I’m meeting more and more corporate marketers who understand the value of social media, but don’t know how to use it. I’m seeing a trend of at least 3 different adoption strategies, listed out below.
Often they want to repurpose their corporate marketing brochures, videos, and pass them on to social channels –without understand that content, often has to change. Corporate “top-down” content doesn’t do well on YouTube, brochures and press releases don’t do well on blogs, and a marcom’s product announcement on a podcast is going to have limited traction.
Corporations are adopting at least one of the three styles of Social Media Marketing:
Locked in the Castle
Keeping the good stuff close to your domain.
Example: Creating videos, audio, and blog posts, but keeping them behind registration, or for clients only.
I’m seeing a handful of corporations in the past year, require registration for videos and podcasts that limit people from accessing them. The risks include: limiting the organic spread of your hard earned content, and not benefiting by the natural word of mouth network. Of course, the flip side is that those that do register are truly hungry for the content, and self-selecting themselves further down the funnel.
Building roads to Towns
Reach adjacent towns by enticing them with content, and provide them with links (roads) back to your land.
Example: Creating brand related images, publishing in flickr, and providing a link in the image notes back to the corporate domain
Some marketers are realizing that they can put a great deal of product and company content on social media tools for free, but by providing links back to the corproate site in comments, in the post-roll of a video, or mentioning a call to action at the end of a podcast extends their reach. By providing these ‘hooks’ to content, you can hope to entice people, who will embed, share, or consume your content, and then eventually click on the links to move closer to your corporate website.
Missionaries spread to new communities.
Example: Creating campaigns in social networks (like Facebook) where communities already exist, but with no links back to the corporate domain, and no blatant advertising.
The truly savvy marketers are learning to find communities where they exist, becoming that community, and not worry about ‘driving traffic’ back to the corporate website as a measure of success. I’ve a few clients that have figured out how to experiment with ‘off domain’ success. There are risks too, this strategy could give up complete control to the members, and could result in a brand backlash or few people caring about a brand’s products.
When it comes to social media marketing, which style is your corporation going to adopt? each has a strength –and weakness –so it’s best you understand the elements and benefits of each.
The question many marketers are trying to answer now, is “Who do people trust?”
I’ve been spending more and more time pouring over data, medium usage, behavioral and preference data for clients, and am learning more and more about how humans behave on the web.
So who do people trust? Three research studies indicate it’s peers, or people they know. And social clout from bloggers, or those with a lot of online friends ain’t it.
1) Forrester Research
What’s interesting is that colleague Josh Bernoff’s weekly post on who do people trust, indicates that people trust their peers the most, and bloggers last. Josh writes:
“What does this mean for your brand? It means that a focus on “influencers” is not enough. You never know who may be reviewing your product, or where. Influencers may touch a lot of people, but so do the masses of reviewers on Yelp, or Amazon.com, or TripAdvisor. And heaven forbid you get people talking about your brand on The Consumerist.”
If people trust the reviews of friend that they know and trust 14% more than your corporate website, what is your web marketing team doing to accommodate this? Are you spending 14% more effort to listen, learn, influence peer reviews? I’ll bet your not, as most brand marketers I know are spending time building microsites, and launching brochure ware on their sites, without think about the impacts of their corporate website becoming irrelevant.
2) Edelman Trust Barometer
In a confirming correlation, Edelmen’s research from Steve Rubel indicates the exact same findings, despite different phrasing of the questions. Steve writes: “both marketers and publishers – continue to focus on reach, they are missing the big picture. Trust is by far a more important metric, one that clearly rules when it comes to influence.”
3) Pollara Research
Steve points to a third research report also validating this claim. Research firm Pollara found similar results:
“According to a new study from Canadian research firm Pollara, self-described social media users put far more trust in friends and family online than in popular bloggers, or strangers with 10,000 MySpace “friends.”
Of more than 1,100 adults polled in December, nearly 80% said they were very or somewhat more likely to consider buying products recommended by real-world friends and family, while only 23% reported being very or somewhat likely to consider a product pushed by “well-known bloggers.”
