Archive for November, 2009

LinkedIn links in

As 2009 draws to a close we are likely to see the usual sort of stock-taking with regard to social media, and also prognostications for how it is likely to develop as a marketing channel. It reminds me a lot of what was going on with email marketing at the beginning of the decade. Stand by for a blizzard of studies like this one showing that most businesses plan to increase their social media spend in 2010.

But a more significant step will be the greater ease of access that advancing technology offers for the use of social media in a business context. LinkedIn has just announced that its LinkedIn Platform, previously exclusive to select partners, is now available for developers anywhere to integrate into their business applications and Web sites. This means that users will be able to access all 50 million LinkedIn profiles and contacts directly via an embedded widget.

Experts predict all kinds of exciting developments to flow from this. For instance with regard to events and exhibitions blogger Stephen Hold enthuses about the opportunities for database development. ” Social media marketing will become more robust,” he says. ” Registration solutions will become the purchase opportunity for inbound marketing invitations.  Event organizers will have the opportunity to connect with online communities interested in the event brand.”

Even more exciting, adds Hold, is the integration of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as one common social media web.  TweetDeck, one of the best existing desktop clients, is about to launch the new LinkedIn platform to provide updates along with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Incidentally, the inclusion in this suite of connections of MySpace could stop it being totally overshadowed by Facebook, he suggests.

Twitter brand deals…hurry hurry!!

More companies are using Twitter to promote deals and discounts. And
Twitter users are gathering together to aggregate the best deals and share
them with their friends.

See how it works here.

Waking up to Facebook’s potential!

While some companies cannot decide how to get involved with social media, others are pioneering innovative uses of Facebook.

Take a look at these examples below. Intel is especially interesting where they are attracting fans to promote discounts on new products.

Not enough thought, in my view,  is going into facebook as a brand/business platform. Nor is it being taken seriously enough by brand teams. Millions of people use Facebook, but still brand activity tends to focus on ads or search engine optimisation, rather than on engaging in a strategic way with these new platforms which people are spending most of their time on.

Learn more.

Murdoch madness

Can Murdoch charge for content? Should he try to remove free News International content from Google? Leading social media commentator, Jeff Jarvis thinks not. Google brings attention and audiences to Murdoch, and Jarvis argues that Murdoch’s failure is not to be capitalising on the search engine traffic coming his way.

It’s well worth a read.

DuPont’s social media video clips

Interesting talk by DuPont’s E-Marketing Manager, Gary Spangler, explaining the strategy behind  a series of social media video clips. They are pulling in a steady audience  although the series is more than two years old. The videos came from  archives of DuPont product testing videos.

I think this underlines how you need to look to what is within your organisation which would be genuinely interesting to share with others outside. Also, there is plenty of scope for creativity when it comes to using video clips.

Learn more.

Marketers’ changing priorities

It’s astonishing how quickly the marketing landscape is changing. Ten years ago it was still all about offline advertising and direct mail. Then Internet banner ads started to take off, while email made serious inroads into the snail mail business. Then along came Google to give impetus to search as a marketing channel.

Now we are seeing yet another major development, as social media comes from nowhere to figure largely in companies’ marketing strategies. A new survey by an email marketing company says that 74% of small businesses plan to up their email spend in 2010, but this is a long-established trend: for me the real story is that social media is close behind, with 66% of respondents planning to invest more in their presence on blogs and social networking sites.

This is at the expense of the other johnny-come-latelies: fewer small businesses expect to spend more on search next year, and more than a half will do no banner advertising at all.

This shift absolutely makes sense, given the enormous popularity of social media and its relative cheapness as a way of reaching large numbers of consumers with relevant messages. But it does rather make one wonder where it will all end. Will yet another new marketing channel, based on an as yet undreamed of technology, come along in a couple of years to displace social media?

I wouldn’t put any money on it, however it’s not the future we should be concerned with, but what’s happening right now. Social media offers huge opportunities, and the challenge for marketers is to see how far they can exploit them to raise brand awareness and boost sales. Still, it will be interesting to see in a couple of years time whether this new media fulfils the present high expectations.

The mandate for a social media team

Harvard Business Review recommends that companies develop a formal social media policy  in its latest November edition. Employees should take responsibility for their postings, clearly indicating when opinions are their own and not the firm’s. Posts should be factual and the poster’s identity disclosed.

Employees must be aware of and  respect the legal and professional framework that governs firm behaviour, Harvard Business review says.

In essence this is fine, but certain members of a company cannot just be restricted to factual comments. Members of a media team might want to challenge the interpretation that a blogger has made about a particular news development. Also, a successful social media strategy and policy involves nuturing communities; supporting people who are already your fans. You are not going to do that by just being factual.

The other point that Harvard Business Review does not address is the fact that many policies governing company communications don’t even acknowledge the existence of social media, and they therefore need to be updated, but in a way which is in tune with the culture of social media. What’s the point in companies adopting practices which, for example, could send them down the path of the music industry which fought downloads and failed to quickly adjust to the culture of social media. Companies need communications policies which satisfy legal requirements but not at the cost of alienating their online customers and causing bad relations with hugely inflential bloggers.

Links for beginners

The great thing about social media is that there are so many enthusiasts out there who can give good advice. I recently came across this succinct piece in a Virginia newspaper, answering a question from a small business owner: ‘How can I drive more attention to my Web site without breaking the bank?

The writer identifies six essential platforms, and the specific role played by each: Linked In, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, blogs and Twitter. He usefully provides a link in each case to help find out more, for example: A great article titled “10 Ways to Make Money with MySpace” can be found at http://www.doshdosh.com/10-ways-to-make-money-with-myspace/

Anyone who wants to get a quick sense of the possibilities could do worse than follow up the links.

Harvard Business Review on Social Media teams

Harvard Business Review (November edition) has published an interesting piece on social media.  The magazine says that there is a ‘dire need’ of coherent outreach strategies, fresh skills and adaptive tactics.

The article argues that social media platforms promote deep relationships, and  improve the creation and synthesis of knowledge. The authors argue that companies need to assemble a social media team which is equipped to identify new opportunities for engagement and prevent brand damage. Successful teams combine marketing, public relations and information technology skills.

In subsequent posts on this blog,  I’ll look in more detail at the mandate of a social media team, as suggested by the Harvard Business Review, as I think it raises some important questions for businesses.

Majestic social media

majestic wineMajestic Wine unveiled a sharp rise in online sales today (Nov 17), with the company pointing to the positive influence of its social media strategy.

Online sales rose 24.6 per cent, as Majestic used a blog and Twitter to attract new customers. CEO Steve Lewis said: ‘We’ve unleashed the potential of the twenty-somethings in our business, improving the blog written by staff and selling parcels of wine which are too small to send to stores as online exclusives to create a sense of urgency. They sell out within hours.’

You can read the Majestic Wine blog here and learn from their approach.