Posted on December 13, 2010. Filed under: Books, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: best practices, business, communications, consumer marketing, customer service, David Meerman Scott, engage, Internet, marketing, marketing communications, online engagement, PR, public relations, real-time, sales, strategy, tactics, Twitter, viral video, web |
With an always-on 24/7 internet, if you’re in the news in a negative way, you must respond immediately.
There’s little time to plod though a carefully measured crises communications plan while a story races across the web — where videos go viral and Twitter unleashes a torrent of messages in mere seconds.
It’s time for your marketing and PR to get real
If that thought puts you on edge, or you doubt it’s true, then you could be in for a rude awakening. Or, you can get up to speed by reading Real-Time Marketing and PR, the latest book by marketing maven, A-list blogger, David Meerman Scott.
Just as he did in his groundbreaking The New Rules of Marketing and PR, Scott’s new book helps you see how certain long-held practices are not merely obsolete, but dangerous to your livelihood.
How NOT to engage in real-time PR
Anyone with access to the web can publish content. This so-easy-anyone-can-do-it circumstance sets up a scenario where, Scott says, “consumers set the pace. Left to their own devices, they imagine all sorts of things. They take unpredictable initiatives.”
One example of an imaginative consumer initiative is seen in a tale Scott recounts about Dave Carroll, a musician whose guitar got busted up by United Airlines baggage carriers. Carroll tried to get United to own up to the misdeed, but the company wouldn’t budge. So Carroll took to the web, with a video he created called United Breaks Guitars. The video went viral, news outlets and the blogosphere jumped on the story and Carroll’s plight attracted international attention.
United took a huge public relations hit, all because it would not properly respond to one customer.
Scott gives a blow-by-blow run-down of how the whole thing played out. He fills in all kinds of side details and breaks down the trajectory of the various ways the story shot across the mediaverse.
Monitoring, mobile, and real-time guidelines
United got it wrong, however the book also provides ample examples of companies that got it right by thoughtfully engaging in real-time communications. Time and again, Scott reinforces how paying attention pays off.
Of course, you can’t react in real-time unless you readily know what’s being said. For that to happen you must monitor and analyze media outlets all across the web. With so many venues, in both traditional and ever-increasing new media spheres, this can be daunting. Scott clues you in on how to turn it into a manageable task and offers a handy list of free tools such as Google Alerts, Blogpulse, Technorati and Twingly, and service providers like Attentio, Brandwatch, Cision, Radian6, Sysomos and Visible Technologies.
There’s advice for how to leverage the fastest growing real-time market: mobile, where location-based services such as Foursquare, Layar, and Mobile Spinach enable you to provide customers with instant gratification exactly where and when they want it.
There are tips on how to engage on Twitter (the big-time in real-time), ideas for how to integrate real-time tactics into your sales and customer service efforts, plus an in-depth section on how to develop effective real-time communications policies—also known as social media guidelines.
An insider tells it like it is
All of this comes from a guy who spent most of his career in the online news business. This is an insider, telling it like it is, in lively, and sometimes good-humored, fashion.
It’s all downright practical. When delving into how to responsibly respond to online stories and social chatter about your company, Scott says: “Some people are plain crazy, and you don’t want to get dragged into dialogue with a psycho.”
Even in the real-time world, you must exercise good judgment. Scott’s book provides plenty of ideas for how your good judgment can help grow your business. Now.
- Deni Kasrel
Comments anyone? Please share your thoughts.
Posted on November 1, 2010. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: business, business culture, communications, corporate marketing, customer service, David Meerman Scott, e-book, ebook, engagement, marketing, PR, public relations, real-time marketing, real-time web, response, return on investment, roi, ROI Research, Social Media, stock market performance |
Invest in businesses that engage in real-time marketing and PR.
This list includes:
- Companies that adopt emerging communications trends – these days this includes social media and web analytics
- Companies that respond to media and customer concerns promptly and courteously
- Companies that respond to inquiries from A-list bloggers ASAP
New research measures real-time response of Fortune 100 companies
FYI, I am not offering this advice simply because I work in the field of marketing communications. There’s genuine research to back this tip up, and it’s hot off the e-press.
