The CMO Show:
The CMO Show: James Fitzgerald...

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal has forever marked 2018 as a tumultuous year in the social media landscape. Social Media Knowledge (SMK) Executive Director of Programing, James Fitzgerald, reveals how marketers can master the Facebook news feed in today’s post-organic world.

Do you catch yourself increasingly scrolling through the Facebook news feed, just hoping you’ll land on something other than another ad, sponsored video, or pessimistic news article?

James Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Programing at Social Media Knowledge (SMK) says Facebook users are no longer thinking about the content they’re consuming, they’re channel hopping like people do when watching TV; so Facebook is taking steps to change this behaviour.

In Australia, approximately 50 per cent of media spend is digital, with the lion’s share going to Facebook and Google. Social news feeds are constantly updated, with regular algorithm tweaks. In 2018, Facebook’s news feed algorithm underwent a dramatic overhaul – fundamentally altering the social media landscape for marketers.

“The news feed pre-2018 was very much geared to keep users on the platform and to keep users glued to their feed. Provocative content did very, very well. Cat videos, dog videos, clickbait videos. All that mattered was keeping them in the feed and keeping them coming back again.”

“From a marketer’s perspective, our job became to get under the skin of people’s needs and wants, and do it in a provocative, engaging manner.”

“But what [Facebook has] done recently is they basically said: ‘Look, it’s now no longer just about rampant on broader consumption. We’re looking to drive more value for our communities.’” 

“What we’re seeing is the news feed now skewing more towards favouring what they call ‘active consumption’ as opposed to ‘passive consumption’,” James said.

Marketers need to “drive more value for our communities” through producing content that users will interact with in a meaningful way, such as tagging others in their networks through the comments to start a conversation.

A refugee from agency life, James co-founded SMK eight years ago as a specialist learning and development business, teaching more than 1,500 client-facing marketing agency personnel about the ins and outs of the social marketing ecosystem each year. “It’s just about helping them use digital channels more effectively,” he said.

“Social media was once a ‘bolt-on’ addition to the media landscape, whereas now it’s the platform where the media landscape plays out,” James said. “2018 has been the most tumultuous year in social media land.”

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The CMO Show production team

Producer – Candice Witton, Charlotte Goodwin

Audio Engineers – Daniel Marr & Tom Henderson

Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you: cmoshow@filteredmedia.com.au.

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Transcript: Mastering the Facebook news feed with James Fitzgerald

Hosts: Mark Jones and Nicole Manktelow

Guest: James Fitzgerald

Mark: Welcome back to the CMO Show. My name is Mark Jones.

Nicole:  And my name’s Nicole Manktelow. We are the CMO Show.

Mark:  Indeed, we’re actually very happy to have you join us for this edition of the show, and we’re going to talk about social media.

Nicole: Oh, and the future of social media, which I feel we need to revisit almost every three or four months now, because change is coming out so thick and fast.

Mark:The latest iteration of social media, and our guest is James Fitzgerald from SMK-

Nicole: Which stands for-

Mark: Social Media Knowledge.

Nicole: … Social Media Knowledge.

Mark: Right? A clever chap. And you interviewed him, Nicole.

Nicole: One of my favourites. Yeah. He’s incredibly switched on. Amazing amount of information that is going into that brain that he conjures up, and spits out, and can keep you all up to date on algorithms, and policy changes, and where the different platforms are at, and how you would use them in your campaigns, which is quite fascinating. Incredibly tactical and interesting.

Mark: And I think it’s interesting for people like him, they really do need to stay focused on the latest thing. Right? So, if you’re a CMO or marketer, it’s like, “What’s the latest thing right now?” And broadly speaking, that’s part of the conversation. But what caught me about this whole thing is how are we engaging with people in social now, and are they staying in the platform, are we still trying to get them out of the platform, and what are the costs around all of this?

Nicole: Absolutely fascinating time for social media given recent news about data and privacy, and all the Cambridge Analytica stuff, there’s just a lot happening and a lot of changes in these platforms, as well. And look, Mark, I did this one without you, because you were off at a fabulous conference, PROI, and I believe they had some interesting observations there do you want to tell us a bit about it?

Mark: Well, I think the connection to Cambridge Analytica is an interesting one, because agencies globally, particularly in our PROI network, are busy thinking about a couple of things. Yeah, one is data privacy, and also GDPR, of course, is everywhere. And how do we best represent what the consumer, or the reader, or the customer is interested in, and represent clients. So, in many ways, agencies are sort of in the middle of that sandwich. This conversation’s so important. You can’t afford not to be current when it comes to social. Which is why we had to have James on the show, right?

Nicole: Yeah.

Mark: And so, why don’t we hear from him, and then we can kind of digest it all.

Mark Jones: If you’ve got a question you’d like us to answer on the show, just tweet us @CMOShow or use the hashtag #TheCMOShow. We’d love to hear from you.

Nicole Manktelow: You are with The CMO Show and I’m your host, Nicole Manktelow. Flying solo today because Mark is gone AWOL.

Nicole Manktelow: Now, today actually is a fantastic opportunity to get some listening, get some learnings in, particularly, if you have to deal, like everybody does, with social media, and the amazing and tumultuous landscape. In fact, I’ve a stolen a word from my guest, James Fitzgerald of SMK, which stands for Social Media Knowledge. James welcome to The CMO Show.

James Fitzgerald: Excellent.

Nicole Manktelow: This word tumultuous, I stole it from you a moment ago. You said not too long ago, when we were talking today that 2018 was the most tumultuous year in social media land. I’d love you to explain that.

James Fitzgerald: You are seeing probably more volatility in change and innovation now than we’ve probably ever seen before. I think part of it is probably driven by societal shifts. Obviously, social media once upon a time was very much a bolt on to the media landscape, whereas now, it’s the platform where the media landscape plays out, and obviously, the informal media landscape, obviously just people talking about what they’re doing.

James Fitzgerald: Facebook’s a market leader. As such, they really set the agenda for what’s happening. They, as a business, are going through some painful teething issues at the moment.

Nicole Manktelow:  I’ll say that might be an understatement. You say tumultuous, I thought we might just have a conversation almost entirely around Facebook and its privacy woes, but that’s actually not what you’re referring to at all?

James Fitzgerald: No. I mean that’s one thing. It also depends as well like you know; tumultuous, tumultuous from whose perspective. There’s a lot happening on Facebook at the moment that fundamentally alters how companies use it for marketing purposes. Whether you’re a CMO or a marketing executive or a small business owner, the way that you bring your marketing to life on Facebook today in May is very different to how you would have done it in December.

Nicole Manktelow:  That’s really quick. We’re always going on about the fast-pace of change around here, but that’s-

James Fitzgerald:  It’s staggering. I think, again, Facebook is just one part, the ecosystem. I think you’ve got Facebook, which is obviously going through some large challenges to do with, in the scheme of Facebook’s challenges, I personally don’t really think the whole privacy thing is that a big deal. The issues they’ve had recently with Cambridge Analytica, that’s a problem from 2013, 2014, which has really come out now. That actually, a lot of the circumstances that gave birth to that issue. They stopped being an issue several years ago.

James Fitzgerald:  Facebook, at the moment, in terms of privacy, I think, issues more to do with things like the newsfeed and just the managing of misinformation. There’s been quite a few instances recently where Eddie McGuire who basically, his face was used on some erectile dysfunction medication ads that were being run on, I can’t comment on his erectile functioning. His image was used illicitly.

Nicole Manktelow: Well, that’s awkward? It’s awkward. Yes.

James Fitzgerald: It is awkward. That was paid advertising. The people using his image to sell things, he had no relationship with.

Nicole Manktelow:  Well, hang on, that would be problematic in any media?

James Fitzgerald:  That’s right, absolutely but what I’m saying is I think in the scheme of Facebook’s challenges, I don’t think the data one is that big a challenge for them. I also think as well their business is built on harvesting and allowing third parties to monetize that data. At the moment, really, I think what you’re seeing from Facebook is quite a lot of posturing, quite a lot of PR, quite a lot of powderpuff movements that don’t really materially change the fact they’re still collating huge amounts of data. So the data thing and the privacy thing is more of a PR issue than anything else because if they felt that was that big a deal, surely, they could stop tracking some of the things they track, but they’re not.

Nicole Manktelow: So has anything changed from marketers?

James Fitzgerald:  A little bit, yeah, not loads. Like I said, the conditions that gave birth to the Cambridge Analytica thing, and also do bear in mind like Cambridge Analytica and its affiliates didn’t necessarily do anything wrong at the time.

