May 20, 2013
It seems to be social media satire day today:
"I'm constantly pushing the boundaries with my tweets," added the man who makes approximately $1,600 per month after taxes and has not made a student loan payment in over two years. "I started a Tumblr a few months ago too, because sometimes 140 characters just doesn't cut it for what I need to say."
According to sources, Wasserman receives over 300 retweets and 400 favorites on each of the roughly 30 tweets he posts daily. The universally proclaimed "Twitter luminary" also reportedly attracts hundreds of new followers every week and has a $1,000 monthly credit limit on his VISA card.
There's a serious point lurking under this - many "social media strategist" type roles are poorly paid, and targeted at people in their 20s, in the assumption that social media is something only young people can understand. Somewhere down the line, a lot of business are going to pay dearly for that - fundamentally agist - assumption. In part, because it means that they're not taking the issues as seriously as they should, but largely because the wheel of social tools on the internet keeps turning, and many people in significant social roles in companies have never experienced one of those shifts.
In the meantime, the rest of us can enjoy some of the howling mistakes they make. What else is the Condescending Corporate Brand page for?
A field guide to spotting a content marketer:
This new quasi-professional class doesn't produce actual contenty kind of content, you know: only thinly-veiled advertisements for their services. It's really content-marketer marketing, if that makes sense, and they are the product they sell. Helpful e-books and webinars meant to induce you to hire their services, long-ass comments on blog posts that craftily guide back to their own blog posts, maybe the occasional self-published paperback, printed on demand for the upcoming speaking engagement, glossy with snake oil.
They write in the second person, as if they are always having a firm conversation with a beloved client. ("Try this thought experiment with YOUR brand...") But the writing is consumed exclusively by other content marketers, all busily keeping up their game, all hawking their own half-baked consultancies.
There's a sad ending to this tale, though. What will happen to all those content marketers when the content bubble bursts*?
*They'll reinvent themselves as Pinterest consultants or whatever passing bandwagon comes next.
May 19, 2013
There are many rewards to blogging, but it's easy to get distracted by the easy one. Big numbers are a big distraction. My post on citizen journalism earlier in the week got big numbers. That obviously makes me happy.
My post on Bruce Sterling and the video of his speech at NEXT Berlin? That didn't get big numbers. In fact, calling the numbers "small" seems, well, generous. Yet, it provoked this post in response - well, not response exactly, but it acted as a catalyst for a thought process that became that post.
That's actually a bigger reward to me - I published something which someone I think is pretty smart used to write something pretty smart. I'm bringing insightful things to the notice of insightful people. That's worthwhile.
I often preach the "hits stands for How Idiots Track Success" mantra - the interactive journalism MA students at City University can vouch for that - so I should remember to practice it, shouldn't I?
After all, if I wanted the big numbers, this would be called something like "The Digital Journalism Expert" and have headlines that ran along the lines of 10 things digital journalism can learn from the Tumblr /Yahoo deal. But it's not, and they don't. You just have the meandering thoughts of one man on his blog, and just because my reputation built through this blog is the source of my income and my family's financial security doesn't mean I should let big numbers blind me to the truth: influence can be small, subtle and complicated, and often driven by small acts of generosity.
Find something cool. Pass it along. Change a couple of people's thought processes. Who knows what might happen?
May 16, 2013
It's a beautiful sunny day, I'm full of cold and I'm distracting myself by reading commentary on NEXT 13 for my work on the conference blog. The talk that seems to have had the most impact - despite being the shortest - was Bruce Sterling's. It was noticable for both its joy in the possibilities of the future and its skepticism about so much of the way it's structured right now.
Worth a watch, if you have 15 minutes this lunchtime:
May 15, 2013
Gosh, Le Web time already? Yup - it's now held twice a year. Summer's Le Web is held in the UK. While it's smaller than the main Parisian event, it still brings together an inetresting mix of European and intercontinental digerati for two days of discussion and netwoking. And, once again, I'm an official blogger at the event.
in three weeks' time I'll be in London for Le Web's UK edition, liveblogging as I normally do. (You can actually see me at work in the front row if you look carefully at the image above from last year...)
