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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Insights From A Panel Of B2B Marketing Powerhouses That Convened Last Week At Forrester’s Marketing Forum

Last week at Forrester’s Marketing Forum, I had the pleasure of sitting three rows back from a panel discussion comprised of a who’s who of B2B marketing executives: Chris Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Autodesk; James K. Cornell, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Prudential Retirement; Deborah Nelson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Enterprise Business, Hewlett-Packard; Marjorie Tenzer, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, IBM Americas, IBM.  The panel was moderated by Forrester’s own Peter Burris, Principal Analyst and Research Director. 

Here’s 45 minutes of discussion distilled into four key takeaways:

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Does Your Company Use Social Media To Influence Product Strategy?

As promised, our newest Consumer Product Strategy panel survey launches today.  We invite all readers to take this 3-minute survey to tell us about how your company uses social media, what kinds of policies and procedures are in place for sharing information from social media with product development teams, and how that information is used to affect product strategy.  In return for your time, all respondents will recieve a copy of the research report containing the results of the survey. 

Thank you in advance for your contribution!

Having Trouble Getting Organized? A Few Thoughts On Organizing For Marketing Today

I had the pleasure of participating in two CMO group discussions on marketing organizational structures in the past week. The Atlanta DMA focused on a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled "Rethinking Marketing For Tomorrow." The article suggests that value-based customer and brand management requires a reinvention of the marketing organizational structure. It's the common debate around product and brand-centric organizations versus customer-centric.

In addition, I facilitated the CMO group at Forrester's Marketing Forum today on "Organizing For Social Media." In February and March, I conducted 10 interviews with senior marketers including Best Buy, IBM, Louis Vuitton, and others about their current organizational design for social media. The CMO group discussed the challenges and best practices in organizing for social media.

The goods news…

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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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Add Ratings And Reviews To Your Social Intelligence Strategy

When you think of “social media data,” what channels do you include? When I talk to marketers tasked with managing information on the social web, they usually talk about Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, comments, and probably a bit more. But there  a set of channels commonly missing from this list: ratings and reviews. Most consumer brands have product pages on their website that ask customers for ratings or reviews. Even though these sections create a rich pool of consumer generated content, marketers often treat ratings and reviews as a separate set of data.

That’s why I was interested to see today’s announcement of a partnership between Nielsen and Bazaarvoice. This partnership gives Nielsen the ability to feed Bazaarvoice’s on-site ratings and reviews into its My BuzzMetrics dashboards, integrating the customer feedback channels into the larger scope of social media data. This connection of data sources provides access to a deeper view customers’ opinions — both prompted and unprompted. Earlier this week I chatted with Bazaarvoice's co-founder, Brant Barton about the integration of data sources. He, like I, see this as a natural fit and told me that more and more of his customers have asked for this offering.

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Against a grand theory of PM, part 3

In the first and second parts of this series, I argued that people who write about product management and product marketing should be circumspect in their choice of topics. A field that's as young as PM in the tech industry isn't fertile ground yet for a grand theory of what the profession is all about. Categorizing the PM function was a good first step; now, we're in the middle of building "middle-range theories" about PM. A good set of field-tested guidelines for researching requirements, doing market opportunity assessments, or crafting the right marketing mix would be pretty darn good, thank you very much.

Aristotle beats down Plato in no-holds-barred epistemological cage match
In fact, middle range theories are an essential precondition of a grand theory. Big, unifying ideas, such as special and general relativity, don't come before the observation of the real world. (Sorry, Plato: the people who spend a lot of time in caves get prison pallor, not "actionable insights.") They always come after, when a set of hypotheses that seemed to work pretty well, until you noticed that the planet Mercury wasn't in the right place, made hash of them. Then, someone fretted over the inadequacies of these tenets, and after a fair amount of head-scratching and hair-pulling, came up with the big unifying idea.

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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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