Friday, August 28, 2015

Learning your Alphabet

- Do you know your Alphabet?
- Amazon going postal
- Lucky or good? UnderArmour and Jordan Speith
- Christian Louboutin World campaign
- Is Social Marketing Dead??!!

BONUS! : Tiny Dancer

You may have heard that Google is getting a new CEO, Sundar Pichai, but did you know that Larry Paige is restructuring Google into a holding company called Alphabet? The current leaders of Google will be the new leaders of Alphabet. Larry will be the CEO, Sergey Brin the President and Eric Schmidt will continue his role as executive chairman and at some point later this year, every share of Google will become an equal share of Alphabet.

Under that big new umbrella will be a subsidiary called Google, run by Pichai, who's been Larry's right hand man for a while now, The new Google company will include the core businesses, Search, ads, maps, apps, youtube, android and the related technical infrastructure.

But also under the Alphabet umbrella, will be a group of other businesses like Calico, Nest, Fiber as well as google Ventures, Google Capital and incubator projects like Google x which will all be managed as separate businesses. This is pretty big news. The market sure liked it as the stock jumped from 633 to 660 on August 10th when the change was announced. Although it got Crushed with the rest of the market last week going from 660 on Aug 19th to 580 on Aug 25th and today it's back at 637. Whoa!

Why do this? There are a number of theories,
They want to Slim down and simplify the Google company to focus on it's core competency, which is of course printing money.
or maybe Larry and Sergey want to focus more on the big picture and not need to run day to day google stuff
or it was a way to make room for lots more CEOs and executives?
Maybe they wanted to give more visibility to the smaller companies, bringing them out from under Google's giant shadow, probably all or some combination of these.
Though we probably won't be hearing much about Alphabet, expect to see news stories about ... Life Sciences - our competitor, Calico - longevity, Nest - Home automation, Fiber - Home video and communications services and so on. They'll be free to promote themselves and, who knows, maybe be sold or taken to IPO... the possibilities are endless.

When you go to check out Alphabet on the Web though, you won't be typing cause BMW already owns that. Instead, try No really. That's the new url. I encourage you to go read Larry's excellent and aspirational statement there which ends with...
We are excited about
Getting more ambitious things done.
Taking the long-term view.
Empowering great entrepreneurs and companies to flourish.
Investing at the scale of the opportunities and resources we see.
Improving the transparency and oversight of what we’re doing.
Making Google even better through greater focus.
And hopefully… as a result of all this, improving the lives of as many people as we can.

Now let's talk about an UNPROFITABLE organization, the US Postal Service, which has lost more than 46Bn over the last 10 years. They seem to have found a sugar daddy in amazon and are now delivering about 40% of Amazon's packages or about 150Mn items a year, including on Sundays. Amazon pays them an average of $2 per package, which is half of what they pay FedEx and UPS. Amazon gets that deal by presorting everything for the post office using machines and automation rather than workers who move in an almost comically practiced slow motion. That 300Mn should help the old USPS stay afloat a while longer but it's really just a drop in the bucket for an organization that's losing almost 5Bn a year. Amazon may need to buy them yet.

The post office may be neither lucky or good but UnderArmour is both. Back in May, we highlighted UnderArmour on this call, and talked about how they had effectively used social and some uncommon 'athletes' like Misty Copeland and Giselle Bundchen to broaden their all masculine brand so successfully into the female market that they are already threatening Nike and Lululemon. Misty just became the first African American woman to be named principal dancer at a major ballet company. which has boosted her UnderArmour video over 9Mn views. Well they haven't forgotten about the guys as we saw watching the young Jordan Speith write his way into the record books winning both the Masters and US Open in the same year with the UnderArmour logo adorning his gear. Before his Masters win, when he only had one big win under his belt but was already under a 3-yr contract with them, the brand had preciently rippped up the old one and given the golfer a new, 10-year contract. It'll be great to see another classy and talented young role model staring in the company's breakthrough social media.

Fashion and beauty brands have expanded their social media efforts on Instagram by about 40% in the last year, but Christian Louboutin has taken it a step further, realizing that not many are getting their customers involved in the fun. To do that, the brand launched Louboutinworld, a User Generated Content site gallery that gives visitors who post great pix with the # louboutinworld a chance to have their art featured on the LouBoutin site. Effective? Since the beginning of this past July, They've grown their community by 80% and increased organic brand mentions to 5.1Mn!
Maybe we could use a campaign like this to fill our Philips Asset Library!

In light of all the talk of successful social media campaigns, today and in the past on this call, I thought it might be good to discuss the post from Steve McGrew of Philips Design that many of you may have seen on SocialCast this Tuesday. It recommends a post by Josh Bernoff on his Without Bullshit blog that seems to claim that Social Marketing is Dead. For those of you who may not be familiar with him, Josh Bernoff is the author (with Charlene Li) of GroundSwell, perhaps the seminal treatise on Social Marketing and he was also the editor of Outside in - the power of putting the customer at the center of your business. I've found both quite influential. He's a great speaker and a really good writer and thinker. I suggest you read the post but more important, read the comment discussion below it, because that's where the real value is and I think that was his motive in stirring the pot like this.
Josh is agreeing with a post from another digital pundit, Augie Ray who quotes a lot of stats that say that Social doesn't work.

To that I say Social media doesn't work as pure advertising, it doesn't work as a broadcast medium. Wholeheartedly agree. As I said in my reply to Steve's post, What social has always been primarily about, for me, is listening. It's an almost bottomless mine of customer insight for companies willing to invest in developing it. Understanding what the market is thinking. Learning about your customers' needs. Then using this insight and these channels to RESPOND to those needs and thoughts in a meaningful way that connects you to the people who are looking for your help. Not talking about yourself, but doing things that cause customers to talk to each other about you in an upbeat and positive way. That 'asymmetrical' communication is the holy grail of Social.

There's more to it then that. Facebook has sqeezed the life out of social marketing on their platform so that you have to pay for impressions rather than get them organically because that's their business. As we've discussed here before, they did it nefariously, getting brands to pay to build communities, then walling off those communities and charging them for access.
1. That's not social's fault, nor is it marketings fault, it's Facebook's fault. 2. Advertising on Facebook is perhaps the most surefire way to reach a very specific, even a niche audience. It's the most targeted ad buy available. But it's an ad buy. It's not social media.

Last thing I want to say about this is Social is too often used as a broadcast medium by people who don't understand it. Marketers are just as guilty of this as anyone, but it's not a marketing problem. To be effective, Social marketing requires a very refined degree of a specific kind of creativity. Personality that resonates with the reader, quality, value to the reader, honesty, wit and charm, craftsmanship and art are the keys. Quantity is counterproductive. The idea is to find a way to engage that makes your audience feel something. The point is to create situations that make customers talk about your brand to each other. When that happens, earned media will talk about you too.