The FTC: Paying for a Tweet? It needs fine print.

Just over a week ago now, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US ruled that ads in Twitter (or paid for/sponsored Tweets) need to follow the same basic requirements as the rest of the advertising world, eg: they need some fine print.

To prevent consumers being misled by their favourite celebrity, for example, sponsored social media must now be sure to include an explanation of sorts that explains that the content in question is paid for.

There are two kinds of responses to this ruling:

Response 1  (the dumb response):

“Oh my God?! Are you guys NUTS?! SMALL PRINT?! ON A TWEET?! WHAT? Does the FTC have any ideas as to what they’re talking about?! We’ve only got 140 characters to work with here! COME. ON!”

The FTC clearly state ‘Disclosures must be clear enough that they aren’t “misleading a significant minority of reasonable consumers. If a company can’t find a way to make its disclosure fit the constraints of social or mobile ad, it needs to change the ad copy so that it doesn’t require a disclosure.’

So we move on –

Response 2 (the smart response): 

“Oh, you mean sticking ‘#ad’ on the end of paid-for content? Yeah, sure. We can do that. In fact it makes sense and hell, it’s only three characters; that actually helps us!”

What’s great about this ruling is that they’ve been very clear about what does and what does not constitute ‘full disclosure’ and – to my mind at least – settles a long-standing argument over what is the best way to signal a Tweet is an ad.

Here in the UK both #spon and #ad are accepted or ‘recommended’ ways to indicate that the social media content you’re consuming is paid for. It’s something that I personally disagree with; #spon is too esoteric and doesn’t actually mean anything to the every day Twitter user. #Ad not only makes it clear what it is you’re looking at but it also uses less characters too. The FTC are in agreement:

‘Consumers might not understand that “#spon” means that the message was sponsored by an advertiser. If a significant proportion of reasonable viewers would not, then the ad would be deceptive.’

In short, when paying for tweets: #ad good, #spon bad. 

The full PDF from the FTC is available to download and, aside from being essential reading to every US-based social media practitioner, is actually a really insightful read and well recommended for anyone looking for a basic understanding of what is and what is not possible when it comes to the world of paid-for social media content.

I would especially recommend taking a look at ‘Example 17’ in the appendix to firmly understand the nuances involved when dealing with celebrity endorsements.

 

Five key takeaways from Social Media World Forum 2013 #SMWF

Looking for ways to get social media traction at your place of work? Read on –

This past week, the 2013 European Social Media World Forum (#SMWF) conference took place in London and yours truly was lucky enough to not only attend, but also appear on one of the panels.

More on that last part shortly but first, my remit for the event was simple:

How did I get on? That remains to be seen, but here are five key takeaways that are definitely worth paying attention to.

1. Zero budget does not mean zero spend.

‘We got our social media up running internally with zero budget!’
‘Social media was a cost-free way to get our message out!’
‘We had no extra budget from our stakeholders, yet we still managed to get it launched!’ 

These statements are all fundamentally not true.

All meaningful efforts in social media need that most valuable of any company asset: hours. Without time, none of it would happen and without effort, none of it would happen properly. This seems like an obvious statement but you’d be surprised how many times it is said, heard, and believed within corporate circles. Next time someone tells you social media is cheap and easy, tell them: you’re wrong!

2. ‘If it doesn’t work on mobile, go home!’

The above statement was said by Dominic Burch (pictured above), head of social media for UK supermarket chain, Asda (part of the Wal-Mart group). This is huge. Why is this huge? Asda’s target market is Mums.

Back in 2010, Google Chief Exec Eric Schmidt took to the stage at Mobile World Congress and said his new motto was ‘mobile first‘.  Three years later and big corporations are catching on. Not only to this future-proofing concept, but also to the fact that their audiences have moved. Mums are mobile first, which means you have to be too.

Also: 56 RTs and counting.

3. Pirate Ships work.

Many of the speakers at #SMWF spoke today about ‘working outside of the rules’ and ‘circumnavigating process’; this is typical pirate ship behaviour. What am I talking about? Let me explain.

Back in days of old, pirates were able to out-manoeuvre large naval ships by being low in number, agile in their approach, and surprisingly daring in their gold-gaining strategies. Many social media teams started out in the exact same way. The lead social media head spots the opportunity to make revenue, breaks away from the pack, shoots, scores; and then – and this is key – begins to recruit more pirates to his/her cause (additional takeaway: if you can’t find another pirate internally, ‘network your face off’ within the business – Nissan’s head of social did this for years until he had the support he needed to launch the dept. formally).

