The All Access Pass

An interesting story on Marketplace this evening suggested that social media is responsible for increased viewership of traditional media, particularly around large live events. The Super Bowl and Grammys attained their highest-ever viewership this year. We will likely see this again at the Oscars: over 10,000 folks have purchased one of the Oscars-related applications they mentioned.

Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter make it possible for folks to watch a show “together”, even if they aren’t in the same room.  Televised events have become a new sort of  “spectator sport”, with social  media providing a way to experience an event as part of a group, talk about it in real time, even when not there in person. Of course, it’s not quite the same as being there in person – there’s no sense of the “roar of the crowd”  – but it can be a meaningful experience (and in some cases it might be better: you can be warm, dry and in a comfortable chair instead of sitting in the rain on cold bleachers).

Google’s Art Project is another example of how technology is broadening the opportunity for access and participation. When I’m in a gallery, I love to stand back and see the entire painting, then move closer to see the brush strokes, the depth of the paint on the canvas, the techniques the artist used. While that’s not possible on the Google site, the experience of the art is a different one. The level of detail is astounding: the project includes 16 images over one gigapixel in size – that’s over 1 billion pixels! And it’s pretty unlikely that I would ever have the opportunity to visit all the museums that are represented in this project, so the project gives me access that was previously unavailable.

The challenge for brand marketers: How can your brand use ideas like these to expand the reach of your events? How can you delight your customers by giving them access they couldn’t get otherwise? How can you deepen the relationship by providing something no other brand can give?

Some Recent Social Marketing Statistics

Need to support your case for investments in social marketing? Some of these stats might be help.

  • In the US, there are 149M active Facebook users, 70% log in once a day – Ogilvy & BuddyMedia
  • Social media accounts for ~ 25% of all time spent online over 35 minutes per hour – Nielsen
  • Facebook accounts for 8.93% of all website visits in the US. All of Google’s properties including YouTube, Gmail, Google accounts for 9.85% – Experian Hitwise
  • 64% of Facebook users have liked a brand on Facebook – ExactTarget
  • By 2012, half of the world’s Internet users, 1 billion people, will have a Facebook account – TIME (12/7-1/3 edition)
  • Facebook’s fastest growing demographic is 17-35 year olds – TIME
  • 43% of Facebook users who “unlike” a brand do so because of too much push marketing – Exact Target
  • 46% of Internet users worldwide interact with social media on a daily basis –TNS
  • 25% of social media users are more likely to look into a brand advertising on social media – Adology
  • 15% of these users are more likely to purchase from social media advertisers – Adology
  • 38% of Small & Micro Businesses would use social media more if they had more time or a convenient management solution –  Vistaprint
  • 46% of micro business owners utilize social media – Vistaprint
  • $4.26 billion will be spent on social media marketing globally in 2011 – eMarketer
  • 17% of US online consumers have created a Twitter account – ExactTarget
  • 48% of Twitter users check their account at least once a day – Exact Target
  • 71% of Twitter users expect to receive marketing messages via the platform – Exact Target
  • 41% of users who have unfollowed a brand on Twitter did so because they were over-marketed to – ExactTarget
  • 46% of Twitter users meet with friends more in person over 2009 – Social Mythbusting
  • 78.6% of consumers have joined a company’s community to get more information on the company – Universal McCann
  • 71% of community members say they are more likely to purchase from brand – Universal McCann
  • 66% of company community members note that the community has made them more loyal to a brand – Universal McCann
  • 63% of corporate community members note that they will recommend brand to friends/family – Universal McCann
  • Ford’s 2011 Explorer launch on Facebook generated a 200% greater return than a Super Bowl ad –  Social Media Case Studies, Stories, Perspectives

Taming the To-Do List

Almost everyone I talk to seems to feel overwhelmed by the pace of their life: too much to do in too little time. Perhaps some of this is fueled by all the electronic means of communications available to us, with overflowing email in-boxes, endless Twitter streams and RSS feeds, and a Facebook news feed that we will never catch up with. But perhaps some of it is also fueled by our natural desire to feel important, to be valued, to make a difference because we are here on the earth, so we allow our days to fill up to overflowing with tasks and “things to do”.

I periodically have the jump off the hamster wheel for a couple of hours, take a deep breath, and remind myself of what I’m trying to accomplish. Sometimes I even re-read a book that years ago changed the way I manage my life: Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey’s book helps me remember that there is only so much time I will have on this earth, and I want to be sure that I am living each day in an intentional way and doing the things that really matter to ME.

There are certain things I want to accomplish in my life, and I have found that if I don’t intentionally plan for those things, they won’t get done. Interesting things pop up all the time and ask for my attention; this planning process gives me a way to decide whether those interesting things are worth a reallocation of my time. Despite all the electronic systems available for this, the most effective tool I’ve found is a paper-based planning system called the Planner Pad, and here are the steps I follow.

1. Roles. My planner isn’t only for work; it reflects everything that I want to spend time on: family time, work, volunteer activity, recreation and personal development. Covey’s book talks about establishing “roles” in your life; I include each role in the top section of my planner. For me, I have 4 work-specific roles, one called “volunteer”, another called “wife”, and one that is “me”. Each week I think about what I want to do in each role, what is important to those that are affected by the role, and how I can make it better. You may think it odd to include something like “wife”, but if my relationship with my husband is important, I need to spend time thinking about how to make that relationship the best it can be. I do that for my work roles, so why wouldn’t I do it for the most important person in my life?

