marketing Archives - Page 2 of 4 - Harris Social Media

Can you trust Scottrade if they can’t manage a simple email campaign?

on Jun 07 in business, email, marketing posted by

Scottrade is one of the largest online brokerage companies in the US. Here’s how their latest email campaign started.

Timeline of events
9:14 AM Email received from Scottrade. Title: June 5 Role Swap Test 3 from DREAM.
First email. Received from Scottrade at 9:14AM

9:14:30 Reaction: Huh?
9:30 AM Second email received from Scottrade. Title:Please disregard our previous e-mail

Second email. Received from Scottrade at 9:30AM.

It’s not that a couple of superfluous emails on a Sunday morning will ruin my day, but it does make me think about Scottrade’s ability to manage a simple email campaign. If they can’t hire people who can’t perform a basic test without email however many thousands of customers, can they hire people who can manage your money?

Dealing with negativity in social media

on Mar 23 in branding, business, marketing, public relations, social media, strategy posted by

To make their point, protestors co-opted the logo of one of Nestle’s best known brands. In my experience, the most challenging aspect of actually implementing a social media program is dealing with negativity. You can never be quite sure what the response is going to be.

Look at the backlash on Nestlé’s Facebook page. That’s the sort of PR you don’t want.

But there are best practices for dealing with negativity. These can go a long way to dealing with its impact. The Nestlé incident is a clear example of how NOT to deal with negativity.

My guess is that Nestlé took the cheap option and hired a novice to manage their Facebook page. Now it’s costing them vastly more than if they had hired someone competent in the first place.

So how could they have handled it differently? Their initial mistake was to criticize the person who was asking about the Greenpeace video (which got all this started). One comment called the response a “particularly indiscreet sense of arrogance.”

Instead, the Facebook Fan page manager should have acknowledged the user’s concerns. The manager could have admitted to the user that they had a right to expect the highest standards from a company such as Nestlé. He could have mentioned that Nestlé is not perfect, but always striving to improve. 

The most powerful tactic is to actually admit a mistake: “We’re sorry about sourcing palm oil from illegally logged Indonesian rainforests. We’re trying to figure out what went wrong and put it right.” And so on. A conciliatory tone would have been much less likely to invoke the huge backlash that now is simply a cringe-worthy embarrassment for the food giant.

Another ploy is just to wait and see. An immediate reaction might not be called for, especially when there is a risk of getting things out of hand. It’s always possible members of the community will come to your defense. Indeed one or two lonely voices are doing that on Nestlé’s Facebook page, but too little, too late.

The second mistake Nestlé made (and continues to make) is refusing to engage on Facebook following the initial flub. Now their official Facebook page looks more like a protest page, bombarded with negative comments. Many of these expand the scope of the company’s misdeeds.

When you’re talking to clients about the need for professional management of their social media program, you need to convince them to invest in training and hiring the appropriate expertise.

Incidences of negativity can be useful in your sales pitch. But you don’t want to go too far and put the client off social media altogether!

Facebook social game Restaurant City launches in-game ads

on Feb 12 in business, facebook, marketing, social networks, strategy, trends posted by

A few years back, gaming platforms were touted as a virgin territory to be conquered by advertisers. And they have been reasonably successful. According to Wikipedia, in 2005, spending on in-game advertising was $56 million, estimated to grow to $1.0 billion by 2014.

Typically, these messages have been embedded in console games and dedicated Internet platforms such as virtual worlds and MMORPGs. 

These delivery systems limit the audience to gamers, stereotypically a very specific demographic (young, a bit asocial, nerdy, tech-minded and glued to their computers). Recent studies have shown that the gamer demographic is more complex (see e.g., Gamer demographic complex.) But the audience is still limited. 

The explosion in the past couple of years of social games, most notably on Facebook, has opened up a wider demographic.  

One company to step into that gap is Playfish, which produces some of Facebook’s most popular games. In late 2008, the company launched their first in-game ad campaign with Procter & Gamble and Herbal Essences via the Geo Challenge Facebook game in the UK.

But the company has been slow to introduce in-game ads into its varied product range which includes two spots in the top 15 list of games.

But that might be changing. In this screenshot, a billboard ad discreetly placed on the road just outside the owner’s restaurant (from Restaurant City, which claims 15.5 million users) encourages users the chance to visit Moreover, the ad incentivizes the click by offering the user in-game “cash” that can be used to purchase game items.

In-game advertisement for ProFlowers appears as a billboard in Restaurant City Facebook game

Playfish’s caution is well-founded. Their primary business model is based on the game experience itself. The users are hooked by the game’s novelty, high quality and social interaction. Then, as loyalty and numbers grow, the game monetizes aspects of play. So a significant ad presence would detract from the user experience.

