Archive for brand

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.


Multiple Personality Disorder in Social Media.

Posted in social media with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2010 by monozygote43

There is no doubt; marketing and sales functions have arrived in social media.  My question is, when will brand management join them?  In some companies, as far as managing brand in social media is concerned, it really looks like the animals are running the zoo and the brands are running scared.

Look at Kia Motors America and in particular the campaign to promote the new Kia Soul van that includes a major Kia sponsorship of the 2010 Warped Tour.  Kia has a promotions tent on site at the tour venues.  Some Kia marketing genius decides to run a cool contest for fans to meet and greet Christofer Drew.  The problem is that the Kia promotions guy has the fans sucking muddy water from a filthy pool of old rainwater on the ground which is filled with garbage…first to fill a soda can with water sucked up by mouth from the pool…wins?

Watch the video  of the water sucking fiasco.

Drew responded on July 9th just before midday via twitter, accusing Kia of being “inhumane bastards” and saying he didn’t give a F&*% about his contract with them.  Nice right?  125,000 twitter followers and a very popular musician to boot.  Drew was pissed…but more importantly his fans and their followers on twitter were creating a new corporate villain in Kia Motors America.

All that money being poured into the valuable new buzz around their Soul van is being shot out of an open corporate artery by unchecked and reckless marketing techniques. Is there a brand management doctor in the house?  No doubt some several million people saw that tweet, and the re-tweets berating Kia Motors for being inhumane.  How many saw the video (before it went private)?

What did Kia have to say?  You got it…nothing. Since July 7th on their facebook PR account, there is nothing.  Nothing in twitter, and nothing at the Kia motors America website at the time of my writing.  Clearly they were talking to Drew in the extended world.  They needed to be talking in the social media because that’s where the damage was being done to the brand. Where was general management in Kia?  Marketing got them into this…who would get them out?  The Legal function did from the looks of what happened next.  Although, a ‘hear no evil speak no evil’ posture by Kia suggests the presence of old media Public Relations voodoo as well.  You know…wait it out and shut up.  Eventually, everyone will just forget it happened.

Some time on the 11th July, Drew deleted his tweet, but that’s like deleting a word file containing a draft of an email that was published to a few million people.  You can’t delete the memory…and the retweets are out there spread far and wide…and it was re-tweeted mercilessly.

If all this wasn’t enough, Kia are simultaneously running a series of advertisements with singing hamsters who are dressed ‘hood’ and moving to rap music by Black Sheep. Kia have chosen the hood and rap genre to drive the ’soul’ message around the new Soul van product.  Young, independent American men and women of moderate means are their target market.  I am very sure that includes African Americans.  At first glance the ads are clever and entertaining…but not everyone sees it that way.

Search twitter for ‘Kia racist’ and you will find plenty of people saying the ads are racist.  There is plenty of blog activity as well, and action in Kia’s own promotional web sites and comment sections.  People are tweeting and re-tweeting the racist claim and the idea isn’t going away.  Again, there is nothing from Kia PR in an official capacity.

It’s possible that the PR people at Kia also decided silence was the best response on the racism claims…but I’m going to wager they simply aren’t listening and they don’t have a policy for managing events like this.  Does the old “put your head down and just wait it out” policy work in social media?  Will the racism thing just go away?

I don’t want to buy into the racist claims one way or another, but Kia have another social media forest fire here…at least tall columns of smoke are rising.  Does someone need to respond quickly and provide gold plated assurances to the African American segment of the market?  It is pretty clear to me that the choice of the ads theme is actually a huge compliment to the music and the fashion that has been used, because Kia has selected it as the embodiment of ‘soul’.  Well, why doesn’t someone just say that…over and over again?  That would silence most critics.

The media savvy and ‘customer facing’ departments in large companies, including sales, marketing and public relations, have in many cases raced ahead of the remainder of the organizational phalanx to engage markets and customers in social media.  As a result, some have created company personas in social media that appear to be inept, unbalanced and unaware of larger issues relating to brand reputation, trust and after sales service.

In some cases, these companies just take a bad persona in traditional media and walk it straight across to social media.  The amplification and acceleration of social media on already weak branding creates a very negative message very quickly.

In the case of Kia Motors, a self-directing and autonomous marketing function could easily be considered a corporate “alter” that has effectively asserted control over brand behavior in the social media fulfilling all the symptoms of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD…now DID).  It’s time for the rest of corporate functionality, and general management, to realize that social media is the future.  Privacy is dead, and marketing and sales can’t be the reigning personality of the company in social media.

See if you can recognize something here about companies you know in social media behave from this description of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) as an individual affliction:

Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by having at least one “alter” personality that controls behavior. The “alters” are said to occur spontaneously and involuntarily, and function more or less independently of each other. The unity of consciousness, by which we identify ourselves, is said to be absent in MPD. Another symptom of MPD is significant amnesia that can’t be explained by ordinary forgetfulness. In 1994, the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV replaced the designation of MPD with DID: dissociative identity disorder. The label may have changed, but the list of symptoms remained essentially the same”.

Working in social media requires crisis policy and procedure, together with standard procedures for response and standard protocols for elevating decision-making.  If social media doesn’t engage the full functionality of the organization, you may be leaving brand management in social media to an ‘alter’.