From the high street to the boardroom, smart mobile devices that connect consumers to content, communities, businesses and brands are everywhere. Half of new mobiles sold in Western Europe in 2011 are forecast to be smartphones — the implications of the ‘mobilisation’of everyday life matter profoundly to anyone involved in the business of marketing and communications.
How many brands are taking advantage of mobile as a channel to engage directly with audiences 24/7 wherever they may be? Are marketing teams aware of the potential that mobile holds for personalised andinteractive communications? Do marketers and communications leaders know when a mobile strategy isappropriate, and are they aware of the pitfalls and how to avoid them?
Spent yesterday at Henley Business School in a workshop about how the internet (and digital technology in general) has radically changed communications channels. Led by David James it was not only a chance to talk about digital trends and their implications for marketeers but also to work through real-life challenges faced by fellow delegates. From financial services suppliers to helicopter makers, from B2B to B2C, it certainly made for a thought provoking day and a different take on the work we’re already doing.
Mass customisation In an ideal world we’d be personalising all our messages and engagement activities. Clearly this is not always going to be practical, hence the idea of mass customisation which is about creating a perception of personalisation. We went on to talk about how behavioural targeting is the key to achieving this: segmenting the market and figuring out what people best respond to. The Amazon ‘you might also like’ is one example, as are iTunes recommendations. This is something we here at WS work really hard on and it reinforces the idea of using market insights to inform and direct strategy.
Brand engagement Using American Idol as a case study, we worked up a brand engagement model thinking about acquisition, participation, engagement and sharing. We then used pensions as an example of figuring out how to get people to engage; let’s face it, pensions are a topic many (if not most) people find pretty dry. Creating engagement is such a fundamental part of digital communications — it’s helpful, from a strategic point of view, to consider levels of engagement and how we can layer these as touchpoints during the course of a campaign.
Personal brands With audiences now so fragmented, how do you target messages? Using strong personal brands was one tactic we discussed by creating “celebrities” within micro-communities. The concept of having a spokesperson is hardly new but replicating this online means having someone who can genuinely contribute to the relevant niche community. Clearly the personal brand also has to work within its (corporate) setting and with its partners.
Corporate terrorists David floated an interesting (albeit intentionally controversial/attention grabbing) idea that businesses can learn a lot about improving their performance from terrorists. By this he meant that terrorists are dynamic, quick to change, have a lean management structure and are empowered to act rather than referring everything up the chain of command. He likened various internet-based challenger brands to terrorists because of the way they rethink the traditional way of doing business in order to beat the incumbent/market leader at their game. He also noted the way terrorists use technology to communicate and distribute their message. He suggeseted deploying “corporate commandos” as a response, small groups of specialist empowered to make big changes and rethink the rules.
Food for thought
So what did I get out of it? I think at the heart of these discussions is the business. The digital age is killing business model 1.0 Companies either adapt to the internet age or lose business, get left behind by the competition or, at the worst, die. A digital communications programme is going to work much better (or may well only work) if a business commits to it. That means updating the blog regularly, tweeting in real time rather than two days later, listening as much as talking, committing to the community, etc
A digital programme needs to be part of the business strategy, directly linked with the objectives and ambitions, ingrained within the corporate structure. It comes from the top, middle and bottom and runs through the arteries and veins of the business. It engages the customers and is relevant to the product/brand. It’s a daily measurable part of life. The challenge for businesses wanting to embrace all things digital is to look internally as well as externally.
How can you be sure people on the Internet are who they say they are? Interesting thoughts on Jeremiah’s blog today about “Brandjacking” with some examples of what’s happening on Twitter and suggestions of ways to counter it.
If you’re not already one of Jeremiah’s regular readers then I thoroughly recommend paying him a visit.
Struggling to figure out whether this video is for real. The “search” tutorial which begins around 2’30” is particularly illuminating.
Treat the mouse like a hot potato — what’s that all about!?
Of course takeup, penetration and access for this demographic is not going to be as high as others. But the thing is, older people in the UK spend more time online than any other age group. This means older people spend more time consuming content, whatever that might be. So online remains a good way to engage this demographic and doing it inline even better.
With the festive season fast approaching, one of the best gifts money can buy is an Internet radio. I’ve had one for six months or so now and it sits in the kitchen, merrily blasting out any genre of any music from anywhere in the world that happens to take our fancy. From disco classics to flamenco and everything in between, Internet radio caters for both mainstream and guilty pleasures with the simple turn of a dial.
Image by The Rocketeer http://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/ Some rights reserved under Creative Commons Licence.
Apart from the immense choice of music (explorable by region, genre, popularity, and all the other options you’d expect from Radio 2.0) what’s really impressive is how Internet radio joins the power of the web with the everyday ease/familiarity of an old-school household appliance. The device takes seconds to install; it simply attaches itself to your wifi and the quality is superb. You tune it with a dial just like you’ve been tuning a radio for years. It’s the new wireless wireless.
I suppose the technical demands of radio are easier to overcome than the demands of video. But it is starting to become feasible to watch video over the internet and I don’t just mean short clips on YouTube. The phenomenal success of BBC’s iPlayer proves there is a market for viewing TV-quality content online and on demand.
The trouble with video online is that it’s not yet compelling enough (and by that ultimately I guess I mean easy enough) to consume purely online. OK, you might watch a few shows on your computer or portable device but I bet you’ve still got a TV in the living room and probably have a DVD player, etc etc. Early adopters have home media centres, but imagine a video version of an Internet radio which integrates the web with a traditional mainstream appliance.
So, while we’re waiting for video, why not live the future in a rather old fashioned way and get the best of both worlds with an Internet radio? You can even pull an RSS feed onto the front display so you’ll always be up to date with your favourite blog.
People wonder what web 3.0 will be. I reckon it’s when the Internet becomes so integrated into everyday life that we don’t even notice. Don’t go mad.
I’ve had a virus for the last three weeks. It infected me without warning. It multiplied inside my body. As well as a streaming nose, it has given me a cough that’s annoyed (and continues to annoy) most of Western Europe. All the time I was probably spreading my virus unknowingly to other unsuspecting victims. But at least the virus I’ve got is only a cold and it’ll go away. Yes, it’s a phlegm fest, but I’m grateful it’s nothing serious.
Surely the way a virus works offline explains the concept of “a viral” online — but I’m still not sure people really get it. There’s lots of talk about “virals”, etc, however there’s sometimes a perception that a viral video, for example, can be manufactured. Sure, a video can be manufactured but it needs the “support” of bloggers and the general Internet community in order to go “viral”.
Virals spread without viewers/users necessarily being aware that they’re spreading them, just like the biological versions. Why? Because the content is so irresistible that people share it and talk about it.
There’s now so much content out there on the Internet it’s survival of the fittest (or most infectious). Simply uploading a video to YouTube doesn’t make it “a viral” — a piece of content has to be infectious enough to be picked up by influencers and spread to the people they are in contact with. It’s not a case of manufacturing “a viral” overnight but more about creating something highly compelling, getting it in front of key influencers and then letting digital nature run its course. Another example of how it’s possible to influence but not control.
Below is an example of one of my personal favourites, along with the mutations (mashups) it spawned: