This is the fourteenth episode of, ‘This Week In Organic’, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news.
In this episode, the subjects among other things include “Does every business need to be on Facebook? Who will win the battle for mobile discovery? Where should your business be – Instagram or Pinterest? And are the lines blurring between marketing channels?” This week’s host, David Bain is joined by Casey Meraz from Ethical SEO Consulting, Chris Bland from Havas Media, Grant Whiteside from Ambergreen and Steve Linney from Learning People.
Here are the topics covered in today’s show:
Topic #1: Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook has hit a billion users in a single day – but does that mean that a business is missing out if it doesn’t have its own Facebook property – Does every business need to be on Facebook?
If I own a digital consultancy business, what are a few of the things that I can be doing to take better advantage of Facebook?
Topic #2: Virtual assistant software
Facebook have launched ‘M’ – its challenger to Siri, Cortana and Google Now. It seems like the virtual, virtual assistant race is hotting up. But how can businesses position themselves to be the recommended product or service?
Who will win the battle for mobile discovery?
How will this impact local business?
Do you want to instant chat with a search engine?
Topic #3: Instagram
Instagram announced this week that they’re going to be supporting non-square images – so will this persuade more businesses to use the service?
If represent a business that wants to share pictures of my products online, should I be considering using Instagram or Pinterest or both? What are the pros and cons?
Topic #4: Marketing channels
Kai Crow published an article on Marketing Profs yesterday called “Why Apple Watch Rings the Death Knell of the ‘Mobile’ Marketing Channel”. It’s a dramatic headline – but in the article, Kai says “What the watch does represent is the blurring of lines between what have traditionally been seen as different “channels” by marketers.
And this is a very pertinent point – many marketing teams are split into specialist teams that don’t really understand what other teams do. Is there a more effective structure for large marketing departments in the future?
DAVID BAIN: Does every business need to be on Facebook? Who will win the battle for mobile discovery? Where should your business be – Instagram or Pinterest? And are the lines blurring between marketing channels? Welcome to This Week in Organic, Episode Number Fourteen.
Broadcasting live from London, you’re watching This Week in Organic, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news. Sign up to watch the next show live at www.thisweekinorganic.com.
Hello and welcome. I’m David Bain and each week I’ll be joined by some knowledgeable, opinionated folks to discuss the latest happenings in anything that impacts organic traffic. As for you, dear viewer, get involved – we’d love to hear your opinion too. So just use the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter, and if you’re watching live your thoughts will magically appear in the chat box to your right-hand side.
So, let’s find out more about today’s guests, where they’re from and what’s caught their attention this week. So starting off with Casey.
CASEY MERAZ: Yeah. My name is Casey Meraz. I’m based out of Denver, Colorado, and this week I’ve been following the three-pack updates and just the continued roll-out, and just seeing how that’s going to play out long-term here. It’s been catching my attention.
DAVID BAIN: Great. We’ll see if we can incorporate that into the discussion. Now moving on to Chris.
CHRIS BLAND: Hi, I’m Chris Bland. I’m working as a Consulting Lead here at Havas Media Group Consulting, which is the marketing services division of Havas Media Group. This week what’s caught my eye has been the impending roll-out of more ad-blocking tech coming from the iOS update, which is going to due September ninth. We’re looking forward to that one. Now only does ad-blocking make… I know this is organic, but to most marketers out there, that could become an issue, but it’s also going to be an issue for people who are rolling out any kind of content that is on a mobile phone, potentially. So that’s making me think about how brands are going to respond to that one.
DAVID BAIN: Well, we’re also talking about the blurring of lines between marketing channels as well. So sometimes it’s difficult to actually figure out where organic ends and paid begins, I reckon.
CHRIS BLAND: Absolutely.
DAVID BAIN: Also with us today is Grant.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Hi, my name is Grant Whiteside. I’m the Product and Development Director at Ambergreen. We’re a full-service digital marketing agency base dup in Edinburgh. What caught my eyes this week was Google’s Right to be Forgotten and what happened with that? At the end of the day, it would appear that that’s been forgotten. It’s almost like a super-injunction of an injunction, of an injunction, and we don’t know if this is going to actually end with the right to be forgotten. It’s poorly thought out in the first place, and it’s going to get a whole lot messier still to come.
DAVID BAIN: You almost forgot what’s been forgotten, Grant. Also joining us from sunny Brighton today is Steve.
STEVE LINNEY: Hi there. I’m Steve Linney. I’m Head of Marketing for the Learning People, and we are one of Europe’s fastest-growing e-learning providers, providing project management, IT, and digital marketing certifications. This week we’ve been really looking towards content marketing channels, and in particular, Instagram. So I believe it’s something we’re going to talk about later on, but probably the biggest thing for me is a little tweak that they’ve done to allow wide-stream Photoshop, with just square photos, because we’re a very image-focused company, and definitely as a marketing team. So it’d be good to see more of what we can do with that side of things.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely. Okay, thanks Steve. Well, topic number one is, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook has hit a billion users in a single day. The thing is, does that mean that if you run a business, obviously your business is missing out if it doesn’t have its own Facebook property? Does every business need to be on Facebook? Casey, chatting to you first, do you think it’s actually essential no matter your business, to have some kind of property on Facebook?
CASEY MERAZ: I do, and for several reasons. Number one, the one that comes to mind on top, is the brand. You want to control your brand. You want to make sure that other people aren’t using that name, or using it inappropriately in a way that could affect you. Number two is obviously, you can grow your audience on Facebook even though you’re going to have little penetration on your posts and things like that. The most overlooked issue or problem that people have is if they don’t have a Facebook account, when they’re creating content, they may not be associated with the groups that their audiences are hanging out at. So in some cases, it makes a lot more sense to have your Facebook property and not necessarily to be putting as much information in the posting if you don’t have a big audience, but instead just promoting your content to the right audiences, where they’re hanging out, and the appropriate places on Facebook. So for me it’s absolutely essential.