“This shows that popularity doesn’t always equate to credibility,” said Robert Hutton, executive vice president and general manager at Pollara. “Marketers might have to reconsider who the real influencers are out there.”
What you should do
Forward this post back to your marketing team, encourage the team to have an active and open dialog. Should you be focusing in on influencers only in your market space? Or should you start also focusing on ratings and review sites, where customers are critiquing, reading, and making decisions based on each others data.
So what’s this mean for me? Unless you know me, you’ll probably trust your friends or family far more than my opinion.
So how can I win your trust back? Lately, I’ve been starting to see the cracks in social media, and have started a tag on this blog called Challenges. Social media isn’t perfect, it’s new, and many people and brands are doing it wrong. It’s important to be objective and point out when it works and when it doesn’t.
Update: Am I looking in the rear view mirror? intersting audio podcast debating this post, listen in (around 20 minutes in)
There are two conferences that I recommend you attend if you read my blog, the topics and presentations are closely aligned to what I’m interested in, and I know both of the organizers –they give good conferences with high value.
The first one is the Internet Strategy Forum Summit, July 17-18 in Portland, managed by my friend Steve Gehlen. He’s even offered a discount for readers of my blog (many web decision makers). Enter in WEBSTRAT as the discount code to get 10% off. I won’t be able to attend this year (I did last year) but Charlene Li will be one of the presenters. enjoy!
Graphing Social Patterns by Dave McClure, is a successful conference on the topic of Social Networks. I was a moderator at the last one in San Diego, and the upcoming one in Washington DC on June 9-11th will be a hit. I’m still trying to work out my schedule so I can attend.
But those are just two of my recommended conferences to attend (Web 2.0 expo, any Forrester Conferences, and SXSW are compulsory, of course) and if you’re in the bay area, there’s plenty of reocurring meetups (see large list).
Update: I attended last year’s community unconference (you control the agenda), and will do so again this year, It’s run by Bill Johnston, who I’ve interviewed for my research report on Online Communities, this is a great event I forgot to mention.
What upcoming conferences would you suggest?
I’m starting this post series (see archives) to recognize and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
Teresa Valdez Klein moves on to T-Mobile as a product planner, she’s very entrenched in social media, so we can expect her to add to the social media charge at T-Mobile.
Janice Diner heads up Ripple, the new social media division of Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG. In her previous role Janice headed up the Facebook communities and application development for TD Canada Trust and PlayStation Canada.
Tony Haenn takes a new role as Executive Community Architect at the Corporate Executive Board, which offers similar services to Forrester.
Petr Olmer moves to Good Data as the Community Evangelist.
How to Connect with others:
Submit an annoucement
If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, leave a comment below, or if you’re feeling shy (it’s cool to self-nominate) send me an email.
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
See Web Strategy Jobs powered by Job o Matic
Connect with others in the community manager group in Facebook
Check out Jake McKee’s community portal for jobs
See Chris Heuer’s Social Media Jobs
SimplyHired aggregates job listings, as does Indeed
ForumOne Jobs for Social Media and Community
Jason Falls is hiring
Hiring? Leave a commentt
If you’re seeking candidates in the social media industry, many of them are within arms reach, feel free to leave a link to a job description (but not the whole job description, or I’ll delete it.
I’m doing research for a client, to find out any examples of insurance companies using social media to connect with it’s customers. I’ve done some scanning over a 48 period of time, and asked my twitter (a social computer) followers, who gave a tremendous amount of helpful links. Since I’ve received many links from the community, I won’t hoard my findings, but share them in public. I’m thankful for those that help me, and I try to give back on this blog.
Overall, without surprise, this industry has not adopted these tools, as one would expect. Whether they should or not should start with by answering these questions:
Are their respective decision makers using social tools to find answers about products and services?
If so, which tools are they using, and how are they connecting?
Would insurance customers benefit from asking and answering questions directly to each other?
I did find a few examples, yet just small blossoms in the field, no clear wins that would make a case study of complete success or failure, among them include:
Pick Your Advisor, India
This website allows users to select a financial or insurance advisor using a friendly personable interactive selector. Each of the advisors has a picture asscoiate with them, and a psuedo blog. As I looked closer, most of the blog data was not being used, or was being used like a chat room.
