Second week of March 2016 I attended at Austin the 30th edition of SXSW. It´s my third consecutive year enjoying what is, in my opinion, by far the best conference in terms of knowledge, inspiration, passion and sense of belonging to a global and passionate community of SXSWers.
It´s kind of intersection of topics such as innovation, hottest trends, humanities, technology, entrepreneurship, communication, disruption, opinion and envision.
Back in Madrid I had to deal with different issues at the office that literally kidnapped me ???? So, three weeks after the congress was over it is about time to put in writing the food for thought. With no doubt the best exercise to filter, remind and digest all the overwhelming information and inputs got in live format during the five days of nonstop keynotes, discussion panels, meet-ups, lectures, master-classes, and other extensive experiences like networking, music, food and, in general terms, being embedded at the exciting atmosphere surrounding Austin.
This year edition topics included amazing subjects such as Virtual Reality, Design Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, Emotive Robotics, Healthcare, Big Data, etc.
Even the President of the USA Barack Obama talked the first day, pointing that innovation and technology are great assets in governing nations to provide the best welfare to their citizens.
Impossible task to summarize all the above in just one post, so I have decided to share with you at the Ideagoras blog section the learnings on what´s hot in Social Media and Advertising-Branding.
From Social Media to Social Messaging
It seems that we are evolving from “one to many” sharing at the Social Web to “one to one” due to the massive adoption of tools such WhatsApp, Line and Snapchat, among others. This is the reflect of the current expectations of users: keep satisfying the need of share content, but in a more intimate environment either using the mentioned apps or participating in social conversations taking place in niche networks.
This means a challenge for traditional social networks. Facebook dealt with this issue rapidly with their awesome 1-1 app Facebook Messenger whereas other players such as Twitter are beginning to managing this by bringing lookalike tools of disruptive newcomer’s apps in social such as Snapchat.
But this is a big threat as well for marketers…or an opportunity ????. The big value of social networks always had to do with connecting your brand with the individual’s members of whatever community through listening, sharing relevant content and, of course, by dialoguing. Not a simple task, as we all can see when taking a critic perspective at the current Social Media Marketing Landscape. But now…how to become, as a brand, one of those 1 to 1 individuals the bloggers want to relate with? Facebook released early this year that marketers and brands now have the chance to relate in a one to one format with their fans by sending ads. How to do that without being intrusive is the challenge, but as well the big chance to really become a human kind brand and being accepted as one more peer at the blogosphere.
Quite controversial, but at the same time exciting and crazy: because ad blocking apps are being adopted like wild fire and killing the traditional digital advertising, mainly in those segments of millennial and gen-z.
Sure this will work in some way, but I firmly believe that social media branding has nothing to do with ads, but with co-creation in a never more intrusive formats. Fostering and facilitating dialogue and conversation, handing over the prominence to your audience and recognize them is in what I believe as the right way for creating real engagement, love, experiences, community and loyalty for your brand.
As a result of the massive adoption of 1 to 1 social conversation tools as well as ephemeral apps such as Periscope (48 hours) or Snapchat (24 hours) we are entering in a territory called Dark Social. One more concern for marketers that can loose control of what´s is a brand according to the popular Jeff Bezos statement on this: a brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. So far we have had monitoring tools to put our ears and draw out insights on what is said about brands…but what to do from now on if the social conversations are hidden? A recent study conducted by Radium One states that 59% percent of all the information shared online is Dark Social in the USA…scary right? Social and Mobile convergence is here, and this is leading to an exponential growing of Dark Social.
Social Media Branding & Crowdcultures
Brands need to drive culture to be more relevant to their audiences. The famous Peter Drucker quote Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast it´s now more certain than ever at the era of Social Media.
Douglas Holt, in a recent article published at HBR, stated the following: Social Media has transformed how culture works. Digital Crowds have become powerful cultural innovators – a new phenomenon called crowdculture. They´re now so effective at producing creative entertainment that it´s impossible for companies to compete. While crowdculture has deflated conventional branding models, it actually makes an alternative model – cultural branding even more powerful. In this approach, brands collaborate with crowdcultures and champion their ideologies in the marketplace.