You can read all about in Real Time: How Marketing and PR at Speed Drives Measurable Success.
It’s the latest e-book by David Meerman Scott, A-list blogger, popular speaker and best selling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition.
In his new e-book, David recounts the results of research he conducted to measure the real-time marketing response of the top 100 U.S. corporations as ranked by Fortune magazine.
Ties that bind real-time response and stock market performance
David’s research method was simple: He sent an email to the media relations departments of each Fortune 100 company asking the following question:
“In the last year or two, has the structure of your corporate communications team and/or communications processes changed to embrace the real-time digital era? If so, how?”
David wanted to find out:
- How easy is it to contact each company’s media relations department?
- How long does it take each company to respond to his request?
- What is the quality of the response?
The e-book explains what happened next. It’s entertaining stuff. I’ll let you read it for yourself, however, the upshot is, David determined that in a comparison of 2010 stock prices, on average, the publicly traded Fortune 100 companies that were the most highly engaged in real-time communications beat the S&P 500 stock index, while those that were asleep at the real-time wheel, on average, underperformed the index.
Here’s a bar graph from the e-book showing details of the data:
Likewise, an analysis of 2010 stock prices shows, the majority of the publicly traded Fortune 100 companies that responded to David’s inquiry (again, those engaged in real-time communications) were up on the year stock-price-wise, while those who did not were down. Here’s how that stat divvied up:
The data clearly indicates there’s a measurable return on investment for companies that engage in real-time marketing and public relations. Those who are out of the real-time loop are, overall, losing ground in the marketplace.
Now granted, David has a vested interest in touting these results. He wants to spark interest in his brand new book, Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now. Still, David does not have the power to manipulate a stock price to suit his own needs. The data is what it is.
It’s also further reinforcement of the public’s increasing use of the web, in particular the rising prominence of social media, as well as smartphones, which encourage a rapid response mindset for messaging.
And while surely lots of factors affect a company’s stock market success, real-time engagement looks to be a new item to add to the list.
Stay tuned for more on real-time marketing and public relations
There are, of course, a plenitude of benefits to be reaped from engaging in real-time. A company’s ability to act and react in a fast and flexible manner can have positive consequences for product development, customer service, branding, crises communications, sales and more.
Heads up, I’m currently reading the book Real-Time Marketing & PR, and will soon have more to say on this timely topic. Stay tuned.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of the relationship between real-time marketing and PR and corporate stock market performance? Do you have stories of your own to tell on this topic? Comments welcome?
Related postsRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
Posted on February 16, 2010. Filed under: Books, Business Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: blogging, book review, Brian Halligan, communications, Dharmesh Shah, how-to, hubspot, Inbound Marketing, lead conversion, lead generation, marketing, marketing strategy, online marketing, sales funnel, search engine marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, SEO strategy, Social Media, tactics, web |
Start a company, write a bunch of blog posts and offer webinars — all based on the concept. Once the idea gets some traction, write a book about it.
Do this and you own the keywords for that concept.
That’s the deal with inbound marketing, a term popularized by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah — the founders of Hubspot, an internet marketing company, and co- authors of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media).
Present your message when people want to receive it
What is inbound marketing? Well, it’s the opposite of outbound marketing, a.k.a. traditional marketing, a.k.a. interruption marketing. Which is to say, the opposite of print, TV and radio ads, direct mail, telemarketing and any other way companies push a message in front of consumers.
All this is becoming less effective because we tune it out, either psychologically, or for real — via DVR, satellite radio, spam filters and do-not-call lists.
Meanwhile, we’re ever more inclined to shop, and do research on what we want to buy, through search engines, and by reading information and recommendations posted on social media sites.
Enter inbound marketing, where you create ways for people find your message when they’re amenable to receiving it.
How do I find thee? Let me count the ways.
It’s things like RSS feeds, opt-in email newsletters, blogs that are not simply about your product or service but are more broadly informative about the industry in which you operate, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising and having a presence on social media outlets.
All of which is addressed in Inbound Marketing, a guide for success with this 21st century marketing method.
