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Archive for January, 2009
The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years - from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s December 2008 tracking survey.
While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites. Adults make up a larger portion of the US population than teens, which is why the 35% number represents a larger number of users than the 65% of online teens who also use online social networks.
Online social network applications are mainly used for explaining and maintaining personal networks, and most adults, like teens, are using them to connect with people they already know.
- 89% use their online profiles to keep up with friends
- 57% use their profile to make plans with friends
- 49% use them to make new friends
- Other uses: organize with other people for an event, issue or cause; flirt with someone; promote themselves or their work; make new business contacts
Christine Beardsell has produced a thoughtful piece on ClickZ looking at what motivates people to participate online in brand-related user-generated content campaigns. Although money is a great external motivator, she says it can be over-used and diminish internal motivation factors. Based on her experience observing user-generated content communities at interactive agency Digitas in the US, she outlines 10 different ways companies can most successfully motivate user-generated content:
- Make it easy
- Make it fun
- Give me cash
- Give me access
- Make me a star
- Create something useful
- Let me influence
- Give me a challenge
- Be altruistic
- Surprise me
The key question companies need to ask themselves when considering a user-generated content campaign, Beardsell writes, is “Why would anyone want to participate in a brand-developed experience when there are endless unbranded community outlets for people to be a part of?” The answer to that question is to create “a balance between both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, passions and reward.”
Despite all the gurus like us blagging on about the importance of social media, the message hasn’t gotten through to most people in the C-suite. The Tangyslice blog has produced a good summary of the reasons “Why your boss hates social media.” They include:
Commenters on the blog point out other factors such as the fundamental reversal in marketing thinking required to understand social media, and just plain fear of change.
Online Media Daily has published a commentary piece on the difficulties of measuring value online and the implications for online branding. It is a bit dense, but well worth reading carefully. In summary, Andy Atherton argues that 1) Something that is valuable is not necessarily directly measurable, because value can be difficult to measure; and 2) No model can substitute for relevant experience and common sense. Models aren’t always right.
To support his argument, Atherton quotes a recent study from the Atlas Institute which concludes that about 60% of all paid search clicks are on branded terms. Calling that number “simply astounding,” Atherton writes that ”Obviously Atlas’ parent company, Microsoft, has a vested interest in moving the market away from an excessive focus on Search, so skepticism is warranted. However, even if we cut that percentage in half, the inescapable conclusion is that a lot of the money brand marketers are spending on other media (online and offline) is having an impact - even if we can’t measure it precisely.
“The other just as important and also equally inescapable conclusion is that marketers who only spend on search are losing potential sales to those marketers who use the full funnel. A consumer who begins by searching for ‘Campbell’s Soup’ must be more likely to end up buying Campbell’s Soup - versus buying Progresso soup or any other brand - than if they began by just searching for ’soup.’ “
He concludes that, “Accountability is always good. However, accountability should never be a mandate (or an excuse) for doing only things that can be precisely measured. Just because we can’t measure something as precisely as we would like, doesn’t mean that thing is not valuable. That’s point #1.
“Point #2 is that a measurement itself is only as good as the model on which it’s based. Models are a complement, not a substitute, for experience and intuition.
“There’s an interesting parallel to be drawn with the current financial crisis. An army of ‘quants’ had built complex and impressive models explaining how return could finally be separated from risk. Some experienced investors, following their own common sense, avoided this trap - Warren Buffet comes to mind. Often common sense is the best sense of all.”
I’ve come across an interesting blog-versation about CEOs who just don’t ‘get it’ when it comes to digital marketing. Mayra Ruiz started the conversation on her Marketing Misfit blog when she asked for some advice about how to deal with a client who wants to turn his website back into a brochureware site, supported by offline-only marketing, because his company’s sales are down and he believes his website isn’t helping. As Mayra explains, the sales problem could have something to do with a change in his sales team. Anyway, she asked for advice via her blog and Twitter, and she’s received plenty of good advice about convincing a CEO to stick with digital. Here are some highlights:
Kari Rippetoe at the Caffeinated Blog writes: “It seems to me that the CEO has the mindset that his product in all its feature-laden glory should be valuable enough for his visitors. Now, I haven’t seen the website myself, so I don’t know how the product is described; but none of his prospective customers are going to care enough about his product to visit the site more than a couple of times…. Why doesn’t the CEO want his website to be one of those go-to places for research and data related to his product? Why doesn’t he want his company to be an authority in its industry? They have an incredible opportunity to build trust and authority around their product through content - they just have to create an effective content marketing strategy and stick with it…. Prospects have to go through the research phase of the buying funnel - they’re looking for the what, when, where, why, and how and gathering as much information as they can (all that “extra stuff”) in order to draw up a well-researched short-list of options…. Prospects expect a website … Offline marketing efforts won’t be nearly as effective on their own without a tandem online strategy to help keep your sales leads warm. Kill your website, and I guarantee you’ll be killing your new business.”
Jonathon Betts at the Bettsonian Blog writes: “For a company that is marketing software it would seem a tragedy to discard the opportunity offered by web 2.0 tools. They could be used to support a company’s positioning as dynamic, innovative, tech-savvy and responsive…. This also demonstrates the importance of being able to demonstrate return on investment…. Does the CEO really understand what web 2.0 is really about? …the social media “market” has been characterised by hype and fragmentation. This doesn’t present a clear picture to your average business person. A ‘3 minute guide to social media’ to give non-marketing execs a snapshot of what’s going on would be worthwhile….Implement new channels incrementally rather than going for a big bang/all-or-nothing approach. Starting with a blog requires little or no cash outlay. The results from this will then support further investment decisions.”
My own 2 cents: take a look at the company’s marketing strategy and provide simple illustrations as to how a digital strategy can help achieve marketing/sales goals. If the CEO can’t articulate the marketing strategy, then heaven help the business.
OK, last word on 2008 wrap-ups - check out a comprehensive list of top viral ads, buzzwords of the year and holiday viral campaigns at the Big Wave Blog.
In the digital age, if you’re a marketer you’re also a publisher. Rebecca Lieb has written a great piece in ClickZ which was republished the other day, and is well worth a read.
She argues that “Marketers have been creating content in all sorts of media in all kinds of channels since the beginning. But now that virtually every brand, manufacturer, service, and product you can think of is online (and likely runs its own Web site), content has blown wide open. Almost anyone involved in any type of online business can no longer hope to survive without a solid content strategy.”
In the 21st century equivalent of custom publishing, big brands such as Budweiser in the US even have their own online TV channel. Lieb writes: “Think of it as the online equivalent of a Disney or Warner Bros. theme park. You know the rides and merchandise are selling you something, but few people care about the church-and-state divide on branded territory.
“….Strong, well thought-out and executed content strategies create rewards for marketers. They go viral. They attract community. They can blow out SEO (search engine optimisation) to epic proportions. Rather than a company’s Web page showing up in organic results, content can generate page after page of relevant results.”
She concludes: “As an editor/marketer hybrid, I may have some bias here, but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a marketing problem that couldn’t be tackled head-on with a solid content strategy.”
Couldn’t agree more.