Nicole Manktelow: You mean that they were covered by the agreements?

James Fitzgerald:  They didn’t really break any rules or anything, like they didn’t do anything wrong. There was just an opening, and they exploited it. It’s not like they hacked it or anything. I think when you look at what actually occurred. On the events that we run, we’ve been talking about Cambridge Analytica for quite a while. Obviously, for most people, this is a new thing. They’re not a newcomer. They’ve been around for years. We’ve been talking about them in our events for a long time. They were one of the smartest and most effective data providers, intelligent businesses in the world.

Nicole Manktelow: It’s like they say, all is fair in love and war, well, that election campaigns, I presume.

Nicole Manktelow:  Actually, while we’re here, when you say we, SMK, this is a company you started?

James Fitzgerald:I was one of the founders, yeah.

Nicole Manktelow: One of the founders. Tell us about your background. You’re a refugee from agency life, I believe?

James Fitzgerald: Yeah, that’s a nice way of putting it I suppose. Yeah. My background, so I’ve led SMK in Australia now for about eight years. SMK is a specialist learning and development business. That’s really our heritage and our core, we run in the region of probably about 150 training days a year across Australia and New Zealand across every aspect in the digital marketing ecosystem. Via those training courses, we train the best part of probably 1,000, 1,500 client-side and agency marketing personnel, probably more skewed towards client-side, I would say. Really, it’s, I suppose just about helping them use digital channels more effectively, essentially.

Nicole Manktelow: What do you think the most, the biggest challenge is or the most obvious thing is that people still don’t get?

James Fitzgerald:  Where to begin? I think for a lot of people, they think too short term. They don’t really think about, I think, how their tactics and how their plans are likely to escalate. I also think as well people habitually underestimate how much work is involved. Resourcing is a problem across the board. One of the interesting things with digital marketing and social media by extension, I think, is the fact that you’ve got a lot of money moving into digital, but most of the money is being pushed into media spend not necessarily headcount.

Nicole Manktelow: Right. That’s important because you’ve got communities that you’re trying to build, not just a broadcast general, correct?

James Fitzgerald: True. Even if you don’t have the communities, a lot of organisations, typically, large organisations, a lot of the committee management, they’re often part of the customer service anyway. I think more so, it’s just very labour intensive. If you’re-

Nicole Manktelow: Can we get a chatbot to do it?

James Fitzgerald: Who’s gonna make the chatbot manage the chatbot? Every aspect is quite labour-intensive. So, take for example, people talk a lot about big data. You know we’ve got big data now, we can talk about all these clever things. Most people can’t deal with small data. So how they plan to deal with big data I have no idea.

James Fitzgerald: In last eight years, we’ve literally trained 10, 12, 13,000 marketing and comms professionals across Australia and New Zealand. I barely meet anyone across the board who even has time to split test email subject lines. To me, that’s small data, it’s binary. It’s this one or it’s that one. It’s a small data set.

Nicole Manktelow: They’re so poorly resourced and so busy that they just don’t bother?

James Fitzgerald:  That’s right. Very, very busy. They just don’t have the time. Resourcing is a major problem. Like in Australia now, about 50% of media spend is digital, give or take.

Nicole Manktelow: That’s going on the big media websites, is that right?

James Fitzgerald:  Google and Facebook get probably the lion’s share of that. I think they probably get about two thirds of it, basically, which is consistent with global averages. Of that, Google is the bigger partner of the pair. A lot of people think about Google and Facebook as if they’re the same, right? But in actual fact, Google is substantially larger than Facebook.

Nicole Manktelow: I used to think one is desktop, one’s mobile.

James Fitzgerald: That’s a good way of thinking about it, which is, obviously worrisome for the one that’s not mobile.

Nicole Manktelow:  Now, actually, I wanted to ask you a little bit more about this because there is a change. Besides the mea culpa and all the rest of it that’s going on with Facebook, I think, that the way they treat content in general is often changing. I know your company send out updates frequently whenever there’s an algorithm tweak, which helps our community of marketers. But there’s some big changes happening. I wondered if you’d mind putting that in perspective.

James Fitzgerald: Yeah, the important thing to understand is that the social newsfeeds get updated all the time, that’s not unusual. It’s only really probably every two to three years you get a major change of direction, something like search algorithms. Google is constantly tweaking the search algorithm, and every so often, there’s a massive update which changes everything. Social is no different. I think, for a lot of people listening, the best way to think about social networks is just like you do Google. Google is always  changing the search algorithm so you have to change your tactics and social is the same.