DAVID BAIN: So the appropriate places on Facebook, I guess that’s the pertinent question. Chris, would you say it’s essential for every business to have a Facebook page nowadays?
CHRIS BLAND: Well, it’s interesting. I was looking at this, and it seems that AdWeek just produced a survey that was done by YouGov, so it’s reasonably creditable. It says that 34% of small business owners don’t believe that social media will bring them any value. So there’s clearly a way to go for the billion-user Zuckerberg, to convince some people out there. Indeed, there are some difficulties. The effort and the skill required from your average small business owner are considerable, in terms of manning and delivering a professional Facebook page which has a life of its own and the momentum of its own that you need to keep up with. So I can understand that issue. Also, for some businesses who may be small businesses, but they might have several branches – I’m thinking of estate agents, or restaurants, or hotels – is it the branch owner who deals with the page, or the brand sentry that does it. Maybe there isn’t a central brand owner, in which case you have this kind of dissonance of different voices talking on behalf of the brand. So there are difficulties there, and it is something that does need coordination, and not everyone can afford an agency to do that for them, particularly not in the small business realm. As Casey just pointed out there, if you’re not on it, someone else might well own your space. Frankly, Facebook is a very personal space, so if you can at all present a consistent, real time and authentic voice that is you, is your brand, is your company, then you really can’t afford not to be on it.
DAVID BAIN: And Grant, do you think that it’s worthwhile businesses registering their own Facebook page, and going to URLs, even though they don’t have that much time, and perhaps leaving it for a while and not having enough time to go back to it? Could that be an exercise in negative publicity, or is it worthwhile in every instance doing it?
GRANT WHITESIDE: I think in an ideal world, every business would have its own Facebook page, but some businesses .just like some people on Facebook, don’t put their best foot forward. As was mentioned earlier, you’ve got to devote that time and effort to using Facebook if you want to actually use it properly. So your point about looking after your brand name in the first place, I totally agree with it. I think most people should just do that. Remember, if you are time-poor or you’re tech-poor, not with thought but what you actually want to do it for, then at the end of the day looking after the brand name and not doing anything with it. You can only really embrace this if you’ve got the time and the energy, and not many SMEs do. If you’re just washing cars or whatever, it may not be the best thing for you. It does work. It’ll always work, it’ll always help businesses, but absolutely, if you say the wrong thing, or you don’t present yourself in the right way, you could be doing yourself some damage there.
DAVID BAIN: So Steve, I saw you nodding away there as well. Do you agree that, if you don’t have the time to interact on Facebook, then possibly it’s not the most optimum area for you to be focusing on in terms of business?
STEVE LINNEY: Yeah, certainly. Time is probably the most important commodity amongst all this. If you don’t have the time to put some engaging content on there and really tell a story that sells your brand in a positive way, if you’re just chucking images that aren’t of high quality, if what you’re saying isn’t of any value, then you’re going to do damage to your brands rather than any good to it. So it’s definitely a case where, I like the idea that people take the URL off the name for their brand, and maybe they just put a holding section up there that drives back to a website, if they have that. Or at least, say like a car wash, it says when the car wash is. So I think there’s still something to be done. Someone should do a minimum of it, but if you really can invest time into it, I think there’s wonders that can be done with brands. You can really get a personality with that as well, even if you’re a one-man or one-woman band working from home. You can really tell a story that’s personal to you in a very engaging way with your customer base through Facebook that you probably can’t do in other channels or on your own website. So I think it’s definitely something that need to be invested in, but make sure it’s right for your brand and right for you before you do it.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, that’s great. So that’s a few general tips with regards to Facebook there. A lot of our viewers may be digital consultancy owners, so if you were talking to someone who owned some kind of digital consultancy, perhaps not the biggest one in the world, maybe has a dozen or so employees, what kind of things do you think they should be doing on Facebook? Back to Casey again. What kind of things do you think that kind of business should be doing on Facebook to take best advantage of the platform?
CASEY MERAZ: So it really depends on what that agency is doing to promote themselves. If they’re doing their own content marketing, and creating good resources or guides, things like that, the biggest benefit that we use it for is seeking out where our like-minded audience is. I’m going to use a lawyer for example; there’s actually some lawyers’ groups on Facebook, or groups that these lawyers hang out in, that we want to get in front of. So we find out where they’re hanging out, and then we’re sharing the content we’re posting on our agency’s website to these groups. It’s not self-serving to us, which is also important. Not just, ‘Hey, look at me.’ That’s the way that we utilise is, and really giving away that information. I can’t say that enough. The biggest problem that I see is just people on social media being inconsistent about a strategy, and also just being self-serving, trying to pain an audience by telling people how good you are.
DAVID BAIN: So do you see Facebook pages in general being more important than, for instance, groups for businesses?
CASEY MERAZ: No, I think groups are more important, personally. If you have an agency, you’re not getting a lot of those benefits of Facebook in the sense of check-ins, for example. You’re probably not getting people coming in and sharing that with their friends. So you have to have a very specific strategy for your own page, which again, would also not be self-serving as far as content promotion goes. In my opinion, groups are much more powerful for what we do.
DAVID BAIN: So Chris, if a small agency just had a limited budget, do you think they’d be better off getting someone focusing part-time on a Facebook page, and interacting there, and trying to drive up engagement within that page? Or perhaps they should be better off actually funnelling that budget towards retargeting, or maybe using some of the Facebook advertising options? Which one would you say is best?
CHRIS BLAND: So I’m assuming that the high budget, paid option is probably least attractive to that kind of audience. Particularly when you’ve got something valuable to say or to think, then you should be using that to maximum effect. So I don’t see why you shouldn’t be using the organic side of Facebook, but I think just settling on your own page isn’t clearly good enough. You have to be entering into the conversations that other people are having. To do so, you have to have something sensible to say. So you need to pick your audiences pretty carefully. As Casey says, have something relevant, useful, and insightful to say. Don’t out-stay your welcome. You treat it like a normal social environment, and make sure that you’re getting involved. You can’t just be a lurker, you can’t just post other articles that are out on the internet, although that has its value to a degree. I think you do have to get out there and get involved in the conversation.
