Peter Sealey's Ten Trends
My topic is ten trends that are going to change our professional and personal lives. And, my general theme is on the nature of change, which -- as we all know -- is accelerating.
The issue here is this: how do we contend with disruptive technologies and other new factors coming into the marketplace? This is not really about predicting the future: the ten trends are already here. So my project is really to articulate some trends and developments and then tease them out to their logical conclusion.
Central point: Joseph Schumpeter, a brilliant, Austrian-born economist, once said, "We live in a perennial gale of creative self destruction."
What Schumpeter meant: if there is a better business model out there, a better way of doing business, a better way of marketing a product or service, then we have to destroy our present model and embrace the new one. This is, without question, the hardest thing for companies to do. They sail into oblivion doing what they always did.
Here is an airline case in point. Delta, Northwest Airways, U.S. Airways and United Airlines are all either bankrupt, coming out of bankruptcy, have discarded their pensions or have thrown the pensions over to the Feds. It's a mess.
In contrast, Southwest and JetBlue are making money -- i.e. carrying passengers at $67 per barrel of oil. Why? They have a superior business model.
Northwest Airways: labor cost per seat mile is almost five cents.
Southwest Airlines: labor cost per seat mile is two point five cents.
Game over. We all know it doesn't work. The issue is how we get these people at the top to say, "Look it was a great run. Hub and spoke. Flying ten different kinds of aircrafts. Charging enormous differential between the walk-up passenger and the leisure traveler. That was a great model until about 2000. It no longer works."
The old-style airline guys have to destroy that model. If they don't, watch American Airlines follow the others into bankruptcy.
The big issue we face here is that it is extraordinarily difficult to get a company to destroy its present business model. But, it simply has to happen, and the reason that it has to happen breaks down into my --
Ten Trends that are going to change our professional and personal lives
- Three Mega-Trends -- bandwidth, the cost of storage and processing power
- Three Media Sub-Trends -- media is becoming digital, personal, and controllable
- A revolution in the motion picture, television, and recorded music industries
- IPTV: Internet Protocol Television
- Performance based marketing
- The demise of ad-supported TV
- The rise of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
- New and accurate ratings system
- Ad-ID and RFID
- A Marketing Renaissance
Each of these ten trends is already here in one form or another. They are not fully developed, but they are here and they are going to change the world.
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Watch where they're looking
Here's the original location for this image:
Where the image sits on the web page exacerbates the brain-mind problem. The foreground action is one of acceptance and trust, the background action is that there's a problem or something potentially more interesting happening elsewhere, and now we learn that "elsewhere" is completely off the web page.
This is a big non-conscious no-no: never give people a reason to think there's something more important elsewhere, keep their attention right where you want it.
Fortunately, the fix for these things is simple and comes in two easily doable forms. The first easy fix is to simply replace the picture with one that has people in the foreground and background doing the same thing. For example:
Everybody in the foreground is eating and engaged in conversation around a table. Better, so is everyone in the background.
Give visitors something to look at
Another solution is to satisfy the brain-mind's need to follow a gaze to make sure things are okay. This is done by giving the site visitor a reward for following the gaze of the people in the background, for example:
This solution works well on many levels. The foreground image is of trust and acceptance. The background image will cause the visitor to look at the "Register Now" image, which is an action item. "Register Now" leads to a sign up page for the eMetrics Summit. The message? If you want to be honored, trusted and respected in this community, Register Now for the eMetrics Summit.
I wrote in the beginning of this column that the big learning is a simple one: people will look where other people are looking because they're wired to. It doesn't matter if what's looking is a pair of eyes or a face, people will look or grow uncomfortable when they attempt not to. Use this simple technique to focus visitor attention on your action items and you're ahead of the game in a big way.
- Pavlov's eyes: get users to respond
- Use of Eye Images as Navigation and Action Cues on Websites
- Priming the Conversion Pump with Images
- Attract and Stick, Part 1
- Attract and Stick, Part 2
Joseph Carrabis is CRO and founder of NextStage Evolution and NextStage Global and founder of KnowledgeNH and NH Business Development Network. He was recently selected as a senior research fellow and board advisor for the Society for New Communications Research. Read full bio.
