Thursday, November 19, 2009

Redefining "Social Media"

Our friend, Wikipedia, defines SM as:

"Media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers."

I don't think this is correct anymore. Social media may have started out as a voice of the people, but now that we've evolved and businesses are involved, it's become much more of an exchange- informational and media based. With the potential for so much growth, "social media" should ensure additional factors are incorporated.

Social media is still about allowing users to have their own voice and allowing people to connect directly with an organisation. But what about the organisation in an ROI sense? Not enough activations in social media pool results together to give businesses solid data about their customers in the context of the business in question. In fact, I don't think enough organisations are thinking about social media outside of a marketing context.

A lot of the tools that have been developed in social media allow businesses the resource to reshape and reformulate purchasing cycles to effectively minimise resource and maximise return. The data stream that can be gathered internally is incredibly valuable. A company has the potential to tailor products and services based on exactly what their customers are asking for. When companies go guns blazing on the YouTube, the Twitter and the Facebook, they lose the potential of taking a well thought out internal approach which can increase sales dramatically.

This type of business change works very well for service based industries, where there is a large exchange of information required from both the individual and the business in terms of what the business offering is. It's a long term initation. For FMCG and the like, it's a lot closer to the existing models- short, sharp promotional activations.

So, the sum of the parts of social media becomes:
  1. Exchange of interaction/information between consumer and business through some form of a social media engine- here companies can understand what their consumers really want from them.
  2. Companies analyse data to understand where their customers are headed and isolate areas of the business which can answer these needs
  3. Businesses reshape offering and resell these back to those interested customers.
The process becomes a universe where users actually attain what they're after in a timely fashion. On the flip side, a business makes sale. Everyone wins. How can you argue with that?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Everybody, Get on! It's the social media ride!

As I nibbled on petits fours and sipped afternoon cocktails in yesterday's summery sun, I had the lovely experience of discussing my favourite* social media conversation for the umpteenth time:

Social Media Conversation numero 63:
We're making Facebook groups for all of our sub brands. It's great! What do you think?

It is great that this company has decided to make a move into the new marketing opportunities that have become available. I'm happy that they're trying new directions. But when I began to probe and asked "Why are you going on the FB? Who are you trying to reach and what are you aiming to achieve?" - I was and am often faced with blank stares and silence. It quickly became obvious that the only objective was to put a tick next to "Set up Facebook page" on the to-do list!

Who on earth is going to want to see the page besides staff? And that's often because they have to! If there is no incentive for any of loyalists, indifferents or even detractors to have a look- then forget it. Replicating information from a website is not creating a social media page.

Prior to social media conversation numero 63, it often helps to ask:
  • Do we have reason to be on a social media site? Will it help grow our offering in the right way?
  • Do people care about us enough to want to engage with us in a social context? Can we create that context?
  • What will our objectives be? Sales, awareness, promotions, spread, customer service etc?
  • Do we want to engage with interested audience or motivate new user bases?
  • Do we have enough to push our page through to the long term? And is there a strategy to keep content fresh?
If even a couple of these questions are answered, it's a good starting point. And at least if some of the initial strategies don't work, it's an easy enough fix to reoptimise and keep moving forward.

*The use of favourite here is to be taken lightly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mastercard Moments: A case of the short term feeding into the long term

The Mastercard Priceless idea is about special moments that have a simple hook. The hook is a common human truth, making the moment more accessible to everyone.

Moving from a campaign level, Mastercard have gone to the next stage and adapted their rewards program to be more functional for their user base. The rewards that they offer can become moments and priceless experiences. Mastercard Moments is a natural progression in both a business and marketing context.

Their adaptation of their rewards program is an aggregator of their offering inside a simple social media framework. When I say simple, I mean a user has access to only their profile (not the universe) and can access those offers that are right for them, setting the ones they like to a wishlist. The mechanic is that it seems to allow users to find and discover what rewards they're after and access it easily. Consequently allowing Mastercard to know what their customers want. It's a tool which seems to meet needs without wasting time.

It's a no brainer. Much smarter than using your audience to create your content - ie Mastercard could have asked users to submit their own Mastercard moments into a repository. But that begs to ask the questions-

  1. who cares about what Joe the Plumber has been up to?
  2. Why is relevant for a user to filter through what becomes everyone else's irrelevant experiences?
  3. What purpose does that serve to the Mastercard user?
  4. What purpose does that serve to Mastercard?

Here we get an ongoing adaptive process. Feed successful marketing campaigns into new long term business solutions and allow those business solutions to feed back into short term campaigns. Using the business solution as a guide. For example, Mastercard can see which offer motivates most users and work towards short term communications to maximise returns on that offer. Very Nice.

And as long term solutions create a direct communications exchange with consumers, business find opportunities to give consumers what they want. One feeds the other and we end up with businesses maximising their returns.'s taking all my strength to hold off on a priceless gag....