Brands Focused on Managing Social Proliferation
For those that like to be where they money be, this data is for you. Altimeter’s research continues to survey buyers of disruptive technologies, and continues our coverage on social technologies. In our recent Q4 survey to enterprise buyers, focused on marketing business decision makers, which are global national corporations with over 1000 employees, we posed a series of questions in our survey battery. In particular, we wanted to find out where decision makers are bullish on investing and found the following trends on marketers with intent to increase spending:
To manage proliferation in enterprise, marketers purchase social media management systems. Altimeter has been covering this software category since March 2010 (see all posts), and has published reports on how companies are managing social using software. These social media management system tools, which allow brands to manage marketing, support, and employee interaction of social continue to spread throughout the enterprise (data). We’ve also seen deal size for this specific market on the increase over the past few years, some deals crossing over the six figure dollar range. We’ve also found that companies are straddled with a number of social accounts (on average, 178 social media accounts) as social strategists struggle to avoid being constantly reactive in a role of social sanitation.
Insufficient tools means investments in education programs key for employee masses. A solution requires a strategy, education, business processes, then with software to facilitate. While most marketers realize that technology is a key method to achieving their goals, they know that education within an enterprise is required for social business success. Marketers invest in educating various business units (departments, regions, and product groups) to ensure they properly know how to use these technologies and avoid risk. Yet, in our previous research, we’ve seen that brands are eager to educate, they don’t put large dollars against this investment. To help corporations solve this need, we’ve launched our own Academy offering, and are working with large brands, agencies, and consulting firms to roll-out.
Surprise! Marketers “volun-told” as system integrators of fragmented software. The opposite of volunteering is being volun-told (credit: Zena Weist). Marketers have been VolunTold that they are unwilling system integrators in the era of VC funded startups who’ve created clones serving similar use cases. As a result, brand side marketers and their agency and consulting partners are investing in integration disparate software together to commonly share data, in order to manage a single customer journey, or obtain data on one persona or customer type. While Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, IBM, and others offer suites, don’t expect this trend to go away anytime soon, as the proliferation of new web tools means that brands will forever be rushing to catch up.
Summary: Companies seeking to scale social in their enterprise.
So there you have it, today’s buyers are investing their resources and time on scaling social within their organization before it spirals out of control. They’re deploying software, coupled with internal training, and then trying to glue together many pieces into one system. While I’m not going to provide insights to each one of bullets, here are a number of other trends from this data that we can discuss in the comments.
Altimeter Data Above: Social spreads further to the edges in Hub and Spoke, and Distributes to Multiple Hub and Spoke, aka “Dandelion”
Social Business Evolution Spreads In Corporations
Altimeter’s most recent social business buyers survey of global national corporations with over 1000 employees has yielded interesting results. One data set that we’ve carefully watched over the years, and perhaps I’m most known for, is how companies organize their internal structure for social business. Over a year ago, we conducted this same study, to glean where the market is; we’re back with additional benchmarking data, and you can read the full report of Social Business Evolution (embedded below) This most recent data resonates the trends that we’re hearing and seeing in many of our brand side clients, here’s my take:
Decentralized gains no growth. Companies in this model are afflicted with unchecked proliferation and will have to eventually undergo considerable investments to clean up mis-managed or worse, un-managed efforts. This unscalable model leaves companies fragmented in an uncoordinated method. We predict this structure will eventually dissipate as companies must formalize their programs.
Centralized remains stagnant, holds at under one third. This model, in which a single business unit (often corp comms) manages the program on behest the corporation is a short term fix. While many regulated companies can easily make the business case for a single group, it cannot scale –and this group will eventually become overwhelmed with requests from business units.
Hub and Spoke loses 6 points, yet still dominant. This popular model, in the previous year, sinks 6 points. Why this drop? Companies are seeing that social is spreading beyond a coordinated team (often referred to as a center of excellence) to a broad set of business units including regional, departmental, and product lines. Despite the dip, this continues to be the dominant model most corporations are in now.
Dandelion model shows growth. In this model, decision making and management for social spreads to various business units –beyond the centralized team. This sign of maturity often means there’s coordination in the center, but freedom for local groups to manage within guidelines. We expect this model to continue to rise year over year.
Holistic remains elusive. This very challenging formation, where a majority of all employees use social for business in a safe and consistent manner continues to remain miniscule. Why? This requires a cultural mindset of trust from leaders, and a workforce that is trained and ready to accept social into every fabric of employee and customer relationships. Don’t expect this model to grow anytime soon.
This latest Altimeter Report, by my colleague Industry Analyst Chris Silva, focuses on how companies must develop a mobile marketing strategy. It sources research from 26 ecosystem contributors including brands, agencies, and technology providers. To learn more about this report, please register for the webinar in which Chris will provide deeper knowledge from the report.
