The @crocbites social media roundup – November 2016

November was a bit of a back-to-basics month, with lots of channels focusing on the actual process of communicating with people. As ever, there’s been plenty of variety too, so read on to see what’s been going on in the social media world over the past month.

Facebook

Multi-channel marketing just got a heck of a lot easier, as you can now have a combined inbox for Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

Facebook is updating its metrics and reporting – including (hopefully) giving you accurate feedback on your video content.

Twitter

No more sitting on hold for customers – you can set up welcome messages and quick replies to DMs so they can get immediate responses to queries.

Keep the trolls at bay with the ability to mute keywords and phrases, on top of being able to mute and block entire accounts.

Could Vine resprout under new ownership? Twitter could move the channel troubled on to a fresh pasture.

This month’s first Snapchat clone story! People can now follow you by scanning a QR code – handy if you don’t have a particularly memorable username.

Instagram

It’s going to be easier for people to buy products they see on Instagram, with direct links to their pages on retailers’ sites.

Save customers the effort of turning their phones 90 degrees to watch your ads by utilising the new portrait format.

Instagram increases the features on Stories, including Boomerang, mentions and links to get further details.

Meanwhile, on Instagram Direct, you can now stream live videos and um, have photos disappear… which kinda sounds familiar.

Snap Inc

Still, it goes both ways – Snapchat is now borrowing Instagram Stories’ rewind feature, plus letting you put lenses on nature.

In business news, Snap is looking to float on the US stock market at a cool $20-25bn (£16-20bn).

LinkedIn

New Salary feature will let people work out how much they should be getting paid.

Get a better idea about who’s reading your LinkedIn content with a new audience insights tool, among others.

Pinterest

It’ll now be much easier to manage your notifications now they’ve been rejigged.

That’s not all that’s changed – the Marketing Developer Partners programme is now just called Marketing Partners and will focus on four areas: advertising, content marketing, audiences and measurement.

Users can now say when they’ve tried an idea from a Pin, rather than just saving it, which will help you collect feedback.

You’ve now got the option to auto-play your promoted videos as soon as people discover them.

YouTube

You can better interact with commentators on your YouTube channel and draw people’s attention to your favourite ones.

Make your videos more vibrant with support now being added for High Dynamic Range videos.

Virtual Reality has made it to YouTube – how could you immerse your customers in a 360-degree environment?

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is jumping on the Snapchat bandwagon with Status, which lets you share customised photos and videos, before they disappear after 24 hours.

It seems like it should already have been a thing, but video calling has now been rolled out worldwide.

Videos will now play while being downloaded to your device (like on YouTube), which should reduce the chances of people getting bored of waiting and clicking away.

And that’s that – the roundup will be back in the new year to fill you in on any presents that social media Santa may have left in our stockings. In the meantime, don’t be a stranger – get in touch to chat social with us by emailing hello@thecroc.com or tweeting @crocbites.

B2B Awards 2016: Winners with real-time marketing

We like to sing when we’re winning and at The B2B Marketing Awards 2016 we were in full song with Standard Life as we scooped Category 7: Best Use of Social Media for Adviser Voice – The Budget 2016.

This is especially satisfying as the campaign required Standard Life to try a new technique, in a short time frame, and trust in the combined team to deliver.

Susie Logan, Head of Marketing Standard Life sums this up brilliantly:

“The Budget 2016 campaign had a fantastic outcome for Standard Life – both in terms of creating differentiation in the market by delivering great experiences, engagement and sustainable relationships, and using a completely new approach of real-time marketing and user-generated content.

By listening to our customers, being innovative, organised and capable of applying a focused and purposeful real-time model, we dominated during a key event over the competition with a share of voice of 85%.

We assembled the key ingredients of customer understanding, data, technology and people, and then used our creativity to join these together in a way that delivered better experiences for our customers. Thanks to The Crocodile we won a ‘Superbowl’ moment with a relatively discreet budget.”

Read the full case study for a best example of b2b social media marketing.

