Is everything we know really wrong?

I came across this slide deck a few weeks back and thought it has some pretty interesting statistics about Advertising/Digital/Marketing.

It makes for some pretty interesting reading with good stats to be used and some quality quotes, none more so that a client who says

I love this work. It’s on brand and on brief. Let’s move straight to research.

Or the very true point that we often measure the wrong things (especially in digital) and therefore

Many confuse quantifiable social stats with channel effectiveness.

Anyway, have a read, digest and plagiarise!

No, thank YOU!

As part of my yearly resolutions I decided that I should try to read more – at least a book per month.  And I intend to do it.  It won’t always be a “work” related book, but it keeps me in the habit.

A couple of months ago, I heard about Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book ‘The Thank You Economy”. The book is essentially a call to arms to all businesses to join and use social networks/social media to promote and sell.  It goes through the caring & commitment needed, tips, ideas, case studies and statistics about doing so.  It’s the only way to re-humanise business.  We have moved too far from local community shops where everyone knows everyone, to a time where companies are faceless; where your relationship with your local shops only extends to a ‘Hello’ or ‘Goodbye’.

I’ve always been quite interested in SM and Gary is an infectious speaker; full of energy and passion (see this video).  I decided that I would give it a go. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Vaynerchuk defines TYE as (essentially) a throwback to the 50s, where businesses knew their customers personally, knew their needs intimately and delivered diligently. They knew that if they didn’t people would go elsewhere.  He believes social media gives us the opportunity to create that one-to-one relationship enjoyed by our elders.

He takes us through a brief history of how we have come full circle to a place where customers demand individuality, appreciation and authenticity from the people they do business with.

He goes through objections to social media (and provides arguments to counteract them) and what businesses need to be aware of/need in order to make the most of this opportunity. He also notes the biggest mistakes companies make with Social Media:

  • using tactics instead of strategy
  • using it just to put out fires
  • using it to brag
  • using it as a one way communication vehicle
  • just retweeting other people’s content
  • only pushing product
  • expecting quick results

Lastly, and this is where the book gets really interesting, he goes through several case studies where people have used social media to good effect for their business – in a variety of sizes and a variety of industries.

Do I believe in it all? Not all of it, but a large extent.  I think bigger, more established companies will always struggle more to ‘get with the times’ &  make it work simply because of the bureaucracy and hurdles involved in making things happen in such monolithic organisations.

Nevertheless, all in all, this was a really enjoyable book with many valid points, perspectives and arguments. I think anyone involved in social media would benefit from reading it – especially if only just starting their business and looking for a cheap (but time consuming) way of promoting it or companies who are just starting to dip their toes in the water.

Below are some quotes from the book (some salient to social media, others just amusing) as well as an illustrated version of the book (courtesy of Ogilvynotes).

Real business isn’t done in board meetings; it’s done over a half-eaten plate of buffalo wings at the sports bar…

In 1984, you’d get stuffed in your locker for gloating over your new Apple Macintosh; in 2007 you could score a hot date by showing off your new iPhone.

There’s only so low you can go on price. There’s only so excellent you can make your product or service.  There’s only so far you can stretch your marketing budget.  Your heart, though – that’s boundless.

Everybody counts, and gets the best I have to give.

But they’re not going to give me that chance unless the other guy slips up.  And even then they’d probably give him a second chance, because forgiveness is the hallmark of a good relationship.

..if you wait until social media is able to prove itself to you before deciding to engage with your customers one–on-one, you’ll have missed your greatest window of opportunity to move ahead of your competitors.

The customer you should be scared of is the one who has a bad experience, doesn’t say a word, and never returns.

It remembered that behind every B2B transaction, there’s a C.


Two quick thoughts on Social Media and ROI

There’s an awful lot of criticism bandied around toward Social Media around ROI, but is it fair?  I’ll admit I’ve often wondered about the monetary value of SM.  Everything businesses do needs to be geared towards making a sale.  If it’s not happening then it’s pointless.

But, we’ve stopped asking those questions of TV.  Why?  Is the value of a TV viewer any better known than a Social Media ‘follower’?  I think not.