This report is powerful in a few ways, it indicates the growth the in space, referencing that 45% of all mobile phone users are carrying a smart phone, and the growth rate for tablets is 23% annually.
The report also indicates how some marketers are missing the market to reach to the connected consumer, citing examples how retailers and restaurant companies created apps that didn’t direct them to their stores, a missed opportunity.
Above Graphic: Mobile App Maturity in Three Phases
Yet beyond the mis-steps of retail marketers, this report provides a maturity framework segmented into three major steps, and a point based system that brands can use to self-assess their quality. Lastly, you’ll find a breakdown in roll out steps from plotting the impact of strategy, choose business impact, choose application type, add features, extend platform support, then finally globalize.
This is Open Research: Use it, share it, and we’ll publish more, the full report is embedded below, which you can download, use and share with attribution. I’ll be working closely with Chris in future research projects, so I recommend you follow Chris on Twitter, and contact him at chris at altimetergroup dot com if you’ve further questions on the mobile landscape.
Research reveals corporations to focus on integration, staffing, advertising, and measurement in 2011.
I’m sharing these slides as I take the stage for one of the few business focused tracks at the largest European internet conference, LeWeb (pic). The following slides are based on the survey data collected in our latest research report on the Career Path of the Social Strategist which has been downloaded at least 3000 times and viewed over 21,000 times and been discussed on Marketing Profs, RWW, Mashable, Fast Company, and many other blogs. In the deck you’ll recognize some of the data in 2010, but we’ve also segmented it by business maturity.
In the predictions section in 2011, we’ll find data on where companies are going to focus, as well as spending changes based on maturity of corporations –notice how advanced companies shift to customization and social media boutiques.
Above: Here’s a video from the front row (Thanks Erno), apologies, I’m fighting a cold and a bit stuffed up. I added this video later.
Above, here’s the official LeWeb video, thanks Loic
How You Should Invest in 2011: Scalable Programs
1:1 dialog with customers does not scale –you can not hire enough community managers to keep up with the growing number of customer voices, as a result, we recommend that corporations focus on the following six areas of investment for 2011
Hire correctly (Gurus/Ninjas/Samurai need not apply) and properly train for scale
Integrate social media on the corporate website, then aggregate and curate
Invest in advertising that leverages social graph
Build an unpaid army of advocates –get your customers to do the work for you
Invest in scalable systems like SCRM and SMMS
Learn to measure using the ROI Pyramid
Open Research: Share it Widely
This data, which we make available for the industry is under the premise of Open Research rather than charging for it. It’s intended for you to use, cite, and share as long as you provide attribution to Altimeter Group. The more you share, the easier it is for us to create more. Some of the select figures are available here on Flickr, embedded below, expect I’ll discuss these in greater detail in coming weeks.
Special thanks to the research team involved in this project lead by Christine Tran, Andrew Jones, and guidance from Charlene Li, all of Altimeter Group, where I’m a partner.
This is part 2/2, yesterday, I released research discussing the priorities companies have for external also known as ‘go to market’. To balance out the data, Altimeter Group has posed similar questions to Corporate Social Strategists to find out their internal ambitions inside their company. This is a subset of a larger Altimeter report, sign up here to receive the upcoming report. These corporate social strategists (which I’ve segmented as companies with over 1000 employees) the respondents were asked to select three top internal objectives. We found that they will focus on the following:
Facing Internal Resistance, Corporate Social Strategists Seek to Measure, then Shift Culture
Confused by Disparate Data and Inability to Tie to Transactions, Strategists Seek to Prove Their Efforts. While the disruption that social media has caused is evident, 48% of Corporate Social Strategists struggle to measure the value for the following reasons: Disparate set of data, a plethora of engagement metrics –yet no tie back to transactions, and vast array of data growing at an exponential rate. To combat this, Social Strategists must learn the difference between: Business Metrics (revenue or cost savings), Social Marketing Analytics (CSat, share of voice, advocate influence), and Engagement Metrics (fans, likes, friends). Most immature strategists focus on delivering engagement metrics, which doesn’t fulfill the needs of upper management. Solution Set: Read Altimeter and Web Analytics Demystified Social Marketing Analytics Framework and apply these formulas to your program now. Secondly, develop an executive dashboard (with business metrics –not engagement metrics) and provide to your executive management on a frequent basis
Leading an Culture Revolution, The Social Strategist Focuses on Change Management. Make no mistake, social media has impacted a company to it’s core; there’s a complete cultural change happening. Yet despite the sea change occurring as companies try to catch up with customers, there’s immense internal resistance. As such, 35% of Corporate Social Strategist is trying to change the organizational flow of the company and 37% intend to provide ongoing internal training and education to explain how people’s jobs are forever changed. Our research has exposed there are five distinct models on how companies organize for social media, and we will reveal industry wide stats soon. Why the struggle? Customers don’t care which department an employee is in, they just want their problems solved, forcing a corporation to be holistic in their approach. Solution Set: Work with education programs such as Marketing Profs, WOMMA, New Communications Forum, eMarketer, and Forrester. Also join peer to peer groups such as Gaspedal’s Social Media Business Council, and Marketing Profs to connect with peers.
