Five tips for a great digital campaign

Digital campaigns are interesting because they’re so instantly measurable – and yet so unmeasurable. Moreso when you enter the social space. You can drown in data, but how much of it is actually meaningful? Sure you can get 10,000 people ‘talking about’ you on Facebook – but what does that mean, and does it even matter?

The following are five topline tips to keep in mind when planning a digital campaign.

1. Know your end goal and work backwards
Look at where you want the campaign to go, then add milestones from the end back to the start. You want users to be positively contributing to your website? It’s not as simple as displaying a call to action and then sitting back and waiting for the compliments to roll in.

2. Research your target audience
Learn about your audience. Which digital platforms do they prefer and why? What are they using those platforms for?

If your Facey page is getting a lot of viral action, but it’s happening amongst 50-year-olds in Texas, and you’re a children’s dentist in New Zealand, it’s not really doing the trick. You will focus on the wrong things if you’re looking at the wrong metric.

3. Keep it flexible
You can plan, plan, plan as much as you like, but digital media is about context. Social media even more. If everyone is talking about a tragic event, and you bulldoze your brand in there, you’re going to cause some damage.

This is also a key when researching campaigns from outside your culture. You can’t roll out a plan from overseas and expect the same results in the local market.

Always have a plan B. And C. And D. If something doesn’t work with your audience, don’t force it. Change tact.

4. Think about the environment
With digital marketing, you can buy great reach for very small cost. The temptation is to stick your ad in every available cheap space, but you need to think about it in terms of partnerships. Just as a TVC can add weight and legitimacy to your campaign, so can digital ads in various spaces.

Also if you’re putting video advertising into a space people are likely to be accessing via mobile or while at work – tread with caution. No one wants to use their expensive 4G data on your ad, trust me. And if they’re sneaking around when they should be at work, having your ad blaring at them is probably not what they were hoping for either. But later on, at home and on wifi, you can go for your life.

5. Help your fans become advocates
Advertising is like a baby. You think yours is the best, the cutest, the smartest. It’s probably not. You need to give your fans a better reason than that to share it, or to get involved. And you need to keep it simple!

An easy way to help pave the path is to demonstrate the behaviour or action you want fans to take by showing someone else doing it – better still if that someone can be a community leader, celebrity, or aspirational person from the demographic.

All of this, though, comes down to one basic principle: Know your audience. Take your marketing eyeballs out and really think like a person in the demographic you’re trying to reach. Don’t bullshit about the state of the market, your ad, or get caught up in the Next Big Shiny thing. Audience first and center.

Why you shouldn’t trust social media case studies

Other people’s case studies are a staple of the social media guru. Regurgitating someone else’s work in lieu of your own is a key way non-experts endear themselves to the unknowing.

That’s some pretty harsh stuff I’ve written, but here’s why I think you shouldn’t listen to social media case studies without engaging your critical brain.

Beware of those who present others’ case studies

A person who didn’t work on the project has a very skewed version of events. It’s like Chinese whispers. So where did they get the case study intel?

Lets be frank: When a company presents a case study, they’re showing off. They’re probably not going to go over the stuff that didn’t work as well, and they’re not going to go over strategically important points – why share these with competitors?

Someone presenting another company’s study is a step removed again. I think we should be critical of case studies and treat them as interesting but not gospel – however in most of the lectures I’ve been to, speakers have presented the studies as fact.

The other way SMEGs get their hands on studies is to make up their own. I once read a blog about a high-profile social campaign I worked on written by someone who had nothing to do with it. They had a list of suggestions to make it better, but had no idea of the resource, targets, or research we had done to make the choices we had. The conclusions the writer had drawn were wrong, based on incorrect assumptions.

I’m not suggesting we throw the baby out with the bath water – just that we put less stock in third-party studies and more into robust conversations with the people involved in the first place.

It’s trendy to go to social media-related events – even at the cost of thousands of dollars – to listen to speakers who have little to no actual experience themselves, and certainly not on the brands whose “learnings” they are presenting.

As an aside, there’s quite a few digital outlets calling themselves the top/best/leading social or digital agency in the country, and that gets regurgitated into conference pamphlets and bios across the web. Unqualified claims like that are a time a dozen.

Hell, I’ve even got it in my bio.

Social Media in NZ: Who uses which platforms?

Commscore have released this tidy graphic around who is using which social media platforms in New Zealand.


ComScore say 1.9 million people in NZ accessed Facebook that month, whereas Facebook says they have almost 2.5 million active NZ accounts (active meaning participated on the platform in the previous 30 days). Why the discrepancy?

