Thursday, 3 January 2019

Take Five. A List of 2018's best. (Books, Podcasts, Youtube Channels & More).

Every new year comes with new hopes, habits, notes to self and reflections on the passing year.
It's not important what you have covered this year, but what did you discover.

Keeping up with the festive tradition here is a list of the best 5's I have stumbled upon this year.

5 podcasts 

1- Big Questions with Cal Fussman:

First stumbled upon him with Tim Ferris (another great Podcast), then was thrilled to find that he started his own podcast. Fussman is a New York Times bestselling author, longtime Esquire writer, corporate consultant.

The format is simple, it's one on one interviews with diverse driven,accomplished and success figures I highly recommend stating with Kobe Bryant episode

2- Leadership & Discipline:

Because motivation is like showering we need to do it everyday in the morning Jocko Willink  is a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.

3- The Message:

The first confirmed signal from outer-space has reached us, a team of specialists is trying to decode the message. Documenting the whole process is a Cyphercast podcast host Nicky Tomalin.

The reason why this is not all over the news, is that it's fake. The Message is fictional podcast about a podcast that was described as a sci fi serial. Interesting concept worth discovering.

4- You're not so Smart:

The easiest person you can persuade and manipulate creatively is yourself, as it turns out your brain sometimes takes part in self delusion as well.

you are not so smart is a podcast dedicate to the exploration self delusion. It covers topics like why your memories are not reliable, the idiot brain and naive realism.

5- HBR Ideacast:

Some podcasts are great at capturing the start up life, the silicon valley spirit of positive productivity at work, other podcasts are great at theoretical academic analysis of theory and philosophy of business.

It is very rare (at least for me) to find a podcast that does both greatly. HBR Ideacast is a weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.

5 Youtube Channels.

1- Jablinski Games:

This is Jack Black's gaming channel, as I am writing this now the channel got more than 2.5 Million subscriptions and 13.4 Million views with only 79 seconds of video content.

No Spam, No sponsorships, No Ad campaigns just jack speaking for 79 seconds.

2- Nerdwriter1:

This is a weekly video essay series that visualize and articulate beautiful a wide variety of thoughts and concepts.

The Channel covers diverse topics, From how to understand a Picasso and why did Dylan won the Nobel prize?, to topics like Fidget Spinners and why Apple needs a Samsung.

The Videos are average of 6:00 minutes long which makes them a perfect refresher in the middle of the day.

3- The Hot Ones From First We Feast:

Inbound Marketing in action at it's best.

The Idea is to interview celebrities over while they eat 12 spicy chicken wings. While the concept is extremely simple, the questions are very well researched and the host is extremely competent.

The series of videos gained traction of both celebrities and viewers alike, some of the guests of the show were Natalie Portman, Kevin Hart, Jeff Goldblum & many others.

The show is a great case study for inbound as the whole show is build around promoting and increasing sales of the products of the Hot Ones.

So the viewer not only opt in for the commercial by subscribing and viewing the content.
The celebrities endorsements adds to the mega influence campaign that is the Hot Ones.

Worth watching if not for the content then for the concept.

4- Kurzgesagt:

This Channel creates one animation video per month about scientific concepts and it is beautiful.

The visualization of concepts like aliens under ice, why beautiful things make us happy and time: the future and history of everything.

The channel is also known as in a nutshell as they chunk down scientific concepts into a bite size animated video. In an age where our digital world is overwhelmed by massive quantities of content, such a channel provides a quick intelligent breeze that pays respect to our very short attention span.

5- OnePercentBetter:

"I wish I can read more books" and "I don't have time to read any more", are two statements that I hear very frequently.

One Percent Better provides animated book summaries! featuring the key lessons from success and self-development books in 10 minutes or less.

While a recent article published by Inc. Magazine, says you only need 417 hours a year to read 200 books.The  average person spends 608 hours on social media and 1,642 hours on TV.

If these stats are not enough and you still don't have time then I do recommend 1% better.

                                                                     5 Books

1- Becoming by Michelle Obama:

Only 46 families got to live in the same house that she lived in, and only one family of her heritage and back ground got to be the residence of the White House.

This is a story of existence, resilience, tolerance and acceptance. The book provides an eye on a very rare life in the human experience and an insight into a survival spirit.

2- Educated by Tara Westover: 

Born and raised on a mountain in Idaho. her survivalist family didn't believe in schools, collages or any form of education; But Tara did.

