Four Signs Social Media Is Now A Mass Medium

One common complaint I hear from marketers is that social media is not (yet) a mass medium. For example, the circulation for Cosmopolitan is 3 million, while the magazine counts just 700,000 fans in Facebook. And while it seems (almost) everyone is creating, using or consuming social media today, it is a highly fractured channel. Thirty years ago, almost every person watching television was tuned into one of three networks; today, 550 million people use Facebook, and each and every one of them is their own network.

However, the fact that social media is fractured and personalized does not mean that it isn't a mass medium; it just means it is a challenging mass medium. Here is the evidence for social as a mass medium:

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Killing Me Softly With Kinect...And Leading Me To The Next Big Thing

This will be an unusual post for me. No big industry event to comment on, no data to reveal. Nope. Today, I'm just sharing with you how much fun I (and 5 million other people by year-end) am having with Kinect.

Xray of my injured fingerYes, that is my hand, and yes, that is more of me than you expected/wanted to see. If you look closely at the big knuckle on my index finger, you'll see two white slivers embedded in the flesh above the knuckle. Those are slivers of glass. They are embedded there because in going up to smash a volleyball over the virtual net, I slammed my finger through a lightbulb, tearing the flesh from my knuckle and allowing random pieces of glass to find their way into my finger.

No, I am not going to sue Microsoft (though I'm sure someone else will eventually try, which is why Kinect is absolutely peppered with warnings to be careful, they are clearly anticipating a lawsuit at some point).

It turns out I'm not alone. Search YouTube for "Kinect Fail" and you will find lots of video of people elbowing each other, smacking each other on the head, and so on. In my older New England home, all of my guests above six feet tall have a tendency to smash the ceiling with their hands -- one very tall friend actually did the long jump with such enthusiasm that he smashed his head into the ceiling. Both the ceiling and the head survived in tact.

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Music Product Strategy For Digital Natives

Last week I posted this question on Twitter:

“Need some help: if 'Buy & Listen' was 20th cent. music consumption, 'Rip & Burn' the 1st digital generation, what's it for Digital Natives?”

I got a lot of good suggestions and though there was great diversity in the responses sharing featured heavily.  What’s interesting is that though Digital Natives do share music a lot, it is more in a social context than the peer-to-peer kind of file sharing more common among Millennials.

 We are working on a new report to try to help our clients understand what the next generation of music products should look like.  I of course advocate music product innovation to such an extent that I sometimes sound like a stuck record (spot the oh-so-analogue metaphor).  But the early results of the consumer data we’re mining for this report are building a case for a music product strategy reset so extensive in reach that it makes my previous protestations look too modest by far.

Researching the report (which we’re provisionally calling ‘Digital Natives, The Generation Music Product Strategy Forgot’) has been eye-opening.  Whilst record labels have been focusing energies on winning over CD buyers and converting Millennial file sharers, the Digital Natives have been left without music products that meet their needs.  The Millennials used digital to reinvent analaogue behaviors (such as replacing the CD with the paid or free download) but Digital Natives are creating their own rules of social context, experience and visuals.

The result is that YouTube emerges as digital music’s killer app.

Which is why I’ve opted for ‘Share and Watch’ as the tag line for the Digital Native’s (see below).  What do you think?  Does this slogan sufficiently capture the essence?

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The Data Digest: Who Uses Location-Based Services?

Location-based social networks (LBSNs), apps that are downloaded on a mobile phone, offer organizations  a possibility of right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media. Forrester's Technographics® data shows that only 4% of US online adults have ever used location-based social networks, such as FourSquare and Brightkite, on their mobile phones, with only 1% using them more than once a week. Although the uptake is limited to a small group, this doesn't mean that LBSNs are not useful.

Looking at the profile of location-based app users, we see that they are:

  • Influential.Geolocation users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision.
  • An interesting target group.They are typically young adult males with college degrees.
  • Heavy mobile researchers.They are also far more likely to search for information about businesses and products, as well as read customer ratings/reviews of products and services
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What We’ve Learned About Online Holiday Shopping So Far This Year

As retailers approach the homestretch of the 2010 holiday shopping season, we thought it would be useful to share some insights from consumers about their Web buying activity. Forrester and Bizrate Insights teamed up in late November/early December to survey online customers, and here are a few of the findings:

  • Free shipping with a threshold is most popular (though people would, naturally, prefer to have no threshold). One interesting fact is that the threshold (in addition to adding units to transactions) attracts higher-income shoppers. Households with incomes over $150k are nearly twice as likely to use “free shipping with a threshold” than households with incomes less than $40k.  
  • 9% of shoppers say they belong to some shipping club (e.g. Amazon Prime, ShopRunner) and participation skews up with income. 13% of households with incomes over $150k say they have this type of membership.
  • Email still rules. From our Cyber Monday research with Bizrate Insights, 43% of consumers who shopped online on that day found out about deals through email. This was by far the most popular way that people found out about deals, greater than search, Facebook, or even word of mouth.  The second biggest source of finding out about deals was a retailer’s own site. 
  • It’s about women and gifts during the online shopping season. Again from our Cyber Monday research with Bizrate Insights, 69% of online shoppers were women. Only about half of men purchased gifts for others that day, but 78% of women purchased gifts that day. 
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Product Pusher Or Professional - What's Your View?

