branding Archives - Harris Social Media

2014 portfolio updated

on Jan 24 in advertising, branding posted , , by

Things have been quiet on the blog. But we’ve been busy! Here’s our 2014 portfolio, updated with additional services including video production.

How marketers can use Twitter’s weak social connections

on Oct 08 in branding, business, social media, strategy, Twitter posted , , by

twitter birds and speech bubblesIn this article in Social Media Today, Neil Alperstein discusses the premise that the weak social ties we experience on Twitter, where interactions occur mainly between followers, rather than personal friends.

Why is this observation important? Because, according to Alperstein, weak social ties do not require trust in order to be effective. He cites issue-based groups, that might tweet particular hashtags to gain traction.

Interestingly, Alperstein’s thesis runs counter to that espoused by Malcom Gladwell in The Tipping Point, that strong social connections are necessary to elicit societal change.

There’s a lesson here for marketers as well. If Alperstein is correct, and “proximity, trust and incentive to connect based on friendship no longer matter” then marketers must understand that the approach to brand marketing on Twitter will be quite different to that on Facebook, where social connections among fans are typically stronger.

This means in practice that a marketer will want to provide value, as always, but it may also be necessary and justifiable to increase the size of the marketing megaphone to reach an audience. This translates into tweeting more often, maybe repeating some high value tweets, and not worrying too much about connecting with every single follower whose tweets are mostly “Wassup?” It also reinforces an influencer marketing strategy, since it weak social connections imply that the brand network may have less impact than the networks of influencers.

Three things brands must do before they engage influencers

on Jul 24 in branding, business, marketing, strategy, thought leaders, trends posted , , by

painting jesus sermon on the mount illustrate influencer

Jesus may well be the original influencer. Certainly the Church knew how to use him to market their product. Was Jesus the original influencer? Maybe so, and whether you are religious or not, influencer marketing is the next big thing for social marketers. If it’s not on your radar already it should be.

A post in Social Media Today highlights three influencer marketing campaigns. Such successes encourage brands and social marketers to include influencer marketing as part of their strategy.

Yes, influencer marketing is a vital mix to a marketing strategy. But it should only one part of the overall strategy. Even the best-crafted influencer outreach will fall on deaf ears if the brand doesn’t provide value, both for the influencer and for the audience. 

An influencer will not support a brand that has a crappy product or web presence. Would you recommend a lousy product or service to your family and friends? And no, neither will influencers, simply because they will be aware of the impact on their own reputation and brand.

Indeed, influencer marketing carries a risk, since influencers may be just as likely to trash a lousy product as they are to praise it.  Before jumping onto this particular bandwagon, influencer marketing must therefore be preceded by three essential steps. Look at these first, and if you can answer the questions, you are good to go! 

  1. Brand review — Is your corporate messaging aligned with business goals and your communications strategy. Do your mission and vision statements adequately represent your organization? Have you established a set of core values, and ensured your logo and tag lines match your brand?
  2. Social audit — Does your social presence past muster? Does your social media outreach comply with best practices (optimized profiles, engaging consistently and effectively)? Are you a Facebook-only operation or are you engaging across all relevant social platforms?
  3. Website audit — It your website up-to-date and socially optimized? Does it provide an interactive engaging user experience? Is it search optimized with rich content? 

Once you can check all these boxes you can start connecting with influencers. At which point an influencer is more likely to respond positively to your outreach efforts. If you can’t, your influencer outreach might cause more harm than good.

 

How not to create a tagline

on Jun 13 in branding, business, hints and tips, marketing, statistics posted by

Apple's Think Different tagline with rainbow apple logo

Leading brands such as Apple invest huge amounts of resources in developing taglines.

Marketers place a great deal of importance on taglines. But why? Marketers know that the tagline can define the brand and even become synonymous. Think of Nike’s “Just Do It” or Kentucky Fried Chicken’s “Finger Lickin’ Good” or Ford’s “Quality is Job One”. The tagline can be a vital feature of a brand’s identity.

So choosing a good tagline is not a trivial task. But how do you choose one? To answer that question, let me share a story with you. Recently, I developed several choices of taglines for a client (who shall remain anonymous). I put choices in front of the client and the team was close to reaching consensus. At this point, the organization’s leader ruled that we should accept a completely different version.

