Sep 12

Six examples of brands doing great work on Facebook

Generally I take a pretty long view at things and my public talks reflect that. I speak about things that are happening now, but will take 2-5 years to fully realize themselves. This means people often ask me for examples of great work happening now. Things people are doing that can inspire change in todays marketing and advertising status quo. I’ve been showing these six examples in talks I’ve been giving recently so I wanted to share them here. These are some of my favourite recent examples of great work from marketers and their agencies happening on Facebook. Remember this is just my personal opinion – some things I like, and not anything official from Facebook. I’ve broken it into three great examples of page publishing, and three great uses of the Facebook Platform.


Almost all brands have a Facebook page and most publish regularly. There are many marketers trying to figure out what good page publishing looks like, and many lists around the web of what to do (many of which recommend things I disagree with). So who is doing a great job?


Oreo decided to do 100 posts in 100 days, each post reflecting something important about that day. I don’t have the inside track but my guess is that whoever is coming with these and executing them is having a lot of fun! As with much page publishing, this comes down to excellent art direction, excellent copywriting, and an understanding of what people are likely to respond to and share.


Red Bull

Red Bull consistently publish fantastic posts. They have two consistent traits: 1. Excellent photography. 2. Short well written copy. Posts with great photography and short copy perform better than those without photos and with longer copy.



I often hear brand marketers question whether their brand has a role on Facebook. They wonder whether people will talk about them. I always tell those people that if you want people to relate to and buy your product, your brand needs a sense of purpose, independent of the marketing channel. Once you have a sense of purpose – “this is what we’re all about!” – it is pretty straightforward to see what you might talk about on social media. Consider Febreze, a brand that deals with bad smells – not something you might imagine we would want to talk about. Well during the Olympics, they put together a fantastic publishing strategy around the Azerbaijan wrestling team. It was fun, and really well executed. And people talked.



When people build on Facebook Platform, the result is often over-cooked and too complicated. In fact, for marketers, often the best thing to do when thinking about Platform is that it is a means to produce newsfeed stories. For many people, their experience of a marketers efforts are not their Page, or their Platform App, it’s through the newsfeed stories their friends produce by using the app. This means that it is often best to design the newsfeed story first, and then think about what Platform integration will make those stories possible. All three of the examples below do this well. the Platform app is simply a means to an end.

P&G – Thank You Mom

P&Gs Thank You Mom campaign debuted at the Vancouver Olympics. For the London Olympics, their creative agency Wieden+Kennedy created a beautiful TV spot. The question then was, what do we do on Facebook? The wrong answer was to only use Facebook to drive views of the TV spot. The right answer was to build on one of the most powerful insights around social behavior: Anything that helps people build relationships with others is likely to see fantastic engagement. Much social interaction between people is to build relationships with others. So the simplest most powerful thing we could do was to build something that would allow people to thank their Moms on Facebook. To celebrate their relationship not only with their own mother, but the other mother figures in their life. The reason this worked so well was that it was simple. The goal of the app was to produce newsfeed stories of people’s friends thanking their mothers. The Thank You Mom campaign resulted in a 5-20% sales lift for the brands involved.


Lays – Do Us a Flavor

Lays are running a campaign where people can create new flavors and vote for others. Lays will manufacture the winning entry. As with Thank You Mom, the Facebook execution is dead simple and focuses on producing newsfeed stories. It taps into a few different social insights, one being tied to helping people project their personal identity and others tied to helping people build relationships with others by bantering over the flavors they create. Within a month, over a million people were using the app which means that it is very likely that tens of millions of friends were seeing stories in their newsfeed.



Target – Give with Target

A similar theme with Target, who gave $2.5 million to schools in the US by building a simple Facebook integration designed to produce newsfeed stories showing the schools their friends were nominating and voting for. This tapped into people’s sense of social identity – what helps us feel part of a community, group or movement. The newsfeed stories then helped people build relationships by facilitating conversations between friends about different schools. Thanks to the simple integration and excellent newsfeed story design, Target gave away the $2.5 million long before the deadline was up.


So that is six recent examples I like. I’ll post more as I find them in the future and I’d love to find out about them from you! Any other examples that you love?



Jul 12

A New Creative Canvas

Here is a talk I gave a few months ago explaining why Facebook is a new type of canvas for creative marketing. Let me know what you think!

Mar 12

The future of advertising: The role of heavyweight interaction.

I missed one thing in my last post – there is a role for heavyweight interaction in the future of advertising but it is very specific.

Think back to how relationships form: through many, lightweight interactions over time. However, once that relationship has formed, and people are deeply committed on an emotional level, heavyweight interaction has a place. Although the vast majority of our interaction is lightweight, we will sometimes do heavyweight things for people we love and trust. We will go the extra mile. The same is true for brands. Once you have built a deep emotional relationship over many, lightweight interactions, you can introduce something heavyweight. For example, you can ask true fans of your brand to tell their friends about your new product. Or you can organize something  knowing that true fans will rally behind you and bring in their friends.

