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Security breaches, no longer aberrations, need their own customer journeys

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If you thought a theft of customer data was a marketing nightmare before the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s time to wake up.

Under GDPR regulations for companies handling the personal data of EU citizens, companies must identify the breach, find out which individuals have been impacted and notify them — all within a 72-hour period.

But those three days probably seem like a luxurious vacation to banks in India, according to Ted Bardusch, chief information security officer of customer engagement hub Usermind.

Two years ago, The Reserve Bank of India decreed that any banks suffering a security breach must report it in no more than six hours.

Whatever the actual number of hours in your jurisdiction, the trend is clear. The length of time that companies have to publicly respond to a security breach is getting shorter and shorter.

Aside from better security measures, Bardusch suggests that brands should now extend customer journeys past their end zone of a loyalty or brand advocate stage and into a set of steps to handle customer interactions during a security breach. Obviously, the more planning a brand does beforehand, the faster it can respond.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]

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Why businesses are relying on Facebook Groups to build engaged audiences

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s first Communities Summit in June, 2017.

At the beginning of 2018, Facebook switched up its algorithm in an attempt to “fix” the News Feed by promoting more posts from family and friends and demoting content from businesses, brands and media.

The move actively distanced brands from their followers on the platform by limiting exposure to organic content posted by businesses. At first glance, the only solution for brands was to invest more in their Facebook ad campaigns, but some businesses have found an alternative to connect with their audience by building vibrant Facebook Group communities.

Facebook Groups: “A game-changer”

In 2012, Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan launched their website Grown & Flown, an online publication for parents of children ages 15 to 25. Three years later, they started a Facebook Group for their website, and according to the co-founders, it turned out to be a key strategic decision.

“We started a Facebook Page when we started the site as a way of putting the content out there, and then about three years ago we started a Facebook group which was a game-changer in terms of hearing more from a community of parents about what mattered to them, what was important to them, what they worried about, and keeping our finger more on the pulse of parents in that demographic,” says Heffernan.

The Grown & Flown Facebook Group is a closed group – meaning members have to be approved before the can join – and currently has more than 320,000 members. Harrington and Dell say their Group has a life of its own, with parents leading the conversations, which in turn informs them as publishers about the content the know will work on their website.

“We know what parents what to hear about. We know what’s on their mind so we can create content, find experts, find writers who will speak to what we already know our audience wants. That’s a huge business goal because who wants to publish things that no one wants to read,” says Heffernan.

Peloton, the exercise brand behind the Peloton Bike and on-demand streaming fitness classes, has experienced much success with their Facebook Group. The Official Peloton Member Page (which is the Groups name, and not to be confused with the brand’s Facebook Page) is a closed Group that was first started by a member in early 2015. The brand began moderating the Group later that year.

“Over the past three years, membership has grown from 1,300 to more than 116,000,” says Peloton’s VP of community Jayvee Nava, “Membership growth in the Group has far outpaced Bike sales, as existing Members invite their family, friends and colleagues to join this positive and supportive community.”

The network effect of engagement

According to Nava, The Official Peloton Member Page, on average, sees 300 posts, more than 5,000 comments and 20,000 reactions each day.

“Posts that drive the most engagement are personal success stories like getting back on the bike after an injury, celebrating milestones such as completing their 250th ride and starting a group challenge to hold themselves and other Members accountable,” says Nava.

The VP of community for Peloton says the Group also sees increased engagement when the brand announces highly-requested new features.

“We notice that our posts usually spark other conversations among Members, which creates a domino effect,” says Nava, “We continue to ask our Members for suggestions for features once a month via our #FeatureFriday posts as well.”

Grown & Flown’s co-founders echo the same experiences as Peloton. Heffernan mentions one post by a parent that received more than 2,000 comments. The parent had shared a photo of an e-cigarette Juul cartridge found in their child’s room, asking if it was a flash drive.

“She got 2,000 comments saying, “No, that’s not a flash drive, your kid is Juuling and it’s a discussion you might want to have with your kids’,” says Harrington. The Grown & Flown co-founders knew the post had touched on an important issue and immediately assigned a writer to write an informative piece on e-cigarettes.

Tracking Group performance

As far as measuring Group performance, Grown & Flown says they first got access to metrics for their Group last summer.

“They actually turned them on while we were at the Facebook Communities Summit event,” says Heffernan, “It was kind of crazy – we were really excited and I think all of the other Admins we’re really excited as well.”

Harrington and Heffernan say they use their Facebook Group data to determine at what times they’re most likely to see the highest engagement in the Group.

“Because we have that data now, we can use it to determine when to do a Facebook Live video in the Group,” says Harrington, “It’s pointless to do it in the middle of the day because everybody’s at work – which could be self-explanatory, but we have the data to back that up. We aim for the best days, the best time period when we want to put ourselves out there, or content out there that we feel really committed to.”

