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Archive for December, 2008
A few interesting links to finish the year:
- iMedia: 2008 scorecard: what flew, what flopped
- Radical Trust: Best Social Media keynote of 2008
- ClickZ: 10 reasons to be optimistic about online in 2009
- ClickZ: Lessons learned in 2008
- Kmiec: Top 10 marketing buzzwords 2008
- Brian Solis: Social Media predictions for 2009
- Bert Decker: Top 10 best and worst communicators of 2008 (surprise, surprise, George Bush tops the list of the worst)
- Search Engine Journal: Top 20 Twitter posts of 2008
Feel free to add your own, as well. Happy New Year everybody!
Heidi Cohen has written a terrific piece on ClickZ explaining why an integrated content strategy is a must in 2009 for companies looking for effective marketing spend. The article is well worth reading in total and saving/printing, but here are some highlights:
When creating a communications strategy, “your content must address consumers as people. You should supply them with relevant and engaging information without sounding like sanitized marketing-speak.” If you get it right, you will 1) extend your brand; 2) drive traffic to your site; 3) diversify the ways you engage with potential customers; 4) make it easier for people to find your site via search engines; 5) provide product support; and 6) build community.
Heidi outlines nine content formats to consider, including online video, podcasts, webinars and Twitter. She also discusses three ways to stretch your marketing resources online and five metrics to track (hint: page views are not on the list).
Attention potential clients: this is a preview of what we’ll be talking to you about next year. Thanks, Heidi!
Here are some more predictions posted about online growth/trends for next year. Social media manager Roger Harris predicts that Twitter will go through consolidation and integration phases in 2009 (BTW, I found this link via a Twitter connection), use of viral video will increase, and social media will be used internally by large companies for ‘management efficiency gains’.
Meanwhile, BusinessWeek says that accountability and compelling user experiences are two reasons why online advertising will be the only sector of the advertising industry to experience growth next year (albeit only 6-10% growth, less than half of pre-GFC predictions).
The power of word of mouth marketing is another reason why online will be the shining spot in a dark year. Jeffrey Rayport writes that, “It’s not that online advertising will supplant traditional media. It won’t. But a new and different ad equilibrium will emerge from the coming economic recovery - and it will represent a radical shift from anything we’ve known before. “
I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal, of all places, that provides a great primer for companies thinking about Web 2.0 and social media. The headings are great:
- Don’t just talk at consumers - work at them throughout the marketing process
- Give consumers a reason to participate
- Listen to - and join - the conversation outside your site
- Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell
- Don’t control, let it go
- Find a ‘marketing technopologist’ (someone who has strengths in marketing technology and social interaction)
- Embrace experimentation
Highly recommend anyone wanting to find out about the potential of marketing technology but unsure about how to go about it to read this article!
Here’s a link to a list of the worst TV ads of 2008, according to BNET: http://industry.bnet.com/advertising/1000452/bnets-worst-ads-of-2008/
Warning: includes racism, vomiting and fart jokes!
Finding Twitter more fascinating the more I explore it.
Have installed TweetDeck to manage the firehose of activity.
Waiting to hear back from Mr Tweet, who will tell me who I should be following (how many of them am I already following?)
Am starting to think in <140 character bursts - am annoying the heck out of my wife!
OK, enough of that, back to proper blogging mode… as the media declares the death of MySpace and the rise of Facebook, has the digerati (or is that twitterati) already moved on to Twitter as the next big thing? Not everyone thinks so. Sean Carton has written a thought-provoking piece on ClickZ comparing Twitter to Second Life (which is so early 2008 (or maybe even 2007)) “and other now-embarrassing fads.”
He quotes stats showing that ‘only’ 200,000 people are using the service, and that 1% are super-users (he uses the word ‘addicts’) who account for 34% of all ‘tweets’.
He writes that, “the people writing most of the glowing reviews about Twitter are probably its most avid users and are therefore part of a hermetically sealed group that lacks perspective. People who write about technology online are paid (well, ‘paid’ might sometimes be a relative term) to write about online technology and to be the first to use it. Pumping a new technology makes them look smarter and raises their street cred because it gets others to use it and makes them (and I’ll even include myself in the ‘them’ here) look like they got the scoop before everyone else.”