To Fix Root Problems, Social Strategists Try to Infuse Customer Voices to Fix Products. Social Strategists are mainly marketing to customers using social channels, (43%) and even fewer are focused on supporting customers (16% for direct customer support) according to our latest research. Yet despite the goals to “sell more product” in social channels, they are sacked by customers who are complaining about sub par customer experiences. Knowing they must fix the root problem of improving the actual product, strategists must try to infuse the customer voice directly into the product roadmap. Yet despite their aspirations, don’t expect most to be successful as we’ve only seen a handful of companies that have been enable to improve their products with direct customer voices such as Dell, Starbucks, BaconSalt, Lego, and Microsoft. Don’t expect this lofty goal to succeed in 2011, as it requires a complete cultural change that starts with convincing the product team, and even executives they are no longer in the drivers seat. Vendor Set: Uservoice, Salesforce Ideas, BrightIdea, and Get Satisfaction all offer innovation and request prioritization tools.
Special Section: Vendors and Service Providers. If you offer services or software to corporations in the social media space, it’s key you align to their internal and external efforts. Every social software vendor must have a reporting ability and quickly develop analytics abilities –or partner with vendors that do. If budget cuts come around, expect systems that can’t measure to quickly be replaced by others that do. While many vendors currently offer education for free as a ‘lead in’ don’t be afraid to charge for workshops and immersion sessions –you can rebate the education if the client buys the services. Lastly, it’s key that you ask your buyer which formation they are in, as it gives clues to who has the purchasing strings –and where other buckets of money can be found.
CMOs must approach social technologies in an integration fashion
Although social technologies have been capturing marketers time for over four+ years in corporate, they’ve often been operated in a silo as experimental, or a separate deployment from traditional marketing. Yet the savvy marketing leader knows that reaching customers is increasingly becoming challenging as their touchpoints continue to fragment.
To reach the fragmented customer, marketers must apply an integrated approach. As an industry, we should dispel notions that social marketing and it’s subsequent tools should operate in a silo, but instead sit horizontally in the marketing organization as they impact so many different forms of marketing tactics, approaches, and mindsets. Furthermore, this has considerable impacts as social media organizations are founded and lead as they approach hub and spoke models to serve a variety of internal clients, as well as connect with customers in real time.
CMO Matrix: How Social Technology Must Integrate with Traditional Marketing, a Horizontal Approach
Why It’s Important
Opportunities of Social Technology
You can’t effectively reach consumers till you know about them, and market research is a key function for any corporation. For some time, market research was limited to focus groups, consumer testing, and survey based methodology. This includes both traditional marketing research groups as well as competitive intelligence groups.
Now, with the advent of social technologies, at least three forms of opportunity have emerged: 1) Using brand monitoring technology to harvest what consumers are already saying in social channels, 2) Harnessing the crowd to find out their real time reactions, see how Communispace and Passenger have done this. 3) Using innovation tools like Salesforce Ideas, UserVoice, GetSatisfaction to build products in real time with consumers.
The corporate website is a source of product factual information, and pro-brand materials. This is the master repository of a brand, it’s products, and services.
Marketing must influence internal stakeholders, including sales, field marketing, and product teams. The intranet is a key internal repository of information, this would also include any associated email communications.
Social technologies are being deployed internally like PBWorks, Socialcast, Basecamp, and Yammer without the consent of IT. The opportunity to use these tools to allow teams to find experts, information regardless of region or time are ripe.
Email, one of the primary forms of digital communication is often a highly trusted source when customers have opt-in. When you look closely, email is a social network, see how Google wants to do it. In fact, the root information requirement for Twitter and Facebook is a verified email.
Email marketing companies are starting to offer ‘sharing’ features so recipients are encouraged to quickly share the information with their peers, as well as offering brands SMMS systems to manage this information. Expect the Facebook inbox and email marketing to quickly merge in coming years,
A mature practice that attracts buyers and prospects during their core information seeking phase, SEM is critical to reaching the information starved through well placed sponsored information and advertisements
We’re also seeing an influx of social advertisements appear as the social graph is infused in search results. Example: We’re starting to see the content our friends recommend in search engine results, and Facebook’s foray with social ads.
