Kellogg’s Samples Success with Launch of New Product

Product sampling is a fantastic way for a brand to connect directly with consumers. Allowing a potential customer to trial or taste a product before parting way with any hard-earned money can strongly influence a purchase decision. However, there have been (major) drawbacks of this generic, mass sampling approach. High wastage (little to no targeting capabilities) & distribution costs have been the primary issues driving brands away.

Cue TARGETED SAMPLING. This channel offers brands the opportunity to sample (en masse) to targeted individuals – ensuring lower wastage, higher trial-to-purchase conversion and engaged consumer feedback.

We’ve noticed the UK leading the way in recent months with a handful of targeted sampling campaigns; most notably, Kellogg’s.

Kellogg’s focused their marketing campaign on those who ate breakfast at work – suitably dubbed the ‘deskfast’ demographic. Kellogg’s ran a nation-wide campaign, which saw more than 150,000 women being served breakfast in their own offices with the brand’s new Special K Multi-Grain Porridge Pots.

This strategy is a clear driver to increase brand advocacy amongst targeted consumers. The unique approach offers strong cut-through in an otherwise saturated market. Considering the sampling context (in the office, at your desk), the approach would have minimised the potential for wastage as well as increasing awareness of this new product among like-minded office workers.

As a follow-up to the sampling activity, the targeted consumers were encouraged to complete an online survey expressing their thoughts and feedback on the product – a 360 move for the brand to ensure they gained value in return.

Targeted sampling is clearly a beneficial marketing tactic for brands such as Kelloggs, who in today’s market have more access to consumer insights and information than ever before. With the ability to connect directly with both current and potential consumers, brands are able to promote their products in a whole new way; influencing purchase choice and increasing brand affinity.

Targeted sampling heightens word of mouth amongst consumers, increases awareness of new products and cements customer loyalty; it is a low-cost approach, which offers a high value return for brands. It will be interesting to see how many big-name companies jump on-board the targeted sampling bandwagon in the second-half of 2014.

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Burberry China Puts Fans Front Row Centre

Burberry’s new Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion show has offered fans a new way to connect with their favourite brand.  Burberry has hooked up with popular Chinese messaging app WeChat to provide an exclusive opportunity for those most passionate about the label. They’re offering a level of brand access once only offered to front-row celebs & supermodels.

The Burberry/WeChat collaboration gives fans the chance to customise their own runway experience in real time. This includes accessing exclusive Burberry content & deals, having personalised ‘Made to Order’ plaques created & following celebrities behind the scenes at the show!

It seems to us Burberry have recognised the power of their most dedicated advocates and are awarding them for their support.

This new Burberry application not only rewards brand advocacy, but drives purchase by offering users the opportunity to click on certain outfits to hear related audio straight from the designers mouth.

From Burberry influencer to Burberry advocate, this type of strategy will certainly make for some compelling sales results! Best of luck Burberry!

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5 Incredible Insights from Australia’s Most Influential Bloggers

I’ve been working with bloggers for over four years now and let me tell you; bloggers know their stuff!

The bloggers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with have spent years (some even decades), understanding how the online space works, right from building up thousands of loyal engaged fanbases through to knowing how to develop sticky content that really cuts through.

This knowledge is something that eludes even the most successful brands and marketeers. But as they say; knowledge is power and in the case of Australia’s most influential bloggers, this power is now converting to commercial relationships with brands.

Having long-term relationships with many of Australia’s top bloggers, I decided to go straight to the source and ask them just how they do what they do. So each quarter I’ll be releasing 5 exclusive insights from the top Australian bloggers of the moment.

I’m excited to kick off today with the first 5 insights from some really talented bloggers that have worked with us with on campaigns for the likes of Telstra, Woolworths, Reckitt Benkiser, Marriott, Nestle and more.

Blogger Influencer #1: Ness from One Perfect Day

Q: Content marketing is one of the biggest trends of 2014, what trends have you noticed when creating content that really engages people online?

Ness says:

“It’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? So often I’ve had conversations with fellow bloggers who have said that the content they’ve spent hours crafting and getting “just so” will sometimes bomb on social media but posts that have been written off the cuff go viral and generate some of their highest page views. In my experience, it comes down to two things – honesty and innovation.

