Facebook’s new call-to-action button

Facebook has just released a new call-to-action button for company pages.

The call to action button sits on the right hand side of a page’s cover photo and will take users directly to your app or website.

0

The button can read either Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up or Watch Video. This means it will be beneficial to all types of businesses, for example a retailer could have a Shop Now button, a bank could have a Use App button, and a hotel could have a Book Now button.

1

You can also choose a different destination for iOS and Android devices. For example a travel agency that only has an iOS App now has the ability to send iOS users to the App store and Android users to their website.

32

This is a great example of how Facebook is becoming a hub that links together your whole online presence.

2015 Super Bowl Ad Review. #WasteOfMoney

The NFL Super Bowl is the world’s most sought after advertising space, however, is it really worth the money?

In 2015 over 114 million people watched the Super Bowl making it the most viewed program on television in America. A 30 second ad spot during the Super Bowl costs around $4M or roughly $35 per thousand impressions.

There are no surprises that advertising during the Super Bowl is comparatively expensive, but is it really worth it?

The 2015 Super Bowl saw the likes of Budweiser, Nationwide, Microsoft, Mophie, Dove, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz flaunt their most impressive creativity. Unfortunately for these brands it was not worth the $4M, they wasted it on poorly branded advertisements.

If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck at the Super Bowl (or in any ad) it’s essential that you:

  1. Introduce your brand as soon as possible
  2. Include the brand as often as possible
  3. Ensure the brand is big enough and clear enough for viewers to see
  4. If you use a Hashtag make sure it’s directly linked to your brand

The bulk of the ads shown during the 2015 Super Bowl lacked clear branding. If you look at the videos below you will notice how the brand is not mentioned or seen until the last few seconds. If your brand is not blatantly obvious don’t expect consumers to remember you. People do not pay full attention to advertising, roughly 1/3 will actively avoid TV ads by doing things such as switching channels or leaving the room, 1/3 will passively avoid by doing things such as playing on their phones or chatting to friends, and 1/3 will actually watch the ads. This makes it vitally important to be highly branded so even people not paying full attention will still recognise your brand. No matter how funny, sad, or beautiful the ad is, people will forget what is being promoted unless it’s well branded.

Secondly NONE of the hashtags in the examples below are branded either. Look at the list of Hashtags and see if you can guess what brand they belong to from the ones mentioned above:

#TeamHare #TeamTortoise #ItsThatEasy #RealStrength #StayPowerful #BestBuds #MakeSafeHappen #HelloFuture #Empowering

Everyday over 500 million tweets are sent on Twitter making it increasingly important for brands to standout amongst the clutter. Your brand must be easily identifiable from your hashtag, otherwise you are wasting your time and money with an unownable, unmemorable, and unbranded communications.

The Loctite ad was a great example of clear branding. They managed to mention their brand 8 times in a 30 second ad, introduce the brand in the first few seconds, and create a catchy and distinctive jingle (see below), however, they also used an unbranded hashtag #WinAtGlue.

In every ad make your brand the focus of any communication, reach as many people as you can, and make your brand famous.

Dove Men + Care: #RealStrength no branding till the last 10 seconds

Mercedes-Benz: #TeamHare #TeamTortoise not seen in the first 30 seconds

Mophie: #StayPowerful not mentioned till the last 3 seconds of a 1 minute ad
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuVsf_hE7gM

Budweiser: #BestBuds no branding till the last 4 seconds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAsjRRMMg_Q

Nationwide: No branding till the last 7 seconds
#MakeSafeHappen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKUy-tfrIHY

BMW: #HelloFuture
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1jwWwJ-Mxc

Microsoft: #empowering No branding till the last 3 seconds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cw4jmKQs0E

Loctite:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha4k71AQqgA

Three things we can learn from Apple’s $US18 billion net profit

Apple recently reported a record profit for the past financial quarter. The $US18 billion net profit is the largest quarterly profit to be posted by any company ever. Apple has gone from strength to strength, so what can we learn from one of the most successful companies in the world?

We can learn three important things from Apple to ensure success, prosperity, and growth for brands around the world.

The three keys to brand growth are:

1) Good product

Apple is a market leader when it comes to product innovation, improvements, and updates. They are not known for being the first in market, but they are known for having better products than everyone else. For example they have not yet released the Apple Watch, they have waited to learn from other similar products so they can improve and innovate their offering. Apple always thinks of the end user when developing their products which is evident in their sleek UX which focuses on minimising options to reduce complexity. This design philosophy is derived from Hicks Law which states that decision time increases as the number of alternatives increase. When you have a good product, people are happy to buy it. It’s simple, people won’t buy bad products. There is a reason why Apple sold over 74 million iPhone 6s in 90 days (this equates to 9 every second).

