About Kayley Brooks
With several years experience in strategic social media, event and brand management, Kayley Brooks is on the constant lookout for new ways to bring brands into a relevant digital space, with a fresh twist. She has also worked in design, developing creative work for brands including Red Bull, Budweiser and Skyy Vodka. Kayley is currently the Marketing Manager at Omobono, a digital agency based in Cambridge England, specializing in strategic B2B businesses.
Latest Posts by Kayley Brooks
By now, we know that businesses are using social media. Some are doing so brilliantly. Some are just testing the waters. Some have no clue where to begin. All of these are great places to be. They all mean that businesses are getting involved in social media which is good because, if I was a betting woman, I would bet that social media isn’t going anywhere but forward. Getting involved and growing understanding to think more strategically starting now can only be of benefit.
We have our own approach of the way businesses can use social media to engage audiences and have created a graphic representation of this process; it’s the one we follow with ourselves and our clients.
It all essentially boils down to the C’s - content (curate others or create your own), conversation (engaging not controlling) and connection (because, after all, we know that relationships drive business).The time to start planning out your C’s is now.
What’s your approach to strategic social media planning?
I attended the Social Collective conference in London earlier this month. In an apparently very exclusive presentation, CNN shared some recent results from global research (called ‘Pownar’, for ‘power of news and recommendation’) they have done looking at the sharing behaviour of digital users. Fascinatingly in-depth look at the web of sharing each user can create online.
In an age of viral and content marketing gone wild (thanks, social media!), understanding what makes certain content ‘share-able’ is a necessary asset to any strategic campaign. Sharing, as highlighted by the CNN research, is typically driven by one of two basic motivating factors: altruistic (“I’ll share this because it is similar to my friend’s interest”) or broadcasting (“I’ll share this to increase my status in this subject”).
While the study explored a broad scope of content, it did of course focus specifically on CNN content. It found, interestingly enough, that every ‘sharer’ typically brings an average of 5 new visitors to the CNN site. Specifically within their business content, research determined that over half of their readership was as a result of sharing and that almost half of the ‘frequent sharers’ (6+ shares in a week) were from the C-suite.
So business customers (and decision-makers) are online, actively consuming – and sharing – content.
If you don’t have already have a content strategy in place, perhaps it’s time?
[NOTE: You can read more on the research from CNN here]
Communicate Magazine asked us to name a few of the best brands in social media right now. While only one ran, there are so many shining examples of great social media use in B2B so it’s more than worth sharing them.
Here are our top picks at the moment:
Deloitte on Facebook:
Deloitte has an excellent branded Facebook page. The customised page is engaging and content rich, drawing a global audience and earning over 29,000 fans. The landing site to the page samples the content on offer from Deloitte across social spaces, including YouTube, Twitter and the Deloitte corporate blog. It’s a brilliant integration of social content to create a cohesive digital presence.
Intel on Youtube:
Intel’s YouTube channel is a great example of a solid branded channel. The page is all about brand interaction. With a customised background and playlists, smartly highlighted by categorical buttons in the header, the channel actively encourages users to engage with a clear call to a set of actions including subscribing to weekly updates, sharing videos across an exhaustive list of social bookmarking sites and visiting Intel’s other social spaces (Twitter, Facebook).
The Economist on Twitter:
A great example of Twitter done well is The Economist. It has a clearly defined strategy as a news source rather than a conversational brand. Across its thirteen different feeds, page backgrounds remain consistent and clearly highlight not only the other ‘Econ’ feeds, separated by region and interest (including the Twitter feeds of their bloggers and special features, such as The Economist Debates) but The Economist presence across other social networks (Facebook, YouTube).
What brands do you think use social media brilliantly?
Earlier this month, the Arcade Fire released the video for their new single ‘We Used To Walk’. But they completley blew the roof off the concept of a ‘traditional’ music video. In a collaboration with Google, they’ve created a video experiment using HTML-5 to take users on a digital ‘walk’ through their childhood neighborhood.
It’s brilliant – intended to both challenge the ‘quo and, most importantly, engage users. And not just users as in ‘fans of the band’ but users of the web. It’s become a viral hit, making it’s rounds in inboxes and social feeds across the web, meaning the band is reaching an entirely new and globally further-reaching audience than they ever could had they released a ‘standard’ video single. Certainly, there is room to grow from the video and their are a few bugs in the delivery (ie: you can only run it on a Chrome browser) but it’s a good start.
Really, it’s a great example of getting creative with customer engagement which is what good digital should do. If you haven’t already, you can give it a go for yourself at www.thewildnernessdowntown.com.
Recently, we discussed the idea of ‘The Case Study’. The Case Study, as a concept, seems so fundamental it’s almost not worth discussing. But this is exactly why we chose to.
When you look at case studies (if you do…do you?), why are you looking? Are you searching for successful results to justify your own campaign? Creative inspiration? Or something else altogether?
Most marketing teams have a set of case studies to refer to in new business meetings or awards showcases and a lot of case studies set out to highlight what a company does – to help promote the marketing department. In this sense, the focus is likely more on the creativity and results, than the ideology and process behind the execution – the case study is a promotion piece. So, does a case study represent ‘who we are and what we do’ or ‘what we do and how we do it’?
