Monthly Archives: May 2010

Why Facebook Now Controls the Internet

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Since their announcements at F8 about Open Graph Protocol (OGP), I’ve been following Facebook far more closely that I normally do. Why? From the moment I watched the videos about what OGP does, I knew that the way the internet works will be changed forever. Today I saw something that confirms that Facebook now controls the internet. No, I’m not saying that to be sensational or dramatic, I believe it to be true…a shift has occurred with OGP that will forever change how brands and consumers interact, and Facebook owns it all. How do I know? Because long time rival Google is already embracing Facebook’s new protocol.

More about that in a moment. But first, if you are not familiar with what Facebook has done, let me give you a very brief overview.

What Does Open Graph Do?

Websites can now be uniquely dynamic, not globally static. In other words, each visitor to a site will experience it in a way that no other visitor ever will.

For example, when a visitor goes to a website and logs in using Facebook, they will see which of their friends “like” the site, a single page or even an individual product. In addition to the “like” feature, any site can customize the user experience by displaying personally relevant information like upcoming birthdays, events or hobbies of their friends. In all, there are sixteen categories of personal information that can be shared on the site, creating an experience that is unique for each visitor.

As a brand marketer that focuses on social media optimization (here is a list of companies that I currently or recently have worked for), I’m incredibly excited about how this changes the scope of how we can interact and engage with consumers. It’s a brave new world.

Proof That Facebook Now Controls The Internet

Given what websites are now able to create unique and very personal experiences on their sites, it’s no surprise that many are clamoring to understand and incorporate Open Graph Protocol into their online communities. I wouldn’t think that every company would be anxious to use OGP, however; companies that view Facebook as competition in any way are no doubt less-than-thrilled with this announcement. One such company is Google.

It’s no secret that there is more than a little competition between Google and Facebook. This Wired piece from February 2010 says it well, “this time it’s personal”. It’s not a new rivalry, there are many articles going back several years that describe a similar cut-throat mentality of competition. Given this, I’m truly surprised that even Google has started to incorporate Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol into some of their sites. Today, I discovered that YouTube, a company that is Google owned, is using OGP is a very creative way.

My friend and social media pro Josh Groth put up a link to a video on his Facebook page today. I thought it sounded interesting, so I clicked the link that brought me directly to the YouTube page and started watching (the quite excellent) ukulele rendition of MGMT’s Kids. That’s not the amazing part…what I was shocked to see was the prompt just below the video encouraging me to log into YouTube with my Facebook account! Facebook Connect for YouTube isn’t new, it was implemented last year. However, this move appears to cement into place the premise that YouTube (and therefore Google) needs Facebook.

Although I didn’t log in, it’s a brilliant move by YouTube, and I’m sure many companies will follow. If I had permitted the application to log me in via Facebook, I would have given YouTube full permission to contact me anytime via email, and to pull my personal information (and that of my friends) from Facebook whenever they wanted to, day or night. I would be giving them the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.

I asked somebody to log into the same video, first by directly visiting the URL in their browser without going through Facebook. The result? There was not a prompt to log in with Facebook. Next, they clicked through the link for the same video (same URL) that I had posted on my wall in Facebook. This time the prompt for them to sign in via Facebook was there. Want to see for yourself? Click the link here to go directly to the YouTube video page, then click the link here to go to my Facebook social media page so you can click through to the same video, but from Facebook. Do you see what I see? The prompt to log in only displays (for now) for the traffic that comes directly from Facebook.

This means that YouTube is using referral data (how you get to there site, where you are coming from) to determine if you will see the prompt for Facebook connect. It stands to reason that if you are going to YouTube directly from Facebook, you will be more likely to log in using the Facebook method…which of course increases the amount of information that YouTube can gather, store and use about you. All in all, it’s very clean and smart marketing.

What This Means

As much as I can appreciate the fact that YouTube is really embracing Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol, it’s hard for me to look past that fact that it is really Google using it. In my mind, Google’s continuing embrace and use of technology that clearly incorporates and benefits Facebook is quite telling: Facebook has rolled out something that is so beneficial to every brand and company that has a web presence, Facebook now controls the internet.

Checkmate. Well played, Facebook.

Reprinted courtesy of SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY.

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Why an email “drip” might be your best bet

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Here’s an interesting article on classic email “drip campaigns” courtest of IMedia.

Article Highlights:
A welcome series of three to five messages capitalizes on the engagement levels of subscribers
Nurture your non-customers with informational emails that warm them to the idea of making a purchase
Send follow-up messages requesting videos of them using the products or links to submit a review

Few email programs have mass appeal to a mass audience. You might get a couple of clicks, but if you’re trying to maximize the ROI of your email campaigns (and who isn’t?) stop blasting out emails to every subscriber and hoping for the best. Instead, fine-tune your strategy by creating emails that are targeted, engaging, relevant, and timely.

How, you ask? Automated drip campaigns, I answer. This is a game changer. Instead of creating a single version of your email message for your entire list, or a few different versions if you’re segmenting, you create a series of messages designed to lead each person down a specific path based on where he or she is in the sales cycle.

The premise is simple: Subscribers kick off the email campaign through a specific action, such as subscribing to your list, clicking a link in a message, making a purchase, viewing a particular product, or reading a review. Once the campaign is triggered, emails are automatically delivered on a predetermined schedule — a steady “drip,” if you will — until the series ends or the subscriber opts out of the conversation. Drip conversations allow you to communicate with your subscribers on a one-to-one basis, and because the emails are more relevant, targeted, and timely, they have much higher conversion rates than mass emails.

While drip campaigns might contain conditional branching to send subscribers down different conversation paths, they differ from behaviorally triggered campaigns in purpose and complexity. The purpose of a drip campaign is to maintain regular, continual contact with subscribers in an effort to keep your brand top of mind, increase engagement, and accelerate the sales process.

Drip campaigns don’t have to be super complex to work either. Here are some ideas that you can try:

1. Welcome series
It’s no secret that subscribers are most engaged when they first opt in to your list. If you’re just sending a generic welcome message, you’re missing a huge opportunity, not only in potential sales but also in building brand loyalty. A welcome series, made up of three, five, or more messages, capitalizes on the engagement levels of subscribers and helps build brand advocates, turning one-time buyers into long-term customers.

Your welcome messages could be segmented based on subscription entry point or profiling attributes. And by all means, test the cadence to ensure the messages are delivered at the right time.

2. Promotional offers
Let’s face it: Not every subscriber will be interested in every sale or special offer. But you can maximize the ROI of your offer campaigns by implementing a drip strategy. For example, maybe you have a limited edition of a particular product, so you send an initial email announcing the product. A second email might give a special offer to purchase that product. And the third might let customers know that quantities are running low.

3. Product or brand education
Nurture your non-customer audience with drip campaigns around different actions. If a subscriber clicks on a link in your email to read a product review, send a follow-up email with a product video, a product comparison, a coupon for a special discount on the product, or other materials related to the product. With each email you send, the subscriber learns more and more about the product, and you warm them up to the idea of making a purchase.

4. Post purchase
Marketers know that customer relationships don’t end at the point of purchase. But if you continue to send the same types of emails that you send to non-customers, you won’t build strong, lasting relationships or promote customer advocacy.

Your customers are special and need to feel appreciated. After a sale, send follow-up messages requesting videos of them using the products or links to submit a review, ask them to share their experiences with their networks, and, above all, let them know how valuable this information is to you.

5. Cross- and up-sell
When a customer makes a purchase, you can begin a value-added cross-sell campaign offering related or complementary products. You can also offer unrelated products that were purchased by other customers, such as “customers who purchased X also purchased Y.” And, if you know your product’s shelf-life, you can follow up with a replenishable campaign when it’s time for the subscriber to reorder the product. These campaigns keep your brand top of mind and make it easy for customers to purchase, so there is no excuse not to implement them.

