Archive for the 'sem' Category

The Dawn of Social Mediocrity

Let’s do a hypothetical. You like western saddles.  You search for them every day on Google. Google gives you relevant results from a) your Google Plus peeps and then b) the most relevant, most SEO’d results. Let’s assume that your peeps straddle the lines of friends, family and business contacts, so the results or likelihood that there will be content from these people about western saddles may be 50/50.

You continue to search for info about saddles. I am a marketer that sells cowboy hats or western hats. I know that if I use the term “western saddles” as a key word, page title, hyper link, hashtag, splog site or blog post in some social networks or platforms, the  likelihood of you finding or landing on my pages might be pretty high. Why? Every link that you will find will ultimately take you to my western hat pages. I may or may not have much on saddles, but the bottm line is that I sell hats not saddles. Will you buy from my site? Maybe not. Of course I will or may affiliate links on my pages that will get you to a site that sells saddles but…the “quick” search has now turned into an hour’s worth of chasing the long tail of a bullshit game of bait and switch.

Is that a good user experience? No, but it’s the reality of search and social.

The more content that is created, the more that you have to choose from. The more that you have to choose from, the more of a chance that the content is watered down and possibly gamed. The more that search and social become intertwined, the more that you may become the victim of a bait and switch. Clicking on a link in the hopes that it is the right link-has become more precarious these days than it ever has.

The more that search and social lines become further blurred by the notion that content drives the machine, the more the user will get played. Pretty soon it won’t be social media any longer, it will be social mediocrity.

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Avoid Managing the Minutiae of Social and Search

Remember all of the Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone? How could you not? He only made 6 of them. In the very first movie, Mickey, Rocky’s crusty trainer played by Burgess Meredith, had a couple lines in the movie that I will never forget. Some of which seem to be appropos for two reasons. One, they apply to the worlds of search and social and two, they just makse sense from a business standpoint.  But beyond the lessons that we can learn from Mickey-the real lesson is in the title of this post. But first let’s look at one of those lines and see what “the Mick” has to say. 

#1 Mickey constantly is telling Rocky to “Stick and Move”

Mickey wanted Rocky to “stick and move”  because essentially Rocky was too slow to stand in front of someone and go toe to toe with them. Sticking and moving is a method involving landing  jabs, while backing away without giving his opponent, Apollo Creed, an opportunity to launch a barrage of shots to Rocky’s head. Apparently Rocky did not heed that advice as well as Mickey wanted him to. 

In search and in social, there are so many moving parts that it’s easy to become stuck in doing one thing and one thing well or badly for that matter. Call it Myopic or blinded by focus, while not necessarily a bad thing in search and social, there are just too many moving parts. It’s better, or I should say tantamount, that you understand how search can makes a good social strategy better and vice versa, but all the while not becoming bogged down in the 101 type of activities that alot of people tend to hover on. Stay high level and keep moving; and yes I know it is the little things, but in this case, it’s about moving and being effective and the bigger picture.

For instance in search, there’s the whole aspect of campaign planning, or the strategy itself before you even launch or relaunch. There is creating search programs just for branding purposes. There is SEO, both on-page and off page for main sites and micro-sites. There is PPC, there is mobile, local, and of course the whole analytics side of it all. The point being that all of these can be managed separately and or they can be managed as channels that contribute to or funnel into the bigger picture. It’s a huge task and yet one that is best managed by sticking and moving. 

The key here is to attack and address all of these and see where they fit or fall within your organization, but not get caught up in the minutiae of managing them. Now some companies, the smaller ones, can get away with just doing some of the above mentioned tasks and not doing others, and I might add, doing it well, but larger ones at the enterprise level cannot. If we’re to understand that all of these components contribute to greater profits for a company, think how social now is playing into all of them. Social has virtually the same amount of moving parts.

In social you have to have the ability to create and manage a strategy, understand and manage social analytics, create blogs, wikis, microblogs, manage profiles and activity feeds, create and manage communties, create tags, create and manage campaigns and then rinse and repeat. Very similar to search, and yet, both very complimentary as well. The scary part? All of this can be done at both the enterprise level and the SMB level.

The common themes? A couple of them. One is the digital consumer. Another is the digital vendor. and still another are the digital expectations of and aspirations of both. Another, is how extremely well search and social play together. And still the last 2 themes? One is how important it is to stick and move in managing both search and social concurrently-especially in todays rapidly changing digital world and the other? Don’t get caught up in the minutae of managing both search and social- they are large, fluid, everchanging monoliths. “Stick and move Rock, Stick and move”.

Your success is determined by one thing

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers, but right now your marketing initiatives, your social media efforts, your email campaign, your DRTV campaign and more- all of it will rely on one thing in the end. Consider the following scenarios:

  • You are going to launch a new product. You build a website but how are you going to drive people to the site? How do they find it?
  • You launch a new product with a new company, that no one has ever heard of before, how will people find out more about you, your company, and your product?
  • You launch a new social network, how will it grow? How is it found? You start a new blog and you want people to read your kick-ass content? How will they know you’re out there? You join a new social network, how do you meet others?
  • You launch a new brick and mortar business, how do you drive business? Newspapers? Radio? Magazine? What is a person’s first knee jerk reaction to your advertising?
  • Your reputation? Where can you find it? How can you find it? Do you know if anybody is talking about you, your company and your product?
  • Your friends? Your family, How do they find you? Old friends? How do they find you?
  • You need a new job. How will you get your next one?

I could go on. But I think you get the point. Everything. and I mean everything that you do revolves around…

SEARCH

Think about it.

search-engines

The top 25 websites for February 2008

According to comScore here are the top 25 websites/properties that received the most traffic in February. Some of these should not surprise you. But it does give you a glimpse of what people’s surfing patterns consist of. The number next to it is uniques, as in millions. Yahoo! Sites continued to lead as the top property with 137 million visitors, followed by Google Sites with nearly 136 million visitors and Microsoft Sites with more than 118 million visitors. Wikipedia Sites and  The Ask Network each moved up one position in the top 10 to spots seven and nine, respectively. Glam Media jumped 10 spots to reach position 18 with more than 29 million visitors during the month. Since Tax season is upon us,  the IRS.gov site moved into the Top 50 ranking, capturing position 45.

Yahoo! Sites 136,767

Google Sites 135,970

Microsoft Sites 118,355

AOL LLC 108,911

Fox Interactive Media 83,638

eBay 77,864

Wikipedia Sites 55,906

Amazon Sites 55,172

Ask Network 54,120

Time Warner – Excluding AOL 52,661

New York Times Digital 47,632

Apple Inc 47,048

Viacom Digital 41,216

Weather Channel, The 41,057

CNET Networks 33,320

Facebook.com 32,436

Adobe Sites 30,620

Glam Media 29,136

Wal-Mart 27,651

Superpages.com Network 27,526

Verizon Communications Corporation 27,101

Disney Online 27,094

Craigslist, Inc 26,822

Gorilla Nation 26,710

Target Corporation 26,631

The top searches for the week? Obsessing over hot women.

In a tribute to the female form, apprently all anyone wants to search on anymore is female actresses and models. So does this mean that the majority of all searches done this week were done by males? Possibly. Does this mean that all they care about is hot women? Perhaps. Does this mean that the war in Iraq and the presidential elections don’t matter to them? Probablly. Of the top 20 searches according to the Lycos 50, 9 of them were the usual suspects when it comes to women in the news. Hillary notwithstanding.

Oh and the obsession with Clay Aiken continues, as he slides in with the number 2 ranking this week. Interestingly enough, if you are to look at the big picture of what is getting press right now, 2 of the entries were Facebook and MySpace, which I thought were curious searches in that one merely needs to type the addresses into the browser. So perhaps it might have been parents who were doing research on, “what this Facebook, Myspace stuff was all about”.

At #1, is there any real surprise?

