How Do You Manage Multinational Social Media Programs? We'd Like To Know!

Lately, a lot of our clients have been asking about how to manage their social media programs across more than one country. It's a real challenge: While some sites (like MySpace) have long offered solutions to help marketers direct users from different countries to the correct branded page, the current social media leaders (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) don't seem to do this nearly as well. How, then, do you make sure that the Facebook page on which you post UK-specific content doesn't misinform your European fans? How do make sure the support community designed to help your US customers doesn't confuse your Canadian audience? Do you create multiple pages in each social network to serve all the countries in which you operate? Or do you maintain a single presence in each network, and avoid posting any country-specific material? If you offer different product lines in different countries -- or use radically different marketing strategies market by market -- it only gets more difficult.

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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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Why in-stream ad frequency is rising -- and why it'll rise further

Earlier this month, Corey Kronengold at Online Video Watch was complaining about the in-stream ad load at MLB.tv. But unfortunately for Corey – and for the other two-thirds of US Internet users who now watch online video – the ad load seems likely to get heavier rather than lighter.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, my team and I spent at least 30 minutes watching video on each of 84 leading sites in the US and Europe to better understand how marketers and sites are deploying online video ads – an exercise I’ve conducted each of the past three years. What did we find? Advertising, and a lot of it. In fact, 85% of US web sites and 64% of European sites now accept in-stream ads. And we saw more advertising per online video hour than ever before. 

85% of US web sites accept in-stream video ads

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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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The Display Market in 2010 - Revolution or Anarchy?

In the eleven years I have worked in and covered the display advertising market, I have never seen such a frenzy as I do today. In the past week, I  learned of three more DSP's, two data companies and an attribution vendor.  Agencies are also in the game this time around. So what is causing this pile-on of new ad technologies to the market? There are a few things:

- Leveled playing field on the exchanges: The ad exchanges allow for innovation in ad optimization and bidding. Additionally, small companies can suddently compete for inventory that used to be locked up by ad network contracts.

- Better technologies: Cookieless tracking, container tags, real time bidding, data targeting and dynamic ad generation are all innovations that are hitting the hockey stick curve right about...now.

- Opening purse strings: We know that display advertising spending was essentially flat from 2008 to 2009. It appears that 2010 will show improvement. Marketers are getting budgets back and are ready to spend them.

- Desperate publishers: Publishers are grasping to find ways to make more money on their sites, so they are handing over the reigns to sell side platforms to help them optimize.

Of course, agencies, ad networks and portals are clamoring to keep up, claiming to have all of what the data providers, DSP's and SSP's have and more. Some do, most don't (there is also strong evidence that much of the vendor space is still vapor-ware.) All of these changes are exciting, but there are a few things that MUST happen for marketers and publishers to come out winners in the midst of so much change.

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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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Mobile Advertising: Apple, Google, And The Mobile Operators

Following its acquisition of Quattro Wireless for $275,000,000, Apple has just announced the launch of iAd, its mobile advertising platform (see my colleague’s take here). Adding the $750,000,000 that Google is ready to invest in AdMob (the deal is still under FCC scrutiny), the two most disruptive new mobile entrants have invested more than $1 billion — a clear signal that mobile advertising has long-term potential. The main difference between Google and Apple is that Apple is only just entering the advertising business, while Google’s entire business model simply IS advertising. However, that potential has yet to be realized. Does that mean stakeholders can generate significant revenues in the short term and that operators will be bypassed once again? I have read in various places some strange comments suggesting that Google’s mobile ad revenue share with mobile operators would be a way to finance network evolution. Just compare the cost of a base station and the significant investment required to finance 4G with absolute mobile advertising revenues and you’ll quickly figure out for yourself that this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. This is more of an online advertising discussion around the Net neutrality debate (remember France Telecom’s CEO warning that he was not “building freeways for Californian cars”!) but it will crop up later for mobile.

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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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