Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Producing Content for Company Websites

What is Content?

One of the key topics that pop up with industry types, affiliates and agencies from an SEO, Social Media and Online PR stance is content.  Before I delve too deeply in to the subject matter, I think its important that I clarify what I mean by content.  This isn’t the standard information about your company.  It isn’t even about content around the products or services you offer, even though those areas are imperative.  In the context of  this post, I mean compelling content that people may want to read regardless of any affinity or lack of with your brand or their current interest in buying from you.

Why provide content?

Well it all depends what your objectives are.  For some organisations additional non-sales related content may be impractical or unworkable.  I can’t think of a single case where it won’t provide some form of benefit.  It’s just whether the scale of the benefit is worth the investment.

In the main, the reasons for providing content can be varied depending on your circumstances.  However you need to be clear of your objectives.

From my perspective the main reasons for providing content include:

Upside on SEO

Social Media SOV

Online PR outreach

Community Building

Providing an authority to your subject matter

Create buzz around your site

Upside on SEO

As well all know there are many black hat techniques to help radically increase your rankings within all of the major search engines (and Google is no exception).  However these techniques are ill-advised and can cause your organisation to be penalised or even delisted by the likes of Google and Bing.

It is also frowned upon to instigate link building campaigns by going out and buying lots of backlinks to artificially inflate your ranking.  Both of these techniques can also cost quite a lot.

So the best way to ensure improvement in search engine rankings is to create a good content plan.  The content should be devised to make it both interesting and relevant to your audience, whilst also providing genuine reasons forbloggers or sites to link to or to like, retweet etc in social networks.  Simple?

If your content strategy is devised purely for SEO reasons then you obviously need to know what terms people are searching on and where the gaps are in your keyword coverage.  You then need to engineer your plan to help build up potential linking on core terms.  The research is the critical element to this area, as you need to know how this element enhances or could potentially distract your overall SEO efforts.

My personal opinion, is that, if you develop content purely for SEO reasons, you are doing something wrong.

Tip 1 – You should provide worthwhile content that people want to read and get links on the merit of the content.  There is no problem in optimising the content for SEO reasons, as long as it doesn’t damage the content for the reader.

Social Media SOV

Your content is like a currency,if quality is good and matched with its frequency.  People will want to read what you produce and in term want to link to it and share with their friends.

Remember if your quality is poor or full of errors there is an equal likelihood that people will link or share your content but with negative container terms.  This doesn’t impact your SOV, in fact,it does increase it.  However it does effect the sentiment which effects both what your community or following think about you but also could impact your search rankings.

Tip 2– Provide simple methods to allow people to share your content.  Options such as Add This buttons or utilise tools such as Facebook Connect on your site

Online PR Outreach

Bloggers are an influential bunch.  But not all of them.  Remember it isn’t always about the bloggers with massive audiences that matter.  If you want reach and awareness then of course go for high-traffic blogs.  It isn’t always the best target however.  You need to create a robust outreach plan, as you would with journalists.  Understand why and how you contact bloggers and take the time to build relationships with them.

Understanding why you are reaching out to a blogger and what benefit you can provide to them is half the battle.  You also need to work out if your objective is reach or to inspire a change in people’s (not the bloggers) perception of your company and the content you produce.

Tip 3 – Personal relationships are important.  Don’t just send SEO friendly Press Releases, it isn’t good for you or the blogger

Community Building

Having a forum and a Facebook presence won’t give you a community.  The only reason you will create a community is by providing your members with currency, a reason to keep coming back.  Whether that is in the form of articles, forum topics or competitions, you have to give them something to get excited about.  Motivate them and influence them to join in or share.  As with the other areas research is important as is a deep understanding of what your community will want.

Why not get your community involved? They are much more likely to share and promote the content if they have been involved.

Post the content where they will want to receive it.  You can’t always put a snippet on your Facebook page and link through to your site, you have to be where they want to receive information.

Tip 4 – Fully research your area and ensure your community needs and motivations are answered.

