How to Avoid Information Pinballing
The speed and volume of information in the modern age can make us feel like our heads may physically blow clean off our necks.
In the world of marketing communications and ebusiness, both client-side and agency colleagues I’ve spoken share the same sentiment: it’s extremely difficult to effectively utilize the small bucket of time they have every week to read and synthesize information.
Metalife, a futurist/cultural insights agency, calls this struggle information pin-balling. In short, human minds are not programmed to handle the volume and interactivity of modern information. As a result, most of us bounce from content to content, barely absorbing the surface level information and over-relying on a cloud of information to supplement our inability to store and recall facts.
After witnessing and experiencing this phenomenon myself, I’ve isolated a few problems and some simple solutions that I believe help our minds recall and absorb information.
Four things you do that exasperates information pin-balling:
Do you read a whitepaper while answering emails and listening to music? If so, comprehension levels are probably going to be low. There are lots of good studies out there that establish that humans are very poor at multi-tasking.
2. Poor (or lack of) archiving system.
What do you do after you stumble into a great financial services campaign from Germany? If you don’t have a system to log articles, you are not going to be able to action insights and best practices when the time comes to use it.
3. Lack of rigorous evaluation
The democratization of information has led to an explosion of agencies and experts. There are now more people than ever tasked with analyzing information and making strategic decisions. Unfortunately; due to lack of time, skill and/or will, there seems to be a lack of critical evaluation taking place.
Even if you didn’t major in statistics and it’s been a while since your last research methods class, you ought to be capable of assessing methodology, assumptions, limitations and similarities at a high level.
4. Quantity over Quality
Rather than deeply evaluating one sub-topic of a larger theme, many of us seem to get a thrill out of exploring 100 different topics at a surface level.
- Find a quiet space, turn off all other applications and take notes while you read.
- Develop a knowledge bank database with a reliable tagging system and a search function that indexes tags and file text contents (Noise uses Zotero, an open source citation management application developed by George Mason University).
- Rather than trying to read 1,000 articles on 1,000 different topics, choose one topic per week or even month and find as many reliable sources as possible.
- Wherever possible, try to find on the root sources of information (press release, research study) rather than the chatter and commentary that are simply derivatives of that core information.
- Document each article’s argument, sources, methodology, findings, etc while you read.
- Compare and contrast notes for articles that address the same topic for common threads than you can turn into actionable insights down the road.
Who’s the Boss, Anyway?
Can a workforce be innovative if the environment does not encourage new perspectives, opposing points of view or radically different approaches to status quo? Do employees thrive in a workplace that doesn’t empower them to participate?
Can the work environment actually push leaders with dreams of enabling social prosperity, into managers and executives who lead by enforcing a climate of compliance (typically yielding high turnover and limited loyalty)? Do quarterly reports, earning expectations, and other short-term measures distract us from our vision?
I grapple with these questions thinking of the future companies that are going to be created here at Seeqnce, as the team strives to accelerate innovation. Right now, we are going over more than 250 applicants for the 2012 Seeqnce Accelerator Program, and in a couple of months, we will have 8 resident startups.
Who defines the culture of an organization? Is it the leadership of an organization… or is it the employees? As we look at today’s more agile and innovative organizations, we find traditional roles of leaders and employees are becoming less distinct.
Perhaps these blurred hierarchies are a reflection of today’s marketplace, where customers co-produce the goods they consume. Buyers and sellers are interchangeable on marketplace platforms like eBay and Amazon; readers are becoming writers on news sites and the blogosphere; moviegoers are creating their own films and asking to post them on Cinemoz. Today’s economy calls for co-creation of value.
In the context of a global professional services organization such as Seeqnce, which I’ve seen emphasizes relationships in the creation of value, what kind of shift is desirable between employees and their seniors? How can people work together to co-create value for the organization, the clients, and each other?
I have found certain guiding principles to be essential in creating a successful work environment, where our people and our leaders not only co-exist and collaborate, but co-create value in new ways:
I think startups will benefit from this the most.
1. Share the vision
Leaders and founders must articulate their vision and agenda — uniting the whole organization in pursuit of it. To determine your alignment with the values of your organization ask yourself, what really matters to me? What do I stand for? Do my work activities represent my values to my family and friends? Both founders and employees need to be inspired and motivated by this shared vision.
2 . Accept that you don’t have all the answers
To do the right thing, you don’t have to be right. A true leader knows he or she doesn’t have all the answers, and seeks and considers other points of view. In highly competitive work environments, where employees are rewarded for having the “right” answers, we need to step out of our comfort zones to offer our own thinking and be open to all viewpoints — ultimately discovering the best possible solution.
3. Give feedback. Up, down and sideways
If you cultivate an innovative mindset or culture, you are continually trying new approaches… and learning as you go. It is particularly important in organizations where creativity and innovative thinking are encouraged, to provide continual feedback, up to your boss, down to your staff, and sideways to your peers. Annual feedback cycles are compliance exercises and not optimized for accelerated innovation. Monthly goal setting and self-assessment may be a more effective solution.
4 . Get fricking real!
Be true to yourself and your colleagues. Don’t forget luck, timing, and the support of a great team may have contributed to your individual success. Be humble, be genuine, and be grounded. Avoid arrogance. I think success is having the peace of mind that you’ve done the best you can, and you’ve kicked butt doing it.
5. Commit to your values
The rubber meets the road where you commit to a shared vision for your organization and the values that support it. I read an article once that asked “Are you prepared to fire your highest revenue generating employee or your highest ranking executive if they don’t live the values you’ve articulated and shared?” I tried putting myself in that position in my head, thinking it would be a difficult decision… and in the end, it wasn’t all that difficult. What are your non-negotiables? Can you truly commit to the vision and not waver?
Although the action plan seems simple, the challenge is consistency on an individual level, and broad-based adoption organizationally. How do we sustain momentum? We don’t wait for change to happen. We make it happen — together. We are the change agents and the sooner we recognize the duality of our roles as leaders and team players, the sooner we will co-create an innovative place to work for everyone in the organization.
That’s all the ranting I have for today.
Facebook Marketing Bootcamp
I’m a happy critic of webinars, I’ve also been feeling kind of sluggish lately, so I’m forever ready to crib the Facebook Marketing Bootcamp.
Here’s a summary of all 6 Webinars. What I learned: Replicate the good, avoid the bad, stop saying “um” so much.
Guilty Pleasure: One of them was given by a Brit with a “LOVERLY” accent.
Focuses on “businesses are better” in a connected world, they have an opportunity to grow, expand and drive sales the more connected they are with their customers. Considering that 800 million people are connected through Facebook, one great way for businesses to connect is through the creation of an engaging page.
4 key steps for building a good page:
Build your page: Take the time to input essential information about who you are and what you do, add a profile photo and invite friends so that growth will occur organically from there.
Connect the virtual and the physical: Share updates and promotions, post business cards and flyers and provide loyalty offers that can be used at your business. This drives in-store traffic and increases sales.
Engage your fans: Ask questions, share industry news, and respond to comments.
Acquire new fans: Create Facebook ads and add social plug-ins (i.e. a button linking to your Facebook page or the “like” button)
Tips for businesses:
A page starts with identity: Define who you are, your mission and philosophy.
Keep posting best practices in mind: Keep it human, be timely and relevant, share exclusive content, encourage fan participation by being fun and engaging in posts. Reward your fans with special deals and offers and respond to comments, including negative ones. Facebook is a two-way conversation and if a negative comment is posted it is a great opportunity to remedy what went wrong and show others that you are taking action to fix the situation. You could provide a customer service email address and take the issue off Facebook, but don’t ignore or delete the post and certainly don’t respond to negativity with negativity
Expand your fan base: Encourage visitors to “like” your page and partner with other brands and organizations to reach new audiences.
Encourage physical check-ins: Getting fans to “check-in” creates additional awareness of your business and leads to growth.
Map out your topics: Create a posting or conversation calendar and plan out what topics to cover in your posts, use Facebook’s page insights to help you decide what types of posts are getting the best responses and at what time. So, at Seeqnce we like to share conversation/editorial calendars via Google docs so everyone has access to the document and can add or edit post ideas at their leisure.