DAVID BAIN: So Grant, if you were advising a business on this, is it generally better to actually interact as a brand, on behalf of the brand – you’ve obviously got your brand name there – or as an individual representing that brand?
GRANT WHITESIDE: I think you should try and present it to them as the brand. It’s interesting, we’ve talked about what people are using Facebook for, sometimes Facebook, well certainly for Ambergreen, we thought it was used almost like to demonstrate the culture of the company. So there again, you might repost or highlight when there’s a new blog post out that you’ve created, et cetera. You’re reaching a slightly different audience in a slightly different way. Quite often we just use that as the fun part of what we do. We wouldn’t share this type of content on LinkedIn, or Inbound, or anything else. We actually just use Facebook as the funny bit. So from that point of view, from an HR point of view, you can’t tell people what you’re like under the skin without going into the actual detail of what your business actually does, without having it demonstrate culture, how you think, how you look, how you act, what you think is funny, what you think is engaging. You can tell a lot by a brand. Speaking for us, that’s how we use it.
DAVID BAIN: So Steve, Grant was talking a lot there about culture, and he also mentioned fun as well. It’s kind of engaging amusing content perhaps that people associate with Facebook. So is there a place to actually try and share intellectual, factual content on Facebook? Or is that not the right place to share that kind of content?
STEVE LINNEY: Well, yeah. I think it is the right place to share it as well, to be honest. I’ll use what we did at Learning People as an example. We kind of tend to do both, really. So we have content where it could be a blog by the Ricardo Vargas, who’s the head of United Nations project management, which is quite a detailed blog about what his experience as project manager is in war-torn circumstances. At the same time, we’ll post a mix, like a DJ mix, on MixCloud and then put it onto Facebook and say, ‘Have a good weekend. If you’re having a summer barbecue, here’s some music for your background,’ and all that side of things. So both of them definitely play quite well on our Facebook. What we’re trying to do is more of a kind of ‘work to live’ mentality. So we have essences of professionalism, but also being able to enjoy yourself as well. I think because that’s kind of running all the way through our brands and their Facebook, it kind of makes sense with us. So again, I don’t think it’s a one-shop for everyone sort of thing. So you do need to take to your brand and see what’s right for you and what really fits across the board. We try to use Facebook aligned with the rest of our channels as well. There is native content on there, but it’s all very sympathetic to what we’re doing on other networks.
DAVID BAIN: So on a related subject, Facebook has launched M, its challenger to Siri, Cortana, and Google Now. It seems like the virtual assistant race is heating up. So how can businesses position themselves to be the recommended product or service by these virtual recommendation services? Casey, you talked about law firms, I believe. What would a law firm do to make it more likely to be recommended by these types of services?
CASEY MERAZ: So first of all, circling back to making sure you have that page and that presence, that’s obviously another important reason here. If Facebook’s trying to get part of the search share, and people are using these virtual assistants, ‘Where’s the nearest law firm nearby?’ and talking to Facebook, you want to be up there at the top. To do that, basically you have, number one, make sure that your profile is 100% complete and really approach it with the attitude of, ‘I want mine to be significantly better than everybody else’s.’ So that’s everything from pictures, and maybe even developing a strategy there for how you’re going to post. But reviews are a big one too. It’s so easy to review a business on Facebook; you just click the number of stars, you can write something real quick. So the more people who visit that, I feel that’s going to have a big influence on where you’re going to be showing up because, just like Google, Facebook to provide the user with the best user experience. It makes sense to point them in the right direction towards businesses that are highly reviewed.
DAVID BAIN: So this M service has obviously just launched in Silicon Valley, really, isn’t it? There’s a few testers using the service at the moment. By the screenshots, it looks as if it’s a chat-type service that people can chat to this virtual assistant for recommendations. Is that a good user experience? Chris, can you see that kind of virtual assistant service being used by the masses?
CHRIS BLAND: Yeah. So just speaking from my own personal experience, when you come to personal assistants, I think you almost only can talk from your own personal experience as to how these are being used. It’s interesting to aggregate people’s views on a personal assistant. I’m an Android fan, I admit I’ve never used Siri, and I haven’t used Cortana, I haven’t bothered to download it. I have used Google Now, and I’ve used it by default, really, just because it’s so easy to flick across to it, and because it kind of does present itself through notifications now and again. It’s one of those needs that you never knew that you had, but it’s growing on me. If you go traveling, you’ll find that your itinerary and your flight details are contained in a potted card right there, just with one swipe from the homepage, which is kind of useful. It’s got all of your to-do items that are right there. So it’s a very different kind of proposition to the much more push-based assistant that M and Siri are proposing, and possibly Cortana as well. It’s a much more passive, in the background, here are some useful things potentially for your moment right now. So I’ve started to warm to that as a concept, but really, you have to have a look at M because Facebook ultimately is cross-platform. You can download Google Now for Apple, but really, who’s going to. You can download Cortana for both iOS and Android, but really, who’s going to. Frankly, Android fans are not going to start downloading Siri any time soon. So both of the big players, Apple and Google, are hobbled by their platform device. Facebook is the only cross-platform assistant in this scenario, and it’s one that people are using all the time as part of the Facebook app. So I do see that they’ve got a huge opportunity there to capture the push assistant market, whereas Google Now is not trying, so far, to really occupy that market. In order to make a difference in terms of the local businesses, it is about trying to get involved in some of the data sources for those assistants, and absolutely search is one of those. Increasingly, form my experience with Google Now, it pulls from a range of different apps which have cards on the systems. So if you are part of a stock portfolio, or if you on a to-do list, or if you have an app that has certain functionality, you can try and make yourself available there. For small businesses not so much, but to try and make sure that… I think Google has an increasing amount for restaurants. It’s got new facilities for aggregating pictures of food and menu items, and that’s now becoming part of the local search. So it’s about trying to make sure that you can populate as much of that ecosystem as possible.