Providing an authority to your subject matter

As long is your content is good, thorough, provides a point of view and above all creates something your average reader wouldn’t find you will begin to create an authority.   This point of view and authority will help improve your standing with your target audience.  They will start to trust what you are saying and you become the go-to site for your subject matter.  Perhaps more importantly for company sites, the visitor in terms becomes increasingly likely to buy from you as that trust builds.  This trust becomes a perceived brand value for the customer and will help the user make purchase decisions, regardless of channel.

Being an authority figure also ensures that you are referenced much more by the industry and in turn by people in their social networks or on their blogs.  All great SEO.

Tip 5 – If you want to create an authority, only people who genuinely know should write and make the pieces thorough.


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Affiliate Marketing (for Merchants) – Part 1

Affiliate Marketing (For the Merchant)- Part 1

Long gone are the days when affiliates used to solely be one man in his bedroom, hacking about with some clever code.  In addition most merchants are more savvy to the opportunities affiliates can present when working in partnership.  Gone are the easy pickings of brand bidding and in the main, gone are the days when merchants used to treat affiliates as a second-class channel.

Affiliate Marketing is one of the most established online marketing channels.  Affiliation can provide everything from volume of clicks or UVs, e-Mail address collection and most commonly sales or leads.  Part One of my guide is centred around the more novice internet marketing professional, call it a beginners guide if you like.

Working out the commercials

The main benefit the channel provides merchants is a manageable approach to customers where costs can easily be controlled.  Merchants should know their margins and in turn know how much margin they can afford to give in terms of a commission (commission being the operative word, more later).  If the programme operates on a CPA basis the maths are straightforward.  If my product makes retails at £100 and I make 20% margin, my profit is £20.  I then know that if I want a 4:1 return on my spend my CPA would be set at £5.  Simple.  Remember if you are using an affiliate network you need to account for their over-ride (standard industry practice is 30% of commission.  In this case it would be an additional £1.50 (which already negatively effects your ROI.

Tip 1 – When working out your CPA to hit ROI targets, build in any network over-rides or additional costs to understand a true Net CPA and ROI.

Tip 2 – The networks will hate me for saying this, but the over-ride can normally be negotiated (if you are a merchant of either perceived value or revenue potential).

Choosing a network or going direct?

This is an age old debate within the sector.  The majority of merchants use an affiliate agency such as Affiliate Window or Commission Junction.  The benefits of using a network (even if you have an internal affiliate team) are numerous.  The major ones from my experience are the fact that payment to affiliates and expensive programme admin are taken care of.  Affiliates are a networks business and as such the platforms are built to take into account affiliate needs (much cheaper than merchants doing it from scratch).  Finally, the fact that the networks know all the affiliates and should be able to guide you on who to partner with.  They can also do some of the lengthy selling-in and negotiation with both established and up and coming affiliates, that direct merchants may not be aware of.

But what about Amazon?  Yes Amazon are one of the key success stories in terms of going direct.  However their entire model (as a vanilla pureplay) meant that they could set the system up from scratch.  The prices and range are so broad that affiliates fight to work with Amazon, rather than the opposite way round with a majority of merchants.

The main benefit of the Amazon approach is that they know their categories better than any network ever can.  They also know their stock and pricing in real-time rather than relying on a third party to update feeds.  They can speak passionately about promotions and campaigns and the affiliates hear it directly.

Tip 3 – Take the best of both approaches. Use the networks to manage and administer the account but work jointly on relationships with key affiliates

That leads me neatly on to the point I told you to keep an eye out for in the earlier post.

Commission

Affiliates will always want more as this is their bread and butter.  Merchants will inevitably want to pay less as it hits their margins.

My view is that if you treat the outlay as commission you should hit a fair level.  I have always considered my top revenue driving affiliates as a virtual sales force.  They are my sales people out on the road that can get people’s attention and drive them to my virtual shop window.

Like a physical sales force, this virtual salesforce will be motivated by money.  However the virtual sales force may be even more motivated by the commission they can earn.  This isn’t due to greed but related to the fact that the majority of this virtual salesforce has to place their own investment in.  That may be monetary through Google adwords or through effort and opportunity cost through the likes of SEO or social media.