This is the story of her ascendance from a young girl raised by her anti- education family to a woman with a PhD from Cambridge University. The story is unbelievable, captivating and above all true.

3- Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke:

The average amount of remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals about 35,000, Annie offers a better mechanism to increase the quality of the decision making process. 

The poker champion shares her insights, on what kind of decisions we should be making and what actions we should be taking.

On a side note you can find Annie's google talk and other interviews online.

4- The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks:

From "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" to "Hallucinations ", Oliver Sacks's work is a must read.

In this collection of essays the professor of neurology, explores his own evolution on ideas, memory, innovation, and sickness,along with a range of subject matter from Freudian psychoanalysis to Darwinian evolutionary theory.

5-  Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi:

In this work of fiction we get introduced to a city, where the sins can be eaten.
When a sin-beast is killed, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on the mind.

The story is captivating and the narrative is unique.

                                                                     5 Movies

1- A Quiet Place:

Other than dominating the movie theaters by becoming the number 1 movie in USA,
getting recognized by the king of horror himself Stephen King.

A Quiet Place is a great piece of content and storytellers can view this movie, not just as a successful cinematic experience but a great piece of content as well.

2- Searching:

This is a story about David Kim. A father who becomes desperate when his 16-year-old daughter Margot disappears and an immediate police investigation leads nowhere.while the story sounds very familiar we have never seen it implemented that way before. the story is told from the perspective of phones, laptops and Ipads.

This is a classic story retold with digital technology. Innovative and brilliant.

3- Bohemian Rhapsody:

Because Queen.

4- Green Book:

This is a journey of A working-class Italian-American bouncer who becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

The car ride doesn't only reveal the struggle throughout the long road, it also reveals the characters differences, similarities and most importantly their personal stories.

5- Hereditary:

Very unsettling horror movie.

Having said that as a storyteller, content creator and a movie buff, I deeply appreciated the strong visual storytelling aspect of the movie.

The story is engaging, captivating and disturbing. Worth watching.

                                                                  5 Articles. 

1-  A Few Principles for Thinking Clearly by Charles Chu

A quote from the article:

"It gets worse. When people are exposed to evidence that contradicts their identities or tribal affiliations, they’ll actually double down and become more confident in whatever they believed. This is why it’s important, when trying to think clearly, to avoid identifying with any particular tribe."

Read More here: 

2- The (Very) Best Books I Read in 2018 by Ryan Holiday

A quote from the article:

"I know that people are busy, and we don’t always have time to read as much as we like. Nothing wrong with that (though if you want to read more—don’t look for shortcuts—make more time!). What matters is that when you do read, you pick the right books."

Read More here:

3- The 10 Biggest Archaeology Stories of 2018 by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

A quote from the article:

"The inscriptions are actually similar to speech bubbles in comic books, because they describe the activities of the characters, who offer explanations of what they are doing,"

Read More here:

4- Why CRM Projects Fail and How to Make Them More Successful,
     by Scott Edinger

A quote from the article:

"CRMs today also serve a lot of masters, from executives in the C-suite, technology, marketing, finance, and, oh yeah, sales. They try to address more objectives than are reasonable for any software system."

Read More here:

5- There Is More to Behavioral Economics Than Biases and Fallacies. By Koen Smets 

A quote from the article:

"The proliferation of biases masks the truth that human behavior is fluid and fuzzy. The use of discrete, distinct labels implies a rigor that is simply not there."

Read More here:

That has been a recap of my best lists of fives, Thanks for reading.

Twitter: @Fouad_Khafaga

Friday, 22 June 2018

#ArribaPeru. How did a nation brand their story at the World Cup?

Arriba Peru

In alignment with the spirit of the world cup 2018, Would like to mention a marketing discipline called nation branding.

Nation branding aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries, Just like a marketer would look at a product or a service.

The world Cup offer Nations/Brands a chance to create timely content and craft a marketing message that is associated with pride, passion and ambitions of success.

The International tournament offers a chance of exposure to millions of fans around the globe, for brands and nations this is a unique chance to build or strengthen their brand image.

This was Peru campaign this year;

The campaign was able to woven some elements that are vital keys to the success of marketing campaigns; Some of these elements are:
  • Timely content:

    Because the world cup accrues only once every four years, it provides a chance to brands to be both ready and relevant. the world cup audience are passionate, inspired, immersed and are expecting teams to promote their identity.

