Archive for March, 2009

Inspirations from the ClueTrain Manifesto

cluetrain-2Published in 2000, The Cluetrain Manifesto is one of the key works which explains the rise of social media. It made quite an impact on me when I first read it. You can read it for free here.

Here are six lessons which the Cluetrain Manifesto teaches in its 95 theses:

1 Markets are conversations

2 Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors

3 Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice

4 Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments, or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived

5 People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

6 The internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media

New stats: 88% of marketers use social media

stelzner-reportHere’s a new report that contains some interesting stats about the use of social marketing by companies. It’s by author Michael Stelzner, an expert on white papers who describes himself as a ‘fellow social media marketing traveller’.

Stelzner polled 900 marketers and found that:

- 88% are including social media in their marketing strategy
- 72% are relatively new to social media
- 64% use social media for 5 hours or more each week
- 39% use it for 10 hours a week
- 81% say the main benefit is generating exposure (followed by increasing traffic and building new business relationships)
- Over half experience higher search engine rankings as a result of using social media

Stelzner also lists the questions that companies have about how to use social media:

1. What are the best tactics
2. How do I measure the effectiveness of social media
3. Where do I start?
4. How do I manage the social balance?
5. What are the best sites and tools out there?
6. How do I make the most of my available time?
7. How do I find and focus my efforts on my target audience?
8. How do I convert my social media marketing efforts into tangible results?
9. How do I cohesively tie different social media efforts together?
10. Does social media marketing work, and if so, how effective is it?

Stelzner discusses all these points in a bit of detail.  The report is free to download, and is well worth a look. It’s available here, and there’s also a video in which he talks you through it.

Twitter attacting working adults

A lot of people assume that social media is for young people. But the facts do not always support this assumption.

Research from Nielsen suggests that Twitter, for example, is most popular among 35-49 year olds. It is not as popular among the young as some might have thought. I don’t buy the argument that social media is only for young people anyway. Why should it be? Technology does not discriminate on the basis of age.

Social media is for everyone and is becoming more and more ingrained  into all of our lives and in doing so it challenges the assumptions of many traditional business communications models. Especially those that are based on securing access to a limited number of so called experts.

Everyone can talk about your brand and business now. It is time to use social media to treat all of your customers in the same way as you would treat one FT reporter.

Twitter in schools

children-computersSurprisingly little reaction so far to the news that a government report will recommend that subjects like modern history be downgraded in the primary school curriculum and that children be taught how to use Twitter and Wikipedia for source material.

I have to say, this baffled me. So I checked to see whether it was April 1, and was puzzled to find it wasn’t. As all parents surely know, the one thing children don’t need help with is the use of electronic media. For them it’s as natural as breathing and eating sweets. Next thing, schools will be holding lessons on how to play video games.

It’s easy to mock, and to be fair, this is a leak from a draft of a report commissioned by the Schools Secretary Ed Balls that’s not due to be published until next month, so better wait and see what it really says. But if the powers that be are actively encouraging young children to use social media for source material it’s a powerful indication of just how mainstream it’s becoming.

Welcome to the world of the crowd surfer

crowdsurfersbook-3This is an extract from Martin Thomas’s new book Crowdsurfing: Surviving and Thriving in the Age of Consumer Empowerment, one of several that we’ll be running in the coming weeks.

There is a story, probably apocryphal, about an architect who designed a university campus.  On the day of the grand opening, he was approached by the Head of the University, who commented that ‘the buildings look fantastic, but why haven’t you put in any paths to connect them?’   The architect smiled knowingly and replied, “I will come back in six months to put in the paths, once I have seen how the students have chosen to walk between the buildings.”

Rather than impose his own views of where the paths should go, or use some elaborate computer simulation model, he believed that an enlightened architect should respond to the behaviour of the crowd.

Welcome to the world of the crowd surfer: a world in which a new generation of business and political leaders have learned how to harness the energy, ideas and enthusiasm of today’s empowered consumers.  They are not manipulators, demagogues or mere populists.  They have been smart enough to recognise that people around the globe – emboldened and enthused by a new spirit of enquiry and self-expression, and powered by the internet – have changed the rules of the game.  They realise that surrendering absolute control – giving their customers, partners and employees a greater say in the way that their businesses operate – is paradoxically, the most effective way to manage their corporate or political destiny.

Our crowd surfers are the people that concur with racing driver Mario Andretti’s maxim that: “If everything seems under control you’re just not going fast enough.”  They are people such as Proctor & Gamble’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, A.G. Lafley, who describes how business leaders: “are operating in what is very much a ‘let go’ world.

mtphotodocMartin Thomas has spent 23 years running marketing communications agencies in PR, advertising, sponsorship, entertainment marketing and new media.  The blog of the book is www.crowdsurfing.net

Client choices on social media

We thought you might find it useful to know what social media activities our clients are focusing on at the moment:

1  Social Media ‘ecosystem’ audits – we are helping clients to explore what is being said about them on social media networks, including newspaper sites, blogs and twitter. With media events coming up, for example, they are keen to know what is being said about them through social media and what the key/growing topics are, so they can be properly briefed. They are then looking for recommendations from us as to how they can act upon the findings in the social media realm.

