Posted on May 2, 2011. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: advertising, brand, brand personality, branding, buy in, co-branding, documentary, film, integration, meta movie, Morgan Spurlock, Pom Wonderful, product placement, sell out, sponsorship |
Not much, if you’re documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, whose latest movie, Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, explores the world of branding, advertising and product placement.
It’s Spurlock’s personal statement, albeit an irreverent one, about how we’re pummeled with advertising throughout our daily lives.
Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean you can’t make a point
The point of this flick is admittedly obvious, however, Spurlock likes to examine the obvious in unexpected ways.
The film that first brought Spurlock to national attention, Supersize Me, is about how eating lots of McDonald’s food is unhealthy and leads to obesity. In it, the filmmaker serves as a human guinea pig who only eats McDonald’s food for 30 days straight. That he gains weight is to be expected; what’s surprising is the drastic dangerous toll the dietary experiment takes on Spurlock’s health and psychological well-being.
With Pom Wonderful, the director gets super cheeky: He’s making a film about product placement and advertising that’s all about how he’s financing the film solely through product placement and advertising. He calls hundreds of brands, and 22 sign on. In return for their money, the brands get to have Spurlock shamelessly promote them throughout his movie. The biggest sponsors have full-fledged commercials inserted right into the documentary.
Spurlock records the meetings where he tries to get companies to support his concepts. He’s an energetic pitchman who’s full of ideas. Some of his most outlandish ideas get shot down. No matter: Spurlock is a paid shill who gladly lets the brands control their message (though he delivers these lines with a big sly wink).
Along with the mischievous encounters with sponsors Spurlock delves into the world of manipulation, er marketing. He talks to experts in brand integration, co-promotion, brand collateral, brand personality, media placement and neuro-marketing. He chats with movie directors, TV execs, Donald Trump, Noam Chomsky, as well as Ralph Nader, who comes up with one of the movies more memorable lines when he says the only time we can avoid branding is in our sleep.
Two examples on the extremes of advertising (or not)
For the most part, Spurlock’s tongue is set firmly in his cheek, yet there are exceptions. Like when he heads to Florida’s Broward County to investigate how sponsors have infiltrated its public schools — an area even the educators agree should be off limits, but with budgets being cut to the bone, the school system is forced to find money however it can.
It all begs the question, where do we draw the line? For the right price, will we let consumer culture infiltrate every aspect of our lives?
Apparently, at least one place on earth isn’t buying in: Sao Paulo. The Brazilian city passed a law banning all forms of outdoor advertising. City officials say they passed the law to rid Sao Paulo of “visual pollution,” and when the camera pans its streets, we see what the city looks like with nary an ad in sight. In interviews with Spurlock, shop owners and residents all agree that Sao Paulo is now more attractive and they “notice a lot more” without the “distraction” of ads.
Powerful personal branding
Spurlock is transparent about irony of his efforts. He’s clearly practicing what he’s preaching against. Or is he? He claims he’s not selling out, but rather, buying in.
Of course, the biggest product placement of all in Pom Wonderful is for Mr. Spurlock himself. It’s an inspired piece of personal branding.
The movie has sparked demand for Spurlock’s bon mots. Fast Company featured him in a lengthy piece called I’m With the Brand and Forbes did a Q & A with him called This Space for Rent. He did a talk for TED called Morgan Spurlock: The Greatest TED Talk Ever Told and wrote a guest column for Entertainment Weekly called The Filmmakers Guide to Making the Perfect Pitch.
Spurlock even got the city of Altoona, Pa to change its name for 60 days, to Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, in exchange for $25,000. Altoona is the home-base one of the movie’s sponsor’s Sheetz, Inc. The name change is ceremonial, still the city figures to get publicity out of the deal.
All of which goes to show, as is stated in the movie, “At the end of the day, marketing works.”
