Bits & Pieces?
It was a day like any other when one of my colleagues said, “I can lead a horse to water… but if there’s no water there… well… I don’t know how to help you.”
I said a day like any other, because the tone was sarcastic and he was being facetious—and the comment ended in the room bursting out in laughter. A day like any other, because most conversations here have a dry sense of humor and a lot of “inside our walls” meaning—which would explain why all of us were rolling on the floor laughing, and you’re probably not. So let me explain.
In the past, one might refer to that old cliché and say, “Advertising can lead a horse to water, a great concept could make him take a drink.” And in the past, I believe that was true—even in the world where there were no clear product differentiators. We did campaigns for parity products quite often, and most times the best campaign and the best media buy won. Providing the product was at least on par with the competitors. In those days (not many years ago), we’d be thrilled if we got a key differentiator or two. That made our job cake.
The humor, irony, sadness, and truth about the observation my colleague made is in the definition of “water.” A little context is in order: the comment was made in a conversation about how the marketing funnel has changed. How, the “water” that we referred to in the past as meaning “the product,” now means so much more. It is also ironic that we had this conversation before Sue’s trip to SXSWi and her post on Joseph Jaffe’s book, Flip the Funnel. The point of all of this is that it is no longer just about you as an advertiser spreading the word about your product or service.
It is no longer about drawing consumers into the marketing funnel and into the vortex of advertising, until they get dizzy and start to believe you and then buy your product. It’s now all about ensuring that there’s really good “water” at the destination. Think exceptional customer experience. Truly differentiated product features. And just as importantly, a way for loyal customers to become evangelists. In other words, these days, if we lead a horse to water and there’s an abundance of clean, clear, refreshing water, that horse will tell three friends and those friends will tell three friends—all by tomorrow morning. Hence, the marketing funnel has been flipped into a megaphone and the message is carried by customers.
There are still plenty of brands who believe that advertising should do all the work. Or that success is achieved in the marketing mix. Or conversely, that the answer is digital, or social media, or that their website is the be-all and end-all. Those are all important, but the best brands have realized that it starts at home—great product, exceptional service and a medium by which to share. But that doesn’t mean a brand is alone to create the ultimate “watering hole.” The last part of my colleague’s comment was, “…I don’t know how to help you.” Well, that too, was purposefully overstated and he was again being facetious. Because if there is not substance there for a consumer to quench their thirst, all of our hard work goes for naught.
Today, the lines have blurred between clients and agencies. That’s if we are doing it right. Today, much of our work is as brand consultants, customer experience representatives, and deacons for the evangelists. We can even be product developers if we need to be. We are realists when we have to be. A good agency is a great Litmus Test, because if the water is tainted, the word spreads faster than if it is pure.
A new Yahoo! research report titled “Who says what to whom on Twitter” claims that only 0.05% of Twitter users attract attention. The study was picked up by Mashable and everyone and his/her grandma started to discuss the value of Twitter and its potential as a social media marketing tool. Some discussions even occurred offline. Imagine that!
Everyone who knows me, not even well, knows how much I love the Twitter. It’s a human Google Reader on steroids. It’s entertaining. Hello @CharlieSheen! And it’s the easiest way to learn from and meet really smart people, that’s how I met Sue Spaight. Ohh, and did I mention you can get free stuff? Ask Nick Pipitone about that.
You can read this Facebook vs. Twitter post that Sue and I wrote a few months ago. I can tell you about some organizations that have used Twitter in successful and interesting ways. I can introduce you to @NORDSTROMdave (read about how he uses Twitter here) and @BronxZoosCobra. But the issue isn’t about who is on Twitter. The issue is how we use it.
Twitter is participant medium and participant media are notorious for participation inequality, a term defined by Steve Whittaker, Loren Terveen, Will Hill, and Lynn Cherny in “The dynamics of mass interaction” (1998). The term describes the lack of active participation among most users. In 2006 Jacob Nielsen took the theory further and defined the 1:9:90 ratio (creators: editors: audience). However, a more elaborate model has existed for over 15 years, according to Thomas Hoegh, founder and CEO of Art Alliance (see image). The visual speaks for itself and I will not even attempt to explain it.
Still surprised by the statistics from the study? Why did we even expect anything different?
Let’s quit panicking that Twitter might not be the best tool for social media marketing and redefine what “active user” means because even the consuming audience can be very active in consuming. Remember Forrester’s Social Technographics?
Plus, the fewer the creators and conversationalists, the greater the opportunity for brands to receive more attention online. They/we just need to provide value (e.i. content, utility and entertainment) and build relationships. Shouldn’t be that hard.
Yesterday I went to an excellent panel discussion on social media in healthcare, including Dana Lewis from Swedish Health Services, Daniel Goldman from Mayo Clinic, Ed Bennett from University of Maryland Medical System, Jennifer Shine Dyer from Ohio State University and Dr. Keely Kolmes, a private psychotherapy practitioner. These are all individuals who are very committed to integrating social media into their organizations and practices, and they shared some very useful tips on how to do so without violating patient privacy or personal ethics.
Note: these are my takeaways from the session on what I found most relevant to us and our Jigsaw clients, not an attempt to summarize the entire session.
Dana Lewis shared a great suggestion for approaching physicians to encourage them to participate in social media. Don’t just go to them and say “We want you to do social media.” Show them why first by having the physician Google himself or herself, and explain how social media can change search engine results. Of course, there are other reasons to participate in social media, but this may help the proverbial light bulb go on.
Daniel Goldman, corporate attorney at Mayo Clinic, talked about the initial challenges of dealing with negative comments on social sites. While at first this caused create quite a bit of organizational anxiety, Mayo found that “the place didn’t fall down”, the brand can tolerate the negative comments, and they even make the organization stronger. He also stated that, contrary to general perceptions, “(Social media) is not a particularly risky sphere to give good healthcare information.” The challenge, though, is the “outlier”, the axe grinder. Some people just won’t like you, and that comes with the territory. A smart strategy that was discussed to minimize the axe-grinding is to give patients another outlet for reviews so they don’t necessarily have to talk about you only online if they have a problem, by systematizing patient feedback within your organization or practice, for each patient. The key, he said, is to provide healthcare information and education, not treatment. Of course, patients still need to sign a HIPPA authorization that allows the healthcare organization to respond to them in online forums.
Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, a physician in the audience, also made an excellent point regarding not talking to physicians about “engagement.” Rather, frame it for them in terms of sharing general information and creating an opportunity for health education. This is more relatable, relevant and actionable.
Ed Bennett said he encourages physicians to imagine they are on a radio call-in show called “Ask the Expert” when responding to questions in social media channels. This makes it more intuitive and less intimidating. They can speak to what we know about the condition, where to go for more information, and offer a secure e-mail response, not a diagnosis through social media.
Dr. Kolmes shared her social media policy and spoke about how she created it to inform patients regarding how she handles requests for Facebook friendship and the like. She initially drafted it on her blog for feedback. It is posted there now, as well linked to from her Twitter profile so patients know what to expect. She also actively monitors and posts information on Yelp. She also spoke about how she finds the time for social media: it is just part of her life and fits “easily” into her day. She checks it in the morning along with her e-mail, checks it again at night while reading journals, and gets push notifications to her phone.
Clearly, these are practitioners who “get it” and there is much to be learned from them.
How do their insights apply to you?
We believe that our shiny new site isn’t just a place for Jigsaw to share our work, opinions, thoughts and experiences as an idea agency. It is another tool to help our clients and interested others navigate through a hyperconnected and fast-paced world where we have 140 characters/10 seconds to get someone’s attention. When one of our clients sent us Eunju Lie’s “When it Comes To Marketing, Twitter Destroys Facebook” in Business Insider and asked for our opinion, we thought to share our answer with everyone since it’s likely that many people might have the same question.
How do you decide which platform is a better fit for your organization? We’re going to provide some general guidelines here; however, this is not to say that there are not exceptions. There are many variables and not “one right answer” that applies to all marketing scenarios.
First, define the goal. What are you trying to achieve with your participation in these social media tools? Increase awareness? Traffic? Donations? Sales? Loyalty? Build a community? Provide customer support? Position individuals within the organization as thought leaders?
Twitter is generally a stronger platform for:
- Driving awareness, because of the way people stumble upon interesting content and decide to follow the originator of the content.
- Providing customer support, because of its “now” nature. However, some brands, like Samsung, are exploring the opportunities to provide customer service on Facebook too.
- General online reputation management/thought leadership strategies, including media relations.
Facebook is generally more powerful when used to:
- Engage and involve loyal customers.
- Empower ambassadors.
Both platforms are quite effective for:
- Building relationships and loyalty among existing customers/users: especially for passion brands. People like Facebook Fan Pages because they already like the brand IRL; this is really the sweet spot of Facebook as a tool. However, a positive, fast response to a customer on Twitter can convert a dissatisfied customer to an advocate.
- Event promotion: Both tools can be effective here, depending on who the audience for the event is. Twitter is the better option if the audience is tech savvy individuals or to capture the attention of people who are making last minute plans. Facebook is much better for general audiences. Facebook also has a live stream box in partnership with Ustream, which can be used to broadcast events.
- Fundraising: Twitter can also be an outstanding fundraising tool, because of its inherent nature as a grass roots conversation. However, Facebook, too, can be used very effectively for fundraising purposes. You can empower people to tell your story on Twitter or use Facebook Causes to increase donations.
- Traffic: One the one hand, Google ranks tweets in real-time search, which is how Twitter can help you increase traffic to your website, as long as you don’t spam your followers with self-promotional tweets only. Remember to write for the user, not just the search engines. On the other hand, Facebook drives more social traffic to websites. Although Facebook drives more social media traffic to websites, it is important to understand that the traffic doesn’t come from a link on a corporate Facebook Fan Page, but from the links people share with their friends. You can take advantage of this by creating amazing content and making it easy for the visitor to share the content.
What about driving sales? Tougher question.
