Nostalgic Facebook Promotional Image

Will Social Media Redefine Nostalgia for Future Generations?

I find myself lost in my childhood, caught up in the preparation for an upcoming Trendstalks presentation on Nostalgia Marketing.  This flood of past memories and brands has left me with an interesting question: What will nostalgia mean to this generation of social media ingrained children? Will their concept of nostalgia be different for mine?

Since Friendster (the precursor to Facebook) came into existence back in 2002, quickly followed by Facebook and Twitter, there are a significant portion of first year college students who have spent the majority of their lives active on social media.

The concept of being able to backtrack your digital footprint and view their entire social media history opens up a new avenue of nostalgia marketing: micro-nostalgia.  Facebook and Twitter have already tapped into this new form of micro-nostalgia by launching birthday campaigns where users could watch and share a short video showing their Facebook memories; or their their tweet.  Making your personal nostalgia associated with their brand, a vice-versa to how normal brand nostalgia operates.

Family Circus created by Bill Keane.

An example of a ‘Billy Path’ made famous in ‘The Family Circus’ by Bill Keane.

Imagine having the ability to relive high school memories by backtracking your online behaviour, like a Billy path in The Family Circus, visiting past conversations with friends, laughing (or groaning) at the inside jokes you shared when you were younger.  You could view your life when things were simple.  At the press of a button you could instantly watch an Instagram or Vine video that you and your friends recorded while having the greatest snowball fight of your lives; or see who is the current mayor of the tree fort you built in the woods near your old house and turned into a Foursquare location.  Will the novelty of traditional nostalgia fade with our growing ability to access historical content at a moments notice, will micro-nostalgia of our own online pasts become the future standard of marketing?  Would you share your happiest childhood moment with the world in support of a favourite brand?

 

ENDGAME

Google’s Answer to Game of Thrones

The leaves have fallen from the trees and winter is on the way and here I sit at my computer with chills running down my spine.  Not from the cold but from the possibilities that one of Google’s latest announcements could have on the field of marketing and public relations.

Endgame: The Calling is a series of sci-fi novels being written by author James Frey and a project that he has challenged Google’s off-shoot company, Niantic Labs to help turn into a marketing juggernaut.  Their goal is to turn this story about 12 teenagers that compete from around the globe in a high-stakes competition; into the starting point for something amazing.  John Hanke, the head of Niantic Labs, goes on to explain:

Frey’s vision was to do this as a book and game and a movie all together, and to use social media as a way to extend the universe and make it a place where people could really live within the game universe.  He had this whole thing conceived of as a never-before-done experience across all these media.

4-PortalKey-225x400Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.22.49 PMTo understand how they could accomplish this we have to look back a few years to Niantic Labs last project, Ingress.  Ingress was created as a real world battle between factions to control portals in cities across the globe.  People chose their faction, met their new community and worked together to go out into the real world to participate in a giant global game unlike any other before it.

So imagine this global game structure used for other marketing campaigns.  Suddenly, CNN could have a real-life political map where voters showed their political pride in real-time during election campaigns; or if this were indeed Game of Thrones, each viewer could participate and claim global territory in the name of the Starks, the Lannisters or even in the name of Hodor himself.

Now we up the ante and take that to the next level.  This is where Endgame comes in, incorporating a physical product (the series of novels or their Lost-inspired website) into the mix.  Suddenly, your participation in the real world event takes on a whole new meaning.  You could influence the future of the stories themselves.  A few flash mobs of support and through community participation an army rises up to support someone the author never intended to be popular and change the lore of the brands universe and story.

Popularity wins and now Hodor takes his place on the Iron Throne in a live performance streamed across the game in real-time; only to have another faction assemble en-masse to try to ruin the event with a  spur of the moment community planned and funded Red Wedding event.  Reality and fiction finally blend together with paid and organic promotional marketing.

And behind the scenes the marketing team watches it all in real time.  They can visually see the communities within their brand, how those communities have formed over time and where they’ll be in the near future.  They can tailor the brands message, create new products that cater to the popular communities and their victories while adjusting future campaigns and plans in real-time.

This is what Endgame and Google hope to accomplish; with movies, novellas and the trilogy of books all working together to give its players competitions for cash prizes of real gold.  A game that could connect billions of potential players with their high-tech devices, allowing them to shape the global game.

So can you see the possibilities that it can be used for in the field of marketing?  I can.  Who needs to wait for Khaleesi’s dragons when you have the strength of Hodor’s community that can band together and take the Iron Throne before she crosses the ocean.  Let your voice be heard and comment below on how you’d use this technology!

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Snapchat Scares Up Some Paid Advertisers

Did you get your Ouija board out after watching Snapchat’s Inaugural ad?  Or did you miss it and have no clue what i’m talking about?  If it’s the latter then have no fear, the second part of my Halloween series of posts covers this spooky tale from the Snapkeeper.

This week the many millennials on Snapchat could be heard screaming, their terror heralding the dawn of a new domain of online advertising, as Snapchat opened its gates and allowed its first paid advertisement to its American users.  The 20-second trailer for the horror film Ouija appeared in everyones “Recent Updates” section, daring everyone to hold their finger to watch the entire ad without having to restart the timer over again.  With a lifespan of 24 hours, before it disappeared from the system as eerily as it arrived, the ad, according to Universal Studios, received millions of views but reserve final judgement on its success until all the analytics are in.