Whilst your virtual sales force will be reactive to the commission structures you put in place and any additional incentives, the majority are also pragmatic enough to realise that you can only reach a certain level, before it becomes impossible for you to maintain.

As with physical sales forces, incentives can prove extremely motivational.  A push to go the extra mile.  Whether that is by taking advantage of a sponsorship property you have and offering tickets.  Inviting affiliates to attend a bespoke event or cold hard cash.  All can influence an affiliate.  However with the more experiential incentives, you shouldn’t necessarily expect a parallel increase in revenue.

Tip 4 – Treat your affiliates as a virtual sales force. Reward them and the commission negotiations are normally easier and fairer all round.

Types of affiliates

As I said in the intro of the post, gone are the days of one man in his bedroom trying to earn a quick buck.  Nowadays, affiliates are some of the brightest online marketers or smartest developers.  You must define your strategy and decide what affiliates you should work with and to what level and on what basis.  Below are a few examples of different types of affiliates

Cashback – this is possibly the biggest area of growth within affiliate marketing.  Sometimes thought of as the pariah within the affiliate community, the growth is in part due to the economic climate.  Essentially, these affiliates pass on all or part of the commission you give them, directly back to the customer.  Sites such as Quidco and TopCashBack fit into this category

Loyalty – the name is slightly misleading in terms of the loyalty is normally with the affiliate and little loyalty will be passed on to the merchant.  Essentially working in the same way as Cashback, except rather than cold hard cash being placed into a customers bank account, points are awarded.  Examples of these are Nectar and Airmiles.

Voucher Codes – if Cashback sites are though of by some affiliates as pariahs, then voucher codes are seen as bandits.  Essentially these sites provide details of all the codes available, people click on a link to reveal the code and generally a cookie is placed on the customer’s PC, meaning that affiliate gets the commission.  Its at this point I feel compelled to say that these views are not my own.  Both Cashback and voucher code sites perform specific roles within a merchants mix.  Whilst I accept some cannibalisation will take place, there are a number of customers that wouldn’t buy without this bargain mechanic.  Examples of this type of affiliate include MyVoucherCodes and VoucherCodes.co.uk

PPC – there are some affiliates that specialise in PPC (sponsored terms in the search engines).  PPC can be a grey area in affiliates and you need to have strict control over who can bid and on what terms.  If you don’t have a PPC agency or any internal expertise, these affiliates can provide great top-up resource to your own PPC activity

Tip 5 – Understand your PPC strategy and place clear T&Cs in your programme on PPC restrictions, such as brand bidding, using your brand name in the URL, direct linking etc

Content – this is potentially where affiliates started out.  People generally with a personally interest, creating great content that they just want people to read.  These sites then realised that they could potentially make money from their sites and started selling advertising.  This could be anything from one person with their site on a topic of personal interest such as making orange food, to more established content sites such as The Sun.  Although blogs are rightly considered social media, I would place them in this section.  Nowadays blogs seem to be more geared towards providing useful content and information as opposed to the web log (diary) approach that was intended.

Price Comparison – another type of affiliate that isn’t normally relevant to all merchants is Price Comparison.  The standard of these types of sites are varied.  Some use bespoke software that allows them to scrape the web for up to date prices and deals.  The others (more akin to traditional price comparison engines) take a feed once a day and produce pricing information.  Networks have developed increasingly sophisticated tools to simplify the process for affiliates to add Price Comparison functionality to their content (the best example being Affiliate Window’s, Shop Window).  There are some broad price comparison engines available through affiliate networks, however the more successful ones for merchants tend to be the more focussed engines such as Whiteboxdeals, a Price Comparison engine specialising in large domestic appliances such as washing machines and ovens.

Social Media – with the low cost of entry of social media and the advances in affiliate technology from networks means a new wave of affiliates are emerging.  These are the ones that have embraced the newer technologies such as Twitter and Facebook.  Whilst all the research indicates that recommendation by a friend, either in person or online, is the most powerful tool, please be aware.  Some people using social media tools are not just making recommendations to their network but creating brand accounts.  This is especially true in Twitter where minimal dev work is needed.  That being said, there are a number of affiliates that have made social media work and come up with creative solutions or use an established network.