Wanna peek at the picture? Here’s the movie trailer
Your Comments Welcome
What do YOU think? Have you seen Spurlock’s latest movie? Is he really buying in, or selling out?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Posted on March 20, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: brand, Clara Shih, compliance, corporate, customer engagement, governance, Hearsay, Hearsay Social, local, loyalty, management, Social Media, Social Networks |
While doing research for her bestselling book, The Facebook Era, Clara Shih talked to lots of companies about how they were using social networks. Somewhere along the line Clara realized all the insights and direct connections she was making presented the perfect opportunity to start a business.
Necessity is the mother of invention
Clara saw there was a big unmet need for corporate-local companies, which are enterprises with many local branches and representatives, such as franchisees and agents. These companies want to maintain a strong corporate brand while also giving reps freedom to do what’s best for their local customer base. But when your reps have their own Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts it’s tough to manage messaging, not to mention compliance with company guidelines and industry regulations.
So Clara left her job at Salesforce (where she was working while writing The Facebook Era) and teamed up with several savvy digital technology pros to start a company, Hearsay, which recently launched Hearsay Social, a tool that enables corporate-local companies to centrally oversee social media activity for all of its branches and reps.
Interview with Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Corp.
Clara gave me look at the Hearsay Social platform. It includes tools for social media compliance, content, workflow and analytics. I was truly impressed by the platform’s functionality and user-friendly dashboard — you don’t need technical know-how to figure it out.
While taking the tour of the platform Clara and I had nice long chat. Here are excerpts from our conversation.
Your management team has got a lot of depth. How did you put it together?
Silicon Valley has so much incredible talent. Being here and having worked at companies like Google and Salesforce gave all of us a terrific network. My co-founder Steve [Garrity] and I were classmates at Stanford in undergrad and graduate school.
After leaving school we always knew we wanted to start a company together but when we graduated we weren’t ready quite yet. We didn’t have a good idea. So he worked at Fortify Software, which is an enterprise security company, and then at Microsoft, where he worked on mobile. I went to Google and Salesforce, and when it came time to start my company he was one of the first people I called, because he’s incredibly smart and has a very good vision for how technologies change.
You designed Hearsay for a specific market. Why did you choose it, and how did you cater your product to that market?
The whole point of Hearsay is to focus on corporate-local. We looked at the Fortune 1000 and there’s a huge number of companies that fit this model, which is everything from banking, insurance and real estate, to restaurant and retail franchises and direct-selling organizations like Avon or Mary Kay. Our focus has allowed us to go very deep and be very comprehensive in the solution that we provide.
We were very thoughtful about how we architected the solution. We realize, at the end of the day, the most important thing to our target audience is visibility. When you’re a corporate organization you might have franchisees and local stores feeding pages and profiles every day that you might not know about. So number one, how does corporate have visibility? And from there, how does corporate manage brand compliance?
The third thing is, as a counterbalance to the need for brand guidelines compliance, how do you empower your local reps to express a unique and authentic voice? Knowing that’s what makes social media powerful. We know cookie-cutter messages don’t work.
So we built a content workflow system where corporate marketing can come in and feed content or suggest content and campaigns into the field, and then these small business owners, these franchisees, can choose which messages and campaigns they think will resonate with the local audience, personalize it in their own words and be able to do a one-click post out to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Basically, corporate will suggest a piece of content through our portal and then the local reps can receive those suggestions, either by email, and you can enable a one-click post from that email, or, they can log into their own portal which many people like to do because it’s a community of other franchisees in their network.
How does the company determine how well the suggested content is received?
You can see a content library of all that you’ve sent out to the field and can sort by categories, all of which are custom definable.
You can write a post and choose what region you want it to go too, and choose where it goes; to Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. You can tag it as a corporate suggestion and it will go to a local user who will see that message, along with a link. The local user can personalize the message and then just click the link. Corporate can then see what gets a response.
Can you give me an example of real world usage?
State Farm has 18,000 agents across the country and last year they came to us [while we were in beta] and said, we realize a lot of our agents are getting on these social network sites, which is a good thing. The reason State Farm is so successful is our agents are good social networkers, and we know that these websites makes them effective. But there are challenges we need to solve. From a federal regulations standpoint there are compliance issues, so how do we protect these small business owners, these franchisees, from legal liabilities?
