Social Media

Cull the Follow Herd.

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I’m a big Lindsey Vonn fan.  It borders on creepy but not creepy enough to visit her Facebook page. Yesterday, Lindsey announced she pulled out of the Sochi games.  I learned about it on Twitter. She in in my Facebook feed, I think, but doesn’t show up so much as she’s kind of busy.

As an adult and marketer, I have started to coalesce my thoughts on social networks. Readers know I’ve long said Facebook is for friends and school peepsLinkedIn is for people with whom I have done business (ish)Twitter is for all of the above plus likeminds and admirees.  Twitter is where I share my total persona. Some politics. Some personal philosophy.  Some troll-able business scat (not the dung).  It is where I hope to learn from others, often those unknown. Twitter is my most expansive social network.  

Facebook is only as good as the shares — and sharing is magnified based on how close you are to the person. I’m not going Gaga over a 7th grade crush showing pictures of her kids in Clearwater (Facebook). Your feed is watered down if it has too many uninteresting posts. Burger King is offering $4.00 duck burgers. That said, I really don’t cull the “follow herd” and that’s an issue for Facebook.  Too much noise in the feed.

What to do about it.

Remove unwanted friends, peripheral people and brands from your Facebook community.  You can always add them back.  You can always find the brand if you need it. Play LinkedIn by the book and only connect with those you have done business with. The rest is spam.  And fly like a birdie on Twitter. Note to Twitter: don’t extend beyond 140 characters.  Where does this leave marketers? Better off. With more traffic to their own sites and ads that are more powerful because they are ads – not friends. Peace.

 

Twisted Juice.

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Mitch Joel and Jaffe Juice’s Joseph Jaffe squared off yesterday in a podcast that was a good deal of fun.  Each agreed they were good friends but that was about all they agreed upon — save for the obligatory strokefest at the end.  Mr. Jaffe is a principal at Crayon now owned by Powered and Mr. Joel is president of Twist Image a leading digital shop based in Toronto.  Both are published (books, blogs and pods) and practiced “duelists.”

The discussion with which they played pong was “Is social media a discrete marketing practice?” Mr Jaffe says “yes,” Mr. Joel “no.” 

The crux of the debate is this:  Social media needs to be well integrated into the marketing and digital practices of corporations. Today, it’s not.  Mr. Joel says there are smart companies doing so and he’s right.  Mr. Jaffe says those companies are the “exception not the rule” and he’s right. Powered is betting that specialized shops – best of breed social shops – will be better positioned to make waves and earn low hanging engagements.  Mr. Joel believes that cleanest most likely social successes will come from integrated digital shops, and in the long run that is probably more correct.  But his approach is less promotable and less newsworthy.   Social media is the haps today.  There is demand for it and a social marketing swell surrounding it. 

Da Monies.

So where is the money in social media?  Tweeting buy the pound? Friending by the hundred? In strategy?  Yep.  Where is the money in the integrated approach? The answer is tweeting by the pound and building websites – a more lucrative approach.  

Win by Knockout?

No. Both arguments are very compelling. Mr. Jaffe and Powered CMO Aaron Strout are loudly breaking new ground. (There are supposedly scores of quiet social media agencies in NYC alone.) Mr. Joel gets it for sure, and though his sound bite is not as powerful he will probably have higher margins this year. Were I a marketing director and these two pitching my business, I’m sure the last one to present would win the business.

The Diffusion of Advertising

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Advertising ain’t what is used to was (a little Southernism I made up). Creation of big selling ideas by highly paid creatives and marketing people, broadcast to millions via TV, radio and print was the ad business.  Today, thanks to technology, the ad business is undergoing a diffusion like never before. Digital agencies, though not yet offered a seat at the big table, are new and important players.  Google is the most profitable advertising agency in the world and Facebook is hot on their trail.  And when I say “mobile advertising” does any one company come to mind?  That one is going to be huge…but it’s still to play out.

Buy or Build?

Big traditional ad agencies clearly see the need to offer digital, social and mobile but are asking themselves “Do we buy or build?” Right now they’re doing both: hiring someone smart in each discipline and using them to select cottage industry players who are truly immersed.  Better than last year, which was all “Go out and get me a subservient chicken.”  Or “Find me those nerds who built the US Weekly Facebook poll.”

I’ve long thought that mid-size agencies were poised to win in this diffuse advertising world, but now I’m not so sure. True, they can more quickly parlay a powerful branding idea into a market-moving integrated campaign but the model may not be extensible.

Bud Cadell is right when he says the old ad agency model is broken. It will take open minds, forward thinking, experience, software, an understanding of brand building, and lots of money to fix the process. I’m of the mind that the successful model is more likely to come out of MDC Partners than WPP.  It will be fun to watch though. Peace!

An Unexpected Show of Caring.

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My wife does Yoga at Fitness Incentive in Babylon a couple of mornings a week and she just retuned asking if I would smell her.  The instructor, you see, had sprayed some lavender on her at the end of today’s session, saying something about its soothing properties.  This was an unexpected show of caring on the part of the instructor. 