This year's theme is The Sharing Economy.
If you fancy coming along - the event is held in Westminster - I have a discount code for you: OBDISCOUNT will save you £200 on the cost of a ticket for Le Web.
opinionated rant online commentators about journalism, I get fairly regular e-mails from students asking for my comments on journalism, blogging and social media. Inspired by Jon Bernstein making his responses to one set of questions public, I've decided to do the same, if only so I can point any future student who wants to ask about this to the post. Because, really, this is probably my last word on "citizen journalism".
1) What are your thoughts on citizen journalism?
It's a horribly dated, misbegotten concept from the mid-2000s that really should have died by now. It's the bastard child of early online enthusiasts who had an axe to grind with the journalism profession, and wanted to see it wiped out, and the arrogance of journalists, who assumed that as soon as the general public had access to publishing tools, they'd start doing journalism. Instead, as we know, they mainly use these tools to publish pictures of babies, cats and inspirational quotes. That, if nothing else, is the lesson of Facebook.
There are three types of people:
- Professional journalists - people who are paid to do journalism
- Amateur journalists - people who do journalism for free
- Ordinary people - some of whom, once in a while, will do something that might be called "citizen journalism".
2) Do you think that organisations with a valued reputation such as the BBC are losing out in terms of journalistic content to amateurs that just happen to be in the right place at the right time?
No, because they're actively looking for such material, passing it through their social media verification processes and then building it into stories. "Citizen journalism" isn't competition. It's a source.
5) Do you think that citizen journalism endangers any professional aspects of news gathering and the production of news today or do you think it displays a positive effect?
I think it's a threat to lazy, inaccurate news gathering, as we've seen repeatedly. People can correct shoddy journalism publicly far more easily than they could in the past, and journalists' reputations can be destroyed. It may have a positive effect in the long term, as the media learns how to operate in the knowledge that it will almost always be second reporter on any major breaking news, as people on the groups will end up pushing it out through social media instead. There's a role for journalists in the social media chaos in the immediate aftermath of a major event - but that's fodder for another post.
May 13, 2013
Liveblogged notes of Zachary Neal's talk on community integration and cohesion at the RSA.
In this talk he's going to focus on micro networks. Are diverse communities possible? Tha answer's grim: no. But there is a bright side...
He's been thinking about community policy in the US; it's fragmented and piecemeal. It's more clearly articulated in the UK. In 2001 the Home Office came out with a report on community cohesion, which lead to the Commission on Integration & Cohesion. In 2010, the Cabinet Office made it clear it was important as part of the Big Society rubric.
This is the right direction - but there's a hidden problem, a policy paradox. It's not clear how integration and cohesion interlock. Are more integrated communities more cohesive? Or are more integrated communities less cohesive?
In segregated communities, similar people live near one another. In integrated communities, different sorts of people are more evenly mixed through the neighbourhood.
In fragmented communities, people have disconnected social networks. In cohesive communities, people have dense special networks.
May 10, 2013
You might want to read this eBook.
Design Your Day is part of Nokia's Smarter everyday project, that talks very little about phones and quite a lot about how we could work better - and live better - in a connected, information flow age. I had some small hand in the early stage of the work through some consulting and writing work I did for Brilliant Noise at the tail end of last year and the beginning of this year. There's a much fuller explanation of what it's all about on the Brilliant Noise blog.
But don't download it because of that. Download it because it's got some really intelligent ideas - backed by neuroscience - about how to work well; it's about working better, not harder, knowing our limits - and planning for them. Designing your day, in fact.
May 7, 2013
The Thomas Cook Listening Lab, using a specially trained social media listening team will provide real-time global brand reputation management, listening in over 180 languages about "chatter" around their brands. The team will identify social 'brand champions' and who the company should be interacting with socially to help increase sales. Data will also be collected that will be used for future marketing campaigns and to provide insight on how to heighten social brand awareness. The facility will aid in crisis management, provide real time comparison of competitor brands, and importantly, listen to all customer sentiment.