One important thing to remember when creating your drip campaigns is to keep the email creative fresh. Don’t fall for the old “set-it-and-forget-it” adage because if you do, you’ll be sending out old, irrelevant messages. As you build your automated drip campaigns, be sure to include quarterly email updates (or more) so your emails remain fresh and relevant.

Ross Kramer is the CEO and co-founder of Listrak.

The Hidden Influence of Social Networks

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Here’s another great “thought starter” from the folks at TED.com. It features a video of Nicholas Christakis talking about the hidden influence of Social Networks on our overall society.

A Social Media Checklist

social media mapWhy should you spend your ad dollars on social media?

That might seem like a silly question, given that everyone seems to be shifting ad budgets to hop on the social media bandwagon. But if you aren’t asking it, you’re asking for disaster. And if you can’t answer the question with a comprehensive, strategic answer, you’re wasting your money.

It might sound harsh, but a recent Center for Media Research report has me worried. After surveying more than 1,000 people with media buying or planning responsibilities, the center found that “having a presence on social networks” is one of the top priorities for media plans in 2010.

Why should that worry me? Because I’ve only rarely encountered people with actual strategies behind their social media push. Sure, plenty of clients (and prospects) I’ve spoken to in the past year or so made vague noises about viral video or being on Facebook or tweeting, but when I’ve pressed them for why they want those things, few can give me an answer.

Not that I blame them: it’s tough to read any of the industry press these days without getting the feeling that everyone’s doing social media better than you are. Ad spending on social media sites keeps going up, the buzz is deafening, and just about every company you encounter asks you to follow them on Twitter, read their blog, or become their friend on Facebook. And like any new thing, it’s got the sheen of new on it that’s hard to resist.

But before you spend money on building a social media presence, take a step back. After all, if you’re spending money there, you’re not spending it somewhere else. If you don’t spend money with a strategy, you’re throwing it away.

Here, then, is my 10-step social media strategy checklist. It’s hardly magical stuff; you could probably apply a lot of these questions to just about any advertising or marketing you do. But going through this checklist as you build a social media strategy will help you develop a strategy based on results, not hype. It may be painful, especially if you like new things (Oooh! Shiny!), but when you get real results instead of making excuses, you’ll be glad you did.