2) Well remembered

It’s highly likely that when you think about mobile phones you think of the Apple iPhone first. Your brand should strive to be the first brand thought of in your category, if people don’t know your brand, they won’t buy it. Apple spent over $US1 billion on advertising in 2013 just to let everyone know they exist. This may sound extravagant, but it only equates to roughly 6% of their profits. Apple has a very distinctive clean and minimalist style of advertising where the product is always the hero, which means when you see an Apple ad, you know it’s for Apple. Apple has built such strong distinctive brand assets over time such as their white head phones, sleek rounded product design, the “i” prefix in their product names, and the Apple logo. They are clearly recognisable in all of their product categories thanks to their distinctive look and consistent, wide reach advertising.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybIxBZlopUY&index=5&list=PLHFlHpPjgk71oZFqrr4VWF33NrZaky9Ff

3) Well distributed

Apple stores are hugely successful, they generate the most revenue per square foot than any other retailer in the US. However, only a portion of their products are sold in Apple stores with significant revenues coming from retail partners such as Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, AT&T, Verizon, and numerous online stores. Apple takes a high reach approach to distribution, their products are always in a nearby store, or a click away. If your product is not readily accessible or available to consumers, they will seek alternatives. Make sure your product is everywhere that potential consumers may be.

Why your brand should be as famous as Kim Kardashian’s bum.

Everyone knows who Kim Kardashian is, unless of course you have been living under a very very large rock. Kim Kardashian is…. well famous for being famous.

Most brands have far more value than Kim Kardashian, so why is she more famous? Every brand should strive towards being famous, and it’s possible, but we might have to take a few lessons from Kim.

How do I make my brand famous?…

Kim Kardashian is famous because she has very distinctive and memorable brand assets that she promotes incessantly. Kim Kardashian is defined by her consistent pout, overt cleavage, the alliteration in her name, the sound of her voice, her pop star husband, and of course her most prominent ASSet, that “broke the internet” a few weeks ago.

Along with being distinctive, Kim has a high reach fan base – her focus isn’t on an existing fan base, but on GROWING it. Like every brand, she loses people every day, but like the best brands, she acquires them in even greater numbers by spreading her fame to new people and new markets. A very effective acquisition strategy that every brand should emulate.

She’s currently on ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, has a diary full of public appearances, a plethora of product endorsements, has her own fashion and fragrance collections, a mobile game for iPhone and Android, she is always in the news, on the front of gossip magazines, penetrating your Facebook feed, and even at a mall near you. She’s everywhere, you just can’t avoid her, and this is what your brand should strive towards. Even if you don’t know about her nor care about her, you probably recognise and remember her.

This is like ANY brand. Consumers generally don’t care and don’t share brand stories. People have enough trouble building relationships with family and friends let alone brands – hence why brands have to be hugely distinctive and seek fame in order to be successful. Don’t rely on fan bases. Don’t assume strong levels of passion or knowledge. Just have that same vain desperation for your brand to be famous that Kim has for herself.

Kim Kardashian’s success is thanks to her multiple distinctive assets that are seen everywhere. This is exactly what your brand should strive towards.

  1. Your brand should be distinctive. Create assets that are ownable and unique. Like the McDonald’s Golden Arches and Coca-Colas “Dynamic Ribbon” typeface.
  2. Be everywhere, show everyone your assets. Reach as many people as possible with your marketing message and make yourself famous

Everything is in a constant battle for attention and memory. Every brand competes with Kim Kardashian. Make sure your brand is distinctive and famous in order to succeed.

Take Bart’s advice – Don’t sell your soul… to the discount devil

In the mid 90’s Bart Simpson sold his soul to Millhouse for a mere $5. After a series of calamities he realised that life isn’t the same without a soul.

Fast forward twenty years and it appears that brands haven’t learnt a thing from the world’s favourite animated bad boy.

Walk into any supermarket and you’ll be slapped across the face with an array of specials, markdowns and 2 for 1 deals, but does selling your brand’s soul to make a quick buck really pay off?

As a shopper who can resist a bargain? As a brand, however, does it actually increase the sales of a product?