Search Engine Optimization
Fine tuning websites so they are the first choice in organic search results is both a science and art by experienced practitioners.
Social media tools, esp blogs and ratings and review sites like Yelp score high in organic search due to many incoming links and freshly updated content.
Often the bulk of most marketing budgets, advertising is key in many phases of the customer journey, in particular driving awareness and consideration.
Like SEM listed above, advertising can become more efficient in the future by tapping into social profile data (who is this person) and their social graph (who do they trust) to serve up relevant content. As Facebook spreads their features all over the web (analysis), expect a new form of advertising to appear based on social data. Twitter’s “Sponsored Links” bodes similar experimentation
Marketers drive associative branding and qualified leads through sponsorship opportunities.
Social helps in two specific ways: New influencers have emerged such as ‘Mom and Dad bloggers” creating more niched inventory with deeper engagement to sponsor. Furthermore, all traditional sponsorship activities can use social marketing for further engagement.
While over a decade old, online shopping has continued to be primary low cost driver for the brick and mortar company.
The mainstay integration has been consumer ratings and reviews from the aggregation of the crowd, often powered by vendors like Bazzarvoice. Yet expect new forms of eCommerce to evolve as an individuals social graph is connected to eCommerce tools. See how Levi’s has done it, and attend our conference, the Rise of Social Commerce.
While in it’s infancy, marketers may use these tools to connect with consumers as they are on a specific location, during a certain part of the day, with greater context.
Now, as consumers indicate their location and time while on the go, marketers may reach them using a variety of contextual information, advertisements, and harnessing what their friends have done before them in the same locations. See how Starbucks sponsored mayorship in Foursquare to increase both loyalty and WOM.
The pioneering mediums in the electronic communication realm, these mediums provide content in a one way format.
Programs (radio hosts, newscasters, and stations) are using social technologies to infuse a two way relationship with listeners by finding new content in social channels (Watching Twitter) as well as integrating the voices of the audience, and empowering communities to build around them. Perhaps more importantly, this creates new forms of inventory for these mediums to enable brands to sponsor or get involved with.
From newspapers, magazines, to flyers, nothing creates an experience like holding physical paper in front of you.
Nearly all of these publications have associated social media properties, from Facebook fan pages, to supplementary blogs. In fact, if paper adoption continues to decrease, these social tools provide a low-cost method of publishing and interacting with their audiences. Magazines like Dwell have launched thriving online communities and nearly all national and many global newspapers have adopted social media in their online resources.
Field, Persona, Channel, and Regional Marketing
Marketing teams are often segmented by regions, or to sit with sales units in the field, or even to target specific consumer types, like moms. This segmented marketing approach is key for deeper context in approaching unique markets.
Like in other forms, don’t expect a one-size-fits all approach, each audience type will have a different penchant for social media technologies, which we call socialgraphics. Expect a tailored approach using social technologies to emerge for each of these groups as you reach different audiences.
Executive Recommendations: Shatter the silo and integrate social across all marketing efforts now. The above matrix demonstrates that social technologies are already being integrated in the overall mix, yet marketing leadership is at a standstill on how to integrate. Approach the space in a pragmatic method, follow these three steps:
Start by organizing your company in a Hub and Spoke, Dandelion, or Centralized model. Our research shows that companies are organizing in at least five different models. Whether you have a centralized team or a hub and spoke, develop a way for an internal team to assemble (often cross-functional) to share and learn, then serve internal stakeholders. Companies must know the 43+ points to get social business ready, watch our no-cost webinar and slides to learn more.
Cascade training and encourage sharing to reduce risk and decrease time to market. Social technologies are still new and come with high degrees of risk as brands continue to have misteps in a new form of marketing. Yet to reduce risk, empower those that have already experimented to share with others, reward those that quickly fail and get back up, and provide a constant stream of training from external partners.
Require your marketers to integrate social technology up front –not as last minute additions. Marketers are not in the mindset of combining social technologies in existing events, campaigns, or traditional marketing. Instead of being reactive and adding this as a last minute consideration, enforce a line item in marketing plans to include social integration up front.
I look forward to your additional comments, perhaps I’ve missed some key integration touchpoints, please leave comments below.
Data is important. It helps us to guide our decisions based on facts –not just gut instinct. Lately, this data from eMarketer (thanks Scott Monty) has been floating around the web, and I want to add my own thoughts. Having conducted similar trust research, or seen the data from others, much of this is confirmation to what we already know. I do however want to provide my additional insights to how I interpret the findings.
