Posts

Study: Social Network access at work? Teens expect it!

social-networks-sepia1Your company thinks about limiting or restricting the access of social networks during working time? You better have a second thought about it…

A recent study states that for the net generation social networking has become a crucial part of their business life. It is so central to their lifestyle that it becomes one of the main decision criteria when weighing job offers.

The Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey shows that 88% of teenagers use social networks on a daily basis. 58% of the teenagers surveyed said that they would consider the ability to access social networks when considering a job offer.

Business decision makers in companies should be aware of the fact that this might become a central question in recruiting talks. Teenagers will definitely make decision pro or contra a job on considerations about having the ability to access Facebook, Twitter, and the lot when applying for jobs.

Spot On!
Teenagers don’t use social networks to waste time witht heir peers, or even be unproductive. The main reasons for the use becomes clear when taking a close look at the results. 51% of the surveyed teens use social networks to help others. And 29% use the social benefit to create awareness for a cause. So, if you think of improving customer service, you should consider these facts and try to transfer the social abilities of the networks in order to build a stable customer communication world – with the net generation.

The Evolution of the Engagement Economy

Banner Social NetworksTalking about new trends on the social web, marketers always love the point of view when brands are involved. They love to negotiate, as I call it, on the “cost per engagement (cpe)” level. Businesses and their communication suppliers always try to get customers engaged in brands. Some years ago, this was difficult. Now, it seems easy. And this topic becomes even more relevant for future marketing strategies when you think about today’s engagement economy.

The engagement economy nowadays is doing things companies never thought would happen: There are people forwarding brand videos (which generate massive engagement), admitting to be emotionally involved in brands. We’ve got people publicly telling their peers how much they love products, services or companies. And then there are people discussing about products and how they would change these products and services in order to make them more profitable for the manufacturer. This is all happening right up to the point where people are basically saying “I am a brand maniac of…” – fantastic and unbelievable in one go, right?

So, if we take a look back and analyze this trend from a long-term web-strategic point of view, companies need to rethink the future of their web-marketing efforts as the social web transforms the value of processes in sales and marketing.

At an event last week a marketer I know quite well took me aside and asked: “Why are people not as engaged when clicking banners as they are when becoming fans or followers of brands on the social web?” And my first reaction was to give a shrug. But then I realized the huge potential of the thought and I said: “Gimme some days and I will try to blog an answer.”

whyblog_1In my view, a major part of the explanation to this phenomenon lies in the evolutionary process of the engagement economy and their brand commitment when people even want to become social VIPs or brand-vangelists and accept the ads from their favorite brands in their social graphs.

Emotions
The emotional-impact of banner advertising and of “social media engagement” is completely different – on those who ‘follow’ the people that click on traditional advertising (display or affiliate) and on those who become fans or followers.

Somebody who clicks a banner ad is not engaged in any kind of brand emotionality: This person is just interested in the offer or the message that grins in his face saying: “I am nice, ain’t I?!” So, why not take a glance at the offer (especially when coupons or incentives are involved) as it is a short-term sales boost via email or some other traditional online advertising format. The person who is clicking on a fan page wants to know more about the brand values, why people have become fans, who they are. This is someone who wants to give some kind of emotional kick back to the brand and the “engaged brand peers”. And just by becoming a fan, they give the brands more positive rewards than they probably realize – kind of like an ultimate pay back which has never existed in that form or to that extent before.

Action
People who participate in banner advertising come from the passive “lean-back economy”. Some experts are already wondering, if banners are dying. My answer is: No, as banners follow a different purpose than the social web marketing activity! The benefit for traditional online advertising is the click, resulting in the quick consumption of news and information. The engagement economy loves to lean forward and get in the driver seat of the brand communication and discussion. Emotionally motivated by the sweet feeling of competence, this engaged person argues about the good and bad of the brand values. When you look at Nespresso and Starbucks social media activities and other impressive examples on Facebook or Twitter, or you take the latest example of the IKEA Facebook campaign all what companies are doing is throwing some communication crums in. And the fans “crowd together” and pick them up with greedy brand enthusiasm. They give the companies and their peers input and feedback with comments, questions and by sharing the brand content and ideas. The emotions get their pay-off by little brand incentives and keep the wheels of engagement buzz turning.

Time
Think about how much time people spend with a brand when clicking on a banner versus being on a fan page. A banner is meant to save time – as does an offer – just by its intention and nature, as well as the message it carries. Check the offer and then be off as quick as possible. Is this the way a banner works? I think so. Rate this short interaction against the time of a brand experience on a fan page. People listen, learn and participate in the conversation about the brand, and come back to see how the communication proceeds. Not because a banner asks for their time to do so, but as the people want it themselves. The customer is the active part of the brand communication, not the company. The customer pays attention to the brand and donates “engagement time” as the new value or ROI for all brand communication efforts.

And then, why do they stay longer on a fan page? The answer is easy: Their “brand friends” are there. They feel to be in good company and this is what builds comfort, driven by a “warm feeling of friendship, networking and community”. You are not alone, you have something in common just by spending time on the same topic: a brand commitment.

Spot On!
The engagement economy is in charge of brand communication and brand commitment. The company still owns it but they are being managed by engaged brand fans. Now, my question to you: Is this true? What is your experience and your strategy when working with this new engagement economy?

Social Media and Advertising – how to explain an antithesis to C-levels?

social-networks-sepia1Facing the pure intention of social media versus advertising, we have to admit that we are talking about an antithesis – no matter if you can book advertising on a social networks or not. Social Media is conversations while advertising is the monologue from company to customer. And in between lies some undefined (or shall we say unqualified) customer dialogue that we have been through for years of online advertising.

So, how can we explain this type of modern ‘customer engagement setting’ to C-level executives? How can we bring these two anti-poles together? What could have been a better idea than asking to the people that have been through this process of explaining, evaluating and engaging C-levels from both sides – platform owners and brand companies.

Maybe you want to listen to their thoughts…

Blake Chandlee, vice president and commercial director EMEA, Facebook (recorded after the DMEXCO panel ‘social media and advertising’) – sees the biggest challenges in the evolution from their traditional management roles of strategy and investement thinking towards a new business world called ‘social networking’.

Tony Douglas, Innovation Manager, BMW Group – advices to make senior management aware of the potential that social media offers, and knows off the trial-and-error process companies might be going through.

“Firstly you have to get the channels on the agenda that means you have to convince/demonstrate to senior management that the channels are relevant i.e. they are a valuable addition to the marketing communication mix. Just because you have a new channel does not mean you have more budget so you have to prove that this “new” channel is better than some “old” one only then will you get a shift in budget.

Social media and “advertising” are two very odd bed fellows…you cannot do a traditional banner campaign in social media it does not work you need to target and get your context and content right. “Targeting” is also a new science so you have to educate the C-level on what this is. The content is not one size fits all as is often the case with ATL content….here we are talking a mass of niches. However the really tough bit you have to be social now that can be a real challenge. I think it’s fair to say that not many professional marketers have been schooled in how to be social (in marketing). This is new ground for many marketers and brands and like all new stuff it takes time to adapt and learn.

So start early, start small, learn by doing and adapt quickly and if you demonstrate success and a greater return on investment you’ll find those obstacles and challenges will disappear. They are disappearing in the BMW Group.”

Tim Meier, Brand Manager, Bacardi – focuses on the customer dialogue as the main point for his argumentation.

“Generally speaking, it is necessary to enhance top management understanding of social media as a qualitative target group related dialogue communication opportunity. Any figures to measure social media ROI need to be accompanied by the level of qualitative consumer references. In how far are you able to define the GRP level of a positive brand related post from a celebrity/opinion leader? Social Media will certainly emancipate as an equal part of the marketing mix to support future brand campaigns on the image level. Nevertheless you´ll be rewarded with additional coverage if you´re doing a good job and offer a consumer relevant content.”

Spot On!
It would be interesting to get some more views on how we can help making C-levels understand the values of social media quicker, better or more accurate. If we don’t do it, your customers might become the teachers of modern successful customer engagement – but this might be painful for your companies brand. So maybe you and your company are in the same process of evaluating social media and advertising. Wanna share your knowledge with us…

Looking forward to it.

News Update – Best of the Day

daily1When managers talk to executives about social media the main question is always: Will the executives see the value for relationship- and brand-building. A new whitepaper called “Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks” says: Yes, they do!
And if your executives still don’t know why they should implement social media guidelines, Brian Solis has some good arguments for you.

Case studies on employer branding and how to leverage it with social media is hard to find. Brett Minchington, Chairman/CEO of Employer Brand International (EBI), interviews Kerry Noone (Marketing Communications Manager, Sodexo) about how their social media strategy is building a stronger employer brand at Sodexo. Listen carefully…

Sometimes old TV spots turn out to the best…

PS: Find new books in my The Strategy Web bookstore. Just updated today…!

Holiday season: 'Out of the office' replies not trendy anymore?

the-beachIn our times of social networking, there is an experience that I make which is in some way amusing. In some way it is quite difficult to understand why people do what they do.

Fact is, people tell their contacts via social networks that they will be going on holidays… and don’t send as many ‘Out of the office’ replies in a reactive way as they used to do anymore. The proactive communication approach via social networks seems to be the future.

Years ago, especially in the holiday season, there was an increase in incoming mails with ‘Out of the office’ replies. No matter if you sent an email, or not. Those automated (response) mails did not surprise anyone anymore. We all got used ti it.

Today these automated mails seem to be decreasing, if not vanishing completely. And there is a reason for it: The digital business world is changing. Why is this happening? Social Networks have taken over the sovereignty of the ‘Out of the office’ reply. And the question that I raised some months ago, if business 3.0 will be nearly without emails, seems to show the first signs of ´modern impact.

twitter-holidays-2

If someone is on holiday, we get the notice via social networks… and we receive it already some days before people change their desk chair for a beach bar stool at the pool. People tell us in their status updates when and how long they will be going on holidays. And they do tell us at least some days in advance. If this is clever or not, I have not figured out yet.

The reason behind this preventive behavior seems to be quite obvious because it might also be unnecessary. No ‘Out of the office’ reply means ‘No automated mails’ for business partners, clients or people that did not really think of contacting me while I am sitting in the sand at some beach hundred miles away from work.

It is definitely a good service for a promising partnership. People can plan in advance if they need something from the contact that will be going on holidays.

twitter-holidays-1

Nevertheless, some business people -or shall I say social networker- should also think about the possible aftermath as the web is public, others might be listening carefully and messages might get into the wrong hands of burglars or thieves who can also plan in advance where and how to get rich the next day. Although status updates can only be seen by your clients, partners or friends, we all know that we don’t really know everyone in depth as we would love to.

As you see in the picture here, some people also wrote it on Twitter, and I don’t know if this is a safe way…

But letting your contacts know about your holidays via social networks is definitely a business trend and a service that is coming up.

Spot on!
Curious to see if you see this trend as well? How do handle this topic yourself? Do you use status update in order to tell your business partners or friends that you will be going on holidays?

Looking forward to your comments…

PS: Sometimes our German’s offline reputation scares me a bit…
twitter-holidays-3

Personal Branding – how to build your career 3.0

Personal branding is the way to stand out of the crowd and being noticed in some special way in the business world which makes you unique. It is your value proposition for the future of your career. In a session at the webinale09 I held a speech about ‘Career 3.0 – split between personal branding and productivity’ and gave some projections on the relevance of social media activities and how these affect your career development.

Today, we want to learn from Dwight Cribb, founder of his successful recruitment agency, what professional recruiters think about personal branding and what is the relevance for personal branding. You can follow his offline and online thoughts via his Twitter account.

Q: What is the first thing you do when somebody is being suggested as a perfect candidate?
Dwight Cribb Of course I will first probe what the relationship between the candidate and the person suggesting him is. Supposing that the recommendation is made during a phone conversation, I will in parallel check the candidate’s profile on Xing. If that does not provide the information I require I will probe deeper with people search engines.

