Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Social media disasters in the UK

Social media disasters

Social media disaster? Read about how to recover.

There are some good examples of effective social media advertising campaigns now it’s time to shine a light on how it can go wrong and more importantly, how to recover.

Weak practice in social media in the UK happened when where prominent companies left themselves open to criticism after their social media strategy went slightly wrong. They are examples from a few years’ ago so it’s easy to recommend ‘how to recover’.

Snickers social media ads using Twitter and questions about their teaser campaign

An advertising campaign for Snickers chocolate bars by parent company Mars some years ago led to an angry backlash from Twitter users. Stars such as former Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand and TV personality Katie Price tweeted comments that were out of character, such as Ferdinand’s claim that he was knitting a cardigan. These were followed by a photo of the star smiling, with the slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” while eating a Snickers bar. Angry Twitter users felt that the tweets didn’t make it clear they were advertising a company, and the advertising standards association intervened and set out their ruling but did not find Mars in breach of the standards.

How to recover from this social media disaster: Ensure adverts are more authentic! Be prepared for negative comments on ads and talk to the audience to explain the rationale.


NatWest – the helpful bank on Twitter

20160622 NatWest twitter help

NatWest Bank launched a Twitter feed in order to establish a direct, immediate point of contact for customers. However, after a major crash of their online banking system, leaving customers unable to access their account, no-one updated the NatWest Twitter. Their following increased by around 50% during the crisis, with angry customers voicing complaints, leading to the negativity going viral. Since then a third-party website has been established to notify users when the site has crashed.

How to recover from this social media disaster: An in-company Twitter wall or social listening programme would have identified the situation immediately. Adopt technology, listen to customers and have a plan in place for what to do in a crisis – ensure the PR team are fully integrated in all aspects of digital marketing.


Odeon Cinema cat napping over a holiday weekend

2012 Odean cinema negative on Twitter

Odeon Cinema didn’t respond quickly to a post by a dissatisfied customer on its Facebook wall. This led to negative feedback – about allegedly poor service and high prices – going viral. It received 292,000 likes and 24,000 comments. Odeon could have nipped it in the bud quickly by responding positively, rather than having a massive amount of negativity spread across social media. The challenge was that this occurred over a bank holiday.
How to recover from this social media disaster: Social listening software isn’t enough in this situation. The key is to ensure staff work on a rota system and cover messages 274/7 or at least at times when the service (such as cinema viewing) is available. If this isn’t possible, ensure the rules of engagement (when you’re available) are clearly displayed. Alternatively, adopt a traditional marketing method and provide a telephone number for people to call – this should be retained by the senior marketing person so they can respond as needed.


To avoid social media disasters, adopt some extra technology. If your budget doesn’t stretch to an enterprise wide system, there are many tools, some of which are free, to help monitor your social media. Read our article on 7 useful social media tools to learn what is right for your business.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

How to get around ad blockers

Targeting your audience to avoid ad blockers


Discover 4 ways to defeat ad blockers.

With the rise in the number of users planning to deploy ad blocking technology, legitimate advertisers will be keen to use all means at their disposal to navigate around the browsers and apps that can block valuable adverts. Rather than the nuclear option of blocking site access to people who use ad blockers, there are a range of options available to most businesses.

#1 Avoid ad blockers and use content marketing

The primary method to defeat the ad blockers will be to deploy content marketing and native advertising strategies to get products and adverts placed in prime positions on high-priority sites. A clear focus on digital strategy and the types of content will be required to support any extra cost, with a focus on key sites with synergistic content. With content marketing increasing in popularity, now is the perfect time to explore these options and see what can be done.

#2 Avoid ad blockers and get your ads white-listed

Of course, if your business has already engaged in a major or long-term advertising strategy, the simplest solution may be to pay to have your adverts white-listed by the advert blocking software to let them be seen as intended by users. This may be an unpalatable option, but may see any campaigns through to their end, when digital marketing practitioners can reconsider their options. Larger brands are already paying up, but a sliding scale is likely to be used to allow smaller advertisers access.

#3 Avoid ad blockers and make ads part of your social media strategy

Making adverts part of a social media strategy is one of the long-term ways to manage the rise in advert blockers. Companies with a sizeable or growing social media presence can intersperse their regular content with adverts, feeling free to explain that the rise of ad blockers has led to this change. Advertising is an expected part of social media sites, and users are less likely to be concerned about adverts, and more likely to click on links. Of course, this will only appeal to brand aware customers, requiring social media growth strategies to help boost awareness.

#4 Avoid ad blockers and stay ahead

One final tip is to ensure you keep informed about the latest moves in the ad blocking market. Advertising strategies will change, as effective methods are proven. Laws will be formulated in various territories, and more severe blocking products will arrive on the market to push the boundaries further. All of these must be considered by any advertisers planning ahead.


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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Facebook dark posts

Facebook dark posts

Discover more about Facebook dark posts.

Social media strategy has evolved at breakneck speed over the last few years, and digital marketing experts are always looking for the next way to give their advertising a crucial edge in the most competitive of arenas.