With insurance and banking, there’s an industry guideline called FINRA, which requires all messages to be archived in case of a subpoena down the road. That’s the motivation behind archiving. Facebook and Twitter don’t provide archiving. We do and in fact we’ve partnered with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be able to provide the archiving. We’re the only company that has access to LinkedIn’s private message API. We’re the only company that can provide this.
And then another challenge State Farm had was small business owners find it very easy to create a Facebook page or Twitter profile but then it’s hard to maintain. As a business owner or a franchisee you’re busy enough running the day-to-day operations. You don’t have time to spend hours figuring out what to say on social media…That’s why we built this content workflow system, so the agents didn’t have to spend hours coming up with good content. Corporate marketing could do it, and it would only take an agent a couple of minutes to add it to their social networks.
We only show when there’s a compliance infraction. We sat down with a lot of corporations that did feel overwhelmed and they didn’t feel like they needed to read every message.
Does the item show up because it’s been flagged through keywords?
Yes. They can specify what the keywords are. And we have ones that we recommend for our financial services customers, because you’re not allowed to talk about securities in a public forum. They can also choose from our standard set of filters, like for profanity.
Do you think companies that have been holding off on mounting social media campaigns due to concerns about compliance issues may now engage in social media with more confidence because of your platform?
There’s that. But there is the reality that needs to be acknowledged; which is, the corporate level may not be comfortable going out on social media, but their employees don’t feel the same way. It’s very easy to find agents and employees that are on Facebook and have LinkedIn profiles who are talking to clients and are out of compliance. That’s been a real wake-up call for these organizations.
How do your analytics help a business know what action to take once they view the metrics?
Our customers are very focused on two things. One is agent engagement and the other one is fan or follower engagement. So what they’ll typically look for is when there are spikes in agent activity. That’s usually when corporate makes a content suggestion. The agents post it and then there’s a slight lag on the fan and follower side as measured by likes, comments and retweets… The content that you put out there, you want it to be interactive and engaging. If people aren’t sharing or responding, that means it’s not resonating for some reason. Our customers use this real-time feedback to continually refine their content and campaigns.
So they can correlate response and make the connection.
Yeah… I wondered for a long time why there are so many corporate local organizations. Why are so many of these small businesses that are part of a larger corporate entity? Instead of being a McDonald’s franchisee or a Dunkin’ Doughnuts franchisee, why don’t they just start their own burger or donut place? We thought about this a lot at Hearsay and the reason is brands are extremely powerful. And not only that, a lot of small business owners, don’t know branding and packaging and operations and sales. Being part of a franchise, you get a lot of support in the offline world. So if you’re a McDonald’s franchises, every quarter you get new marketing collateral. But when it comes to the online world, there hasn’t been that same level of support. And social media in particular has been the Wild West for these small business owners. They’re left to their own devices. They’ve had no choice but to create their own Facebook page and figure out how it all works. So one way you can look at Hearsay Social is, we’re providing that level of infrastructure and local support that chains and franchisees have always had in the physical world — we’re providing the analog in social media.
Now hear about it direct from Hearsay (the company video)
What do you think of Hearsay Social? How do you see it fitting into corporate social media programs? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on January 17, 2011. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: audiences, best practice, brand, Brian Solis, collaboration, community, engagement, infographic, JESS3, online, platforms, social influence, social media compass, social network, social relationships, value proposition |
The online web is intricate. That goes double when you factor in social networks, which by design expand as they interconnect.
When you consider how social networks are just a subset of a much larger Web 2.0 system, things get really complicated.
To begin the Web 2.0 journey you have to start somewhere
The scope of Web 2.0 is wide and ever-growing. It can be daunting to know where to begin. Yet you have to start somewhere. It’s like another famous saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
If you want to wind up at a specified end-point, it helps to get oriented before beginning those many steps. For a real-life trip, you’d use a map or a GPS device for guidance. The byways of Web 2.0 are less cut and dry — the optimal route is determined by your particular goals, strategies and resources.
Still, there are some excellent instruments for overall guidance, including the infographic you see below, created by A-list blogger, best selling author and new media business strategy consultant Brian Solis, and JESS3, a creative agency that specializes in data visualization.
Big picture view of the social ecosystem
In his recent post, The Social Compass is the GPS for Adaptive Business, Brian notes this infographic “points a brand in a physical and experiential direction to genuinely and effectively connect with customers, peers, and influencers, where they interact and seek guidance online.”
The Social Compass enables you to see how various components relate to one another in a big picture kind of way. If you’re not quite sure what it all means, read Brain’s post, where he explains all the labels and how they entwine.
Take a sentimental journey to social media success
Of course, the bottom line is, even when used for business purposes, social media is about people engaging with one another. The tools and technology are important, but if you are not establishing personal and emotional connections, you’re missing the point.
So pay special attention to the outer ring of the Social Compass. Notice how it’s got words like empathy, empowerment, honesty, sincerity, reciprocation and reward. By living up to these sentiments you build genuine affinity and devotion to your brand. You’re creating meaningful relationships and goodwill that people will want to share with others. When you walk that talk, your social media activities are headed in the right direction.
- Deni Kasrel
What’s YOUR view of the Social Compass? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on November 23, 2010. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: advertising, attention span, brand, brand story, branding, marketing, marketing communications, media time, Social Media, Social Networks, story, storytelling, time, Video, YouTube |
Truly effective marketing hits on emotional touchpoints that make us believe what you have to say, enough so that we’re persuaded to buy what you’ve got for sale. We need to see ourselves in your story.
It’s no accident we have the expression, “I don’t buy that story for one minute.”
How much story can you tell in 15-seconds?
How long should your brand story be?
This thought came to mind when I was chatting last week with Glenn Holsten. Glenn is an independent filmmaker who is well known for his documentaries, but he also does commercial work. We were catching up prior to the world premier screening of his film Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-1968 and somehow got on the subject of social media. Glenn said he had a client who wanted a 15-second video to use for social media. “How can I tell in story in 15 seconds?” he asked.
I mentioned the tale, perhaps an urban legend but nonetheless oft-cited, about how Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a story that was only six words long. I’ll now share this story, in it’s entirely:
For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
Glenn agreed that’s one heck of a short story, and he assured me he’ll whip up that 15-second spot his client wants for social media. Meanwhile, I’m intrigued by the fact that his client perceives the need to create a 15-second video, simply because it’s for social media.
Is there an ideal story length? Does the media matter?
I’ve seen two and half-hour movies that seem to fly by and watched three-minute videos that feel like they take forever.
TV commercials are usually 30 or 60 seconds long. Much of that’s due to the cost of buying time on television. There is no equivalent cost with social media.
Regardless of your expense, whatever the length of a marketing message, there’s a cost to your audience in terms of time and mindshare. Even 15 seconds of wasted time can be annoying.
YouTube is a social media channel and YouTube has in excess of 100 million videos, pretty much all of which are longer than 15 seconds. The fact that a video may also be a form of advertising doesn’t matter. If the content is worth watching, you can exceed the 30-60 second convention.
Prime examples here are the Will It Blend? spots featuring Tom Dickson, who rose to online stardom thanks to a series of videos where he proved the power of his Blendtec blender by using it to pulverize all sorts of objects, including an an iPhone, a Bic lighter, golf balls, a bag of marbles and a crowbar. Nearly all of the Will It Blend videos are between one to two minutes long and they’re super popular — the iPhone video has in excess of 9 million views. Blendtec also promotes its videos through a Facebook page , which has a more than 56,000 fans, and through Twitter.
The evolution of storytelling… to be continued
You might say your story should be as long as is required to tell what needs to be told while also holding the viewer’s interest. That’s true, and also highly subjective.
There’s no hard and fast rule here. Still, it’s interesting to consider how much social media, and the way in which we consume it – via mobile phone, desktop computer, computer tablet or TV – influences the art of brand storytelling.
Open question: Is there a difference in our attention span toward marketing messages when we receive these messages via social media, as opposed to a company’s website?
Could be. I wouldn’t be surprised to see research down the line on this very topic. Time will tell.
What do YOU think? Is there an ideal length for a branded video that’s distributed through social media? Please share your thoughts.
Posted on August 9, 2010. Filed under: Best practices, Marketing and Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: audio, best practices, blog, brand, broadcasting, Diva Marketing Talks, marketing, niche content, podcast, podcasting, podcasting tips, PR, public relations, RSS, Social Media, streaming content, Toby Bloomberg |
It’s on-demand subscription-based audio content that lets you grab someone’s ear.
Of course holding onto that ear takes finesse.
Just spouting marketing messages doesn’t cut it. Then it’s an infomercial, and who’s going to subscribe to that?
You must make it worth someone’s while to pay attention to what you have to say.
Interview with Toby Bloomberg, host of the podcast series Diva Marketing Talks
Toby recently shared some of her podcasting tips with me, about the art of being a good moderator and how to create podcasts that reach out and touch customers in a meaningful way. Here are excerpts from our conversation:
Can you describe your concept for Diva Marketing Talks?
Toby: My concept is that since social media is a conversation, I don’t want to have to interview people. And the one-on-one thing, to me, is an interview. So I always have a least two guests, sometimes three.
What do you think makes for a good podcast moderator?
Toby: There are a few things that make for a good moderator. One is making sure you have a guest on who will share information and talk. Because the worst thing is to have someone on who just doesn’t talk. And you want to have someone who understands, in social media, they’re giving value-added information, not pitching their own company.
The second thing is to create an environment and atmosphere where they feel comfortable to talk.
And the third thing is to prep your guests for the show… I put questions together. I put concepts together and I give them to the guests and say, “Here’s our content direction. Whether or not we follow it depends on where the conversation goes, but here are the issues we’ll talk about.”
When it’s time for the show I’ll start off with a question and see where it goes. Sometimes it does turn into a real conversation. I will encourage people to talk to the other guests and to ask questions of me, so it has the feel of a conversation, instead of me interviewing two people.
What are some reasons a company might consider doing a podcast series?
Toby: A podcast is no different than an audio file that’s on the web. What makes it unique is that it has an RSS feed that gives you the ability to dump it into an MP3 player. And that little technology changes everything. It gives you the ability to do what people call “time transfer.” You can put it into your video or MP3 player — into your iPod your iPhone and iTunes — and listen to it whenever you want.
So that’s what makes podcasting so different and valuable. It’s that people aren’t tied to their computers any longer. They can listen to it wherever they want.
You can use podcasts to create thought leadership to build greater understanding and awareness of an organization or a topic. But it can also be used in other ways. For instance it can be used to train a sales force. You can do a podcast on product development, new product features, whatever. Give MP3 players to your sales force and they can listen whenever they want.
Another thing is take a cheap MP3 player — we’re not talking about iPods — load it up and give it away at trade shows.
What would be on those trade show podcasts — product information?
Toby: It can be product information. But it always has to be value-add. Because who’s going to listen to something about your new features or your latest widget? You can position it however you want. You can do a little show.
Is there any type of business that either does or doesn’t lend itself to podcasting?
Toby: You’re disseminating information. So if your target audience is comfortable listening to information in a given format, it will work. It really goes back to who your customers are… I think today we’re not looking at technology as much as information.
How can a business know what kind of information is of interest to their target audiences? How should they define their podcast strategy?
Toby: You just ask your customers what they want. Tell them you’re thinking of doing a podcast series and ask, “Is this something that you might want?” They’ll let you know. And they’ll tell you what they want to hear.
