ROI

Brand, Marketing – 2014 and beyond

These are not really trends or predictions, it’s more a set of drivers and their impact on the domain of brand marketing.

Technology: Disruption is an abused word, but I think technology is the biggest disruption that marketing has experienced. Yes, it has been so every time a new medium cropped up, but this wave is special. In this largish bucket, I’m dumping everything from the Internet of Things (IoT, which, in addition to really smarter devices and spaces, will also, I hope, give the entire domain of social a reboot) to 3D printing (HP’s entry, scheduled for mid 2014, should push this further in the mainstream journey) to wearable tech/techsessories (Google Glass is the poster boy, though development is happening on various fronts) to Social TV. (a classic example of how social adds itself as a layer to existing media platforms and augments it)  I also add to this the advancements in devices – specifically mobile, which is already forcing marketers to quickly rework their strategy to adapt. The reason I used the word disruption is because by fostering a new kind of phenomenon like say, the collaborative economy, and getting ready to challenge traditional manufacturing, technology is going beyond its role as an enabler and changing brand experiences.

Marketing Technology: While the first point was about technology in a relatively generic sense, this is is about the application of technology and associated tools in the marketing domain. This is everything from marketing automation to web content management to advertising technology and so many, many more things which will probably make a move towards mainstream in 2014. This very popular image would give you a vastness of this domain. With the kind of data that phenomena like IoT and wearable tech will spew out, and the levels of customisation that customers expect, everyone, across domain would have to at least attempt Amazonian levels of efficiency.  Also, increasingly, technology will help us integrate offline with digital. (example)

We can scream buzzword, but big data exists, and we’re only taking baby steps towards harnessing it. I can already see the first levels of it in social media advertising, where intelligent tools and dashboards allow not just better and real time targeting but also better analytics on everything from planning to attribution, to aid decision making. Extrapolate this to multiple media platforms, devices, delivery channels within each and think of the possibilities. I think the domain will move much faster because of two reasons – one, the fragmentation of marketing channels and the impossibility of managing it with only manpower resources, and two, the marketer’s ROI obsession. To quote Scott Brinker, “software is the new fabric of marketing” I see the ‘big’ in big data moving on two paths simultaneously – qualitatively big that would help in personalisation, and quantitatively big that would help in scaling. (mass customisation for larger audience sets, better targeted)

Agile Marketing: Yes, we have borrowed it from the software development guys. No, it’s not really new, nor is it surprising because if marketing is getting a technology influx, it is only obvious that software processes might be a good way to approach marketing. Everything that I have written above will ensure that by design or not, marketers will increasingly be forced to adopt this methodology as the days of predictable media platforms draw to a close. In a dynamic business environment, where new platforms are popping up regularly, and even known platforms are changing their rules constantly, the only way to cope, let alone thrive, would be to run various simulations continuously,  iterate and develop incrementally, break silos and communicate effectively, and have flexible frameworks that can be more responsive to the speed of the change cycles.  What I hope to see this year – at least at an early stage – are software/tools that are customised to the requirements of marketing. But irrespective of that, get ready to sprint! (read more)

Promotainment: Roughly, the phenomenon formerly known as advertising. Thanks to everything above, creativity will need to be channeled differently. In YouTube’s top trends for 2013, three branded videos managed to capture a place for themselves. But this only covers part of the story. Mere entertainment will not be enough to bond with the consumer, for sufficient pull to happen, brands will have to define a purpose (business and beyond) that will resonate with consumers, and treat it differently according to contexts. These contexts could be platforms, locations, topical opportunities and a host of other things, with each experience adding to the perceptions of the consumer. Experiences and ‘content’ need to be created for each of these contexts, and brands need to reboot the way they handle communication. (The Making of a Content Brand) The other key player in this mix is privacy – everything from transience (eg. Snapchat) to the ‘negotiation’ with consumers on what information they share to get what benefit. Customisation as per contexts and audiences and yet cohesive within the larger purpose framework. Not an easy challenge. (A wonderful take on this, and more from Vyshnavi Doss – Brand Avatars)

