Thursday, January 31, 2013

Is Twitter transforming the way we watch TV?

Social media monitoring company Brandwatch has recently undertaken a study to unveil how Twitter is transforming the way we watch TV.  
The study, which analysed Twitter conversation during 50 of the top UK and US TV shows has highlighted a number of key TV ‘dual screen’ behaviours.
It has outlined the TV shows are taking full advantage of their Twitter presence in order to grow and retain a loyal customer following.

How prevalent is dual screening?

Brandwatch found that viewers are on average 12x more likely to tweet about a TV show when the show is being broadcast, compared to days when it is not broadcast, and 22x more likely to use the show’s official hashtag on broadcast day.
Shows that are on regularly, such as soaps, see less of a change, with viewers 2x more likely to tweet on broadcast day compared to days when the show is not on, and 7x more likely to use the hashtag.
Shows that are on once a week, such as BBC Question Time, see a much bigger jump in conversation, nearly 30x more tweets when the show is on compared to days when it is not, and 48 x more tweets using the official hashtag, on average.
Although US audiences are most likely to tweet about shows, with an average of 1.5 times more tweets about shows than UK audiences. However, UK audiences are more likely to use official hashtags in tweets (31% of UK tweets including them, compared to 12% for US audiences).

It came as no surprise that showing a hashtag at the beginning of the show resulted in 63% increase in the proportion of tweets about the programme including the official hashtag!
Dual screening is particularly prominent during big events. For example, during the Champion’s League Final last May, the number of tweets during the match peaked at over 32,000 a second, and almost half (48%) of all tweets about the match on the day were posted during the actual game.

Where and why do people use dual screens? 

The top three places mentioned in tweets by viewers using dual screens were:
  1. In bed (64%)

  2. On the sofa (27%)

  3. At work (6%) 
A sample of tweets were analysed about a random selection of the shows to understand what had prompted people to tweet about a show. What was found:
  • 57% of tweets were prompted by actions or personalities of specific characters and guests.
  • 8% was anticipation of watching a show in the near future.
  • 7% was prompted by plot twists, and a further 7% was driven by people directly quoting from a show.
Interestingly, the sentiment of tweets about shows become more emotive once the show starts broadcasting.
On average, emotive tweets make up 12% of total Twitter conversation about shows, but this rises to 19% on days the shows are broadcast. Often, there is an increase in the proportion of tweets that are negative (a rise of 8 percentage points) once the show starts on TV – usually due to people disagreeing with characters’ actions. 
But in the hour after the show has finished, positive conversation creeps up an average of three percentage points compared to sentiment during broadcast time.

How are brands reacting?

In general, TV shows are still struggling to get people to use official hashtags when discussing programmes. On average, only 25% of Twitter conversation about TV shows use the official hashtag of the show in question.
Factual/current affairs programmes have the most adoption of official hashtags among audiences, with an average of 83% of tweets about these shows including the official hashtag. This is followed by reality TV (35%), talent shows (33%), soaps (32%), entertainment/game shows (23%), sport shows (16%) and sitcoms (12%).
Some shows are more forward thinking that others. The inclusion of the hashtag on screen at the beginning of ‘structured reality’ show Made in Chelsea, along with the hashtag being the show’s name (#madeinchelsea), for example, means that on average 20% of conversation about the show uses the official hashtag, which jumps to 27% on days the show airs.
This is despite a shorter ‘unofficial' hashtag, #MIC, also being frequently used by fans on Twitter.
A recent post on Econsultancy found that Made in Chelsea has a high ratio of viewers to people tweeting – one in four viewers is also actively engaged on Twitter during most episodes.
During this particular episode there were 215,220 tweets from 110,162 users, reaching a whopping a potential 124.2m users: 
UK cooking show Come Dine With Me, in contrast, uses an official hashtag that is an acronym rather than the show’s name (#CDWM) and does not show this on screen during broadcast. This results in only 8% of tweets about the show using the hashtag, on average. 
The Big Bang Theory similarly fails to encourage viewers to use an official hashtag, with just 11% of US conversation and only 7% of UK conversation about the show containing the hashtag used by the official Twitter account, #bigbangtheory.
The UK’s Celebrity Big Brother also uses an acronym as the official hashtag - #cbb – but inclusion of this during the show and in idents beforehand means that conversation about the show jumped from an average of  25% using the hashtag pre-launch, to 72% once the show had started on January 3rd.
This was also helped by the show’s official twitter account using the hashtag in its own tweets, thus encouraging others to do the same – a tactic that Come Dine With Me does not adopt.

