I got retargeted on Facebook today – and it was magical.
Here’s what happened. I wanted to buy a Ted Baker gingham check sports shirt. So first I went to Google and searched for “Ted Baker gingham check sports shirt”. That’s a pretty explicit signal indicating that I’m looking to buy a pretty…
This is the future of effective advertising. Native, audience segmentation, retargeting.
Glad to hear that HBO Go is coming to Apple TV. It looks like Apple is starting to spend some of that monstrous cash hoard on content. It’s the only thing stopping them from disrupting TV.
The “Apple can’t get content” argument has never made sense. Apple can buy ANY content it wants. It…
I’m ready for the takeover!
Eve 6’s new video is really fun. Check it out below, and then be sure to check out the “making of” to see how it was done. Great concept.
Help promote the new Curtain music video by #Eve6 and win an iPod and other prizes! http://eve6curtain.fearlessrecords.com
A snippet of what I recently wrote for the blog.
Since the announcement of iOS 6, the media narrative has centered around Apple severing ties with Google and developing their own maps product. Now that iOS 6 is finally in the hands of the public, the narrative has shifted to the shortcomings of the new Maps app, with critics pointing to the lack of transit integration or street view.
But I’m here to tell you about a feature of Maps that has huge implications for users, small businesses and big brands - Yelp integration.
|—||Gary Vaynerchuk (The last 45 seconds of the video)|
Note: this entire exercise was spurred on by a lazy Sunday login to Facebook. There is no intention to classify any of the below brands as “good” or “bad” in the social media space. (All views are my own - thus the name of the blog being “My Digital Soapbox.”)
Since that’s out of the way - take a look at some of what greeted me when I logged in to Facebook today:
Are the above examples ways for brands to build meaningful relationships with consumers in a digital world? The simplicity certainly drives people to click like, share and possibly comment… But maybe building a relationship that is contingent upon and quantified by likes/shares/comments isn’t really building a relationship at all. This might not be how those brands ALWAYS engage, but it is generally accepted that the “simple CTA” drives engagement on Facebook. And it does - based on Facebook metrics.
But is it possible for brands to have RELATIONSHIPS with human beings? I’m betting yes, although it will take a lot of learning from the brands that try to build authentic relationships around passion points. It will also take patience when the “counting stats” aren’t there.
This update from Petsmart might not be getting great engagement, but it is shows a bit of promise (even if it ends up falling a bit short):
The post clearly targets a niche audience that likes to dress up their pet. I’m assuming that niche audience of hardcore pet owners is somehow lucrative in the Petsmart business and driving to Pinterest is a great way to connect them socially.
Unfortunately, it ultimately fails, because it gets too complicated. Driving offsite from Facebook is a always a bit tricky, and in this case, seems to have been bungled a bit. Petsmart appears to have created a hashtag on Pinterest, but when clicking on that hashtag, there aren’t any results:
In this case, they would have been better off just promoting the boards that already exist on Petsmart’s Pinterest page and using the Facebook post to drive an intended engagement on Pinterest. As constructed now, I’m confused about what to do next.
And their boards on Pinterest are WAY too sales-ey:
If you’re managing a branded social channel, just remember to keep it human.
Now, things are going to get a LITTLE bit self-serving, so stop reading if you don’t want to read about a similar Facebook engagement, but by a brand that I’m working with.
“Soon success and failure in the mobile app world will depend on developers building a user experience that is simple and intuitive – something that will use an advanced technology to make a process more efficient. A natural extension of our brains.”
Yes, I’m starting out a blog post with something I wrote a few months ago on the Big Fuel Content To Commerce Blog. It might be self-serving, but I’m especially satisfied after this week’s launch of the new Foursquare app. The new emphasis on local discovery shows that Foursquare is on the right path to success and that they understand the shift in human behavior regarding recommendations via mobile technologies. Foursquare is clearly working hard to solve the “problem” I outlined in the above-linked piece with their new “Explore” features.
From a brand marketing perspective, I’m especially excited about the new merchant program that they’ll be rolling out later this summer as a second phase of this app redesign (as reported by Mashable):
Though Foursquare revealed last month that it has big changes in mind for its merchant platform, none of them appear in the new app. Eventually, merchants will have an option to purchase promoted placement of specials, and the offers will be targeted using the same technology that powers the Explore feature.
