The medium is the message, (stupid).

9 09 2008


Ah, yes, who remembers Marshall McLuhan and his famous statement in Understanding Media (1964)?

In claiming that “the medium is the message” McLuhan expresses the sentiment that there is a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived, creating subtle change over time…. a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself.” (wikipedia.com)

We have been blessed to have multiple inspiring and challenging conversations with people over the last few weeks/months. As you may have guessed from reading some of our blog posts, we are a little fed up with how the web has been and continues to be used. We are also find the lack of vision and willingness to interact openly on the part of those who communicate for organizations, more than perplexing. But perhaps what Extanz finds most concerning is how underestimated, and you could say, diminished the power of social media tends to  become as it is relegated to interpretations of ‘all about me blogging’, ‘a group of drunken college students and their photos’ and ‘meaningless noise in 140 characters’. You know who I am talking about here….:)

Let’s face it, we remember the days of Napster, Kazaa and all the aggravation of the record companies. We remember how P2P was considered radical, dangerous and controversial. We remember the origins of the Internet, when it was known as the Arpanet and designed for information sharing, collaboration, and institutional and community coordination. These ways of organizing and communicating are built into the very fabric of the web, its DNA if you will. That’s why web 2.0 has come on so fast, because those technologies are moving the web away from its reliance on experts, on one way transmission of information and to some degree, away from producer control. What Napster and its comrades initiated was the rise of the prosumer = part producer, part consumer. It highlighted the connections between the relationships we build and the technologies that can serve, support and sustain them. It forced us into conversation with each other and it also raised the critical questions of authority and control. Information wants to be free, or so the battle cry suggested.

But here’s the issue. Where does information live? It lives within you, me and we. And herein lies the rub. Recently some bloggers have been talking about risk and trust and how they collide in the implementation of social media. Social media is seen as risky, Amber Naslund contends because of its ability to influence the multitudes = people may critique what you do, say something bad about you, you lose control over the message etc etc. Naslund does an equally good job of providing defenses to these contentions which she says, are largely based on the open, organic, ubiquitous nature of this particular medium. On the other side, as we have stated before, social media depends on trust and the cultivation of same. As Rex Lee puts it “A lack of trust will cause people to withhold information, to waste effort validating each message instead of integrating, to be less receptive to compromise, and to just be overall less committed, often choosing the least amount of commitment possible. Ultimately this means organizations are, less agile, less innovative, of average performance, and peppered with incomplete analysis.”

The fact that social media is open, is organic and is ubiquitous can provide some level of trust as there is a certain level of transparency in a relationship based medium.The power of social media, that collection of technologies born out of and through web 2.0, lies in their persistent commitment to participation, connection and interaction. All technologies, web 1.0., 2.0, 3.0 etc carry the values of their creators. That we see these technologies and forms of media ascend now says much about the people producing-consuming them. So can we reframe the title to ask – what is the message we are sending about who we are when we choose social media as our medium of communicating….OR perhaps more importantly, what message are we sending when we DO NOT?

Kirsti

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Daring Social Media: Any Online Marketers Out There?

29 08 2008

Do you think social media and social networking is only for finding friends? Um….not quite!

30-40% of our customers’ clients are registered on some form of social network(e.g. facebook), social bookmarking (e.g. stumbleupon) and social media sharing sites (e.g. flickr). Out there. Participating, creating, cooperating together.

Are you with them or are you hibernating/hiding from your customers? It’s the social rejection thing, isn’t it? Maybe they will find out you are not as cool as you hyped yourself to be. Maybe they will talk trash about you behind your back. Maybe they will have a bad experience, and then they will tell all their friends, who will tell all their friends and before you know it, you’re out of business. Every business has that 5% of their customers who are unhappy, but what are the chances they’ll all get on Facebook and tell everyone on the planet how bad you are? Really, the chances are better that your fans will tell all their friends about you and before you know it, you’ll be meeting people you would never normally have the chance to meet.

But what about the bad apples, you ask? You just get out there and confront it. Present your side of the story, respond to your customer – offer an open door – they will be honored that you even engaged with them and responded (sad but true) and then they will spread the word about your response-ability. Businesses and brands need to open up to the very people they are supposed to serve. As far too many authors have written, businesses (especially large ones) have an inherent low trust worthiness in the industrialized world. Now is the perfect opportunity to rise up and engage in social media. Social media marketing is not about using another venue to slam more ads down people’s throats… it’s the wrong place to do that but it is the place to bring useful content to those who already support your enterprise.

If they buy your product or support your enterprise, they care about you. Their friends ought to know about that and you ought create a viral presence….

Marketers, your absence from social media and online engagement brands you as antisocial and uncaring- your so called ‘customer centricity’ is disappearing because you’re NOT where 350 million people already are using Open Social. Yes 350 million! (Washington Post). Can you believe that? Can you believe you aren’t even there?

Time to get busy….

– Define your social media goals – you can’t be everything for everyone but you can represent a ‘larger purpose’. Be a voice for your industry.

– Create and launch yourself properly where your customers are – talk with them.

– Grow your credibility – Feed them content (blogs, podcast, pictures, videocast…) that matters to them and their lives – A larger purpose will help.

– Engage and create an atmosphere of collaboration and co-creation – let your customer rave about your next super cool product or service and how user friendly it is because it was made by them for people like them.

Above all – be open, they’ll buzz you up.

And just in case you thought you were too old for all this or your customer is too old …. check out these stats!

# The fastest growing demographic on the Web are seniors. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is over 25.
# A baby Boomer turns 50 every 8 seconds. As a generation, they are vastly more Web-enabled than their parents.
# 75% of all Internet users watched at least one video last month. A good portion of these are seniors, and its possible that a site like YouTube provided many of those videos.
# Nearly half of those who use the Internet for health purposes (which is 80% of all Web users) are doing so on behalf of somebody else. (Source: Manhattan Research)


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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?