Facebook dark posts are one of the latest tactics in digital marketing, and for those who use them to their full potential, they have the power to revolutionise the fortunes of social media advertising due to the targeted nature of the audience segmentation.

The unpublished Facebook post

Don’t be unnerved by the name – there’s nothing underhand going on here! Facebook dark posts, also referred to as ‘unpublished’ posts, are simply a means of using ads which appear to your audience as Newsfeed items, without actually being published to your Facebook page. In addition to non-visibility on your wall, dark posts also give you the ability to use keywords for targeting – setting dark posts apart from the standard targeted Facebook post.

In short, a Facebook dark post allows you to run distinct ads tailored for different audiences – even with split test headlines and personalised messages – all without a single ad appearing on your wall! If you’re ready to take advantage of this technique, your first stop will be downloading Power Editor.

Introducing Power Editor

Power Editor is an essential Chrome extension for Facebook marketeers. You’ll find it’s  more flexible than Facebook’s own advertising platform. Initially, you’ll need to synchronise Power Editor with your page.

1. Click Manage Posts (in the top left corner)
2. Select the page for which the ad is being created
3. Click the Create Post button
4. In the dialog box which appears, choose the Post Type and then complete the field details as prompted
5. Select your keywords and interest categories to target your dark post more effectively
6. Select to publish your post, and finally click Create Post

After you’ve created your first dark post, you’ll find yourself having plenty of fun targeting your advertising to the exact interests of community members, tweaking sentences and using different imagery. It’s all crucial in building those personal connections. With dark posts on Facebook, you’ll take a much more enlightened approach to social media advertising. And don’t forget about Facebook Canvas, telling stories about your brand.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Crowdsourcing ideas

Idea generation

Is crowdsourcing the future of business innovation?

The rising phenomenon of crowdsourcing is bringing strong, profitable ideas to market at a pace previously unimagined. Crowdsourcing is a unique way of obtaining research and feedback for product development or seeking out innovative solutions to a range of problems. Success stories born from crowdsourcing include the pebble smart watch and a Veronica Mars feature film.

Popular crowdsourcing platforms

Two popular crowdsourcing platforms are  Topcoder and Innocentive

Topcoder’s mission is “to reward and recognize the world’s best designers, developers and data scientists for honing and improving their skills” this crowdsourcing platform is based upon a community of competition. The members, or ‘competitors’ work on challenges faced by Topcoder’s customer base, a mix of Global 2000 companies.

How does crowdsourcing ideas work?

Topcoder creates challenges that are broken down into three ‘tracks’ – design, development and data science. These are further categorised into specific disciplines such as graphic design, algorithms and code development. The site operates on its own rating system that rates competitors on their solutions and reliability. Each solution submitted is subjected to a peer review as a means of quality control and a way of providing feedback to contributors. Entrance into the ‘Winner’s Circle’ and merit badges are awarded to those who win the challenges.
Topcoder provides an innovative way for those working in the web design industry to collaborate with each other and improve best practice across the trade.
Crowdsourcing works by taking advantage of the collective intelligence and opinions of as many people as possible. Innocentive, a crowdsourcing platform, aims to provide research and development, innovation and product development through “engaging thousands, or even millions of professionals who provide solutions and novel ideas”. Users can submit ideas for feedback, problems for solutions and questions for research.
Innocentive has also developed ‘Innocentive at work’, a cloud based application that is designed to create ‘innovation communities’ from groups of employees, partners and customers. This allows private crowdsourcing within corporations and agencies, giving them a cost effective way of collaboration and a much larger outreach.
Again, as with Topcoder, Innocentive has a community of competition approach whereby contributors compete to provide solutions and ideas in their respective fields. Innocentive also prides itself on standing apart from other innovation providers in that customers only pay for results, not for work undertaken or failed ideas. Innocentive calls this a ‘fundamental change in the economics of innovation’.


Who has used crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is also an inventive way of developing new products. Threadless, a t-shirt printing company asks artists from around the world to submit designs for their products. Members of the ‘Threadless community’ review and score the designs and the best ones are printed and sold earning the artists royalties from the sales.
Still a relatively new way of problem solving, product development and market research, crowdsourcing has a lot of potential for future application. Recent developments have seen it being used by government officials such as New Zealand’s Green Party MP Gareth Hughes. Hughes used crowdsourcing as a way of gaining feedback and improvements on a draft of an internet rights bill that his party was to put forward to its government.

And if you have a great idea, but no cash to finance the next big thing, read about crowdfunding here.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Top 5 reasons for Uber’s success


Read how Uber rocketed from an idea to a service in over 450 cities

In 2008 two guys were in Paris and stuck for a lift. No taxis, no public transport and as necessity is the mother of all invention, Uber was created. The company was founded in March 2009 in San Francisco by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp. Uber has achieved that elusive thing, an app that was an idea has gone mainstream and become part of everyday life. So how have they done it?

