Paid And Earned Media: An Unlikely Marriage

It’s clear by now that groundswell technologies, especially social media, are disrupting the advertising world. You can’t read a major marketing magazine or Web site without at least one headline talking about how social is changing the world. Yet, we still find there are many people in the interactive marketing industry on two extremes: those who think social is just another channel in the advertising mix and those who think social media will full on replace advertising.

The reality is that both sides are wrong. On one hand, advertising has done a poor job of incorporating social media. For instance, why was the idea of Old Spice actually responding to the audience through social media such a big deal? Considering all of the hype over the past couple of years, you’d think this was something every TV campaign included (for the record, I completely agree with Augie Ray’s assessment that the campaign was a great use of social media). On the other hand, there are still many social media “experts” who believe that paid media has no role in social media marketing. This is also wrong.

In fact, paid and earned media can have a very close relationship and should be leveraged together (along with owned media) for the best results. Here are some ways in which paid and earned media can work together:

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Do You Want To Succeed At Social Media Or Social Media Marketing?

Do you want to succeed at social media or social media marketing?  There is a difference—a huge difference.  It’s the difference between using social media tools and adopting social media philosophy; the difference between sparking posts about your marketing and posts about your product or service; and the difference between marketers who focus externally on how the brand is broadcast versus internally on how the brand is realized. 

So do you want to succeed at social media or social media marketing?  The answer is the former, but many marketers focus on the latter.  I’d like to make this difference more real by sharing two examples—the first in the entertainment industry and the second my own experiences in a mall this weekend. 

Snakes on a Plane (SoaP) is the entertainment industry’s greatest pre-release social media success story to date.  The Guardian called it, “Perhaps the most internet-hyped film of all time.”  Fans produced their own T-shirts, posters, trailers, novelty songs, and parodies.  Producers organized a contest to select a fan's music for use in the movie. The filmmakers added shooting days in order to implement changes suggested by fans on the Internet (including Samuel Jackson’s famous and unprintable-on-this-blog line about “m&f%*#f+!@ing snakes”).  

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Facebook Places: What It Is, What It Isn't, And Why It May Change The World

Today Facebook revealed its long-anticipated geolocation offering called “Places.” In many respects, Facebook’s offering doesn’t expand on the functionality you can find in current location-based services such as foursquare — you can check in at a place, share your location with friends, see who is nearby, and add a place.  In fact, the most important contribution Facebook is making to the geolocation social space is not in form but scale.  While foursquare counts around 2.5 million users in its base, Facebook has 500 million.  This means that Facebook is positioned to introduce the benefits of location sharing to a new and much wider audience.

Of course, providing users with a new feature is one thing, but getting them to adopt a new sort of social behavior is another.  Facebook has done much to ease the adoption process for users, starting with some smart decisions about privacy.  It is evident that Facebook has learned from past privacy missteps.  By default, when users check into a place, this information will only be shared with friends and not the whole world.  This reflects a different and more user-centric approach than Facebook has taken in the past. 

Of course, it's nearly impossible to launch any new social feature without some level of privacy concern, and it remains to be seen whether users will like or dislike the fact that they can be checked in by their friends.  Facebook says this is intended as an advantage — since not every person has an advanced smartphone, not every Facebook user can check himself or herself into a location for the time being;  by allowing people to check in their friends, more Facebook users can participate.  People can turn off the ability for friends to check them in, but by default this is permitted. 

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Watch Facebook's Announcement Here At 5 PM PDT Today

If you're interested in Facebook's announcement this evening, you can watch the proceedings live here on the Forrester blog at 5 pm PDT.

The social media world is abuzz.  Take one hot trend (geolocation) and add one blazing hot social network with a history of privacy missteps (Facebook), and you have the making for an interesting news story. 

That's not the only reason curiosity is high about tonight's event--there's also a lot of money involved.  While consumer adoption of geolocation check-in via services like foursquare and Gowalla is still nascent, there is little doubt that consumers will increasingly share their location via social networks.  They share their profiles (who), their activities (what) and their hopes and wishes (why), so why not the "where"?  And this data becomes yet another piece of the puzzle for advertisers wishing to build promotions, loyalty programs and more personalized and targeted advertising.

Then, of course, there's the foursquare vs. Facebook angle, which I expect will disappoint those looking for a battle royale between the heavyweight champ (Facebook with 500 million users) and the young upstart (foursquare with 2.5 million users).  Facebook seems less likely to launch a "foursquare killer" and more likely to create a geolocation platform upon which others might build.  Think of it this way:  Facebook doesn't create social games, but instead creates the platform on which third-party social games thrive.  Despite the Facebook vs. foursquare hype, the two are likely to end up more complementary than competitive.

