Tagged: Advertising

Is Taco Bell the Savviest Social Media Brand?

On my commute back from office last night, I noticed few odd and alarming tweets. Allow me to quickly present my case:

Bridget Carey, from CNET was tweeting in ALL CAPS!!

And Nilay Patel had this

Taco Bell story? Some die-hards were flipping out!

Like any self-respecting digital marketer, I figured I had to be on top of this recent development. So I went to Taco Bell’s twitter. Then to their Instagram feed. Then to their Facebook page. And finally to their Google+ page as well. This is a collection of what I saw.

Taco Bell - Social Networks

Taco Bell – Social Networks

As it turned out, Taco Bell launched a new mobile app but rather than going on a social media frenzy, and buying up all possible hashtags, the digitally savvy brand did the exact opposite. It blacked out and went silent across all of their social presence channels. Even the website, which had products and corporate/brand information, wasn’t spared either to promote the new app. Content on the company’s Facebook was deleted and all images blacked out. On Instagram, Taco Bell released a series of black and white text-based images with the hashtag #onlyintheapp. For a brand that has over 10 million fans on Facebook, this move can clearly be described as ballsy, one which most marketers will lose weeks of sleep over.

Taco bell - only in the app

The silence was urging fans to download the app directly. Normally, a brand would go all out on its social and web channels to promote a new launch. For something like an app, the focus clearly would have been more on mobile marketing, and a typical brand would have done one, two or all the three below:

1) Running a CPD campaign to promote downloads on mobile ad networks. Off late, this has been a very popular form of promotion on Facebook and Twitter native apps as well

2) Buying display and text inventory across major networks, trying to push app functionality

3) Bid for related keywords on search engines and then hope for CPC traffic

Taco Bell, to the best of my knowledge, has done nothing of the above. This is obviously not to indicate that the above-mentioned methods are not effective. Thousands of apps employ those strategies every day, and do it with great success.

Taco Bell has done things differently while creating enormous amount of buzz and earned impressions. The App Annie chart below looks at the Taco Bell “Live Mas” app’s rank history over the past month, for Apple iOS. Notice the spike in the end. The chart shows that for the Food & Drink category, the app moved from its usual spot from around 60 to become number one for that category, in the US. Amazingly, It also became 24th most popular app in the US on the launch day. Next day, it climbed up to rank #22.

Taco Bell App - iOS Rank History

Taco Bell App – iOS Rank History

The hour-by-hour report is even more incredible. It starts with the app ranked 1,379 overall in the US as of 2am PT, October 28. By 1pm — it had shot to become the 24th most popular app. The app is not yet listed on the iTunes most popular free apps chart as it is updated on a weekly basis.

Taco Bell App - iOS Hourly Rank History

Taco Bell App – iOS Hourly Rank History

Besides the number of downloads, the post-download behaviour/interaction is vital. Everybody in the business knows that its easy to make users download apps, its far more tougher to make them use it everyday, every week, once every month or heck, even once after the first trial.

It won’t be the brilliant promotion strategy that would make users come back, but the app itself, and the UX it offers. Taco Bell covered that with the option of ordering mobile app only products on the app. They are also offering mobile payment, which is apparently the first for the industry. Moreover, in stores, there will be a separate pick-up line for app orders.

Taco Bell is known for its progressive and clever social media strategy, including being an early mover on Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, Hyperlapse among others. While it initially seemed like Taco Bell had completely wiped out its Twitter history, the account is actually hiding at @totallynothere during the blackout — with all followers (1.4 million) and tweets (39.9K) in place.

Taco Bell - Totally not there twitter

Taco Bell’s alternative twitter account

It is also interesting to note how quickly Twitter acted to make the “new” Taco Bell account verified. Usually, when a verified account is renamed (which is exactly what Taco Bell’s agency Digitas did), it loses the verified status. Clearly twitter and Digitas were planning and working on this stunt together. For now, the experiment seems to be continuing though it may not be long before Taco Bell resets and retakes its old avatar. I, for one, miss the witty one-liners. See below for an epic example.

Taco Bell vs Old Spice - Tweet Wars

Taco Bell vs. Old Spice – Tweet Wars

It is heartening to see Taco Bell embrace technology like no one else, and at the same time, add emotions in the mix. Even the press invites sent for the announcement looked like something you wouldn’t expect from a fast food retailer.

Taco Bell Invitation

Taco Bell Invitation

And that’s the trick. Taco Bell wanted to make sure that their message broke through, without breaking their budgets.  As a pioneer marketer, Taco Bell prefers to do things that have never been done before, which fits perfectly with their brand as well as the demographic they cater to.

Social media has been tightly entrenched in Taco Bell’s broad marketing play as well, with key personnel from PR, operations, product, and marketing playing a part in influencing the brand’s social movement. And for those, who believe social media leads to zero ROI, one look at Taco Bell would absolve that myth. AdAge recently wrote about the role of social media in year-on-year sales growth outpacing its competitors.

I have written in the past about clever social media and real time marketing employed by brands but this easily surpasses all Dark dunks and funny tweet fights. What do you think?

This article has also appeared on The Wall Blog.

 

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Lighten up on Scam Advertising

Few weeks back I tweeted about how one day I wish to write for AdAge. Never thought the opportunity would come so soon though.

We all know about the Ford-JWT scam advertising issue over the past week. While everyone was berating the agency, my thoughts go out to the creative people working in it.

One of the important arguments I have made in the column explores the idea of comparing scam ads & concept cars. The basic premise of scam advertising for awards & concept cars for auto shows is basically the same, then why single out the advertising industry only? There are lots of similar examples in other industries as well.

Check it out here & let me know what you think

Digital Marketing Trends for 2013 in India

As over 150 million Indians surf the interwebs (yes, that’s what the cool kids call it these days), Indian marketers are losing their sleep to catch them young, in their mid-life crisis or even after hanging up their boots. The challenge is immense. Out of the $5 billion Indian advertising industry, $900 million go to digital marketing.  The share of digital is poised to grow larger every year & slated to touch 30% of the total market by 2015.

As marketers we need to keep a track on the consumer’s pulse and the next big idea to engage them. Keeping that in mind & that we have 11 months left to make those ideas work for us, here are 5 trends, which will go massive in 2013

1)   Native Advertising

“Once you go Native, you don’t go Interruptive” – ANON

Over the past 10 years, publishers have continued to monetize their sites with banners and pre-roll ads, and advertisers have continued to pump billions into these formats, in spite of tanking performance & universal contempt. While click-through rates on display ads started out at around 9% in 2000, they now hover around 0.2% – which effectively means 99.8% of banner ads go straight to the trashcan.

Native advertising like a Promoted Tweet or a Sponsored story in Facebook allows brands to promote their content into the experience of the site or other mediums, in a non-interruptive & integrated manner. We are going to hear a lot about Native this year & it will affect the way we create content, effectively & hopefully killing advertising that sucks.

Native advertising is the irrefutable future.

2)   Social TV

2013 is the year when Social TV will go mainstream, ending the era of sitting passively on big boy recliners and watching television.

Social TV’s secret sauce is mixing humanity’s love for Television and its enchantment with social media. NEWS, Sports and Music channels have been on the wagon for a while but the turning point for the industry will be getting GEC’s onboard, inviting viewers to interact and decide their own storytelling experience.

NDTV’s second screen effort in its mobile app and Airtel’s Shazam campaign are couple of recent examples from the Indian market, but the biggest of them all comes in April 2013, when American network SyFy launches Defiance as a cross-platform story, on TV and as a MMO game.

What makes the industry even more exciting is the imminent launch of Twitter TV ratings with Nielsen this summer and the prospect of Social TV growing to a multi billion-dollar industry by 2020.

3)   Fragmentation

Today’s consumer is both everywhere and nowhere and his/her attention is divided between multiple screens & platforms on different screens. Marketers like to speak about TV, Desktop & Mobile as 3 screens, adding Tablet into the mix as the 4th screen will be a wise move to reach those fragmented souls who are always on the target list as the “elusive on-the-go customer”.

More consumers are watching more and more content, but that viewing is dispersed across different platforms, starting with TV, Online Streaming and VOD to Podcast. Although some western markets are going through the cord cutting phenomena, Indian market is going through what I like to call as “Cord extension” phase, where consumers are adding broadband, mobile, DTH, DVR and IPTV connections over their existing Cable TV.

The mantra of Content everywhere and anywhere on any device & any screen has played its bit role in fragmentation but changing consumption lifestyles has made it necessary to shift both strategy and focus for marketers that want to keep up with their audiences.

Thus 2013 should see some brave moves by content owners worldwide, some even unthinkable few years back, to keep their audience with them.

4)   Content Marketing

Content Marketing has already attained huge prominence among marketers worldwide but 2013 will see consumers seeking out content themselves, making it increasingly vital to the purchase cycle as well. Brands & agencies are responding with increased capabilities, as they look for opportunities to get involved and engaged with consumers at different levels, to provide content that is relevant and share worthy.

2013 will also witness marketers combining content with context to drive commerce.

Brands such as Red Bull with the Stratos Freefall initiative and McDonald’s Canada with Our Food, Your Questions campaign have led the charge globally while Tata Nano’s Social road trip has made a splash in the Indian market.

5)   Smart Data

Originally this was supposed to be titled as Big Data, and then came along an email by Rachel Gilley from our UK office, explaining how 1 of our clients thought data needs to be actionable and Smart data attained it’s place in the list. Every consumer touch point is a valuable piece of data & taking it together is possibly an antidote to fragmentation, discussed earlier in this post.

Big Data is complex to say the least and possibly the greatest challenge marketers face all over the world today. Companies collect information from their customers in structured or unstructured format, which are later put through various tools to understand consumers better. Global brands like Netflix, Amazon and Apple use it to serve better recommendations to their customers, whereas most of major Indian Retailers like Shoppers Stop & Lifestyle use transaction data to re-design store layouts & inventory management.

Interestingly Shoppers Stop, for instance, found that very often when middle-aged ladies shopped for Indian clothing, the other item on their list was men’s innerwear.

The much-improved version of Big Data is Smart Data, Data that can be put instantly to use by brands to improve marketing, business decisions and customer engagement practices.

This post has also appeared on imediaconnection India

KLM | The Social Dutchman

Image

The genesis of this post, my first ever, was a tweet to me by Rohit Rao, known as @TheAeroBlogger on my favourite Social Networking site, Twitter.

I would talk about Twitter on another post, but this one is all about my passion, my passion for Airplanes, Traveling & Social Media, & my recent experience of all of that converging into one wholesome package.

I was traveling on Business to US in June/July 2012 & @KLM happened to be my 31st airline (did the math). KLM was not my primary choice, in fact I wanted to fly its Sky Team partner, Air France for the routing, but boy was I glad at the end of it all!
I had read a lot about the “truly” social seating features that KLM had introduced, for the first time ever in the world of commercial aviation through its initiative known as “Meet and Seat” & when I realized that my flights would have those features while checking in, the social media guy in me took the front seat (not literally, premium economy requires you to pay more).
After filling in all relevant details, I was surprised to find only 2 gentlemen using the service (DEL-AMS route), one through Facebook & the other through Linked In. & unfortunately for me, none of the hot chicks on the flight decided to bother themselves with it (like this un-official video below would have you believe). Shockingly enough I was the only user of the service on AMS-IAD, & while returning from JFK to DEL via AMS, I encountered no users of Meet & Seat.

Although, its an exciting development, the concept of Social Seating has been discussed for a while now (Look at this coverage of Meet & Seat launch by @SimpliFlying), & other specialized players in the space like Satisfly have more detailed features, allowing better matching & flexibility to travelers.
Being a Marketer, my left brain & my right brain, both tell me its the marketing stupid. If i recall correctly, there was no special promotion on KLM’s homepage for the feature (unlike airBaltic promoting its satisfly features) & there is still none. Even the check-in page had little mention, I first sighted a RHS dynamic banner while filling in my API (Advance Passenger Information), some might say that’s appropriate given meet & seat is an optional additional feature, I would highly disagree.

When you have an exclusive service, which is available on just 1 other airline, out of possibly 1000s of other airlines in the world, WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?

KLM, arguably has one of the world’s best social media response teams, spread across regions, on Facebook & Twitter, interacting & delighting travellers every minute, KLM’s Marketing team was behind this fantastic Surprise campaign, they have a gamut of helpful & entertaining mobile apps, but I find it astounding that when it comes to Meet & Seat, there is very little noise generated by them. In this era of increased social connectivity & interaction, Meet & Seat could have easily become the talking point among travelers, some of them might have even paid a premium to be on KLM because of it.

The only logical explanation that I could think for under promoting is that the service is in beta, & KLM is in the process of adding more features & capabilities. To that, I would just say 3 words, Look at Google.

My experience on KLM was fantastic & the cabin crew was most friendly & helpful in all four legs of the trip, I would fly with them again for those Big MD-11 windows (although the IFE was crappy), for the wonderful hub at Schiphol, for the amazing roof at Schiphol, making you see aircraft fly in & out, & for its wonderful & courteous staff, alas Meet & Seat if promoted well, could have been another solid reason.

PS: This post was coined “The Social Dutchman” by me after realizing KLM is more than just a “Flying Dutchman” & I hope they live up to this recognition.

This Post is also featured on AeroBlogger, as a slightly altered Guest Post.