How Facebook Reactions will change social media

Facebook has confirmed it’s now testing a new Reactions feature in Ireland and Spain which may be soon rolled out worldwide. Essentially the Reactions feature is similar to the traditional ‘Like’ button but it provides users with a spectrum of emotional responses. The new addition will allow users to Like, Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad or Angry a post.

Users will be able to click one of the Reactions located in the same position as the current ‘Like’ button. The Reactions are symbolised by an emoticon which reflects a particular mood. This change allows users to express themselves beyond just ‘liking’ something.

One of the biggest problems with social media is the limit of expression and the absence of nuance. On Facebook in particular, there has been a tendency to react in bipolar extremes, either liking something, or trash canning and abusing it. Twitter is similar in that you only have a 140 character word limit to communicate, making it difficult to express rational thought – only an extreme of emotion or outrage. For example, if someone announces the death of a family member on Facebook it seems odd and actually quite disrespectful to ‘like’ it, however, with Facebook Reactions you will be able to express sadness through the sad option which would be an acceptable response.
This new spectrum of emotional responses on Facebook could have multiple implications. What could this mean for the future of social media?

Like inflation
We may see “likes” fade as we all migrate to “Love”. This may lead to a furthering of extremes of expression online.

Social sharing Button inflation
If Facebook introduces 6 new engagement metrics this will take up a lot of space on third party websites – physically going from “Like this” to a wide variety of buttons on any given web page. Imagine what will happen if everyone else does this – Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks all deciding to move from simple, single buttons, to thirty to forty variations of reaction to a post.

Big data and attribution marketing
Will the intersection between location, mood, natural language programming and “Reactions” give us the most advanced view of mood, attitude and mental health ever assembled? This may have a broader effect on our understanding of nuance of human emotion, and the science of why we buy, what we are aroused by, and what impresses us.

Increased engagement
People will be able to react to posts beyond just liking them. This opens up far higher engagement on individual posts. More options for engagement will most likely increase user engagement which may increase Facebook’s ability to charge money for advertising – as engagement rates rise.

Sentiment analysis
We will be better able to analyse which content causes which emotional response by analysing the Reactions.

Emotion overload
Are these emotions just the beginning? Will Facebook bring in the whole spectrum of human emotions?

Emotional targeting
Will the new addition spark a new way of targeting? Will Facebook allow advertisers to target users based on their current mood? If one person has an angry reaction to various posts will advertisers be able to target them specifically? ‘Angry, stressed? Take a holiday. Airfares on sale NOW”.

Proving people DON’T love brands
This will most likely prove that people don’t actually ‘Love’ brands. We may blame the thought that people don’t “Love” advertising, but it’s not the advertising they don’t love, it brands. Most of the time, people barely like brands, let alone love them. This will undoubtedly lead to a backlash by less intelligent marketers that in order to raise “Love” metrics, we should reduce the amount of branding on our advertisements. The opposite is true – we should never assume people love our brands, only assume people have no interest or have forgotten our brands – and in doing so, assume every piece of communication is the first piece of communication people will ever see. Don’t worry about “Love”.

From search to social to emotional discovery of brands
Will it impact on Facebook’s algorithm? Will Facebook show users more Loved content vs Liked content? In the past, we discovered information via search. Increasingly, we discover information via social referral. Now, we discover via attribution marketing fed with big data. So, emotional discovery may become a key driver of information discovery – people who are permanently grumpy may receive more bad news. People who are permanently outraged will receive hand-wringing news of global injustice on a consistent basis. People who are happy may continue to be served fantastic memes.

YouTube already has a dislike option and it doesn’t impact on anything at all. People don’t pay it much attention. Will this be any different?
Either way this new addition will provide users with a better way to express their emotions. As one PENSO team member expressed: “I love them, I’ll use them all the time”.

Read my article in Mumbrella here.

McDonald’s new unbranded campaigns are actually very distinctive

McDonald’s recently released a series of advertisements which are completely stripped of any branding, yet the brand is still instantly recognisable. The ads show a close up of the food but have no text, logo, or mention of McDonald’s.

Mc donalds

mc donalds

Mc Donalds

McDonald’s is known to focus on food in its advertisements which, over time, has built strong mental connections between the food and the brand. This means that it can be recognised by its food alone.

This is similar to what Nike has done with the iconic Swoosh. Nike consistently used the Swoosh in every piece of brand communications over a long period of time, making it strongly associated with the brand. Now Nike can be recognised by the swoosh alone.

The best way to build distinctive brand assets is to create something that is unique and use it in all communications for as long as possible. Over time it will become strongly associated with your brand and act as a mental cue in a purchase occasion.

It is however risky to leave other brand assets out of your communications because over time they may deteriorate in peoples memories.

To find out more read: Would you like fries with your branding?

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.

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.

"Simplicity is clarity, transparency and empathy"

There’s a lot to be said about simplicity. It’s the sign that someone “gets it”. The simpler, the better. As Albert Einstein said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

Alan Siegel gave this speech about simplicity at a recent TED conference. I love it, it really struck a chord. We spend too much time talking massive reams of rubbish. Companies spend billions of dollars bombarding people with words – when only a few will do. A bank gives us millions of reasons to join, and when we do, it suffocates us in millions of words of terms and condition.

Siegel argues:

“There is no way that we should allow government to communicate the way they communicate. There is no way we should do business with companies that have agreements with stealth provisions and that are unintelligible. So, how are we going to change the world? Make clarity, transparency and simplicity a national priority.”

In another piece, he describes why there is so much complexity in Goverment:

…many Americans are watching their credit card fees rise without understanding why. We get health care bills and benefit statements that read like gibberish. And we struggle with incomprehensible government documents.

Yes, there are reasons why government and complexity go together like dogs and hydrants. First, many public officials think that everything they say must sound “official.” Second, new laws keep getting passed, old laws keep getting amended, and all laws generate reams of regulations. Third, there’s individual and institutional self-protection — covering your posterior, rather than communicating with the public.

Still, in a democracy, government must communicate clearly. When Americans can’t figure out how to answer census questions, complete tax forms or qualify for small-business assistance, the economy suffers, federal revenues decline and confidence in government sinks to new lows. But, when our leaders communicate clearly, Americans answer appeals for action, from President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” to President Kennedy’s call, “Ask what you can do for your country.” President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address took only two minutes and 246 words.

Too many words, too much complexity. Why not cut it right down to the core and have faith that people will understand, that we don’t have to spell everything out in complex jargon?

Here’s what, I’ll start right now.

Apple’s T-shirt Box Photo

This is what makes Apple Apple.

Even the boxes that hold call centre employee t-shirts have been designed with the single sense of purpose, that incredible design aesthetic, that attention to detail and outstanding vision of what the company should be – a creator brand. This, along with photos of their employee job offer packs, shows the level of thought and strength of culture at the firm.

More pictures here: Apple Employee T-Shirt Unboxing Photos – Mac Rumors.

The holy trinity of 21st Century communications – marketing, technology and design

Watching this video of Coca-Cola’s new interactive vending machine, Anthony J Phillips, the Global Marketing Manager of Coca-Cola, talks about the “fantastic partnership between marketing, technology and design”. I think it’s a profound and important partnership that will dominate marcomms into the future. I’d add another element – human behaviour in the form of anthropology / behavioural economics.

How best will we marketers and communicators best be trained for this future – in order to best understand and communicate with people? Technology studies? Cultural anthropology? Town Planning? Data science? Architecture and Design? Typography? Behavioural Economics? Sociology? All of the above?

To me, old fashioned integrated Marketing and Public Relations & Communications just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.