Not surprisingly, this has sparked a lot of debate, with strong arguments on both sides. As one commenter writes, “In 12 months, this will look like the most ridiculous thing posted on ClickZ in 2008. Citing Twitter’s April, 2008 usage numbers is absurd in this context. Usage has increased by at least 1000% since then (reported and estimated by several good sources). The examples of real business being done on Twitter, major company heads using Twitter to reach out to their customer base, journalists relying on Twitter for sources… These are not ‘let’s take on a fake identity and chat to other cartoons’ like Second Life. Twitter is becoming the new email, and you miss the boat at your own peril.”
The next comment on the list: “Consider me in peril because Twitter is useless.”
TechCrunch has just published a post which backs up the observation that Carton’s numbers were low, while Denise Zimmerman on iMedia has written a good guide to ‘Becoming a Twitter all-star’. There are many more salient postings, such as the one I heard about on Twitter this morning but which has already been washed away in the flood of postings, where the writer said to treat Twitter like a river - you step into it on occassion, get wet and splash around, and get out again; the point is to not worry about all the water flow you miss when you’re not in the river.
To extend the analogy, I think you also have to make sure you don’t wade too deep that you get in over your head and drown. Here’s to a strong swimming stroke for 2009!
Is it just me, or is Twitter exploding in weird ways? I’ve had heaps of new people following me in the past couple of weeks (my handle is raywelling if anyone who reads this is interested), partly due to me following more people, partly due to blog visitors, and the other part due to goodness knows what. Keeping in mind that my profile clearly shows that I am an Internet content worker based in Sydney, Australia, here are some of the people that have started following me:
- AOL News
- Bizarro Grundy, who runs a ‘fictional fighting’ blog (don’t ask)
- A mentor and trainer based in Birmingham, UK
- The Florida Strawberry Festival (Did you know that at 10.30 a.m. on Feb 26, Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra will perform free on the Florida Strawberry Festival Soundstage? No, I didn’t think you did.)
- someone called ‘bouncyti**ies’ (the asterisks are not there because of fear of offending readers, it’s fear of unleashing a stream of spam comments to this blog similar to what I am still receiving for a previous post which used the word ‘p*rn’)
How did these people find me? What moved them to start following me on Twitter? I tried to send a direct message to ‘bouncyti**ies’ earlier today to ask those questions (no really, that was the only reason I was attempting to get into direct contact) and it turns out she (at least I think it’s a she, based on the icon), has had her account suspended due to ’strange activity’. Hmmmm…
Look, I get the principles behind Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc. - both parties need to agree there’s a connection before something happens, so only real connections work in those networks. At the same time, I like the fact that I can follow the thought leaders in social media and e-marketing through Twitter without them needing to acknowledge my existence. I think I can even get where miss bouncy was coming from - she was probably preparing to send me a link to an esteemed photographic website. It’s the Florida Strawberry Festival which has me worried. Why me? Why now? And why do I now have this strange hankering for strawberry shortcake?
There are heaps of opinions about what will be hot and not next year. Here’s a quick guide to expert predictions for social media and e-marketing in 2009:
Peter Kim – 50 Social Media &Marketing Predictions for 2009: Fourteen different experts were asked to give their predictions. The list includes: “Obamamaniacs will spawn a new age of activism”, “Social media creates indigestion”, “B2B figures it out”, and “Your ad agency will be disintermediated – by a media company.” My favourite quote from the pundits: “Suddenly, being Facebook friends with your Mom will seem less strange than following 4,000 strangers on Twitter.”
Investment bank GP BullHound, cited by NetImperative predicts that: “The mobile industry will see renewed interest and growth in 2009 following the success of the iPhone and developments such as the Gphone resulting in consumers taking ‘PC’ habits with them on the road.”
“Online fashion retailers are also likely to display unprecedented growth as consumers shift spending from the High Street to online.”
2009 will be a tough year for digital publishers with many expected to drop out of the list having either been acquired or have felt pressure on advertising revenue.
From ClickZ comes the prediction of all predictions: “The coming year in advertising is predicted to be, if nothing else, unpredictable.”
From eMarketer: Online advertising growth will be 8.9% in 2009 – much stronger than traditional advertising, but at a rate halved compared to predictions earlier in the year.
From Frontiering Talk: Video streaming from mobiles - “Soccer mums through to corporate presentations will be beamed from mobiles directly to the internet”
Integrated campaign metrics - “The holy grail of marketing will get one step closer as technology starts to allow a more integrated metrics reporting of campaign media.”
“Attention Surplus Disorder” will be coined as a condition that affects a growing number of people.
“Opinion fraud” will become commonplace with companies paying for positive recommendations for their products and services.
What are your predictions, serious or otherwise? Please let me know via the comments section, and good luck in 2009.
Yes, it’s that time of year when people look back at events of the past year and come up with predictions for next year. There are so many of these kinds of stories that have already been published, I’m going to summarise some of them and link to them. Today, it’s looking back at 2008:
- From AdAge - Check out Digital Predictions that Didn’t Pan Out, Viral Videos You Should Have Seen (my vote goes to Christian the Lion - it’s a tear-jerker, and the only appropriate use of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” on record!), and the Fastest Rising Search Terms of 2008 (I’ve heard of that Obama fellow, but who the hell is David Cook?)
- 2008 was the year of online reputation management, crowdsourcing, and the rise of the attention economy, according to BizCommunity.com
- Barack Obama was the social media pin-up boy for 2008 (too many links to choose from)
- Twitter is becoming a victim of its own success
Tomorrow, predictions for 2009…
Dave Evans, author of “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day”, wrote a guest post in ClickZ last week about one of my hobby-horses, the importance of measuring digital media impact.
He says a key point when measuring social content is establishing a baseline. “Before you do anything else, measure what’s happening right now,” he says.
“Quantitatively measuring social content is the simplest, easiest, and lowest risk approach to getting comfortable with the social Web. Once you get a solid handle on the current conversation, you can measure the change in this content over time. This is the most important step toward a defensible ROI.”
But it’s in for a penny, in for a pound. If you’re going to measure, you have to be comprehensive, Evans says. “Sampling a few points on the social Web does you no good. Like a lone fighter surrounded by swordsman, you’ve got to watch them all. You can’t do this without a robust dataset. Sooner or later a comment or some other content will catch you off guard.” He cites the example of Janet at Exxon, someone who posed as an authorized representative for the company on Twitter. Not only was she not an official representative, she may not even be an employee of the company.
Evans points out that “What you learn on the social Web may not translate directly into a marketing campaign. It may, for example, inform future product revisions or your definition of an emerging service. This again shows the important connection between operations and marketing when engaging customers socially.”
He concludes that “Unlike traditional media - where you set the terms of engagement - your customers define the interchanges on the social Web. Operations - including a concerted effort aimed at your own internal behavioral changes, or external (visible) changes to the products and services you offer - effectively influence conversations on the social Web. It’s not what you say (traditional marketing), but rather what you actually do (socially-based marketing) that defines the conversations that enhance or challenge the balance of your promotional and brand-building efforts.”
Attended the Thoughtworks Quarterly Technology Briefing in Sydney yesterday, where the heads of News Digital Media (Sue Klose) and Fairfax Digital (Pippa Leary) outlined developments in online media in Australia, and picked up some interesting facts about Australian online media consumption:
- There are two spikes in visits to online news sites - at the beginning of the workday, when people check the news headlines; and at lunchtime, when they eat lunch at their desk and go for more entertainment info and videos
- 35,000 people watched the live stream of Barack Obama’s victory speech on Fairfax Digital. That same day, a video on the site about how to fold a shirt was viewed by 39,000 people
- Fairfax is claiming 2 million unique user per month just to its business and finance content, with 25-30 average page impressions per user
- Online video advertising is expected to reach US$2.9 billion in the US in 2009 - 13% of the online advertising total - but the figures for Australia are expected to be only a fraction of that
Following on from my post the other day about the problems of using traditional return on investment (ROI) measurements for web activities, I’ve discovered another useful acronym - VRM, or Value Reference Measurement. Lewis Green, writing in the bizsolutionsplus blog, has produced a concise definition of this measurement, developed by the US Federal Chief Information Officers Council in 2002. He quite properly distinguishes it from ROI and suggests VRM, which is measured over a lifetime of sales and relationships, may be more valuable for measuring the impact of social media and social networking than ROI, which is strictly how much money was returned against an investment.
“Don’t say ROI unless you mean it,” he writes. “Instead, use metrics that measure both ROI and Value, and help decision makers understand how they differ and how each grows a business. ROI hits the bottom line; Value hits the top line.”
“Keep in mind that ROI might be either positive or negative, so to avoid what at first glance appears to have been a bad decision, it is smart to also measure Value through intangible benefits such as customer experiences, customer loyalty, and word of mouth to justify any expense. ROI is an important metric, but it needs to be balanced with a rigorous analysis of all the value factors.”
“….When discussing marketing and communications with C-level executives, do not say ROI unless you mean it in dollars and cents. Instead, offer up both ROI and VRM and then you will be speaking your client’s language. Be patient and know what you are talking about.
