Archive for the social media engagement Category

Why brands should ignore ROI in online and social media for now.

Posted in Bill James, roi, social media, social media engagement, social media marketing, Social Media ROI, social media strategy, we engage with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by monozygote43

Management seems confused about why they need to deal with social media.  Most of those with responsibility for profit performance are missing the point when it comes to new media and ignoring the history of past media revolutions.  Consumer markets are going through a transition phase regarding their media preferences.

Right now, ROI isn’t necessarily about new revenue and new sales.  It’s more likely to be measured as the market share a company doesn’t lose.

All other things held constant, the rise of online and social media hasn’t created new markets or consumers (with the exception of those buying and selling stuff needed to engage in social media).  Social media is a new communication preference for existing customers in existing markets to engage, assess and choose the brands with whom they will transact business in future.

Future being the key word.

One facebook account may take over 4 hours a week from the available time of a mother of 2 children.  That’s 4 hours a week less one mother has to spend in other communication channels in future.  Less time in stores, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio.  The same goes for the mobile platform and the sms/mms channel.  Time is a finite resource.

So, not only are we moving into new online and social media, we are moving out of pre-existing communication channels.

Spare us all the engagement and authenticity romanticism.  Spare us all the finger wagging and pious recrimination over brands being unable to demonstrate concrete ROI from social media.  It’s all either pseudo ethical or pseudo academic drivel.

The reason brands must market and engage in online and social media is that the customers they already serve are shifting their preferences as to how they will engage with all brands in future.  If a brand’s existing customers arrive in online and social media and find the brand they have been dealing with is absent, alternative brands with comparable offerings will take future market share.  End of story.  That’s why every media revolution is an opportunity for new brand start ups in mature consumer goods and services markets.

This always starts off sounding like a distant cry until marketing programs through traditional communication channels start showing reduced ROI.  By then, the damage is already being done.

It must have sounded like a distant cry in the early 1950’s when TV appeared on the horizon with few channels, limited broadcasting schedules, little content and small audiences.  I still remember watching the ‘test pattern’ as a kid while waiting for the screen to come to life in the early 1960’s. By 1979 there were 300 million TV set in operation.  By 2001 there were an estimated 1.75 billion TV sets worldwide.  The most notable observation we can make here is that the move into online and social media is much faster than was the revolution into TV.

TV broadcasting licenses and advertising must have seemed expensive and unsupportable investments for some time in comparison to radio, newsprint and cinema.  But look at how market share changed hands after the transition phase to TV got going, and look at the monumental consumer brands that were forged from advertising in the early years of television.  The curse is on the laggard.

That’s the catch with social media ROI.  During this transition phase between traditional, web 1.0 and web 2.0 communication channels, ROI in social media isn’t necessarily measured in new sales revenues.  It’s significantly measured in avoiding the loss of existing market share as existing customers shift their communication preferences to new media.

For new brands, it’s an opportunity to take share from established brands lagging behind in the transition.

If you decide to stay largely out of online and social media until clear evidence of ROI is on the table, you are making a mistake.  You’ll pay for it with lost market share.

The next phase of this revolution will be the competitive phase where the fight for market share will be between those who have entered social and online media.  Then we will see a more relevant and conventional assessment of ROI from within new media channels.

Until then, as the song says, “don’t count your money while you’re sitting at the table”…especially when other players are moving to new tables.

facebook: remember, if you don’t like it, you can’t participate.

Posted in social media engagement, social media marketing with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by monozygote43

In recent months ‘We Engage’ has looked at dozens of companies marketing in facebook as a part of our initial complimentary reviews of company engagement. 

While our central focus has been to catalogue weaknesses in the scope, quality and velocity of overall brand engagement (including customer service and marketing), we are seeing several ‘wrecking ball’ issues that defeat efforts being made to engage and build the social network, no matter how brilliant  original promotional concepts may have been.

Two issues that come back to basic brand development and marketing ‘101’ are:

First, the number of companies that don’t require (I said require…not ask for) a ‘like’ in return for allowing participation in promotional offerings.

Always make sure that ‘liking’ your business page is a prerequisite to the customer or prospective customer being able to participate in any form of value based promotional activity.  That means, ‘like’ first or don’t participate.