Tip 6 – If you consider using Social Media affiliates, ensure your T&Cs are very clear in terms of people using your brand name.  Also, vet applications very carefully.  Some people end up spamming contacts, which reflects badly on the merchant.

OK, so that’s it for Part 1.  In part 2 I get a bit more practical, rather than just an introduction.  I will look at what types of affiliates different sectors/merchants could be best placed using.  I will look at which affiliates and approaches you could use for different stages of a business of product lifecycle and I will also review the methods of building relationships and rapport with affiliates either directly or through the networks.  I may even explore the age-old debate about single Vs multiple network.  If there is anything else you would like me to cover leave me a comment here.

Finally, here is a recap of the tips

Tip 1 – Build in all costs to determine CPA (inc network over-ride)

Tip 2 – Negotiate your network over-ride

Tip 3 – Take a collaborative approach with your network to managing affiliate relationships

Tip 4 – Treat your affiliates as a virtual sales force

Tip 5 – Understand your own PPC strategy and reflect this in your PPC T&Cs

Tip 6 – Have clear T&Cs on affiliate use of Social Media and tightly manage applications

If there is anything else you would like me to cover leave me a comment here.


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Measuring Return On Social Media

Measuring Return on Social Media Presence

This has been the fear/worry/challenge/competitive edge of almost every company that has any form of social media presence.  From a simple company Facebook page to a fully integrated Social Media strategy.  Speak to a number of agencies or many online marketers and they will tell you it can’t be measured beyond the simple metrics such as number of fans or followers.  Perhaps at the incubation stage and to a degree the baby stage that was correct.  However now social media has grown up a little, into a healthy little toddler things have changed.

In theory you can’t directly measure the impact of a brand TV commercial, but companies do.  It is the same for social media.

Remember the strategy

A lot of talk is around the utopian idea of getting an ROI from your social media spend or presence.  However for some brands this isn’t just a case of pounds in the till Vs pounds handed out to agencies or media owners such as MySpace.  As with any channel development or Marketing activity, you need to understand what you want to get out of your social media presence.  Your strategy may be a simple one that only looks at your impact within the channel, therefore a basic upwards trending number of fans may suffice.  Your strategy maybe to increase UVs to your core website, as such you need to measure the referrals from your social media presence.  Like a TV ad you maye be trying to influence brand perception so you would look at traditional brand metrics such as awareness and consideration.  Some strategies require an emphasis on loyalty or ROI, these can be much more difficult to prove, however not impossible.

Just consider before developing any tactics or implementation, what your objectives and goals are.  Then measure.

Understanding the basics

When measuring against any goals you need to understand what is your norm or otherwise known as the baseline.  You need to look at any pre-strategy figures and work out your norm, or the contribution you can expect without implementing your strategy.  This baseline should be measured over a long period of time to take into account one-off fluctuations, seasonality and peaks – you should then use a trend line and determine your norm.

Once you have claculated your norm, it is easier to determine what the goals from your objectives should be.  If for instance your site has 10,000 UVs a week then to expect a 100% uplift from a strong social media strategy may not be impossible.  However if your site gets 100,000 UVs a week, it may be more difficult to gain a 100% uplift, although not impossible.  This seems really basic stuff but it is often forgotten. I have spoken to Managing Directors and Marketing Directors that think because there are millions of people on social network they should be talking telephone numbers in terms of traffic uplift, sadly it doesn’t work like that.  It may be easier to get a massive groundswell if your activity is in the channel the people use, you could get a massive following on Twitter as the people are already there and its their environment, rather than expecting them to come to you.

Anyway, once you know the norm of whatever metric you want to track you can more easily identify any uplift from your activity.  However it may not be all down to the new strategy, other factors might be in play, that is why it is advisable to implement a good web analytics tool.  Omniture is widely regarded as one of the better packages along with Coremetrics, however if you have your own site or limited budget then Google Analytics may suffice.

OK, but now what?

So you know what you want to get out of your strategy and you have worked out the basics, but now what?  Sit back and watch everything work away and drive you towards your goals or personal bonus.  Not eaxactly.  Sometimes people expect immediate results.  Stick it on Facebook and they will come.  If they don’t see an uplift straight away, the strategy has failed.  Wrong.  Well potentially wrong.  Remember when working in social channels you are entering the end users territory.  You have to earn the right to be there.  Give them something to talk about, make yourself interesting, but don’t make things up.

So what do I do?

Don’t look at things with immediacy in mind.  When you create a coupon for your affiliate network or raise your bid caps in Google you can often see an immediate (or quick) effect.  However you need a longer view with Social and you need to look at things outside of your specific influence.  A great area to explore is Social Media Influence or Buzz Metrics.  There are various tools and service with varying levels of robustness and credibility.  In the UK there are market leaders such as Market Sentinel and Nielsen Buzz Metrics.  There are also some freebie or cheaper tools such as Viral Heat and PostRank Analytics.  These cheaper tools are sometimes less robust or feature on a specific platform such as Twendz.  What all of these tools have in common is that to varying degrees they track what is being said about your brand or site on other platforms rather than just looking at core measures such as visits or upstream and downstream traffic.

The majority measure trends and SoV, some measure snetiment and others rank influence on brands and/or topics.  All of these are important as although your activity may not imemdiately increse traffic, it may improve the sentiment towards your brand, increasing peoples’ perception of your brand and in turn increase their potential to engage or buy.  These tools can also aid your search activity.  As product or brand experts you might think you know what people type in about your brand, however more comprehensive tools help you identify what people are typing or saying about your product.  Giving you more insight into which words you you optimise or focus on in paid search.

But can I make money from it?

Well as I wrote at the beginning of the piece remember what your objectives are.  The short answer is yes, you can make money from social media and yes social media can increase users propensity to buy, however your activity may not lend itself to that.  But various surveys have taken place that demonstrate you can specifically get an ROI from your social media presence.  According to a recent survey by eMarketer, c. 51% of US internet users are likely buy from at least one brand since becoming a fan on Facebook.   When it comes to would they recommend to a friend the number increases to 60%.  That is one indication of an increased propensity to buy.

Before you all clamber out and create or refresh your Facebook page, Forrester outlined a stark statistic.  More than one third of online users visit at least one brands social media presence, yet less than half rated the experience rated their experience as having a positive influence.  One method that the likes of Starbucks and Dell use within their social media presence is exclusive offers and promotions.  It is this sense of providing something special for fans that makes the experience positive and influence future buying behaviour.


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Blendtec – Will it Blend

Will it Blend?

Blendtec is not really unique. It isn’t a particularly inventive idea. It isn’t even particularly well produced (although that is the point).  So why am I featuring it?

The simple truth is that Blendtec founder, Tom Dickson, took one of the 5 F’s of Social Media and used it to bring to life, a quite frankly, dull subject, blenders.  While most manufacturers were trying to make the products either sound like a must-have or focussing on key features, Blendtec took the unprecedented step of trying to make the topic of blenders fun.

What is it?

Blendtec was created after Tom first tried to blend a box of matches.  The mess created, inspired Tom to kick-off his unusual marketing campaign, which has turned into a viral success.  Blendtec now has its own sites with regular videos being placed on the site.  Tom Dickson still stars and utilises his inane grin as he subjects the items to the blender.

The campaign took off from almost day one.  The fact that the episodes offered shock value was enough, but the fun factor hasn’t tired.  Each episode centres on an item that really shouldn’t be blended, lighters, cans of fizzy drink and even a 6ft garden rake.

Part of Will it Blend’s appeal however is the fact that Tom normally offers up a reason for things being blended.  A common request from fans of the show is to blend a crowbar.  In one episode which appeared to bow to viewer demand it appeared Tom was going to attempt to blend a crowbar.  Completely by chance, this was interupted by a mobile phone.  Tom’s response was to blend each and every phone of the crew.

He has also earned money by doing shows based around the superbowl, blending in relation to movie launches and a disc of GTA IV.  Perhaps the standout feature was when Tom blended his iPhone citing the reason that he needed to upgrade.  The shock value in one of the most in-demand products being destroyed in front of your eyes made this episode one of the most watched in the series.

Fun

For me this is a perfect example of a campaign that just works.  It strikes a chord with people as it demonstrates a rather dry subject and creates theatre, involving something that the general public wouldn’t consider.  The main underlying theme for me is that the deliberately cheesy set-up and low-cost production values make the whole thing, a lot of fun.  This is truly one of the most successful viral/social campaigns there has been.  Not purely because of the buzz created.  Not purely because of the sheer volumes of views it has received.  This campaign has delivered real commercial return.

It is rumoured this very low budget viral has delivered up to 500% sales growth.  Proving that impact campaigns can deliver real commercial benefit.


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Do us a Flavour

Walkers – Do us a flavour

So in the first of the case studies to illustrate my 5 F’s theory, comes Walkers and “Do us a flavour”.

The Context

Walkers has always enjoyed a special closeness with the British public.  A relationship that has brought them huge commercial success and an almost dominant position in the crisp market.  Unlike most dominant players in their sector, there seems relatively little animosity towards Walkers.

Part of this has been down to product development but this significant position has also been achieved through great marketing.  Picking up on the status of national hero Gary Lineker was a masterstroke, and it is a relationship that still lives on today.  Walkers are responsible for creating some magic moments with some of the in-demand public profiles.  The classic example of this was when Walkers created a football execution involving Gary Lineker and a tearful Gazza (Paul Gascoigne).  Other celebrities such as Charlotte Church and more recently Cat Deeley have appeared.

Rather than develop the same theme and just extend it, Walkers created a real point of difference.

The campaign

In 2008, Walkers “Do us a flavour” campaign moved their advertising on by taking participation to a whole new level.  Capturing the mass love of social media and User-Generated-Content (UGC), Walkers created a campaign that involved the public and created a genuine national debate.  The beauty of the campaign was that it didn’t live in one space or develop through one-channel it almost became part of the British way of life.  The campaign obviously lived online.  However it also crossed TV ads, in-store, outdoor, radio,  mobile and even IVR (Interactive Voice Response).

The fact that the public suggested over 1.2m flavours (that equates to 2% of the UK population submitting a flavour) and over 1m votes on the final shortlist, proves what a storm the campaign created.

The campaign essentially became the first large-scale initiative to put the British public in control.  The election process was clear and straightforward.  Crowd sourcing at its best.  In hindsight this was a masterstroke as the campaign was also live when realtiy TV was at its peak.  All shows that centre on the population (viewers) being in control.

On top of all these factors, Walkers didn’t throw away the heritage and familiarity of its previous campaigns, Gary Lineker remained a focal point of the campaign.

So why did it work?

Well, partly down to the fact that Walkers spent a hell of a lot of cash on the campaign.  However, you could argue that this was no more than they would have spent on a standard campaign.  So Fortune was a factor in terms of spend.

For me the F’s that really made the difference were Fame.  The chance that “normal” people could get a massive amount of coverage regardless of whether they won.  Their creations, designs or concepts would reach hundreds of thousands of people, very few opportunities like that exist, unless you have an immense Talent (then maybe you could get on X-Factor).  The second success factor was Fortune (not the campaign spend).  The winner secured a huge £50,000 prize.  If that wasn’t enough, they also got 1% share of the revenue for all future sales, in theory, thats the pension sorted.

In my view the combination of social media nuances, putting the people in control and a massive fortune to the winner was a sure fire hit.  Yes the campaign spend did help.

And the winner is…

I suppose after waxing lyrical about the campaign it is only fair to reference the winning flavour – its was of course – Builder’s Breakfast.


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5 F’s of Social Media

5 F’s of Social Media

Over a few posts I will highlight a number of case studies highlighting examples where brands have successfully implemented a social media concept.  To help illustrate the cases I may also identify a couple of the social media disasters.  A great recent example is the DSGi Facebook group where employees openly criticised customers.

However in this post I would like to highlight something that I call the 5 F’s of social media.  Don’t worry I’m not going to teach 5 new profanities beginning with the letter F.  Us marketeers like simple number-letter concepts to help add context to a piece of theory (4 P’s of Marketing).  This will also help me frame the case studies in future posts.

