always-on but hard to catch for marketers.

True? Well, some recent by Google states that almost two thirds of travelers are interested to book and buy travel products “whenever they can” and “wherever they can”. It becomes clear that hyper-connected travelers spend 30% more than less-connected travelers. As you can read from the infographic by Monetate the always-on active travelers show some significant purchase habits…

– 74% of travel consumers who use tablets were under 45 years
– 40% of travelers plan their trips via smartphones and tablets
– 32% of business travellers use smartphones to book their travel (under 30 years)
– 7.5% of all online travel bookings came from tablets

Digital-Elite-Travellers-Infographic

Come on, it's a game! Get some entrepreneurship badges. (Infographic)

When Foursquare started their business some four years ago, no-one has had any idea of what “gamification” and “Badge hunting” could be like in 2013. Today, marketers have adapted the new trend in their marketing-mix and started awarding people for coming in their hotels, having more coffee in a shop, or even use it to illustrate how the LEGO product might look like when it is build. Some people might think, they don’t have time for wasting minutes checkin-in at some restaurants or bars. But what if you are an entrepreneur and get awarded for your achievements in setting up a company, or if you don’t work on a major holiday.

Check out the badges you can earn, or better… will earn.

Entrepreneurship-The-Game

Interview: "Social influencers move prospects through the consideration cycle"

Kevin BobowskiIn order to demystify the myth around social influencers, brand fans and brand advocates, we will discuss the topic in the future with different leading marketing specialist of emerging platforms and different cloud marketing providers.

In this first interview The Strategy Web spoke with Kevin Bobowski, Vice-President Marketing at Offerpop, about social influencers, their relevance for brand perception, and how he sees the future of brand advocates.

TSW: Will social influencers and brand fans ever play a role in the sales process of companies?

Kevin Bobowski: Brand advocates and social influencers already play a key role at every stage of the customer journey – often simultaneously. Through sharing branded content and recommending products, they build brand awareness, move prospects through the consideration cycle, and help convert those prospects into customers. Companies must do more to nurture the relationships with influencers and advocates, formalizing their involvement in the buy cycle.

TSW: Why is it so challenging for marketers to find and leverage real brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: I think that most social marketers have a sense of who their real brand fans are. The challenge is in translating that knowledge into real business value. To do this, social marketers must break out of the “social silo” and play a bigger role in impacting marketing strategy. For example, they might work with email marketers to create campaigns that target brand advocates they’ve identified with exclusive rewards. Their ability to communicate their insights across marketing organizations will have a long-term impact on conversions.

TSW: What is a successful tactic to build a strong database of brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: Marketers should run consistent, engaging social marketing campaigns. These campaigns build strong, active fan bases, and hit other key goals like email capture and sales. One standout tactic: hashtag campaigns. They incentivize fans to share user-generated content, which deepens their relationships with brands. Many brands promote them through traditional channels like TV, and encourage participation through multiple social networks. This grows their viral reach, leading to fan growth and engagement.

TSW: When is a brand fan converting into a superfans?

Kevin Bobowski: Our definition of a superfan is a customer who consistently shares your content, advocates your brand, and influences others to form relationships with your brand. Marketers should track the interactions, loyalty and influence of their fans, and use those insights to create more targeted, ROI-driven marketing efforts across every channel.

TSW: How does Offerpop help to boost the value of brand advocates?

Kevin Bobowski: Offerpop social campaigns help brands boost the value of brand advocates in a number of ways. Number one, we encourage fans to amplify brand messages (through retweeting, sharing, etc.) Number two, we help brands run campaigns that inspire engagement and brand affinity. Brands use our platform to capture rich data about their fan base, which enables them to cultivate relationships with them through multiple channels, like email, direct mail, etc. And they also help brands capture user-generated content, which brands can choose to showcase in a number of ways. All of these actions help brands deepen relationships with their advocates and increase the virality of their messaging.

TSW: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Kevin Bobowski leads all marketing efforts at the social marketing platform provider Offerpop including branding, product marketing, demand generation and digital marketing. Prior to Offerpop, Kevin was the Vice-President of Product & Solution Marketing at ExactTarget where he was responsible for the strategy and execution of ExactTarget’s go-to-market strategy, demand generation programs and product launches.

GenY… and what kind of bosses they really want

Hays GenY Great Leader TypesNow, that we have adviced in a funny way how Baby Boomers should not engage with their younger GenY’ers, here comes some serious advice again. The recruiting company Hays has done some interesting research in the UK among 1.000 GenY’ers with the title “GenY and the world of work”.

The study shows that 51% of the Millennials want a mentor or Coach as their boss who treats them fair, and who is an expert in his business field. 40% are looking for a leader (but not a dictator), and 34% see an advisor as their ideal boss.

And what are the main quality features a boss must have for the Generation Y? Well, nothing extraordinary…: Ability to motivate them, be supportive and just be fair! Is that a challenge? Not for you, guys, right…?!

There is more in it for you. Just watch their study video…

Study: Online forums still popular and leading community option (Infographic)

According to a recent “2013 Social Media Survey” by Proboards the interactive communication preferences across platforms are still heading towards forums. Although you might think that they asked their own users (which is probably right), the survey still shows the importance of forums and communities. For their results the company promoted the research toover 150 respondents via Facebook, Twitter, and the ProBoards customer support forum.

The study claims that online forums are still popular. What was interesting for me to see is that they were even preferred compared to social media platform for interactive communication. Two out of three respondents (67%) stated that forums were the social media tool they found most valuable. Obviously, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ follow but the question here could be asked whether most people realize that all these platforms are also forums if used in the right way. That LinkedIn did not figure in as a significant social media tool is in my eyes not correct as the forums there within, are very powerful and interactive, plus they generate very valueable input for managers.

