December 28, 2013

6 Ways brands can stay ahead of the curve in 2014

Here are six things brands can bear in mind to stay ahead of the curve in the New Year.

20141. Pick your own personal search engine

It’s not new news that all brands have got to be acting like newspapers. As a brand, the job is not to report on the news, but to react to it. We owe it to our customers to be current, relevant and living life alongside our consumers.  A good idea is to be sure there is a go-to search engine that gives you what you need ASAP. Something retro like Google alerts or RSS feeds can work at a basic level. But with some sophisticated news apps like BBC you can even get the latest headlines delivered and catered for you – and then you can then search them out afterwards for the details to see if the news is relevant to your brand. My top search engine has always been Twitter, over and above anything else. It is instant, trustworthy and it’s what real people are sharing and commenting on.

2.  Take a look at what ‘mum and dad’ are using

Seriously, none of the other social networks (by that I mean the ones that aren’t Facebook) are ‘new’ anymore. And repeat: social media is not new anymore. Anyone who calls Pinterest ‘innovative and new’ is living in a time warp of 2010. Most of the older generation are spending more time using SnapChat, or playing Candy Crush. They are living and breathing their iPhones the same as anyone. As a brand if you’re not even mirroring the habits of the late-comers, then I’d have a real think about why you’re not moving with the times like every body else.

3. It now actually is about mobile

The buzzword is not a buzzword anymore. Every one is on mobile. I won’t even bore you with the stats because there are so many pieces of research that all say the same thing. We are all portable; we are very rarely at a desktop. If you are marketing your apps or creative ideas to an imaginary audience who are always on a PC desktop, you are basically just targeting an average office space in Milton Keynes. Yes, sometimes your consumer will be on a desktop but there are probably not browsing, they are probably actually sitting down to do something. Make sure you catch people on the go, you’re more likely to grab their attention whilst they are on a train, waiting at a bus stop, on their phone whilst their partner is in the loo. Brands can look to cleverly cease these little moments by delivering entertaining content.

4. Get to know a good videographer

Start testing and learning this year with video. If we look back on how far content has evolved, growing 100% more visual year on year (in my first social media job, all we did was post text-only updates, and that was only 4 years ago). The next step already is video. For example, if you think about something as simple as an instruction manual, would you rather read it, look at it, or watch a moving video of it? I think everyone would pick the latter: easier to digest, remember and pause and rewind. 

5. Don’t milk it

Another thing we can learn from 2013 is the adverse affect of joining a trend or meme too late. If you are going to do a, let’s say, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster for your brand, you must do it right at the beginning when a few people are enjoying sharing them. If you do it when the world and his wife are doing it, you will lose respect from your followers. Same goes for piggybacking on a news story, in the first few days is fine, but its best not to do it once the hype has died down. For example when a brand I follow posted about the Harlem Shake about six months after the buzz it didn’t look good. I know there is a good quote about “copying being the best art form” but this does not mean doing what everyone else is doing – that is social suicide. What you can do, is a clever parody or piece of branter (see below).

6. Don’t be afraid to muck in

This is known in the social industry world as ‘branter’ (brand banter). If some other brand gives you an opportunity to fight back in a fun way, you’d be missing a trick not to go for it. Missed opportunities can often come from being too scared to risk it or a long legal sign off process. The thing is, a response on Twitter is not the same as signing off a press release, so the process shouldn’t be the same. The good thing about brand banter (with other brands or with customers) is it is often something that picks up interest on the day that can really benefit your following, but it is also fish and chip wrappers the next day. It doesn’t have the substance to go further than some retweets or few days of customer conversation. 

What ones do you think I’ve missed off? Would love hear what you think x

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