Marketing Organisation: I came across the fascinating Big Shift concept and the three ‘waves‘ – foundation, flow and impact – only recently. The third wave is how organisations respond to the fundamental shifts in knowledge and the flow of information that are characteristic of the first two waves. While this is a larger institutional shift, its impact will also felt in the structure of the marketing organisation. Add to this, the transformation required for agile methodologies and a fundamentally different content marketing process, and the existing marketing silos have no choice but to evolve. Technologists, ROI drivers, specialists in different kinds of brand experiences – real time, real (offline) and otherwise, data wizards to analyse the tons of data streaming in, CRM folks, creative people and many more will be part of this new structure that realigns the marketing domain to fit the new business landscape dynamics. (a good illustration)

These subjects, and in my mind, one of its results –  social business – will form the majority of this blog’s content in 2014. We’re at the cusp of an extremely interesting era in brand marketing, thanks to radical shifts in pretty much everything happening around us – what I keep referring to as institutional realignment. Here’s to an exciting year ahead!

einstein

 until next time, have a wonderful 2014!

Social @ Myntra – Part 2

continued from Part 1

Creating, correcting and maintaining brand perception and resolving customer issues were fundamentally the objectives when operating in the customer care and brand domains respectively. But this was not an end in itself. The end objective of the business is revenue, and that makes up the remaining story.

3. Product: In this context, it includes the website itself, and the various features/enhancements/new products (eg. gift cards) that get introduced on a regular basis. Including social buttons on the home page and product pages were a given, though getting them above the fold was a mission I lost! The first major change was switching from FB Connect to the Open Graph. The potential applications, using social and interest graphs, are phenomenal, but we never progressed that far. At a basic level, I had slotted activities in this domain under acquisition and retention, and we have only implemented a small portion of the former. The easiest application of the social graph was using it for social proof. Kuliza’s Echo made that job relatively easy for us. It not only helped seamlessly amplify word-of-mouth, but also gave us a lot of data on consumption. One of the plans was to integrate this with Elevate, another Kuliza app – but inside Facebook, to try and beat FB’s throttling of organic reach. :) Another application of Echo, which should soon see the light of day, is a Fab-like social feed. If a user has registered on Myntra using Facebook, he/she would see the actions (Likes, Purchases, Wishlist additions) of his/her friends on a separate feed inside Myntra. Our expectation is that this would prompt more social actions inside Myntra and accelerate word-of-mouth inside FB further. This was actually a Phase 1 of a larger plan I had in mind. Let me explain.

While brand and customer connect can provide a strategic advantage on social, I’ve always felt that it was in the product domain that social could provide a sustainable strategic advantage. This came from my notion that ‘loyalty’ existed when the exit barrier for a customer to leave Myntra was high enough to beat any sustainable offering from a competitor. ‘Brand’ is one standard way to achieve it, but it is relatively less tangible, and in a commoditised marketplace, it would take more time. Generic discounting is not sustainable. I think, in this context, ‘Product’ can reach this ‘barrier’ in lesser time, and at lower costs. An ideal in my mind was using the social, intent and interest graphs of users from across various platforms to build a personalised experience, and through that, a gamified customer acquisition and retention architecture inside Myntra, (thereby minimising dependencies on other platforms) and then using social media to amplify relevant actions to further drive acquisition. But this approach has a high dependency on changes in the existing product and every new product/feature having relevant social features baked in (or at have it in the vicinity on its roadmap) to contribute to the larger agenda of the architecture. It also takes a mindset and backing. I did have a rough blueprint, but at this point in the e-commerce wars, this approach probably seemed a nice-to-have. :)

