If you’re going through Social Media Schizophrenia, keep going: The re-wiring of community communication has begun.

8 02 2010

The only way I can get a timely response from our babysitter (16) is to text her. I am ok with that but had to learn. Learning, I can do this, right? S**t, that’s what every identity (read brands, personal or organizational) is currently re-wiring.

The 1st Symptom of Social Media Schizophrenia: Personal VS Corporate Digital Footprint
True statement from clients: “Some of our employees are really getting excited about social media;” “There’s some serious buzz around the office since you did that workshop.” Humans under 30 yearS of age were born in the era of the social network. They haven’t had time to go through the ‘cold shower’ of corporate and professional communication…. you know, the space between being revolutionary (I can do what I want) and “oops, merde, I can’t speak my mind around here.” At least new grads will go through this phase with the social web in their pockets… Schizo. The others, the older ones, me… Well folks… it’s OVER. The social web is mixing personal & corporate digital footprints.

In August 2009, Jeremiah Owyang left Forrester research (no, Jeremiah is not under 30), taking with him tons of work and its digital footprint equivalent. Last week, his ex-employer Forrester made a new policy: no more personally-branded blogs with interesting implications for analyst relations. Yep… they are clamping down on their bread and butter (content). Reactions have been mostly negative with this decision e.g. Dave McClure. It was certainly a sour day when J. Owyang left Forrester and their reaction is now trending to retain some of the IP going out through controlling their analysts’ personal blogs… eRRR how about Tweets? That’s right, it’s an old mindset but more importantly, Jeremiah’s work contributed tremendously to Forrester’s visibility (and vice versa). We can see that things have slowed down for both (traffic wise) since August.Forrester’s case is magnified by the type of industry they are in but any brand should pause regularly and think about the right balance between personal and corporate footprints.

Here’s what I think. Brands and companies should consider the independence of the blog’s voice. The more, the better. If Jeremiah’s voice had been Forresters’, his visibility would likely have been less. We place greater trust in individuals than brands. So my recommendation is as follows: Find a balance.
1- Being a Social Media spokesperson is not for everyone, train them well or hire externally.
2- If most employees aren’t ‘doing it’ 5 minutes per day, you’re losing great relational power.
3- Retaining and controlling ‘the message’ will make matters worse.
4- IP protection is real, it touches every part of the organization e.g. ops, pres-sales, post-sales…etc

The 2nd Symptom of Social Media Schizophrenia: Controlling the message when there is no message. It’s a conversation.
Marketers who spend their time controlling their message are wasting time. Communicative experiences are owned by the audience and the message is magnified. Example: Driving this weekend with the boys in the back (6 & 4), the 6 year old says: “What is subway always fresh” (the radio is on), I say daddy-ishly: “hmm, junk food”, then I tweet about it to share this event, using multiple stages of communication. 3 communication methods were used here… The 1st one is controlled by the brand, the 2nd one a bit less, the 3rd one (my tweet and added comment) is clearly out of the control of the Subway brand. I spun it with my own associations and experiences with processed food.

Marketers live in fear of losing control of the message. As a social media agency, we never fail to become ‘culture shock’ counselors during the first few months of a project. A marketer’s role is to guide the message but not control it. Clients and customers OWN THE EXPERIENCE, not marketers. It is truly a privilege to have social media to understand what this experience is. Success will be defined by understanding this experience, measuring it, guiding it and creating better products and services born out of experiences, not the minds of engineers.

Brands should learn how to intervene where and when it is necessary. Measure influence before jumping into conversation. Conversations can be mapped and measured with influence in context. Not a trivial trend but inevitable.

Hey, what is your 6 or 16 year old telling you about the future?

@YannR





Ski Resorts and Snow Reports and Social Media: A match made in heaven?

19 01 2010

Howdy, Katie Van Sant here, of Extanz.com fame.  As those who read this blog know, here at Extanz, we’re always keeping an eye on trends and creative ideas in the social media sphere. My attention, therefore, is always

(and naturally) piqued when the conventional media looks at the use of social media in sectors in which I’m personally active.  Last week for example, NPR ran a story about how ski areas have been inflating snowfall data on weekends to attract skiers. While this news wasn’t much of a shocker, this next part was fascinating: ski areas that were reporting data on the popular iPhone ski report app and that had good iPhone reception (for skiers and riders to send instant condition updates) had reduced their snow report inflation due to the instant backlash by the ski and snowboard community. Yet another example of how social media is democratizing the dissemination of information across industries. These days, I too look to my iPhone for the snow report at Steamboat rather than calling the snow report hotline number I’ve had memorized since I was 6 years old.