Allstate Community Forum
It appears this forum (code suggests it’s powered by lithium software, see the whole list) which launched in late 07 is a great example of a company embracing it’s customers using community software. Sadly, there’s very few messages and discussions. The forum is segmented by role (singles, couples, parents) and you can start to see some Q&A occurring. In my recent report on Online Community Best Practices, I found that companies must have a kick start plan to get their communities going.
esurance fan opportunity
Esurance’s aggressive online advertising of it’s cartoon like superhero “Erin Esurance” is causing some fandom, and some are dressing up like her. Mack questions if esurance should embrace some of these fans, but I’m not so sure. Is the goal of the cartoon campaign to drive awareness, or involve in a discussion about insurance. Some have mixed reactions on interacting with fake personas, so perhaps a different strategy would be needed.
Embrace Pet Insurance, Facebook
For those of us who have pets, care can often be expensive for family members, as a result, embrace pet insurance launched this Facebook group. There are 83 members in the Facebook group, few discussions, a handful of wall posts and no applications.
Perhaps the most interesting insurance related blog is Singapore’s Tan Kin Lian, a former CEO who is “I write this blog to educate the public about insurance, finance and current affairs in Singapore”. The archives go back to 2005, and there are a handful of comments on many of the recent posts. He posts frequently, and is using it in a Q&A type format. On the other hand, there are new blogs appearing, such as this one from Golden State Life Insurance (only 3 posts)
In a recent Forrester report, Oliver Young’s case study highlights how Northwestern Mutual benefits from internal collaboration using the Awareness platform. I’m sure there are many other examples, but this industry is often not forth coming. Shel Holtz has additional commentary.
Rehashing of Commercials on YouTube
Liberty Mutual launched a TV commercial series called “Pay it forward” that was published on YouTube (it doesn’t appear to be sanctioned from the brand), with 150,000 views. They could easily take this campaign to the people by creating a campaign letting the community share their stories view text and video. Interestingly, a few folks decided to take the time to parody the video. Update: I’ve just been notified about the Responsibility Project by Liberty Mutual, a video campaign with a blog (comments enabled), I don’t see much community aspect.
Perhaps the most vibrant examples are these various forums. Insurance is likely not a daily activity, and members may prefer to ask questions anonymously to each other. In this forum for insurance agents, called Insurance Forums (top thread has over 60,000 views and 1000 responses regarding a convention). AM/PM insurance has a thriving community, appears to be a customer community. Kiplinger an financial analysis resource has a forum for general insurance discussions.
This isn’t a great example of social media, but Geico’s caveman has interactive marketing elements where you can visit his “crib”, also the character appeared in real life at a recent SXSW party I attended.
Zuzzid, Norwhich Union’s Community Ratings
To me, this is the perhaps the promising program, a website where community members can speak out about, rate, and rank insurance agencies. Sadly, this community has had little traction, just a few postings, and if you read the bottom line it’s created by an insurance agency, UK’s Norwich Union (which coincidently has the highest rating) for this to work, it’ll have to be from an independent source.
Pemco wants to be like you
Pemco, a Northwest insurance agency in US, launched am interactive marketing site called were a lot like you that shows many profiles of potential prospects, and allows members to upload theirs. While it appears most of the content is created by the agency or the company, there’s very little area for member to member interaction (what social media is about). A good start, I hope they take this to the next level, and let the community really take hold and drive, create, and discuss the content.
There really isn’t much activity happening in the insurance industry to use social media, and where it may be successful, it could likely be behind the firewall, impervious to public viewing. Update: Jeff Jarvis is also on the hunt for industries that are somewhat impervious to social media, I’ll agree, social media isn’t great for everything, let’s use our heads, not everything is a nail..
Lastly, I’ve received half a dozen emails and tweets in total saying they are working with a client on social media, but can’t disclose the details, or will ask the client, or the project has ended. A very quiet industry, indeed.
In general, most financial and insurance industries are going to fall just behind the curve of mainstream adoption when it comes to social media tools, they rightfully will wait and vet out what works and what doesn’t.
