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How fast the leading social networks are growing…

It is one of these questions, we always get asked in meetings and seminars. How much is social media growing, or is growth already declining? Search Engine Journal provides some good overview on the topic of growth and use in an infographic just recently released.

The most popular sites -in terms of how they are used by marketers- are still Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Same as in the study from Global Web Index in 2013, Twitter still shows the fastest growth in social networks from an active user perspective, especially in the 55-64 age group.

In the time period from June 2012 to March 2013, Google+ increased their active user base by 33%. The age group of 45-54 years showed the fastest adaption growth in Google+ with a 56% increase.

And Facebook? Although they showed a 23% increase, especially the age group of 45-54 years is adapting the fast moving “Likes and Hypes” network.

SEJ-Social-Media-Growth

Content: Secrets of a killer blogpost (Infographic)

Many marketing, PR or product managers think about starting their own blogs when joining one of our inhouse or open seminars. And for most of them, it has become a challenge just finding the right topic that makes them outstanding with their product or service offering. This is not surprising, bearing in mind that there were already 74.874.233 WordPress websites out there when I wrote this post – and when you think about Blogger, Typepad, Tumblrs and all of those enterprise blogs, it becomes a mission impossible to find a niche that helps building brands.

Now, the guys at WhoIsHostingThis.com have published some helpful infographic which give us some quite good arguments on what matters when you start blogging.

Which Content?
There is no magazine without a smashing title. Ideally, you write about the topics you are an expert in. As people will want credible, meaningful and authentic blog posts, this is the only way to get your readers attention. Then, check out what readers do want, discuss and share on your topic via social media monitoring. This will make your content interesting and will prevent you from writing content that nobody reads.

Original or Curated?

If you have got the time to write original content, go for it. It’s the best for your reputation and shows your own mindset. And most importantly, Google likes original content which is more likely to rank better. Whenever, there are guest bloggers who want to contribute to your website, invite them.
However, the truth is that if you curate your competitor’s content or third party content from time to time (with a back link!), you jump into their fish-bowl. The easiest bit is if you use their infographics, webinars and branded industry blogs to expand their ideas and thoughts.

Consistency? 

Find your style and stick with it. People want to feel “at home” and comfortable. Figure out when most people share your updates, or when it’s better not to send them live. If you can afford it, stick to an editorial calendar as people love publishing source they can rely on finding the relevant set of information that stands out.

Good luck (and if you need help), we are here to advice…

How-to-Write-a-Successful-Blog-Post

Ratings, Retweets, Repins & Likes: Automated response creators = killers of insight creation?

twitterview-2Some years ago, I have written about the Retweet button being the “killer of positive blog comments”. Over the years in many seminars and speeches, I have stressed the point that the ROI of the social web is not about generating high quantity in “thumbs up” on Facebook or Retweets on Twitter, or anything automated that comes along with similar meaning.

Retweets, Repins & Co. are only of value for your business, if…
– you accept those automated response generators as the pillars of your ROI system.
– you are a marketer who builds their business on proving the capability of accelerating reach rather than relevance.
– you are a brand that struggles to understood the value of building a community-centric business.
Still: Are ratings as insightful as a written comment – be it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other community platform out there in the social web?

Yesterday, it became public through a post on TechCrunch that Facebook is testing out a system of openly displaying star-ratings on Pages. Will this be another killer of value creation?

I definitely agree that the Facebook “Like” has become confusing, and in some way worthless. Many users just click on the Like button out of a pure and immediate emotion, nothing sustainable, lasting or resilient. Some are expressing their solidarity with it. Some are missing the dislike button, and click the Like button.

Do those automated responses tell us what they really feel? Do they tell us what people really think? Do they help us to evaluate our position? Fair enough, these automated response creators are some word-of-mouth catalysts. Well, I admit by adding these five star ratings, there is at least some specification in the differentiation of generating feedback.

Obviously, the new rating system puts Facebook in a different position and moves it more to the likes of Foursquare, Yelp and traditional trend shop systems. Furthermore, it allows users to be more concrete in defining their opinions. Users might get better orientation in why a coffee shop or a business or restaurant deserves to be tested.

