Is she nuts? Social Responsibility costs money, and that was cut long ago. I know that’s what many of you are thinking. Hear me out. I think the planets are aligning to give companies more courage and motivation to align themselves with social causes. Here’s why:
1. Give the People What They Want. The data is everywhere: regardless of age or country of origin, people want to help people and they prefer brands that help people. Pretty simple stuff. But the numbers that support this thinking are encouraging and I think a little surprising. In the Pew Research Center’s Millennials study released last month, there is an interesting statistic that 21% of Millennials say that helping people who are in need is one of the most important things in their life - more important to them in fact than owning a home or being successful in a high paying career. Will their views change as they age and become less idealistic? I wonder. A December 2009 Yankelovich study showed 69% of consumers say that when a company donates to or does something for school or community, they think its right to buy things from that company as often as possible - a 10% jump in that answer from 2005. During this recession, consumers may not be giving as much money, but they certainly are giving their time. And they seem to be responding favorably to brands that give both.
2. Social is as Social Does. Social media has absolutely changed the relationship between brand and consumer, giving them more direct lines of communication. But as the medium starts to mature, or we as marketers get more experience in working in it, it seems that some corporate-driven initiatives that have an investment tie to social causes receive a stronger, more lasting embrace by their online communities. Think Coke’s investment in the Heart Truth to raise awareness for women and heart disease. The take-away? Most every brand steward not living under a rock is looking for a way to engage stakeholders and influencers via social media. B2C or B2B. The challenge is finding an idea or campaign that isn’t fleeting and has enough interest and appeal to be embraced by those online communities. So partnerships with social causes seem like a very authentic way to reach people around issues they are already passionate about with something they’ll really appreciate from a brand; putting money and effort where its brand mouth is.
3. As the Big Brands Go, Others Will Follow. Smart marketers have already identified this cultural desire for individuals and companies to be more involved in their community and pay it forward. President Obama has called for increased volunteerism. Pepsi has harnessed this desire to help others though their Pepsi Refresh campaign. At (client) Intel’s January launch of its Core processors, the company decided to partner with soccer powerhouse Mia Hamm. As part of Intel’s launch with Mia, the company made a donation to the Mia Hamm Foundation, which Mia created to raise funds and awareness for families needing marrow or cord blood transplants, and to foster opportunities for young women in sports.
I bet we’re only seeing the first set of waves on these kinds of campaigns. And I think that’s a good thing.
What do you think?
Can corporate initiatives (funding & resources) and programs for the social good co-exist without the “eeeew” factor?
When it comes to analysis on how well these programs help the bottom line, if all buying criteria are equal, could the consumer sentiment model hold true for B2B purchases and tip the scales towards socially-conscious corporations?
Is there a happy intersection of doing good and for-profit endeavors?
Boy I hope so. Earth Day’s just over a month away. Any campaign ideas on the whiteboard that could do some earthly good?
At the Australian launch of Windows7 today, Microsoft has invited Twitter followers to take part, with the event being streamed live through Ustream.tv . These followers have the chance to engage directly with senior Microsoft executives, and during the Q&A session, every fourth question will come directly from the Twitter feed.
However, a number of journalists are not keen. First they would prefer questions only come from journalists at the event itself. Second, they’re worried the Twitter questions will be filtered and that only the easy ones will be answered. Third, they’re concerned it will take up too much time and give real journalists less opportunity to table their questions. But with only 140 characters and no follow up, it’s not likely to be a time consuming exercise.
One alternative suggestion put forward by a journalist is to run a Q&A by the likes of Slashdot and Digg, where questions are crowd sourced, than a top ten are posed to the interviewee and would better represent what the audience wants to know.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how it goes and the reaction. Twitter is now common place on TV with live studio audience shows using it to get questions in real time from viewers.
How many other PRs, particularly from the tech sector, are incorporating Twitter feeds like this into big events? What has the feedback been? Keen to hear what people think.
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!
Owned by Kraft, a new recipe of Vegemite was launched a few months back, but without a name. Instead, the name was entrusted to the Australian public as a competition. This week, the winning entry was unveiled and it has been called – iSnack 2.0. Yep, can you believe it? How can you give food a name like that. What is going on?