If you see any other examples of insurance companies solving real business problems using social tools (I’m not as interested in toe-dipping), please leave a comment.
Related: I did this same list for the Finance industry, see Ongoing list of Social Media Efforts from Banks, Credit Card, Financial Institutions and Lenders
Marketers and individuals know how important it is to track conversations in websites, especially where peers connect to each other (sometimes, where the highest trust occurs). A handful of new tools are starting to emerge that give specific tool based search, which I’ve started to list out below.
This list is specifically for tools that track discussion boards, forums, and communities, for a broader reach, see this list of companies that measures brands on the social web.
How to use these tools? Plugin your company name, product name, executives names, for your own company and your competitors, to see who is saying what about your brand.
Companies that Track Discussions in Forums and Communities:
“BoardTracker.com, a Pidgin Technologies property, is an innovative forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system designed to provide relevant information quickly and efficiently while ensuring you never miss an important forum thread no matter where or when it is posted. Boardtracker brings the most targeted audience closer to the boards, by being a search engine only for boards and by supplying a categorized and highly effective searching and browsing experience to users.”
“Linqia creates an independent search for online communities and groups with user ratings and comments. From the biggest and most famous online community to the smallest most hidden group, Linqia surfaces existing online communities and groups which can either be uploaded by our users or just commented and rated according to YOUR opinion and experience.”
Our goal is for Twing to work perfectly every time, and that you’re quickly and easily able to find exactly the information you’re after. But should you need help, we’re here for you. After all, online communities are about people helping each other, so as a community search engine, we take the same approach.
If you know of any others, please leave a comment, and I’ll add it to this list.
In 2008, Business Adoption Of Web 2.0 Tools Is Expected To Grow Strongly
Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast
On Monday, colleague Oliver Young (I was involved with the report) published a forward looking report on the growth of Web 2.0 technologies within the enterprise entitled Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast: 2007 To 2013. As I mention with every report, you can purchase it directly from the site, or if not satisfied, obtain a refund, as we stand by the quality of our products.
Who should read this report?
Anyone investing in the space such as VCs, leadership at Social Media companies, or those involved in purchasing at corporations for social media tools.
Caveat: Sans services and “organic” sites
It’s important to note that calculations do not include properties such as ‘organic social networks’ like Facebook (which is valued at $15b), nor do they include services (a report I hope to do soon), so the numbers, in our opinion are just a slice of the overall technology sector. For example, in 2008 we project enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technology to account for just 0.2% of the $364bn global corporate spending on software and to barely even register as part of the $1.7 trillion we expect to see spent on technology overall is a useful piece of context. When you think about social media tools for the enterprise, most often, these commodity technologies are cheap, easy to deploy, and often free.
Web 2.0 Expo, a Physical Manifestation
I spent the last two days at the Web 2.0 expo (I was an advisor to the show), where 7000 people from this market assembled into one building. Who are these people? they are the ‘market’;, vendors, clients, analysts, press, media, and users. It was clear to me many mainstream businesses were attending, I’ll take a guess that many early adopters within the enterprise (I was that guy at Hitachi Data Systems) are dragging their boss, and colleagues who were once nay-sayers to the conference to learn. I saw many Fortune 1000 brands there trying to learn and understand how to use these tools for business.
To me, last year’s Web 2.0 expo was far different, it was a geek fest, where live streaming was prominent, and there was much more fascination over the tools –rather than the business impact. This year, many of the questions and folks I met were interested in using these tools to improve their business, they weren’t enamored with the latest widget. On the show floor, I spoke to two CEOs who read the report and commented that the numbers looked in par to their expectations.
Technology Infrastructure moves in
SUN (Who’s had the startup essentials program for a few years), HP, NetAPP, EMC were all present on the show room floor. What do they have to do with Web 2.0? In most cases, this is not their core business, but they realize this growing market will need infrastructure and technology to power these websites. I was pushing for this nearly 3 years ago at the data storage level, but I guess I was too early. Another change is the strong presence of an analyst firm, in this case it was Forrester, we were involved with four sessions, hosted a party, and launched a book. I guess this movement really is headed mainstream now.