So the advertising strategy of the future: The majority of effort and spend will be supporting an always-on strategy based on many, lightweight interactions over time to build deep relationships and loyalty. A minority of effort and spend will be supporting a small number of heavyweight interactions with true fans to achieve specific goals (mostly around driving awareness of new things).

Thanks to @jpmaheu for stirring my imagination and memory regarding heavyweight interaction.

Mar 12

The future of advertising: Many, lightweight interactions over time

Technology is driving some dramatic shifts that will change the face of business, and change the fundamentals of marketing and advertising in particular. I’m constantly thinking about better ways to explain this to people, and about a month ago, I thought of something that resonates with almost everyone I talk to about it. So I wanted to share it to see if it resonates with you:

To be a successful advertiser on the web in the future, you will need to build content based on many, lightweight interactions over time.

Following is the context explaining why I think this is the future of advertising.

We build relationships with brands the same way we build relationships with people.

We build relationships with others through many, lightweight interactions over time. We often meet people for the first time through friends of friends. Maybe we chat, maybe we don’t. Maybe we meet through friends of friends a few times, get talking and find out that we plenty of things in common and maybe similar interests. Maybe we both like skiing. So we go skiing together with our mutual friends. Maybe we go a few times. Then we go just the two of us. And slowly but surely a deep friendship develops. It takes months and years. We don’t suddenly become close friends overnight. We become  close friends through many, lightweight interactions over time.

Our species has learned this pattern of relationship building over the past tens of thousands of years. It is how our brains are wired and so isn’t going to change anytime soon. Because marketing and branding is very new relative to the history of our species, only 150 years old at best, it makes sense that we would build relationships with brands the same way. Many, lightweight interactions over time is how we’re wired to build deep, emotional connections. Therefore, our marketing plans should be built around this insight. We have intuitively and sub-consciously made rough attempts at this by spreading our messages across multiple media – magazines, billboards, TV, radio, web banner ads. Add on the other lightweight interactions we have with brands – in the retail store, chatting with our friends, seeing other people use the brand – and we have an interesting framework: many, lightweight interactions over time.

We talk about brands in passing – lightweight, not heavyweight.

We like to think that people talk about our brands in-depth, mentioning specific attributes we have seeded, but that is not how people talk about brands. People talk about brands in passing. They tend to be talking about something else, and the brand rises and dissipates incredibly quickly. For example, I’m talking with my friend John, who tells me he met our mutual friend Matt last week. He is telling me what’s happening with Matt, then mentions that the weather was crazy hot, that they were in Starbucks, that he had a new Frappuccino that I would love, and then back to telling me more about Matt. These kinds of conversations happen over and over again. Brands being mentioned as part of a bigger conversation, and brand perception being built through many, lightweight mentions over time.

Disruption and attention as a framework for marketing and advertising is ending.

One of the dramatic shifts happening that is changing business is the rise of accessible information. Only twenty years ago, our access was bounded by the books we owned, the TV shows we watched, and the books in our library. Today, because of the web, we’re seeing an exponential increase in the amount of information that we have access to. We are sinking in information yet our capacity for processing all this information remains the same. It took our brain tens of thousands of years to evolve to its current state and because it evolves incredibly slowly, it’s not going to noticeably change within our lifetime.

Dramatically more information, and limited processing capacity, means that anyone in the game of grabbing attention, and disruption is in a race to the bottom. The web is destroying disruption as an effective and efficient advertising mechanism. Disruption is a terrible user experience and is damaging to both the publisher and advertiser. In a world of too much information, the only way to be successful will be to fit in seamlessly and naturally into people’s lives. You can introduce new content and new ideas to people, but it will need to feel natural or it will be ignored at best, infuriating at worst. The best way to do this will be through people’s friends, because in a world of overwhelming information and choice, people will turn to their friends to help them decide. They will turn to their friends because that is what we have learned to do through thousands of years of evolution.

Because the web is being rebuilt around people, in the very near future, maybe 18-24 months, almost every website you visit will be personalized to you. Every website will feature information about the people you care about. What they read, what they bought, where they went, what they think. In this environment, where all content is competing with people’s friends, advertising based on disruption will lose. No brand, and no advertising campaign, is more important and interesting to people than their friends. Display advertising as we know it today will die. Banner ads will die. Because TV is also going to dramatically change in the next couple of years, standalone 30 second TV spots will die.

The future will be built around always-on strategies with many, lightweight components.

Because we build relationships with things through many lightweight interactions over time, advertising will need to do the same to be heard. Although specific short-term campaigns around launching new products and new product variants will exist, they will be built on top of a solid ‘always-on’ foundation. The ‘always-on’ foundation will be far more important than short term campaigns because that is how people act in real life. Our real life relationships with friends are ‘always-on’. Our real life relationships with brands are ‘always-on’. Advertising will need to be the same.

