Category Archives: User Generated Content

Social Media: A “Head in the Sand” Moment

Seeing Your Brand With Eyes Wide Shut

It could not have come at a better or worse time – depending on whether  you are Google or Facebook. Or it may not matter at all given the continued high levels of adoption of “freemium” social media networking platforms. 

The recent survey by ASCI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) conducted by ForeSee Results,  yielded numbers worth considering.

For Facebook, it is basically ranked at the bottom of the deck by users when it comes to delivering on customer satisfaction – ergo, the user/customer exprience. Facebook is rated so low that it stands slightly above airlines and cable companies in general. Not surprising given that Facebook is really an Internet utility. Perhaps the only saving grace it that you don’t get a monthly bill.However, as a brand manager, you might want to ask yourself: “Do I really want to partner with a medium that is seen to deliver, in a measureable way, low customer value?”.  Even worse, some social networks may even dimish the value you are trying to deliver via your brand.

Not to worry, it looks like Facebook will be around for a awhile. Consumers or should I say “users” are as addicted to some forms of social media in a classic love/hate relationship. Things might be different however, if they had to actually pay to use this utility.

Pause for a moment.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

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Customer-Centric Media: Paid, Owned, Earned

Sean Corcoran, Forrester analyst, recently posted a commentary on the relationship between earned and paid media. He makes some good points to which I have added my 2 cents in italics:

“…there are still many social media “experts” who believe that paid media has no role in social media marketing. This is also wrong.  Absolutely. It also underscores why one should avoid such “experts”. True experts take the agnostic approach and provide a balanced perspective of the choices available to managers in the appropriate business context.

In fact, paid and earned media can have a very close relationship and should be leveraged together (along with owned media) for the best results. Here are some ways in which paid and earned media can work together: 

  • Brands use advertising to scale participation for their social assets (this has been especially leveraged by brands on Facebook)
  • Advertising content can become viral (e.g. Old Spice campaign)
  • Advertising creative can be co-created with the community
  • Listening platforms can provide real-time assessments of campaign success (like a mirror to word-of-mouth, or maybe like a fun house mirror)
  • Earned media can become advertising content (often happens with ratings and reviews)
  • Social media data can be used to target audiences through online media (see Media6Degrees or 33Across)

This makes so much sense as companies are looking to form bonds with their consumers via conversations. The best marketing campaigns leverage multiple media whether it be broadcast to create brand awareness or POS or print/local radio for promotion and social for generating Word-of-Mouth brand mentions & buzz.

> Social Media content creation is very hard to scale. Viral growth is open-ended and unpredictable. It depends on several factors notably creative, the social  platform and timing. Television reach & frequency is largely a matter of adspend and targeting since the medium is rich in normative audience data.

> Co-created advertising is media that can be re-used, repurposed and leveraged to drive on-going audience engagement. It also has the advantage of providing almost immediate feedback and new ideas for near real-time message refinement.

> Listening platforms, at their best can monitor all media formats. The main advantage is that they provide intelligence much faster than traditional marketing/media research.

> Earned media is the currency that acts like a ‘credit’ attributed to the brand by its constituents, whether they be advocates, influencers or a more general audience with a brand experience.

What’s the point? Social media marketing is very important but it can’t be done alone. While advertising, though on the ropes and lessening in its importance, will continue to play a role in providing scale and immediacy. Interactive marketers need to start balancing their media together for optimal results.

Not sure that I agree that advertising is on the ropes. Adspend budgets are up in 2010 while social media accounts for a fraction of the total adspend (as separate from digital adspend). In summary the keyword, as Corcoran says, is balance. Since the “Galaxy of media choices“, to paraphrase the Boston Consulting Group, is extensive and complex, it’s a matter of making the right choices in context of the brand, the measurable objectives and target audience, as the best way to optimize adspend and results.

-Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Commentary: Media Companies Need To Become Marketing Companies

The following is an excerpt from an online post authored by Andrew Heyward and Jeffrey F. Rayport in a recent edition of Harvard Business Review:     

                                                                                                                                                                         These consumers, people we like to call “Customers 3.0,” live in a blur of mash-ups, blogs, RSS feeds, links, text messages, tweets, and “life-casting” on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. For Customers 3.0, the very idea of content includes everything, embracing all media formats as well as advertising. And they collect, collate, and customize such content according to their individual tastes in personalized online environments (like MySpace or Facebook “pages”). This is what we call “user-generated context.”        

In this environment, it’s increasingly difficult for either publishers OR advertisers to stand out. The long-standing value proposition of publishers to brands – we create compelling content that attracts a desirable audience and then sell you the privilege of placing your commercial messages adjacent to it – is becoming a tougher sell.         

That’s because marketers don’t get much value out of seeing their messages appear in anodyne ad units (like banners ads). They need rich integration of their brands with content users are seeking or creating on their own. That leaves publishers in a sticky position: either they stand by and watch marketers build compelling online experiences without them, or they put their editorial and creative capabilities to use to help their clients – the big brands – cut through the clutter.         

In our practice, we like to say that “every company is a media company.” Increasingly, every media company must also become a marketing company. For online publishers, the challenge is to achieve that goal without damaging the very reputation for credibility and integrity on which their market positions rest. If online publishers can’t manage that balancing act before it’s too late, they’ll have more than mud on their faces.          

Here is my take:  As brands/national advertisers transform in part, to media, publishers have an opportunity to seek new partnerships by redefining their roles. For one, extending the value proposition means that publishers can be purveyors of a paid subscription base that is made available to brands as participants in making the message. Media and message become united. Message and media finally merge in a way that makes business and cultural sense.    

What this may mean, by necessity, is the redefinition of how the paid print advertising model is architected as ‘earned media’ become currency. This is not to advocate a ‘freemium model’ – after all, you still only get what you pay for – rather a model that attributes a business value to user-generated content reflecting the effort and subsequent return of the medium.     

Those that see the opportunity will find the right tools for the job. New cloud applications are about to come out of the gate in such as way that makes the cost of entry low and the opens the door to test this new media paradigm.      

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia