Category: Digital Strategy

Is Social Media Squishing The Adoption Lifecycle?

Digital Strategy, Marketing, Social Media7 Comments

Last month, it was reported that Google+ had racked up over 25 million users making it the fastest growing website in history. This prompted some – including some tech and social media royalty – to suggest Facebook and Twitter’s time was up and the future was all Google+. But at a time when some signs suggest we are suffering from social media fatigue, did Google read the zeitgeist and launch the next evolution of social networks or was their timing just incredibly fortunate?

We’re more connected now

The hype on launch was deafening. If you worked and lived in social media, everyone was talking about it particularly when heavy hitters like Chris Brogan and Robert Scoble jumped on and declared it the way forward. The figure often used here is the length of time it took Facebook (3 years) and Twitter (30 months) to reach 25 million users but what most forget in that comparison is that the acceleration in growth correlates with an increase in connectedness.

It can’t be understated how important this was in driving such rapid growth, the fact that we are more connected than ever before means that it is easier than ever to seed an idea provided it is compelling enough to your audience. In the case of Google+, the number of people actively playing in, not just on, social media for work and play gave it a ready made audience.

Adoption is getting faster

The diffusion of innovation has now changed. Instead of a normal distribution, the front of the curve where the innovators and early adopters live is getting squished as we adopt innovation faster than ever before. Before Google+, it was the iPad that smashed all records for consumer electronics adoption in a market that previously didn’t exist.

Social media is driving this by empowering consumers and changing their behaviour to become active participants in media and technology. Every blog, tweet, check-in and status update can cause innovation to be diffused not only faster, but to the right people who can amplify and seed it further.

Technology Adoption Lifecycle

A 'Normal' Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Hat-tip Martin Read for the inspiration for this post from his tweet several months ago (alas, I couldn’t find the link).

 

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How To Avoid Creating A Monster

Digital Strategy, Social Media2 Comments

There’s a great quote from Jurassic Park that I’m constantly reminded of. Right after all hell breaks loose and dinosaurs have taken over the theme park, Jeff Goldblum’s character confronts Richard Attenborough’s and says “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Probably should've thought this one through...

Every time when brainstorming, planning or generally creating, I try to reflect on those words to keep things in perspective.

Our natural inclination when designing anything whether it be a new website, campaign or Facebook page, is to cram into it as many shiny new things as possible. You will no doubt be familiar with the incessant tinkering and growing functionality that occurs without a tight scope and good leadership. When you work in marketing or advertising, it’s easy to get excited about what’s new because we all want to push the envelope and stand out from the pack. The danger comes when we push things that little bit too far and  we bolt on more features then necessary that it stops making sense to the consumer and becomes a confusing mess. The secret then is to keep it simple and focused on what matters to our customers.

  • Google destroyed Yahoo, Alta Vista and all the other search engines because it did what it did really well and put user needs front and centre. You type in a keyword, hit search and get back pages of relevant results. No muss, no fuss.
  • The best mobile apps aren’t the ones that try and do everything but are focused on a particular utilitarian task. They don’t try to cram in a whole load of features that might not get used and focus on the cherry on top.

But you knew that already.

The reason why I was inspired to right this post is because of a great book – actually, more like a manifesto – I read by Steve Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and The War of Art. Entitled Do The Work, it addresses the challenge artists face about overcoming internal resistance, putting your head down and getting to work. One of the techniques he suggests to stay focused is to think like a screenwriter or playwright and boil your project down to three acts:  a beginning, a middle and an end. Act One, Act Two, Act Three.

For example, this is how Pressfield explains Facebook in three acts:

  1. A digital commons, upon which anyone who wishes may establish, free, his or her own personal “page.”
  2. Each page owner determines who is permitted access to his or her page.
  3. Thus creating a worldwide community of “friends” who can interact with other “friends” and communicate or share virtually anything they want.

Everything in-between is filler; the tactics undertaken to get from 1-2-3.

Next time you sit down to develop your idea, first try and explain it in three sentences. Having this fundamental understanding of the what and the why could mean the difference between setting yourself up for failure and delivering a successful project in-scope and on-budget.

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Don’t Neglect Your Website

Analytics, Digital Strategy6 Comments

An Avinash Kaushik quote that I find myself repeating almost daily is “Don’t write cheques in social media that your website can’t cash.”

While I 100% agree with what Avinash is saying, I’d go even further and say don’t write cheques period that your website can’t cash. Simply put, your website (or ‘home base’) is probably the most valuable weapon in your marketing arsenal. It’s rare to see a marketing campaign these days (unless it’s purely branding) where the website isn’t at the heart.

Despite that, so many marketers, seduced by the perceived ease and reach of social media (Hint: it’s bloody hard, and reach is an illusion – you will never connect with all 600m denizens of Facebook), neglect their website or blindly continue plugging away with traditional tactics that, ironically enough, send people to poorly constructed landing pages and websites.

Landing pages and indeed websites are the front door(s) to your business, so why spend big bucks on acquiring traffic when all you’re doing is sending them to the online equivalent of a Soviet Gulag?

