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Interesting developments at Pinterest

PinterestI’ve just received an email from Pinterest telling me how their pins are changing.  Apparently they’ve introduced:

* product pins: for items where you want to include pricing, availability and where to buy

* recipe pins: that include ingredients, servings, timings etc ie an online cookery book, led by images

* movie pins: with cast members, content ratings etc.

It seems clear that Pinterest knows what it’s three main pin uses are and it’s evolved from recipes into a more commercial marketplace.

Interstingly, I thought that Pinterest was particularly useful for sharing crafts as well, but there’s no pin for this that provides step by step instructions on how to achieve a particular craft.  Or perhaps you can take a ‘recipe’ approach.

Either way, this move is an interesting one. It puts Pinterest in a far more commercial position and it shifts the platform into an image led search engine, as opposed to Google’s text dominant platform.  So you can be inspired as well as informed.  Definitely one to watch.

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Growth expected in social media marketing spend

social media growthResearch out from Forrester has predicted that the overall UK spend on social media marketing will double over the next 5 years from just under €400m in 2012 to over €800m in 2017 (I hate it when they talk about UK figures but put the data into Euros!  I wonder if that will be in the ‘pull out of Europe’ plan. Will we just shift to dollars?!).

The European question is an important one though.  Privacy legislation is set to come into effect in 2016, which could cut overall spending by 15% across Europe.

Potentially some grave concerns there. The report also states that defining ROI will get more difficult as social networks mature.

Personally, as much as I respect Forrester, I think there are some glaring holes in this report.

1) it is forecasting behaviours and spend for activity over 5 years in an industry that is known for its volatility.  Who could have forecast the spread of Pinterest for instance?  YouTube was only created in 2005 and over its first 5 years transformed the way we share and view video irrevocably. They’ve taken a best guess and that’s all

2) it is based on the way we interact with social media networks now.  This is going to change significantly over the next 5 years, with ‘old’ giants falling and new enterprises appearing

3) it focuses on UK and Europe spend but that is only where spend originates as social media is global, by it’s very essence.  Emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and Africa will change the dynamics.  Firstly, they already use different networks to those in Europe (Baidu for instance) and secondly they communicate differently.  In the Far East, smartphones have been around a lot longer than they have in Europe.  In Brazil and Russia you have huge wealth inequalities that mean that approach and usage of social media will be different.  And that’s just touching the surface.  I’ve not even mentioned culture or their own privacy rules.

So, granted, reports like this serve well to give companies some stats and figures to put forward to investors and shareholders, but they give a false overview and don’t address the most interesting aspects of the future of social media, such as community creations and the growth of social communication networks.  I’d be more interested in numbers and demographics of usage, split by country.  And how business can be done globally via a social media channel.

Respond quickly for a quick social media hit

Dunk-in-the-darkTo use social media effectively you need to be aware of the news agenda and responsive enough to make best use of it.  However you also have to think carefully about how you piggyback on news, especially if it’s negative.

The recent horse meat scandal led to lots of brands jumping on board to make best use of the joke elements that came about.  Virgin Media did well with its fake apology for showing moovies (ie films about cows) that actually contained lots of horses.  Why did the spoofs work though? Because no-one was harmed by the ingestion of horse meat.  At least not yet.

On the other hand, there have been some appalling social media gaffs around true disasters.  In the aftermath of the Boston bombings, Epicurious, the food lovers website tweeted “Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start today,” followed by a link. And if that wasn’t bad enough they went on to say “In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest: whole-grain cranberry scones!”.  Obviously a buffoon in charge of their tweeting there!  They eventually apologised, but the damage had been done.