This is very different to how we currently do things. Almost all advertising campaigns today are based on heavyweight experiences. Heavily branded content – product shots, taglines, icons, logos – everywhere. There is a huge movement towards building deep, immersive, heavyweight marketing experiences. Marketers are building web apps. Ads that you can interact with. Ads with animation, motion and multiple layers of interaction. Everyone building these “immersive” experiences are swimming upstream. Almost every app built for a brand on Facebook has practically no usage. Think about it – when is the last time you used an app built for a brand? Heavy, “immersive” experiences are not how people engage and interact with brands. Pitched against strategies built around many, lightweight interactions over time, heavyweight experiences will fail because they don’t map to real life.

Many, lightweight interactions is an incredible creative canvas.

Many creative practitioners don’t like the sound of this, but they are blinded by their current practices. Everyone is looking for the ‘big idea’ and the hero TV spot. Sight, sound and motion. Sexy visuals. Yet many, lightweight interactions over time is an incredibly flexible canvas. It allows you to have non-linear stories. No longer do you need to tell everything at once. It allows you to fit seamlessly into conversations between people who trust each other. It allows for adaptive storytelling.

This canvas is not worse than the canvas of large sight, sound and motion experiences. It’s just different. The best creative people will seize this opportunity, create amazing experiences, and every client trying to understand the evolution of the social web (which is almost every Fortune 500 company by the way) will come flocking to those creative people’s door.

In summary, change how you think before your competitors do.

I recently gave a talk at fMC on how to create successful content on Facebook. Afterwards, the most common question was for examples of brands doing a great job using many, lightweight interactions. The truth is that there aren’t many. But that is changing. Brands who embrace this early will see incredible success. Brands who don’t may go the way of the dinosaurs. The future of advertising is many, lightweight interactions over time. Don’t be the last to realize this.

If you want to learn more about the huge shifts in how the web is structured, and what that means for marketing, check out my book Grouped. It also contains references to dozens of research studies illustrating where things are headed.

Jan 12

Shift 1 – Exponentially increasing information will dramatically change marketing

When I was growing up, we had a set of encyclopedias in our house. I often looked at these encyclopedias as a child, and thought that if I read all of them, I’d know almost everything (Of course, I never did read all of them). The access I had to information was bounded by what was printed, and available in local bookstores and libraries. The limit to the amount of information I could access was tangible. That world has irreversibly changed.

Thanks to the web, our access to information is increasing exponentially, and is not going to stop. A single query into a search engine produces millions of results. People are adding information to Wikipedia faster than we can read it: 1000 unique articles are added every day, on top of all the edits and additions to existing articles. We’re creating 2000 tweets per second, 48 hours of YouTube uploads per minute. In 2002, we recorded and replicated 23 exabytes of information. We now record and transfer that much information every 7 days.

This increase in the information we can access has two important side effects:

1. The capacity for information processing and memory is not increasing at anywhere close to the same rate. In fact, it’s barely increasing at all. Our capacity for processing information and remembering it, has formed over tens of thousands of years of evolution. In this sea of information, people often complain of “information overload” and although the amount of information we can now access is unprecedented, the feeling that we’re drowning in information is not new. In fact, it was first felt and described after the invention of the printing press. The word “deluge”, which means a sense of drowning, was a common metaphor for information in the 1600s.

2. This increase in information will have a profound impact on the world of marketing and advertising. Over the past 50 years, the predominant model in advertising has been to attract people’s attention – mostly by interruption, sometimes by surprising people with a juxtaposition of different aspects of society, creating new memes. Marketers and advertisers built systems that interrupted people from what they are currently focused on, to get them to focus on something else. We have long lived in a world where our TV shows are interrupted, our magazine articles are interrupted, our car journey is interrupted. If billboards were invented today, we wouldn’t know what they are because they would be banned by the road safety authority. The exponential increase in information we can access, combined with the fact that our brain has limited processing capability, means that a strategy based on interruption is now a race to the bottom. More advertisers, delivering more information, in an already overwhelming sea of information, competing for the same volume of attention. This ends badly for everybody.

While it’s important to understand the increase in information and the static nature of our brain’s processing capabilities, the critical thing to understand is how these relate to what is holding people’s attention. We’re watching less TV, and spending more time online. We’re spending less time online consuming content from broadcasters and businesses, and more time communicating with other people – most often with our friends. Advertisers are competing for people’s attention by going head to head with those peoples’ friends. It’s easy to see who wins here – we care a lot more about our friends and family than about what brands have to say, no matter how interesting or relevant the message. It’s annoying but acceptable to interrupt a TV episode of Friends, it’s not acceptable to interrupt a conversation amongst real-life friends.

In this eco-system, interruption is never a good experience. Imagine being at a party, talking to friends, and being interrupted by someone you didn’t know well, who immediately tried to change the topic of conversation to something that revolves around themselves. We have words to describe those kinds of people, and they’re not pretty.

Marketing and advertising is about to experience a paradigm shift. In 5 (maybe 10) years, we won’t see much advertising built on interruption because our information overloaded world will have rendered it ineffective and inefficient. All advertising will be context sensitive, personalized, and relevant. The distribution channels for this advertising are the technologies being invented now.

This post is the first in a series describing five huge shifts happening now.