  1. What are we trying to accomplish? Are you looking for more leads, more direct sales, greater brand awareness, conversions, or brand engagement? Understanding what you’re trying to actually do with your social media presence should be the first step in developing a social media strategy.
  2. Why social media? Is your audience there? Do you want to build stronger relationships with customers and prospects? Tap into online word-of-mouth channels? Demonstrate that you’re down with the kids? You have a niche audience that’s difficult to reach otherwise? The best way to avoid recklessly jumping on the bandwagon is to examine why the wagon is the best way to get where you’re going before you hop on. Ask yourself: is spending money on social media going to provide better ROI (define) than other forms of advertising you could be spending money on?
  3. What kind of social media will help us best achieve our goals? Do you need to utilize social networking sites, blogs, real-time updates (e.g., Twitter), social news sites, media-sharing sites, review/directory sites, virtual worlds, or display ads on social media sites? In some respects, talking about a social media presence is like talking about having an advertising presence: you must specify what you’re doing and where you’re going to place it. Examine the characteristics of the type of social media you want to have a presence on and how those characteristics fit what you’re trying to accomplish to help choose the ones that will work best for you.
  4. Are we prepared to let go of control of our brand, at least a little? You can’t participate in social media without being…well…social. And that means engaging in a conversation with customers. Once you engage in a conversation, you have to give up control. Is your company willing to do that?
  5. What will we do to encourage participation? There’s nothing more embarrassing than going to a corporate YouTube channel and seeing that the viral video it spent tons of money making has just 127 views. Ditto for going to a company’s Twitter feed and seeing that it has all of 11 followers. What are you planning to do to drive people to your social media presence? And do you have the money to do it?
  6. Who will maintain our social media presence? Participating in social media takes a lot of work. You must have something to say and you must have someone (or a team of people) to say it on a regular basis. It won’t happen unless it becomes part of someone’s job. Do you have someone ready to commit a big chunk of time to maintaining your social media presence?
  7. Do we have the resources to keep this up, or will this be a short campaign? Similarly, unless you specify that what you’re doing has a limited duration (such as a Twitter feed based on a particular conference), people will expect you to keep it up. Have you budgeted the resources to continue your social media presence beyond the fiscal year?
  8. How does engaging users via social media integrate into our overall marketing/communications strategy? None of this stuff exists in a vacuum. It has to be part of a larger marketing/communications strategy. How does social media fit into what you’re trying to do in all your other channels, and how will you use those channels to support each other?
  9. How do we measure success? What constitutes failure? Are you measuring views, followers, comments, or subscribers? What’s the threshold for your success metrics that takes them into success territory? What happens if you don’t get there?
  10. What will we do less of if we’re spending resources on social media? Chances are you have limited dollars (if not, could you contact me immediately?). If you spend more money on social media and other nontraditional forms of marketing, you have to spend less on something else. How will your overall goals be impacted by taking money away from other forms of advertising/marketing and moving it into social media?

Coutesy of CLICKZ.com.

Leveraging the Next Wave of Social Networks for PR

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I don’t often post items about upcoming  seminars or webinars, but this one caught my attention.  Maybe it was the title “Leveraging The Next Wave of Social Networks for PR”.  Anything with the words “next wave” is bound to be worth reporting and repeating!

Join PR News tomorrow, May 13, at 1:30 P.M. EST for the PR News Webinar “Leveraging the Next Wave of Social Networks for Your PR”. We’ll showcase some of the most innovative social media applications below the radar and how you can use them for your PR. This Webinar is geared toward making you the go-to person at your organization when these questions arise – and they will arise.

For more information and to register, go to www.prnewsonline.com/webinars/socialmedia0513.html.

If you have questions, contact webinar coordinator Saun Sayamongkhun at 301-354-1610; saun@accessintel.com. If you’re not available at this time, still register, you’ll have access to the program and materials for 1-year from date of Webinar. Register Now!

2010 State of Marketing Report

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I pass along this report from ResearchandMarkets.org about the State of Marketing in 2010.

The report covers trends in strategic marketing progress and performance, marketing plans of influential organizations, priorities and intentions of industry leaders. State of Marketing is also a bellwether projecting where marketing resources and expenditures will be allocated and applied.

The 2010 report, our fourth edition, has grown and is deeper, richer and more diverse than ever. We examine essential areas of interest including:

– Top accomplishments in the preceding year and management mandates for the year ahead

– How current economic conditions and business factors and forces are impacting plans and budgets

– Areas of expenditure and shifts in where and how marketing dollars are being allocated

– Strategic initiatives and investments to increase marketing efficiency, proficiency and effectiveness

– Evaluation and integration of digital marketing systems, programs and alternative media channels

We are certain you will find the 2010 report both revealing and revitalizing as you pursue marketing excellence and best practices across your organization.

This year’s comprehensive audit (involving 46 questions) of more than 500 senior marketers worldwide contributed extracted a wide range of insights and views. Participants were drawn from every major region of the world and were representative of most vertical industry sectors and company sizes. Almost 63 percent of respondents said they reported directly to the CEO, president or COO, while another 21 percent said they were accountable to a regional vice president, general manager or division/business group head. Only three percent reported to a chief sales executive..

For more information please click on:
http://www.researchandmarkets.com/product/601d95/2010_state_of_marketing_report_and_outlook_au