June 22, 2011

How Facebook has quietly created a gold mine for marketers

Facebook ad

Inside the huge banner opportunity created by Facebook

Christopher RollysonFacebook’s development schedule epitomizes the “white water, fast iteration” approach to serving company and customer. Although its mishaps are legendary, it succeeds in consistently fielding a mind-numbing array of features, so it is difficult to keep up and very easy to miss the significance of things.

To wit, very few people people have noticed that Facebook has quietly revolutionized banner ads through a feature that is maligned by users but gold for marketers. This feature has created two opportunities for e-commerce marketers: a new means of inexpensive market research and an easy way to improve relationships with their viewers.

Read on to do this to your competitors before they do it to you.

‘You have removed this ad’: A spark in a dry forest

I hope you have used the “remove this ad” feature that Facebook introduced, I believe, in Q4 2009 or Q1 2010. When you mouse over most Facebook ads, you will see an “x” in the far right (1 — see above). When you click the “x” to remove the ad, you get the dialog box beneath, which gives you the radio buttons (2) and the all-important “other.” When you hit “Okay,” you get the gold box. Seems innocuous, right? Wrong. It has begun to change the expectations of your prospects, who will increasingly expect to give feedback on all ads.

Removing ads: Customer viewpoint

I have been using “remove this ad” since it was released, and I have noticed several things about it:

  • There’s very little talk about it online. Any dialog is dominated by users who hate “remove this ad” because they hate ads in general and they would like “removing” the ad to be permanent (i.e. bar chart brains would never reappear). Note that the gold box doesn’t promise banishing the ad. Users don’t care, though.
  • I’ll hypothesize that only a small portion of Facebook users bother to give feedback, but I’ll wager that most of those who do want to do it everywhere.
  • Yes, when you remove the ad, it isn’t banished from your land forever, but clicking the “x” and adding a peppery comment can be satisfying anyway.

Removing ads: A marketer’s viewpoint

Now, think about yourself as a buyer of millions of dollars of banner ads per year, which all CMOs do. What if, for appropriate (geeky) segments you would introduce this functionality in some of your banner ads (not necessarily on Facebook)? This would help you:

  • Conduct low-cost market research by collecting responses; on Facebook itself this is particularly interesting because Facebook knows user demographics. However, off-Facebook, wouldn’t you like to know if readers of certain sites find your ads offensive or …? (you design the responses)
The majority of ‘display’ ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • Improve your relationship with prospects when you give them the option to respond; you suggest that you are interested in their viewpoints.
  • You can take this into account when selecting your ad mix. You read it here, in 2011: The majority of “display” ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • I recommend pilots this year to get ahead of the market. Of course, many of your ads are syndicated, etc., but you can select specific situations to experiment and learn.

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June 9, 2011

A blueprint of how to succeed in social media

social_media_monopoly

 

Conversation trumps content: It’s the human spark of knowledge and caring that carries true value

Christopher RollysonAs adoption of social technologies spreads into even the most risk-averse industries and companies, executives have questions about where social media could take them and where the different kinds of social media consultants can guide them.

Depending on how one defines social media, it is a multimillion-dollar consulting and services industry. Most of the players have a marketing approach in which they help their clients to create content and interact with people in major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, blogs and specialized social networks. Most firms focus on consumer-facing (“B2C”) scenarios because the market for business-to-business use of social technologies significantly lags consumer uses.

The three main types of social media services providers are:

  • Pure play social media consultancies have been created specifically to address this market.
  • Legacy advertising and marketing firms have mobilized social media practices. Most of these are focused on content creation, their traditional domain.
  • Technology vendors are two types: pure play tech startups and legacy enterprise vendors that are bolting on social features to their suites.

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May 26, 2011

Word of mouth marketing flaws exposed

miracle on 34th street
“Miracle on 34th Street”: Lesson for today’s marketers?

 

Only 15% of word of mouth marketing campaigns show results, but WOM drives sales — when companies honor and nurture it

Christopher S. RollysonWord of mouth marketing is seen by many marketers as the economic engine of social business (or social media) because people recommend products and services to each other: All marketers have to do is give them the right information to share and make it easy for them to recommend things, right? Wrong. Or, in popular parlance, “It’s complicated.”

Here, I’ll identify some of the flawed concepts that underlie word of mouth marketing (WOMM) so that you can avoid being part of its 85 percent casualty rate. I’ll show in general how you can tweak the idea and succeed with social business initiatives more often.

Word of mouth marketing is flawed

At Alterian’s 2010 user conference, Don Peppers shared this arresting statistic in his keynote: Only 15% of WOMM initiatives show positive ROI. Shocking — at least until you start thinking about it. Loosely speaking, WOM (sans “marketing”) happens when a trusted and relatively unbiased “friend” shares her experience with a product/service with someone close to her. “Someone like me” who isn’t tainted by sales commissions or quarterly revenue targets. Marketing, on the other hand, is generally about creating need or driving sales. Do you see the problem?

In this context, WOM and marketing are mutually exclusive: The latter’s purpose is to serve the company by moving product; the former serves the person first. It’s a conflict of interest, and it will rarely work. Ever.

93% of word of mouth is offline

In a second data point, Keller Fay Group’s latest TalkTrack study revealed that the overwhelming majority of WOM (as defined by them) takes place offline and face to face (via e-consultancy and @stefanw), not online through social business. This is not surprising when you stop to think about what traditional WOM is, largely a conversation between family or close friends. Tight ties. However, neither of these references dives into WOM or WOMM deeply enough to understand why and how they can work or not.

WOM among loose ties

Digital communications significantly reduce the cost of many kinds of interaction, so WOM among loose ties will continue to grow. However, marketers should recognize that loose ties and tight ties have important differences because the motivations and level of trust are different. Loose ties are not just inferior tight ties; people form loose ties for many reasons, but the online many-to-many environment enables people to manage their reputations and influence by leveraging the network effect. Tight tie relationships are limited in number, multidimensional and high investment.

How marketers can succeed with word of mouth

WOM serves the customer, not you. Trust that if you don’t interfere, positive results will often result.

Having led marketing for several firms, I can appreciate why marketers would love the concept of word of mouth marketing. Given that they are in conflict, it’s important to focus on WOM while avoiding WOMM. I’ll wager that the majority of the 85 percent of failures result from not understanding and honoring their differences. The good news is, WOM drives sales — when companies honor and nurture it. Here’s how:

  • First — and this is a leap of faith — accept that WOM serves the customer, not you. Trust that if you don’t interfere, positive results will often result. There is no halfway here; intent and honesty are WOM’s key differentiators. Don Peppers shared Staples’ “Speak Easy” fiasco as a warning (“sponsored” tweets and bloggers are other traps). All companies say that they put the customer first, but many aren’t being honest with themselves or their customers.
  • Second, the company must put itself first to be congruent with itself as a business. It shouldn’t try to do WOM. But the company, acting in its self-interest, can support WOM. Marketers must safeguard these boundaries if they want to succeed because they form the foundation of trust among the three principal actors: company, friend and customer.
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December 20, 2010

What to look for in social media execution

idea execution
“A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Jessica ValenzuelaThere is a lot of talk about social media, the latest and greatest in communication innovation spurred by social companies like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, DailyBooth and many niche destinations. With all the noise compared with signal, how do you start a social media program that works whether it is for a small business, a start-up, a product, a service, an organization or a brand?

The simple answer: details and scope of your social media execution should be based on what your goals are. Goals can be set on macro and micro levels. In large organizations, it’s a must that each business unit, team or department flows in sync to achieve the company’s social media goals.

It sounds simple — but executing it properly is not a simple matter.

There is no shortage of ideas

  • Gather the best ideas people from your organization. They do not necessarily have to be the upper management or executive-level types — sometimes the best ideas come from the mail room.
  • You’re a one-man or one-woman operation? Ask your friends and clients to collaborate with you. You’d be amazed at the ideas they’d come up to help grow your business or develop your personal brand.
  • Set clear goals that are approved and supported by the ultimate decision-maker of your social media program – the guy who has your program in his or her P&L.

Execution

  • Define your program requirements. Now that the goals are set and you have ideas — social media program managers need to create the scope of the program and the requirements list.
  • Any scale of social media program should consider these requirement areas:
  1. Define rules and variables
  2. Type of creative and development assets needed
  3. The resources you need to execute
  4. Identify distribution channels
  5. Performance metrics (data!)
  6. Risk and change management (Plan B/Plan C, in case Plan A sucks!)

You’re not a techie or a media person and don’t know anything about how all these social media tools can help you grow your business and shape your personal brand? Start small. Really small.

  • Check out Tumblr, a social media site that allows you to share information in various forms of media. It’s very easy and simple to use. Content can be auto shared to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. I use it more for fun!
  • WordPress is great for small or large operations. Highly customizable and an array of social and ecommerce plug-ins is available. We’re using it for a number of small and medium-scale client projects.
  • Get comfortable with exploring new technology and social media destinations. Be curious. It’s a great way to understand and learn about the demographic you’d like to engage your services or products with.
  • Build on top of what you’ve learned.
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March 23, 2010

5 questions for the author of ‘Engage’

‘Companies have no choice but to pay attention,’ says Brian Solis

JD LasicaBrian Solis’s new book, Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, covers how social media significantly contributes to the success of brands and businesses smart enough to get in front of this burgeoning phenomenon.

Brian, the president of FutureWorks, is a longtime friend and fellow member of the Intel Insiders. Here are six ques­tions I put to Brian this week about Engage and how brands are using social media:

1Your new book Engage may turn out to be the definitive work on how social media is transforming business. Looking at the big picture, how is it changing the balance of power between customers and companies?

I invested an incredible amount of passion and also vision into this book as I believe that the time is now to lead a media revolution based on insight, intelligence and experience. I think the minute you hold this book, its intentions are clear. The impact of new media is only just beginning and the road to where we’re going is, to channel the Beatles, long and winding. I believe that the destination is less important nowadays and it is this journey that we each embrace, that defines our experiences and teachings.

Social media is the democratization of information and the equalization of influence.

As in many books and blogs on the subject of social media, theory plays a role, of course. However, new media isn’t as “new” as we might think. There are lessons and applied learnings that we must embrace in order to effectively change, not merely for the sake of change but for the betterment of the tattered relations between businesses, customers and the influencers and peers who connect them. The shift of balance skewed toward those who believe they held the power and, in many cases, businesses invested profits into distancing the nodes that connect us to our networks of relevance in order to reduce the cost of actually “managing” customers. When we lost the universal ability to hit 0 and connect with a live human being, regardless of medium, it was the final insult that sparked a social uprising. Continue reading

February 23, 2010

17 visionaries predict impact of social on the enterprise

Nicholas de Wolff, National Film Fes­ti­val for Tal­ented Youth: "Too many peo­ple are div­ing into the Web 2.0 and 3.0 pools before they even know with whom they are swim­ming."
Nicholas de Wolff, National Film Fes­ti­val for Tal­ented Youth:
“Too many peo­ple are div­ing into the Web 2.0 and 3.0 pools
before they even know with whom they are swim­ming.”

Social business seen as making seismic waves in marketing, sales, operations

Christopher RollysonThe adoption of Web 2.0 and social networking accelerated significantly over the past year, and it shows no sign of stopping. Global digital word of mouth is disrupting growing swaths of business models, and CEOs want to understand its opportunities and threats. Although the Web is resplendent with prognostications from social media gurus, the voices of enterprise practitioners are too rarely heard.

To remedy that, I’ve gathered the perspectives of highly experienced executives who share their thoughts on how Web 2.0 is changing their businesses and mindsets. They also share its limitations and problems. Keep in mind that each contributor wrote independently, and I have made no attempt to unify their views, although I will offer my analysis and conclusions as well as the intriguing backstory below. Here is a sampling of the group’s eclectic insights:

  • A seismic shift in marketing is emergent, and chief marketing officers will require robust strategies to succeed consistently with Web 2.0 and use it to their advantage.
  • Gamification will redefine “work” and “play” and gradually make them indistinguishable.
  • Performance demands on government will force it to shed its laggard stereotype and pioneer social business at local and federal levels.
  • Arguably the biggest disruption of all is that green energy is enabling billions of previously unconnected people to join the world as participants; China and India are two of the fastest growing economies of the world, and millions of people are jumping online every year. Infrastructure limitations are forcing extreme innovation.

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