17 Aug

Sorry for radio silence …

Been writing up my research. 10,000 words in now!

10 Aug

Interesting post on marketing music through social media

OK, it’s not FMCG products, but one of the more interesting online marketing posts that I’ve read recently is ID’s wrap-up of the ‘Diary of a Free Album’ series that he has been writing this year, analyzing the progress of Bass Music Sessions, a free album that he had produced in collaboration with his studio partner Baobinga:

Was it worth doing and is this a sustainable way to run things? Well, the first, obvious answer is no, not really. Not like this; even if we were going to keep all the money, a thousand pounds between two people for what probably amounted to 6 weeks work each is clearly not enough to live on. Even if you double that, you’re still way below minimum wage. But, what about live stuff? The exposure! Artists should give away music for free, and live off the shows, yes? Well, as far as we can tell, the album has had a fairly minimal effect on our bookings …

Of course, the obvious rejoinder to all this would be that we’re just not big/popular enough, or working in a big/popular enough scene. Fair enough. It does seem however, that this model is not (yet) a realistic alternative to having an album out through the conventional channels …

I mentioned a ‘collateral benefit’ above, and there have been a few. Firstly, the ‘PR database’. Since doing this album, I’ve managed to build up a list of around 400 blogs which I can email if I’ve got anything they might be interested in. I’ve used it a couple of times when I had mixes or free tracks, and it helped gain some attention. Second, we’ve now got a mailing list of approaching 4,000 names, people who actually like and are interested in our music. I haven’t mailed them yet, because I’m wary of spam so want to keep the updates pretty occasional, but will be doing so shortly (hello!). This is probably a pretty valuable asset, too. Third, the experience, and this is something that’s definitely valuable, on an intangible sort of level. I’ve learned a lot from this project, and had some ideas of what I can do in future. On which note, stay tuned – we’ll have an announcement in the next week or 2 about that.

So, all in all, yes, I’d say it was worth doing. Financially, not really, but then most stuff at this level of dance music tends not to be massively financially rewarding anyway, and we didn’t lose anything. On other levels though, it was a great learning experience and has given us plenty of food for thought.

It’s definitely worth reading the whole thing.

4 Aug

Interview: Tim Murphy, Associate Brand Manager, General Mills

Note: This is the full transcript of the interview I conducted on July 4th via telephone with Tim Murphy, an Associate Brand Manager at Minneapolis-based General Mills. I’ve been conducting a number of different interviews like this for my dissertation on how consumer goods brands can best use social media to engage with consumers. This interview touches on a bunch of the different themes of my research – how you use social media for marketing, what else you can use it for, how it can be used for consumer interaction, and so on. I will hopefully be posting some more full-length interviews soon, but for now I hope that you enjoy this.

Randall: The first question I have is how do you see social media fitting in to your overall marketing media mix? Do you see it as just another channel or as something very distinct from traditional channels like television and print?

Tim: You know, I would say just as background, of all consumer packaged goods companies, the food companies, and especially General Mills – I wouldn’t want to say we’re way behind the curve, but I would say that we’re definitely not cutting edge when it comes to some of these new types of media, digital media included.

We’re doing our best to improve our digital technologies and capabilities. The company is making some pretty serious investments in those areas because we know that we’re behind the curve on it, but you have an old old Midwestern company that’s been doing tv advertising and couponing for years and years and years and that’s what the senior folks know, because that’s what they grew up doing. So as the media landscape changes, that’s something that we need to adapt to, and that’s somewhere that we’ve not been as nimble as we have to be.

So I would say that right now, we use social media as just another channel. So you’ve got to make sure you’ve got your website, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got your social media, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a tv campaign, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got your couponing plan.

You sort of go and check all the boxes, but I know from spending time at business school and from my life in general, that this is going to be something different, something bigger, and we’re going to need to get out ahead of it. So we’re sort of early on in that process at this point.

Read More »

3 Aug

ROI and Social Media

Via Social Media Explorer, I found out that Forrester Research have just released a new report on the ROI of social media marketing:

Many marketers can draw a straight line between investments in social media marketing and financial results, but many more cannot. This doesn’t mean social media marketing is ineffective; it just means that marketers have to recognize benefits beyond dollars and cents. Facebook fans, retweets, site visits, video views, positive ratings and vibrant communities are not financial assets — they aren’t reflected on the balance sheet and can’t be counted on an income statement — but that doesn’t mean they are valueless. Instead, these are leading indicators that the brand is doing something to create value that can lead to financial results in the future.

For me personally, this is quite a timely report, because one of the recurring themes of my research has been how exactly you measure the impact of social media marketing.

What metrics do you use?

What does ‘success’ mean anyways in terms of social media?

And, once you have defined what success is in the social space, how do you link that to what happens on the balance sheet?

Read More »

28 Jul

More toing, more froing …

OK, one final update on the Old Spice social media saga:

Old Spice body wash sales have increased 107% in the past month in part thanks to that social media marketing campaign.

We already published stats from video analytics company Visible Measures that made it clear that the Old Spice guy was a hugely successful initiative from marketing firm Wieden + Kennedy, achieving millions of viral video views quicker than past hits like Susan Boyle and U.S. President Barack Obama’s election victory speech.

The statistic of the 107% sales increase over the past month comes from Nielsen, which also revealed that sales increased 55% over the past three months. Individual products that were slipping in sales saw spikes after actor Isaiah Mustafa showed them off in the TV and Internet (Internet) video ads.

Very interesting.

