July 18, 2011

Gary Vee on the disruptive force of social media

Part 1 of 4: Gary Vaynerchuk on how brands must adjust to the new world of social media.

Ayelet NoffIhad the pleasure of meeting up with Gary Vaynerchuk recently when he was in Israel. Here’s his (almost) full speech at the event McCann Erickson held in Tel Aviv.

I am always amazed at how blunt and real Gary can be. Gary told the audience that they were doing all the wrong things in marketing their brands; that they were marketing in 2011 as if it was 2005; that no one watches commercials on TV any more because they all fast-forward with TiVo, and even those who don’t fast-forward are usually too busy looking at another screen (mobile) or even two other screens (Web and mobile) or even three other screens (Web, mobile and iPad). That no one looks at banners anymore and few look at billboards for that matter. Everyone is busy looking at their mobile, or their laptop, or their iPad. This is not the future. This is now.

The talk was insightful, brilliant and captivating. In an ADD world where it is immeasurably hard to catch people’s full attention (as I had demonstrated above), Gary was/is always up to the task. He is probably one of the only people in the world who can keep me captivated for a whole hour without checking my iPhone.

I split the speech into four different parts because of YouTube limitations. They’re all worth watching. Enjoy!

• Part 1: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech (embedded above)
• Part 2: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech
• Part 3: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech
• Part 4: Gary Vaynerchuk Speech
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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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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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March 18, 2011

Review: ‘Social Marketing to the Business Customer’

Social Marketing to the Business Customer
by Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman
Wiley, 250 pages, hardcover, $16.09 on Amazon

JD LasicaIstill run into executives and top-tier managers who think of social networking as an employee productivity drain. For anyone who shares a similar point of view, run to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of “Social Marketing to the Business Customer” by Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman (disclosure: I’m friends with both authors).

The book is chock full of meaty, real-world examples of how to grow your business using B2B and B2C strategies and tactics. The authors show how companies can use social media to forge deep, productive relationships with customers and lure new customers into the fold.

Social-MarketingTo take a few examples: The authors explain how a Midwestern distributor of solar panels could use Twitter’s advanced search feature to scout out anyone discussing the term “solar panels” within a 100-mile radius of Chicago.

Channeling Shel Israel in “Twitterville,” they cite a Dell senior manager Richard Binhammer’s admonition: “Don’t waste your time trying to convert atheists. Work on the agnostics in the room — doubters who might be turned into believers through conversation.”

The authors devote a chapter to search, revealing some of the tactics that social marketers (including our merry crew here at Socialmedia.biz) use to suss out keywords that customers are using to discuss your business — and where they’re discussing it. Sometimes it calls for a shift in the language you use on your own website or blog. “If you’re blogging about ‘solar cells’ but your customers are searching for ‘solar power,’ you’re speaking two different languages,” they write. Continue reading

November 2, 2010

Lessons for brands launching social media campaigns


Authenticity, relevance, originality are among keys to success

JD LasicaAt BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, one of my favorite sessions was the presentation by consultants Dave Peck (a friend) and David Griner called Like It Or Spike it: Social Media Case Studies.

Any brand thinking of launching a social media campaign should internalize the lessons that Dave David — and the audience — identified. (Everyone got to vote on whether to like or spike each of the campaigns.)

Companies just beginning to embrace social media ought to also consider attending the Fifth Annual SNCR Research Symposium and Anniversary Awards Gala at Stanford this Thursday and Friday, where we’ll be unveiling the year’s top social marketing and social media case studies from major brands and agencies.

During the BlogWorld Expo session, Dave and David gave brief overviews of these and other campagins, with an overall set of lessons learned at the end:

Alt reality game for sci-fi show

Campaign: To help launch Season 2 of “The Colony,” Discovery Channel partnered with creative agency Campfire to make a Facebook-based alternate reality game.

Results: It received coverage in Mashable, Neatorama, MediaPost, AdFreak and other outlets. 59% of players who reached final “tune in” message went back and re-started the experience, and it received 350,000 page views in the two weeks leading up to the season premiere.

Judging: Peck and Griner said, Like It.

Cosmo photo shoot

CosmoCampaign: For its first global digital ad campaign, Cosmopolitan created a Facebook Connect app that simulates being in a Cosmo photo shoot.

Results: The launch received coverage in the New York Times but almost nowhere else. Only 3,800 of Cosmo’s 534,000 fans opted into the offer in its first week.

Judging: Peck, Griner and audience (me included) said: Spike It.

Edge Shave Zone’s hashtag theft

Campaign: In September 2010, Edge shaving gel began a Twitter campaign offering to help those who tweeted with a #soirritating hashtag. For some, rewards included iPod Touches, PS3s or Edge shaving gear. However, the @EdgeShaveZone account coopted the hashtag, which had been in use for some time.

