Social Influence Marketing Trends

Shiv Singh, author of “Social Media Marketing for Dummies” and digital strategist for Razorfish gave this excellent presentation to a group of Fortune 50 company executives at a conference last week. You should check it out for handy facts and info.

Social Influence Marketing Trends. Presentation to Marketing Executives at Fortune 50 Company

A Good Example of a Bad Marketing Practice

Digital marketing blog Econsultancy posts about the annoying new practice among publishers and advertisers  to gain consumer’s attention on the web. Their brilliant idea for more relevant marketing is to make it harder to tune out ads. Yes, this sounds like a very consumer-centric approach: you’re ignoring me when I speak, so I’m going to scream, jump up and down and wave my arms. Now maybe you’ll pay attention.

For example, Gillette Venus razors is doing this on by deploying disruptive ad units…336×700 fixed panel units as well as 970×66 pushdown units. But, the centerpiece of the campaign is videos featuring a lifestyle expert who gives sunbathers tips on finding the best swimsuit for their body type. The product is mentioned in grooming tips interspersed in the videos.

The video is the best part of this campaign, assuming they’ve validated through search and social monitoring that this is a topic their primary audience is interested in learning more about.

I cringe every time I see a marketer using digital channels as another great distribution point for traditional push/interruption advertising. It just makes no sense whatsoever to me, because the rejection of this method is so pronounced and immediate in the digital space. For example, open rates on most email and click through rates on most search and banner advertising are at all time, single digit lows.

The sooner marketers accept that people don’t like advertising and that digital tools allow us to skip that which we do not like, the sooner marketers can abandon a practice that makes them seem woefully out of touch and find methods that actually work.

Gillette is on the right branch here with the lifestyle videos. The right approach can be summed up like this: The more marketers behave like advertisers in the digital space, the more they will fail. The more they behave like publishers and content producers, the more they will succeed.

To engage in conversations with your audience, you have to seek first to add value then you can sell. This is what creating branded conversations is all about.

Top 9 Brands on Facebook and Twitter

Another superb post from Brian Solis on comScores Q1 U.S. E-Commerce Spending Report. Brian’s post is filled with a ton of great information and insight and he includes this graphic, showing the top 9 brands by “like” on Facebook and followers on Twitter.

What I find fascinating in this list is the mixture of brands…a classic CPG titan like Coca-Cola, up-and-comer Red Bull, retailers Victoria’s Secret and ZARA, digital brand YouTube…even Converse. Some achieve their ranking based on their Facebook presence alone. And although Twitter hasn’t had as much time as Facebook to build as a service, it’s having an powerful impact as a source of news and information, even for brands.

The mixed bag of participants just goes to prove that success in the social space doesn’t depend so much on category but on actual  participation. Having a presence in social media is one thing. Using it as yet another channel for old and tiered “push” marketing and advertising is another. Brands that insist on this latter approach, an there are a lot, just prove to everyone they don’t get it.

What matters? Listening, engaging in the conversation naturally, offering value first before you try to “pitch”…these are the currencies of brand participation in social media. Gee, sounds a lot like what one person does to have a mutually beneficial relationship with another. Maybe if brands acted more like people and treated their customers like people instead of objects (“targets”) they’d experience better results all around. Something to think about.

Apple May Sell 1 Million IPhones in New Model’s Debut

According to BusinessWeek this morning, Apple could sell a record 1 million iPhone 4G’s today. “Could”? They already sold 600,000 on pre-order, crashing AT&T’s servers (will those guys  get it right? You’d think a big company like AT&T could handle network issues with 600,000 people at once…but, I digress).

Personally, I already have someone lined up to buy my 3GS iPhone for a tidy sum. They get it for much less than they could from Apple because they’re going to jail break it and run it on another carrier. Me…I get into a brand, spanking new iPhone without spending a dime (well, kinda…that’s how I position it to the wifey anyway).

Since AT&T won’t be serving walk-in customers til Tuesday, there’s no use standing in line there today. If you haven’t pre-ordered the iPhone, cue up in line with all the other maniacs at your friendly, neighborhood Apple store.

On another note, I’ve been running the new iOS since Tuesday night and it sure seems snappier. Lots of cool new features but I really like organizing my apps by category and freeing up that valuable screen real estate.

Happy shopping!

3 New Ways to Use Twitter at Live Events

This from Social Media Examiner offers 3 simple ways you can use Twitter to enhance engagement, interaction and communication at live events.

What ways have you seen social media used effectively at live events?

3 New Ways to Use Twitter at Live Events | Social Media Examiner.

7 Steps to Creating and Cultivating a Brand in Social Media

I love lists. You love lists. So, here’s a list to start your day. From social media titan Brian Solis…

7 Steps to Creating and Cultivating a Brand in Social Media.

Apple iOS 4 review

In case you’re just dying to know what all the new iPhoney goodness is all about, CNET has this helpful rundown of all the shiny new features in Apple’s iOS 4 being released this week.

Some of the features I’ve seen demoed are stunning. Apple keeps upping the game, that’s for sure. But, I’m getting tired of feeling compelled to fork over $300 every July for the newest phone. Is there such as thing as Apple Status Quo-a-phobia?

Apple iOS 4 review | iPhone Atlas – CNET Reviews.

Does Social Media Engagement for Business Translate to Brand Sales? Yes!

Social Media can be a powerful way for business professionals to increase their brand awareness and sales.

Excellent post by social media thought leader Brian Solis on how, for business, social media engagement on sites like Facebook and Twitter is translating into sales. New research reveals that over 60% of Facebook users and a whopping 79% of Twitter users are more likely to recommend a brand since becoming a fan/follower on these social networks.