My 5 F’s theory does exactly that.  It highlights 5 distinct criteria – that if all are met, I believe most social media campaigns or activity will succeed.  Each campaign doesn’t necessarily have to hit all the buttons and success could also be achieved by simply turning up the volume on one or two of the areas.

Familiarity

To make any social media/participative marketing campaign a success brands really need to understand their target audience and the objectives of engaging with them.  If you can really get to grips with who your audience is and what they want then you will gain a genuine connection.  With this connection the community or audience should do your work for you, participate and  help towards growing the campaign.Pepsi Amp App

The best method to underline the importance of this particular F is when people get it wrong.  Pepsi’s recent campaign “helping men pull girls” which helped alienate half their audience (namely women).  They obviously had great intentions to undertake something cool and exciting on social media utilising app technology – however it seems to be a classic case of letting the technology rule the idea.

Even if your intention isn’t to run a ‘cool’ participative marketing campaign but to have a presence within social media, you still need to be familiar with your target audience.  Remove the word media from social media and you have social.  People using these channels generally do so to communicate with each other.  They align themselves with likeminded people and as a consequence, generally don’t like companies just plying them with promotional messages.  Brands need to earn trust and the right to have a place talking to people via social.  You need to be familiar to know what messages people want to receive, above all you must be open enough to reflect the audience wishes and feedback.

Fortune

Fortune covers two angles.  Participative marketing campaigns can be amplified if brands put budget behind them.  Social is not free.  You need to make the same investment in those campaigns as you would any other.  Don’t be so blinkered to imagine all promotion has to take place through social media.  People engaging with social media also consumer other media, the ObaWalkers Do Us A Flavourma campaign perfectly illustrates.  The campaign lived within social media, utilising strengths of various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, however substantial investment was made in traditional channels to support this activity.

That being said, the investment doesn’t necessarily need to be in promotional activity.  Participative marketing can benefit from having a great (relevant) payoff for the participants.  A prize or even an ongoing cash amount for people submitting entries (Walkers – Do Us a Flavour).  This incentivises participants to think in detail about their response or become more creative.  The lure of some ‘fortune’ will also help spread word of mouth associated with your campaigns.

Fame

In 1968, Andy Warhol once famously created the phrase, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  This seems to be the undertone for the society we currently live in.  With the rise of reality TV shows and YouTube heroes, everybody does have their opportunity and indeed millions are positively striving for their shot at fame.  Just look at some of the hopefuls on XFactor.

With this in mind, if you can offer X Factor Logothe chance of fame as part of your social media strategy, no matter how small, their is a greater chance of success.  As with the familiarity section, the accolade has to be in tune with your audience.  There is no point providing the platform to be an Exhibitor in the Tate to a group of stereotypical football fans.  Neither would a DJ contest be of any interest to a group of traditional BBC Radio 4 listeners.

If you get it right, the element of fame can really engage with your audience.  Even if the fame is only restricted to a particular social network.  The YouTube phenonomen is a classic example of this.

Fun

As with most activity online, making it fun is a key consideration.  If you can entertain your audience you are more likely to gain the talkability factor.  A sense of fun adds an element of personality to a brand.  This does not necessarily mean the concept has to be funny, more just fun, engaging and entertaining to the audience.

Again, being in-tune with your audience is crucial.

Forwardability

If you have one or all the of the above elements cracked to a good level then you should have produced activity that has the potential to be forwarded.  Your presence needs to be in peoples’ e-mail boxes.  On their phones and referenced on their individual social media profiles.  Your need to be so current to the audience and reflect what they want that they are proud to be associated with the brand.  The audience will do the work for you.

Remember, get it wrong and they are just as likely to forward to their friends but paint a very negative and potentially damaging response.

The package

So this was an initial attempt at placing some theory behind social and participation marketing.  This is by no means exhaustive and I will hopefully come back from time to time to refine the concept of the 5 F’s.  I will also be looking at some case studies to critique and test my theory of the 5 F’s, so if you have any candidate campaigns or brands, please feel free to contact me.