    Peru was able to be even more specific in time and instead of targeting the duration of the whole world cup as a time-frame, the targeting was only for the group stages. Which keeps the Ad relevant event if they didn’t go through the next round.
  • The Peru’s Journey:

    Many brands fail to tell a great story, because they remove the negative narrative from the story, the thought process behind this decision is
    perfect brands tells perfect stories.
    No suffering, no struggle, always the perfect narrative to a campaign.

    The problem with telling a story with no struggle is it becomes unbelievable, weak and with no glory.

    If Joseph Campbell’s hero's journey (Image below) has tough us anything, its that resistance is resilience and its part of the journey the whole way.

    Peru was able to use the keyword “Un-level playing field” to mention the weaknesses and use them to strengthen the story narrative.
  • The Medium:

    While Marketers debate over either content is king or context is king. The past few days have proven that the platform is king.

    If the platform algorithm didn’t favor the content, the brand’s message will live in the shadows of the internet unable to walk through the curtain of viral content.

    The choice of personalized video by name to all the other nations that will compete in the same group creates a deeper emotional attachment to the message.

    Due to the nature of the message and the size of the targeted audience choosing to tell the story through Peru’s National Football Tam Association helped visualize the story and make it more accessible.

    In conclusion,

    Choosing the right content on the right channel at the right time is important, yet crafting the message of the brand in alignment with a strong sense of belonging on a global stage.

    Is a good start for Nation Branding as a discipline.

    Originally posted as an answer here:

Monday, 7 May 2018

Why A Quiet Place is a great piece of content ? (A Digital Marketing eye on silence)

Other than dominating the movie theaters by becoming the number 1 movie in USA,
getting recognized by the king of horror himself,
being the second highest domestic opening of the year.

A Quiet Place is a great piece of content and digital marketers can view this movie

not just as a successful cinematic experience but a great piece of content as well.

According to Think With Google there has been 60% Growth in mobile searches

for "__ for me" in the past two years and 80% Growth in mobile searches for "__ should I __" in the past two years.

This leads to more personal and intimate approach of marketing,

where the audience receive tailored marketing message that fits their personal criteria.

Even the B2B world is adapting this personal approach through

ABM (Account Based Marketing);
ABM is when an organization takes an individual prospect or customer account
-- these are companies, not individual people -- and treats it like its very own market,
or a market of one.

In this post I am looking at two factors that made this piece of content uniquely different.
personalized content and the way that the audience consumed the content.

Personal vs. Personalized Content

With the rise of personal search
comes a rise of personal content & personal marketing campaigns.

A Quiet Place has created a personalized not personal experience,
the actors didn't call upon the audience by name,
instead they have invited the audience to share the experience
with the small family since scene one.

The first line that the audience read is day 89
then a cut into more or less of a ghost town then another cut into a wall of missing people.

This is not personal content yet it is deeply personalized,
as you as a part of the audience is invited to write the beginning of this story,
you get to create a personalized story based on personal experience.

If you believe in aliens then that's day 89 after the invasion,
if you lean towards dystopian apocalyptic nuclear war world,
then that's day 89 after the incident happened.
This is an open invitation throughout the movie,
you unfold the story with the characters of the movie,
the deep silence lets you decide the danger sources,why does this family the way they do?

Being part of the story plays an even bigger role in the second point;
which how the content was consumed in the film?

Content Consumption

Neurologists identify nine or more human senses, and some list as many as twenty one.
Some of these other senses are the sense of balance,
the proprioception sense which is the ability to tell where your body parts are,
relative to other body parts.

One of the senses that was very active during the movie were the Tension Sensors:
These are found in such places as your muscles
and allow the brain the ability to monitor muscle tension,
by not relying fully on visual triggers;
the film allowed the audience to consume the content differently.

In the age of massive video content production,
the thumb stoppers, the scroll blockers and the extremely polished shiny superheros,
this movie was able to transform the experience
from visually stimulating to cinematically pleasing.

Part of telling a good story is to manage expectations,
one of the ways for digital content creators to manage the audience expectations
is through the way these audience consume their content.

If a brand is choosing to implement a specific digital tactic like live-streaming features,
ephemeral content,UGC, podcasting. How this story will be delivered,
consumed and most importantly felt by the audience is vital.

A Quiet Place created an immersive state.
Every close-up, every subtle gesture,
every facial expression meant something to both the audience and to the storytellers.

If the question brands are asking is what reaction we would like to get from the audience?
What emotion we would like to evoke producing this content?

Then start by watching A Quiet Place.

Written by: Fouad Khafaga
Twitter: @Fouad_Khafaga

Friday, 8 September 2017

Managing Social Media Crisis, What you need to know?

Managing a Social Media Crisis

Digital Marketing Manager, Fouad Khafaga Talks About Crisis Management

Why and how should a business prepare for Crisis Management?

The answer to why is because it will happen. Every business in the world either faced or will face some kind of crisis; that tests everything the brand stands for.

Some brands have an active inertia effect – they work in their business not on their business. Meaning they get engaged and overwhelmed by the day to day activities, that they there is a little thought goes into such strategic problems like crisis management.

The answer to how – is like a story about a King that had to punish his son by throwing a big rock at him. The issue here is that because he is the king he had to follow the law, and because he is a father he didn’t want to hurt his son. He struggled until a tribe leader from his people told him to break that rock into very small stones which then will have minimal effect on the son.

In other words, breaking a crisis down into minimal manageable problems, and having the respective teams deal with those problems to dissolve the crisis is far more likely to prevent the crisis.
Looking at social media, for example with a brand hiding, deleting, ignoring and not responding in a timely manner to their community.

If a brand is that fragile to negative exposure, then that brand is more likely not to survive an avalanche of negative reviews (crisis) when an event goes not as planned.

What’s the worst that could happen?
Brand losses brand equity and ultimately credibility.
A real-life example of a crisis that was managed well would be at an event we recently attended.
We had a total shut down of the internet – the hotel we were in just had Wi-Fi problems, so we were totally cut off not just from producing and publishing content but from updates, behind the scenes work, major events moments, etc.

We were not even able to respond and interact with the audience already present at the event.
The solution was actually dividing the crisis into urgent situations that needed to be solved
  • We had a situation room set up (before the event) in a different place with monitoring screen just for social listening, monitoring and interacting with existing audience
  • Before the event we had already scheduled content ( quotes, opening remarks, awards announcements ). That content was published by publishing tools
  • We had 3 members of the team capture key moments and event milestone live on different platforms through data plan
  • Finally we created an event summary videos to make sure that the offline experience was captured online

Steps to Take

As we discussed, there are different types of crises – and planning and forethought can potentially prevent many of them from ever developing; and even if a crisis does then arise, with clear procedure or a chain of command available, the impact can be lessened.

By taking a proactive approach to your business, and putting safeguards and strategies in place, you put your company in a stronger position to deal with any issues that arise.
Actions to take before a Crisis occurs:
  1. Develop Clear Social Media Strategies – such as Social Media Management
  2. Use Data Analytics to Monitor your Brand – utilized Social Listening to understand your audience
  3. Train Your Staff to recognize changes in attitude and trends online and in the venue
  4. Brainstorm various situations and make plans for the ones that seem more likely to occur
  5. Establish a clear chain of command and assign roles so your staff know who to speak with
Actions to take during a Crisis
  1. Gauge the public mood and prepare an appropriate response
  2. Be honest and transparent – let your customers hear from you and not a third party
  3. Give relevant updates regularly
  4. Respond to questions and comments where possible
  5. If not possible, post a list of frequently asked questions and direct your audience to those
  6. If it has affected people directly – apologies, be humble.
Actions to take after a Crisis
  1. Continue monitoring the data analytics to be sure that the situation is resolved
  2. Thank people for their patience and encourage their continued support
  3. Avoid phrases such as ‘lessons learned’ – give concrete evidence of any changes being made
  4. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen – learn from it and grow

    This post was originally posted here
    Would love to talk more on twitter @Fouad_Khafaga

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Brand Biology Survival by Customer Perception

Think of a bird.

Let me rephrase that when you read the word “Bird” what are the first three bird species that comes to mind?

Most people wouldn't choose (penguin- chicken and an ostrich) in one set. There is a neurological reason for that, it has to do with not just the way we as humans think but with how do we categorize information cognitively.

The human brain - Includes your brand’s audience brains - tend to take mental shortcuts known as cognitive heuristics.

In concept they are simple, efficient rules, hard-coded by evolutionary processes or learned, which have been proposed to explain how people make decisions, come to judgments, and solve problems, typically when facing complex problems or incomplete information.

Brands are victims to both the overwhelming amount of data produced and heuristics of customers minds.

