Tag Archives: Facebook

Real World Social Media – The Power of Networking

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve spent the past 2 years and 9 months working diligently on an AACSB accredited MBA at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN.  The university requires successful completion of 17 classes, 2,200 hours of class time and a LOT of group projects of their MBA candidates – whether you attend full or part-time.  My decision to attend St. Thomas was made for a variety of reasons (including their AACSB accreditation) but as I look back on the past 3 years or so – one criterion stands above the rest … the people.

The power of social media has enamored both marketing and sales organizations over the past few years.  In fact, when I began my MBA coursework, Facebook was still a “college” thing rather than the behemoth it is today.  Twitter was called Twttr. And the iPad didn’t exist.

Social media’s influence and impact continues to grow and to be debated but will surely be with us in the near term.  However, we must not forget the power of being social in the real world.

The true power of social networking exists in real life as it has for generations.  The ability to hold a conversation, to emote, to share and to laugh (without the use of LOL or emoticons) will quickly become a lost art form if we forget the most important aspect of our day-to-day the lives … the people we interact with, cherish, work with, or even dislike. No amount of Facebook likes or posts, Twitter Feeds, Apps, Texts, etc. can replace real world communication and networking.  They can enhance or compliment the experience as any technological innovation should do.

While I’ve learned a great deal about marketing, statistics, decision-making, strategy, and yes, even social media during my pursuit of an MBA … as I reflect on my experiences it becomes readily apparent that no amount of technology or innovation replaces the fundamental power of being social – IRL.

(that’s Twitspeak or SMS for In Real Life)

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Pre-game Super Bowl XLV Ads and Brand Strategy

I’m looking forward to the Super Bowl advertising spots this year – we should see a true blend of old and new advertising / marketing strategies at play with traditional video and TV spots leveraging brand presence on Facebook, Twitter, and most importantly …  YouTube.  Major kudos to Volkswagen with their efforts thus far – a “pre-release” or sneak peak at their spot has generated more than 12 Millions views on YouTube, 50,000 Tweets, and over 140,000 Facebook shares … and get this … over 5,000 mentions on Google Buzz (I didn’t think they had that many users?!).  YouTube may be the hands down winner in all of this as consumers hit the site to re-play not only scenes from the game but their favorite advertising spots as well.  If a brand positions these marketing assets properly, there is a significant opportunity to build brand equity and drive revenue growth.  In my opinion,  the spots should direct consumers to YouTube to re-play the ads (maybe via a promotional enticement upon viewing?!) with an opportunity for customers to engage with the brand further via social media (think Facebook likes and follows) with the ultimate goal of driving a desired behavior (e-mail subscribe, purchase, etc.) by re-directing new Facebook and Twitter followers to the brand’s consumer web site.

Volkswagen Super Bowl XLV Ad:  The Force


Short Term vs. Long Term – MySpace and Facebook

MySpace laid off almost half of its staff this week and is reportedly for sale amid reports of continuing subscriber loss to Facebook.  MySpace was the social networking site when Facebook reserved its membership ranks to attendees of Ivy League schools.  It was the first site that anyone could log into and create their personal “space” on the web including photos, music, mini-blogs and more.

It took MySpace less than 5 years to become a star and fall from grace in the markets while Facebook accelerated at a pace that now eclipses that of Google.  What happened?  Well … it’s a case of trying to be everything to everyone and the master of nothing.  It spread itself to thin and lost its way.  Facebook has always been straight forward – you get what you get.  Sure, they introduce new products here and there but it’s a “one size fits all” model no matter if you’re a celebrity, student, housewife, or just a regular joe.

The lesson?  Decide who and what you are and stick to your guns.  An ever changing business model that reacts to short term guidance or market pressures ultimately leads to failure.  We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again – history always repeats itself.

When MySpace was sold to News Corp. it forced itself into the world of short term thinking where quarterly revenue was king.  The pressures to top quarterly analyst forecasts eclipsed a strategic vision that was responsible for its rise in popularity and ultimately led to an ever changing and increasingly complicated social media landscape and mission statement that turned off its core user base.  These users flocked to the simplicity that is Facebook (at least from a UI perspective) and the rest as they say is history.

Maybe Zuckerberg had it right by resisting the pressures for an IPO over the years and keeping Facebook private?  It has meant he can deliver on his strategic vision from a long term perspective rather than a reactionary stance every quarter like most public entities.  You tell me … MySpace is the 49th most visited site globally according to Alexa.com.  That’s nothing to sniff at unless you’re competing against the likes of other social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and a slew of others that rank higher for visitor count.  They’re all competing in the same space.  Pun intended.


Happy New Year! (Auld Lang Syne Social Media Style)

Times Square at night

Image via Wikipedia

My New Year’s Eve tradition has always included watching the ball drop in Times Square on television – either at home or from another location.  But, it was always via television. You remember what that was, right?  You may think I’m kidding – but, in another 5 – 10 years that will be a truly valid statement.

December 31, 2010 brings this time honored tradition into the realm of Social Media.  As of today, Facebook has officially passed Google as the most visited site on the internet.  The passing of the guard from a search based user experience to a social media user experience has occurred!  Befitting this type of change, my New Year’s Eve tradition will shift from watching the ball drop in Times Square on television to leveraging a wide variety of social media.  The power of social media is remarkable as my tradition will now include sharing my experience with my network of professional and personal friends via Facebook and Twitter.  There are a variety of tools and links available  including apps for Android phones, apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, Facebook apps, live stream on Twitter as well as video streaming sites.  I bet you can even attend the event virtually via Second Life!  Leverage the links below and be a part of the New Year Social Media experience but most of all … Happy New Year!

Facebook New Years Eve Ball Drop App:

http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=205194694192

Links for live streaming:

TimesSquareNYC.org
Livestream.com/2011
TimesSquareBall.net


Facebook’s Relational Map of the Earth

Doubt the importance of Social Media and the power of a personal or professional network?  Facebook intern Paul Butler was able to create a visual map of the Earth based on Facebook’s Apache Hive data (their data warehouse)!  This is not a map of the world with Facebook members plotted against it, rather, it is a map of the world that slowly appeared during the rendering process of Facebook connection and relationship data.  More from Paul’s post on Facebook:

“After a few minutes of rendering, the new plot appeared, and I was a bit taken aback by what I saw. The blob had turned into a surprisingly detailed map of the world. Not only were continents visible, certain international borders were apparent as well. What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn’t represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships. Each line might represent a friendship made while travelling, a family member abroad, or an old college friend pulled away by the various forces of life.”

The world as we know it still exists from a cartography perspective – but, the value of relationships is finally displayed as a mechanism that transcends traditional or natural geographic boundaries.  This poses an interesting dilemma for marketers everywhere – are you truly Global from a strategic marketing perspective? Whether you know it or not – you already are.

Link to Paul’s original post:  http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/visualizing-friendships/469716398919


Social Media ROI – Fact or Fiction?

Image Credit:  http://www.webguild.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/roi.jpg

ROI (Return On Investment) is a rather simple mathematical calculation that evaluates the efficiency of an investment or its performance in comparison to other investments.  How simple?  Here it is:  Gains – Costs / Costs = ROI.  Pretty nifty, right?

Here’s an example – if you use $100 of budget that nets $150 in revenue or gains your ROI is 50% (150 – 100 / 100 = .50).

The basic ROI equation becomes rather tricky in the Social Media realm.  How valuable is a Twitter follower?  What quantitative impact does a Facebook wall comment provide?  Is the quantity of LinkedIn connections more important than the quality?