It’s also interesting to see the age splits between platforms – this seems to confirm that teenagers are using Tumblr in greater numbers, and that Twitter seems to be more popular at either end of the age spectrum.

I find the number of people using Blogger surprising. It’d be great to see this study extended to WordPress, and see the split between desktop and mobile, too.

Anyway, hope you find this interesting!

Five ways to protect your online privacy

As part of my day job, I advise high-profile people about their online presences. Their positions mean they come with greater risk, but the same principles apply to you or I.

Decide what lives online – and what doesn’t.

The first thing I usually get clients to do is think about where their boundaries are. Some people are comfortable talking about their children, some are not. Some are happy to talk about where they are holidaying, others refrain from the details. If you’ve got no clear boundaries, then you won’t know when you’ve crossed them.

Location, location, location

With a lot of social media taking place on our phones, location data is usually overlooked. Sure, we do things like not check in to a place until we’re leaving it, but have you thought about the metadata attached to your photos? Confused? When GPS is enabled on your phone or camera, often the location of the photograph is right there in the data attached to an image (along with things like capture method, time and more. Google Exif tags if you’re interested). Disabling unnecessary location services can save you a lot of heartache.

Regularly check your accounts!

Social networks have a funny way of changing your privacy settings on you. Check your Facebook ones, your Facebook apps, your Twitter apps, LinkedIn settings, and any other accounts you have. Set a reminder to do it every few months.

Different platforms for different purposes

Twitter is, by its design, a public forum, so unless you’re sitting on a locked account and only add people you know, you’re going to be interacting with strangers. Facebook, on the other hand, is mostly used for existing relationships, so it can be fine to be a lot more personal there, and keep it to friends only. LinkedIn is for business, so it’s not appropriate to post about your heartbreak or dog. Sort out the platforms and their purposes before you start adding everyone.

Different passwords, security checks

Facebook allows you to register specific computers or phones, and remotely log out sessions that seem suspicious. Google use a two-step verification system via a text to your phone. Twitter allows you to block browsers via it’s official mobile apps. Don’t use one password for everything, tempting as it is. Once a person gets access to one account, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Even by doing these things, there’s no guarantee you won’t say something silly and get screenshot, or get hacked by some jerk, but if you’re aware of what’s going on, you can better arm yourself.

One simple diagram for getting your brand’s social content right

So you have a branded social media account, and you’re following the first rule of social: Don’t be a dick. Good, but now what?

There’s lots of advice floating around about what content works well on which platforms – making sure your Facebook status is “likeable”, joining in on a Twitter conversation, hashtagging your Instagrams up the ying – but for me, it boils down to this wee venn diagram:


The red circle is about finding out what your audience likes – seems straightforward, but are you sure you know what they like, and not what you think they like? What is it about your audience that is unique?

The blue circle is about being on brand. It’s about promotions and marketing. It’s about the look and feel of updates. It’s about getting the core message of your company across.

The yellow circle is about what works best online. What topics are going off at the moment? Where is the conversation – what is it about? What are today’s memes?

A lot of companies stay in one content type. They may even cross over with another circle, but spend a lot of time delivering one sort of update, to the detriment of the community or their brand. Your brand should never just live in one of those circles. If your marketing push doesn’t exist for the community, it’s not right for social. If your viral content is totally off brand, you’re wasting your time.

Doing updates from sections 1, 2, or 3 is a slightly better option.

Living in section 1 means the content they’re using is engaging, and their fans like it, but it doesn’t reflect the brand. Generic status updates like this are fine, but often your brand can get lost, or there may even be a conflict between the values of your brand, and the content you’re posting.

Section 2 is where you’ve found the niche in terms of what works for your brand, and your audience, but the content isn’t necessarily viral. This is a good place to be in terms of brand hygiene, but not so much in terms of outreach, and fan endorsement.

If your updates are in section 3, you’re producing on-brand content that ticks the box in terms of being viral or engaging in nature, but that doesn’t resonate with your fans. It could be that you’re using the meme too late (remember all those brands that put out Harlem Shake videos the week after everyone declared it dead? Yeah, that.)

The golden space is section 4. You’ve found content that fits with your brand, your audience loves it, and it’s positioned well to go off. And it does! Well done, you. Hope your boss recognises how hard it is to find that sweet spot!

So… How did that happen?

  • You know your brand – it has a clear voice and take on the world, and you’ve stamped it onto your update.
  • You’ve identified what it is about your brand that your fans love and delivered it to them.
  • You’ve reflected the sentiment of your community in a timely manner, or rarked them up in a good way.
  • The community can take ownership – you just got the ball rolling!