Acquire offline collateral: Get “Like us on Facebook” signs, banners, cards, etc. that announce your online presence and drive customers to your page
Make a custom URL: duh
The power of the individual voice broadcasting to millions creates influence and identity on the Internet. Businesses have taken notice of this social behavior and are maximizing their marketing approach in two ways:
Broadcasting less and listening more. There is a conversation happening with their customers that creates strong connections and allows the customer be part of all they do.
Sharing their stories and building stronger brand connections through these stories at a much larger scale than ever before.
So how can businesses integrate this powerful Facebook strategy into their social marketing? Three new features have been released:
- Pages for Business. Customizable to better express brand identity and share who you are as an organization. The timeline can be used as a virtual showroom, a new story type called ‘Offers’ can be sent directly to the fan inbox, direct messages can be sent to the business.
- Reach Generator. The idea behind this new tool is to evolve from ads to stories. Reach Generator will allow a business to reach up to 75% more fans on a monthly basis. Fans will comment more and “like” more; talk not only to your fans, but also friends of fans. For example, Ben and Jerry’s reached 98% of their fans, doubled engagement, and increased ROI 3:1.
- Premium on Facebook. Start with a page post. Facebook does the rest, posting on the right hand side of the Facebook feed as well as the news feed on both desktop and mobile devices. The news feed is where marketing will appear like the rest of Facebook, and less like an ad. Premium on Facebook means more stories in front of more people in more places.
What you should be measuring to determine the value of your Facebook strategy: ‘The Number of People Talking About This’. Get your fan base to spread the word. As your fan base increases so can revenues. Connecting with more fans and building a stronger community will result in more customers.
The message of this event is that a Facebook strategy is only strong when leveraging all key features that build the brand story and celebrates individual fans and users on a daily basis. Just using the Ads feature, or having a Facebook fan page is not enough. All the levers need to be active and maintained to keep the conversation alive with your customers and build those connections with authentic, relevant content.
Businesses function better on Facebook when they are more connected. The Bootcamp walked viewers through the ins and outs of Facebook ads, a tool for businesses to connect to their audience.
Facebook has the scale of television, the precision of direct marketing and the power of connection to spread the word between Facebook friends.
There are four types of Facebook ads:
- Standard ads
- App ads
- Like ads
- Event ads
Before you begin and decide which types of ads to use, determine your goals for advertising on Facebook. Is it to drive sales? Is it to gain fans? With your goals in mind, you can follow these four steps for creating a successful ad:
1. Target your ad effectively: To target your ad effectively, there are several questions you can ask yourself to better understand you audience.
- Where is my audience located?
- What is my audience’s gender or age? Marital status?
- Where does my audience work?
- What are my audience’s likes and interests?
2. Design an engaging ad
- Use succinct and clear copy and a relevant and interesting photo. (We’ve discovered in ad campaigns we’ve set up for our own clients that photos with humans work better than those with logos.)
- Use questions to engage your audience and use action oriented copy to get results.
Set a budget and bid
- Set a budget for your ad, either a lifetime total or a daily total. Facebook will never spend more than your budget.
- Facebook charges for ads in an auction. Facebook will give you a recommended bid amount but ultimately, you have control over the price of each click or impression.
Analyze and optimize
- Create several different variations of ads and then check their effectiveness daily to see which are performing best. This could differ depending on the different copy, images, target or bid used. (The Facebook team like seals and puppies)
- Tweak your ads accordingly so that all of your ads perform well.
I’m a happy critic of webinars. Replicate the good, avoid the bad, stop saying “um” so much.
What are “sponsored stories?”
- Nadine’s definition: Sponsored stories = paying for fans’ comments and actions to be picked up from wall posts and run over in the right hand column of friends’ Facebook pages, in place of a common or garden variety advertisement.
- Facebook’s definition: (paraphrase) Sponsored stories are word of mouth marketing amplified to an unprecedented scale in the social context of trusted friends.
Why are sponsored stories valuable?
