Three Ways To Create An Advocacy Program

In my new Forrester report, Three Ways To Find, Create, And Energize Advocates, we share data and examples of successful advocacy programs. We also recommend an approach to define and reach the best candidates for your advocacy program. 

Not all advocates are created equal—someone who “likes” your brand or follows you on Twitter is not an advocate (yet).  This is an important fact to realize before you plan and launch an advocacy program.  Building a program can be costly, so you need to invest wisely in advocates who can create the biggest bang for the buck.  While it’s nice to have anyone advocating on your behalf, you need to get the Mass Influencers doing so.

As introduced in the Forrester Peer Influence Pyramid, Mass Influencers are the minority of those in social media who create the majority of the influence posts and impressions about products and services.  These are the people who combine influence, trust, relevance and scale to create powerful advocacy. 

Three ways to create advocacy programs - Promote, Find or Attract

There are three ways to create mass-influencing advocates: 

  • Promote them:  Take people who have little influence on their own and make them Mass Influencers through involvement in your program.  The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is a successful example of this approach. 
     
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Google's Eric Schmidt, Serendipity And The Future Of Social Media

Eric Schmidt has seen the future, and it's "autonomous search." That's a fancy term that means "discovery." But no matter what words you use, it still means the same thing:  more empowered consumers and greater value in earned media. 

Some people are creeped out by portions of what Schmidt said, but he has suggested an exciting future for empowering people to create greater influence and be armed with timely, relevant, and useful information.  At TechCrunch Disrupt, Schmidt envisioned a future where people and technology come together to create "a serendipity engine . . . a new way of thinking about traditional text search where you don't even have to type."

As you look into the future, the distinction between “search” and “discovery” gets muddy.  While it sounds like science fiction to suggest that technology can help search for things you don’t even yet know you want, the opportunities to improve human discovery are very real.  Combining a person’s context—where they are, who they’re with—with their past opinions and actions and the opinions and actions of others can create tremendous value and relevance.

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Changes In How Europeans Contribute Social Content Will Force Marketers To Update Their Social Media Strategies

 If you’ve ever talked to Forrester about social media, chances are you’ve heard of the Social Technographics® Ladder -- our tool for measuring how people use social technologies and for helping marketers (and product strategists and market researchers and others) understand how to engage with those people in the social Web.

Today we’ve released our new 2010 Social Technographics data worldwide (you can see the US data here), and you’ll notice that this year, for the first time since we introduced the ladder, we’ve added a new category of social engagement. The new category -- “Conversationalists” -- is designed to capture the short, rapid conversations that are now taking place on Twitter and through Facebook status updates. How many people are engaged in these behaviors? Almost one-third of European online adults participate in these rapid public conversations every week. In just over two years, this activity has come from nowhere to become one of the most popular social behaviors we track.

And this Conversationalist activity has come along at just the right time, too -- because more “traditional” forms of online contribution have levelled off. The percentage of online Europeans who post their own blogs, videos, photos, or other media -- what we call “Creators” -- hasn’t grown in either of the past two years. And the percentage who participate in message boards and forums or who post comments on blogs or other social sites -- what we call “Critics” -- has grown just one percentage point in Europe each of the past two years.

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Win A Signed Copy Of Empowered: Predict The Social Network Box Office

We're less than a week away from the release of The Social Network.  What do you think the film's US box office will be? Are we looking at a $150-million blockbuster?  A $100-million success?  Or a $50-million disappointment?  Post your predictions here or tweet them on Twitter to @augieray with the hashtag #SNBO (for Social Network Box Office), and you could earn not only bragging rights but also receive a free copy of Empowered, signed by best-selling author Josh Bernoff.  You must post your prediction before 8 a.m. PDT on Friday, October 1, and we'll declare a winner on Monday, October 25.  

It seems everyone in the world (or at least everyone in my world) is buzzing about The Social Network.  In case you're living in a cave, The Social Network is the fictionalized story of the founding of Facebook, featuring real-life characters such as Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Sean Parker, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. 

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Why Aren't Facebook Ads More Transparent?

For a company that thrives on transparency, Facebook's advertising isn't very transparent.  Check out your Facebook home page, note the ads on the right side, and tell me what companies they're for.  Sure, the ads probably cite brand or company names in the headlines and images, but who are the companies who paid for those ads? Where will you end up if you click those ads? And an ever better question is, what will happen if you "Like" the ad--will you be giving information to a trusted brand or a spammer?

Now go to Google, conduct a search, and check out the AdWords on the right side. Who sponsors those ads? And where will you end up if you click on those ads?

Google advertising is transparent, and Facebook advertising is not. The difference is a single line of text: AdWords creates transparency by including a "Display URL."  Within ad AdWords, advertisers can set different Destination and Display URLs, but the two must be within the same domain so that (in the word of Google's AdWords form), "users know what to expect when they click your ad."  (The reason there is a difference between the Destination and Display URLs is so that advertisers can direct people to a specific page in their domain while displaying the much shorter root domain in the ad ). 