While posting on a business page wall to discuss a brand may require a ‘like’ subject to the basic options in the facebook user interface, downloading/printing a coupon, an e-book, acquiring a unique reference number, or following a link from a wall does not necessarily require a ‘like’.  There are several different ways to make a promotional offer that are contingent upon receiving a ‘like’ in facebook.

For example, after creating special tabs for ‘offers’ or ‘discounts’, it is possible to include some simple code on the page for revealing the content of the page only after a ‘like’.  It is also possible to restrict the downloading or printing of coupons until the ‘like’ has been given. (see this example)

Please don’t forget, the purpose of the promotional effort is two-fold.  One is to put the customer in contact with your brand and to experience your product or service.  The other is to ensure that once the promotional investment is made, customers are accessible for additional offers and promotions.  Building the accessible network is a fundamental goal in all media including social media.  Each promotional event should widen your reach for each subsequent event and increase the potential for reference based participation.  This is not new.  The same principles applied to email and telephony and capturing the contact details of customers with paper coupons or gift cards at the point of sale.

Second, if your business has more than one facebook account (many franchise businesses, multi-brand, multi-product and multi-national businesses fall in to this category), make sure you have set precise standards for naming and logo usage.

Many significant organizations now have major ‘search ability’ and recognition issues in facebook because of variations in the way their page names are spelled or the failure to adhere to standard brand marks or logos…or both.  Call me crazy, but I thought we had supposedly put this one to bed when librarians worked out standard procedures for storing and recovering papyrus manuscripts in the libraries of Ancient Egypt.  If not, then certainly more recently in  libraries using index cards and microfiche (remember microfiche?).  Standard procedures for filing/cataloguing any thing, anywhere are not new.   The problem didn’t arise because of social media.

I look now at organizations like the Los Angeles Times and marvel at how some of their facebook pages (they have over 20) will only come up in a search titled “Los Angeles Times” while others will only come up in a search titled “LA times”.  Additionally, choice of logo seems to be a ‘free for all’.  These people are journalists for goodness sake.  If you catalogue and mark your page correctly (consistently), they will come.  If you don’t, you will be invisible and gather dust while sitting on the shelf.

Do any of these issues affect your brand?  If so, perhaps you should devote some time to reviewing the fundamentals of your engagement efforts in social media with ‘We Engage’.

Diaspora: A fledgling move towards owning our own acreage in web 2.0?

Posted in cloud computing, diaspora, open source, social media, social media engagement with tags , , , on September 27, 2010 by monozygote43

I believe the idea behind Diaspora represents a watershed of development in web 2.0 (aka social media).  However, the revolutionary principles behind this embryonic open sourced application seems obscured by the language of its own technical innovation.

I’ve read a few articles about Diaspora and watched a video of the four founders trying to convey the ideas behind the new application.  Most efforts to explain the application in the context of social media as it presently exists don’t succeed.  Why exactly is Diaspora innovative?  Why is it important in the history of the developing social media?  Why do we want it to succeed or at least survive at the level of its concept?  What is the problem with social media as it now exists?  Why do we need a ‘Diaspora’?

Diaspora makes me think of all those old western movies where the railway line ends and a lawless railway and mine worker’s camp pops up out of the mud.  You have a station and telegraph office (linking towns), a hardware store, a livery and blacksmith, some bars, one or two casinos and hotels.  All of it is housed in bleak wooden construction.  You either sleep in one of the wooden hotels or you sleep in a tent camp.  Not much of a choice. You take your life in your hands because the only law in town is the law of the railway, the innkeeper and the mob.

Beyond the wooden town is an endless expanse of pristine countryside. Rolling plains and hills. Mountains, creeks and rivers.  Room enough for each person in the hotel and the canvas city to take up an acreage.  Unfortunately, there is no infrastructure.  You can camp or build your log cabin at your site outside of town ( at your own URL), but you have to come into town to socialize and get supplies.  If you live outside of town, nobody knows you exist.  You can’t communicate with those in town…unless you go to town.  Those in town don’t know you exist.   The telegraph doesn’t connect to you and even if it did…no one would know you were there.

People cling to the measly shelter, toxic proximity and imposed regulation of life in the wooden hotels and the tent camp because they need to be social.  Yes, we could live like hermits, but it doesn’t make for a quality life.  Yes, we came here for our piece of the acreage.  We also came here to establish ourselves in communities of our choosing.  If society is held up in a bunch of crummy wooden hotels and ragged tents, we are probably going to suffer the accommodation in order to be around other people and close to the basic infrastructure of a social existence.  It doesn’t mean that’s how we want to live…right?

The wooden hotels in the wild west town at the end of the line are a pretty good analogy for the current state of accommodation, infrastructure and social life presented in the ether of web 2.0 in 2010.

Most of us left the known security and sophistication of traditional social technologies and networks to extend our social personas into a vast new interactive digital wonderland.  We were looking for something better.

When we got out at the last stop…web 2.0…we found one large wooden hotel and one tent city.  Maybe Facebook and Twitter respectively?  Sure, there is other accommodation where the wandering minstrels (myspace) and people who have those new fangled photographic machines like to hang together (youtube & flickr).  Boutique wooden hotels abound in town.

But these are just more hotels owned by more innkeepers…right?  We have to entrust the innkeepers with our data.  Who owns data when it is in the ‘cloud’?  We have to abide by their rules for handling and storing property and how we communicate.  We have a shotgun in our backs every second that we are in their space…just in case we step across the innkeeper’s ‘line in the sand’.  Haven’t we experienced enough of this in the history of broadcast, cable and satellite networks of traditional media?  Do we really want the same model applied in web 2.0?

The hotel innkeeper on the other hand answers to no one.  He can run the saloon and card games all night.  He can change the layout.  He can move you to another room.  He can have a steady parade of pimps, prostitutes and patrons streaming past your door or traipsing past your tent flaps in to the wee hours of the morning.  He can boot you out at his whim and leave you in the street if you don’t like the noise.  He sets the rules.  He is the law.  His way or the highway…right?

The owners of Twitter and FB and the other significant social applications all have their rules, terms and conditions.  We don’t really know how our possession are protected or even if they are really our possessions.  The law is murky to say the least.  We can all identify a list of things we hate or dislike intensely about each application…but we don’t have any real influence over user functionality or the business model used to ‘monetize’ the application.  Additionally, we have to leave our valuable data in the innkeeper’s safe and pray it’s still there in the morning and hasn’t been loaned out to third parties for purposes we know nothing about.

Diaspora seems to propose that each of us move to our ‘acreage’ outside of town…to our own URL.  There, we can store our valuable data at our server.  That means the innkeeper can’t get use it for his own purposes.  The code that determines user functionality (and the basic infrastructure) of the application is open sourced.   That means an open community of users can develop the infrastructure and functionality of Diaspora more fully along the lines of user requirements as time goes on.  Apparently, we will all own a “node” (or seed) of the application which will allow us to find and communicate with others in the digital acreage outside of the hotel.  This Diaspora “node” could conceivably have all the features of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube combined…but it would reside on our servers together with our data.

That means we can move out of the ‘wooden hotels and tents’ and be social without the need for the autocratic restrictions.  We will control our data.  Diaspora is allegedly going to sell us a ‘communications room’ that we can build onto our own house on our acreage at our own URL.  Everyone else who uses Diaspora will have the same communication room and functionality.  So why be crammed into a hotel sock drawer with duct tape over your mouth (Twitter).

This would be a big move in the right direction, but one wonders what the monetization model is for Diaspora will be and what restrictions that will impose on us out at the ‘ranch’.  I guess, we will have to buy or lease the  “node” to find out.

The next bold step in web 2.0 would be either a ‘not for profit’ ownership structure for an open sourced social application, or (God forbid in the land of the ‘level playing field’…ROTFLMAO) a government-run agency run along the same lines.  The Australians did it just fine with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)  Not likely I grant you, when the US doesn’t even have a State or Federal owned broadcast network to its name.  But, maybe we can get it right in this new and revolutionary communication medium.  That’s the wonderful thing about a revolution…nothing is written.