On a lighter note, an example of a brand that has got it dab on is Oreo.  When the blackout happened at the SuperBowl, Oreo produced an ad, beautifully designed and simple, with the strapline “You can still dunk in the dark’.  It generated over 23 million tweets during the game.  That’s not just quick thinking that’s quick action.  Worth thinking about when you consider your own tweeting strategy.  Who are you targeting?  Where are they?  What is happening that could create global reach?  I don’t expect that Oreo had this one up their sleeves in case there was a blackout at the games (unless they are serious pranksters!) but I would bet that they had a range of others, ready for an ‘unexpected’ happening.

So the moral of this story?  With social media, the clever brands don’t just respond to the news, they prepare for it.

Best job title ever – Head of Tigers

This weekend I was reading about a childrens’ festival in Surrey, organised by children, for children. The committee is headed by 12-year-old Daniel Moran (who was already aware of the challenges of leadership – “All of the children are younger than me, so it is harder to get their attention” he says. Something we can all appreciate I’m sure). Also on the committee is a “Lego Specialist’ and ‘Ideas Specialist’ and, finally, the best job role of the lot belongs to little five-year-old Cicely Woodyer, who is the self-appointed head of tigers. I wonder how many other organisations can benefit from a Head of Tigers? Perhaps it would apply well to the HR Director? Or to Asia Sales Managers?

What interested me most though (yes, even more so than the chocolate eating contest) is that the people in charge are the peers of those they are organising the event for. If it had been left to the adults they would have provided a lot of hi-tech stuff as that is what they were expecting them to come up with, so were rather surprised by the committee’s decision to have events such as foot wrestling, a custard slide, a tantrum contest and a jelly fight.

It makes you think. Brands today rely on customer insight in their product development and marketing, but how many of them actually involve their customers in their decisions? With social media tools such as twitter and facebook, there is a massive potential for crowdsourcing ideas. I’m looking forward to seeing this go a stage further and actually getting people involved in the delivery of a brand’s product and services.

It could certainly be an interesting employment approach. Those out of work could find project work by taking part in specific events/projects, and build up their portfolios. Employers would get input from a wider range of people, pumping fresh energy and ideas into their companies. Meanwhile, customers would feel engaged by the brand. And how much more attachment will they have to that brand if they know they can impact on its future, and not just be a passive consumer?

Enter the online world via your junk mail

Ok so this one took me a while to work out. The Royal Mail has announced a new smartphone app that will allow people to scan a photo on their mail, using their smartphone, which will then redirect them to a company’s facebook page, video site, twitter, website…you name it.

The more tech-savvy of you may be thinking “how is this different from QR codes?”. The less tech-savvy of you may be going “Eh?”.

The idea seems basically to be the Royal Mail trying desperately to show that snail mail is still a fantastic way to reach consumers, and to give direct mail sent by post the ability to be tracked by sending people online.

It’s certainly an interesting direction for them to take. On the one hand it’s a better idea than QR codes as you can brand up the image whereas a QR code is a random pattern of black and white shapes basically. Plus being able to track the effectiveness of a hard copy mailing campaign is tempting. But it falls down when it says you have to download the app onto your phone to make it work. So 1) you need a smartphone, 2) you need to download the app and 3) you have to be bothered to then scan the picture rather than just stick it in the recycling bin. That seems one step (or even 3) too far to really make it work.

For more information (and to read one of the most confusing headlines I’ve ever seen) check out this article in Marketing magazine

The morning after the night before

Have you ever wished, I mean really wished, that you could replay the night before? Perhaps to see exactly who it was who decided tequila slammers were a good idea, or that kebab was a good choice for dinner.

Well, now you can. Lynx has launched a new app – Lynx Stream – that lets you document your night out, where you went, who you were with, what you said. You can upload photos, video, tweets etc.

A great piece of social media marketing programming, and something we can expect to see more of from brands who are looking to really engage with their customers (in this case Lynx basically wants to be there, with you, on your night out with your mates – clever). My only question is, how much do you really want to see how your night progressed? Perhaps it’s better to stick to the strange wobbly feeling in your stomach and the sensation that it was a great night, without seeing it in the cold, hard, sober light of day…

Check it out for yourself here

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