This news made me wonder about the rest of the social media platforms – you know, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc. – and whether they were now being leveraged by ski areas and their customers to a similar degree. Ski areas are perfectly positioned to leverage social media because they have loyal customers like you and I, who are enthusiastic about sharing their activities on the mountain and staying up-to-date on snow conditions, competitions and events. Little did I know how much the ski areas already knew this…

So, which of the major North American ski areas do you think are taking advantage of social media’s opportunities to best connect with their community? Let’s take a look. I identified the top ski areas, compiling the top 2010 ski areas as identified by the perennial ‘best ski resorts’ reports by Skiing Magazine and Outside Magazine.  Now, I’ll acknowledge this list leaves out some of the best local and regional ski areas – Bridger Bowl, Mt. Hood Meadows, anywhere in Alaska – but we have to start somewhere. Next, representation and community engagement across social media platforms were measured.  During a recent social media presentation, Vail CEO Rob Katz brought up a key point that was taken into consideration when ranking these resorts: videos. As all you skiers and riders out there know, we spend Fall getting amped up for ski season at Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research ski film showings. A number of other factors were considered as well in order to rank the ski areas (i.e. one resort may have had more Facebook fans, but another’s Twitter and YouTube presence trumped the Facebook fan count):

  • Facebook fans,
  • Facebook fan engagement through ‘liking,’ commenting & posting, posting pictures & videos,
  • Twitter followers & activity,
  • YouTube presence measured by subscribers, views & videos, and
  • Quality of engagement on behalf of the resort (as opposed to super enthusiastic, unprompted fan postings).

And….now for the drumroll…

The Top 10 North American Ski Resorts Utilizing Social Media are:

  1. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia: 26,059 fans, 405 fan photos, 7,856 followers, operating their own video site (rock stars!)
  2. Mammoth Mountain, California: 19,366 fans, 217 fan photos, 3,504 followers, 19,308 YouTube views
  3. Vail, Colorado: 10,049 fans, 12 fan videos, 3420 followers, 297,059 YouTube views
  4. Breckenridge, Colorado: 10,042 fans, 9 fan videos, 3,806 followers, 353,085 YouTube views
  5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming: 10,573 fans, 299 fan photos, 23 fan videos, 2,771 followers, 344,602 YouTube views
  6. Keystone, Colorado: 9,706 fans, 93 fan photos, 4,276 followers, 16,576 YouTube views
  7. Bear Mountain, California: 11,984 fans, 209 fan photos, 1,180 followers, 682 YouTube views
  8. Sugarloaf, Maine: 10,946 fans, 24 fan photos, 1,739 followers, 89,000 YouTube views
  9. Jay Peak, Vermont: 9,706 fans, 237 fan photos, 1460 followers, 44,198 YouTube views
  10. Sunday River, Maine: 7,460 fans, 49 fan photos, 1,706 followers, 319,591 YouTube views

With an honorable mention: Steamboat Springs, CO: Steamboat can’t get it’s social media act together with two competing Facebook and Twitter sites, but between the 2 sites (admittedly, there’s overlap), Steamboat has 11,286 fans, 151 fan photos, and 1,918 followers.

Wow! Clearly, Whistler Blackcomb is blowing everyone else out of the water, even the ski areas run by Vail Resorts (Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creak, Breckenridge, Heavenly). As you may know, Vail Resorts implemented a much covered social media strategy this season, shifting 80% of its print advertising budget to social media and other short-lead mediums. Its resorts are showing strong results in the social media sphere, but the results are often community driven, i.e. these resorts are maintaining their social media sites, but not engaging their communities on the level other Top 10 resorts are. Interestingly, Heavenly, the largest U.S. ski resort, doesn’t even rank in the Top 10. Remember the ski videos? Vail Resorts took this info and ran with it, garnering YouTube views only matched by Jackson Hole, the long-time leader in ski videos.

So, is Whistler’s dominance driven by the looming 2010 Winter Olympics? OR do people just really love Whistler? What do you think?

We’ll ponder the ‘Olympic Effect’ in upcoming posts and see what else is going on at the nexus of social media and the ski industry!

Thanks to tim_in_sydney and toetoe for the great pictures.

Katie





10 Social Media benchmarks, what are your plans for 2010?

1 12 2009

“Am I doing the right thing?” most agents involved in social media ask. This blog intends to offer a reflection on where and how to ground benchmarks for an organization or brand. It’s not a one size fits all approach. A few weeks ago, Sergio Balegno from MarketingSherpa was engaged in an interesting conversation about benchmarks and things on LinkedIn that I would like to expand on here. As inevitable as social media is, decision makers still have to justify their new and growing investments in social media.

I preface this post by saying that some brands have entered social media with “cool equity” giving them an advantage but not necessarily maximizing their community potential. It’s easy to under-serve the community and having a high number of fans does not a supportive community make.

I would love to hear your thoughts or if I should add other ones (I’ll update my post):

Mashing up Social media goals: Entering the social media house can be done via many doors. Of course we all want to generate leads but ‘marketing in your customers’ face’ (or prospects’) is sustainable for only so long. The receiver chooses, not the sender. Are you here to sell stuff or build brand equity and mind share? Are you brand building? Promotion? Customer service? Do you want to demonstrate thought leadership? If your ‘Brand stream’ is varied, it’ll be more trusted and more referred to.

Content quality, engagement and effectiveness: I tend to say that blogging is the mothership of social media. Some people may argue that it’s too hard or difficult to maintain a blog or that blogging is going down ‘cos tweeting is replacing it all. Brian Solis thinks it’s largely exaggerated. I am convinced that when a prospect shows up, a good blog will make the difference, especially if you are in a competitive environment. Social media brochures are an assured fail. People want brands that inform, according to eMarketer.com. Content & conversation might be king and queen, the underlying fact is that internet users are a hungry mob on the hunt for relevant information and Google is working for them (the user). Viewers are moving away from traditional media for a simple reason– they can’t find enough relevant information. Study how to be relevant.

Influence & dissemination:  Influence is tribal; communities are led by subsets of people who are more tribal. They tend to know each other, refer to each others’ work. Go to conferences to meet with each other. Having a Twitter account, or a Facebook page will soon be like having a nose on your face. It’s time to move on. Dissemination is what we are looking for: why should your customers carry &  share your voice and engage? Are you working on identifying who is your tribe on the networks (customers that is)?

Activation: Brand activation or community activation is better if social media is community supported. Brands aren’t all born equal (not every brand has the cool factor) but if a brand is in business, they already add value and activating a community should take different angles. If your brand is boring or your subjects are IP protected, make a lateral move and focus and look for common themes in your client’s interest. Activation is grounded in what I call the CUTE factor.

Authenticity: Say no to clogging (the art of blogging for keywords, fishing or pushing inward focused content). Blogging may move to more real time and condensed versions but blogging is like your face. Looking like a robot may appeal to the least majority. Auto DM or auto anything suck. I often observe that the “About Us” page of a website is a very well trafficked area…yep, people are checking you out. The “About Us” page is the precursor to the ‘social’ part of media.

Social media market share / mind share: It’s easy to fall asleep on your brand’s current success like some well developed brands. I would invite you to play with an excel spreadsheet and simply add your competitors’ brand names followed by another column with how many fans each of them have. You could also start tracking respective brand mentions and interaction. This way you find out the level of SM Mindshare out there.

Metrics: I was giving a presentation a couple of weeks ago here in Colorado and 50% of the audience didn’t know or didn’t have Google Analytics installed on their website (small- med size businesses). You can improve what you can measure. Great tools like Bit.ly, Topsy.com, Tweetmeme work great. Our practice tracks everything…we can.

Top revenue line and reduction in marketing / sales costs: Revenue can be noticeable even though it’ll depend on your business model. If you sell direct and online, it’s easier. Business size matters as well. As of June, Dell was generating above $2 million via Twitter. There are some great examples of cost reductions like those mentioned in the latest Groundswell awards. Comcast Care and Cisco are prime examples but they are huge so of course, things are magnified.

Lurking and reach: The groundswell yearly study shows us that the number one activity on the internet is to spectate. Lurking and reading still counts when measuring success. If I tweet something, 30-60 people may click on it, but for example the 5 Big Fat Social Media Trends blog a couple of weeks ago was Tweeted 650 times…. people are watching. They may not act or say something immediately, but quality stays in their minds.

Sentiment analysis: If you have the means, Radian6, Collective Intellect or Network Insights maybe the right way to go. You also can use other less expensive tools like OneRiot, Filtrbox… to understand if your brand should pay attention to the sentiment of influencers on Twitter or blogs. Lot’s of people say lot’s of things…. If Chris Brogan says something about dining, he probably will have less influence than David Lebovitz for obvious reasons. Be where the discussion occurs.

Have I covered your bases? Do you feel that Social Media is going to have hard benchmarks only or there is a balance between soft and hard benchmarks?

@YannR





Is your social media strategy C.U.T.E?

19 11 2009

What do fans have in common? Why is it easy to have a conversation with some strangers and not others? Having moved around quite a bit (living in 4+ countries and not done yet), I tend to think that my village a gypsy type one. The more I think about social media, the more my ‘village fool, not so fool anymore’ analogy makes sense. Common experiences and preferences carry influence and communities are the new influencers. Consumers are influence-able, their friends do this very well:) Rethinking a brand’s community or audience’s common interests certainly makes a lot of sense.

Brands are like villages. They have constituents and those constituents certainly have things in common beyond just buying its product. I think a common mistake brands make using social media is to avoid defining their intentions with the community. Is the brand social to build a brand presence or to sell stuff? What value will your conversations create in the eyes of these customers? Brands belong to fans and twitter followers. It’s the brand’s page but it’s connected to many private spaces which belong to individuals.

So here’s a long term idea that I’m finally inking. Does your social media strategy have the C.U.T.E factor? You heard me. CUTE. CUTE stands for: “Common Unit of Transferable Experience”. A social media strategy should not only try to activate common units of experience between constituents or fans, but should also look at how transferable those units are. If a brand engages in media creation, will users share it? Such an engagement strategy should be moved from a brand or product centric intent to what consumers or customers have in common. They have more experiences in common than we would suspect (especially if the product or service is not Mac or iPhone appeal-esque…).

A brand should ask itself the following questions:
– What experiences do our customers have in common (not of your products) but around or while being empowered by your product or services? Would they transfer/share these experiences?
– What do our products enable them to do? Would they share this ability?
– How can a brand highlight the most interesting things customers do? If you sell TVs, talking about homebrewing may be okay… don’t they go together?
– If they don’t know your brand, what would they like to see first to help them build trust? Product and features or how customers are empowered with this product of service?

The CUTEs are conversation starters and sustainers and can create a great backbone for any social media strategy. You might want to think about that…

Am I a fool? Join me 🙂 Thoughts? Comments?

@YannR





5 Big Fat Social Media Trends

9 11 2009

Social Media is like the new West. 3 or 4 years ago we were barely calling it “new media”. Last year, I couldn’t use the word “social media” or people would look at me like I was talking French. It was a new frontier, but today, everyone has arrived. Now there are way too many people here. We need to aggregate or suffocate. Here are 5 clear trends I see developing in social media:

The Return of the King: ROI
Growth in usage is just not enough to let budgets increase without a return. Every one of our clients asks one single, but not so simple, thing. Track, measure, improve. Buzz is good, traffic is good. Conversion lies in the conversation (with the client). Brands can understand that social media is the rising star of their investment center. A rising star (social media that is) needs to become a cash cow though time or it will be come a dog.

Billboards have new highways:
Recently, Techcrunch blasted the practices of application developers on Facebook and how people are victims of a new form of infomercials, or even starting to use their own influence to advertise. Let’s go back to square one –move some eye balls and convert them into $. If you were not aware, you can advertise on Twitter. There are many services like it and if you sign up for those services, you can get paid. Joel Comm who wrote Twitter Power was just last week making clear that he is okay with it here, here and here.
All in all, billboards have new highways. Get used to it and be(a)ware.

Communities are the new News-Outlets:
Like my physics teacher in high-school said, “nothing is lost, everything transforms”. We’re losing news Twitter-Listsoutlets by the 100s but we’re also creating fan pages, online niche networks and now Twitter lists at a never recorded speed. These are the new influencers; these are the new trusted-agents. Communities, organized or informal, will dictate trends like old media used to. The Fort Hood disaster today is proving that New-Outlets can be recreated instantly. If your company doesn’t have or belong to a community, your influence is vanishing.

Quality and creativity have never been so important:
Forrester / Josh Bernoff have just released their ‘Groundswell Awards‘ – whether it is Nascar, YarnCraft, Norton or the others, I am fascinated by one thing: each of these creative programs is leveraging the power of the Common Unit of Experience (CUE) as I call it, of those ready to activate communities. Quality of intent and creativity of a social media program can only work if the CUE exists.

Personal branding and corporate brands have to work together:
Jeremiah Owyang last week blogged about social media accounts (e.g. Twitter account) and ownership quoting the Cisco CTO twitter account. It is her account, if she leaves, that digital footprint goes with her. This is a magnified case of Jeremiah’s own case when he recently left Forrester for the Altimeter Group with his own digital footprint. When working on social media project, we advocate the brand’s constituency should be a center of the engagement strategy. A brand has to look at its employees and partners as much as it looks at its customers. Grow them and they’ll grow you.

Follow me @YannR





Is Twitter herding sheep back home by creating ‘real time news-outlets’?

6 11 2009

I was half listening to the Gillmore Gang show with the Silicon Valley wiz this afternoon and heard many interesting things like the eID conference. I think David Gillmore generously said that “Facebook was opening up and Twitter was closing”… smiles on many faces, smile on my face.  If you look at Twitter traffic, it’s been plateaued for months and even when you take into account external apps (Tweetdeck, Seesmic, PeopleBrowsr… or phone apps Twittie, SimplyTweet), Twitter is pretty much not visible compared with Facebook’s atomic growth as Brian Solis points out with his recent social graph post.

What happened, where are we going? How about in opposite directions? That’s the Facebook and Twitter story. Opposites attract, don’t they? Facebook has built a generally closed environment. The average Facebook user only uses Facebook and became social online because of Facebook, and their friends and communities out there. Well, Twitter went pretty much in the other direction. Why compete head to head? Let’s just go ‘open’ all out. Anyone can pull or push info from Twitter.  Twitter got $100 million in funding back on September 24th. FriendFeed was swallowed by Facebook (I still prefer FriendFeed). Both are now accumulating enough reserves for the next step: growth and domination. Google and Bing are both watching closely behind every move. Bing powers Facebook’s search (owning 10% of FB) and both search engines announced agreements to deliver Twitter results.

We’re going to see a HUGE spike in Twitter traffic when data is released by Nielsen, Comscore or Compete next month. Twitter is now bringing the sheep back home and after building the most fantastic eco-system of apps ever (after iTunes maybe). They are moving towards bringing some key features in house. Last week, for example, the Twitter lists appeared.

This week, the ‘RT’/Re-Tweet feature (= “forward” in email language) is rolling out today. The millions of Twitterers are being asked to come back home to the sound of the ‘ego bell’. We had to rely on home-made lists to figure out who to follow. Now, lists will dictate influence. Groupings and communities of influencers are congregating to become the ‘new media’. Lists clearly have the potential to become what a TechCrunch or a Mashable has become — ‘real time news-outlets’. Lists can compete with traditional news sources and yes, it’s going to shake this cool world further. The savior for the most common of us is that it’s still organic and not corporatized, well, not just yet.

@YannR





Should We Re-Think the Lead Generation Funnel?

23 10 2009

What happens when someone becomes a fan of a facebook fan page? What happens when someone RT retweets something? What happens when you hold a conversation on Linkedin? This individual “vote to participate into a sales process” is seen by their ‘friends’. Did I shock you? It may not lead to a monetary transaction but it triggers an increased awareness of something. Consumers and customers have been empowered for some time to become active participants of their consumption. They are clearly moving outside of the traditional sales funnel starting with thorough research using internet.

A recent McKinsey report (June 2009 Subscription) highlights that only 30% of purchasing decision points are still ‘company driven’. This means that more than 70% of decision points in a buyer’s active evaluation process are now consumer-driven: user consumer reviews, word of mouth and in store interactions. Is it time to re-evaluate how things are done?

Social technologies are expanding these phenomena to micro-influence level never seen before. A few weeks ago, I had to change our office router and jumped on Twitter & FB to ask what people thought… it didn’t take more than 10 minutes to get 10 e-pinions… 2 from people I know, 8 from people I don’t know. It’s getting much easier to get that instant feedback. You bet I bought what was most recommended.

Now what does it mean for our businesses? People are empowered to swap between brands more than ever before. The social media funnel and measurement is simply upside down compared with a traditional sales or purchasing decision process. It’s cheaper, greener, further-sighted to use social media. Brands need to go through the journey of seeing themselves through the lens of their constituents. It’s not an audience, it’s a constituency.

1- A brand may and connect with its core customers to start with and then expand. There is, most of the time, an underlying community of customers or consumers. There are also communities of influencers in that space. Both groups should be recognized and empowered by your brand if you’re serious about building trust.

2- A community will only engage if they feel connected and empowered by that brand. If there is no exchange, there is no social media; it’s only push marketing through new channels. Deliver high quality content and help them support each other. People are likely to want to discuss about much larger things surrounding your brand than just your product. They already know of your product or use them.

3- The more they talk, the more they trust, the more everyone is merrier.

4- Be where conversations happen. If you’re lucky/skilled… but mostly honest and caring, people will progressively feel comfortable discussing the brand’s social footprint or presence. If not, a brand should carry its ‘conversation capital’ where ever those conversations happen.

No one likes to be part of a funnel (ask the Foie Gras ducks what they think about this). Like everyone else, we vote with our $$ when you see value and can trust a product or services. On the other side, it always feels good to buy something from a brand you trust. Be the change you want to see, they say.