James Fitzgerald:In 2018, the biggest shift we’ve had is the newsfeed pre-2018 was very much about geared to keep users on the platform and to keep users glued to their feed. Therefore, provocative content did very, very well, motive content, cat videos, dog videos.

Nicole Manktelow: You wanna believe what happened next?

James Fitzgerald: Clickbait. All that mattered was keeping them in the feed and not only that, keeping them coming back again and again and again and again. Therefore, from a marketer’s perspective, our job became to get under the skin of people’s needs and wants, and do it in a provocative engaging manner and you got-

Nicole Manktelow:  It’s addictive.

James Fitzgerald: Yeah.

James Fitzgerald: What they’ve done recently is they basically said, look, it’s now no longer just about rampant, unbridled consumption. We’re looking to drive more value for our communities. As we touched on before we started today there’s been quite a lot of research commissioned independently into the longer-term consequences of social media. We’re 10 years into social media now, if you start from mid-2000s plus.

Nicole Manktelow: Hang on. Is this is where you’re gonna tell me I really do have the attention span of a goldfish now?

James Fitzgerald: I think we all do.

James Fitzgerald: With that in mind, what we’re seeing is the newsfeed now is skewing more towards favouring what they call active consumption as opposed to passive consumption. Endlessly scrolling through Facebook, watching UniLAD videos and reading articles from the ABC. That’s what they call passive consumption. The user isn’t doing anything. They aren’t really thinking. It’s a bit like channel hopping on TV. That’s what social media has become. I think because of probably this health issue, I think that’s prompted them to move towards more active consumption rather than just passive consumption.

Nicole Manktelow: There’s got to be a back in it, too. I don’t mean to be too cynical, but there’s got to be lots of benefits to getting people to participate.

James Fitzgerald: What I was about to say is, I think, if you are a very large company, which is purely based around content, you’re actually quite vulnerable to other large companies with lots of content. So there has to be more than just content because it’s like being strong. There will always be someone stronger than you. No matter how much content you’ve got, someone can always have more.

James Fitzgerald: For me, I quite value that component of it. If I go into Google now, so if you’ve got the Google app on your phone, a little while ago, Google changed the home screen of Google. If you go into Google on your computer, so you go to Google.com. The home page of Google has nothing on it except for a search box. There’s nothing else in the real estate. If you compare that over the years like Yahoo7 and other search engines, they’re so bloated and convoluted.

Nicole Manktelow: It’s iconic. They can’t change it.

James Fitzgerald:  If you’ve got the Google app on your phone, so not chrome, I mean actual Google. When you go on to the home page, you have the Google search bar, and then just underneath that, you’ve got content and articles and media, you’ve got weather, you’ve got this, you’ve got that, you’ve got the other.

Nicole Manktelow:  A newsfeed.

James Fitzgerald: You’ve got a newsfeed. In many ways, without calling it so, Google was basically turned the Google app into a very similar experience to what Facebook’s app is.

Nicole Manktelow: It’s a bit like what’s going on in China with WeChat. It’s not just a messaging platform. It’s payment section, pay your electricity bills.

James Fitzgerald:  It’s much more utilitarian. That’s the thing. I think for Facebook, I think, the change in newsfeed is sparked by the fact that there’s some societal pressures, there’s also pressures around fake news. Me interacting with my mates about what we did or didn’t grab to the weekend, that’s not fake news. I wish it was fake news. That happened. I was there, they were there, it occurred. That’s not controversial.

James Fitzgerald: Me reading an article about Tony Abbott, that could be controversial. If you think about it from a fake news perspective, fake news is really, really hard to police. If you just say, “Do you know what, let’s just have less content, let’s just have less content,” more people’s friends and family on there, well it’s much easier to police. It’s not gonna be as divisive. It’s not so polarising. It creates a better user experience.

James Fitzgerald:  Also, like we said, Google has got loads of content, Amazon has got loads of content, Netflix has got loads of content. What happens if Google buys Netflix, which I’m sure someone will probably buy them at some point. What happens if they do that? Where does that leave us? If we’re literally just, a feed of lots of videos and photos, what happens when someone else’s got the same content or better content? Are we done?

James Fitzgerald:  I think for them, what makes it unique is the relationship side of things. There is nowhere else where so many humans come together en masse in such a public way. I think in going back, if you want going back to its heritage, that’s a much better position to defend your business from over the next probably 5 to 10 years.

Nicole Manktelow: Rather than just being a content aggregator?

James Fitzgerald: Well, look, never say never, but there probably isn’t gonna be another Facebook. I’m not saying Facebook can’t be disrupted, but whoever disrupts them will probably have a different thing. Therefore, if we can say, “Look, if Facebook can own two billion plus human relationships, it’s gonna be very hard for anyone to replicate that.

Nicole Manktelow: It’s gonna be pretty hard for brands to come in like they did in the early days and make as much of a splash, if you will.

James Fitzgerald:I think there’s always opportunities in all marketing channels. It may even be that where 50% of budget now that’s consolidated in digital, all of a sudden radio advertising and newspaper advertising looks quite cheap. Why don’t we go back to print? I think there’s always, always opportunities.

James Fitzgerald: Where there is not opportunities is in doing exactly what everyone else is doing. I think from a smart marketer, a smart comms person will be looking at the landscape, looking at their current performance, and trying to identify opportunities. I think one thing is fair to say, set and leave marketing and comms is done. If you’re looking for optimal performance, you’ve got to be looking outside of the obvious. You mentioned WeChat earlier. Now, I’m not saying everyone should double down on WeChat, but Facebook messenger really aspires to be WeChat. Facebook messenger is like a dumbed down Western version of WeChat.

Nicole Manktelow: Can you buy anything on it yet?

James Fitzgerald:  You can, yeah. Messenger is transactional. Very few people transact on it because no one is really capitalising on that functionality. Messenger has been transactional now for about two years. It integrates with Stripe, with Visa, with PayPal, with MasterCard, with AMEX even, I think. You can transact from the platform. No one really does because, well they don’t know that you can, I think. Also as well, I think, if you look at Facebook, if your plan is to shoehorn your way into the Facebook newsfeed, you’re gonna have to be creative about how you go about that because everyone’s got the same approach as you.

Nicole Manktelow: Or drop a bit of money.

James Fitzgerald: Or drop a bit of money but even that’s not necessarily a great solution either because the cost of advertising on Facebook generally grows about 10 to 15% per quarter. Facebook advertising is good, but if you’re not constantly thinking of new ways to run your ad campaigns, all you’re gonna find is every year, your ad costs go up, but your results and your performance stagnate or go backwards.

James Fitzgerald:  For marketers who are performance obsessed and they wanna get the best result for the lowest cost, whether we’re talkingthe lay of the land and adjusting based upon th about organic or paid opportunities, I think the most important thing is to be regularly assessing e conditions that you find. You may adjust and say, “I think, all of a sudden, Facebook organic reach is too hard to get in the newsfeed. I’ll just go and do some stuff on Instagram.”

James Fitzgerald: We might say, I know, for example, a lot of marketing people are looking at SEO this year for the first in a long time and saying, “Well, look, to get in the Facebook newsfeed, it seems a bit tricky at the moment. I know if I make these several changes to my website, my website will rank higher, I’ll get more organic traffic from Google and happy days, I’m actually better off.” I think part of it is, I suppose, having a realistic sense of what’s actually happening and what results you’re getting and what you’re putting into it.

Nicole Manktelow: How frequently would you go back and reassess your mixture? Let’s say you’ve got a mix of stuff happening in Google and you’ve got a Facebook campaign here and there, you’ve got some stuff happening on LinkedIn, but only for maybe some senior executives. I think I’m probably describing the average medium company here. How often would you go back and reassess that and maybe mix the quantities around?

James Fitzgerald:  That’s a good question actually. I think a lot of it comes from, first of all, being aware. If you don’t know the things are happening, then where would your inspiration come from to make a change?

James Fitzgerald:  Take for example Snapchat if we’re talking about cost. The average cost per impression to run Snapchat ads is really low. Since Snapchat rolled out its programmatic solution last year, the average CPO on Snapchat is probably between $3 and $8, whereas on Facebook in Australia, it’s probably more like probably 12 or $15, and on LinkedIn, it’s probably around about the same. I think part of it comes from us by just being familiar with the changing landscape.

James Fitzgerald: I think the problem we often see, and again, this is something that we often try to communicate to people is if you don’t sustain your digital intellectual property or even not digital, if you don’t sustain your marketing intellectual property, your plans go obsolete.

Nicole Manktelow:  Right so a short quick campaign to achieve something now isn’t actually such a great idea?

James Fitzgerald: I think it depends on what you want. If you are looking for direct response, if you’re looking for lead gens, if we just wanna get some leads, there’s some tactical stuff that you can do, which can give you a good flow of leads. With a lot of the people we speak to and educate around training courses and whatnot, we just find, I think, sometimes, I suppose people, they don’t follow the environment, the platforms change, the platforms evolve, opportunities change and evolve, and people just miss the whole thing. That makes it hard.

James Fitzgerald:  The other thing, I think, is people, particularly, in large organisations, I think, sometimes they get bamboozled with data actually don’t have any insight. I think you know, like for example, companies often get overly excited or disappointed about how many likes they do or don’t get.

James Fitzgerald:  A lot of us are obsessed about digital metrics, but they’re things that don’t really mean anything. A good example is something like Facebook organic reach. For the overwhelming majority of companies, whether you have 20% organic reach or 2% organic reach, for the vast majority of businesses, that will make no difference whatsoever to your business’s functioning or your business’s key deliverables.

Nicole Manktelow:  Sales.

James Fitzgerald:  Avinash Kaushik say, “Look, that’s a metric. It’s interesting, but it’s not material.” KPIs keep the lights on. With that in mind, there’s a lot of us that are drowning in superfluous data and numbers, but it isn’t really anything that actually ties to anything that really means anything. There are instances where organic reach would be an important KPI. A good example would be if you’re a publisher, say if you’re like The Betoota Advocate or you’re the ABC or you’re the Sydney Morning Herald, organic reach is really important because, essentially, as an online publisher, what you’re doing is you’re essentially arbitrating inexpensive traffic, and you’re gonna sell it on to an advertiser. We need to get people through, not so much for the ABC, but we need to get people through for The Betoota Advocate or through for the Sydney Morning Herald cheaply, and then we package out their eyeballs to someone selling them at a premium.

Nicole Manktelow:  These clients, and I’m assuming you have some clients that fit the category you just described, must feel a little frightened inside when they hear you say things like organic is dead.

James Fitzgerald: I didn’t say organic was dead. With organic reach, I would say, for a lot of businesses, their tactical execution is dead. Organic reach can still be achieved. There are still organisations on Facebook, in particular, which still get decent organic reach 10, 12, 15, 20% plus. It’s not, by any means, dead.

James Fitzgerald:  Put it this way, Google for organic listings purposes, I think Google has about 200 different ranking factors that it looks at like your mobile load speed, how is your website structured, can the Google search bots crawl. There’s about 200 variables. Of those, 200, like all things, there’s only a few that really matter, basically.

James Fitzgerald:  Again, social is no different. There are certain things that Facebook really values, and there are certain things that it used to value but it doesn’t value now. For example, likes. Likes on a Facebook post used to be highly coveted by the algorithm; today, not so much. Today, like as-in, here we are in May, comments are invoked. Facebook is looking for lots of comments on your posts. If it gets those, your post goes up. If you don’t get them, you don’t go up.

Nicole Manktelow: My B2B audience are particularly keen on LinkedIn, I think, that’s because individuals thinking about our own careers and our clients and their fortunes, I think it’s that sort of place, it’s that sort of environment. But I’ve noticed that, that’s a platform that’s constantly pinging me not necessarily when I wanted to. Sometimes with things that necessarily happened right then, it seems to want our attention. I feel that, that’s an older strategy.

James Fitzgerald:  When you join Facebook many, many moons ago, back in the day, very, very early in your usage-

Nicole Manktelow:  I got poked.

James Fitzgerald:  Well, prior to the pokings, you would get an email to say that you’ve been poked because how did you know you’ve been poked.

Nicole Manktelow:  That’s right.

James Fitzgerald:  That’s what we call an external prompt. After a while, if you go back to when you probably first started using it in 2008, 2009, 2007 whenever you first get in there, they send you an email to let you know that something could happen, someone poked me. Then you’d go on to your computer and you’d have a look and-

Nicole Manktelow:  Poke em’ back.

James Fitzgerald:  That’s right. That’s what they called an external trigger. After a while, you stopped needing the external trigger to go there. That habit became ingrained, and you just start to do it automatically. This is what LinkedIn is doing at the moment. LinkedIn-

Nicole Manktelow:  About a decade behind.