Although usage of its products is trending downward, Playfish is surely smart enough to continue this delicate balancing act. In the above example, the company is cleverly using its tactic of seasonal game themes. During, say, the Christmas season, new in-game items are added that are available for a limited time only. In this case, the ad coincided with Playfish’s increased options for Valentine’s Day. Money can’t buy you love, but it seems love can buy you money!

5 reasons DIY social media is a bad idea

on Jan 19 in business, marketing, social media, statistics, strategy, trends posted by

Recent online conversations by noted bloggers such as Brian Solis and Michael Brito have brought attention to the emerging cottage industry of social media providers who are promising more than they can deliver.

Such is the buzz that legitimate social media providers are becoming concerned about being tarred with the same brush. Conversely, businesses that would genuinely benefit from outside counsel for their social media strategy and implementation are increasingly wary, as they should be.

Given the doubts, businesses that may otherwise have sought outside expertise may turn more to a DIY approach. Many social media applications are free, and easy to set up, so why not do it yourself?

Here are five reasons social media providers can use to explain to prospective clients why DIY social media is not a good idea for businesses.

1. Without outside perspective you won’t have objectivity — Social media is a powerful tool for reaching out to your customers. So you need to understand how they perceive your organization. If your social media is done entirely in-house, it’s practically impossible to really understand objectively how the community outside your organization perceives you.

2. Your employees or you may not understand the nuances of developing social media strategy — A strategic approach is essential to succeeding in social media marketing. Without it, you are just throwing things out there to see what sticks. But developing a sound strategy takes considerable experience, preferably based on working with several different companies in different industries. Someone with such experience can distill best practices and focus in more quickly on what will work best for you. Such experience does not come cheap. If you do not have it in house, best to go to outside expertise for help.

3. You may not have the time or talent for cultivating your social media community — Online communities are rarely self-perpetuating, particularly in the early stages. You need to nurture online relationships with the members of your community. This takes time and effort. It also takes effective communication skills. If either of these are lacking in implementing your social media outreach, the community will take their time and attention elsewhere.

4. It’s tough to stay up-to-date — Social media is changing and evolving faster every day. Just look at statistics for Facebook usage, or Twitter. But more than that, the applications that support implementation of a social media presence are changing and improving all the time. What is the best tool to monitor your social media reputation? What tools besides Google Analytics can give you insight into the ROI of social media? Unless you can answer these and other questions, you could be missing the boat.

5. If poorly executed your own efforts may be less credible — Executing a corporate social media strategy takes a fine balance of professionalism and authenticity. A slick campaign-like approach can make your efforts seem more like advertising than an effort to engage the community. A sloppy effort on the other hand can damage your brand.

In the end, unless skillfully managed and executed, DIY approaches do not benefit the businesses that need social media. A failed social media presence is worse than none at all. Because that failure is there for all to see. Ultimately failure of go-it-alone efforts will reflect poorly on the industry. Social media providers therefore must make the case more effectively and come down hard on colleagues or competitors who make unsubstantiated claims.

Should you use Twitter for focus groups?

on Oct 23 in business, hints and tips, marketing, trends, Twitter posted by

A blog post on Twittown today recommended  Five Wickedly Clever Ways to Use Twitter. These are useful tips but I want to add a note of caution to Rob’s fifth recommendation to use Twitter for focus groups.

For one thing, it’s unlikely “millions” of people will be talking about your product unless you’re an airline and one of your planes has just emergency-landed in the Hudson River. Unless you’re a household brand, the Twittertalk about your brand will be relatively muted. Sample size is critical to evaluating the reliability of results. Smaller samples (e.g., fewer users, or mentions) will be less reliable.

Second, a successful focus group depends on having a fair representation of the demographic who interact with the product or brand. On Twitter, your demographic is restricted to, well, Twitter users. And they may not be a typical slice of your demo.

Third, moderating a real-life focus group takes a lot of training and skill. You need to know how to manage group dynamics (which may or may not be important to your findings), and how to guide the group towards revealing the kinds of information you want. Marketers have barely begun figuring how to do such things on Twitter.

So by all means use Twitter for focus groups, but bear the above caveats in mind or else you’re going to go wrong. Use results from Twitter in conjunction with other methods (surveys, feedback analysis) and the Twitter data will provide an additional perspective.

Are banner ads dead?

on Oct 17 in business, marketing, News, trends posted by

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, online ad spending still grew 10.6 percent to $23.4 billion in 2008. In the same year, a DoubleClick report (PDF) click through rates were 0.1 percent (i.e., 1 in a 1000 website visitors actually click on an ad). This CTR is a third of what it was in 2004, about 0.3 percent, at least in Europe according to Adtech. These numbers are interesting but not news.

