Congrats to Jonathan Trenn, featured blogger here and Director of the Washington Office of Abraham Harrison, on his guest editorial over on ZDNet, Echo chamber: Social media strategists are talking to themselves
For some time now, those in social media have talked of authenticity. We’ve talked of transparency. We’ve said that organizations must engage their stakeholders and listen. They can’t just send out forced marketing messages. If they do, it will fail. They can’t be unauthentic or they’ll lose valuable trust.
We’ll say all of this in online discussions. On blog posts. In online magazines. In podcasts. On Twitter. At conferences. At TweetUps. Podcamps. Everywhere.
And you know what? I completely agree.
But we may be in the minority and it may be – at this point – impossible to do much about it.
The advertising study was conducted by Forrester. They found that 15 of 16 social media networking marketing efforts didn’t make the grade. The primary reason? Most of the efforts involved very little listening and instead involved shoving marketing messages down peoples’ throats.
The ad agencies and their client companies aren’t listening to us. The bastards. They ignore what we say. Could it be that most of them don’t read our blogs? Our online magazines? They don’t listen to our podcasts? Follow us on Twitter? Go to our conferences? Attend our TweetUps or Podcamps?
But what they do have is the attention of our potential clients. So the agencies pitch that they know social media, they get clients, and then they run lousy campaigns. And they get paid to do this. Often big bucks.
But the point to remember is that they don’t give a hoot what we say.
The other study was done by Millward Brown for Manning Selvage & Lee and PRWeek and pointed out that about 1 out of 5 top marketers admit to having bought advertising in publications in return for favorable coverage.
Then is showed that 10% of senior marketers have developed implicit agreements with editors or reporters to get favorable coverage.
And finally, 8% have admitted to having their company give a gift to an editor or a producer to get a favorable story placed in a publication or program.
Those are bribes. Considered to be highly unethical by pretty much any governing body that touches the issue. PRSA, news associations, publishing associations. But it’s done. Why? It gets results. And results matter. Results get the bills paid.
Now, I’m sure most of you would agree that most ad agencies, large and small and most PR firms, large and small, don’t “get” social media. Hence the 15 out of 16 poor showing. These companies resist the new methods. They may say on their websites that they know what they’re doing, but it’s a bit of a fraud.
I look here in the DC area and we’ve got two events coming up that point to this problem.
One is the week long celebration of DC Adweek. A little more than half of the speakers work for publications. Three from the National Geographic. They’ve got Chris Matthews and David Gregory of NBC speaking. Steve Forbes. People from Business Week and the New Yorker. We’ve got sales reps from MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn to talk about social media.
I’ll rant about this on another post, but the point is where are the strategists?? They aren’t to be found here. Why? That’s because the organizers don’t really get it. They’re missing out on the best minds here in the DC area. The key companies too.
The other event is InterAct 2008. Top thinkers and doers in the digital arena. And it has, among their speakers, the DC people who are kicking ass when it comes to digital marketing. The type of people the local ad club overlooks.
But this is typical. And it’s happening all over the place. Those ad agencies and PR firms that don’t get it often are the lead agencies when it comes to business relationships that do incompetent work (as we see in the Forrester study) or have dubious practices (as we see with the Millward Brown study). Most clients are new to social media or haven’t taken a deep look at it quite yet. And quite, often the first one’s they’ll turn to are their traditional ad agencies or PR firms.
Yet these firms, the ones that many digital strategist have little interaction with, will never admit that they don’t “get” social media. They’ll forge ahead and position themselves as “experts”.
So, I’ll explain what I see the upcoming problem in How Social Media Will Get Screwed, Part Three.
For the past two months I’ve been in a mental funk when it comes to blogging. Maybe it’s because I got caught up a bit too much following the political primary season and felt that I’d end up focusing too much on politics.
But now I have Brian Solis, Loic Le Meur, and Robert Scoble to thank for getting me back into the game.
Perhaps the one I should thank the most is Loic because I found much of what he wrote in response to Brian’s TechCrunch article to be misdirected toward his own experiences.