James Fitzgerald:  LinkedIn is about a decade behind of everything. LinkedIn is now doing things that really it probably should have done a little bit earlier frankly. What they’re doing is with these little reminders and nudges and these daily rundowns they’re doing, that’s them nudging you to come back and to come back. At the moment, you’re probably being driven there because of those things. Eventually, you will internalise that trigger. It will just become part of your daily habit. That’s the thing with a lot of these products. They’re built to be habit forming. What they’ll do is they’ll try and factor in aspects to it, which exactly that make them habit forming.

James Fitzgerald:  With that mind, that’s why LinkedIn is probing everyone because LinkedIn has always been notoriously poor when it comes to site engagement, so time on site, number of visits per person, daily usage, all of those things are areas where LinkedIn has been very weak, and all the other social networks have been better. Whilst LinkedIn is quite a lot larger say than Snapchat or Twitter, the Snapchat and Twitter user groups are way, way, way more engaged than any LinkedIn-er will ever be probably.

James Fitzgerald:  What the platforms is trying to do is by introducing these external prompts, eventually, you won’t need the external prompt, and you will just start getting into the habit of going there a couple of times a day as is.

Nicole Manktelow: Is it possible to do the prompting and the habit-forming and not feed into the passive participation that is causing mental stress?

James Fitzgerald: Well, I think at the moment, I think, LinkedIn will take anything you can get, and as it should. I think the situation Facebook’s in where I can say we don’t want top of engagement. Now, we want this type of engagement. That’s a quite privileged position to be in. They can only do that because they’re so powerful. At the end of the first quarter in 2018, they announced the performance metrics for the first three months of the year. Time on site dropped slightly. That’s because they said, “Look, we’ve weeded out some of the viral video content, we’ve weeded out video content in general” because video is down at the moment, I think it will stay down for a while for a lot of people. That passive consumption of content where people are just mindlessly watching cat videos, we’ve cut some of them back.

James Fitzgerald:  Facebook’s time on site dropped by a little bit. When they announced that, that had dropped, their share price dropped by 5% almost instantly. Facebook’s in a position where it’s so powerful, so entrenched, so ubiquitous, it can make that call. If you were someone like LinkedIn, that struggle to get people to go there as it is. I would say they’re not mature enough to make that call. Mind you, that said, because they’re obviously, owned by Microsoft now, that changes things quite a lot because, obviously, with Microsoft’s deep pockets, LinkedIn doesn’t have to rush its development.

James Fitzgerald:  A bit like Google, YouTube, for most of the last decade, has lost money pretty much every year. That’s because it’s been incubated by a very, very large, very, very wealthy, wealthy company. There’s no way could YouTube have placed the bets it’s placed if it was independent. With that in mind, I think because LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, it could maybe focus on trying to do things the right way.

James Fitzgerald:  I think LinkedIn for me has never really reached its true potential, and I think now it can. I think there has never been a better time to run marketing or comms on LinkedIn. I would not have been saying that to you if we had this podcast 12 months ago. LinkedIn now is a proper marketing channel. It’s still got a lot of catching up to do. Yeah, I think LinkedIn has a very, very bright future. I foresee on LinkedIn, even consumer brands will get in on it eventually.

James Fitzgerald:  A lot of people intuitively say LinkedIn, that’s company, it’s B2B. Well, it’s not. It’s just a certain type of a person. If you’re a senior executive at Rio Tinto, and you’re checking LinkedIn for several minutes each day every day, well, if I’m Rolex, and you’re on there, and you earn 300K a year or you earned half a million dollars a year, why wouldn’t I have a Rolex campaign on there?

James Fitzgerald:  I can absolutely see LinkedIn as it finally becomes a more engaging platform as it finally becomes a proper marketing tool. I can see expanding out of B2B to include B2C. I don’t really buy this whole B2B, B2C thing. I just think in terms of people.

James Fitzgerald:  One of the things I always find really odd is the way that B2B marketers have this thing that, oh but Facebook is a consumer thing. No, Facebook is an attention thing. It’s where all the attention is. I’ve never bought into the B2B, B2C thing. I just think in terms of people. If you’re an engineer and you’re interested in engineering, you will be quite happy watching an engineering video on YouTube. You wouldn’t be like, “Oh, I won’t you watch on here because this is where I watch funny vid clips from the office.” Only media planners make that kind of mistake.

