Short Break

January 28, 2009

I guess it’s already been a short break, but It’s gonna be just a bit longer before there are any new updates.

Thinking Outside My Box

January 22, 2009

So Bruce Springsteen thinks music can cure society. Given his assumption that he gets to pick and choose the polititians that use his music to convey their utopian dreams, he may be right.

I also believe that digital technologies can cure society. Given the chance to pick and choose the technologies, I might be right.

What The Boss is forgetting (and I hope I never do) is that we don’t get to pick and choose. People like what they like, rarely say what they mean and are defined by action. Let’s not get too lofty about this world we may have dreamed about before anything has happened.

Digital marketing requires a delicate balance. On the one hand, a strategist dreams of the margins they can drive if given the keys to the kingdom. However, we must always pay attention to the individual. Every individual has different motivations.

Further complicating the matter is the varying perceptions of clients. Facts only get you so far when there are competing world views. Today, this is especially challenging as many clients understand that value exists in digital mediums. Their understanding of the details is highly lacking. A traditional world view does not often mesh with the new. Take politics. No, please take it. (No more Henny Youngman jokes. I promise.)

While ambitious to envision we are all changing the world for the better, let’s start with something we can bite off. In terms of customers, action speaks louder than words. Same holds with integrating digital mediums into campaigns. Start small and let the action speak for you.

A Little Perspective on Yahoo, Google and MSN

January 21, 2009

Researching some general numbers on the top online properties using Alexa and Compete is usually not the most interesting of tasks. While it is generally understood that search engines rank at the top of most lists in terms of a domain’s popularity, a little further breakdown provides some interesting data.

While Google receives more unique visitors in a month, Yahoo far outpaces it in terms of attention (percent of time spent at the site). Given the nature of both sites, this comes as no surprise. Nearly half of all Yahoo traffic goes to the mail subdomain (only a quarter for Google). Google on the other hand receives over half of its traffic to the main search page (Yahoo receives 10-20%). In comparison, Yahoo receives a greater percentage of traffic to its other bits and parts with news, 360, finance, answers, tw and groups all receive over 1% of the traffic. Google on the other hand receives very little traffice (as a percentage of the total) to its bits and pieces with the highly awaited Knol receiving 0.0% according to Alexa.

What I found most interesting was the presence of MSN. While currently listed as the sixth most popular online site in the world (receiving 88M unique visitors a month), the subdomain breakdown shows that the majority of the traffic goes to the IE installer subdomain ( 19.6% of all traffic is routed to this domain with 19.1% going to This indicates that more individuals are installing IE in a given month than using the service as a whole.

Given the current debate over whether a browser is becoming a platform, does this bode well or not for MSN? On the one hand, they are benefiting from owning the technology. On the other hand, they are desperately lacking in terms of the content.

Nothing more for now. Just found it interesting and wanted to note it.

The Buzz is Dying – Is it Good?

January 21, 2009

Ilya Vedrashko displayed some interesting numbers on social marketing hype yesterday. The numbers point to the frustration being felt by CMOs with digital marketing. Gone are the days that we can trot out the 2.0 and social terms. The absence of any action in the past 24 months have created a stigma around these terms.

And good riddance.

After all, terms like Web 2.0 and Social Media don’t really mean anything. They are (and always have been) placeholders for something larger. If you truly believe there is value in a connected web as a platform, it’s time to take action. We don’t need catch phrases and buzz words. We need innovative and actionable thinking around how to market using this new media.

These numbers are a call for accountability. They show a collective CMO crowd standing up and pleading for something of value. The time for playing around with Twitter and Facebook aps are done. Now the exciting part begins. Let’s do something that shows up on the bottom line. Let’s create, target and track. Let’s make this thing better.

In the end, we won’t be talking about Social Media. We’ll be talking about social messaging, targeted networks, micro channel integration and a lot of other new buzz words that actually mean something.

Be Wary of ‘How Can You Tell’ Posts

January 14, 2009

Yesterday, Amber Naslund of MarketingProfs rehashed the social media carpetbagger discussion from December. Originally, it got a bit of traction. I was happy to let it slide into the night, but it appears that it has some legs left.