Especially in a B2B environment, where relationships are so critical, even more than B2C, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to touch base with customers that perhaps you haven’t talked to in a while.
So pick up the phone… Take a look at the customers that you’ve been wanting to develop stronger relationships with, or people you just missed closing a deal on. It would be great to go out to prospects and say, “We haven’t talked to you in a long time. This is what we’re thinking of doing. What would you like to hear?” It gives you an opportunity to open doors.
You can build a whole strategy behind that. Why not tag the podcast with “Thanks to Tom Jones at XYZ company for giving his input on this topic.” Thanking people in a public forum is always a nice thing to do. You don’t have to mention if they’re a client or not.
In your e-book Social Media Marketing GPS you note how podcasts can bring out your personality and create intimacy between the people behind a brand and its customers. How does that happen and why is that important?
Toby: Voice and tone add another dimension than text. Even if your company has a blog, or a Facebook page, or is tweeting, it brings you a little bit closer… And audio gives you the opportunity to add a different type of information.
When you write, and when you speak, your words come out differently. I think a good podcast forces you to talk in a conversational manner. So if you’re taking in a conversational manner people tend to relate to you as a person rather than as a company. The bottom line is people like to do business with people they like and this is one more way for somebody to get to know you.
Say a business makes a product that does not seem to present itself as being all that interesting. It’s some kind of widget. How do you make something that is not inherently fascinating into a podcast series?
Toby: You don’t, if it’s something that’s inherently boring. Like if it’s a widget that goes into another widget.
It’s like Intel Inside. Think of how brilliantly they positioned themselves. They knew that nobody wanted to talk about this little technology piece that went into computers, they positioned it as Intel Inside — this is what makes everything work. So perhaps isn’t going to be about the widget, because how much can you talk about the widget? Maybe it’s about trends in the industry.
What about allowing people to call into the show? Why might a company want to do that?
It gives people an opportunity to get information that they may not be able to have any other way. It gives you an opportunity to interact with potential customers. And if somebody has a really deep question, you can say, “Let’s take this offline and I’m happy to make sure you get the information.”
It’s one of those things that could go wild, depending on the company and the questions. If you’re doing it where you can tape the show you have the opportunity to edit. If you’re doing it live, obviously you don’t have that, so I think it takes a very skillful host. Because then you’re not only in the world of social media, really what it amounts to is you’re in the world of public radio.
OK, final question: If you were to give only one tip for businesses about podcasts, what would it be?
Toby: Make sure you understand the type of content your audience finds interesting and work around that. It’s Marketing 101.
But with any kind of social media we’re really diving outside of traditional marketing… It’s a sidestep. Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily relate to you product or service directly, but rather, tangentially.
That’s where I see a lot of companies miss the mark. When some people think being in social media means not being sales oriented, they think it means a softer sales pitch. But more than not, it means not even going in the sales direction, but making sure you have information that can support your customers in your particular industry… It is different than any other kind of marketing because it’s built on value-add.
Many thanks to Toby Bloomberg for sharing her insights. If you want to keep up with Toby’s thoughts on a regular basis, subscribe to her Diva Marketing Blog, or follow her on Twitter at @tobydiva.
Meanwhile, other posts I’ve written that relate to Toby include:
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of Toby’s ideas about podcasting? Do you have more thoughts on the topic? Please share. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Posted on April 6, 2010. Filed under: Communications Strategy | Tags: brand, branding, communication, competitive analysis, content, content analysis, content audit, content strategy, editorial strategy, engage your audience, marketing communications, message map, messaging, podcast, point of differentiation, text, user-friendly, Video, web, web site, web strategy, website |
It’s a popular catch-phrase of many a marketer.
But how many actually practice what they preach?
Talking the talk and walking the walk are two different things. From what I can tell, there’s a heck of a lot more talking than walking.
Generic content abounds
Case in point: I’m working on a consulting job where I recently completed a competitive analysis of approximately two-dozen websites belonging to organizations all operating in the same field of business. The analysis considered a variety of factors including website design, information architecture, branding, content and use of social media.
I observed discernable differences in design, user friendliness and overall site organization. Certain sites had more videos and podcasts. This seemed mainly a sign of financial standing — the well-off places can afford more of these assets.
The character and tone of web text ranged from technical to institutional to consumer-friendly. Meanwhile, the messages and information contained in text and videos for nearly all sites was so similar as to be interchangeable. “We have innovative cutting-edge technology, teams of experts, personalized service.” Blah, blah. Yadda, Yadda.
Content is often created in a vacuum
When everyone’s saying pretty much the same thing you’re not making a case for why to choose your product or service over someone else’s.
All too often organizations create content in a vacuum. Their goal is to meet business objectives and state their offering.
But really, that’s the least you can do. For content to be king you must present compelling distinctions that make someone think, “Ah, now there’s a difference that matters to me. I’ll go with this one.”
It isn’t just about you, or even your customers. It’s also about your competitors.
It’s the difference between being a commodity and being a preferred choice.
Put your website to the test
Surely this is not news. Still odds are if you conduct a competitive analysis of websites for businesses operating in your industry you’ll notice a lot of repetition.
In fact why not do it? Visit the websites of your competitors. Read the text, view the videos and listen to the podcasts. See if you can pick out even a handful of differences in content and messaging. I mean real points of singularity, not simply using other words to say essentially the same thing. Be sure to include your own site in the analysis.
If your content stands out, more power to you. If not, start planning for how to make it so.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Social Media | Tags: advertising, Albert Einstein, brand, brand awareness, brand management, communications, Communications Strategy, double-standard, marketing, marketing communications, measurement, metrics, profit, public relations, reputation management, return on investment, roi, show me the money, Social Media, social media profit, Social Networks, word of mouth |
Today, at a networking meeting, I met someone involved in marketing and branding. We got to talking about social media, and quicker than you can type a tweet, this guy brought up return on investment.
He asserted, unless you can clearly identify the monetary payback on social media, many brand managers won’t give it the time of day.
Now, I understand that ROI and the bottom-line matter; a lot. Nevertheless, it’s curious how when the subject of social media comes up, you can often count the seconds till ROI is mentioned. Why is that?
What’s with the double-standard?
I’ve not heard a hue and cry over what’s the absolute dollars and cents return on investment for numerous other aspects of marketing communications. Like a sales kit. Or a press release. Or an event sponsorship. Or even a website (unless the site is e-commerce based, though for the sake of this example, I’m referring to a corporate/brand website).
And I shall defer from quibbling over what the exact definition of ROI is — used in this context, the general understanding is that it relates to how much profit are we going to make?
The point isn’t what is or is not ROI, but rather why you must know from the get-go what’s the end-measure for a social media program, when other types of marketing and public relations are not all held to this same standard.
“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted” – Albert Einstein
No one’s come up with a formula to accurately surmise the precise profits gained from buzz, brand affinity, or word of mouth. It’s iffy to assign a cash value to a news story that appears about your company, product or service. You don’t necessarily know how much money is generated by a TV or print campaign, either.
I’m not suggesting there’s no reason to gather metrics for social media. There are ways to monitor social media activity and impact. You should benchmark and keep track of how the program is going, and, where possible, identify the return.
It’s more that I’m baffled by this tendency to immediately raise a “where’s the ROI?” beef at the very mention of social media. Which, for those who don’t already know, can drive sales as well as do wonders for brand awareness, customer service, reputation management and search engine optimization (among other things), when properly executed.
A smokescreen tactic?
I wish I had a buck for every article I’ve seen in just these last few months about the ROI of social media. I could take a nice vacation with the windfall.
My hunch is show-me-the-money-or-forget-about-it brand managers/marketers are comfortable with how they’ve been doing things for years. They like the old ways; which are one-way. Social media is two-way. They’re unaccustomed to direct engagement and are terrified of what might come back at them. They fear losing control of their brand.