Spotted by TechCrunch

Spotted by TechCrunch

But does it really help us? What is a 4.2 with twelve votes compared to a 4.9 what two people have build up? Do we know who gave the votings, and if these people have the same interest and preferences that we have got? Doesn’t orientation get even more confusing? What will we book on travel websites when there are less and less reviews and recommendations?

Spot On!
The 3 Rs of the social customer (ratings, reviews and recommendations) might make our lives interesting and exciting for new stuff. But maybe there is too much new trends and products out there to get our heads around. Maybe a real review or recommendation will sometimes help (one positive and one negative like Amazon does it already). Still, automated feedbacks -be it stars, RTs, Likes, etc.- are the least valuable insight creation generators on a relevance scale that helps defining internal and external social web ROI.

PS: If your managers are still happy when your numbers of Likes go up, be happy and tell them nothing about this post. If not, let’s discuss further how social networks should constitute in order to deliver deeper insights in the mindset of our customers.

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack “Future of Digital” event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud

Hey MINI! Not interested in brand advocates?

My MINI Paceman - So much fun with it!

My MINI Paceman – So much fun with it!

Listen BMW and MINI! This is not a story made up. This is real. This is me.

When the MINI Paceman was first promoted at the Detroit Motor Show in 2011 as a concept car, I said and wrote to my fans, followers and friends: “This is gonna be my new car!” To some of them, it came as no surprise. Some knew of my passion for the MINI brand. Some recalled my words from brand strategy workshops, from keynote speeches or marketing seminars. Some remembered pictures of me in front of my former white MINI Cooper, and they were surprised I am selling it. Some responded and asked questions about features of the new Paceman; even I could not answer those days. Today I can.

But… Many of them did not even know of the new concept, the new brand, the new design, the new small SUV category that MINI kind of invented, and so on. I did. I saw the potential. I just got infected by the brand. I wanted a new MINI Paceman. I loved the outlook: Getting the keys handed out for a MINI Paceman.

I have thought a long time about writing this post, or just forgetting about it. But I am a challenger…

Today, the IAA 2013 is opening their doors in Frankfurt. Car brands are proudly presenting their latest auto concepts. Managers posing in front of their new innovations in modern steel or carbon. They are shaking hands with those that make them look good. But who does really make them stand out? The technical suppliers? The revenue driving resellers? The social influencers? Or those who hold up a sign in the streets without being incentivized or getting cash saying: “I love this brand!” Those who stand out, and those who make stand out: the brand advocates?

Maybe today is the right time to write a blog post and tell a story that to many of my fans, followers and friends sounds unbelievable – but MINI, I tell you, it is the absolute truth. I write it in the night when other people are sleeping. My clients tomorrow won’t care whether I had enough sleep, or not. I write this, when there is more important things on the desktop than leveraging a brand that does not listen, nor understand. Am I mad? Am I not clever? No, I am honest. I am what I am. I am a real MINI Paceman advocate.

Beginning of February 2013, I sat down with my MINI car sales representative and told him that I want to buy a Paceman. I wanted to be one of the first in Munich. I wanted to sign the contract. Now. And I asked whether he could open doors to the marketing, PR or social media department at MINI when an idea hit my brain just in the minutes when I sat there: Two of my clients have called me their “pacemaker”. The word transition from pacemaker to paceman was not too far off for me. So, some brilliant thought (at least in my mind) awoke in my head: Why not call yourself “Mr. Paceman”?

A concept created in a brain flash: Website domain. Web space. Web blog. Unique content published in a Paceman. The life of a Pacemaker in a Paceman. Lifestyle. Design. Speed. My life.

While the reseller configured my MINI Paceman, I bought the website domain, set up the blog with a little help of a friend and scribbled the whole concept on my smartphone. I told my MINI sales rep about the idea when I had signed the contract. He was enthusiastic about the concept and saw a lot of other potential cooperation opportunities.

