Archive for the year 2010
Just because social media is practically free does not mean that companies can run with a program and hope that it makes them millions of dollars. In fact, it seems that the fact that it’s free means that you need to take it a bit slower and look closely as to the right application of the service and make sure that it doesn’t hurt the message that you’re trying to send out.
In an eMarketer report on February 11, 2010, it is reported that social media has essentially plateaued. By this, I mean that it has reached a point of maturation where marketers can no longer simply stand idly by and let social media programs run on their own. Moreover, it is becoming even more readily apparent that marketers are also understanding that it’s not a matter of whether social media should be part of their marketing mix, but how and where should it reside. Bottom line here? In order to run a great marketing campaign, thorough planning must be necessary.
Instead of researching the best ways to engage, many businesses create accounts across multiple social networks and publish content without a plan or purpose. However, businesses that conduct research will find a rewarding array of options and opportunities.
Just automatically setting up things you think you’d need versus sitting down and plotting the objectives, goals, plan of attack and measurement of success won’t lead you to the ROI you so desire. Instead, don’t rush with social media. Look at your audience, what’s being said about you and what tools are available that maximize your reach. Don’t think that all tools in social media must be used, because they don’t have to. As highlighted in the eMarketer.com article, if you have a strategy, you’ll be taken much more seriously than someone who sprays and prays with social media. It is believed that customers think most, if not all, companies should be savvy in using social media so having the knowledge and information lends more credibility and authenticity.
As a benefit of planning and organizing your social media efforts, you’ll be able to look even more closely at the purposes for your web 2.0 needs. In the above chart, you can see some of the top reasons for using social media by US Executives. Over 80% of the respondents indicated that they wanted to use social media to build their brand while over half indicated it was for networking opportunities. Regardless of your needs, you can see that through planning and organizing your thoughts, you can build a strategy that can be integrated with your other marketing channels and help accomplish your objectives, whether it’s research, business development, networking or simply generating awareness about your company.
The message here: don’t operate things in a silo. Social media is nothing special that necessitates it being separated from the rest of your communications channel. Plan for social media like you do your other marketing campaigns and you’ll reap all the rewards from it.
VUDU is having a big week. Hot on the announcement of their new partnership with Entone, VUDU is announcing a more industry-focused relationship with chip maker Zoran. In Q2 2010, Zoran will offer a reference design of their SupraHD processor that integrates VUDU Apps, including the VUDU Streaming Movie Service.
Zoran, a publicly traded company, is one of the largest chip makers in the world, and has chipsets in all kinds of different consumer electronics devices the world over, from manufacturers of all shapes and sizes. This deal makes it easier than ever for manufacturers of HDTVs, Blu-ray players, and other home theater devices who use Zoran chips to distribute VUDU to their customers.
A number of press outlets have picked up the news, and we’re maintaining a list of the coverage below.
Congratulations Clicker! Our client, Clicker.com, has announced today a series B round of funding, led by JAFCO Ventures. They’re also introducing Joe Horowitz, Managing General Partner at JAFCO to the board of directors in an observer seat.
Clicker is the ultimate programming guide for TV on the Web, and helps people all over the world figure out what to watch, where to watch it, and what’s worth watching. They launched in November to massive response from both press and consumers, and because the space is hot and they’re growing fast, they’ve agreed to take another round of funding. The money will got towards rapid growth and development, and should provide plenty of runway for the company.
The press coverage we’ve seen so far is down below – we’ll update the list as we see more stories go up.
- All Things D
- Giga Om
- Fierce Online Video
- Paid Content
- Business Insider
- Washington Post
- Market Watch
- Vator News
- Streaming Media
Swift on the heels of all their announcements during CES, VUDU is partnering with Entone to further distribute their Internet services platform, VUDU Apps. The announcement went out via Business Wire this morning at 5AM PST. The important highlights of this news are as follows:
- VUDU and Entone are partnering to integrate VUDU technology, including VUDU Apps, into new Entone products
- The products include the Janus Media Hub and the Amulet IPTV Receiver – both are expected to ship in Q2 2010
- Operators who deploy the VUDU enabled Janus Media Hub and Amulet IPTV Receiver are able to offer end-users access to more than 100 applications via VUDU’s Internet services platform, VUDU Apps. Some of these apps include:
- The VUDU Streaming Movie Service
- Popular Internet services like Pandora, Flickr, Twitter, Picasa, and many more
- News feeds from outlets like the Associate Press, the NYT, G4 and others
There has been some coverage of the news today – we will keep a running list of the posts we see below.
Client News: BOKU and Globe are partnering – announcement from San Francisco, the GSMA and Manila, Philippines
Our client, BOKU, and Globe, a major mobile carrier operating out of the Philippines, are partnering to integrate BOKU’s large merchant network with Globe’s GCASH platform, a suite of mobile payments tools that enable customers to do all kinds of things like transfer funds, send remittances, and purchase goods and services from participating companies.
BOKU enables GCASH customers to purchase virtual (and eventually physical) goods from BOKU merchants using their mobile phone. This news is being announced out of Manila in the Philippines, and from Barcelona, Spain where Ron Hirson, the SVP of Product & Marketing for BOKU is attending the Mobile World Conference from the GSMA. The news went live at midnight local (San Francisco) time, 9AM in Barcelona, and 4PM in Manila.
There has been some coverage of the announcement, and we’ll put all the stories we find below.
We’re missing some team members here at the S2 San Francisco office thanks to the 2010 Mobile World Congress and our favorite award-winning, open-source modular hardware makers, Bug Labs. BUG is making a big splash at the conference this year with a major announcement and will be working with great companies like Accenture, Texas Instruments, and Pitney Bowes to show off some of the next-gen tech solutions these companies and many others are creating using the BUG (check out the MWC dedicated Bug Labs page here for reports from the floor).
So what’s the big news? Bug Labs announced this morning the development of Bug 2.0, based on the OMAP™ 3 platform from Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) supporting their suite of BeagleBoard applications. This new BUG will also support development on Google’s Android platform, bringing two talented and growing developer communities into the BUG open hardware family. Today’s announcement is only the basics, and we know BUG has many more exciting details to come in the near future. In the meantime, check out the full release here.
Coverage (updated as it comes in):
Congratulations to WorldMate for Winning Best Road Warrior App of the BestAppEver 2009 contest. This is the second year for the contest, put on by 148apps, to celebrate the best– not just the best selling–iPhone apps. Apps were nominated by category by users, the 5 apps with the most user nominations were put together by 5 apps selected by iPhone app bloggers and all ten went head to head in open voting–1 vote per IP address per month. This year over 98,000 votes were cast across all categories and WorldMate emerged as the best app ever for road warriors. Congratulations to the WorldMate team and their ten years of expertise and craftsmanship that made such a winning app.
For a lot of people, the one thing we know what Twitter is used for is conversation. For businesses to possibly get at least a hint of usefulness, we’d need to look at metrics. Now with social media, the metrics we look at and analyze are different from other online metrics – which is to be expected. In this area, we’re going to be looking for influence, because that’s one of, if not THE, main measurements of assessing the return on investment. Sure, with Twitter you could track all your links using Google Analytic tracking, but keep in mind that not all tweets will have a link. What’s more, you’re not interested in links. You’re going to want to be interested in evangelists and people who you believe are really passionate about your product. Once you’ve found them, you’re going to need to gauge their influence over others. So how exactly can you do this? Well currently it doesn’t seem possible with Twitter directly, but there are several tools that can help shed some light on this area for you.
In this blog post, I’m going to look at three well-known Twitter influence analyzing tools: Klout, Twitalyzer and Twitter Grader. Each one will be dissected to look at their offerings and whether it’s really interesting enough to look into further. I’ll also be exploring the applicability of each as well.
WHAT ARE THESE TOOLS?
Klout is a social media influence tool that not only focuses on you personally, but looks at brands and industries to help assess influence. In a way, Klout will show you your social graph and assess just how influential you are along with who is influencing you.
Twitalyzer is dubbed the “serious analytics for the social media expert” which may lead some to believe that it’s going to provide you with much more relevant analytics to make you have a superior web 2.0 strategy. Twitalyzer will offer you more visualizations, easy-to-read statistics, integration with Google Analytics and is free.
Twitter Grader is a tool straight from the guys at HubSpot. Perhaps one of the early influence metrics out there, Twitter Grader assesses your influence by location and gives you a percentage as a score. It too is also a free tool and will display word clouds in your past tweets along with other pretty interesting metrics.
SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH THESE TOOLS?
After using each of these applications multiple times, I’d like to think that there are some differences amongst all three – some major and some minor – that would give pause to any company interested in using either one.
In the first place, if you’re talking simplicity of style and information, then I would go with Twitter Grader over any of the other two. Why? It’s because you’re just asked to provide a username and it spits out a score with no explanation or description of what it means. From my understanding and observation, it seems that quite a few people have received percentage scores of over 90%, but then what really separates me from, say, Chris Pirillo, Brian Solis, Jeremy Toeman, etc.? It seems more irrelevant, right?
