There is a vast amount of research that has been conducted recently regarding the consumers’ preferred method of receiving marketing communication. A recent study by Forrester Research, and commissioned by ExactTarget, highlights that the majority of consumers today still have a strong affinity towards email.
The important take out: Consumers prefer email at a rate of three-to-one when compared with any other avenue for marketing communications such as social media, Instant Messaging, phone and SMS!
Despite the abundance of research that all points towards email being the marketing method of choice for consumers, why do marketers continue to ignore this?
Despite the spike of Internet users using social media, for example three quarters of Australian online adults now use social technologies (Forrester: Australian Adult Social Technographics Revealed 2008), as a general rule, consumers are NOT open to receiving marketing communication via this channel.
As social media continues to boom with new channels for communication being created everyday (with new social networking sites and the like popping up), there is an overreliance and tendency to use this medium for all-purposes in order to reach the masses.
Unfortunately we forego the very fundamental principles of Marketing 101.
We need to stop, think, plan and go back to basics:
Who are our customers?
Where are they?
What are their preferences for receiving marketing messages?
What are the right messages for each customer segment?
What channel do we use to reach them?
A quick Google search and some top line research is enough to reveal where our customers’ preferences sit. It’s all very simple. Follow the basic principles of marketing and target the right marketing messages to the right audience based on their preferences using the appropriate channels!
Yet sadly we are missing the point! We’re frustrating consumers and, ultimately, not getting the outcomes that we desire!
Should anonymous commenting on blogs, forums, social networking sites and microblogging sites such as Twitter be allowed? Is it ethical?
I’m inclined to lean strongly towards the negative argument. l’d suggest that anonymous posting goes against the very fundamental principles behind social media and the importance of authenticity and transparency when operating in online communities. It’s therefore very interesting to see that there are new online tools and services popping up that encourage this very behaviour.
Two of the latest examples are as follows:
One of the services implies tweeting for ‘good’ and the other for ‘bad’.
I’ll be interested to see the sorts of tweets that get shared on both of these services. I’m particularly interested to know what sort of tweets make it to the ‘Tweet From Above’ service. If there’s something good to share - a fabulous CSR initiative by a company, something great that a colleague has helped you with, your love of Sunsilk shampoo - why not put your name to it and share it with the world?
I can understand the reason for not putting your name to posts that comes from ‘Tweet From Below’, but surely this is just another service that has the potential to flare up cyber-bullying!
Are there any valid reasons for commenting anonymously? The assumption would be that one would only do so if they have something to hide. Perhaps what they are posting is factually incorrect or perhaps they are simply gossip mongering. Whatever the case, I don’t agree with it.
I’d be keen to hear if anyone has any thoughts on when anonymous commenting would be permissible.
Nate Cochrane pens his rules for social media etiquette on Australian new site, iTNews. And in a style true to the very fundamentals of social media which encourage active sharing and participation, he has made a point to list the rules he outlines as a work in progress and has opened it up for discussion on the site.
One of the rules that he points out is one that we tend to forget: ‘Quality NOT quantity’. Too often PRs get flack for doing a last minute dash to sign up as many people in their network to become friends/ fans on their clients’ Facebook groups and pages or on their Twitter handles.
As PRs, we need to continue to educate our clients that the real value does not lie in the sheer volume of people we sign up but rather in the quality of the people we engage (even if it’s only a handful!).
Consider who your target audience is, where do they frequent and how to reach them. Who is in your fans/ friends extended networks. Are they the right audience to target?
Using Twitter as an example, it’s important to do the analysis and drill down into who the person is that you want to connect with, get to know them, follow them for a while and find out what they write about. Also have a look into who follows that person, are they the appropriate person for your client to be reaching out to or is there someone in their Twitter network that is better?
The following tool can help you determine the most appropriate people to follow:
If we want to get some real and long lasting results for our clients, the key is to make sure that we’re speaking to the right audiences!
I want to explore the notion of people ‘trimming the fat’. I think we are increasingly seeing people explore different avenues and ways to improve their lives and ‘trimming the fat’ provides a good platform for people to do so. There’s no denying that times are tough - the current economic climate has impacted us all in one way or another… some stronger than others. Trimming the fat helps people declutter and space-save in order to regain a sense of control over their lives. This can be a cathartic experience.
