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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!