Snapchat_FirstAd

While this is the first paid advertisement in the app, it isn’t the first time advertisers have promoted their products to Snapchats millennial audience.  Taco Bell, an early adopter to Snapchat, has gained a strong following on Snapchat with more than 200,000 friends.  Considering their Snapchat followers as “crazy engaged,” Nicholas Tran, Taco Bell’s official storyteller, considers Snapchat “one of the most engaging places for us to play“and each Snap it sends receives an estimated 80% engagement rate (with 90% viewing the entire Snap).

The important question is, if Snapchat continues to open the doors to paid ads, can brands continue to achieve these levels of engagement?  Or will the flood of ads start to ruin the goodwill earned by brands like Taco Bell and Doritos who have spent the time to earn the trust of its millennial audience?

So Snapchatters, were you scared by Snapchat’s first advertisement this week? Or just annoyed that ads have made it into your favourite social media app?  Raise your pitchforks, light your jack-o’-lanterns and storm the castle of my comments section below.

Picture from theClassroomcreative.com

Trick or Treat? Pinterest Knocks on YouTube’s Door Searching for a New Audience

Have you ever used Pinterest to find your ideal Halloween costume?  If not, Pinterest is hoping that this year you’ll change your mind.

With over 176 million Halloween-related pins they have packed up their pins and embarked on a massive Halloween campaign to show the users of YouTube the treasure trove that lurks at Pinterest.   Partnering with Funny or Die, Cracked, eHow to YouTube’s Michelle Phan, Pinterest’s Head of Brand, David Rubin, believes that YouTube is a healthy platform to recruit a bigger audience.

What we’re finding is not only that the content [media companies] create is helpful to us, but Pinterest has grown into being a place where we’re driving lots of traffic and interest back to them.

What makes this interesting is that Pinterest isn’t relying on an outside agency for this campaign.  With minimal spending on paid ads they’re relying on a grassroots-style campaign and the word of mouth garnered by their online partners to spread the word for this campaign.  Now, I love Halloween – it truly is my favourite day of the year.  That is why this campaign piques my interest.  It might be a chance to head back online and add some spookiness to my barren boards.  Plus it has a series of new features that I’d love to check out.

So with Pinterest now standing as the second largest driver of traffic on the internet, will this campaign earn them tricks or will they find the audience to push past Facebook and become #1?  At the very least, you’ll be able to find a great costume to win this years inner-office costume party.  So follow me on Pinterest and share some of your spookiest Halloween pins.

 

Photo by Sebastian rottmair (www.rottmair.de)

Swords to Plowshares: Changing Positions on the New Digital Battlefield

“Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.”

– Sun Tzu “The Art of War”

When it comes to positioning on the digital battlefield, are social media and online communities just another type of terrain that marketers need to adapt to?  Or has the digital marketplace removed the need for Sun Tzu’s tactics altogether?

To get a good understanding of brand positioning, we take our wayback machine to 1969 when the pioneer of marketing theory, Jack Trout, first introduced his theory of brand positioning.

Brand Positioning is an organized system for finding a window in the mind.”  This system is based on the concept that “communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances.

This was the Mad Men era where print, radio and television media reigned and every home had one phone and television; if you were lucky.   Marketers looked for ways to make their brands step out from the crowd and win against their competitors and they did this by understanding their consumers and perfecting their brands “mix” (logo, price of the product, packaging, promotions and advertising).

In the last fifteen years the online world has changed all that.  The old marketing tools of brand positioning are waning and no longer can businesses thrive by finding the right time and place to strike out to grab the casual consumer.  Experts show that attention spans have dropped dramatically and even a one-second delay on a website can cause a 11% fewer page views.

Every day we are bombarded by videos, banners, emojis and sounds.  Today, the average North American consumer is exposed to over 3000 brand messages a day, with pop-up and banner ads lurking in every corner of our screen.  With that level of brand saturation, we’ve grown defiant of brands forcing themselves upon us.  While we understand the need for sites to pay their bills and tolerate the occasional ad that interrupts our online adventures, that is a sentiment not being shared by younger consumers.  As i’ve talked about in previous blogs, the internet is continually speeding up and consumers are resolute that their needs are far more important than an advertisers wants; and that these three rules should always be followed:

  1. Everyone wants to be heard.
  2. Everyone wants to be understood.
  3. Everyone wants his or her life to count.

Those three needs both define us as human beings and emphasize the changing demand modern brands now face.  John Bonini, marketing director at IMPACT Branding & Design, explains the needs of the Millennials.

The need for engaging and resourceful content has never been greater thanks to the buying behavior of Millennials and their thirst for information.  They’re adverse to sales pitches. Rather than being sold to, they prefer doing the research on their own in order to make decisions. They value conversation.

Millennials-vs-Boomers

Millennials are the largest demographic in the United States and Canada.

