Social Media impacts every aspect of our cultures, from business, politics, journalism, media, and advertising. Within just the business realm, it impacts research, marketing, support, product development and employees within the firewall. Despite the vast impacts of this shift “power has shifted from large organizations to individual participants” as humans connect with other humans, we often forget to see the larger picture.
Aaron Wall is someone I respect, he is certainly a domain expert in search marketing, in his recent post The Inconvienent Truth About Social Media Marketing, he gives a perspective –that’s limited from a search marketers perspective –is bearish on social media marketing. Several people asked me to blog my responses, so here it is:
[Social media marketing has it's challenges, yet success should not be measured on 'search marketing' alone]
Social media has many problems on it’s own (and I’ll frequently point them out) but we should remember that while search monetization is a dominant form in our industry, it’s not the only way websites are monetizes, in fact the complete list is here of the many forms of web marketing.
We’re seeing many more cases where marketers don’t want to monetize directly with ads, but would rather be part of a community of dialog with customers, so they can listen to the marketplace and learn. Also, we’re seeing examples where companies want the message about a product to spread (but not from their own mouth) but from word of mouth marketing. Companies like Dell want to build next-generation products using tools like IdeaStorm –where the customers define the product specs –in order to build better.
In each of the above cases, social media is used in a way much more than just search marketing and advertising.
[The greatest opportunities lie where companies be part of communities where ads may not even be present]
So before we suggest that social media marketing is ineffective, we should first look at the bigger picture, and perhaps revisit the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto.
Think bigger my friends. (Update: Steve Rubel is)
I’ve created MicroMedia events before, this time, I want to frame it as an overlay to the multi million dollar advertising event, the Superbowl.
[TwitterBowl is a real-time social experiment where the audience rates million dollar advertisements in real time using Twitter]
Are you a superbowl ad critic? Of course you are, everyone is. Even if you don’t watch the superbowl, those pervasive ads will end up in YouTube, Digg, and your cousins blog and your best friends Facebook profile. Tired of others choosing which one was the funniest/stupidist/biggest waste of time? Well this year, you can rate your own superbowl ads using Twitter, and see what everyone else in Twitter thinks too.
There’s just three steps:
1) Sign up: Get a twitter account, got that? Good.
2) Send your vote to @superbowlads: When we’re watching the game in real time, simply send a reply to superbowlads. I created this Twitter account just for this virtual event. Reply to the superbowlads account, name the commerical, and give it a rating of 1-5 stars, 5 being the best.
“@superbowlads That Pepsi commercial was funny 4 stars”
“@superbowlads The Hillary Clinton advertisement was bunko 2 stars”
“@superbowlads Bud-wise-er, that was so 10 years ago, weak. 1 star”
3) See what others rated: You can then see everyone who’s rated the ads by doing a search on any of the Twitter search tools, I like Terraminds. See this example, it’s showing all the people who have replied to superbowlads.
I’m going to be hanging at Brian Solis’s house (Eric will be there too), we’ll be tweeting the whole time, and I hope the rest of you do. And no, I’m not using this data for anything, it’s just for fun. I may try to tally up the results, but it’s not for anything official, just another way for social media to be an overlay where we take charge, where we control, and where we voice our opinions.
See you on twitterland on Sunday!
Update: There are dozens of messages coming in every few minutes. One respondent said he was tracking them on his mobile and received 677 messages in 30 minutes.
Also, twitter replies seems to be going slowly, I’m using the search tools to get updates.
Update: Chris Heuer did a quick Utterz interview asking me about the purpose of this experiment.
It’s about 3am and I got up to test the Facebook SocialAd and Facebook Pages system.
Status of Test
I’ll update this section as I have changes
Nov 7: Created a Web Strategy Facebook page, ran $20 SocialAd requesting people write on my wall.
Nov 8: Social Ads are working. A few people have arrived to the Facebook page from Social Ads, at least 4 people have voiced that from the wall writings. The stats on insight are still not populated (it says it takes 48 hours), 99 Fans now.
Nov 9: The insight dashboard is not displaying any data, although there are a few people who left wall comments that they’ve come from newsfeed (socialads).
Nov 11: The insight dashboard is still not displaying click through rates (CTR) of the social ads, so I can’t give any formal metrics away. I do think that it’s likely under 5%. There were a handful of folks that came to the site from social ads, but certainly not the majority, which came from blogs, twitter, and other incoming links (Scoble).
Creating a Facebook Page easy, segmentation detailed
I created a Facebook Page for the “Web Strategy by Jeremiah” brand and was pleased to see there were filters for people (they call them celebrities) and I was able to filter to “Writers”. Analysts are professional writers, and part of why I was hired is because of this blog, so I’m qualified.