Taking it personally

We all know that personalisation represents the future of digital, however most of us are still struggling to take a firm grip of one-to-one. We’re getting lost in a deluge of tactics, channels and platforms, which makes it hard to maintain a top level perspective.

If we can only fly above the turbulent air of marketing noise we emerge into a calm consensus about where we should be directing our efforts towards personalisation going forwards:

• Providing an integrated experience for customers
• Finding opportunities to engage with them in real time
• Treating customers as real people – seeing the person not the persona
• Building sustainable relationships to create long-term loyalty
• Personally I also still crave BIG IDEAS but maybe that’s just showing my age?

The idea of real-time and personal can transform brands into authentic and trustworthy guides along the customer journey.

Being in the moment

In the real world, every conversation is personal – and they’re mostly in “real time”. The magic of real-time and personal marketing is the ability to be genuinely conversational. Transforming momentary insights into content that’s useful and relevant because it’s tailored both to an individual and a particular circumstance.

(And just in case you were wondering, sticking someone’s first name in a mass email isn’t personalised marketing. Sorry).

Ultimately it’s about the ability to tailor imagery, products, offers and response mechanisms to the particular needs of the individual and the moment. As marketers it requires us to be at the top of our game: experts in what we do and able to pull a number of skill sets together. It requires creative imagination and craft – strategy, data and technology will only take you so far.

I’m geeky and I know it

In the past, simply getting the data was a big deal. Now many of us have to deal with too much of the blinkin stuff – we’re literally drowning. (The idea of data lakes makes me laugh. Man overboard!).

Luckily we have access to amazing technologies that enable us to tame the flood and use it to power our real-time and personal ambitions. Data management solutions can provide real-time data for immediate campaign optimisation and triggers. Marketers can tie anonymous audience data with known customer data across channels and devices to achieve complete and connected customer profiles. Don’t even get me started on predictive analytics.

It’s really, really cool stuff. There’s no avoiding tech and data going forwards, not new news I know, but you need to recognise where you sit on the technology curve before you can fully understand your ability to win in real time. I’m just saying.

Dream BIG

Intrepid marketers are increasingly investing time and energy to unlock the potential of real-time and personal to deliver growth.

It relies on the premise that to provide great experiences, we must know the individual and provide marketing, products and services that fit them and their needs in the moment and at scale. For many marketing departments it is an ongoing transformation journey using technology, data and creativity to ultimately make their marketing more, well, human.

Take steps to realise this opportunity and trust me – your working day, your planning cycles, your momentum will capture the imagination of the rest of the business.

Finally…

Embrace your instincts. Don’t fear failure. We’re in marketing for crying out loud – enjoy it!

The uncomfortable truth about marketing automation

Let’s get one thing straight – Marketing automation is awesome technology. As a tool to support the development and progression of leads; as an enabler between marketing and sales functions; and as a rallying point for results-focused marketing activity, marketing automation is where it’s at – and no buts.

But…. Let’s not forget that much of the marketing automation buzz in the market is generated by the platform vendors themselves. Clever, innovative, persuasive software specialists they most certainly are; marketing people with the job of making it work under the pressure of today’s KPIs? Er, no.

So while the vendors are pouring honey in our ears and whispering sweet nothings about SQLs and nurture flows, pause for a second to consider ten all-important truths.

Mildly uncomfortable they may be, but together they should offer busy marketers a more pragmatic perspective on the reality of marketing automation and how to make a success of this powerful platform.

1. Your platform is not a strategy

It’s software. Pure and simple. Marketing automation can help define your approach to marketing and provide an activity framework of sorts, but it’s no substitute for having a robust plan.

2. Marketing automation does not generate leads

Campaigns generate leads. Marketing automation brings methodology and science to a process that still requires full strategic, creative and planning legwork. There are no shortcuts to effective lead gen!

3. It doesn’t connect your marketing and sales departments

It takes actual people, committed to an effective sales and marketing partnership, to sit down and plan a new, results-driven vision. Marketing automation is a great enabler, just don’t forget the humans!

4. Global is a big ask

The global marketing automation option can work, but don’t underestimate the role of data, process, training and hands-on regional implementation. It will take time, patience and (ideally) local support from agencies that know their stuff.