2. To D0’s. I capture every “to-do”, big and small, in my planner. If I don’t have it with me and have to scribble down something, I transfer it into my planner as soon as possible (but I try to always have it with me). Whenever I have an idea, or someone asks me to do something, I write it down in the top section of my Planner Pad. If it fits in one of my existing roles, it goes there. If not, it goes into a blank column at the side, so that I can think about it during my weekly planning time.

3. Reflection. I make a weekly appointment with myself every Friday afternoon to reflect and plan. If something comes up on Friday that makes this impossible, I make sure that I find time during the weekend to do it, so that I can begin my week with a clear sense of my priorities. But I do my best to keep that appointment with myself: it is one of the most important appointments I have each week.

4. Priorities. I read through the “to-do’s” that are under each role from the previous week, and go through my email inbox to make sure I’ve added any new assignments or needs. Then I start thinking about each role and what I would like to accomplish in the coming week. If I have put a lot of  time into one role during the past week, I may need to make a conscious effort to balance that out in the coming week so I can make progress on other things. If I am going to be preparing for a critical presentation in the next week, I know that most of my other roles won’t be get much of my attention, and that’s OK. At least I’m making a conscious decision about my time.

5. Scheduling. Once I have a clear view of all my roles and what I need to accomplish, I can begin planning my time for the week. I typically start doing this at the bottom of the pad, by filling in all the appointments that are already scheduled for the next few weeks. That will remind me of things that I will need to prepare for these existing commitments, and if they aren’t already on the to-do list at the top, I can add them. This also shows me what free time I have during the week, and alert me to any potential conflicts. I might find that I need to reschedule something to be able to have the time for something else that is more important.

6. Daily to-do list. Now with my roles and master to-do list written at the top page, my already scheduled time at the bottom, and my priorities clearly established in my mind, I can start to fill in the middle section: my specific to-do list for each day. I schedule time slots to accomplish those tasks, which helps me recognize if I don’t have time to actually complete it. I also put this on my electronic calendar to be sure that others don’t “steal” that time from me by inviting me to a meeting, and to allow me to make a conscious choice about whether the meeting to which I’m invited is more important that the task I have scheduled for that time.  I make my daily to-do list at the end of each day, basing the list for tomorrow based on what I was able to accomplish today.

I know this seems way too regimented for many, but it works for me. Some weeks I am more disciplined about it than others. The weeks when I really follow this process are usually my most productive – or at least they feel that way because I have a clear sense of what I have accomplished. Having the overall picture of the goal for the week makes all the difference. I can see whether I really have time to do all the things I want to do – and it I don’t, I can make some choices about what things will have to wait. For work related items, I have a clear base from which I ask my boss for help with prioritizing my time. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately, and it’s because I haven’t been following my own advice, so as soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to go do this process for myself, and regain for myself a degree of calm.

Want Better Ideas from Your Agency? Write a Better Brief.

How many times have you been in an agency presentation and thought, “they just don’t get it”? You were expecting something completely different, or they left out something critically important, or their ideas won’t work because of regulations or retail concerns.  If that’s happened to you, it’s probably your own fault.

 OK, I exaggerate, agencies obviously aren’t perfect either. But I must admit that too often, I’ve asked them to solve a problem for me, when I haven’t thoroughly thought it out for myself. And if you don’t know where you want to go, it’s pretty unlikely that you are going to get there quickly or easily.

There is a reason that we call our guidance to agencies a “brief”. There’s a famous quote attributed to Pascal, Twain, and others: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I’ve written a long one instead.” It’s very difficult to write something that is clear and concise, but that is the task that is essential for good communications. So, here are my brief thoughts on the essential components of a digital brief.

Statement of objective: That’s “objective”. Singular. Don’t expect an agency to give you work that build awareness, generate engagement and stimulate purchase all at the same time. The digital media objective and the creative objective need to be the same.

Business background: Help them understand the business situation and why you chose the objective.

Consumer Reaction: What would you want your consumer to say after seeing / viewing / interacting with the message? Being able to state this clearly forces a lot of thinking!

Deliverables: What exactly do you expect the agency to bring back to you, and in what format does it need to be delivered? What mandatory elements must be included in whatever is delivered? What regulatory or legal requirements must be addressed? What functionality must be part of the solution?

Timeline: Do you anticipate a phased approach? How many feedback cycles do you expect? What are the critical dates you must meet, and how to they relate to other marketing activity? The time you allow will influence what the agency is capable of delivering.

Interaction of Media and Creative: Help the agency partners understand what is expected from the creative agency, the media agency and the media property. In digital, all three need to work together to best bring the creative concept to life. Help them understand the relative importance of the media and creative objectives, so they can plan together whether a more expensive creative unit will make sense.

Other Marketing Activity: What else is being planned around the same idea/campaign? What are you assuming they already know? Write it down! Even if your primary contact knows about other activity, the brief needs to be shared with many folks in the agency, and you don’t want anything to get “lost in translation”.

Budget: Sometimes we ask our agencies to give us a good idea and tell us what it would take to execute it. That’s not really fair. There are a multitude of possibilities, and the agency needs to have some sense of the “size of the breadbox” you can afford. If you don’t have a firm budget, at least give them a rough idea of the maximum possible and the minimum expected, or a “likely” and “stretch” budget.

I can imagine my agency friends reading this and saying “I wish she would practice what she preaches”! And I say to them, “I’m trying!” Perhaps we should add a step at the end of every project that goes back to our original brief to see how we could have done it better.  Together we can all work smarter.

Here are a few helpful articles about writing various sorts of briefs, not necessarily digital: