Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

I’m not sure how much longer people can keep continuing to write the same articles, about the same topics, saying the same things, predicting the same “changes”, and expect anything to fundamentally change. I’m referring to an article published in Advertising Age called “The New Normal for CMOs” ironically under the column called CMO Strategy.

Simply regurgitating the same information that has prevailed the past several years is not strategic, and surely won’t help CMOs. Listing what the prevailing market conditions are, rather than offering new ideas for CMOs on how to deal with prevailing market conditions, is not strategic – it is informational. Plus, the information provided most of the time, or at least in this piece, is not new.

If a particular mindset has been in place for years or even decades, it should already be normal.

To paraphrase the main points in the article referenced above, each of which the author points out as “changes” or shifts for 2011:

* Your media mix is probably changing.

* LTV and customer loyalty is crucial, rather than a churn and burn strategy.

* Marketing and customer engagement is better when rooted in analytics.

* Marketing is no longer siloed and close partnerships with Finance is necessary.

* Performance-based procurement partnerships will become prevalent.

* Niche, creative expertise replaces one-size-fits-all agencies.

* Production and creative will decouple for efficiency’s sake.

* Consumers are tough to reach; agency compensation models will change accordingly.

* Minorities, and minority buying power, are significant, too.

* CMOs need to have a diverse skill set.

Summary: CMOs will be asked to do more with less.

Really? Which one of those have you not heard of before? Some of this is so basic and fundamental to what a CMO should have been thinking about for year that if you’re not thinking about them now, you shouldn’t be a CMO.

Everyone knows about the allure of social media. Everyone knows a 30-second spot won’t blanket your target audience anymore. So what can CMOs do, what should their new reality be? CMOs and top marketing executives need some new thinking or alternate points of view. I will give you two:

1) CMOs need to stop talking about shrinking budgets; everyone’s budget is tight and everything is fundamentally related to the recessionary times we live in. At some point, the more CMOs talk about their budgets shrinking, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, it is tougher to reach consumers than ever before, and CMOs have to “do more with less”, but when has that not been the case?

If your partnership with the CFO is as strong as the author in the Ad Age piece says it should be, and your marketing is rooted in analytics and ROI as the Ad Age piece says it should be, then why is your budget shrinking? Why not work to get your budget larger at the expense of another non-revenue producing, unproven, less impactful area? You can fix your shrinking budget, trust me.

2) Why do you think audiences are so fragmented nowadays versus, say, 10 years ago? Because they have thousands of places to get and receive content, and communicate. Content includes communication, but also includes websites, forums, social networks, and blogs. Why aren’t CMOs focusing on creating content for themselves or their brand and build their own communities that way? It is great to rely on Facebook and Twitter as communication mechanisms and platforms, but why not own your own real estate rather than renting? Have the conversation on your own (branded) terms. Then it becomes a lot easier to engage your target audience.

I think this should be *the* trend for 2011. By “creating content”, I’m not solely talking about having a Facebook page. I’m talking about creating your own forums, blogs, mini-sites and the like. Let your target audience and potential consumers talk about your brand and your product on your platform or your site where you can be a lot more creative and interactive. It is cheap, free, easy and efficient.

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Last week, I wrote a piece about extending one’s core business. One recent and very high profile example of this is Facebook’s “Places” application. To review, it is a Foursquare-like “check in” service so that users can let their friends know where they are at any given time by checking in to a location. For users, it lets them broadcast (or brag) to their friends where they are and what they are doing. For Facebook, it gives them geographic data to challenge Foursquare and puts them squarely into the local advertising game along with Yelp and Google.

Most everyone knows Facebook and uses it. I do. I think it is a great way to keep in touch with friends and to find old friends. I use it passively and would never be considered a power-user. There are actually days that go by when I don’t check it, and I have very few mobile alerts activated (only when someone posts on my Wall). Of the 500 million active users in Facebook, I am probably in their bottom 5% in terms of what they would consider a valuable user from a business standpoint.

When they announced Places, I did a little head scratching. Part of the reason was because they launched it right around the time when the great privacy debates began happening. Facebook was in the line of fire on their privacy policies in a very public way, putting their CEO on the defensive, and then seemingly days later they launched this service. The first things I thought were: “Why?” and “Why now?”

I’ve been in the advertising and marketing businesses for well over a decade, so I get why. When you wrap data, targeting and local advertising together, it becomes a potentially powerful mix for any merchant; and it allows Facebook to leverage their huge audience by putting them squarely into the growing local advertising business.

However, given the timing – where privacy concerns, tracking, cookies and the like are front page news – I’m not sure this was a prudent move for them now. Since I know the business well and understand exactly what information I give Facebook and how they’re using it, I probably have a higher tolerance than most. But “Places” even gave me a little bit of pause.

All of these points are probably moot if a huge swath of people used the service, so I wanted to wait to write about this to see if users would adopt it in masses. I, for one, disabled the “Places” function right away but wanted to see if others would too. It looks like I’m not alone.

When evaluating your core business, it is important to consider not only the business model behind it, but the timing and overall media climate since what the media covers informs the general public. Most importantly, though, you need to have reliable data or market research that suggests usage by your core customers. If a business tries to extend too aggressively they risk alienating their core users. I’m not saying this will happen to Facebook. But why didn’t they focus group this more? Why didn’t they ask their users if they would use such a utility?

Maybe a lot of people I don’t know are using Places, in which case I’ll be the first to say I’m wrong. But the bottom line for me is two-fold: Do people really care where I am and what I’m doing all the time? Do I really care to let people know where I am and what I’m doing all the time?

Even my very best friends would answer “no” to the first one. And I would answer “no” for the second one.

There was some very interesting research released from eMarketer based on a study done by ExactTarget entitled “Subscribers, Fans & Followers”. The study aimed to quantify the differences for marketers between email, Facebook and Twitter. There are two charts of interest, here’s the first:

Basically, this tells us that Twitter followers of a brand were the most loyal and most likely to purchase, followed by email subscribers, followed by Facebook subscribers – in percentage terms (see below, that’s important).

The second chart varies a little bit in terms of which constituency is more likely to recommend a brand:

On the surface, the results look similar in terms of which group is more apt to recommend a brand.

I draw one conclusion and one major caveat. First, these results are fairly intuitive. Twitter is arguably the most mobile and most real-time. To follow a brand in real-time, you presumably are as passionate about that brand as you are your friends. If I’m following JetBlue via Twitter in addition to a few hundred friends, that is likely my airline of choice and one that I’d recommend to other friends. If I “like” JetBlue on Facebook, it is probably a feeling that is less passionate.

The major caveat I have though is that this study was done in percentage terms. Let’s not forget the behemoth Facebook has become in terms of whole numbers (the latest count is 500 million users), while Twitter is still relatively small in terms of usage. Everyone I know is on Facebook; only a handful actively use Twitter.

The big winner in this study in my opinion? Good “old” email. Even more so than Facebook, everyone uses email. Over the last few years, people have become increasingly cognizant of spam and email overload leading them to try and limit the volume of email they receive. Therefore, nowadays, if you’re subscribing to a brand or newsletter via email, you probably have thought long and hard about it.