State of Disruption 2019

December 26, 2019

Facebook’s annual State of Disruption Report came out at the start of October, but it’s taken me 2 months to digest because it’s a hefty 72 pages long. Here are three of my fave Facebook tips for building businesses to break industries.

1. EASY PEASY:

Today’s consumers (especially Gen Z) really value their time, and 71% are interested in services that saves them time and effort. Companies can disrupt traditional industries by leaning into it. Case in point: alcohol delivery companies like Tipple charging $30 extra for a bottle of booze to bring it straight to your door/party/office so you don’t have to sober up and stop mingling. (I totally checked the price of Glen Fiddich to compare this. If you ever need to bribe me, you know what to Tipple in my direction.)

2. PULP FRICTION:

Consumers want a seamless, intuitive and easy consumer journey with you. Make it smooth and frictionless because 84% of US consumers said they’d be unlikely to shop with a brand after a neggo experience. As Facebook notes on their Zero Friction Future microsite:

“Every additional step or delay is friction and a threat to business success.”

Zero Friction Future, Facebook IQ

Disruptive offerings don’t always spark confidence in consumers, especially when they’re super new or unheard of. Adding unnecessary friction is only giving unsure consumers an opportunity to change their mind on you.

(Side note – Alibaba took the opposite approach for their Singles Day activity this year. Rather than concentrate on minimising clicks to checkout, they created a brilliant engagement campaign with a pre-sale online concert featuring Taylor Swift to get traffic up on their site before the sale even started. You can read about this via this excellent and very free WARC report here.)

3. LET’S GET PHYGITAL

Some of the best-known disruptors got big by really owning the online space, and shaped their business (and how they disrupted an industry) by digital limitations. Think ThirdLove and how they changed women’s attitudes towards bra shopping, but also used online quizzes to get bra fitting right in lieu of an awkward sales girl with a tape measure.

But disruptors don’t need to stick to their lane. The term ‘phygital marketing‘ has been getting some traction over the past couple of years. It’s all about integrating both marketing arenas for the end consumer.

Mattress disruptor Casper created their ‘Dreamery‘ concept, a space for New Yorkers to book nap sessions on their mattresses. 120-day return guarantees are great, but nothing beats an actual road test. Plus naps are magical.

Cult beauty brand Glossier rose to crazy levels of success through the power of Instagram, but even the iconic cosmetics company has set up two IRL shops to satisfy needs. (That’s a whole other story though – almost feels like their physical stores are a destination for ultra Glossier fans to experience rather than to find new consumers.)

Innovative start ups can start lean and focus on digital to being with, but can use clever physical activations to power up their relationship with consumers as they grow.


Those were the juicy parts I think are actually relevant to disruption and innovation. Read the full thing here if you have an hour spare, but be warned. It’s all incredibly thought-provoking, but a fair whack of it is just dressing up Facebook-owned products as a disruption strategy when they’re not. Leaning into Instagram Stories or setting up Facebook Groups can be smart, but they’re not an integral part of or exclusive to disruptive offerings.

Enjoy, and HMU if you want to learn more about that time I did some marketing work for a Federal Government-funded initiative to foster innovation and disruption in Australia. ūüź®

2019: Year In Review

December 24, 2019

This year was a milestone year for me – 10 years in the music industry. An entire bloody decade. Here’s a list of some things I did in 2019 that stuck out in my head.

  • Celebrated my fourth work anniversary at Bolster. I’m now practically part of the furniture.
  • I tackled my fear of solo vacationing in 2018, but took it a step further this year by going overseas (to New Zealand) by myself for the first time. Stayed in a converted stable on a working deer farm. Fed all the many farm animals. Learnt how to put snow chains on. Saw snow for the first time since the 90s. Went hiking. Sailed across Milford Sound. Discovered that there’s some interesting Kiwi sandwich that’s just pineapple and cheese with mayo. ūü§Ē
  • Went to BIGSOUND for the 8th time, where I swore to never have another espresso martini for as long as I live.
  • Got over my public speaking anxiety, and…
  • Had the absolute honour of doing public speaking engagements for Bolster in QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA and WA. Next year I’ll have to try to get to NT and TAS ‚ėļÔłŹ (Seriously – if you happen to be in either of those areas and need someone to talk about music or advertising, hmu). One particular highlight was my CHANGES talk because it was the biggest crowd I’ve ever talked to. Ever.
  • Bought an $8 phone tripod from Kmart, and discovered the joys of illustration time lapses.
  • Went to Golden Plains for the first time ever. Wore a gold dress (of course). Felt like a shiny bitch. Wondered why it took me so long to get myself to GP.
  • Listened to a lot of techno. A lot.
  • Worked/am working on the largest tour that Bolster has ever advertised with Elton John’s farewell tour. (Think 34 stadium shows.)
  • Stayed in a 100-year old post office in a ghost town for a songwriting trip with Fever Land. Met some beautiful horses.
  • The creative industries job board that I run with my friend Fran hit 700 peeps!

That’s it. Happy holidays and see y’all in 2020! ‚ú®¬†

MusicACT Workshop

September 13, 2019

Canberra friends!

I’ll be visiting our capital for the first time in yonks (read: 19 years) to run a workshop. It’ll be a Bolster session for MusicACT aimed at music industry professionals keen to implement digital marketing for the first time. Suitable for artists, managers, labels, venues promoters and other music industry businesses with no prior knowledge on advertising.

We’ll cover off SMART music marketing goals, audience discovery, advertising auctions, budgets, a platform overview and creative best practices.

Best of all, it’s free but spaces are limited so email Shannen to RSVP. More info on Facebook. Hope to see you there!

P.S. I’ll be working in Canberra for a couple of days, so please send through your cafes recommendations. Brownie points if it has excellent scrambled eggs and Wifi!

BIGSOUND 2019

September 8, 2019

Another year, another BIGSOUND, another post-BIGSOUND cold ūüė∑ Here’s my annual list of highlights and discoveries in Brisbane with my Bolster fam.

  • Cloudland 1, Paige 0. I smacked myself pretty hard by walking face first into their full length toilet mirrors. (I do this every ūüĎŹūüŹľ single ūüĎŹūüŹľ year.)
  • Johnny Hunter were so excellent that I saw them twice. Thanks to Taylor at Bolster for that suggestion.
  • My BIGSOUND WTF session on how ads are targeted went well. Cloudland is definitely the swankiest place I’ve ever spoken at. Everyone is still convinced that Facebook is illegally listening to their phone conversations to target them. (I might swallow my words if some scandal comes out about them doing this, but no, Facebook does not do this.)
  • Boy Azooga were the only band on my must-see list, and they did not disappoint. Please someone book them for a festival so they can come to Australia again.
  • Other musical highlights: The Dianas, Ainsley Farrel, Stellie, Mojo Juju, Upside Down Head, Electric Fields
  • Espresso martinis are not for me. (Please remind me next time I reach for one.)

Here’s to (an espresso martini-free) BIGSOUND next year!

The A-Z Of New Music Marketing

July 13, 2019

The second iteration of the CHANGES Music Summit rolled into Melbourne last week, and it was incredible. The programming was refreshing, with thought-provoking sessions on offer. The APRA AMCOS networking brekkie was fun (tiny croissants filled with bananas!) and I bumped into lots of Bolster friends across the two-day event. And also never going to complain about learning and meeting new people in a location as beautiful as Abbotsford Convent.

Oliver Hall (Senior¬†Campaign Manager at Bolster) and I were¬†asked¬†to do a talk about the A-Z of new music marketing¬†on¬†day 1 of the conference.¬†It was the largest group of people I’ve ever talked to in my whole life ūüėĪ¬†but it was wonderful having a speaking buddy with Ollie and¬†our presentation GIF game was on fire¬†ūüĒ•

Paige X. Cho & Ollie Hall at CHANGES. Picture by Eric Peng.

I’m not going to re-share¬†the full A-Z in this post, but here are three of my faves:

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS:

Might seem boring to highlight this in a list with fun tech advancements like AR or the rise of dark social, but insights are one of the most valuable things a marketer can possess.

A little context. The amount of data music marketers have is astounding. We have access to Facebook Page Insights, Facebook Audience Insights, Chartmetric, Next Big Sound, Spotify For Artists, Spotify For Brands, Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, YouTube Analytics and so much more at our fingertips. And you bet that every one of these platforms is also constantly making their metrics more and more nuanced by the day.

Having all¬†of these numbers¬†are great, but it can be totally overwhelming.¬†It’s crucial¬†to not only have the data, but¬†use it to pull out key insights that mean something and¬†take action based on that. As in:

data > insight > action

It’s sick¬†if you know¬†that¬†most of¬†your Facebook fans¬†tend to be online at 10pm, but what use is it if you still post content at 2pm because you don’t work at night? Or¬†knowing¬†your most¬†requested song on¬†Triple J if¬†you don’t turn it into an encore? Or¬†figuring out Adelaide is your¬†top Spotify city but¬†not¬†adding it to a tour because no¬†one tours South Australia?¬†Or¬†having data that shows¬†90% of your ticket¬†page traffic comes from mobiles, but¬†the mobile experience sucks so¬†mobile traffic¬†only accounts for 30% of final ticket sales?

