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Archive for March, 2009
Here’s a diagram from Peter Kim showing the results of an analysis done showing how popular various types of social media distribution are:
Note how microblogging (largely Twitter) is the third-largest slice of the pie, behind social networking and blogging. Wonder how this will change in the next 6-12 months?
One of the topics getting an increasing amount of airplay is online video. It’s growth is bucking the downward spend pattern of most other forms of media. Here are just a few of the articles worth reading on this trend:
- Is the Big Shift Underway? Talks about how relatively high CPMs compared with television to grab large audiences has been holding back the growth of online video. One of the comments on the story says, “We think there is another business model emerging for brands leveraging video on the Web: Brands hosting video content on their own site instead of running ads around someone else’s video at an aggregated site. Our vision is that brands will soon realize that a person watching video content on a brand’s website are easily worth 20 times the value of a viewer offsite watching an ad. We think a new metric will soon be developed. And it will define the ROI of brands creating their own engaging, fun content on their own websites that visitors want to see.”
- Online Video Changes Game for Brand Marketers: “Video has expanded well beyond the media industry and into nearly every corner of the professional Web, as corporations, governments, non-profits and educational institutions look to use video as a cornerstone of how they communicate, market and inform on the Web.” Has some good case studies on the effective use of online video.
- Online Video Subtitles (Duh!): Predicts that spending on online video advertising will grow by more than 50% a year for the next five years to more than US$5.8 billion by 2013. Cites research showing that adding subtitles to videos increased time spent viewing by more than 40 per cent.
Will be interesting to, um, watch what happens in Australia in this part of the online market.
A professor of the Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania has set off an incendiary bomb within the advertising industry by writing a treatise on why the Internet will spell the death of advertising. I won’t comment on this, I just encourage you to go and read his article, scroll down to read the comments, and see some of the other responses that have been published. Gotta love the Internet, blogs and Twitter for quickly whipping up passionate opinions about business and social topics!
- The original article: “Why advertising is failing on the Internet” (with 450 comments and counting)
- A defence of advertising by John Gafney at Econsultancy
- Response by Conversations with Ads
- No, really, why advertising is failing online
Zazoo partner Simon van Wyk has gone on a rant against interactive ad agencies. You can read it at his HotHouse blog or on the media marketing site MuMBRELLA. Check out all the comments - positive and negative - on the MuMBRELLA post - he has really touched a nerve!
Once you start getting involved in the digital or social media business, you tend to lose perspective. You can see all these cool things happening out there, and you’re linking up with all sorts of interesting people via Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, and you get this feeling that, for once in your life, you’re riding the crest of a wave (forgive me if my surfing analogy is a bit skewiff, but I grew up in the land-locked American Midwest) and involved in something with enormous social and business potential.
Meanwhile, your family and friends shake their head when you tell them what you do all day and wonder what on earth is the point of linking up with people you don’t know from a bar of soap and exchanging 140-character missives on Twitter that are largely on the topic of Twitter. It’s a good reality check to engage with the ‘real’ people in your life and see that, just maybe, you’re overestimating the effect and potential, and that most people couldn’t care less about digital communication.
Well, a new report just published by NetPop Research shows that YOU SEE, I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG - DIGITAL SOCIAL MEDIA IS EXPLODING! Yes, it’s a US report and Australia is further behind this curve, but get a load of these numbers:
- More than 100 million Americans are regularly posting material to social media sites - that’s one-third of the population
- Use of social media has doubled in the past two years alone
- 7 million people, known as ‘power users’, interact with about 250 people a week via digital social networking (yes, that’s more than 30 people a day)
See Mum, I didn’t waste that college tuition by spending my days surfing the Internet!
They say a year on the Internet is like seven years in the offline world - think of it as dog years (oh no, now I can’t get this image of my Dalmatian chasing his tail out of my head!). In that case, a year in social media is at least twice as fast.
So 10 weeks is a long time in the life of Twitter - by my complicated reckonings, it’s about a year ago. Now that I’ve completely confused the issue, I’ll get to my point: 10 weeks ago I wrote a post questioning the business value of Twitter (two posts, actually). Since then, Twitter has really entered the zeitgeist, with global users supposedly jumping from 6 million to 8 million just in the past couple of weeks, up from practically nothing 12 months ago.