Which shows are taking advantage of the opportunity with their Twitter presence?

Only 43% of the TV shows we looked at include the shows official/most used hashtag in their Twitter bio. However, 83% of them used the hashtag in all or most of their tweets.
Suprisingly nearly half (48%) of account never or rarely respond to fan’s tweets, although 78% did often retweet fans about the show. There was no major different in the use of Twitter accounts for US shows vs. UK ones. The top TV show Twitter accounts taking advantage of dual screening opportunities are:

The Great British Bake Off (UK)  - @britishbakeoff

GBBO uses the hashtag #gbbo in its tweets and also includes it in its Twitter bio. It regularly engages with fans, responding and retweeting them, as well as tweeting regularly, both during the show’s broadcast time and when the show is not airing.

The Voice (US) – @nbcthevoice

Although The Voice doesn’t include the hashtag #thevoice in its Twitter bio, it does use the hashtag in its own tweets. It also engages with fans on the social network, both when the show is airing and in between episodes, responding to and retweeting fans’ tweets.
As a result, it has over a million followers, many of whom are actively engaged with the account. 

The Biggest Loser (US) – @biggestlosernbc

The official Biggest Loser account makes use of the #biggestloser hashtag both in its bio and its own tweets, regularly engages with, retweets and thanks fans tweeting about the show. It regularly tweets, both during the show’s broadcast time commenting on the show’s content, and at other times. 
And some of the best in each genre, of the shows analysed:
  • Reality TV: The Great British Bake Off (UK) - @britishbakeoff
  • Talent show: The Voice (US) - @nbcthevoice / Britain’s Got Talent (UK) - @gottalent
  • Factual/current affairs: BBC Question Time (UK) - @bbcquestiontime
  • Soap: Hollyoaks (UK) - @hollyoaks
  • Drama: Glee (US) - @gleeonfox
  • Sitcom: How I Met Your Mother (US) - @HIMYM_CBS
  • Sport: Soccer am (UK) - @socceram / Sports Center (US) - @sportscenter 
One brand that’s missing out on the opportunity is Match of the Day. Although the Match of the Day account tweets regularly during football matches, the account fails to regularly engage with fans or make the use of the ##MOTD and #MOTD2 hashtags that are commonly used by tweeting fans.

How can other brands take advantage of dual screening?

Including a hashtag on screen during advertisements results in, on average, 44% of tweets about the ad including the hashtag – compared to just 16% for adverts that did not show a hashtag on screen, despite using one on social sites. 
Virgin Atlantic’s new television ad including the unique hashtag #fitfoo on screen meant that 92% of tweets about the ad on the day it was first broadcast included the hashtag.