Maybe I'm a crusty old Cluetrain fundementalist, but there's nothing in there I find remotely inspiring. There's no suggestion of the idea of reaching out and engaging customers in any form of conversation, just monitoring, processing data and intervening with the people who might boost sales. Now, bear in mind that this is a press release, a form of communication whose relationship with reality is often tenuous at best. This could be a more social effort than it appears.
However, it appears like a profoundly anti-social approach to social media. A dark, windowless room, full of screens and dashboards. A small team tasked with listening to their customers - which presumably implies - or at least sends the message - that the rest of the company doesn't need to bother. Is this really the promise of corporate social media?
There's no element of making the company walls more porous to the customer here; no attempt to engage in widescale conversation. Listening is great. Collecting data is great. But they are just the first two steps on a journey towards actually beginning dialogue with the customer. What's potrayed here isn't conversational at all. And that seems to miss too much of the potential for social media in this market.
There. I can delete the press release now.
May 2, 2013
Katy Howell, CEO, Immediate Future
How do you concentrate your content? It's pretty clear we need to think about social content with purpose. Social media is a business channel - but there are some big players in this. 80% of business buyers network online for work, 91% research for work - and 70% are promoting themselves. We don't talk about brands, we talk through them...
Decision maker sand senior decisions makers are rarely lurkers - they're an active group. 67.9% of B2B content marketing is targeted at lead generation. There are some challenges - the deluge of crap, it's resource intensive and how do you know you're capturing the quality of people you want?
If you're a planner, you can't help but put things in boxes. It helps you get your head around them. How can you make sure your content works hard for clients? Well, you target. Everyone talks about being personal. How many people present are creating content for an individual? Very few.
She's so excited by Google planning tools. People don't buy in a linear way, and B2B purchasing is not all digital yet (we need chips in people's head (is that what Google Glass is?)) Thee tools don't give you your journey - but they give you a benchmark. It helps you understand the journey.
IBM makes millions from "snaffling it" - just looking for requests on social media and having conversations on the fly. They don't just sell - they send them things like a best practice guide for writing RFPs - content marketing. It jumps outside the funnel. On the other hand 66% of buyers use LinkedIn for identifying buyers, but 55% used Twitter for identifying the final supplier. (Again, your customers might be different).
Think about behaviours - but also think what they do before and after. Where do they go from LinkedIn? How do you follow up a capture form? Should you integrate this with your wide campaigns? Search support is important - it's not all about search, but you can't miss a trick. And - in lead generation - you have to work with the people around you: sales, social media, the board, your content resources - you have to know the structure. You have worked hard, and paid for great content. Make sure the flow fits, because you can't measure unless you get to the end goal.
Bloody Strong Content Plans
Have a bloody strong content plan. It took us six weeks top plan customer magazines - it should be the same for social content. Think about publication date, search tersm, calls to action, trackable links, distribution and monitoring/KPIs.
BUT - content for lead generation has a different purpose. You need killer calls to action. There are calls to action on social media that you wouldn't get away with on social media. You need to be disruptive to get noticed. How do you deal with conservative clients? Stealth and lying. You have to be a little on the edge - she doesn't mind running around in her bra and knickers if it gets the job done. You can often find a change agent client-side. Euan Semple calls them trojan mice projects. Make sure the in-house person gets the glory. We live and breathe social media - our clients often don't.
It's hard to find content which has a clear purpose like lead generation right now. It's about small tweaks - knowing behaviours, clearer calls to action.
There's repercussions for poor content. We are seeing drops in the number of people downloading whitepapers, ebooks and webinars. 4.8% drop for whitepapers, 5.1% for ebooks and 21.6% for webinars. If a whitepaper is just an extended blog post, people get annoyed quickly. Spammy approaches to content have consequences - search engines won't put up with it forever.
So, make things easy and clean, and use social proof. If it's relevant, you'll capture more of the people you want. Ensure bit.ly links have your brand in them in some way - makes them more trusted. Keep capture forms short. Use all relevant advertising tools: Facebook Exchange (jury still out), SlideShare capture (part of Pro), Twitter lead gen (14% rate), LinkedIn ads (not great) InMails (amazing).
People don't sharpen their tools well. They don't test and learn. Start with benchmarks. 46% of buyers find whitepapers useful for defining what they actually need. 44% find videos, webinars and podcasts for identifying suppliers. 51% use supplier e-mail for final selection. Document everything you do - short links, campaign codes and the like allow you to track effect.
You want to know performance by platform, but also by subsection of the platform. Not just LinkedIn, but groups, or news feeds, or company pages. Details. Track the actions, like Likes, clicks and comments. How is each content toe performing. What times of day work best? What topics work best? How about headline experiments - one of their clients saw a 40% uplink in traffics by putting what they would get through the link in brackets. Bundle all of this into a performance framework.
Test and dump. Rest things that aren't working. Do A/B tests. Know what your hottest lead source is.
Feed all of this information into the purchase loop. Know what content contributes best at what point in the purchase cycle. It's hard. Katy is not there yet. But she's working on it.
Question & Answer
Are you doing analysis on costs per lead on social? Yes. Two clients have been doing cost per lead - it's lower than DM, but higher than e-mail. And it wavers all over the place, because the content isn't right yet. Month on month things change. The industry's in churn, so it's difficult to think about pay per lead.
Nick Garner, CEO, SearchWorks Content Marketing
What do you employ content for? The marketing funnel is a great concept, because you can hang so much off it. It has phases - awareness, consideration, preference, action and loyalty. And consideration is the interesting bit. The reality is less like a funnel, and more like a big bowl of spaghetti. It's the ecosystem we're interested in - but it's complex to get our heads around. So people obsesses over simple ideas like Facebook Likes.
We all like to think that a "blast" of marketing will help us. It kinda does. Out of 100 people coming into the funnel, one or two will become customers. Maybe a conversation with 10 would be better - but which 10?
Google has been well ahead of the curve in understanding the internet as an ecosystem. They funded a project with a 5000 people panel called Zero moment of Truth - ZMOT - about online buying habits. In the old days, you had a budget and used it to broadcast like crazy. The first moment of truth is when you buy from the widget maker who has advertised so much. The second moment of truth is when I feedback - "they were expensive and not so great". The zero moment of truth lies between the broadcast and the first moment of truth - it's where people seek social proof. This is fed by the second moment of truth, when they leave feedback online. The Google research showed that 84% of the group were effected by the ZMOT - more than the other two moments.
People do research. If you're buying a car - your research early, and pay very careful attention to reviews. People were using 5.3 source sin 2010. In 2011? 10.4... Online makes it easy. Different industries have different research cycles. For cars, the weighting is a distance before purchase. Groceries and restaurants? Just before purchase.
Age changes ZMOT - young children are developing better spelling to get the search results they want. The millenials are in their teens, and the internet became important when they were small children. Gen X? About half their lives. Young boomers like the speaker and I? They've had to put the time in to learn. Gladwell suggests that 10,000 is needed to become an expert. Have you done that much on the internet? The older the demographic, the less likely they are to have done that.
Authenticity is another way of saying "don't talk bullshit - people will see through it". The young research more, but leave less feedback. Gen Xers do more feedback.
What can you do? Brands love numbers - you can benchmark things with numbers. The Online Persuasion Score™ is a variation of the Net Promoter Score - and academics say it sucks. But it's still useful. You add up the positive percentages, deduct the negative ones, and end up with a result. Fun online stuff isn't persuasive for purchasing, but deep material on metallurgy might be, for real buyers... OPS works well for search results, for example.
Créme de la Mer has a search problem - one of the top results is a Daily Mail story saying it costs £530 a pot. Nike has a sweatshop problem in its search results, at least. In the end, Online PR is about getting search results. Social Media metrics are all lovely and cuddly - but where's the engagement? It's good for ambient awareness, but what else? Consideration is what we want and search wins. You spend the right amount of time on ranking in Google and you'll get the visits.
Hubspot: what keywords are people using for questions about the product? Are the answers showing up - and are they coming from other people? That's what matters for social proof. That's what you measure with the OPS™ . The search results at the moment are dominated by their own pages, which doesn't tell you much about them - low OPS™ score...