Dell Computers has sold >$2MM in computers through it’s Twitter profile; however, it is important to note that they spent several years building social credibility online before that occurred. It didn’t happen overnight.
This year we also saw the rise of f-commerse. Brands like Levi’s use Facebook’s social plugins to increase reviews of products, which also increases sales. Disney Store has a store locator on its Facebook page. Munich allows fans to customize sneakers on Facebook and buy them from the site. Pampers’ fans can buy products straight from the Facebook page. The social giant can increase not only online sales, but also offline. Many fashion brands show their newest collections online and drive foot traffic to stores.
You can engage and involve (potential) customers and develop relationships with them on Twitter to increase sales. Or you can provide utility by moving the shopping experience to Facebook.
Where does your audience want to engage?
The next important factor in selecting a social network for marketing purposes is, of course, identifying the audience and understanding how it uses these platforms. Does the audience prefer Facebook to Twitter? Does it use both platforms? If so, what are the differences in behavior? What kind of content does it prefer to consume? What kind of content does it prefer to share? Why does it share?
One in ten people on the planet has a Facebook account and some people use it more often than others. But Facebook is the network for our IRL relationships: people we already know, like and trust, not to make new relationships, which is what Twitter is great for. The micro-blogging platform is also used to nurture already existing relationships, but its users are much more likely to engage with strangers with similar interests and discuss products, services and brands. Twitter users also tend to be younger, urban and more technology savvy than Facebook users.
It is important to note the increasing numbers of people accessing both social networks via mobile devices which affects how much time they spend on these networks, how often they go online, what content they are more likely to view and share.
Forrester Research provides useful information on how different demographics use social media in its Technographics Profiling Tool. However, there isn’t yet a lot of concrete information on specifically how different audience segments use the two major social networks.
Twitter and Facebook as Advertising Platforms
Another opportunity both networks offer is advertising. Although Facebook approaches ads more traditionally than Twitter, it allows for very narrow targeting so you can reach those five people in Richland Center who are under 30 and interested in collaborative consumption. Twitter’s advertising platform is based on resonance and engagement. It provides more than one advertising option: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends.
Facebook and Twitter are both great tools, what makes a difference is how you are going to use them and how many resources you have available because it is not enough to just have a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter account. What is even more important is that Facebook and Twitter are not the only social platforms. Instead of asking “Should we use Facebook or Twitter?”, ask “Which platform(s) serves our needs best?” and “What is our strategy for how we will engage and involve?”
Enough from us. What is your answer? Twitter or Facebook? Which one is better for social marketing?
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In the past few weeks the interwebs were flooded with social media and social marketing trends and predictions for 2011. (Let me Google that for you, if you haven’t seen one of the 837467382904 posts on the topic.) What will happen in the social media space in 2011? A lot of exciting things: from average users experiencing social media schizophrenia which will lead to increased consumer content curation, to brands acting more like media companies, to the move from slacktivism to hyper citizen activism, to full integration, although that was a prediction for 2009 and 2010 and still hasn’t happened. Maybe.
But what do all these predictions mean for advertising agencies? What do they mean for people who have social marketing in their titles or college graduates trying to get a job as social media something something?
The traditional requirements for that position still remain relevant. We must (yes, I did say must) know the difference between social media and social marketing. We all should be self-motivated, innovative, business savvy and strategic content creators and curators. But with the changes that have occurred in the past year, we, and the agencies that hire us, should strive for more.
Besides knowing the tools and their capabilities, social marketing managers should also know how people use these tools. We think that everyone is a social butterfly and people engage with strangers on Twitter just because that is what we do. Let’s quit projecting and learn how exactly clients’ audiences use these tools. We should examine how people engage with brands online, which is a very different behavior from how they engage with their niche communities.
We should continue our search for the right measurement systems and approaches. We’ve talked about going beyond clicks, RTs, likes, etc. Let’s refocus from measuring social activity to measuring the success of an integrated effort. Instead of having a social marketing measurement report, we should have measurement reports that give the numbers as they relate to a business goal: sales, awareness, etc. even if that means measuring offline.
Since even ordinary people will get fatigue from social media, everyone would be much pickier about the content we consume, which makes quality content more important than ever. Utilitainment will be a responsibility of every social/community manager and that means we will have to produce valuable (valuable for our clients’ audiences, not for us or for the clients) content for each selected platform. Regardless of the format, content strategy that leads engaging and involving content will be a must. Let’s put our efforts in mastering content strategy instead of producing content just to say we are publishers or media companies.
Most importantly, we should become even better at teaching. Teaching everyone: from clients to account people to creatives to planners. If we do our job well, we will be obsolute in a year or two because social media should be everyone’s job. Instead of having social media managers, gurus, strategists, etc, we should just have community managers. The New York Times eliminating its social media editor position is a good thing. And the same should be true for agencies, even if that means that I won’t have a job.
Scary? Yes! Exciting? Even more so!
What will you change in 2011? How will all trends and predictions change your job, responsibilities and skills?
P.S. Happy holidays!
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