5. Reporting comes first, not last

Begin your new marketing automation-enabled strategy by defining exactly what you want to be able to report, and work backwards to build your lead nurture programme. Don’t just jump into marketing automation and assume ‘good things’ will come out the other end.

6. If it‘s non digital, it’s a non starter

Marketing automation isn’t magic. The only way to incorporate touches from direct mail, events or telemarketing is through a digital link or by human input.

7. Bad content can kill you

Too many marketing automation projects crawl along on a diet of mediocre, all-about-me content. It’s vital to invest the time, budget and expertise needed to deliver a winning content portfolio.

8. Marketing automation best practice: Approach with caution

We need to be very careful about swallowing the line that marketing automation is a straightforward DIY job if you just follow the manual. You will almost certainly require expert support with selection, implementation and activation.

9. It’s automated, not automatic

The brilliance of the software is the ability it gives you to experiment, adapt, test, push what works and learn what doesn’t. Don’t be reticent, and don’t be frightened of diving in and exploring.

10. Marketing automation might not even been the answer…

There are plenty of automated email broadcasting tools (often cheekily defining themselves as marketing automation) that offer simple lead scoring plus a few other bolt-on goodies. You may not need to go the whole marketing automation shebang to get the solution that’s right for your business.

We know the pressure of working with stretched budgets, limited resources and pressure from the C-suite to deliver. We also know your marketing automation platform and lead nurture strategy can be up and running cost-effectively (and hitting your KPIs) if you take a marketing-led, holistic approach.

Find the right agency to support you (preferably one with an end-to-end marketing automation capability), and together you can make measurably magnificent marketing. Now that’s the truth.

Full guide (PDF)

The @crocbites social media roundup – October 2016

In summary, October was a bad month for Vine but live video continues to dominate with updates to Periscope confirmed and Instagram rumours surfacing. Find out all the details about these stories and more as we round up social media news from October.

Facebook

Messenger is going on a diet to spread its appeal to people with less powerful phones and slower internet speeds.

Facebook takes a swipe at Gumtree and Craig’s List by introducing Marketplace to help match you up with nearby people who want to buy your stuff.

Events from Facebook could alert more people to events you’re putting on by making them easier to find and letting friends recommend them to each other.

It’ll soon be easier for potential customers to interact with your company once they’ve discovered you.

Formerly ‘Facebook for Work, Workplace is now available to any company or organisation that wants to use it. Will you make this your internal comms channel of choice?

Don’t just watch cat videos on Facebook via your phone – you can now see them on your Apple TV or Chromecast-enabled televisions.

Facebook as a broadcasting medium is proving popular, with Real Madrid successfully nurturing its social audience with content from the club’s TV channel.

Remember when everyone was copying Snapchat? It’s still a thing, with Facebook rolling out new photo and video filters for the main app.

Twitter

Twitter’s decision to pour a hefty dose of weed killer on Vine came as something of a shock – albeit a pretty logical one when you think about it.

Vine’s pruning was part of Twitter’s cost-cutting exercise that became all the more necessary when it transpired nobody wants to buy it at present.

Twitter’s eggs now seem to be firmly in one basket, following the announcement that Periscope Producer will let businesses stream high quality live videos via cameras, rather than portable device

Instagram

Instagram’s version of Stories has managed to clock up an impressive 100m daily active users despite only being launched two month ago.

Rumour has it that Instagram could soon let users shoot live videos, not dissimilar to Facebook’s offering.

Want to learn more about using Instagram for business? You’re in luck – there are lots of webinars on the horizon.

Snap Inc

Friends are taking precedence on Snapchat again, with Discover pages being bumped down users’ feeds – auto-advancing stories (and ads played between them) are also on their way out.

Tidying up its main offering seems to be Snap Inc’s latest step towards its proposed $25bn floatation.

LinkedIn

Microsoft’s takeover is certainly helping to freshen up LinkedIn, with endorsements getting an autumnal spring clean.

They could prove useful for people looking for new jobs without telling their boss – which is now also a thing on LinkedIn.