From global finance companies, through to every day supermarkets – the pirate ship methodology works. If they can do it, you can too.

4. Know what you are, but also know what you’re not.

Cordell Lawrence from Jack Daniel’s gave a superb presentation in their ‘Telling, not Selling‘ session on what and how authenticity drives their social media output. All of their efforts stem from a clear brand ethos and strategy that informs everything they do both above the line and below the line, throughout social media.

The key take out (for me at least) was the ‘What Jack is’ and ‘What Jack is not’ slide. This is textbook brand strategy; strong brands know what they are, but stronger brands know what they are not. e.g.:

  • Jack is traditional.
  • Jack is not trendy.
  • Jack is whiskey as a craft.
  • Jack is not whiskey as a product.
  • Jack is friendly.
  • Jack is not silly or cute.

I’m from a branding background and seeing this kind of strategy warms the cockles of my heart. On top of that, and coming from an experienced community management perspective, these kind of guidelines are essential for delivering an on brand and on target social media tone of voice.

5. Help others to help yourself.

This last one really does read like some kind of meaningless platitude that wouldn’t go a miss out of a nursery book at bedtime. HOWEVER. When it comes to selling social media usage upwards in the chain of command, this could never be more true.

To provide context, and please forgive me – this really isn’t rocket science, the question and answer ran as follows:

Q: ‘How do I convince my manager that we need to use social media?’

A: Simple. Find out what their objectives are; find out what their KPIs are; find out exactly what that person needs to do to do in order to attain their bonus at the end of the year and then show them how social media can help them achieve those goals.’

You’d be amazed at what making your boss look good in front of his boss will do for your efforts in social.

 

 

 

Targeting Twitter’s audience by the TV that they watch

The future, I sees it –

Back in September last year, I put together a few ideas about what evolutions we might see in the social media industry during 2013. Snappily entitled ‘2013 Social Media Predictions‘, one of the areas focused on was how Social TV and advertising would need to work closer together if they planned to meaningfully speak to their audiences across multiple different platforms.

Quote:

“…Soon smart media-planners will force Twitter to allow time-sensitive promoted tweets, with time-focused twitter ads designed to populate at specific times – down to the very minute. Whereas the traditional consumer used to put the kettle on, today’s viewers are now turning to Twitter (and away from the ads), the industry won’t put up with this for long.”

Makes sense, right? Of course it does. So it came as no surprise at all to read that, thanks to the advent of Twitter’s new Ad API, the smart folk at TBG Digital have done just that.

Introducing Calendar Live, a new platform that  allows buyers to purchase Promoted Tweets in sync with television programmes. It’s that simple. While it’s true that marketers could kind of do this already, this new system makes it supremely easier and brings in additional features such as trend monitoring and more granular time-targeting.

Calendar Live

Bonus simplicity: it looks just like your TV guide — 

While this isn’t the kind of ad-based scheduling I was initially talking about, it is a step towards a more connected approach to social media ad-planning. Good work Twitter, and well done TBG. We’ve been looking at a number of solutions to manage our approach to social media and TV of late, and Calendar Live looks like it might actually have something useful to both brands and agencies alike.

Three final points:

  1. With similar fantastic work taking place right now in the form of Three’s #DancePonyDance, this kind of integration really is the at the forefront of where social media, and thus social TV, is headed during 2013.
     –
  2. SXSW is on right now which, to me at least, means big news like this gets swept away under the mess of it all. Rule one: don’t launch during SXSW.
     –
  3. I love it when I’m right.
    – 

5 things brands can learn from the Bieber debacle

Come on, you all knew this was coming.

It has not been a good few days for the global superstar. Where do we begin?

The #BieberBacklash (yes, that’s actually a hashtag) began when he had the ‘worst birthday‘ after being ejected from a London club for allegedly smuggling underage fans/guests through the door.

It’s a tough life, right? #BieberProblems.

Then, over the weekend, a seemingly innocuous tweet kicked off a fracas after Beiber RT’d a (SHOCK HORROR) a non-fan for saying she liked his new album.

The  Drum reports:

‘A succession of embittered fans jealous that their idol had deigned to retweet someone other than themselves who wasn’t a ‘real’ fan duly emerged with a series of hate filled tweets; including @julietesqueda who wrote: ‘Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!’’

Finally, last night, the Biebs was not one but two hours late arriving on stage on the opening night of his four day stint at the O2 . On a schoool night too? Never. Never say never. 

