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Category: Social Media
As a marketer, and a creative person in general, I am always excited to see and try the latest innovations our industry has to offer. When Social Media (SM) first emerged as as a medium, I was very enthusiastic, and ran a number of tests. As I got into it, some were very, very successful, where message met target market successfully and created sales (that is what we are here for right?). Others, were not so successful – in fact they were bombs. So much so, that I considered abandoning SM all together.
Yet, I kept seeing SM consultants saying how great the medium is. Try a Google search on Social Media Criticism and most of the articles are about how to respond to criticism on social media, rather than looking at the medium critically. All of this hype bothers me and takes credibility away from our industry. If we critiqued and analyzed more within the industry, we would be able to be more accountable to our stakeholders, and create more useful programs. Here are some reasons why I am a social media skeptic.
1. There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Solution: In Marketing, as in all things, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Yet, SM consultants seem to think that they always have the answer. Any marketer in traditional media knows that you use the right strategy in the right situation. Tools include: Direct Mail, Trade Shows, TV, Radio etc. And, the it takes an intelligent planner or strategist to determine the right mix for your market and brand. But for some reason, the SM consultants think you should throw that all away and use their tools despite your situation. I guess when you have a hammer, all you see is nails.
2. You Need to be Where Your Customers Are: Despite what the SM Acolytes will tell you, not everyone is in the conversation. One of the true guiding principles in marketing for me is that you need to meet your customers where they are. If you are selling to say, Owners of Hotel Properties in the Hospitality Industry for example, I do not think they are spending their time on SM. That person is typically working 12-hour days, and is not on the internet. You should be focusing on Direct Sales with a rep with industry knowledge, experience and contacts. Look for where your customers are – social networks often have demographic information about their users.
3. Your Time is Money: In my experience with Franchise networks, there are many business owners who are approached by SM consultants who say that SM is a free tool to get leads. In some industries, this is true, but in many, it is not. Spending hours updating Twitter, Facebook and blogs is not as useful in many industries as PPC or offline activities.
The best thing to do with any new medium is to start small and test, then go big if it is successful. As a SM skeptic, I am not dismissing it, but I am testing it. I hope that as the industry matures, the consultants in it will as well.
1. No One Cares About You (On the Internet): When he says “you” he means marketers who are trying to sell online. Television was a medium invented to sell advertising, whereas the internet was not. So – in television you have others in power who are complicit in getting people to watch your advertising (TV networks etc.) on the internet the power to hold people’s attention is more distributed. Therefore, it makes a lot more sense to talk about your products and services in a way that is much more appealing to the user. This sounds very simple, but it is a concept that most businesses still seem to be struggling with, in looking at what is currently out there in terms of online advertising.
2. Real Social Networking: In response to a question on whether social networking is good for small business, Seth had an interesting response. He said that there is a lot of “fake” networking out there. And – having the most amount of friends etc. is not necessarily useful. Similar to counting visitors or worse on a website (which does not necessarily translate to sales) having a bunch of friends on Facebook who are just there because they did not want to be rude and ignore your invitation, or having thousands of people following you on YouTube because you tell a dirty joke every day doesn’t necessarily translate into “good” in social networking.
He mentions that there are valuable real networks to be had and developed, and they can be very helpful and rewarding. He says that he measures those by “how much you would go out of your way for that person”.
I find these tips both practical and interesting. In the world of online marketing and social networking, a lot of consultants try to make it sound difficult. But for Seth, pragmatism reigns.
Well, I posted an article about Facebook on this blog a few weeks ago, and now we are suddenly doing three Facebook campaigns! The power of social media ! While I was building my first page, I took some time to try to find useful information on it. Facebook does have a guide on creating pages as well as a blog, but I found little else of use. So – here are some helpful hints and applications that you may want to use while you are building a Facebook page.
1. When building the page, think of what you can do to help your audience. Social media is about having conversations with audience members, not “shouting” at them. It is a dialogue, not a monologue – so think about what your customers would want to dialogue on (sales people or others that face the customer can be a great help on this).
2. There are a lot of useful applications that you can add to your Facebook page:
- Extended Information: This allows you to add any information that you choose, such as phone, e-mail, about, company mission etc. This information is vital, since Facebook only provides the very basic information such as operating hours and nearest subway station as a default
- Poll: There are a few good polling applications, allowing you to poll your users on something relevant to your product or service.
- You Tube Link: If you have YouTube videos available, it can be interesting to display them on your page.
- Bookshare: If you have published books, Bookshare offers an opportunity to display them. The application is meant to be for recommending books, but I have had luck with using it to display books as well.