Firstly, honesty. If I write from the heart, share part of myself, and talk to my readers, not at them, then readers are moved to comment and share the post. You need to share part of yourself, put yourself out there as much as you are comfortable doing. A post I wrote two years has the highest engagement of all my posts and it still generates comments, shares and direct emails to me to this day. I wrote it from the heart and it resonated with people. I shared some failures and mistakes and people can relate to it. I was brave enough to say “I’m not perfect. This is real life” and people responded to that in a huge way.

The second factor that generates engagement for my content is innovation – a simple idea that makes people say to themselves “Hey I can do that”. If you can provide readers with content that will help them in some way, and that is completely doable, something they can apply to their life with very little effort on their part, then engagement will follow. Finally the role of great photos and simple to the point content titles cannot be underestimated. I regularly spend more time styling and editing photos than writing my content. Online content is a visual medium and people are short on time. You only have a couple of minutes to hold their attention at best, and beautiful photos are a must if you are going to grab their attention”.

Blogger Influencer #2: Claire K from Claire K Creations

Q: Which blog posts have worked really well for you and what factors do you think contributed to their success?

Claire K says:

“My two most successful posts receive nearly 30% of my traffic and surprisingly, one isn’t even food-related.

Lime & macadamia Pinata cake – Happy Birthday to me!

How to Make Scented Soy Candles

Every year, as an excuse to eat more cake (and because I’m a Birthday-a-holic), I make myself a Birthday cake and a second one to post on the blog. Last year’s piñata cake stemmed from an idea I’d seen online and a last minute stroke of inspiration to make the icing crazy rainbow colours.

While it’s almost impossible to predict which posts will take off and which will remain unseen there are a few contributing factors:

  • Great images are really important. If you have a great image it’s more likely to be shared and noticed across social media.
  • My piñata cake received more than 3000 shares on Facebook (just from my post) at a time when I only had 750 fans and is still ‘pinned’ several times a day.
  • SEO helps your post to stand out. My post is the top hit if you search for ‘piñata cake’ on Google.
  • Being unique or putting a unique spin on something can help cut through all the noise as well as being specific with what your post is about.
  • Keeping your post simple and relatable and not too long is important. If it’s not easy to read, who’s going to look at it?

‘How to make soy candles’ comes in at number two which to me is funny as it’s not even food-related but goes to show that a successful post on a food blog doesn’t have to be about food.

When it comes to Google searches, I know mine quite often start with ‘how to’ so it’s no surprise that a how to post will be well received if it’s something that doesn’t have many answers already.

To wrap it all up – to bake a successful post you need

  • a good recipe
  • something unique or a unique spin
  • good photos
  • SEO
  • Lots of promotion on social media
  • A simple, easy-to-read, relatable post
  • A little luck

Mix all these together and you may just go viral.”

Blogger Influencer #3: Kelly from Be a Fun Mum

Q: You have built a huge Facebook community of 201,000 fans, what tips do you have to share when it comes to creating a successful online community?

Kelly says:

“I believe it’s important to treat my social media channels as micro blogs. This means they all have their own identity and, although there is overlapping content, I also produce unique content depending on which channel I’m using and how I use it.  Facebook is where most of my readers are, so I invest there more than my other social media channels.  I’ve grown the Be A Fun Mum community by applying these fundamental qualities to my page.

Be steadfast: It’s easy to get caught up with what others are doing, or what meme is popular.  However, for longevity on Facebook, it’s important to come back to what you’re trying to achieve with your blog and supporting social media channels.  Frankly, I often need to regroup on a weekly basis.

Be consistent: Be consistent with posting quality content.  I post 2-5 times a day, 6-7 times a week.

Be savvy: Keep up to date on changes on Facebook pages and experiment to see what content works with your readers.

With a strong core, I then am able to draw on a variety of different content to support my vision.  Below are some of the types of content I use on Facebook to engage and grow my page.

1. Link to other websites
I share links to other websites and articles that will interest my readers.

2. Pictures
Pictures stand out on Facebook.  I often use my own pictures or source and share other content (ensuring it’s referenced).