But OK, let’s look at this properly – what can brands learn from this?

1. Think before you Tweet
A few years ago, an agency head got into trouble after being somewhat unkind about the city where his main client was based. A silly error and, looking back through the mist of social media evolution, it seems like it’s a mistake of days gone by. But still, the lesson stands true: think before you tweet and never, ever tweet angry.

2. Reward existing fans, as well as new ones
Advocacy is everything. And, as innocent as it is to celebrate the acquisition of a new fan, treating all others in the same way will reap the benefits in the long term. In short: existing customers matter. Many service providers have got into the habit of offering their latest and best promotions (or at least deals of equal value) to both sets of customers. In future, Bieber might do too.

Sidenote: see also the death of ‘Our 2000th follower wins X!’ competitions. If you see this in action, call it out!  Why would anyone want to reward this brand new person when the 1999 have been supporting your growth along the way? It doesn’t make sense.

3. Know your audience
Whenever you kick off ANY kind of social media activity it is essential you understake a number of listening exercises to not only understand the current landscape of the market you’re working in but to also understand your audience. If Bieber had any insight – or had done any research – he would’ve known the following:

  • Monday night is a school night yo!
  • Travelling in (and out of) London late at night isn’t a fantastic experience (especially for young kids)
  • If he didn’t hear the boos from his dressing room then he certainly should/could have read about their disappointment online

4. Under-promise, over-deliver
Keeping your brand promises my seem like an easy and obvious one but it’s amazing how often many different brands forget this (at the expense of their fans and consumers). If you’re going to promise an AMAZING concert to all of your LOVING fans at a specific time, then you better make sure it happens.

And if you don’t – if you over-promise and under-deliver -well, then you really need to –

5. Invest in a Crisis Comms plan
Plan for the worst. Know what to do when things go wrong. At the time of writing, the Biebmeister is still yet to address the wealth of disappointed fans that had to leave the O2 early last night. A good crisis comms plan would know what to do in this situation: be that have the man(?) himself apologise on stage or even consider refund the ticket money – there are many different ways he could make this situation better. 12hrs later: none are yet to appear.

Irrespective of your opinion on Bieber-mania, there are a many, many unhappy fans sitting down at school today who feel let down by their beloved idol.

Read over the above again and just think: could it happen to you?

 

 Image via Adam Sundana on Flickr

Brazil is the Social Media Capital of The World

Surprised? No, I’m not either. But why?

Sao Paulo HDR

Image via Ndecam

This needs some analysis. First off, the numbers are incredible –

  • 65m Facebook users (second largest market for the platform)
  • Brazilians spent 41% more time on Twitter in 2012 vs 2011
  • Facebook dwell time grew 208% (while the rest of the world dropped by 2%)
  • 129.3m online users
  • 21 billion online searches
  • Second largest consumer of YouTube videos (the US is at number one)
  • Top five active user group for Twitter
  • Expected $81 billion of ad spend in 2013

And this is expected to grow even further. Especially as, come 2015, the country will be the recipient of a 100-gb-per-sec internet connection to carry all of that data.

Interestingly, Twitter has chosen São Paulo as its Brazilian base and is in the process of hiring like crazy as I type. Why is this interesting?

Over the past few years São Paulo (and the ad agencies therein) have been producing the stellar kind of creative work that anyone would be proud to put their name against. Everything from the $73,000 bar tab, through to getting your face printed on a Burger King Whopper; it’s actually really quite hard to get through one page of Brandflakes for Breakfast without stumbling upon something awesome from São Paulo.

Innovative, smart, ground-breaking – all of it social, all of it awesome.

But why São Paulo? Well, you could say that culturally Brazil is more open and friendly, and therefore more creative. You could also say that the way of life and perhaps the weather over there inspires creativity and innovation.

Personally, I think there’s something else. Ready?

How about this: outdoor advertising is banned* in São Paulo.

Introducing the ‘Clean City Law‘ –

In 2006, Gilberto Kassab, mayor of São Paulo, Brazil, passed the “Clean City Law.” Citing growing concerns about rampant pollution in his city, Kassab decided enough was enough. But this was no ordinary piece of pollution legislation. Rather than going after car emissions or litterbugs, Kassab went after the billboards. Kassab wanted to crack down on “visual pollution.”

That visual pollution? Outdoor ads. Amazing. And the city has never been happier! Hurrah!