People are trimming the fat with regards to ’self’. There has never been more low-fat food options on the market, nor have we seen more weight-loss clinics and services popping up around the world (think Jenny Craig, Lite ‘n’ Easy etc…).
With reference to the ‘home’, people are decluttering their personal space to free up space in their lives. Spring clearning has become a more regular year-round activity rather than a seasonal one. Minimalist home design and decor is also becoming increasingly popular.
With regards to ‘work’, the latest technologies (gadgets, applications, hardware and software) are helping people trim the fat and stay connected to the things that matter (friends, family, colleagues, work).
Trimming out the fat in the workplace helps people work smarter and faster - ultimately encouraging more productive work practices.
Technologies such as smartphones, new ultra-thin notebooks and wireless Internet connectivity are making it easy for us to trim the fat at work - minimise downtime and remain connected.
I’m keen to explore this further. If anyone has any thoughts, please drop me a line.
Are people doing anything else to trim the fat in their lives?
I’m keen to understand how the global recession is impacting social media and particularly the North American powerhouse, Silicon Valley. I’m interested in the develpments occurring at Silicon Valley mostly because today we can consider it the backbone behind a lot of the big Web 2.0 companies.
Belts seem to be tightening in all industries across the board - banking, automotive, retail and so on - yet we’re still seeing big injections of capital in many of the Web 2.0 companies.
Take micro-blogging service Twitter for example. It was announced this week that Twitter has managed to raise $35 million in venture capital in spite of the challenging economic climate. This capital has come from Institutional Venture Partners and Benchmark Capital.
Are venture capitalists finally seeing the real value of Web 2.0 in helping deal with challenging times ahead?
I think that social media will come out on top in these tough times as people start using it as a means of cost-saving on entertainment. This is especially important at a time when people are becoming increasingly budget-conscious and are rather choosing to bunker indoors and save their pennies.
I’m a good example of this. I seem to find myself on fewer outings to the movies and instead I keep my cinema experience to my lounge room with my LCD TV, entertainment system and complete surround sound system. In fact, I can’t remember the last movie I saw at the cinemas but I could rattle off at least five DVDs that I have watched at home. I also spend less time travelling and more time talking to my friends overseas via Facebook and Twitter.
There are a plethora of online technologies and digital devices out there that provide consumers with their own portal to entertainment. Aside from big screen TVs that bring you a cinema at home, there are also notebook PCs to consider.
Notebooks are another means of cost-effective entertainment to online services such as online gaming, online video, video conferencing and instant connection to friends and family via IM, social networking sites, email or Skype with those embedded with broadband solutions.
Interestingly enough, consumer experts are also already tipping that many Australians will use the planned $950 Rudd Government cash handouts to splurge on games and gadgets, following record spending on electronics last year (as reported by the Courier Mail).
I’ll be watching these developments closely but please feel free to share any information specifically around how you think social media will fare in light of the global recession.
So we’ve all been hearing and reading a lot about “The Best Job in the World”, the destination marketing campaign by Tourism Queensland. In short, Tourism Queensland put out a worldwide call for candidates to apply for a Great Barrier Reef-based job paying $150,000. This has played out quite nicely in social media - in particular on video aggregator sites such as YouTube.
The winner will need to become friendly with the locals and explore the Great Barrier Reef and indulge in activities that make up the island experience - swimming, diving, snorkelling and hanging out on the beach. As part of the ‘dream’ job, the successful applicant will also need to post their adventures on a blog, regularly updating it with the latest photos and video footage.
In order to apply, the candidates have been asked to create and submit a 60-second video of themselves. Part of a $1.7 million global marketing strategy and, according to a report in The Australian, the campaign is expected to generate more than $70 million worth of publicity for Queensland.
This is a great feat given the current financial crisis and particularly now that the heat has turned up in Australia. It was announced yesterday that NSW is officially in recession and this is expected to spread throughout Australia, according to the Access Economics’ Business Outlook for December 2008 (although there are still mixed reports about this). This campaign is raising the profile of this holiday destination at a time where people are less inclined to travel. This campaign is putting Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef on the global map.
