Tag Archives: Social Media

Facebook users decline in 14 of top 20 markets over last 3 months

Facebook has been in the news a lot this week, Facebook home is certainly an interesting development but that’s not what I want to write about today, its this:

Social bakers

That data is taken from Social Bakers for Q1 2013, it shows that Facebook users have declined in a whole load of markets. Europe and the USA are most numerous in the list of markets but the biggest % declines are in Indonesia and Malaysia.

This is a concern for Facebook, when combined with other recent surveys about Facebook losing their younger user base this could become a real problem.

Now the real question is does this mean that Facebook only continues to show paper growth as older users and lagards get into it and due to a few developing markets (Brazil etc.) but it’s not as important as it was 12-24 months ago as sites like Tumblr, Twitter etc. grow?

What do you think?

Some new thinking…

It has been a long time since I last blogged, 4 months in fact. Nokia has been busy, good busy, but it put personal blogging firmly on the back burner!

But, even though I haven’t been talking I haven’t stopped listening or stopped thinking, and the more I listen and think, and look at the way companies are approaching social media the more I think we are living in a bubble (yup, I know I have said that before) and the more I think that bubble will burst… I feel we (brands) are all doing it wrong, we are all talking about “thinking like editors”, like people fighting for attention in social media like we fight for attention in regular PR, ATL and digital media. I am speaking on 3 Social Media Week panels this week (‘Likeminds – Future of brand comms’, Monday, ‘Not just another Facebook page’ on Tuesday and ‘Me me me, the battle for attention’ on Wednesday). The common theme here is obvious – How do we get our message across in social, how do we gain people’s attention?

This is the wrong question, completely utterly wrong, I realised this last week, I was driving home and I began thinking about when I last engaged with a brand in social, which brands I (as a consumer) followed, which brands my friends (outside the industry) followed and interacted with and I had the realisation that outside of the industry I followed 1 brand (betfair on twitter, their hilarious), I didn’t want to follow any more, not really, I don’t care how interesting their content is, I don’t care how cool they are, I just don’t. Many consumers don’t. I then began thinking about where my information comes from, the information I trust, the information I use to make purchasing decisions. It comes from my friends, colleagues and acquaintances and from the internet, blogs and (surprisingly often) forums. And here is the thing that hit me – These people, all of them, the big ticket bloggers, the forum users, the mates I talk to, they all have passions, and I trust them on the subjects they are passionate about, I am then influenced by the brands they advocate.

Not a fully formed argument but something to think about: The future of social media marketing has nothing to do with your facebook page, your twitter account, your blog or any other owned property, it has nothing to do with viral videos… It is all about Advocate relationships – that is, relationships with those people who are passionate about your brand, your industry and the key sectors you want to penetrate / have stories to tell within. It is these people who spread your message, it is these people who sell your products and these people who you need to look after. That is where our focus should be.

We need to stop thinking about how we get other peoples attention to spend their down time focussed on us and our content, our facebook pages etc. and start thinking about how we get them to spend, even a small portion of their time, talking about us, online, offline and everywhere.

5 ways to combine your Facebook page with your ATL

All the best examples of “social media marketing” are really, as much as anything, great examples of integrated marketing, it is social content, and cool social content at that, combined with ATL, TV spots, paid digital even PR etc. The recent Bing-Jay-Z example I posted about and the obvious “Old Spice” stuff are great examples for various reasons.

But most brands are doing it wrong, here is why:

  1. How many brands do you see who stick a FB logo or twitter logo on their ATL or TV spots, OK, so I know you are there, but I don’t even have a URL, how can I find your official page (most big brands have 1000′s of “unnoficial pages, no bad thing) and by making it harder work for me you reduce the action rate!
  2. So you have put up the URL but not given me a reason why I should follow, brilliant… What’s the incentive, if you want me to look at the page I better have a reason to go there, this is simple marketing in every respect!
  3. The URL is hidden in the corner out of the way, brilliant lets stick some tiny FB logo on a huge tube poster, here is a great example: 
    Can you spot the logo, it is hidden in the bottom left almost below the border, brilliant!
  4. No SEO or PPC, If I want to find out about a brand I probably Google it, simple really, so if you are spending all that money on FB ads and “sponsored stories” then it might also make sense to put some into Google Ads to drive traffic that way, a great, cost effective signpost, Lynx did this really well with their “Angels” campaign
  5. Not doing it at all… Look, integrated marketing works, so please do this stuff, your campaigns will be more successful
That’s it, easy really…

The bubbles we work in

It is easy to get very caught up in work and keeping abrest of the ever changing social media industry, doing so can actually make your life harder, not easier:

I have talked before about how we live and work in various bubbles, at work I talk about it a lot. So on the train home I got my notebook out and, due to a lack of the evening standard or a book, I drew a few diagrams to show how they effect the way we work and think, and the problem it can have, particularly with an echoey business like marketing and social media:

The common bubbles:

This is how a lot of people in my industry look (I use social media as that is the industry I work in but, well, you pick yours)… Most inspiration comes either from work, from the industry “best practice”, magazines, leading blogs, etc. or, occasionally from personal experience and personal life. The result of this is 2 fold:

  1. You can become introspective, your organisation is a big bubble and that is a problem, what people internally find cool and interesting can be very different from what your customers find interesting
  2. You can become un-original, it is easy to become a me-too brand or a me-too manager, someone who goes into a meeting and says: “we need an idea like …” or “Can we do something like … did last week”
Thats all bad. So we all need to invest in expanding our bubbles:

The ideal bubbles:

A lot more on show here, I guess the idea is to have a lot more to draw from, more places to go and look for that spark of inspiration that drives the creation of something truly awesome.

The point:

So not a complete set but this is just the sketch of an idea, the point is that our creativity and our way of thinking is limited by the bubbles we live and work in, the more bubbles we burst and the more people we interact with the more we learn about, well, everything.  Knowledge is not only power but it is creative juice! It creates originality, it breeds interesting ideas and it makes work more fun. Search out contemporary, relevant and creative knowledge by searching out different bubbles and bursting them (metaphorically of course).

Any thoughts?

The dangers of the social media fire house

I will begin with a short story, credit for this tale goes to Nassim Nicholas Taleb who tells it in his book “Fooled by Randomness” (chapter 5) here is a shortened version:

Carlos is a successful emerging market bonds trader on the desk of a New York finance house. He was very good at his job, his strategy seemed solid, he made money and progressing quickly through the ranks and fast becoming the reference point within the organisation for emerging market bonds. He talked to a lot of other emerging markets traders, they took each others advice, understood each other and they had a solid business for several years. Then the markets started to fall, his principal investments in Russian bonds lost a lot of value quickly, Russia was in trouble and the government was not even paying it’s own employees (including armed soldiers!!) so it’s bond’s value depressed quickly. However as values fell Carlos didn’t sell to stop his losses, he continued buying believing the values were now depressed (based on what he was hearing from other traders he associated with), his boss let him continue to buy until eventually after loosing a lot of money he, his boss and his bosses boss were all dismissed!

So how did this happen? How did an intelligent man worth millions of dollars get so blinded that he could not see the holes in his strategy? Namely that buying securities in a government that is not even paying the soldiers looking after it’s nuclear weapons is not a stable bet to repay the loans, hence driving prices down!

Well this is what Nassim labels as the “fire house effect” (based on the fact that firemen, sat in their fire house with little else to do except talk to each other will often develop very similar opinions on a wide variety of subjects). This could also be seen as related to the Not Invented Here Syndrome seen in many corporate and even national cultures, the “fire house effect” took hold of Carlos and the traders he spoke with and socialised with, as they had never seen emerging market bonds fall that far and that fast before they believed that they must be undervalued, each one confirming the others opinion (building social proof) hence creating a situation where many of them made costly mistakes, loosing jobs and wiping out personal fortunes.

But how does this effect us in social media and Word of Mouth?

Well, the basic problem that undid Carlos above is something we all suffer from every day in the social media marketing business… We live in a virtual version of the fire house! Our ability to communicate instantly and easily share ideas via networks like Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on as well as meet offline at many “meetups” ranging from pub drinks to one off conferences to week long events mean our propensity to get stuck in the fire house is far greater than any other industry (because, as practioners, we are far more aware of these tools and how to use them!)

