Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why bother measuring Twitter Influence? Measure Reach Instead.


There are a ton of websites that attempt (all of them feebly) to measure Twitter Influence, including Klout, Edeleman Digital's Tweetlevel, Twinfluence among the crowd. It is an open and accessible network. So it lends itself to attempts to measure. So I will posit here the limitations, then bring reality into the discussion which is to measure Reach not Influence.

First of all lets discuss Twitter. Its very conducive to sharing links and information. Many people who use Twitter favor it over Facebook, People Use Facebook, but they Live Twitter. And most users tend to be higher of intelligence, more friendly to technology, and I personally believe in the Top 50% of Earners in the US (or future Earners). But there are some drawbacks. Based on the Tweet Volumes there are between 8mil-15mil people on Twitter World Wide at any given moment. Over half of the 100mil Twitter accounts are rarely used.

There are 250mil Consumers in the US age 14 and over. So obviously scale and influence across that group is limited from Twitter with only 40% of users being in the US. Influence only measures whether people share things on Twitter. Not who they are. Which is a HUGE contextual hole in the data. Or why people share something, which is content of the Tweet. There also seems to be an effort to also measure Tweeter's expertise, yet they base it on repetitive key words. If I tweeted about the BP Oil Spill for months every day incessantly that does not make me an expert on BP, the Spill, or the Oil Industry! And lastly if I am a Marketer I should only care about driving Sales for my client. It is almost impossible to know this from Twitter.

Who cares about getting a message out Viraly if no one acts on that message, other than Re-tweeting it?

I have observed all forms of Tweeters. From high volume users with very small networks that share among a few friends, to Follower Sluts who follow thousands of people. Since you will only see and read a very small percentage of Tweets in your feed influence must be looked at realistically. The chance of someone Re-tweeting or taking action will depend on two key factors:

1: Did they see the Tweet (most people will see only between 5-10% of the tweets in their feed if that!)
2: What is the content of the Tweet. (is it worth Retweeting?)

Lastly since outside influence can not be measured realistically and the 'who the person is' is unknown why even try to give a measure. I can be the CEO of a Company with 100,000 employees. I can have 5 people in my network on Twitter and see a Tweet sharing a new Calendar App that is incredible. I like it so much I send an internal Corporate Email telling 100,000 employees to start using this software. Or I can be rich and famous with a million followers, and maybe I get a Tweet that leads me to buy something at a store that I am then photographed wearing on the Oscar Carpet for 90mil people to see, but never Re-tweet or Tweet that I bought the item?

Yes I know what you are thinking. In both cases there could be a viral response such as the employees sharing on Twitter with their network this great App that came from their CEO (most likely without crediting the CEO). And there will be Tweets saying 'Did you see what that Star was wearing?. That is all fine and part of Social Media. But remember we are measuring influence on Twitter. Not in Life. In both cases the true influence originators would of gone unmeasured.

This is why I posit measurement should be focused on reach. You can determine the potential for a Tweet to spread based on the web of connections. But you will never know the quality of those connections, ever. You can estimate based on an average chance of 1] seeing a Tweet and 2] how often they Re-Tweet but that is it. This will allow you to give yourself realistic expectations, because that is what this is about. Expectations. As a Brand or Agency you can then not over promise to the CFO or VP of Sales or CEO like so many Marketers like to do.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Are Brands Scared of Social or is Social over Hyped

The attached link from Clickz.com highlights 5 great Location Based Marketing Campaigns and 5 bad ones.

LINK


The reason I am using this link is it highlights location based campaigns that are very similar to campaigns run on Twitter and Facebook. They are all big brands. What it really shows is that Brands are kind of being forced into the Social Media and Location Based Marketing before there is a true need for it. I have discussed in this blog before reasons major-mega brands do not need Social due to lack of scale and potential downside.

I want to discuss the value here of Social and Location Based Services if done right, then some reasons not to be Social or use Location Based Services.

Done Right:

Where I see the real strategic value of Social Media and Location Based Services is when you use these technologies to steer a prospective customer your way. When they are in the decision making process. But the key is access, respect, and opt-in call to actions.

Creating a Geo-Fence around a store so that when I drive by you contact my phone is not going to change my behavior. You already have Sunday Circulars, TV Commercials, Digital Ads, Email Contact, Print Coupons, and I haven't come in to buy. Why would a Geo-Fence chance my behavior vs annoy me when I drive by to get Gas or Milk.

But what if I could tie in Print, Social, and LBS? When I come to your store I see a poster saying if I take action via and LBS I get a sweet deal on something? Or tie purchases into a real loyalty program that gives a reward for actual repetitive patronage. That is respectful and since I am already there I don't need as big a bribe.

Done Wrong:

Why do I want to participate? Do you need to truly bribe me? Won't that lower the value of your product in my eyes? Will you annoy me? Will it become Push Advertising after I sign up for the SMS Loyalty Program you promoted.

Do you feel such an ego that you think everyone wants to talk with you when out and about or online? Do I want to be a fan of my dog's food or the company I buy most of my soup from? Do these Brands need Social or LBS when they are already reaching me or when Point of Sale in a market might sway me between brands because of what is on sale?

In Wrap Up:

Don't be cocky. Think of what value you will bring to me so that I want to engage and have no remorse once the engagement starts. Be creative. Don't reduce your value in my eyes. But be enough of a value for me to want to engage with you, or patronize you. Be respectful. My time is precious. So is yours. Don't waste either. Think of what makes me want to connect via these media channels vs the already established ones.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Next Coming Facebook Shit Storm?

I saw this article on AllFacebook.com and it has me concerned. It is already impossible for Businesses to Market on Facebook using Fan Pages. The Live Feed has so many posts only 5-10% of someone's Feed is ever read. Which inhibits viral activity significantly. Now Facebook wants your feed filled with Spam from outside of Facebook if I read this correctly:

LINK

Here is why I think this is going to become a shit storm. The goal of Open Graph was so that Facebook users could 'Like' something off Facebook and that will tell their Network they Like this web page and go check it out. This of course added to the volume in the Live Feed.

Now Facebook is allowing whomever owns that page (NY Times, Apple, whomever) to publish in the users Facebook Stream opening you up to tons of spam. And eventually you will never see anything published by friends and family thus reducing Facebook to nothing valuable for you and your life.

But that isn't my concern since I am surely not a fan of Facebook's ownership. I think they are scumnozzle weasel's and this could be the nail in the coffin!

1] Will they begin this opening of your personal page to the outside world via awareness and notification? If I click 'Like' will a message pop up telling me the implications?

(Here is where I need to include the caveat that I have never clicked 'Like' off Facebook, nor will I ever, so I will have to ask the suckers who do what happens).

So if they fail to notify you this is Shitstorm Level 1, could include having to change this later to save face. Possible congressional inquiry.

2] What if they make this retroactive. Meaning all this time you have been clicking 'Like' they open your Facebook profile to all these websites posting to your page without telling you?

Now that is Shitstorm Level Nuclear War. No one would ever trust Facebook again. Zuckerberg gets his tires slash, house gets egged and spray painted, never given a seat in a restaurant, class action law suits and congress steps in.

Just my opinion but how would you react if tomorrow you can't see posts from your girlfriend or best friend and all you see is 2500 ads for Denny's in your stream, all because 2 months ago you clicked Like on the Denny's website.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Critical Journalism vs Fanboy Journalism

The New York Times is Critical Journalism. People Magazine is Fan Boy Journalism.

Posted this comparison between Tech Crunch and Mashable covering the same Facebook Study subject:

LINK


Then Sir Ad Contrarian (see his blog to your left in my list of great blogs) also covered this same subject having a more critical nature of the study itself:

LINK

Now there is a new issue in the news that Facebook has dismal customer satisfaction ratings.

