I consume a lot of content – a lot. I don’t go to a single source for that content – rather choosing to bounce around my favorite sites to digest specific data tidbits. Be it sports content (the usual suspects of ESPN, Yahoo Sports, Sports Blog Nation, and Bleacher Report) or current events, ie news (New York Times, Washington Post, CNN), or gossip (I won’t list all of those – I have a little addiction there). However – what I have noticed over the last couple of years is that Social Media has been the single largest ‘engine’ for me when consuming, contributing and relaying content. I am pretty selective whom I follow on Twitter and have found some very reliable outlets to funnel most of the news (all the above categories) that I am interested in. In addition – I’ve also found that I spend a lot of time on aggregation sites - with Popurls being at the top of that list.
The net result of all of this is that I actually spend most of cycles on Twitter and Popurls for the bulk of my news – which is a trend not uncommon to the general population and shows the transition from traditional media to new media outlets. Pew Internet released a report today that shows how Americans are receiving, consuming, and relaying news of interest to them. There are a few very interesting points that Pew makes in it’s report. The first being that we no longer rely on just the newspaper or the nightly news to feed our media habit. In fact, we leverage all the platforms available to us to keep current on a daily basis.
“46% of Americans say they get news from four to six media platforms on a typical day. Just 7% get their news from a single media platform on a typical day”
The second relevant point they make, in my opinion, shows how we are tailoring our media habits to fit our individual news – creating a personalized, portable, and participatory relationship with the information that we find important:
- Portable : 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.
- Personalized : 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
- Participatory : 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Being in the profession that I am – this profile doesn’t surprise me in the least. What it does show me, however, is that the advent of multi-platform, new media outlets has streamlined and customized people’s content consumption experience. We have more control over what we consume, how and where we consume it, and whom we share interesting tidbits with. Personally, I can’t imagine going back to a world of passively pushed content – I want my content and I want it now…on any device I see fit to view it on.
Community, Internet, Social Media
Recently Pepsi, a long time Superbowl advertiser (Cyndi Crawford anyone?) announced a switch in their advertising strategy. Rather than spend an estimated $20M in ads for America’s largest sporting event, they would be driving a social media campaign called the Pepsi Refresh Project. AdAge sums up the core tenant of the project:
“Consumers, businesses and nonprofits could then submit their ideas for how to have a positive effect on their community. Pepsi has said it plans to pledge at least $20 million in grants to the effort.”
In short, this campaign is a crowdsourcing effort – not unlike Dell’s IdeaStorm, Best Buy’s IdeaX, and My Starbucks Idea – that channels funds that would have been applied to SuperBowl advertising, into a user identified community giving program.
The difference? Execution. Pepsi’s effort was fraught with privacy and security issues that tarnished the first step of what could be a very good campaign. There is upside however. I think that many people will respect what Pepsi is attempting to do. Rather than spending millions of dollars on less than a minute’s worth of shameless self promotion during the world’s largest sporting event – they are putting those powerful dollars towards programs that will have a positive impact within the community – a generous foray into Cause Marketing. Kudos to them for that.
Cause Marketing, Community
I’ve commented before at how adept Vitamin Water is with regard to creating social interactions with their customers. Today they turned to their Facebook community to decide the next flavor with the help of a new app called the “Flavor Creator” (image below). The name is a bit misleading in that the app won’t actually let the community ‘create’ the flavor but will let the active Vitamin Water ‘fans’ participate in the rise of flavors for consideration through their social media activities – such as tweets/searches/image posts, etc. Extending the social interaction, they are also allowing their Facebook fans to connect and collaborate on the design of the bottle for the new flavor – right down to the catch phrase describing that flavor.
Clearly Vitamin Water and their parent company, Glaceau, understand their customer and their tendencies extremely well – as noted here:
“We’re basically handing over the control and the lab coat to our fans,” said Eric Berniker, a senior vice president of marketing for Vitaminwater. “It’s one of the hottest brands with youth, and of course, Facebook is a great way to connect with them.” (credit WSJ for this quote).
So let’s recap. Understand who your customer is, give them a modest amount of control over a product they love, and provide an environment where they can connect with others to evangelize your brand. Other companies should take notice of this community connection – it’s working for Vitamin Water.
Advertising, Community, Social Media
Think about the social communities that are successful – they build upon people’s passions – gaming, photography, technology, parenting. Nike has built a phenomenal community with Nike+. It’s the people that are passionate about running and sharing their efforts that makes the community successful – kudos to the folks over at Nike for recognizing this. Nike has done a great job of building an online area that helps people celebrate their successes, ask for advice, track their progress towards personal goals, and join others in discussions about their training and racing experiences.
In addition, Nike has identified key areas where they can ‘add value’ to the community experience – simple things like providing a ‘goal’ or ‘challenge’ area to keep members of Nike+ motivated and driving towards a target. There is also a virtual coach that will guide you towards a tailored program to achieve the goal that you have set for yourself – be it a marathon, half marathon, or simply shedding a few pounds and increasing their commitment to fitness.
Finally, they have focused on a key partnership with a technology giant that everyone recognizes – Apple. By pairing the iPod and Nike+ the community is able to download coaching sessions and workout song mixes directly from iTunes to help power them through their next session. Hat tip to Nike for recognizing what’s important to their running/fitness community and providing them with the tools that keep them coming back for more. Through this, they’ve built a following to their site that is very loyal and returns regularly to contribute to, and gain from, a community experience.
The hot social trend for the first half of 2009 has been undeniably, Twitter. Everywhere you look brands, personalities, heck even your grandparents have some sort of relationship with the micro blogging tool. The usage growth of Twitter has been well documented in my blog and in many blogs more interesting than mine over the last 6 months. This month, we see that growth slow for the first time in a 12 month cycle. Granted, Twitter enjoyed a phenomenal spike over the last quarter and will continue to grow – but will it see another burst that we saw between February and May of this year, visible in the graph below? I think so – especially if we continue to find innovative ways to use this form of communication. Steve Johnson has a fascinating article in Time that details the effect of Twitter on our every day life and the potential for it to drastically change the way we live. Clive Thomas is quoted in the article as saying Twitter provides us with ‘ambient awareness‘ of our social and physical networks. It’s that ambient awareness that keeps us hungering for more…
I think so
Jeremiah Owyang’s recent report “The Future of the Social Web: In Five Eras” is getting a lot of traction this week. It should – and marketers must take notice of his findings. Jeremiah is spot on in his interview with CRM Magazine regarding the power shift from the brand to the consumer:
“The community will take charge, and that’s going to happen whether or not marketers or brands participate.”
Jeremiah goes on to outline the 5 eras of the social web – overlapping across the past, present, and future. His insight is predicated on substantial qualitative research with 24 of the top technology brands, enablers, and publishers that are leading in the social space (I’m biased – Intel, my employer, was one of the companies he spoke with as was Federated Media – a publisher whom we’ve had great success in partnering with). The overlapping eras are as follows:
- The era of social relationships
- The era of social functionality
- The era of social colonization
- The era of social context
- The era of social commerce
I can appreciate this statement specifically:
“…focus is on community and the advocates within each community. Doing so will be the only way a brand can scale.”
Those companies that understand the power these communities represent in terms of advocacy for their brand, will be light years ahead of those that don’t.
Community, Social Media