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WOM-ophily: Why does social media marketing matter?

19 08 2008

I really wish this was a word. Internet might make it to be but I doubt it . WOMophily. Okay, think “homophily”. Wikipedia explains…..“Individuals in homophilic relationships share common characteristics (beliefs, values, education, etc…)”

Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing has been around for ever and since commerce was invented. There is now a few more people on the planet and the internet is slowly becoming more effective in serving your information needs. WOMophily then is people who share common characteristics (beliefs, values, activities) sharing ideas and spreading the word about your product or services. There are few characteristics to bear in mind, however….

SMM uses Social Channel Capacity: We cannot physiologically stay in true contact with more than 150 connections, you, your friends, your relationships, their relationships (c.f. Blink, M. Gladwell) – The others just don’t have our attention like those 150 (primary and secondary connections). This is where Twitter and all the “what are you doing now?” features come in. They help us keep track of more people easily. Last week I was talking about “Saturation Points” and “Information Immunity”? If you don’t suffer from those, you are a rare indeed. Or maybe you just watch TV! There only 200 million blogs out there. Patterns of influence have changed and traditional marketing channels are just not cutting it anymore. BUT you CAN rely on your close trustees and their close trustees …etc, in terms of letting you know what services you may like, what products you should buy, what brands may matter to you. Social networks and social media have allowed the 200 most viral million of us to stay connected at this micro-level and filter out all the other marketing noise. The “You can now stay in touch and follow at the ‘micro’-blog level” is where a ton of stuff is going. The influence of micro blogging is increasing every day. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME.

SMM puts your customer to work(finally): if you connect with them PROPERLY and RESPECTFULLY through social platforms, they will value your words and spread them for you. Give them extras tips, info, cut them some smart discounts, help them understand you better, like they would a good friend. You may think, “well who’s going to keep up with all that?” Extanz might, but remember, it’s not about increasing your marketing budget but about reallocating your priorities. The ROI will be substantial because you’re dealing with hyper-targeting and word-of-mouth techniques that will carry your marketing message much further for less $. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME.

SMM is cheaper than any other form of marketing – the cost of acquiring new customers is enormous compared with growing current accounts. Social Media allows you to connect with individuals who have homophilic relationships with you current customer. The cost of acquisition is now only a fraction of traditional marketing. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME.

SMM reveals your true colors: “Do you care about me?” asks any customer. Your “blink” impression of anyone, any service, any brand gives you information that you always put back into your wallet for later. Social media forces your brand to actually connect with customers and prospective customers – not spam them like any other form of (wasted) marketing. If you don’t want to connect and stay remain aloof, you’re just falling behind. Consumers are very well informed and rely on others like their friends to use their purchasing power. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME……or maybe in this case, WE LIKE PEOPLE.

SMM doesn’t play well with control freaks and big spenders: Again last week, I was talking to a VP of Marketing in the Denver area. They focus on consumer services and their consumers are extremely passionate [hence my motivation to talk to them]. The biggest obstacle for them in terms of using Social Media Marketing was ” We would like to control the conversation….be able to ‘respond’… be able to ‘manage this internally'”. Ah right. Have you ever tried to follow 100 stocks on Wall Street at the same time? Have you ever controlled every conversation at a dinner party? Seriously, people. To think this conversation is not happening because you are not participating in it is a figment of your imagination. These conversations are happening anyway, WITHOUT YOU. Any marketer who thinks they’ll save their company by not engaging in social media will just have to try to play catch up in the next five years… it’ll be too late. Think PEOPLE MAY NOT LIKE ME ANYMORE.

SMM does not do WOT, it does WOM: WOT = WASTE OF TIME. Notice that these are the same marketers spending fortunes in surveys, market research, competitive assessments, marketing firms [not us:]. All to find out what their customers want or how to beat their competition. Yeah. OLD SCHOOL. That’s WOT busyness. You need WOM busyness. Just open up, your customers will save you millions. Then those happy customers will make sure their friends know about your product and services. They’ll become fans of yours on Facebook. The not so happy ones and therefore, most valuable in terms of your learning, will give you 2 GIFTS: The truth (that your CEO, product development and operations teams need) and the importunity (important opportunity — those new words keep popping up, don’t they) to show that you carethe very best marketing weapon you have against consumer apathy these days. The costs of ignorance and invisibility are far more expensive than any marketing budget. Think WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE (WHO) LIKE ME?

Do you care?

Do you care?

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Towards PR 2.0 = RSS Marketing + A Conversational Mindset

11 08 2008

These days we get asked more and more: “is what you do PR?”

We tend to say, “hmm not really – but kind of” …the answer seems to depend on whether we are talking with someone who can actually understand the “let your audience participate with you” part and considers that PR or not. Most marketing and PR folks out there are just plain afraid of what could be said and so, find it hard to “let the audience participate”.

Today, most business blogs are just newsletters that “Corporate Communication” is putting out there to ‘check’ another thing to do. Most of the time, PR firms are good at pushing such press releases and trying to get traditional media to write about their stuff.

What we do is vastly different. We are here to focus less on the company’s cool product (traditional PR will take care of this) and more on the audience’s points of pleasure and pain points. To do so, we identify your constituencies (blogosphere, constituency presence on social networks, connectivity between networks). Then we connect the dots between all these “locales” and start reaching out for fans, friends of fans etc, bringing them valuable content that only friends would want to send to each other.

When thinking through the comparison between PR and social media, consider the following…

1. Connectivity: THANK YOU RSS – Does your PR firm really understand RSS? Not just what it stands for?

Since 2005 and RSS 2.0 standardization, we’ve seen an explosion of possiblities in terms of feeding data from one place to the other. You can actually now stream your business blog across facebook, plaxo… Yes, it’ll take a bit of plumbing but once you’ve established those connections, you can start spreading the word…:) The following examples are what could be considered “immature” demonstrations of RSS potential – note the complete lack of feeds to the FB page – Isn’t it time to challenge what your PR firm is doing for you?

no activity...

no activity...

Virality is a function of “moving data”, in this case it’s about how fast User Generated Content is moving from one friend to the other – The faster the data point (pictures, blogs, facebook greenpatch @#$%…) moves, the more virally the information spreads. Most traditional PR methods are stuck in old distribution models –they can not virally replicate information and rely on traditional readership bases (which are also less virulent) than web2.0 readership. Obviously Canon and Jamba Juice (there are 100s of examples like that) just don’t understand what Social Media Marketing or RSS Marketing is… [hint: talk to us] 🙂

2. Do you really see marketing as an investment center? [not a cost-center] – Are you ready for PR 2.0?

  • Do you have a “let’s give it a shot” mentality? Are you ready to engage with customers commenting on your blogs? Can you handle them giving you a thumbs up or down on your facebook page? If you are not, you are falling behind the biggest social movement since the creation of internet – learn from it before you competition does.
  • How about starting a relevant blog?
    • How to use features of your product
    • How your customers use your products
    • Relevant industry news
    • Great insights about how you manufacture your products, your operations
    • DON’T WRITE ABOUT “how great you are” or “how great your company did at the last employee event”… that’s good internal communication!
  • How about building a facebook page that actually has some activity? Feed your blog there using RSS! (unlike our friends at Canon or Jamba Juice…)
  • Start tweeting about the unknown stuff happening with your company that will make your readers say: ‘whao, that’s cool, I didn’t know that’. It doesn’t need to be top secret magic news. Most brand afficionados just want to relate to your brand and be able to share something cool about your brand with their friends…
  • Start using flickr, youtube, slideshare as your backend media platform – the more connectivity the better!

3. Do you know about “Saturation Points” and “Information Immunity”?

Malcom Gladwell talked about it early on…. information immunity is definitely a problem that traditional channels of communication face. Phone, faxes, email, text, RSS feed… they all reach saturation point… except that now, your audience has to the power to choose what information they receive or not. They can decide to read, comment, and more importantly “pass it along” virally via their networks. Your customer is moving on, they choose what to read from sources they rely on. Don’t you already feel that you are member of enough networks? That you can’t take any new ones? So do they!

An interesting study recently came out on the ‘new patterns of influences‘ led by a team of five SNCR Research Fellows: “New influencers are beginning to tear at the fabric of traditional marketing and communications, giving rise to a new approach characterized by conversation and community,” said Gillin. “PR and marketing communications professionals are responding with a mixture of excitement, fear, and fascination. They’re alarmed at the prospect of ceding control of their messages to a community of unknowns. Yet at the same time they’re excited about this new opportunity to speak directly with their constituents.

Are you ready for ‘conversational marketing’? Your customer should be the best advocate of your product or services. they should be your fans on facebook and you should give them a reason to be a fan of yours on such social networks….

4. So what to do now?

– Re-think your public relations goals.

– Start a relevant blog and start connecting it to your social networks.

– Be ready to open conversation up to your constituents.

It’s time to talk!!

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