Ad Week covered this in a very thorough and objective way. They used critical thinking and never kissed Facebook's ass. I know the main reason is if Facebook collapsed tomorrow they will still have a business. Mashable also covered this story and wrote just a short article with one or two critical aspects then proceeded to kiss Facebook's ass and ridicule (in my opinion) the FB user base. And of course if Facebook collapsed tomorrow Mashable could go under since they only deal with Social Media.

Without further ado:

Ad Week Link


Mashable Link

Hands down Mashable proves again and again to be a Fan Boy site that is in awe of BoyBander Social Networks. Yes this blog loves kicking Mashable because they deserve it!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Social Media Scale: is it Right for Big Companies to Engage Customers?

Every business would love to be able to personally interact with every potential customer and make them feel like you care about them. their thoughts, any issues they are having or get praise from them. Social Media is great for a small business because one or two people can easily engage with everyone who tweets or posts on their Facebook Page.

But what if you had 500 million customers. And say just a small fraction Tweeted or posted on your Fan Page. Say just a puny 50,000 per day. How do you make every single person feel like you are engaging with them without hiring 50 to 100 people. You can't. Automated Response is cold and you will be exposed. Many Brands I follow on Twitter do not respond to my Tweets. Not because they don't like me. But they have one or two people doing Social Media and how many can one person respond too in a day? And we expect a business to respond 24/7.

Another issue is the value of this engagement for a Brand in determining how much they pay someone. Are they going to pay someone more than a person who works in a call center? And if your paid call center money how will your engagement come across.

This is a big issue for big business. All the Guru's keep saying everyone needs to be in Social Media. But reality is maybe not on Facebook or Twitter. And maybe it needs to be a form of public call center but how can 100 people share one Twitter account. It's not an ACD system (Automated Call Distribution).

I wish I had a solution but you risk people unfollowing you or unfanning you or ending engagement if they don't feel special and get interaction. So it is my position Big Brands should not be doing this. Why spend the effort to engage with such a small amount of people which doesn't move the needle and has bigger upside risks?

One thing I do recommend is having employees themselves be brand advocates and create their own networks. They can manage their own networks and they put a real face to your company. 'I like Nabisco because I know Sharon from Twitter and I love interacting with her'. Something to think about.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why is Mobile different for Push Contact Loyalty Programs?

I have been getting really upset lately (who me?) about this ridiculous view that Mobile is different when it comes to Loyalty programs. That all the same people who signed up for email contact (opt in) and agreed to accept contact later (push advertising) will behave differently with mobile? In fact I think it will be the opposite.

I lifted this from a Mobile Loyalty Program Provider:

Specifically, consumers engaging Mobile CRM programs are giving the brand 24/7 open-door access to their mobile device by telling brands, "I'm interested...here's my cell number...send me anything you want, that you think I might be interested in receiving."

Yes when you join a few SMS or 2-D Bar Code type loyalty programs you will at first engage. Then you will add a Geo-Fence or 2 where as you drive by somewhere a deal is sent to your phone. Then you will have 50 then 100 etc. And then presto just like email....EXCEPT.....with email its in my email. My phone isn't buzzing every time I am contacted. And the day my phone starts buzzing every time I am contacted I will eventually hate my phone or the Brand that is harassing me.

So how do you fix this? Obviously making all the contact email style brings back the same email problems! Lack of response, apathy, delete unopened. Is the in box on my phone different than on my laptop? No it isn't.

I tell clients to be respectful. Condition your fans who love your products, your brand etc to connect on their terms. Let them know that they can access/contact you via a mobile APP or website or send a SMS or 2-D bar code that allows them to see what your offering. For non-fans you need to contact them outside of mobile and use the right reason for them to Opt-In for a call to action campaign.

And for Loyalty programs see my old post on them:
LINK

I suggest tying rewards to purchases or visits. Use FourSquare or similar. Set up an APP that purchases get saved and add up so after reaching some goal they get something. But to take someone's cell number and just send them offers repeatedly is going to piss them off and you could turn someone who likes you to someone who hates you very quickly.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Facebook Porn & Brands Failing on Facebook

Facebook has been hijacked by Porn. Go to any Fan Page that is geared towards young men 13 to 30 and you will see many, many like this from the Dorito's Fan Page:

Laila Wensley I'm 23 and looking for a single man for some hawt encounter I just want to spend some fun night with anyone who wants to accompany me I'm not into something serious for now, have no time and patience for a relationship for now Let's talk in my personal page, I have chat widget installed ---> http://bit.ly/cKIsYu



So how many 'active' users on Facebook are spam accounts? And why aren't brands monitoring their Facebook Pages and scrubbing this? You can find this also on the Mountain Dew page. And its not just one or two posts. Its pervasive and constant. And any 13 year old can see and click.

I recently saw a Freelance Job post asking for 1000 Facebook Pages with real photos, real friends, and real high school to be created for a client.....I am sure you can connect the dots for what those accounts will be used for. So Facebook..how many of your accounts are frauds. How many of the actions from these spam accounts do you count in your numbers. And do Brands know they are being connected with porn on their Fan Pages?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Don't Waste my Precious Time with Hogwash and Gibberish



Fallon Agency Slideshare Link

The above link was shared on Twitter from a to be left un-named source.

Its hogwash. I would fire the person who created this presentation. I will admit I do not know the person. It could be Fallon and this is what they teach their employees. 98 Fucking slides with maybe 7 or 10 of value. WTF? Don't waste my time. I want no gibberish. I want none of the Advertising-Marketing lingo. I want real info that gets right to the point. Is that so hard?

This is what the 98 slides say:

1] Identify the Goal/Problem
2] Here are the various digital technologies available to use.
3] Fallon can help you choose which of these technologies and strategies fit your needs.
4] Lets go do it.

The slides infer that we all want to interact with brands all the time. That is the biggest piece of bullshit ever stated. In fact we don't...except when we have a need. We will interact if we buy something and it sucks. Or we want something they don't have or maybe we substitute and wish we didn't have too. Yes if we are already passionate Brand Ambassadors on our own we will do this online. But remember people become that not from Advertising but from great Product-Brand experiences.

Other than that I want a bribe. I want free stuff. I want your margins zero. Or why are you wasting my precious time? Seriously I will interact with McDonald's when I am hungry and I chose McDonald's. Or maybe I am undecided. Then I will place several choices in play and want bidding. Who will drop their pants the fastest wins. Is Fallon going to help a Brand drop their pants for me to win my business?

But seriously. Most of Digital Advertising so far has been wasted. With some exceptions. SEO is a success. Google Paid Search pretty good since its pay for performance. Shopping comparisons on Google, Bing where I can compare prices for things I already want are great for the consumer and margin destroyers for the sellers. Yes have a Social strategy even if your not in Social since viral attacks can occur and you should respond. And if your not 'listening' to learn your not a market leader in your segment.

But 98 Slides? Just read this blog post! Done.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why am I called a Contrarian?


I really can not understand why people who focus on R.O.I. or Sales when it comes to advertising are considered Contrarian? Advertising is supposed to be about sales. Yes its great when creatives can do fun things and make selling fun or make your product or brand fun. But the reality is the CFO makes the rules. If the CMO can't show ROI the CFO is going to reallocate resources where the ROI is superior. This could be anything from R&D to Direct Sales. Or there can be a reallocation within Marketing.

I see often more buzz about advertising within Advertising Circles than outside of Advertising. My Finance background breaks down things to numbers very quick. I have written about this before. Creatives and Marketers hate that. But Finance is about maximizing returns (for good and bad). Owners and Shareholders demand this. I myself do not have tunnel vision. I feel businesses should take care of employees, their clients, and their communities before the stakeholders. But it is rare to find a Company that does that.

