Archive for February, 2010


The thrill of victory, the agony of re-tweet

I had two very contrasting social web experiences in the past 24 hours that I wanted to share.

The first came from one of my students, who is urgently trying to learn how the social web can benefit her business.  Yesterday, she had exciting news to share: “We just had out first re-tweet!  I couldn’t wait to tell my boss.  We are so excited!  Now … what do I do?”

We talked about the importance of community-building and connections and how RT’s on Twitter are a nice way to compliment and reach-out to people.

The second episode came from a blog post I read from a Twitter personality who as far as I can see does nothing but re-tweet other people’s links all day long. His post was about how he had now received more re-tweets than the Huffington Post and was one of the top-10 re-tweeted people on Twitter.   Who actually measures these things?  He made no connection between his RT’s and personal relationships or any benefits other than he is on somebody’s list. There were about a dozen comments on the post … none of them from him. There was no engagement, no community, no sharing.  For him, the ridiculous notion of re-tweet count was simply a mythical badge of honor.

These two stories illustrate the best and the worst of the social web.

If you authentically cherish and appreciate those who are connecting with you, you will ultimately succeed in creating personal and business benefits.  Can you hold on to the excitement you felt when you saw your first re-tweet, or the first comment on your blog?

If you approach this as a numbers game to validate your own self-esteem, people will easily see through your veneer and in the long-term you’ll have a lot of meaningless followers trying to sell you a spot on the Trump Network.

Where are you on your social media journey?  Are you creating meaningful connections?

Illustration: www.zazzle.com

The NEW “Four P’s” of marketing

Place, product, price and promotion.

We all learned these basic marketing principles in college and they still stand up today. But the social web is a true shift in the way we communicate and go to market.  For the first time, mankind has access to real-time, free, instantaneous, two-way, global communication — and the good old marketing mantra needs a little updating.  Here are my thoughts on the NEW Four P’s of social media marketing — People, Presence, Pervasiveness and Publishing.

People

The social web is the first true PEOPLE-driven communication channel.  Everybody’s a video star, a rock star, a broadcaster, an author. Everybody creates, reviews, publishes, and bitches.  Publicly.  Permanently.  We have the opportunity to listen intimately and often. We can tune in to laugh and cry with our customers, wherever they are in the world. The consumer-driven web is the biggest marketing revolution since radio.

Presence

This is different from the old concept of “place.”  The old marketing “place” to sell, market or distribute was a tangible location like a grocery store. We knew where our consumers were … and they’ve probably been there for decades.   Where are they getting their information today?  From a video game?  From a link on a tweet?   From their phone?  From a coupon on their phone automatically sent to them by an RFID/GPS system while they are standing next to your product in the grocery store?

To make it even more complicated, a customer’s source of information may be constantly shifting.  Think of the implications if you choose incorrectly or your competitor moves into an emerging platform more rapidly. Kind of makes you want to go back to newspapers, huh? That’s why you need to develop a presence that can adapt and adjust to wherever consumer attention drags you. It will be fascinating to watch the big brands create a unified and compelling presence across so many platforms.

Pervasiveness

Let’s take a lesson from Twitter to illustrate this key concept. For years, Twitter hasn’t focused on making money. It has focused on DOMINATING  and pervading a consumer space. Why? They know that consumers will have the bandwidth for just one micro-blogging site. Once they devote their emotional equity to one platform it will be extremely difficult to get them to switch. Perhaps impossible. And that’s what Twitter is counting on.

So it might be easy to get folks to taste a new brand of cookie or soft drink, but it will be much more difficult to get them to switch to an unfamiliar communication or marketing channel.  Brand marketers jockeying for precious consumer online attention will have to develop ideas and entertainment concepts that are pervasive and with high emotional switching costs.  Not cheap. Not easy.

Publishing

Five years ago, would you consider a shoe company to be a significant publisher?  Yet Zappos has more than a dozen blogs. I contend the biggest challenge to any marketer may be the publishing of consistently engaging, meaningful content. And increasingly that means cutting through the clutter with entertaining content like puzzles, games, contests and videos. The implications of sustaining an organization’s publishing presence is daunting!

So what’s your take on this?  How are you adjusting to the new P’s?  How are you integrating them with the old ones?

Social media measurement: Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand tweets

In all of the posts I’ve read about social media measurement, very few address the possible role of qualitative research — measuring when you don’t have data — so let’s take a look at that today, shall we?  This will not be boring, I promise.

To make sure we’re all on a level playing field, let me quickly review the difference between QUANTITATIVE and QUALITATIVE data.

Quantitative marketing research is descriptive and conclusive.  It addresses research objectives through numerical measurement and statistical analysis.  In the social media world, this means data you can easily collect and measure like tweets, page views, comments, and perhaps even sales.  These are the facts and figures that get all the headlines. 

Qualitative Research is more, well …  touchy-feely.  It uses small samples and may involve focus groups, interviews, and behavioral observation.  Although it does not lend itself to statistical analysis* it can still be a quick and effective way to tell a story.

Because of all the free and voluminous data available through the social web, most of the attention is on the sexy quantitative side, but it might not be the best way to show value or tell your story.

Story time

Let me give an example from my own experience …

In addition to marketing and management, I also have a background in organizational development.  On one of my projects, I was delivering a training program to help correct dysfunctional management-union dynamics in a large company.  The people who went through the program raved about its effectiveness and had concrete examples of how it was dramatically improving the workplace.  The company’s top managers — who would not go through the program — were very skeptical about any progress and, lacking measurable results, were leaning toward cancelling it.  Like most managers, they demanded quantitative measurement … and I didn’t have it.  Sound familiar?

At the next employee training session, I mentioned that the program was probably going to be cancelled. The result was an out-pouring of outrage by both union and management participants. I had a video camera nearby for a training exercise and said, “Excuse me, but would you mind if I just turn this thing on to record your views?”

The group proceeded to tell story after story about the benefits of the training and also scolded upper management for not attending.  I edited the video to conform to the 5-minute executive attention span and played it during their next meeting. The managers sat dumbfounded and impressed as their employees passionately talked about the tangible benefits of the training. By the end of the meeting they all committed to attending the training themselves and expanding the program — without one pie chart!

Apply this to the social web

I use this example because like PR, marketing, or social media programs, training is very hard to quantify on a nice, neat spreadsheet.   This situation was a perfect time to use stories — qualitative data — to define value in a very different, yet compelling, way.

When you’re struggling to measure the value of social media marketing in your company don’t overlook the possibility of using qualitative stories from customers, employees and other stakeholders.  They might be showing up every day in comments, reviews, and customer meetings.

The technology of the social web offers unprecedented ways to capture and display this qualitative output.  And you know, sometimes all it takes is ONE story to provide more new insight than a dozen graphs!

What are your ideas?  What are some of the ways we can use stories to demonstrate the value of marketing through the social web?

*Michelle Chmielewski wrote in a {grow} comment that values can indeed be assigned to qualitative data to create numerical analysis. In effect this is how sentiment analysis is conducted. However, I was just trying to keep it simple today! : )

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