Facebook’s statistics on why the social context of a sponsored story matters to business owners and marketers:
People who see a sponsored story ad in the social context of a friend’s actions exhibit:
- A 1.6 lift in brand recall
- Double the increase in message awareness
- A 4x (quadruple!) lift in purchase intent
Therefore, brands who use sponsored stories experience a “direct and measurable performance lift.”
Facebook Ads v. Sponsored Stories
What’s the difference? Facebook Ads are for the general public; sponsored stories show up on friends’ pages only.
Six Sorts of Sponsored Stories
Here are the six kinds of stories that can be sponsored:
- Page Likes – Eric likes British Airways, and his “Like” generates a little story on the right hand side of your Facebook screen
- Page Post Likes – A similar story is generated when Eric comments on a page
- Check-in story – Eric checked in at Four Barrel Coffee for a single-varietal cupping, and a note about that appears on your page, leading you to dash out, catch the tube, mind the gap, and join Eric at Four Barrel.
- App Used – Eric played the Glory of Rome
- App Share – Eric recommends the Game of Life
- Domain – Eric thinks Red Cross is a great cause
Intrigued enough to consider sponsoring your brand’s stories? Facebook recommends:
- Run Sponsored Stories with Facebook Ads for best effect
- Choose the best story type for your goals
- Claim your physical “place” to enable check-in functionality
- Post regularly on your Facebook page to generate opportunities for Sponsored Stories
- For “Domain” sponsored stories, Add the “Like” and “Send” buttons to your website
- Track your performance in Ads Manager, then reallocate budget to best performing ads
1. Craft your ad creative
2. Segment and structure your campaign clearly
3. Evaluate your campaign performance with Reports and Page Insights
Craft your Ad Creative
- Questions drive engagement in title or body
- Keep the body copy short and clear
- Encourage users to act immediately
- Give clear call to action with verbs like Book today to drive urgency
Discounts & Free Offers
- Everyone likes a good deal, so highlight this in your ad text
- Promote Facebook Offers/Deals!
- If possible, use words like: free, discount, promotional, trial, complimentary
Space & Logos
- Use an image that speaks to the audience demographic
- Avoid use of logos unless your logo is well recognized
- Make the most of the full space available
- Simple, uncluttered images work best
Segment and Structure your Campaigns Clearly
- Create multiple ads using different creative within the same campaign in order to identify which creative you should use.
- Use a unique URL for each campaign in order to measure which demographic delivers the best performance.
- Pause campaigns not performing well so budget is going to the right place.
- Really important to refresh your creative regularly.
Evaluate your campaign performance with Reports and Page Insights
- Within your campaign report, you can see your target audience, reach, and social reach (number of people who saw your ad with their friends’ name attached).
- Look at peak times, evaluate ads’ performance, CTR of ad, cost-per-click for ad.
- Demographics report: you can see how your ad is performing with certain audiences (and potentially modify audience).
- To better understand page engagement
- Understand the performance of your Page including a new public number for People Talking about This”
- Learn which content resonates with your audience
- Optimize how you publish to your audience
- You can now see People Talking about This (number of people who have Liked, commented, shared info about our page).
Get the creative right
- compelling copy and images for each ad
- make sure the landing page is relevant
Segment your campaign
- By target audience, product and location
- Test 3-4 ads per campaign
- Try out different targeting options to understand best segments
Track your performance
- Run reports once per week
- Pause low performers and adjust budget
The networking site’s belief is that “business will be better in a connected world,” and they say they’re helping us all get there with a user count of approximately 800 million.
There are two types of integration: Social Plugins and Apps.
Social Plugins: A “lightweight method” that involves adding a few lines of HTML code to a website to make it immediately more engaging for users.
Most common types of Social Plugins include:
- Like Button- Immediately shares a story on the News Feed when someone “likes” your page.
- Send Button- Allows users to send specific content to a select group of friends.
- Comments- Shares findings from external websites with friends on Facebook. ()
- Like Box- Allows users to “like” your Facebook page from your website.
- Login and Registration Buttons- Allow people to login/register to your website.
Apps: More of a “heavyweight” approach that involves further integration and development, but also delivers more personalized messages. Apps are a great way to spread the word about your business using all distribution channels, and can live on page tabs, your website, or even mobile devices.