Wednesday Updates

Some things we've been thinking about this week.


The (rising) domination of podcasts - looking back it almost seems inevitable. What's really interesting is looking at how the medium and the approach has changed in the last couple of years. I'm looking forward to more production (again Gimlet does a really good job). Whether this will one day all be replaced by visual content is yet to be seen (driver-less cars?). Exciting times.

What do employees want? - This is an interesting way to look at the issue - I don't think it's something anyone is going to solve anytime soon (largely because it's constantly evolving). What's more interesting is how companies can embed these areas they've identified and infused it into the company culture. Easier said than done.

YouTube - not the glamorous life it appears to be - a lot of people are becoming incredibly famous by creating content (and a lot of it isn't good content) and it's easy to get sucked into the world and think that you can do the same (and better). However, it's not all that it's cracked up to be. What's missing is that need to create art - it's something that calls out to people (if you're doing it for money, turn away now as it's not as lucrative as you think). The message that you can create is more important than the riches you might one day fall into - this message gets lost far too often.


Working with influencers on social.

Bad news first — it might already be too late to think about working with influencers.

Here are the reasons why I think that is (bear with me as I go through a little history).

When trying to get your brand out there (mentioned), you essentially want to just get in front of as many people as possible. But when you’re starting out, the only people that know about your brand are the ones who know you personally (your family, and maybe a few customers that stumbled upon you).

So, if you want to get in front of more people you need to figure out 1) where people are and 2) how to get in front of them. This is the model that you see everywhere (and how advertising exists). TV, billboards, newspapers, even radio are all places where people gather/give away their attention. And it’s these traditional channels that brands used to get in front of a large audience (paid advertising).

However, with the rise of social media also came the rise of a very distracted audience. No longer were people watching massive amounts of TV or consuming newspapers on a daily basis (yes there are plenty of people who do that but let’s look at the trends instead). Social has become more and more important because that’s where people are spending their time.

But if we look at social, it’s important to understand what it is that people are doing there. They open the Facebook or Instagram app, but what exactly are they doing there? And what keeps them going back (unlike a newspaper for example where you read it in the morning and rarely re-visit it multiple times throughout the day)?

There are a few reasons that people go on social for (these aren’t all the reasons but the key ones). They’re 1) looking for a distraction and some form of entertainment, 2) staying up to do date on everything that is happening, 3) finding out what other people are doing (FOMO).


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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

(The biggest channels on social can do all these — celebrities accounts are best at doing all three. Other sports or news media outlets do something similar but obviously concentrate on news.)

So why are influencers a big deal? They have large audiences that engage with them regularly. Depending on the fanbase that they have generated, they also have a lot of sway and can impact what fans do (maybe even to buy something!).

A couple of years ago, influencer marketing was relatively small — not many brands were trying it. As a result, it was easy to get in touch with influencers, and if needed, the fee to work with them was relatively low. However, as the popularity and effectiveness of influencer work increased so did the cost.

Influencers were being contacted on a regular basis because their ‘rates’ were really only determined by the demand. It wasn’t until the demand skyrocketed that the rates also increased to ridiculous amounts. On the other hand, the more popular it got, the less effective it became — people are smart enough to realise when influencers are endorsing a product and not actually a real fan.

So when the prices became unreasonable, brands starting to go for more affordable influencers (from 5 million fans to 1 million fans to 50 thousand fans) — the fewer fans they had, the cheaper they were to work with (but interestingly not necessarily easier to work with). And while the ROI was still decent, the market quickly became flooded. This led to the rise of micro-influencers (depending on how you define this, can be anyone with under 10 thousand followers to even under 5k thousand followers).


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Photo by Atikh Bana on Unsplash

The influencer market has become so saturated that in most cases, you’re not going to be able to get a decent enough return in your investment (time and money) to spend the time to investigate and execute (working with micro-influencers still works but it can be insanely time intensive). So is it all a lost cause? Not necessarily.