It’s true that such low rates combined with an excess of ad inventory worry marketers about how to boost CTRs. So behavioral targeting, rich media, flash and other technologies are driving ever more sophisticated and compelling ads. Again not news. What is interesting (hence the name of this post) are recent reports questioning the ROI of online banner ads. A recent article on Marketing Pilgrim asked Are Banner Ads Dying? The balance of that post seems to be that the jury is still out.

But recent news suggest that the final nails are being hammered into the banner ad coffin. An October 12, Wall Street Jurnal article reports that several major brands fell victim to buying invisible ads — paying for online ad space for ads that never appeared.

So are banner ads dead? Maybe there is life in them yet. But given such malfeasance on the part of ad distributors combined with the diminishing ROI, marketers are going to be hard-pressed to justify continuing ad spend at current levels. At the very least, the CTR and CPMs will have to drop in response to market pressures, cutting distributors’ margins and profits. Tighten your belts!

How is social media optimization related to marketing?

on Oct 15 in business, marketing, social media posted by

An interesting question was raised on WikiAnswers regarding the relationship of social media optimization to marketing. I had a go at answering the question. I’d appreciate any thoughts or feedback. Here’s the post: What is social media optimization as related to marketing?

What is social media optimization as related to marketing?

New LinkedIn feature allows you to save and organize profiles

on Oct 01 in business, hints and tips, linkedin, marketing, tools, trends posted by

Of course, LinkedIn is an essential part of any professional’s social media toolkit. But it can be hard to keep track of all the profiles you visit, especially if they are outside your network.

To make the job easier, LinkedIn launched Profile Organizer, announced today. The tool lets the user save profiles, organize them into folders, and add notes. It’s sure to be a useful tool for a variety of purposes. You could make groups of profiles based on employment or education background, number of connections or specific expertise.

The new feature is sure to be valuable to job seekers and recruiters, and to marketers. Hmm.

For now, Profile Organizer is available only to Premium subscribers, but LinkedIn is offering a 30-day free trial for any member. With the Business option at $24.95 per month it allows 5 folders. The Pro option at $499.95 per month allows you 25 folders.

Getting “buy” with a little help from your friends: 3 reasons uSocial is a bad idea

on Sep 08 in business, facebook, marketing, strategy, trends posted by

A recent AdAge article reports that the online ad firm uSocial is offering to boost the number of a company’s Facebook friends for 7.6 cents per friend ($654.30), or its Facebook “fans” for a mere 8.5 cents a fan.

Okay. Sounds good. In fact, too good to be true. And it is. Why? Here are three reasons uSocial is a bad idea.

1. The uSocial model completely undermines the basic premise of social media marketing
For social media marketers, what makes social media friends (or followers) such a powerful marketing tool is that they comprise a group of people who have something in common and who will spontaneously share information. uSocial’s methodology is secret, but according their Web site, they draw on their 18,000 Twitter followers to add people to your Twitter account. So the only thing the bought community has in common is that they are following or fans of uSocial. Thus, the quality of friends bought by a company is very low. The group lacks the connectivity and common interests characteristic of natural communities.

2. uSocial encourages marketers to play a numbers game
Some marketers think that social media is just about numbers. They will yield to temptation and sign up for uSocial. At first, they will be pleased that they have a large group of friends or numerous followers. But the high will not last. The “Friends” they have just bought will not have the commitment and interest of a natural group, so activity will not be authentic. Other users will see through this, and the effort will fall flat.

3. uSocial’s approach will not work for companies who want to build genuine, authentic communities
In the long run, the marketer will see this approach does not work if they want to realize value from genuinely interested users. It might work for some companies, such as those that rely on spam and similar underhand methods, but I would not recommend this approach to clients. Much better is to focus on the job of building an authentic community. It’s harder, but ultimately more rewarding.

Social media marketing: art or science?

on Jun 01 in marketing, social media posted by

Last week, a blog post by Seth Godin struck me as particularly cogent. I put the following point to a social media group discussion board on LinkedIn.

“A recent post by marketing guru Seth Godin opines that marketing is as much art as science. But social media depends heavily on metrics to prove ROI. This suggests to me that scientific approaches may be more relevant in social media marketing than in traditional marketing. I’d love to get your thoughts and ideas about this. Are metrics more important in social media marketing than in traditional marketing? Is there room for “gut” approaches in social media marketing? Here’s Seth’s article.

The LinkedIn group came up with some interesting thoughts.

Check out the discussion on LinkedIn.