It’s always disappointing to have worked on something, only to have it discarded without additional consultation. But in my opinion, the chosen tagline was simply not appropriate for the organization. My primary concern with the tag line was that it was too long. It was 11 words and 15 syllables long. Typically, a tagline needs to be short for two reasons. First, it must be easily memorized. Second it must be short enough to be included on tchotchkes, sales materials and other promotional items, usually alongside the logo. The chosen tagline just seemed too long.

But could I back up my gut instincts with real data? To find out, I analyzed a list of taglines of 325 leading brands on Eric Swartz’s Tagline Guru website. (This collection of top taglines is listed here, used with permission.) Swartz’s list of taglines was not randomly chosen, but were from a list of those nominated in a survey of most influential taglines.

Data Analysis
I conducted two analyses to detect patterns among these leading taglines:

  1. Characterize statistics for the number of words and syllables to determine the typical length of a successful tagline
  2. Compared word and syllable counts for the top 100 and top 10 taglines (as determined by the online survey reported in the Tagline Guru website).

Results
Figure 1 shows a scatter plot for the total number of words and syllables in the analyzed taglines. Of course, we expect a correlation since a tagline with more words will have more syllables.

scatter plot for the total number of words and syllables in taglines

Figure 1. Total words versus syllables for 325 leading brand taglines.


The purpose of this plot is to show that the number of words and syllables cluster within well defined limits, as shown in Table 1.

  5th percentile 95th percentile
Number of words ≤ 2 ≥ 9
Number of syllables ≤ 3 ≥ 12

Table 1. Percentile distribution for the number of words and syllables in leading brand taglines.

That is, nine-tenths of the taglines have between three and eight words, and between four and twelve syllables. Figure 2 shows the distribution of number of words in taglines visually. In this frequency distribution (which appears to be log-normal), we can see that the number of words clusters toward the lower end of the scale.

Frequency distribution bar graph of frequency of taglines with different numbers of words

Figure 2. The number of words in leading brand taglines shows that four words is a typical number, while few taglines have more than eight words.

Another important result is that the number of syllables in the top ten taglines was significantly less (t = 2.71, p = 0.007, assuming equal variances: F = 1.12, p = 0.35) than the number of syllables in the other 315 taglines (Table 2). (Note that the t-test assumes that variables are distributed normally, which is clearly not the case as shown in Figure 1. Therefore, data were log-transformed to comply with this assumption.)

  N Mean St Dev
Top 10 taglines 10 4.8 2.25
Other taglines 315 6.987 2.97

Table 2. The mean number of syllables in the top 10 brand taglines is significantly fewer than other leading brand taglines.

However, neither the number of words in the top 10 taglines nor the number of syllables per word differed significantly from the other taglines. Also, these differences were not found when the top 100 taglines were compared with the others.

Looking at the sample of taglines together, we see that most taglines have a total of more than three syllables. Six syllables is the most common number for a tagline (Figure 3).

Bar graph of total words versus syllables

Figure 3. The distribution of total syllables in a tagline indicates that most taglines use several syllables.

Conclusion

The take home from these findings is that creating a tagline outside these limits (less than 2 or more than 9 words, or less than 3 or more than 12 syllables) may be risky. Very few taglines created by major brands exceed these ranges.

That is not to say that taglines should never be outside these ranges. For example, the top ranked tagline of all time is “Got milk” with two words and two syllables. Mastercard’s tagline “There are some things that money can’t buy. For everything else there’s MasterCard.” with 18 syllables and 13 words, is ranked 17th of the top taglines. But both these are outliers from the other taglines.

This analysis shows that there are word and syllable limits within which most leading brand taglines fall. As a rule of thumb, marketers ought to stay within these ranges. But the rule is not set in stone. If you are very clever (and perhaps a bit lucky) you can create successful taglines outside the norm.

The key point is that understanding the brand (meaning the perceptual construct of the audience) is the most important aspect of creating a successful tagline. Yes, the data provide guidelines for number of words, syllables, and syllables per word, but these must be considered along with extensive research of the brand, deep understanding of the mission and vision of the organization, team work and collaboration, and creative, original approaches that set the brand apart.

So will this advice get the client to change his mind? Time will tell!

Want more?
For more advice on how to choose (and not choose) a tagline, visit Eric Swartz’s site:

Google’s brilliant ploy to get people to pay for testing Google Glass

on Mar 29 in advertising, branding, business, geolocation, google, marketing, products, strategy, technology, trends posted by

Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin models the company’s new augmented reality device, Google Glass.As a technophile and early adopter, I am as excited as anyone else by the prospect of trying Google Glass, the new augmented reality device coming from Google in the coming months. Augmented reality apps have been around awhile. You point your smart phone at something and by mashing up geolocation and image recognition the app supplies additional information about what you are looking at.