Now, is this the right mix? Am I saying that the traditional funnel should disappear? No. How do you think an organization should look at these strategies?

@YannR





Jeremiah Owyang VS Forrester Research or the reality of digital footprint divorces

21 08 2009

Jeremiah Owyang

Yesterday’s news about Jeremia Owyang leaving Forrester research is a very important day for social media and its use by businesses. I’ve been a fan of Jeremiah’s work for a long time now. He was best described as an “idea factory” by his boss and I totally agree with this. He’s made (and will continue) to make a huge impact on social technology adoption and best practice “crystallization”.

Now, what were they thinking at Forrester? I am fascinated by the unplanned and de facto mash-up that is occurring between personal and corporation / brand digital footprints, especially since social networks have exploded.

Here are some stats to explain what I am referring to:

Forrester Jeremiah Owyang
Joined Twitter 2007-07-25 2006-12-19
Number of Followers (as of today) 24,000 51,000
Joined Forrester N/A October 2007
Number of tweets (as of today) 877 16,500

Obviously, Jeremiah has blown away Forrester in terms of followers but also in mastering the different social media tools. It was one of his best career moves as he wrote yesterday. Yes, it was his job to master those tools, but obviously his digital footprint and influence is bigger than Forrester’s in some ways. Onto another data point, web-traffic: Jeremiah’s blog is pretty much on a par with Forrester.com as you can see on the Compete graph…
Bottom Line –Jeremiah leaving Forrester is a huge loss for Forrester and probably even bigger loss compared with a similar departure 3-4 years ago before the social media boom.

I think it’s also a great example on how companies should think about leveraging the personal digital footprints of their employees, while making sure that the brand’s digital footprint grows proportionally to the employees they empower. Related questions include…

– Should Jeremiah have actually been using Forrester’s twitter account or blog more?
– Would Jeremiah have been as successful if he hadn’t used his personal accounts for work? I also prefer talking to people than brands directly… there’s a human side that is inherent to our gregarious nature.
– Should Forrester have asked him to tweet a little bit more on @forrester ? (877 tweets for @forrester vs 16,500 for @jowyang)?
– Will the person they hire after Jeremiah be required to…?
– Will employees be able to negotiate the use of their personal digital footprint when joining a company?
– Will employers require a minimum digital footprint from their employees?

My point is that Jeremiah’s digital footprint is leaving with him when he leaves Forrester. The long tail effect of his personal blog will be massive as he has worked as a very thorough and systematic aggregator, and like when Robert Scoble left Seagate to go to Rackspace, there will be a serious impact that no company has measured before.

To me, it’s a wake up call for companies using or considering social media. The pioneers you empower to guide your company through those green fields will become very powerful. This is good for you but needs to be considered. The David & Goliath story we’ve seen with the Kutcher vs CNN challenge to pass 1,000,000 followers is another classic example of what’s possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you’ve considered this as part of your social media strategy.

Wishing good luck to Jeremiah’s new green fields,

@YannR





Will you just keep funding the marketing bridge to no-where?

28 07 2009
Will you just keep funding the marketing bridge to no-where? (reviewed kb)
A common objection that arises in dealing with marketing executives is the ‘social media’ budget allocation. Social Media is still in the ‘mis-understood zone’ even though we’re making progress at light speed (thank you and not so thank you twitter). Euh, what? “we’re going to spend 20-30% of our marketing budget for social media, are you kidding?”. Obviously, they think it’s too much, they can’t see the value or they decide to throw a youngster at it…hmm. Let’s also remember that it costs at least 5x as much time to find a new customer than nurturing current ones (according to the American Marketing Assoc.). What part of the picture are they missing here? Let’s try to break it down:
Reduce waste, try the long tail: If you invest $200,000 in marketing or 10x this, proportions given to marketing activities will usually stay pretty much the same. A good 50-60% will be allocated to create stuff that won’t last. The impact of traditional marketing has a short life cycle. Worse, people aren’t fools; “infomercial” type articles just reduce their trust. Unless you are in the instant gratification purchasing cycle, relationships matter. There is now a direct bridge to your customers called social media which is relevant in both B2B or B2C environments. Use it. We know that referrals from a friend or someone in your circle of influence (professional or personal) has a stronger influence on consumer choice. It’s important to realize that any work in social media brings double benefits: First, content coming from an organization or person can be shared limitlessly (e.g. youtube video); once it sits there, it will not go away. The Internet has a bridge to the garbage, you can’t delete it anymore. More importantly, someone, somewhere, is crawling the internet to find content related to your industry (like this blog for instance) so be sure that this continue. It’s called the “long tail”. Someone will find it in 10 years. Time is an important factor in calculating a marketing ROI.
Invest in your customers:
Zappos was just sold to Amazon.com for doing just that: Personalization and customer service have been rooted within the company since 1999, no wonder why they are an acclaimed social media power house. It fits them like a glove. Your customers are still your biggest asset. I know you’ve closed them already but they have way more value than they used to have. Your customers are certainly the strongest link of your long-tail strategy. I feel it should part of any social media plan to find engaged customers and work with them. Word-Of-Mouth has finally been given adequate tools and this works both ways 🙂 Positive Mentions: good for you, find your brand ambassadors, generate more buzz about it. Negative Mentions: Learn from it, engage with them, turn it to your advantage. No mention on social networks: Your biggest nightmare, you’re fading away.
Relevancy VS Propaganda:
As a consumer or a business customer, we accept to be marketed when the time is right. Agreed? Let’s face it. How much of an average marketing budget is spent creating lead-generation ‘floods’ with lots of propaganda in it e.g static websites? As Jeremiah Owyang puts it: “The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet” ? Most traditional marketing is usually ineffective after it’s been used or because it missed its target. A brand should be relevant to the more-of-the-same customers, THINK COMMUNITY. The long tail strategy relies on the 80/20 rule, 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue. Focusing on being relevant to those 20% will gain you more of the clients you need.
Build relationships: I found this analysis interesting this week as it mentioned that “60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” (search here mean Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization. Yes, if you apply old thinking to a new problem, it won’t get any better. Why would someone refer your business if they feel you’re short term driven? People will refer you if you treat them like human beings throughout the total experience: before, during and after sales, keep empowering your users.
Marketers prefer black magic.
If they can claim high traffic or lead generation, they won’t get fired. Conversion to customers is someone else’s problem: “We’ve brought you the customers to the door step, why can’t you close?” Same goes for SEM (“60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007177#)
Now, does spending 20-30% of your marketing budget on Social Media & Community Building look like a lot? Let’s do this 🙂

A common objection that arises in dealing with marketing executives is the ‘social media’ budget allocation. Social Media is still in the ‘mis-understood zone’ even though we’re making progress at light speed (thank you and not so thank you twitter). Euh, what? “we’re going to spend 20-30% of our marketing budget for social media, are you kidding?”. Obviously, they think it’s too much, they can’t see the value or they decide to throw a youngster at it…hmm. Let’s also remember that it costs at least 5x as much time to find a new customer than nurturing current ones (according to the American Marketing Assoc.). What part of the picture are they missing here? Let’s try to break it down:

Reduce waste, try the long tail: If you invest $200,000 in marketing or 10x this, proportions given to marketing activities will usually stay pretty much the same. A good 50-60% will be allocated to create stuff that won’t last. The impact of traditional marketing has a short life cycle. Worse, people aren’t fools; “infomercial” type articles just reduce their trust. Unless you are in the instant gratification purchasing cycle, relationships matter. There is now a direct bridge to your customers called social media which is relevant in both B2B or B2C environments. Use it. We know that referrals from a friend or someone in your circle of influence (professional or personal) has a stronger influence on consumer choice. It’s important to realize that any work in social media brings double benefits: First, content coming from an organization or person can be shared limitlessly (e.g. youtube video); once it sits there, it will not go away. The Internet has a bridge to the garbage, you can’t delete it anymore. More importantly, someone, somewhere, is crawling the internet to find content related to your industry (like this blog for instance) so be sure that this continue. It’s called the “long tail”. Someone will find it in 10 years. Time is an important factor in calculating a marketing ROI.

Invest in your customers: Zappos was just sold to Amazon.com for doing just that: Personalization and customer service have been rooted within the company since 1999, no wonder why they are an acclaimed social media power house. It fits them like a glove. Your customers are still your biggest asset. I know you’ve closed them already but they have way more value than they used to have. Your customers are certainly the strongest link of your long-tail strategy. I feel it should part of any social media plan to find engaged customers and work with them. Word-Of-Mouth has finally been given adequate tools and this works both ways 🙂 Positive Mentions: good for you, find your brand ambassadors, generate more buzz about it. Negative Mentions: Learn from it, engage with them, turn it to your advantage. No mention on social networks: Your biggest nightmare, you’re fading away.