Given the video that accompanied it, I had hoped that the post would be taken in some jest. An insider joke that highlights a couple points that make us all laugh. However, as this is being seen as legitimate and could possibly be used by clients as a check list for interviews, the fear began to creep in.

The field of social marketing has only begun. There are relatively few positive case studies and no definitive evidence that any of this is successful. However, early evidence and a strong gut feeling tell us this is the right approach. All the surveys point to the same conclusion – people trust people. Social marketing relies on people to communicate very personal benefits for companies.

According to the experts, carpetbaggers can be spotted when they propose blogging as a solution. While this is rarely the case, I can think of several instances where blogging is an appropriate medium. The Australian Department of Tourism is now promoting the “Best Job in the World.” The requirements are to enjoy and blog. Qualifications for the job don’t include SM expertise, cross channel prowess or any other buzz worthy topic. They ask for only a great communicator.

And they are right.

Social marketing can not be broken down into channels and technologies. There is no secret formula for putting together a good strategy. There are no campaign rules or best practices. It’s about communicating. To paraphrase my favorite wine expert, if blogging communicates with your customers, blog it up.

Evaluating any ideas that involve social marketing should not boil down to a check list and inclusion (exclusion) of buzz words. It’s about the social. It’s about the communication. As marketing professionals, we should have figured that out long ago. Yet, we’re perpetual suckers for the shiny object, the big idea, the messaging strategy, the viral success, …

The job is simple. Communicate value to customers. Get them excited. Get them to talk. Get them to share.

Yet, we constantly strive for that secret formula. What this industry has taught me is that fried chicken has a recipe for success and cars have a checklist for inspection. Communications do not.

Think They Ain’t

January 14, 2009

Think the times haven’t changed? How many of you can understand this?

Now, you don’t have to be proud about it. Just saying.

What a Long Road We Have Left to Travel

January 14, 2009
Image by Flickr user muffytyrone

Image by Flickr user muffytyrone

There has been a lot of talk for quite some time now in the marketing world about social media. There’s getting to be the full slate of who, what, when, where, why articles just about every day now.

Just about everything I need to know is wrapped up in the fact we still call it social media. I would have thought the distinction would have been made long ago. All conversation has actually been around three distinct topics, yet they are always lumped under one. Case in point – a recent discussion on Social Media found on George Parker’s AdScam. The wary take heed before clicking through. Always good thought but not for the sensitive type.

Social media is actually:

  • Social Media
  • Social Messaging
  • Social Marketing

We have a distinction between mass media/messaging/marketing. Why not the social sphere?

Why not? Because it’s only just starting to be understood. The fact it is still called social media highlights the current thinking. It’s only media. Yet, some of the newest efforts are much further than that.

Social media is like a cocktail party. It only answers the where and what. It’s this place you’ve been invited to. You can show up or not, but you won’t meet anyone new just sitting home on the couch. Sure, you can call your friends on the phone, but you won’t have much interesting to say if you’re home night after night.

Social messaging is the interesting part. This is what people want to hear. The stuff they don’t want to hear is the spam. If you show up to the party and nobody wants to talk with you, you better change your tactics. You know the person I’m talking about. We’ve all had to freshen a nearly full drink or make a trip to the bathroom just to escape. Unfortunately, there are always these people at the party. Social media is no different. There are just more of these people. We may get excited at first, but once the formalities are out of the way, we’re too eager to split and find something more interesting.

Thus, social marketing is the full strategy. It’s always been possible to sell at parties. In fact, some of the closest ties are formed in these intimate settings. However, we know better than to walk into a party and introduce ourself as a salesman from Addidas only to talk about the great benefits of our products and the great discount you can get if you want to place an order right now.

You’ve already seen social marketing work in the real world. You’re talking to somebody about running. They run marathons. You’d like to start. (Maybe you haven’t had this exact conversation.) They are excited to introduce you to their friend Mike. He works for Addidas. You walk across the room, get an introduction and will now be more likely to buy from Addidas when the time comes for those shoes.

Why do we think the social in digital is any different? There’s no grand execution – there is only execution. Perhaps a little more emphasis on the social and a lot less on the media would be a good start. The fact that we still can not separate the two speaks volumes about how far we have left to go.