Further Analysis: Sources of Information Users Trust
Tally: People Trust People They Know: When I was at Forrester, similar research was launched, showing that blog posts (often by people you don’t know) weren’t as trusted. This data shows that blog post (item 1) from people you do know show a higher degree of trust. Item 2 and 3 also show upticks in trust increasing from people you know. I added up the positive trust (trust completely and trust somewhat) to aggregate sources of trust, you can see that eMarketer also segmented it the same, here’s my tally:
Friend: Blog Posts from those you know = Positive is 64%
Friend: Posts by friends in Facebook = Positive is also 64%
Friend: Tweets from friends = Positive is 45%
Brand: Blog posts by a brand = Positive is 36%
Brand:Posts by a brand in Facebook that you follow = Positive is 41%
Independent: Fellow community member = Positive is 37%
Brand: Brand product in a community = Positive is 32%
Brand: Brand Twitter stream = Positive is 26%
Independent: Blog by independent blogger (I assume that’s someone you don’t know) = Positive is 25%
Independent:Tweets from independent blogger (likely not someone you know) = Positive 21%
Tally: Trust Highest with Friends, followed by Brands then Independents
Trust is highest with people you actually know. I averaged 64, 64, 45 to be 57.66%across the various data sources above.
Brands that produce their own content (owned) 36, 41, 32, 26 averaged at 33.75% positive. Far less than the 57% of people that you know clearly indicate that consumers trust brand far less, but more so from people that they don’t know. This leads to conclude that while brands may be telling consumers the positive aspects of a product, it’s more likely to be based on facts.
Similarly those that are ‘independents’ (or people you may not know) the trust goes down significantly. 37, 25, 21, for an average of 27.66%. Those that you don’t know are about half as trusted as those you do. Therefore brands focusing on social media should instead but areas of focus on harnessing the social graph –not just mindless social media from the masses.
Recommendations: Focus on Harnessing the Social Graph
Brands should focus on social marketing that harnesses the “social graph” which is getting friend to share with their own friends. By developing advocacy programs and focus on word of mouth marketing, brands can increase marketing and sales margins by getting customers to do the work for them. See my article on Forbes on advocacy programs, or see how Zuberance encourages WOM, as well as aggregate your customers social graph on your own web proprieties using Gigya, Janrain, Disqus, and Echo. At the very basic level, encourage sharing tools like Sharethis, Addthis to the mix.
Clearly brands should continue to produce their own ‘owned’ content in social media, as there’s still a degree of trust, but balance out this inventory with a greater degree of ‘earned’. Yet rather than try to sway the masses that your product is the best, publish factual information about products and services, and retweet, repeat, and echo back what customers are saying.
Focus less on triggering word of mouth of independents, while it will happen naturally, this data is indicating that inviting people to share with their friends, may yield a greater degree of trust.
I hope you found this helpful, I gave my additional analysis and insight to the eMarketer data, as well as suggestions from brands. This data is confirmation of data I’ve seen from a variety of other sources.
A Collaborative Effort Between Two Firms: Web Analytics Demystified and Altimeter Group
It’s just been over a month since we published the Social CRM Research paper (over 36k views on slideshare) and we’re continuing our cadence here at Altimeter Group of publishing widely available reports under the spirit of Open Research. This time, it’s different, we’ve aligned with who I feel are the smartest team of web analytics minds in the space, John Lovett (ex-Forrester analyst) and Eric Peterson (ex-Jupiter analyst) both of the Web Analytics Demystified firm. Stemming from Altimeter founder Charlene Li’s (ex-Forrester Analyst) framework, we co-developed this framework, and put our collective minds to work on measuring the rapidly changing social media marketing space. This self-funded research effort resulted in a thorough methodology as we interviewed over 40 ecosystem influencers.
Industry Challenge: ”I can’t measure social media ROI”
Marketers around the globe are ranging from toe dipping to jumping all the way into the social marketing space –yet most lack a measurement yardstick. While experiments can fly under the radar for a short term, without having a measurement strategy, you run the risk of not improving what you’re doing, justifying investments, and the appearance of being aloof to upper management. To be successful, all programs (even new media) must have a measurement strategy, and we’ve done just that.
Finally, A Measurement Framework Based on Business Objectives
If you’re familiar with the Altimeter frameworks of developing a social strategy based on business objectives, then you’re in good shape, as this research report is the natural extension of the business objectives we put forth:
Dialog: involves starting a conversation and offering your audience something to talk about while allowing that conversation to take on a life of its own
Advocacy: activation of evangelism, word of mouth, and the spread of information through social technologies
Supporting: customers may self support each other, or companies may directly assist them using social technologies.