Adding details to give color
Creating the page was easy, much like creating a profile, I added a few basic blurbs about the brand, where it’s located, and interests. I uploaded the graphic banner. I tweeted the experience, and within minutes had a few fans. I tested the ‘message all’ product to the three people in the group. I also added an event, promoting the Barcelona Blogger Dinner I’m co-hosting next week. Finally I added a discussion board and asked “How can the Web Strategy Blog improve” (feel free to give honest feedback, even if critical). Of course, I added my masthead photo, which also embodies the brand, and my ugly mug as a profile picture.
$20 test of SocialAd: Highly targeted
I learned this from Charlene Li, who recently tested Facebook flyers. I aimed for and the text reads “Web Strategy Blog Readers This is really a test of the F Pages and Fan systems” and has my picture on it. The ad systems would not let me have the word “Facebook” in it, interesting.
The targeting system is very targeted, here’s what I selected:
Targeting: You are targeting people between 18 and 65 years old in the United States who like blogging, marketing, or web design.
This ad will display with social actions from: (This is the part everyone is concerned with)
* Web Strategy by Jeremiah
This ad will display in the:
* News Feed
* Ad Space
In the ad, I requested people to write on my wall, I wanted to be more specific, but there’s not a lot of real estate.
Although there’s no data yet, the dashboard has some pretty sophisticated tracking and graphing tools, I’m sure others will post some screenshots, so I’m not going to worry about it now.
Community Responses: Approvals and Rejections
So far, a few people have become Fan-Sumers, there’s about 8 fans of just an hour of deployment. Many of them saw it from my Tweets, and most I already know.
Warning: Corporate Facebook Pages
I also created a Facebook page for Forrester, but did not publish it yet. Why? Because a corporation should have a strategy before using tools, and I haven’t developed one for this specific tool. Please, before you rush in and create a Facebook page for your company, consider the overall strategy, and use the POST methodology that we prescribe: People, Objectives, Strategy, and then finally Technology.
Analysis: Will update in Real Time
I’ll update this post as the test continues to run, and then will eventually do some analysis, pow-wow with Charlene and then explain HOW TO use these tools most effectively.
Nov 07: So far, the process went smoothly, and since it’s self-service many people can get in on the game.
Nov 08: Overall, I’m starting to see how this could help companies, still in ‘analysis mode’
ok, now back to bed
You: A Web Strategist
You’re an individual who is responsible for the long term direction of a website, and meets the requirements of business, community, and technology. Part of your role is to keep your website profitable, even if it doesn’t generate direct revenue streams.
As you plan out the direction of your website, there are multiple ways to bring your web strategy to fruition, I’m listing out these methods below.
The Many Forms of Monetization using the Web:
What’s Marketing? Everyone has a hard time describing this activity but I’ll break it down for you with my definition: The activity of bringing products and customers together.
The most common form of monetization for websites is Advertising, it works great for media sites, blogs, and other news and media sites. For the corporate web strategist, their goal is to get ads on these sites. ConversionRater has listed out the many forms of advertising including:
Text Link Advertising
I’m calling this out as separate than advertising as often sponsors are infused into website or media as part of the experience. One example that often comes to mind is the infusion of the ScobleShow and Seagate brand. Robert mentions the brand uses the products, and displays the logo on a variety of media he creates. Please note I’m a former employer employee of PodTech, so here’s a few other examples: Chris Pirillo’s live stream show is sponsored by Dell and others, a perfect fit. Recently, Ask a Ninja of Federated Media created some customer shows to promote blades of steel, a cross over and viral marketing campaign.
Paid Content and Advertorials
Often in magazines and newspapers we’ll see advertorial sections that –at first glance– appear to be editorial of the publication. These paid content areas likely have useful or valuable knowledge being shared, but at the same time will guide the user towards a marketing direction. Media websites can offer these advertorial sections to their websites, allowing marketers to publish content. Transparency is required, don’t even think of trying to slip one over your users, as when they find out (they always do) a rebellion will occur.
Thanks Andy Beard via comments
Syndication of Content
By repurposing content from other channels, or displaying your content on other websites can result in residual revenue in micropayments or fixed pricing. Displaying content feeds from other sources can result in content providers paying money to the provider.
For many websites, providing recommended links to partners can be steady stream of links and revenue from commission. Amazon’s book recommendations program is an example of this. It’s important that the website be fully transparent about the relationship of the linking and recommendations. Companies that aggregate content and distribute to other companies can receieve a micro-payment for such activities, for example: Mozilla’s Firefox generates regular amounts of micro-payments from users that use their search bar in the top right on the browser.
I put this under the Marketing bucket as the same types of activities are required to obtain donations from groups or individuals. This common method requests money be given to a cause, in return goodwill is shared from recognition (or badges to be placed on website) tax benefits, or knowing that one has supported something they believe in.
Not all websites make direct revenue, although Marketers can bring prospects closer to the sales point. In some companies, those that bring qualified leads get paid, a dollar amount is defined for those leads. Websites can generate interests from marketing activities, contact sheets, qualification activities that eventually result in sales. Although indirect, don’t overlook this powerful form of revenue generation.
