Bits & Pieces?
by Rachael Glaszcz, guest blogger
Facebook will reportedly roll out a beta version of timeline interface for brands by the end of February. Is your brand ready? Are you set to detail your company’s accomplishments and perhaps (gasp!) public-worthy failures in glorious chronological order?
Facebook VP-Global Marketing Solutions David Fischer has said Timeline for brands will be “consistent” with the Timeline look for personal profiles, which is picture-heavy and scrapbook-like. If this is the case, companies will want to capitalize on the visual opportunities before them. For example, brands will be able to showcase big, bold photos or muted, clean colors- all depending on what their brand is, of course. Designers have jumped at the chance to mock up possible pages for major brands.
Another factor brands should consider is lifestyle apps and how they will come into play in the timeline interface. Right now apps such as Spotify and Pinterest show up in boxes on a user’s wall. Users “listened to” a song on Spotify and “pinned” something on Pinterest. This goes beyond Facebook users simply “liking” a brand. Spotify and Pinterest have found a way to engage users in a way that basically shouts, “Hey, this user used our brand!”
So with the prospect of the roll out before us, here are a few easy and brief ideas to get you and your brand ready to roll.
1. Consider the cover photo
First impressions are everything. That big, shiny picture will likely be front and center like it is on personal profiles. What is the first impression you want to make when people are perusing your page?
2. Talk about timeline
When was your company born? When did you have your first, major success? When did you attempt something that wasn’t successful at first, but it paved the way for something so successful you would’ve never dreamed it would become reality? How much of this do you want your fans to know? Perhaps you have video of these milestones that you want to share. Think about how you want to organize the information and how detailed you want it to be.
3. Mind your message
When the Timeline rolls out, what is the first thing you want to tell your fans about your new page? Talk about the best ways to showcase your hard work and come up with the messaging you want to use.
Ad Age reports Facebook Timeline for brands will debut February 29th, at fMC, its conference for marketers. What are you doing to get your brand ready?
Pinterest, pinterest, pinterest. Tired of hearing about it yet? Let’s face it, the web doesn’t really need another post about Pinterest; it’s pretty hard at this point to say anything about it that hasn’t been said. But it’s on a lot of clients’ minds. So…
…in the spirit of the Pinterest tool – visual bookmarking – I want to share this infographic from earlier this week that sums up why so much attention is on this tool at the moment. I know many people who despise infographics, thinking that they dumb down information. Well, if you’re anything like me, you may like a good, deep read as much as the next person, but with the information overload that we’re all under, not mind having something summed up for you now and then. So here you go.
We can testify to the *driving more traffic* part of this. We’ve got clients who are not themselves on Pinterest yet who are seeing Pinterest suddenly emerge as a top website traffic referral source.
To the question at hand: is Pinterest but a shiny object in the social media sky? I don’t think so. The passion for it among users is too immense. And the user experience is pure, simple and unique. Kids still love having bulletin boards in their rooms. And women LOVE pinning the things that turn them on. It’s a human truth that isn’t changing any time soon.
Metaphorically speaking, it’s not Jupiter…that would be Facebook, at least in terms of size, if not gaseousness. And its certainly not the Sun (your website). But I think it’s bigger than Pluto, a distant dwarf planet. It might be more like…Earth. It’s definitely an inner, rocky planet, versus an outer, gas giant planet. (Can you tell I spend a great deal of time with a geeky six-year-old?)
Depending on what your brand is, and who your users are, we do recommend that you consider adding Pinterest to your social media repertoire. Minimally, you may want to consider building the “pin this” button into your website.
What about you? Are you a pinner? Do you see a use for it for your brand? Where do you think it fits in the social system?
Given two studies on preference for mobile web versus mobile apps, I stand behind my previous post’s conviction: the mobile web is where brands need to be.
Consumers and advertisers slightly prefer the mobile web.
Consumers are pretty evenly divided on the debate when polled. It comes down to what they’re doing online. When shopping, searching and being entertained they gravitate to the web browser. Apps are preferred for gathering information and connecting, presumably with friends over Facebook and the like.
Advertisers slightly favor the mobile web, based on volume of ads served. Likely, because it’s been a more widely supported and stable ad platform to date. I imagine that when Facebook’s mobile ads start to run in March, the scale will likely tip back towards apps with Facebook’s 845 million global active monthly users, 425 million of whom are on its mobile version.
What’s a brand to do?
As I posted previously, the mobile web provides significant advantages for brands when it comes to development, management, cost and control of a brand experience. That said, brands do need to weigh these against the ability to deliver the best consumer experience.
Given the lack of a strong preference by both consumers and marketers, plus the significant advantages to brands, I reiterate my position: not to app.
Where do you stand?
1. CG and special effects have infiltrated advertising and it’s not a good thing. All the complaints about feature films apply now more than ever to the medium of the commercial — with companies falling into the big explosion / historical biopic / action sequence formula. In the end, story — along with poignancy — is lost. The Kia dream spot is the perfect example — lots of money, lots of effects and a resounding thud of stupidity. In this spot an alternate universe is depicted in which a guy, in a dreams, sees a group of women in bikinis and just drives by.
2. Unfortunately, the 80s are back. Ferris Bueller, The Cult, Echo and the Bunnymen, John Stamos … and I’m probably leaving a few others out. What’s next, a Howard the Duck remake?
3. Copywriting is still king. I know, I’m biased here. But among my peers the hands down best spot was the Chrysler Clint Eastwood spot. Why? It’s well written — in a way that makes you feel something — and the brilliantly-shot film doesn’t get in the way of the message — it enhances it. Nice job tying the timing of the spot — halftime — with the actual theme of the spot, too.
4. A C-RV is not a Ferrari. A lot of people really like Honda’s Ferris Bueller spot. And there are a lot of good things about the spot. But I can’t help but think of the huge risk Honda took by putting their car in a place that was once occupied by a vintage Ferrari. That was Bueller’s great appeal and the thing that created tension in the original movie. While the C-RV is a nice car, it is the symbol now of ho hum forty something adventure riding — an “adventure” that leads to carnivals and museums.
4. Sometimes the client wins. I liked the Chevy Silverado “2012″ spot until one of the guys asks “Where’s Dave?” and a guy answers, “Dave didn’t drive the longest-lasting, most dependable truck on the road.” It’s about as ham fisted as it gets. It FEELS like the client wrote it. I have to believe there isn’t a creative person anywhere that would suggest the line and I could picture them begging — “can’t it be type on the screen?” “I’ll compromise — how about an announcer read?” “Isn’t seeing the product drive out of an apocalypse-ridden city proof enough that it’s dependable?”
5. The truth always wins out. The new VW Beetle spot featuring a fitness-crazed dog paled in comparison to last year’s Darth Vader spot because it simply doesn’t ring as true. A kid in a Darth Vader costume is human and resonates on an emotional level. A dog that works out just to make a point has the “cute-dog factor” — but isn’t nearly as entertaining, or as endearing. Great looking car and on the bright side, they do a great job of keeping things simple. Which leads me to ….
6. It’s incredibly hard to keep it simple. But when you do, good things can happen. Take the Toyota Camry spot that stays on point with the “reinvent” theme. It’s a great spot because it uses a simple concept to get across not just an idea about the car but about their philosophy as a company — and it works. You’ve got to love a spot that ends with “you’re welcome.”
7. Whether you like it or not, Coke must be recognized for being the only company that has a strong “brand.” I’m not a big fan of the polar bears. But they’ve got a theme and they’re sticking with it. It makes Coke stand out and get a little more brand recognition than others. Can you tell the difference between a Hyundai spot and a Kia spot? Or a Best Buy spot and a Samsung spot?
8. When done well, a simple, tried-and-true testimonial still works. Take GE, which has its employees tell the story. Well shot and nicely executed, these spots aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but they do a great job in what by all accounts should be a tired formula by now. I think it speaks to authenticity when a company’s employees can tell the story — it feels more “real.”