4. Sales: Conventional notions claim that social media should not be used for sales pitches, but from my humble experience, I’d beg to differ. It’s just a matter of what-when-how, and how much. From generic product pitches on the Facebook Page as part of the larger content strategy, to custom links on Twitter, we have consistently shown and tracked revenue from social channels. Even Pinterest and Google+ are contributors! I must admit that in the larger scheme of Myntra’s monthly revenue, these are insignificant, but let’s just say that the total contribution are in double digit lakhs every month. In fact, it reached a point where we were given a budget to see if we could scale it. In this context, I have to mention this brilliant idea by S – she used customer generated product images from our Pinterest ‘Shopped from Us’ board every week to make sales pitches on Facebook! Works like a charm. :)

The area where there were a few attempts, but didn’t really pick up was enterprise collaboration. We managed to build a fairly large community on Yammer, but what I’ve realised is that it needs champions at the highest level in all parts of the organisation using it on a consistent basis for it to be sustainable. I also had this grandiose vision of using Google+ and circles to connect customers, Customer Connect teams, Partner brands and employees in general, but this one was limited to a word document! This is an area that I believe to be a must-have as we evolve towards social business, but in the larger list of priorities, is still a few steps away.

That gives a broad view of what I’ve been up to for two years. The generic point I’m trying to make through the two posts is that from basic business outcomes like customer satisfaction and sales to more nuanced ones like brand perception and sustainable strategic advantage, social can and should play an integral part. There will be differences in terms of scale, strategy, resources etc depending on the domain, maturity of the industry/organisation, target audience and so on, but the important part is to begin because the brand/organisation needs to evolve as well. Social media has shortcuts, I’m inclined to think that social does not. These are days of nascence, and social will continue to evolve – enterprise social networks, social business, big data, the Internet of Things (add buzzwords to taste) and more will all have their hype cycles and age of maturity. By all means, measure ROI, but remember, we spend on movie tickets, we invest in mutual funds. I think we’re clear on the expected time frame of returns in both cases.

understand_the_principles

(via)

Myntra will remain dear to me, like all the other brands I have worked on, but it will probably have a more lasting signature, because not since my days at GIM have I experienced such a rewiring of my worldview. This stint has given me oodles of confidence, friends whom I hope will last a lifetime, and relationships of trust that I will cherish.

Before I end, the last hat tip – to the super S, who joined the team mid last year and has since then, proven time and again that she’s the best social ‘investment’ we made, and made this little social adventure a total joy! “I used to believe that we are here to teach what we know. Now I know that we are here to teach what we are meant to discover

until next time, </ head – social media> :)

Brand agencies redux

One of the ways to measure brand communication is to view it through the prisms of effectiveness and efficiency. I sometimes get the feeling that with time, mass media became more of an efficiency game. Then social technologies came along and forced the marketer to acknowledge (the forgotten) effectiveness criterion. That would explain the resistance to adoption, since communication strategy would have to change to accommodate it.

A brand manager would ideally like a balance of both though. Meanwhile, somewhere on planet Quora, I voted up our friend Gautam Ghosh’s answer on ‘influence’. Apparently, an old HBR article (2005) had defined influence as a factor of two aspects – visibility and credibility. Considering that a brand is also aiming for influence, I found the connection between visibility/credibility and efficiency/effectiveness very interesting.

I think the ROI debates are also a manifestation of seeking efficiency, though very few distinguish between cost and investment (I). The good news is that once tools are developed to address this, (I hope) brand custodians will focus on effectiveness too. I was very happy to read Jason Falls’ post about tools that are beginning to address scale too. (Expion and other social media tools to manage franchisee operations) While these tools would most likely scale themselves to accommodate new platforms and technologies that arise later, the bad news is that effectiveness is still something that can be judged only by someone who understands the brand as well as the platform in question.

A quick detour. I recently started playing ‘Restaurant City’ just to get a feel of social games, and found Coke doing a pretty decent branding exercise there, that integrated well with the game mechanics and experience. The entire social gaming arena is already exploding. Farmville is passe, and Cityville is king. And that’s just one platform. How does a brand manager keep himself in the loop on all this, and experience enough to have reasonably good perspectives? So the idea of filtering experiences in multiple platforms to get perspectives on effectiveness is something I think only an agency can scale. And the more I think of this, the more I feel that this is the opportunity area for agencies – both communication (PR, Advertising) and media buying. I will state the obvious by saying that this is not likely to happen in their current avatars though. Your thoughts?

until next time, agents of change

Social Scaling

The subject of this post has been visited before, thanks to an earlier note by Tac Anderson on the ‘3 types of social media strategy‘, and David Cushman’s excellent presentation the same topic.

What made me revisit this are Tac Anderson’s post last week titled ‘Dam your social media strategy‘, which used an excellent analogy to present a 2 step approach to changing business strategy , and my own experiences in the last few months. In my first post that referred to the 3 types of social media strategy, I’d wondered whether it was possible to move from strategy 2 (optimising social media  for business) to strategy 3 (optimising business for social media), but my experiences later made me feel that it was perhaps (generalising) an inevitable approach, and this view has only been strengthened since then.

However, the biggest roadblock I sense is in convincing an organisation and its internal stakeholders to look at the tools from beyond a ‘push communication’ marketing perspective especially after we start out on optimising social media. It is all the more difficult because this perspective is something they can identify with – just another channel, and one that’s ‘free’.  A twisted view that ‘Conversations are markets’. Just another place to sell your wares. 😐

The challenge is to shift the focus from ‘media’ to ‘social, and from a purely brand centric view to one that encompasses the organisation’s internal stakeholders and consumers, and has a more holistic view of ROI. I wonder then, if it is actually better to start with something like ‘customer care’ or ‘operations’ and include ‘brand’ only at a much later stage in optimisation. Debatable. :)

until next time, ambushing marketing on the brand team.

Hairsay

So, the Old Spice man  increased the sales of the product. Now we can renew the debate on the efficacy of social media on the bottom line. We obviously won’t ask for correlation data. :) The other side effect is that every brand manager will now want to replicate it – especially the viral and the ROI. Quite like a poster child (in India) of an era gone by – Sunsilk’s GangofGirls, which at that point had made many a  brand manager experimenting with digital media tell their agency “I want one too”. Damn virals work at meta levels!!

I recently read Kapil Ohri’s article on afaqs, on the site’s makeover – the shift from blogs and gangs to trends and forums and the ‘mandatory’ buttons – Facebook and Twitter. Its early days, so it’d be unfair to make a comment on the numbers, even if they were to be considered a parameter of success/ failure. But while, on buttons, I think YouTube videos would’ve been a help. More on that in a bit. A revamped GoG, and the Pantene vs Dove war for hairspace being fought offline and on blogs (Karthik, L Bhat) gives me enough food for thought.. and opinion.

Sunsilk Gang of Girls: GoG could have (like an industry person commented on the afaqs post) integrated Facebook in a much better way. Check out what Levi’s has done at their online store. Instead of separate registrations and profile, Facebook’s plugins could make life easier for the user and automatically bring in the ‘gangs’. It could get them to pull their own photos from Facebook for the ‘Makeover Machine’, suggest it to friends, and so on. Or build a Twitter app that uses the display picture. It could have perhaps thought bigger and had their ambassador (Priyanka Chopra?) interact with the users through her own identities on these platforms. Or used a location based tool like Foursquare (or FB Pages or later Google Places) to start building a resource for salons and tips at each place (think of a Burrp! for salons), maybe in sync with a YouTube channel for tips.

Pantene: Good Morning! They obviously missed a little thing when they didn’t pay attention to the pwnage of DNA at the hands of the Times Group during the former’s launch campaign in Mumbai back in 2005 (?), or the more recent Airtel- Reliance DTH fun. Not to mention the cliche that after a certain point, the only person who gets teased is the brand manager. Ok, I won’t overstate, but c’mon this is a real-time era AND they did walk into a Dovetailed ambush. Since the internet already has made them un-mysterious (thanks for that info, Karthik), maybe Pantene should have just added those FB page and Twitter links to their mass media communication, and solved the mystery immediately online. Mind you, thanks to our dismal internet penetration, they could still demystify it again on mass media, later, after perhaps, adding the content from their online and offline activities. (think non market research agency 80%) That way, there would’ve been at least some buffer against a Dove’s sneak attack. Arguable, but possible.

Dove: All of us should take the time and remember the controversy over the ‘campaign for real beauty’. But hey, they saw an opportunity and used it. Effects on long term goals are again arguable.

A little note on ‘low involvement’. I wrote about brands, content and new media platforms in the last post, in the context of the Old Spice campaign, and also mentioned the importance of ‘intent’ and setting objectives. Once the ‘why’ is done, the relevant crowd can be identified, along with the platforms and activation strategies – ‘(to) who’, where and what. (Read Rohit Awasthi’s comment on Karthik’s first post) When the ‘right’ content is pitched to the ‘right’ people at the ‘right’ time (and the ‘right’ platform too), very few categories are low involvement.  (read Naina’s comment on that post) And that’s the beauty of the web in general, and the tools that social media have provided marketers. Old Spice could be seen as low involvement too, until they did this campaign.

But having mostly seen communication as advertising (except arguably PR), creating content for social platforms is in itself quite a challenge for brand managers. Even if they were to  view ‘social’ as ‘media’, it requires a complete realignment of how media and content strategy is done, mostly because the mechanics of distribution are completely different. At a fundamental level, brands are dependent on users of platforms to create a buzz, and money doesn’t always work. At this point, tools can help with the ‘time’ (including location and other contexts) and ‘people’ (interest), and the way it works, if the ‘content’ is done right, people will get other people.

Therefore brand managers need to make a more diligent effort. The fragmentation of traditional media does not seem to have made much of an impact on the costs involved in using them as distribution channels. So when ‘social media’  presents ‘free’ channels, brand managers see a value proposition and jump right in with a TVC and or/other weapons of mass mediocrity. Brands, I believe, need to invest a bit more on who they’re trying to reach, and then invest some more on building content and designing networks and constructs (irrespective of platform) that will drive the crowd to interact with the content and share it more. Content and people that will drive more connections, and help meet everyone’s objectives.

But yes, until Augmented Reality allows me to scan a shampoo and tell me how many of my friends liked it, and think I should use it, (though my hair won’t last that long 😐 ) lets keep playing all the shampoo games we can play. :) And while on using social platforms purely with a sales objective, I’m reminded of how Grandma uses her laptop. (vid below) Can it be used for those purposes? Of course! But is that its best case use? We can argue 😉

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg6emajJmEo

until next time, sometimes brand strategies can be real poo!!

“Bridging the Social Media Divide”

There’s this hashtag on Twitter – #bsmd, which stands for “Bridging the Social Media Divide”. The first meeting was hosted by Pinstorm, and discussed (according to the Pinstorm blog) “how marketers and social media enthusiasts can work together and forge ways of advertising via Social Media that are not intrusive while being RoI driven”. Again, quoting from the post

While the social media enthusiasts believed that the medium required a change of mindset on the part of the marketers, the latter believed the medium needed more metrics and case studies to highlight that it was RoI driven.

Here’s another post that captured the entire discussion. My earlier post on Maggi and the social media opportunity compelled me to write this.  Let’s start with the disclaimers – the following are IMHO, as a brand manager and a reasonably zealous social media user. I have linked to a few earlier posts because these points have been made before,  no sense detailing them again. :)

  • The concept of internet itself wasn’t sold to marketers in a day, how old is social media? Just because social media is real-time now, does not mean the buy in has to be.
  • With the single digit penetration that India has, at a basic internet connectivity level, there’s bound to be skepticism, especially when the concept does not adhere to the principles of RoI which have been followed religiously so far
  • Its only with the kind of penetration that the US has, that it’s been able to provide the kind of social media examples it has – and that’s across multiple services – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter
  • As the cliche goes, India is a very different market. Case studies from the US can at best, offer us perspective. What works in that market quite likely will not find acceptance here, unless there is some basic commonality
  • Perhaps the sellers should attempt to show Indian examples of how brands are being talked about in social media, with a context that the marketer can relate to – it may be the same category, same audience demographic, or if its possible, his own brand.
  • The sellers should also realise that the internet is still being sold as a commodity with measurement criteria that the industry has agreed upon. Unfortunately, its difficult to separate social media and internet.
  • Perhaps 0.0/1.0 to 2.0 cannot be a single leap, and has to have at least a 1.5 in the middle, since it might even shifts in organisational culture. (earlier post)
  • Even social media enthusiasts are still grappling with the media. Besides, increasingly, all of social media is becoming a one-to-one, real time conversation mechanism. The contexts differ, and each conversation is unique. So, shouldn’t each marketer should have different metrics, basis his requirements rather than hope for  generic spoon fed criteria.
  • The seller should monitor not just talks about the brand in social media, but what the brand is (and has been) doing across media, and figure out how social media can fit into these plans, then the measurement criteria might emerge more easily.
  • Social media might be a revolution, but the ‘mindset’ that the enthusiasts speak of is an ‘evolution’. How many times has a marketer been encouraged to use/increase his usage of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc by the agency? For a ‘full contact sport’ medium whose understanding is usage based, isn’t that a must before a social media sales pitch happens?
  • The social media sellers could try to work with not just the marketer but also the ad agencies, MR firms, PR firms, and any other entity associated with the brand
    • How about ad agencies being able to use social media and the precise demographics it offers to do pre  testing of campaigns, and have consumer feedback while presenting to the client – helps them make a better case
    • How about PR firms adding ‘conversations in social media’ as part of their targets?
    • How about brand tracks having an internet component? Online brand salience and equity? Or separate brand tracks online if the brand’s target demographics warrant it? After all, isn’t everyone claiming to be a youth brand now?
    • This also comes from my view that social media is a strategy, and not a campaign or one that fits into Brand/PR slots. It can fit into all parts of the product life cycle, and be used for various , if not all sub domains of marketing. Where, and to what degree is useful depends on the brand and its internal and external dynamics.
  • Marketers, look closely at the metrics you follow in other media, and you can barely count those where you’re not just basing the entire spend on reach.  (my earlier rant on the subject)
  • Social media might be a good way to test out the long tail of brand communication. (my post, and the  link to the original paper here)
  • Social media works if it is an investment, not a spend. There is a difference, think about it. (an earlier related post) Once the difference is established, the perspective on returns might change
  • While on the subject of spend, we all know how much it ‘costs” to make a FB/Twitter/YouTube account, a WP blog etc, the actual costs are for maintaining a lively interaction. So sellers, please bill accordingly. :)
  • Finally, what is the value that a seller brings to the brand manager who handles these accounts perhaps with the help of other evangelists in the organisation?

until next time, keep the faith

PS. A good read – Social Media ROI.

Figuring Social Media?

Recently, Jeremiah Owyang wrote about Intel’s community efforts, which also throws light on the join vs create debate that has intrigued me too, for quite sometime. Intel’s marketing manager is of the view that companies should join active communities, rather than trying to create them at corporate websites. The two examples used for Intel’s efforts are those it did at Digg and Slashdot. There’s also the middle path, start the conversation on social networks and then take them outside to you own site, but I’m not a big fan of that either.

I have a feeling that the reluctance for brands to join (as opposed to create) is because of the lack of control it entails. On their own website, it’d be easy. Besides, a neutral venue (like a social network) means that a brand cannot restrict its conversations to spokespersons it chooses, like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic found out to their dismay. There’s probably another reason why companies prefer their own websites – with company websites, it’d be easy to define and track ROI, based on the clicks, time spend etc, but how can ROI on activities on other sites be defined and calculated? Of course, there are ways to track online reputation, like Trackur, for example, but I wonder what metrics should be applied to figure out the effectiveness of an activity. After all, its no longer just a linear (banner – click, though that seems to be working well on social networks too) set of activities that happen on social networks now. But again, ROI entails that its an investment. From some of the activities I see on social media, I doubt whether many brands see it that way. Also, I agree with what’s discussed in this post – that ” The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable”. While the ‘how’ is indeed a debate, we also need to be clear about what we measure. Here’s a great post by Dina on the subject on ROI, in which she also explores the things that should be measured.

I think its too early for brands to take examples of others’ activities and use them as a template for their own activities. After all, according to this article, a majority of marketing guys are still learning the media,  and apparently, close to 90% of them who are involved in programs are not measuring the ROI of theor efforts. Or maybe ‘too early’ is a wrong phrase, with the dynamic nature of social media, perhaps the time for fixed templates is over. Perhaps, there are only broad indications and inferences that can be derived, but brands would have to evolve their own set of activities, and their own methods of defining and tracking ‘ROI’ on social media, basis their strategic intent. (Nike seems to have done a smart job in that respect) ‘ROI’, because, I can’t think of any other term that would mean ‘results for the efforts made’. In this context, I’d also recommend this post very highly – the 5 critical responsibilities of a social media expert.

But perhaps, as this article notes, it needs to start way earlier, like companies allowing employees, access to YouTube, facebook etc in office, and understanding that the media consumption habits that digital natives have created are also creating changes in business environments and communication methodologies. Maybe that’s a good place to start a reworking of business strategy.

until next time, the medium is the message

PS. A great read on how remarkable companies are creating consumer evangelists (download pdf) (via Himanshu’s blog)

Creating Super Brands

Found an excellent article shared via Reader (thanks to @vimoh) which sought to mash marketing, and more specifically, social media into the life of Superman. Through this example, and three different scenarios, it shows the typical position of an older brand, presented with new competitors and having to cope with a changing media landscape. The article itself is an absolute laugh riot and brings to light the various kinds of social media ‘experts’ operating today, with their own prescriptions for social media triumph. It ends with the simple but (what i consider) correct lesson of staying true to yourself, and doing the best possible you can.

On a similar context, I found another article that talked about how

“Soleil-Media Metrics analyst Laura Martin cut her rating on Google to “Hold” from “Buy” and slashed her price target to $350 from $580…saying the company’s practice of giving 10 percent of profits to charity and giving employees one day a week to work on pet projects should end amid the current economic climate………she highlighted another company practice she believes should end – “the confusing myriad of non-revenue producing Google-products in the marketplace.””

The Google culture has had a tremendous influence on the awesome products that are must-have’s now. Would anyone with that understanding have made a statement like this? I shudder to think what this analyst would say about say, Twitter, if ever it got listed..hmmm

While I’m definitely not against a revenue model for social media, or an ROI concept for the brands/organisations that involve themselves in social media, I am against the typical Wall Street business analyst’s parameters of returns. Mashable has a good post on figuring out the ROI models in social media. Here is another good post on selling the social media concept in your organisation.

I absolutely subscribe to this line of thought (via Online Marketing Blog). Applying the regular ROI metrices to social media is going to take away from the essence of what social media is all about. What’s the next step – how do i monetise my relationship with my friend on Facebook?

Meanwhile, this is a contrarian view on listening to customers, and this is a very interesting read on the busting of Web 2.0. Coming from someone who’s seen it all right from Dotcom Bust 1.0, i think it pays to at least listen.

If the intent is wrong, social media cannot help. Social media can only help if you have a good product, willingness to involve the users, and accept their feedback to improve the product. If the idea is to simply use social media as just another platform to air commercials/messages, build in templates like ‘corporate blog’ and ‘user generated content’ and then apply typical ROI metrices to track and measure it, social media will disappoint, but a great intent and a great product will have the potential to create a super brand.

until next time, its a brand new social world…