Month: March, 2010

Who Owns Social Media?

Digital Strategy, Social Media8 Comments

Last week, Michelle Prak asked on her blog where social media sits in an organisation. As social media becomes a mainstream activity, the question must be who within an organisation is ultimately responsible for it?

“Social media and PR work well together”

Michelle argues that since social media is about conversations, PR professionals are best suited to take advantage of it. Marketers, she says, are not as interested in what audiences are saying about their brands.

The problem I have with this, is the general misunderstanding about what exactly marketing is. I am a marketer, and in my mind, the essence of marketing is matching consumers with the right products and services that fulfils a need or want in their life. This encompasses everything from supply chain management and customer service to sales and communication.

By my definition, PR, advertising, digital, etc. are all fall under the umbrella discipline of marketing. This is not to say that I’m a PR expert, which I’m not. I’m a marketer with specialised expertise in marketing communications and digital media. Conversely, all PR people are also marketers and to extend that a little bit further, so too is everyone else in an organisation. Understanding what marketing is and what the implications are for business can only make you better at what you do. For instance, customer service are right at the coal face and have more interaction with customers than anyone else. They have as much responsibility for marketing an organisation and embodying what it stands for as someone with ‘marketing’ or ‘communications’ in their job title. By being aware of why it is important to stay on-brand and what that means, they are more able to do their job than someone with no clue about why they have to say or do the things their job demands.

Where was I? Oh, right.

To try and limit social media to just the realm of PR, advertising or any other niche discipline, is to restrict the potential social media has to fundamentally transform a business. Social media must have a multi-disciplinary, marketing-led approach that first and foremost takes into account business objectives before tactics and execution. Only by taking a step back to ask ‘why?’ will an organisation truly know how best it applies to their business.

“Social media fits within a business’s communications strategy”

The first instinct most marcomms people have when presented with something like social media is, how can I use this to broadcast my message? This is exactly the wrong approach to be taking. While the disintermediation of media has enormous advantages, it has almost meant that brands now think they can start broadcasting their message directly to their target market instead of going through a media channel. Just because a conversation is happening out there about your brand doesn’t give you the right to engage with them uninvited.

Thinking about social media purely as a communications tool ignores what I see as two of it’s biggest benefits. Instead of rushing into engage, organisations need to first listen and learn what their customer’s are saying and how they want to be engaged. Going beyond Google alerts and other searches, social media monitoring tools such as Radian 6 and Dialogix gives brands unprecedented ability to monitor and analyse what’s being said about them online.

This insight and access into the mind’s of their consumers allows brands to really build intimate relationships with their customers by tailoring and personalising their approach. Building massive followings and blindly bombarding them with offers and promotions is no different to the traditional advertising that audiences are already switching off to.

As the always insightful Jay Baer writes, a better use for social media might be to strengthen the relationships you already have, rather than create new ones with people you don’t know.

“Why would a consumer “friend” us or “fan” us or “follow” us in social media, unless they were either already a customer, or at the very least had us in their purchase consideration funnel? The average Facebook member becomes a fan of just two companies per month, yet is exposed to thousands of brands during that same period. People don’t experimentally engage with brands in social media, they engage with the brands they already support.”

While the industry is still incredibly nascent, it appears that the best use of social media is when it is approached holistically and not just focused on the conversation but also on the insights into what an organisation’s customers think and say.

Read Michelle’s original post.

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3 Digital Trends Every Marketer Needs To Know

Digital Strategy3 Comments

As I wind down my time at Square Holes, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the digital trends I’ve observed over the past 18 months. While there have been dozens, these are the ones that have the biggest implications for marketers and communicators.

So without further adieu…

  1. Mobile finally takes off. Seriously.
    We’ve been saying this one for a few years now, but this time it really is. In the last 12 months there has been a seismic shift in the role mobile phones play in people’s lives. Driven by falling data prices and the spectacular growth of the smartphone market (seriously, 1 in 3 people I know has either an iPhone or Blackberry with a few Android phones starting to pop up as well) we are becoming less reluctant to use our phones for things other than voice and text. Even the way we use social media is quickly shifting to mobile.

    Quite simply, people are demanding content where and when they want it. With the imminent release of the iPad, how we consume content is about to change forever. Add to this the fact that 40% of Australians would rather lose their wallet than their phone and you can see our changing attitudes.

  2. How we find news has changed.
    In the days pre-social media, if you wanted to find out what was happening in the world you needed to actively seek it out by either reading a newspaper, watching the 6 o’clock news or tuning into a radio news bulletin. Now, the news finds you. Social media and the evolving web has changed how we find out about today’s breaking news stories. We have become less and less reliant on offline and online news outlets, and are instead finding out from within our networks on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Not to say that mainstream news is irrelevant, rather that social media is driving traffic there.

    And just recently, Jon Klein, Presdident of CNN had this to say,
    “The competition I’m really afraid of is social nets. We want to be the most trusted source. But on Facebook, people are depending on their friends as news sources.”

    With stories like the Michael Jackson’s death and the Hudson river plane crash either breaking or finding legs on social media, we’ve only just scratched the surface of where this is headed.

    Huson River Plane Crash

  3. Forget the water cooler. Shared experiences are happening online.
    The internet has transformed how we exchange information with each other. Rather than being reserved solely for times when we are hanging out socially at the backyard BBQ or around the water cooler, we now share what we are feeling, thinking or doing 24/7 on social networks. Instead of making us feel disconnected (as the skeptics predicted), we are in fact more connected now than ever before and with an ever larger network of people to boot!
    Social media has empowered us to share information in ways previously reserved for pundits and the media. We trust the recommendations of our peers over so-called experts and aren’t afraid to let the world know when we have a bad experience. You only need look at awards shows or events like the release of ‘Avatar’ to see how powerful social media can be at making, or breaking, your success. Similarly, brands are also more accountable than ever before and can no longer afford to ignore the conversation e.g. Domino’s, American Airlines, Dell, etc.

What do you think? Do these trends apply to your business? What other digital trends have you observed?

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Why AC/DC matter more now than ever before

Marketing, Music0 Comments

Even though Craig Wilson has already written the post I wish I’d written about AC/DC, I thought there was still room to add my 2c worth to the discussion.

It all began in 1990 at the age of 10 when I first discovered AC/DC while watching music videos on a Saturday morning. The video was ‘Thunderstruck‘ and that was exactly the effect their music had on me. AC/DC’s raw energy and straight-up rock’n’roll sound was unlike anything I’d heard before. From that point on, I was hooked.

The only problem was that there was a clear stigma attached to their music where anyone who listened to it was instantly branded a bogan or similar. Particularly in the schoolyard where Nirvana and Pearl Jam (for example) were considered cool, AC/DC was most definitely not.

This extended to mainstream media, where despite achieving more international success than any other Australian entertainer, the local press routinely ignored them with music critics dismissive of each new album.

In the past 2 years, however, there has been a real shift in how AC/DC are perceived. Especially in the last few weeks with the band on the Australian leg of the Black Ice Tour, it seems fans are coming out of the woodwork and every major media outlet can’t get enough of them.

AC/DC Highway To Hell

What you see is what you get

It is almost a reaction to the collapse of the world economy and the excessive consumerism of the early 2000’s that consumers now are looking for authenticity and a sense of ‘realness’. In this regard, there is no better example (in musical terms) than AC/DC.

For 37 years they have recorded and performed different variations of the same few songs. But the fact that they come exactly as advertised and without pretense means that for their fans, they are a constant in otherwise turbulent times as we seek to inject our lives with something more meaningful than today’s homogenised, mass produced, faceless ‘music’ that is more style than substance.

Unlike other similarly massive bands who are constantly reinventing themselves and striving to remain relevant by preaching one cause after another (I’m looking at you, U2), AC/DC have never wavered from what they do best: playing blistering, wildly entertaining hard rock.

(Read what Brian Johnson has to say about Bono and Bob Geldof)

They have built a level of trust with their fans that few other bands have done and are now more successful than ever before. All by focusing on the things they do well and getting rid of the rest.

So next time, before start thinking about changing your logo/website/etc. ask yourself (a) why you’re really doing it, and (b) if your customers will even notice or care.

I finally got to see AC/DC live for the first time at Adelaide Oval on March 2nd. For a bunch of guys my dads age, they put on a hell of a performance that more than lived up to my expectations. Unlike some bands who I’ve seen live who could be sleepwalking through their set, you just know that these guys care about giving their fans a show and are leaving nothing on the table!

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