The Grown & Flown co-founders also say it feels like content on the Group page lasts longer – that Facebook appears to be pushing Group posts into members’ News Feeds over a longer period of time.

Facebook support for Group admins

Peloton’s Group has been highlighted by Facebook as one of the most engaged, standout Groups among consumer brands. The brand was also selected to be part of a pilot support program Facebook launched in May, offering Groups Admins a platform to report issues, ask questions and get responses within 24 hours

“Facebook has been a great partner and is always willing to listen to our feedback on ways to make the Group experience better for our Members,” says Nava.

Grown & Flown isn’t part of the pilot support program, but it has taken part in a beta mentorship program that Facebook is offering within the Group platform.

“It has been fantastic for our Group because we’re naturally set up for it. We match high school parents with college parents — with the college parent being the mentor and the high school parent being the “mentee” – based on criteria of where they live and what they’re interested in,” says Heffernan.

Grown & Flown has also been able to monetize their group with the launched of a paid subscription Group for members with college-age children needing advice about college admissions and other college-related topics.

Small Groups see results too

Grown & Flown and Peloton are two brands experiencing the height of what a Facebook Group can offer in terms of engagement, but smaller Groups are also seeing results.

Akvile DeFazio, the founder of the social media marketing agency AKvertise, says her client Indow Windows, a window company based in Portland, Oregon, has created a niche Group on Facebook for historic preservation society and organization members around the U.S.

“The group is closed to this audience and we share content and discuss ideas and obstacles faced in the historical preservation industry,” says DeFazio, “Many members also share projects they are working on — wins, challenges and failures too.”

DeFazio says that while the Group members are not necessarily Indow customers, they help promote the brand to their network which later results in new customers.

Facebook’s Groups focus

After opening Groups to brands and publishers in July of 2017, the company has steadily introduced more Group tools directed specifically at brands.

In July, Facebook rolled out Watch Party for all Groups, a video feature that allows multiple users to watch and comment on the same video in a Facebook Group simultaneously. The following month, Facebook opened up its ads pixel to a limited number of Groups, and said it was planning a broader roll-out in the coming weeks.

Grown & Flown’s Heffernan said they learned a lot from other Group admins at Facebook’s first Communities Summit event in Chicago last year. After the summit, Grown & Flown brought in volunteers to help moderate and act as admins for their Group and began using its Facebook Page to help grow Group membership.

“We learned a lot of best practices. We learned a lot of what was working for other Groups. Our Group took on a lot of momentum after that experience,” says Heffernan, “If you looked at our statistics, you’d see a big spike, but it was partly because we were learning from other Admins, which is the best way to learn in terms of growing your community and keeping your community close.”

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How NFL and the Eagles are now touching down with the UK beyond the Super Bowl

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While the NFL faces challenges to its US dominance, its brand-building efforts in the UK (its third-largest market) are delivering record TV audiences, ticket sales, and sponsorship revenue. Now, the NFL aims to convert casual followers into passionate fans of teams such as Super Bowl winners the Philadelphia Eagles, who invested significant marketing dollar during the London Games in October.

Sarah Swanson, NFL UK’s head of marketing since 2015, has been tasked with growing the sport and extending fan engagement beyond the London Games and the Super Bowl. Her mission is to entice fans to watch the Super Bowl playoffs, rather than having fans tuning in only for the big game. This epitomises a strategy to deepen its connection all year round.

Earlier this year, Swanson told The Drum that its two BBC shows, particularly The NFL Show that airs just after the Match of the Day on Saturday, was “the biggest asset we have in this market.” With Sky also airing 100 live NFL games in 2017, the sport boasted 25 million unique UK TV viewers, up 40% increase year-on-year. This figure, Swanson noted, is higher in 2018.

Swanson said: "The strategy is to pull the Super Bowl hype forward and bring fans into the playoffs.”

A big part of this is helping individual franchises form their own fan acquisition strategies.

“In the UK, we have fans of the NFL, in the US we have fans of teams," Swanson said. "You tend to be born into that and it is part of your life and your culture but we do know that when someone chooses a team, they remain connected to the sport for longer throughout the season, rather than a general NFL fan.

“So for us, team growth is so important and to have a club like the Eagles, who are hugely invested in growing their fan base here, it is a great opportunity.”

With the Eagles especially, there was a perfect storm. Never before had a reigning Super Bowl champion team played in the UK. Never before had a visiting team had a UK player either, especially one of the renown of Hackney-born Jay Ajayi. Missing the game due to an operation, Ayayi (pictured below) took the trip across the Atlantic to help cultivate his fan base.

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The NFL London Games have accumulated average attendances of 80,000 over the past 11 seasons. In 2018, it sold a record 47,000 season tickets for three games in October: Seattle Seahawks vs Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans vs LA Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles vs Jacksonville Jaguars.