As mentioned, this law came into being during 2006 – the year that some might argue that social media started its way down the long road to success. So now you have a whole bunch of brands with outdoor money to spend elsewhere. Where does it go? Into better creative and, of course, new channels – such as social media.

Today, Brazil is the social media capital of the world. They’re hosting the next Olympics and the next World Cup. São Paulo is an ad-free zone and it drives creativity in all sorts of awesome and inspiring ways.

I might be talking rubbish, but I genuinely believe there’s a connection.

 

That’s all I got.

 

*this is not news, I know – but I only found this out this week and I still find it mental

Additional sources: WSJ, The Wall.

 

 

Twitter and the monetization of the second screen

Twitter’s been buying again… 

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 22.32.36 (1)

According to sources, Twitter just bought US-based social TV analytics firm, Bluefin Labs. While the actual number is still an ‘undisclosed figure’, early reports state that this is Twitter’s ‘biggest acquisition to date’.

A few things:

1. This is REALLY interesting

Twitter and TV is clearly going to be HUGE. During the panel I was on at Social TV Conference London recently I remember saying something along the lines of –  ‘Let’s just be honest: second screen engagement is basically Twitter, we shouldn’t kid ourselves about that.’

I was being deliberately forthright but, looking back on it now, I don’t think I could’ve been any more right.

2. Is this is Twitter buying *outside* of their ‘API quadrant’?

Last summer, much was made about Twitter’s changes to their API. However what made it ultimately clear to everyone on what (and what was not) fair game was this one simple chart –

twitter-api-chart

At the time, Twitter made it very clear that they were encouraging developers to no longer create apps that existed in the upper-right quadrant. In fact, they went so far as to call out the guys they thought were doing a great job in the other areas – stand up Klout, Radian6, and Storify.

However, with this acquisition, Twitter are now parking their tanks on the lawns of many many TV analytics firms out there today, and who can blame them?

My point is: Twitter are moving the goal posts again. To wit:

‘You can develop on our API but as soon as there’s serious money to be made… we’ll have our ball back please.’

3. Monetizing the second screen is clearly the next big thing

This is hardly news but, after the massive success of Twitter at the Superbowl this past weekend (earning mentions in 50% of all advertising)… hang on, before we go any further, some fag packet analysis:

  • Superbowl ads cost (for airtime alone) $3.8m per 30seconds
  • $3,800,000 / 30secs = $126,666.66 per second
  • 26 of the (presumed) 52 ads featured during the Superbowl had hashtags appended to them
  • Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that those ads ran those hashtags for 2-3seconds (it’s probably more, so let’s shoot for the top end of that spectrum)
  • 3secs x 26 ads = 78seconds
  • 78 x $126,666.66 = $9,879,999.48

Which means that during Superbowl 2013, Twitter scored just shy of 9.9million dollars of FREE ADVERTISING.

Wow.

Sorry, where was I?

Oh yes, brands are on the Twitter train (for second screen activity) and the great ones are killing it. How long will it be until others catch on? 5, 4, 3…

4. Bluefin now, Second Sync next? 

From what I can tell, Bluefin are US only. Which is great, and an obvious win for that team (second screening in the US is clearly the most advanced / widely accepted). However the immediate question is: what’s next for the rest of the world’s TV social analytics market?

The smart money would be on the UK’s Second Sync being next. At a recent London Twitter event, #PoweredByTweets, Second Sync data was present in nearly every presentation – and Twitter were happy to say so too. They clearly do the best job, they’ve clearly been anointed as the chosen ones in this particular region, so are they clearly next in line for aquisition? Place your bets now please…

5. Social TV + The Future

It now goes without saying that 2013 really will be the year of Social TV. There’ll be a lot of snake oil salesmen out there and separating the wheat from the chaff will certainly make for interesting viewing indeed.

Bring it on, creatives of 2013, let’s see what you’ve got.

 

Speaking: Social TV Conference

My slides are up –

However, as per usual, I would whole-heartedly recommend you click through to the presentation’s main slideshare page so that you’re able read the accompanying slide notes (that provide more of an in-depth look at the points I was making along the way).

While you’re there, I would also impress upon you to look at the presentations from Tiffany St James, Mat Locke, and Dan Paton. Dealing with stats, history, and an ace MTV case study respectively.

All in all, Social TV Conference London was a really good event. Second screen entertainment is definitely one of the more nascent areas of the social media industry today and there is some amazing work going on right now.

Why not have a poke around the conference website and see what nuggets you can find…

Your comments, as ever, are welcome.