3.  Personal content
I believe it’s important for there to be a relatable person behind the page or brand and so I sometimes share personal stories that are relevant to my readers. This might be a sweet thing my daughter said or a picture of my washing pile. It’s about connection.

4. Re-use Archived Posts
Resurrect archived posts that were popular in the past for current content.  This is a great option if you have a slow week on the blog or struggling to find content.

5. Ask questions
Ask questions that are relevant to the community.  Many of the questions I think of putting out to my community are relevant to my life as a parent, and in turn, are often relevant to my readers too.”

Blogger Influencer #4: Tonya from the Crafty Mummy

Q: Which social media platform do you find drives you the most traffic and why?

Tonya says:

“I love Pinterest! It is by far my largest source of social media traffic.

I love the fact that once a post has been pinned, it will drive traffic from Pinterest over a long period of time as new users find it. A great picture on Pinterest will be shared over and over again, and Pinterest users will often go looking at other pictures from the same source.

Once users have clicked through to my site, I encourage them to look around with plenty of links and more pretty pictures to pin. Pinterest is a great source of long-term traffic from readers who are really interested in the type of content you are sharing and are in the mood to browse your site when they arrive.

Top Tips for Pinterest
1. Every post needs an image that can be pinned. The best image to pin is a tall rectangle and includes the title of the post.

2. Have sharing buttons so images are easy to pin. I often get frustrated when I find a fabulous image with great content but find it cannot be pinned.

3. Be active on Pinterest. Pin quality pins that are beautiful images, lead to great content and come from the original sources.

4. Set up Article Rich Pins – I recently did this so that every pin from The Crafty Mummy has my favicon and some text from my article.”

Blogger Influencer #5: Karen Cheng from Karen Cheng’s Fashion & Life

Q: You have been blogging for 15 years now! How much have things changed in the world of blogging since you started back in 1999 and how do you see things changing as we move into 2014?

Karen says:

“I first began blogging, before the term ‘blogging’ existed! Back then they were called ‘personal websites’.

Obviously the landscape was very new and these are some of the things that have changed since then.

1. Most people with personal websites were usually web professionals, designers, programmers, people already in the business of publishing, writers, photographers, and generally comptuer savvy people. So in a way, there was relatively more quality content out there, made by professionals who knew how to use the medium and communicate through it.

2. Webrings were so popular! Basically your website gets linked together with communities of like minded people (with a bit of code on your website), eg “Dog Lovers” or ”Australian Asians”.

3. Readers used to find sites they loved, bookmarked them and returned day after day. Now blog content gets pushed into a RSS feed and readers can read them on a blog reader. So readers only go to one site, rather than to many sites. There is so MUCH content out there that readers are much more selective on what they read or subscribe to.

4. I feel that the explosion of Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms have reduced the number of people who read blogs of strangers. I believe that people naturally are more interested in connecting with their own social circles and friends, that they are less drawn to read about what is happening in a stranger’s life!

5. As a result, there are a lot more bloggers who try to stand out by being more contraversial, shocking, sensationalistic. It’s not a new thing in the media cycle.

6. When blogging first started, there was significantly less of a commercial aspect to blogging. Generally the purspose of blogging was to express, have a creative outlet, collect information about a certain topic, tell a story. Now there are issues about editorial ethics, credibility, disclosures, how it compares to pure journalism. It has turned into a full fledged business and industry – and I think this is a great thing!

How I see it changing:
There are a lot of blogs out there!! I do believe more and more people are reading online (news, magainzes, ebooks) so I hope to see more and more outstanding voices and stories… and I hope to see blogs return to its roots of being a creative outlet!


Thanks to all of our great bloggers for providing such insight into the world of blogging. We will be back with more insights from bloggers in the next edition of Fever, so stay tuned.

In the mean time, if you’re a blogger or have worked with bloggers, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on any of these great insights.

 

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7 Top Tech Predictions across Digital, Social Media & WOM for 2014

In the first quarterly issue of Fever, we take a look at the top digital, WOM and social media trends for 2014. This article was also featured in B&T on 31 January 2014.