DAVID BAIN: So Chris, based upon your experience of using Google Now, if you’re selecting a restaurant on Google Now based upon results you’ve seen, what do you actually base your selection criteria on? Is it ratings and reviews, is it distance from where you are, or just the type of food you’re looking for?
CHRIS BLAND: So if it’s on Google Now, all of that is done for you. It’s only being proposed because it’s high rating and local. You’re only given three, because you can only fit three on the restaurant card. So the only reason you’re going to use Google Now versus an in-depth look on Maps is speed. If you are with a client and you need a restaurant to go to right now, and it says J Sheekey’s is around the corner right now, and it’s got two available seats, I’m going to push the button and go straight there. That is a major difference because it’s done all the calculation in the background. It means I don’t stand there looking like a mug, waiting to get mugged, while I start looking things up on Google Maps, and generally looking like a tourist.
DAVID BAIN: So Grant, do you prefer using search engines still, or are you moving towards using these services as well?
GRANT WHITESIDE: I still use search, but obviously I think it’s more like voice-based search. It’s interesting what’s happening with the M thing. I’m a little surprised it was on messenger. Of all the channels, and all the things that Facebook actually has in the first place, it was quite surprising that all of a sudden messenger can use this thing. If you and me had a conversation, and I sent you some text, and you sent me some text back, all of a sudden it’s going to be this virtual assistant that’s going to pull information from all over the shop. I don’t necessarily know if it’s going to work or not. They’re selling it on the platform, and they’re getting you obviously. Facebook is an app that sits on everybody else’s systems as well, at the same time. More and more people are just going to do voice-based at the end of the day, and we can already see that, especially with millennials. They’re actually searching stuff. It’s a natural progression, and it does go back to the question we were talking about – should you be on Facebook? Well, if you’re a business, you’re going to have to use the advertising on Facebook. If this blows up and becomes very successful, you’re going to have to orchestrate conversations about the products and the services that you actually talk about in the first place. So you’re going to become locally based as well, as people search these things. Obviously the thing about M, nobody really knows about it because there’s only two or three hundred that actually that at this moment in time. It’ll be interesting to see if it works. I also wonder if Facebook might actually just create its own operating system at the end of the day. What happens is Apple, and Google, and Microsoft turn around and see this a little bit of a threat, as they start taking away the market share, if more and more people use Facebook as well, especially these voice-based things. So it’s an interesting space. We speak to machines more than we ever did before. We used to be a little bit embarrassed by that kind of stuff. It’s a natural progression, it’s got a long, long way to go, and compared to things like Siri, which is just awful. I spend more time swearing at Siri than I ever get answers.
DAVID BAIN: So Steve, it was interesting that when Grant was saying it was gravitating towards voice. That may or may not be something that the younger generation is comfortable with, because obviously a lot of people have grown up texting now, really, and using text on Facebook and whatever other social network they’re on. Do you agree? Do you think things are gravitating towards voice, or do you think Facebook has got it right, and it should be a text-focused virtual assistant?
STEVE LINNEY: Well, I think probably voice will be the way forward. There’s sketch on YouTube of Scottish guys stuck in a lift, trying to use their voice activation. So at the moment, until they get over those barriers, in particular with people with stronger roles, let’s say, text is definitely going to be the main thing that’s going to be used.
DAVID BAIN: I think we should do a sketch of that YouTube at the moment. Or maybe not.
STEVE LINNEY: I feel like I’m on it now. [laughing]
DAVID BAIN: Eleven!
STEVE LINNEY: So I think text is going to be around for a long time as well. Again, it is something we’re comfortable with, but voice is going to the way forward. It’s going to be what all the sci-fi movies in the 50s and 60s said it’s going to be. So it’s going to happen at some point, but I think that text is definitely here to stay for a bit of time yet.
DAVID BAIN: Poor Casey is wondering what we’re talking about there. [laughing] Obviously, it’s down to accents, and the fact that these virtual assistant devices can’t necessarily recognise every dialect, every form of one word in the English language, let alone other languages. Do you think that’s a barrier that these services will cross fairly soon, and be good at interpreting different accents?
STEVE LINNEY: Sorry, is that for myself?
DAVID BAIN: Oh. Casey, sorry.
CASEY MERAZ: That’s interesting. I think even the English-based version, I have plenty of problems with, without an accent, based on what it’s around. It is going to continue to get better, though. They’re always developing these programmes. I say that, and then I recently upgraded my phone – I’m an iPhone user – and I actually do think it got worse, but I think that’s related to my case, not the software updates. But they have to overcome these barriers if they want to be serious about this, because something as simple as the case, not even being able to interpret that properly made my adoption of it less already.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, great.
CHRIS BLAND: I just want to have one other point there, which I think is really interesting. It is around the compression of the functionality of the assistant with the user interface, because as Grant was talking about there, people getting much more used to talking to computers, but that removes the visual user interface and cues that people are used to using, and it means that people are speaking straight into the functionality. So the functionality of the products that people are using, just by voice command, with no other visual cues to help prompt them and guide them around, leads to some very, very interesting UX issues. I’d love to see how they start to get played out. You can have a really amazing algorithm under the bonnets, connected to all the data on Facebook, but if you can’t allow a person, or enable a person to steer their way through that morass of data and find the answer they want, then you’ve the game already.