Yes, it’s simplistic, but it works.

Personal branding on social media

In Twitter’s earlier days, we used to tweet about things that, although safe for work, were a little on the naughty side. One person would tweet something slightly dodgy, and another would tweet back “there goes your brand!”

Yes, I know, we were hilarious.

But there was a grain of truth to those tweets, which is why so many high-profile social media people in NZ are now upping their Facebook privacy settings, retreating to locked Twitter accounts, and taking old YouTube clips down.

There’s a cultural issue in New Zealand around what we expect of heavy digital users – and you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. I’m talking about taking charge of your digital profiles: Branding YOU and making sure what you present is the way you want it.

The other day, social media consultant Courtney Lambert published this blog about online personal branding. In a nutshell, while the concept of personal branding is widely accepted and expected internationally, in New Zealand it’s often looked upon with derision or suspicion: Personal branding is for celebrities, and if you think you’re a celebrity, then you’re a dick.

Here’s the rub: If you are online, you need to take care of how you appear online regardless of your [lack of] celebrity status. You need to take ownership of your actions, know your boundaries, and have a bit of a plan – you can bet potential employers, lovers, and friends are googling you if they want to know more!

Nothing is secret, really. Trolls can be found, workplaces googled, last names attached to first names on seemingly anon Twitter accounts. If you’re doing something online that would make you embarrassed offline, you probably shouldn’t be doing it!

Transparency issues aside, New Zealanders tend to have a problem with Kiwis saying they’re good at something, let alone able to offer advice to others. We have performance anxiety. We don’t like tall poppies. We like to think we live in a society without classes, despite making fun of “white trash”, “westies”, “people from Gore”, or “dole bludgers”. We also tend to think that if someone’s putting themselves out there and trying to build a profile for themselves, then they are “asking for it” or “deserve everything they get”.

Yet we don’t think the same way about Americans, or Brits, or Canadians, or Scots. We nod enthusiastically and gobble up their wisdom. It’s the old “expert from out of town” syndrome.

The other issue is the way we think about each other in relation to where we work, to our jobs, and how much accountability or personal opinion comes from that. Where is the personal/professional boundary? Sure, we are not our workplaces, but how much of how we behave online is a reflection on our ability to do our jobs?

Some New Zealanders assume that because someone works somewhere they:

  1. Love and support everything their workplace does,
  2. Hate and deride everything their work’s competitors do,
  3. Are massively biased because of their job,
  4. Must behave to a certain standard because of where they work, regardless of what crap people throw at them. I’ve seen trolls bait people, trying to get a response so they can run off to that person’s employer. But it’s not just trolls running off to employers – I’ve heard about a NZ company approaching someone’s employer over a tweet about a bad product/service.

Please note, the rules don’t apply to those who are calling others out on them. That would be hypocritical.

There is a thorny issue in there – can you publicly talk about things your work’s competitors are up to that you like? Would you go on the radio and say that? Or is it a case of knowing what “good” looks like, and simply acknowledging it? Keep in mind, it sometimes makes the national paper when workers from one company congratulate their workplace’s competitors via social media.

As a country, we’ve got some growing up to do.

Owning or .com is commonsense in this day and age. Having a blog for your thoughts, opinions, and digital curation is a good thing. Positioning yourself as helpful or knowledgeable about an area where you’re educated and/or experienced is not uppity, it’s fact – and good business sense!

It’s time to think about this stuff, or find yourself overtaken by people who are.

Sexism and [Social] Media

Why are so many women practitioners of social media in New Zealand, but so few willing to be the face of it at events and in the media?

Let me start by telling you a story about one of the last social media events I went to. It was a night where two men and a woman were sharing their thoughts on social media in New Zealand. It was the usual setup, with the audience encouraged to tweet their thoughts to the big screen via a hashtag.

The first speaker was nondescript – I don’t remember anything about his talk. The second was a fairly unusual looking guy, but all the feedback for him was around the points he was making. The third was a high-profile woman who was making many excellent points and offered the most insight of the three.

But the comments on the big screen were about her legs, and her knee-high boots – and they were coming from high-profile male social media personalities. In fact, one gentleman went so far as to comment about her good looks during question time, which the female speaker awkwardly laughed off.

Women aren’t featuring at New Zealand social media conferences

I looked at several large social media-themed conferences in New Zealand. 84% of all speakers and 90% of key note speakers were men. Women made up just 14% of “quickfire” sessions, and only 25% of panels.