Innovation: The business objective of innovation is an extraordinary byproduct of engaging in social marketing activity.
Our framework is a common denominator, so if you’re already measuring converted leads, or actual sales from social media, you’re already a leg up! In this meaty report, we hope you’ll share with your marketing and analytics team, and use the actual KPI formulas to create your own cookbook.
A Nod To the Community Spirit
We’re putting a big stake out there, in order to further the industry to come together around a common set of KPIs and metrics, but we realize we don’t know all the answers. In the spirit of Open Research, we want this to be an open framework (we’ve even licensed this under Creative Commons) to customize it and make your own for non-commercial reasons with attribution. If you’ve ideas on how to improve it such as new KPIs, vendors, or approaches, we’re listening, and will incorporate and improve this community body of knowledge for all to benefit.
I’ll link to others that extend the conversation (even critical reviews), feel free to embed the slideshare on your own site.
The Altimeter Group was pre-briefed by Twitter COO Dick Costolo last week about this upcoming launch, we’ve had some time to think over what it means to the industry. Help your boss fight through the clutter, send them this post.
Summary: Twitter has launched Promoted Tweets, combining paid and organic media. Brands can now advertise promoted tweets on search pages, however the community has power over which tweets will appear measured by Twitter’s new metric called “resonance” which factors in behaviors like the retweet, at, hash, avatar clicks. Brands can now purchase CPM based ads to promote these popular tweets at the top of a Twitter search term –even in categories they aren’t well known in, influencing awareness. Marketers beware: unlike traditional advertising or social marketing this is both a combination of earned media and paid media. For Twitter this experimental move makes sense as it taps into deep pockets of online advertisers without jeapordizing sanctity of the community as users will self select which tweets will resonate and thereby become promoted ads.
How it will work, a likely use case scenario:
Twitter users will continue to interact with each other, and popular tweets will receive a high ‘resonance’ score from Twitter. Some of these Tweets will be created by brands, and some by the users themselves.
Tweets with heavy resonance can be purchased by advertisers in a CPM basis to appear as the first ‘sponsored’ Tweet on a search term. (Update: Just saw Dick’s recent video suggesting that promoted tweets will appear in other locations beyond search) The sponsored tweets will be clearly labeled and have a different background color.
These promoted tweets will only stay if users continue to resonate with them, those that don’t will disappear and a different tweet with resonation will appear.
Matrix: What Twitter’s Promoted Tweets Business Model Means to the Ecosystem
This has several implications to the ecosystem as a whole, we’ve broken down the impacts to the various players in this matrix:
What They Will Do
What No One Tells You
Finally gets a business model beyond search deal partnerships with potential to scale. Taps into deep pockets of online advertisers.
Experiment. Expect black and gray hat marketers to try to game this system, in order to obtain resonance. Twitter will constantly tune algorhythm like Google does.
Expect this to cascade to their partners and grow into the ecosystem as Twitter aggregates resonation on other 3rd party sites
Have power over which promoted ads will stay visible
Initially be shocked by changes, then learn they can help self select tweets that will be promoted.. In the real time resonace world users have a lot more power
Power tweeters like celebs and digerati will be targeted by marketers to engage and resonate tweets. Twitter users that retweet tweets may be surprised to see their promoted tweets in search engine results ads.
The conversation is now being monetized, with changes to the outcomes of whats expected of the online conversation and engagement.
Educate traditional marketers. These folks will try to increase resonance of tweets by interacting with community. Will build an inventory of top promotable tweets
Don’t go overboard, make sure you think of this in the larger context of integrated marketing. Avoid shiny tool syndrome. Must pay close attention to what terms are resonating with community to build inventory
Direct Marketers and Advertisers
Finally traditional advertisers and direct marketers have skin in the social game in a way they know.
Flail. Many will try to buy their way in and obtain resonation without asking why a tweet resonates. Will fight over top searched terms in Twitter, expect a lot of contests to promote tweet engagement.
Expect tension between this marketer and the social marketer if education is not completed.
Developers and Agencies
A clear goal (resonation) has been put forth, with opportunity to get a cut of the incoming advertising dollars.
Developers are waiting with baited breathe for Chirp developers conference this week to see how this will be tied in. Twitter has indicated that promoted tweets will spread to clients, expect revenue sharing to be offered
Don’t buy the first ‘resonation solution’ that comes around, expect half a dozen vendors and agencies to approach brands in the next quarter offering the ability to increase ‘resonance’ and case studies will show increase in resonance.
Competitors and Search Engines
A new player being in town a new form of advertising is afoot changing the game.