Exploring the Fifth and Sixth P of Marketing

4 Ps of Marketing, Product, Place, Pricing, and Promotion represented a dated perspective of customers and markets. In an era of connected consumerism, one could argue the merits of any of “Ps” and whether or not they’re still relevant. 
Truth be told, there are many words that can find their way into this discussion. I’m sure we can find words that begin with the same consonant. But we now live in an era where customers are more connected, informed, and empowered, and as a result, their expectations amplify and modify. To adapt, new pillars are needed whether or not they start with the letter P. Rather than run through the dictionary, 
People as the 5th P
In a social economy, it’s practically absurd that this requires explanation. People should be or should have been at the center of everything. It’s been argued though that people are already at the core of each of the existing 4 P’s. 
If we measure actions rather than intentions, it’s easy to overlook the importance of people in the mix. See, for the most part people are largely lumped into market segments, spoken to as audiences, and serviced as tickets. Honestly, we can do better. We must do better.
Understanding the needs and expectations of people inspires an important element often missing in day-to-day business strategy…empathy. It is empathy after all that unlocks ambition to do something that goes beyond the ordinary. It offers clarity to help see beyond routine roadmaps and reports. Empathy also channels aspiration to help teams strive to always do better. The result? Businesses will possess the means to develop more meaningful products and services as well as the procure confidence and resources to truly engage customers to build thriving communities.
Once you feel, really feel what people experience and what it is they need or do not know to need, innovation follows. And this is a time for innovation as people and how they connect, discover, communicate and share, is evolving. Technology continues to influence behavior and as behavior shifts, decision-making, preferences, expectations, and influence also progress. Understanding and appreciating people, and the individuals that make up our markets, teaches us how to in turn become more human…especially at a time when brands are becoming people and people are becoming brands.
At the end of the day, we are the very people we are trying to reach. You, me and the scores of people like us form the 5th P.
Purpose as the 6th P
When you work in the business of change, you eventually notice that regardless of the technology you adopt or the trends you pursue, one of the key things that’s often missing is a sense of direction or aspiration. I’m not referring to a common vision or mission statement though. Actions for the most part speak louder than words. Here, motive, objective, and resolve are paramount and they’re manifested in the leadership and its decrees to bring about real change.
I spend my time in the throes of digital transformation and as you can imagine, there’s a great deal of politics, emotion, and anxiety at work. In many cases, efforts to lead change are done so in the absence of bearing or alignment. Steps are taken simply because that’s what is supposed to happen not because a course was defined. As such, existing processes, philosophies and communications channels sometimes work against the quest to pursue the 5th and 6th P. In order to unite teams and decision makers around a common vision, that vision must be defined and it must resonate.
I’ve done my fair share of developing business transformation initiatives and seeing them through for longer than I care to count. Part of that work involves helping executives visualize and vocalize the future of customer engagement and experiences and translate this new direction as a matter of purpose. It’s imperative that this edict and the mission come from the top. For without it, change is stunted. It’s at this very point where I often see the difference between management and leadership rear its true colors. The reality is that not every executive is a leader. But like empathy, leadership is also a fundamental pillar in articulating a vision for transformation. Someone must rise to the occasion.
It’s not easy of course. It takes courage to see what others can’t and do what others cannot or won’t. You’re setting out to shock and reshape your company’s culture and to do so takes leadership, vision, and alignment to bring about sustainable change.
Start by asking and answering a few important questions:
1. What does are business stand for and what does it mean to a shifting consumer landscape now and five or ten years from now?
2. How does evolution in customer behavior and expectations affect our current business priorities and investments?
3. What are the challenges that hold back the organization from pursuing our existing and emerging goals?
4. What initiatives are underway within the organization that we can plug into, align, or reassign to pursue transformation?
5. What does the future of exemplary relationships with people (employees and customers) look like and what it is we want them to do, feel, share, and love about us?


How to Drive Online Commerce in 2013

The world is quite different from the early days of eBay and Amazon. Reports and analysis from the past few years have all been pointing to the fact that commerce is being driven less and less by advertising, professional reviews and other biased sources of commercial messaging.This wreacks havoc on our traditional efforts because, as marketers, we now have less power and influence over our markets.
Our beautifully crafted messaging and creatives are becoming less impactful in this connected marketplace of ours.  Reports keep validating that we tend to lack trust in commercial entities and if anything has validated this human behavior, it is the social web. In the world of $4 million dollar tv ad spots, this becomes a very hard pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, it still needs to be part of the overall marketing strategy but needs to be adjusted to accommodate the user behaviors of today.
Weber Shandwick and KRC research recently conducted a survey involving around 2000 consumers that outlines that peer reviews and social recommendations have grown beyond just friends advising each other on the new purchases.
11 user reviews before making a decision
Some of the findings include:
  • 65% of consumers have bought a product they weren’t intending to buy after reading a positive review;
  • 74% of consumers search for reviews online before making a decision;
  • Consumers read an average 11 reviews before making a decision;
  • Peer reviews are trusted by more consumers (77%) than professional ones (23%);
As Danny Brown states, “These figures, and some of the other ones in the full report, should act as a wake-up call to brands that are still investing in the traditional method of product review – buy advertorial or pitch the mass media – and ignoring search and social graph impact“.
In addition, let’s not ignore the fact that 70% of all content online is user generated. It also ranks higher than static corporate pages by search engines and trusted more by the average consumeras well. In 2013, all go-to-market planning and comms planning should be focused on strategically leveraging the potential of this medium.
And doing it right requires experience and understanding the context of the medium. Otherwise you end up with facebook and twitter accounts without any real social presence. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this hilarious Facebook Page of Corporate Social gone wrong.
Let’s avoid doing social in a pure check list manner. Mere likes and follows don’t translate to actual business. Time for experimentation is over.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Content marketing strategy: an A-Z guide to success