Know the requirements of the role
Carefully consider the skills, experience, and background required for the social media position you seek to fill. Doing so will help you craft a job description that attracts candidates who are actually qualified for the role.
Whether you're seeking a community manager or interactive strategist, qualities you might look for include:
- A true passion for social media
- An understanding of various online communities and those who participate in them
- An ability to relate information to employees at all levels of an organization who might or might not be savvy in this space
What's not as important? Years of experience in social media, for one. Keep in mind that the most popular social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, iPhone App Store) were launched in the last five years, so be wary of anyone claiming to have "10-plus years of expertise" in this space.
Instead, focus on what a candidate has done using social media tools. Does the individual have proven success in building communities and connecting directly with customers online, or launching campaigns with a solid ROI, for example? Try not to get too hung up on technical or web skills, either. Most social media platforms are pretty easy to use, so lack of in-depth technical expertise should not be an obstacle. Similarly, just because someone can develop great websites doesn't mean he or she can successfully develop and execute an interactive campaign.
Consider internal resources
You don't necessarily need to hire someone from the outside to oversee your social media program. A current employee who is interested in social media might be a match for the position, particularly if he or she has deep knowledge of the firm's culture, its customers, and any hot-button issues.
But before slotting people into roles, be sure to check their interest in the position and current workload. If employees don't express genuine interest in the job -- or lack the bandwidth to help -- their efforts will seem forced when representing your organization to the online community.
Ideally, you want someone who is enthusiastic about connecting with customers online and engaging in ongoing dialogue -- someone with a little personality and sharp wit, who can present information in an entertaining way and forge long-lasting relationships. If you don't have that person internally, you might have to look outside the company.
Fish where the fish are
In many cases, the highly skilled social media professionals you want on your team will not come to you -- you'll have to find them. Attend in-person networking events and check out LinkedIn and Facebook groups online. The agencies with which you work might have referrals, and ask for recommendations from colleagues, friends, and former managers and classmates.
You might also consider working with a specialized staffing firm; they have extensive networks in the communities they serve and can likely connect you with social media talent you might not find on your own.
Ask the right questions
In many cases, hiring managers know less about social media than the applicants they interview, which can make these meetings tricky. Use the interview to assess the applicant's interest in social media as well as your organization. Many candidates can claim themselves to be "Facebook enthusiasts" or "Twitterholics," but you want to hire someone who can -- and wants -- to develop and implement a social media strategy that benefits your organization -- not merely someone who can post Facebook updates or tweet 24 hours a day.
You also want someone who shares the same personality and communication style as your company. This inherent fit will help that person represent the true essence of your company's brand organically.
Some questions to help gauge a candidate's social media expertise and fit for the role include:
- Which social media sites do you have experience managing? Describe your process.
- Tell me about a successful social media campaign you executed from start to finish for a client.
- Have you tracked and measured social media success and ROI? What analytics/tools/methodology did you use?
- What are your three favorite social media campaigns and why?
- If hired for this role, how would you go about engaging different groups throughout the organization?
Don't move too slowly on a job offer
Professionals with a history of overseeing successful online campaigns are in high demand. If you identify a strong candidate, move swiftly to avoid losing him or her to the competition.
Also, make sure the salary you're offering is in line with the current rates by checking sources like The Creative Group's annual Salary Guide, online salary calculators, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Also, be willing to negotiate to secure top talent. Two-thirds of advertising and marketing executives surveyed by The Creative Group said they were willing to negotiate higher starting salaries for promising job candidates. If you aren't able to match salary requirements for a promising candidate, consider offering other benefits such as increased vacation time, flex time, or telecommuting arrangements.
