Failures and opportunities in social media marketing

On Cnet is news about a new study by Gartner with the catching headline of a 50% failure rate:

75 percent of Fortune 1000 companies are eager to get involved in social-networking initiatives for marketing or customer relations purposes, but 50 percent of those campaigns will be classified as failures

The main problem is (oh wonder) the differing expectations about what will happen during those marketing efforts:

The quirkiest and most addictive campaigns often provide little value for the company and turn out to be fads, whereas marketing efforts on the Web often don’t go over as well with the public.

In addition, the report points out that online usage during the purchasing process of all products and services will increase:

Gartner’s research shows that by 2012 fully half of all purchases will have some online component. That could mean searching for product reviews, reading about a new product on a blog, or comparing prices even if the purchase is ultimately made in a store.

So the need to figure out win-win situations for brands and the community are ever more important.

And furthermore, a „heads up“ for online marketers for the financially difficult times ahead:

Businesses will turn to the Web to stay in touch with consumers during a difficult financial climate. “This is going to be a lifeline,” he said. “Your spirit of customers is probably the only thing you have.”

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Building trust even when you don’t need it: Social Media Marketing

Seth Godin, godfather of good quotes, recently wrote this:

The best time to look for a job next year is right now. The best time to plan for a sale in three years is right now. The mistake so many marketers make is that they conjoin the urgency of making another sale with the timing to earn the right to make that sale. In other words, you must build trust before you need it. Building trust right when you want to make a sale is just too late.

Publishing your ideas… in books, or on a blog, or in little twits on Twitter… and doing it with patience, over time, is the best way I can think of to lay a foundation for whatever it is you hope to do next.

This is why, in my opinion, Social Media Marketing cannot simply be viewed as another tactical discipline within marketing – or even advertising, as many companies might currently think about it. You shouldn’t just do Social Media Marketing as a one-off, as part of a campaign („we’ll have som TV commercials, some online banners, and, let’s see, some social media activities“).

It needs to be a strategic, long term goal to engage in Social Media activities, to build relations with the target audience, and to build trust for those moments, when you (urgently) need to activate your greatest brand/product fans…

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Quantitative and qualitative influence in marketing

Over at the Online Spin blog, there is an interesting article about „peers vs influencers„. The question is, of course: who is your ideal target group. It’s the debate of Gladwells Tipping Point theory vs Duncan Watts argument, that there aren’t any network nodes more influential than others.

Joe Marchese says, there are indeed people who are more influential than others. But only in three dimensions – and they can vary according to topic, point in time and other variables for the same person:

–People have a quantity of influence: the maximum number of other people they can reach with a message.

–People have a quality of influence: the amount of influence they exert over those that they reach.

–People have types of influence: categories of “expertise” that other people assign to an individual.

If this is the case (if it is that easy), you can quickly deduct your target audience according to the marketing objective. Is it widespread awareness? Is it consideration? Is it increased sales?

Not sure if it is that easy. But it does sound nice to put these target groups against the typical marketing funnel. Only question remaining: can you always clearly distinguish one from the other these days? (I doubt that.)

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Joost focuses on the US.

Just a quick one: Joost shuts down its global operations and focuses on the US only. Shame, I liked the idea of Joost. But in the end, it was brought down by two main factors that even a technologically smart way of streaming videos can’t solve: first: trying to buy global rights for content that studios could probably sell much more profitable on a country-by-country basis. second: having exclusive, compelling content that users won’t find anywhere else (nevermind that they’re overloaded with too much online video anyway.

And for me: I always felt like the joost interface just wasn’t right somehow. I don’t watch fullscreen video on my PC. Still, I was always hoping for it to evolve (globally), so that one day I could enjoy watching videos via joost. But not any more, I guess.

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Average user clickfarms

There is a standard joke around online advertising managers about the fear of those „chinese villages“ taking over one of your ad campaigns so that you receive the clicks you paid for, only all of them come from one and the same family (in China or India, or Eastern Europe or Antigua, etc. it doesn’t really matter).

But you don’t need to go very far away. Your next door neighbor might be part of a „click farm“. Even though he most likely never realised what he got himself into.

Just the other day I took a look at a site called OnlineTVRecorder.com (don’t want to give them any link credit). On that site you can record TV programms of any German TV Channel – most of which I wouldn’t even be able to access in this area of the country. You first record them, and then download and decode them. But you can only decode those that you „recorded“ in advance. This makes it similar to any VCR/DVD recorder and hence (I guess) a legal way of recording shows via the web.

So far so good. However, the system only works for you, when you pay per download with so called „good will points“. If you haven’t got enough points, you can’t download or decode any files.

