The Australian product management consultancy brainmates just published the results of a survey on a very interesting topic, social media usage among PMs. The short list of questions get right to the heart of the matter: Do you expect to be using social media more?
The brainmates survey indicates that PMs are ready to embrace, or bracing themselves for, social media as an increasingly useful tool for product marketing, product feedback, and collaboration. In contrast, PMs do not expect to be increasing their use of social media for monitoring "to find references to their products or services and any references related to their market, customer segments or competitors." Interesting, especially given how much electronic ink that social medianiks have spilled about using Twitter, Facebook, et al. to see ourselves (or our brand) as others see us.
With social media getting so much attention in the industry, it's not surprising that there's been a massive land grab by agencies of all shapes and sizes. Agencies recognize the tranformative nature of social technologies and with nearly $1 billion in social media budgets already forecasted for 2010, it's no surprise that agencies are trying to get a jump on the expertise. This creates a lot of confusion for interactive marketers. So much so that a few agency folks actually got together recently to write a joint blog post to point out how they differ ("co-opetition"). Yet each type of agency comes at social media with a distinct strong suit. For instance:
PR agencies tend to be stronger in working with earned media -- specifically working with influentials.
Interactive agencies tend to be better at building out owned media (like communities and social net pages), have expertise in technology, and understand things like the relationship between social media and search marketing.
Traditional creative agencies and media planning/buying agencies tend to focus on how social media fits into paid media campaigns (i.e., advertising) because, well, that's been the focus of their business for the last century.
Other new agencies like WOM specialists and even a new set of social agencies (e.g., Powered, Converseon, Digital Influence Group) are popping up, but they're still mostly nascent and don't dominate the space.
It’s been a busy couple of days between talking to clients about my views on social market research, getting comments on the blog and through Twitter about listening, and delivering a teleconference on the topics as well. All in all, it’s been good affirmation that this is an area worth spending some time exploring even further.
To close out the week on this theme, I’d like to direct you to a podcast interview I did with a publication called Research in the UK. It highlights the three main trends I’m seeing with regard to using social tools in market research, and it speaks to some of the points I raised this week around the interest in and challenges around using listening technologies.
This is a publication that I recommend market researchers follow in general. It’s a good resource for keeping up with market research news on both sides of the pond, and there are always a variety of compelling opinion columns on the current and future state of the industry.
Whenever I talk to clients about social market research, the conversation inevitably and quickly turns to listening platforms and how/if market researchers can use them. Platforms like those from Radian6 and Alterian are attracting a lot of attention right now due to the fact that social media have become so mainstream among online consumers in the US and increasingly so in Europe. And the hope among researchers is that these conversations, when tracked and analyzed appropriately, will yield meaningful insights that would have been hard to come by through other means.
The reality is that listening platforms require a significant human touch in order to sift through mountains of data and extract golden nuggets of insight. I truly believe that it’s not too much of a stretch for market researchers to get comfortable with the methodological challenges of this kind of research, such as the fact that you never know the true demographics of the sample. Instead, what’s holding market researchers back is that it’s hard to do this research in an efficient and meaningful (read: insightful) way using just a platform alone.
As you might have read, the Interactive Marketing analyst team has been growing. What you might not know yet is that I’m one of the new recruits.
I’m one of those practitioners who’s been working with social media since before we called it that — early on at Bolt.com and most recently at Time Inc. Check out my profile for more details about me.
I imagine it’ll come as no surprise that social media is one of my coverage areas. I’ll be looking at the operational, tactical side of social media — especially topics related to community management. Speaking of which, my first piece of writing as an analyst was published in this month’s issue of CRM Magazine. If you have a chance to read it, I hope you’ll come back here and share your feedback.
In addition to social media, I’ll be tackling some emerging topics for interactive marketers, like e-readers and other mobile devices. My early research agenda is sketched out and my first document, a checklist to prepare for community management, will be published in the next few weeks. Following that, I’ll be working on the Community Platforms Forrester Wave, but if there are particular questions you have about any of my coverage areas, or specific pieces of research that would be of interest or help to you, please add a comment and let me know.
Five years ago I read a book that changed my life: Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute, an organization dedicated to helping people, organizations, and communities solve problems created by self-deception. It had such a powerful impact on the way I see myself and others that I have since purchased more than ten copies for employees and friends, and I recently gave it my third rereading.
Although the book is about personal and organizational improvement and not marketing, a recent experience with my mobile provider made me appreciate how the lessons in “Leadership and Self-Deception” apply to social media. One of the insights in this book is that behaviors are not as important as who we are. Organizations and people can do the same set of behaviors and get disparate outcomes; the difference isn’t how we do what we do, but who we are as we do it. Nowhere is this more true than in social media.
One way of being is to recognize people as people and the other is to see people as obstacles and objects. The first way of being encourages us to connect with people and do right by them, and the latter causes us to treat people as tasks that must be disposed of as efficiently as possible. Because people primarily respond not to what we do but to how we’re being, the difference in these two approaches is the difference between an antagonistic relationship seeded with distrust and a collaborative relationship of mutual benefit. Which type of relationship does your brand want with its customers?