Who knows! But there are a few of things at play: Are women being asked to participate? If they are, is the Imposter Syndrome, which is supposedly more likely to affect successful women, causing them to decline? Is the additional abuse women get when they represent the voice of authority stopping them from repeat performances?

Wait – what was that third one?

Are women more likely to be called names for putting themselves in the public space?

Claire Robinson is a professor of Communication Design and a political comms and marketing commentator in Wellington. She wrote an excellent post about sexism in media, and related her own story of being called names after appearing on TV, whereas the gentleman who appeared alongside her received very little vitriol.

“In the previous three elections I never received one piece of criticism. That changed in 2011, with the social media revolution,” she wrote. “During the election campaign I received and read what I considered unpleasant personal criticism in the social media.”

She lists the names she was called. It’s not pleasant. People attacked her personally, her job, even her children. A parody account was started on Twitter.

She goes on to write that, “I searched the internet at the time to see if fellow political scientist Jon Johannson was receiving similar personal attacks. Aside from the odd accusation of him being a lefty, there were none.”

I had my own experience of this. About a year ago, after appearing on the news to comment about social media and the election, I was called ugly, fat, a “self-proclaimed guru”, and someone tweeted something along the lines of “what would she know”. You learn pretty quickly to never search your own name on Twitter.

Once I sourced another social media person to speak on camera about a technology issue; A women who had recently moved to the country but who had a distinguished career overseas in the online space. The outrage poured on her by the Twitter community was astonishing. How dare this unknown women comment on NZ technology! Who did she think she was?!

And yet unknown men sometimes feature, and no one comments. Men appear in print, radio or TV, whose backgrounds in the social space are, in my opinion, chequered or unproven, and people don’t seem to question them, and certainly never comment on their looks.

When I mentioned I was writing this, Jacky Braid kindly pointed me to this article about Cambridge professor Mary Beard, which is worth a read.

So in a nutshell, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that women putting themselves in the public eye are more likely to get abused – is there any research?

The research is bleak.

There’s plenty of international studies out there, I don’t need to regurgitate them here.

In her post, Ms Robinson noted that Corin Higgs completed local research that found that on blogs, social media and other outlets, criticism of female pundits tended to be more personalised than criticism of male pundits.

I’ll end up quoting her entire article soon if I’m not careful. Please go and read it.

I am all for getting the best person, regardless of gender, into the media and at conferences to talk about social media, or any other area. But I do think there are issues around getting women connected to the conference creators and media producers, around dispelling myths about women’s opinions not being as valid as men’s, and dealing with all the nasty crap on social media that happens afterwards.

So leave me a comment, share your thoughts… Just don’t write this off because I’m a woman.

Do you make social media managers despair?

I’ve been talking to a lot of community managers of high-profile New Zealand companies, and there’s a trend to what they have been saying lately: They are getting worn out from trying to deal with unreasonably emotional people. People who say they are upset about changes to products they get for free, having a go at marketing campaigns for products they would never use, angry that a service isn’t 100% perfect.

It has been a hard couple of years in New Zealand. We’ve had Pike River, the hideous and ongoing situation in Canterbury, a really bad summer, the financial crisis, an election, and although we won it, the World Cup came at a cost. It’s no wonder we’re all a little short-tempered.

Adding to that, in general people have a burning desire to feel innocent; to feel not guilty for our actions. We justify horrible behaviour by saying we are righting a wrong, fighting injustice, protecting others. We convince ourselves that tweeting or Facebooking our thoughts, no matter how rude, is justifiable.

There’s also the commonly-used argument that you shouldn’t be in the public arena if you can’t handle a bit of fire. That’s an okay point, until you start using it to justify swearing at company employees, constantly slagging off celebrities, or hacking websites.

It’s never okay to wish a company’s employees would get breast cancer so they would know suffering. It’s never okay to tell anyone that you want them to commit suicide. It’s never okay to say a product is so terrible it makes you want to kill yourself. It’s never okay to post images of aborted foetuses to a Facebook page, saying you wish this had happened to the product’s makers.

Believe it or not, these are real examples of recent New Zealand abuse on high-profile Facebook pages.

You can, however, have a bad experience and take to social media to offer constructive feedback in an adult manner. I believe that this kind of feedback is welcomed, as it’s incredibly helpful, doesn’t make the community manager think you’re a knob end, and can be presented verbatim to decision-makers for resolution.

Just take a minute and ask yourself if you are being a jerk, but justifying it and absolving yourself with lame excuses.

We’ve had a hard go of it lately, but here’s a way we can start to make the world a tiny bit nicer.