Random Acts of Progress

Facebook Sun Sinking? Twitter Star Rising?

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Here’s today’s Facebook / Twitter riddle: What number do you get when you combine the populations of the states of Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Kansas, and Kentucky? Answer: Seventeen million, or the number of Americans who use Twitter (Source: ConvinceAndConvert.com).

Granted, proponents of Facebook scoff at the number 17 million; after all, Facebook boasts 500 million users, making 17 million look like a very small number. Meanwhile, social media experts like to complain that despite the number of Twitter accounts, many of them are not considered “active” like Facebook. They are accounts held by people who rarely tweet. Twitter and Facebook and the Egyptian Crisis Some have even claimed that Twitter was strictly a 2009 phenomena, and that Twitter is entering a long, slow decline that will eventually lead to its extinction as another internet species that just didn’t work out. (Friendster, anyone?)

However, Twitter is paying no attention to the naysayers; it is continuing to grow and continuing to prove itself a relevant part of the social media landscape. As one example of its relevance, residents of Egypt and other countries in the Middle East have been using Twitter to quickly disseminate information about the Egyptian crisis and general political unrest there (Source: Mashable.com).

Twitter naysayers might also be interested to learn that Twitter activity is growing, while Facebook activity is falling off. In recent months, Facebook has faced a 22% drop in time on the site per person, per day. Facebook has also seen a 26% drop in uploaded photos per month (Source: Blog.Hubspot.com).

In February 2010, Twitter hit 50 million tweets per day. In September 2010, that number had risen to 90 million tweets per day. In January 2011, Twitter reached 110 million tweets per day, with 200 million registered accounts.

Twitter’s growth isn’t limited just to the United States, although certainly Twitter usage continues to rise overall in the US (especially in western states – see the Hubspot link above). Just recently, Twitter added Korean to the languages users can tweet in, and as a result they experienced a 3,400% increase in Korean language tweets in 2010 (Source: Forbes.com). Twitter is also rapidly gaining ground in Japan.

New accounts, tweets, and languages aren’t the only signs of growth at Twitter. In an era where even Silicon Valley is experiencing massive layoffs, Twitter actually doubled the number of its employees between December 2009 and December 2010 (Souce: Forbes.com).

For Businesses, Twitter Followers Might be Better than Facebook Fans

The statistics mentioned above aren’t the only ones marketers should pay attention to. Even though they may not be tweeting about it, Twitter users are following brands far more rabidly than any other social media users. Consider that 49% of Twitter users follow companies or brands, but only 16% of social media users overall follow companies/brands. In fact, people using Twitter are three times more likely to follow their favorite brands with Twitter than Facebook users (Source: ConvinceAndConvert.com).

A report by ExactTarget reveals even more interesting differences between Twitter and Facebook users when it comes to interacting with brands. Here are a few of their findings:

• 37% of Twitter users say they are more likely to purchase a brand after becoming a follower, versus 17% of Facebook users
• 33% of Twitter users say they are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a follower, versus 21% of Facebook users
• 49% of Facebook users said they were not more likely to purchase a brand after becoming a fan, and 47% said they were not more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan
• Daily Twitter users were twice as likely to purchase a brand than daily Facebook users

(Source: eMarketer.com)

Twitter may become more popular than Facebook thanks to Smart Phones

Expressing yourself with 140 characters or less is especially convenient when you’re using a phone to do the expressing. With small screens and still maddeningly small letters, not to mention the occasionally annoying predictive text, the less you have to write with a mobile device, the better.

As more and more people turn to their mobile devices, tablet computers, and smart phones as one of their main sources of internet access, expect Twitter usage to grow even more. Already, 63% of Twitter users are accessing social networks through their phones (Source: ConvinceAndConvert.com). Since smart phone sales are expected to dominate the mobile device market in 2011, Twitter is likely to also win big.

Facebook fans: Don’t Leave Twitter Out

Although more than half of Twitter users don’t tweet themselves, this doesn’t mean they’re not reading the tweets of the people or businesses they follow. As the numerous statistics above show, average Twitter users might not be contributing much to the conversation, but they are certainly listening in.