Marketers would do well to learn from the instructor and offer unexpected demonstrations of caring to customers.  Bob Gilbreath, chief marketing strategist at Bridge Worldwide, is building a brand and a movement around Marketing with Meaning.  Is an unexpected show of caring marketing with meaning?  Most certainly.  

Expected

When leaving a store and someone says “thank you for shopping at ____” it’s nice, but not unexpected.  While at a restaurant with spoon to mouth and the proprietor sticks his smiling face in asking “Everything alright?” — this may be unexpected but it is not a real show of caring. While at Mary Carrol’s Pub and the bartender buys back after your third quaff, unexpected?  Not really. Good business, yes, but not necessarily a show of unexpected or caring. 

Caring and thank you are two different things.  The latter requires thought; it’s a skill actually. Twitter can be used as an example of unexpected caring, used correctly.  A coupon dispenser is not caring.  Customer service is not caring, it’s the price of doing business. When Steve Jobs, as was reported in the news yesterday, answers an email to a customer it is unexpected. And it’s caring.   

Let’s get on with it marketers!  When you leave the building each day ask yourself “What did I do to show a customer – not every customer – I care about them in a surprising way. Lavender anyone?

One Voice for Social Media

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Social media is still primarily a tactical rather than strategic effort within companies. Years ago while at a meeting and doing introductions a young social media maven offered, “Hi I’m Rebecca, I work at Tribal DDB and I teach clients how to use Facebook.”  You just remember this stuff.

This Technorati link shares some interesting data points on social media and confirms my strategy vs. tactical point.  Only 51% of company social media programs are managed out of the marketing department. And let’s face it, many marketing departments are tactically rather than strategically focused themselves.  Sure they keep an eye on sales, but mostly they measure acquisition tools, traffic, engagement and, lately, activation.  The strategies driving these things, the value-based claims, are not measured. There is also some data on top three social media careabouts for the coming year, none of which are strategic – even though they are ironically identified as “strategic objectives.” 

Measuring awareness of the advertising line “Hope Lives Here” is not nearly as important as measuring attitudes towards “physician who know the latest protocol.”

With a plan, social media can soar. With a plan social media can prime the attitude pump. With a plan, not only the 51%, but all others, can be a chorus of harmonious business-building voices. Peace.

Trust. Search. And Ashton Kutcher.

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Ashton Kutcher is quoted in the paper today about one of his venture capital investments. “Turning social trust into commerce” was the word string that caught my eye.  To me this is the essence of social computing for marketers. And, so you know,  the social web is not just about commerce and marketing.  Sometimes social is just social.  But we all have to eat and we all have to buy, so finding trusted sources of influence is a key.

I met with an SEO marketing person yesterday about my blog.  It’s not really high on any organic search list.  Before the meeting I Googled “brand planning” and was at the top of page 5.  He wanted me to pay him a thousand a month but could do something for $500.  I needed to have more calls to action, more free offer boxes, more this, more that, meta flah flah flah.  He was right, but also wrong. Too much flah, flah, flah and I begin got lose that trust mantle Ashton talks about.  “But how many inquiries are you getting a day?” said he.  Not many. But that’s okay for now.  My approach trust building is not through the algorithm.  Not though black hat search or white hat search (Call too action: If you want to know what white hat search is, leave a comment or email me). I tend the garden every day.

For me — and I’m in a funny business — I sell by not over-selling and then making it easy to contact me.  I think this is good advice for everyone on the web…with or without a commercial enterprise.  That’s why Ashton has over 6M followers. He’s easy to contact. Ish. Peace!

Twitter’s New Ad Plan.

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It sounds as if Twitter’s new advertising program has been well thought out.  Sponsored 140 character Tweets, called Promoted Posts, will appear atop the results of key word searches.  If you search for Tacos, you might see a Chipotle tweet above all others.  Small type will let you know it’s a sponsored ad. And should you cursor over it the ad turns yellow. Twitter is stealing a page from Google by keeping only ads deemed relevant, i.e., that are clicked on, retweeted or direct messaged in reasonable numbers.  

Twitter will charge advertisers on a CPM (cost per thousand basis), the way TV and print media are priced. (Read more about social media monetization here.) I suspect that in a while CPMs will be one price and clicks another, but we’ll see.  

 Next Phase of Twitter Ad Plan.

Down the road ads are expected to appear in the midst of tweet streams surrounding conversations. The ads won’t result from searches but from the content within posts.  So if there are discussions about tacos Chipotle might buy its way into the conversation.  Whether these purchased posts appear in the stream or along side a la Google is still to be determined.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many other ways to monetize Twitter which we’ll all be reading about in the coming months and years.  I’m happy with the current approach – it is America after all – and I am happy that Twitter has tabled the in-stream advertising effort for a while. One bite at the apple at a time.  Peace!   

