Can I get a restraining order against Facebook?

Yesterday I actually went to my Integrated Media lecture! And it was brilliant.

Alex Lambert (who I keep accidentally referring to as Adam Lambert) gave a lecture on social media, and in particular Facebook. It made me shiver and almost run out of the room screaming. Because you see, social media scares me. Or not so much social media itself – but how it is affecting our lives, and how I view the future if we keep going down this path of surrendering our lives to the Facebook Empire.

Me!!! I am!!

Me!!! I am!!

I’m saddened by the fact I didn’t get enough time to jot time Mr Lambert’s email address, because I would have immediately emailed him an important question if I had:

Are you scared?

Because I certainly am.

Stuck in this horrifying web

Stuck in this horrifying web

You see, when I started using social media as a preteen (using MSN messenger after school to chat with my friends and try and crack onto boys I liked) it was all about whining about our lives and trying to get attention. Everyone was equals, and our conversations seemed private and uninterrupted.

NOW, Facebook is a fully functioning marketing machine!! It is like a marketing robot of the future: a holographic presence that follows us about wherever we are, telling us to buy things and like things and look at things and tell other people to buy, like and look at things. It watches our every move, and it remembers…. Ultimate stalker. CAN I get a restraining order against Facebook, do you think? (something to consider)

scared-facebook

Anecdote that proves the intense power of Facebook: a bunch of wedding ads pop up on my Facebook page (wedding dresses, rings, wedding locations etc.) and I start to think ‘oh, that dress looks nice. Having a wedding would be nice. Maybe I should get married?’ – I start to talk about it with my boyfriend, he starts to think about it… WE GET MARRIED! BECAUSE FACEBOOK ESSENTIALLY TOLD US TO! (Please note – this hasn’t actually happened yet. We aren’t married, however Facebook ads are literally trying to get us to.)

 

A part of me, super duper wants to flee from this control! To escape to the country, live off the land, and never have to deal with another selfie again. But sometimes I think maybe this is ‘normal’, maybe this is ‘okay’. Maybe I meant to live in this kind of world. Other people seem to be doing quite fine, and rarely think of it. Perhaps I am actually mentally ill, as this does indeed feel to me like some sort of massive conspiracy…

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Marmalade: A Case Study

While advertising and public relations are two very different operations, an advertising agency may do more PR than one would think. “Many practitioners and scholars believe that the fundamental goal of public relations is building relationships with an organisation’s key constituencies.” (Hon and Grunig, pg. 6)

marma lade

Marmalade, a Melbourne advertising agency, was started 11 and a half years ago by Managing Director Victor Maree and several colleagues, and was initially serviced by a media placement agency, which would pay the company a commission for the work they did on behalf of the agency. More recently Marmalade works on its own, managing client relationships and media placement in-house. I sat down with Victor to discuss Marmalade, and to gain some insight into how it runs and is so successful. One of the first things he was ready to point out was that Marmalade is a “fully integrated” agency. He was quick to agree that the role of media agencies is changing, as “consumers are not consuming media in the traditional way”. This transition can pose issues for a creative agency like Marmalade:

‘Integrated Marketing Communication can restrict creativity. No more wild and wacky sales promotions unless they fit into the overall marketing communications strategy. The joy of rampant creativity may be stifled, but the creative challenge may be greater and ultimately more satisfying when operating within a tighter, integrated, creative brief.’ (Smith and Taylor, pg. 18)

How does Marmalade counter this struggle? According to Victor it is Marmalade’s dedication to creativity and not just servicing clients, but “believing in their products”, that makes business so successful. It is this dedication to producing work of the highest standard, and keeping clients engaged and satisfied that allows the agency to function as well as it does.

Its success speaks for itself: an impressive portfolio includes clients such as Mercedes Benz, Australia Post, Beyond Blue and Victoria Police.

My discussion with Victor revealed two areas of communication which especially stood out in the company: client acquisition and retention, and pitching to clients.

 

The Marmalade Team. Picture Credit: www.bandt.com.au

The Marmalade Team. Picture Credit: http://www.bandt.com.au

Client acquisition and retention

As Jacquelyn S. Thomas points out, “customer acquisition and retention are not independent processes” (pg. 262). It is a matter of balancing new and existing clients all the time.

New business is vital to the health of any business or industry.
Victor was especially concerned with this in terms of his employees, noting that if Marmalade is not constantly growing and evolving, and gaining new clients, new employees are not given security or assurance that their jobs will remain stable.

As acquiring new business will make way for more potential profit, it is important to measure beforehand if the benefits of taking on the client will outweigh the costs.

“Measuring, managing, and maximizing customer profitability is not an easy task. It requires that in resource allocation decisions, both the benefits and the costs of marketing, sales, and customer interactions are considered.” (Reinartz, Thomas and Kumar, pg. 63)

Victor is not solely concerned with profitability, however, denying Reinartz et al’s statement that “individual customer profitability should be the objective function” (pg. 78) of acquiring a new client. It is important to have a “new business strategy” in place, and to assess a new business not only on what profit it will bring in, but also on what creative opportunities are available in the work. No matter the size or importance of any business, Marmalade and all advertising agencies are “judged on the work that they produce for that client”.

Victor used the example of the ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ campaign. Though the agency that invented it, McCANN, were given the smallest of budgets, working with a well-known but not necessarily liked company (Metro trains), the quality, humour and suitability of the integrated media campaign absolutely took off! It was the quality of the work and the soundness of the idea that has led McCANN to win many awards and be inundated with new clients who have purposely sought them out.

 

This example brings up another important factor in the client acquisition process: the role that word-of-mouth plays in bringing in new business. Again this comes back to the quality of the work that Marmalade produces.

“Service quality is important for new customer acquisition in the sense that the heavy users tend to be acquired by word of mouth rather than advertising” (Nam et. Al., pg 2)

In addition, “the magnitude of a negative word of mouth effect is twice as large as that of a positive one” (Nam et. Al., pg. 20). Marmalade’s answer to this fact is focusing on “having a fantastic portfolio of work” and “working hard to keep satisfying clients”. For an advertising agency like Marmalade there is no use in trying to keep customers or obtain new ones if the agency does not produce exceptional work for them. This may be an obvious statement – but it is one Victor did not hesitate to make.

When up against competition, on a pitch list amongst other advertising agencies, Marmalade will often step back if the competition is too fierce. As so much must be invested in a client pitch, it is almost worthless pitching at all if there are 10 other agencies also pitching. Victor revealed that the company strategy in this case is a maximum 3 agencies to pitch against.

Overall, for the company, client acquisition and retention is about working hard at it. “You have to live and breathe their products”. There is no option of watching from a distance, as you must live their business with them, prove that you can help them and bring something to the table. It is also a matter of executing things really well, as in the end, you must deliver what you have sold to the client to retain the business.

The Process from Client Brief to Pitch

Pitching to clients is possibly THE most important aspect of business at Marmalade. This is the chance they are given to prove their creative abilities and strengths, and to attract lasting business. It is vital to be always pitching – for Marmalade this is happening at least every month as “it is essential to always be doing something”.

Victor took me briefly through the pitching process:

  1. The first step is to create a ‘reverse brief’ as a response to a brief supplied by the client. This brief can be anything from a phone call with a list of issues, to a carefully formatted document outlining an advertising opportunity. Some can be very disciplined – as in the case of large client Mercedes Benz.
  2. It is then a matter of answering several questions: ‘why’ is the campaign being developed, ‘who’ is the target audience/market, ‘what’ do we want to say?
  3.  Ideas are proposed, which must be clearly communicated and soundly researched. Timing, budget and medium must all be taken into account.
  4. A creative team comes together to share information and ideas. A strategist is often involved, as well as a client services person. In this initial meeting the team gets excited about the product or service, they must live and breathe and feel it.
  5. Regrouping after a week or so, ideas and proposals are produced and compared.
  6. 3 or so ideas are chosen initially to be developed further before presenting them to the client.