An interesting point was raised by our Director, Fran, asking: is a case study about campaign creativity or marketing principles?
We collectively agreed that, at best, it’s about both. A case study serves the same essential purpose as a user review – to vouch for the reputation of a brand. The reputation, as the brand presents it, can then be more creatively or strategically focused but it will always include both.
And up came the famous adage, dividing the audience into ‘Show-Me people and Tell-Me people’. The intent of the case study comes from the brand behind it – it is going to be just something to talk about? Or look at? Or is it a learning tool to showcase the thought process behind the execution?
Time has released its big list of the Top 50 Websites of the year. The sites hit a range of topics across arts, news, sports, business and more. What’s interesting is that at least 80% of them are all based on the idea of engagement. Yes, some of them have great design (Vimeo is so much prettier than YouTube) but they also have a purpose and story to interact with.
No longer is a website about dispatching information. The new digital engages users, not necessarily as the next Twitter, but engages them nonetheless. MIT, for example, offers ‘OpenCourseWare’ to engage the audience not directly attending MIT, creating accessibility to a broader scope. That’s the great thing about digital (including but not strictly about social media) — it allows you to connect with your brand and story with your audience.
In homage to the Time Top 50, we’ve come up with our own list of inspirationally engaging sites we’ve come across as of late:
Rackspace ‘building43′ – the web hosting service sponsors a site dedicated to user-generated content focused on sharing thought-leading ideas about technology, web and design.
Europe by Eurostar – Eurostar’s new site dedicated to user-generated European travel reviews and tips; a little bit TripAdvisor, a little bit the Eurostar product.
Business Week’s Business Exchange – an homage to LinkedIn discussions (and integrating your own LinkedIn contacts) mixed with content of Business Week.
The Economist Thinking Space – an interactive microsite showcasing innovation inspiration from global thought leaders. Next steps are to integrate user-generated and location-based content.
Omobono Client Work – I know, a bit of shamless self-promotion…but I am really proud of the work we create for clients to produce engaging content that might just think a little bit outside the box, but reaps some pretty big rewards for the brands (as an example, one of our clients saw a 300% increase in leads from our work with them).
This is obviously not an all-encompassing list. What other sites have you seen that really connect brand with audience?
This year’s SXSWi-ers were the first user group to be introduced to the world of Stickybits, a new user-gen content-and-location app. It’s been making pretty big waves across social and news media so we decided it was time to have a go with it in the office.
Essentially, it is a barcode to which you can upload content with your smartphone and stick to real-life objects. You can attach any sort of content to it (pictures, images, copy, audio, etc…) including the location, if you want. Other people can then discover and scan the barcode to see what you’ve uploaded (the content that ‘owns’ the bar code) and can add content to it (a bit like commenting on a blog – so everyone who scans/views the code after you will be able to view the content you’ve added).
Try scanning the barcode above (you will have to download the app, but it’s free) to see how it works.
Official barcodes can be bought or downloaded from the Stickybits site but, in an interesting twist, you can apparently also ‘tag’ (add) your content to existing barcodes as well (yep, even the one on that can of cola on your desk).
I’m not entirely convinced it’s eternally practical, especially in a broad scope of accessibility as it’s a smartphone app and not a web based app. Part of the appeal of Twitter, Facebook, et al. is that they are web-based with mobile capacity, meaning they are more accessible to more people, in more ways, in wider demos. Stickybits is for smartphone users only (and not even all smartphone users – though Adam, our resident Googlevangelist, is happy they’ve included Android).
I also imagine there’s a huge amount of trust needed to make this work in a family-friendly, legit way for any sort of long term stability. I don’t think anyone wants to see streets lined with Stickybits or stumble across disturbing content (though apparently there is a ToS to abide by) while they’re innocently scanning away.
Still, it’s intriguing. It opens up the door for brands (and not just the consumer ones, either!) to add another layer of interactive messaging to a physical product; a new layer of contact for building relationships.
It’s a great step in the direction of on and offline integration and there’s huge potential to get really creative with it. Brands can incorporate reviews, best practice guides, user manuals, product notes, inventory, tracking, feedback forms, viral contesting , maps, business information, networking details… the barcode is your oyster.
So now I put it to you – have you tried it out? Come up with some good ideas? Have any thoughts on its practicality, longevity or even relevancy?
Earlier this year, I attended a seminar in Branding & Communications Today.
It was a morning of examining brand strategies and key demographics. The phrase of the day was definitely 'Gen Y', after a presentation focused purely on exploring the behaviours (on and offline) of the social media generation (those born '81 to '01) who were also affectionately referred to as Young Fogey's, for their tendancies to behave older than their years, despite their depictions in the media).
At the end of the morning, we broke into groups and discussed the morning's presentations. When the topic of Gen Y inevitably came up, one of the members in our group posed an interesting question:
Do you consider your audience based on age/gender/routine or do you consider your audience in terms of their lifestyle and behaviour?
An example he gave of this was a 40 year old divorcee regressing into juvenile behaviour compared against an 'Young Fogey' behaving wise beyond his (or her) years.
While the process of considering demographics is clearly not as clean cut as A or B, it's still an interesting thought, don't you think?