I was ready to start publishing. Publishing about the pleasant participation for my MINI Paceman. The color. The design. The coffee holders. The changing interior lights. The engine. And so on. Publishing about the pace of my days, my experiences with the new Paceman, my life in a MINI Paceman nutshell. I wanted to share pictures of MINIs. I wanted to post design ideas of other MINI freaks, and find the first MINI Paceman pics, I might come across. And a lot more…

Now, obviously I knew about brand protection and brand rights. I knew that -before I started buying the domain- I should get in touch with some MINI brand contacts and get some formal permission to use the brand name. I thought: “Just do it!”

So, I wrote emails to MINI, their PR department, their marketing department, their social media people, and their agencies. I even contacted strategic partners from MINI. I wish I hadn’t done it. I felt like a little unloved kid being pushed from one corner to another in order not to cause any trouble for anyone, in order to shut up. MINI did not move. I continued. The answers I got where just some lines making clear that I am not allowed to use the brand for my purposes.

Hang on! My purposes? Is that the power of a big modern brand, is that arrogance, hubris or simply ignorance?

If I promote a brand I like, invest time, offer to wear their branded merchandising clothes and have even bought the brand product before (and maybe a far too expensive brand product), why should I not be allowed to do marketing and PR for that brand to my fellow peers? A target-group that MINI is chasing with banners, print ads, wallpapers, outdoor marketing, newsletter mailings and a lot more.

Doesn’t this mean, I am actually doing what MINI pays others for; marketing agencies, PR people and media houses with the old “quid-pro quo” game: editorial coverage for advertising dollars? Those institutions that create corporate publishing products for brands which cost these brands a fortune?

Shall I then be happy and not get crazy, when I get the feedback: “We might consider that you are writing a guest post on our official MINI blog.” Hurray! What an outcome of my activities! Sorry MINI, you missed the point! I am not just a buyer. I am not a normal influencer. I am more. I am a MINI Paceman brand advocate, if you know what this means MINI. If not, you might just read the study by Ogilvy)?!

A brand concept. Still waiting for MINI to understand the value of brand advocates.

A brand concept. Still waiting for MINI to understand the value of brand advocates.

More than seven months later, the blog is still online – online without any content at MrPaceman.com. The case has been mentioned by me in at least 20 seminars and on several stage appearances at events. Events where even the BMW marketing departments or some of their agencies participated. I saw people shaking heads, heard their words asking how ignorant and un-clever brands can be, and read their tweets and updates trying to get reactions to this case from MINI. MINI did nothing. For seven months now, the MINI brand managers did nothing.

Yesterday, some silver surfers passed by my MINI Paceman. One of them, a man in his seventies approached me when I got out of my Paceman: “Great car. Cool design and colors. Is this new? Have never seen this car before…” His wife replied: “This is one of these new SUV cars but just in a MINI format. Nice high access. Like it!”

Would this make up for a really cool advertisement? Now, just imagine, I had written about such stories, shared a picture with these older people and spread the word around the world about my life in the MINI Paceman. Don’t you think these stories, these emotions, these experiences might have made a difference in the way the MINI Paceman gets positioned, promoted and had pulled sales leads?

“Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.” Martin Meyer-Gossner on brand advocacy, September 2013

Did I make the benefit of brand advocates clear to you, MINI? Ok, then get into the next MINI Paceman and drive to me. Let’s speak!

PS: All of you out there who think MINI should make a move towards brand advocacy, share this post and maybe that will make them clear what opportunity they might have missed. And let’s hope some other brands learn from this case…!

Brand advocate or Influencer: Are you driving on the streets of loyalty?

In many seminars there is a common opinion: Brand advocates and social media influencers are cast in the same mold. They are not! They are completely different kind of personalities. However, this does not say that they cannot change their roles from brands to brands. Still, the question is whether they might suddenly become both in the future: influencer and advocate. We have shared our thoughts a while ago…

So, how can advocates and influencers be defined (backed up by an infographic from Zuberance and Convince and Convert below)?

Advocates are customers of brands. They are not heading for money or incentives that a brand or company might pay them for going out and holding up signs “I love this brand!”. In fact, it is just the other way round: They often pay brands more than they have to. Personal persuasion, individual enthusiasm and emotions the brand creates lead them to recommend products to their fellows, friends and fans without any reward. These people are just happy with a brand or product. The brand has satisfied their needs and desires which let’s them engage in discussion they are not really part of. These people are actually looking for engagement around the brand and might even start conversations that foster new brand approaches, or even design new product concepts.

Influencers were -well, in the days before social media- people that were wearing logos on shirts, were used as testimonials or stood in front of a camera and talked about a product or service as a client case (things they often had no clue about). Nowadays, there is a new type of influencers coming up that gets paid by blogging or social media monetization platforms, and in the end from brands and companies. These bloggers or social media active people write or talk online about brands predominantly as they get paid for promoting the brand or product. In most cases, these bloggers have a great community of people that build an attractive audience (whether as of reach or relevance) for the brand or company – maybe simply to increase the influencer base or to spread the word (word-of-mouth) around the brand.

The main difference between the two?

Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.

A recent study by Ogilvy claims that social media influencers don’t use these streets of advocacy and passion, the streets of the brands they follow. The study makes cleat that most “advocates” -in the above definition probably more influencers- mentioned product features and not emotions. Only 9% of brands were lucky to facing greater than 50% of brand advocacy. And, “advocacy” posts constituted only 15% of social mentions.

Marketers need to understand the value of brand advocacy. Advocats are the elite of your brand fans, and marketers that do not identify those advocates will leave out the opportunity to spend marketing budgets more wisely:

“Brands that do not generate substantial advocacy will need to pay more for reach and consequently have costs substantially higher than those brands that drive advocacy… this advantage could make the difference between a company with outstanding shareholder returns and one that fails to perform.”

zuberance-influencers-vs-brandadvocates

Hey marketers, just think about yourself: Would you tattoo yourself with the brand you love, like i.e. many Harley Davidson fans? Let us know…

What customers hate about brands on social media (Infographic)

In many seminars I have been asked this question and hey, the guys from ExactTarget CoTweet have given an answer some months ago: What annoys people when they follow brands on the social web, and what makes them like brands? Discounts we knew it. Well, if you still think it is the frequency and too many updates on promotions, you might be right but it is coming worse.

Just imagine you publish a status update that carries some wording in poor typo or, even worse, a grammar mistake. If you read this infographic, you might get the impression that sending out hundreds of status updates asking people to go in shops, to buy tech gadgets, or tell them to buy those online, makes people not turn away from loving your brand. It is actually not that bad, it seems…

However, if you loose the appropriate tonality in your social accounts and a certain kind of quality control gets lost like poor spelling mistakes, then your brand might face a challenge in terms of reputation and followership.

“A lot of people talk about the need for brands to be less formal when they communicate through social media, but this survey shows that there is a danger in letting standards slip too far.” Lance Concannon, Director of Disruptive Communications.

“The findings also illustrate that you can’t take a one-size fits all approach in social media. Younger consumers clearly have different expectations and priorities – overall people said that not posting updates frequently enough wasn’t a major concern for them, but the 18- to 24-year-olds listed it as their most important issue”, says Concannon whose company put together the infographic.

How about you? What do you think annoys people when brands are on social media. Maybe it still is your hundreds of status updates on a day?

What-customers-hate-about-your-brand-on-social-media

Spot On – How to write the perfect post (Infographic)

It is something we keep being asked seminar after seminar. What is the perfect status update looking like on Google+, Facebook or Twitter? Well, the answer is there is no secret sauce. Or maybe there is now? The guys from Mycleveragency have at least try to define it and put in as much knowledge as possible. If it helps when all tweet and chat on social platforms at the same times, I might doubt here but still…

PerfectPost

Online trolls are simply bored, study finds

trolling road signMany brand managers ask themselves (and us in seminars) how a shitstorm begins. We most often tell them that many shitstorms are not real business problem but more a “verbal foul-mouthed fart” as we called it some weeks ago in one of the courses at the Executive Campus of the University of St. Gallen.