Rubel, Facebook and Fruit Cocktail.

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There’s a pretty interesting debate going on over at Steve Rubel’s Posterous stream.  It revolves around his moving his stream (sorry, guys of a certain age) to Facebook.  He’ll continue at Posterous but feels Facebook gives him more visibility, a bigger audience and a richer discussion. 

Mr. Rubel initially moved to Posterous because it was a place for him to aggregate his musings. Plus it was an easy and elegant interface.  (The aesthete in me likes the Posterous look better than the templatized Facebook frame.)  Sequestering most of his business and digital observations on Posterous and moving everything  else — business, personal, real time — to Facebook seems like a good strategy. But is it? Time will tell.

Specificity

In America and countries that look to America for tech and taste, specificity rules the day.  No one ever became president (of anything) being a generalist.  Let’s leave Mr. Rubel for a moment and use Ms. X as an example.  Say you’ve never met Ms. X but you think she’s a brilliant marketing mind. She may be a lousy partner, driver, dancer and cook but she can really mesmerize a room filled with marketers. You may be marginally interested in her meatball recipe but it is certainly not the driver of her attention.  The more meatball recipes in her stream, the less likely she is to be unique. By mixing all of her postings into one stream, Ms. X is not managing her brand very well. Her fame is diluted.

Moving Toward the Middle.

This is another example – common a couple of years ago when social computing companies were all trying to match each other’s feature sets – where everyone is moving toward the middle. It should not be. LinkedIn is about business relationships. Twitter is about real time info and immediacy.  Facebook is about friends and self and entertainment.  As Facebook moves to the middle, attempting to be all things to all people (brand fan pages included), it becomes like fruit cocktail — that can of fruit in the back of the cabinet where everything tastes like peaches. As quickly as Facebook is growing, I’m afraid it will mirror Google and turn into nothing more than an amazing advertising platform. (And then divest.) Peace!

Coke Journey and Facebook Envy.

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The Coca-Cola Corporation marketing story is simple but has many layers. The latest layer is the Coca-Cola Journey — a website built to engage, entertain and build loyalty among the family of Coca-Cola brand drinkers and enthusiasts. It’s a corporate website so you can find Minute Maid orange juice, Sprite and other family members represented. Coke learned through its Facebook experience that if it could dally with drinkers and they dallied back – the result would be nice lifts in traffic and presumably consumption. So Coke now fancies itself in the content business. Ding dong, Bud TV anyone?  A business goal, one might surmise, would be to draw users back from Facebook to the new Coke Journey site. Normally, I would applaud this activity, but not if it is going to change the business. Not if it promotes non-endemic brand experiences and cross-product ones at that.

You might say Coke is using only 5 or 6 full-time employees as content creators/curators – so how does that change the business?  I say these 5 or 6 may have large reach. And a few altered cells in the DNA can be a problem.

Were I running this show, I’d continue to host sites for each unique brand. I’d add the full-time content creators to each site, but make the content specific to each brand promise. Have them support the “motivation” behind each promise. If AOL and Yahoo! can’t get content creation to run on all cylinders, why would Coke be able to? This is another story of Facebook envy. Mr. Tripodi, I think you went a little bit off-piste with this journey. Peace.   

The Ascent of Marketing.

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Back in the 1700-1800s (in the U.S.) if you needed stuff you either made it or went to the general store.  The Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogue was the next marketing innovation (1888), showing pictures of products and published prices, allowing customers to purchase by mail. Among the 322 pages in the catalogue published in 1894 must have been products didn’t sell and had to be replaced. The birth of ROI? 

Television

The next massive marketing innovation was television. Television commercials which began in earnest in the 1940s became the most popular, effective form of advertising. But can you imaging trying to track sales to media and production back then in the very beginning? “Where’s the ROI? How do you measure this stuff?” Mad men. 

The Web

Fast forward to the Inter-nech. Banner ads and ad serving allowed us to count clicks. 2% click thru rates. Whoo hoo. Click to buy. Whoo hoo. But not everything could be bought over the web. (Discussion of that for another day.) CTRs diminished and web display ads became, so said the salespeople, a branding mechanism.

Social Media

Enter social media.  And consultants. When consultants out-number practitioners you know the market is in flux. The Altimeter Group, some very smart people let me just say, created a social media presenttion ‘splaining how to measure social media via a marketing analytics framework. Here are some of the measurables: share of voice, audience engagement, conversation reach, active advocates, active influence, advocacy impact, customer problem resolution rate, resolution time, satisfaction score, plus a couple of metrics tied to gathering input for product innovation. What’s not mentioned here, something Messrs. Sear and Roebuck might have added, is sales.  I love consultants ( am one) and the Altimeter Group is growing like a dookie, but until they and all of us tie these type of metrics back to da monies, we’re just making paper.

A smart client at AT&T once said to me, “we collect all this data now we have to do something smart with it.”  That’s business. That’s return on strategy. Peace!