DAVID BAIN: Also there’s a cultural thing as well. I can quite imagine maybe people from parts of Scotland being comfortable shouting into their phone at a bus stop, but maybe not in London. So perhaps there has to be different options, there has to be a text-based option as well. We’ll see what will happen, but come out, we’re going to be talking about whether your business should be on Instagram or Pinterest, and why the lines might be blurring between marketing channels, and what to do about it. First of all, remember to tweet, we’ve got the hashtag TWIO. So all tweets, we’re going to be trying to read out. I also want to say that next week, I’ve got a special pre-recorded TWIO special, which is actually going to be on SEO and content marketing in the travel industry. I’ve just recorded it already, so that’s going to be released next week instead of the normal live episode. I’ve got guests on from Expedia, from Thomas Cook, I’ve got an SEO travel specialist on there as well. We debate what’s happening specifically in that industry. So if that’s really of interest and relevant to you, then look out for that episode next week. Let’s move on to the next topic, which is Instagram announced this week that they’re going to be supporting non-square images. So will this persuade more businesses to be using the service? Casey, do you think that the Instagram formatting in the past has perhaps put businesses off from using the service?
CASEY MERAZ: I think definitely, depending on the type of business, because even on the video side, if you’re doing square videos. What I’m really excited about is widescreen videos coming back, for that more cinematic approach. Some of the businesses that I work with have ten times more engagement on Instagram than they do on Facebook, so the ability to post that content that they’ve already created, without formatting or changing its original look and feel, is a great thing in my mind.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So Casey, the businesses that you do talk to which are using Instagram, why have they actually decided to use Instagram or focus on that, rather than Pinterest, or do they use them both?
CASEY MERAZ: Well, they use them both, but in the scenario that I stated, it’s because their audience is there. It’s a specialty retail store that gears towards thirteen-year-olds to thirty-year-olds, and that’s where that audience is, that’s where they’re hanging out. So the engagement alone is just building like a snowball. Whereas on Pinterest for that particular audience, also given that it’s mostly male, they do Pinterest, but as far as engagement it’s just not very good.
DAVID BAIN: So Chris, last time you were on This Week in Organic, you actually said that Pinterest is a shopping list. That was a great way of describing a lot of the functionality within there. Do you think that because of that, and because you can actually have links to images in Pinterest, generally it makes Pinterest more appealing for businesses to use?
CHRIS BLAND: Well, yeah. Obviously the original premise of Pinterest is about pinning images that you find as you’re going through the internet. The opposite is true of Instagram, where the original premise was about taking photos, and showing people your world, and allowing them to experience that. Obviously the brands have entered the Instagram space and have started to blur it and make it look a little bit like Pinterest, because they’re taking pictures of their products. So along comes every brand and their dog, taking a perfectly composed picture of their three products from their range that you should take when you’re going fishing, or whatever it happens to be. That is a lot more down the shopping route. I would hate for Instagram to lose its point of difference, not just because it’s different, but also because it’s more interesting, I think. At least, it’s interesting in and of itself. I am a fan of Pinterest. It actually has its role, but Instagram gives you glimpses into moments in a user’s life, in a way that Twitter and Facebook don’t because they’re too post-rationalised. So in order to write a tweet, or even a Facebook update, you are going to have to go through the mental process of saying, ‘This is something I want to share,’ and compose it in a 140 characters of less, or maybe more in a Facebook, but still it’s roughly about that amount. I know that doesn’t sound like a hard thing to do, but just the whimsy that comes with pointing a camera at a sky that you find inspirational for that split second while you’re waiting for your interview or something, gives you so much more narrative. There’s so much more narrative in a picture; it says a thousand words and all of that. So I really like that premise, and I think it gives brands a very… If they can use it properly, and not just publishing and contributing to the noise. There is absolutely a role for brands to play there, and absolutely, as Casey said before, if the audience is there already, it’s quite interesting to find out which audience. It’s quite hard to know which audiences are appropriate on Instagram. You can sometimes think you’re doing the right thing, and you’re taking some great quality images, but nothing happens. Then you do something totally different, and suddenly the surfer crowd will just all pile in there. You didn’t realise that was a big thing on Instagram, but suddenly you’re famous. It’s in that state of immaturity at the moment where it can go and spin off in all sorts of different directions. So you just have to watch the birdie a little bit with Instagram. I’m intrigued; I think there are so many ways in which they could kind of develop the platform to make it a lot more interesting and useful for brands, particularly where they release data, because of the way that it gives you this glint into some of the emotion, their moods, their intent in a given moment. I think if they could capture that through analytics and through data, to allow a brand to anticipate the most appropriate role for them to play to somebody once they’ve taken that photo, then I think it would be a really interesting platform. As it is right now, I don’t feel like they’ve really developed hugely on from what it ever was, which was basically a photo-sharing platform with some interesting light box features.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. So Pinterest more evolved in terms of a brand opportunity. If a business does share photographs or like both networks, is it appropriate to actually try and be successful on both networks? Or would it make better business sense to focus on one network and do a great job on one?
CHRIS BLAND: I think Pinterest is about talking about your products, comparing them, putting them in context of other people’s products or environments, and sharing how they can be used. It’s much more of a showroom, that’s why I called it a shopping list. I think Instagram is a bit more about the brand, and you’re able to convey a lot more about the emotion behind the brand, the brand promise, the anticipation potentially, and the personality. Those are two different sides of the marketing landscape that are equally valid and have their role, but those would be my go-to roles for those two platforms.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Grant, do you have any clients that are actively using Instagram and Pinterest?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Yeah, people mainly in the fashion industry and the travel industry, because they’ve got something beautiful to show.
DAVID BAIN: Which one would you tend to focus on?
GRANT WHITESIDE: As a whole, it would tend to be probably more Pinterest, but what’s happened with Instagram now, obviously, it’s not just going to be a square, the photograph. It’s a commercially good idea to obviously be able to show landscape and other things. Tell me, I have no idea, why was Instagram always just on squares in the first place?
DAVID BAIN: Well, it started as a mobile app, didn’t it?
CHRIS BLAND: Was it not so that it could copy the Polaroid thing? Was it like a stylistic thing when it first started?