1. Brands become publishers as content rules

Everyone is a publisher. Where global media platforms once ruled the roost, the humble consumer now has the power to reach more people via a viral blog post than the New York Times does with an exclusive. The smart brands such as Coca Cola, Red Bull & IGA are becoming publishers themselves and partnering with third party influencers such as bloggers to create & amplify branded content (60% of brands already have a content marketing strategy). This trend will only grow as the power balance continues to shift from media giant to the consumer. It’s inevitable that more and more brands will start to follow suit and develop their own content, specifically designed for fans & influencers to share. The focus will shift away from creating PR and exposure with traditional media and towards amplification via large fan bases and digital influencers. This has already started last year when Beyonce snubbed traditional media exclusives and instead launched her latest album via Instagram to her 8 million fan base, generating 365,000 album downloads on the first day and 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours. The need for traditional media to launch products will continue to decrease as online communities establish power in numbers.

2. Time to pay up

The day Facebook went public was the day that everything changed in the social media ecosystem. What started as fun and free social networking has now turned into a very profitable business model. Nothing is for free anymore and whether they realise it or not, Facebook users are now paying for their Facebook experience by being subjected to advertising. The pursuit of the Facebook ‘like’ is now seeing this as a valid KPI for marketing professionals. Plus, if you want to reach your own Facebook audience, you now have to pay with a sponsored post. Other social media platforms are now following Facebook’s lead with Twitter developing self serve ads in the last year and promoted pins going live on Pinterest in October 2013.

Play in social media if you dare, your wallet better be ready for it though! I predict that as the social media industry matures this year, we will continue to see the commercialisation of existing networks, which is a great marketing opportunity for brands.

3. Google Plus

With the trend for most social media networks going towards a pay to play model, Google Plus retains one very large advantage with it’s free offering. Plus, Google have no need to monetize because Google Plus works in tandem with their highly profitable Adwords offering. Perhaps we will see an exodus of Facebook & Twitter fans as they slowly realise what social networking is costing them in terms of advertising? There have been rumours that Google Plus is set to overtake Facebook in social sharing by 2016 and it will be interesting to follow the race this year. While at Contagious, we are yet to see Google Plus as a key sharing platform among consumer influencers, that’s not to say that 2014 isn’t the year when things change. Plus adoption rates among blogger influencers have definitely increased with Google Plus (and Google Authorship in particular) becoming a key SEO driver. According to the research, Google Plus growth last year was over 100% so watch this space!

4. A mobile world

The world has been watching with bated breath as the mobile phone has rather adeptly shimmied it’s way ahead of the humble desktop device in 2013. The stats are clear; more and more people are using their smart-phone to browse the internet and even purchase products. There’s no option but for brands to embrace mobile and adapt their digital content and platforms accordingly. In terms of sharing, at Contagious we have noticed a huge shift from sharing recommendations about brands via desktop devices to a definite preference to use mobile. In turn, those social networks that work specifically well with mobile are seeing an increase, with Instagram and Pinterest peaking for us in terms of word of mouth recommendations. This begs the question; are we making it easier for consumers to share recommendations about their brands with the use of mobile? Users can now share on the go, while travelling and when out and about socialising with friends. I predict that mobile will indeed support the growing trend of influencers sharing branded content and personal recommendations more consistently as sharing technology becomes more accessible via mobile devices.

5. Pictures over words

The diffusion of visual sharing platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram has revealed one thing:

Words are overrated

It seems that for now, people like pictures. I expect visual communications such as Infographics and visual media to dominate in 2014. We’ll see more and more marketing campaigns across Pinterest and Instagram where a single image will have the job of communicating a thousand words. The irony is a return to the traditional format of the visual ad via a new more advanced technological platform. It will be interesting to see how brands tackle the challenge of visual marketing in 2014!

6. Wearables go social

With Google Glass, Samsung smartwatch and Apple’s (rumoured) iWatch; wearables will be one of the biggest trends for 2014. While they are still in their infancy, I predict we’ll see more social media integration into this technology over the coming year. Imagine being able to access Facebook on your wrist? If smart watches take off, the lightweight i-phone could become a cumbersome thing of the past! What will be interesting is how yet again, content will need to adapt due to size restrictions of these wearable devices, and I wonder how this will impact advertising and marketing options. If and when this convergence does take place, we will need to make peace with the thought of being connected 24/7 to technology via our physical bodies (a scary thought!). From a WOM perspective, social media wearables may also provide an opportunity for influencers to share recommendations more frequently while on the go.