Brands need to be wrapped by a halo of cultural value in order to reach more authenticity and be a real members of the different communities they want to target to. By doing so, the storytelling shared by these brands will have to tap into the individual human emotions experienced at these subcultures.
We are emotionally feelings, according to Dr. Brené Brown at SXSW, and she is absolutely right.
This ephemeral social network was the flavor of the month at SXSW Interactive 2016. It was the omnipresent topic in all the sessions as well as the leading brand of the conversation taking place at the Social Web during the five days of congress: 192 millions of Snapchat impressions on Twitter.
Contrary to the belief that in social networking the more followers the better, Snapchat is reinforcing the idea that less equals more in Social Media. According with the Texas based company Gnack – specialized in monitoring the conversation taking place at Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook – Snapchat users with less than 10.000 followers get between 3 and five more engagement that users with more than 10.000 followers.
The one-day sexting app for teens is quickly growing up and being adopted for millennial and older generations to enjoy the experience of being connected in a cool and different format, and as well to be the first to know what´s going on with the people…or the brands you are following. It is said that Snapchat is the new TV.
Yes, brands on Snapchat. And not only informative media brands such as CNN, Wired, Mashable, FastCompany, Cosmopolitan, Forbes or National Geographic. You can follow the Snapchat experience of brands such as Adidas, Red Bull, GoPro, All Blacks, Calvin Klein, Victoria Secret, Under Armour, Heineken, Real Madrid, Starbucks, Playboy, The White House, etc.
I´ve been testing to save some of the snaps of the Ideagoras Snapchat account – either videos or just pics – and post it at other agency platforms such as Facebook or Twitter…and, as average, the reach of those posts has tripled the impressions of the content generated and posted into the traditional social channels of the agency. Can we talk about integration of traditional and ephemeral? Think so.
There were even specific sessions of how to make the most of Snapchat for business, as the one featured at the image and organized by Carlos Gil.
Keep an eye to this phenomenon; Snapchat at SXSW 2016 it has been in terms of buzz and excitement what it was Twitter at SXSW 2007. And the best is yet to come for the snappers community.
The Best Advertising Is Not Advertising
Yes, this is the third law of the award winning advertising agency AKQA stated and explained at its book Velocity
One of the keynotes I attended was titled Smart Ad Campaigns, It´s Not About the Product. Key messages delivered and later discussed had one common denominators called passion, brand experiences and advocacy:
- Consumer passion as a path for success
- Consumer decisions are being taken with right brain hemisphere emotional criteria
- Let´s discover what that passion is and then tap into it in building your brand
- Consumers connect with passion through smart messages that make them tick
- Those smart messages have to yield into brand experiences, working with social integrated advertising approaches
- The real goal nowadays is advocacy branding: consumer to consumer advertising
- Ego does not work in Advertising, but real engagement. That is why nowadays the best advertising is not advertising, is word of mouth and brand evangelism
At this keynote, different examples of brands doing it well were displayed: from Master Card to Boss Woman. All of them left to the audience of footprint of wondering, thinking and reflection.
It seems that not all the players are getting this. As a result, a new generation of advertising agencies – rogue agencies – are disrupting this Industry and providing real value to the current needs of advertisers.
Mother New York was featured as one of the new ad agencies VC firms are investing in. The New York Times is expanding its native ad studio with the recent acquisition of HelloSociety, a digital marketing agency. Worth doing to go through both agencies sites and see how they understand an deal with social branding for their clients.
We are living exciting times of disruptive changes. No fear to deal with it, but fun and huge opportunities. The only thing to do is be open to it…and getting the big picture of what´s going on.
Many thanks SXSW, can´t wait to attend the 2017 edition and keep learning.
In the meantime, Keep Austin Weird!
By Ángel González