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A couple months ago, at work, the new group-level European head of social media challenged me to come up with a couple of ideas that could form part of a trend document for the New Year – ‘We need a trend on one slide, and then maybe a slide on what to do about that trend after – can you do that?’.
But the thing is, whenever I try to come up with new ideas, I always start with words. Yes that’s right, WORDS. Yes they might end up in a presentation at some point, but I never start with Powerpoint. Ever.
I start with a blank page, a clean browser (eg: no tabs open except search), some questions, and normally one idea that I’ve been noodling to get me going.
The clean page and browser were easy. The questions? They’re as follows:
- What’s the trend?
Does it have a name? What’s the angle?
- What are the key drivers?
Aim for three. If you have less, think of more. If you have more, reduce.
Again, three is the magic number. If there are no examples, then your trend is a prediction [and not wanted here; save it for another document].
The inevitable question: what it does this mean for brands?!
Using those four guiding principles, it’s relatively simple. I ended up writing a few for Ogilvy, two made the final cut, and I’ve developed a couple more for publishing elsewhere. But for the benefit of this post, I’ll just show you the first draft document that went onto underpin the aforementioned final presentation.
Copied and pasted direct from Word –
TREND: DISPOSABLE CONTENT
The Content Churn
With content marketing the buzz term of 13/14, every brand (and their corresponding agencies) is on the hook to constantly create content. Continuously churning through idea after idea, meme after meme… The desire to continually satiate the online hunger for more, more, more means that the content created in turn becomes smaller, and quicker to consume.
Unsurprisingly, this inevitably leads to mistakes. Which in turn leads onto our next driver…
Tweet & Delete
With the inevitable errors that happen in 24hr news rooms content hubs, the chances of a piece of work slipping out of the door without the correct sign off increase. It happens in all parts of the marketing industry, this isn’t new to social media.
However, unlike an offensive print ad, or a sexist TV commercial, social channels allow media owners to reach into the past and delete the offending content – as if it had never existed in the first place. This, of course, comes with as many risks and it does rewards. The latter in that it can be missed by many; and for the former? Post-deletion infamy on the Buzzfeeds and Reddits of this world.
Speaking of infamy…
Teens’ ever reducing content legacy
With the advent and subsequent global penetration of social media, the professional adults of today are finding that the penchant for over-sharing that was so new and exciting is slowly coming back to haunt them. Well, we’ve got news for you on this: the kids are wise to this one. The generation growing up RIGHT NOW is unlike no other before. This is the generation that has never known a world without the Internet (can you even imagine that now?) and they don’t want the selfies of today messing up the job interviews of tomorrow.
Snapchat [Platform Example]
It’s an obvious choice but it simply cannot be ignored. Given the voracity at which teenagers have embraced the platform and its mission-impossible-esque way of dealing with messaging, it’s no wonder brands are also getting in on the act.
Brand Example 1: 16 Handles was first with its voucher offer.
I like this.
Brand Example 2: Taco Bell + Snapchat collaboration = Burritos.
First(?) example of ‘mass broadcast’ from B2C.
Brand Example 3: Doritos for Halloween
UK example, unsure of purpose/ROI – but interesting as it mentions additional support from other social channels.
Brand Example 4: Charmin / Thor 2
One more than needed, but want to keep it as it fits with/proves ‘Tweet & Delete’.
Plus: it’s brilliant.
The marketing strategy goes by many names. From agile to reactive, from responsive to real-time – but the preparation and commitment required to make throwaway content such a success remains the same.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Chance favours the prepared mind, and to get that viral smash, you need to have the approval processes sorted, the brand guidelines locked, and the right people in place to execute. Speaking of which…
Want an A game? Recruit the A team
Too many times do we see headlines that ostensibly blame young talent for social media errors – ‘The intern did it!’ or the like. The mistake here isn’t with the monkey, but in fact with the organ grinder. You need damn good talent to make great content that’s worth missing; so put your best men and women on the job. When it comes to the ephemeral, it’s time to get incredible
Be quick, be nimble, be agile
There’s no point in having the right processes and the right people if you simply don’t have the prowess to get it done promptly. Speed is of the essence.
REMEMBER: Your content is one thumb swipe away from being wallpaper. The trick is making that wallpaper stick.
Unfinished ideas and other sources/thought starters
And that’s about it.
Some structure, some research, and some words.
Do that a few times over, employ a couple of trusted friends to do the proof reading, and et voila: one trend document (here’s another example from 2012). If you’re really lucky, someone might even turn it into a presentation for you.