“Finally, don’t sell tools, sell goals and strategies to achieve a company’s objectives. Do it in concert with the Marketing, Communications, Sales, and Customer Service departments. Executives and business owners don’t want to buy a tool; they want to buy a plan for success, and they want both ROI and VRM. Some of the tactics (e.g., SM [social media] and SN [social networking]) likely will drive Value more than ROI. Others (e.g., advertising and direct marketing) likely will drive ROI more than Value. Together they will produce dynamic results.”
Social media blogger Peter Kim agrees with Lewis’ assessment, but argues that you need to present ROI measures as well as VRM measures to C-suite executives, writing that “If ROI doesn’t apply to social media marketing, then social media should not be used for marketing.” His views sparked a flurry of comments both supporting and rejecting his position - check out his posting to see them.
What can you do to guarantee your customers will open your emails? The answer is: try lots of different things and go with what works. It seems that different solutions work for different audiences at different times. Here are some highlights from a piece Leah Messinger published this week on iMedia:
“The first two rules any professional email marketer will tell you are this: Keep it short and don’t be afraid to use your brand name. Your “subject line” and your “from” line are the only two spaces — at least for those emailers who don’t use preview panes — in which you get to distinguish yourself and your brand, so get to the point and do it quickly.”
“[E]mailers should also consider what’s going on in the world at any given moment. Currently, messages related to the financial crisis in particular and the economy in general are likely to get snagged by spam filters. Even legitimate pharmaceutical sales messages should receive careful vetting.”
“Although many marketing experts suggest sticking to a 30- or 40-character subject line (because those are the maximum characters displayed by common email providers such as Yahoo and Hotmail), they also point out that users of BlackBerrys and other mobile devices can only see 15 characters of a subject line. That’s another reason to have your brand name up front.”
“[M]arketers [should] carefully consider their audience when determining email frequency. If your marketing message happens to revolve around the weather, then you can probably justify sending out a daily email. If you’re a stockbroker… you can even get by with two emails a day — as long as they’re short. But if your content doesn’t specifically dictate a frequency, then you should probably only contact your audience on a monthly basis.”
“Then again, going positive can work, too. Ryan Buchanan, CEO at eROI, found that ‘Want Fresh Email Campaigns That Increase ROI? Talk To Us Now’ brought both significantly higher opens and clicks than the more negative ‘Is Your Online Marketing Stale? We’ll Show You How to Make it Fresh.’”
The article concludes: “In all cases, the best tool for honing in on subject lines that work is testing. Lyris’s [J.D.]Peterson often uses what he calls the “wife test.” He’ll take three subject lines home and show them to his wife, another family member or a friend. The email they open first is the one he’ll often use.
For a more scientific approach, Return Path spokesperson Tami Forman recommends using a larger sample size. Choose two subject lines and send each to a portion of the emails in your database. Go with the subject line with the best response rates.”
Gotta love the power of social networks! After my post yesterday analysing a list of international social media marketing examples and wondering whether anyone had done something like this for Australian businesses, the compiler of the original list, Peter Kim, has worked his contacts to find one. Here it is: Steven Noble’s Australian Social Media Case Studies. Many thanks, Peter, and good on you, Steven, who is an analyst for Forrester. I will have a closer look and post more about this later, but wanted to get this link up ASAP.
Are you on the social media ‘rich list’ (apologies to Channel 7 and Andrew O’Keefe)? Probably not, because as with so many things like this, Peter Kim’s Social Media Marketing Examples list is by a North American, for a North American audience. (Kudos to Telstra and the Sydney Writers Centre as apparently the only Australian organisations on the list. If someone has done a list like this for Australia, please let me know and I’ll be happy to promote it.) In the meantime, a look at this list of 324 companies that ‘get’ social media is interesting and constructive. For example:
- Consulting giant Accenture has nine corporate blogs, five podcast channels and its own social network
- Adobe has a directory of nearly 200(!) blogs by its employees
- There are at least 135 Facebook pages, groups or applications mentioned on the list
- 86 of the companies on the list are using Twitter accounts, many of them with multiple accounts
- The renowned medical centre The Mayo Clinic has a YouTube channel (prepare to be grossed out at gruesome videos from the operating theatre)
- Even the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile has its own Twitter account (so you can say franks for the memories!)
Not all the companies on the list are large multinationals - the message here (with a nod to Anthony Johnson, who brought this list to my attention) is that all types of companies need to start getting involved in social media, because that’s where their customers are hanging out. They’re already talking about you without your participation - or worse, they’re talking about your competitors instead of you and you need to get out there and mix it up.