Q: Let’s imagine somebody is not doing anything for personal branding. This person is not blogging, micro-blogging or social networking. Does this have a positive or negative impact on your perception of that person?
Dwight Cribb This largely depends on the type of position I am recruiting for, both in terms of seniority and discipline. I would normally expect someone in a directly client facing role or someone who communicates directly on behalf of a division or company to have at least some presence on the web. It is, however, true that not being on a social networking site is today more of statement than being on one. A few years ago one could be forgiven for thinking of people who had not yet discovered Xing, LinkedIn and facebook as being somewhat backward or conservative. As it is today largely impossible to not have noticed these networks flourish, we must assume that those not on them have shunned them on purpose. This may be a good strategy if one relies on others to communicate with clients and the public, especially as a senior manager. A C-Level executive will through his utterances on social networks have a severe impact on the brand communication, it thus needs to be 100% in line with the other communication, if not it will cause at best confusion and at worst it will undermine the credibility of the brand.

As for blogging, I think that is a very personal decision and I would never think badly of anyone who did not blog. I may, however, think badly of someone who blogs badly or in a manner inappropriate to his or her position. So overall it would not reflect badly if I found out nothing about a person online, it would just peak my interest and make me more curious to receive other information in the form of a CV or a recommendation from a third party.

Q: Will personal branding and the individual online reputation replace the traditional CV some day?
Dwight Cribb I doubt whether it will replace the CV, it is more likely that it will continue to augment the CV. Online reputation is a fantasy product. We each spin our profiles in a manner which we feel supports the image we want to convey. It is self marketing. A CV is more strongly based in chronological fact and provides a picture which comes closer to the reality than the pictures which get drawn in communities.

Q: If everybody has a strong personal brand, don’t companies fear these people could get chased by some competitor and recruiters? Or that employees just work for their own career purpose?
Dwight Cribb Most successful employees work for the own career advancement. But in the long term they will only achieve this by delivering results to their employers, because people are very good at spotting meaningless self marketing and will not fall for it for long. Good employees have always had a strong personal brand (also called reputation). It has been true in all areas and across the ages, if you do something well you will be admired by your peers and your reputation will spread. This means that others will try and employ your services, sometimes via a recruiter.

Q: What is your advice on how companies have to handle personal branding of the employees in the future?
Dwight Cribb Let people define themselves what they are comfortable with. Give them a clear guideline what company resources and what company information they can use to build their reputation and to what extent they must make clear what is their opinion what the company’s.

Q: What do you think of the personal web managers vision?
Dwight Cribb There are instances where this makes perfect sense, but I belive they are far and few between. This is a role which has precedence in the offline world, many high-profile business people, politicians and celebrities employ someone with this brief. Whether they do their job online, offline or in both really does not make much difference. We have come to expect that the picture we get presented of these people has been scripted and planned in detail. We even often admire the way in which they craftily manipulate their image. But I think we would be less inclined to condone or accept this level of abstraction in communication in our closer environment of colleagues, family and friends. A facebook status update from a friend loses relevance if I know that it was posted his or her personal web consultant, who was busy making them be liked by their friends and acquaintances.

Q: Give us 3 tips how to create a personal brand, please.
Dwight Cribb Be yourself, be honest, laugh at times.

Thank you for your time and your advice, Mr. Cribb.

Dell: social media business or the just good marketers?

Dell is the social media super-hero these days and one of the most named examples of social media intelligence. At least, if we believe in a lot of blog posts…

Last week, Dell reported in a blog post that their Twitter account @DellOutlet earned more than $2 million US dollars in revenue. Money that can be attributed directly to their Twitter activity. This does not surprise us, having heard that Dell broke the $1 million US dollar barrier some months ago.

Nevertheless, let’s think a minute about the ‘social aspect’ of this Twitter account. The funny thing about it is that Dell is just using old marketing techniques to generate revenue via Twitter.

Or is the use of coupon codes a marketing innovation of the web 2.0 era?

These couopons come flying into my mailbox at home every day – quicker than I have time to throw them in a bin.

“Dell Outlet sells refurbished Dell products at great prices, but inventories fluctuate, making it difficult to know when products are available or on sale. Dell Outlet uses Twitter as a way to message out coupons, clearance events and new arrival information to those looking for Dell technology at a discounted price.” (quote from Dell blog)

Reading this statement, the question is what is the social media strategy? Isn’t this just good old marketing tactics? This Dell Twitter account @DellOutlet is not acting in any way like social media has been teaching companies lately.

“Listen, learn and engage” (Brian Solis) is the value proposition of social media. The customers are coming to you as they have heard about the quality and value of your product, service or business. Then, they buy and do some good word-of-mouth activity via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, rating sites etc. for your business. This is resulting in community building – not a sales channel like the Dell example.

Dell is talking, pushing and selling. It is the good old communication and marketing practice we all know from some years ago.

Why is Dell so successful? It is a matter of simple marketing technics. It follows the old sales intelligence… From more than 650.000 followers, 10% will be real followers (as you just follow when you are in the evaluation process mode before a purchase decision) = 60.500 followers. And if you are lucky company 5% will buy your product in the end = 3.025 users. This tells us about an interesting average revenue of 661,15 US dollar per Twitter client.

Ah, I love sales statistics… though admittedly, these might be taken from the easiest perspective of ROI measurement.

Spot On!
But is this Dell activity really ‘social’? It is the email marketing system – tables turned upside down. Opt-In or follower? Subscribe or unsubscribe is the question… Email promotion or social media promotion? Email spam or social media spam? What comes next in the marketers arena? And, the account is just following Dell accounts… is the client/follower really interesting for them?

Not saying this is not a very clever approach reaching out for clients… well-done, Dell.

Your views much appreciated…

Ad Effectiveness – Mixing Apples & Eggs?

Sometimes you read a study and think: “Ah, this is interesting information”. So, you write about it in a News Update.

And then, you stumble upon it again, and think twice about the research. This happened to me with the ‘Ad Effectiveness study’ conducted by Forbes. And browsing through it again, my feeling was that the title of this eMarketer article reflected the result, but the study itself mixes apples and eggs in some way…

Still, the main statement of the study remains an important trend in online marketing, and is an even more important praise for the work of online publishers (yes, probably a bit self-referential for Forbes).

“Respondents were by far the least happy with ad networks, with half saying that the results did not meet expectations” (…) “Ad network spending is all about demand fulfillment while direct-to-publisher display is much aligned with the traditional advertising goals of demand creation,” said Forbes.com president and CEO Jim Spanfeller.

However, it has to be said that ‘ad networks’ is not a tactic for generating conversion. It is a supplier that offers ‘cheap space’ by bundling platforms into offers in most cases. Platform owners have a much deeper understanding of their target group and can definitely do a better consulting in terms of converting their target group into potentials for their clients. Absolutely, I agree with that statement, having done this for years…

BUT: Taking my view on the study, the set up of the study is in some way irritating. When the marketing executives were asked on budget allocations the results were these…

…and what they see as most effective tactics for generating conversion? Site or page sponsorship and SEO were considered the most effective ways online.

Thinking about the answering options (and bearing in mind my brand theme ‘tools, tactics, trends’) that were given to the responding marketers though, these options need to be separated from each other…

The question, I was asking myself is… Is viral marketing really an ad tactic? In my eyes it is not. It is a strategic communication tactic which integrates viral ads as some relevant online marketing tool.

So, this study set up seems to be a comparison of apple and eggs. Viral marketing is done in social networks. It is the way in which brand awareness other marketing objectives can be increased. Viral ads is the tool that may be spread like a computer virus by the users. It cannot be influenced like banner or text ads. Nor can it be bought. So, it is a modern marketing trend with little historical definition or proven success.

And, maybe such a study should think about: What can be bought by marketers, and what cannot in our times of social media.

Spot on!
The following summary is meant to make clear what steps have to be done first by marketers to create the conversation results their bosses appreciate… and it is a guideline for the chronology of setting up an online marketing strategy.