There have been articles in just about every major newspaper in the Western world trying to explain the appeal and the utility of the service. It’s been used by Australian and American politicians, Rove, my resident breakfast radio announcer Adam Spencer and schoolkids. Most of the coverage has been favourable if somewhat bewildered, though some people are looking at it harshly, such as IT philosopher Jeremy Pettit, who wrote, “Didn’t Nietzsche say, ‘Soon everyone will learn to read and write, and that will be the death of language’? Brilliantly offensive. I’m sure he had Twitter in mind. The morbidly self-obsessed screeching to the morbidly self-obsessed in bite-sized chunks.”
Anyway, after writing those earlier posts I decided to become more pro-active and try to test the business utility of following scores of people and having them follow my 140-character musings (BTW, I’m @raywelling if you would like to follow). I tried to seek out social media experts to follow and sought the advice of more experienced Twitterers about how to monitor what’s going on in the Twittersphere. I’ve watched people of all ages and backgrounds join up, particularly social media geeks, such as the hundreds of people attending ad:tech this week who drove the conference search term up to the #2 trending term on Twitter on Tuesday.
After attempting to manage the growing flood of postings through Tweetdeck (a specialised Twitter browser) and setting up regular searches on terms I’m interested in (contact me via the comments box if you want to know how to do this), I noticed a few trends settling in, such as the fact that an increasing number of posts tend to be links to interesting/useful blog posts, stories, videos, photos etc. (if you’re wondering about the problem of long web addresses in a 140-character environment, there is a widget you can use to shorten addresses to a manageable length).
Anyway, I had my Twitter epiphany this week. After viewing a tweet from a social media PR expert in the US who happened to be in Sydney speaking at a conference, I decided to follow him. Within minutes, I had a direct message from him noting that I was based in Sydney and since he was in town, did I want to catch up for a drink? We did catch up, and even if it doesn’t turn out to result in extra business, I can now clearly see how these connections can prove to be extremely useful. If nothing else, I met an interesting person who I would never have connected with through conventional means.
They don’t call it ’social media’ for nothing!
Success measures for online activities is one of my hobby-horses. I’m pleased to report that an excellent article has been published on Econsultancy outlining 10 ways to measure social media success. I suggest you follow the link and read the whole article, but here’s the list:
- Search marketing
- Brand metrics
- Customer engagement
Chris Lake writes, “The key with social media measurement, I think, is to stand back and take a widescreen approach to measurement.
“Rather than focusing on the smaller, campaign-specific metrics, such as traffic from Twitter or the number of fans on Facebook, wouldn’t it be better to look at how it helps to shift the most important business KPIs, such as sales, profits, as well as customer retention and satisfaction rates?
“….Like TV advertising, social media will play a role in moving brand metrics, and perhaps more so (it is easier to make a noise and to be socially active; there’s an anytime, anywhere factor at work here. And hey, shit sticks around longer when you throw it online).”
As always, the comments are just as thought-provoking as the article. They include:
“Engagement is certainly on the lips of every nonprofit digital person; as mission-based organisations that’s supposedly what we exist for. But i’m losing faith with the idea of measuring it. Dare i suggest it’s something that you have to _feel_ …?”
“I’ve often asked industry experts how to measure social and nobody has a compelling answer. The industry as a whole is divided on this. Social media is the new mullet!”
“There’s a contradiction at play. With TV and print, measurement doesn’t seem to be a big deal, despite the fact that they often claim the vast share of ad budgets. However these same people will make demands for ‘a single planning currency’ for online, to ‘improve’ measurement.”
This will become a more salient issue as experience in the medium grows and measurement technology improves. Watch out TV!
Aden Hepburn from Ideaworks has just published a couple of charts on the Digital Buzz blog showing how interest in Twitter has mushroomed in the past few weeks - but also keeping it in perspective comparing actual site traffic to the Facebook behemoth:
As Aden writes, “Just in the last 2 weeks (in Aus particularly) it feels like everyone is talking about Twitter like never before - and here is the proof. This chart shows the relative change in daily attention a website receives and you can actually see that it’s even out performing Facebook at almost 2:1, yet unfortunately it doesn’t hide the downward spiral of MySpace! But just to keep everyone in their chairs… the relative comparison on unique visits to show you Twitter doesn’t rule the universe, well, not just yet anyway…!”