This is the new direction of brand positioning on the digital frontier: knowing who you are and engaging in constant two-way communication to see what customer needs can be met on a day-by-day basis.   After all, brands are no longer scouring the woods hunting down their chosen prey.  Instead, they are laying out a trail of the sweetest candy so no matter where you stumble onto the internet trail, your searches will find that trail and bring the consumer back to them.  Which makes knowing how your customers needs and how they perceive your brands position more important than it has ever been in the past.  Like an actor finding a character, a modern brand must find the verb or short sentence that best represents their company’s unique values.  Zappos values being “the online service leader” while Volkswagens verb of value is “Innovate“.  Once you know this, then you know where your customers are.  Zappos can market to those looking for exceptional service, while Volkswagen can aim to attract the innovators of the online community.

So how has this changed the definition of brand positioning?  According to Ardath Albee‘s blog on the Power of Position in B2B Content Strategy, digital brand positioning can now defined as:

“The art of sharing your company’s unique value in ways that resonate with your buyers, compelling them to engage, trust, and—ultimately—buy from you.

Engagement and trust, two words that lead me into the final area that has an impact on a brands digital positioning: the power of word of mouth.  Word of mouth has become an important influence in the online marketplace.  One angry voice can now overpower 1000 banner ads.  The latest statistics emphasize the degree of power that a strong word of mouth has on how your brand is publicly viewed.  By creating and engaging your community they are the cheapest way to grow the strength, and market share, of your company and your brand.  The statistics show that the immense power the voice of the consumer has online today.

So while I follow Sun Tzu’s teachings in my everyday life (a copy of The Art of War sits next to The Elements of Style on my work shelf), the facts show that the digital terrain warrants a different approach to the conventional warfare model market positioning was founded on.  It is no longer viable to fight a war into the mind of the consumer through traditional brand positioning methods and expensive media campaigns.  Instead, it is cheaper and more influential to open a dialogue with your consumers to get into their heart instead.  Your brand position, no matter how small a company you are, will be stronger for it.

“Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, I am strong!”

– Joel 3:10 “The Holy Bible – New International Version”

Let me know what side of the equation you stand on.  Swords or plowshares?  Battle for the mind, or heart?

 

Should Social Media Have a Speed Limit?

speedlimit

In my recent discussions with a variety of PR professionals we have talked about the rise of social media and how it has revolutionized how public relations, media and global communications as a whole.  The speed from which a story can be witnessed, recorded, published online and watched by someone across the globe is spectacular.  Long gone is the 24-hour news cycle.

Just today I got a tweet on my feed from @NASA talking about a live spacewalk that was taking place 354 km above me.  So with a click of a button I was watching an astronaut, well technically a cosmonaut, perform repairs up in space live on my computer screen.  I could hear him communicating with mission control while a NASA announcer guided those listening to the feed through what was going on.  It was captivating that technology has jumped this far in such a short span of time to be able to see, and feel a part of, something like that.

Fyodor_Yurchikhin_spacewalk3

But has it become too fast?  

With no controls the reputation of a person or business can be destroyed with false information, intentional or not, and a simple click of a button.  Within an hour that video, or mis-tweet,  can go viral and cause emotional, physical or financial damage before the truth can catch up.  

Using events that happened in the news today, I saw online debate on two separate companies who were fending off potential PR disasters due to bad tweets.  

After all, anything that you send out into the internet can never truly be erased.  Delete them all you want but somewhere, somehow, someone has a screenshot or backup of your professional or personal screw-up.  

That in my opinion is the reason why we need to accept a speed limit on social media.  An acceptable right lane where people can coast along in safety while those who dare race ahead and risk crashing in their own personal or corporate blaze of glory.  We, as a global society, need to make sure that speed isn’t of the essence, that patience will persevere and people will take that extra time to make sure accuracy overwhelms being first.

One can dream.

However, while social media is a great tool that can help those whose voices wouldn’t normally be heard, and whose causes need support, it will also attract those who seek to destroy things.  That is the double edged sword of human nature.  Again I have digressed a little from my original subject – it’s late so it tends to happen.

One of my biggest concerns of social media’s growing speed is the simple fact that it makes society more gullible and willing to accept what they read.  This goes hand-in-hand with the damage social media can cause to people and businesses.  We’re so used to breezing through fifty things flying at us through out phones that we latch onto the things that interest us and don’t give a second thought to whether they are true or not.  We’ve been trained to believe in the basic trust that what we’re being told is the truth.  Truth in what we learn in school.  Truth in what we’re told by our parents.  So naturally we see truth in what we read on the internet.

Now you can argue with me on this, that’s your right, but look at the simple fact that there are news organizations whom every day who reprint the faux stories posted on The Onion as real news solely because they see the words and trust them to be correct.  The fact they want to be first in reposting it to their audience overshadows the time they should be taking to make sure what they are printing is correct.  These are professionals who are forced to keep pace with and because of that they end up that driver in the SUV that just blitzed by you going 150 kph on your right side and almost taking off your mirror when they cut you off.

So should social media have a speed limit?  Slide into autopilot and chime into the debate.  After all it truly is an important issue that should be addressed before technology advances to the point where it’s beyond our control.