The one redeeming feature with Twitter Grader is that it gives you a ranking as well – so my ranking is 12,037 out of 6.1 million people. Now, that’s only 6.1 million people who have entered their username into the search query, NOT all the Twitter users in the world. To have that number would be truly impressive. But going back to simplicity, Twitter Grader offers us the option of looking at a more geographic setting so we can see who the top “influencers” are by city, state or perhaps even country.
If you want more metrics and statistical analysis, then perhaps you might be interested in Twitalyzer. Out of the three tools described in this post, I’ve seen more metrics provided on Twitalyzer than any other. You’re going to be able to measure the impact of a person’s influence, their ranking in terms of engagement, influence, generosity, and clout. I think that this specific tool would be perfect for large companies who want to assess their influence and report back to their supervisors, then Twitalyzer would be a good metric to have. If you just want to know the basic information, then you might want to stay away from this because it’s too much for what you’d like to do. I do like how Twitalyzer has links to definitions so you’ll be able to easily understand what each metric means instead of wondering whether that 5.0 is a good or bad number.
But what if you want more topical or categorical influential data? Then that would belong to Klout. While all three of these tools clearly understand how to assess influence in the real-time stream, one thing that separates Klout from the other two is the fact that they understand how to segment all the influencers out in the stream into different buckets of information. So why is this important?
Imagine that you’re a business that is interested in seeking out influencers to review your product or perhaps help you promote it. If you’re a consumer electronics giant like Sony, Boxee or Panasonic, you’re going to want a way to filter out all the noise to get to the information. Through Klout’s algorithm, they’ve already done the work for you. You’re going to be able to sort through a list of influencers with respect to consumer electronics, technology,etc. A preview of one such list is to the left showing you the top influencers that talk about technology according to Klout, along with their Klout score – almost like it’s Digg for Twitter, only there’s no voting to increase the score.
ALL THE NUMBERS ARE DIFFERENT – HOW CAN WE TELL WHAT’S IMPORTANT?
One thing that you’ll encounter is that the numbers offered on each of these tools are completely different from one another. Their algorithms can vary across the board so you will never have the same results. In order to properly evaluate someone’s influence, you should look at not just the number, but in fact who they are, the types of content they are producing (tweets, blog posts, video podcasts, etc.) as that will be a good gauge of what you might need. Each of these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt – measuring influence isn’t a true science and is often subjective.
To show you the difference between the three, below is a chart with the information on several popular individuals on Twitter:
- Jeremy Toeman is an avid user of Twitter and is the founder of Stage Two – understands and tweets about gadgets & consumer electronics.
- Adam Burg is a semi-frequent user of Twitter.
- Chris Pirillo is a well-known Twitter user and tech “geek”.
- Rafe Needleman is a member of the media who reports on technology trends & uses Twitter pretty often.
- Deb Schultz is an analyst and uses Twitter somewhat frequently.
- Veronica Belmont is an Internet celebrity, host of Tekzilla on Revision3 and has a huge Twitter following.
- Ken Yeung is a prolific Twitterer and social media enthusiast.
As you can see from the table above, there is not a single uniform measurement out of three social media metric tools available on the Internet today. So what do these influence number really mean? Like I said, it’s subjective. IF you choose to use these for a benchmark project, I would recommend being uniform in your execution. Do not choose to use Klout and then use Twitter Grader as that will skew your results and leave you with questionable reporting. It’s similar to web analytics – a unique visitor could be calculated differently from one analytic tool to another, leaving you with inconsistencies that may not paint a complete picture. In the end, there aren’t any easy solutions on assessing one’s influence. You’ll need to really dig deeper to find out how motivating that person can be in persuading their friends & family to do something.
WorldMate, the web and mobile personal travel assistant, has a ten year history of making travel easier for business travelers. Their newest features that go live today will give their members edge with location-based and social networking features through an integration with LinkedIn.
Most of us have been in this situation. You’re going to a meet a few business contacts, some of whom you haven’t met before. Their names and backgrounds are a little fuzzy. You know you’d have an edge if it was all clear in your brain. Maybe it’s in the email conversations, maybe not. Either way you don’t really have time to look through it all on your phone.
Or maybe this situation. You’re traveling to a city you aren’t too familiar with to close a few deals. You know there are a few more leads to be followed and contacts to meet, but you don’t know how to find them. Did the buyer you met a few months ago work in Chicago or Cleveland? You can’t figure it out, so you find your self eating dinner alone when, with a bit more information, it could have been a business dinner.
WorldMate’s integration with LinkedIn has just made both of these uncomfortable business travel situations a thing of the past. Now you can search for your LinkedIn contacts from your current location, or in a city of your choice, view their full profiles and send them messages, all from the WorldMate Blackberry app. (iPhone coming soon)
You can also search for new contacts in your LinkedIn extended network by city, industry and job type all without leaving the app. When you land in a new city, WorldMate prompts you to find contacts in that area, so you never forget to make the most of your trips and you never eat alone.
There are a lot of travel apps out there, but most are just apps. WorldMate is truly a personal travel assistant, remembering your preferences and reminding you what you still might need to book and even what the weather will be at your destination so you know what to pack. With this new functionality, WorldMate brings even more intelligence and value to its members. It’s no wonder they are the service chosen by nearly 5 million travelers worldwide.
In the time it’s taken you to read this sentence, an approximate 1500-2000 people wrote a Tweet (more on this here), almost double that number of Facebook status updates occurred, and an hour of video was uploaded to YouTube. And many would argue we’re still in the early days of “update mania” and content creation. Now I don’t have any stats on the nature of those updates, but it’s fair to guesstimate that a decent chunk of them are people praising or lamenting about companies, products, and services. We’ve blogged before on how complex the modern era is for anyone in a company’s marketing department, and are following up with some specific strategies and advice for companies and other agencies to use.
- Decide on your overall real-time focus
Not *every* company need pay attention the same way to real-time content the same way. If you are a consumer-facing brand, you probably care a lot about how consumers talk about, use, and think about your product. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to use Twitter to vocalize their sentiment, further it’s entirely likely (and probable) that the cross-section of people who use Twitter to discuss your brand are not representative of the masses who use your brand. Facebook and MySpace, for example, might not be as hype-driven with regards to media coverage, but together boast over half a billion users. So before you jump into “real-time”, think about exactly what you want to accomplish, what you need to pay attention to/learn, and then identify the right strategy for those goals.
- Think long-term before thinking about the instantaneous term
They don’t call it real-time for nothing! There are new tools and services cropping up literally every day that let you participate, monitor, interact, engage, observe, and otherwise pay attention to the real-time Web. If you attempt to use them all, you will inevitably fail in many, which will do more harm than good. I highly recommend you watch new hype-driven trends with caution until you see where they are going. This is doubly-true in Silicon Valley, where, as Chris Rock once said, “here today, gone to-day!” I recall back in the “getting hot” days of FriendFeed when Pepsi showed up and created a “Pepsi Room” – as an early adopter of FriendFeed, I was completely skeptical as to their purpose and intent of being there. They soon after abandoned their room, which made me feel even more like the company was trying to “buy their way in” to where technology influencers were spending their time online. Google Wave is another example of a new real-time service, this time from the hugeness that is Google, launched with much flair and hype, yet now in a bit of an idle state (from a media perspective). I’m not saying to ignore new technologies or trends, but to be aware of the simple reality that many technologies fail to yield the results often anticipated/associated with them.
- Staff up accordingly
You can’t take the same PR/Marcom team you’ve been employing for eons and now tell them they also have to monitor a dozen new services, and be ready to respond in real-time. Further, there are different skills required for different mediums, and the reactions to deal with real-time issues are different from those who might plan out a longer term strategy. My strongest advice is to have someone on the team (or outsourced to a third party, if well-affiliated) who is a good “crisis-mode” kind of person. I’d suggest having your overall marketing planning/strategy get built with input from the combination of Team Planned Activity and Team Real-Time. Which leads me to…
- Listen and React.
The classic line of social media marketers is “engage” (also known as “join the conversation”). This is nice and all, but it’s also about the how, when, and why you react. First, make sure you have built infrastructure and culture for absorbing feedback – I still meet many companies who have literally one person in charge of product strategy, and virtually no mechanisms of delivering customer feedback to that person. Real time content and sentiment monitoring is something that should be added to outreach programs, with a focus both on the media and consumers. It’s vastly different to watch Tweets and blog posts gauging the media’s reaction to your new product than it is to read your actual customers’ opinions after a feature update or new service addition. Make sure you are appropriately filtering this type of content to the right people. But…
- Don’t (always) react in real-time!
Eons ago, when all you had to do to pay attention to social media was watch blogs, we often counseled folks to mostly ignore commentors. This is a bit of a “dangerous” topic (there happened to be a big debate on it yesterday), so let me explain my position. Ideally, comments allow anyone in the world to add a little, wait for it, commentary on a given blog post or topic they see. And if that were exactly how it was used, it’d be great. But this isn’t fiction, it’s reality, and in the real world, Internet commenting is just barely a notch more mature than the banter in Xbox Live gaming. For every bit of constructive discussion or actually added-value commentary, there’s the inevitable troll, attacker, competitor, or a variety of comments that bring the conversation way down. With the massive amounts of ways to “hear” people out there, you simply must assume there are people who you cannot appease. Use experience and judgment to figure out when a response is warranted versus when the topic will disappear into the ether. You cannot win them all, and you cannot possibly make everyone love you – I’m not advising not to try, but you do not need to correct every tweet, comment, status update, or other negative mention you find. This truly is the time when experience helps.
- If you try something, give it a reasonable commitment
This goes into the “must-do” category. You are significantly worse off by jumping in to something new, playing around a teensy bit in a halfhearted manner, then bailing, than you are by never engaging in the first place. I’ve seen companies “half-listen” on Twitter, which only causes more frustration around their brands. Ditto for blog/commentor engagement and other real-time interactions. Pick something, create the plan of how you will fully commit to it and for how long, and then evaluate at the end as to future engagements. Further, you should communicate your policies – if you are only going to use Twitter to send out company updates, that’s fine (not really, but I understand), but then make sure you are clear about that policy. To complicate this more…
- Try not to play favorites
While it’s understandable (and recommended) to engage with known influencers whenever possible, it’s just as important to engage with “regular folks” as well. In fact, if you ignore the random people and only pay attention to “named individuals” you are going to have the opposite effect you are seeking by interacting with these services. You’ll be considered elitist and alienating to your actual customers. This really ties back in with the aforementioned “staff up” comment – the bigger your brand and the wider your customer base, the more you open yourself up to a radically high quantity of people to engage with. For organizations that deal with the wider masses of consumers, I recommend having a team in place for dealing with Twitter, Facebook, and any other service where you plan to engage in real-time, and have a system for how to make sure literally nobody falls through the cracks.
- Clearly communicate your policies
If you can only monitor Twitter from 9-5 EST, tell people. If you don’t plan to respond to comments, make that clear. Whatever you are (or are not) going to do, your customers and the media should know. Further, as I’ve stated a few times, whatever you commit to, stick to. Consistency is huge.
- Be personable
Nobody wants to directly engage with “a brand”, they want to talk to “people at a brand.” When I see companies having named individuals participate on twitter, communities, forums, or even in comment discussions, I see much more directly engaged users. This is a major change in thinking for bigger brands, where there’s a “company-first” policy of virtually everything, but in the social media landscape, specifically true in the real-time Web, personalized engagement trumps bland company messaging everytime. Oh, and this should go without saying, but just in case: don’t make up personas/fake people!
- Pick the right tools for the job
Google alerts, even if delivered “as it happens” are slow in comparison with Twitter feeds, RSS, and virtually any monitoring software. There are a lot of tools to pay attention to real-time activities. I am not going to endorse nor recommend any specific company, since your needs will unlikely be the same as mine, or someone else’s. I will say this much: try free stuff, but allocate some budget if you are going to take the space seriously. Just like anything else, the more you put in, the more you get out. That said, try not to get fleeced along the way! Also, you should unquestionably get free trials of services prior to shelling out a dime. And you should also make sure you’ve had the team who will be using the tools give their feedback – you don’t want to forcefeed technology on the wrong people.
- Feel free to experiment
The real-time Web isn’t exactly the Wild West, but it is safe to say there’s so much in flux that there’s exactly a specific blueprint we can all follow. Much of my advice here is on how to formulate your strategy. The tools and services used today may be gone next year or next month, or may be growing like the weeds in my garden. While you should have a sound plan in place to execute upon, it’s certainly okay to try new things and see how they go. Maybe a Retweet contest will put your brand into the limelight, or maybe it’ll get ignored. Learn from it, adapt, try again, etc.
- Beware false prophets
The number of people who can honestly say they’ve mastered these skills is roughly zero. The rules are changing far too fast, and there’s far too short a history to claim true expertise. If you are hiring individuals, consultants, or agencies, ask very specific questions and look for very specific answers before making decisions. Just because someone can advise you on how to create a Twitter account doesn’t mean they know what to do when a behind-the-scenes video leaks onto YouTube! Community engagement is not the same as crisis management. Blog writing and engaging on forums are different skills. Sure, some people will be capable of managing all of this, but think through your needs deeply, and don’t accept glib responses, internet-famous people, nor shallow resumes to manage such critical work!
I hope this is helpful for any company seeking to engage with consumers in new, fun, interesting, and productive ways. We feel like we’re still learning a lot of this here at Stage Two, and will start putting up some product/service reviews in the coming weeks. Looking forward to comments on what areas we may have missed!