Although this campaign is attracting widespread attention both locally and across the globe, there has also been a recent flurry of backlash. Yesterday, Tourism Queensland admitted to seeding a fake video of a candidate applying for the ‘dream’ job. The video is of a girl getting an advertisement for the Great Barrier Reef tattooed on her arm. The spoof video was uncovered by YouTube frequenters who acknowledged the video as a fake as there was no red on her arm immediately after getting the tattoo.
It was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald that this video was intended as an“…example of the creativity Tourism Queensland expected from applicants, and to spur people to post their own videos”.
This comes at a time where there has been a fair bit of scepticism around the use of video sites such as YouTube to promote a cause. The most recent example of self-promotion is the video of Heidi Clarke, a girl who posted a YouTube video about a man that she briefly met and spoke to at a CBD cafe.
The apparent man had left his jacket behind and because she insists she felt a ‘connection’ with him, she wanted to use the video site to try and find him. Not only did we see widespread coverage of this on YouTube and online news sites but this extended to traditional news outlets including TV. We are still yet to uncover whether in fact the girl and her cause is genuine but it is widely believed that this, too, is a fake.
Despite the furore of using social media and covert marketing to promote a cause, this has still been a unique and innovative destination marketing campaign. We are still seeing other applicants upload their own 60-second videos to YouTube.
The main point though – will it serve the purpose of attracting tourism, adding Queensland to peoples’ lists of holiday hot spots or at least getting people excited? I say ‘yes’.
It’s been really interesting to see how the terrorist attacks in India, Mumbai, have played out using social media - Twitter and blogging in particular. In fact, I am led to believe that social media even beat traditional media to the punch with the announcement of this news.
Some Twitter users used the micro-blogging platform to send out calls for blood donors to make their way to Mumbai hospital where existing and anticipated casualties were being sent. It was also used to get news out fast on those that had been injured and killed and information regarding support numbers for those that had friends and family involved in the attacks were also posted on Twitter.
Although this has been a great tool to get information out on what those on the ground were experiencing in instantaneous nature, it has also fuelled a rumour-mill. There are accounts of Twitter users publishing posts exaggerating the number of casualties and generally sensationalising the situation of the attacks.
CNN reported in the article I cite above: “What is clear that although Twitter remains a useful tool for mobilizing efforts and gaining eyewitness accounts during a disaster, the sourcing of most of the news cannot be trusted.”
People caught up in the Mumbai attacks, including the hotel hostages, were also using their blogs as a news medium to disseminate information on the situation on the ground in India. Bloggers posted their accounts of the tragedy when it unfolded, as it unfolded.
This is indeed a strong reminder of how powerful social media can be as a disseminator of news - whether this news is entirely factually correct or not. Social media has the power to beat traditional media to the punch due to its instantaneous nature and a force to be reckoned with. It’s an online tour de force for distributing instant information to the masses.
I’m interested to get your thoughts on this. Do you think social media played too large a part to play in telling the stories surrounding these tragic circumstances? Do you think it levels the playing field between traditional media and citizen journalists and social media? Feel free to contribute other parts of the discussion that are missing in this post.
The hot topic at the moment is the uncertain economic environment - something that is rearing its head in all industries and all walks off life today. As I have mentioned previously, I am keen to explore over time what impact this changing landscape will have on the PR industry next year.
As PR/ comms. budgets are typically the first to get stripped in organisations, will we see PR evaluation and measurement become an even more crucial tool for reporting in this uncertain economic time? Will we increasingly use it as a means for us, as PR professionals, to justify our worth?
And as Graham White, MD of Ogilvy PR company, Howorth, and Tech PR Nibbles blogger put it nicely: “More than ever we need to be accountable and in a recession, PR has to be part of the effectiveness mindset.”
I’ll be interested to see if the big agencies create, brand, package and sell PR measurement methodologies unique to their businesses and to their clients. If PR agencies are not already using PR measurement as a fundamental tool for evaluation and follow-through on client campaigns and projects, surely it is something they will look to in the coming year.
Despite the importance of PR measurement in the uncertain time, I would have to agree with many wise people before my time that historically, PR measurement has been (and still is) elusive. The complexities of measuring PR are never black and white.