Smart strategic advice
The book presents step-by-step plans plus strategies and tactics. It explains the fundamentals; RSS, blogs, SEO, Twitter, etc. — to include how to track your progress. Halligan and Shah are data guys — hey, they’re MIT grads — sticklers for measuring results.
Smart advice supplements copious how-to material. For instance, a “Getting Found on Google” chapter notes the importance keywords play in search engine optimization while cautioning that choosing only the most popular relevant terms is not necessarily the way to go — because the most popular keywords are also the most competitive, making it harder to achieve high rank.
For sites just starting out the authors advise choosing keywords with low competition: “Then, as you build authority for your web pages, and start ranking for these keywords, you can move up to higher volume keywords that have more competition.”
If you’re hedging between several keywords, the suggestion is to “consider launching a small PPC (pay-per-click) advertising campaign to determine what your best keywords might be.”
A practical primer
Advice on how to drive traffic to a website is all well and good, however, Halligan and Shah realize the ultimate goal of all that effort is to drum up business. Once you figure how to get found, Inbound Marketing provides tips for turning interest into sales, with landing pages and calls to action.
Each chapter concludes with a case study plus handy to-do list for implementing an action plan.
Concise and straightforward, there’s no fancy theories or eloquent prose. This is a practical primer. Read it and learn how to be found on the inbound.
- Deni Kasrel
What are your thoughts on Inbound Marketing? Do you think Halligan and Shah are onto something?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations, Trends, Web 2.0 | Tags: advertising, Beth Harte, building online community, communications, content filter, content strategy, from monologue to dialogue, Google, John Lichtenberger, knowledge curation, marketing, marketing trends, mobile strategy, online community, PR, public relations, Social Media, social search, Strategic Communications, tools, trend, Trends, Valeria Maltoni |
And what about those resolutions? Now comes the time to see if we really intend to keep them.
Per my recent post, Why You Should Make A New Year’s Social Media Resolution, one of my goals is to be more engaged with cyber pals, through real conversation, and perhaps meeting up in person.
Also, I plan to step up commenting on other blogs and share more space on my blog for people whose ideas and opinions I admire.
To get the latter resolution rolling, I asked several Twitter pals for thoughts on what they foresee as top communications trends for 2010. My friends could respond however they liked, and this included our speaking via Skype.
All brought up good points to ponder. Ideas offered cover various dimensions of the communication continuum. So much so, I’m breaking things up into two posts. Here’s Part 1:
One-way communication continues to fall by the wayside
The rise of social media continues to rock advertising, marketing, and public relations. Foundations that have stood for decades are quaking, as channels shift more decisively from monologue to dialogue. Here are forecasts from people in the thick of it.
Marketers must build trust and relationships
“One trend that I expect will accelerate in 2010 and beyond is the continuing paradigm shift away from delivering one-way advertising/marketing messages to using social media to promote a company and its products. Marketers will continue to find out that it is much more effective to establish dialogue and relationships than it is to attract attention in the old way – via traditional advertising. In fact, they will probably have no other choice but to embrace this new medium. Consumers are spending more and more of their time on social media – old-school advertising simply is going to miss out on reaching them.
As we enter this new decade, marketers will need to learn how to effectively use social media to communicate trust first – and worry about sales later. It is not a medium that is at all conducive to the “hard sell”. Some marketers will find this fact out the hard way. But many more will surely learn how to become more adept at using social media effectively. It will be interesting to see the evolution of how businesses will use social media to communicate their company message in the months and years ahead.”
Wider and deeper engagement is essential for marketing and PR
Direction for all communicators (marketers, PR people) in 2010.
“You will need to become actively involved in facilitating the active participation of the whole organization to the company’s branding efforts. If you’re not already, it’s time to become engaged with curating industry conversations and analysis to provide senior leadership with insights about market and customer demands.
From learning about what to listen for, to figuring out how the company needs to engage in the knowledge flows, you will need to have sharp focus to zero into what matters and soft eyes to see the big picture. Because customers, prospects, partners, and employees are spending more time online, you will need to become adept at observing and synthesizing trends, building community, and translating that information into action plans.
