Antisocial: getting away from mass social media (part two)

1.3 billion monthly Facebook users, 58 million daily Tweets, 13% overall internet users using Instagram – social media of today are used by anyone and everyone making it a very potent but also unspecific communication channel. Many companies struggle to address their specific audience carpet-bombing entire social media communities with their messages in hopes of reaching a percentage of those who will be interested in what their brand has to offer, leaving the rest annoyed (Wistia newsfeed advertising casestudy).

Just recently Twitter reached out to its advertisers allowing them to target specific languages additionally to the other demographic metrics already available, which is a clear indication that network operators understand the pressure of funnelling messages.

However, unwanted streams of irrelevant content (ie. the hastag abuse case from habitat UK) and desperate monetization attempts have long been crowding the once personal social media spaces that users have built around themselves, what in turn has prompted many to migrate.

The issue is not only the overflow of messages, but also the fact that they often unrelated to specific users.

“Being a catch-all, Facebook doesn’t seem to really address the needs of any demographic, which has led users to utilise other possibilities where the trade-off between commercialisation and functionality isn’t quite so great.” – Jim McCall, Managing Director, The Unit

Those looking to connect with like-minded individuals have turned to smaller, but much more relevant networks allowing them to experience the content they want and have meaningful interactions with other users (ie. Reddit with its subreddits).

What does this all mean to a marketer?

      Large social media audiences often offer a low ROI due to a small percentage of message accuracy. Marketers need to look for small communities which not only guarantee high engagement to the content relevant to their interests but also can become engines of great WOM and SEO.
      Users are turning away from message cluttered spaces. Investing in a more personal approach to your brand’s audience will have much better results to transmitting universal messages.

The below infographic nicely visualises what I’m trying to highlight in my article:

social-media-bored
from http://delvv.com/

Antisocial: getting away from mass social media

Significance of the wealth of private data shared throughout mainstream social media has nowadays become apparent as internet users as a whole have matured and become more cynical.

The initial hype for connecting to as many as possible has been replaced with a dreaded realization of how exposed everyone’s become. Users started weighing the benefits of connecting with others against giving up their privacy to hubs of amassed and unknown individuals. Those socializing now want to be fully in control of what they are transmitting and who is part to the conversation.

A number of companies already picked up on the privacy-concious trend giving the users tools to revert some of their past online exhibitionism.

Ubisoft not only built a game called “Watch Dogs” around the interconnection theme but also used the trend as a clever promotion device through a microsite site called Digitalshadow, which allows users (from certain geographical areas) analyse how much others can find out about them online.

Another publisher just recently launched an app called Cloak, which listing states that it “scrapes Instagram and Foursquare to let you know where all your friends, “friends,” and nonfriends are at all times so you never have to run into that special someone. Think of it as the antisocial network”.

Similar functionalities can be found in a tool called Split which promises to help users “avoid unwanted encounters” by extracting their location from data available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare.

“It’s something that bothers us all the time,” says Split’s creator, Udi Dagan. “It’s time we can just be able to disconnect.”


Read more about the app

The growing number of privacy concious users doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers no longer wish to be social, visible and vocal. The trend is just another indication of the nowadays prosumers’ need for empowerment and full control over their environment. Large social media networks are scrambling to reassure and educate their users about security and privacy which in the long run will make the difference between subscribers making privacy settings adjustments versus deleting their accounts entirely.

What does this all mean to a marketer?

    1. Users are more cautions about sharing their data. Only ask for the absolutely necessary information from your prospects. It’s possible to follow up a registration at later stage to fill in some blanks (which slightly increases lead processing costs but also decreases churn rate).
    2. Users are more cynical about sales messages. Respect the fact that consumers at times want some breathing space from the constant sales pitches bombardment and commercialization. This can be supplemented by providing thought leadership or entertainment materials (relevant to your brand and the audience’s interests) without any product placement or call to actions.
    3. Users are more aware and demanding of their rights. Be ethical about your database sources and practices. Always allow quick and easy opt outs on newsletters as well as skipping options on any embedded ads. Quality, not frequency or quantity is the key to getting the online audience to listen.

5 reasons why consumers don’t listen to companies brag

Consumers don’t want to listen to an organization bragging about itself. They don’t care about the new coffee machine in the office or the pictures from the staff party and simply can’t be bothered reading colossal company history pages.

bragging-worker

Corporate communication is often meaningless and without and addressee serving no purpose apart from the management’s ego. It is a marketer’s role to change this approach and tell the audience an engaging story that they want to hear in a manner and time that is best fitted to user preferences.

It is vital to be aware that with time, marketing communications has built an electronic environment full of messages of different sizes and quality meaning that information needs to be shaped and weighted in order to make an impact in this complex landscape.

On one hand there’s the company who is the communication host, and has the objective to build a certain favourable perception in the consumer’s mind about itself. A brand will often try to gain credibility boasting about its endless industry knowledge and rich history as well as the impressive array of big brands it already worked with. On the other hand there’s the consumer who simply doesn’t care about all of that and just quickly wants the best offer which satisfies his need.

The issue lays within a common misconception corporate management shares that customers care and are interested in their organization. To some extent and in certain cases that is true – people do care about what’s new with the fortune 500 companies who in some way are related to their interests or business, they do not however spend much time wondering about everyone else.

The density and availability of nowadays’ online information streams has changed how much customers are willing to hear about an organization which is a result of a number of factors:

  1. Search engines – giving a consumer the ability to quickly and easily research data about an organization from third party sources which also will be treated as more credible than that from the organization’s website;
  2. Information overload – the sheer amount (often worsened by its complexity) of business intel a consumer has to explore is simply intimidating and tends to be avoided whenever possible;
  3. Shift in business focus – yesterday’s product centric communication has been forced out by a consumer focused approach where services are tailored not just sold as is;
  4. Attention span shortening – the massive variety of media and entertainment available simultaneously online encourages users to keep jumping from one spot to another being able to digest only bit size chunks of information on a given site;
  5. Communication fragmentation – channels through which an organization can reach its audience are constantly growing, and consumer preferences in each of them varies – some are meant to entertain, some to inform.

brand storytelling

Despite these difficult circumstances, companies should definitely not resort to being anonymous and indistinguishable entities behind brands, they simply need to take these factors into mind when designing their corporate communication strategy.

What are the solutions to the factors stated above?

  1. It is key for organizations to exist not only on their homepages but also in unaffiliated media and it’s a marketer’s job to ensure that presence is favourable. CSR initiatives go a long way in terms of promoting a company outside its product;
  2. Copy needs to be aesthetic, to the point and relevant. It’s good to ease users into the more heavy content by creating reverse funnels where a visitor can choose to explore a certain topic in more and more detail if he wishes so. Following this best practice a company history should not only consist of a block of text but be told in a way that allows the user to decide on how he should know. Additionally it’s crucial to place organizational information where a user would like to come across it;
  3. When talking about itself, an organization should be customizing the communication to its audience preferences and expectations. Corporate information should often lean towards establishing a dialogue rather than just broadcasting announcements which in turn engages the customers who then are able to shape the company making it more relevant to them;
  4. Visuals go a long way. Images, infographics, videos and banners allow to send complex messages in a much more digestible format than pure text;
  5. It’s up to the company to appropriately modulate its tone of voice depending on the given channel.

The bottom line is that corporate communication should not be done for its own sake, it has to be adapted to how much and where does a given audience want to explore about a given company. Through clear, targeted and genuine communication an organization is able to actually get consumers to listen to its bragging.

Twitter goofs – signs of tech impairment or genuineness

xVyoSl

Social media promotion is not for the self-absorbed and technologically challenged. That’s a fact proven by countless examples of those who didn’t account for the importance of simple openness or their own inability to use a certain tool.

Twitter is a good example of one of these mysterious new media where poor, big-head public figures go and get confused, which ensures true cringe comedy.

Most recently the new president of Madagascar has proven very helpful by telling everyone following his Twitter profile what’s the link to his his Twitter profile!


Mr. Rajaonarimampianina has followed the footsteps of Ed Balls who is the pioneer of Twitter meta ingenuity which even spawned his own day!

But politicians are known to be thick and self-centered goofs, however old-school business tycoons should be wiser and not allow slip-ups like Ruper Murdoch did.

This elaborate message however might have just been a self-parody after Mr. Murdoch realized the hipocricy of his bold announcement just minutes earlier.

Whatever the reasons, the above examples and their fallout roar of laughter from the community demonstrate that unless it’s your plan to self-promote as a goof, it’s better to understand the way a certain media channel works before posting left and right.

Having said so, it’s hard not to give these people credit for actually managing their own social media where these communication blunders at least make them seem a bit human and genuine instead of sounding like hired PR robots. Politicians are notorious for having a questionable grasp on reality always pursuing nothing but their own agenda, so why cover it up through professionals? Communication sincerity will always get my vote!

So go on you new media oafs, keep making those “important” phone calls…

…and keep eating those “down to earth” burgers!

After all, for your salaries the least you can do is make people laugh amongst this otherwise sad and depressing political landscape.

The most important ingredient of the marketing mix?

The classic mantra of product, price, place, promotion is the most basic and yet important pice of marketing knowledge out there.

“A Marketing mix is the mixture of controllable marketing variables that the firm uses to pursue the sought level of sales in the target market.” – Philip Kotler, the head honcho of marketing

marketing mix

In other words, these four strings allow a company to control the puppet that is its brand in any way it pleases – making it dance gracefully for its audience or clumsily stumble.

All elements, whether the classical 4 or nowaday 27 are codependent and reliant on each other, however if one would really need to point out one, which is a bit more importnat than the others – what would it be?

Product is the least flexible, once deployed, element of the entire mix and is essentially at the core of every purchase decision.

One could argue that there are many factors determining a consumer’s choice of a certain product or service over others, but whatever the motive – the product itself is always the key component satisfying a customer’s need.  Obviously it’s possible to find exceptions, but there will always be abnormalities which should be kept in mind, but not allowed to stop any conclusions.

Price can be altered, the place can be moved and promotion should be dynamic and ever adjusting anyway, but the product – once it’s out there, it’s extremely hard to reposition within the consumer’s perception. A bad product will have a short, dramatic lifecycle and will be extremely hard to sell and pormote.

As much as price usually influences a pruchase decision to a large extent, it can never fully compensate (however low it gets) for a faulty sku or a service. On the other hand – a well designed product, can justify a higher price tag through its unique selling points.

The “place” aspect of the marketing mix is a matter of alligning with target audience purchasing habits and preference. Availability is extremely important, but by no means a determining factor and sole reason behind a transaction.

Promotion is a glue bringing other elements together and giving it a desired shape in a consumer’s eyes. It will put the spotlight on a brand, explain the pricing and direct the audience towards the point of purchase. However in modern times of a well informed prosumer who holds the power to make or break a campaign by sharing his or her opinion on so many e-communication channels, a company’s promotional effort can’t be baseless and dishonest about the product. On the other hand, even  miserable marketing efforts can’t hinder sales of a great product.

I don’t want to advocate picking favourites, a marketing strategy should be like a puzzle with all pieces equally important and fitting pereftly with each other to build a coherent picture of a brand. However, if I would absolutely have to pick one element of the marketing mix over others – I would pick the product aspect, as it’s the least flexible and usually determines all other.

I came, I saw, I cried

So what is there to cry about?

God damn it! Why is e-marketing still considered “a thing” by oh so many.

jackie chan confused meme

Nowadays it should be common practice and an integral part of every-single-bloody business, but here I am listening to another webinar or reading another LinkedIn post with these gawping mid-level managers just waking up. These is no excuse – not in 2014!

Not everyone has to understand what and where to promote, not everyone has to appreciate the advantages of dialogue over announcements but everyone should accept the fact that promoting your brand has to  be common practice and stop making it this novelty that is the last item on the budget and has the expendable staff working towards it.

Don’t force it, don’t do stuff for the sake of doing it, but definitely act, plan and take your social media channels dead seriously. I know you’ve been doing your business during lunch meetings, and conferences and through your cold calling sales staff – but these methods are obsolete and have a pathetic return on investment. Don’t just get anyone, get  the best emarketing specialists, don’t assign the smallest budget – invest as much as you do with your other sales efforts and don’t lose out on business when your consumers transforms into a modern day prosumer and meets your brand online.