Now to be fair when I do bring up Sales, I am not slamming Creatives. I am an artist myself. I have many art and music friends, more than that are in the corporate world. So I know how hard it is to create and make great stuff. And your hamstrung in Advertising by the Product, your Client, the Media Buy etc. You can create a great TV spot that get's shown 3 times. Not the Creative's fault if no sales are generated from that. Or the spots could be shown to the wrong demographic. Or as I have written say the product sucks?! Advertising get's people to try something and if the client doesn't help with a great product its not the Agency's fault.

But if the Advertising Industry thinks being about R.O.I. and Sales is Contrarian then they are smugly and vainly telling clients they are happy to waste their money. And shame on the clients for allowing this. And yes when I pitch clients I do tell them bluntly 'If I can save you $10 million by cutting your media buy without reducing sales, will you give me $1 million of that'.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why us Finance Folks are Needed by Creatives and Marketers

Marketers are like Politicians. Its style and fluff over substance. It's about creating an image because that is their job. And for both when you peek under the hood it can be pretty scary. Remember a marketing or advertising agency is used to spinning things for their clients to get people to try a product, service or brand. Once that occurs their job is done. If the consumer tries something and the product, service, or brand does not fulfill expectations no marketing in the world can fix this.

Finance people don't like the fluff. We tend to be direct. We analyze numbers fast. We will use cost basis justification (proving superior value or return or investment). So when the news, marketers and politicians were spinning Health Care reform costing $1 trillion over 10 years, Finance folks immediately said: That is only $100 billion per year and less than our wars and only 15% of our Military Budget.

This week it was announced that Facebook users watched 250 million videos last month. The head of a BDA (see George Parkers Ad Scam link to your left to know what a BDA is) touted this milestone. I am a finance guy. I immediately took that number and divided by Facebook's 450 million active user number. And Whammo....0.6 Videos per active user per month. That is like me spitting in the Ocean and telling you the Ocean now has my spit. Its un-newsworthy. Period.

To see other Facebook Facts that are Un-newsworthy see my blogpost on analyzing the data:

LINK

Apple Sells 1.7 IPhone G4's first week:

LINK

Immediately I only care about how many units replaced old I Phones that were this taken out of service. See my comments on the Media Post Article.

So us Finance folks are needed to ensure our clients or the people we work for don't get taken in by spin and cut through to the reality. And it goes both ways. A Finance person is more likely to tell their client the truth, that their product or service or operations will impact our work. We won't promise sales to go through the roof just to win business. When I bid to consult on Social Media I do not bring up crazy numbers. I give them reality. But often they prefer the crazy numbers, and that means they aren't usually a client I should work with.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Vanity of Advertising


I think the Industry often does clients a disservice by not focusing on Sales. Yet at the same time patting each other on the back for great work that can not be proven has benefited the clients who paid for the work.

Glaring proof is the ridiculous number of Awards events. I know Advertising and Media is highly segmented due to mediums, formats, and technologies. But I have never once seen an award connected to sales. Shouldn't all awards for the most part be connected to either sales or customer retention.

And shouldn't the winners of all awards events be based not on the creative or the quality of work but the sales increase? If I helped a client increase sales 100% and someone else who wins an award can't prove they helped make a dime, doesn't that confuse our clients? Doesn't that do a disservice to our industry as a whole and have people view us as scammers?

In direct sales no awards are won unless you sell. And the ones who sell the most get the awards. And yes...THEY GET PAID MORE! And this whole issue of not wanting to be paid for performance because of the 'risk' and 'investment' is a crock of shit. I say that because businesses hire and train and support direct sales efforts risking much more money than advertising does with the same risks! Agencies should not be guaranteed a profit, but should have all their costs covered that includes the employee rate and everyone's pay. And if you are afraid you won't perform then that is the Agencies fault, not the demanding client. You don't have to take the work. Or if the Brand (see tomorrows post) sets you up to fail that is the Agencies fault too for being a sell out for some money.

Remember 9 out of 10 products fail in the marketplace. Do Brands stop product development because they know 9 will be failures? So for an Agency to demand always a profit is pretty damn vain.

My next post will discuss the Agency Bidding and Review process because its only fair I hold the Brands to account for their shortcomings.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Determining the Real Value of Media

This is the most controversial and inflammatory issue in media. Its the reason I rail against the Facebook or Twitter numbers. And TV numbers. And Digital. Its the reason I question and challenge all measurement data that is 'Estimated'. And most media measurement is an estimation and thus imperfect. And even hard facts are spun with that spin when it benefits a specific party.

I recently got into an email fight with Fortune Magazine because the Journalism side of Advertising and Media often are not critical thinkers. This time it was because I wanted them to not just regurgitate Facebook's claim of 500million users, and put in some caveats so someone reading can determine the real value of this claim.

http://marketing-sensei.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-metrics-i-would-want-from-facebook.html

Now I need to adjust those numbers. If I use 500 million vs 200 million the numbers become awful:

On Facebook users Like something less than 2x per month. They upload 3 photos per month. And post a comment or update their status once every 5 days! You call that a website you want to engage people on????

I have posted examples of this stuff in my blog, specifically recently for MobileMarketer.com

http://marketing-sensei.blogspot.com/2010/05/yes-it-is-freaking-roi-damn-it.html

The whole reason is to determine the real value of something. Brands will pay gladly if they know they can reach someone. Trust me they would rather the Nielsen TV ratings be real than Estimated. It benefits the media outlets when audience size is overstated because marketers pay per person. Brands want bigger reach, its not that they are hoping to save money if the accurate number is lower. But too often media outlets overstate.

In the Facebook case I would tell a client there is 80mil US Consumers logging into Facebook each day. For Twitter there is only 5 to 10 mil logging in each day. Those are facts. I would tell them that any account that isn't logged in today is worthless and don't pay for any 'reach' that is worthless. And where is the marketing being done. Anything being inserted into the Twitter or Facebook live stream will only be seen by 5-20% of the users who stream it enters. This is determined by number of accounts one is following and time spent. Last night I was watching a movie. In 2 hours I missed 850 Tweets on Twitter. Any of those tweets that were meant for marketing...I did not see them. But the Social Marketing person will tell their Boss they have 8000 followers and that is how many that saw it?

My point is everything has a value. It's always one party's benefit during negotiations to inflate or deflate the value of something. And Advertising is the one industry where everything is a Guesstimate. And Agencies and Media Channels both want to increase their billings and while the Brands/Clients want to pay for what is real and not pay for fake numbers. 2 against 1 is why up to 50% if Ad Spend is wasted.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Social Media Authenticity

Social Media is a bonanza for those with limited budgets hoping to promote and market themselves or their businesses. Its a great way to network, to discover and learn, and even to scope out the competition.

Too many big Brands use Social Media just because they think they should be there. And there is also a lot of deception with Social Media. Plenty of services to buy fans and followers by the 1000's. Where they get these fans/followers I have no idea. How the client can keep them I am not sure.

I think it is very important to be as honest and transparent as possible. You also need to have great content or bribes. I mean seriously now. Think of what you offer, your reason for being involved in Social Media, and why should someone engage with you. We are all busy. I know Kraft would love for me to spend 30 minutes a day engaging with them about their products. Why should I? I see their stuff once a week in the market. I see ads on TV. Why should I engage with them online or in Social Media. What is in it for me? A free box of Mac and Cheese? I might take that...maybe not.

I am in the Advertising/Media/Technology Industry. There are many people I view as sources of new information and discovery. Others provide great mind candy discussions on philosophy and theory. Some are just plain funny.