It started with Brian’s May 25 article in TechCrunch “PR Secrets for Startups”. Now that headline itself is a bit silly as it sounds as if it’s a headline used in an overhyped industry rag, but the meat of the artilce is pretty much straightforward. He doesn’t lay out secrets at all, just sound advice. And while I don’t agree with the fine line depicted between PR 1.0 and PR 2.0, but there is no question that all of strategic marketing communications is undergoing a transformation and that the internet – and social media in particular – are playing key roles in that.
In the article, Brian outlines a series of points that serve a great guideline for most younger startups. Loic tells us that Brian has many valid point in his post and that Brian knows what he’s talking about and that he really likes Brian and then he proceeds to write that what Brian is saying is bullshit.
Well, I like Loic and think he has many valid points and he knows what he’s talking about, but what Loic is saying is bullshit. Loic’s advice is correct for a finite amount of CEOs and a finite amount of startups from a finite amount of industries. It’s solid advice in certain circumstances.
I’ll start out with Loic’s major point:
Get a community and focus on your friends is the way to go.
It’s not that this is directly wrong, it’s that it’s ridiculous in that it’s a practically impossible to accomplish task to achieve in the amount of time needed to boost a start up. In fact, formulating one’s own community can be as difficult as successfully launching a start up in the first place. Establishing a community can take years – Loic himself talks of how it took him eight years – and there’s no guarantee that the community will stick.
Most prominent blogger don’t have communities. They may think they do, but they don’t. They have readers instead. Most companies don’t have communities. They have customers. Most products and services don’t have communities. They have users. Cultivating a community is similar to cultivating a loyal customer base…only more difficult. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes a special touch. More often than not, it’s an elusive accomplishment.
It’s not as if one can go down to the local K-Mart and buy a community – as if it comes in a box – one that’s on sale this week only for the low price of $79.95 – twenty dollars of the regular price of $99.95.
No, there’s no Easy Button to press in getting a community. As commenter Jeremy Toeman points out “Loic, I think your assessment is fairly biased to your personal experience. The truth is most companies and individuals aren’t nearly as well connected as you are, and to just dismiss PR by saying “just go build a community” is frankly, naive.” Which is soon followed by Vinh, “Where can i get a community? Is it expensive? What happens if I need audience now?” Bingo.
Loic himself proves the difficulty in establishing a community by writing “I took me 8 years since I started blogging in 2003 to have a community and it is no marketing.” First of all, he’s so exhausted from establishing that community that he’s added wrong. It’s either 5 years since 2003 or 8 years since 2000. Whether it’s 5 or 8 (and I believe it’s 8), that’s way to long of a time period for a CEO to wait to effectively kick in as he or she is launching a startup.
Allen Stern has two great comments regarding Loic’s claim…
First, he points out that it takes more than a desire to have a community to actually accomplish the huge task of establishing a community. “Loic – it’s important to remember that not everyone has the “instant-on” connections you do today. While I agree with what you are suggesting about a community completely – not everyone has “instant-on” that you do.” He follow this with a clear statement of total sense. “This is why I suggest you work on building your network while you build your startup. Don’t expect to finish your product and have a network ready to launch it for you.” Words of wisdom.
The reality is that the essence of community building is something that’s often elusive. One needs talent, time, luck, and a topic or series or topics that engender an interaction amongst readers. That’s rare indeed. Loic has been able to establish this over several years through hard work, a warm and colorul personality, and an effective writing style. He also benefits from the fact that he’s launched a company that, at its core, is at the heart of social media.
Community is one of the most dangerously overused terms in social media. It’s often bandied about by people who treat the subject matter as if communities already exist or are readily available. And this then underplays the importance – and the essence of community.
Next, I’ll look to take on the Brian vs. Loic debate point by point.