Communication is the exchange of information that connects to common goals. From multimedia content creation and story telling to value creation through context and calls to action, you will need to become the most adept at spotting opportunity, digging deeper, and bringing the right people to engage in the dialogue and deliver results – as outcomes and contribution to the bottom line.
Time to step off the comfortable side lines and get in the game. You will be accountable at every step of the way. That is good.”
Power to the people: PR goes back to its origins
“In 2010, public relations will revert back to its origins and there will be less focus on media relations (i.e. publicity). The origins of PR include building mutually beneficial relationships with the publics that can make or break an organization’s business and brands. With more publics using online tools as a mechanism for word of mouth (positive and negative), networking with like-minded people, and product/service/organization information it’s imperative for organizations to focus their attention to building those important relationships. Public relations will include things like: online community relations, proactive issues management, and less pitching and more strategic placement of content.”
Searching and sorting through content on the web
A growing number of tools enable us to publish content, to include blog posts, videos, photos and more. We have many ways to project our voices and engage in virtual conversation with any number of participants. Consequently, it’s getting mighty crowded out there on the web. Which brings us to these next few trends, which by the way, were conveyed in conversation over Skype:
New ways to manage and search content
“Mobile will be much more like a laptop and in the end it won’t be just a social web but a social mobile strategy. It will be a little bit different…. Geotagging is a step that we are beginning to see slowly entering… You will see much more news and social sharing by mobile.
We will see the boost of social network search. It will be less important to be on the first page of Google results, but it’s going to be more important to be on the first page among your community, your social circle.
You can see already that Google recognizes this. Google has the power to collect information for all social networks… I think what Google will do is when you open a Google profile account, and then every time you open an account on a social network you add it to your Goggle profile, Google will collect the information from there and will show it on your social results.”
Tamping down the fire hose: knowledge curation
“People are overburdened with information overload… It’s definitely a fire hose. The amount of content has grown exponentially and a lot of that content is just crap and you need to sift through to find the gems.
That’s where tools that enable us to filter, and human filters, like you and me for each other, can help. So I see knowledge curation as a trend, both the need and the tools for doing it. And if there is a tool that you can put in the hands of the average user… so that’s it’s as easy to use as Twitter or Facebook, I think it will be hugely successful. The need to make sense of an ever-increasing amount of content will continue for business and the individual consumer.”
Many thanks to John, Valeria, Beth, Avi and Bill for offering your insights. And readers, I recommend you follow these folks on Twitter. Each one is a great source of information and conversation.
- Deni Kasrel
Do you agree with these thoughts on communications trends for 2010? What other trends do you see for the coming year? Please share. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Posted on January 4, 2010. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: B2B, B2C, benchmarking, Business Strategy, communications, consumer use of social media, corporate culture, corporate use of social media, cost of social media, human side of social media, marketing, marketing report, MarketingProfs, metrics, PR, real cost, research, social influence, Social Media, social media budget, social media marketing survey, Social Networks, social technology, Strategic Communications, strategy, tactics, The State of Social Media Marketing |
You’re not looking to simply follow the hype, right?
Better to go with well-researched data regarding the reality of the many social media options. Learn about true-life success stories (and failures, to avoid making those same mistakes). Figure out what fits your situation and use that information as a guide.
Ah, but where to begin?
Well, for starters, there’s a new report by MarketingProfs called The State of Social Media Marketing. Based on survey results from 5,000+ professionals, it covers a lot of ground, to include budgets, benchmarks, metrics, trends and most/least effective strategies. The 242-page report comes chock full of graphs and charts. It’ll keep you busy for a nice while.
Meantime, I asked Tim McAtee, MarketingProf’s director of research, to provide a little peek under the covers. He most graciously obliged with this illuminating Q&A interview, which hits on a number of key areas addressed in the report.
There are plenty of marketing surveys out there, yet you claim yours is different and is more nuanced. Can you elaborate?
Tim: There are three big differences:
- We have a much bigger sample than other studies, which means aggregate trends are more likely to be accurate, and there are enough respondents to look at really specific smaller cuts of the data and still have projectable findings.