But if your not bringing me value why should I follow you on Twitter or fan you on Facebook and have my stream filled with things I don't care to see. I am ok with you existing in Social Media and you will find people who feel your value and good for them. The great thing is you get to choose who your follow, engage with, etc.

But its important to be authentic. If you play a role like some folks do using Brand Fiction* on Twitter, people should know you are that role. If your being paid to send sponsored tweets, those should be plainly stated. And you can't be afraid to have disagreements, or potentially be attacked if your going to play in the sandbox. Its not pleasant but if your going to be a person or a brand that polarizes you must expect this. We all know no one person or business or brand is perfect.

If your only in social media to advertise and not engage you can pay Twitter to sponsor tweets or pay Facebook to insert ads. But you shouldn't be creating accounts and interacting if you want everything one way...your way.

*Brand Fiction is courtesy of Helen Klein Ross aka. @adbroad who plays @bettydraper from Mad Men on Twitter. She can also be found at the Brand Fiction Factory www.brandfictionfactory.com

Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook's Crappy Business Model


Not sure who came up with Facebook's horrible 'Lets Exploit Our Users' Business model. Mark Zuckerberg? The VC's and investors?

Here is my question. Would you pay $3 month for a website that allowed you to interact with all your friends and family, sharing info, events, photos etc? If the network was locked down? If your privacy is #1? If no Brands could advertise to you? And if you knew the network was going to invest in making real conversations possible (vs short comment streams with no cohesion).

Forget Brands. Forget Advertising. Forget real time web where all your posts get shown on Google.

This business model would generate $7.2 billion in revenue immediately if you had 200 million subscribers. This would rank the network 314 on this years Fortune 500. It would generate probably 4x the profits if not more than Facebook currently is bringing in and piss off ZERO people, politicians, etc.

Would you pay $3 month? I would. And if you paid some money and invested in your own profile and network would you jump ship as fast as you are going to the moment a better network pops up? Or as Joseph Jaffe likes to say 'The next shiny bright new object'?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Time Time Time Time

We don't have enough time. I know you agree. I don't care how much people are multi-tasking. There is still only 24 hours in a day. And there is so many more things and options competing for our time today than ever before. So Opportunity Cost for Time Spent is a bigger factor today than it ever was.

In Economic/Finance Terms NetMBA has a nice description:
http://www.netmba.com/econ/micro/cost/opportunity/

This is very important when it comes to Media, Entertainment, and Advertising. Every time you ask a person to engage with your brand, or your product, that means they have to give up time spent with something else. So this ropes in Value into the discussion. As the link above shows Value is a very important factor whether it is monetary or perceived.

The ways to Engage and Draw Attention include good and bad:
  • Offer greater content than the other choices out there (Perceived Value). Good.
  • Offer greater monetary incentive (Monetary Value). Good.
  • Offset something with greater incentive with ease of incentive. (Lazy Value) Mixed.
  • Force yourself on your target (Negative Value). Bad.
Too often Advertising and Media is a Negative Value. Even when you add creative entertainment value, unless they willingly choose to view something, part of the experience is a Negative Value and a Waste of someones time. This doesn't mean it's a 100% Negative, it just means some of the Positive Value is offset with the Negative Value.

Since we all are exposed to Media and Advertising constantly throughout our day, and often we have choices, make sure what you offer either has better content or monetary value, with your last course of action Lazy Value such as making your experience so much easier to consume than other choices. A great example is the choice of watching TV in Bed with the remote control, vs driving to an overlook to see the city lights at night.

Remember everything is an Opportunity Cost in life and when people choose to Engage or Consume they are giving up other choices. So if you want to be Chosen, step up your game and do things to increase your Value to your target.

Be Engaging, Be Fun, Be Informative, Save them Time, Save them Money, do something!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Yes it is the Freaking R.O.I. Damn It!

This is Case Study number 1387 on why CFO's come down on the CMO's for R.O.I.

Mobile Commerce Daily Article on Taco Bell Mobile Coupon Campaign

I know all you 'Creatives' cringe. I know all you 'Branders' don't like this stuff. But us Finance/Sales folks need to measure stuff. And I am going to be the first to defend some things that help create value that are hard to measure. But when you come to me and report on the actions taken with Mumbo Jumbo like this article that would have me write off Marketing from the budget. Chihuahuas wearing Sandwich boards would be a better value.

In this case study Taco Bell signed up 13,000 people into a mobile coupon campaign. Taco Bell has 5,800 stores. It seems 600 participated. That's 21.6 people per Taco Bell signing up over 5 weeks. So 4+ per week?

This is a totally measurable campaign!!! And no one measured it? I will state maybe the data was not shared with the Journalist. Is that because the data sucked?

CFO: This campaign cost us $75,000? How much new business did we get?

CMO: We signed up 13,000 people.

CFO: We have 87 million unique customers in the US. How much new business did we get?

CMO: We sent out 29,000 coupons.

CFO: How many of the coupons were converted/turned in?

CMO: Well 93% stayed in the program.

CFO: Did they have a choice to stay in the program or know they could leave it?

CMO: Well 61% responded to our follow up survey?

CFO: Your fired.

Fact: This could of been a measurable success story if the CMO (Or Agency) could prove they made money or showed increased loyalty. But hey who measures profitability these days anyway?

Social Media Reality: Perspective and Value

Reality is being honest about Social Media potential in the future, with reality today. The US has 310 million people. Take away children under 14 and you have the real pool of consumers you can sell too. So minus 60 million gets you 250 million people who can buy your stuff.

Considering Twitter has 8m to 15m users in a day world wide. And Facebook claims 200m logging in world wide each day. What are your customer pools in the US for each platform? Not the numbers I just gave. Last number I saw was 60% of Facebook users are outside the US. Nice pools of potential consumers yes. Not close to the number for TV you can reach with a 30 sec spot on a mid-level TV program that gets 2-5 mil viewers. But still very nice.

The problem is when I see too many statements, workshops, articles, conferences promoting Social Media for Advertising and Connecting with Consumers....that make it sound like everyone is using Social Media. But the fact is over 50% of consumers are not using Social Media on a given day. And your reach is so small compared to TV or even a Billboard on the 405 Freeway in LA currently. And due to the massive live feeds on Twitter and Facebook your posts will only be viewed by 5-10% of your Fans and Followers depending on factors such as time of day and each person in your network's volume flowing through their screen.

I
t's not a silver bullet and you can't reach everyone with it right now. Just don't get sold on the over hype.

Social Media is really about value. Using the networks right now is free minus your labor costs and any special content. Your not spending 100k on a commercial and then all that ad spend to reach millions of people. You will spend long term thousands to Engage with tens to hundreds of thousand of people in various ways. This can range from them viewing your post or tweet (Impression), to doing some sort of action (Engagement) such as clicking through to a video, a blog post, or participate in a contest.

The difference between say running a contest off line and on line is tremendous. Off line I might send in a sweepstakes card, or play McDonald's Monopoly game. No one knows if I win or lose. And the value is minimized by the isolation of each contestant. But on Social Media I get seen playing the game, I get seen winning the game, and I can give back to the Brand immediately.

A great example is Tony Hawk does an Easter Scavenger Hunt in all 50 States. He hides a box with Tony Hawk gear such as Skateboards, Pads, Video Games etc somewhere in a major city in each state (I am unsure how many prizes total). He then Tweets clues and eventually someone finds the prize. Then they take a photo of themselves with the prize and they tweet it to Tony Hawk. And he just earned himself so many new Brand Ambassadors and Brand Champions that a 30 Sec Commercial or a Monopoly Game at McDonald's can not buy. Tony has over 2 million followers on Twitter and doesn't even have a Facebook presence aside from like 300 small Fan pages created by Fan's.