#1 Uber’s success – More than a gap, a real need

The first thing was to spot the gap in the market. While it may have started as an aspirational lifestyle item – being the guy who has a cab at his disposal – it has fulfilled a very real role in a functional market, with normal taxi services being a little shambolic, relying on you having a cab firm’s number, having the right money with you or having to ask to go to a cash machine, not being quite sure who might pick you up. However, Uber has removed those problems in one fell swoop.

#2 Uber’s success – Adopt technology at the core

In 2010 Uber started with three cars in New York and used Twitter to hire a product manager. It had the potential to be a great service, but that’s true of many start-ups. Uber cleverly based the business on technology at its core.

#3 Uber’s success – Embrace marketing

The revolutionary cab service embraced marketing, equally in a non-traditional way. Their digital marketing strategy focused on raising brand awareness – sponsorship of relevant major events and publicity ‘stunts’ such as the motorcades on President’s Day, where their tagline was “This President’s Day, take a trip in the UBERcade”. With social media images being shared with millions simply by the tap of a screen, the brand became instantly familiar in people’s minds.

Clearly the marketing team have had classical and digital marketing training. What’s more important is that they’ve applied the marketing theory to the business need and remained agile.

#4 Uber’s success -Harness the crowd

As Uber’s numbers grew, they utilised the classic ‘recommend a friend’ tactic, encouraging existing users to spread the word about their service. They did this with reward vouchers – if you referred a friend who signed up you both got a discount voucher for use against a future trip.

#5 Uber’s success – Fuel for social media

Uber encouraged demand by rumours, which spread so delightfully online and through social media! Known as ‘stealth Ubers’ they would hint at their arrival in a city but make no official announcement, letting the rumour and hype fuel the desire to try it out and see what’s around. The political nature of introducing the service, with complicated licensing regulations and protests from established Black Cabs guaranteed media interest too.

What’s next for Uber?

And the competitors have now appeared, Lyft, Heetch and Curb. The difference is that Uber continues to develop the app and crucially to develop the product offer. UberPool, UberEats and more product evolution takes place and continues to strengthen the brand.

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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

SnapAds - Advertising on Snapchat

I had an email today from 4C who advised that they have been named as a Snapchat Partner and will develop new self-service software to help brands engage their audiences with Snap Ads.

As we know, Snapchat is a popular social media channel for advertisers given its 100+ million daily active users and 10+ billion daily video views. 

Snapchat user profile

  • In the U.S., 60% of 13-34 year old smartphone owners use the app
  • Gender composition is approximately 50% female and 50% male 
  • Half of all Snapchatters are based outside the US

“The ability to advertise on Snapchat has been one of the biggest asks from our clients over the past year,” said Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C. “Snapchat Partners will provide that access while allowing 4C to continue to build innovative solutions within our own product suite. Being a Snapchat Partner also gives our clients confidence that Snapchat has identified 4C as a partner that will be able to help them achieve success on the platform.”

“Snap Ads are different than what is currently available in the market and will be big for brands,” said Alok Choudhary, founder and Chief Scientist at 4C. “The Snap Ads format is full screen, audio is usually on and the demographic is great. Both Snapchat and 4C share an intense focus on innovation and user experience and being a Snapchat Partner will allow our clients to evolve in parallel.”

Introduction to YouTube advertising

Introduction to YouTube Ads

Read our introduction to YouTube advertising.

Why YouTube Advertising?

Google recently claimed, controversially, that YouTube ads are more effective than TV ads. With their findings based on analysis of 56 case studies, Google suggested that advertisers should be allocating six times more of their advertising budget to YouTube than they currently do.

The booming success of YouTube has played a huge part in the rise of ‘Team Internet’, the social media influencers taking the internet by storm and carving a career from self-created content. YouTube ads are one of the ways to make money from the online video platform.

How do YouTube ads work?

YouTube ads typically play at the beginning of a YouTube video. Viewers often have the option to skip after five seconds, while shorter ads must be played through for their 30 second duration. YouTube recently added the option for content creators to place ads in at intervals throughout the video, as well as at the start.

Benefits of YouTube Advertising

One of the key benefits of YouTube marketing is how it allows you to connect with your audience in a way that is becoming increasingly fundamental to online marketing and social media advertising as a whole. Consumers want to interact and YouTube provides a great way to do this.

Plus if a viewer doesn’t see enough of the ad, you don’t pay. YouTube understands that a minimum view time is required.

Customise YouTube ads

YouTube ads are also customised and tailored towards the individual who is viewing them, which is one big leap from traditional advertising. The adverts shown will be related to a user’s search history and the content they are currently viewing, meaning that ads are relevant. On live TV, all viewers see the same adverts, which may cause users to switch off from them. On YouTube, your ad is more likely to be seen by people who are actually interested in the product or service.

YouTube Statistics

YouTube’s stats are impressive. It is the third most visited website in the world, behind only Google and Facebook. One billion people visit YouTube each month and over 100 hours of video are uploaded every 60 seconds. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, YouTube reportedly reaches more US adults under the age of 34 than any cable network does.

The reach of YouTube is already large and is getting bigger. Advertising on Youtube will soon be the norm and it is an exciting market to tap into right now.

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