1.) Tactics
At first, marketers have to think about the tactics they can choose from…
SEO, e-mail and e-newsletter, site and page sponsorship, corporate web TV or viral marketing.

2.) Tools
Then, they have to decide on the tools that can be used to make these tactics efficient…
good texts (I am missing this most interesting option), banners, or viral ads.

3.) Trends
And finally, we have options that might create powerful conversion…
The use of ad networks, behavioral targeting and pay per ‘x’ models (x=impression, unique user, sales, click etc.)

If the online industry continues to publish studies that mix apples and eggs, it is no wonder that 57% of respondents said they still spend less than 25% of their marketing budgets online.

It is still early days in online marketing, it seems…

Why Apple could buy Twitter

This is just some thoughts creeping up my neck…

Based on …
… the development of technology convergence of markets for a full-fledged digital value chain …
… an imaginary 5-year marketing and media reach spending projection …
… knowing that iphone user love Twitter and offer a great target group …

And then the thoughts are going on to …

Nokia A footwear, tyres and shoe company that suddenly builds mobile phones…
Verisign An IT security company that buys a mobile service provider company called Jamba that is selling downloads like ringtones, screensavers and music…
Apple An IT hardware company that moves to a full-fledged digital value chain company doing transaction, communication and information/entertainment via itunes, a search engine and the most powerful real-time news stream…

… resulting in an amazing infra-structure model supported by a popular hand-held. Times and markets are changing…

Concluding in thoughts: OMG, what happens if Twitter can be used only on iphones for free…?

No, no, no… let’s stop these thoughts!

Study: Twitter used as a learning tool – not for ego-boosting

According to a recent study by the research firm MarketingProfs in early and mid-April, the main intention to use Twitter is learning in more or less real-time, then comes social networking benefit or pushing the ‘digital ego’.

The results of the study revealed that almost…
– 100% of the respondents said they value “getting information in a timely manner” and “I find it exciting to learn new things from people”
– about 80% like to be connected to lots of people.
– 70% answered “I find it gratifying to have people follow me,” and “I want to generate new business.”

The question that divides the Twitterati population is if a large number of followers makes you more respectful, or not. On this statement…
– 39,9% strongly or mildly agree
– 45% strongly or mildly disagree

Seeing the large number of followers as a perception of intelligence was tested with the question “People who have a large number of followers are smarter than those who don’t”…
– 81,7% strongly or mildly disagree
– 5.9% strongly or mildly agree

In the eyes of Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, the benefits are …

“Twitter lets people know what’s going on about things they care about instantly, as it happens” (…) “In the best cases, Twitter makes people smarter and faster and more efficient.”

And yes, Twitter is turning around the media world if we look at the eMarketers summary ‘Twitter tally’.

Spot On!
But, hold on… One question makes me think about these results of the MarketingProfs study in combination with the authenticity of the answers and the first idea of the micro-blogging tool. The question “I feel bad when I tweet something and nobody responds” was answered as follows…
– 52,7% strongly or mildly disagree
– 24% strongly or mildly agree
– 23,3% neither agree nor disagree
Now, if Twitter is like a mobile phone for text message dialogues, meant to communicate with followers we like and rate, is this communication not going back to being a monologue then? So, are we really sending out some kind of information just for the sake of informing others? Don’t we await an answer if we send a text message with a mobile phone? If we tweet ‘I am in the tube’ or ‘Just got breakfast’, then probably nobody expects anything. But not if people are writing scientific papers of 500-750 words – and then tweet the headline and the link. In my opinion Twitter is moving from a communication tool to some kind of personal branding tool. Otherwise, we might ask: Why do people spend an average of 2¾ hours per day on Twitter (average using time for Twitter according to study!), instead of being productive, picking up the phone or meeting up with clients for lunch or in the bar? This is real communication, and not limited by 140 characters. And if someone has written the scientific paper it is on the web, it’s public, so if people are interested, they will find it. But Twitter spreads the word much faster. And is not this the reason why people love and use Twitter?