I recommend using both Facebook and Twitter due to the different attributes of each and funneling people back and forth. Twitter is perfect for games and broadcasting. Facebook it perfect for showing photos, having more cohesive discussions and feed back, and is a bit more viral in nature.

So while the reach of Social Media is over stated right now, the value is actually understated. When you interact and engage properly with your customers or potential customers, it is more similar to direct sales (active) than it is to advertising (usually passive). And you can target people based on what they like versus traditional paid media guess work. And when you run the numbers the closer you get to direct sales the more value each customer/contact is. A traditional advertising channel will cost from $0.01/impression to maybe $0.50/contact to sometimes over $10.00 for a Google Adwords click through. So ask how much an active engagement with 1 customer/potential customer is worth. Ask how much a Brand Champion or Ambassador is worth, especially one that works for free.

And think of all the feedback you get without paying for focus groups. You have a readily available pool or people who will give opinions for free because they care about your Brand or Product. They wouldn't be engaging with you if they didn't!

But remember this starts with a great product or service. You won't earn Brand Champions if your product isn't a good one. If you follow me on Twitter @skypulsemedia you will find I am an active Brand Champion for a few Brands I believe in. Skullcandy, Volcom, Billabong and Vans are great examples. They pay me zero. I buy their stuff. But they make great products and they are fun brands that have incredible content on their websites.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Social Media Fudge




This is a perfect small article on Ad Week that is a great Case Study on the Social Media Fudge. I have written about the divergent agenda's in Social Media. The people who over hype Social Media tend to have a financial interest in it such as VC's & the Networks themselves because they want to go IPO.

This detracts from the real value of Social Media. The value to people. The value to Brands. Because there is real value! That is why Social Networks and Technology being view purely as Advertising/Marketing vehicles, vs Technology to be sold and licensed is so backward assed. They promote the wrong features and benefits.

So without further ado as someone who advises clients on Social Media for Marketing and Engagement purposes this article and chart say nothing to me. If I want to reach someone and they are only on the Network once per month that has zero value for me. How am I going to reach someone via Twitter when they are going to be on the Network once randomly in a month. But if I know your on at least every other day, that has value. And sometimes the value is something that shouldn't be hidden.

Fact is there is between 8-15 million people on the service each day. But before you belittle that number these folks tend to be brighter, smarter, more techie, and most likely either current higher earners (Jack and Suzy Welch!) or will be (college students). They are more likely to have smart phones. And they are more likely to be interested in sharing discoveries and communicating them because Twitter is different than Facebook.

The fact is the live Tweet Stream is fleeting. Its not like a Print Magazine where your ad could be viewed anytime in the next 2 weeks. If that person isn't on when you Tweet most likely it goes into Tweet heaven (the Library of Congress).

To Ad Week's credit they did whittle down to monthly users, vs the Gross Number of Accounts being 100 million that Twitter is promoting.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Great Podcasts in Advertising-Social Media

Git yer Adva-tising Edumacation heyah!

I am a huge music freak and can rattle off my heavy rotation of current sweetness on my IPod. I figured it was time to give some great Pub to some great work being done in the Advertising Underground. We all know about the big shindigs and pow-wows. But there is some great work of current being done now. This goes beyond journalism. If you want to brush up on Social Media, learn current events in Media/Technology/Advertising, or just want intellectual mind bending romps but don't have time or the desire to read from my nice blog reading list to your left...do I have something for you. Mind candy fer sure.

I wanted to showcase really smart people who share with us via Podcast format the issues affecting us today. They do really great work and are worth listening too. I have learned immensely from these true Sensei's of AdLand-MediaLand and their incredible guests:

1] The Bean Cast (Tapes Sun Nights)- Bob Knorpp (@thebeancast) of the Cool Beans Group is your host and he always has 3 to 4 guests with the topics laid out before hand on his website. He has a great panel format and does a wonderful job as moderator. Think of NPR Left-Right-Center level of discussions. Bob will take all sides when necessary to get to the bottom of things with his panel.
http://www.beancast.us/

2] AdVerve (Tapes Wed Nights) - hosted by Bill Green (@mtlb) of Humungo and Angela Natividad (@luckthelady) of Hypios
This is much more free form. The discussion flow, there is laughter, there it sarcasm, there is bluntness. They normally have one guest and they do not hold back. Everything is fair game and they cover everything in Advertising, Media, Technology, Politics and Current Pop Culture. And sometimes they make me LOL. Plus the hosts span Two Continents. Yes that is right. Two Continents. North America and Europe.
http://advervecast.blogspot.com/

3] Quick N Dirty (Fridays on I Tunes) - Your Hosts Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout) of Powered and Jennifer Leggio (@mediaphyter) of ZDNet focus on Social Media and cover everything current and developing in the land of Social. They normally have one or two guests and they go deep like Jerry Rice on the topics they have discussions on. They get some heavy hitters on so don't be surprised if you think you know 'Social' and then realize after listening that your still a 'Grasshopper' but in a good way.
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/quickndirty

4] Jaffe Juice - last but definitely not least, the Chief Interruptor at Powered and the Author of Flip the Funnel - Joseph Jaffe (@jaffejuice) is your host. He not only takes a very objective view to Social Media and Advertising, he's a brilliant and likable guy. His podcasts do not seem to be on any specific schedule but they are not to be missed.
http://www.jaffejuice.com/
http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/jaffe-juice/id93639319

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why I love the Ad Contrarian - the Facebook-Nielsen Study


In my last post I highlighted two different sources for news on the Facebook-Nielsen Study. Of course unlike the Ad Contrarian I am not on Nielsen's list when they send this stuff out. There is a link to the Ad Contrarian Blog on your left. Bob Hoffman of Hoffman Lewis is someone I came across randomly via my Twitter Networking. When I read his E-Book (Link is on his blog) I realized there were other folks like me with the same viewpoints.

Without further Ado

http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com/2010/04/whos-nielsen-trying-to-fool.html

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bias (Mashable) vs Objectivity (TechCrunch)

When reading the news one should always seek objective viewpoints, even if they contrast with your own. Often we prefer bias in our personal lives. But when it comes to our businesses objectivity is often crucial to success and survival.

Recently Nielsen did a Study with Facebook to look at the impact of paid and earned marketing on Facebook. Remember it is in Facebook's best interest for this report to come out positive. Not sure what Nielsen got out of it, other than codling up with Facebook in case there is a need to measure Social Media sites like they measure TV.

As for Mashable, if Social Media is over hyped, their business falters. They specifically cover Social Media, their CEO Pete Cashmore shamelessly promotes social media in ways that have me think he is being paid too, or has equity stakes in some Social Networks. But Tech Crunch covers a wide swath of Technology. If Social Media falters their business will not take a hit. And if they consistently show they are objective they will earn readers. Think of it as Mashable preaches to their choir, Tech Crunch doesn't have such a choir to preach too. Remember two articles about the same subject. You be the judge.

Mashable Article
Tech Crunch Article

This blog has shown skepticism over the effects of Paid Advertising on Social Media Sites since the click through rates for paid ads on Social Media run between 3 and 10 per 10,000 page views. But if you can truly get people talking and sharing about something that is very powerful. In 2009 when Quiznos offered a free sub to the first 250,000 people who signed up on their website by giving an email address I immediately posted that on my Facebook feed which gave a chance for my 260 friends to see.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Social Media Use Becomes Pervasive...Kind of

The subject of today's post is this Article from Ad Week

The one or two people who read my blog know that I like honesty in numbers, and that numbers do not lie. I have broken down Facebook and Twitter's numbers claims to show that like Fox News they hype certain measures that help the IPO cause, and omit other measures that might reduce the IPO cause.