As you would expect, the public is equally puzzled. As is the modern debate, the social media channels have been on fire with opinions on both sides. The mainstream media has also reported heavily, both here in Australia and overseas, given the iconic status of the Vegemite brand and probably because it’s such an unusual name.
Personally, I have to agree with the negative camp. It is one of the most unusual product names in living memory.
What do you think?
Or, is it going to be remembered as a smart PR stunt to simply get people talking about the product? Would we be at all surprised if the product is re-named in a few weeks, due to the weight of negative consumer feedback? We will find out soon enough.
In the meantime, like it’s famous UK counterpart Marmite, you will either love it or hate it (the iSnack 2.0 name I mean).
Update: Kraft has just announced it has dropped the iSnack 2.0 name and will get the Australian public to vote again.
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!
Graham White from our Australian office picked up this piece coming from the UK. The Archbishop of Westminster believes that social networks “..led young people to form “transient relationships”, which put them at risk of suicide when the relationships collapsed.“
This piece follows an earlier discussion in Indonesia earlier in the year among the Muslim ulamaks, saying social networks promote promiscuity between the sexes, and there were calls for Facebook to be made “haram” (forbidden under Islamic practices). Facebook, mind you, is the top-ranked site in Indonesia, with more than 800,000 users.
Compare the thoughts of the Archbishop and the Indonesian ulamaks (whom I assume are not digital natives), with those of these commentators, (whom I assume are digital natives).
The reflection here is that social media/ networks are not just secular or technology or mass media or marketing phenomena, it’s impacting religious practices, so much so that religious leaders have started commenting on them.
In other words, what’s clear is that social media/networks are truly affecting and changing society (well, at least in the developed nations with Internet access).
With social media becoming such an impact into our lives, shouldn’t we embrace it more, and look at the positive aspects of it?
There is a new web application that we have been using within our Digital Influence practice that I believe can be beneficial when beginning just about any initiative. It’s called “Tag Crowd” (http://tagcrowd.com/) and essentially, it allows you to make your own tag cloud from content that you either upload or copy and paste. You can also add in a URL and they will create a visual tag cloud of the word frequency contained in that entire site.
So how would this tool be useful in a PR setting?
There are many differing opinions on the value of citizen journalists, and often they can be negative. But no matter what your own personal opinion may be, I think we all have to agree there is a place for it. The recent Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Hudson plane crash or the events that have unfolded in Tehran are all good examples.
In an interesting move, TechCrunch has just reported that You Tube launched a new channel called Reporters’ Center over the weekend. The goal is to educate us on how to be better citizen journalists. A number of journalists and media experts will share instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting. Media training is a better way of describing it.
It also shows that real journalists DO embrace citizen journalists, which is great to see. I know from comments here in Australia, a lot of journalists have been very negative. Their reasons vary, but largely it’s either because they feel threatened, or they just like to bag the quality of it. On the latter, they often have a case, but really there is no real threat here. There is always a place for quality journalism and I think citizen journalists now provide a new source for stories, with several major events breaking first from video or a tweet.
I think this will be a great training resource, and if it means the quality of citizen journalism will improve, that has to be a good thing right?
I guess there will be some journalist’s that will still trash it, but if they do, at least they now have a chance to improve it. Like Katie and Bob, they can simply jump in front of a camera and share their tips with the rest of us. We shall see.
This diverse group of prolific content creators and tech-setters includes:
-Brian Solis of Bub.blicio.us and PR 2.0
-Cathy Brooks of Other Than That
-Sarah Austin of Pop17
-Justine Ezarik, iJustine
-JD Lasica, author of Darknet and publisher of SocialMedia.biz
-Adriana Gascoigne of Girls in Tech
-Irina Slutsky of Geek Entertainment TV
-Frank Gruber of Somewhat Frank
-Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher
-Christian Perry of SF Beta and Snap Summit
Since the launch of the program, we’ve collaborated with the Insiders on a number of fun projects that’s helped Intel extend their reach and build key relationships with the online tech community. Highlights from the first year of our program have included a range of activities from hosting the Intel CES Kick-off Blogger Party, inside looks and visits to Intel’s FAB in Portland, Oregon and attendance at multiple industry and Intel events such as Computex, SxSW, ISEF and Intel Developer Forum (IDF). continue reading
Thanks for joining the conversation and stay tuned for more updates, ideas and content.
David Carlson: Social Media and Traditional PR