Marketers and business owners should keep this in mind when they consider which social networks they use to actively promote their brands. With Mark Zuckerberg on the cover of Time magazine, it might be easy jump on the Facebook bandwagon and forget about Twitter. Instead, Facebook marketers should reconsider their Twitter strategy and figure out how to get the most out of each 140 characters.

Random Acts of Progress

Google Has Spoiled Consumers

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No doubt these “un – Google – like” words in Dickens classic, somber novel, The Tale of Two Cities, echo the sentiments of many marketing professionals as they face the new digital era with both excitement, but also trepidation. For others in the creative industry, however, a more appropriate Dickensian title for the online era would be Great Expectations.

Google App Sphere

The ones who are adapting successfully to the new digital terrain have realized three important facts about the evolution of the consumer culture:

  1. What the consumer expects has changed
  2. Where the consumer lives has changed
  3. What the consumer wants hasn’t changed at all

So, what the consumer expects from Google and others has changed. . . right?

Point six of the Google ten-point corporate philosophy is “You can make money without doing evil”, usually shortened to the famous slogan, “Don’t be evil”.

Google has spoiled consumers, and in so doing has left what might be a permanent mark on the online landscape: Google gave us everything, and it did it for free. Money seemed almost like an afterthought at Google; the genius computer geeks at Google’s cozy headquarters seemed encouraged to make it now, monetize it later. As a result, we now have Gmail (free); Gchat (free); Google Maps (free); Google Calendar (free); YouTube (not originally Google, but free); and now Chrome (free).

It’s not that Google was the first internet company to give us things for free; the whole internet revolution was founded on principles of openness and collaboration. But for a while there before Google became the giant to beat, companies like Yahoo!, AOL, and Microsoft looked like they were drumming their evil fingers together with machinations on letting us play, but making us pay. Like drug dealers, the internet of the late ’90s was starting to become a place where you could get your first hit for free, but had to pay for everything after that.

The consumer now expects the same things from other companies that it has come to expect everywhere online: fun, interactive products, no paying.

Static, talk-at-the-customer marketing campaigns no longer capture the consumer’s attention. Today’s consumer expects interaction, utility, and free apps to boot. An ad has to be more than just a pretty picture with a clever slogan; it needs to be a tool they can actually do something with. Witness the successful Olympus campaign offering the latest cool – the first augmented-reality 3-D camera demo. The campaign drove up sales 55%.

Google operates on the premise that where the consumer lives has changed

FacebookIt used to be that if you wanted to reach 85% of America with a marketing message, you could buy a prime time TV spot, run an ad, and be done with it. While many consumers still live inside that marketing channel, they are migrating away from TV to laptops and mobile devices at rates that alarm old-school marketing companies.

Today’s marketing campaign cannot treat the internet as an afterthought. Facebook is as much a mass-media marketing channel as television, considering that nearly one in five of everyone on the planet with internet access is on it. Reaching consumers where they live means knowing the digital address(es) of the target demographic, and going there to meet them.

So, what the consumer wants (from Google and others) hasn’t changed at all or has it?

For all that marketing is changing, marketing also isn’t changing at all. Consumers who live online don’t want to be subjected to cheesy gimmicks any more than magazine readers and television viewers do. When it comes right down to it, wins in marketing, including online hat tricks, are still all about clever, creative content.

Marketers shouldn’t ever forget that everyone’s still talking about the Old Spice Man on a Horse ads not because they sparked a social media bonfire but because they were smart and funny. All the blogging, tweeting, and “liking” / “sharing” won’t matter if the content is, well, lame. Furthermore, even the most successful social media campaign won’t make up for a bad product – think Snakes on a Plane.

From this point of view, old-school ad execs can breathe easy and know that there’s still hope for them yet. The part of advertising that brings the best creative minds together and creates a new concept that captures the audience’s attention hasn’t changed; it is the form those ideas take, together with the way it is delivered, that has. Google has helped to change that.

Random Acts of Progress

Reading Websites Online? That’s so 2007: The Rise of Online Video

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Who has time to read anymore now that Online Video is so pervasive? According to Forbes Insights, not many people do have time to read. A recent survey showed that the majority of business people in America:

Online Video

  1. Watched more Online Video in 2010 than 2009
  2. Prefer to watch Online Video on a web page before reading the text
  3. Are trending toward preferring Online Video over text even for reviewing business information

In addition, the survey also showed that roughly 75% watch work-related Online Video once per week or more on business websites, while more than 50% of business people watched work-related Online Video at least once per week on YouTube. A surprising 26% of American executives watch Online Video content for work purposes every single day on business websites, and 18% of executives watch similar content on YouTube every day.

