Friday, September 26, 2008

Use of Web 2.0 Technologies

How do companies deploy technology?

McKinsey reports that the use of Web 2.0 technologies clusters in to two types of organizations - those who do so for communication reasons and those that are knowledge-centric. The former groups centers on Blogs, Podcasts and RSS. The second group leverages mash-ups, peer-to-peer networking and social networking. Both are underpinned by web services; now a basic ingredient.

When improving things it seems that not only are functional requirements needed; but so are communication and sharing strategies.

Answer the following three questions then pick your tools.
1. What do we need to do?
2. To whom do we need to communicate how we're doing?
3. How is the work going to get done?

Also, with the wide support for the collection known as Web 2.0 it is clear that this stuff applies to our day jobs.

NB: Free registration required to read article and a tip to Michael Gass for the link.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Social Media and Marketing

What did Decartes say about thinking?

Cogito Ergo Sum suggesting that the mere act of thinking proves existence.

The difference, and hence difficulty, between conversations and advertising is similar where the outcome is directly related to the action.

I participate, therefore I compromise.
I pay, therefore I control.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Social Networks as a Data Overlay

What's the value in a social network footprint?

Understanding where your customers participate among the myriad of social networks influences a number of marketing activities. Some examples include:
  1. Social Media Strategy: Should we have a MySpace page or Facebook app or LinkedIn group? How do our current segments differ in their use of social networks?
  2. Customer Relationship: Improve the understanding of the lives of customers
  3. Direct marketing: Overlay house list with social networks and profiles/interests for segmentation

Companies that maintain active email lists of customers are already one step ahead of others in terms of understanding how and where their customers participate on line.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Advertisers Thoughts on Social Media

How do agencies respond to the 'social media question'?

For a series of thoughts see the post in iMedia most of which are about the relationship between advertising and the medium. In short, the old rules don't apply.

One of the first steps is to listen; but another good place to start is to understand the footprint your customers have in social media. Social Networks provide a good place to start understanding how people use social media. For example the following chart illustrates which networks a particular audience uses compared to a benchmark. While the top two networks are similar (MySpace and Facebook) there is a gap between the two groups for LinkedIn, Plaxo and Classmates. Exploring why people do /do not chose a given network provides insights for marketing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Talking about Conferences

Need a place to be for Halloween?

How about Austin, TX for the Society for Word of-Mouth conference. Hope to meet and learn.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Birds of a feather...

Birds of a feather...
Originally uploaded by Light_Rider

Why do networks work?

One of the original roles of advertising was simply to convey information - availability, features, pricing, etc. In an iMedia article Cindy Gallop makes the case that marketers no longer are the fine purveyors of information. They have been replaced by a variety of nearly instantaneous sources.

People in the search or consideration stage turn to numerous resources for information, clarity, and reinforcement of their own opinions. If the resources are highly interconnected they are likely to a) share the same information often reinforcing the message and b) spread the information quite rapidly. These cliques (yep, that's the technical term) can either support a point of view or provide contrarian views.

For this reason understanding the flow of information and the architecture of influence is a new discipline for marketers.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Age Differences Among Social Networks

Should we consider different social networks when targeting based on age?

We know that social networks attract different audiences for different reasons - music, connections, and association. But can we see differences that help drive marketing strategies for specific age groups? The answer is 'yes.'

Rapleaf published an overall view of the gender and age of members of a variety of social networks and MiningLabs published some highlights of the differences in audience composition.

Consider an education marketer: If the objective is to attract high-school students then a social network dominated by the 15-18 year old crowd would be a logical choice. Similarly, if the objective is to increase enrollments among adults then a network with twenty-somethings (or older) might be a better choice.

Using the the information provided by Rapleaf - here is the age profile of two 'class reunion' social networks; Classmates and MyYearbook. One skews decidedly to the younger crowd while the other spans a wider, and older, audience.

This simple example illustrates that understanding your Social Network Footprint might help with developing a variety of acquisition and retention strategies.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Cowpaths Lead to Lemmings

What do bovine trails have to with marketing?

Chris Brogan has posted some videos on his current thinking - it opens with a story about why the roads in Boston are the way they are. Seems they were built on the wanderings of cows. I think the point is that we build on what we know - adjacent possibilities are easier to see (and implement) than starting afresh.

Social media is new(ish). The issue is that we often frame it in terms from the old world and have trouble adapting because the previous rules of the game don't necessarily apply. We blindly follow what has worked for us before.

As a result, people find fault with every new technology. For example, the Greek sages thought writing was going to make people to 'cease to exercise their memories and become forgetful' and that the printing press would 'weaken people's minds' and undermine authority. These predictions were in fact correct, but the unseen (and unimaginable) benefits of both writing and printing clearly out weighed the problems and democratized information. These points have been said before: the quotes above are from Nick Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"; Cathy Taylor's the problems with online video (social media) is another examples.

Applying metrics and rules from a previous generation of technology (brain to scribe, scribe to press, analog to digital, corporate to community) is risky business.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Value of Influence

What price should we pay for influence?

In Cathy Taylor's post yesterday on the the IPG and SocialVibe hook up one of the reasons mentioned was that marketers could measure the influence of endorsements. Presumably the points earned in the SocialVibe model stand in as the metric of interest. Definitely an interesting way to learn how social networks work.

Influence seems to be just as thorny a problem as 'engagement.' How can we assign a value to it until we understand what it is. We might want to start by wrestling with some basic research questions: What is it precisely? How is it transmitted? How long does it last? These suggest a strategy of taking small steps first before deciding on a CPM-like metric. Who knows what the levers are that make it all tick and work together.

And a word to all who worry about the measurement question first: Any new media has similar growing pains - can you imagine the Bulova accountants trying to determine the ROI on the first TV spot in 1941; a $9 - 20 second ad during a baseball game. I doubt the marketing team used TRPs to make their case.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

SPARKing Conversations

What actions can marketers take in a conversation?

Just like real conversations, marketers need to understand what their role is - listener, one of equals, or even instigator. We tend to talk about SPARK; an acronym for the types of things marketers can do. They are:

  • Stimulate - provide people with the things to talk about. Inject something valuable then step aside. "Here's an idea we've been working on, what do you think of ....?"
  • Participate - join the conversation as an equal. "We think ...., what's your opinion?"
  • Amplify - provide the tools to allow people to broadcast their stories and opinions loudly. "This topic is important, we'll help you talk more about it."
  • Repair - sometimes we must offer the other side of a story or simply correct facts. "We chose this course because ..."
  • Kindle - bring together people of like minds and interests. "Here's a place for you to discuss ..... amongst yourselves."

One might think of these as different kinds of conversation objectives; each with its own strategy for implementation.

Creating Customers through Conversations

Where have I been for the last several months?

Thinking a lot about how the major trends in marketing will affect what we do. This may come as no surprise but the Internet has made everyone an expert. With answers to every conceivable question at our fingertips we have become collectively much smarter - and opinionated.

Conclusion: the traditional sales funnel leaks.

While media might drive awareness, it falls short in the realm of consideration. Report after report puts influence in the hands of other consumers or people like us. This fact raises some interesting questions about the role of marketing and how it works. Namely, if advertising effectiveness is eroding and people have more information - what is the appropriate way to participate?

So, this blog (and the company I work for Recipe 31) is focused on the question: "how to create customers through conversations?"