Facebook, Privacy & Lawmakers: What Should Marketers Do?

Last week, Facebook announced changes that expanded the sharing of consumer data with a select set of third-party partners, and it only took a matter of days for lawmakers to press Facebook for changes and government agencies for more oversight.  The fact Washington took note of Facebook’s changes isn’t at all surprising; in fact, it was inevitable.  But what happens next—and what this means to marketers—is not inevitable and depends a great deal on how proactive Facebook becomes on education, transparency and cooperation with lawmakers and privacy watchdogs.

Facebook has learned from its past privacy missteps, as evidenced by the way it recently asked for consumer input for proposed privacy policy changes, but it is far from earning its diploma in Public Relations and Politicking.  It’s been just three and a half short years since Facebook broadened its membership from students to the entire population of the planet, and as it has grown from a niche social media site to a ubiquitous form of communications for over 400 million people, so have grown the demands for Facebook to manage the expectations of consumer, voters, lawmakers and marketers.  Facebook is still learning how to accomplish this, and it is earning a fair to middling grade.

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Peer Influence Analysis: What It Is & How Marketers Use It

Recently, Forrester introduced a new way to consider influence in Social Media.  We identified a group of social media participants we call Mass Influencers.  While just 16% of the US population, Mass Influencers are responsible for 80% of the influence impressions and posts about products and services in social channels. 

Mass Influencers

As noted in the Forrester report, Tapping The Entire Online Peer Influence Pyramid and on the Forrester blog, Mass Influencers come in two flavors: 

  • Mass Connectors, who create a great number of impressions about brands and services in social networks, like Twitter and Facebook, and
  • Mass Mavens, who create and share content about products and services in other social channels such as YouTube, blogs, forums, or ratings and review sites.

The fact that a minority of social media participants represent the lion’s share of buzz about products and services is probably not at all surprising,  but what does this mean to marketers?  How can brands  develop programs that activate the potential of Mass Influencers to create awareness and consideration among their readers, friends, followers and others in social venues?  The answer comes from Peer Influence Analysis (PIA), Forrester’s new framework to analyze influence within particular markets, demographics and industries.

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Brief Video Clip on Marketing, ROI and the Quest for Measurable Results

I was included on a very interesting panel discussion a couple of weeks ago entitled, "Stories From The Frontline, Building A Social Media Business."   The event was co-sponsored by TiE and the Social Media Club SFSV and included a terrific set of people who were experienced, smart and funny: 

Rich Reader captured a quick clip of me sharing thoughts on the appropriateness of measuring ROI in Social Media.  While the panel format doesn't furnish time for an appropriate deep dive into when and how ROI might be an appropriate metric, I believe in most cases ROI is the wrong question to ask (and if you start with the wrong question, you'll get the wrong answer.)

I will be working on a report about Social Media and Marketing ROI.  Your thoughts and input are welcome and encouraged.  Please check out the 76-second clip and then let me know what you think. 

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From Chirp: Twitter, Place, and What It Means to Third-Party Developers (and the Future of Twitter)

Going into Chirp, Twitter's first-ever developers conference, the natives were restless.  A string of announcements--from the release of Twitter's own Blackberry app to the acquisition of development firm Atebits--had some developers wondering where Twitter was going and what it all meant to them.  While Twitter's executive team didn't answer every question, they did outline a vision for future growth with a vigorous role for third-party developers.  For me, the role Twitter sees for itself and for developers was most clearly outlined in its discussion of "place."

Twitter clearly recognizes that our location is extremely relevant data that can yield substantial value for others who use (either directly or indirectly) the Twitter information network.  It's not just about where you are at every given moment, but what you're saying and doing while you're there. 

Ryan Sarver offered a compelling example of the power of place in his discussion about the New York Times' coverage of the Fort Hood tragedy.  A reporter turned to Twitter for real-time news and information but ran into a flood of retweets and expressions of sympathy and concern.  Then he entered "near Killeen, TX" and was able to see relevant tweets from first responders, soldiers and citizen journalists in the immediate area.  At Chirp, Twitter conveyed the importance of place and how geolocation will be a vital part of the Twitter experience. 