The viewpoint of the Marketing Sensei is that of someone who would either A] Invest in Stock of a Business or B] either advise a Client on Advertising to increase R.O.I. or if it was my own business that I had to make these decisions. The biggest factor being valuing Media/Advertising on the buying side.

So with that in mind have I have asked why doesn't Facebook explain what they term an Active User. If I was a Brand looking to reach a potential customer via Facebook someone who logs in only once per month is of zero value to me. But someone who spends 1 hour a day on the site is of value to me.

So when they bring up the 73% number that engages in social media once per week they are including people who potentially spend 5 minutes of a whole week. There are 86,400 minutes in a week btw. So as a Brand the 73% is of zero value to me.

And for Facebook even if 100 million US people logged in once per day, what does that mean to a Brand? The live feed is such high volume to place an Ad or a Fan Page Post it is a crap shoot that someone would see your post. Your lucky if 10-15% do. The fact is we go on there to chat with friends and family, not engage with Brands. And if like me, one has FireFox with Ad Blocker Plus, none of the Paid Advertising on the site gets viewed. So the utility for a Brand really needs to be valued properly.

So my point is measuring usage doesn't give the real story. Its how Social Media is used, can it be utilized for marketing/advertising, if so how does one overcome the barriers/limitations these networks have. Is there a difference between someone spending an hour posting photos, commenting on friends posts and exchanging emails, vs someone who spends the whole hour in Farmville or YoVille?

Lastly, it only took me 5 mins Nielsen to announce the 7-15 mil users/per day active on Twitter. This occurred immediately after Twitter announced 50 mil/tweets per day. I think my research then for all my 'objections' to the Hype should carry slightly more validity now.

But again numbers are deceiving. Of that 11.4 mil/day most are in the upper 50% of earners in their respective countries. So the value per user is higher than say those who read Sports Illustrated or watch ER reruns or spends time on Facebook. Ask a Media Company or a Brand the value of that demographic, or pool of potential consumers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Twitter Unveils Plans to Draw Money From Ads



NY Times Article

To be fair and give proper credit. Laurie Sullivan of Media Post grabbed this story a day earlier:

Media Post Article

I have in the past discussed options for Twitter should they continue the Ad Supported Business Model vs what I recommended which was Paid Subscription/License the Technology Model. I did some research on Twitter before it hooked me as a Professional Networking tool that has sincerely been invaluable. But for Advertising and Promoting by Brands it has major challenges which I spouted about here: Link

Basically since so many Tweets get unseen how does Twitter monetize with Advertising. Especially challenging since 3rd party platforms like Tweetdeck take away the home page space.
Some areas of thought were based on value to the Brands and value to the Consumer. And when will Twitter know I am viewing the stream.

First viewing really can only be guessed at when one logs in (but I am always logged in via Tweet Deck), tweets (but maybe not with mobile, maybe you send the tweet without viewing the stream), or searching for something.

So lets use the Tweet. If I mention a product type or Brand wouldn't competitors wish to send me an offer right then? I always use Coke-Pepsi. If I mention Coke, Pepsi wants to send me a coupon. But is that of value to me or the Brand? Depends. If I am at McDonalds and mention I had a Diet Coke with my burger I am not about to make a buying decision. So sending me an offer isn't relevant, especially since I had no choice in brands at McDonalds. But if I am at a store and Tweet 'debating on whether to buy Coke or Pepsi' that is different. But Twitter can not do such conceptualization. And is the highest bidder really the best for the consumer? Sometimes, but not always. I might miss out on something better for me who didn't have the money for the key word bidding. No different than Google/Bing, but usually they give you more than one paid result.

Now lets explore what Twitter is using: search terms. Who searches and for what? Brands search when they 'listen' to the live conversations/posts about their brand, products, and competition. It is possible searching for a term will cause themselves to be charged for an advertisement by Twitter. Of course they could also cause their competitor to be charged, similar to clicking on a competitors banner ad online over and over.

But what do consumers search for most? In my observances really only two specific things in an ongoing basis, which are new products and news. Movies are the perfect example. The Friday Iron Man 2 comes out they will search for reviews. So a Brand seeking to advertise to that demographic might want to bid on the Iron Man 2 key words (if that is allowable by Twitter). The other is real news, especially disasters or political upheaval. So bidding on Haiti Earthquake would of been a worthy choice. But you need to be quick since disasters are never planned in advance!

As with all Advertising the key is getting your ad seen. And Twitter just like Facebook have immense challenges due to the massive clutter of the live feed, and how many hours people spend logged in not looking at the screen. This post took 15 minutes to type while tweets are flying on my Tweetdeck screen, tweets I will never see. And there is the Brand safety issue. I recently showed a Tweet that showed up in the #P2 (progressive) and #tcot (conservative) politics hashtags that was very vile. Brands have to be careful because certain hashtags have content no brand wants to be associated with.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Falsehood behind Mobile Marketing Loyalty Programs



I have railed against Mobile Loyalty programs that after the initial sign up are really just push advertising to your phone. My specific beef has been that once you sign up for enough of these they pretty much all become spam, kind of what email is today. And in my opinion truly powerful mobile marketing is initiated by the consumer with a call to action, then an action taken. passively receiving notifications and offers is not powerful.

But my beef here is terminology. A true loyalty program earns points, or tracks your spending, like frequent flier or your super market club card. Other great ones are the business card size punch cards for buying a number of coffees or sandwiches you eventually get one free. Or even the drink buy backs at your favorite bar.

Most SMS Loyalty Programs I read about in the Advertising Trade Pubs start with a Call to Action SMS Text to get a coupon and then be entered into the loyalty program. The programs state 'to receive special offers in the future sent to your phone' vs 'once you spend X amount we will send a special payback to your phone'. But if I push offers to your phone unless there is a method to track your customer's spending with you, its not a loyalty program. If I get coupons sent via SMS saying we appreciate your business without having to buy more stuff to earn it, where is the loyalty? Isn't that just a give me your phone number and I will text coupons to your phone program?

Furthermore, if a customer who has your business in their regular rotation, unless there is an incentive for them to increase their spend and their patronage, you need to remove the loyalty title and just call it a coupon campaign. And if people expect to always have a coupon or discount every time they show up, your list pricing will stop being looked at as 'the price' vs the 'discounted price'. That can be deflationary to your revenues.

For example if I always discount my chicken wings from $7.99 to $5.99 your view eventually will be your buying a $5.99 product. And expect $5.99 quality vs $7.99 quality.

So unless your running a true loyalty program, call it a creative discount program. Make your special offers unique to draw them in. Make the customer think this won't be around next week, vs. knowing like clockwork the same discount will be showing up in their in box every 3rd Monday of the month.


Monday, April 5, 2010

What Metrics I Would Want from Facebook and the Big Picture Stuff

Facebook publishes a lot of stats. Many I know are very fuzzy and used to promote/hype the site because they want to go IPO before a new site comes a long that everyone migrates too. I take a big picture approach. I look at an Ecosystem and use all relevant data to help clients value various media channels. Because all Media Channels have value, it's just determining the fair value that is important.

As a Brand there are some specifics that I care about which obviously are omitted from any Facebook Stats. Remember they claim 400 Million active users and half of them logging in everyday!

1] Page views vs time spent on site. Time spent is massively inflated (55 mins per user per day?????) because if you leave Facebook up in a browser tab all day but only spend 10 mins on the site they record all day as time spent. But page views show activity.

2] Fan Page Post views vs Fans. I want to know how many posts from Fan Pages show up in the first page/home page upon log in. Each page after the front page that your post shows up gives a significantly diminished likelihood of your post being seen. When I log into Facebook there are always over 300+ updates waiting for me. Due to that volume I never go beyond the front page. So all those posts I don't see are worthless to a Brand.

3] What is an Active user? How many Active users log in only once per week or less? If a user logs in less than once per day the chances of reaching that person by a major brand is almost zero. Facebook claims an Active User to be someone who logs in 1x per month. That is NOT ACTIVE! That is basically zero if you log in 12x per year!

Many stats are so ho-hum that I can not believe the 200 million daily log ins and 55 mins spent per user on the site each day. Monthly numbers below unless noted are based on 400 million active users:
  • Average user clicks the Like button on 4.5 pieces of content each month- once every 6 days? Remember many users do this several times per day. Thus increasing the number that click the Like button al ot less.
  • Average user writes 12.5 comments on Facebook content each month - less than 1 per 2 days? See Above.
  • Average user becomes a fan of 2 Pages each month- Not very viral I guess? Only once every 15 days someone becomes a fan of something.
  • Average user is invited to 1.5 events per month - I guess most social invites are done by email and phone. Since I get about 30 per month mostly for music events many people get less than 1.5.
  • More than 35 million users (out of 200mil log ins) update their status each day - since many active people do this more than once per day this is a small number.
  • More than 60 million comments posted each day- see above.
  • More than 3 billion photos uploaded to the site each month - this means 7.5 photos per user per month. Considering people often create albums with 10, 20, 30, 40 photos this is not an impressive number.
The activity data points to a lower level of activity than is being hyped by Facebook, especially the 55 minutes they claim people spend on the site EVERY DAY. What are you doing if your not posting and interacting? Playing Farmville I guess. But Farmville isn't going to pay the bills or Facebooks $14bil valuation by the VC's.

If I take 35mil + 60mil updates each day which is half the number claim log in everyday, this means half the people are doing nothing but reading on the website. I thought social media = interaction. And for every user who logs in and does more than one action reduces the number being active on the site and increases the number doing nothing.

But the fact is if less than half the people who log in do nothing at all what is the value of the network for marketers?
Especially if you know most of your Fan Page posts will go unseen/unread.

And why would a major company need a Fan Page. Does Nabisco really gain by interacting with 500 people each time they post when they sell to 200 million people in just the US alone? These things do not make sense! Does Nestle need to give Greenpeace public forum to attack the company that has become the largest Food Company in the world using traditional marketing?

So my rant here is meant to put Facebook in proper perspective and to make sure your expectations are in line with reality. You do not have 400 million people to interact with but tens of millions. Still a very nice pool to play in each day. But not what is being touted by Facebook and Social Media Gurus.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why the Twitter and Facebook Live Feeds are Dangerous for Brands

I have railed against using the live feeds simply because of sheer volume. Meaning when you tweet or if you post to your fan page most people will not see it. If you get 1000 tweets to your twitter account or 300+ live feed updates on Facebook who has the time to view them all.

That being said I have seen some pretty sad, vulgar stuff posted to Fan Pages in the place you comment on posts. And there are some hashtags on Twitter some political some just vile.

Here is an example from Twitter Account HerschelSquirts:

My #ass needs a #drink! #cum #piss #creampie #gay #poz #pissboy #goldenshower #tcot #p2 #gregwhoward #happyeaster #christ #dildo #vibe #aids

You want to have your advertisement for your product inserted right after or before this stuff?

BTW #p2 and #tcot are two hashtags for political progressives and conservatives. Which is how I found this post since I have a to be left unnamed Twitter account that I comment on world events and world politics!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reality is Very Important

I know much of Advertising is Hype. Everything is elastic. Commercials take liberties with products and brands to prey on your emotions for good or bad. Best example is Multi-Vitamins. I take one everyday. Yet there have been countless studies showing no benefit.

I don't believe Facebook and Twitter's numbers. They are hollow. We all see tons of inactive accounts. Yet it seems both sites claim all user accounts are active each month. That's like me saying I feel great every day even when I don't. They benefit financially if they numbers are believed. I have a Finance Degree. I can work the numbers and I know they fib. Whatever. I can careless what they say as long as my clients and future investors know the truth.

So Twitter has 70 million accounts and only 50 million tweets per day. Facebook has 400 million accounts yet only 60 million updates per day. I know many people who update their status multiple times per day. Nowhere does either site state how many people are on the site per day!

The closest Facebook shows is time spent of 55 minutes per day. But we all know many of us are signed in all day long while only spending 10-20 minutes on the site. This evasiveness benefits the VC's and the Companies. It creates hype and belief in the product in hopes of going IPO. Once the IPO happens they won't care anymore unless they lose paper/equity/money when that event happens (very likely).

Now I see article after article and tweets galore that Apple has sold out of the first run of I Pads. But not one article has a number of units. Only one article gave an estimate of 500,000. If that is true its a home run of sorts for $250 mil gross. But don't forget they are sold online and through retail outlets so Apples take is much less than that. And I will bet the R&D investment was more than that. But definitely a good start. But what if it was just 100,000 units? That's only $50 mil in sales gross. Not as impressive. Actually a potential bomb. But if Apple get's people believing the highest number possible, they will invigorate the App Ecosystem to create Apps for the product. And Apple really needs to have 3-5 million units out there to have a big enough ecosystem for App Developers to have hopes of making good money.

So my point is real numbers are important. Reality is important. And beware when you read or hear anything that doesn't have concrete details.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bias and Why to be Wary of It

I am going to use two links here for reference:

Interview with a VC partner at Sequoia Capital, the second dis a long You Tube Ad for the Chevy Volt.

Sequoia Capital partner Mark Kvamme

Did You Know Video

It's ok for a Brand to try to convince us into buying or trying something. I champion Brands and if I can help them figure out how to get an action from someone I will, but I will always do it ethically.

During the 2008 election cycle I got many surveys from both the DNC and RNC asking my opinions. So many questions were biased and didn't give you the proper choices, they actually corralled you into what they wanted to hear. Same with Research of all sorts. Often Brand R&D efforts are skewed to trumpeting success because the folks doing development naturally are biased towards success. If this wasn't true why do so many product launches fail? And anytime there is an economic incentive for someone to hype, promote etc they will because their livelihood depends on it. You normally want to please the person paying you. Remember all those Dot.com's and Sub-prime Mortgages that went bust, while the promoters and ones selling the hype made money knowing ahead of time they would be screwing people? Or the ratings agencies afraid to rate bonds as junk because they were afraid of losing business since the bond issuers paid for the rating?

The Chevy Volt spot is specially an example of skewed facts. It is easy to cherry pick and not give the full story. Some of the facts make you say DUH! India because of the massive population the 25% with the highest IQ's are more in quantity than the US population. That does not mean their 25% is more intelligent or has higher IQ's than say our top 25%. Or the number of jobs someone will have between 18 and 34. They don't qualify this with the 'because this generation got shafted, the worker-employer fabric having been destroyed over the last 25 years, and the crash in the economy keeping this group underemployed for years to come'. My point is bad facts, very poor qualification of the facts so why use them?

Next I just want to SHRED Mark Kvamme. Sequoia Capital made a killing during the dot.com boom. In fact many companies they backed and then cashed out of after the IPO left investors decimated. While VC's have a very important part to play in our economy you need to remember they only care about 1 thing only, and that is a return on their Equity Investment. They care nothing about the workers or investors beyond when they cash out. So never listen to a VC when it comes to talking about areas of business they invest in because they are inherently biased towards hype and promotion. If Facebook goes IPO at less than a $14 billion valuation all the investors lose millions if not billions of on paper equity value. They are going to do everything to hype Social Media as the end all. So he is going to hype all Social Media and Brands needs to cut through this BS to know Social Media has it's place but it will never replace traditional Advertising.