Why Online Video is becoming more important for businesses and products

Here’s a pop quiz for you: do you remember the original Oregon Trail computer game? Millions of men and women in their late twenties and early thirties – men and women whose careers are just beginning to take off – do. They remember watching their oxen plod along on the green-and-black Apple IIe monitors in their school’s brand new computer lab, while trying to save little Jimmy from cholera, and hunting that 987 pound buffalo with arrow keys and a space bar.

If all of this sounds very strange to you, you probably didn’t grow up in the 1980s, when Oregon Trail was one of the only decent educational computer games that kids could play.

The kids who were ten years old in 1986 are 34 now, and they are natives to the digital landscape, hardly able to remember a time without computers. They’ve owned cell phones since they were in college, and “Amazon” is a “look-for-it-there-first” store, not a river or a jungle. They do their Christmas shopping online, and now that they have their own office at work and their own work-provided Blackberry, they navigate through the digital world for professional purposes as easily as they once navigated rivers on Oregon Trail.

Oregon Trail Game

The same Forbes Insights survey found that online video is effective in encouraging all executives to visit a vendor’s website, contact a vendor for more information, or make a business-related purchase, but among young executives, the numbers are even higher. Consider these statistics:

  1. 45% of executives 40 and under reported calling a vendor after watching an Online Video, but only 22% of executives 50 and older made such a call after seeing a video
  2. 43% of execs 40 and under called a vendor after seeing a B2B Online Video ad; only 17% of execs 50 and older did
  3. 46% of execs 40 and under called a vendor after seeing a B2B Online Video ad on YouTube; only 11% of execs did

The reasons why B2B Online Video is important and getting more important is obvious

Many of those kids who used to play Oregon Trail are now iPhone-wielding decision makers who are far more likely to find new information online than in a trade journal. In six more years, that original batch of Oregon Trail-playing ten year-olds will be forty, just reaching the peak of their business careers and their family lives. The thirty-four year olds below them – those who are twenty-six today – will be even less likely to remember a time when work included clunky things like Rolodexes and the Yellow Pages. They will have been more likely to have used Wikipedia to research a college paper, and YouTube was around when they were still in high school.

In other words, if the 34 year-olds of today are already using B2B Online Video to make purchasing decisions for their companies, by the time those in their mid-twenties reach the upper echelons of their respective companies, using Online Video to make a purchase decision will simply be standard practice.

Online Video – An Essential Part of a Social Media Campaign

Normally, when people talk about “social media” and “social media marketing”, their thoughts turn towards Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and perhaps Digg or Technocrati. However, YouTube is one of the largest social media outlets there is, and smart B2B businesses know it. In fact, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, right behind its parent company, Google. Neither Yahoo! nor Bing come even close to the number of searches performed each day, and over 90% of Online Video is watched on YouTube (Source: SocialMediaB2B.com).

Smart B2B marketers are starting their own YouTube channels and incorporating Online Vdeo onto their websites and Facebook pages. They’re learning how to get better organic search results for their Online Videos, and they’re drawing customers into their products not with words, but with images and Online Vdeo. Just as websites became a standard part of reaching new business customers in the last decade, online video is sure to become another standard addition to every business’ overall marketing strategy.

Reading Websites Online? That’s so 2007: The Rise of Online Video – Another article on Online Video from 4thWeb.

Random Acts of Progress

Google’s Collaborative Style Changes the Game

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Google v. Google - Put The Gloves AwayUnderstanding Google and the difficulties marketing chiefs are facing as they try to understand how to best navigate the rocky terrain of the rapidly changing advertising industry landscape might be best framed as a multiple-choice SAT question, like this:

You are a CMO of a major corporation, and it’s time to vet ad agencies. Who do you choose? And why does Google have something to do with this?

a) A large, traditional agency with a proven track record and decades of experience
b) A digital media and marketing company who specializes in online and interactive marketing
c) A large, traditional agency with a digital media arm
d) Some combination of the above
e) None of the above

Hmm, that’s a tough one. Can you ask for extra time?

To figure out the answer, let’s pay a visit to one CMO, Larry Light, who’s credited for helping McDonald’s turn around in 2002, at a time when the Happy Meal was starting to frown.

Google: silos and specializations

In 2010, Light spoke at 4A’s Media and Leadership Conference. He scolded marketers for artificially splitting marketing into “silos and specializations”. A silo – his term for those Madmen dinosaur agencies of yesteryear – fails to communicate with one another, avoids responsibility, and is ultimately too large for anyone to be held accountable. The specialists aren’t much better; they only look to a small aspect of their customer’s overall marketing needs and don’t have enough to offer (Source: Huffington Post).

It is mostly into “silos and specializations” that most creative agencies today can be categorized into. There’s only one problem with these two models: silos are too huge to survive in a post-recession era that favors smaller, leaner businesses. Specialists are too narrow to ever grow. What will bridge the gap, and heal the divisions within marketing?

Google: collaboration, not competition

Traditional wisdom in business suggests that competition is what makes the economy move forward. However, if old-school ad agencies want to get closer to new-school digital media companies, they have to learn that in the digital world, success has always been based in collaboration, not competition. It is the Google model of open access, crowdsourcing, and collaboration, Collaboratenot the Microsoft model of cutting throats and closing access, that rules in the new digital world.

Look at how much money Microsoft has poured into promoting Bing, and yet the search engine is still a pale second or third-place compared to Google. Microsoft’s mistake was remaining “un – Google like”; like an old-school, big corporation long after Google changed the game with it’s collaborative, two-way dialogue manner of doing business.

The Google lesson for ad agencies is that a fundamental business paradigm must shift if they are to survive. Instead of focusing on competition, they have to start focusing on collaboration.

Google changes the game

Google and the “co” model

Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague think they’ve hit upon the model that bridges the gap between the silos and the specialists. The two of them used to be co-presidents of JWT, a large ad agency. They quit JWT to form their own firm: co. They call co a “brand innovation studio for the 21st century CMO and CEO” (Source: MediaBizBloggers.com).

Co is the epitome of downsizing. It has only five employees in the whole company. However, they can tackle almost any problem, because they work with over forty specialist companies to help them solve the marketing problems of their clients. Their eclectic group of partners includes companies like Big Spaceship, a digital agency; Victors & Spoils, a crowdsourcing firm; and Horizon Media, a large media-services company. Co has a completely different financial model than that of big ad agencies. As “flexible” is the keyword that rules co, they sometimes take a retainer fee (the old-school way of getting paid), a simple project fee, or equity. What co does not get, though, is any percentage of what the specialists it works with gets.

Co’s collaborative model gives it the best of both worlds. On the one hand, it’s small enough that it doesn’t rely upon huge media spends by its clients to get paid. On the other hand, it can draw upon a whole network of talented, innovative companies to get the job done, making co’s very small group feel much bigger than it actually is.

Collaborative marketing companies like co, GeniusRocket, 4thWeb and others might be the new model for the ad industry. Therefore, to answer that CMO SAT question listed above, the answer is “e” — none of the above. Instead of dividing marketing dollars between silos and specialists, expect to see a brand new species of marketing agency starting to evolve – one that competitively cuts costs, without cutting talent. Be like Google, sort of.

Random Acts of Progress

1.5 Billion or 75% of Everyone with Internet Access Use Social Media

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1.5 Billion or 75% of Everyone with Internet Access Use Social Media

75% of everyone with an Internet connection access social media sites around the world. That’s 1.5 Billion people. In 2010, this incredible number meant that for one minute out of every four and a half minutes that people around the globe were online, they were on a social media site. Overall, the globe increased the average amount of time it spends on social media sites from three and a half hours to six hours from 2009 to 2010 (Source: NielsenWire Blog). In 2011, we should expect more of the same, until eventually every – or nearly every – internet user is also a social media user.

Social Media is all anyone ever seems to talk about anymore

Since social media is all anyone ever seems to talk about anymore, especially when it comes to marketing, let’s first define what social media actually is. To put it simply, a “ social media site” is any site wherein the content is driven by internet users, as opposed to a site where the content is directed by a business entity.

For example, a personal blog where there’s an ability to post comments or otherwise interact online with the author is a social media site. By contrast, HuffingtonPost.com is not a social media site per se, but it certainly blurs the line between a traditional site and a social media site, because it is a place where readers are encouraged to comment and dialogue about what they read.

Wikipedia.org is a classic example of a social media site. Its content isn’t controlled by any one individual, but is created by, reviewed by, and revised by Wikipedia users.

Although it’s often forgotten in the social media discussion, flickr.com is another social media site that actually holds the #3 spot in the social media world on Alexa, right after YouTube and Twitter (Source: Prevolac Media Blog).

Social Media vs. Social Networking vs. Social Bookmarking

Another place where social media neophytes tend to get confused is within the various terms that are similar, but different. What is the difference between social media and social networking? What exactly is social bookmarking? Understanding these differences is crucial when preparing a social media marketing campaign; marketers shouldn’t treat social bookmarks the same way they treat social networking, or social networking the way they treat generic social media.

Social Networking

Social networking is a social media site where people go to connect with businesses or individuals, make friends, meet new people with similar interests, or find a date. The most famous social network of them all, at least for now, is Facebook. With 600 million users, a figure that represents a quarter of all internet users, Facebook is the king of social networking. The king it dethroned to get there is still nobody to laugh at – MySpace still has 57 million users in the US alone (Source: Research-Write.com). Twitter is also considered a social networking site, and although its popularity has declined, it’s still very important, with 50 million tweets every day (Source: Twitter.com).

Although Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are “the big three” in social networking, there are a dozen other social networking sites, some of which you’ve heard of, and some of which you haven’t, that still make an impact on the way people receive, digest, and act upon information. Here are a few of them:

• LinkedIn — Social networking for white collar professionals, mostly used for business-related networking. 80 million users.
• BlackPlanet – A social networking site geared towards African Americans. 20 million users.
• Classmates — Designed to help people re-connect with long-lost school pals. 50 million users.
• hi5 — Popular in Asia and Latin America, but virtually unknown in the US. 80 million users.
• Orkut — Owned by Google, this site is used mostly in India and Brazil. 100 million users.
• Skyrock — A French-speaking social network. 22 million users.
• Tagged — An increasingly popular social network, Tagged has also earned a controversial reputation for its email marketing. 100 million users.
• Bebo — More popular in Britain than in the US, Bebo was once a major player but its membership has been decreasing. 117 million users.

(Source: Wikipedia.org)

Social bookmarking combines the original, pre-search engine “internet directory” with social media. In other words, it is a list of sites or posts recommended by the member users. The most popular social bookmarking sites, with estimated monthly visitors in parentheses, are:

• Digg (27.5 million)
• Yahoo! Buzz (16 million)
• reddit (15.5 million)
• StumbleUpon (15 million)
• delicious (5.5 million)
• mixx (2.6 million)

(Source: eBiz MBA Knowledgebase)

One viral Digg, Buzz, or Stumble can easily earn a website hundreds of thousands of visits.

Some Social Media sites should not be ignored

The sheer quantity of social media, social networking, and social bookmarking sites out there can easily overwhelm marketers and business owners attempting to forge a new social media marketing campaign.

Simply put, no marketing campaign can include every social media site – nor should it. LinkedIn might be right for some businesses, but not for others; YouTube is important for video sharing, but it’s far from the only place where people watch online videos. Marketers must be smart, and instead of blasting their message across all social media platforms, they should take a targeted approach based on the demographic they serve. Some of the statistics might come as a surprise.

For example, social gaming, such as Farmville on Facebook, skews towards women in their 40s – a statistic which might surprise some marketers who assumed games were only for teenage boys (Source: GigaOm.com). Likewise, marketers who want a YouTube video to go viral should aim it at bloggers 35 and under, as these are bloggers most likely to embed a YouTube video on their blog (Source: ReadWriteWeb.com).

Ultimately, the success of social media marketing has always hinged and will always hinge on marketers’ ability to create a marketing message that strikes a nerve with the target audience. However, marketers can only strike that nerve when they meet the right online users in the right setting with the right message. Understanding who these influential users are and where they can be found in the complex parallel dimension of social media is the bedrock of effective social media marketing.

1.5 Billion or 75% of Everyone with Internet Access Use Social Media – Another article on Social Media from 4thWeb.