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The Future Of Search Marketing

We published today The Future of Search Marketing; thank you to the many marketers and agencies who contributed to the research.  There are a number of evolutions happening to search marketing now and in the coming three years, including:

  • More content and ways to search
  • Richer search engine interfaces and ads
  • Overlap with social and mobile
  • Increased automation
  • Improved analytics

But what stood out to me as the real future of search marketing was that these changes will actually force search marketers to think more like business planners than like channel managers.  Tactically speaking, this means thinking about “search marketing” as not just SEM and SEO but as an umbrella term that applies to using any targeted media to help an advertiser “get found” (including, perhaps, biddable display media, social networks, and mobile applications).  Strategically, this means focusing more on user intent, your business reasons for using search (and not other media which also drives leads), and fostering collaboration and an awareness of the value of search across your organization.

I've explained these ideas more fully in an article on Search Engine Land.  Or Forrester clients can access the full report here.

Personal And Company Brands — The Story Not Told Of Empowered Employees

A week ago, my friend Michael Rubin alerted me to a CNNMoney.com/Fortune article that rubbed him the wrong way. I and many others who cover social media had the same reaction to “Building your brand (and keeping your job).” Not only did the article seem unfair to Scott Monty, a marketing leader who has been widely recognized for the good work he’s done at Ford Motor Co., but the author focuses a great deal of criticism on the actions of employees whose social media activities ran afoul of their employers rather than considering how those employers might have benefited from a different approach and attitude. 

At the core of the article is an accurate and interesting conflict, which Jerry Wilson of Coca-Cola describes well: "The personal branding process can create stress within a corporation. People will see if you are merely trying to advance your own career, as opposed to contributing to the success of the organization." This conflict is one that will evolve in the years to come as social media continues to change the way we communicate, form relationships, foster corporate culture and manage our careers. But rather than explore this conflict in any interesting way, the article dumps on social media-savvy employees.

The examples presented include:

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Yandex Taps Growing Russian Search Marketing Opportunity

I met yesterday with Preston Carey, the head of business development for Russian search engine Yandex. Full disclosure: Carey and Yandex originator John Boynton are both Forrester alumni, but that’s not the only reason I think Yandex is smart.

 Yandex has tapped into two forces that yet elude the larger US-based search engines (ahem, Google and Yahoo!): 

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How Can Marketers Overcome Social Clutter?

As more marketers take to Facebook and Twitter -- and as users' friend lists on these networks continues to grow -- it strikes me that it may be getting ever harder for marketers to actually get a message through to their target customers. After all, if the average Twitter user follows several hundred people, and all those people post on average a few tweets per day, and then the average Twitter user checks in only a couple times per day and reads maybe 40 or 50 tweets per check-in . . . they're missing a lot of messages, right? If you assume that logic is right (though obviously the data points are all just ballpark guesses right now), it got me wondering: If a marketer has 100,000 followers on Twitter, or 100,000 fans on Facebook, and they post something, what percentage of those followers or fans ever actually see that marketing message?

 

I've collected the data around this and am in the process of building a model to find the answer to my question -- and I'll be writing a report about that topic this month. In the meantime, though, I'd love to get your thoughts on the topic.

- Do you feel as if it's getting harder or easier for marketers to get a message to users through social media?

- Which social networks do you feel are the most cluttered, and which are the least cluttered?

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Google Opens Up Branded Keyword Bidding In Europe

On the heels of some positive court decisions earlier this year, Google today announced that they're changing their keyword bidding policies in Europe to match those already in place in the US, the UK, and elsewhere. Most notably, this means European marketers will now be able to display paid listings to users searching for other companies' trademarks. There's lots of coverage around, including:

Obviously, this isn't great news for brands. That's why Louis Vuitton and others were fighting against these policies in court; they've worked hard to build brand recognition and credibility and to drive the consumer desire that leads to a Web search -- and they feel as if Google is making money by selling those consumers to other marketers at the last moment.

But brands don't always lose. Sometimes those other marketers will be competitors, of course -- but sometimes they'll be the channel partners of the brands being searched for. Sony, for instance, shouldn't have any problem with Amazon.com and other retailers advertising Sony's digital cameras when consumers search for those cameras by name. For the retailers, then, this decision is a win: They have more freedom than before to target in-market buyers, no matter the brand for which they're searching.

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