- We acknowledge that there is a difference in voice when it comes to social media—the voice of “the corporation”, “the worker”, and “the person”. We all put on different hats at different times and use social technology very differently depending on which of these voices we’re using at the time. It’s really important to acknowledge that and to structure survey questions to allow for that difference to be shown in the data.
- Because social media is a very human endeavor, we tried to think about it in very human terms. For example, we looked at personality types and corporate culture to see if there was correlation between these and social media usage and success (there was). Also, instead of just asking about social media budgets, we asked about time-spent with social media.
Can you explain the methodology – how was the survey conducted?
Tim: The core of the study is a survey sampling our base of 300,000+ MarketingProfs members. Most studies go out trying to find social media users, then ask them about usage. This creates an imbalance in the data from the start. It’s all numerator, no denominator. We survey as many marketers as possible regardless of social media use to get a better sense of who is not using social media, and why, in addition to who is. Out of the 5,140 marketers we asked, about 70% are using social media for work purposes. In addition to this survey data, we pull in outside panel data to look at consumer usage of media and technology. For this study, we turned to ComScore for up-to-date numbers on usage of a variety of social websites and tools both in the US and globally.
You surveyed the relationship between corporate culture and social media success — what did you find to be the most and least ideal type of culture for social media support and success?
Tim: The one consistently negatively correlating corporate culture across all types of success metrics was “prefers to maintain the status quo”. On the positive side, a willingness to have “honest internal dialogue about marketing successes and failures” was often key. However, it’s not quite that simple. Companies with nothing to hide did well with more open marketing tactics like unrestricted employee blogging, while highly secretive companies did well with more controlled tactics like PR and managed communities. In other words, companies should be fitting the right tactics to their culture, not revamping their culture to keep up with irrelevant tactics.
What about B2B vs. B2C – what are the major differences as to how these two market sectors are approaching social media? Why do you think this is so?
Tim: I think the difference is really just one of reach and target audience size. Consumer-facing companies tend to favor direct communication with large numbers of people, while business-facing companies focus more on the quality of a short list of contacts. The tactics you use to promote building the size of your lists vs. nurturing a small list are very different. The one thing both do well is to use social media to listen.
Spending for social media is growing. Where do you see the biggest increase – what aspect is getting the most attention expense-wise?
Tim: Expense-wise, the biggest cost has to be employee time. After that, probably analytics. Automating the listening and customer-service aspects of social media is key to scaling up corporate usage of these platforms.
What did you find out about the true cost of social media?
Tim: There’s kind of a gray-market of social media work going on. 60% of marketers using social media at work for work purposes aren’t actually paid to do so—it’s not “technically” part of their job. I think the true cost of social media is hidden.
Are companies now creating new roles specific to social media, or is it still more an add-on to other responsibilities?
Tim: It’s more of an add-on responsibility at present. Who does what depends largely on role. CEOs are often staying late to blog and tweet and generally maintain the thought-leadership aspects of social media, while PR people and customer service people are suddenly trying to handle complaints on Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc. Ideally, companies should be creating roles and guidelines regarding who does what when it comes to social media to ensure that strategic goals are being met and employee time is spent wisely. In other words, the CEO shouldn’t be handling complaints on Twitter, and some junior PR person probably shouldn’t be blogging on behalf of the corporation.
If it’s more an add-on, does that short-change social media efforts? Or is this indicative of how social media needs to be integrated into marketing, as opposed to being seen as something separate?
Tim: All media is becoming social. It’s inextricable. Smart people need to figure out how to make the best of it. The hard part will be sorting the signal from the noise. That’s why it’s so important to have analytical systems in place. Are three crazy people complaining about your product on Twitter or is this a groundswell you need to pay attention to before it develops into a mass-media news story that does lasting damage? Should you route information coming from consumers to your R&D department, your customer service department, or your PR department? As these new channels open up, companies need to adapt their existing internal communication systems to handle input from unexpected sources.
You have a section devoted to “Most and Least Effective Social Media Tactics and Strategies” – can you give a top level overview of these findings?
Tim: Listening works very well, broadcasting often doesn’t. Targeting niche groups with highly relevant information is much easier and effective when you know who you’re talking to.