The simple answer is no. By discounting your product you are cannibalising your future sales, training customers to only buy on sale and devaluing your brand.

How does this work? When a product goes on sale, people will purchase it at that discounted price, not full price. You’re giving away discounted product to people who probably would have bought it anyway, therefore eroding revenues.

If a brand of toothpaste goes on sale, for example a two-for-one special, people will buy more than one tube meaning they won’t need toothpaste for a longer period of time. No matter how cheap the toothpaste is, people are not going to clean their teeth more often. Discounting gives away product that would have been purchased in the future, it doesn’t increase overall sales.

Discounts also impact the way customers perceive your brand. Slashing prices gives them the perception that your brand has lower value, it also turns the conversation away from product benefits and providing need solutions and solely to price. This trains your customers to expect discounts and to only buy from you when you are on sale.

Three things build brands and increase sales:
Have a good product: if it’s a bad product people won’t buy it.
Be well remembered: with memorable advertising and communications, extract intangible value and tell people what makes your product great.
Well distributed: make sure your product is available for sale absolutely everywhere.

Price promotions don’t work.

Location based gaming – is this the next game changer?

Location based games, such as Geocaching, are gaining worldwide popularity.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt that’s becoming a huge craze all over the world.

Geocaching is an app which uses a phones GPS to direct players to the specific co-ordinates of a hidden geocache (a container filled with a logbook and items to trade). There are over 2.5 million active geocaches worldwide and 6 million people loving every find.

How could this work in marketing?

Location based games could open up a whole new way of engaging with consumers. Creating your own branded location based game could help to draw consumers into your stores.

For example, a coffee shop chain could create a location based game in which users find virtual rewards in store to redeem for a free coffee. The users could compete on a live leaderboard for titles such as most coffee shops visited, most distance covered, and even most coffees drunk.

Providing potential customers with an entertaining, engaging, and memorable platform like a location based game, will embed your brand into their consideration set for life.

Find out more about Geocaching here.

Other location based game: Ingress

People hate losing control (of videos) because they don't expect to

Yes, of course people hate those ugly video pre-rolls that appear before video content on YouTube or other video publisher sites. Video pre-rolls are totally annoying – almost as annoying as page takeovers that completely interrupt / destroy the user experience, because we have no control over them.

Let’s consider the context of an interruptive 30 second pre-roll.  We’ve sat through highly interruptive videos in the form of traditional TVCs for years, and despite benefit of using those times to run off and put the kettle on or using ad breaks as a toilet break, they’ve not been particularly good or bad. We don’t get too annoyed by TVCs.

So why are single video pre-rolls so f*cking annoying? Because we are interrupted in an environment where otherwise, we have complete control. Whilst in the digital space, we control our preferences, our options, our screen sizes, our content – everything is customisable, everything is under our command. One of the most attractive elements of technology and social media is the customisation of it – the purity of delivery and our ablity to mold it to our will completely.

We’re annoyed because they’re ultimately sh*t and they cannot be controlled in an otherwise totally controllable environment. Most of the time we spend on them, we spend looking or the little small “x” to close the video. (That some publishers / media companies claim this as a “click” is another story – and similarly annoying).

Control is something that we do not get from TV, that we’ve never had, therefore our expectations are lower, as are our frustrations when we are interrupted with ads. Even when we fast forward through TV recordings, we recognise the trade off between being able to time-shift and the delay in which we’ve been able to consume it – we’ve customised it.

We trust more when we control more. It’s why trust in technology companies is higher than most other companies – in dealing with technology companies and products, we assume that eager nerds have delivered pure products that we can control, interact with and pour our lives into. When this changes, we recoil in horror.

To subscribe, or not to subscribe?

The late Frank Thring once voiced a radio ad for Melbourne’s famous radio station, Triple R, dragging out his vowels and consonants in a very “Thring-esque” manner: “Subscriiiiiiiiiibe to 3 Triple Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr or dieeeeee a mis-er-able deathhhhh!”. So many companies want us to subscribe to their services, but what’s in it for us anymore?

The advantages for companies can be broken down into three major elements. Firstly, they have revenue certainty over the subscription period. Most subscription services are based on a minimum time frame, six months, twelve months, two years at a fixed cost per month.

Secondly, they understand who their customers are (we often hand over a heap of details when we subscribe).