What others are saying: in agreement and disagreement
Our friends at ZDNet may have misunderstood what we were actually sizing, at first it was assumed it was just “enterprise 2.0″ (internal) purchases, but in reality, this sizing encompasses externally facing (marketing), and is the largest piece of the pie.
The above and following image was posted on many blogs on Monday, where I encourage you to following the conversation and analysis. First, start with Read Write Web (Oilver and I are big fans of this blog), then Andy Beal takes Here’s the Reason Why Small Businesses Won’t Adopt “Enterprise 2.0″, and for a counterpoint, the respected Dennis Howlett The problem with Forrester’s $4.6 billion prediction, I always enjoy Dennis’ contrarion position, it’s needed in the industry. (update: Oliver Young left a comment on his post)
(This post was reviewed by colleague Analyst Oliver Young, who published the report)
Forecast: Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Spend By Technology, 2007 To 2013
I had near polar experiences on my two panels yesterday, the first one I moderated called Community Building: Good, Bad, and Ugly, and the second as a panelist: Short Attention Span Theater: The Birth of Microblogging & Micromedia.
A “Boring” panel that shifted to audience questions
Now the first panel had very enterprise technology companies present: Jive Software (Dawn Foster), Intel (Bob Duffy), PC/Mac World (Kellie Parker) and Forrester. We were very pragmatic, informational, and provide best practices information. While the majority of people enjoyed the discussion, I noticed an increase of Fortune 5000 attendees who are craving ‘how to’ information, some found the panel “dry” or “boring”. I tend to agree, the content we provided had lots of nuggets if insight, practical examples.
I was watching twitter in real-time to gauge the audience reaction (a best practice I prescribe in how to moderate a panel) and saw two tweets, in particular this one:
“I agree with @nickionita…community building panel is a snooze”
Like any speaker, when you start to see audience feedback like this your heart flutters and your mind jumps forward to images of SXSW. Quick! what do you do?
I think of the audience members as customers (they’ve paid with time and money) so I acknowledged them in twitter, and let everyone know we would quickly shift to questions, so the audience could drive the agenda. We received over a dozen questions, and I hope the audience was satisfied, lots of good hard questions from many folks on the ground that are trying to solve these problems: getting management to agree, measuring roi, dealing with detractors, etc.
After which, I think we won him over:
“Questions made the panel: Love hearing viewpoints from people with boots on the ground”
Thank you Chrisainsworth and Nickionita for giving me the feedback. The summary of the whole session can be found from this love blog from Lasandra. Update: another summary from Manage to Change. A review came in, 3/5 stars.
Crowd Sourcing the Agenda to the Audience –Using Twitter
Now, the next panel (Greg Narain, Brian Solis, Stowe Boyd) wasn’t traditional by any sense, it was an experiment, where we crowd-sourced the agenda to the audience –they used Twitter. Greg Narain setup an application where members from the audience could message (@micromedia2) and their tweets (comments, questions, requests, answers, and sometimes jokes made at Scoble’s expense) were seen live on the screen. The focus was less on the panelists and the things we were to say, and more on the discussion between hundreds of people in the room –all from computers and mobile devices.
While certainly very, very entertaining, and very very interesting, the panel offered little insight or value. My colleague Josh Bernoff even tweeted that while it was entertaining, he was waiting for that breakthrough insight. Josh is a uber-analyst, and probably would have benefited from my first panel more than the second, although he enjoyed himself.
I asked for raise of hands at the end of the session, two thought it was ‘ok’, two thought it was a ‘bad’ session, and the majority, over 90% thought it was a good session. The people rule. Later, I talked to the gentleman who thought the session was negative, and his reason was because he was left out, and didn’t know how to get twitter started. I spent a few minutes with him, giving him the basic, and told him how to start an account at twitter, how to tweet, and how to add followers.
The session was far more ‘remarkable’ than the first (we can tell as people actually took the time to blog about it…yes that old thing) and you can read about Examples of how to use Twitter for Business Purposes. Micromedia and Microblogging session capture, and our new friend Shanti from Sun who didn’t get twittering before the panel, decided to give it a try (please welcome her if you’re on twitter). Update: Jacob highlights how the conversation in Twitter went downhill –as it spread around the globe.