Lindsay Lohan

Clay Aiken

Britney Spears

Paris Hilton

Angelina Jolie

Pamela Anderson

Disney

Pokemon

Naruto

Easter

Juno

Facebook

MySpace

Jessica Alba

Apple

WWE

Jessica Simpson

Poker

BitTorrent

Carmen Electra

Golf

NBA

Salma Hayek

Sailor Moon

Customer Acquisition in Social Media Marketing

After reading this entry in Top Rank Blog about tips for marketing with social media, something crossed my mind. Though there were some great tips on things that people can do to use the power of social meda to bolster marketing, I was not seeing THE sure fire way. It was gray. I think it’s still gray, and I’ll tell you why.

Lets take for example Client A. Client A wants to use social media, has heard about social media or at least has heard about blogs for example, and wants to use it to drive traffic to his or her sites, increase sales and or use it for branding purposes. That seems to be a safe assumption for most companies.

Well those are all well and good, but first things first. Where does the client go? You have consultants running around out there claiming to know how to do it, but by the looks of the tips. I saw nothing that was a “business process”. I saw a here try this, or this works, or a you might want to try this or I have seen that…..Get the point? A client needs to know what are you going to do, how are you going to do it, how long is it going to take, and what will I get from your efforts, amongst other things.

The problem is, with social media, though you can measure traffic to a certain degree, the “process” or the initiation of a social media campaign is not an overnight phenomenon. there are some instances of it occurring from a viral marketing standpoint but It’s a process that needs to be cultivated. The issue that most clients have with this business model is that they don’t have time to nurture their presence in social networks. Their businesses require immmediate results and returns.

Businesses know this and need to know this: 1) Here is my customer I know what it takes to acquire this customer via this form of advertising, sales and marketing and channel. 2) Here is my customer, what is it going to cost me to acquire that customer through social media? And what are the steps that you are going to take and what are they going to cost me for you to achieve that? After you first explain to me what social media is…

After they ask you “Is it like Myspace”? 

If you the social media marketer come to me and say, “We’re going to create a Facebook group for you, A couple of blogs, maybe a bbs, a couple of microsites, and we’re also going to Twitter and use Stumbleupon as well as a handful of others.” I’m first going to say, “Huh?  and then “ok, what is that going to do”? And you’ll say, “We’re branding you, and we’re driving traffic to these sites and pages and they’re finding out more about you”!.  To which I will say, “Thats great, how many sales can I expect? What kind of conversion rates can I expect from social media???” At that point I better get a really good answer or another plan that perhaps uses a widget or two that is placed in strategic social media sites that can drive traffic and convert sales.

 That’s the real question, or rather one of the many questions. Here they are and you might want to use them as you are approached by social media marketers or companies who will claim to know what they are doing.

  • What is your social media plan?
  • Do I need sales, leads or traffic
  • What types of social media do you plan to use and why those? and why not these?
  • What will be the upfront costs? What ongoing costs can I expect?
  • What will be the costs of customer acquisition? A cost per acquisition model certainly applies here!
  • How long will it take to roll this plan out
  • What kinds of deliverables can I expect and when
  • What is your track record
  • Have you ever worked with this type of product or my type of company before?
  • How successful have you been
  • What will it take to manage it on my own
  • Lets focus on some deliverables
  • Lets set some benchmarks with incentives
  • What is your plan to integrate this social media plan with our other marketing plans
  • What if you fail
  • What guarantees do I have
  • References

The key here is alot of agencies are starting to add social media as it’s own division within their companies. Though there are very few companies and agencies who have done it right over a sustained period of time, because of the “new-ness” of it all. It’s up to you to figure out who can deliver what, and in what time frame. The last thing you need is for someone or some company to experiment with your brand as they muddle their way through figuring out just what works and what doesn’t work with social media marketing.

Lastly what companies and businesses and people need to realize is that social media marketing is a moving target. It’s changing and morphing into something different every day. The reason is, marketers are figuring out new and unique ways to leverage the media to the advantage of the client. Some are proven, some are loopholes, some are brainstorms and some are just plain strokes of genius. Though you still need a concrete strategy as you go forward. It doesn’t hurt to have someone who is willing to take a chance or try something different on your behalf. Keep that in mind as you work your way down the bulleted list. The first of many steps will be finding someone who knows social media marketing and actually has a business model wrapped around social media marketing. As it is a moving target, I’m sure that there are some differring opinons on this. What do you think?