Here are 7 tips to keep in mind next time you’re planning your digital campaign and landing pages:

  1. Have a clear objective in mind. Know exactly what you want a visitor to do when they arrive at your page. That can be something like filling in a form, downloading a PDF or watching a video.
  2. Make sure you can track it. Whichever analytics package you are using, setup a goal for each macro and micro objective. If it’s something like watching a video or any other interaction, you might need to work with your web developer  to put in the proper code so you can do this.
  3. Design it effectively and align it with your objective. Landing pages should never, ever look like just another page on your website. They are a key conversion point that determine whether a visitor is going to go deeper into your site, buy your widget or handover their details. Not only must it look good and appeal to your customers, but it has to drive conversions.
  4. Hire a copywriter. While online video and audio is growing, the Internet is still 99.9799994392% text (don’t quote me on that). This gets overlooked incredibly often. You wouldn’t let a florist fix your car, so why leave your copy to someone who isn’t an expert?
  5. Always Be Testing (A/B or multivariate). Just because you’ve put your landing page up doesn’t mean the journey is over. This is only the beginning as now you have the fun job of refining and improving the page to eke out every 0.001% improvement in conversion rate. Test everything you can think of from colours, images, copy, fonts, forms, etc. but don’t go crazy. How much and how often you test can depend on how much traffic you get.
  6. Speaking of traffic, align your traffic acquisition tactics and creative with what your landing page. Probably the biggest contributor to bounce rate (a single page visit) and non-conversion is the web page meeting the promise of an ad, post, video, etc. It’s important that your website does what it says it does, without confusing or misleading your audience.
  7. Tell your story everywhere else. Keep your message platform agnostic and make sure it works across multiple touch points.

What do you think? What else should you do to keep your website relevant and convert traffic?

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Why most web content sucks

Digital Strategy3 Comments

It’s often said that content is king. So why then do most businesses online presence fail precisely because they treat their content like the king’s poor idiot cousin?

Here are some thoughts why:

It’s an afterthought

A disproportionate amount of time gets spent on the design and function of a website instead of thinking through content requirements, site structure and navigation. Often it is only after a website/blog/social media profile is setup that creating content even enters into the equation. If design is what gets the audiences attention, it’s the content that makes them stick. Content and the related issues such as information architecture, site structure and functionality all need to be addressed early.

It’s created for marketing (not people)

While websites in and of themselves are a marketing tool, content needs to be aligned to user objectives. In short, stop thinking about content in terms of marketing and promotion but more informing and entertaining. The old saying people use the web to save time or waste time applies here.

It’s not optimised for the web

The web is not like any other environment (it’s save time or waste time, again) and you need to respect that. Think about all the good stuff like SEO, headlines, tags, links and appropriate writing for the web when you start preparing content. Whether you’re outsourcing your copywriting or doing it yourself, make sure you check out some of great resources on the web, such as Website Criteria and SEOmoz.

It’s too brief

While web content shouldn’t be vast, sprawling amounts of text, it also shouldn’t be too short. It seems like the conversational aspect of social media has almost become an excuse for content to be vague. Understanding your audience is key to giving them the information they need quickly and succinctly without having to navigate a plethora of pages.

It can’t be found and shared

Build it and they will come is definitely not how it works. If a wicked funny video gets created and no one watches does it really exist? With so much content floating around the webs, you need to give yours the best chance of not only being found but also being shared by your most loyal customers. Think SEO and SSO (Social Search Optimisation), RSS, platforms and basic sharing/interactive functionality.

No one is responsible

Someone in your organisation whether it’s big or small needs to be responsible for maintaining content whether it’s on your website, Facebook page or blog. Stuff goes out of date really fast on the web and you need to keep feeding it with interesting, relevant content otherwise your audience will simply stop paying attention and go elsewhere. Particularly in social media, there is so much else to do that it’s critical that you give your audience compelling reasons why they should follow you. Besides, nothing looks worse than a long forgotten Facebook page riddled with unanswered questions and spammy comments.

These are just some of my views. What do you think? What other common web content mistakes have you seen?

If you’re keen to find out more, Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web is a great place to start.

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Ideas don’t need to be big, just portable

Digital Strategy6 Comments

Increasing media fragmentation has made it harder and harder for marketers to get their messages in font of audiences. Driven by the Internet and the abundance of choice it brings, consumers have the freedom to watch, listen and read what they want, when they want.

With so many potential touch points, you can no longer rely on a single execution to get your message across let alone guarantee that it is going to be heard.

Current research on changing media consumption shows that Australians are preferring to spend our time online than watching TV (which is probably time-shifted anyway), listening to radio or reading a newspaper. Even if we are, a smartphone, iPad or laptop is seldom far away. And online, the list of potential activities is endless whether it’s browsing your favourite sites, checking RSS feeds, instant messaging, paying bills, posting status updates or simply sending an email.

The seeds to drive attention, interest, desire and action can be planted on a multitude of platforms, each with their own unique mechanics and nuances. For instance:

Email must be personalised and timely if it’s to achieve all important clickthroughs.

Similarly, search engine marketing must be targeted and relevant based on the context of the users search.

Social media is about not marketing to your customers (in the traditional sense) but starting a conversation.

The point is it is you can’t treat them all the same. Big ideas tend to work only one way. It is not enough to take a good TV execution and shoehorn it into social media or a ‘viral video’ (with the exception of Old Spice). Ideas need to work across multiple touch points.

Marketing is now less about having the big ideas seen in Mad Men and The Gruen Transfer, and more about having lots of small ideas that can be tested and refined in parallel on multiple channels.

Don’t spend all your time and resources upfront searching for the big idea. Instead start with a touchpoint analysis of where your customers are and then see which ideas will tie them together.

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