Both of these factors are very difficult to control that the only way to for a brand to survive and eventually evolve is to understand both phenomenons and to create an evolution ability characteristics in order to survive such a tough environment

Organizing information and raw data are not an exception  in his book the organized mind Daniel Levitin asks the question How are categories formed in our brains?

There are three ways in which we categories information and by extension perceive such data based on former heuristics those three categories are

  • Based on mere appearance
    when we read or hear words like ( Car, trees, fish, books) we have a visual description of what that is with degrees of variance.
  • Based on functionality
    if we look at a tool box the tools inside doesn't look the same yet all of them serve a common function they fix things .
  • Based on concept
    the wallet not everything inside a wallet is looking the same or serve the same function by conceptually they are things you need while you are physically outside your home

Remember the types of bird question? As it turns out that penguins, chicken and ostrich doesn't fit our perception of what a bird is according to these three basis.They don't fly, not covered with flying feathers and don't really fit our concept of flying creatures. 

So what does this all means for brands? 

Based on appearance

From the caves of France to the tombs of Egypt visual storytelling was a vital element of human heritage

Nearly 70 % of all the sensory receptors of the whole body is in the eyes. Back in 2004 there was an article from the University of Cambridge titled seeing things part of the team conclusion was that “The visual appearance of products plays a significant role in determining consumer response” & “product appearance influences commercial success and consumer quality-of-life.”

So it’s no wonder to find that visual mediums gaining global traction considering that Pinterest has 150 million active uses, Instagram has 600 million active user and YouTube has 1000 million active users.

Brands doesn’t just need to be present in such mediums they have to tell meaningful stories that will enhance users experience of life through adding visual value to the brand.

Based on functionality

Functionality in branding can fall into 2 categories that functionally of the brand itself as what is the function of the product or the service that the brand offers, how does a brand demonstrate functionality through different tools.

One of the brands that demonstrate usefulness in itself is Google, other than being a
Verb, according to the useful brand report the brand is viewed as “useful because it  connects users to what they need to know, the way they want that information. Google scores particularly high relative to its peers for being quick, easy to use”.

Other demonstration of functionality is the functionality through tools and platforms,  @Hiltonsuggests Is a twitter handle with a bio that says:
“Exploring a new city & looking for insider tips? We're here to help! We're @HiltonNewsroom tweeps sharing our favorite travel suggestions.” 

The idea is that this twitter handle offers expertise on travel and travel tips to travelers whether they are Hilton residence or not. The brand is not converting or making sales or selling offers and discounts on this account, this handle serves one function only providing travel advice to travels.

Another F&B brand is using Snapchat as a customer service feedback medium, if customers have a complain about your plate, food is not hot enough, and other restaurant related complains. That goes directly to snapchat.

Snapchat depends on ephemeral content and because of this dynamic the tool serves the function of the ultimate customer service tool.

Complaints answered within one day and at the same time doesn't live on the restaurant reputation forever like a shipwreck survivor who has only one story to tell.

Based on conceptual perception 

At the core of it. the idea of branding is a conceptual idea.

There is a core concept that the brand stands for, this concept is crystallized, revived and asserted every step of the brands journey by all means available and necessary.  

The revolution of the digital world made it possible for brands to leverage that sense of belonging to the core idea of the brand, creating communities and thought leaders that embrace, enhance and amplify this core idea. In other words creating digital tribes.

Sports brands for example are not just about the sports. It’s about the concepts that the sport represent (competition, victory, hometown, nostalgic attachments).

Some brands evoke that conceptually on specific campaigns not the whole branding strategy Like the dodge campaign (God Made A Farmer). 

Red Bull is not about the energy drink, yes we can argue that this is the ultimate goal is to increase brand equity and sales yet what the brand promotes is the sense of adventure the challenge of human limits.

Final Thoughts  

According to the T3 report 87% of the brands were not seen as being “very useful”,
62% of the brands fell in the middle of the bell curve and were seen as undifferentiated, 88% of consumers do not rely heavily on advertising to inform their decisions.

Keeping in mind that companies introduce 30,000 products every year, but 70% to 90% of them don’t stay on store shelves for more than 12 months.

One of the things that these facts suggest is that brands needs to get out of the egocentricity of how great, innovative or revolutionary the brand is.

And get into their customer's mind through their behavioral and cognitive patterns not just to influence but to enhance the human experience.