Augmented reality is a powerful idea, and one that is taking root, most prominently with Google Glass. Google have been tremendously successful in generating hype about the product, which allows users to interact with their surroundings and the Internet with unprecedented ease and intimacy. But the new device is also a big gamble for the technology giant.

The system requires a seamless integration of hardware and software, and we don’t know yet if Google has it right, despite awesome promo videos and gigs of hype. Existing augmented reality apps are still buggy, and limited to large cities where the appropriate infrastructure can support an acceptable user experience.

The company has invested a great deal in their brainchild, and Google Glass is coming. It’s a bold and innovative move for a company that is mostly focused on software. Indeed, just as clever as the device is their testing and marketing strategy.

It seems to me that Google is applying a software testing model to their new hardware. Allow me to explain. When we buy a car or washing machine, or a smartphone for that matter, we expect all the pre-market testing to have been done. The glitches should be ironed out and we expect to receive a good product for our money. Companies invest hugely in testing products to ensure as few expensive recalls as possible.

However, with software, we have become conditioned to accept a post-market testing model. Users do much of the testing after a product is on the market and then happily report bugs, many of which could probably have been picked up in pre-release testing. With an operating system or app, we routinely and unquestioningly download the latest update, assuming it is a necessary and worthy improvement to something we have already paid for.

Google now seems to be bringing the software testing model to the Google Glass hardware. Here’s how they did it. With their initial announcement of its release, the company announced the Google Explorer program. Prospective users had to apply by posting a message on Google Plus or Twitter consisting of fifty words or less, accompanied by the hashtag #ifihadglass. If their application was accepted, the lucky applicant had to pay $1,500 to receive the device.

That is, Google has very cleverly found a way to build a cadre of testers and have them pay for the privilege privilege of being among the first among the public to use the gadget.

What is more, these users are early adopters, and most likely influencers, who are undoubtedly going to feel considerable loyalty to the company, to forgive initial problems, and to become evangelistic brand ambassadors. So Google neatly solved two problems — how to test the product in the market place while minimizing testing costs, and at the same time generate buzz among technology mavens and enthusiasts. Well played Google, well played.

But things did not go as smoothly as expected. Just a few days ago, the technology press was reporting that Google was retracting some invitations. According to reports, Google tweeted: “We’re gonna need to disqualify a few non-compliant #ifihadglass applications that snuck through.” Oops. The retractions certainly bolster the idea that Google is using buyers to pay for testing, rather than magnanimously sharing their new technology with the deserving few, as they would prefer us to believe.

Oops, didn’t anyone notice that Microsoft’s new logo copies Google’s brand pages logo?

on Aug 30 in advertising, branding, business, google posted by

Microsoft’s new logo (bottom) bears a striking resemblance to Googles brand pages icon… (top)Microsoft rolled out a new logo to great fanfare last week. Bully for them. It’s about time. I’m not a big fan of the software giant, but I do grant that their products have made computing more affordable and accessible since the home computing revolution took off in the 1990s.

But their marketing sucks! I won’t roll out the old tropes of Microsoft versus Apple. Apple did that perfectly in a stellar ad campaign, and Microsoft have never quite managed to hit back. 

So maybe the new logo was planned to address Microsoft’s still flabby image. Only, only… It does’t quite do that. Aside from other critiques, well-articulated, what I noticed was a striking similarity between the new logo, and one that’s been used on Google’s brand pages for some time now. Here’s the two side-by-side. What do you think? They are rather similar, aren’t they? Yet again, Microsoft is trying to reimagine itself in the face of stiff competition. And failing miserably. C’mon Microsoft, can’t you do better?

One Easy Way to Turbo-Charge Your Social Media Influence

on Apr 12 in branding, business, gamification, hints and tips, social media, trends posted by

How can you become the 800-pound gorilla in the social media cocktail party? (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)With so many social media hints, tips, tools, and apps it’s tough to keep focus. Should you tweet today or focus on Facebook? Maybe you should post on Linkedin, or Google Plus? Sometimes it just seems too much and you end up doing nothing.

So how do you become the 800-pound gorilla in the social media cocktail party?