James Fitzgerald:  That’s a real legacy of how media used to be bought and planned. I think, as we move forward, I think LinkedIn is coming of age finally with great new marketing tools and products. I can definitely see a consumer play on that as well.

Nicole Manktelow:  That’s fascinating. I would love to talk to you even more about this. I get the feeling that you could talk for days and days on end.

James Fitzgerald:  That’s not an understatement.

Nicole Manktelow:  No, it’s not. It’s been absolute pleasure to have you.

Nicole Manktelow:  James Fitzgerald, thank you so much for joining us on The CMO Show.

James Fitzgerald:  Thank you.

Nicole Manktelow:  It’s been incredibly helpful and so educational. I don’t know how you store all those facts. My brain is exploding.

James Fitzgerald:  Yeah. I’m gonna go and pass out now.

Nicole Manktelow:  Thank you.

James Fitzgerald: Thank you.

Mark: So Nicole, Great interview. Well done.

Nicole: Thanks.

Mark:What are the apps on your phone that you open unprompted? No email, no text, nothing. You just go, “Oh, I’m just going to open.”

Nicole: Facebook

Mark: Yeah.

Nicole: And LinkedIn.

Mark: Ditto, snap. Why is that I might wonder? This is kind of a bit of self-interrogation after listening to James.

Nicole: I would have to say I’m not impressed with the notifications that come in through LinkedIn at the moment. I find that they’re trying a bit too hard. I understand, because they’re trying to get this habit, and as James was saying, you know, this idea of getting people to be prompted to go back on the platform and have a look. But those notifications don’t, sometimes they just seem to be like something that didn’t happen, or-

Mark: Not relevant.

Nicole: It’s at a different time. You know, I don’t think users are silly. I think they know when they’re having their chain pulled. So, I hope they mature through that phase pretty quickly. That would be good. I thought it was fascinating, what he was talking, he was saying about the cost of advertising here now that organic is, you know, completely-

Mark: Right. Good point.

Nicole: Not with it anymore. Right?

Mark: Yes.

Nicole: So now, you’re going to have to drop some money on it. I think that was the exact phrase.

Mark: And the point becomes when does social price itself out of the market? I saw a really interesting chart from the Wall Street Journal just recently, and the growth in social and digital has come at the expense of newspapers and magazines, right?

Nicole: And don’t we know it?

Mark: Right? But interestingly enough, both TV and radio ostensibly have held their market share or in TV’s case, globally, actually grown a little. So, as a result, now suddenly newspapers and magazines are getting cheap. So, I reckon it will be interesting to watch if we sort of see a little bit of an inflexion point where marketers start tipping a bit of money into this, you know, cheap, old school media, because, well, maybe the reach is still there in some cases.

Nicole: Well, that’s right. I mean, I think the numbers James quoted were between 10 and 15 percent growth in the cost of advertising per month.

Mark: And clearly, that’s got to taper off at some point.

Nicole: I mean, and you have to be thinking about what you’re going to be doing with it, what the creative is going to get you some value, otherwise, you’re just kind of keeping your head above water, or not even. So, really stunning insights and nice to get some numbers around them.

Mark:  Yeah. No, he’s done a great job. Thank you for being our guest this time on the CMO Show. My name is Mark Jones. It’s been great to have you on the show.

Nicole: And my name’s Nicole Manktelow, and thanks for letting me fly solo.

Mark: And before you stop listening, make sure you go and subscribe, check us out on the Apple Store, your android platform of choice, visit us on the web.

Nicole: And do it now. If you’ve been putting it off-

Mark: Yep, now is the time.

Nicole: This is the episode to do it. In particular, note this episode, Mark. I’d like-

Mark: That’s right.

Nicole:Let’s get some of that attribution.

Mark:And tell your mom, particularly if she’s a marketer.

Nicole: Wonderful.

Mark:Yeah. Until next time.

Nicole: See you later.

Mark Jones: The CMO Show is a podcast produced by Filtered Media and a quick shoutout to our incredible team Candice Witton, Charlotte Goodwin, Ewan Miller and Yael Brender.

Nicole Manktelow: And our engineering wizards: Tom Henderson and Daniel Marr.

Mark Jones: You guys are the best!

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