Posts Tagged ‘Strategy’

This recent Yahoo! news item tells the story of Alecia Dantico, a professional Tweeter who is part of a growing trend of large corporations hiring talent to send out messages on that social network.  

Like most creative endeavors, this could be a very smart thing or a small distraction: the results depend upon strategy and even more importantly, execution.  

Strategically, this initiative needs a clear purpose and goals: brandbuilding?  Outreach for direct consumer connection?  A modern update of the old consumer complaint department?  Whatever the reason, this and any marketing endeavor needs to have a clearly-defined goal, otherwise it’s simply another distracting tactic.

The execution must then work to execute this strategy, mindful of the strengths and weaknesses of the platform.  For Twitter, one of those strengths is the immediacy and topicality of a group conversation; the best tweets are often helpful and always engaging.  Comedy, surprise, discovery; the best Twitter feeds deliver those on a dependably regular basis.  In other words, if the brand personality doesn’t engage or worse, if corporate concerns over legal and control issues sanitize and stifle the 140 character executions, the result more likely will be a “Bland Personality.”

Picture 2Which is why this platform provides the perfect retirement opportunity for copywriters.  Office location, 9-5, assignment flowcharts: none of these agency realities matter in the world of corporate micro-blogging.  All that matters is the need to create relevant engagement that serves a strategy.  Our creative enterprise has a well-earned reputation for eating it’s young; here at last could be a way to make good with an ongoing freelance gig that serves both brands and creatives.

It also serves the newer offerings of Word-of-Mouth PR agencies, most of whom already follow this sort of ‘create a strategy and outsource the execution’ type of model.  

It doesn’t however, serve large agency structures.  Considering this article in relation to yesterday’s post which took Weber Shandwick’s Chris Perry to task for laying the blame for Social Media’s slow development as a brand platform squarely at the feet of traditional agencies, perhaps I should rethink.  Particularly after posting yesterday’s blog to LinkedIn’s AdPro group to solicit other points of view and receiving some very thoughtful responses.

Corporations need results from their tactics.  They also need something else: responsibility from their marketing partners.  The cost structure of a traditional agency makes this kind of initiative rather challenging from a creative execution standpoint.  However, the benefits of insuring an integrated strategy and established results expectations make this an easily-adopted new tactic…

Once you outsource to a few talented, interesting, retired writers.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Ex-Vice President Al Gore delivered the keynote address at Digitas’ Digital Content Newfront this past Wednesday in a speech Adweek characterized as ‘putting agency creatives on notice.’  Speaking as one of the co-founders of Current Media, Mr. Gore used the theme of sustainability to outline how he sees the media landscape changing radically and a new form of advertising emerging, powered by user generated content.

As An Ad Pundit, He Makes A Strong Ex-Politician

As An Ad Pundit, He Makes A Fine Ex-Legislator

The crux of his thinking boils down to this quote: “In the 20th century, the advertising model was based on the same principles that the Industrial Revolution was based on: scale.  It was big, it was blunt, very expensive, and very intrusive, and audiences have now begun to resist that old advertising model even as the environment in which it is presented changes a great deal. The new model is very different because the media landscape is completely different.”  Few advertising professionals would bother arguing that thinking.  The arguments begin with Mr. Gore’s assumptions that ‘a new model’ even exists.

Advertising’s ‘new models’–and there are plenty of them–are all in beta.  And will probably remain there for the rest of my career.  The rate of technological change is just waaaay too fast for anyone to declare they’ve solved it and put their pencils–or cell phones–down.

Mr. Gore cites Current Media’s reliance on “VCAMs” (Viewer-Created Ad Messages) that users generate for brands that advertise on the network.  Everything is spec, the advertiser compensates the ad creators directly, and the payment increases dramatically if they choose to use the ad somewhere else.  This is a decidedly cost-effective solution; video crowdsourcing if you will.  Those inclined to think positively of this notion will compare it to the Threadless model, which it clearly resembles.

But as a ‘new ad model’ it fails on the very ‘sustainability’ issue Mr. Gore thumps so relentlessly.  Is such a model sustainable for a less sexy packaged good?  Is it sustainable when the novelty wears off and users catch on to the strong economic bias for Current’s self-interest over their own?  And how can this model’s basic assumption that “strategy is meaningless, prevalence is everything” make sense with video, when the assumption of some sort of ubiquity advantage has been proven so blatantly wrong for internet banner advertising?

He did make valid points and Mr. Gore’s adoption of a new model is laudable.  The fact is that his ‘new model’ will be far from the last one he–or any of us–adopts.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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It's Not Just a Social Network: It's A Natural Habitat    

It’s Not Just a Social Network: It’s A Natural Habitat

I don’t know Alan Schulman, the Chairman/Chief Creative Officer of U.DIG > The Digital Innovations Group.  In fact rather oddly, I couldn’t even find a website for U.DIG.  That said, I did find tons of leads into Alan because he’s one socially networked animal: LinkedIn, iMedia–he’s all over it. His considerable digital credentials and creative background nicely inform this incredibly insightful piece he posted today for Video Insider.  Alan takes our industry’s current fascination with social networks and makes one very simple, incredibly salient point: people don’t want advertisers mucking up their social networks with banners ads, contextual messages, and all sort of other sales pitches.

Analytics and insights? Fine.  Blog scrapings?  Sure.  But actually intruding on these conversations with our brand messages?  That’s like paving the Serengeti: it’s entirely possible, but you’d ruin it.  Sure, brands have created a couple of clever little distractions and pages here and there in FaceBook.  Advertisers have also leveraged YouTube and Flickr in a few interesting ways.  But the best of those creative platforms have been opt in–not forced viewings.  Buttons, banners and pop ups started polluting the MySpace platform years ago and now they’re creeping into Facebook.

Quite rightly, Alan identifies social network communities as fragile creations–easily spooked herds that our very presence threatens to destroy.

Given this, the best social networking strategy for brands and agencies is fact-finding.  Social networks provide unfiltered, real-world, twenty-four/seven activity for smart planners and research analysts to mine.  If we protect these habitats, we can listen and learn about authentic opinions and values in ways that will inform our selling efforts in other, more selling-appropriate environments.  After all, social networking activity makes for a lousy sales aperture: people just aren’t in a buying mindset at those times in those places; they are talking with friends, trading information with colleagues, playing and bonding and sharing. Intruding on their personal relationships with our brands and messages will only alienate them…and marketers tend to agree that alienating your audience is a pretty lousy idea.

Instead, much like a nature photographer who stalks big game in a wildlife preserve with her camera, we should limit our hunting in these rich human ecosystems to listening, note taking, clipping and cutting and pasting.  Let’s consider a social network a resource, not a platform. Compared to the hapless artificiality of the tired old focus group, social networks contain natural conversations between like-minded people.  These are organizations built solely on shared interests or common values where members freely share opinions, ideas, and simple conversation.  Adopting a ‘leave no trace‘ approach by advertisers guarantees our social networks will remain incredibly valuable.

And naturally sustainable.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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