Web 2.0

finding value in your shiny objects

Social Beyond Singular Campaigns

Social currency for a brand can grow in two ways: slow and steady or slingshot

The slow and steady growth is more likely sustainable, but as most campaign metrics (and marketing metrics) utilize a traditional purchase funnel, slow and steady efforts often fail to hit key "awareness" benchmarks.

Slingshot tactics are far more gimmick-heavy and generally reach scale quickly, but they generally go dark a couple of weeks later.  These are campaigns in every sense of the word.  Give out a few free Macbook Pros on Twitter and watch your follower counts soar.  Give away seven free iPhones and watch your brand become a trending topic.  Create that incredibly creative Facebook application or visualization of the conversation, and hold up your scaled short-term engagement as your success.

But is Slingshot-value real social value?  It this where most brand will play in the space?

Probably.  As dirty as it sounds, Slingshot Marketing is going to be much of what we see in social over the coming few months.  The strategic vision, budgets and dedication to doing social right just aren't yet there.  Yet.  But with the inclusion of some basic marketing know-how, your slingshot shiny objects can be of value.

Here are a few basic principles:

  • Build ongoing social support into all activation budgets.  If you can't perform customer support triage, it will be very difficult to inspire a new consumer perspective towards the brand.  This doesn't need to be expensive, but it does require some training and strategic setup. 
  • Build for an ups and downs, not starts and stops.  Your brand doesn't need to be inspiring new conversation everyday, but it does need to be present, real, relevant and responsive to the conversation 365 days a year.
  • Slingshot Marketing/shiny objects should speak to your core brand value.  Don't give away an iPhone when you are selling a low-tech pair of socks.  Connect your shiny objects to the brand value prop.  Make your promotions speak to your messaging.
  • Invest in personalities and relationships.  Always have a twitter account available for following, and a brand page on Facebook where people who engage with the application can gather for current engagements and future activation.
  • Level set with key stakeholders that this is a shiny object, not a full social strategy. 
  • Setup your measurement, learning process and KPIs in advance. 
  • Listen to the conversation.  You just may find a few advocates and opportunities.
  • Setup a follow up lessons-learned session before you start.
  • Always bring ideas for a more strategic plan as a next step.  Neither you, nor your clients will find continued success in gimmicks in place of real marketing.

your social efforts aren't social, are they?

Spectacle Think about it.

  • Your widget - is it a conversation?  Or a tool?
  • Your blog - is it a two way conversation? or a publication?
  • Your "viral video" - is it part of something greater? Or a tactic?
  • Are your listening, monitoring or measuring the conversation? Or none of the above?
  • Your influencer relationships - are they relationships, or paid friendships?
  • Your "blogger outreach" - are you forming a relationship, inviting their participation as a two way street? Or are you sending a form letter pleading for free distribution of your campaign?
  • Are your campaigns executional? Or are they part of a broader relationship-building effort?

The key differentiators:

  • Are you making a statement or participating in a conversation? 
  • Are you:
    • a conversational brand,
    • a social object,
    • a broadcast message or
    • a social enabler?
      • Do your efforts reflect this reality?

The truest test of a brand's commitment to a relationship:
Does your customer support online, on the phone or via mail/email offer to same level of support as your social/twitter team, marketing agency, social agency or pr agency?

Key Takeaway: It's easy to care about a relationship in a silo.  It's much harder to commit to that relationship across the board.

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Like this post? Share it on twitter! http://bit.ly/3wcL4f

Inspired by Joe Jaffe's post and the follow up discussion with Craig Daitch in the comments.

Future Visions: Hulu

Hulu's been out for a while.  And while I was at first skeptical, I now regularly enjoy their offering.

But what's next for Hulu? 

  • Will their growth be in a broader library or in added functionality?
  • Will new platforms like Tivo or downloadable content drive increased value?

They've got us watching.  They occasionally have us interacting.  But is this really all they could, or should be doing to grow their business?

  • Isn't there a massive ad opportunity in a Hulu desktop utility with a program guide?
  • Wouldn't a distribution partnership with Microsoft delivering free ad supported downloads drive real equity for a next gen Zune?
  • Wouldn't a section containing all of their advertiser spots, fully embeddable, drive added value to advertisers?  Allowing them to utilize Hulu to launch "viral" video campaigns?

Sure, you need to the content to drive the eyeballs.  But please Hulu, don't forget about breaking the technology mold.  You did it once.  The market will demand that you do it again.  Or someone else will.

newsweek declares twitter dumbest innovation...

 OK, so first off, I'll admit it. I read Time and Newsweek.  There are times when I find their articles intriguing, educational or provocative.