The most effective influencers are ones who are passionate about your brand — they’re the one who uses your product regularly and probably did so before you even contacted them. They’re the ones who are happy to talk about your brand before even mentioning compensations. These are the types of people you want to work with — the evangelists. The influencers that most people are talking about though are the ones with massive audiences and treat all interactions as transactions — the ones whose livelihoods are dependent on selling their influence. There’s still value here but treat with caution.

What’s key here, is finding your true evangelists and giving them reasons to talk about your brand, while somehow maximising their reach. It’s a very tricky situation, but completely doable. Just don’t waste your time (and money) working with people who won’t be able to help your brand.

Wednesday Updates

Things we're thinking about this week.


The cost of becoming Insta-famous - You need to live an interesting life to become 'follow-worthy' - for some, the easiest way is be faking it (unless they're already filthy rich). This means travelling, eating and buying things that are sure hits on Instagram (#DOITFORTHEGRAM). If that's the path you take, it comes at a serious cost. However, if you do make it and become Insta-famous, there are certain benefits - clueless brands will offer money if you promote or mention them. You might get free hotel nights or even free trips. The key is figuring out the mass audience you need to capture to appeal to these brands (the ones who are too lazy to figure out how to properly use brand evangelists). However, the window for this is quickly closing (if not already closed).

Wednesday Updates

Things we're thinking about this week:


Is there a point to college anymoreSomething I've been thinking about for a really long time. Seems like there are studies that show a lack of skill transfer from university to everyday life, which I find truly disturbing - how are people with science degrees not learning the scientific method and applying it to their life? It's always been tricky trying to separate learning from learning to pass an exam. Now it's key to figure out what proxies/better predictors we should be looking into instead to demonstrate skills and abilities.

A different approach to Instagram. I like this a lot. It's so incredibly difficult to stand out on social, you really need to do something special and make it worthwhile. If you don't have time to figure it out, you really should be spending your time doing something else (like improving your product or customer support). It's not difficult but this makes it a little more relatable.

Wednesday Updates

Things we're thinking about this week.


People are hired and paid to do what they do best. Let them. This makes me laugh and cry at the same time. All day I hear about why companies don't need help with social or copywriting because they can just do it themselves. Ugh. It takes years to figure out what the little details are what makes good work work (often it's having a full stop, in this case, it's repeating a word twice).

Ryan Holiday with 28 lessons from master creators. I hate Ryan Holiday. He's effortlessly (probably not so effortlessly) understood his target audience and writes specifically for them. Every word he publishes, I can't help but be drawn into and read. Every single article or book. There is so much to learn.

Podcasts? The holy grail? In an effort to capture attention, it seems like podcasts have found their way into many people's daily ritual. It's perfect for the commute or mundane work (something 99% of the world deals with). The great thing now is that there's quality, creative content out there if you just search for it (Gimlet is a great place to start). I still believe that video is next, but it will still be 3-5 years before it dominates (still waiting for the tech to make it an easier consumed format).

Gaming the system. The system is obviously broken, and if a kid can game TripAdvisor (which I hate), then so can anyone else. It's an interesting way of looking at things, and a good case of playing towards an audience. Understanding algorithms help make stunts like this work. Also, TripAdvisor is terrible (did I mention that already?), someone needs to fix/make a better alternative.


Social Media Manifesto 2018

To help define and guide the actions for 2018, I’ve decided to take a look at social media and create a set of rules to live by (yes, these will undoubtedly evolve over time because damn those algorithms).

  • Create value, not for yourself, but for everyone else.
  • Create a community. 
  • Ruthlessly assess why you do what you do. 
  • It may be difficult, but it's difficult for everyone.
  • Monitor what you can, but accept that some things are out of your control.
  • Test, test and test some more.
  • Be more honest, be more human.

The ideas here are simple but often forgotten. It's incredibly easy to get caught up in the news and changes, but actually creating value will ALWAYS bring success (even if you don't believe it, you should act like it does).

Here's to 2018.