Relevancy VS Propaganda: As a consumer or a business customer, we accept to be marketed when the time is right. Agreed? Let’s face it. How much of an average marketing budget is spent creating lead-generation ‘floods’ with lots of propaganda in it e.g static websites? As Jeremiah Owyang puts it: “The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet” ? Most traditional marketing is usually ineffective after it’s been used or because it missed its target. A brand should be relevant to the more-of-the-same customers, THINK COMMUNITY. The long tail strategy relies on the 80/20 rule, 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue. Focusing on being relevant to those 20% will gain you more of the clients you need.

Build relationships: I found this analysis interesting this week as it mentioned that “60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” (search here mean Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization). Yes, if you apply old thinking to a new problem, it won’t get any better. Marketers prefer black magic.Why would someone refer your business if they feel you’re short term driven? People will refer you if you treat them like human beings throughout the total experience: before, during and after sales, keep empowering your users.

Like in the Matrix movie, “there is no bridge” but the interconnectedness of your community and customers. Now, does spending 20-30% of your marketing budget on Social Media & Community Building look like a lot? Let’s do this 🙂

Off you go,

@YannR





Social Media Neophytes and Great Hopes

16 07 2009

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel organized by the local Entrepreneurs network about social media. The audience was clearly a majority of neophytes from local businesses, agencies and even government. I think it was an eye opener for me as to what people have on their mind. For them, the 6 panelists certainly gave them tons of useful information. It was participant driven which was a great experience. My natural tendency is to discuss on this blog larger phenomena occurring in the social media world.  I’ll therefore try to address those same questions a bit more regularly on the Extanz blog. For now, I want to focus on some of the points raised at the event….

Time devoted-to make effective? What to listen? How to listen?

I think entrepreneurs are even more wary about the time sucker that social media can be. Let’s just consider Twitter to start with as it’s probably the most straight forward one. If you’re lucky, and you have more than one

computer screen, I would pull up applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or PeopleBrowsr and start setting up searches, creating groups by interest. Scout for topics that your company is involved with, see what results come up. Tools like Twitter or Friendfeed are the most valuable when listening or monitoring that action. You or your company’s ‘social’ networks act as a knowledge guardian, you’ll be able to stay on top of what’s of interest to you (being the Tour de France or what are your competitors are up to, what customers/consumers are saying, etc). Most of these applications will allow you to create ‘columns’ or ‘groups’ that filter by keyword. Scroll through it, see what is being said and reply / participate if it’s worth your time. You can also share links or articles you find valuable or simply RT (re-tweet) with your comments. I would also advise using these tools in conjunction with Google Alert, Filtrbox, OneRiot and other similar tools which are much more efficient search tools than staring at Twitter all day.

ROI 101: Return On Investment 101

Throw away any of the usual metrics you’ve learned. Building relationships for a person or a brand cannot be measured as a statistical number. You will still see more followers on Twitter, more fans on your facebook fan page. Ultimately, if you share valuable content and engage in conversations, you’ll have a clear sign that people like your content. This clearly has a more powerful impact for you or the brand you represent. Also, I hear too often that people don’t use Google Analytics yet on their… this is a must have. If you expect to show any sign that your time is spent appropriately, Google Analytics will be able to show you this progress.

What percentage of your marketing strategy should be devoted to social media?

That will depend on your audience. The more you deal with tech industries and the knowledge industry, the more important it’ll be for your company. For example, a company like Crocs (not so much knowledge industry based) has one full time dedicated employee for Social Media (George Smith Jr) out of 3-4k people worldwide. Make sure to think about every activity you carry as a company and how to leverage social media in relation to those activities. Social media is not a marketing play, it’s a relationship play. Relationships happen at every step of a company’s value chain. Social media can fit in those segments. See what happens. Draw conclusions. Be creative. Repeat.

Some simple steps to get started:

Level 1- Join groups related to your industry in Linkedin or Facebook, engage there. This might be enough as some of audience is already there.

Level 2- Join twitter, start following 50 people who you care about as a company, start listening, share interesting news in your industry or localized content, engage where you can.

Level 4- Create a facebook page and try to get your other marketing activities to promote that facebook page. Link your Twitter account to your facebook fan page.

Level 5- Start a blog… this is a difficult exercise and can be time consuming, but it is still what can carry your business voice the furtherest. Remember that if you blog, stay away from clogging, don’t use this as just another ad channel (#fail).

There are 100s of things you could do, but start there. Your company’s digital footprint will benefit and you may be able to spend 1-2 hours per week without losing your boss’ trust. Finally, it’s more complex than it seems. If you want to be effective at it, getting help is usually well worth it.

Off you go,

Thank you for you great pictures:  by quelquepartsurlaterre, ToniVCjohn.d.mcdonald

@YannR