A Foursquare spokesperson told Mashable that the company will begin rolling out the first versions of the option later this summer.
As an interesting side note, merchant badges are being phased out. Before the new app rolled out, I reached out to the Foursquare “Partners” team on behalf of one of my clients, inquiring about a badge idea. I was told:
We’re winding down our partner badging program, instead allocating those same engineering resources towards building out new merchant tools (that your brand will most definitely benefit from). As such, we’re unable to engage in new partner badge programs like this.
If Foursquare continues to grow its user base, it should become the best way to connect with customers on a local level, bridging the gap between mobile/social and brick & mortar. Pretty soon, Foursquare will be another important platform for brands to consider when allocating paid media budgets, especially brands with retail stores.
In you’re looking for further reading about the “new” Foursquare, the NY Times wrote a piece about the future growth potential of the platform and Tech Crunch snagged the first interview with Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley after the launch.
A couple more thoughts about the app (along with screen grabs) are below:
Loving the new app, but why are the “friends who have been here” icons so small and not hyperlinked?!
You can now “like” places, comments and tips. Data that will surely be incorporated in Foursquare’s “Explore” recommendation engine.
Please note: this post was written on Sunday, September 18, before Facebook tweaked their user interface and then “became profoundly changed.” However, the ideas and strategies here remain unchanged for the time being. Interestingly enough on September 23, a thought piece by Brian Solis was published on Harvard Business Review, giving further credence to my thoughts below .
I recently came across a study stating that Facebook isn’t working for brands (via Social Media Today) and I felt compelled to chime in.
Facebook isn’t working for brands because too many brands are DOING IT WRONG! Before trying to figure out when to make Facebook posts or how to make them, brands need to step back and understand what motivates someone to engage with a Facebook page.
Without citing any studies, let’s think like a consumer for a moment. Why do YOU visit or engage with a brand or business’ Facebook page? (I’m not asking about why you originally “liked” the page, I’m asking about what makes you ENGAGE with that page). I bet you’ll answer in one of the following ways:
1) To search for coupons or exclusive deals
2) To make your voice heard about a customer service experience
(note: according to an official study cited in the HBR story linked above, the top two reasons are actually 1) To receive discounts (61%) 2) To make purchases (55%) )
Anyway, you’re probably NOT visiting a brand page to read about the latest marketing initiative written up in a social media-friendly tone and plastered on the wall. When visiting brand Facebook pages, I see FAR too much of that.
That being said, here are some steps to take to increase your brand’s Facebook engagement:
So, when you’re not offering unique deals, timely customer service or engaging in actual two-way conversations with your customers, you should “fill in the blanks” with lifestyle content and programs that connect people around their interests and passion points.
One brand that seems to “get it” is Waffle House, and their reward is a community of engaged fans. Waffle House curates galleries of customer and staff-submitted photos, introduces new types of waffles based on customer feedback, promotes fun and engaging marketing programs that encourage social interactions, and regularly posts hilarious and audience-relevant status updates. It isn’t a surprise that Waffle House has a relatively high percentage of core fans according to Skyttle Friends.
What do you think? Did I miss any steps in the process? Are there any brands that you follow on Facebook that seem to follow all of the above steps?
Let me start this out by saying that I’m the guy who typically makes fun of people for complaining about chances to the user interface of their favorite website or social service. I understand that human beings typically don’t like change, and even if the change will eventually be beneficial to them, it is uncomfortable and something to rebel against.
Today, I’m going to be that guy and put forth an argument against Facebook’s latest user experience overhaul. Why? Because my Facebook feed just became inundated with updates from brands and businesses. Facebook has spun it in a different way, and perhaps this wasn’t their intent, but my user experience was drastically altered for the worse when I logged in this morning.
Past Redesigns Resulted In Better Feed Optimization
As Facebook rolled out past redesigns (which were often met with user backlash), I didn’t blink. I trusted that these guys knew what they were doing, and when the “top news” and “most recent” filters were introduced, my feed became optimized. Frequently interacted friends showed up in the “top news” feed and all other updates showed up in the spam feed (otherwise known as “most recent news”). It was smart, it was efficient and I rarely missed the updates I cared about. Unfortunately for Facebook, it also meant that I spent a LOT less time on the site, generating WAY fewer impressions (and ad dollars) clicking around to various pages. It also meant that brand page updates (the people holding those valuable ad dollars) were essentially filtered out of my feed. I was getting value out of Facebook, but I don’t think Facebook was getting much value out of me.
“Smart Lists” - A Pre-Cursor To De-Optimization
After the introduction of “smart lists” last week, I suddenly noticed WAY more updates from random brands (and people) that I had friended or liked at some point, but rarely interacted with. While it was annoying, I recognized that I had made the choice to “like” those brands or “friend” those people, so instead of complaining, I simply utilized the new user interace to recreate my former optimization.
For the people I had “friended,” I was able to adjust my subscription settings (all updates, most updates, only important updates) and add them to the proper lists - essentially creating silos to filter the noise. When it came to the brands and businesses I “liked,” I was faced with a tough choice - on or off. Officially, the options for brand updates became: “hide all updates” or, if I wanted to click through to their brand page “unlike.” Filtering types of posts I’d like to see wasn’t an option, and adding them to a list wasn’t either. Still, I held out hope that with enough tweaking of subscription settings for real people and by putting the right people in my “close friends” list, my “top news” feed would eventually be optimized.
Interesting News Any Time I Visit? Not So Much
And then today’s Facebook user interface overhaul was unveiled. Suddenly, my spam feed (“recent news”) was gone forever, replaced by Facebook’s supposed curation of “top news” (based on the status updates they think I want to read based on the timing of my last visit). Facebook explained the changes, calling them “interesting news any time you visit.” All I see is a bunch of news that I don’t want to see, much of it from brand or business pages that I follow. EDIT (9/21, 11:30 AM): I just realized that there is another new option for posts that appear in the newsfeed “mark as top story.” I assume this is an attempt at allowing some control over brand status updates, but there still isn’t a “mark as uninteresting story” option. Does “hide story” train my newsfeed? That is yet to be seen.
I still have the ability to utilize my lists to see what is important to me, but by definition, it is less efficient, because it is an extra click. In addition to the unoptimized feed, I was also bombarded with an always on, real-time news ticker as part of the chat sidebar. This is good in theory - maybe I’ll see a conversation a friend is having and want to chime in. Unfortunately, it is essentially a fire hose, and one that prominently features all of the brand page status updates that are happening in real time. Sure, users can simply hide that sidebar with the click of a button, but then the chat bar also disappears.
Solutions, Not Problems
I’ve done enough complaining, here are some solutions for everybody:
- Take some time and go through your friends list. Adjust the subscription settings. Facebook is “giving you more control” (instead of just being smart), allowing you to define who you want to see more of. Take advantage of it.
- Sort through ALL of the pages that you’ve liked at one point or another, and decide if you still want to “like” them (it isn’t easy to find the place to do this, so I offered step-by-step instructions in a Facebook post back in August). Unfortunately, there isn’t a place on the brand page to “hide all posts,” so if you’re not ready to “unlike” them yet, you’ll have to wait until a post from that brand shows up in your news feed to take that action.
- Consider posting less frequently for the next couple of weeks. Sure, more eyeballs are going to be on your status updates in the near term, but you also run the risk of people “hiding all posts” by your brand if they’re like me and want an optimized news feed.
- Make your status updates count. Put forth the most engaging content you have right now and get people interested and interacting with your page. Don’t give them any reason to “hide all posts”
- This is a SOCIAL service, where humans want to connect with humans (and some also want to connect with brands that somehow offer value to their lives). Allow users the ability to adjust their subscription level for brands, and also add them to lists. On or off isn’t user friendly, and it forces tough decisions. That’s not social. EDIT (9/21, 11:30 AM): As I mentioned in an update above, “mark as top story” is now an option for all status updates, including those by brands. While this is a step in the right direction, it still doesn’t allow complete control of the newsfeed. If “hide story” works to train my newsfeed, this needs to be made more clear.
I love that Facebook is always looking to move their service forward and keep it fresh. They’re not afraid to fail, and as the saying goes, “if you’re gonna fail, fail fast.” Today, Facebook failed, but with a few tweaks by everyone, order will be restored.