You get the picture. (If you want to get nerdy about the data > insight > action cycle this is a great read.)

MOBILE FIRST:

When I started working at Bolster in 2015, I noticed that desktop was the top device for most music festival sites. People just liked using their computers to connect with festivals. A year later in 2016, I could see the beginnings of mobile growth. Some festivals started to see more mobile traffic overall, but desktop usage spiked when tickets went on sale (because frankly, some ticketing companies were decidedly mobile unfriendly at the time).

Fast forward to 2019 and¬†mobile takes the cake.¬†Across¬†our clients, the¬†wider industry and just the¬†plain old internet, lots of people browse (for leisure anyway) using a phone.¬†Ticketing companies have improved their mobile UX massively, and¬†we’re seeing mobile¬†as the #1 device for¬†festivals throughout every stage of the campaign.

Yet… I do¬†hear of¬†marketers/brands/businesses prioritising¬†desktop (not clients, but just in my wider networks).¬†The most common culprit¬†is¬†that someone higher up (ahem,¬†a director perhaps)¬†doesn’t understand¬†mobile. Said person approves websites/designs based on what they look like on their 2011 Windows Dell computer¬†using Internet Explorer. Mate.¬†Seriously.

This doesn’t apply to just websites though.¬†Future marketers need¬†to mobile optimise everything a consumer will see online*,¬†including¬†video creative,¬†photos,¬†captions,¬†links, everything.

* Exception to this is if your business/artist has more desktop use, but check your analytics. An example might be a job ad site where people tend to apply for roles on their computer, or maybe the blogging interface for users (not readers) to write long form. CHECK YOUR STATS.

OPTIMISATION: 

I¬†occasionally get asked if I’m worried robots will steal my job… They already have, and I am so fine with it.

Back in 2014, digital advertisers¬†had to¬†pretty manually optimise everything.¬†If I had five campaigns with¬†three audiences in each, and each¬†ad set had three ads… I would have to individually check out each campaign across all three levels and¬†decide what to keep live, kill or¬†tweak. This took up an enormous amount of time.

Facebook and¬†Google have since¬†used machine learning (read: AI) to optimise campaigns for marketers. The platforms can do anything from serving out an ad creative that’s better at selling tickets, or spend more of your campaign budget on the audience most likely to RSVP to a Facebook event. Bonkers.

I’ll let¬†the robots do that happily so I can spend more time doing campaign strategy, channel planning and data analysis.

Here’s to CHANGES 2019, and see y’all at CHANGES 2020! Perhaps with another 26 buzz words rolling around¬†my head at that time.

Pic by Eric Peng.

EMC Connect Melbourne

June 30, 2019

While Sydney is the Electronic Music Conference’s home, the event has also been hosting EMC Connect mini events in Brisbane and Melbourne. I’ve never been to EMC proper before but have heard incredible things. When they asked me to be involved with EMC Connect Melbourne, my answer was absolutely said hell yes.

The Growth Guides: Prioritising Community panel looked at how to build strong online and offline music communities, and what is key for generating support, real engagement and fandom (not just stats). The panel was facilitated by the excellent Arlo Enemark from Xelon Entertainment and Medium Rare Recordings. Joining me on the panel was Jerry Poon from The Operatives (actually a Bolster client), Xander Malual from The Listening Co and Ju√Īor Ondaatje from AUDollars/R.E.A.L Music. Here are some of the conversations we had:

  • What‚Äôs your approach when Bolster clients want stats over prioritising a community or real fans? We actually get asked this fairly often. Some clients are hellbent on numbers like post reactions and Facebook fans, but we call these vanity metrics. We‚Äôll always try to uncover the real life business outcomes behind these and focus on these for clients instead and find these vanity metrics follow anyway. (Real business outcomes might include people engaging with website content, clicking out of a Linkfire or purchasing a ticket.)
  • How do you find networks when you know no one? Go out to events, be nice, get to know people, offer to help and ask for help.
  • How do you keep your existing audience but find new people? We all had slightly different answers but my thoughts here… Look at it through two lenses: 1) what will existing fans like, and 2) what will appeal to new audiences? Put that in a Venn diagram. Aim for the middle so you aren‚Äôt alienating your current audience for the sake of growth.
  • What to do if you’re an artist and about to possibly get kicked out of Australia due to visa issues? If you’re a bedroom producer (especially if you‚Äôre a bedroom producer) you can literally create music from anywhere in the world.