“The survey results do not surprise us since platforms such as Facebook and Twitter do not give you the level of control that forums do,” said Patrick Clinger, founder and CEO of ProBoards. “Forums provide greater customization and more options…”

Forums -although we would define them as communities according to our Community Centric Strategy– offer a great way of engaged communication, and probably with better and deeper quality than any other social network. There is more information in the infographic attached…

ProBoards-Social-Media-Study-Forums

Study: Digital transformation still slow in companies. If there wasn't the execution…

It is one of the findings, we often experience in reality when we advice companies: The employees understand how the digital transformation works. However, the management -especially CEOs and executives- are not seeing the urgency in moving on with the digital transformation. In a recent study of more than 1500 executive people in 106 countries released by Capgemini Consulting in partnership with MIT Sloan Management Review these findings become clear again, although the study writers make clear that the common agreement is that the future is digital.

The results show that those company executive who have the digital transformation on their agenda almost four out of five executives (81%) believe that it will offer their company a competitive advantage. They also see that it will become a critical development to their organization within the next two years. Still, nearly two out of three (63%) see that the velocity of technology change in their organizations is not moving fast enough.

Not surprisingly, many employees are becoming more and more impatient with the development and progress compared to their upper managers. This stays against the fact that 53% of the CEOs think that the pace of the digital evolution inside their company is “right”, “fast” or “very fast”. Especially, the middle managers and staff employees think that the progress isn’t enough toward a digital realm. Just 25% of managers see the pace is right. One of the comments in the report blamed that the management was guilty of “complacency, [and] ignorance of modern technology”. And another one stated “Clueless management”.

The study’s authors categorized four different stages of digital transformation:
a. Beginners: Have been slow to adopt, or are skeptical of, more advanced digital technologies like social media and analytics.
b. Conservatives: Have deliberately hang back when it comes to new technologies.
c. Fashionista: Very aggressive in adopting new technologies, but do not coordinate well across departments.
d. Digiratis: Have the vision, and are willing to invest what it takes.

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

The reasons for the slow adaption for the modern digital challenge is made obvious: Time. When 53% of CEOs and executives say that the “don’t have time for this right now,” it sounds like a normal common excuse when things are not familiar or understood in the importance for the future development of companies. They (52%) simply don’t know how to do that, or are resistent to move on “this is the way we’ve always done it”.

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Spot On!
When the study finds that 65% of organizations have just begun to step into the digital transformation process, it shows that most managers have not yet understood where the world of mobile and social media is getting us in the future. And when only 15% of respondenting CEOs and executives can be considered “mature” adopters of digital technologies, it reflects our view of how we experience the top management that comes to us and wants input on how to change the company towards the digital realm. And whent he study authors conclude that just some companies rank in the same category as a Starbucks or Intel, which are kind of top notch in digital transformation, we might still see potential for even them to become better. It is one thing, to have a chief digital officer at Starbucks that also enables customer mobile engagements. But it is another thing to make all employees follow the rules of the digital transformation. The challenge is on…!

PS: Study can be read here.

How Millenials and Baby Boomers can meet half way… or never.

There are many rumors how the Baby Boomers might deal with Millenials (GenY) in the workplace. We have shared some serious advice based on different studies on how Baby Boomers have to see and understand them, what drives the millenial teenager, how they see the future workplace, and why they might cause a headache for IT decision-makers with their BYOD trend. And you might read a recent report from Georgia Institute of Technology and the International Telecommunication Union which illustrates that there a digital native not always is what he or she seems to be, although they love their smartphones and the digital chat.

Still, many managers ask us what they could do to make their workplace interesting for this mobile and networking generation. It is time that someone gives us some more clear and fresh advice, on how to deal with the Millenials in the workplace today. This training video might be of help for those that have not yet met the expectations of those young geeks.

However, reflections often turn rumors into reality. So, what are Baby Boomers doing when the GenY strikes back and gives some response with a “Guide to Baby Boomers”?

The easiest way to bridge the gap between these two generations is to bring them together at one table and let both sides give their real pitch on how they can meet half way. Just do it, and when you need advice on how to moderate it, just get in touch with us. We have done moderations between these parties in different projects.

PS: Don’t take these videos too serious. You might fail…!

Rise of Social Media as a Profession (Infographic)

When I started my blog some years ago, people in my industry were shaking their heads and wondered what the benefit was to be a “social media professional”. Some asked why I was wasting time on social networks like Twitter, Facebook & Co., and what the ROI is in writing blog posts and then sharing them. Some wondered how I managed to stay on top of the main trends and developments in the “social web” world. Well, time is passing by and people start to be getting answers.

In the last years, many companies have thought about hiring a social media specialist, or have even given it a proper job description. Still last year, we went into companies and found some young interim or part-time freelancer being responsible for the feedback on the 3R’s (ratings, reviews and recommendations!) of their own social customer. Often these people earned nothing but a smile from their colleagues.

These days seem to change. Can it be that companies understand the value of engaging with their customers on the social web – the place where they not only spend a lot of their spare time? They actually do marketing, sales, customer service, employer branding and much more for companies and brands. Some companies still have not understood though…

Now, the social marketing platform Offerpop has created a nice infographic based on data from LinkedIn that shows a staggering 1,357% increase in social media jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three years.

Rise-of-Social-Media-Profession

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack “Future of Digital” event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud