A hunter has traps, dogs and a gun. A pilot has an ejector seat. You have your wits, your work … and the pick of a huge array of networking tools. But how do you decide what works and what will just eat time? We asked leading creatives for the top 10 tools they use to ensure their ideas are strong enough to make the great escape.
1. Social media monitoring
“People rely on friends and friends of friends to form their opinions these days rather than what brands, governments or the media say,” says Phil Dearson, head of digital at The Marketing Store. “If you are trying to create behavioural change, don’t bother directly targeting the end purchasers, you need to get to the people who can start a cascade of influence that washes over them,” he adds.
Online monitoring tools can help creatives and planners track down and influence the big mouths, early adopters and clever clogs. Dearson uses online monitoring service Sysomos to follow Facebook chit-chat, Twitter babble, comments on YouTube and other publicly accessible digital conversations about brands and campaigns.
After a hard day’s social networking, there’s nothing like some real-world socialising to try to out-drink your rival creatives and find out what they’re working on.
Bladdered Again is a regular creative networking event held in London that calls on a creative agency to host an evening at its local pub. Spencer Gallagher, who founded and sold digital agency Bluhalo, says: “When you are a service business, you need to go to events so you have a combination of real-life networking and online social networks. The two go hand in hand.” Another regular event is Glug London, which describes itself as “creative notworking”.
3. Twitter feeds
Used well, Twitter can give you access to new ideas, new contacts and, perhaps most usefully, an instant sense of the zeitgeist. Brainpicker, which has more than 88,000 followers, features links to the best new design and digital content. Run by Maria Popova, a Brooklyn-based content curator, it offers creative highlights from around the world, and getting your work tweeted by Maria can bring kudos and the respect of the creative community.
4. Online magazines
Goodies include magazines for designers and web developers such as Smashingmagazine.com, netmagazine.com and Abduzeedo.com, which features tutorials on Photoshop. Social networking blog mashable.com is another favourite.
5. Bookmark sites
Robert Hollander, art director at agency WickedWeb, likes ffffound.com, which features images that users have bookmarked. “I like the randomness of it and the creativity of what people find across the web,” he says. “Knowing what is available to promote campaigns to the highest possible number of target audiences is paramount.”
6. iPad apps
Zite is an iPad app that creates a personalised magazine by observing the types of news stories you click on and how long you read them for. Phil Dearson, The Marketing Store’s head of digital, describes Zite as a “content discovery” site. “In the discovery phase of a campaign when you are looking for inspiration, rather than going to sources you already subscribe to, services such as Zite increase the variety of sources. Rather than just getting a manufacturer’s point of view, you get random content from sources you wouldn’t expect.”
Keeping tabs on the latest ads from leading brands can stimulate the creative juices (though should certainly not lead to copycatting, the scourge of the internet age). Facebook Studio is a favourite among many creatives as it showcases the most successful new work from big brands and helps marketers see which campaigns are making waves on the social networking site.
8. Fringe pursuits
Keeping abreast of creativity which is tangential to advertising can be a great aid to stimulating inspiration. Creatives check out sites such as Ektopia.co.uk, which features a wide range of creativity; Springwise, the site for entrepreneurs; and French creative gallery Fubiz.net – which describes itself as “a daily dose of inspiration”.
9. Social Networking
Agency entrepreneur Spencer Gallagher says Linkedin is invaluable from a marketing point of view, not least because, before Linkedin, it was easy to lose track of contacts when they changed jobs. “Twenty-five per cent of my Linkedin database lost their jobs in 2009, and most of them then got new jobs. In marketing, clients move on to new companies and it is important to find out where they have gone.” He adds that the site tells you how many contacts you have in common with a new contact, who may be a prospective client, helping you introduce yourself as you can get these mutual contacts to provide references.
10 Creating brand communities
Google+, the social networking service that is taking on Facebook, offers a tool called Google Huddle, which allows users to create closed network communications on their mobiles, similar to Blackberry Messenger. Some see such communication as a new and vital medium for marketers looking to build communities with their consumers.