In the novel A Bad Man, author Stanley Elkin deconstructs the word salesperson as “sales is person." In other words, individuals have perceptions -- about themselves and about others -- and (in this case) those perceptions about salespeople matter. How you view the sales channel influences your approach. For example, are you trying to become more empathetic with the sales team (or not)? Your strategy drives how you provide the content, skills, and tools that salespeople need to have a valuable sales conversation at higher altitude levels within the buying organization. 

About once per quarter, we hold a Sales Enablement Roundtable. The roundtable event is cool because we bring portfolio, marketing, and sales executives into a room to tackle specific sales enablement challenges. During the course of one of our most recent events, we heard different points of view from a seasoned group of sales enablement professionals. For example, in our most recent roundtable, we heard statements like:

  • "Our sales teams are hitting their numbers, but getting them to do something different is a challenge."
  • "We're finding that it's not about what to sell, it's about how we sell."
  • "Sales and marketing have to work together. To do that, someone has to bring the two together."
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How To Turn Social Media Assets Into Social Co-Creation Assets

While co-creation is certainly a hot topic these days, the fact is that for most companies, social co-creation is relatively immature. Based on a panel survey of consumer product strategy professionals conducted in Q2 2010,  just 38% of companies use social media to to involve consumers directly in the product creation or innovation process (that is, 46% of the 83% of companies who engage with consumers using social media). Consumer product strategy professionals who are using social media assets to enable co-creation are doing one or more of the following: 

  • Engaging with fans on Facebook, Twitter, corporate blogs and public communities to generate ideas and opinions about products and services;
  • Generating new ideas through dedicated ideation sites (like Ford's "Your Ideas" site);
  • Leveraging existing listening platforms to reveal product ideas from online conversations, either on the company's own site or elsewhere on the Web;
  • Analyzing online product ratings and reviews to uncover areas of improvement or unmet needs in the marketplace; or
  • Using private online communities to create a dialog with a specific audience for product creation purposes.
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Sky Songs Becomes Bye Songs

Sky’s much vaunted music service Sky Songs in the UK has announced that it is closing its virtual doors a little over one year after launch.  As I’ve been saying for some time, digital music is at an impasse and the end of Sky Songs illustrates the point. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with Sky Songs, but there was nothing spectacularly right about it either. It was a cookie-cutter premium subscription service with a few nice twists but one that fundamentally played by the record label licenses' standard rule book and consequently lacked differentiation in the marketplace.

However good Sky might be at marketing premium subscriptions to mass-market customers, if the product is a dud, it’s just not going to fly. At launch, I stated that to succeed Sky needed to leverage its differentiated assets (i.e., integrate into TV hardware and bundle with TV packages). It didn’t. Instead it left Sky Songs tied with chains to the PC as a premium rental service whilst Spotify pushed on to 10 million users.

I have to admit I thought Sky was playing a smart long game where it would leverage those assets and make serious inroads into the mainstream. I wonder how much of its failure to do so is down to its business objectives and how much is down to what it could secure licenses for at what it deemed financially viable rates.

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Employee Authenticity (And The Cheese Guy At Whole Foods)

I stopped by my local Whole Foods the day before Thanksgiving to pick up some appetizers. And as I deliberated at the cheese counter, I couldn’t help but overhear what one cheese monger said loudly to the other: “This lady came up to me complaining about the store. This store’s too small, you don’t carry the things I need. I told her she’d have to talk to customer service. I mean really, I just work here.”

I just work here??! Did I honestly hear someone say that? In Whole Foods? Not only did this guy undermine the Whole Foods brand with his interaction with the original customer, but he made a bad personal decision to relay his story in front of other customers!

As Steve Portigal mentioned in a comment on one of my previous posts, employee authenticity is key to great customer experiences. (To see just how bad an inauthentic customer experience can be, check out my last post, "Worst Online Chat Ever!") But employee authenticity is really only effective if it aligns with a company’s brand attributes. Being an authentic jerk isn’t going to cut it in customer experience land!

A lot of employee behavior comes down to corporate culture — and in his "How To Build A Customer-Centric Culture" report, Paul Hagen mentions two things in particular that I think directly influence employee authenticity. Companies need to:

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What 1D Product Codes Did Consumers Scan This Shopping Season? Toys ...

ScanLife reported that the amount of scanning traffic was 30x higher during Thanksgiving weekend than one year ago. Wow! Product purchases from the application were also up nearly threefold. Books were most purchased. Toys were most scanned. See this story on PR Newswire. This Forrester report offers our perspective on a developing technology.