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Archive for May, 2011

The Secret Sauce of Social Networks

What is the secret sauce of a social network? What do you think it is? What motivates people in your networks? What motivates you? Right now, companies are obsessed with or have deduced that the only way to grab market share in social  is to incent their customers into doing something-give them something. Reward them. But at some point a social loss leader strategy will waver because of the weight of constant escalating consumer expectations.

Over the weekend, I was asked the following question on Formspring

“How can media organization encourage more readers to post and more thoughtful comments? Alternatively, what determines when you will take a few minutes to post a comment to a story online?”

Great questions, don’t you think? It’s the burning question that every marketer wants to know.They are constantly asking themselves how can we get people in and keep them in?

It’s all about participation. It has to fit for YOU. It has to be the right platform for YOU and your voice and YOU have to have a desire to be heard. We’re all looking for our tribes every day online. And it starts with the fit, it starts with finding your voice and it starts with wanting to be heard.

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Recommendations have nothing to do with loyalty!

Just saying that out loud sounds crazy but check this out.

So let’s get this straight. If a brand hooks it’s customers up with coupons, and a customer takes them, because that’s what they are demanding, does that mean they are telling you or us that you can have their business? I think so.  It means so long as you keep rewarding the customer- they will be your customer for life. Or at least until a better offer comes along. What does that have to do with loyalty and recommendations? It means as a consumer I will recommend your product as long as you reward me. It means I will be loyal to you as long as you give me free stuff, or coupons, or a deal. It means that I may recommend you solely on the basis of how much you give me and not necessarily on how good the brand experience was. I may recommend you because of customer service, but loyalty has nothing to do with it. It means and it has meant for quite some time, that loyalty can be bought and our “likes’, our follows and “friendships” can go to the highest bidder.

Social will give you the opportunity to nurture and marinate the customer experience but if you don’t give today’s consumer something, then they will walk. And you thought people on Facebook just “liked” your brand because they liked your brand? Please.

There is No Social Media Bubble

It’s sexy to say that the recent valuations of social networking companies and platforms is very similar to the dot com bubble valuations. Except, it was easy to see back then ( or is that now?) that commerce driven sites whose success was going to be reliant on transactions is a lot different than social sites and platforms with hundreds of millions of people with millions upon millions of daily visits that are reliant on nothing more than activity, conversations, shares, likes and content creation.

The implicit difference between the 2 bubbles, if we’re indeed going to call this period in tech history as a social media bubble, is that one was propped up on just bad business models and just plain dumb valuations, where the traffic had to buy product or the traffic had to go to a physical location whereas with all the social sites, the action and the CTR’s, its still predicated on traffic, but the traffic doesn’t necessarily have to buy something in order for the network to thrive.

It’s community based and people based and not sales based.  Though the model to make money in social networks is still based on traffic pouring through the site- the need to separate someone from their cash isn’t as large a priority as it was in the dot com bubble days. Big diff

The Assumptive Close of Facebook App Registrations

There needs to be a better way. I wanted to download a report that was on Scribd but I needed to Login/Signup. My options? Use Facebook or standard email addy. But upon further investigation of signing up via Facebook, I see that Scribd will access the following data below.

What if I don’t want Scribd to send me emails, post to my wall, access my networks, my user ID and a list of all my friends? It seems a little bit excessive don’t you think? There has got to be a better way for Scribd and it’s users to derive mutual value from each other through Facebook registrations. This just isn’t it. Am I wrong? And yes I know they are not the only one’s doing this…People need to understand the value of their data. Their social currency is gold to others and they need to leverage it as such.

Social Media Conundrum #34-You Hired Them but Don’t Trust Them

Why is it that social has created a whole new set of problems in the workplace? You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the employee with the  new found voice, the social employee. I think it’s an interesting dichotomy nowadays in which we have interviewed, poked and prodded this person before we have hired them, and yet we do not trust them to use social tools and platforms- Essentially, we have scared ourselves into thinking that every trusted employee that has been hire to be a part of the family and the culture is a social media risk.  Which begs a few questions:

How is it you hired someone you might not trust? Where is the disconnect? or better yet, why is there a disconnect? How can we ease the tension of the employer when it comes to the social employee?

Two words.

Manage Expectations.

The long form answer is that it starts with guidelines that include internal and external social policies, rules and guidelines that everyone can live by like what Cisco has done and it extends to adult like socially acceptable behavior. Social Media gives you the privledge of having conversations with anyone about anything but it does not give you the right to use it to run roughshod over the people that trust you and pay you to do a good job. At the end of the day it’s a two way street in which you both have to meet at the intersection of expectations and understand what is expected of each other.

Need more examples of social media policies and guidelines? Here’s a database with 174 examples.

Search Drives the Purchase, Social Influences it… A Little

The impact that search and social media have on a consumer’s purchase has never been disputed. I have always maintained that they were always joined at the hip. In a recent GroupM Search and comScore study this has pretty much been verified. Search drives the intent or consideration to buy, and social locks up or seals the intent and turns it into a conversion.

Interestingly, the research show that search alone is still a powerful tool in online buying intent, behavior and research. Always will be IMO, but what really caught my eye though was how little online buyers relied on social alone as the primary driver to a purchase. The internet is too broad and delivers too much information in regards to research on a buying decision to just rely on a social recommendation. Why? Because we still want the best deal possible. Relying on one piece of info, i.e. a recommendation from Twitter or Facebook isn’t enough for today’s savvy online customer. We start with search, we add social in there and then we finish with search.

The results from the survey/study revealed the following.

What does this really mean? Ignore the power of search at your own peril and relying solely on social to drive consideration and conversions is a risky proposition.

Does Social Media Own You?


Recently I was asked by a school administrator whether Facebook should be used as the platform for communication with another school in another part of the world. Great Idea but I can think of a better one and here’s why.

This morning I was reading an article by David Rogers about whether it was time to shut down your website and go social instead. He measures the benefits of having a social presence versus  just a static web presence. Yet one of the points that he made and its one that I have maintained for a while now is this:

Social might be the cool new alternative to a static web presence but what If Facebook, Twitter and Youtube go away tomorrow? I know it seems farfetched, but the point is, what would you do? To Rogers point he states the following as a benefit to the old school web site. And it’s simple really. Own the data.

Social media platforms are owned by the companies that run them, and, as such, they are the only ones holding all the data on your customers and your interactions with them. On your own website, you own all the data.”

The point I made to the administrator was this. Facebook is cool but why not create a proprietary channel in which you own and control the data? Create a profile that is more indigenous of the classroom, the subject matter and the student instead of relying on a profile that reveals  whether a student is in a relationship or not.

We need to take our lips off of the baby bottle that is the big 3 of Social Media(Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) and own the data and own the channel. We need to quit treating Facebook like a crack pipe that no one seems to be able to put down. Own the data and control the channel and the better you can control the platform.


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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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