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Why aren’t more brands using Facebook 360 photos so far?

By now, most of us know that video is completely taking over Facebook.

We heard as much from Contently last week.

Heck, some brands are going to an (almost) all-video newsfeed (ah-em, Oreo).

But, thanks to a new piece of functionality recently rolled out by Facebook, brands still have an opportunity to immerse their fans using PHOTOS like never before.

Enter Facebook 360 photos.

You’re probably aware of Facebook 360 VIDEO–but Facebook recently unveiled the capability to provide a 360-degree experience with a still photo, too. And, it’s pretty damn cool.

Don’t believe me? Take a peek at the photo Facebook used to launch this new product.

REALLY COOL, right?

So why aren’t more brands jumping on this bandwagon?

If you do a little digging with some of the bigger brands (I looked at the top 200), you’ll see very few have experimented with Facebook 360 photos.

In fact, I could hardly find any examples among the big, Fortune-500-level brands.

What you do find is a smattering–brands like Samsung, NASA (big surprise) and Salesforce (this one’s decidedly much less exciting than Facebook’s first 360 post).

But interesting that more aren’t all over this, right?

I have a few theories on why this might be happening:

1–It’s still early.

To be fair, Facebook introduced 360 photos just last month. So it’s not like these things have been around for a year. And, based on new rollouts of other Facebook products and tools, brands tend to experiment slowly. Very few big brands jump into anything quickly.

2–I think some people believe you still need a 360-degree camera.

Sure, you CAN use a 360-enabled camera like the Ricoh Theta S. But, you can also use your iPhone (or Samsung Galaxy). By using the “pano” mode on your iPhone, you can take a 270-360-degree photo and you’ll get the same effect. But, my gut tells me there’s some level of midunderstanding going on here.

3–Limited “need”

So far, the brands I’ve seen using Facebook 360 photos are tourism brands (Palms Resort), tech brands (Samsung), and surprisingly, universities (Oregon State, Oklahoma University). So, basically, either brands who have 360-degree view opportunities built into their brand (views from the veranda of your resort), or brands/organizations with landscapes and environments that are condusive to these photos (universities). 360-degree pics are a bit tougher for brands like Oreo or Kit Kat. Not that they can’t or won’t try something creative–it’s just not a natural fit. So, I think the “need” has been a factor so far, too.

What I believe we will see is a lot of experimentation in the next 2-3 months. You’ll see brands give 360-degree views of unique office environments. Pics at key events. And creative executions we haven’t even dreamt up yet.

Should be a fun next few months…

 

 

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How I’m looking at the back half of my career arc

You know what’s scary? Knowing you’re on the downhill slide of life.

I’m 43–soon to be 44. Average life expectancy for a male in the U.S.: 78. That means, technically, I peaked at 39–it’s all downhill from here folks (but, it’s going to be a helluva ride!).

That also means I’m definitely in the midst of the back half of my career. Truth be told, my wife and I have designs on retiring early–real early (different blog post for a different day).

IMG_7893

I suddenly find myself on the other side of my career arc.

And that’s kinda scary, for a lot of reasons:

1–The struggle to stay hip is real. I work a lot in digital marketing. Believe what you want, but that’s primarily a young person’s game. I don’t see a lot of uber-successful consultants in the digital marketing sector over the age of 45. I need to find new ways to stay fresh, hip and relevant. Or, I’m out of a job. And, I kinda want a job for the next 10 years.

2–Opportunities are more limited over a “certain age.” Once you reach a certain age (we’ll say 45 for sake of this post), opportunities are a bit more sparse. Why? Because at that age you’re probably looking for a director-level job or above. There just aren’t that many of those. And, people tend to stay in those jobs longer than specialist to manager-level jobs.