So a smokescreen gets thrown up due to fear of the new, aversion to risk, and an inability to admit you just plum don’t understand something.
Looks like it boils down to oh-me oh-my rather than ROI.
- Deni Kasrel
Is ROI truly a relevant measure to determine the effectiveness of social media? Do you have experience in calculating the ROI of social media? Please share your stories. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )
Posted on November 7, 2009. Filed under: Books, Business Strategy, Communications Strategy | Tags: advertising, book review, brand, brand assets, branding, business, business book, buzz, communications, Communications Strategy, consumer marketing, digital marketing, Internet, marketing, mass media, media format, Mitch Joel, monetize new media, new business channel, new market dynamics, new media, online word of mouth, opportunity, podcamp, podcast, Six Pixels of Separation, Social Media, social network, Social Networks, Strategic Communications, traditional media, Twist Image, Twitter, YouTube |
In Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. Mitch Joel recounts the tale of how in the 1500s the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez captained 11 ships carrying more than 500 soldiers to Mexico on a mission to conquer the Aztecs. Many fell ill along the way and others were intimidated while in foreign surroundings. When worried soldiers asked their leader about his plan for returning home Cortez responded by burning the ships. There was no going back.
New channels, new ways
Today, entrepreneurs and business marketers must contend with foreign territory, in the form of new channels, new platforms and new audiences that are upending old ways. Mitch Joel believes you can either cling to the past (a surefire route to eventual failure) or you can burn the ships and learn how survive in the new world.
There is no going back
The challenge is for marketers to connect with consumers in these channels in ways that are honest and meaningful and that enable businesses to monetize their efforts.
Losing control is a good thing
Change occurs so rapidly in the digital era we can’t know where it’s all headed.
While uncertainty unnerves some, Joel adopts a seize-the-day attitude.
He believes a world where anyone can say whatever they want about your brand or business is a good thing. After all, he declares, “You will see and hear the types of insights and comments you never normally have access to.”
Convert consumers into marketers (for your brand)
Brands have many options for building communities and Joel stresses that in the end it’s the quality not the quantity of the relationships that matter. Focus on creating an engaged community rather than simply going for heavy traffic.
Successful communities instigate word-of-mouth that builds exponentially through the power of networks. This scares executives who are afraid of losing control of their brand.
Joel argues that while you can’t control the conversation “You can control whether or not you take part. You can control whether you will encourage your consumers to be so passionate they actually start marketing your company for you.”
Dare to be bold: Open up your brand assets
One of Joel’s suggestions for how to instill passion in consumers is sure to raise eyebrows from old-school brand managers — he advises to openly provide “the tools they need to change your brand.” This includes access to logos, text, audio and video.
The old way is to control all those assets. It’s dangerous to let consumers have at your brand willy-nilly. Joel reckons consumers are going to do whatever they want with your brand anyway, so you might as well be a part of the process. By freely giving your assets you send a message that you stand behind your brand.
Mitch Joel walks the talk
New market dynamics shift communications from mass media to mass content. Joel’s view on how to create effective content that clicks with consumers is spot on.
With those digital avenues, and with this book, Joel is an astute observer of human behavior. He understands how people think and react and knows how you can connect and contribute in order to get people to care about the same things you do.
Joel also runs a marketing agency called Twist Image. He’s an enterprising entrepreneur and a fair portion of his book offers insights into how self-starters can become their own media channel; and not just in the obvious ways, like starting a blog (though he does cover that). He explains how to create a credible personal brand, and how you can make that brand come alive in the real world by leading offline activities, like a PodCamp, a kind of self-organizing “unconference.”
Engage with a spirit of adventure
Six Pixels of Separation helps you recognize how moving from mass media to mass content is like exploring a new world rife with opportunity. It helps you gain the confidence to evolve with a spirit of adventure.
It’s inspiring, and yes, contagious.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of the ideas presented in Six Pixels of Separation? Do you agree with Joel’s burn the ships attitude? Maybe you have your own example of how you created a successful community and/or a personal brand. Please share. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )