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Facebook is Your Volatile Nightmare Landlord

14 Oct

For a while now you’ll have seen TV commercials, magazine or online ads sign off with a Facebook link. If your business is using Facebook as its website you may already have invested a lot of time nurturing people one by one through the stages of engagement; interest, trial, customer and then friend. They may visit your Facebook page regularly and get your business notifications via their Liking you. All is wonderful in the land of Zuckerberg.

This is all fine as long as it’s understood that your business status on Facebook is that of a tenant. You have few rights, do not own your content and your landlord can change the rules whenever they like; even if that means torpedoing your business. Fantasy surely, but you only have to look to the moves Zynga announced last week.

Zynga is the social gaming giant of Facebook and its biggest app-maker. They provide free-to-play games, enhanced with micro-payments and with titles you may have heard of – Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars – they have been very successful. Their revenue in 2010 was $597 million of which $58 million was profit. In July of this year their profits plummeted. The main reason? Facebook.

Facebook Credits take a cut from your e-commerceIn July 2011 Facebook introduced Facebook credits and dictated that all transactions had to be conducted with their credits. Their cut is 30% and this slashed Zynga’s profits by 90% for the quarter.

I don’t see a 30% cut as particularly onerous by the way, it’s a lot better than Groupon’s 50% – 100%, but if your business’ online presence relies on Facebook, then I’d suggest you consider what you might do if they change the rules overnight. At  the very least check if your current page flouts any of the existing rules. This is especially important if you’re using Facebook’s native functionality to promote your business. For example, running a competition on your wall isn’t permitted by Facebook. Contravene it and they can just shut you down without warning. No more business page. And yes, they do check and they do enforce it.

Returning to Zynga. In their case they announced the launch of Zynga Direct. An effort to break their reliance on Facebook and get customers onto their platform without going through Facebook. Not an easy undertaking considering their business was built from the ground up on Facebook.

It’s vital to consider Facebook as one engagement channel and not your only channel. You need to spread your message across different channels, each tailored to the users and expectations of those channels. It’s harder to do and you may need an agency to strategise, co-ordinate, or set this up for you, but it allows you to be flexible and mitigates platform fatigue or failure.

You should also determine where your hub is; The place that your online visitors will end up at. Perhaps it starts with Facebook, ending at your own website where you control your content.

Let’s go a step further. What if your Facebook landlord decides to sell up and disappear? If there’s a constant in the digital world it’s that everything changes.

The biggest search engine in the world in 2000? Yahoo; the crumbling father of the internet, leaking CEO’s and market share like a North Korean submarine, exited search entirely in 2009, replaced by a company no-one had heard of 11 years ago… Google

Is Google Wallet for real?

12 Oct

Tap, pay and save.

That’s the mantra for latest Next Big Thing out of Googledom.

Tap and pay with Google Wallet and MasterCard PayPass

Google Wallet (simple explanatory video here) aims to replace your traditional leather wallet with a free Android app that allows you to pay for your goods and services, and redeem coupons, by simply tapping your smartphone against any point-of-sale pad that shows the logo.

(Interesting insight shared by our recent mobile marketing guest speaker Simon Salt: you don’t actually have to tap your device against the pay pad. Your device will use Near Field Communication (NFC) – wireless date transmission technology – to communicate with the pad. The tap is useless and entirely to make users feel comfortable that the transaction has actually been initiated!)

During this softish-launch period, Google Wallet is only compatible with the Nexus S 4G device available on Sprint, and only supports two kinds of credit cards: Citi PayPass eligible MasterCards and the Google Prepaid card. But this is all going to change in a flurry.

Ok so that’s the lay of the land. Will the thing take off?

You bet your sweet bippy.

The ubiquity of the smartphone in our lives makes this technology certain of success. The only barrier I can see is the immediate heating up of competitive offerings which will create confusion in the consumer’s mind before the technology has even been fully understood or embraced.

But the hunger for ways to further empower our smartphones is apparently insatiable.

Google claims they have the security all sorted out and that uptake is brisk.

One thing to note before you throw out your old wallet in favour of Google’s: if your smartphone battery runs out, you are hooped and can’t pay for anything until it’s recharged.

So what do you think?

Ok, now here’s George Costanza getting the big picture.

Want to meet Simon Salt? Grab your mobile!

6 Sep

Copeland-sponsored Simon Salt tweetup iPhone graphic

Mobile marketing specialist Simon Salt from DallasMobile marketing specialist and author Simon Salt from Dallas will be the guest of honour at a Copeland-sponsored Tweet-up, September 22 from 6 – 8 pm at the posh Parkside Victoria Hotel.

As space is limited – and because, hey, this is about mobile marketing – we are holding a mobile contest to get on the attendees list.

Please go here for contest details.

The first 75 people through will be notified immediately that they’re on the guest list.

The next 75 people will be fed to our pet alligator.

Alligator's eye

Hope we see you on September 22!

No I’m not going to visit your Facebook page to “find out more” about your stupid contest

28 Jul

It doesn’t matter what kind of product or service is being advertised, there has to be a contest attached now where you’re encouraged to go to Facebook to win the big prize.

Typically – and you’ve seen them so you know – the contest involves submitting photos or videos or stories. People Like the entries. You win or lose based on Likes.

That’s the worst thing about the collision of social media and advertising. The knee-jerking. There have no doubt been massively successful contests using this tried and true method. But for how much longer?

A typical Facebook Contest

What was exciting about Facebook 3 years ago was all the unexplored territory for smart marketing ideas. The same opportunities still exist, although you would guess that every idea has already been done, given the uniformity of most major contests.

An example of a killer Facebook contest is Burger King’s Sacrifice a Friend.

Operating under the campaign banner Friendship is strong, but the Whopper is stronger, un-Friending 10 people through a Facebook application earned you a free Whopper. Even more diabolical, your friends were notified.

“Tom Hammarberg just sacrificed Doug Brown for a Whopper.” (Man, I immediately wanted it to say one-tenth of  a Whopper. Much more fun.)

Burger King shut down the campaign just ten days after it launched, pressured by Facebook to do so.

But in its brief, glorious dash to immortality, 233,000 Friends had been sacrificed.

Let’s continue to strive to be original with these things. Or else stick a fork in them.

4 obvious truths about mobile use that will affect how you advertise

27 Jul

Sometimes the most obvious are the most overlooked. I wondered how the simple truths we all take for granted about mobile devices would affect the way we market to users. So here goes:

mobile app for DQ restaurant showing location servicesMobile devices are portable. So that means a mobile consumer is closer to the point of purchase than a Mac/PC user. Smart marketers are therefore designing their mobile sites to keep the content focused around a user’s location. For example, restaurants let consumers opt in for their exclusive mobile deal clubs and help them easily access information about restaurant locations and nutritional facts about their food. I’ll have that To Go thanks.

“The restaurant industry is in the midst of being shaped by the convergence of the mobile, always connected, consumer.” sums up this Published Facts writer.

They’re always on. And so are their users. Traditional electronic media metrics that measure the most effective hours to advertise are replaced by grossly more flexible scheduling that prompts according to the user’s activity.  When they use an app they are targeted; when they check-in for dinner, bingo. Sleep offers little haven as users increasingly wake during the night to check their messages. Can’t get back to sleep? There’s an ad for that.

The mobile customer is different. Yay. We’re different! And so are our expectations. Mobile audiences want brands to be instant, portable and personalized. Advertisers should ensure that marketing programs are designed for this medium and are not just whittled down versions of traditional advertising. What’s true for websites is equally so for ad content. A smaller screen demands different treatment with more focus on the offer and the call to action. Creatives may lament the loss of opportunity with the smaller screen, but c’mon: the smaller box has always inspired big thinking.

There is not just one type of mobile customer.  Not everybody with a handheld device is into checking-in on FourSquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places. The strategies you use have to allow for that disparity in activity and go broader. Woo your audience with rich media, applications, in-game advertising or even mobile coupons. And don’t stop there.

Next up on Mobile: A guest post by Mobile Marketing champion Simon Salt.

QR codes are here! QR codes are dead!

15 Jun

QR code on a tombstoneHeralded as the Next Big Thing in mobile marketing just 12 months ago, Quick Response codes are already being eulogized before people have barely gotten their heads around how to use them.

And so it goes in the brutal you-have-30-seconds-to-make-your-case world of new tools and gadgets.

So who says they’re dead and why?

Google does. Ah.

Frankly, they are backing another horse: Near field communications. But that’s another post altogether. (Another Next Big Thing!)

For marketers today, the issue is that mobile search is just too damn fast. It’s quicker to type in a URL then to take a pic with your phone.

I would suggest that the real problem is not the codes but rather how they’re being applied.

Drilled down, QR codes offer the ability to bridge traditional and digital media. But it’s incredibly short-sighted to think that their purpose is simply to create a shortcut between a print piece and a website.

The real opportunity for marketers is to use QR Codes to enhance the overall experience the audience has with the brand. In doing so, we can bring traditional media to life in inspiring new ways.

Take this example from Reporters Without Borders.

Three things are working for the advertiser.

First : the presence of the code in the ad is explained to the reader. I can’t figure out why advertisers just plonk them in ads without an explanation of what they will deliver and expect people to drop everything and grab their mobile devices. They’re not that cool.

Second : the QR code function makes perfect sense. There is no mindless redirect to a self-promoting website. The content beyond the code IS the idea.

Third : the QR code function adds value. Anyone taking the time to take a pic of the code is rewarded for doing so.

What our audiences don’t need is yet another self-serving call-to-action stuffed into an ad, that then asks them to haul out their phone, take a pic and wait for a website (which may not even be mobile-friendly) to download.

What they will respond to is smart, creative applications that take the estimation of the advertiser up a notch or two.

Ultimately QR codes are going to sink or swim depending upon how we (that’s the ad folks) apply them.

Download your QR reader here and stay tuned.

10 seconds to make your own QR Code

9 Feb

It couldn’t be easier to get your very own QR code. So let’s get it done. Go to this link here.

Enter a URL.

Could be your personal website, your about.me profile page, your blog.

Even that surveillance video of you selling plastic explosives to those nice boys from al-Qaida.

Choose the size. Click on “generate”!

And voila, your very own QR code. Where you use it is up to you. Be creative. Have fun.