Results: Fair amount of buzz, 4,930 tweets using #soirritating hashtag from Sept. 10 – Oct. 10, 2010.

Judging: David Griner, Like It. Dave Peck, the audience and me: Spike It … hard. Said Peck: “I hated it. These guys are trying to engage with people who aren’t engaged with the brand at all.” Lesson: There must be some nexus to your product.

Pee-wee’s Big Social Media Adventure

Campaign: When American Express declined to sell advance tickets for Pee-wee’s theater revival to its cardholders, the offer went to his Facebook fans instead — kicking off a landslide of social media support.

Results: Twitter: 590,000 followers. Facebook: 230,000 Likes. Extensive, glowing news coverage. Bottom line: $1.5 million in ticket pre-sales before the first ad was run.

Judging: Peck, Griner, audience and me: Like It.

Naked Juice’s Naked Truth campaign

Campaign: In a two-pronged Facebook campaign, PepsiCo’s Naked solicited “your personal Naked Truth” user-generated content for a chance at a Costa Rica vacation and brought the effort to college campuses.

Results: 14,615 active app users in first two weeks! 2,000 photos from campuses … were uploaded by the brand, with only a handful from fans. Minimal launch coverage

Judging: Spike! Spike! Spike!

Takeaways: What works in a social media campaign

Steve Hall of AdRants nicely summed up the key takeaways from Dave and David’s session:

1. Be authentic. In this medium, platitudes don’t work.

2. Make it brainlessly easy for people to participate. Don’t make people jump through too many hoops.

3. Make sure there is a clear and concise call to action. Too many brands are unclear in their explanation of how people should participate.

4. Avoid blatant self-promotion within the campaign.

5. Don’t make your call to action something that takes people away from your offering. Don’t make people go look something up online or look for a tweet during the broadcast of your television show.

6. Don’t stuff the ballot box. If you’re hosting a photography competition, don’t fill the gallery with your own brand’s submissions.

7. Do not ask every employee in your company to flood a Facebook campaign with Likes or drop hundreds of positive comments on a YouTube video.

I would add two more takeaways from the presentation:

8. Be fresh & original — offer an imaginative twist even on an existing idea or theme.

9. Be true to the actual reasons why customers like your brand.

Pretty good advice. What would you add?

September 13, 2010

CMO guide to Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt & Brightkite

A Gowalla heat map of Austin, Texas, by Bramus on Flickr

Evaluating the business potential of location-based social applications—is the tail wagging the dog?

Christopher RollysonIf you read any mainstream media or social media sites, you might have started to get the impression that a Foursquare, Gowalla or Loopt application is your only hope to make this quarter’s numbers because check-ins are on everyone’s lips, er, fingertips these days. However, for chief marketing officers of large brands, what’s the real business potential of these apps in 2010? What can they do for your business, and what and where are their limitations?

Below I’ll share some due diligence I’ve conducted for one of my clients and give you some general guidance for using these apps this year. I’ve also included links to the best information sources. First, let’s start with an introduction of geosocial and how it fits into the ecosystem you already know.

A brief introduction to geosocial applications

FoursquareGeosocial — or geolocation or location-based services or applications — represents an emerging space within the Web 2.0 ecosystem, so I’ll spend a minute here positioning them because their development is moving at warp speed. Geo refers to exchanging information related to your current temporal and physical location via a mobile device. Social applies the now-established bundle of practices called “social networking” to your physical location — interacting with friends or friends of friends.

You might think of geosocial as “situational social networking based on where you are” (and what you’re doing). Many geosocial applications use GPS technology to automatically report the physical locations of their users, subject to their privacy settings. For some quick visuals, see Geosocial Applications and the Enterprise (PDF).

Small niches of people have been active in geosocial, using text messaging, for many years. Progenitor Dodgeball was founded in 2000 and enabled users to SMS each other to report their location, notify them about other people nearby to enable “meeting in real life.” Geosocial applications try to increase opportunities for socializing with existing friends or people users don’t know but have certain things in common, based on each user’s privacy and sharing preferences.

It’s worth noting that geosocial is related to but distinct from geotargeting, which usually denotes serving precise marketing messages to people based on their locations. Citysearch has been doing this since Web 1.0, and current players like Yelp and Facebook are converging into the geosocial space. Google tried to morph its Dodgeball acquisition into Google Latitude, but it hasn’t really worked, and I’ll speculate that they are channeling much of their geosocial energy into Google Buzz.

Some key players

Key players in the space include the following:

  • Loopt launched in 2006 and claims 3 million users.
  • Brightkite launched in 2007 and claims 2 million users.
  • Gowalla was born in 2007 and claims 150,000 users.
  • Foursquare launched in 2009 and claims close to 1 million users (with this growth, is it any wonder it receives the lion’s share of the buzz?)
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