9. And lastly, for us ad folks, the game feels like a mediocre commercial for the NFL. All the buildup, all the hype, all the chatter about the game — and when it’s over it was just that — a game. This year it wasn’t extraordinarily well played, and the miscues overshadowed the big plays. I guess that describes the state of the commercials too.
So what do you think? Did you have your favorites? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let’s hear it.
Anyone can be creative. Often the biggest obstacle to innovative thought and new ideas is one’s own habitual mental beliefs that they are incapable of coming up with brand new, creative ideas, or that they don’t possess enough knowledge about a subject to think differently about it – often as a means to avoid failure.
The truth is that we are all responsible for and capable of creative thinking. Regardless of our specific functions in the workplace, we all work to achieve an ultimate goal and solve larger problems.
Creativity is a paradoxical concept. In order to create something new, one needs to have knowledge, but forget that knowledge, to identify unexpected or unobvious connections in things. We need to work diligently but also allow down time to allow information to set in and inspiration to strike. We need to collaborate as a team but look at the same information and see it differently. We also must have the confidence in our abilities to head to the advice of experts, but know when it is appropriate or strategic to propose something different.
Michael Michalko, author of Creative Thinkering, Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques) and Cracking Creativity, worked as an army officer where he organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and academics from around the world to gather information on the best inventive thinking methods. Below are some of his key takeaways, which can be applied to creative thinking regardless of the environment or role you find yourself in.
- You are creative. Each of us is born a creative, spontaneous thinker. The only difference between people who are creative and people who are not is a simple belief. Creative people believe they are creative. People who believe they are not creative, are not.
- Creative thinking is work. You must have passion and determination to immerse yourself in the process of creating new ideas. You must also have patience to persevere against all adversity. All creative geniuses work passionately hard and produce incredible numbers of ideas, most of which are bad.
- You must go through the motions of being creative. When you are producing ideas, you are replenishing neurotransmitters linked to genes that are being turned on and off in response to what your brain is doing, which in turn is responding to challenges. When you go through the motions of trying to come up with new ideas, you are energizing your brain by increasing the number of contacts between neurons. The more times you try to get ideas, the more active your brain becomes and the more creative you become.
- Expect the experts to be negative. The more expert and specialized a person becomes, the more their mindset becomes narrowed and the more fixated they become on confirming what they believe to be absolute. Consequently, when confronted with new and different ideas, their focus will be on conformity. Does it conform with what I know is right? If not, experts will spend all their time showing and explaining why it can’t be done and why it can’t work. They will not look for ways to make it work or get it done because this might demonstrate that what they regarded as absolute is not absolute at all.
- There is no such thing as failure. Whenever you try to do something and do not succeed, you do not fail. You have learned something that does not work. Ask “What have I learned about what doesn’t work?”, “Can this explain something that I didn’t set out to explain?”, and “What have I discovered that I didn’t set out to discover?”
- You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are. Interpret your own experiences. All experiences are neutral. They have no meaning. You give them meaning by the way you choose to interpret them.
- Always approach a problem on its own terms. Do not trust your first perspective of a problem, as it will be too biased toward your usual way of thinking. Always look at your problem from multiple perspectives. Always remember that genius is finding a perspective no one else has taken. Look for different ways to look at the problem. Write the problem statement several times using different words. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
- Learn to think unconventionally. Creative geniuses do not think analytically and logically. Conventional, logical, analytical thinkers are exclusive thinkers which means they exclude all information that is not related to the problem. They look for ways to eliminate possibilities. Creative geniuses are inclusive thinkers that mean they look for ways to include everything, including things that are dissimilar and totally unrelated. Generating associations and connections between unrelated or dissimilar subjects is how they provoke different thinking patterns in their brain. These new patterns lead to new connections, which give them a different way to focus on the information and different ways to interpret what they are focusing on.
As Albert Einstein once famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
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