I loved the question: “What are some commonly used but counterproductive social media tactics.” Can you offer some insight about the most telling responses?
Tim: Counter-productive tactics mostly have to do with using social media platforms like broadcast platforms. Dialogue is a lot more work than monologue and most marketers aren’t prepared for that. They present their broadcast message which either falls on deaf ears because no one cares, or people do care, respond, and the marketer is suddenly swamped with thousands of responses they can’t handle.
A section of the report covers the topic: “Do Social Media Workers Think Differently? Differences found in the values and personalities of social media workers.” That one sounds fascinating. When you say differently, how do you mean– different from what? And then, what did you find out about how social media workers’ personalities and other characteristics may differ from other marketers (or maybe they’re the same, after all).
Tim: We looked at Meyers-Briggs types and values statements, then compared them to social media usage to see where differences arise. We found that there were more similarities than differences, but that those most involved in social media professionally do indeed over-index on very specific personality traits, such as the desire to mix their work and personal lives. Based on some spikes in the data, Intuitive Extroverts that are not perfectionists, but will “roll with the punches” seem to be the best fit for social media marketing, especially when they are already doing a job that involves a lot of writing.
Did any of the results surprise you? Anything that stood out and made you think “wow” now that’s really something?
Tim: What surprised me the most was how complicated the results were. There are really few trends that apply to all types of people or all types of companies. The learning curve for figuring out how to incorporate and take advantage of social media at the corporate level is much steeper than I expected.
If you had to narrow it down to two big takeaways from this report, what would they be?
- Social media seems inevitable, so every company needs to be adapting their current business operations to factor in these channels of communication, including paying people to work them.
- Figuring out your social media strategy is far more important than immediately enacting a bunch of social media marketing tactics. Don’t listen to anyone advocating one-size-fits-all social media tactics, with the exception of using social channels to listen—everyone can benefit from that. Instead, map tactics back to an over-arching strategy that makes sense for your company and your customers.
How do YOU see the state of social media marketing? Does it fit what you read about here, or is it different? Please share your thoughts and experience.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None 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 11, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Social Media | Tags: antisocial behavior, behavior, communication, communications, disconnection, diversity, Facebook, human interaction, Internet, isolation, MySpace, networks, online communication, online communications, Pew Internet and American Life Project, relationships, social influence, Social isolation and New Technology, Social Media, social media issues, social networking, Social Networks, social statistics, social trends, technology and social interaction, Twittter |
Recently, while at a networking event, talk turned to whether social media and other means of online messaging actually makes us antisocial. That is, if we are so busy Tweeting, Facebooking, text messaging, and otherwise communicating through technology, are we then less eager to converse in person?
Does our ability to instantly send photos and videos to friends mean we are less likely to visit them in real life? Are Facebook family reunions in our future?
New technology, same old debate
The notion that technology leads to antisocial behavior is hardly new. It heated up when the internet and email caught fire. The same speculation happened when the telephone picked up in popularity — we didn’t have to visit our neighbors, or anyone else for that matter, to talk to them anymore; we could just give ‘em a ring.
The rise of social media — where a network aspect encourages a sense of community– intensifies the debate. We can feel as though we are all together even though we are all apart. We enjoy exchanges with friends and followers whom we never meet in person. Ever.
Does technology lead to social isolation?
Does our propensity to connect through technology imply we are more isolated as individuals?
“Today, the number of Americans who are truly isolated is no different, or at most is only slightly higher than what it was 30 years ago. Few people have no one with whom they can discuss important matters, and even fewer have no one who is especially significant in their lives. The more pronounced social change, since 1985, has occurred in the size and diversity of Americans’ core networks.”
Social media and diversity
Following up on that last sentence is where it really gets interesting. The study concludes that overall, the number and diversity of people with whom we discuss and confide important matters is declining. However, the opposite is true of those who socialize through technology. The study found:
- People who upload and share photos online are 61% more likely to have discussion partners that cross political lines.
- Frequent at-home internet users are 53% more likely to have a confidant of a different race.
- The diversity of core networks tends to be 25% larger for mobile phone users and 15% larger for internet users.