25 Jul

Sunday is viral music day

OK, this isn’t really to do with social media marketing, but this video, “Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)” by M-J Delaney, is absolutely my favourite recent YouTube parody, so I thought I might as well post it (and join the legions of other people who have been sharing recently across the net). It’s a brilliant send-up of Jay Z’s ‘Empire State of Mind’, swapping New York City for Newport, Wales. With over 1.2 million views on YouTube already, it’s yet another example of YouTube’s ability to spread brilliant ideas quickly across the net.

Twinned with Guangxi province in China
There’s no province finer


According to Nick Burcher, this video has already started funneling large numbers of hits to the original, so I’m sure Jay Z won’t mind too much!

23 Jul

Facebook hits 500 million users

One of the stories in social media (and in business, really) of the last few days is that Facebook has now hit 500 million users. Sure, this has been expected for some time, but it is still incredibly impressive, all things considered. To celebrate, they’ve launched a series called Facebook Stories to collate people’s stories about their use of Facebook. It’s somewhat interesting, and worth a flick-through.

In any case, 500 million people is a lot, but it is important for marketers to not get carried away – although technically you have access to this many people, finding your customers is still a tricky act, especially because so much of what happens in Facebook happens behind (virtual) closed doors. It’s an amazing tool, but understanding how best to use it is still a work in progress for most marketers, despite the claims of the legions of self-appointed ‘social media gurus’.

23 Jul

On second thoughts

… it’s probably better to wait a few months before passing judgment on the efficacy (or not) of the Old Spice campaign. This is one of the hazards of blogging that I have noticed over the years – that the need to come up with immediate opinions often leads to such opinions being made hastily without due consideration. Obviously, I am not a particularly prolific blogger, but even so, I fell into the trap yesterday. It’s clearly far too early to be able to know whether the Old Spice campaign will be a success in terms of sales or not. Yesterday, one of my interviewees said that it is going to be an iconic campaign, similar to the Cadbury Dairymilk gorilla from a few years back, and I would tend to agree with him. Whether or not it will change the brand’s fortunes in the long term is a different issue – a good campaign can’t necessarily save a bad product.

22 Jul


So, last Friday I briefly discussed the Old Spice campaign, and said that, despite its brilliance, the real test would be if it had a measurable impact on sales. Well …

The Internet has fallen in love with Isaiah Mustafa, the hunky face of Old Spice body wash. His television commercials went viral, as did a two-day YouTube ambush of video replies to fans. Mustafa’s first ad even won the Film Grand Prix at Cannes.

But buzz did not add up to sales, according to advertising news service WARC. Red Zone After Hours body wash sales have fallen seven percent, despite the ads … So why are sales down?

Jezebel argues the brand sent mixed messages. The ad’s tagline was “Smell Like a Man, Man,” yet Mustafa opens the ads with “Hello, ladies.” Who was supposed to actually buy the body wash? Plus, Old Spice has long been associated with our grandfathers, and it’s going to take more than a shirtless, funny man to change that perception.

It’ll be interesting to see the longer-term impact of this campaign, but at least initially, chalk this one up to the skeptics who saw this more as an engagement with modish hipster-types as opposed to the actual core customers of Old Spice. Reaching social media ‘influencers’ is pointless if they have no power to ‘influence’ the people who are actually likely to buy your product, and you can’t simply change your product demographic with clever ads. Still, at least for the actor, Isaiah Mustafa, it’s all working out nicely.

19 Jul

A great example of what not to do with social media

Having discussed the brilliant Old Spice campaign a few days ago, it’s worth mentioning now a social media screw-up of epic proportions, as discussed in this story from The Guardian:

The Coca-Cola company has pulled an internet promotion campaign, after parents accused it of targeting children by using references to a notorious pornographic movie.

The company had been running a promotion for its Dr Pepper brand, in which users allowed their Facebook status box to be taken over by the company.

As part of the promotion, supposedly embarrassing messages would be posted under the user’s name, which could be seen by friends entitled to view their Facebook profile.

But the promotion backfired when a parent protested after finding that the profile of her 14-year-old daughter had been updated with a message that made direct reference to a hardcore pornographic film.

According to the original post on Mumsnet, the reference was to “2 Girls 1 Cup”, a (very) extreme scat porn film that birthed a brief craze last year of YouTube users filming their disgusted reactions to it. To be honest, I’ve not seen the clip in question, but having read the description of it on the Mumsnet post, it simply beggars belief that anyone working on a campaign for a mainstream consumer product like Dr Pepper would think it a good idea to reference something so nasty in a marketing campaign.

Actually, even more than that, this is a management failure, because it is simply incredible that this idea wasn’t filtered out before it actually reached the consumer. Sure, sure, I know that we live in an era where being ‘edgy’ is everything, where any product aimed at young people (even one as benign as a sugary carbonated soft drink) has to have some kind of (false) edge or grit or danger associated with it, but this is just stupid, and should have been axed long before it was put into the public domain.

Since I am obviously not privy to the internal workings of Dr Pepper’s marketing department, I’m going to have to speculate as to what happened in this situation, but I would guess that this was a failure of oversight, presumably firstly on the part of the agency responsible, and then secondly at Coca Cola. It’s possible that this slipped through because the overall campaign was seen as being ‘only aimed at social media’, and therefore less important, and so able to be less stringently assessed than a traditional media campaign. Unfortunately, making mistakes in social media can have immediate and deleterious effects on brands, whether corporate or personal, as ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith discovered to her chargin last week after some ill-advised tweets.

I am generally a believer in people being given responsibility for their work without too much managerial interference, but this is an excellent example of the risks run by such an approach. Even if management is adopting a hands-off approach to creative work, you still need to maintain some kind of watchful eye over the content created in order to make sure that it is appropriate for what you are doing.

If the Old Spice campaign is an excellent example of how to use social media, then this is the opposite, illustrating as it does a worrying lack of understanding for what is appropriate content for a social media campaign.


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