Tag Archives: freemium

Meet @Spam – Social Media Persona

This is @spam. Lots of followers, a ‘personal branding’ advocate and someone who is famous, at least, by some measure. You know, the type that likes to dispense advice, get your attention and loves to tell you about themselves in the most menial of ways.

Unlike the commercial “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen”…this is where is all ends, perhaps.

@spam. All about the ‘me’ in social media.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Social Media is a Croc

There’s an awful lot of chit chat on social media networks about Apple’s latest product – the iPad. This is yet another successful product launch and continued revolution that Apple is leading in bringing new technology appliances to the consumer marketplace. It’s absolutely stunning that Apple doesn’t spend a cent on social media yet has garnered an enormous amount of publicity (admittedly good and bad) from people who just can’t help talking about Apple products on the social web. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Apple doesn’t spend any money advertising on social networks – all of the publicity through Word-of-Mouth from those who desire, own and love to talk about Apple’s products is FREE anyway.

By the way, anyone who purchased Apple shares a few years ago would have made enough money to fund their iApple desires for the next decade…

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

HBR – The Social Media Bubble: Opinion

Umair Haque, Director of Havas Media Lab, recently posted a thought piece in the Harvard Business Review .

In general, Haque hypothesizes that Social Media doesn’t really connect people but instead, creates the semblance of relationships. Haque states, Social Media is ” largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships.”  He goes on to say “Today, ‘social’ media is trading in low-quality connections — linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.”  Here are my own observations relating to some of Haque’s supporting points.

Truth: If we take social media at face value, the number of friends in the world has gone up a hundredfold. But have we seen an accompanying rise in trust? I’d argue no.

Agreed. In fact the word ‘friend’ is used very loosely in the social media vernacular. To me, a friend is someone that I know and trust. Most of us have about 5 real friends in our lives whom we trust implicitly. The rest are aquaintances, people that we are tied to loosely via circumstance like work, associations, clubs or…Facebook and Twitter. What we have seen a rise in is conversation amongst relative strangers under the pretense of ‘friending’. Caveat Eggshell.

Disempowerment:  If social tools were creating real economic gains, we’d expect to see a substitution effect. They’d replace — disintermediate — yesterday’s gatekeepers. Yet, increasingly, they are empowering gatekeepers.

It’s been notable that service providers such as PR agencies, advertising agencies and media consultancies have been vying for ownership of social media within the advertiser domain re. client side of business. They advocate the social media imperative, are evangelical in their style of persuasion and purport to offer social media “ROI”. They fall short by ignoring the element of accountability – something ingrained in traditional media. There is however, substitution in the form of reallocating traditional media dollars to digital. In this regard though, the financial equation is incomplete: digital is cheaper but the material business benefits are elusive. Quantified returns, in management accounting terms, are a work in progress.

Value: The ultimate proof’s in the pudding. If the “relationships” created on today’s Internet were valuable, perhaps people (or advertisers) might pay for the opportunity to enjoy them. Yet, few, if any, do — anywhere, ever. .. I can swap bits with pseudo-strangers at any number of sites. “Friends” like that are a commodity — not a valuable, unique good.

This is a tough one. Social Media is increasingly seen as a near free channel or pipe to deliver content, customer service and promotional offers. It’s also cheap in the sense that it has the capacity to diminish the value of fact-based, expert content while simultaneously encouraging the rise of ill-founded, non fact-based crowdsourced opinion. In this context, success is all too often gauged in purely quantitative terms (# of fans or followers) rather than say, degree of loyalty/willingness to recommend. In a similar vein, it is problematic to prove that people are who they say they are in the world of social networks, as many use avatars to represent themselves. If something is a known unknown then how does one ascribe value? 

There also exists an element of social media that is redundant, maybe superfluous, in terms its effect (non-effect?) on consumers. For many brands, the franchise is well entrenched (Tide, McDonald’s, BMW, Wal-Mart and of course, Apple) and the principles of The Discipline of Market Leaders are in place. These same brands already have meaningful relationships and established trust with consumers pre-Internet. Social Media is not about to change this any time soon, though to some, it may appear that way.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

(Cross-posted at Cloud Ave and reprinted by IBM Business Insight Blog)

Branding is a Beautiful Thing

Coffee Bar

Gas Bar

Whether it’s gasoline for your car or coffee for your stomach, it really is fascinating how branding can take ordinary commodities and transform them into deeply embedded symbols of North American culture. What’s most remarkable is how we can create extentions of those brands that command premium prices without really changing the product’s essense in a material way.

Take coffee for example. While you can walk into your neighborhood Starbucks and order from a menu of many dozens of coffees, you can also order something like a Venti Mocha Valencia for something around $4.30. This is equivalent to buying roughly two gallons of regular grade gasoline. The alternative of course, would be to drop into your local McDonald’s and McCafé your day for about $1.25. Not as fancy perhaps but dare you tell the difference in a blind taste test?

Speaking of which, there’s bottled water. Take a bottle of Poland Spring water. Nice packaging, looks clean and pure and takes you to pine forests likely somewhere near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. At about $2.00 a bottle it seems like a bargain when compared say, to Ty Nyant, direct from Wales. At only $4.50 per bottle, it has been described as “smooth but bland…and the bottle makes a nice vase.” Fact of the matter, at least here in Toronto, Canada, tap water is many times purer…and free! Yes, a true ‘freemium’ product indeed.

So here’s the wrap: With or without social media, televison, mobile apps, the Internet or whatever medium you can think of, there’s nothing like good branding. Good branding takes the most ordinary and pervasive commodities and transforms them into something that we ‘must have’. In fact, some of us like to be seen using the brand (I’ve heard that some people carry around their Starbucks cups like fashion accessory, which is fine by me). Isn’t it wonderful that we can take something as featureless as water and get people to generate massive gross margins for us. Next time you hear someone squawk about an increase in the price of gasoline, ask them ” …and just what kind of coffee do you drink?”