So what does this all mean?
I need to improve my panel skills, make sure we’re entertain while providing value, and also know when letting the crowd control too much results in little value. While agenda setters and panelists certainly lead the presentation, for this audience of tech-minded folks, learning how to listen in real-time, make course corrections, and listen to the audience is key for today’s modern conference.
The audience is now more of participants, literally up on stage –well at least at my panels.
Update: I had my third and final panel (moderator) at Web 2.0 Expo today on Facebook Best Practices (plus I was an advisor to the event), and received the following tweet that made my day:
“Olsen should be monitoring Twitter like Owyang was for his sessions!“
I’m proud to announce my latest report on OpenSocial. If you’re not familiar with that, check out How to Explain OpenSocial to your Executives.
I interview Google, developers, and social network platforms to find out their ideology and experience with converting applications to the OpenSocial protocol, and I quickly learned that while the promise is indeed a powerful one, in reality, it will be very difficult to achieve. In some cases, developers tell me that widget code needs to be modified up to 50%.
For clients, you can access the short report on the Forrester site, or you can purchase it on the site. As much as I’d love to share this research to everyone, like you have your products, this is ours, and there are costs associated.
Google’s OpenSocial: Good News For Marketing Widgets But No Silver Bullet Google, along with a congress of more than a dozen social networks, plans to launch OpenSocial, a set of standards that will allow widgets to be built once and run on any Web site compatible with OpenSocial. What’s in it for interactive marketers? The ability to efficiently create engaging branded experiences that reach millions of new communities. However, don’t expect your widgets to universally proliferate, as adoption will vary based upon the demographic and technical characteristics of each online community. Interactive marketers should deploy widgets using OpenSocial standards, yet they should also plan — and budget — for rapid iterations and flexibility.
Google’s OpenSocial Team, IBM’s Lotus Team, KickApps, NewsGator Technologies, Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr, Six Apart’s David Recordon, and Nick O’Neil of SocialTimes.com
On my last night of official ‘work’ before going offline, I was able to meetup with Hawaii’s top bloggers, access this post directly (if you’re seeing this in a feedreader) to watch video.
Whenever I travel to a new city for business, I try to meet the local bloggers at a community dinner, I’ve now friends all over the world, and we connect on twitter, blogs, and social networks to keep track of each other. Ryan Ozawa (who has the only Hawaii licence plate “Blog”, see pic below), the community leader and early technology adopter helped organize this dinner of Oahu’s top bloggers. About 15 of us assembled at a local joint (I was the only tourist) and we had authentic food –minus the luau, dancing, or fire spinning. Believe me, this was a real treat for me. I’m not even going to link to the restaurant website as I don’t want to spoil it for the locals, but if you’re a smart web hunter, you’ll figure it out.
I spent some time with Welton, who lives in Waikiki, he took me to some local bars after dinner, (Ryan’s) and gave me the low down of life in Honolulu from a local’s perspective. Some of the guys were live streaming the dinner from their phone, a bit grainy, but you can follow in from this player. Check out the coverage from Ryan Ozawa.
Truly one of the most friendliest groups I have ever met, the Aloha spirit was really there, including receiving a gorgeous flower lei from Xapa.
The one thing I noticed is that when I’ve visited HK, Singapore, Portland, and now Hawaii for blogger dinners, the local tech community doesn’t get together as much in real life, they often need someone to trigger it forward. I certainly hope that this Oahu group can start meeting more frequently, and to grow their community. (Ryan Ozawa left a comment with more color around this, please read that below)
Ryan left his thoughts on his blog, and took a roll call of those who attended:
Burt Lum (@bytemarks)
Dave Zuls (@hawaiiseo)
Ian Kitajima (@ikitajima)
Jennifer Ozawa (@kilinahe)
Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang)
Joe Philipson (@jphilipson)
Jonathan Wong (@hawyn316)
Kara Baker (@xapa)
Lianne Kitajima (@lkitajima)
Neenz Faleafine (@infinitypro)
Ryan Ozawa (@hawaii)