Archive for March, 2009

Forrester: growing spend on social media, but commitment still lacking

A new report by Forrester says that half of marketers around the world are planning to increase their social media marketing spend. No great surprise there: the proliferation of blogging and social networking over the past few years is hard to ignore. But the report also reveals a lack of serious commitment, as well as confusion about objectives.

Forrester polled 145 companies with 250-plus staff. Of those whose marketers knew their budgets, three quarters said social media would take up less than $100,000 over the next year. But in most cases there is no social media budget as such – funds are generated “as needed”, or simply scraped together from wherever there’s a bit of slack.

jeremiah-owyangThe report’s author, Jeremiah Owyang, also says companies don’t have a coherent strategy towards social media, and are just trying out different approaches to see what works. He writes:

“If you continue to fund social applications only as experiments, you’re unlikely to be able to do enough to make an impact or to have a secure source of funding for the future.

“One way to put these efforts on a firmer footing is to concentrate on objectives and measure progress toward those objectives, rather than just experimenting to see what happens. … Without concentrating on measurable objectives, it will be difficult to justify further investment in the future.”

As one of the few marketing budget items increasing during the recession, social media marketing needs to be taken seriously and treated as a corporate asset, Owyang argues.

What’s needed are long-term programs, rather than short-term experiments, and for that there have to be dedicated resources in place, including both social media strategists and community managers.

The full report is available here.

Email? It’s, like, so last year

A new piece of research by Nielsen shows that social networking is now more popular than email.

This will come to no surprise to anyone who works in an office or has teenage children. A preference for email is these days becoming the preserve of the middle-aged, just as a preference for talking on the telephone is the preserve of an older generation.

Sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow for faster communication to a much wider group of people. You may only have 140 characters in which to write a Twitter message, but you can relay it to hundreds or thousands of people.  As a tool for finding the person with the expertise to help you with a particular job, social networking sites are hard to beat.

Firms that attempt to ban employees using social networking sites look increasingly behind the times. Recently I spoke to the knowledge management expert Dave Pollard, who told me that young people in the workplace no longer cut themselves off from previous colleagues when they change jobs:

“They develop relationships that go on physically and virtually for a lifetime, and they draw on those trusted relationships over entire careers. So when organisations try and close down certain connectivity to make it available only within the intranet, they’re blocking people from getting information from most of the sources they find valuable.”

The way we work is changing – and businesses that fail to adapt will get left behind.

YouTube US Senate Hub shows business communicators the way

The rise of social media means that consumers are now in control. They can organise themselves around you in seconds and share their views about you with their colleagues.

One of the best ways to distribute company messages in this context is to collaborate with your audiences and enter into conversations with them.

YouTube is running a fascinating initiative called Senate Hub where people can register to submit questions for senators. The questions are voted on and the most popular ones are put to the senator who replies through a video. You can then discuss the senator’s views further by commenting on the video message.

This approach could be applied to many traditional forms of business communications: media interviews; Financial Director interviews with analysts; new product launches and so on. What’s refreshing about this approach is that you are providing content which is genuinely useful to your audiences not simply broadcasting what you think they should know.

YouTube is also collaborating with its audience to create the content it wishes to have.  All sound social media principles to follow.

Surely a lot of businesses out there want their audience to engage and connect with them in more effective ways?

What would Google do?

blogdaddyJeff Jarvis, owner of buzzmachine.com, has just brought out a new book called ‘What Would Google do?’ It is a fascinating account of the effects that Google thinking is having on our culture and businesses. In one section of the book, he considers how Google would run restaurants and the automotive industry. It is controversial, thought-provoking and essential reading for anyone interested in social media.

Jeff Jarvis writes about social media for The Guardian and blogs at buzzmachine.com.

You can hear him being interviewed about his new book here. Well worth a listen.

Want to advertise using social media? Try this

Every business wants to find a way of using social media to sell products. Yes, it’s good to engage with your customers, and yes, it’s great to find out what people want, but isn’t it even better if you can sell more units?

A business called SocialMedia.com thinks it has found the answer. According to this report, it has come up with an advertising technique called Word of Mouth Impression, or WOMI. WOMI campaigns present users with a multiple choice question – and then take the user’s answer as a starting point for the same question to the user’s friends on the same social network.