A microcosm of this can be seen in individual agencies, some agencies are known for certain types of idea, certain methodologies and tags that they can’t escape, this is often because sitting in the same office with similar people each day discussing the state of the industry and your ideas about it well… The agency’s office becomes, you guessed it, a fire house!

Why is this a problem?

Because as we get caught up in our own little worlds with our own little lexicons and we miss the bigger picture. We create heroes of what we judge to be  successful campaigns and activities, but we forget to look at the bigger picture, either from the perspective of the consumer or the perspective of the businesses we work with / for. The bitter irony is this: Many in our virtual fire house preach integration of social media across the business but forget to integrate their thinking across the business or across the end user touch points.

I was recently chatting to a friend in the industry about an idea they had for a Facebook related activity. I felt the idea was slightly contrived and asked the individual concerned about how they, personally, interacted with brands on Facebook, they then confessed they actually rarely “liked” brands, never mind engage with them. This isn’t a bad thing, don’t gasp and say “well he works in social so he should”, that is part of the problem. We often don’t put ourselves in the shoes of the people we are targeting, that leads to campaigns that end up contrived.

This is counter intuitive!

Yes it is. You would think that by talking to a group of people who work in an industry and are in the know then our knowledge would increase, hence making us better equipped to do our jobs. No, it doesn’t. This assumes that the knowledge of experts in a field allows us to be better equipped to solve problems and execute ideas in that field, it doesn’t.

Take this as an example: Karim R. Lakhani, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, has conducted research into problems posted to the “crowdsourcing” site InnoCentive, here is what he foundL “Not only did the odds of a solver’s success actually increase in fields outside his expertise,” he says, such as mathematicians taking on chemistry or biologists looking at physics, “but the further a challenge was from his specialty, the greater the likelihood of success. That is very counterintuitive.” In my mind the reason for this is simple, if you are not bound by the constraints of a particular thought process or way of doing things then you are more likely to find a solution to a problem that stumps others. Or put specifically for us: If you learn to think like the other social media people then you just become another chattering head in the echo chamber… The ability to innovate slowly disappears.

How do we avoid this?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Read widely, very widely – books on accountancy, fashion, biology whatever – just don’t spend all your time reading “social media” books and blogs.  I am always shocked how well musicians do this, you talk to Jay-Z and he notes various obscure rock and pop acts among his influences, vice versa it is always true, these guys know how to be truly open to ideas and inspiration from all angles!
  • Ask your friends and relatives about your work, find out what networks they use, if you can run your social media engagement idea past a colleague in a different department do it, treat their advice fairly, even though they don’t know the lingo!
  • Remember how you act as a consumer, not in the idealised “real time” “engagement led” social media world, but in the real one…
  • Talk to your target market, understand how they see you and your competition – not online face to face.

I have a good friend who works in finance, a bit of a techy but not too much who is always happy to talk shop. We regularly discuss (read: argue) about everything from financial measures to regression analysis to customer service on facebook and twitter (he loves the former and hates the idea of the latter), these challenging ideas from someone well outside my usual fire house prove very useful every day.

Getting out of the fire house also helped me shatter a bit of a myth, I used to believe, along with many in our industry: you have to be authentic. Turns out you don’t, not in fashion at least… I listened to two of my female friends looking at a website of paparazzi shots of various models and celebs, the girls commented on many outfits and selected several things they wanted to buy, but both openly confessed they new full well the site was mostly fake and the “shots” were staged, apparently common knowledge. Despite this lack of transparency they don’t care, “because is looks nice”.

To sum up

Beware spending too much time talking shop and getting buried in the ideas of those that do… Talk to others, get your inspiration from the real world, it will do everyone a lot of good!

A terrible use of awful social buzzwords while talking about engagement

This is 5 minutes of my life that I will never get back. I am posting this video not because it is good or useful (despite featuring a number of talking heads with impressive job titles who say “engagement” a lot), but because it is an awful waste of time!

Seriously, watch this and tell me what value you take from it? Anything? Anything at all?

PS: Thanks to @TheBrandBuilder for sharing the link!

Word of mouth begins at home

I like the new BMW mini, I have driven a few, including the supercharged cooper S, and I like them. They are quick, well equipped and with the BMW brand behind it I assumed they were quite well-built as well.