Online we are more color-blind than in real-life. Perhaps having distance between one another makes us more tolerant of our differences.
Correlation between online communication and in-person interaction
As for the notion that communicating through technology leads to lower face-to-face social contact, the study indicates it ain’t necessarily so. Findings include:
- Internet and mobile phone users are as likely as non-users to talk to their neighbors in-person at least once per month.
- Internet users are 26% less likely to rely on their neighbors for help with small services, such as household chores, repairs, and lending tools, but they remain as likely to help their neighbors with the same activities.
- Owners of a mobile phone, frequent internet users at work, and bloggers are more likely to belong to a local voluntary group, such as a neighborhood association, sports league, youth group, church, or social club.
Online community forums make us even more neighborly:
- 60% of those who use an online neighborhood discussion forum know “all or most” of their neighbors, compared to 40% of Americans.
- 79% who use an online neighborhood discussion forum talk with neighbors in person at least once a month, compared to 61% of the general population.
- 43% of those on a neighborhood discussion forum talk to neighbors on the telephone at least once a month, compared to the average of 25%.
It really is social media
Technology is not a bogeyman turning us into isolated shut-ins. On the contrary, communication via the internet, cell phones and social media encourages in-person interaction. And it may make us more tolerant of our individual differences.
In other words, it really does make us more social.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of the Pew report on Social Isolation and New Technology? Do the findings surprise or confirm your own opinion on the topic? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 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 )
Posted on October 26, 2009. Filed under: Business Strategy, Social Media | Tags: Business Strategy, communications, Communications Strategy, email, Google, Google Wave, innovation, innovations, launch new product with a bang, limited preview, marketing, new product launch, new product rollout, online collaboration, photo sharing, PR stunt, product launch, product roll-out, promotion, public relations, public relations strategy, Social Media, social network, social networking |
How do you ensure a product still in development catches fire come launch-time?
Keep things largely under wraps, while simultaneously spilling a bunch of the beans.
A neat trick that takes finesse to pull off; one recent example is the rollout of Google Wave.
Limiting who gets to test drive
Not quite ready for prime time, there’s already gobs of chatter about the Wave, which is in limited preview. You must be asked to give it a test drive.
Invitees include developers and influentials — tech writers and bloggers being a big block here — who are in turn allowed to ask 20 additional individuals to join the fold.
Google’s tactic of limiting who gets a preliminary trial ensures invitees are quick to spread the word. To clue people in on the Wave, of course, but also, it’s an opportunity to infer, without really saying so, “I’m one of the chosen people.” It’s a status symbol.
Anyone can peek under the hood
You can get a gander of the product by visiting the About Google Wave web site.
The site includes a long (80 minute) video presentation, originally given to developers, about this new collaborative communications platform that appears to be a souped-up combination of email, chat, photo sharing and other social media tools, with considerable real-time capability.
FYI, you don’t need to watch the video all the way through. The first part has demos and explanations in plain English. The rest is for developers who may want to build apps and other tools to work with the Wave.
If you’re not into tech talk stop after the first segment: You’ll still see what the ruckus is about.
Meanwhile, buzz about Google Wave continues to build.
Computerworld claims the Wave is indeed innovative, but wonders if it’s truly useful in the real world.
As yet another tantalizer, you can request an invitation to Google Wave.
Follow the leader
Few businesses have a footprint as big a Google, where this kind of rollout has such immense impact.
No matter, you can still follow the leader. Here are the basic steps.
- Unveil your upcoming product to select influentials. This group includes members of the media (both traditional and social media), prominent existing and/or potential customers, people who will eventually market your product, and others who communicate to audiences that can derive benefit from your product.
- Inform invitees of their exclusive status.
- Tell the general public you are giving pre-launch test drives to invited individuals (to elevate the status factor even more).
- Post limited information about your new product, that anyone can view, showing how it works. The “you can look but not touch” approach creates anticipation and desire.
- Tell invited influentials you are not simply looking for free PR, but want authentic feedback on how they perceive the product.
- Listen to and absorb the feedback, both positive and negative.