This has led me to two thoughts:

  1. ROI isn’t only a Social Media issue.  It’s an advertising one.  Very rare (it exists but it is rare in the grand scheme of things) is the activity where you can say ‘This tactic got me this many sales and this much profit’.  This is true of radio, TV, Social media, (most) DMs and eDMs.
  2. ROI calculations are a fallacy. The human race is too complex to be influenced by only one piece of communication. And often seeing it is one step removed from buying it, meaning that you may be affected by other messages, by their mood when they see it, by great sales service, etc. In which case, where do you attribute that sale? Customer Service investment, advertising investment?

We’ve become so focused on ROI that we’ve made it too important yet superfluous. Any activity now needs an ROI justification, yet because sometimes sales cannot be attributed to it we measure fans, response, intention to buy.  Intention to buy will not keep a company in business. 

My hypothesis as to why this has happened is that sales are easy to track – they are there in black and white. Most C-level people will have a sales background (a legacy of the boom years of 80s and 90s) so they like numbers.  Marketing depts therefore have to justify their activity with hard numbers and ROI became the norm.

Now, I think companies need to know if their activity is moving the needle over to the right or not so some form of effectiveness tracking is needed for businesses.  But companies need to measure marketing/advertising as a set of complimentary activities rather than individual tactics. 

We need to measure its effect as a whole rather than silos.  

What do you think?

Try it, you might like it

I have a confession.  My first tweet was July 30th 2009.  My 5th was June 27th 2010.  Nearly a whole year had gone by and I’d only tweeted 5 times!

And I did the same with blogging.  My first post was actually on two different blogs – this one in English, and this one in Portuguese. It was all about the impending birth of our first child and it was an opportunity to allow my family back home to know what I was doing.  But the last post I did was a month after Ollie was born (May 2007).  I then didn’t touch blogging until August last year when I decided that the time was right for me to become more serious about it.

So why had I been so lax at doing it?

The main reason was I didn’t see the value in it.  But in hindsight the reason I didn’t see the value in it was because I hadn’t given it my due attention and commitment.

It’s very easy to scoff and say ‘I haven’t got anything interesting to say’ or ‘People don’t want to know that my double expresso tastes like it’s come from the ass of a baboon’ and therefore not bother actually trying it.  But how do you know?  How do you know there aren’t people out there that have the same taste in how they like their expressos brewed?

Us agency folk are so happy to extol the benefits of having a web presence but when it comes to drinking our own champagne we would rather not. We go through exactly the same thought process as our clients do – ‘prove to me that it’s worth it’ / ‘if it’s so good why are you not doing it?’  If you don’t believe in it, why should people believe you?

I say ‘try it’.  And I don’t mean write two or three tweets/posts and expect to gain hundreds of followers.  Really give it a go, engage with the people you follow, strike up conversations, respond to their tweets and show them you’re listening.  You will find people will (generally) reciprocate if they feel they have found someone with similar interests.  And that’s when it gets interesting.  That’s when it becomes worthwhile.  For you it might mean new contacts, ideas, etc.  For your business it might mean new prospects and more money in the bank.

As Thomas Edison said

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work 

Haters are gonna hate, lovers are gonna love

 In a world where everyone can voice their opinions of you and your brand and broadcast them to the world, things can seem bigger than they really are. Also, social media is meant to be personal and responsive so you feel there is a duty/expectation that every complain should be met with a response.

The plain fact is that sometimes saying nothing is the best option. Sometimes you just have to let people vent and rant.  You don’t have the time to deal with every single little complaint that comes your way, nor do you want to engage in meaningless chitter chatter with someone who will always complain no matter what. I mean why would you?  If these people are only complaining to vent or in the hope that they can get some freebies from you, are they really the customers you want?

However, whilst you don’t have to answer it you do have to listen.  You have to watch to see if there are patterns of issues, if an issue is suddenly growing in exposure and importance within your user base.

If there is an underlying issue then you need to:

  • address it ASAP – if it is a production fault, cease production (Toyota knows a thing or two about this)
  • communicate what you are doing – are you looking into it? When to you envisage you will have a solution/more information? I recently experienced this with Photobucket

  • rectify it – Dell Hell anyone, or maybe you’ve seen this video

A more recent example was experienced by Apple in two different instances – the holding of the iPhone4 and location tracking. In both instances they took the time to understand the issue, figure out the reasons, find solutions and then present them to everyone. Whilst this is great, the radio silence between the issue first emerging and the official communication coming out felt a little long which escalated the issue further.

Much like in your personal life, no one likes to have criticism (or ‘bad’ feedback) but you have to listen and understand if there is an underlying trait/pattern that is causing it.  If there is, then you have to change.  If not, and it is just someone venting because they’ve had a shitty day then you need to develop a thick skin and let it slide (as hard and unfair as it might be at times).

You may even find that your most loyal customers will answer some of the complaints for you and protect you from them.  But never delete bad feedback from the public domain.  As hurtful as it might be showing that you are transparent and how you deal with ‘appropriate’ feedback is a positive thing for your customers to see.  It may turn out to provide a great piece of PR for you.  Mashable did an interesting post on this subject.

Only you will know what pile to put each piece of feedback on.  Sometimes it is time to man up and face the consequences, other times silence is golden.

Mythbusters guide to Social Media

This post is actually a re-work of a post I read from Memeburn.  It focused on the 10 myths of social media marketing.

It was a really interesting post and I certainly recognised a lot of those to from my discussions with clients who either (a) want to move to this arena but are unsure how, or (b) are dead set against it.

I’ve included Memeburn’s 10 ‘original’ myths but added my perspective on them; how to address them and have added some extra myths.

If you think of any others, just post them on the comments section.  I’d love to hear your views.

Myth 1: “Social marketing is great because it’s free.”

There are actually two myths here: one directly attributable to Social Media (SM) the other not.

Let’s deal with the latter first; nothing is great just because it’s free.  In business, in order for something to be great it needs to provide tangible value (i.e. sales).  There is no point doing something free if it doesn’t result in sales.

Secondly, whilst certain vehicles like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress are free, your time is not.  SM takes time to do right because as well as having to develop the content to populate it (which may not be free in itself), you also need to be proactive in it, responding to customers etc.  So you need to consider the cost of your time, plus the cost of content (e.g. if you run promotions those will cost you money through decreased revenue per sale) and premium tools (website hosting, LinkedIn premium status or analytics tools).

Myth 2: “Everyone’s doing it, so I need to.”

If they were jumping off a cliff would you do that as well? Just because they are doing it doesn’t mean it is working for them. If it is unlikely to provide value (i.e. sales or moving people closer to a sale) then SM can be a distraction.  Ask yourself, is their business model the same as yours? Premium businesses will probably not require SM, whilst more populist business will find it more profitable for them? Can you afford to do it both in time and expense?  What are the opportunity costs of doing it?  This is especially true for small businesses where resources are scarce.

Myth 3: I can just post our press releases on social media

You can, but you will get little traction.  The point of SM is to provide customers with an outlet through which to engage & communicate with a company/brand. An outlet that is more personable, more conversational and engaging.  You are more likely to get feedback from people than on a webpage so your SM interaction needs to be more than just posting things. It needs to be responsive. It needs to draw people into a conversation.  If you simply want to post things for people to read, then there are other means to do it that are more efficient and effective – e.g. Press release section on your website.

Myth 4: “I need to be everywhere, dominating every type of social media”

Again, two separate myths here.  Firstly, you don’t have to be everywhere, just where your audience is.  If that is only Twitter, then focus on that.  If it is Foursquare then make sure you are visible there. And if they are not there, then don’t. Focus of effort is the key. Simply be present where your users are. Considering what is  required for effective social media marketing, the best thing you could do may be to invest all your time and energy into one or two sites your audience use regularly, rather than trying to spread yourself too thin across a large number of channels.

Myth 5: “Twitter is a tool for egomaniacs to tell people what they had for breakfast.”

The honest answer is that for some this is true and in its embryonic stage Twitter was a bit like that.  However, it’s developed so much in the 5 years it has been around becoming a major source of news, thought leadership content distribution and promotions.  The key is to determine if Twitter is for you and, if so, how are you going to use it (what type of content are you going to push out) in order to move people closer to that all important sale.

Myth 6: Facebook is more for my kids, not for my business.

I have a personal view about brands and FB (i.e. I’d rather they weren’t there as it feels like a huge move away from what I thought the essence of the site was – but that’s something for another post).  On a more objective level, FB can work for some companies (I believe B2C will find the engagement easier).  They can promote events, post videos, images, run competitions, run offers.  But again, the key is to understand (a) are your customers there? (b) how do they interact with the site? and (c) how can you enhance that experience so that they move closer to buying what you’re selling?

Myth 7: Social media is my marketing director’s job

Anyone can participate in SM on your behalf – from the CEO, to an agency to the tea boy.  They simply need clear guidelines on how to engage.  The last thing you want is a mistweet.  If that does happen then follow Jay Baer’s advice on how to handle it.

Myth 8: The threat of receiving negative public posts and complaints is too high

Yes, SM will make you a much more visible target. You can either bury your head and ignore it (as you are probably doing now with the offline conversations that are happening) or you can tackle them head on and try to turn the dissenters into advocates.  Understand their motivations for saying what they are saying and the context and then take the appropriate action.  Having visibility of those conversations can actually highlight serious problems within your business and showing you are taking steps to resolve them will go a long way to appeasing some of your worst critics. See it as constructive criticism rather than malicious.

Myth 9: “This thing’s useless – I tried it for a month and it didn’t work.”

I’m going to disagree with Memeburn slightly here.  Depending on your tactic SM can give you pretty immediate results – e.g. promotion such as coupon downloads or time limited offers to go instore.  However, these tactics should be used wisely and as part of a bigger SM strategy (driving long term advocacy and sales, which does take some time to see), which would be part of an even bigger Marketing plan.  Don’t fall for the fallacies that are likes/fans/followers, you ultimately need to measure how SM impacts your bottom line – how many sales am I generating from SM and is this better than doing something else?

Myth 10: “Our customers don’t use social media sites.”

Do you know for sure?  Have you researched it? Most industries do have some semblance of following/interest in Twitter/LIn/FB; so do your research.  If they are there, jump on that train.  If they are not, look at other tactics.

Myth 11: “Doing Social Media will be enough”

This really depends on your business – if it is online then possibly, but with bricks and mortar you need more.  Social Media is often seen as a panacea but it is just a tool; nothing more than that.  Using it on its own limits your reach and Pepsi’s current demise points to that (obviously it cannot all be blamed on SM but it did impact on results).

Myth 12: “If I launch it they will come”

Whilst this may work for the bigger, more established brands, it is not the case for your ‘everyday Joe Bloggs’.  You need to find, attract, nurture and grow your audience in order to build momentum which will then lead to a bigger audience.  Launching a product/service, this article by Guy Kawasaki is worth a read.  Whilst it is a little easier for him as he already has an established brand, some elements make sense – again, pick and choose those that will drive the greatest incremental revenue without distracting you from doing business.

So what might this look like practically?

Let’s say for example you have just opened a new coffee shop.  You are limited by trade from passing traffic but there are a couple of things you can do to increase that.  However your budget is limited and you can only use 4 types of media. This is by no means a definitive plan, but hopefully one that shows how SM can/should integrate with other tactics.

In my opinion the things you would need are: a website (or a Facebook Fan page; as both would fulfil the same purpose), a Foursquare/SCVNGR presence, a Twitter account and some local radio advertising.  Here is how I would use them:

– Use radio to promote the opening of your coffee shop, telling people where it is, and why they should come… you may wish to consider an offer to drive initial traffic.  You can also use it to drive people to you FB/website.

– Use FS/SCVNGR, to allow people to check in and run competitions to keep people engaged and coming back using game dynamics – take photos of weekly mayors (if they change) and post them on your profile so you can show people how successful it is and how people enjoy going there.  It will also give people who have never been a sense of what the atmosphere is like. You can use some of the updates and games and promote then on your FB/website.

– Use your FB/website to promote services/recipes/deals of the day.  It will also give you a chance to post any photos you have.  You can post videos of the different coffee recipes you do so people can do them at home.  If you run music/comedy/poetry nights (something that complements your environment) you can post videos there.  If during the days (when business is slow) you use children’s activities to drive traffic, again these mediums allow you to promote that. You can use these to show your Twitter feeds and FS/SCVNGR activity

– Using Twitter will enable you to be quite spontaneous with offers or RAKs.  It is all about promoting what you are about and how you do business and being quite personal. You can send out updates about new content on your FB/website, new mayorships and new staff.

Beyond this there are the traditional in-store communications – e.g. communicating all of the above to join the dots.  All these should create a sense of belonging within your audience that should drive immediate purchases with the offers/games and repeat purchases through activity that drives them back to your store.

Whilst these are just some relatively inexpensive ideas, remember that you do need to devote time to do this.  Possibly as much as 1-2hrs a day.  However, if you divide that by your staff and have some editorial calendar/plan then you will find that this will be easier.

And don’t forget, only do it if it makes you money (both in the short or long term).