Retain your best and brightest
As the economy improves, there will be more opportunities for your top performers. Don't wait until performance reviews to talk to your staff about their career prospects at your organization or assume that they know they're candidates for promotions. Always remember to acknowledge stellar work: Timely recognition boosts morale and shows employees you are aware of their efforts and value their contributions. Finally, maintain an open-door policy so employees can come to you with questions or concerns. Let team members take ownership of their assignments, and empower them by encouraging entrepreneurial thinking and smart risk-taking.
There's no doubt that the need for marketers with social media expertise will continue to expand, and, as businesses invest more dollars in their online efforts, competition to secure top talent will intensify. A well-thought-out and comprehensive recruitment plan -- which includes developing detailed job descriptions and targeted interview questions, and networking with the right crowd -- will help you find and retain the best individuals for your social media team.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
The marketing play
For 2013, Instagram was declared the "best platform for brands" by analytics company SumAll. It beat out Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ in the company's assessment of the platforms' effectiveness in driving new followers and -- importantly -- revenue growth. U.S. brands reported revenue lift from Instagram of 1.5 percent to 5 percent.
That said, although the majority of top brands are now on Instagram, marketers' overall interest in the platform still doesn't match the opportunity. Socialbakers reported that only 19 percent of marketers are making Instagram a high priority in 2014, with nearly a quarter of survey respondents giving it no priority at all. So despite the platform's meteoric rise over a relatively short time span, there's still lots of room to play and be creative. (Just ask Ikea, which recently devised a way to turn an Instagram account into a full website.)
Most of Instagram's marketing punch comes without media buys. Instagram Ads are still in their relative infancy, having debuted back in November to a slow and surprisingly cautious rollout. (We'll see how long a Facebook-owned entity can resist completely slutting it up ad-wise.) But at the moment, the biggest brand plays are still happening organically, making the platform all the more fascinating, relevant, and strategic for marketers.
Top brands on Instagram
If you're looking to get a handle on what the top brands on Instagram are up to, the TOTEMS List is a great place to start. It ranks the most popular brands on Instagram by both their number of account followers as well as the number of posts being made on the brands' hashtags. It also tracks the overall status of brand growth on the platform. For example, as of the end of June, TOTEMS reported that 54 brands had 1 million followers or more.
As of July, Nike was the most popular brand on Instagram with more than 5 million followers and 28 million posts using its hashtag (#nike). The most followed brand account was National Geographic with more than 5.8 million followers. Not much of a shock there -- can you think of a more visually compelling brand than National Geographic?
What makes for a popular brand on Instagram? Sure -- size helps. None of the top five brands on Instagram (according to TOTEMS) is an unknown or even regional brand. But it's also not just a list of the top five brands according to marketing budget either. These brands know how to speak visually to customers. Let's take a look at a post from each that epitomizes why the brand is so popular. Note: Two of the top five (and four of the top 10) brands are athletic shoe brands. If you love sneakers, this makes sense to you. If you don't, just trust me -- it's quite a thing.
Celebrities, a massive party, and the world's largest sporting event. Yes, that's how you get 240,000-plus "likes" and nearly 2,000 comments on Instagram.
Like Nike, Starbucks has a lot of followers on Instagram, but it really sees a lot of activity with its hashtag. That's simply the deal: People like to Instagram their morning coffee drinks. Why? Who knows. Whether Starbucks forcibly started this trend or simply embraced it (likely something in between), it sure as hell reflects it with its own Instagram content. And people love it.
Starbucks and adidas -- vastly different products, but very similar Instagram presences and strategies. In its own posts, adidas reflects the vast Instagram activity on its hashtag, which often revolves around product glamour shots.
Among the top five brands on Instagram, the NBA -- not surprisingly -- is the one best capitalizing on the Instagram video opportunity. It's not fancy, but the lesson is simple: If you're an action brand, show some action.
Fashion brand? Duh. Clothes and models. Easy, right? What's interesting about Topshop, though, is that it's not afraid to go a bit outside its comfort zone. In fact, some of its most popular posts of the past month or two have been food photos of varying quality and brand relevance. The lessons? Don't pigeonhole your brand on Instagram. You never know.
"Mosaic with pictures of different places and landscapes" image via Shutterstock.