Then I met a guy who worked for a BMW dealership, he was a mechanic and spent a great deal of time explaining to me in some detail how poorly built the cars actually were and how he was amazed they hadn’t been recalled for various engine problems. Safe to say that damaged my perception of that brand to some degree.

More importantly I share his information with my friends, it spreads, now I have even put it online, and I trust his advice more than most because he is a genuine expert in his field (well, compared to most) and he actually works for the company he is discussing, so he has an intimate knowledge of the product.

Now this is a big problem for brands: brands spend a lot of time and money creating the brand message, now, many brands spend a lot of time monitoring and engaging in online conversation with their communities, advocates and detractors, to understand how their users perceive their brand and discuss it, but here is my problem… WOM BEGINS AT HOME! It doesn’t matter how much your community get excited about a product or how many clever WOM, social media and other campaigns you come up with, if you have your own employees telling all their mates not to buy your products then you might as well not bother.

Your employees should be your core advocates, (and no, I don’t just mean your sales teams!!) they should be as, if not more, excited than anyone else about your new products and services, and it doesn’t matter who: From the CEO to the product managers, marketing and PR to the support staff, they should all be using and advocating your services over it’s competition. If they’re not then you have a work to do, if they are actively telling people NOT to buy your products then you have a big problem!

But there is a challenge…

Here it is: Your employees are often the most qualified to hate your products and tell everyone what is wrong with them. Why? Well they are the most embedded, they are the people who build, market and sell the products, they know where compromises were made, they know where the competition is strong and they are the first to see problems, as they deal with the angry customers, both online, in store and on the telephone. Let’s take the example of my friend the BMW mechanic again: Every day he goes in to work and he spends his day fixing cars, he gets to know the trends, where problems arise and he gets to see angry customers presented with large bills, he may think he has a solution because he can see that washer X is too weak or the positioning of part Y is off, he is frustrated because no one listens to him, so he thinks the designers are idiots (they’re not, but that’s his perception), his frustration is shared in the form of negative WOM.

So what is the solution?

Well it depends on your company but some general points are outlined below:

  • Measure internal WOM, don’t spend all your time and effort on monitoring social media, look internally as well, ask your employees (anonymously) and try using very simple surveys like NPS scoring to avoid overwhelming your internal teams with feedback when all you want is a pulse.
  • Have proper feedback systems in place, let these hidden internal experts, who work on the “front line” spend time with the product managers, tech teams and head office staff, help them to understand the positioning of the product and why it has been made the way it has, get them excited and listen to them, take their feedback and use it!
  • Give them a reason to use your products, big discounts, free if possible, offer them friends and family discounts and referral schemes for sales (give them a damn good reason to use and promote your products)
  • Make sure they see happy customers as well as pissed off ones! – Use the intranets, tools like socialcast, or even bulletin boards to share positive feedback and reward those responsible with tangible prizes (don’t just reward your sales teams for good work!)
  • Involve them in the mission of the company and give them a good, happy working environment! Easier said than done, I know, but a happy employee who understands why they matter is far more likely to be an advocate employee than a detractor employee!

Yes this is all very nice Tom, but where is my ROI?”

well that is an easy one actually! Lets use BMW as an example again, now BMW has around 98,000 employees, so lets say they spent £500k on an internal WOM campaign to improve their companies internal NPS score, they put in place a number of the bullets above and from it just 0.05% of their employees “sold” an additional car on their behalf by advocating their products and, based on experience, the average price of a new BMW is £20k (that is a guess from looking at bmw.co.uk) then in one year that is £980k of additional sales, just in the cars, not to mention finance, servicing etc. And  if you use staff referral and reward schemes or family + friend discounts properly then you can measure a high % of that return very accurately.

But the best bit is that you additionally to the sales you can measure is the increased positive WOM created that spreads through the community and improves brand perception leading to more sales… However this success can be tracked with key KPI’s like internal NPS, which I outlined above. And you can measure pre/post campaign sales uplift.

Anyway that is it! WOM begins at home, don’t forget to measure it and encourage it, it will make you money…

I am not sure if NPS has been used for internal comms at all, but would be keen to find out, any one have any thoughts or case studies?