Solis goes on to point out that actively and thoughtfully engaging consumers in social media is fast becoming a base expectation. But, brands beware! Reread the first part of the lead sentence in this paragraph again…the part about actively and THOUGHTFULLY engaging.

It never fails to amaze me when I find big brands using social media channels as yet another avenue for interruption or push messaging. You see this all the time. Some brands think it’s still all about them. This is the quickest path to irrelevance and having consumers dismiss you as hopelessly out of touch. This channel is NOT about what you have to say. It’s about LISTENING and joining in the CONVERSATION and one of the best ways to do this is with relevant content.

Social media for business can be a tremendous platform for developing and employing a new set of relationship skills and a distribution vehicle to serve up content that seeks to first provide a value to their audiences. This skill set doesn’t come naturally to brand marketers who have spent years of their careers and millions of dollars perfecting their ability to TALK AT people through ads, direct mail,  press releases and the like, delivered via traditional media channels. This is a comfortable and easy-to-manage process, for sure. Unfortunately, it’s a marketing method sharply in decline and no wonder: There’s very little consumer value delivered in this legacy advertising/pr, interruption-based approach.

The mantra of the internet in the first part of this decade was: if you’re not on Google, you don’t exist.

The mantra going forward is: if you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, you don’t exist.

This isn’t just the opinion of young people, according to the research Solis references.

“It shows they are not really with it or in tune with the new ways to communicate with customers.” Female 18-24.

“If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter, then they aren’t in touch with the…people.” Female 55-59

I know this to be the case from my own experience. I own two Lexus cars. I love them. But, there’s one problem…their keys suck! They have some kind of manufacturing defect in the plastic of the key fob and they become very brittle and break over the course of normal use. Now, aside from the fact that a cheap, crappy key is a big disconnect with a luxury brand experience, there are two other major irritations that go with this problem:

1) When the key fobs break, the transponder often falls out. Without the transponder, you can’t open the doors remotely and in certain cases may not even be able to start the car.

2) Replacement keys cost a ridiculous $200 a piece.

Least you think I’m petty and needlessly using the blog to harp on a personal matter…this has happened to three of our four main keys. Do you think Lexus covers this under warranty? Ah, no.

The last straw came a couple weeks ago when the third key broke as my wife was engaging in the extremely abusive behavior of removing it from her purse. I decided to see if Lexus was even listening on social media so I tweeted about the issue and got no response. So, I then posted it on Facebook…where I also got no response. In a Twitter search, I found lots of posts from Lexus about their new sexy new sports car…along with my tweet gripping about the key. In a Google search, I also found lots of links to people complaining about Lexus key fobs breaking. Either Lexus is not listening or they don’t care. And, you know what…I’m not so sure I care that much about $50,000 cars with cheap, crappy keys. After all, a $50,000 that won’t start because of it’s crappy key is the definition of useless. And infuriating.

This is obviously a customer service issue and for business owners, social media is a great, real time lab for listening to customer complaints and issues and fixing them. Just look at what Comcast has done using Twitter to improve it’s customer service experience. If nothing else, responding to complaints on social networks gives brands the opportunity to not only solve problems but let everyone know they’re doing so. In the process, they can turn the complaints into compliments. This clearly reflects positively on the brand and everyone can know about it…something that doesn’t happen in a call center interaction.

But, to be relevant on Facebook and Twitter, brands need to go beyond using it to resolve customers service issue.  A brand needs more than a social media presence for their business. Brands should be surprising and delighting potential customers and customers with content that seeks to answer their questions and need for information first…and  you can gently and organically integrate your brand into this content when and where it’s credible and makes sense. By taking this approach, a brand earns the right to be heard.

We call this approach Branded Conversations…listening first, then providing relevant content that answers customers questions and need for information. We think it’s a new marketing practice whose time has come.


Everything you need to know about the internet

Fascinating article from The Guardian on how the internet is changing everything. I think it’s important to make the point Clay Shirky makes in his seminal book, “Here Comes Everybody”…society doesn’t change when technology changes. Society changes when people’s behavior changes. The always on/ubiquitous connectivity and group-forming power of the current and increasingly mobile internet (see previous post about the demise of desktop computers in favor of mobile devices like the iPhone/iPad iOS and Android devices) is empowering massive change. But, it’s hard to sometimes see a revolution from the midst of it. Those living at the time of the invention of the Gutenberg printing press had no idea the Protestant Reformation would erupt from the device and change not only Europe but the course of Western Civilization. We live in a similar time, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. This is a tremendous threat to every established institution….government, commerce (yes, marketing, media, publishing, entertainment, creativity and advertising), education, religion…but like all revolutions, along with the threat, it also brings tremendous opportunity to those who are willing to take risks and leave the comfort of the status quo. We will look back in ten years time and say the early 2000′s were when the revolution began.  Do you know it?

Everything you need to know about the internet

Apple iPhone Ownership to Triple by End of 2011

I had a potential client say to me yesterday, “We’re not sure if we even need an app strategy”. This is from a major global brand company.

Ah, ya. This is kind of like someone in the 70′s with the same company saying, “We’re not sure we need TV advertising”. Or someone in 2000 saying, “we’re not sure we need a digital strategy”.

Frankly, I think established companies move too slowly to take advantage of technology and rapidly changing consumer behavior. They become more like a federal government bureaucracy, protecting the status quo and their established processes rather than taking risk and exploring innovation. But, with 100 million users, how much risk are they really taking? The internet is going mobile and apps are the way you access the internet on a mobile device. If you have a web site, you need an app. If you have a digital strategy, you’d better start exploring a mobile strategy because they are effectively now one in the same.

Whatever. Ya, I guess you don’t need to consider apps at all. After all, really, what could the impact of  millions of iPads and 100 million iPhones be? Just ignore it until your business goes away!

John Paczkowski | AllThingsD.