Facebook to start burying promotional posts in 2015

Thanks to Forbes.com for this image

Thanks to Forbes.com for this image

How do you feel about this news? I have mixed feelings. On one hand, as a Facebook user I’m the victim of overly broad targeting strategies of companies I have no interest in, and get my feed clogged with ads for personal development courses. On the other hand I manage Facebook pages for brands.

I think that overall that it will be good for Facebook overall –  encouraging more innovation in terms of paid and owned content strategy, and stop over-reliance on contests, app download calls to action and other common engagement attempts. I hope they won’t hide posts that I actually want to see from brands whose pages I have liked for personal reasons.

Impossible.com and the trend for ‘gift economy apps’


As someone who was involved in Burning Man for a number of years and also many other offshoot art collectives in the past, I am very interested in the appearance of the ‘Gift Economy’ in everyday life. After all, in the West we have enough ‘stuff’ –  much of which does not desperately need to be monetised – so why not give some of those things away? It also has a strong business case – as per this past argument in Harvard Business Review about how it underpins social media interactions.

We already have this offline – at networking events, we give our contacts – we give things to charity shops or to people on Freecycle, so the idea of using the power and wisdom of the crowd to share things we have in abundance or to request things that are hard to find is ideal for the social marketplace.

Impossible.com is an exciting and visionary manifestation of this concept. Instead of focussing on just things we no longer need, it’s more geared towards people coming together to help create something that doesn’t yet exist in another person’s life. While this social platform has received considerable press –  sparking a debate on the value of gift economics in today’s society, I’ve decided to ignore many of the reviews and just dive on and have a play myself. Within an hour I’ve connected with an expert on some of the more complex aspects of Facebook development, given some content strategy tips to a startup and posted a request for an event speaker. And people get back quickly! So for those who wonder whether it can be used for reasons of value – my experience has been a definite yes. You can see more on this during Founder Lily Cole’s SXSW interview.

I’ve also asked for an invite to Gifteng – which is more focussed on the giving away of actual goods – so an upgraded version of Freecycle if you will. I look forward to telling you more on this if they accept my invitation to review!



Innovations in influencer relations

An influencer network: Credit: Traackr, a LEWIS Pulse partner

As our media environment changes, there is an increasing need to focus on influencer relations/marketing as a ‘beyond media’ strategy for marketing communications going forward. For agency practitioners it is exciting too, as it involves a departure from business as usual – demanding that we all become digital natives and immerse ourselves into social platforms and start to build relationships with new audiences – from think tanks, to regulators, to industry experts, special interest groups and others.

What’s more these influencer relationships won’t only exist online, taking them offline and actually getting to know these people. When we engaged in relationship building programmes with influencers, we ideally want to know, how we can help these influencers do their jobs more effectively, give them a higher profile, help them promote what they do better or connect with people within our network.

Using this approach can create a ‘triple win’ for brands, influencers and agency consultants as the facilitators of the relationship. Here are some examples of achievable outcomes as a result of moving towards a more influencer-focussed model:

First consideration: Create awareness within new communities

A company’s brand may attract attention in the press and on social media from the general public, but what do politicians think of that company? What legislation is being debated that may affect how the company does its business? Stepping back to think of these larger issues can help to elevate the purpose of your comms activity to more than sharing messages or increasing awareness with current consumers. Where appropriate, connecting with selected members of the political community, powerful lobby groups and think tanks can take a company’s views on the market into account when communicating with their online stakeholders.

Shorter term: build your stakeholder network, educate them, discover new spheres of influence, 

As part of the process of establishing these relationships, you can bring influencers within third party organisations closer to your client’s brand by inviting them to contribute content to a company blog, or attend a conference a company is organising, or to share a panel session. By giving influencers valuable opportunities to build their profile, a valuable side effect of this is that they will become more acquainted with your client’s position in the market, what their views are and so on. It is often the case that analysts and investors will already be being courted in this way – if so, the processes to onboard influencers onto a similar relationship building programme may already be in place. In connecting with these influencers and working with them, you may also discover untapped communities that may be receptive to your clients’ thinking and ideas.

Longer term: Shape the conversation, create behavioural change, discover new customers

As these relationships mature, you will begin to see that some of your initial ‘long list’ of influencers become effective advocates for an idea that those within your client’s company believe in. Instead of trying to get them to talk specifically about your products, focus on themes that are genuinely of as much interest to your influencers as they are to clients. The more your spokespeople own those relationships with the influencers the better. This ‘depth of conviction’ in a shared vision for a given sector, or shared opinion on an emerging, disruptive market trend will travel further than endorsements of specific products.

This shared vision or opinion can also influence behaviours and opinions within online communities, especially if working with relevant ‘heavyweight’ influencers who are both popular and have their content shared regularly. It can also support inbound marketing efforts by drawing out potential customers and partners from within these untapped spheres of influence.



OK, I admit it. I wish I was at #SXSW…

It has been an event featuring some exciting launches – wearables meets virtual reality in the shape of Oculus, Whisper’s competitor Secret.ly launches its SXSW feed, Edward Snowden comes out of hiding to present a keynote plus some chilling reminders about the topic of Data Permanency (read: if you want to be naughty, don’t get caught online doing it). Perhaps Forbes is right… I should have booked my ticket!

Apps I’m playing with today: Whisper and Jelly

Credit: Whisper App

The PostSecret of the Noughties generation! Also a great place for brands who trade on secrecy to ‘leak’ details of parties and events to online communities. Given that it’s SXSW –  cue users sharing details on Gary Vaynerchuk’s secret wine party, and music labels teasing fans with secret gig hints…


Credit: IBN Live

I credit myself on being helpful and being good and providing answers to things, but Jelly has really tested my mettle. From cooking tips for meat I don’t eat to best after hours drinking holes in Mitte, Berlin (sorry I only know Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg) I’ve been scrolling down helplessly all morning.

Remember how ages ago crowdsourcing ideas was all the rage? Well, looks like this could be another outlet for brands to get help in the form of ideas.

Should we gamify business processes?


Gartner 2012 Hype Cycle

I went to a really insightful talk this week at General Assembly about the business benefits of gamification  –  I run a contests fairly frequently in my line of work, so it provided me with some food for thought to say the least.

My main line of interest however, is exploring where gamifying campaigns for B2B brands can deliver benefits beyond ‘driving awareness’. I stumbled across this report published last year for Accenture that explores its origins, its trajectory and also its relevance to tomorrow’s businesspeople –  namely milennials. Furthermore, as Gamification enters prominence (as illustrated by its position on Gartner’s hype cycle  – pictured above) we see more mainstream conversations about the topic, and how it can be applied where it matters… namely in big business.

One challenge however, is correct application –  I was reminded, during this lecture that sticking a badge on something, or setting up a leaderboard or contest does not mean it will automatically create engagement with your selected stakeholder audience, and it’s not so long ago that Business Insider published a report that suggested a large number of gamification initiatives would fail, despite the massive market potential. And as one might expect a great place to start is with digital campaigns

But does that mean that we should be wary of this trend? Not at all. I’ve attempted to gamify a business process and failed once at this – I was lacking a strong enough incentive and the technology partner I was using faced a few challenges – but I’ve also won at it too. It’s definitely worth revisiting, refining and pushing towards success. I’d like to share the presentation (with the author’s permission) once it’s ready, so stay tuned for an update to this post.