Expect nervous deals to come to the table on how search engine results can factor in Twitter’s resonance. Expect players like MSFT and Yahoo to quickly launch their version of defining how the social web should be categorized.
They will have the advantage of built in ad base of advertisers and millions more users. Expect existing Twitter partners Google Search and Microsoft Bing will fold this in and reward resonance and combine with page rank, or will create their own metric to reward social engagement
For Resonation, Brands Must Pay Closer Attention To Users –This Isn’t Traditional Spray And Pray. Power continues to be in the hands of the users, however brands that pay attention to why tweets resonate will have a leg up. here’s how you should approach this new space:
Change your mindset, as organic and paid merge: This is a combination of organic and paid ads, you’ll need skills from both worlds to be successful. Direct marketers should educate social marketers, and social marketers should explain how resonation occurs in the conversational web. Remember, this gives top tweets staying power beyond the constant stream of chatter. In the end, remember that users have power over which advertising inventory will be created, chosen, and allowed to stay as a promoted tweet.
Remember Twitter users have power over which promoted Tweets will work: Remember that users they get to choose which tweets can be put into the advertising inventory as their interaction will self select which tweets can become promoted. Secondly, promoted tweets that don’t yield community engagement will also fall off the stream. is that in the real time resonance world users have a lot more power. Brands must analyze what works for users first before promoting tweets.
Then, carefully pick tweets to be promoted by analyzing the conversation: First, monitor which tweets are already resonating with your brand, take note of what is causing it to resonate and in what context. Secondly, recognize that these tweets should have long term impact, not a daily special as the tweet is promoted, users will interact with it, forcing it into a viral loop. For best results, experiment with promoting tweets from your customers –not just those that you create.
Recognize that ‘Resonance’ is the page rank of microblogging: Advertising agencies and social marketing agencies will come out of woodwork with “resonance solutions”, yet most will do it wrong. Instead, look for a sophisticated partner that knows the value of social conversational marketing to create an inventory and the long term experience of an advertising agency. Expect resonation to also cascade to other social networks like Facebook and even community platforms and content management systems to derive what content should surface. Twitter has made nods to new dashboards to appear, expect your agency partners to align around resonation as the new ROI.
Lack Of Signal In A Sea of Noise
There’s an incredible amount of media and blogger noise about social networks, yet most focus on “killer app” hype without an objective point of view. My career mission? To cut out the hype and help companies make sense of what to do. For those fraught with information overload, this definitive matrix distills what matters.
Situation: New Contender Shakes Up Industry
Google has entered the social networking play with “Buzz”, and by the look of it, this time it’s for real. There’s a lot of market confusion on how they could stack up, so here’s my take. Let’s cut the noise and get to the heart of it with a comparison matrix based upon my insights talking to these companies in formal briefings, observations, as a user, my former research and dealing with the brands trying to reach them.
Executive Summary: Brands Must Stay Focused On Where Customers Already Are Google’s entrance causes media havoc but web strategists should stay focused. Find out where customers already are through developing data around consumer behavior called socialgraphics. Facebook continues to demonstrate a sophisticated marketplace for consumers and brands to mix about, however don’t discount MySpace’s active consumer base –but only if your customers are already there. Continue to monitor Twitter and respond if customers are tweeting –but they’ve yet to indicate sophistication to help marketers, instead rely on third party tools and agencies to respond. The feature set of newly spawned Google Buzz isn’t important, what matters is their ability to aggregate social content which will impact search strategy for businesses trying to reach consumers, read my first take analysis.
This scorecard has a limited shelf life, so I’ll likely create a new scorecard after future announcements from these players.
Web Strategy Matrix: Google Buzz vs Facebook vs MySpace vs Twitter (Feb 2010)
A dark horse that has big backing and access to existing platforms.
A mainstay platform that needs to grow out of its shell.
The MTV of this generation is at risk during an ugly transformation.
Has opportunity to become utility-like infrastructure, but not a destination.
Estimated to sit on a user based of over 100mm active gmail users, they have access to the most popular webpage in the world, google.com. Has access to mainstream users on Google.com and advanced email users on Gmail.
Boasting over 400mm users in just a few short years, they’ve saturated Gen Y in US, and show global expansion at record rates.
Recently reported at 57mm US unique users most of which are heavily engaged with site. Has saturation of coveted youth, working class and small businesses within US.
Although difficult to track, estimates indicate 75mm active users, but doubts are emerging about reduced rate of growth. Usage by tech savvy, media, and celebs.
A large talent pool of engineers to pull from, Buzz stands on top of existing Gmail, mobile devices, and dominant search portal. As Buzz grows, they can integrate with all Google apps –and aggregate the entire internet.
