Archive for the 'Social' Category

Media Predictions for 2012 by Soap….

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Does Social Media Help TV Viewership?

Regardless of whether your a Digital or Traditional marketer, this post isn’t about singling out a “preferred” medium, its simply about the convergence of behaviors.

While the DVR, Apple TV, Hulu, Boxee etc etc give us control over when and how we watch our favorite TV programs, I believe Social Media has altered consumer behaviors, and has actually allowed TV networks to once again feel good about “appointment television”. While I don’t have stats to back up this statement, my own behavioral experience absolutely supports this point of view (the power of one…prove me wrong).

While I watch very little network programming, there are a few “prime-time” shows I enjoy, and whenever I do tune in (at the time of airing), I feel like I’m in my virtual living room watching with my friends and family. With iPad in hand, I sit there watching TV, and then it starts – facebook friends light up the news feed, and the discussion begins… not only limited to the program, but the advertising as well.

We all know this behavior is abundantly apparent when watching live events such as Sports, Awards shows etc. but, is it enough for TV networks to once again make a case for appointment viewing? After all, appointment TV is still one of the most successful way to reach a mass audience at a specific point in time.

Welcome your thoughts.

Free doesn’t translate into social.

Many companies are still under the impression that because they use facebook, twitter etc, to toss freebies out into the social sphere, they satisfy “social” on their marketing checklist. Obviously this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In order for brands to truly be viewed as “social”, and in touch with consumers, brands need to deliver long term and ongoing value.

Does this mean it’s bad to offer incentives? Absolutely not: incentives are great to encourage sampling and boost sales – but the key is to make sure those who act on an incentive don’t fall into cyber abyss. Understandably, there are those “coupon clippers” who just care about a deal, and are only loyal to saving money, but I believe if you provide a valuable, and quality experience you will gain a life long customer.

This simple concept of providing quality/value derives from the premise that if a consumer is willing to friend or follow a brand without incentive, they are more likely to have a deeper affiliation with a brand. These types of consumers are more likely to not only engage more with the brand, but also contribute their own thoughts thus making the experience for other fans/followers much more richer.

As all you marketers prepare to take on the Holiday Season, remember this – every brand, product, service company etc will be flooding the market to gain the attention of consumers. How will your brand break through the clutter and actually win over a life long customer vs. just making a quick sale?

Happy Holidays!

Social is not a Campaign!

A recent study of US marketers by the Direct Marketing Association and COLLOQUY found that brand awareness was the most popular objective of social media “campaign”. How can this be I ask? For starters, “Social” is not a campaign, it is an ongoing dialogue between a brand and a consumer. Secondly, how can companies expect to build brand affinity without first establishing customer loyalty?

My opinionated attempt to explain:

Think back to the days when marketers referred to word of mouth as the best form of “advertising” a company could ever hope for, yet there were very few ways to prove that positive or negative word of mouth affected brand or impacted the bottom line. Even more puzzling was the fact that marketers had very few ways of touching consumers on a personal level if they needed to remedy a problem, or thank someone for being a loyal supporter.

Today, those same “word of mouth” conversations still take place, except now marketers have an opportunity to see them, understand them, influence them, and most importantly, connect them to individual customers. Never before, have Marketers and Brands had an opportunity to get as close to their customers as they can today, yet so many of them limit their “social efforts” to simply “advertising” to consumers within social forums.

Those who understand the value of today’s social ethos, know that social media is not about a “campaign”. Its not how much money you sink into advertising on social networks, and it’s not about how many leads can be delivered. It’s about making sure your company in sync with its customers – It’s about providing value. When you provide value to consumers you establish trust and loyalty, which lead to brand affinity & awareness. It is only then, when companies can expect to see the fruits of their labor through increased sales, and overall growth etc.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I will say that I do believe its beneficial for Marketers and Brands to “advertise” in social environments, but these efforts should not be looked at a social media, they simply should be looked at as advertising campaigns (which is what they are). And should not be measured any differently than other “campaigns” with specific and measureable KPI’s.

I welcome your thoughts.

Are Brands racing too fast into social?

It sure feels like it. Much like in the early 90’s when every company had to have a website, today brands “need to be social”. Only problem is many of them don’t know how, and unlike yester-year, today they are getting called to the mat when their efforts are disjointed.

While I’m an advocate of the social world, I strongly believe brands should not dive in until they have strategically defined a reason for being. I see too many brands participating in things that are not in sync with their customers or their employees.

Allow me to share a personal experience. I recently walked into a Sports Authority (@sportsauthority) to purchase a good amount of equipment. As I checked in using @foursquare, I was excited to take advantage of their $10 cash card offer (which I had unlocked). As I attempted to pay for my merchandise, I showed & told the cashier about my offer, but no luck (this is when things started to get ugly). For starters, the cashier didn’t know what Foursquare was, never mind the offer I was trying to redeem. It gets better, she calls for a manager (takes about 5 min for someone to show up at the register), and when he arrived, he did not know about the offer either. I think you see the problem here – the left side of the brand pushes out a great promotion, but the rights side of the brand has no idea what’s going on…an obvious recipe for disaster. To finish the story, without making a stink, I simply paid for my merchandise and walked out. On a positive note, both folks were pleasant to deal with; they were just unfortunately not informed.

The fact I was unable to redeem my offer isn’t what concerned me. I was more bothered thinking that a brand like Sports Authority couldn’t connect the dots on what should have been a great case study, but is now a missed opportunity to connect with me in a meaningful way.

I write this post not to criticize Sports Authority, but to merely illustrate my point of how a brand rushed into a promotion/campaign, and did not have all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. I actually applaud Sports Authority for leaping in by using Foursquare as part of their marketing mix. However, the experience was not seamless, and their efforts fell short of satisfying – which I have to believe is their end goal.

Hoping this helps create a “Social” Authority.

To Geo or not to Geo?

There in lies the question. As mobile devices and geo-location services such as foursquare and gowalla swarm the scene, many folks are asking…what’s the point? The point is…regardless of whether your “check-in happy” or “don’t want to be found”, these services provide value. BUT like most social platforms – they are only as helpful as the people who use them, and the businesses who are willing to accept them as yet another venue to connect with consumers.

As Foursquare approaches nearly 1.0MM users, with significant growth coming from the last 6 months, I think its safe to assume, that consumers (in general) believe in the vision and the value being provided. Take it one step further, if professional content can be added to the value chain by way of partners such as Zaggat, Fandango etc, it will only strengthen the value proposition.

Your thoughts???

PR Firms – Learn from History

Rewind 15 years, when traditional ad agencies attempted to integrate digital services by creating “digital shops” housed under the traditional agency umbrella. Those of us in the space knew this was approach was destined to fall short, and that true integration would only occur when all sides had an equal seat at the table and worked toward accomplishing a unified goal.

Fast forward to today – Social media has quickly become the “digital service” of choice for todays PR firms. Most PR firms today are quickly scrambling to try and incorporate social into their overall capability by creating “shops” made up of “social/digital specialists”.

If history has taught us anything, integration its not about creating an offshoot capability/shop that can offer specialized services to clients, its about offering a seamless integration between marketing, advertising, PR etc so that earned, paid, and owned media call all work seamlessly. Its the ability to consistently leverage all elements in a campaign (or simply just a communication) to ensure that they all align – its this approach that will ultimately lead to success.

Social Media Predictions 2010

1. Monitoring platforms become even more commoditized, opportunity emerges for niche vertical offerings as a means of differentiation.

2. Listening platforms become more closely integrated with other data sources: mail databases, web analytics, marketing data, etc.

3. Integration of social media tools with web analytics, CRM, Search Query data etc.

4. Social Media “Teams” formed: tied to creative, media, technology, and analytics people.

5. Social Media ROI will begin to be “Cracked” – DASHBOARDS.