Empire Avenue is a great way to motivate yourself while building your social media audience and increasing your influence.

Essentially, Empire Avenue simulates a stock market, in which you buy and sell shares in other users. It’s pitched as a game, but it is far more powerful. Unlike Farmville or Battlestar Galactica, it’s not just about playing for the game’s sake. By playing, you expand your social media connections and increase your engagement. The payoff? You start to rise in rankings in other social channels. For more info, check out the Wikipedia article.

Business and brands can benefit by incorporating Empire Avenue into conventional step-by-step strategy. It also has simple metrics that enable you to gauge the effectiveness of your social media efforts.

Right now, Empire Avenue is the best attempt at gamification of social media activity. It’s free and has been open to the public since July 2010. I had stopped playing Facebook games since they just seemed like a time sink, and I didn’t see a whole lot of benefit. So I was a bit reluctant to start Empire Avenue — uncharacteristically, since I’m usually an early adopter.

Empire Avenue gamifies social media engagement.
But pretty soon after starting the game, it has worked for me. Here’s a screenshot of my Klout score since I started playing Empire Avenue. It went from a little over 48 to more than 51 in less than a month. This may not seem like much, but each incremental increase in your Klout score is exponentially harder to get, so it is significant.

 Roger Harris’s Klout score impacted by Empire Avenue activity.

So if you want to increase your social media influence, Empire Avenue is a fun and interesting way to do. And you can find me there of course. http://www.empireavenue.com/rharris

FritoLay SunChips packaging debacle: A lesson in when not to listen to your customers?

on Oct 07 in branding, business, facebook, public relations, social media posted by

SunChips’ 100% compostable bag was withdrawn over protests it was too “noisy”SunChips is well-known and to some beloved brand produced by food giant FritoLay (a subsidiary of PepsiCo).

When the company introduced a new compostable package for the chips a few months ago, it was playing its part as a responsible corporate citizen. The idea was that users could compost the package. It would decompose and therefore be more environmentally friendly than traditional plastic packaging.

But a slip up in the market research department (I infer) resulted in flurry of protests from die-hard fans of the old FritoLay package. The problem, it seems, was the the new package was “noisier” than the old one.

But being “the world’s first 100 percent biodegradable chip packet” was not enough to stop close to 50,000 Facebook members (48,638 at the time of writing) “Liking” a Community page called “SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG.” The page’s info states: “The new Sun Chips bags are so fucking loud.”

Several other groups were set up in protest of the noisy bags (numbers indicate each Page’s Likes at the time of writing):

On FritoLay’s own SunChips Fan page, 94 posts complained about the noise made by the new bags. 

Complaints included:

Flustered by the protests, FritoLay reversed course for most of their SunChips flavors. The SunChips Facebook Fan page stated it would retain compostable bags for the “original” SunChips brand. However, there was no mention of the widely reported decision to withdraw compostable bags for other flavors.

FritoLay has landed itself in big social media doo-doo.

After peeing off a lot of customers with a poor bag design, their confusing semi-reversal has set off a firestorm of protests.

Many SunChips fans evidently felt the new bags were at least headed in the right direction for helping the environment. The SunChips Facebook Fan page is being bombarded (as I write) with angry posts about the company’s apparent weakness in the face of vocal chip eaters. It seems that caving in to the complaints about mere noise set off the tirades.

Posts range from the furious and angry to disillusioned and sarcastic.

  • Héloïse Marinier … Not going to buy anymore Sun Chips you can count on that— maybe I won’t purchase ANY PepsiCo products any longer. Boo Ya.
  • Alain Fauteux Way to go priorities !! noise pollution over Earth pollution we must be a bunch of fat lazy complainning sissy’s
  • Julie Broyles I will not purchase ANY sun chips so long as the company is producing ANY non-compostable bags to appease to those annoyed by noisy bags.
  • Mary Roe I can’t believe that Sun Chips is changing bags because of noise and not staying with their sustainable practice thinking. It will cost you a lot of customers I predict
  • Amanda Santilli Who gives a flying fuck if the bag is noisy?!?!?! I would rather have a noisy bag and a healthier planet than a quieter bag and sick planet.

And yesterday, another Facebook Page has been set up: Bring back the loud Sunchips bag with the Information box stating the Page was “Founded: the day frito lay folded to idiot consumers who care more about the volume of thieir chips than the state of our planet”

So it seems this was a situation where FritoLay shouldn’t have listened (not a pun!) to the initial complaints about the noisy bags. Rather than ameliorating a packaging problem, in trying to respond, FritoLay has created more problems.