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Breaking News: Twitter’s New User Interface And What It Means To You

On Tuesday, Twitter unveiled a new and improved user interface for its Web site.  Twitter’s new Web functionality is a significant evolution that promises to attract more visits to Twitter.com, improve Twitterers’ interactions with content and each other, and ease adoption for Twitter newbies.  The changes will roll out over the next few weeks, and there are implications for users and advertisers.  (For example, if you have one of those elaborate, custom background images that conveys URLs or contact data, I hope you’re not too attached to it.)

At first glance, the new Twitter.com interface seems to be a minor redesign of the current Web site.  The left column containing the tweet stream is largely untouched, but the right column holding Twitter follower counts and trending topics is much wider. The extra width accommodates a new “detail pane” that improves engagement with tweets and discovery of other Twitter users.

Click on a tweet in the left column, and the detail pane permits viewing and interaction with the content of that tweet. What is displayed in the detail pane depends on the nature of the tweet: 

  • Videos: If the tweet contains a link to a video from sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and USTREAM, that video plays in the detail pane.
  • Maps: If the tweet is a check-in via services such as foursquare, the detail pane displays a map.
  • Pictures:  If the tweet includes a link to a picture posted using services such as Flickr, DailyBooth, Twitpic  and DeviantArt, that image appears in the detail pane.
  • Hashtags:  If you click on a hashtag within a tweet, the detail pane conveys up-to-the-moment search results.
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CIO Tips From The Gov2.0 Summit

As I reflect back on the highlights from the Gov2.0 Summit last week (and read back through my Tweets), it's easy to identify the underlying theme that seemed to resonate throughout the event:

Governments need to open up access to data to allow nongovernment groups (private enterprise) to develop citizen-friendly applications that leverage the data in new and useful ways.

The very first session highlighted some fascinating public transport services created on top of open government data (see embedded video below).

 

A Case for Open Data in Transit

There were certainly some compelling arguments made in favor of this approach — not the least being that it's a highly cost-effective way to provide improved services to taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill for government IT efforts. As an investor in government IT (I pay taxes), I'm fully supportive of anything that improves services and reduces costs!

One of the most memorable quotes came early on from Carl Malamoud when, in his opening keynote, he suggested, "If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can launch the Library of Congress into cyberspace." (See his keynote below).

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Are You Empowering Employees, Or Watching Them Empower Themselves?

Today, Forrester and Harvard Business Review Press released the print version of Empowered, a book by Forrester veterans Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. This book is a quick and worthwhile read for just about anyone who wants to consider the changing role of technology in the workplace. After several reads of this book, I have found that in addition to a lot of great statistics, quotes, and case studies, there is a valuable message for how companies MUST change their philosophy and approach toward new technologies in order to stay innovative.

As a quick example of how quickly the technology landscape is changing, stop for a moment to consider just how many times in the past few days you have:

  • Received an invitation to LinkedIn.
  • Seen a personal acquaintance using Facebook.
  • “Tweeted” or heard someone comment on “tweeting.”
  • Checked your mobile phone — or seen a commercial for a cool new mobile app.
  • Heard reference to social media in a news story.
  • Watched a video clip on YouTube.
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Empowered: Welcome To The Next Decade Of Your Career

Chances are if you’re reading this, you read Groundswell.  That book changed the way people think about social media, and Empowered, the sequel to Groundswell, will do the same.  While the earlier book was all about how consumers and brands connect in social channels, the new one is about how organizations must change to accommodate, retain and get the most from empowered consumers and employees. 

Today, many people seem to think social media has matured.  With Facebook drawing more than 500 million people and Twitter broadcasting 2 billion tweets per month, it seems as if we’ve arrived at the destination promised by Groundswell.  Social behaviors are ubiquitous—even a majority of seniors (65+) now consume social content according to the latest Forrester Social Technographics data. So, is social media done evolving and we can now return to "business as usual"? 

No, and that’s what makes Empowered so powerful—it presents the next phase in social media evolution, a phase that is going to be disruptive and painful to those companies and employees that are not prepared.  The changes social media have thus far brought to the enterprise have been relatively easy to accommodate, but the changes that are coming will not be. 

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Seeking Input On Social Media Management Platforms

I’m beginning to prep for a future report on a new breed of tools designed to help companies manage complex social media accounts, relationships, communications and internal roles.  If you have some experience, know some tools or just have some questions you’d like answered, please weigh in!

In the old days (of 2009) many brands had just one Twitter account and one Facebook account maintained by one (or a small set) of people, so the brand’s social media presence was relatively easy to maintain.   Today, the challenge is much greater—some brands have dozens of accounts in multiple languages focused on geographies ranging from the entire globe to individual countries and cities.  At the same time, demand has increased with a greater need to listen and respond to the growing audience in social media, and to handle that inflow, marketers are involving more and more employees.

We’re seeing the rapid development and adoption of a new breed of tools—call them Social Media Management Platforms—which include solutions from Buddy Media, Vitrue, Awareness, ExactTarget, StrongMail, Involver, Hootsuite, Context Optional, RightNow, Expion and others.

None of all of these tools offer the same set of features, and we'll see a great deal of change in the next couple of years as consumer demands, enterprise needs and social networks change.  For now, effective social media management requires a combination of:

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