GRANT WHITESIDE: It was more like a vanity thing rather than a practical thing. The sheer fact is that obviously, if you’re an architect, a landscaper, an artist, a designer, and you want to show something that’s got some width to it, you couldn’t use Instagram before because you totally lost the story. It’s just common sense, they’ve got to show things in the context they were meant to be shown. So Instagram, more and more businesses will obviously use it. Of course they will. You’re absolutely right, it will be interesting to see how the Instagram audience develops as well. I think it’s all relatively immature, where it is. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes, and where Pinterest goes as well, because they’ve got a serious competitor there. The start from completely different reasons, but it’s just going to be interesting to see how they actually evolve, and whether Instagram’s going to be able to show you the same style of photograph, as in it’s not just a square. You would have maybe just gone to Pinterest instead. The point that Casey made was, if you’ve got an audience on either of these platforms, go get them. You have to use it.
DAVID BAIN: So Steve, Grant said that fashion and travel were two sectors that, if you were in those sectors, you should definitely be using one or both of those networks. What about online educators? Can they use…?
STEVE LINNEY: Well, we’ve dabbled with Pinterest. Like the chief exec, Ben Zimmerman, he did a talk last year at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam, and that kind of really bought me into Pinterest. We tried a few unsuccessful campaigns, and when we realised our target audience just weren’t using Pinterest because in the main it’s kind of 20 to 50-year-old guys. Since we’ve done the digital marketing course, that’s changed a lot more to the female sides, but Instagram has been a much easier way for us to tell a story and get a little bit of engagement as well. It’s still very much in the development stage of what we’re doing, but Instagram definitely seems to be the platform where we’re getting more for from it from a personal point of view, or what we’re able to do with it, but also what we’re getting back from our students. The students, that’s where they seem to be, and where you want to be as well, rather than being on Pinterest for us anyway.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. I remember hearing quite recently an interview with an online marketer, saying that he was just driving crazy amounts of traffic from these kind of services. So from a driving of traffic perspective, there’s certainly a significant opportunity there. I think, Casey, I saw you nodding away there. Is that something you’ve experienced as well?
CASEY MERAZ: I’m sorry, what?
DAVID BAIN: Have you been able to track in the past Instagram or Pinterest as a significant traffic driver to websites?
CASEY MERAZ: Absolutely. Pinterest and Instagram, in both cases in just different scenarios. There’s one furniture company I work with, for example, putting a lot of their furniture on Pinterest, and then linking to each of those products. We can actually track that a lot to conversions as well. The same with Instagram, just depending on what we’re doing, and if it gets the right pick-up. You absolutely get a big benefit from that, and you absolutely need to track that.
DAVID BAIN: Okay.
GRANT WHITESIDE: I was going to say that something that actually happened to me was, I was looking at a bit of furniture, and obviously it was quite expensive, quite large. I’d been looking on the website, for literally about nine months and we didn’t spend money. The only image that I ever saw of it was on the website. So somebody had a photograph of the wooden furniture, and they put it up on Pinterest, and I saw it in real-life in somebody’s house, and I went and bought it the next day. So it does work, because it’s another way of showing your product. Obviously, this was a brand fan, somebody that bought the furniture and really liked it, took a photograph in real-life, real context. You could actually see how big the wardrobe was in comparison to everything else in the room, and that was enough for me. I actually saw it in a real-life scenario, and conversion.
DAVID BAIN: Obviously, if you sell furniture online, on an ecommerce site, is it video or images, or is it important to have them both? Are they different things?
GRANT WHITESIDE: I think they play a part, and I would have bought that furniture months earlier if I had actually just seen it more than just the studio shots they have on the website. So obviously video works well, you can see things from different angles. In this case, this was somebody that actually bought the furniture and they wanted to show the world their beautiful furniture. It was enough for me to buy it as well. So it clearly works.
DAVID BAIN: Chris, were you about to jump in there?
CHRIS BLAND: No. I was just going to reinforce that point. I think the clear message is, there is no limit. You can’t get enough good imagery of a product. If it’s a beautiful product, then just as many… Obviously when you’ve got it on Amazon, you’ve got eight images, or eight thumbnails, whatever. There are limits to what you can put. But if you have the opportunity to show or share images from users, either user-generated or form yourselves, this image in different contexts, you just can’t put enough. Video and imagery should be available. It is the thing that retailers find the hardest to do, is to present their images just in the first place. I mean, particularly talking about furniture, it’s expensive to get big furniture into a studio, and to take a nice shot once, and then to move on. But to have it in so many different contexts, against different backgrounds, with different events maybe happening in front of it, it’s just too expensive to do that. So if other people are prepared to do that for you, my God, definitely get them in front of, get them on the page, get them shared, and try and draw attention to them, absolutely.
DAVID BAIN: That’s a great point, to have as many images as possible for as many different angles as possible. I was looking at more microphones recently, because I like microphones. [laughing] Grant likes furniture, I like microphones. I was wanting to see a picture underneath this microphone, to see what kind of connections it had. I wasn’t comfortable making a purchase decision without seeing it form angles, and I’m sure people are like that about whatever item they’re buying. So if you can provide a photograph from all angles, then I think the conversion is more likely.
STEVE LINNEY: So David, have you been caught in shops lying on your back, looking at microphones? [laughing]
DAVID BAIN: Have you seen the CCTV, have you?
CASEY MERAZ: He’s lying down now.
DAVID BAIN: I think this is a good time to move on to another topic. [laughing]
GRANT WHITESIEDE: Okay!
DAVID BAIN: The last topic is, Kai Crow published an article in MarketingProfs yesterday called ‘Why Apple Watch Rings the Death Knell of the Mobile Marketing Channel’. It’s a dramatic headline, but in the article, Kai says that what the watch does represent is the blurring of lines between what have traditionally been seen as different channels by marketers. So this is a very pertinent point. Many marketing teams are split into specialist teams that don’t really understand what other teams do. Is there a more effective structure for large marketing departments in the future? Casey, do you think that marketers, no matter what their specialist discipline, need to start to be more aware of other departments?