The unprecedented interest in the London Games also enriched the NFL fan database, swelling it from 35,000 to 450,000 addresses. The 2018 fixtures would have driven this higher.

Swanson noted the Eagles' marketing efforts, outlining that team investment helps build out the NFL marketing machine from what is primarily a reliance on earned media and PR.

She said: “They did really fun, locally relevant things that we haven't seen before. They didn't come to market the way they do in Philadelphia, they were fun, tailored and respectful. We worked with them on that. I was great to have a team put that kind of time and resource against this market.”

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Jennifer Kavanagh, senior vice president of marketing and media at Philadelphia Eagles, outlined that there is a real opportunity for growth in the UK. A significant marketing spend encompassing digital, live activations, social, and out-of-home was aligned to “not just connect with traveling Eagles fans, but hopefully spark new fans.”

Coming to market after winning the Super Bowl certainly served as a point of differentiation against the other teams. “The spotlight got bigger and brighter,” Kavanagh said.

“We are a brand that likes to tell stories, so we have a lot of original content that we create specifically created to help people get to know the team, as well as the individual players, on and off the field.”

For Brits, the team conceived a digital tabloid called the Regal Eagle, to inform of the team’s background and exploits. The point was to stand out from generic football news by using humour and going “slightly outside the box… as comedy is a great way to connect and build relationships with people.”

Digital billboards reimagined distinctive parts of London’s identity, chiefly bangers and mash, royal guards, and the 'mind the gap' announcement.

“We're not just asking people to choose an NFL team, we are asking them to connect with a brand that they identify with," Kavanagh said. "It is easy to understand why we are great as a football team, but this was an opportunity to showcase our personality and spark a connection.”

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This fan connection has to be strong to account for the time zone difference between the UK and the US — being an NFL fan in the UK often results in a nocturnal viewing habit. Kavanagh shrugged the concern off.

“When you are a fan and are hungry to watch a game, you will. European soccer fans have shown us that stateside. We will never change time zones, but the more the fandom deepens, the more excited people get and start connecting with teams. We make sacrifices for sport, that is what is so great about our fans in general, so I expect they will continue as long as they have to.”

The club now struggles to win over new fans in the states; half of its 7m fans reside in the Philly area. The teams have broken up the US into fiefdoms that has increased the emphasis of securing international followings.

One of the ways to swell international appreciation of the sport was the relaunch of NFL’s over-the-top TV streaming product GamePass.

NFL's Swanson, as part of her remit of extending engagement around the sport, is running a “strong special” discount of £2.99 for the service around Thanksgiving.

This pivotal US holiday has been deeply integrated with the sport since 1978 when the first holiday fixtures occurred. It is an event the league could go bigger on in the UK in the coming years. For now, Swanson is leaning on press and content and influencer marketing, including a segment on BBC’s The NFL Show, to get the word out.

Beyond that, live events factor into building out the fan bases, Swanson and Kavanagh agree.

The NFL’s Regent Street takeover attracted 600k people to the closed-off street. On-stage entertainment, NFL cheerleaders and mascots, pop-ups, kids zones, and merchandise all bulked out the experience.

What set it apart from previous years was that instead of hosting it around the London Games, it was shuffled one month earlier to 8 September to help drive awareness of the events earlier and aid marketing and sales efforts.

Swanson said: “Our intent was to get press coverage and fan engagement, and to drive the fact that the TV show and season was starting, GamePass was available, and our fantasy football was open.

“From a PR perspective, we got a burst of coverage from the start of the season. That strategy to extend the season from kickoff to Super Bowl was different this year; it helped us a lot from a brand awareness standpoint.”

Such efforts help drive commercial growth, she revealed, without detailing the financials that the UK operation has hit a record sponsorship income — chiefly with it being two years into a three year deal with Subway. In particular, she pointed to the fact both brands are pursuing UK growth as an objective alignment that has benefited both.

In many respects, the NFL's efforts to build internationally contrasts with Major League Soccer's (MLS) effort to make the US fall in love with the world's most widely played game.

Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures cited inclusivity, ease to pick up and play, and shorter run-times as perks that will aid the sport's growth in the US.

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Everything you need to know: Programmatic 2.0 The importance of neutral partners

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In this episode, managing director EMEA, The Trade Desk, Sacha Berlik explains the benefits of working with technology partners with a buy side focus.

Emarketer estimated that nearly four out of five digital display dollars will transact programmatically. By the end of the focus period, that share is expected to rise to 84%, leaving little doubt that buyers and sellers are continuing to invest in automated ad buying,

According to Berlik, as you enter the programmatic marketplace, make sure you work with technology partners and players that only focus on the buyside. “Choose a media buying platform that prioritises your media investment and not that caters both the advertisers and the publishers. It is the only way to ensure your campaigns will succeed.”

Tune in for episode 5: boosting brand control, next week.

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