Content marketing is currently battling ‘big data’ and ‘responsive design’ for the hottest digital marketing phrase of the year. Yet the truth is that while the label has grown in popularity, the notion that content marketing is new is something of a curve ball.
Many brands have been producing regular content for many years, and already appreciate the value of blogs, surveys, whitepapers and videos. They understand the power of content and understand how it can attract the right kind of attention. 
But what is new is that content marketing roles are being created, and teams are being restructured. Content is becoming more tactical as a result.
You might work for a retailer, but you need to think like a publisher to win at content marketing. Think about audiences, rather than customers. Audience comes first. If you do your job well, a percentage of your growing audience should become new leads / customers. 
Define your target audience before you start to produce content. Take a look at your best customers, and your most engaged visitors, and try to figure out what kind of content attracts these people. What kind of content transforms a visitor into a lead / customer?


In my mind content marketing should be firmly anchored around moving the brand metrics (e.g. awareness, perception, favourability) in the right direction. Define your brand terms, so you know what to look for (for example your brand name, product names, key people, and if you label content in a unique way then perhaps that too).
Monitor analytics to see how many people who visit using these branded search terms. See how things change over time, and look out for any spikes, to see if a piece of content helped to influence visits. Consider the differences between branded search traffic and other traffic. Are these visitors more valuable to you?
The trouble for me is that we use Google Analytics to track web visitors, and the horrific ‘Not Provided’ situation has considerably worsened in 2012. ‘Not Provided’ now accounts for 55% of our search traffic, up from about 33% a year ago (you can see on the chart below when it really started to take hold).
It looks as if branded search is falling, when actually the level of ‘Not Provided’ data is rising. It makes it rather difficult to see a clear picture of what’s happening (a hack would be to put this data into a spreadsheet, factor in the level of 'Not Provided' on a month by month basis, and do a little multiplcation).
The above chart was from ‘Search/Overview’, in the menu on the left. I made the mistake of choosing ‘Search Engine Optimisation / Queries’ and could only see data for the last three months. Unless we’ve screwed something up I guess this is a sucky Webmaster Tools limitation.


The ongoing production of compelling content that appeals to your target audience is what content marketing is all about. Your role as a content marketer is to steer the production of content (and no doubt to produce some yourself).
Content must always be aligned to your brand, your story, and - most importantly - your products and services. You can aim content at beginners or experts. You can target a passive audience, and / or your hardcore fans. Content can be educational, or fun, or shocking, or amusing, or emotional, or sexy.
Content comes in many, many forms, and can be further sub-divided. For example, here are 34 blog post templates that we regularly use. The blog is our content marketing platform, and the kind of content we produce can be sub-divided into templates (interviews, ask the expert posts, reviews, case studies, stats-based posts, and so on). Your business may be very to different to ours, but I'll bet that you’ll be able to use many of these templates.
Note that blogging is just one type of content format. 
  • Case studies
  • Comics and memes
  • Competitions
  • Crowdsourced content
  • Frameworks
  • Games and apps
  • Gifs
  • Guides
  • Hangouts
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Linkbait (e.g. your 404 page)
  • Newsletters
  • Own-brand magazines 
  • Presentations
  • Product pages (e.g. J Peterman - attracts links, shares, love)
  • Press releases
  • Quizzes
  • Social
  • Slideshows
  • Surveys
  • Video
  • Webinars
  • Whitepapers
Clearly there is much to do! What did I miss? 


If you produce video then you’d be mad to ignore YouTube. Images and infographics should be added to your Pinterest board. Your blog headlines should automatically populate your Twitter feed. You can curate your best content on your Facebook page. And so on. These content-sharing platforms are used by your current audience - your fans and followers - as well potential new audiences.
You need to optimise your content for these third party platforms. YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, but it’s very noisy. How can you stand out? For starters, you can use the YouTube keyword tool to figure out how best to label your video (here are some more tips on how to optimise your YouTube content). Content distribution isn’t about ticking the boxes, it is about making the boxes interesting and painting them with dayglo paint so that they can be easily seen.

Evergreen Content

Evergreen content never grows old. It is the gift that keeps on giving, and should be a core part to your content production strategy. Content that establishes itself in Google and sticks around for the long-term pays handsome dividends. Avoid dates or anything time-specific. Avoid news hooks. Produce reference material and niche content that appeals to specific needs.
For example, an article I wrote last year on the theme of ‘scrolling websites’ continues to deliver many thousands of page impressions of week. Why? Probably because it is very niche, does what it says on the tin, and the subject continues to grow in popularity. Google Trends is a useful tool for spotting keyphrases that are taking off. 


A pre-defined editorial scope is essential. Content should be produced within certain brand parameters, should be created for a reason, and it must be aligned to your brand’s long-term goals. 

Gap Analysis

Mining the gaps on Google is something the content marketer should to a) identify valuable search positions that you do not currently own, and b) steer the content producers in the right direction. Consider the volume of searches for a particular term. Take a look at the competition, to try to figure out the scale of the challenge, and the type of content you should produce. Put any fears you have about using spreadsheets to one side.Spreadsheets are your best friend.

House Style

It’s a very good idea to create a style guide, which should be adhered to by your content producers. Consistency of tone and spelling is important. Establish a few guidelines. 

Inbound Links

SEO lives at the intersection of content and marketing. We’ve always believed that the best way to rank well is to produce lots of unique, high value content, and certainly that seems to pay off.
We’re now trying to generate new content - and therefore new links - in a more targeted way. We are currently working on a new taxonomy for our website: currently there are around 22 top level categories, and will reduce these to 10. Old categories will become new sub-categories, and there will be other sub-categories to identify. We will then map hundreds of keyphrases to these categories, which will help underpin our gap analysis efforts, and we will produce tactical content to plug the holes.


Avoid it like the plague. Use plain English. Death to PRspeak

Keep It Real

We live in a social age where authenticity and transparency will always triumph over duplicity and wool-pulling. Old school PR whitewashing campaigns to cover up bad news don’t seem to work so well these days. Be honest, admit mistakes if you need to, and apologise where necessary.

Lead Generation

Lead generation remains a primary goal for many content marketers. Leads come in different shapes and sizes: a visitor to your blog is one kind of lead; one that follows you on Twitter is another. Then there are people who sign up to your newsletter (you know their email address, so they’re that bit more valuable). Direct leads in the form of enquiries and applications can arise from your content too. 
Consider our blog. I’d define a lead as being anyone who a) doesn’t bounce, and b) undertakes some form of action. The hotness of the lead depends on the level of action. So in our case, the blog serves to:
  1. direct visitors to key pages (e.g. the reports pages),
  2. persuade them to sign up to the newsletter, and hopefully
  3. join / subscribe to Econsultancy (you know it makes sense).
All of these things are more valuable than a simple visit, especially since we’re not reliant on advertising. Measuring success by CPM is ok, and it’s indicative of something, but you need to beware of outliers. For example, last year we had a post with ‘Dancing On Ice’ in the title. It attracted a massive amount of visitors, but the bounce rate was 99.7%. Not exactly our target audience...


Define your metrics and KPIs upfront and get into the habit of tracking them. Links. Mentions. Shares. Followers. Comments. Leads. Sales. There are plenty of others, and they’re very much dependent on your goals.
For example, one of the key goals for our blog is to direct visitors towards our research archive, to deep dive into a subject (a blog post can only cover so much ground, and we have things to sell). The chart below shows how we are increasing the flow of traffic to these product pages (in the past two years the blog has sent more than 200,000 people to our report pages, with half of them classified as ‘new visitors’).