While Facebook keeps a clean site Twitter is a scary place. You might be placing Ads next to tweets from Racists, Nazi's, Haters, Preachers, screaming Satanists acting like Preachers, angry people wanting to kill Liberals and angry people wanting to kill Conservatives (ask for the hashtags!). And I do believe Facebook will go the way of Myspace and Friendster in the next 5 years so the day they have their IPO I am personally shorting the stock.

I could write a book on instances of bias but hammered it enough! So don't believe the hype in anything and always remember everyone has a bias. It's just human nature versus some evil plan. Beware of it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flipping the Funnel and where it does and does not work

This post was driven by this very funny video with Brian Posehn doing stand up at SXSW poking fun of Joseph Jaffe and New Media.

LINK

Flip the Funnel is Mr. Jaffe's Book which is linked here:

LINK


The premise is that it costs less to keep customers than get new ones. This idea goes back to the stone ages when the first spear tip maker had his first competitor for business. I have 16 years of Customer Service and Account Management experience. I have seen from both sides companies not investing in quality or customer service and thus losing clients while replacing them.

Where this specifically works is in Service Industries and High Ticket Item OEM's whether consumer or industrial. Service is easy. Your not taken care of you flee to another company or person. Big ticket items have the highest potential for buyers remorse. Try a new soda flavor and you don't like it, you toss it but do not cause pain to the Brand. Will you really stop drinking Coke just because Coke Vanilla tasted like Waste Water? No. But if you are upset you bought that car and your stuck with it for awhile, your never going to buy that Brand again.

But does this work for consumer brands? Yes and No. Whenever there is an equal out there it is very hard to Flip the Funnel. Can Coke win all my business Flipping the Funnel? No. Never. Not anyone's. People will substitute Pepsi when the deal at the market means saving money. (See previous blogposts on how Point of Sale trumps Ad Spend every time). But Coke can do this at their Wholesale Clients like Restaurants that usually only offer one brand. That is someplace that Coke can Flip the Funnel because service will often trump a pure price play and their retail patrons can't choose the 'or equal'.

What about other Brands? I personally think we patronize certain Brands or Products and do not know why. We try something, like the price point and found no problems using it so we go back and don't actually think about trying another Brand or Product for a long time. I really don't think the Brand did anything besides get lucky. But often this is price driven. And when you sell on price often you are vulnerable to someone else's better price.

Now with Store Brands coming in with almost equal taste and quality it is really hard to win and keep customers without a constant effort of coupons and rewards. Super Markets and anyone with a Loyalty Card Program do this the best. It doesn't mean they are truly Flipping the Funnel with superior attention or service, but the bribe of something back for the patronage is very strong. Think Frequent Flier Miles or a buy 10 sandwiches get one free at your local Sub Shop. But again we do patronize places that are cleaner, happier employees, better quality stuff and know we have to pay more gladly. But I don't think the products themselves can Flip the Funnel because service is not involved. Service is required.

See my post on Skullcandy

Link

High end brands definitely have an edge. They can combine quality with cache/image to keep you. Often this brings great service to the mix. Higher end products are sold at more upscale retailers that spend more to ensure the value proposition is there. And while a Brand might lose me if they product turns out shoddy, I won't blame Nordstrom's who gave me great service. Unless I specifically ask a sales person an opinion that turns out wrong.

For Service Industries or Big Ticket Items Brands MUST Flip the Funnel. For other consumer product Brands maybe spending a bit more on quality vs focusing on price will help them win more business.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bad research does no one good service

I get a lot of surveys. Political ones, Advertising Marketing, Harris Poll, YouGov, and other random lines of questioning. Often the questions themselves have inherent bias (Politics is great for this) or worded incorrectly in ways that fail to capture information.

But sticking with the Advertising/Marketing theme, it makes sense that more product launches fail vs succeed. There are competing reasons for this because of all the groups involved in the process.

Upper Management wants to increase sales, increase share price, etc. Often just mentioning to the market or shareholders 'a pipeline' of new products will help boost share price.

R&D will always have job security if they can pump out success more than failure. They also don't like to tell Management no, yet they also forget NPV and think budgets are bottomless.

Marketing and Sales are incentivized to have work to do when it comes to figuring out new products, product niches and revenue streams. This will require a lot of meetings that often have attendees who don't like meetings. This is usually an EGO play of sorts.

So it is really easy for those involved to con themselves into thinking something is going to be a winner. Hell none of us want to work for a loser, or on loser projects.

And market research can easily be skewed based on the questions asked to fit parameters to make everyone happy.

So I was asked a question:
Are you well traveled?

1] Never been out of the Country
2] Visited up to 5 Countries.
3] Visited more than 5 Countries.

Bad question. What is the purpose? If I visited 40 states and 3 countries in my life, travel 4-5 times per year to different places, I am more well traveled than someone who travels once per year and aside from 6 trips for 7 days each trip over seas, goes to the same resort each year.

Maybe it is to see who might need international products/services. But again I might think the first person more likely to seek new adventures than the second person.

Maybe it is to see who is more worldly, more exposure to different cultures? What if the second person went to England, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. While the first person lives in LA, has 40% of their friends from other countries in South/Central America and Asia and travels for work to New Orleans, Mississippi, New York, Boston, Phoenix, and Denver.

Bad Question. Results will mean nothing for most angles.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Most Social Media is NOT About Conversations

I really do not know where this B.S. comes from. I have been using social media for a few years now. I started with Friendster, which led to Tribe, Myspace, Tagged, Facebook, and Twitter. The only Social Media that has Conversation potential is blogs.

I firmly believe a conversation is a 2 way interaction, discussion, exchange vs one way. And I think Brands and Agencies are listening to the hype from Social Networks and their Employees, Investors, Gurus, and Journalists who cover the industry and who have a monetary interest in the term Conversation.

For example:

Conversation - John and I spent 10 minutes last night at the bar discussing some new music we have heard.

Not a Conversation - John called me and said he will be by at 8pm to pick me up to go to the bar.

Blogs enable the first. Twitter and Facebook only enable the second.

Most social networks have short bursts or threads about a topic where people post to the topic, but often none of these posts even when put together are a conversation, but definitely for individuals they are not. This is due to technology limitations and formatting. The closest technology I have seen so far to real conversations would be Google Wave. But often it is the sheer volume of comments, spouts, posts in social media streams that make coming back to something so hard. Victim of its own success.

So a Brand can see what people are saying, get commentary feedback etc. But if I say I have an issue with Coke, and Coke engages me to talk, but instead of me others each put in one comment or even two, while Coke keeps responding all Coke has is a list of comments vs a real exchange/discussion.

Blogs allow this. There are some very successful Blogs like the or Huffington Post and Musings of a VC in NYC (link is to your left). If you look at the comments there is semi-conversation. A true 2-Way exchange.

But the rest it's not 'What people are talking about', it's actually 'What people are posting or commenting about'. HUGE difference. I rarely have more than 1 or 2 exchanges with people in the topic streams in Facebook and Twitter. Re-tweets are not Conversations. Having 300 comments to a Wall Post by 285 Individuals who have read none of the other comments is not a Conversation. Value to a brand? Yes! But not a conversation.

So in effect Social Media is about connecting and sharing comments, posts, subjects, content, but not about any sort of real discussions. It's ok to have the goal of getting people to post, comment, share commentary about your Brand or Product. That is healthy stuff. Especially if there is something you are promoting. Think of how much money you can save if you do this right. But be careful. You could be left scrambling if your message, offer, promotion doesn't travel.