7. Bloggers are no longer free

Over the past few years brands have cottoned onto the fact that blogger influencers represent a powerful form of media. This realisation has led to brands offering bloggers free products in exchange for exposure in the form of a sponsored blog post or review. As bloggers have become more and more powerful and can command more and more reach with their substantial networks, the value in what they can offer has increased. Having worked with hundreds of Australia’s most influential bloggers over the past 5 years, I can see that the market has reached a point where brands can no longer expect free coverage. For many, blogging is no longer a hobby; it’s a full time job and the hours spent crafting a sponsored brand post and amplification of this across multiple social networks now comes with a price. If you want to work with blogger influencers, then expect to come ready with a budget as I can only see the value of brand  / blogger partnerships increasing in 2014.

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Cadbury Visualise your State of Chocolate-Happiness with the Joy Jacket

Cadbury have enlisted influential UK bloggers to push their ongoing marketing campaign, ‘Joyville’, with their latest execution, the ‘Joy Jacket’.

Commissioned by PR agency Golin Harris, and developed by Hirsch&Mann, the Joy Jacket has been created to promote the Cadbury + Daim and Cadbury + Oreo chocolate ranges. It is a piece of wearable technology, designed to reflect the state of happiness and joy which will be experienced by the wearer when they bite in to a piece of the new Cadbury chocolate.

In an amusing fashion (pun intended..!), when the jacket-wearer bites into the chocolate, the jacket responds and lights up; flashes, flares, accordions bursting from the shoulders, a blinking heartbeat, music…confetti…you name it, the jacket does it!

The Joy Jacket is certainly worth talking about and Golin Harris have been clever in their consideration of utilising influential bloggers to spread the word, fuelling conversations which promote the campaign.

Although perhaps not the most practical item of clothing, the Joy Jacket certainly reflects the essence of the ‘Joyville’ campaign, while at the same time increasing market competition with a creative, out-of-the-box concept that promotes the power of blogging in the effectiveness of brand awareness.

Watch a video here:

 

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Pass It On with Nokia

Nokia have launched a new, unique experiment that goes beyond social photography, as we know it.

Nokia’s #PASSITON campaign sees 30 Nokia Lumia 1020’s be sent to 30 cities around the world. Within each city the phone is passed between 10 people; each person takes 10 photos of their favourite city haunts, hidden downtown gems and local urban secrets, before passing it on to someone new. What’s exciting is that no one knows who the next recipient of the phone will be, and all images are uploaded to the Nokia microsite for the world to see.

There is without doubt an element of risk (and subsequent fail) for the campaign due to the possibility that the 30 phones could easily befall the pockets of 30 phone-less thieves who hit a Nokia jackpot and quickly end the experiment…however, so far, so good!

The uniqueness of the campaign lies in its dual-mechanic of sharing both online and offline. Unlike most digital, social media campaigns to date, Nokia’s Pass It On experiment takes sharing offline into the real world, person-to-person, before elevating it back into an online space.

From a WOM perspective, the campaign is significant in driving brand affinity through mobile-savvy, socially active and engaged participants. Neither Nokia, nor Havas Worldwide Helsinki, are involved in the progress of the campaign once the phones have reached the hands of the public, yet they have produced a forward-thinking execution which results in cool street photos of the world for the world!

Visit the Nokia website for more info on this campaign.

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True Influencers in Action

Marriott

In our business, the term influencer gets thrown around a lot. Clients often expect us to recruit The Bondi Hipsters, the Michelle Briggs types, or a team of Terry Duraks to bring their WOMM campaign to life. But when it comes down to it, how much true influence are these people having on the consumer’s final purchase decision? Not as much as you’d think.

In reality, research shows it’s the people closest to you who have the greatest impact. Marriott Hotels & Resorts have recognized this insight & shifted their marketing strategy as a result (bravo Marriott!).

Following a global ethnographic study, Marriott have reported that the family cohort is changing. Travel planning is now led by children. Marriott’s study found that kids have a growing impact on how and where families plan their upcoming holidays. A key reason for this shift is that children are so tech-savvy these days; kids today are literally serving suggestions to their parents based on research they have found online. These suggestions are the core influential factor that is now shaping holiday plans.