But this week, Newsweek was off the mark in a really grand way.

In their recent "The New Global Elite" issue (dated January 5th) they ran an article comparing Ink Versus Influence.  What struck me the hardest was their Twitter Versus Newspapers comparison.  To quote -

The dumbest innovation of the century? Memo to tweeters: we don't care what you think.

Yes, print is troubled and some urban dailys are doomed.  Still, on a screen or on dead trees, nothing shapes the conversation like facts.

Twitter_user_growth_q4-2008_hubspotFirstly, I searched Newsweek.com, this article isn't even on the web.  Irony...

Secondly, I can't help but wonder what this factoid is hoping to convey? 

(a) That twitter is overhyped by people and/or bloggers? 
(b) That twitter is misunderstood? 
(c) That the mainstream news is overhyping or over-covering this growing platform?

A quick search of Newsweek.com reveals no less than 52 results, 45 of them in the past year alone.  So I guess they were at least partially responsible for throwing Ink at this "dumb innovation".

Furthermore, their second is assertion is that Newspapers contain... facts, while Twitter contains... something else. 

Are newspapers factual? Non-partisan? Fair and balanced? 

During the recent Intifada, the NY Times ran a picture my neighbor from Long Island, a kid I went to school with, on their front cover, reporting that he was an Arab teen fleeing the Israeli Police who had beaten him bloody.  In reality, he was a Jewish American student studying abroad who was beaten beyond recognition by an Arab mob in the days before Yom Kippur.

Sure, newspapers are held to a higher standard than rumor-rich social media.  But twitter is not a fad anymore than speaking with one another.  Twitter may or may not be the next big thing (though the numbers do look promising).  But it is a rich platform, and one I wouldn't be as quick to dismiss.

So is Twitter an irrelevant, over-hyped fad?  Not today it isn't.  I'm content with the fact that millions of people are talking.  CNN and Fox News a regularly reporting on Twitter buzz and rumors (as is Newsweek).  Brands are turning profits, direct ROI, via Twitter.  I have met hundreds of interesting people on Twitter, and continue to do so on a regular basis.   I have been recruited through twitter, I have recruited others via Twitter, I communicate with friends, family, clients, partners, vendors and startups on Twitter.  This isn't to say that Twitter is an evergreen platform.  But I wouldn't label them the dumbest innovation of the century.

So Newsweek, even if you believe Twitter is over-hyped, why would you turn your back on an open marketing channel, on millions of conversationalists?  What do they stand to gain?

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disclaimer: I'm generaly a fan of Newsweek and will continue to read this publication. I agree that Twitter is overhyped and misunderstood, I'm just not ready to write it off.  And anyone who is, is clearly missing the core values of information flow in the digital dynamic.  Let's hope this was the lone view of one contributor and not representative of a broader company perspective.  On that note, the views represented in this post are solely my own and not of my employer or their parent company.

10 Rules for Corporate Twitter Activation

Corporation So everyone wants free media.  But twitter isn't free media, it's a tool/platform that can enable or enhance your marketing via earned relationships.  So what does it take to earn some relationship gold? 

What does it take to make your corporate twitter account a success?

  1. Make your account as personable and useful as possible.
    • Connect your twitter lead with your customer support and corporate communications.  You will get a lot of random questions, networking internally will be key.
    • Consider putting a picture of a human face in place of/next to your brand logo.  People know how to talk to people. Nobody talks to a soda bottle.
    • Fill out your bio. Consider including an email address.
    • Do not set up a twitter broadcast account before you have set up an interactive twitter account.
    • Man your account regularly.  Disasters and opportunities present 24/7.
    • Get legal out of the way now.  If legal needs to approve every conversation, you will not be successful.
  2. Commit to both (a) brand value and (b) flexibility.
    • The community will define how relevant your position is on Twitter.  Never forget who pays the bills.  You have two bosses - your brand and the community.  Ignore one or the other and you will fail.
  3. Grow a thick skin and get over the negativity. 
    • These conversations happened before you joined and they will continue when you leave.  If anything, learn. 
    • Do not yell.  Nobody likes to stand next to a screaming maniac (unless that's part of your brand image).
  4. Be very aware of personal space.  Don't be a close talker and don't look like a stalker.
    • Do not @message people who don't want to hear from you.
    • Do not follow more than 1/3rd more people than the total of those who follow you.  Uber-following makes you look like a spammer.
    • It is perfectly acceptable to follow people who aren't following you.
    • You don't have to follow everyone who is following you.
  5. Don't jump into twitter without a guide to the community.
    • The twitter community is constantly refining their expectations.  Keep learning, optimizing, reading and rethinking.
  6. Don't auto-reply.  Don't auto-anything (other than auto-following, maybe). 
  7. Don't ask what twitter can do for you, ask what you can do for the community.
    • Give, give, give.
    • Don't forget to measure what twitter is doing for you. See point 9 below.
  8. Don't worry about scale, think about relevance and influence.
  9. Establish your metrics for success
    • If you can't demonstrate ROI, you are nothing but a disposable test destined to be replaced by proven marketing channels that CAN demonstrate ROI.
  10. Get some perspective.
    • The twitter community thinks they are the be-all and end-all.  They aren't.  They are important, but they are not necessarily representative of society at large.  Just don't tell them that.  And this doesn't mean that they shouldn't be treated with respect.
    • Utilize social intel solutions, or even search.twitter.com to alert you to brand relevance and positioning.
    • When appropriate, invite offline conversation continuity.  Take a brand advocate to lunch and pick their brain.  Ask questions to your community.
    photo credit here

