Digital Strategy by Fallon

Aki Spicer, digital planning director at Fallon, recently shared a presentationhe gave on brand engagement and planning in a digital age. He is also the co-founder of Planning for Good, and seeks to “bring planning into the age of participation.”  Spicer’s presentation is insightful, informative and worth reading in its entirety – that said, we culled several ‘guidelines’ from it, for anyone wanting and needing to think as a digital strategist:

On defining digital strategy – and the process:

  • Digital strategy seeks to bridge the gaps between technology, the creative idea, the target as user, business objectives and the brand – and brings grounded creativity to technology
  • In the digital realm, everyone participates – technology is converting viewers to users, and users to (ideally) advocates; but advocacy isn’t free – value compels evangelism
  • The Fallon planning process is built to enable participation and utility to consumers, in order to unlock their value for brands; they define this as creating Generous Interactions for brands
  • Digital media is an enabler medium, with both on and offline components – because most of the lives and emotions we share take place in the real world

On changing agency silos and traditional planning approach:

  • Blurring of traditional above the line vs. below the line thinking bears specific planning implications: think platform ideas, not channel tactics, and conduct brand strategy across design thinking, usability, user experience (UX), information architecture (IA), functionality, data flow and web/social chatter analytics, media and connections planning
  • Transition from target insights to user insights: learn more about our targets in the digital context (usage data, lifestyle needstates, device penetration, personas, usability and multivariate testing)
  • Cutting and pasting traditional creative (like a TV spot) into digital environment is not always appropriate; move from ‘360 execution’ towards ‘brand molecule’ – better to source a macro, core idea (not necessarily the creative execution) and guide its adaptation through media contexts and user insights
  • Release dependence on paid media towards facilitating people-powered ideas: now that people ARE the media, need the outline what the role is for people to participate with our idea

Implications to facilitate creative development:

  • From hubs toward spokes: one idea is no longer enough – you need lots of small ideas across the vast www and social sea, in order to create a full experience
  • Move from campaigns towards commitments – particularly within the realm of social media – ask yourself what value you bring to your ‘fans’/consumers every day?
  • Transition focus from art direction towards user experience (UX) – less impact and disruption, more usage and experience – and from copywriter towards Content Manager – create conversation calendars to fuel content development
  • Move from ‘creation’ towards ‘curation’: with people as media, need to outline a role for the user’s content

Implications for garnering consumer insights and measuring/monitoring the right factors

  • ‘Overheard’ applies to digital strategy: move from ‘ask’-focused research towards ‘listen’-focused research. Consumers are already talking on the www – just need to wiretap social web chatter for insights and ideas
  • The social web’s impact demands that a brand is less what we say it is, and more what they say it is
  • One rule of brand strategy holds just as true in digital: give people what they want. Watch and listen for what they already do to learn what they want.
  • Give up on the desire to ‘master’ and try to ‘invent’: embrace experimentation and learn from failure (i.e., why is that agencies didn’t create YouTube, Facebook or Twitter?)

Developing an actionable engagement brief:

  • Media that is driven by the language of actions demands clear input on what we want people to do with our ideas: as such, your engagement brief/idea should use verbs – how would you like people to participate with your banners, on your Facebook page, etc.?
  • Identifying the engagement opportunity requires 1) understanding the business issue that digital can help solve 2) listen to consumers ‘in the wild’ who talk about and use your brands 3a) identify unmet consumer need in your category/brand 3b) define the role you want people to play in your ideas, and the role of digital within the mix 4) invent solutions to the business problem, focusing on end user value and participation and 5) listen to the consumer reaction, and analyze previously defined participation metrics