Monthly Archives: April 2011

Pummelvision: AWESOME new photo social tool

OK, this is pretty damn nifty.  Pummelvision successfully utilises the wave of love for photo-sharing social apps and collates your photos into an amazing YouTube / Vimeo vid.  It supports DailyBooth, Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr.

Here’s my Instagram offering:

Great way to collate, share and re-live your photos!

(I doff my hat to @grumblemouse for setting me onto this – cheers fella.)

QueRying QR codes – THINK

QR codes’ label as marketing’s ‘new’ thing is phenomenally ironic, considering that the technology was invented by a Toyota subsidiary back in 1994 (I was a mere 12 years old at the time.)

However, the advent of smartphones has provided a valid tool for consumers to read these codes, and marketers are subsequently in a fervent clamour to place their communications / branding / information directly into people’s hands – why wouldn’t they be?

On a rare tube trip yesterday, I took the opportunity to take a look at the glut of panel ads that adorn every tube carriage and one for Heathrow caught my eye.

In the corner of the ad was a glinting QR code, with a clear call to action for consumers to scan the code and download information, access offers and continue their interaction with the brand.

In principle, this is a solid idea, utilising the latest technology and prolonging an ad’s effectiveness by continuing the consumer interaction within a smartphone.

In reality?

There’s no reception or internet connectivity when you’re travelling underground, meaning that a huge percentage of your audience will not be able to perform the call-to-action asked by the advertisers.

Although very much in vogue, QR codes still need to offer discernible value to mobile phone users, tailored exclusively for the mobile space and placed in positions / touch points where consumers can act upon them.

For me, tube ads just don’t offer this widely enough.

Do you agree?

@marksandspencer: intelligent social media marketing

I’m often accused of packing my posts full of flowery verbiage and using alliteration with alarming alacrity; however this one is brief and succinct.

Today I simply wanted to highlight a fantastic piece of social media marketing from Marks and Spencer.  This morning, the retail giant tweeted the following:

Why is this so spot-on?

•    It communicates M&S’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) and charity commitments through a social channel
•    It offers consumers the chance to be involved with, and contribute to, the brand’s activity
•    It utilises technology (Foursquare) to encourage check-ins
•    It utilises a hashtag – #MS4sq – to drive PR / digital buzz
•    It references the charity’s Twitter handle, thus engaging their social team
•    It drives footfall amongst consumers with a worthy mechanic

Whether this drives an extra billion pounds of sales of not, the fact remains that behind social execution lies rational, intelligent digital marketing strategy.

And this is what turns branded social media activity into effective social media marketing.

QR codes: marketing objectives first, tech second

Prompted by an article from Econsultancy (I’ll post the link at the end, as I want you all to keep reading!) and some recent conversations with colleagues, I felt compelled to jot down my own thoughts regarding the QR code ‘phenomenon’.

Now, of course, I place the word ‘phenomenon’ in inverted commas, because the technology has been around for several years now.  However, what has changed is the fact that more and more consumers are equipped with powerful smartphones, which, coupled with QR codes, can place information and content directly into people’s hands.

Like any new piece of digital technology cited as the ‘next big thing’, I believe that many businesses indulge in a ‘digital gold rush’, running frantically with metaphorical bucket and spade in hand to grab their piece of land.  But what a large percentage of early adopters don’t consider is that, like any aspect of digital technology’, that technology has to align with key marketing objectives.

Digital marketing is the practice of using digital technologies to market a brand / product / service.  Just because a new piece of technology comes along that is branded as a ‘game-changer’, this doesn’t mean that we should change our games.

QR codes are a fantastic way of placing information into people’s hands through smartphones, and for such a cost-effective mechanic, I can see why for many, this is an extremely attractive proposition.  But here are the considerations I believe digital marketers MUST examine if looking at implementing QR codes into their digital strategy:

* Does the content you are linking to ADD VALUE to the customer?
* Does the content / message align with your business objectives?
* Will this alienate consumers who are not digital-savvy / do not have smartphones?
* Will consumers have to change their behaviour to accommodate QR codes, or is it part of their journey?
* Is it easier for consumers to use alternative methods to access this link?

Everyone’s business, brand and service are different.  We all have different business objectives; our target demographics vary.  In 2011, there now exists an absolute plethora of digital technologies and social applications to support our digital marketing objectives.

But as with anything, our marketing objectives remain of paramount importance.  The technology is simply a supporting actor – this needs to be considered thoroughly before assigning elements like QR codes a starring role.

(Want to read the Econsultancy article on effective marketing uses of QR codes?  Scan the QR code at the top of this blog post and you’ll get there…)

Social media: why it’s good to lose control…

Despite social media’s osmotic move into mainstream digital marketing strategy, there still remain a great many sceptics that still cite social media as a fad and perhaps more worryingly, something to be afraid of.

One of the biggest reasons I hear attributed to this wariness of social media is people’s fear of losing control of their brand, which is understandable if viewed from (dare I say this!) an out-dated, web 1.0 perspective.

I’m not for one minute proposing a cavalier attitude to a brand – any marketer worth their salt will understand the intrinsic value of a brand, which is why the thought of ‘losing’ control can be a leap of faith too far for many marketers to make.

But whilst social media does hand over a large amount of ‘control’ to the digital democracy of your customers, this does not have to mean ‘losing’ control:

i) Staff on social media?

Imposing a stringent set of ‘rules’ defies the true collaborative, authentic nature of social media.  Yes, ‘guidelines’ need to be established in order to protect a company’s brand (and avoid any spectacular PR disasters a la Kenneth Cole, Habitat, Chrysler, Marc Jacobs etc.), but ‘rules’ and ‘control’ take us right back to the days of broadcasting and one-way marketing communications.

Your employees are often your best brand advocates: tap into that passion and expertise and add a level of authenticity, transparency and fresh thinking into your marketing strategy.  Many businesses are already reaping the benefits of doing so.

ii) Crowdsourcing

If you’re like me, the chances are that some of your best marketing ideas come to fruition when you’re working in a group and bouncing off of other people.  Social media offers a fantastic opportunity to build on this.  Without wanting to contradict what I said in my previous point, your consumers are likely to remain longer brand advocates than your staff.

Allowing them to be involved with marketing strategy through crowdsourcing does not have to mean ‘losing control’ – it invites social collaboration and provides marketers with a genuine insight into what consumers REALLY want – how many marketers would killed for an opportunity like that 10 years ago?

iii) Customer service: negative comments to positive experiences

Clearly there will be examples when this is not the case (a BP oil spill for example).  However, for the majority of businesses, negative comments are there to be turned into positive customer experiences.  Customer service is a vital element of digital marketing in the era of Web 2.0.

My recent podcast with Virgin Media showed how dedicated social media teams are reacting to queries, comments and complaints and providing fantastic customer service in real time.  Yes, anyone in the world could see a complaint about your service / business or product.  But everyone can also see your personalised response to them and how you have transformed this negative into a positive.

***

Of course, social media is an evolving beast and at times, its nature is hard to predict.  But in this age of digital communications where anyone and everyone has a voice, people will be able to talk about YOUR business, YOUR brand, whether you like it or not.

I genuinely believe that by standing back and avoiding involvement, brands will (ironically) run far more risk of losing any semblance of ‘control’ than they would if they were to simply jump in, get involved and be part of the conversation.

If you still have a longing to ‘control’ social media and ensure that all comments, buzz, blogs and forum chatter are positive, there’s one easy secret.

Have a good business that offers great products or services.

The rest is easy 😉