Archive for October, 2013

Damn those DM: why automated direct messages on Twitter won’t win you any friends

Thursday, October 31st, 2013


Thanks for reading this. No, really thanks. It means a lot. We’re mates now aren’t we? Can we spend Christmas together? I think I love you.

Ok, that was creepy (and a little annoying). And unless you genuinely relish the prospect of spending Christmas day watching ‘Labyrinth’ on loop, I can imagine it’s pretty much put a stop to any genuine and mutually beneficial interaction between us.

What I just did in mildly molesting you in the opening paragraph is effectively the equivalent of sending an automated direct message on Twitter to new followers.

It’s a practice that, bafflingly, still takes place an awful lot of Twitter, from users who you would expect a great deal better from.

Whatever the rationales people may try to give for automated DMs, the truth remains that many, many people feel they are impersonal, pushy and even deceptive.

The Twitter user experience depends on authentic, mutual interactions across areas of shared interest. To then attempt to somehow automate this, or any, interaction seems entirely self defeating.

Greeting someone who has just chosen to follow your Tweets with an automated message is like shaking hands with a business card concealed in your palm. On the other hand, simply messaging with ‘thanks for the follow’ is the kind of banal noise that adds nothing to the experience.

There is a great deal of talk at the moment that Twitter are making plans to prevent the sharing of links through DM, following an increasing concern about the growth of spam across this particular channel.

Sadly, the ‘hard sell’ is highly prevalent on Twitter and this kind of practice is damaging to the reputation of a network that should be recognised more for the quality and diversity of content and the culture of sharing and reciprocation.

So far the damage has been restricted to the torpedoing of DM as a credible means for making initial contact. The fact that Twitter are now looking to roll out the ability for all users to DM each other, regardless of if they are mutually following, suggests that we could be on the precipice of a spam avalanche. Spamalanche if you like. Even if you don’t really.

If you are currently sending automated DMs through Twitter, have a long hard think about what you hope that message will achieve. And if you still think computerising what is essentially a personal introduction then you, my friend, are no longer welcome for Christmas.


Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.

The benefits of marketing with Snapchat (and it isn’t just because the kids are there!)

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013


In the world of social media, and in particular social media marketing, there is an almost blind hunger for the ‘next big thing’. If someone were to invent a social media platform that allowed you to microblog on the teeth of a minky whale then undoubtedly marketers would be all over it.

Snapchat is one other latest platforms to be showing real signs of establishing itself with the top players in the market. At first it suffered from a fairly unsavoury association with ‘sexting’ amongst teens, due to the visual content it serves up before allowing that content to disappear within a few seconds.

Unsolicited glimpses of willies aside, Snapchat is now being taken seriously, not least by the marketing community. One of the chief areas of appeal to brands is the idea that Snapchat is their magical portal into the consciousness of the young.

The platform demographic is said to be 13 to 25, a section of society with increasingly vast purchasing power, influence and cultural capital.

But it is a mistake to integrate Snapchat into your social media strategy purely on the basis of reaching this specific audience. It is a narrow approach and does a disservice to a platform that offers some rather innovative ways to reach an audience.

A few brands have already demonstrated some very effective marketing applications for Snapchat. Taco Bell, no slouches on any social media platform, have successfully used Snapchat to premier the launch of a product – promising an exciting and exclusive announcement just for their Snapchat following. The ability to add text onto an image is ideal for delivering this kind of exciting promotional or product led message.

Co-op Electrical are also an unlikely pioneer of the medium. Their ‘Snaptop’ campaign saw them deliver £30 off discount codes to students who had befriended them. The fact that the recipient had just 10 seconds to save the code adds a level of excitement to coupon delivery that is a rarity in any form of promotional marketing.


The limited presentation of Snapshot posts is undoubtedly its strongest appeal. Their approach is casual, almost breezy; ‘take a look if you like, it’ll be gone in a bit.’ This kind of effortless swagger is undoubtedly appealing to a youthful audience while the ephemeral nature of a Snapchat message prompts a form of impulsiveness in the recipient that urges interaction.