The company’s decision (1) divided its SunChip consumers into two opposing camps, (2) sabotaged its own efforts to be an environmentally sensitive good corporate citizen and (3) received a lot of bothersome press coverage over the issue.

In particular the mainstream press picked up on the Facebook activity:

Now that’s some noise to worry about!

Video killed the cartoon star: Disney’s social media disaster

on Sep 01 in branding, celebrities, fun stuff, marketing, reputation management, social media, trends posted by

Donald Duck is sure to be mad with what Disney has done to his classic cartoonsI just love those classic cartoons. You know, Roadrunner, Sylvester the Cat, and, of course, Disney’s famed cast of characters.

But Disney have made a big mistake trying to “modernize” some of their classics, notably Donald Duck, in a series called “Blam!” The videos provide a voiceover that humorously points out Donald’s misdeeds and mistakes in a way that Disney evidently presumes is palatable to today’s youngsters.

Unfortunately, Disney’s misguided effort has fallen, true to cartoon form, flat on its face.

On YouTube, comments on one video, unimaginatively titled And Another Blam! go the whole way. Here’s a few:

  • ahermit Annoying and insulting. Whose stupid idea was it to do this?!
  • BrianSchultze There is a special place in hell reserved for the person who approved this. 
  • sbl195207 …I had no idea that my childhood was being raped.
  • r3dk9 This is the worst thing. Ever.
  • electrojones This is spectacularly lousy in every way. 
  • FrankieSmileShow Oh my god. What the fuck is this. This ruined my day.

And so on. Not one of the 157 comments (at the time of writing) can be in any way construed as positive.

And serious bloggers (well, as serious as they can get) are lambasting the effort left and right. Cartoon Brew says “ These Blam! episodes, which are probably named so because the viewer wants to blam their head off after watching them, destroy the spirit of the Disney cartoons and over-explain every joke to the point where it becomes unfunny.” The 103 comments on that post are similarly unimpressed with Disney.

Cartoon forums such as Animationforum.net are also buzzing with negative response to the Blam! videos. 

Could Blam! be Disney’s big social media disaster? Disney’s heading over the cliff, but its executives won’t be laughing about it.

Dealing with negativity in social media

on Mar 23 in branding, business, marketing, public relations, social media, strategy posted by

To make their point, protestors co-opted the logo of one of Nestle’s best known brands. In my experience, the most challenging aspect of actually implementing a social media program is dealing with negativity. You can never be quite sure what the response is going to be.

Look at the backlash on Nestlé’s Facebook page. That’s the sort of PR you don’t want.

But there are best practices for dealing with negativity. These can go a long way to dealing with its impact. The Nestlé incident is a clear example of how NOT to deal with negativity.

My guess is that Nestlé took the cheap option and hired a novice to manage their Facebook page. Now it’s costing them vastly more than if they had hired someone competent in the first place.

So how could they have handled it differently? Their initial mistake was to criticize the person who was asking about the Greenpeace video (which got all this started). One comment called the response a “particularly indiscreet sense of arrogance.”

Instead, the Facebook Fan page manager should have acknowledged the user’s concerns. The manager could have admitted to the user that they had a right to expect the highest standards from a company such as Nestlé. He could have mentioned that Nestlé is not perfect, but always striving to improve. 

The most powerful tactic is to actually admit a mistake: “We’re sorry about sourcing palm oil from illegally logged Indonesian rainforests. We’re trying to figure out what went wrong and put it right.” And so on. A conciliatory tone would have been much less likely to invoke the huge backlash that now is simply a cringe-worthy embarrassment for the food giant.

Another ploy is just to wait and see. An immediate reaction might not be called for, especially when there is a risk of getting things out of hand. It’s always possible members of the community will come to your defense. Indeed one or two lonely voices are doing that on Nestlé’s Facebook page, but too little, too late.

The second mistake Nestlé made (and continues to make) is refusing to engage on Facebook following the initial flub. Now their official Facebook page looks more like a protest page, bombarded with negative comments. Many of these expand the scope of the company’s misdeeds.

When you’re talking to clients about the need for professional management of their social media program, you need to convince them to invest in training and hiring the appropriate expertise.

Incidences of negativity can be useful in your sales pitch. But you don’t want to go too far and put the client off social media altogether!