Mobile, Social, and Search. Quick hits.

In a quest to pare down my already slim posts, I’m going to fire off a couple of quick blurbs for everyone to chew on until the next post:

  • Aside from Microsoft not backing down in it’s quest to buy Yahoo, AT&T and Yahoo have entered in a multiyear deal to share revenue from advertising on Mobile phones. Yahoo will provide search and display advertising for AT&T customers. I’m shocked that Google did not get there first.
  • Speaking of Microsoft, the Wall Street Journal just cut a deal with them in which the WSJ’s paid search and contextual advertising services will be provided by Microsoft. Not to sound redundant but, I’m shocked that Google did not get there first…
  • Social media giants Facebook and Myspace will become application hubs and launch pads for niche based “smaller” social networks. Alot of this is the residual effect of Facebook opening its platform last fall.
  • Word of Mouth marketing is the new mode of marketing on the cheap. It’s also just as effective as traditional forms of marketing and has much more of a “buzz” factor.
  • Magazines drive more than 50% of online searches, followed by reading an article in a magazine and lastly by seeing something on TV.
  • According to Anderson Analytics, 32% of  the 1700 marketing executives polled cited “Green Marketing” as an important emerging concept along with it being considered the trendiest marketing buzzword.
  • The hottest demographic that you need to be marketing too, but are probably ignoring are the hispanic and baby boomers.
  • According to Informa’s latest report entitled “Mobile Social Networking: Communities and Content on the Move,” the number of mobile social networking users exceeded 50 million, approximately 2.3% of the global mobile user population on December 31st, 2007

Mobile Marketers can fail and still succeed.

Mobile advertising is projected to generate revenue somewhere between $1 billion and $24 billion within four years. However, at the moment they(analysts) still do not know which business model or marketing approach will be successful in tapping into that money.

So you’re saying,”Well how can they come up with those projections then?”  They can come up with those lofty projections the same way analysts said that one day the internet would be really really big. The upside and the potential are so great, that even those numbers are skewed on the side of conservatism.

To put it in perspective you have to understand that nearly everyone including your average 10 year old and up is now carrying a cell phone. If you want a hard number, think north of 2 billion users worldwide. With that device is the real estate to market and advertise to a captive audience. With that device and it’s associated burgeoning high speed browser comes the ability to search, use the internet or access email. Currently in the US, there are almost 35 million users of the mobile “net”. So what comes with search? contextual advertising. What comes with surfing the net? Advertising. Or using email? Get the idea?

But see that’s the easy side to marketing on a mobile device. The challenge for marketers and advertisers will be how to create stickiness not only for search results for instance but also to geotargeted results via a mobile device. In other words, how are you/they going to create the mobile call to action?

Some of the other questions will also be; How intrusive can you as a marketer be on a mobile device? Do the devices need to also have micro-java apps for pop-ups for instance? Can a marketer hone in on perhaps using SMS alternatives or opportunities until a more solid marketing platform is developed? When you think about it, it really is wide open.

The answer is yes to all of those questions, and the best part about it is the result can be a complete and utter failure and thats ok. So now you’re saying, “what do you mean it’s ok to fail?” Well it’s ok to fail because the user has no preconceived notion or expectation as to how it’s supposed to be. And because they don’t know what to expect, they will be willing to accept, for now, whatever comes down the pipe.

But marketers and their brethren will only be allowed to fail x amount of times before the user a) finds another solution that best meets and exceeds their intial expectation or b) becomes completely frustrated by the lack of performance. And trust us, they will find it. Either through another marketer letting them know that their is a better solution out there, or they will find it virally.

Until the bar is set, mobile marketers will have a grace period to get it right. The unknown is how long the grace period will be. The unknown is who will set the tone? Who will establish the way things are done in the mobile world? Because at the moment the canvass is blank and anything can be tried and ANYTHING can be successful. In the end the ultimate judge will be your average consumer, or your average 10 year old!

10 Insights From 11 Months Of Working At Google

Here is a great piece on someone NOT bashing Google for being the great company that they are: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/02/10-insights-from-11-months-of-working-at-google.html


The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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