While there are multiple changes happening post-takeover, it actually seems the platform was on the up before it happened.

Pinterest

Good news – UK brands can now use promoted videos, after it came out elsewhere back in August.

Dynamic retargeting is now a thing, so it’s now easier to show potential customers Promoted Pins that they’ll find relevant.

150m people worldwide use Pinterest each month, with 75% of the inspiration coming from businesses.

Want your Pinterest content to pop? Then you need to get in touch with the Pin Collective – creators who’ll help optimise your brand’s messaging.

YouTube

Google has bought FameBit, which helps brands hook up with creators and may be a little bit like what Pinterest are doing.

That’s that for this month – if we’ve piqued your interest, get in touch and we can have a chat about the best ways to use social for your business. Email us on hello@thecroc.com or tweet us: @crocbites.

5 things project managers could learn from Behavioural Economics

Planning and process are great, but so often digital projects fall behind or go over scope or over budget. It doesn’t matter how experienced team members are, how well project managers plan, things can always slip behind.

At The Crocodile our Project and Account Managers use wash ups and evidence-based planning to work out scales and timings plans, but bias (or optimism) tempers previous evidence: “we can do it better this time”.

By nature quite rational characters, PMs and AMs often don’t account for the irrationality of team members, and the ever-present “unforeseen circumstances”.

Illusion of validity

We consistently overestimate our ability to interpret and predict outcomes based on our previous experience – essentially, we’re overconfident. If this happens at every level of a project – planning/scoping/design/build/QA etc – it accumulates a potentially huge amount of error in time/cost estimates.

At The Crocodile we try to remember that each team member will most likely be underestimating the time and cost needs of their area, and factor that into each project step.

Planning fallacy

Daniel Kahneman, the godfather of behavioural economics, says, “the existence of a plan tends to induce overconfidence”. When planning the steps that are required to complete a project, we tend to foresee that they will all run typically, and therefore structures times and costs accordingly.

But what if one step behaves atypically? Or two?

The longer and more involved the process, the greater the probability that something will behave atypically. And that probability increases at a greater rate than our intuition would predict.

So plan in contingency time, and then double it. We try to make this explicit to our clients, as well as the additional budget that may be needed – they are just as susceptible to the “but we have a plan” mind set as we are.

Confirmation bias

You’ve made your project plan; you think you’ve factored in the planning fallacy; you look back at the evidence of past projects to support your projections – but you will likely be working with with evidence that mostly supports your already finely tuned scope and estimate and will minimise the importance of evidence to the contrary.

We encourage team members with different perspectives and from different disciplines to look at our timings and scope of work. We want to have a wider range of views from people who will be better placed to challenge our biases.

Rationality

Generally Project Managers assume that we are rational beings, and our team members will act accordingly. But that doesn’t take into account procrastination, making tea, creative blocks, sick children, toasters setting off the office fire alarm, and of emergency change requests late in the day…

All of these things happen in some shape or form through the project lifecycle, and we try to take that into account when planning project timings. At every step/project phase we plan in some buffer time accordingly – and likely twice as much overflow as we think we might need.

Process/positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement about abilities increases performance, so it’s better to plan for short bursts of activity with regular reviews. We respond better to outcomes today than those we know are coming tomorrow. This could be one of the reasons behind the success of Agile development methodology.

At The Crocodile our Project Managers lay out regular, often daily, milestones and reviews at the start of the project, making sure they are clearly communicated to the team so they know what to expect and what to work towards.

But even armed with this awareness of behavioural tendencies we’re still likely to fall prey to them.

Communication and constantly challenging assertions are the best way to allow for bias. Most of all we should keep process flexible to fit the team and the circumstances rather than trying to change the team to fit the process.

Content management systems are for content, not marketing

Over the past 15 years, in roughly reverse chronological order, I have worked with the following content management systems (CMS):

Adobe ECM, Kentico, Terminal Four, Fatwire, Drupal, Perch, Alterian, Episerver, Typo3, Squiz, Umbraco, WordPress, Immediacy, Morello, Rhythmyx, Tridion, RedDot, DotNetNuke, Contensis, and Plone.*

And that’s ignoring the other platforms that sometimes try to do content management, but aren’t inherently built for that purpose (Sharepoint, Hubspot, Magento, etc).

I’ve used all of these as an admin or editor, and for nearly all of them I’ve been involved in the development of new websites. So from that experience I can roughly put them into one of 2 categories:

  1. CMS built by and for developers to play nicely and experiment with, that try hard but ultimately fail to offer a good user experience
  2. CMS built for big organisations to satisfy IT, security, marketing and procurement requirements, that are over-engineered, over-complicated and never seem to deliver against promises

Who’s actually using your CMS?

Now, the very obvious issue here is that not a single CMS is built to address the needs of the real every day user, the web editor or manager.

In larger organisations especially, IT and/or marketing are often the route to procurement, so complex technical infrastructures, digital asset management, email marketing, and marketing automation are what’s being sold nowadays, with the art of content management being forgotten.

In contrast, the web editor or manager has one key concern: updating the website with new content that helps deliver against the objectives of the business, while keeping the web presence in good order. Typically, this means adding new pages, blog posts, uploading images and video, and occasionally restructuring a page or even the whole structure of the site.

The limits of a Content Management System

By their nature you have to build templates into a CMS for them to work, which means editable areas have to be defined.

Yes, there are platforms that give you flexible drag and drop style templates and widgets that promise you endless flexibility, but at the end of the day there is still a coded template behind it with limitations and restrictions – want to change the size of your hero image? Want a new template with a pull out quote? Got a load of images from an event but your gallery doesn’t handle different proportioned images well? The list goes on.

These are the real problems the modern web manager has to deal with and content management alone can’t solve them.

Over the years, the web editor/manager has evolved to be a predominantly editorial and marketing function, with limited technical skills. The assumption is that CMS platforms alone can fulfill all their needs, but the truth is all they are really good at is maintaining the status quo, updating basic content and publishing new content of a fairly fixed generic format.

Plan to develop

The only way to solve all these problems is to understand what you want your website to be and how you want it to evolve, and then plan for that, because you WILL want it to change at some point.

To achieve this, businesses would do well to look at how publishers manage their websites. Knowing they need to constantly develop engaging and innovative content to stay relevant, they form strong multi-disciplinary teams to support the publishing function, with in-house UX, design and development skills.

The BBC has its own CMS – it built a bespoke one just to be sure it was right – but if there’s a story to tell using video, infographics, or whatever, the Beeb has designers and developers on hand to do that, because it’s just not something that you can standardise.

This is something every business should plan for. Your content will change – you won’t just have new press releases getting churned out forever. Your content management system will need someone to help you make those changes.

So, my 3 top tips for picking a CMS are the following:

  1. Pick a CMS that your web editor likes using and won’t make them scream at their monitor on a daily basis
  2. Pick an open source one, because it’ll be free, simpler to use, and you won’t struggle to find developers to work with it
  3. Make sure you have either an ongoing relationship with your agency, or your own in-house developers, so you can plan for change and act upon it.

And most of all, please, please, don’t pick a CMS just because it comes with a load of bells and whistles. Pick it because it manages content well.

* A final note

This asterisk is here just to make you read all the way to the bottom. And in case you were wondering, the best of all these CMS I have worked with was Immediacy, which is sadly now long gone. Sure it was a bit crashy and fatally slow for very large sites, but editors loved it – simple, understandable and – with the basic licence – unencumbered by other unnecessary features.

Cool new appointment for the social media team

The Crocodile has been appointed as the new agency partner for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Air-conditioning Europe Ltd (MHIAE), a company established by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to deliver heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) solutions across Europe. The Crocodile will be providing social media and content marketing support, and has already produced a slick new product video in time for MHIAE’s annual European distributor meeting:

It’s an exciting time for MHIAE as they prepare to take their new premium SRK-ZS and high-end SRK-ZSX units to the European market. They worked closely with an Italian design agency on the new products. It marks the start of a new design era for MHIAE and the business recognised the need for a marketing approach to match.

The brief

MHIAE and The Crocodile will be working together to deliver a social media strategy designed to increase awareness of MHIAE in the market, support new product launches and events, and increase online engagement with the distributor network, installers and end users in Europe.

The @crocbites social media roundup – September 2016

With updates and developments around every virtual corner, there’s no time to rest on your social media laurels.

Here’s a summary of what opportunities September brought:

Facebook

Using Messenger to talk to your customers? Now you can see them too, with Instant Video.

That’s not all – the whole Messenger experience is being refined to make it smoother for businesses to chat to their clientele.

Your videos on Facebook may not have been as successful as you thought after FB realises it’s done its maths wrong.

Riffing on Snapchat was still a thing in September, with a soft launch of Messenger Day, which is essentially Snapchat Stories.

Want to see who’s been reacting (and how) to your posts? It may be getting easier, with tests to include profile photos with thumbs, hearts and emojis.

Facebook is helping shops sell more in-store by tracking physical inventories with Dynamic Ads for Retail.

WhatsApp

You’ll get a notification if you get @mentioned in a group chat, even if you’ve got it muted. Cheerio, productivity.

Twitter

Customer service is getting better on Twitter, with support services being made more obvious.

Twitter takeovers generally involve chosen individuals taking over corporate accounts for a bit of publicity. This Twitter takeover could involve billions of dollars and change the social media landscape.

Instagram

Instagram ads are becoming easier for people to interact with, with more obvious calls to action.

Probably just as well, seeing as there are now over 500,000 advertisers using the platform.

Everyone can now save drafts to work on later, which is handy.

Snapchat Snap Inc

It’s all change at Snapchat – first off, the company will now be known as Snap Inc (the app is still Snapchat, mind), and it’s now in the hardware business with Spectacles, which let you shoot point of view photos and video.

LinkedIn

You can now track conversions on LinkedIn, as Microsoft looks to lure in more advertisers to help the professional platform pay for itself.

LinkedIn Learning goes live; lots of lessons from Lynda.com.

Pinterest

It’s getting colder, so it’s probably OK for Pinterest to start talking about how to ace your Christmas campaigns.

Advertising on Pinterest is getting easier – set up a Promoted Pin in nine seconds (if you’re in the US, but it’ll probably come over here too).

Pinterest’s second screen game is strong, with many users unable to tear themselves away from the platform while watching TV.

Periscope

Twitter’s getting brands more involved with live content on Periscope.

Your followers need never miss your Periscope feeds again, as they can now get notifications when you go live.

There we have it – plenty to look out for this month: will Twitter’s takeover chat continue? How will LinkedIn continue to evolve under Microsoft? Who will be next to copy Snapchat? Discover all this (maybe) and more during next month’s exciting instalment of the social media roundup.

Oh, and don’t be a stranger – tweet us: @crocbites, or email: hello@thecroc.com and talk to us about how these updates affect your social media marketing.

Nectar Business embraces video to champion SMEs

The continued and growing importance of high frequency, low cost video transverses both B2B and SME marketing. Nectar Business recognises this and has sought to take advantage with the launch of its new #MyBiz video series.

The result: a celebration of the brilliance and individual nature of great British business through an evocative and personal series of short video stories that intend to inspire and motivate the Nectar Business audience of small business owners.

The first video in the series features The Pickle House.

Nectar Business understands that running a small business can be a challenge, but also incredibly rewarding. The videos champion four very distinct small firms, with each tapping into themes that are applicable to all small businesses:

  1. starting out
  2. customer loyalty
  3. building relationships
  4. the importance of passion.

The Crocodile works with Nectar Business on its content programme, which includes the creation of Nectar BizHub, a new site to drive a more active conversation with the UK’s small business community.

“The #MyBiz series has allowed us to put video at the heart of our Nectar Business content programme, and it’s a fantastic way to hero and celebrate our small business customers’ stories. It’s very apparent that video is a core format for our audience and we’re aiming to use this to engage more closely with our customers in the future,” says Clare Gazzard, content manager for Nectar Business.

The Nectar Business #MyBiz videos are live now on Nectar BizHub and feature on the Nectar Business Facebook and Twitter channels.

Smart content marketing with Dell EMC

The merger of two of the world’s largest IT brands – Dell and EMC – into one premier end-to-end technology company has obviously created lots of news coverage over recent months.

During this transition, The Crocodile has worked closely with the Dell EMC product teams and subject matter experts to develop an exciting new content marketing campaign. The activity promotes Dell EMC’s advanced data storage systems under its new brand identity, around topics such as “the future of storage” and “building your data lake”.

Enterprise tech can be complicated subject matter – but our combined team has successfully created a clear and accessible content narrative using multiple formats. These include engaging articles and blog posts on the business benefits, eye-catching infographics and fun animated videos.

An advanced POEM (paid, owned, and earned media) strategy was also formulised to optimise SEO and drive reach, engagement and traffic via social media.

We’re delighted that the campaign is playing a key part in helping the new Dell EMC make a big splash in the IT industry.

Take a look at some of the campaign assets here:

Social Buzz nominations are in!

The annual announcement of the Social Buzz Awards nominations causes a lot of excitement at The Crocodile – more so than ever this time around as we tuned in to watch them revealed on Facebook Live.

This year we’ve been shortlisted in the Largest ROI and Best Use of Social Media Advertisingcategories for a lead generation campaign for laser healthcare provider client, Lumenis Aesthetic. The audience was niche and the return high – currently tracking at 900%.

We also made the cut in the Best Financial Sector and Best B2B Sector categories with client, Standard Life, for Adviser Voice. The Adviser Voice real-time marketing campaign differentiated Standard Life during Budget 2016 by championing the views and opinions of financial advisers to deliver massive reach and win the share of voice battle (85% – as measured by Crimson Hexagon) against Aviva, Royal London and Scottish Widows.

“Since first entering the Social Buzz Awards in 2013, The Crocodile has racked up 13 nominations, more than any other B2B agency in the country,” says Robyn Pierce, Head of Social at The Crocodile.

“We had a clean sweep of the Best B2B Sector category last year – with a win and a commendation – and we’ve won previously for Largest ROI so I’m excited to see what this year’s event has in store. It’s particularly great to be nominated for Best Use of Social Media Advertising as this is an important and growing discipline where we excel.”

The Social Buzz Awards ceremony takes place on 30 November. Click here for a full list of nominees.

Twitter update: ‘Free’ photos and gifs and polls!

Now that Twitter has confirmed its latest evolution, we’re having a look at what the changes could mean if you’re using the channel for your company’s marketing.

What’s happening

“When you add attachments like photos, gifs, videos, polls, or quote tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your tweet. More room for words!”

Rich media assets really make your tweets stand out, gain attention and drive engagement. However, there’s always been the dilemma of style over substance. With only 140 characters at your disposal, could you forfeit 20 to allow for an image or GIF and still tell your business story? Now there’s no need.

This is both great and a challenge: marketers will need to work harder to stand out – using breathtaking photos or really clever graphics should go some way to setting you apart from the mundane.

It’s not featured in the public-facing blog, but Twitter confirmed in its developers’ one that you will be limited to a single ‘free’ gif, video, poll or quote tweet, while you can have up to four photos without denting your 140 characters.

What’s not happening

Contrary to Bloomberg’s initial report back in May, you will still need to allow 23 characters for site links in your tweet, while hashtags – another candidate for exclusion from the count – will still make up your 140-character maximum.

What might be happening

When Twitter announced the ‘do more with 140 characters’ project, there were other elements included beyond media attachments.

The ability to retweet yourself – and therefore easily repurpose content – happened back in June to little fanfare, but it’s changes to @name usage that are potentially more interesting for marketers.

Not counting @names does mean that you’re able to talk to a group of people without worrying about abridging your message. However, there were concerns that this could lead to a spambot frenzy, so Twitter is still testing that one to try to find a way to make it work.

Dropping the .@ convention at the start of tweets to broadcast them more widely was another possibility, and it would save you a character, but does throw up questions about what if you don’t want to broadcast those tweets.

On the surface, sending a direct message seems to be the answer – particularly now you get read receipts – but dropping .@ seems to have fallen through the gaps of the announcement, which could have something to do with the wider @names discussion mentioned above.

So it looks like Twitter is going to get more visual, as users start adding more rich media in their messaging. What do you make of the changes? If you think you’ll need to up your Twitter game as a result, get in touch with The Crocodile and we can discuss how to optimise your social media.

How To: Make more engaging & shareable video content for B2B

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how many words must a video be worth? A quick bit of maths suggests 4.32 million seems to be about right, and that’s enough to bore the pants off the audience – so video content definitely seems to be the way forward.

Research by Demand Metric backs this up, with 69 per cent of B2B marketing professionals already using video as part of their strategy, and the remaining 31 per cent planning on doing so in the future. Why is there such an uptake? The answer is in the same survey – 82 per cent have experienced success through utilising the medium, so it makes sense for them to continue to do so and for others to jump on the bandwagon.

Whether you’re a seasoned video uploader or a newcomer, there are always things that you can do to improve your engagement levels and the following pointers will help you do exactly that.

1. Make it good

It may seem obvious, but if you don’t produce quality content, it could do your business more harm than good. Do you really want to be the brand that fires out video after video that’s of little interest to your audience?

There are 300 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every single minute, so unless you produce something that people want to subscribe to or look for, it’s going to get drowned out by the sheer volume of competing content.

2. Make it short

Size matters when it comes to video – the shorter it is, the more people are likely to engage with it. Generally speaking, you can get most types of video done within 90 seconds, which works out at around 270 words if you’re scripting it beforehand.

Of course, 90 seconds feels like an age for some people, which is why Vine and Instagram videos have a foothold. They may test your creativity more, but from a simple six-to-15-second preview to something more adventurous like stop-motion or creative looping, micro videos can be a powerful medium and a neat addition to your social media content strategy.

3. Make it accessible

So you’ve made an interesting and succinct video, now you just need people to look at it. That’s increasingly happening on tablets and mobiles, so how it appears on those devices is a key consideration before you go to market.

While mobile video stats are often skewed by people watching Netflix in bed or on their commute to work, separate figures from Emarketer show that around half of B2B marketers are receptive to mobile video, something that’s only likely to grow in the future.

4. Put it on Facebook

Accessibility isn’t just about YouTube these days either – Facebook has gone big on video, garnering over three billion views per day in the final quarter of last year. It’s looking to make hay while the sun shines too, with a raft of new video features, including scheduling, better targeting and improved analytics.

Some would have you believe that Facebook is outpacing YouTube for desktop video views, but rumours of the demise of Google’s platform are greatly exaggerated. That said, it’s definitely worth acknowledging that online video is becoming a two-horse race, particularly now that videos on Facebook garner a higher average organic reach than other posts on the platform.

5. Consider a series

The cost of producing videos is getting more accessible all the time, with technology bringing it into the reach of many more businesses. As a result, videos don’t just have to be a once-in-a-blue-moon luxury expense – they could become a part of your marketing staple.

As covered above, that doesn’t mean you should churn out anything, but making a high quality series as part of your strategy will make people want to subscribe to your YouTube channel so they don’t miss the next instalment. Provided it’s not time sensitive, it’ll also provide a lasting resource that people can revisit time and again.

6. Make people feel, dammit

‘Going viral’ may be an overused phrase at times and it largely exists in the B2C domain, but the ‘Epic Splits‘ video from Volvo Trucks shows that B2B can garner viral success too. That’s not just in terms of views, either: the coverage was the equivalent of spending $120 million on advertising, while sales increased by 24 per cent immediately after.

While your company may not be able to afford Jean Claude Van Damme, you can create videos that evoke passion. In Volvo’s case, it was amazement, but humour, cuteness and – if carefully managed – anger can all get people sharing and get your brand in front of many more eyes.

So that’s your lot – six tips to help your marketing flourish with engaging, shareable video. Whether you’re doing it yet or not, one thing is for sure: it’s here to stay, so it’s better to embrace it.