Thanks to EMC Connect for the great conversation. Next panel appearance will be in Adelaide next month!

Indie-Con 2019

June 26, 2019

Returning to Adelaide next month for my yearly AIR Awards visit!

In addition to that the awards, I’ll also be in town for the Australian Independent Record Labels Association’s Indie-Con music conference. I’ll be speaking on the Tech Health for Indies panel on behalf of Bolster, along with my former Shock boss Mick Tarbuk (who know heads up Believe Digital in Australia), Bill Wilson (SVP of Operations and Innovation at Entertainment One) and Jacqui Louez¬†Schoorl¬†(Jaxsta).

Hit me up if you‚Äôll be around for the AIR Awards or Indie-Con and want to be a canape buddy at the awards ūüćłūüć° (I am always that person at events networking but actually just looking out for food trays coming by…)

Conference info and tickets here.

2019 F8

May 18, 2019

Facebook’s highly anticipated and closely watched F8 conference rolled around again this week, and it did not disappoint. Most of the updates were heavily focused around its hero products: Stories, Messenger and Groups.

Here’s what I thought.

Instagram shopping tags for creators: This looks like a win from all angles. The top thing here is reducing friction for purchasing, especially on a platform where you can only link organically from your bio. Currently if a consumer sees a sick outfit on an influencer, likely they’ll need to click on their profile, go to their bio link, hope they use something like Linktree or manually search in their blogs for their outfit deets, open a new browser and start looking for the garment based on some keywords. At which point I’ve already gotten bored and had a nap.

Shopping for Creators is a clear evolution of its current (closed beta) Instagram Checkout feature available for certain American brands, and plugs into the same system. The few creators selected for the trial can only tag Instagram Checkout enabled brands. This sadly means we’re a while away from using this as a way to discover cool new brands from our fave mircro-influencers. Only established brands (e.g. Kylie Cosmetics, Adidas, Nike) and top tier creators (e.g. Kim Kardashian West, Chriselle Lim, GQ, Vogue, Elle) have access. Makes sense though – they need to use high traffic brands and accounts to really see if it’s having an impact.

I can’t figure out if these creators are getting kick backs. No mention of affiliate links but it wouldn’t surprise me if this is an option when it’s rolled out globally. Have a squiz at the full breakdown from the Instagram Business blog.

Instagram Stories donation stickers: The Facebook ecosystem has always been a great space for cause awareness and fundraising, so it makes perfect sense for Facebook to roll out a solution for its hero product of the moment – Stories. Only available in the US for now… I wonder how they’ll curb fraud.

Camera Vs. Create mode for Stories: Exactly what it sounds like – a supercharged mode in Stories when you don’t actually want to share an image, and want to use a countdown or a lot of text. The current Instagram app’s text mode for Stories is pretty shithouse, so let’s see how this fares.

A better Messenger app, built from the ground up: Facebook is rebuilding the architecture of the Messenger app to be faster and lighter and I am ALL FOR THIS. The app has been getting super slow and with some weird bugs (like crazy lag time to add reactions to messages) so this makes perfect sense. Especially with Facebook now having WhatsApp technology on hand.

Lead generation template in Ads Manager: I’ve used lead gen at Bolster before to run competitions and for pre-sale sign ups, but they’ve always been super fiddly. Hoping this new update will make it easier for advertisers (for set up) and consumers (via easy automated questions in Messenger) will reduce friction and increase leads.

Spark AR: This is Facebook’s renamed Camera Effects Platform, which was first introduced at F8 2017. It’s been in closed beta to certain accounts like Gucci and Kylie Jenner, allowing them to easily create interactive, immersive AR filters for Instagram. It’s now open to all so it doesn’t matter if you weren’t born into the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty. Read about the 2019 updates here, or road test Spark AR Studio yourself. (Side note – here’s a great read about AR vs VR.)

Groups: There have been rumours and panicking about this for months now, and it’s true. Facebook is prioritising Groups, but they’re making some changes to the design of Groups to make them even better for users. Groups types will each get different features most relevant to how their communities interact online.

Most of the panic from my networks have been centred around where to shift their marketing attention. They’ve literally spent years growing their Facebook pages to get to over 100K fans and are understandably freaking out. Should they jump ship, set up a group and abandon their page? (No.) It’s still early days but I think the key things are:

  • Continue using a Facebook page as the main hub of direct info from your brand to your consumers.
  • If you have a community and it feels right, set up a Facebook Group and make sure you’re an admin. If your fans have a reason to talk and share, this makes perfect sense. For instance, a video game might have a Facebook page for updates, patches and new releases, but a Facebook Group would be for real users to share walkthroughs, tips and cheat codes. A camping music festival might run a Facebook page to share lineup, date, ticketing and PSA info but have a separate group where staff and diehard attendees are admins. The group could encourage discussion around ticket reselling, themed parties around campsites and cute missed connections posts after the festival. (Ask me about the time I tried to help a friend connect with a girl he met at Golden Plains via a Facebook Group. Like actually.)
  • If your audience doesn’t naturally want to talk about your product, think about other topics that are relevant, feel on-brand and not forced. For instance, consumers might not care enough about toilet paper to join a Facebook Group about TP only, but might be interested in a Group about household tips and tricks, sponsored by said brand. As much as people love stationery, it might make more sense for a fine liner brand to run a Group around art creation.
  • Recognise the role of the page vs. Group, and tailor content types and content schedules accordingly, but be on-brand wherever you go.
  • Don’t freak out about less-than-glossy content on your Group. Facebook Groups are real and authentic, and that’s actually what consumers want. (Look at how Google search terms like ‘BRAND reviews’ and ‘BRAND alternatives’ are on the rise. Consumers want to find out about your brand or product from other consumers.)

The more I think about it, the more it completely makes sense. Facebook is moving away from vanity metrics (e.g. Facebook fan numbers, simple like counts and overall engagement numbers) towards meaningful metrics that show real business outcomes (e.g. deep engagement with humans talking to other humans about things they care about, ecomm revenue).

I actually manage a job board for creative roles in Australia and New Zealand and have been prompted a few times to start using features specific to Groups about employment! If you’re curious – join us here. Lots of music, comedy, film and event roles popping up there.

New Events tab: Look, if you have no Facebook event is it really an event? The app is introducing a new tab to help people discover interesting local events happening near them. All about this.

Facebook Dating: Coooooooool.

Shipping on Marketplace: I love Facebook Marketplace. Gumtree is where I go if I want attention from weirdos, but Facebook Marketplace is my app of choice for actually selling things and making money.

(Also the launch of Facebook Marketplace was very conveniently timed with the rise of Konmari a.k.a. everyday people selling joyless shit. Good work, Facebook.)

The most common ‘no thanks’ reason I get from potential buyers is usually that I don’t offer shipping because payment is so awkward online, so the new shipping option is perfect.

Want to read more about F8? Check out Facebook’s official one-sheeter about their updates, and if you’d like the Bolster touch, the content team wrote about what these changes mean for our clients too.

VMDO Digital Masterclass

May 12, 2019

The Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO for short) has been absolutely killing it. The VMDO is tasked to help grow our local music industry with a special focus on small/medium businesses. I was lucky enough to attend and have my mind blown at their recent Unconscious Bias class, and have had their networking breakfasts on my to-do list for a while now.

So I was absolutely thrilled when Katie Stewart asked if I’d be interested in hosting a Bolster digital masterclass for the music industry, as part of their Experts In Residence program! Previous Experts In Residence include Andrew Fuller of Clearview Legal Council, Sally Christou of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (around HR) and Paul Luczak & Mark Rice of The Gild Group (covering finance for music businesses).

I haven’t fully finalised the curriculum for the 3-hour class yet, but it’ll be focused on paid advertising, specifically:

  • Channel planning, with a look at what each platform excels/sucks at, what your campaign needs and how the channels can work together (this is a key step to a successful campaign but most 101 digital classes seem to gloss over this like me during a Star Trek film)
  • Campaign structuring
  • How to get started across all these platforms (easy takeaways for class participants to use as a reference guide later)
  • Machine learning 101 (my fave)

The session will be on the morning of Tuesday May 28, and it’s free for Victorian music businesses. Places are strictly limited, and you can apply here.

P.S. there will be a lot of GIFs in my presentation in case that’s a problem for you ūüėā

Splendour #5

April 14, 2019

The #SITG2019 campaign marks my fifth year of working on Splendour In The Grass via Bolster, and this year was pretty epic. Not only did we sell out the festival at a record capacity, but this time round Bolster’s Creative team also got involved.

It was business as usual for me this year running the paid digital strategy and advertising, working closely with Secret Sounds’ internal team on organic social. The art concept was by ARIA-nominated Lee McConnell (you might recognise his work with Jack River and Dunies). The Bolster Creative team then designed and built the website from the concept to make a pretty ūüĒ• site.

Happy Splendour 2019! See you at front of stage for Warpaint.

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