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Promoted Tweets: What Brands Can And Can’t Do With Twitter’s New Ad Platform

Our little baby is all grown up.  Just 30 months ago, Twitter was flying under the radar and people interested in microblogging might very well have joined Identica, Pounce, Plurk or other lookalike services.   By early 2010, Twitter handled 50 million tweets per day and had become crucial to hundreds of brands and tens of millions of people, but it still had just one visible (and arguably modest) means of support—search engine deals with Microsoft and Yahoo.  As of today, Twitter is getting a job and earning its keep with the rollout of an ad platform. 

As it grew and became a more important communications channel, Twitter found its business model the focus of intense scrutiny; for example, when Ev Williams failed to announce an ad platform at SXSW, there was palpable disappointment among bloggers and other observers.  This week, Twitter is addressing that disappointment with the rollout of its new Promoted Tweet program, which offers some benefits to brands.  What are those benefits and what are the limitations for marketers?

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What Drives a Mass Maven? Ask The VW Sales Guy!

This past weekend, I did something no man welcomes:  The dreaded car-buying event.  Sure, we men love to shop for cars, but buying one is another thing altogether.  I abhor salespeople botching heavy-handed “closing techniques,” fake chumminess, the sexism of telling my wife about cup holders and showing me the engine, and one of my least-favorite lines in the human language, “I’m not sure that’s gonna fly—I’ll have to check with my manager.”  Yes, this weekend was all that and more, but in the end we snagged our car and I got the chance to meet and learn from a Mass Maven (and now so can you).

A while back, I published a report and blog post that  briefly introduced two types of Mass Influencers—Mass Connectors and Mass Mavens. Next week, Forrester will release a new report that defines Mass Influencers in more detail, but this weekend I had the opportunity to study a Mass Maven in the wild.  So, grab your pith helmet and join me as we embark on a Mass Influencer safari.

My journey started with a decision to purchase a convertible. (Hey, we may have moved to Northern California, but it’s still California!)  First stop was a dealership to look at the new VW Eos.  Our salesperson was—how can I put this delicately?—uninformed.  When asked what the difference was between the two versions of the vehicle, he answered, “One has more features” and left it at that.  

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Does Money Belong in Social Media?

Domino's Pizza UK & IRL plc

Image via Wikipedia

Let me answer my own question immediately by saying: Yes, money belongs in social media.  It costs money to host social networks, develop social applications, create content, moderate dialog in social channels, and launch community platforms.  VCs want to see money returned, Facebook and Twitter want to earn money, marketers want to invest money wisely and brands want people to spend money. 

But should money be everywhere in social media?  That's the question that came to mind as I read about a new social ad program being launched by Domino's Pizza.

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Zappos, Nestle, Social Media and How All Workers Are Knowledge Workers

I just read a brilliant and inspirational blog post on the Harvard Business Review site entitled, "Are All Employees Knowledge Workers?"  The authors, John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison, explore the "artificial distinction" that businesses create in their workforce between the haves (so-called "high potentials," creative talent, and knowledge workers) and the have nots (everyone else).  The writers suggest we need "to redefine all jobs, especially those performed at the front line (or, in an image, that reveals our prevalent management mindset, the 'bottom' of the institutional pyramid), in ways that facilitate problem solving, experimentation, and tinkering."

Early in the Web 1.0 era, companies asked what the Web could do for them.  It was the wrong question, because soon the Web was doing something to them--changing consumer expectations, forcing investments in technology, altering the way companies recruit, disrupting sales channels, changing company culture and breaking old models of the employee-employer dynamic.  (Remember when communicating with a boss at a certain level used to mean asking his secretary for time on his calendar rather than a real-time dialog via email or IM?  I do.)

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Words That Say "Do Not Follow" on Twitter

do not follow

Image by alist via Flickr

People have many different approaches to determine who they will follow and not follow on Twitter.  A whole lot of folks won't follow anyone they don't know.  Others sign up for spammy, follower-generating tools that permit them to amass tens of thousands of followers and followees (who couldn't give a darn what  each other have to say).  I know a guy who won't follow more than 140 followers at any one time.

My preference has been to follow just about anyone who follows me--this approach struck me as fair, open and social.  There are drawbacks to "reciprocal following," such as that it makes my Twitter stream a relatively useless flow of wide-ranging tweets.  On the plus side, it exposes me to more folks, and when I see one I find interesting and pertinent, I can choose to follow him or her more closely by adding the individual to lists in my preferred Twitter client, Hootsuite.  Also, this practice permits people to Direct Message (DM) me, which I welcome until and unless a given Twitterer abuses the privilege by littering my DM "in box" with spam.

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