At all stages, the brief is constantly being referred back to and judged against. Regardless of what ideas are presented to the client, “each element of the communication mix should integrate with other tools of the communications mix so that a unified message is consistently reinforced” (Smith and Taylor, pg 14.) and this message reflects what the client placed on the brief.

In terms of approaching new clients directly, this must be done carefully and selectively. For Marmalade, new clients are often taken on-board after they have approached the agency of their own accord. It is then a matter of pitching to them and coming up with creative ideas that will further encourage the client to sign on with them. In the occasional case that Marmalade approaches a company directly for business, it is a matter of strong communication skills, in-depth research prior to contacting them, and a solid idea that is certain to interest the potential client. This does not happen often, and is a dangerous business as so much time and effort must be put in, without definite indication of the client’s interest.

In most marketing, PR and communications literature, the focus is largely on strategies, profitability and techniques. However, in a real life scenario, an advertising agency will do what works best for them. Often this means being selective about where effort, time and funds are placed. “Effective organizations are able to achieve their goals because they choose goals that are valued both by management and by strategic constituencies both inside and outside the organization” (Hon and Grunig, pg. 8). Marmalade clearly states its philosophy and its goals on its website. In dealing with client relationships, the website states it best when it says:

Time and time again we’ve seen how much can be achieved through simple good manners and the ability to listen carefully.”

 

Annotated Bibliography

1. Hon, Linda Childers and Grunig, James E. Guidelines for Measuring Relationships in Public Relations. Institute for Public Relations (1999).

This document was published by the Institute for Public Relations, outlining ways that relationships can be measured in PR. In dealing with client relationships, this source proved very helpful shaping my analysis of how Marmalade deals with client relationships, and also affirming why relationships are such an important part of successful business.

2. Reinartz, Werner; Thomas, Jacquelyn S.; and Kumar, V. “Balancing Acquisition and Retention Resources to Maximise Customer Profitability”: Journal of Marketing, Vol. 69, No. 1. (2005)

This document is from a marketing journal and as such the contention is very “profit-based”. This provided an interesting source to contrast to my interview subject’s view that relationships are not solely concerned with profit, but are also to do with credibility and creative opportunity.

 3. Thomas, Jacquelyn S. “A Methodology for Linking Customer Acquisition to Customer Retention”: Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 38, No. 2. (2001)

Another journal article, this piece stressed the link between client acquisition and client retention, which I thought made an interesting contribution to this case study. This also reflected what my interview subject mentioned about working to satisfy existing companies while also attempting to gain new work.

4. Nam, Sungjoon; Manchanda, Puneet; and Chintagunta, Pradeep K. The Effects of Service Quality and Word of Mouth on Customer Acquisition, Retention and Usage. Social Science Research Network (2007).

My interview subject spoke largely about the affect that word of mouth has on business and acquiring and retaining clients. This study provided some excellent research data to assist in highlighting the effect of word of mouth in relation to service quality.

5. Smith, Paul Russell and Taylor, Jonathan. Marketing Communications: An Integrated Approach. Kogan Page Publishers (2004).

It became very obvious in our interview that the role of advertising agencies has changed massively in the last few years. This text provided and excellent backdrop for this change, and in analysing how IMC affects the way businesses run and the mixed communications services that they must provide in the current media landscape.

** Please note: text in orange is direct quotes from the interview with Victor Maree**

Social Media – it’s all about me

Hah!! This slideshare is actually amazing.

And you know what? It’s right.

Sure, it just pumped out a whole lot of figures and quotes from (somewhat questionable sources) – but what it’s saying is right. Social media is here to stay. It has become a part of life, and businesses need to respond to it, and respond IN it.

We live in a world in which we really only care about ourselves, and about being heard. That’s WHY so many people have blogs and love to ramble on about their interests and general nothingness, and why there are so many review sites. We care about what we think, and we expect everyone else to care about it too.

Experience informing practice etc.

We’ve watched this video in class today.