CASEY MERAZ: Yeah, hundred percent, and I think that’s one of the biggest changes that I’ve seen in the ten years that I’ve been in the industry. Then still, I think we’re at the surface of that, because you’re running into businesses, for example, that say, ‘Okay, we have an organic SEO guy,’ or somebody working on local SEO, and they’re in that mind-set. Then they may not be thinking about other channels that actually do have overlap, and that’s everything from text messages, for example, text marketing, and them email marketing. All of those channels need to be connected, and everything you’re participating in should be part of a broader plan as well. So our jobs are shifting to more overlap, to a lot of these areas. I work with small businesses, for example, that may not have big budgets, but they’re interested in showing up on Google, something very basic. They just say, ‘Okay, well we want to rank on Google, and that’s all we’re doing for marketing.’ They’re not tying these other things together, and that just creates a huge loss of opportunities for remarketing, or reaching your customers through different channels, or just collecting that information, that data.
DAVID BAIN: That’s intriguing, because when I started off in digital marketing, maybe about ten years ago or so, there weren’t so many areas of digital then. You could quite easily just call yourself an internet marketer, or digital marketer, and do everything. Then it moved to an era where there was so much going on, the general perception was, ‘Well, it’s impossible to know everything about everything. Focus on one area, do one area really well.’ But now the fact that you do have knowledge in other areas is actually quite beneficial, when you can understand how your specialism interacts with other areas out there. Chris, do you think that it’s going to be a real challenge to get, for example, pay per click specialists to start to understand how what they’re doing impacts other areas of marketing?
CHRIS BLAND: So, I agree with what you’re saying entirely. I think the era of specialism is over, and it will be over even more so the more that automation starts to take its grip on the marketing world, particularly the paid marketing world. It doesn’t pay these days to be the bloke who only knows about that thing anymore. Clients are looking for, and they have said this time and time again to me, they want a team, they want people who are jacks of all trades. They need to be able to think in several different digital dimensions at the same time. They want mixed skillset teams, ideally with data right in the middle, and then with content and brand strategy around about, so that team can take a concept that’s happening and spin it 360, and be pretty much on any channel. They need to be channel agnostic. The really important variables that we need to dial up these days, in digital marketing teams, is the timeliness and their ability to handle different channels. So more and more it seems to me that the channel plan is a total anachronism. Coming back to a client with a plan where there’s this much budget on SEO, this much budget…before the campaign’s even started; pretty much from day two, that whole plan is out of the water. People should be mixing things up, seeing what’s worked, trying. The agile marketing framework is what should be replacing that, so that we do one thing for a week, we move onto the next thing. We know that some things are more slow-burning, such as the organic stuff. We understand that, but the good ideas that happen and pages sink to the bottom line of the sustainable, organic roots, so that they can be built out and established over time. These are the sensible ways in which to work. Unfortunately, there are still ways and structures, contracts and planning departments that are operating, and in fact, that’s usually the way that budgets are crafted around campaigns, force people into these false peaks. We know that this is an always-on world, where the good stuff rises to the top, and what’s bad just gets ditched fast, and that is the way things should move, or the way that things should be structured. Also, collaborating with the client. The more we start using first-party data, i.e. client data rather than third-party data, the more that the power is swinging towards the client, and it should be. This is their product, their sector, they know what they’re doing. What they need is the tools and the brains to help them move as fast as they need to move, and it doesn’t pay for a client to have a lot of quite expensive jacks of all trades sitting around twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the great thing to happen. They need to be able to switch that on quickly when it’s going down, and that sort of agile mentality is where we’re going. Nobody is really there yet, and often, a lot of clients aren’t ready to handle that yet, because it does mean that you can’t go home at five o’clock and assume that your work is done – it carries on. It’s a dangerous place to be, but that is the way that brands’ digital marketing is going.
DAVID BAIN: So Grant, traditionally in a lot of businesses there has been friction between departments; operations, finance, or marketing and sales. Do you not think that within marketing, it’s kind of the same, and that traditionally there’s friction between pay per click and SEO, just to pick two for an example? It’s always been the case where pay per click’s trying to keep the budget for themselves, and try and justify, but again, everything you know is number one in organic and vice versa, SEO is trying to say the opposite story.
GRANT WHITESIDE: I think the industry’s grown up a lot since then. Yes, I’ve been with clients, big banks, and said, ‘Who does your PPC?’ And the woman sneers and says, ‘That bitch over there.’ And she was pointing to the other side of the room. There’s always going to be an element of that, but I think that the industry has grown up a little bit along those lines. As far as specialisms go, we’re still always going to need them, but a specialist is better when they have a greater awareness about what they do in context with everything else. When you turn it on, when you turn it off, like when we’re talking about the paid search. The point the we were talking earlier about, when you’re day two into the contract, without thinking about what you should be doing, rather than giving some buckets for procurement and say, ‘This is paid. This is organic. This is content. This is analytics.’ I think we have to be far more flexible about what we do and where we do it as well. However, I do fear for it. I think that the great pay per click guys that know every single tactical trick in the book, they should still focus their energies on that at the end of the day, as they understand whatever paid search is, and proper marketing and how all these things work together. You should still absolutely focus your time on that, but just be aware of how organic search works, or how analytics work, and how social media works with these things as well. So it has become very, very blurred. Even another option is obviously content, very, very popular over the past couple of years. Now content is blurring into native. Native is just like a paid advertising medium at the end of the day. So is it the content team, or is it the paid media team that are going to start looking after your native advertising for you? So the lines are again absolutely blurred. I still believe in specialists, except they have to be far, far more aware of when they use the tactical expertise, and how to align their expertise everything else that’s going on around them as well.
DAVID BAIN: So Steve. Grant still believes in specialists, but is that just specialists that maybe the boss and middle levels, and is it necessary for upper management to be generalists? What’s your thoughts on this one?
STEVE LINNEY: To be honest, from the brands side, I’ve always worked in really small marketing teams. Certainly when I joined Learning People four years ago, it was just myself, so you had to be a jack of all trades. Funnily enough, I remembered an old boss of mine who had a really bad motivation tactic of shouting at people while doing an impersonation of them. In reality though, that’s been a benefit really, because as much as you… For a good bit at the time I was thinking, ‘Should I be specialist?’ But my interests go across that kind of T-level marketing side of things. Even as we’ve grown as a team though, we have a mighty team of three people, we do specialise in our own little areas, but we have to be kind of across the boards enough to know what each of us are doing, so we can rely on people if someone’s off. Also, everyone has ownership of the brands themselves, and everyone feels that they have their little piece of the jigsaw that they add to as well. For us, it definitely makes sense to have people who know what they’re doing in specialist areas, but can be very sympathetic to what’s going elsewhere. Maybe the content marketer has some Photoshop skills and can help out the design side. The coder similarly can then do a Facebook post on that side of things as well. For us, it definitely makes a happier working environment if people are across the spectrum a little bit more, and possibly what you guys have been saying happened in the past. It just means people are empowered, and they’ve gotten ownership of what’s actually happening as well.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. I think that T shape description says it very well, certainly for someone who wants to be a real digital marketing professional in the future.
STEVE LINNEY: Can I just say, David, the question as I understand it, blurs itself, actually. It talked about channels, but actually, the reference that you made was to devices. It was talking about the Apple Watch, and obviously the difference being that a channel is a content medium, and a device is the hardware platform that carries the content. I think that the point being made by Kai is that the Apple Watch rings the death knell of the mobile marketing channel, or the death knell as of the wearable as a mobile channel. I think that’s interesting in and of itself. I think people think, as we start to get more wearable, the mobile isn’t a wearable device but it’s on your person. When you start to use wearables, woe betide you trying to kind of put a brand awareness message on somebody’s watch in the middle of the meeting. The closer you get to being on someone 24/7, being part of their life, the less commission you have to run brand awareness kind of messages. However, it is much more appropriate to use the device to gather data that is useful, to create alerts and notifications that are much more appropriate for maybe brands to adopt. So you could be much cleverer because you know that somebody’s outside, you know the mood they’re in, you can maybe drop a little bit of content, you can maybe have a small notification which makes you come across as useful rather than disruptive. So think it’s not necessarily the death knell of it as a marketing channel, but perhaps as an advertising opportunity, then frankly, good riddance.
DAVID BAIN: Right. Okay. That’s a lot to think about there within the comments you just made there. To me, it was all about, you have to be exceptionally careful about advertising or about reaching out to people at the wrong time. If you do that, then you could expect to never hear from that person again, for that person to actually unsubscribe from anything you do in the future.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Yeah. I think there’s going to be a lot of mistakes made. [laughing] As the wearables come in, and all of a sudden we’re using near-field connection technologies and other technologies, it’s very intrusive. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the wearable space. And Kai’s article was sensationalising the headline over it, but it does have quite an interesting point, doesn’t it?
DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. It’s the content within the article that certainly pulled my attention. Great, okay. I reckon that just about takes us to the end of this week’s show. So just time for a single take away, and some sharing, find out more details from our guests. So shall we start off with Casey?
CASEY MERAZ: Sure. Again, my name Casey Meraz from Denver, from Juris Digital. I really think that the big take away that I’m thinking about right now is how these devices, these wearable devices, are really going to impact marketing, and how we can take advantage of that. So definitely a lot more thinking to do there, and making sure that those are integrated even in our own channel.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely, okay. Thanks for joining us, Casey. Moving on to Chris.
CHRIS BLAND: Yeah, it’s been great again. Thank you, David, for inviting me on. My take away, I think I need to go away and think a little bit more like an SEM, and think about the effort that it takes to go and carry out your own social media, and what actually you can guarantee will work to drive business for you. I think that it’s pretty cut and dry, that that has got to deliver. I’m not sure that we hand-on-heart say that we always do, but for some of the bigger brands, you don’t necessarily have to do everything that they do.
DAVID BAIN: I think that’s great thinking as well. I think there’s a lot that SMEs can learn from big organisations, but likewise, there is a lot that big companies can learn from SMEs, yeah. And Grant as well.
GRANT WHITESIDE: What did I take away from today? Well, it was great fun, as usual. I really like the conversation about the blurring of the lines there at the end. I think where the potential is going, and when you start talking about what SEO guys and PPC guys, where they’d actually go with a wearable conversations that we’re now going to be talking about above-the-line advertising, and that is a proper transitional jump. It used to be traditional monetising and digital marketing. The wearable device is the first point where the advertising industry will have to be fusing these two polar parts absolutely together. The wearable device is the one thing that’s going to actually make that happen. From a skill-set, with digital marketing, the agency point of view, this is the first time that above the line advertising, and digital marketing, and near-field connection technology can all come together. So I can totally understand what Kai’s article was about, and this has just opened a brand new channel of why advertising and digital marketing, these two things can go together. Interesting times.
DAVID BAIN: Indeed. Thank you, Grant. Also Steve.
STEVE LINNEY: Yeah. For me again, it would be the blurring of the lines, the specialisms that we have in digital marketing. Essentially, it’s kind of a really exciting ahead for digital marketers. To have my Learning People hat on, one of the best ways to keep ahead of that game is to get yourself certified with some digital marketing courses with the Learning People.
DAVID BAIN: Great take away. And I’m David Bain, Head of Growth at www.authoritas.com. You can also catch me interviewing online marketing gurus over at www.digitalmarketingradio.com. Now if you’re watching this show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live. Head over to www.thisweekinorganic.com and sign up to watch the next show in real-time. But for those of you watching live, we’ve also got a podcast on iTunes, so just go directly to that at www.thisweekinorganic.com/itunes. Remember to continue sharing your thoughts using the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter. Until then, have a fantabulous weekend, and thank you all for joining us. Cheers everyone. Thanks for being a part of it.
Working as Content Marketing Director for Authoritas since March 2015, David also hosts our own weekly show – “This Week In Organic”, commonly referred to as #TWiO.