Marriott Hotels & Resorts are recognizing this shift, and adapting to it. Brian King, Marriott’s Global Brand Officer says their content is now developed with kid influencers in mind – it’s becoming bite-sized, more relevant and designed to appeal to a far wider range of users.

Well done Marriott for acknowledging these real influencers and adjusting your marketing strategy accordingly.

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Fans Go Gaga on Twitter

Gaga Twitter CampaignLady Gaga recently released her highly anticipated album ’ArtPop’, but with an unexpected twist. Gaga has always launched with a bang and this album is no exception.

The cover of new album ‘ArtPop’ was revealed in sections on Clear Channel screens all over the world and revealed only when fans tweeted the hashtag ‘iHeartARTPOP’. Over the course of just 30 minutes live tweets were broadcast via the artwork image as it was gradually revealed, section by section.

There are two things we love about this campaign: 1) the integration of outdoor with mobile & social and 2) the focus on rewarding advocates for their support via Twitter. GO GAGA.

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Instagram Launch Ads | Facebook Tweak Newsfeed Algorithm

instagram facebookInstagram ads roll out

After the initial announcement that Ads were on their way, back in 2012, Instagram have now made it public that a handful of U.S. users will soon start to see ‘beautiful, high quality ads from brands they don’t follow’. While this news is not out of the blue, it will be interesting to see how Instagram users respond to the reality of their beloved platform becoming a commercial landscape.

Instagram are assuring users that they will have the option to ‘hide’ any ads that ‘don’t feel right’ (I assume this is a euphemism for the words ‘irrelevant’ or ‘offensive’). They have also confirmed that users will continue to own any photos and videos they upload to the site. The photo-sharing network is well aware that their users are not open to ads and as a result have made the decision to roll them out gradually.

“Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands.”

This does raise the issue of disclosure. If the ads feel so natural they look like organic photos and images, how prey tell, will we know the difference? The worst thing Instagram can do is to try and hoodwink users into viewing ads that they think are normal images posted by other users from the community. Let’s hope they have thought this through…

Facebook acquired Instagram for $632m in April 2012 when the T&Cs were immediately ‘tweaked’ to allow for the roll out of paid advertisements. Considering the latest research has shown that 25% of fortune 500 companies are using Instagram, we can assume there will be no shortage of brands queuing up to try the ad service (which now reaches 150 million users). What will be interesting is exactly how the platform is used by brands and what are the benefits of putting dollars behind PAID ads VS a standard Instagram brand profile.

Facebook tweaks algorithm

Meanwhile, Facebook have announced that they have changed their newsfeed algorithm to deliver more relevant ads to users. I’m not sure if this was coincidental timing or a genius PR strategy to prove (amid the Instagram announcement) that ads can indeed be relevant on social platforms.
Hong Ge, Facebook’s engineering Manager for the newsfeed described the imminent changes via a recent blog post:

“When deciding which ad to show to which groups of people, we are placing more emphasis on feedback we receive from people about ads, including how often people report or hide an ad.

That means people should see ads that are increasingly relevant to them, and fewer ads that they might not be interested in.
For marketers, this means we are showing ads to the people who might want to see them the most. For example, if someone always hides ads for electronics, we will reduce the number of those types of ads that we show to them.

This means that some marketers may see some variation in the distribution of their ads in the coming weeks. Our goal is to make sure we deliver the most relevant ads, which should mean the right people are seeing a specific ad campaign. This is ultimately better for marketers, because it means their messages are reaching the people most interested in what they have to offer.”

I don’t know about you, but the Facebook ads I see in my own newsfeed range from being so relevant they feel a bit creepy, to being completely irrelevant and irritating. I’m not sure how Facebook are getting it so right and so wrong at the same time, but perhaps the new tweaks will iron out some of the disparity.