However, the innovativeness of the platform alone is not enough. Unlike other forms of social marketing you know precisely what kind of time window and lifespan your message has, therefore the content has to be surprising and impactful.

Snapchat shouldn’t be dismissed as just a youth conversation. Yes, the demographic is skewed that way but it is a naive marketer who assumes that young people are unable to influence the purchase decisions of their parents and other older demographics.

Snapchat isn’t alone in that space and Facebook’s Poke application offers a very similar platform. But nevertheless Snapchat and its functionality certainly provide opportunities for marketing. It’s just a question of brands looking beyond what they think they know about Snapchat and recognising what it is really capable of.


Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.

Our new YouTube ad for Marmalade

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

We’ve dipped our sticky fingers into the world of You Tube advertising for our good pals at Marmalade, the young driver insurance specialists (and thoroughly nice bunch of rascals).


With the assistance of our ever reliable (and always annoyingly brilliant) chums at Fat Free Media we created and produced this cheeky little pre-roll ad.


And, for a car insurance ad for young people, you may be surprised to note that there’s neither a car, nor a young person in sight. There is a dinosaur though. Obviously.


That, it seems, is how we roll.

B2 Who? Blurring the lines of B2B and B2C

Monday, October 28th, 2013


Established mantras of marketing are crumbling. Very little time elapses before the next pillar of the marketing cathedral crumbles down.

One of the most current ingrained dogmas to be weakened is the distinction between B2B and B2C marketing.

Many industry observers are already claiming the lines have irrevocably blurred and we should now be operating in a B2P (Business to People) or even B2I (Business to Individual) strategic framework.

Ours is the age of smart and accurate customer data. This, coupled with exhaustive segmentation allows marketers to target customers on the most intimate and relevant of terms.

But relevance, in terms of targeting and messaging, is only half the story. The other half is the personal emotional appeal of our campaigns.

The notion that communicating to ‘a consumer’ or to ‘a business’ is fast dissolving under its own inherent contradictions. Talking to a business is a conversation with people, people who have very particular emotional, practical and individual needs.

To approach any level of marketing communications with a B2C or B2B approach is clumsily broad. It is the relationship and engagement we achieve with the people at the receiving end of our message that we must concentrate our efforts on. And those efforts absolutely mean a more responsive, empathetic approach.

‘B2P’ means finding out what our customers want, not merely telling them what we have.

Technology has driven fundamental shifts in every form of communication and we now, as an industry, find a vast platform for personalisation at our disposal.

In this ecosystem failing to treat a banker, a baker or a candlestick maker (whoever they might be) as a person is a critical oversight. Siloed approaches are vanishing across all forms of marketing and communications and this is no exception.

And agencies who mistake their very real, very human customers for ‘leads’ or ‘prospects’ might as well be fighting a bear with a Jammie Dodger.


Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.


Design of the Week: Prime TV ‘Sharknado’ DM

Friday, October 25th, 2013


If anyone ever tells you that Direct Marketing is dead then you need to hit them full in the face with a flying shark.

At least that’s the approach taken by those clever rascals at DraftFCB in New Zealand with this deliciously silly promotion for Prime TV and their premier of ‘Sharknado’.

Given the slim possibility that you were swept away by a giant but friendly eagle and have spent the last year having magical adventures amongst the clouds, ‘Sharknado’ was the cult movie hit of the year. It told the story of, well, a tornado full of sharks hitting a major US city (with a subtext of Tara Reid comprehensively murdering the remnants of her career).

And this (the plot, not Tara) proved the inspiration for Draft’s flying ‘Sharknado’ plane board – the ideal amusement for a sunny day in the park, terrifying the squirrels and making old people tut.

Sharnado fly

And for anyone who thinks good design has to be serious, then the irreverent brilliance of this project must hit them like a big fish falling from the sky.


Andrew is Lead Copywriter and Head of Social here at Together. Follow him on Google+.


Catch up on last week’s Design of the Week.