Social Media is a channel of open communication that exists outside of the normal boundaries of push and pull marketing and is difficult to provide firm ROI in the traditional sense.  And this is where things get tricky …

Trying to prove the value of Social Media in a traditional ROI sense is rather difficult.  You cannot easily quantify the value add of a Social Media presence in terms of traditional ROI gains.  In fact, you’re more likely to show a loss when using a traditional ROI model.  Social Media, as a channel, should be analyzed from a branding, engagement, influence, and competitive value add perspective as a component of strategic marketing initiatives.  This allows for qualitative measurements of individual marketing channels that combined lead to revenue gains.  Strategic marketing encompasses the channels and messaging that will deliver on business initiatives (i.e. sales, hires, brand recall, viral marketing, etc.).  Thus, the Social Media aspect of marketing ROI cannot be measured alone.

I guarantee you that a marketing executive will get fired looked at funny if they delivered an ROI analysis that included this statement: “We spent $50,000 on a Facebook page and have not been able to prove that anyone posting comments on the wall or who has followed the page actually buys our products.  But, it looks cool. And, everyone else is doing it.”

Social Media’s ROI should (typically) be tied to branding and influence initiatives within the marketing budget and strategy.  Branding ROI is component of marketing ROI and should never be analyzed independently … rather, the entire marketing budget (thus, your strategy delivery mechanism) should be utilized against total revenues or gains to determine effectiveness of the strategy.  No results = Bad strategy.  Plain and simple.  Simply creating a corporate Facebook page or Twitter account is a tactical response to a strategic problem.  Changing your channels of communications as part of a shift in marketing mix that is quantifiable in gains (ROI) is a strategic move.

That marketing executive I mentioned earlier would look like a rockstar if their statement included:  “We built a fan base to mitigate negative public comments and bolster positive consumer opinions that would impact our brand.  We leveraged sponsored campaigns on this channel (Facebook) that were tied to the page and tracked click-throughs and sales via web analytics …”  and so on.

At the end of the day, it’s all about ROI.  Plain and simple.  Did your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc. create gains on its own or was it part of a marketing mix that worked in unison from a strategic perspective to deliver gains?  The person signing checks or giving you a budget doesn’t care about fans, followers, comments, and so on … they are concerned with your strategy and its ultimate impact on revenue.  Positioning social media as a progressive and innovative component of your overall strategy makes you look like a rockstar – if, and only if, that strategy, as a whole, actually delivers something quantifiable like revenues, hires, etc.


Now Hiring! Brand Ambassadors …

Social Media Landscape

From time to time I’ve seen job postings or requisitions for Brand Ambassadors to represent a Brand in a positive way and carry the brand message out to the public via a variety of media channels.  This is an extremely important role in marketing that often represents a strategic initiative to initiate or further customer engagement especially in new marketing channels like social media.  The role affords the organization control over public messaging and can provide valuable feedback and metrics for analysis of market engagement, penetration, segmentation, etc.

I believe a lot of organizations have failed to recognize their employees as Brand Ambassadors. Yes, I’ve heard almost everyone say that they feel their employees are Brand Ambassadors but this isn’t something typically supported from a corporate perspective.  Thanks to social media (whether YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs … take your pick!) everyone can truly be an ambassador – and to the chagrin of a lot of marketing organizations … they already are.

Why not EMPOWER your employees to be brand amabassadors?  Every company has an opportunity to do this during new hire training, onboarding, or even via their employee handbooks.  HR and Marketing could team up and devise a very quick yet powerful brand overview or guideline that employees could feel empowered (and supported) to leverage across their social media presence.  Employees are (usually) very proud of their workplace and want to share stories, interactions, etc. with their personal networks … and trust me, they already do … but have not been armed with referencable items like logos, tag lines, style sheets, or even a Top 10 List of do’s and don’ts.  In the recent past, Google’s handbook summed all of this up in one line … “Don’t be stupid.” … although, I’m sure that’s changed by now.   Wouldn’t it be great if your entire organization felt empowered to be brand ambassadors?


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