Following on from yesterday’s post on the Skittles.com saga, the interest in this story in social media circles has been phenomenal, but now that Skittles has yanked the #skittles Twitter Search page from its home page (you can still find it if you go looking deeper on the site) like a spam Twitter account, the post-mortem has begun in earnest. It’s a bit like a digital version of the finger-pointing that goes on after disasters such as the recent Victorian bushfires.
Catherine Taylor writes today in Social Media Insider: “Now, it’s time to drown in social media clichés, like the following: The mere fact I’m writing about this means the campaign achieved some success. Awareness of Skittles on the Web probably hasn’t been this high, ever. The underpinning for the strategy for this campaign is in itself a social media cliché: The consumers own the brand.
“But I’d also like to offer that, in obsessing about this campaign, social media watchers are becoming their own cliché. What stood out to me in looking at the tweets about Skittles this morning wasn’t the naughty stuff, which seems to have run its course, but the whole meta phenomenon where people aren’t talking about Skittles per se, but what the Skittles campaign means for social media. Then there’s all the hand-wringing about the fact that some people said naughty things about Skittles and how that somehow mars the campaign (no pun intended, though Skittles is made by Mars). C’mon. Do you really think the agency and client were so naïve as to not know that would be part of it?
“It’s time to move on to something truly important. Kudos to Skittles and Agency.com for embracing the idea that it’s not the brand home page that defines the brand. That’s a good thing. But we knew that already.”
To quote from a couple of the comments on Catherine’s blog post:
“We have to be very careful about what strong thinkers we are and make sure not to over-intellectualize these new age approaches as marketing professionals. This wasn’t about us. This campaign or experiment thereof was about where we’re going. It wasn’t rocket science, but I’m sure it worked. Skittles displayed a direct interest in finding their consumers where they are likely to be found and used their consumers to communicate the brand however the consumer chose to in their very own language…and the consumers did just that!”
“I’m not sure what you need to know to wake up and be MORE IN TOUCH with your audience. They got trashed on Twitter because Twitters are about REAL, organic, testimonials and truth in real time. Spending the time, and $$$ with an agency that didn’t understand nor grasp that from the get go, shows that someone at the top of this, should have done more homework, or solicited better advice about using Twitter. Every agency in the world wants to jump on the bandwagon and utilize Social Media. If you don’t understand how to properly “engage” consumers using Web 2.0 technology, you need to be careful, for it’ll blow up it you face.”
“The only important question is will this cause people to buy more Skittles? I look forward to learning the answer.”
“I think the real value is less about the execution and more about the philosophy that drove it. If it means anything at all, it’s that this campaign is a recognition of the importance of the role social media plays in brand-building. The game has changed. It’s not 1999 anymore.”
It will be interesting to see how the campaign is viewed in the fullness of time. Brilliant tactic or big mistake? What do you think?
Skittles has conjured up a storm of controversy over its new un-website. The lolly-maker turned its home page into a glorified Twitter Search page on the weekend, and the company has been praised and pilloried ever since.
David Berkowitz wrote in Mediapost: “Today, when contacting a company, the first place I’d likely turn is its Web site. I’m saying that tentatively, as Skittles makes me wonder if corporate Web sites will be around much longer. The company’s new site seems to herald the fact that the corporate site is nearing its expiration date.
“…. Here’s the message Skittles is sending: What consumers say about the brand is more important than what the brand has to say to consumers.”
He asks: “Why would anyone care about what Skittles has to say? What, pray tell, could Skittles ever say that was so important, unless we woke up one day to find out that eating Skittles is the world’s tastiest cancer cure, or alternatively that Skittles lower men’s sperm count. Then, perhaps, the world will listen.”
On the positive side, Marketing Daily spoke to a range of marketers who thought the move was a great idea, quoting the head of eConsultancy as saying that: “Skittles has essentially turned its site into ‘a massive social media experiment. It is possibly the bravest move I have yet seen, in terms of a global brand getting into bed with social media and social networks … it appears to be an extension of the old adage about there being no such thing as bad PR. Everybody is talking about it.’
Marketing Daily also reported that: “‘Some will question whether it’s wise to give up control on the Web - whether this is a good use of social media,’ says Charlene Li, author of business best-seller Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, consultant, speaker and blogger (altimeter.com). ‘But they are controlling content in the most important sense, which is that they’re getting people to talk about and engage with the brand. It’s hard to get people to engage with a candy, but this is generating incredible buzz and PR. This is a big brand pushing the envelope toward what a brand will be in the future.’”
MG Siegler on Venturebeat was bit more sanguine: “In what is either a sign of Twitter’s ongoing transition to the mainstream or of a candy company’s epic laziness, Skittles.com is now simply a Twitter Search result page for the candy.
“I’m a firm believer in the power of Twitter Search as perhaps the most compelling thing about the service, but the candy’s use of the feature just feels gimmicky. It would have been better as a part of the site, not as the homepage. My advice: I know times are tough, but hire a web designer.”
He presciently wrote: “Naturally, people are already spamming the hell out of this. One tweet being repeated over and over again unfortunately uses a racial slur. As such, I suspect this little experiment will end rather soon for Skittles.”
Meanwhile, Berkowitz suggested that Skittles should highlight its Facebook presence rather than Twitter Search, since its Facebook group has an astonishing 587,000 friends. And as of Tuesday US time, after a puerile Twitter campaign, that’s exactly what they did. The Twitter experiment ended, and the Twitter Search page was replaced by the Facebook page. But the debate goes on. Of course the big question is: what effect will it have on the brand and on sales? We’ll let you know.
Follow the story as it developed:
11. Helps me to be seen as resourceful
10. Current content maintains my visibility throughout the Web without having to pay for sponsored links or ads
9. It generates a “buzz” about my business
8. Connects me with my audience at an emotional level
7. When I serve my customers well, they’re more likely to pass my name on to others
6. Establishes my business identity
5. Connects me with people in places I currently don’t have access to
4. Helps future clients get to know me better as a business professional and as a person
3. Connects me with businesses whose services I may need
2. Helps me to understand who my customers are
………….and the number one reason Why I Use Social Media is……..
1. Builds trust between me and my customer
Trust is the new currency.
Reprinted with permission from:
Ray Schiel © Copyright 2008
The Global Social Media Network
An analogy-filled discussion on social media on the Ravenous Buglblatter Beast of Traal blog (don’t ask me, I have no idea what that blog title means, either!) this past week compares social media engagement to blurbs on toothpaste tubes. Karthik S. tells the story of a client who said, “Do we need to start a conversation with each and every person who says something about our brand online? Gosh, that’s going to take a lot of time”.
He points out that engaging every single person who interacts with your brand is both impossible and missing the point of social media engagement. He likens it to the tube of Colgate toothpaste (which he was reading while contemplating social media engagement at 6 in the morning!) which says, “for best results, squeeze tube from the bottom and flatten as you go up.”
He writes: “A toothpaste is supposed to clean your teeth; remove goo from gums (with the help of that other device, tooth brush); control bad breath…and so on. So, perhaps, it would have been a lot more appropriate if Colgate (and other toothpaste brands around the world) had actually printed, ‘For best results, brush twice every day and after every meal’.
“Isn’t that the ‘best result’ in question? Why bother about existential activities like squeezing the tube, when the objective of using the paste (and the tube, as a result) is completely something else?”
One of the commenters on the post, Chris Knutson, had a great response: “As for responding to each and every person who mentions your company on the internet, I don’t think that’s necessary. Rather, companies can use social media to take the pulse of how people feel about their brand, and use it as a second voice for their customers. If you happen to see a surge of complaints or concerns about a particular issue, you respond in the most visible way possible. If there is an ongoing conversation topic on Twitter, reply to the topic with your input, or offerings to provide assistance, or look into an issue for people experiencing pain with your company.
“These activities do get noticed. The key to doing it effectively is sincerity. If you are perceived as genuinely concerned, social media users will respond positively, and your use of social media to engage with your customers will be respected. If you are perceived as just trying to perform damage control, you could see some backlash.”
And re: the toothpaste tube instructions, one commenter added: “Reminds me of the nasel inhaler (Vicks Sinex) which includes the instructions: Remove top and push up bottom. Now that would certainly clear your passages. And the Starbucks coffee cups: Caution! May contain hot liquid. Are we really getting so dumb we need these kind of kind of instructions? There again, maybe your client experience shows we do.”