I am interested in your take on this topic? Will we iron out the problems we had historically had with PR measurement? Will evaluation become second nature for PR professionals in their daily work (if it isn’t already)? Will PR take a hit or rise in the economic downturn?
I have mentioned the benefits of using social bookmarking sites before but I think it’s beneficial to mention it again - mainly people seem to be more receptive to using online Web 2.0 tools these days. And more and more, we are seeing people use these tools in a professional sense.
For example, PR practitioners and journalists in Australia are now frequenting Twitter as part of their daily grind. Journalists are using Twitter to put a shout out for spokespeople for stories they are writing. PR practitioners are shouting out news announcements and interview opportunities in a bid to get media interest.
I’m a great fan of Digg. For those newbies out there, a ‘digg’ is similar to a favourite.
The content on Digg is submitted by the consumer and is voted on by other consumers. The more ‘diggs’ you get on content that you have uploaded, the higher up it climbs in the Digg ranks. If you’re content is absolutely fabulous and many people are ‘digging’ it, it can even be promoted to the front site page for millions of site visitors to see.
Digg is a fantastic example and proof point of a successful online community!
Leveraging these sites as a PR professional or a journalist
If you receive a fantastic piece of online media coverage for a client of yours, you can upload it to Digg. You will then be asked to submit the content along with a title, description and a tag that is suitable for the content.
What are the benefits? More journalists today are using social bookmarking sites to research specific categories. And It’s a tool you can use to try and generate additional media coverage for a client.
If you aren’t already doing so, I would suggest that you join Digg. Upload your published online content to the site. By submitting stories here you are extending your reach to a truly global audience. You can even build a cult following in Digg - those that will get to know and love your stories, read them and share them on with others.
Bloggers are using Digg as part of their daily beat as well. Increasingly, we are seeing instances of where bloggers or journalists pick up others news stories from Digg and reference it in their blogs - increasing the popularity of the story and the site origination.
I encourage you all to set up a Digg account and start experimenting. I’d love to hear your thoughts on social bookmarking sites? Can it really work to leverage stories? Can you really generate additional media coverage by submitting content to the site?
I read a really interesting article on the emerging social media trend of ‘dark marketing’ which takes a very much ‘covert’ approach. It provides examples of companies that have implemented stealth tactics in order to reach and sway influencers and potential influencers without engaging them directly with a brand.
Dark Marketing was defined as “…discretely sponsored online and real world entertainment intended to reach hipster audiences that would ordinarily shun corporate shilling” by Tom Edwards in this article.
In order to give a balanced account of this marketing approach, I have provided a couple of positive and negative examples. Sony recently launched a ‘Fake Tourist’ campaign in which it seeded Sony camera users in a central location and asked them to engage with people to take their picture with the desired goal to lead to a ‘pseudo-pitch’ around the product. This approach faced widespread criticism as it was considered a sly tactic to try and drive up sales of Sony’s latest camera product.
Another example is Vespa in the U.S. (which isn’t listed in this particular article I am referring to). Vespa actually hired attractive models to ride around on its scooters and up to bystanders in order to lure them, with their looks, into asking for their phone number. At this point, the Vespa driver would hand out a phone number and ride off (kind of like what you would expect to see in a movie). The catch? When the bystanders called the number, they were actually directly connected to a Vespa dealership!
Don’t be disillusioned. There are examples of this sort of activity that can work – but importantly, the activity needs to be ‘smart’ and cannot offend consumers.
An example used in the article of where this stealth tactic has worked is McDonalds and its recent ‘Lost Ring’ campaign. The Lost Ring was a virtual reality viral game targeted at youth and aimed at subtly promoting the McDonald’s brand and its partnership with the Olympics. It was in fact so discrete that it was almost (and still is) impossible to attribute this back to the McDonald’s brand. Not one single instance of a golden arch. The interesting thing here is that even post-campaign period – the site has a really simple survey mechanism to solicit feedback from site visitors – and still subtle in its branding.
Marketers are getting smarter – and so they must – especially if they (and we) want to be able to reach out to and make an impact on relevant brand influencers both online and offline.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on covert/ stealth marketing. Do you think it’s right/ wrong?
Media Relations Myths