Finally, they’re also guaranteed higher revenues if they bundle – forcing us to buy a heap of editions / channels / products / services that we wouldn’t ordinarily buy if they were unbundled. This is one of the biggest advantages for these companies. For example, Pay TV makes us subscribe to various channels in packages, even if it’s just a handful of shows we’re actually interested in. We might not buy a newspaper seven days a week, but subscriptions guarantee that we get the newspaper 7 days a week.

The past reasoning for bundling was that the cost of transmitting a single TV show to a single person would be so expensive as to make it a ridiculously low value proposition for the customer. If billions of dollars of pay TV infrastructure, satellites and digital set top boxes solely consisted to deliver four Collingwood matches and “On The Couch” just to me every month, it would be economically unfeasible. However, to amortise the cost across one hundred channels bundled up and sold to millions of Australians, then it makes more sense for all parties (although four Collingwood matches and “On The Couch” is the only good content on Foxtel). Similarly, I might only be interested in a single section of a newspaper, but the act of unbundling and offering for sale, for example, HiT or EG alone would be economically unfeasible for News Limited and Fairfax respectively.

Digital platforms are forcing content, products and services to unbundle. Let me describe it with an example from the music industry. Albums were the ultimate “bundle”. To get access to the three hit singles, you had to buy the full album, including filler. Record companies would “delete” the physical single after a period of time to ensure sales of the album were guaranteed, and demand for the brand/band was high, versus demand for the single product. iTunes commercialised (and legitimised) the unbundling of content by allowing people to buy individual singles from an artist at any time, and have them digitally delivered instantly. Even the lesser tracks on an album, those that weren’t economically viable from a production and marketing perspective, are now viable. The costs of distribution are almost negligible. Digital has obviously changed the business model.

Now, many other organisations are bypassing collectivism and distributing content, products and services through their own channels / platforms, at marginal cost. The iPad is one such supporting platform. So who will suffer, and who will gain?

Middle men will suffer. Content aggregators that act to simply distribute via a lowest cost business model, will thrive. Organisations who attempt to add value through elaborate, high overhead marketing and fixed distribution (like current record companies, book publishing houses and department stores) will suffer as they will attract less willing suppliers (who won’t be sold on their benefit) and less customers (who won’t be convinced to pay a premium).

Consumers will benefit. Amen.

The Viral Plague – Why "viral" videos are a waste of time and money

The Virus of Viral
A new, virulent plague has afflicted communications agencies and marketing departments all over the world; one that’s based on the flimsy notion that consumers can’t wait to latch onto branded content and share it with their friends.

In fact, there seems to be a prevailing thought that some sort of “consumer sharing pipeline” exists, all of them eagerly awaiting for their weekly dose of “Old Spice”. Do people really sit around on a Friday afternoon, scouring the interwebz, looking for a corporate video to fulfil their obligations and scratch the “viral” itch for the week?

Realistically, we know it’s not true. Despite all the chat about social creativity or shareability, sharing is something people do for two reasons alone:

  1. To benefit their friends
  2. To make themselves appear smarter/funnier to their friends

Just because your company thinks it’s important, it doesn’t make it true for most consumers. YouTube is littered with the detritus of agency and client attempts to create “virals” that have gone miserably – and expensively – wrong as a result of ignoring these fundamental principles.

Sharing is good
Sharing is a core part of the human existence. Socialising and discussing information and ideas can be mutually beneficial, while improving the welfare of our friends has a strong intrinsic value, and may also have the beneficial side effect that our friends start thinking better of us. Increasing the esteem we’re held in may act as the major motivator to share for some people, but is often merely the unintended benefit of sharing.

The two criteria listed above should be used to test the appropriateness of the content created by communications agencies and marketing departments. Ultimately, if they want their message to be shared, companies must provide content that adds value. That’s important not just because they want it to be, but important because it really is genuinely “arousing”: interesting, emotional, rational, relevant and salient. Or just laugh-your-arse-off funny.

Hurdles to Sharing
In order to create content that people will actually share, it must at least be objectively brilliant, and should also satisfy all of these criteria:

  • Access – The content must be extremely simple to access
  • Consumption – It must be very easy to consume
  • Comprehension – It must be self-contained and easy to understand
  • Benefit of sharing – It must be beneficial to my friends and/or make me look better
  • Cost of sharing – weighing up the ease of sharing against the benefits of going through with it. It should be ‘worth it’.
  • Currency – It must be new – or at least carry the high likelihood that it is fresh to the receiver / future receivers
  • Perceived benefit of receiving – when the person receiving it thinks it’ll be good, they’re more likely to investigate it
  • When they benefit and/or think better of you because of it
  • When they think their friends will benefit and/or think better of them by passing it on themselves

The Long Tale
Even if it’s great, it doesn’t mean it’ll be rapidly shared. Viral is an outcome, not a strategy. There are many excellent examples of brand information and other video storytelling that aren’t “viral”. Good content that’s well executed and is always there, always on, always accessible, will always be viewed, slowly but surely. This kind of content simply makes sense. It’s an effective way of extending communications across media; less about the short term-high burn, and more about the “long tale” of storytelling over time – where a single YouTube video can achieve reach and be of benefit for years to come.

As an industry, we need to stop getting over-excited by the lure of free distribution and rapid spikes in viewers and realise that, just like any other medium, social media has costs. Only then might we be cured of this epidemic.

20 x 12 – 20 Trends for communicators in 2012

I’ve compiled a list of 20 trends for communicators for the next 12 months.  Enjoy!

1. True Digital Communications
What many people in our industry call “digital” is just online communications. Truly “Digital” operations occur across three layers: Hardware, Software and Online. Most agencies and companies have played with Online (Social , Facebook, online communications and content, ads and so on), dabbled in Software (software as a service, apps, calculators, tools and games) and have left Hardware to their staff hobbyists, if at all.

We’re going to see some truly digital operations in the marketing and communications space, led by the big integrated agencies and/or marketing companies. Large scale technology builds to augment shopper experience and facilitate awareness and sales should be part of every marketeer’s ambitions. What is more likely over the shorter term are smaller, cheaper, more nimble executions such as: merging digital displays with other media, ensuring that point of sale systems share APIs with social networks, and building low cost gadgets and tools to facilitate communications and sales (potentially starting with LittleBits, Cubelets and other low cost electronics).

2. The Internet of Things
We’re going to see a genuine value exchange – internet connected everyday household items provided cheaply (or freely) in return for advertising opportunities. With the rise of the “internet of things”, where every day household items such as fridges, alarm clocks and even toothbrushes become connected to the internet, we’ll see them become advertising and communications displays – a home full of screens. Advertising has funded the FTA TV industry in many countries; phone calls, SMS and data have subsidised mobile handsets. The freemium business model, so popular with software, will begin to expand into consumer hardware. Data, paid for by advertisers, feeding content to devices paid for by advertisers. Clocks that provide sponsored news updates, weather vanes that give you the temperature and an advertisement for clothing are just two examples of how marketeers might create new owned media channels.

3. Digital Austerity
2012 is about simplicity and austerity. The death of the campaign site has been coming for a long time, but finally, communicators are beginning to realise that in order to build distinctive, memorable brand assets, AUniqueWebsiteForAShortTermCampaign.com is a complete waste of time and money. Short term campaign constructs lead to efforts being made dragging people to that campaign construct such as short-term Facebook Fan page, short lived apps and other useless elements, rather than getting their brand noticed, remembered and understood through developing long term brand assets – the foundations of a brand – offline and online. The corollary of cutting down a variety of different campaigns and distraction marketing is that people will notice your brand more, rather than noticing your advertising. Branded, consistent distribution points for communications should always be increased.

4. The Last Campaign
2012 should see big changes in the way many marketing departments operate, away from the on-off “campaign mentality” that has hurt so many brands with visibility gaps and lack of reach, to more realtime marketing – always listening, always responding, always mentally available, always reaching consumers. The only way to achieve this is for many companies to move away from seasonal, quarterly and campaign budgets based on time, and move towards more modal budgeting – in order to reach, to tell stories, to create distinctive brand assets, to engage and entertain – all at the same time, over time, all the time.

5. Sentiment ain’t what it used to be
While social media monitoring, conversation analysis are essential elements to learning and developing qualitative communications insights, one of the most useless elements to it, sentiment analysis, will hopefully die a quick and sudden death. There is not a digital marketing practitioner worth his salt that believes sentiment analysis is anything more than gimmickry. So much more can be gained through analysis of issues at a qualitative level, keyword analysis and a spread of sites and conversations. Conversation monitoring firms should stop peddling this snake oil and actually provide better value by being able to monitor sites where truly insightful conversations occur – primarily Facebook and online forums / discussion boards.

6. Data and Analytics
Big Data is the new oil, the new plastics, the new “social media”. Forget retweets, likes and other soft metrics – Big Data analysis allows for any organisation to understand their huge data sets in a way that will fundamentally change the way they manage their businesses. From working out how to predict when insurance claims will be made, to the likelihood of hospital visits based on previous visits to a local doctor, to the correlation between temperature and beer consumption, companies like Kaggle are making high quality big data analysis cheaper and easier. Google Correlate helps banks understand the most likely timing and location of mortgage enquiries just as it has helped the US Center for Disease Control understand the timing and location of virus outbreaks. And on a small data analysis scale, companies like Betaworks, with their stable of brands such as Bitly and Chartbeat, and ISP based sources such as Experian Hitwise and eCommerce analytics tools are essential tools that have suffered from less visibility because they’re not the new, new thing, but they are incredibly important, and 2012 will see them recognised as such once again.

7. The Game Layer
2012 is the year that game dynamics or “gamification” crossover into the every day. Gamification is, in simple terms, a series of emotional mechanics communicators and marketeers can use to encourage purchase or incite reaction. A traditional example of gamification is happy hours in pubs. If you attend a pub (location) at a specific hour (time) you receive half price beers (discount reward). Airline rewards points are similar: purchase a flight (transaction), and you’ll get points (artificial reward points). The more you purchase, the more points you earn, therefore you increase your status (level-up) for greater benefits (point reward status). This is no different to addictive games, where the more you play, the more experience you earn (XP), the better your weapons / players / options. Humans are irrational, emotional beings. The key for communicators and marketers isn’t to change the way they communicate, but to change the way they get noticed and increase relevant associations with their communications, building a “game layer” over their existing communications and marketing.

8. One Hundred Seconds of Solitude
Solitude and silence will make a considerable comeback in 2012. Shutting down notifications, turning off phones, removing oneself from data access will become more and more valued. Out of office replies and voicemail is diminishing, with the expectation that we’re always connected, always plugged into the network. As a result, we’ve seen a consumer backlash in the form of email bankruptcy (deleting one’s entire inbox and writing an out of office alerting people that anything they’ve sent over that period has been lost/deleted) and overall attention deficit, not a disorder, but the deliberate lack of attention. Now we’re seeing apps such as MacFreedom that allow you to block the internet for up to 8 hours – and as the name suggests, earn “freedom” from notification. International holidays have an unintended benefit in that the prohibitively high mobile data costs stop people from checking in on the road, allowing a respite from notification fatigue (which for some is an asphyxiating disconnection).

9. Attention Shifting
From Instapaper to uTopic to Pinterest to YouTube’s “Watch This Later” to Safari’s “Reading List” – we’ve moved from appointment based media such as traditional TV and radio to time-shifting media such as podcasts and video recording to now “attention shifting”. We see it now, we can access it now, but we’re not ready to actually consume it and think about it now. These tools are in essence “Wishlists” for free content – despite it being free (cost-wise), we’re not free (time-wise). We’re going to see a lot more of these tools, “Attention shifting shopping carts”.

10. Advocacy Fatigue
Why listen to loyalists? They’re buying already. As for their reach, it’s limited, despite the protestations of many a social media “guru”. The excellent Ehrenberg-Bass Institute recently found that less than 1% of existing Facebook Fans were actively engaged in their Fan Pages, and existing fans didn’t buy any more of the products compared to non-fans. The social media industry needs to focus on reach, rather than niche; the industry needs to use social conversations as a means to understand what people are thinking, the questions they are asking, and what they’re searching for and visiting, rather than defining success on the actions of the very few “likes” and “fans”. What is more important is to speak to the many people who aren’t buying, talking, sharing, liking and blogging about your brand – the everyday consumer, non-existent or light buyers of your brand. Many social media campaigns ignore this very obvious paradox: the very people who are the lightest consumers (who are the source of sales growth) are the very ones who aren’t engaged, who aren’t participating, who aren’t fans – and who have little or no interest in the brand. Further, with the exception of high involvement purchases, current fans are unlikely to advocate to these others on your behalf.
Provide better communications to get noticed by the uninformed and disinterested – yes, involve the key opinion leaders, involve the niche if you have the luxury – but effective storytelling has to happen across media, for the many, not just the few.

