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Archive for March, 2009

How a recession affects advertising and social media

March 17th, 2009

Recession.  Wikipedia defines it as “…a general slowdown in economic activity in a country over a sustained period of time, or a business cycle contraction.“  Yes – we’re definitely smack in the middle of a recession. 

In the profession that I am in – marketing and media – we see the effects squarely hitting the budgets we use to promote and market our products.  Personally, my media budget of 2009 looks vastly different than it did just one year ago.  That’s not to say we are de-emphasizing the importance of advertising within our marketing mix, but we are definitely looking to make every dollar we spend work harder for us during this time.  In addition we are looking at ways we can integrate ‘human’ capitol into our plan to augment the $$ we are actually spending. 

What’s interesting about this is that we are not alone in continuing to maintain, if not increase, our focus on Social Media during this downturn.  According to Forrester Research through findings in a recent survey, it was determined that “the use of social media as a marketing tool is on the rise” (from ReadWriteWeb).  In fact the report continues to say that over 50% of the marketers surveyed indicated that they will actually be increasing the spend on social media and social tools in the coming months (diagram below from ReadWriteWeb).

For those companies that can afford to ‘spend their way through the recession’ the opportunities that come with it are interesting.  How you ask?  With so many companies reacting to the downturn by sharply reducing money spent on advertising from their marketing budgets, rates will become cheaper as a result of the decreased demand. For those willing to continue to spend in this environment, they will be able to advertise without having their message diluted by competitors – for a significantly lower cost.  The moral I pull from these reports is to be smart where you cut your budgets, because the opportunity to break through the clutter and advertise your product may not be as costly as you think.

Online Advertising, Social Media , ,

Are bloggers the new ‘celebrities’ promoting a brand?

March 12th, 2009

Michael Jordan did it for Nike, Gatorade, and Hanes (the list goes on and on).  A celebrity lending their likeness, their name, and their affinity to a brand.  Athletes have a long history of being ‘pitchmen’ as do movie stars, former politicians, and even now with the eruption of reality tv – everyday, normal people who have had their 15 seconds of fame are getting the chance to be the ‘face of the brand’. 

Why not bloggers?  Arguably, with the meteoric rise in social media, these purveyors of information have a far greater reach and more penetrating influence on those that look to them as ‘trusted advisors’ in consumerism.  Companies are beginning to take notice of this level of influence and are tapping into a resource that has exploded on the scene.  Take Audi and Guy Kawasaki for instance.  Must be nice to be him, rolling in his new A8

There are different levels of ‘promotion’ associated with the blogosphere’s superstars.  At my company, we have our Intel Insiders on board and they are “helping Intel learn how to better connect with online audiences interested in technology and innovation“.  That’s smart – what better way to connect with an audience than working with a group of folks whose job it is to do that every day – on their terms, and on their turf?  Other brands approach it with a different eye as is depicted in this AdWeek article where my professional collegue, Chas Edwards, is quoted on the need for advertisers to become publishers:

 ”….the reality of digital media means advertisers will need to become publishers. While they can create their own content, they are more likely to both aggregate content from professionals and pay for exclusive content.”

Blogging, Digital Marketing , , , ,

2009 Digital Outlook Report – Razorfish

March 10th, 2009

Razorfish released their 2009 Digital Outlook Report yesterday.   Interesting read that covers a new role for agencies, what’s emerging, consumer conversations, the evolution of research and measurement, and 3 things every executive should know in 2009.  I thought the “Trends in Social Influence Marketing” and “Bringing Media Mix Models Into the Digital Era” were very insightful.

Digital Marketing, Integrated Marketing , , , ,

How ‘open’ is your Facebook?

March 8th, 2009

I have hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook.  I don’t filter what anyone can see if they have gotten the acceptance note to their friend request.  Among those friends I count long time high school classmates, college track buddies, colleagues and job acquaintances, and my family (yes, my mom is on Facebook).  I will say that I am moderately thoughtful when I post a status update or pictures of my latest travels with my fiancée but for the most part, nothing gets censored.  My reasoning?  If I have accepted you as a ‘friend’ on FB, then I am comfortable enough with you to see all the content I am posting.  Not everyone feels that way – in fact I have certain friends that go through a laborious process to designate levels of access for each of their friends.  Yikes – too hard for me.  If I don’t trust you to see my photos, you probably aren’t going to make my friend’s list.  Interesting article in the NY Times on this very topic.

Facebook, Social Media ,

Social Media Success – Measurable?

March 7th, 2009

There are many debates among industry experts on the practice of measuring social media success.  Over the last several years, we’ve run some pretty successful social media-based programs in our local market at the technology company I work for.  Personally, I look beyond the standard web metrics of unique visitors, total visits, page views, etc.  From my perspective the more valuable measurables are somewhat less tangible.  That’s not saying that we don’t measure the number of comments by the audience in the experience itself or the number of listings we see in Google when doing a search on the keywords for our program – those are important. 

More important to me, is the tenor and tone of the conversation.  What, specifically, are those consumers engaged in our social media program saying about the experience itself?  Are the comments favorable?  Are we seeing an easy flow in the conversation between our participants and the community?  Have we seen a positive change in emotion and favor during the extended conversation?  Those are most important to me because from that pepspective, I can see if we are actually making a difference in how people feel about us and the products we are discussing.  In addition – are we being recognized by credible resources within the industry as approaching our social media efforts in a thoughtful, credible, and collaborative way? 

If we are being recognized positively by the community we are interacting with and by objective industry experts, that spells success in my eyes.  Your definition of success may be different.  Regardless of where your definition lies, remember this important step in your program development: have a goal of what success looks like to you.

Social Media ,

The Commander in Chief ‘gets’ social

March 6th, 2009

I’ve been pondering this post for a while, as anything ‘political’ sometimes rubs people the wrong way.  Enough pondering – it’s relevant so I’m posting.  As Computer Weekly states, we are in the middle of the first truly digital Presidency.  It’s an interesting shift in how a campaign footprint can extend beyond the status quo and can serve as a model for businesses to incorporate social computing into their marketing mix.  Looking at this Fast Company article that I was impressed by his forward thinking ways.  By incorporating social media tools (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace) and disciplines into his everyday campaign activities, he was able to ‘Fish where the Fish are‘ and go where his customer base was.  That’s top of mind for me every time I engage in a social effort in my day job at Intel.  It just makes sense.  I don’t subscribe to the ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality of marketing.  Your customers have established patterns and heavily traffic sites they feel a sense of trust with.  As marketers of a brand it is our job to engage valuable customers, both current and prospective, where they are already going.  Obama’s campaign staff took that to heart, and it helped pave the way for him to the ultimate CEO gig.

Update 3.21.09 – Fast Company profiles Chris Hughes, the man behind the social media component of Obama’s campaign.

Social Media , , , ,

The power of Mom, and her blog…

March 6th, 2009

Yes, I admit it – I read the mommy blogs.  Dooce (Heather B. Armstrong) is my favorite.  ‘The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) runs a close second.  There are a few others that I read, but none with the regularity of those two.  I find their approaches uniquely different, but both quite appealing with their own ‘voice’.  Dooce pounds the keyboard with a sardonic wit that may offend some (see her description of herself here as an example), but feels very real and natural in her approach to everyday life with her husband Jon, daughter Leta, and that ’SuperMutt’  - Chuck (that was the original cast of characters when I started reading her blog years ago – they have since added a mini Australian Sheppard Coco and have another baby on the way)…..

Ree, is quite different in her tone and tenor.  She literally lives in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma and to quote her “I love it. Don’t tell anyone.”  Her passions include digital photography, gardening, cooking, and home improvement – and that’s how she connects with her audience – around her passion points.  Which leads me to an interesting article posted on the MediaPost Blogs specifically addressing the power of people like Ree and Heather to influence purchases among the mom market.  Considers this stat pulled from the article:

There are 35.3 million moms online with children under the age of 18 — a number projected to reach 36.9 million by 2012.” 

That’s a huge total available market for companies to tap into online.  Another interesting factoid pulled from the article addresses the notion of trust:

Studies show that moms are increasingly losing trust in established “experts” — institutions and the like — while trusting more in what other moms have to say. That trust extends beyond members of their family or immediate community to other moms — strangers — they meet online.”

How, as marketers, do we work with these powerful mom’s with such a large halo of influence, to be a trusted advisor to those that follow their adventures online?  In my opinion, very carefully because if that trust is broken – so is their influence.

Blogging, Social Media , ,

Sponsored conversations – I think they work

March 5th, 2009

Being a marketer that works for a very large technology corporation, Intel, part of my job is to identify places where conversations about our products and technologies are happening.  In my opinion (disclaimer: not to be mistaken as the overall opinion of Intel as a corporation), there are several ways to intersect those conversations, effectively.  My goal is to always ‘listen’ first.  What are people saying about our products, our technologies, and our importance to their lives.  That’s an important point.  It provides you with the very tenor of the conversation and sets the tone for if, when, and how you participate in their conversation.  I believe, as a ‘guest’ to their watercooler discussion, we join the conversation on their terms and have a responsibility to be informative, helpful, and most importantly – not disruptive.  In the last several years, we have done this with a high degree of success – and they have all been paid sponsorships of conversations in specific communities, such as Slashdot and Arstechnica.  I’ve had several conversations with Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester about this very topic.  You can find his perspective here.  Moving forward, I believe we find a balance between paid conversations and also enabling our workforce to speak effectively about the products and technologies we market on their own, unpaid, personal social media efforts.

Intel, Social Media , , ,

How younger, more nimble companies threaten the more established

March 4th, 2009

 

It’s an occurence we see almost every year.  A company that is small, nimble, and revolutionary can take on the ‘old’ guard and turn it on its head.  While I would hardly consider Google part of the ‘old’ guard, it does appear to be starting to take on the characteristics the larger ship that becomes harder to steer as it takes on passengers.  At first, GOOG’s premise was simple – they did ‘search’ better than anyone.  They still do, for now, but they also have sprouted many branches from the original tree.  This leaves their core discipline exposed to companies that are more nimble and more wholey focused on one objective.  Chris O’Brien spells out the story here.  I love this quote in the article…it’s so true: “Typically, when such goliaths are slain, it’s because they failed to recognize the threat and make the necessary changes until it was too late.

Twitter ,

Fast Company 50 – Intel #6

March 3rd, 2009

Fast Company’s look at the world’s most innovative companies.  Shameless plug for the company that employs me.  Last year we were #34 so I’ll take the meteoric rise!  Our page here, full article here.

Intel , ,