- The Wall and Discussion Forum: These two standard page features allow you to answer any questions that your users may have and respond to them effectively. Since you are giving expert advice for free, this can be a real benefit to your users.
3. The Facebook page should not live in isolation. For example, you can use the demographics information that Facebook provides to learn more about the users and target your message further. You can announce results from your poll or feature a question/answer from your discussion group on your newsletter. Finally, you can use some of the insights that you got from listening in to some of the feedback mechanism to further develop your product or service.
By now, most people have heard of Blendtech’s Viral Marketing campaign. Willitblend was a phenomenon that experienced nearly instant success on Digg.com and their series of YouTube videos got over 100 million views. The videos show the company’s CEO blending different objects, the most popular of which was the iPhone shown above.
The campaign can be considered a success by any measure: sales of their blenders have increased 5x to numbers reaching the millions; they have reached a number of traditional media outlets such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; in September 2007 and the videos earned the second highest annual payout of about $15,000 from the video hosting service, Revver – a marketing campaign as a profit center – what a concept!
Josh Bernoff from Forrester Research writes about some of the strengths of Blendtech’s campaign and what other companies can learn from it:
- It’s funny. It’s visually arresting. It’s
short. These are three qualities your videos must possess. Here’s
another company that also succeeded with a visually arresting video: Ray-Ban.
- It’s authentic. These guys are geeks. Wright told
me the CEO — Tom Dickson, who’s featured in the video — is an
engineer. It comes across. This stuff ain’t slick, folks, and if it
were it wouldn’t work. (I love the proud and cheesy smile while he
watches his company’s blender reduce some object to dust.)
- It’s original. Figure out what your unique value is. Then film it and put it up there. Don’t copy Blendtec, or Ray-Ban, or Dove. This may be the hardest part.
- It actually connects to the value of the product. You
see these videos and you can’t help saying “Can that blender really do
that? Maybe I should get one.” And many people do. You could be a hit
on YouTube with a video that doesn’t connect to the value of your
product, but that will help your ego a lot more than your sales.
What I liked about this campaign is that it is a true reflection of what was going on inside the company. Insiders at Blendtech say that “extreme blending” was a regular occurrence there. So – although some might find the idea of blending different objects silly, it was silliness that is authentically them.
Jackie Peters from Mashable makes the following good point:
What we are seeing now in online communities is a shift toward
humanness. It’s no longer acceptable to the Internet savvy individuals
to interface with a faceless corporation. Social tools like blogs,
messaging services and community sites have broken down barriers
between individuals and also between brands and consumers. The “Will It
Blend” story comes from a place of authenticity, it lends a face to
Blendtec and makes them approachable.
A final proof of the popularity of this campaign: it is the one of the most popular search terms for reaching Seth Godin’s blog. It is a great success, for taking an impossibly practical and traditional product to the web. I wonder how many more Blendtechs there are out there?
I was at a conference the other week, and I heard some marketers from the major banks complaining that their investment in Facebook was not a success, since they have brands that are not appealing with the social media crowd.
I found the opposite while I was creating a campaign for Getoutside shoes, a Toronto Queen West retailer who also has an online store. This campaign has gotten far better click-through results than targeted display ads and we have had the luxury of targeting ads only to Toronto residents. Design for these ads was provided by JAR Creative.
While companies like the big banks have a hard time on Facebook, I think stores with a little street cred such as Getoutside, one of the last independent retailers on Queen Street West (I shuddered when I saw a Payless going up down the street) have a distinct advantage. To increase results even more with brand recognition, I featured shoes on each of the ads, such as this Converse and Keds. Featuring distinct brands also speaks to Getoutside’s competitive advantage – which is wide selection.
As I have been managing the campaign, I have followed a few principles:
- Change up the ads every 2 weeks- 1 month. This helps keep them fresh since some of the same users are seeing the same ads, and it keeps it seasonal (for example, the Hunter ad was shown in the spring).
- Target women’s shoes to the women and men’s shoes to men. This can also be done with age-groups (such as Birkenstocks appealing to older women).
- Target only an age-group that is relevant.
- Since people clicking on the ads were likely interested in the shoe that was featured, make the ads go directly to a page featuring the shoes of that brand.
As said above – a cool brand like Getoutside and the brands that it sells makes it a very logical fit for Facebook ads. Adding the local dimension with geographical targeting makes Facebook a very good medium for a local retailer. So while large established but not necessarily well-loved brands are struggling in the age of social media, well-loved brands such as Getoutside shine.
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