Rapid US and international growth over last few years bodes well as quickly evolved feature set of platform and and FB Connect gain traction. Attracts top talent from Google –which are quickly defecting.
Big backing by a media giant, a super engaged audience, and rich history of reaching media starved young consumers.
Has clinched adoption over media elite, celebrities, and tech influencers. Incredible media buzz, and easy-to-use features.
Late to the party, Google has had a series of social networking misfires from Wave, Dodgeball, Orkut their culture shows signs of becoming corporate –like Microsoft.
Struggles with the conundrum of having promised users a ‘closed’ experience where to be successful requires them to be ‘open’. Historically poor track record in meeting privacy expectations of customers, and overall complex interface.
Complacent: they really let themselves go. In the eyes of the tech world, they are becoming irrelevant or even worse, a niched media play –not even a lifestyle network. This leaderless ship without a captain is undergoing radical internal turmoil and innovation has stalled.
Although features are dead simple, they are now a commodity –status update features are ubiquitous. Mainstream users confused by how to get started. Overhyped, the infrastructure has shown strain. Brands generally confused on how to interact.
The more information users share, tag, or create, the more data is created on Google’s platform to organize, giving them opportunity to monetize.
By integrating Facebook Connect everywhere, the service becomes ubiquitous, and therefore the default identity and default address book for consumer behavior.
A few hours ago, the CEO Van Natta was let go. Now a new chief can step up, and lead the recently formed executive team, fostering innovation and solidarity.
Must develop more features to increase the overall value of this utility of the this simple status messaging tool.
Mainstay email companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL have already shown social features ‘bolted’ onto their email systems, and could pose threat, although success hasn’t been proven by any. Secondly, Facebook has made notions to develop an email web client “Project Titan” that will threaten tech savvy users competing for Gmail’s attention.
Facebook is a conundrum as they must make experience open –yet this provides Google the opportunity to monetize as an intermediary. Social networks come and go, before MySpace was Friendster, they run the risk of becoming complacent, losing talent to Twitter and failing to innovate over the next few years.
Self-implosion from internal instability causes stalls, forcing media brands to develop their own social networking on their own sites, rendering MySpace a duplicate. Worse yet? Cool kids jump ship, and establish a colony elsewhere, leaving MySpace a wasteland of clueless advertisers.
Overhype from media leaves Twitter at risk for burn-out-syndrome like a Hollywood child star turned skid row. Secondly, the more successful they are, the more strain it put on the already questionable infrastructure.
Although not fully developed, expect advertising options to appear for brands who want to promote relevant ads wherever Buzz is located, especially on SERP pages
Confusing and overly complicated, there are too many marketing options perplexing brands. It’s not clear if brands should advertise, interact in pages, create widgets or do a combination of all.
Strong and straight forward. Established team has cut deals with many media companies and has legacy culture of understanding media.
Nascent. Although promises have been made for branded experiences, analytics, and other premium features, for most marketers it’s being treated like a chat room –not a marketing platform.
Buzz will aggregate the voices of their users –and those of other social networks, aggregate and serve up monetization options.
A communications platform for consumers and brands. Expect Facebook experience to be in many public experiences and mobile devices.
There are two paths: Integrate MySpace into TV and mobile devices or fade into pit of irrelevance like Friendster.
Like gas, water, or power, Twitter is likely to fade into the background and become a utility that’s integrated into everything –someday, even your fridge will Tweet.
What They Don’t Want You To Know
The collective already owns you –you just don’t know it yet.
They’re trying so hard to shift from closed to open, and like a nasty divorce, it’s tearing them apart from users.
Like an internal disease, the insiders are hurting, morale sunk, teams in disarray, yet they don’t want the public to know.
Not sure what they want to be when they grow up.
What They Should Do
Demonstrate success with Buzz, then quickly integrate into other tools like Search and Chrome. Kill off the confusing Wave, and consolidate teams and efforts. Aggregate public content from Twitter and Facebook, intermediate them and monetize their own content.
Get open now. Build a browser to quickly go transcend the web. Reward users to share more information in public like restaurant or media reviews in exchange for other values. Double down efforts on Project Titan email feature.
Quickly establish a chain of command and execute based upon a single vision. Have regular talent turnover to avoid complacency. Develop a white label product that can compete with Cisco EOS, Kyte, Pluck, or Kickapps (Altimeter client).
Develop a vision to become the dominant protocol over SMS, where teens and international cultures are already heavily texting. Continue to build out platform for developers to build on top of, becoming a data play, like a utility.
Everyone has a morning ritual, for me, I invest up to two hours reading, thinking, and blogging each morning. I hope this helps you cut through the noise –if it was helpful, please pass it on, email to colleagues, tweet it, and blog about it.