The report explains:

“If an ad for Star Wars had a call-to-action asking if I was on the Light Side or Dark Side of the Force, it could take my response and then present my friends with an ad that said ‘Jason is on the Light Side, how about you?’ In turn, their responses are passed on to all of their friends, making this among the first kind of advertising with a viral element.”

It sounds good – but will it catch on? The problem facing advertisers is that many users are sick of adverts, and will deliberately block them. While WOMI has the advantage of attracting users’ attention through the popular gimmick of a quiz or a game, some may just regard it as one more online irritation.

You can see the SocialMedia.com pitch here.

Staff wear online pizza reviews on their T-shirts

What do you do if you are a pizza restaurant in San Francisco and you are getting bad reviews online?

Well, Pizzeria Delfina has decided to get its staff to wear t-shirts carrying bad reviews from the user review site Yelp.

What’s the strategy behind this one? Are they trying to get their customers to turn on Yelp and go there and dispute the reviews? Are they trying to show they don’t care and they are above it all? You can read more here and see an example t-shirt:

Companies cannot ignore the reviews that are appearing about them online. Now consumers have access to the tools to easily rate products and services, traditional critics in newspapers and magazines are being cut out of the loop.

Companies like Pizzeria Delfina have to join in a conversation online. Apologise honestly for any mistakes. Maybe offer free pizza to the complainers. It is  a start to acknowledge the reviews on T-shirts but that’s no substitute for a genuine conversation.

Skittles opens up home page to social media

250px-skittles-louisiana-2003Skittles has been changing its web site’s home page to link directly into social media platforms featuring conversations about Skittles.

First it was Twitter, then it was its Facebook page and just recently it highlighted the Skittles wikipedia entry on its home page.

This is a clever marketing move. Skittles is showcasing the conversations that its customers are having about Skittles through social media. It is a bit risky as the coverage is unedited and they started to pick up swearing when they ran the Twitter Skittles coverage live on their web site.

For Skittles and other companies to transform their businesses, they need to listen to and have direct conversations with their customers who are using social media on an on-going basis.

Plus they have to start to put the customer more at the centre of the development of their products and services. Skittles will continue to prosper if those customers using social media tools can help develop its products going forward.

This is an inspired marketing move and if Skittles takes this further and actually incorporates their customers, who are using social media, more into their business then they will see much greater dividends.

Charlene Li has an interesting view on this development.

Charlene Li podcast interview with ItsOpen

charlene-li1Here’s your chance to listen to Charlene Li, author of the best-selling book, ‘Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies’.

Justin spoke to Charlene from his mobile at East Croydon station so there is a bit of outside interference. They still managed to cover a lot of topics. Let us know what you think…

If you would like to stay in touch with Charlene, you can follow her blog.

Thanks to Andy at WireworldMedia for organising the podcast. To hear the podcast, go to our page at Wireworld and click play or download.

Twitter cartoons

judgementdayCommentary on social media is everywhere, as press commentators and cartoonists wake up to it en masse. Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury strip in the Guardian G2 today has veteran TV hack Roland Hedley using his airtime to give a big shout-out to his followers on Twitter, his friends on Facebook and his fans on MySpace, as well as the readers of his blog – and completely forgetting the news story he is supposed to reporting.

Follow this link for a bunch more cartoons you might enjoy. One has the following exchange between two unsmiling co-workers:

- Why haven’t you befriended me on MySpace or poked me back on Facebook, and how come you’re not following me on Twitter?
- Because I don’t really like you.
- What difference does that make?

In another, a young man says to his beloved over a restaurant table: ‘I’m so glad you agreed to meet me in person. There are some things that just can’t be said in 140 characters.’

Enjoy!

The FT is “sweet to tweet”

There was an excellent analysis piece in last Friday’s FT looking at the way in which Twitter has crossed over into the mainstream.

The article quotes Peter Norvig, director of research at Google. He says that among younger people email has largely given way to communication by a mix of text messaging, instant messaging and posting updates on social networking sites.

The piece uses the now inevitable Obama example, but there is an interesting look at the commercial opportunities offered by Twitter.

If Southwest airlines is connecting with its customers on Twitter what’s stopping you?

Read the article.