I suppose the idea of getting us to watch this video was to encourage us to write the report due in Week 13 in the style of a usual essay. It can become a bit confusing when writing for the web so much to revert to this academic style of writing. We become so used to writing in a casual, informal, personal manner, that using references and literature to support what we are saying becomes less important than giving a point of view and making it engaging and entertaining.

However, with this subject, it is also evident that there are huge differences in how you would go about it from a regular essay. Because it IS a report in an online format, there becomes an opportunity to link specifically to references and examples in practice. Rather than spending a paragraph explaining an example, it’s just BOOM – link to it, and there is everything you need to know.

Though in the video she warned us to stay away from ‘speculating’ and bringing our own ideas into discussion, we have also been encouraged to actually do this! Because this form of media and interactive documentary which we are studying is so new and emerging, we need to be able to speculate where it could be headed, and predict some probable and possible outcomes for our own work.

I just sort of wish my report could write itself >.<

I’m a Twitter Machine

I’ve been given the role of Chief Tweeter in our group assignment. Why? I don’t even know!! I have barely used Twitter before. But I think I am getting there. It is so amazing to see people starting to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. It’s like watching a baby take its first few steps 🙂

We currently have 8 followers on our twitter – and I we’ve had 26 likes on our Facebook page! I know that doesn’t seem like much right now, but as I’ve mentioned before TIME is so crucial with these things. It’s takes time to set it all up, develop a ‘voice’, and attract followers.

I’ve found a few Twitter Tips which I may start to employ as an overall strategy – did I mention I don’t use Twitter? :/ eek!

I’ve used some of these tips to spell out my own, pretty basic, Twitter Strategy:

– Post at LEAST once a day, but no more than 4
– Retweet about the same amount
– Use images
– Use less than 100 characters per tweet
– Use one or two hashtags per tweet
– Request retweets! (by spelling it out, or putting RT) – only where necessary

Well, here’s to hoping!

twitter

More on “using social media to produce an interactive documentary”

I’ve been interning with community radio station LightFM lately in their web content department. It is interesting how much what my “supervisor” was explaining to me yesterday aligns with this course. She was describing how LightFM has a strong community feel, and how social media is being strongly used to expand and develop that community online. This is done by sharing the content on their website by promoting articles and radio segments on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram.

Tagging is a huge part of it. She was telling me don’t even bother posting it if you don’t tag the right people! For example, I was writing an article about an interview a presenter did with the band Casting Crowns, and I had to tag their Facebook page on FB and their Twitter accounts on Twitter. In this way, followers of this massive US band can access OUR content. When high profile bands are featured on the station, we write about them and if they retweet or repost our articles, their hundreds of thousands of followers can see them! Amazing.

So I guess my point here is about using social media to connect.

In terms of using this to produce an interactive documentary, these social media outlets can be used to harness support, coverage and awareness. By tagging people, or even certain businesses, you are given access to a simple and FREE audience automatically. It is obviously important to distinguish a real cause/movement/project from spam through post content etc.

It is also essential to tag the RIGHT PERSON [In light of the recent Offspring Twitter awkwardness…
OffspringtearsbedAArticle-w-620x349

Documenting our progress so far.

It was with bleary eyes on a Thursday morn that my Integrated Media group combined forces to create the concept for ‘Zen for Ten’ – our major assignment task. Perhaps we could have come up with a more exciting idea, however when no one really has any creative ideas so early in the morning, occasionally you just have to go ahead with what you’ve got!

And voilá!

https://www.facebook.com/ZenforTen
https://twitter.com/ZenforTen
http://instagram.com/zenforten

We have our three major social media accounts set up thus far. The Facebook page will be where it’s all at: it will link out to the actual event page, as well as the Instagram and Twitter accounts. We will fill these pages with meditation advice, inspirational quotes, information about the event, as well as ‘reposts’ from some of the people we choose to follow.

Already we have a few followers in these accounts just from liking and following other users in the social media network. We haven’t even posted any content yet! That is the next stage, however, and will be largely how we attract the attention of people to encourage them to get involved.

Stay tuned for further updates on the development of Zen for Ten.