- Dangle a carrot to the uninvited indicating that you might let them take the product for a spin.
- Gradually increase the number of invitees.
- Launch product and watch the sparks fly.
Time will tell if Google Wave is a tsunami (or not).
Until then, the fire lighting up public interest continues to burn.
- Deni Kasrel
Have you heard about Google Wave? Are you one of the chosen few who gets to test the Wave? What do you think about Goggle’s limited preview? Can you see it working for other products? Please offer your thoughts. Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Posted on August 30, 2009. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: branding, communications, Communications Strategy, corporate support, covert sponsorship, Gail Bower, hidden sponsorship, marketing, marketing strategy, Northern Trust Bank, sponsorship, sponsorship strategy, stealth spending, TARP, Terry's El Mariachi Supermarkets |
Guest post by: Gail S. Bower | Read her blog
Earlier this year Northern Trust Bank took a public drubbing for proceeding with the second year of its five-year commitment to PGA Golf because it received TARP funds. According to a statement by the bank’s CEO, no public dollars funded the sponsorship, and the fiscally sound bank went forth with a program its leadership clearly values. Northern Trust participated in TARP at the government’s request, the statement noted, not because it needed the money. (You can read more about the effect this event had on sponsorship in my new guidebook How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times.)
I respect Northern Trust for honoring its commitment and for stating clearly its position in doing so. Corporate sponsorship is a marketing vehicle that gets results. When properly executed companies of all sizes benefit from incorporating sponsorship and event marketing into their business and marketing strategies.
After that incident other banks actually refused TARP dollars to avoid government and public scrutiny of their business decisions.
But some banks and financial firms were not so forthright. The New York Times reported on various corporations’ “‘stealth spending’” for event marketing. These companies are paying five- and six-figures to entertain clients, sans branding and identification of any kind.
I have a problem with the lack of transparency—with the sneakiness of the whole thing. But I endorse entertaining as a legitimate way to build relationships with clients, employees and vendors.
Take for example, Terry’s El Mariachi Supermarkets a Dallas-based chain of 13 stores that embraces the multi-cultural city it calls home. Terry Yu, the owner, invested $175,000 in a suite at the Dallas Cowboys’ fancy new stadium to reward workers and vendors whose support and loyalty have helped grow his business. He told the Dallas Morning News about what a “great investment” the luxury suite has been for him to provide a perk to staff and suppliers. (One of the first NFL franchises to broadcast in Spanish, the Cowboys have a large fan base among Texas and the Southwest’s Latino population, primarily from Mexico. So, imagine what a great perk this is.)
If entertaining employees and vendors works for Terry Yu, imagine how well it works for larger companies.
As a corporate sponsor, there are only three ways to go in these times:
- Discontinue sponsorship and be clear with stakeholders about that decision.
- Acknowledge that particular sponsorship investments meet your goals and provide value towards achieving business objectives. Be clear with the public, the media, and politicians about that decision and about why you are involved with sponsorships. Don’t engage in “stealth spending.”
- Be bold. Acknowledge that sponsorship works and determine new ways to do it that are not only acceptable for the times but that raise the bar. Champion a cause with strong brand alignment and enlist your clients in a day of service or in a cause marketing campaign to support your charity. (A February study on consumer perceptions on American corporations revealed that corporations that invest in a nonprofit organization or cause will win the favor of those consumers by 41 percent.)
Then shout it from the roof-tops. And build your business at the same time.
For those working with corporate sponsors, be sure your communications, both internally and externally, are supportive of corporate partners. If you uncover anti-corporate sentimentality, bring it to the surface and allow people to discuss it. Educate without being dismissive. Create parameters and policies that the staff, board, and other stakeholders will feel comfortable upholding.
Gail Bower is President of Bower & Co. Consulting LLC, a firm that assists nonprofit organizations and event/festival producers with dramatically raising their visibility, revenue, and impact. To learn more about her new guidebook, which provides a whole chapter on ways to enhance internal and external communications around sponsorship, visit http://www.GailBower.com/jumpstart. Her blog is http://www.SponsorshipStrategist.com.
What do YOU think about this post? Comments welcome.
« Previous Entries