3–Health concerns start to become a risk. I’m healthy now (knock on wood), but once you cross the 40 barrier things start breaking in your body. Kinda like a car when you cross the 75,000 mile mark. And, I also have health concerns of others to worry about–my wife, my parents, my in-laws. I’m responsible (or partly responsible) for all those people in my life. And, they’re all getting older. And, if I or they get sick or hurt, that all takes away from time on the job.

Clearly, there are reasons to worry. And, I’m sure they’re the same reasons others consider who might be in my boat.

But, there are so many other reasons to be excited, too. It’s not all doom-and-gloom once you hit the 40 mark. There are numerous reasons to embrace this period of your professional life–and this is what I’m choosing to focus on for the next 10-15 years:

1–Working with people I enjoy working with. Michael Kraabel wrote a great post recently about this exact topic. And, I’ve been embracing it whole-heartedly for the last seven years. And, for the next 10 it will become even more important. I don’t plan to waste my time working with and for people I don’t enjoy. Even if it means making less money.

2–Seeking to LEARN from my younger counterparts. I’ve spent a lot of time the last 10+ years giving back to the younger generation. I road trip frequently to my alma mater in Winona to speak to classes. Do the same thing at the University of Minnesota (and for years, did at the University of St. Thomas, too). And, I really have enjoyed that work. But, I plan to flip that focus a bit in the next 10-15 years. Now is the time I need to learn from these younger people–because, let’s face it, there’s a lot I can pick up here. Not exactly sure how I’m going to do this just yet–thinking of a couple reverse mentor opportunities I’ve been kicking around. But, I’m looking forward to the challenge!

3–Evolve. Evolve. Evolve. If there’s one business mantra we all know to be true it’s this: Change is not optional. Translation: Adapt, or be left in the dust. This couldn’t be more true for a solo consultant. If you start treading water, you’re already 10 steps behind your competition. I’m constantly looking for ways to evolve and adapt to the constantly changing marketing environment–and I think I’ll be focusing even more time on that in the next 5-7 years. And, more often than not, it’s fun to evolve and challenge myself.

 

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The not-so-secret way brands are creating podcasts (without exhausting internal resources)

These days, you can’t read too much in the digital marketing realm without running into someone talking about how hugely popular podcasting has become.

Forrester and Edison Research seem to come out with a new study each quarter telling us how huge podcasting is with consumers.

But, have all those numbers and charts translated into more companies producing podcasts as part of their marketing mixes?

GE The Message

Not really.

In fact, if you do a few quick searches for popular (or effective) corporate podcasts, you really won’t find much.

What you DO find is a bunch of tech companies/startups (Slack, Basecamp), a very small number of Fortune 500 companies (General Mills, locally), and a few others that have globbed onto a trend I see accelerating in the months and years ahead.

Take a peek at what GE, Prudential and Umqua Bank are doing with podcasting.

Each isn’t necessarily producing their OWN podcast, as General Mills, Slack and Basecamp seemingly have. Instead, they’re SPONSORING (or, essentially co-producing) podcasts with a third-party vendor.

In this case, the third party vendor is Panoply, an arm of publishing giant, Slate.

Why do I think this is a trend that will take off in the next few months? I see four big reasons:

Easier to outsource than produce internally

General Mills recently started producing a solid podcast under its blog banner, A Taste of General Mills. The podcast is produced by my podcasting partner-in-crime, Kevin Hunt. Makes sense for GM since Kevin also oversees the blog and other corporate social accounts. Except, here’s the thing: Not every company has a Kevin Hunt. Kevin’s unique background of media production coupled with digital and PR experience make him a perfect candidate to put together a regular corporate podcast. But, that skill set is not easy to find. Which is why you see companies like GE and Prudential outsourcing production of their podcasts to a third-party vendor (and why you see audio/video production among the most sought-after skills on the agency side).

Hire a specialist vs. relying on your generalists

Umqua Bank Soundcloud

Panoply is a “podcast network that connects sophisticated listeners with top publishers and thinkers.” Read: they probably know what they’re doing when it comes to putting together a podcast that people will actually listen to. They’ve done it many times. And, most likely they’re much better at it than any person within your organization. So, why wouldn’t you hire a specialist like Panolpy to create a podcast than rely on a generalist in your organization that might have a fleeting interest in podcasting. I’d probably take my chances with Panoply, too (given I had the money :).