11. Social Signon
Here’s a puzzle: If you consider the entire Hotmail user base, where are the largest number of users based? If you answered China, you’re wrong. Japan? No. India? Indonesia? Brazil? United States? Germany? United Kingdom? All incorrect. the answer is AFGHANISTAN. Before you wrack your brain considering the reasons why, the simple answer is that Afghanistan is the first country that comes up in the login / signup page, therefore people click Afghanistan rather than scrolling down and accurately filling in information. People are sick of signing up and logging in, but this isn’t new – 88% of people claimed to have provided incorrect information when joining services in 2011, up from 76% in 2010, according to a recent survey for Janrain. Facebook Connect – using Facebook to automatically fill in signup documents and login isn’t new either – however 2012 is the year when “Social signon” will move towards universal adoption. By the end of 2012, sites that do not offer social signon (whether via Facebook, Google Account or Twitter), and true connections to the social graph, will suffer drastic declines in visitation, interaction and most importantly, the ability to deliver customised content and advertising to users.

12. The Tyranny of Popularity
Facebook is making it easy – too easy – to automatically share our activities. We read an article on the Guardian or Washington Post Website, and it automatically adds it to our Facebook feed. We don’t even have to like it – simply participate, and it shares automatically, “frictionless sharing”.
There is a problem with this – there’s so much info out there. Facebook is breaking with its past of “Top Stories” and moving the other way – overwhelming us with more information than we need – or like. While sharing is always important to the sharer, too much sharing is a burden on the consumer. That’s the key problem with Twitter – it’s a torrent, not a stream. In the era of information overload, and attention bankruptcy, we now have too much from Facebook. Most people aren’t good at working out what’s interesting to others and what isn’t, so we require filters to identify the best stories and content – some filters are professional people such as editors, while other filters use aggregate measures such as clicks and “likes” and serve us the most popular. If something becomes popular, it moves to the top of social rankings, which begets popularity, whether the content is “good” or not. The only way to ensure that the most popular content changes on many sites is to introduce decay rates to content that ensure even popular content falls off the perch quickly enough that people won’t get bored by it. Google overcame this issue, what was known as the “Google effect“, when it used to promote the most clicked link higher up the search order. Since then, they’ve improved their algorithms to ensure that it’s not just the most popular (ie: social), but the most relevant and most authoritative link that gets promoted, but this will change in 2012 with increased social search results.

13. The Payment Layer
Digital has lead to an explosion of channels across so many industries – from music to social to content to platforms. However, one of the holy grails of the internet – reliable, universally acceptable and rigorous payment systems are rare. After PayPal, there is daylight. WePay, MoneyBookers, Amazon Payments and Bitcoin (despite it’s recent troubles) are potential challengers, while Square’s growth has been slow and steady.
Google Wallet is slowly growing, while Near Field Communications will be integrated into everything from digital panels to vending machines to supermarket checkouts – allowing us to pay by waving our mobile phone over a payment terminal. Once payment systems become more sophisticated and allow us to pay in increments of hundredths of a cent, then we may see an improvement in the way copyright is adequately remunerated outside of specific distribution channels, from text to images to video to audio.

14. The Rise of APIs
APIs, Application Programming Interfaces, are ways in which software programs communicate with each other. Simply, it’s how you’re able to get the weather on your iPhone app – the weather bureaux (or source of content) creates an API that your mobile weather app accesses in order to find out what your local weather forecast is. APIs aren’t just used for weather, but by organisations of all different types to open up their systems and allow people to build apps, software, games and solutions using that information. A perfect example of that is the NYSE, who opened up all of their data in the form of APIs, so that people would create software that analyses, tracks and provides solutions related to any part of the NYSE. Another example is auto manufacturer – General Motors has recently created a number of APIs in their cars, allowing people to control elements of the car’s operation using their mobile app – whether starting the car remotely, or setting off a map based alarm to warn the person that they should stop as they approach a petrol station. APIs aren’t just about access, but about building an ecology around products and services for the betterment of the consumer. American Express and FourSquare trialled a system whereby offers and specials through Foursquare were automatically redeemed if a person used their American Express card – without staff or consumer having to wave a coupon or delay the transaction. All of this powered by their respective APIs. 2012 will see a boom in APIs as organisations see the benefit of opening up their APIs and allowing customers, suppliers and consumers to mash up the benefits and reap the respective rewards.