What’s your story? What are your values? What is your brand trying to communicate? Do you have a long-term picture of where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going? This harks back to branding, and your content should be properly aligned to these things. 


Reblogging sucks. Me-too sucks. Scraping sucks. The very best, most powerful content is unique and highly original, as I’m sure you already know. Be creative. Experiment. Take a risk from time to time. Add value. Put things into context. Join up the dots. Try to look beyond the obvious. 


Press releases may be on the wane, but they’re still a de facto part of releasing your news to the world. Google isn’t crazy about PR distribution sites, yet they can still help to spread the word. Create multiple versions of a press release to target specific journalists / publications. Consider a revamp of your online press centre.


One of the key tasks for a content marketer is to understand how best to support the business. Stakeholders across the business should be interrogated. Colleagues should be mined for ideas to turn into content. You should know which parts of the business are the most profitable, and prioritise content / themes accordingly. 


There are at least 19 content marketing tools that can help you to track your performance, and you should set up some custom reports in Google Analytics. 


Build your social networks and they will help you to punch well above your weight. Content marketers should work very closely with their socially-focused colleagues. Scheduling is very important, and social content can be optimised to generate more clicks and shares. Your fans and followers are also a great source of ideas: get into the habit of regularly asking questions and launching surveys (e.g. Twitpoll) to crowdsource content.


Once you have an idea of your workflow processes, you can set up some tools. Create a content schedule, mapped to your business (e.g. product / campaign release dates, SEO strategy). Use Google’s advanced search tool to programme some branded searches, to keep an eye open for new links and mentions (you can bookmark them, or turn them into RSS feeds or email alerts). 
Create a broader listening station, plugging in keyword terms relevant to your business, to discover ideas to write about, and find influencers to make friends with. As well as advanced search on Google, Topsy is useful for doing this. The chart below shows all mentions of ‘content marketing’ on Twitter in the past day, with links.

User Experience

Content marketers should have a deep understanding of their users, and need to figue out how content can extend and enhance the user experience. It needs to be presented in the right way. Consider mobile and tablet users, who now account for about a fifth of total visits to Econsultancy, and we should be doing a better job of improving the user experience for these visitors. Websites should be mobile optimised (ours isn’t, but it is an area that we will hopefully improve this year). Content can take the form of apps, if you have a big enough mobile audience.


The production of highly shareable content is a fundamental, ongoing goal for content marketing professionals. Keep an eye on the best - and worst - social media campaigns. See what branded content attracts the most love on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Think about the 12 viral triggers that people react to, before you start working on your next piece of content. 

Web Audits

You need your website to work for you, to make the most of the content you produce (and existing content too). On-page content remains a major factor for achieving top search rankings. As such you should undertake a website audit. Put your technical hat on. 
Now replace your hat for another marked ‘Content’. Audit / benchmark your existing content. See which content templates and formats have been performing well. Take a look at your SEO goals to see how you’re doing, and target areas for improvement (via the production of new content, and the optimisation of existing content). 
Finally, you should definitely spend some time benchmarking the competition. This is mainly about the content they produce (and how it is distributed), but should extend to SEO and social. What’s working for them? How frequently are they updating their content, their distribution channels, and their social networks? Can you correlate a competitor’s content marketing campaign with its performance? (e.g. website metrics, social metrics, and trading performance, where available)

X-Ray Vision

Can you see what’s around the corner? A top content marketing professional will be aware of emerging trends, and the nature of the role to some degree requires the wearing of a long-term hat. Reading is probably 20% of your job, and you should be prepared to be agile, changing your approach and tactics in line with audience preferences, or simply making the most of a news story, as Specsavers recently did with a print ad (designed, surely, for maxium love on social channels).

Your Existing Customers / Audience

Digital marketing in the first decade of the new millennium was all about customer acquisition. Mercifully, digital marketing in the second decade seems to be paying more attention to retention, and I think it's crucial to produce the right kind of content for your existing customers / audience. Try to identify your most important customers and think about how you can engage these people with bespoke content. They're more likely than most to enjoy and share it.