2  Social media guidelines – we are helping clients develop guidelines for using social media to protect the reputation of their businesses, but also to guide staff on how best to use blogs and social media networks.  Lots of agencies are bombarding brand teams with social media suggestions and there is a risk that the company might not follow best practice.

3  Social media executive briefings  – we are organising briefings for leaders of businesses and brand teams who want to understand what is driving social media and how it is affecting their business; they also want to see good examples of how other businesses are using social media.

We are finding that a lot of large organisations are keen to see how they can use social media to be more personal in their dealings with customers. They want to bring out ‘the real’ side of the organisation, not what they see as the stereotypical perceptions that have often been generated by the traditional media.

4  Blogging – We are helping clients to develop blogs and become part of communities that are relevant to those blogs. We looking at what content works best and how to develop different channels to support blogs, for example Twitter and Flickr.

We are also looking at how we can optimise blogs and publicise them.  And we are getting requests to develop concepts for media blogs so media teams can efficiently distribute their own messages and develop their own platforms.  This is based on the knowledge that key audiences are no longer reading traditional medi,  nor are they always visiting corporate web sites.

5  Twitter – we are helping clients to develop Twitter channels and advising them on how best they can use Twitter to develop relationships with key audiences and to link to relevant and useful content (such as interesting videos on YouTube or articles in e-newsletters). While there is a lot of unofficial brand stuff created and shared through social media, companies can use Twitter to act as a ‘curator’ of interesting and relevant material, so audiences know which to go to.

The smarter way of doing social media

scffvocwu2sc79yI don’t know about you, but I get mildly irritated by all those “humorous” emails that clog up my email: pictures of cats doing cute things, photos of defaced billboards, accounts of comical misunderstandings, and all the rest.

Then again, I quite like the idea of putting them all in one website, particularly if it means they’re not chewing up my bandwidth or taking up space on my hard disk. Alex Tew thinks so too, which is why he has created Popjam, a site for sharing what he calls “the web’s funniest content”. Tew is the young man who made himself a dollar millionaire, by creating the Million Dollar Homepage, which sold a million single pixels to companies at a dollar a time.

Essentially, Popjam is just another social media site, like YouTube, Flickr or Twitter. You share videos, links and photographs, the only criterion being that they have to be funny. Like the million dollar homepage, it’s an incredibly simple idea, though whether it will be popular enough to draw enough advertising revenue to make Tew’s next million dollars, it’s too early to say.

Still, as business blogger Nick Saalfeld points out, Tew also created the highly successful Sock and Awe game, inviting people to throw a virtual shoe at a virtual George Bush. The game has so far received 90 million hits. So it seems the man has a genius for apparently simple ideas that spread like wildfire – the kind of thing that makes every business trying to harness the power of social media exclaim: “If only I’d thought of that!”

Let’s face it, you probably won’t think of the next million dollar idea. But if you do, tell us first.

Jeff Jarvis addresses Google HQ on Google

jarvis-small_v249757376_1Jeff Jarvis, owner of the famous blog, www.buzzmachine.com, has brought out a new book called, What would Google do? We have referred to it before.

The book, which I highly recommend, is about the impact that Google is having on our thinking and our behaviour. The impact that Google is having on our society and on the world of business.

Google invited Jeff Jarvis to address people at their HQ to talk about the book. In a wide ranging discussion Jarvis talks about the impact of Google on the media and what businesses can learn from Google. Essentially he argues that businesses, like Google in a sense, are platforms and they need to develop networks around themselves. They have to help the network around them succeed.

Jarvis is fast, witty, and inspired. He’s grasped a vision of how society is changing under the influence of Google and the internet and his insights are invaluable. Spend some time with Jarvis and your view of the world changes.

The future of social media

charlene-li2Charlene Li, author of Groundswell, who we interviewed recently, has given a talk on the future of social media.

Take a look at her slide show presentation. Charlene makes interesting points about how Twitter, for example, is being integrated into TV.

Social media – opportunities for direct marketers

The marketing story of the past decade has been the growing fragmentation of marketing channels, and the need to find the right people in the right places at the right time.  There’s been a strong shift from blanket advertising towards targeted approaches through direct channels: mail, email, the Web and telephone, each with its own very specific characteristics, advantages and potential pitfalls.

Social networking sites and other user-driven media are yet another  channel that direct marketers are having to get to grips with. To help them figure it out, the Direct Marketing Association has launched its first quarterly social media report, identifying the marketing opportunities that exist within social media.

The report is produced by digital intelligence analysts StrategyEye, and covers the last quarter of 2008. It analyses how platforms like  Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are changing their business models, offering new types of content to attract advertisers and create new revenue streams for themselves.

The report also offers insights into how consumers are using social networking, blogs and other Web 2.0 applications.

Mark Brill, chairman of the DMA Mobile Marketing Council, says it’s a critical time for direct marketers to understand the marketing opportunities that social media present.

“It is a nascent industry, so confusion is commonplace as to how social networking and UGC websites are monetising their content, and how users interact with such media. These websites have great potential for highly-targeted marketing opportunities, so this report will help direct marketers to make informed decisions.”

The Report is available for download from the member research section of the DMA website.