And how do you get these points? There are two ways. Either you donate money, or you click on some of their ads. Yes, that’s right: you can click on the ads to receive good will points! You get points for clicks that advertisers pay a lot of money for (on aggregate).

I guess most users on this site aren’t fully aware of the fact that each of their clicks contributes to ripping of advertisers. Note: I am not saying „poor advertisers“ here! I am just saying that advertisers don’t get what they pay for when they signed the contract with these mediasites: intentional attention.

Clickworking is an interesting and positive trend, since it uses the minimal individual productivity of large crowds to achieve a large complex goal.

Clickfarming seems to be a dark side equivalent. Utilize the small contributions of a large crowd’s individuals who might not even (want to) realize that their few clicks are contributing to a large system of fraud.

I wonder how many other sites of this kind are out there? How much dubious content is paid for in this way? How many advertising campaigns bought on a pay-per-click basis have been corrupted by clickfarms like these?

If I was an advertiser and I saw one of my banners on one of those sites, I would ask my media agency or the publisher for my money back. And may be sue them.

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Chrysler listens, Starbucks wants ideas.

There seems to be a concurrent trend. Two companies just announced new projects / plattforms on which they want to listen to consumers, engage them, discuss product development with them.

Starbucks launched the website „My Starbucks Idea“ on which they aks users to provide Starbucks with their ideas:

You know better than anyone else what you want from Starbucks. So tell us. What’s your Starbucks Idea? Revolutionary or simple—we want to hear it. Share your ideas, tell us what you think of other people’s ideas and join the discussion. We’re here, and we’re ready to make ideas happen. Let’s get started.

As you would expect, you can post ideas, vote on other’s ideas, discuss ideas, etc. In addition, there is a blog called „ideas in action“ that covers the project. At the moment, some sources are rather cynical about the project, because people mostly just ask about free drinks, fre Wi-Fi, etc. I am curious to see if there will be some really good ideas with added value resulting from this approach.

Chrysler, on the other hand, will launch a „customer advisory board“ of up to 5.000 consumers chosen of those who will apply through the website to take part. Once they can access the forum, they can submit ideas, get a sneak peak at videos, etc. It will be interesting to see if they can capture the right target audience, to quote autoblog:

However, we’re a little unsure if the tactic will provide Chrysler with what it needs to shape the future of its products and services, considering that the only people likely to sign up are partisan pistonheads who are already married to the Mopar camp or slighted customers looking for a place to vent.

For some companies, this change in dealing with the (online) target group has resulted in successes, as Ad Age writes about the Dell case study:

This sort of online listening post worked for Dell, whose IdeaStorm website resulted in a few concrete product developments and, in turn, helped to turn some of the computer-maker’s fiercest critics. One of them, Jeff Jarvis, went from a state of high dudgeon on his blog to praise the company in BusinessWeek.

In my opinion these approaches should probably work fine, as long as there is added value for both sides. If the consumer ideas and suggestions are crap, useless, unreal or simply silly, the companies might soon stop asking consumers in this fashion. It would then be much easier to go back to the old fashioned model of focus group research, where the noise to signal ratio is much better.

On the other hand, there should be some real improvements/products/ideas coming out of these approaches, making the whole outcome visible to the participating audience, showing them that their little contribution did infact change the way these companies go to market (even if the resulting outcomes were not your own idea, you would appreciate the effort made by the company).

Otherwise we’ll start having similar symptons as you have in German elections nowadays. You feel like your vote is too small to make a difference – and heck, no matter what people vote for, it doesn’t feel like things change much anyway. So why bother.

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Don’t fall for any „basic tips of how-to“

I usually try not to write negative about things, because unless it’s constructive criticism for the creator of the content, nobody gains much. But since there is no possibility to comment on things at marketingvox, I will do it here.

I am referring to the post with the title „How-to: 9 Basic SEO Tips„. It caught my attention, because just the other day, I had a discussion with colleagues at the agency about how creative agencies rarely know how to properly search engine optimize the websites they build.

However, with the 9 basic tips, we won’t get very far either. Let me quote some of them:

Find out how well you rank online. […] It may be helpful to download the Google Toolbar, which gives you the „PageRank“ score for websites. Pages are scored on a scale of 1 to 10. The goal will be to make this number higher on your website.

Ok – and how? (It doesn’t say). Another great tip:

Submit your site to search engines. Do it personally; avoid „submission services“ or software. You only need to do it once.

I won’t continue with other tips like „place relevant keywords in the title tag“ or „use alt tags on images“ that they also featured.

Was any of this new to anyone? Please ? If so, just leave this blog immediately. In fact – please leave the internet and switch off your computer completely.

Gheez – we’re in 2008 by now, it’s not 1998 any more!

Not sure about the target audience of marketingvox, but for this article, it sure isn’t your average webmarketer!

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