Connections and talent matter

40 40 Vision Soundcloud

Prudential has public radio host and actress, Faith Salie hosting its 40/40 Vision podcast. Umqua Bank has former MTV personality, SuChin Pak hosting its Open Account podcast. Without Panoply’s connections and know-how, Prudential and Umqua Bank most likely aren’t connected with those hosts. And, hosts like Salie and Pak count for a lot. First, folks like Salie and Pak bring in listeners. I’m not talking about millions of listeners, but Panoply chose those two for a reason (Salie, most likely, because she’s more well known about the 40+ audience). Second, people like Salie and Pak who are experienced broadcasters have actually hosted shows before. They know the drill. They’re seasoned. They’ve been through this before (vs. the communications manager at Prudential, who probably hasn’t). Talent matters in producing a podcast. And, in this case, the connections Panoply (and vendors like them) brings to the table matter, too, because they’re the conduit to talent like Salie and Pak.

The podcast network doesn’t hurt either

Panoply Soundcloud

One of the big questions–and challenges–brands have when starting a podcast is a fundamental one: How do we acquire listeners? Sure, most brands will promote their podcasts via their own social channels, which in some cases, may be quite large. They will probably host the podcast somewhere on their site, too. But, how much traction will they really see from that? In many cases, it takes a lot of time and patience to build a following. Much like it would when starting a blog. But, in partnering with a vendor like Panoply, who already has a built-in network and audience on Soundcloub (to the tune of 300,000 followers), Prudential, Umqua Bank and GE have access to ears they might not otherwise have. And sure, maybe not all those people would fall in Prudential, Umqua and GE’s “target audience”, but when you’re building something from the ground up, it always helps to have momentum from the get go. Panoply’s podcast network provides that.

 

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Why “working remotely” may negatively impact your career trajectory

Today’s “remote” worker faces an unfair uphill battle.

No one respects you.

OK, so that might be taking it a bit far, but today’s remote worker certainly doesn’t enjoy the advantages as those who work in the traditional office environment.

Work from Home

Consider the following two scenarios–assume both of these people are star employees who are looking to climb the corporate ladder. Which person is more likely to enjoy advancement opportunities?

  • Scenario 1: 35-year-old woman decides to work from home 3 days a week to have more flexibility to spend with her growing family. She’s only in the office two days a week so she has to call in to a number of team meetings and meetings with business partners.
  • Scenario 2: 35-year-old woman works in the office full time. In fact, she’s probably there close to 60 hours a week. She is constantly in meetings–often booked throughout the day.

You’re kidding yourself if you think the woman in scenario #1 has a chance against the woman in scenario #2.

Why?

Two words: Face time.

The woman in scenario #1 has little. The woman in scenario #2 has a ton of it.

And culturally, most organizations, it seems, are still fully predicated on a “face time, butt-in-the-seat” kind of mentality.

What am I basing this opinion on?

First-hand experience–especially on the corporate side.

Despite what many say, when you say you’re “working from home”, that phrase still carries a negative connotation for many on the corporate side.

You may as well be saying: “I plan to sit by the pool tomorrow and drink a Miller Lite.” I truly believe that’s what some people still think.

In 2016.

I’ve seen it with former employers.

I’ve seen it with friends.

And, I’ve experienced a little bit of it as a consultant.

Because it’s a similar dynamic.

Consider the following scenario for me: I’m at a party with a bunch of folks I don’t really know. So, I need to introduce myself and talk about what I do for a day job. If I were working on the corporate side, it would sound like this:

  • Hey–Arik Hanson here. I work at Best Buy where I lead social for the organization. I’ve been there for 5 years. Before that I worked for General Mills and Target in similar roles.

Or, I would introduce myself this way (which is actually what I do at parties and events currently):

  • Hey–Arik Hanson here. I’m an independent digital marketing and PR consultant. I work mostly with large companies in the Twin Cities like Sleep Number, Andersen Windows & Doors, Trane, Thermo King and a host of other brands. I’ve been at it for seven years now. And I mostly work from home.

Which intro is more impressive? #1 for most–and it’s not close. Why? Because big companies carry credibility, sure. But also because once people here “independent marketing consultant” and “work from home” they think “woefully unemployed” or “complete bum.”

I’m hardly exaggerating.

My point in all of this: While technology has made it easier than ever for people to work remotely and for people to have more flexibility in their schedules, corporate cultures and attitudes (largely) haven’t caught up.

There is still a “butt in the seat” mindset within many corporations.

Want to make director? You need to be visible.

Want to make VP? No way you can work from home–how will you ever work the required hours?

Now, I know not every corporation behaves this way. Certainly there are many that have adopted the opposite mentality.

But, I would argue those companies are in the minority.

And I’m not sure I see that changing anytime soon–despite what many may hope.

So, the sad reality may be this: Want to work remotely with more flexibility in your schedule? Don’t expect the same advancement opportunities as others who work in the office.

That might be the unfortunate trade-off for now…

photo credit: Home office via photopin (license)

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We need to stop saying “My team”

I want to talk about a little thing that’s been bugging me lately.

It’s not a big thing. It’s not really all that critical to my overall life satisfaction.

But, it’s bugging me. Nagging at me. Consistently.

It revolves around how people talk about their work teams.

My Team

Here’s what I hear from some people in our industry:

“I asked my team to look at it. We’ll have an answer to you shortly.”

“My team is made up of social media strategists and community managers.”

“I’m getting my team together for a brainstorm later today.”

What is consistent about all these statements? The use of the word: “my.”

My team.

Me.

I.

Why is that a big deal?

Because we’re talking about a TEAM. Not a person.

And once you start saying “my team” it makes it about you–NOT the team.

Instead, notice the difference when the statements include “our”:

“I asked our team to look at it. We’ll have an answer to you shortly.”

“Our team is made up of social media strategists and community managers.”

“Our team is getting together for a brainstorm later today.”

OK, so you’re laughing. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill, Arik. This is not worth writing about.

I beg to differ.

I think how you talk about your team makes all the difference in the world.

Think about a basketball team. More specifically, listen to any coach after an college basketball game. What do they say? You hear a lot of “our guys” and “our team”–you RARELY hear the coach of an college (or NBA, for that matter) basketball team say “my team.” And why would he? It’s not HIS team–that goes against every logical meaning of the word TEAM.

A team is comprised of multiple people all working toward a common goal. That’s a team. Multiple people, each doing something to move the team forward.

We’ve all heard the saying: “There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team'”.

Yet, I continue to hear people talking about “my team” in the PR world all the time.

Why?

I’ll tell you why. One word: Ego.

People use “my” because it’s all about them. Sure, sometimes it slips and people just say it. I get it. I’ve heard some of my best friends in the business say it–sometimes it just slips.

But, other times, I hear people say it over and over again. And to me, that’s a red flag. An indication that this leader really isn’t a leader. And, he/she is certainly not a coach or mentor to anyone. People that are successful coaches and mentors don’t talk in terms of “me”, “I” or “my”. They talk in terms of “our” and “we.”

Language matters, people. Really, it does.

People pay attention to the words you use. I know it doesn’t seem like it most days–but I believe they do.

So, if you’re in a leadership position, think about the way in which you talk about and to your team. Are you using inclusive words like “we” and “our”–or are you slipping and using the “Is” and “Me”s too much?

Time to really think about the words we use when we talk about our teams, folks.

photo credit: Image from page 53 of “Spalding’s official collegiate basket ball guide” (1905) via photopin (license)

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