This week I had the opportunity to present to the Billy Blue school of design here in Sydney on the theme of personal branding (see presentation below) and it was great to spend some time researching a subject dear to my heart and getting some feedback from a different audience for a pleasant change.
I have previously written about personal branding and failure but this subject introduced me to the idea of life stream which as been pioneered by a few commentators so I thought I take this opportunity to provide you with some information if your not already aware of the concept.
David Armano introduced me to the idea a while back but I didn’t take much notice to be honest but it was Steve Rubel more recently and a fantastic post by the New York Times about Obama being the new media president that really opened my eyes to the concept which left me in no uncertain doubt that when we think of our personal brands that we promote them through the many different streams of information that now percolate the web. It is not enough to simply have a website or a blog and that we have to engage with our audiences in the many different places they now can be found to achieve our goals.
For a definitive explanation of streams go to the excellent blog by John Borthwick
How we bring it all together is perhaps the most interesting question we face as the environment is constantly evolving into a more social context. All the more topical in the week that Facebook bought Friendfeed perhaps one of the best pieces of social technology that aggregates all of our streams of information.
As Mark Zuckerberg said some time ago now when discussing life streams
“Lifestreams are continuous stream of information that delivers a deeper understanding for everyone participating in them . As this happens, people will no longer come to Facebook to consume a particular piece or type of content, but to consume and participate in the stream itself.”
The new version neatly puts into context that it is too easy to get caught up in arguing the merits of social media marketing today, whilst the fundamentals of marketing communications haven’t changed that much.
So with this in mind what should the vision for a modern organisations any marketing communications comprise of?
Surely it should be to develop a unique and compelling product which is:
Easy to find – when researching in Google, my favourite communities, & business directories
Easy & convenient to engage with –Responsive & empathetic, to show you are listening
Which will in turn promote credibility and trust. Nowhere has this been it more relevant and important than in today’s fundamental online space. Funny how the fundamentals don’t change that much over time! What do you think ?
Nothing like a great viral video 'did you know 3.0' to make you ponder the significance of it all- Just how fast is the rate of change happening today?
Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million:
Radio - 38 years
TV - 13 years
The internet - 4 years
I-Pod - 3 years
Facebook - 2 years
According to the new Razorfish 2008 Consumer Experience Report consumer’s are adopting new technologies faster than industry pundits would have us believe but what struck a chord with me was their their thoughts about the distribution of content
“Distribution must evolve into a science, as reaching consumers in a fragmented, personalized environment Will become increasingly complex. ... “.
How do companies best prepare themselves in such a period of change and what content distribution model have you got in place with your brand? Certainly the rapid rate of change is throwing up more questions then answers –just look at the ‘application economy’ we are now living in- According to Adonomics.com, in August 2008, there were 782,039,975 installs across 34,676 apps on Facebook, with over 200,000 developers currently evaluating the platform. According to Goldman Sachs 20 million applications will be downloaded from the new applications store in iTunes by the end of 2008. Whilst the stats are mindboggling is it just a case of your brand engaging in the social media space by developing applications to extend your presence or perhaps adopting a more measured approach to make sure your messaging is consistent across these external properties?
“Most organizations are moving toward an external presence that consists of multiple sites, microsites, banners, blogs—you name it. Anything that gets "launched" ends up in the digital ether and is either maintained or neglected. Many of these properties interconnect and depend on one another. Some come and go and some just litter the Web”
Whilst the rate of change has not percolated down to Australia yet it is beginning to take shape and certainly companies at the very least should be looking at options in the space by monitoring by what is being said online about their brand.
In the meantime it is up to those companies and blogger who are actively engaged in the space to help, encourage ,be constructive and applaud efforts where appropriate. Unfortunately right now it seems easier to jump on a brand’s back because of the small amount of activity in the space and engender a ‘climate of fear’ where companies might be afraid to experiment for fear of retribution from the blogosphere. Agree or disagree?
Measurement and “Return on Investment” is often the first question asked by marketers trying to introduce social media strategies. So when 93% of CEO’s in a recent media measurement and analysis survey said they were unhappy with their with the way their marketing managers were measuring their results you have to wonder what benchmarks they were using, what they knew about their audiences and what tools they are using and how this forms part of their overall marketing strategy.
The problem in most cases still s that people want to measure the same way they did for direct mail campaigns (”how many business reply cards did we get”).But this doesn’t work online. Traditional media people and investors, for example, are happy to spend cash on TV ads, or interruptive online ads, or print ads. Because they get them. They understand that they are to be broadcast and consumed by audiences. And they are part of the audiences that do the consuming. Those that you want to part with their cash are not part of those communities.
Social media on the other hand is an emerging and labour intensive skill and it’s unlikely to drive the same numbers as an SEO campaign. ROI can't come down to increased traffic. Traffic is just eyeballs - it's just the page impression number. ROI has to get closer to and be more comfortable with the smaller, but more important numbers, of engagement. Engagement with a community means you contribute something to it. Youtube's audience is valuable in a page impresssion sense. Youtube's contributors (particularly those forming groups, commenting and uploading video) have a much higher per capita value for youtube. Engagement should be measured by actions. All the rest is passive consumption. As Katie Paine points out “‘In order to truly measure ROI in social media you don’t need a computer that approximates how a human thinks — that’s not listening. There You need real humans, members of your audience, listening. You need people who can integrate the various monitoring and research tools, do the correlations, draw conclusions and make recommendations.’ For example she goes onto point out in her excellent downloadable paper “Measuring the ROI of social media” that measurement of your own social media program can be gauged in terms of The no’s of unique visitors returning V new readers, links from other sites, page rank, Time spent on site, Popularity of content, traffic to site & sales. However real value can be delivered when you analyse the bigger picture and realise social media engagement is just part of a inbound marketing strategy with a whole host of content that can be measured on its own merits that when analysed together highlights trends to help shape your company’s online marleting strategy as a whole. Maybe social media will do away with the cold term ROI, and it will become ROE—return on engagement
In the meantime perhaps we can leave the traditional advertisers to Gary Vey Ner Chuck to sort out in these difficult economic times?
If I had to think of a slogan to define what social media means I would say “Think Micro interactions and think Real time” David Armano puts in it in context nicely by defining by Micro interactions from his presentation 'Micro Interactions in a 2.0 world' (below) as follows: "We live in a world where the little things really do matter. Each encounter no matter how brief is an ‘micro interaction’ which makes a deposit or withdrawal from our rational and emotional subconscious .The sum of these interactions adds up how we feel about a particular product, brand or service. Little things. Feelings. They influence our everyday lives more then we realise." I love the analogy used by Randy Pausch in his great presentation' The Last lecture 'regarding the $100k salt n peppershaker that he bought at Disney which was duly dropped and returned to the shop on the off chance they would replace to which they duly obliged. What sort of value can you place of great customer service like this? What a shining testament to the importance of 'micro interactions' .No matter how small any interaction customers have with your brand needs to be positive which will pay dividends.
Social media practices have also meant moving to engagement in 'real time' which if you stop to think for a moment we almost take for granted now. But to put things in context Think widgets, think mobile, think virtual worlds and think collaboration think conversation ecosystems like Twitter. These are all examples or real time engagement tools tailored to our increasingly individualised and more connected than ever before society. How else can we keep up with live events that unfold without tools like Twitter and Flickr to experience in real time the Olympic games in China with the threat of internet embargo being placed on Chinese websites?
Is it any wonder that 'citizen Journalism has just as much meaning in today's modern media? Never has been our thirst for information been so great and it will just become greater .All delivered in byte size chunks of text, images,video,and audio 24/7. In essence we are all information junkies. A product of the internet age. What does social media mean to you?
Traditionally people talk about
their products and provide information on a corporate website and quite frankly
people are not interested.
A sure fire way to stress to anybody the
importance of online marketing is to ask them the them the following
1/In the last 2 months have you or anybody you know answered a
direct mail advertisement?
2/In the last 2 months have you or anybody
you know used mainstream media to answer a question or researched a product or
3/in the last 2 months Have you or anybody you know used Google
or another search engine to answer a question or researched a product or
4/ In the last 2 months have you or anybody you know used social
media or a peer to peer network like e-mail, IM or facebook, to answer a
question or researched a product or service and the answer came back was a URL
that you linked to?
Chances are that you would answer a resounding yes to
using a search engine and yes to being referred by a friend to a product or
service via URL via social media but possibly to mainstream media and doubtful
to direct mail.
A statistic that is backed up wholeheartedly in a May 2008 Nielsen Online
survey that said Eight out of ten respondents who had recently made consumer
electronics purchases in a brick-and-mortar store said they had visited the
store's Website first. More than one-half said they purchased from the retailer
on whose Website they had spent the most time.'
Conclusion is that
potential customers today most likely have already researched what your
company's products on your websites. And is much further along in the sales
process than you might think.
The spread of idea's through viral
marketing by social media and peer to peer networks has quite simply the power
to transform an ordinary everyday products like toilets into some thing cool
which gets people talking and when David Meerman Scott showed the
below video depicting a Swedish self cleaning toilet at a recent Podcamp keynote
address to a room full of B2B marketers the penny dropped.
time a business colleague talks about the problems they have marketing their
product tell them to watch this video and ask themselves what they cool thing
can they do to get people talking about their product. Ordinary everyday items
never looked so good!
The Swedish self cleaning toilet viral video sensation viewed 2 million times.