One great thing about owning a Social Media PR firm is that I get to do cool stuff. Another great thing is that I can bogart some of the stuff. Well, I am number-one box of the Life Changing Box, which you can see over on my Facebook Profile! (Please feel free to add me) I will be holding onto the box for a full eight hours today, so feel free to “touch my box.” You know you want to — and you don’t have to go “through” me — feel free to just join up yourself directly! I have a feeling that you can add the app to your Facebook Pages as well — check it out! Via Chris Abraham.
Eric Schonfeld of TechCrunch poses the question as to whether Google Trend result will be a good predictor of the 2008 presidential election. He points to past statistics that show a relative symmetry between searches for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and the results for the Democratic primary.
Blue = Barack Obama Red = John McCain
I think you can take all this with a grain of salt. Sure, there will be some relevance, but there are too many other factors involved that could skew the results. There are also a bunch of unrelated factors that can’t be prescribed to online search.
The electoral college is the deciding factor in elections and while you can break down searched by state, each state will have its own factors relating to voters and internet usage. And voters will vary as to how they get their political information. Evangelical voters will differ from young urban single people who will differ from Latinos who will differ from suburban housewives.
How thiis wold be helpful is to also measure terms such as health care, immigration, tax policy, and Iraq…and match them with each candidate. Better yet, match them by candidate and state. You’ll start to see what issues are important where.
Candidates then should create issue focused minisites that can directly address a candidates interests.
Hopefully, campaign advisors will look to do this as opposed to primarily run on slogans and attack ads that teach us very little.
I have always believed that traveling is a good thing to do. It broadens your spectrum and you get to see ideas, things and concepts that you would never have previously come across. I have traveled to many places and one of the most interesting and different places I have been is India. It is a place filled with such a type of dynamism that it is hard to put your finger on it. I only spent 10 days in southern India a few years ago and it was truly a magical experience.
So it was with no surprise that, while doing research into SMS technology that I came across Babalife and Babajob.
They are sister companies that provide social networking for job seekers and job hunters. The really incredible aspect of it is it is primarily built around the ability to utilize SMS technology. You, as someone looking for a worker, can query the system via SMS. While checking on the background of people via your social network – how are they connected to you or people you know. Kind of a six-degree’s of separation idea.
In showing a sharp contrast that reflects the different mindsets of the campaigns of the two remaining Democratic candidates, Kate Kay of MediaPost writes:
Senator Barack Obama wants voters in Texas and Ohio to vote early, and his campaign is running huge video-enabled billboard ads to promote the convenient option. Yet, despite a desperate need to beat her Democratic opponent in the two states in Tuesday’s primaries, Senator Hillary Clinton’s camp doesn’t seem to be running Web display ads at all.
Not for anything, but one of the complaints about the Clinton campaign is that hit has been too top down. To me, this is another reflection of that. Now, it seems she is running negative ads versus Obama, a somewhat necessary tactic but hardly inspirational.
Web ads don’t necessarily show dispersed control. But the lack of them shows me that a campaign is run by traditioanlists who see TV and direct mail as the only way to go. TV and direct mail are vital, but not as vital as they used to be.
techPresident‘s got a potentially telling compilation of stats regarding overall internet activity involving John McCain’s candidacy. In short, it doesn’t bode well for the Republican frontrunner. These stats were taken before the ridiculous NYTimes story that caused an uproar.Candidate Website Traffic
Presumably, website visits show the level of interest that people have in learning more about a candidate, their background, and their stances on issues. I’d say a candidate’s site serves as the anchor of the entire online operation. Hitwise tallied the total number of visits to the three remaining GOP candidates – McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul – and divided them up percentage wise. Here’s what they got:
Now let’s take a look at the how all the candidates of both parties stack up against one another:
Barack Obama 44%
Hillary Clinton 26%
Mike Huckabee 16%
Ron Paul 8%
John McCain 8%
Mike Gravel 1%
McCain has gotten half of what his now leading primary opponent is getting. He’s getting less that one-third of what Hillary Clinton is getting. And Barack Obama, his likely opponent in the general election, is getting over 500% more visits.