However, it is obvious that trolling increased in recent years with the rise of Facebook pages, online communities and newspaper comment which spread across the web with insults and provocations. Now, a recent academic study by Dr Claire Hardaker of Lancaster University of almost 4,000 trolling cases states that internet trolls travel on the anonymity of the web and can come from all ages on backgrounds.

“Aggression, deception and manipulation are increasingly part of online interaction, yet many users are unaware not only that some of these behaviours exist, but of how destructive and insidious they can be. The image of trolling is that it is mainly the work of young people, but the fact is trolls come from all ages and backgrounds. They will use different strategies to trigger the response they want from people. Some of these are a lot sneakier than others. It is not just about personal abuse.” Dr Claire Hardaker, Lancaster University

In an article of the Journal of Language, Aggression and Conflict soon to be published, Dr Claire Hardaker warns that trolls have become more sophisticated. Still, she gives advice on how to identify troll attacks. She shows the detailed approach that trolls make use of and makes clear that the trigger is often amusement,

Here are the seven deadly sins of trolling and how they are effective
1) Digressing from the topic at hand, especially onto sensitive topics.
Not necessarily overtly argumentative, this tactic frustrates its targets with its pointlessness and circularity. Digression onto sensitive topics triggers the strongest reactions.

2) Hypocriticising, especially for a fault that the critic then displays themself.
A simple tactic, often this is pedantic criticism of grammar, spelling or punctuation in a post which itself contains proofreading errors to provoke exasperated responses from others.

3) Antipathising, by taking up an alienating position, asking pseudo-naive questions, etc.
This tactic is heavily reliant on deceiving the group it is aimed at and covertly manipulates egos, sensitivities, morals and feelings of guilt, usually to trigger emotional responses. It can also create moral dilemmas.

4) Endangering others by giving dangerous advice, encouraging risky behaviour, etc.
A trolling strategy designed to masquerade as help or advice whilst actually causing harm and/or forcing others to respond to prevent harm. It relies on the target’s social responsibility and moral obligation.

5) Shocking others by being insensitive about sensitive topics, explicit about taboo topics, etc.
This appears to succeed mainly due to the strength of feeling provoked by the deeply personal and extraordinarily hurtful nature of the troll’s insensitivity. It triggers a desire to retaliate that is stronger than the desire to deny the troll the satisfaction of a response.

6) Aggressing others by insulting, threatening, or otherwise plainly attacking them without (adequate) provocation.
This is open and deliberate aggression without any clear justification with the aim of antagonising its target into retaliating.

7) Crossposting – sending the same offensive or provocative message to multiple groups then waiting for the response.

Do you have any hints and tips how to work with internet trolls? Share them, we are sure most readers will enjoy your advice.

A New Don: How the sales profession has evolved from the Mad Men era

As a fan of the series “Mad Men” TV series, I have to share this comparison of the sales profession development with you. When we compare the decades from 1950-2010, we realizte that there were some significant differences. From Don and his friends’ wild office parties and massive whisky as well as martini consumption to a straight organized reality where sales automation has taken over and social media rules the communication between people.

Although, we still here at the universities and in seminars from the advertising Gods like Leo Burnett and David Ogilvy, Don Draper’s world has seen a radical shift in sales profession. But in which direction…? The guys from Leads360 have created an infographic that defines the main trends we saw lately…
– 1960: In-person pitch.
– 1970: Door-to-door vacuum pitch.
– 1980: Not really specified in any direction…
– 1990: In the beginning email messaging, later customer relationship management (CRM)
– 2000: Social integration (Social Media)
– 2010: Intelligent sales automation

“Over the last 50 years, many of these fundamental sales strategies have remained incredibly valuable,” states the infographic. Maybe you find the reasons why when reading through it.

Today, we are talking of Facebook as the barbeque with “friends and fans” and of Twitter as the chatter at the toilet. Well, it seems that we haven’t moved away from socializing. Maybe we just need to add some drinks next to our screens…

The_New_Don_Infographic_Sales