On the subject of getting it too right – I would argue that there is something disconcerting about ads that use behavioral targeting and are almost too relevant. When you’re being served ads just seconds after searching for a product, you end up feeling a like your privacy has been compromised and the irony is that the very relevance, is what switches you off. I find this to be especially the case when searching for really niche products. It’s tough to maintain the balance between being relevant enough, but without leaving users feeling like they are being constantly ‘watched’ by corporate advertisers. Let’s face it; no one wants to feel like they’re being stalked.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience with creepy over-targeted Facebook ads?

Image Source: Agbeat

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Bloggers on the Rise: Problogger Event 2013 Re-cap

bloggersEarlier this year I attended the annual Problogger event on the Gold Coast. At the quirky Qt hotel in Surfers Paradise, 400 bloggers from categories as diverse as travel, parenting, fashion, health & wellness gathered with one common goal: to learn more about blogging.

Bloggers are in it to win it

The Problogger Event (#PBEvent), was a fascinating 2 day conference of networking, seminars, panel discussions and keynote speeches. Darren and the team did a great job this year (and there was even a vegan, gluten free buffett – woohoo). One thing was clear – these bloggers are serious about treating their blogs as businesses. Gone are the days where unassuming bloggers share their opinions online merely to pass the time of day. There is now a very clear opportunity for bloggers to turn their digital platforms into money earning machines. And why shouldn’t they? Blogging is time consuming stuff. Trust me, I know because I have my own blog and let’s just say the writing element of blogging probably only constitutes 15% of what’s actually involved. In which case, why shouldn’t bloggers earn dollars for their time?

Interestingly, the content at the Problogger event mirrored this theme with numerous discussions and presentations on monetizing your blog. Brands can no longer get away with sending bloggers some product in the hope for some free earned media. Bloggers now deserve to be paid for their efforts and they know it.

The thing that stood out for me was just how savvy these self-starter entrepreneurs are. And focused too – I have never seen so much laptop and smartphone usage at one event! Social media is clearly top of mind for bloggers and perhaps this is why now, more than ever they are attracting the attention of the big brands. You see, bloggers have something that big brands don’t. They have authentic audiences who trust every word that they say. This coupled with exceptional social media skills and they have a pretty mean offering when it comes to branded content.

We all know that Bill Gates was way ahead of his time back in 1995 when he said ‘Content is king’, and the stats have finally caught up. A Gartner survey earlier this year found marketers spend almost as much on content creation and management as they do on paid online display. So content creation is big news for brands – and there are multiple ways of doing it. So why use bloggers to create branded content?

3 theories why bloggers pack a punch

I have a few theories on this. The first is that bloggers are clear, undisputable influencers. Who can argue with a highly engaged readership of 20,000+? And let’s not forget, these readers have all been built up from scratch: with no publisher backing and often no investment other than the bloggers time.

My second theory lies in the very nature of blogging. If you think abut where blogging came from, it started as a channel to express authentic opinions. It always has been a model based on credibility, which is the total opposite to advertising. If you consider that the very purpose of advertising is to sell, and at some level as consumers, we are always aware of that fact. Blogging however, has always been about authentic, credible opinions, so it’s very essence comes from a place of truth. Hence why there is so much value for brands to penetrate these platforms.

Thirdly, I believe the beauty of bloggers working with brands is that an opinion from someone impartial, is worth so much more than the opinion of the brand its-self. Let me give you an example:

Brand X says: Our new chocolate bar tastes like silky bliss! You’ll be in heaven!
Your response: hmmm right? They would say that! How do I know it’s true?

Blogger X says: I tried this chocolate bar recently and wow I really loved it. So silky! Mmmm.
Your response: That chocolate bar sounds yummy and blogger X knows what she’s talking about, I’m going to try it!

The crux is one tiny four letter word:

Trust.

Consumers trust bloggers. They do not trust brands (unless they are long term advocates which is a whole different blog post).

And so I digress…back to Problogger 2013, where bloggers are not only learning how to create and sell products via their blogs but also how to launch their speaker careers and freelance writing portfolios.

The rise of the humble blogger continues to fascinate me. These are a bunch of highly driven, entrepreneurial, talented people. All I can say is watch this space, because there’s only one-way for bloggers to go and that’s up. And if you’re a brand, now is the time to get involved, before your competitors do.

Are you a brand and have you worked with bloggers? Tell us about your experience.

Are you a blogger and have you worked with brands? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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