15. The Internet is Leaking
As much as we love our flash in the pan status updates, tweets and other digital ephemera, people are looking for a reversion to the tangible, the tactile, the real. It’s been happening for a while, but there are a distinct lack of providers in this space. Berg has just launched Little Printer, a prototype for a “social printer”, a means to deliver up to the second status updates, weather reports, photos, coupons and other ephemera in printed form. Apple have recently added a very useful “Cards” app, that allows iPhone users to send greeting cards direct from their mobile phone using photos they’ve just taken. From the NewspaperClub.com to Postagram to Printstagram, tactile options are on the rise. As wonderful as digital is, it’s not great at giving us texture, despite the proliferation of Instagram and Hipstamatic film grain packs. 2012 will provide us with many more examples of where the Internet has leaked into our rooms.

16, Mesa Checkins
Forget checking into a venue – what are you eating there? What is the event you’re attending? 2012 will see an explosion in the detail checkin – not the generic venue, but the specific product, service or event. If I want the best spaghetti bolognese within 1km, a check-in service such as Oink will help me find it (despite it recently being purchased and shut down by Google). I might not be a fan of a sports stadium, but I’m a fan of the team who are playing there that day. Mesa checkins – “mesa” coming from the Greek “inside”, tend to be more active – I’m “watching” / “eating”, rather than the passive “I’m at”. Mesa checkins are also rapidly extending into traditional media, with an increasing number of media-synching apps that allow us to check-in to songs (Shazam, SoundHound) and TV shows (Miso, GetGlue, Into_Now, Meta Mirror, Flingo, Media Sync and GOAB) while we’re watching them.

17. Life Telemetry
Formula One cars are at the bleeding edge of electronic innovation, particularly their telemetry systems that monitor hundreds of variables on a car and instantly send the information back to base, in order to provide the teams with the ability to modify the performance of the car, thus improving performance. With mobile phones in every pocket, with accelerometer, compass, microphone, camera and other sensory inputs, why not track every element of your life and thereby improve your performance? Whether it be tracking your sleeping patterns with sleep apps such as Sleep Cycle, monitoring your calorie intake with LoseIt! or your jogging distances with Nike+Fuelband, the mobile device as sensor and quality infographics as output should increasingly allow us to monitor our life telemetry – from calorie intake to productivity to moods.

18. Smarter Search
As good as Google is, it only supplies us with a list of links where it believes the information lies, rather than the information itself. The greatest online success stories are platforms for sorting and filtering information – Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Amazon – they are in essence elaborate curators / editors – with either ads or a retail store attached to monetise them. We require better search, “plain English” search, and actual answers, not results. From Google Squared (recently shut down) to Wolfram Alpha to Siri to Google+, we are in a new era of search wars, based on providing us with real answers and solutions with a social, local, intent / historical context.

19. Second Screen Culture
We’re all accustomed to text search. For many of us, Shazam was the first app we installed on our smartphone – with its wonderful ability to ID any song we might hear out and about. We may even be in the vast minority who scan QR codes to access product information. Increasingly, 2012 will see visual search increase dramatically, especially when shopping – note eBay’s recent introduction of visual search. Second screens such as mobiles and tablets will give every single element of a brand the ability to be multi-dimensional in its communications. Where visual and audio search will play an increasingly important role is using the mobile as a media enabler – where people want to know more about a product at point of sale, or while watching an advertisements, they’ll simply be able to point their mobile phone at the device and allow the product packaging to “speak”. 68% of Americans watch TV with their smartphone, tablet or laptop in hand. How many marketers are providing complementary content for this second screen?

20. Vertical Social Networks
In the “good old days” of the internet, people would gather around interests and hobbies. News groups, with names such as alt.music.house were large planets that we would orbit around. We gravitated around interests, not people. These communities evolved into online forums – on topics as varied as fashion to football to cars to politics to music. These online forums are still the primary and most popular way in which people converse online – bringing together total strangers, generally identified by pseudonyms, around one common interest. Social networking sites such as Facebook are different – they make the person the “planet” – self-focussed, with a person’s life being the major topic that others gravitate towards. Vertical social networks bring together people who aren’t necessarily friends, but gather around an interest, just like online forums. The difference being they link the best of forums with the best of social networking; around specific topics. LinkedIn is a good example – people brought together around careers and business networking. Sermo is another – a social network for medical professionals and doctors to discuss medical issues. Myspace went from a social network, to trying to become a vertical social network around music, looking for focus and a specific interest to provide a hook for users. 2012 will see more and more of these vertical social networks arise, with the key being that they are mobile enabled – localised and using the cameras and microphones on phones to bring content “from the street” to the network instantly. PearlTrees, FoodSpotting and GetGlue are three examples; by the end of the year, there’ll be many, many more.