For many web strategists and founders, this is considered the ‘exit strategy’. Although not listed directly, long term monetization and steady revenue growth is often a method to grow.
The most talked about for today’s startup is the opportunity to get purchased by a large web entity. A few come to mind Flickr, Mybloglog, Upcoming > Yahoo, Measuremap, Google Analytics, Blogger > Google, MySpace > Newscorp, and others. Most notably the sale of YouTube to Google for $1.5 billion is a good indicator of an exit. This also includes domain squatting.
Initial Public Offerings
More common in the first web wave (I used to be at Exodus) IPOs are a company’s way to sell ownership of it’s company to the open public, these purchasers became shareholders, and eventually the value of the shares (and company) would increase. The founders and employees maintained a significant share of the company in which they eventually (hopefully) would sell and profit. This form of monetization has greatly tapered off in 2007, being very rare.
Investment and Partnership
Seen more frequently, and maybe not a direct form of long term revenue streams, many startups are receiving waves of funding from venture capital firms, or large partners. From Seed/Angel, A Round, B Round and partnership money we’re seeing these opportunities. Three year old Facebook recently received over $250 Million from advertising partner Microsoft. Although often not counted as ‘monetization’ methods, it truly keeps those who are running the site working, the lights on, and opportunities for growth.
Key for ongoing revenue generation, websites that offer value added services to it’s users will grow.
Brought to our attention during the first web phase, the “brick to click” mantra became talked about at many traditional retailer stores and has now solidified on many corporate websites, and etailers. Selling online goods, and providing recommendations to them provides and opportunity for the seller to either profit from selling their own goods, or a wholesaler or middleman to take a cut from the transactions.
Premium, Memberships, and Licensing
Common for websites that offer free service, feature-ladden exclusive memberships will provide users with additional benefits. A few examples include mail services offering additional storage, flickr offering more photo upload capacity, or access to other websites. This could also include software licensing options and white labels. (saw this from Brian’s list)
Not to be overlooked, this form of monetization is growing steadily on Social Networks and Virtual websites. Objects (real and virtual) connotate value and meaning from the giver to the receiver, and can have a monetary value assigned. I’ve outlined the value of virtual goods, do not disregard.
These are revenues that are generated as an outcome from the website itself. Based upon the feedback I’ve received from Twitter and in the comments, there’s some additional revenue opportunities.
Many websites collect information that can be resold to third parties. Data types could be: web traffic, search terms, registration information, email information. Please be open and transparent to your users when collecting information if this is your intention.
Opportunities to extend a brand into other mediums can generate revenue. In particular new jobs, speaking opportunities, writing opportunities, and syndication of content.
Brian Oberkirch has a similar list to this one, I didn’t see it until now. If you want to get specific on blog monetization, problogger has a great list. Also read The Many Forms of Web Marketing.
Was this post helpful? Read the other posts tagged Web Strategy. Have any additions? Don’t agree with my taxonomy? I wanna know. Leave a comment and talk back!
I’ve become a fan of Heroes, an ongoing series by NBC. Interestingly enough, I time shift, medium shift, and control the content in the way I want to. The first season, I didn’t watch on TV, we rented the episodes from the local Blockbuster (not online). For season 2, which just started, I’m watching the episodes online from the NBC site.
The have pre-roll ads, that are about 30 seconds, which you cannot fast forward. The advertising videos are actually interesting, as they change them up for different sponsors and there are links to learn more. For example, last week, there was an interactive game in addition to the video for a new Nissan crossover. This week, Bertolli is launching a frozen dinner product, and there are links to video recipes, very interesting. After the spot plays, the user is required to click on the add to advance. 3-5 times during each episode a 30 second spot is run, which I can’t fast forward.
I’m in control of:
1) What I watch
2) When I watch
3) What medium I watch
4) How I watch (I can start and stop)
5) Where I watch (mobile)
In return, a few 30 second spots, that are related to my interest don’t bother me at all, although I would prefer if I could select (rate and comment too) the types of commercials I want to watch, increasing the opportunity for the message to be on mark.
Most of the control over TV medium is now in my hands, although the 30 second spot doesn’t seem as intrusive. The web and TV continue to intersect, with the control moving to my hands, the savvy media brands realize, embrace and change.
Brian Keith (of Portent) and I have been interacting online from blogs, emails, and phonecalls for quite sometime. I’m glad to finally meet him in San Francisco on a roofop terrace at the FamilyOven headquarters. He’s involve with Search Marketing, and I asked him some key questions. And yes, he was avoiding the sun, those Seattle need to get out more.
BTW the Portent website has baby pictures of them, and it reads “We were born for Internet Marketing” clever!
Find out what the web strategist should know about Search Marketing before getting started.