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Inspired By:
How to Use Twitter as a Twool
Looking for Mr Goodtweet, How to Pick Up Followers on Twitter
Great Examples of Corporate Twitter Use (Jennifer Laycock)
Corporate Twitter Entities - Yay or Nay?

Related Posts
10 Rules for Effective Corporate Blogging
Measuring Your Twitter Success
10 Ways to Make Money in Social Media

project smile feature: TNS Cymfony CMO Jim Nail

Project smileSocial media marketing starts with listening.  But how do you listen?

Project Smile is committed to bringing a broad perspective of the social media intelligence space, featuring both the heavy hitters and the innovative up and comers. This is the first, of what will be a continuing series profiling some of the leading players and solutions providers in this white hot industry.

Profile - TNS Cymfony

Jim naill To kick it all off, we've got the wonderful Jim Nail, the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer with TNS Cymfony.  So who is Jim, what does TNS Cymfony do, how are they special, how are they different?  For all this and more, check out our chat with Jim below.  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below and we will forward them to Jim.

Elevator Pitch

Cymfony tells brand and companies what people are saying about them, whether those people are professional journalists, bloggers, a brand’s current customers or average consumers. We combine the most comprehensive collection of content from offline, online, and social media sources with sophisticated text mining technology and the smartest analysts in the business.

Jon: What led you to launch your company?

Jim: Cymfony was founded in the mid ‘90’s by a PhD in computational linguistics and initially developed the technology to serve the intelligence services of the US government. We launched our first commercial product in 2001: a PR measurement application called Brand Dashboard. We began analyzing social media in 2003, making us one of the first companies to do so. We launched our current product, Orchestra, in 2005, the first application to combine traditional and social media analysis in one application. In 2006 we were named a Leader in Forrester Research’s Brand Monitoring Q3 2006 report. In 2007, we were acquired by TNS Media Intelligence.

Doing That Thing They Do

How would you describe your core capability?

Jim: Bringing order and structure to the fragmented, chaotic, information explosion around us so that brands and companies can make sense of the rapid changes around them.

 Dancing To The Beat of Their Own Drummer

What key differentiators does your company offer?

  • the most comprehensive collection of content from offline, online, and social media sources
  • experience helping multiple functional areas of an organization get value out of understanding social and traditional media analysis: PR, marketing, market research, customer service, product marketing, etc.
  • experience translating a company’s business goals into a technical and operational analysis framework that ensures we get the right content and process it in a way to extract the right insights to achieve those goals
  • an enterprise-class platform that scales to support multiple divisions/business units/brands of large multinational companies with thousands of employees and scores of agency partners

Success Stories
Tns cymfony

Jon: What would you say has been your most successful engagement to date?  What made it successful?

Jim: It is hard to pick one engagement but across the range of our successful engagements, the common factors are:
    • Openness to hear what is being said: it is necessary to have some focus on what you want to learn, but you can’t define a project too narrowly – consumers may not be talking about what you want them to talk about. We did a project for an OTC health brand and found significant conversation among parents asking if this product is OK to give to their children, even though the project was meant to understand how sufferers of this condition made their medication choices. This unanticipated finding indicated potential for line extensions of the brand targeted to children
    • Willingness to invest: there is a misconception that because this content is on the web it is free or cheap to do a project.  Gathering the content is trivial; making sense out of it, especially given the volumes that can be found for many products, is the big challenge.
    • Involvement of multiple functional areas: there is a big, misplaced debate about “who should own social media”. The fact is many, many areas of a company can learn valuable information. And given the cost and effort, it is important to amortize the investment across as many areas as possible. A client who was dealing with a recall crisis distributed the daily Cymfony reports to PR, marketing, executives, consumer affairs and others. They all used it to assess how effective their communication and response to the crisis was and revised messaging and strategy accordingly. Another client in PR shared the results with his advertising colleagues; as a result, they were able to boost overall sales by reallocating some advertising dollars away from products that were getting a high level of PR coverage to give covered products that didn’t receive much PR coverage more advertising weight.

The Future of Social Media Intelligence

Jon: What are the greatest challenges facing the social intelligence industry?

Jim: I shouldn’t say this, because our competitors might start to get smart, but here goes: social media analysis is too focused on social media. It is important but it is not yet the dominant place where consumers get their information to drive purchase decisions. Social media is one input among many and if that is all you look at, you are only looking at part of the picture.

Jon: How do you see social media/marketing evolving over the next 3 years?

  • Social media analysis vendors: Consolidation and failure in the social media intelligence space. Nathan Gilliatt just published his updated directory of over 60 companies in the space. Most will die.
  • The media experience: consumer media consumption is evolving from a solo activity to a social event. Media companies are already embracing social media enthusiastically so on USA Today you can become part of the story by rating and commenting while with CNN’s Ireport, an average Joe can become the journalist by submitting videos.
  • Marketers: will probably continue to lag consumer’s adoption of social media. But I am seeing an encouraging trend in companies hiring and staffing social media/community departments, moving away from conducting viral marketing campaigns and embracing participating in the social media dialogue

Choosing the Right Solution for You

Jon: What role should experience play in choosing a social media intelligence solutions provider?

 Jim:Experience in social media isn’t that important – it is all so new and changes so rapidly that anyone claiming to know it all is obviously blowing smoke. What is most important is experience in understanding what a brand or company is trying to get out of their social media intelligence and the ability to design a framework that will deliver answers to real business questions. If a client approaches a social media project without a partner who can give them this guidance, they will flounder around in a mass of mildly interesting, but largely irrelevant banter among online people.

Additional Info

Website: www.cymfony.com

Presences Across Social Media: www.influence2.com, Social Media in Business Facebook group

For More Info Contact: Jim Nail, [email protected], 617-673-6027

Other Fun Stuff

Jim: We have white papers and a webinar addressing the topic of how businesses are using social media at http://www.cymfony.com/socialmediabusiness_reg.asp . Our most popular white paper providing the business case for engaging in social media is at http://www.cymfony.com/wp_social_mktg_reg.asp and a webinar of this white paper is at http://www.cymfony.com/webinar_making_case_reg.asp .

transparency > authenticity > sincerity

  • Transparency is a state of honest communications.
  • Authenticity is a state of presenting.
  • Sincerity is a state of being.

Transparency Not long ago the market began to buzz about the need for transparency in corporate culture as they communicate in social channels.

This soon translated in brand authenticity, further evolving the humanity of corporate culture and the resultant media.

So what's next?

If we think about human relationships, the truest form of communications is that of sincerity.

Which begs the question: Can a brand be sincere?  What does a sincere brand look like?  What are the components that define brand sincerity?  Are there many/any sincere brands out there in the market?

How would you gauge your brand's presence in social media? 

Where do you believe the social media early adopters like Dell, Comcast, Zappos, SouthWest, GM, Delta, Home Depot, Graco, Jet Blue Verizon and AT&T are best categorized?  Are they transparent?  Are they authentic?  Are they sincere?  Are they human?  Or am I totally off?

Thanks to Paull Young for helping to cull this list.

Photo credit here

Disclosure: some of the brands listed in this post are clients.  The views expressed in this post are personal and do not reflect those of my employer or it's parent company.

clean vs comprehensive data = action vs nuance?

Numbers We've all got that MASSIVE excel file sitting somewhere on our computers.  We meant to do great things with it.  The numbers could have spoken volumes, adding new dimensions to our presentations, to our proposed business plans, to our perspectives and to our proposed strategies. 

However, in the interest of keeping it clean, making the information we were looking to impart both clear and digestible, we dumbed down the data, sacrificing nuance for actionable results.  In an ideal world, we could have both nuance and action.  However, the demands of time-pressed reality occasionally demand that this sacrifice be made.

Consider the topic of web 2.0.  I have presented on the topic dozens of times.  My presentations have ranged anywhere from a single slide, picture or video, to 80 page manifestos on strategy, tactics, implementations, best practices, etc.  And as much I as would like to believe that my presentation skills are strong, it is impossible to impart an entire discipline in a single image.

Is it possible to boil down complexity without losing nuance?

Consider the illustrations below. 

  • Do they say the same thing? 
  • Are they equally accurate, equally nuanced?
Photo 1


Photo 2


(photos credits here, here and here)