Being a Denver Nuggets fan, I was recently reminded that Mark Cuban has said some off the wall things. Having said that, he often provides some very interesting and thought provoking ideas on the world of social media. His recent post in late May “Who Cares What People Write?” is a good example of the latter.
Cuban shares some interesting ideas around “Outties” (content creators that fit into professional “Outties” as well as amateur “Outties”) and “Innies” (who are “passive consumers of web writings” or consumers who “read watch and listen to the professional “Outties” and ignore the amateur “Outties”"). The idea being that professional “Outties” are generally established, branded sites with strong/large readership and amateur “Outties” are people looking for an audience (commenters, retweeters, reposters, etc.) who are creating content to be discovered. Read his post for the full scoop and he closes with a pretty interesting wrap up of the concept…
The moral of the story is that on the internet, volume is not engagement . Traffic is not reach. When you see things written about a person, place or thing you care about, whether its positive or negative, take a very deep breath before thinking that the story means anything to anyone but you.
It was also a concept expanded on by the Progress & Freedom Foundation’s Senior Fellow and Director, Center of Digital Media Freedom Adam D. Thierer. Adam’s blog does a nice job of framing Cuban’s thoughts and adding some additional parallels to them around Power Laws as well as Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory.
I think the one area that is not captured in either blog is the importance of recognizing the conversation that is happening — whether they are driven by the professional or amateur “Outties.” While I agree with Cuban that volume is not engagement and traffic is not reach, but I also believe that all comments, re-posts, link backs, tweets/re-tweets, blogs expanding on a topic or theme, etc. (like this one) are part of the conversation that is taking place. The collective conversation is the piece that matters for brands.
A simplified example of this would be to search for your brand on Twitter and see what’s being said. One person with 15 followers may be saying something that may be able to be dismissed, but if 10, 20 or 50 people with 15 followers each are saying something, after you take your deep breadth, it may be worth taking a closer look and joining the conversation.
The role of communications is indeed changing and how we think about creating or sharing a message is something that needs to be considered. I think this is one of the key reasons companies are starting to act more like publishers or content providers — to ensure anyone (either professional or amateur) can participate in their story, share it and share their perspectives on it.
Regardless of which outtie you are thinking of or the innie you are trying to reach, always consider the importance of helping foster conversation through your communications initaitives.
If you’re a Sheryl Crow fan like me, you’ll recognize the lyrics from Maybe Angels. But in this economy, B2B marketers and Tech PR pros are dying to believe that IT decision-makers are out there ‘angels of the technology economy’ that they are - ready to be engaged.
And Forrester Research says they are out there. Forrester’s just released study The Social Technographics Of B2B Buyers by Laura Ramos and Oliver Young looks to be a fantastic study on what buyers of technology products are doing with social media. We knew they were out there, I swear. But its been difficult to determine who they are (still is), and what exactly they’ve been doing with social media as it relates to their jobs (now we’ve got the first look). The good news is they are on the whole (77%) engaging with social media, though predominantly as what Forrester calls ’spectators’. Which is fine. That’s what we do in PR; reach out to target audiences (active or spectator) to foster positive engagements.
Take a look. Laura Ramos gives a nice overview of the study on her blog. Our B2B technology PR clients have done some effective initial forays into social media. Now with greater data to prove the right targets will be there, there’s no time to lose to jump in with both feet.
Tech PR in 2009 and beyond.
A new year. A new American President. A bad recession. There are many reasons why I have been thinking about the future of Tech PR, not just through 2009 but beyond. What is the role PR agencies play in this new world? I am an optimist by nature, and cautious by experience.
What can we expect to see, in the short term and the long? Is PR going to suffer as an industry?
I see seven major trends:
1. Smart companies continue to invest in PR during recessions because this is the time to gain market share, differentiate yourself from your competition, build your brand and protect your reputation. I like the way Craig Barrett put it “You can’t save your way out of recession - you have to invest your way out.”
2. PR agencies who can provide a seamless, integrated approach to tech companies will survive better than tech specialists. This is the time where you need to provide your clients with counsel on different issues, so you need to have a team of people with different backgrounds that you can pull from. Corporate reputation, crisis and issue management, consumer marketing, public affairs, government, and vertical expertise…the list goes on. The agency who can deliver a seamless, holistic mix has a huge competitive advantage (and will prove most useful to clients.)
3. Tech companies need to learn how to better integrate PR and marketing. In a media world that is becoming more complex, fractured; where the difference between earned and paid media is blurry, companies that will develop a strategic, integrated marketing approach (we call it 360) will go beyond mere survival. It’s not about channels; it’s about how you engage with your stakeholders. The Obama campaign is an excellent example. Agencies that can deliver on that will hugely benefit from it (and so will their clients.)
4. Social media is not killing PR agencies; on the contrary. It’s giving us more opportunities. We all read posts about social media killing PR… well, anyone who thinks PR is just calling media doesn’t have a clue about what we actually do. As I mentioned above, the complexity of the environment is only adding square feet (and toys) to our already really fun sand box.
5. Chief Content Officer. Content creation is key. With the media shrinking (every day we hear of layoffs at very prestigious media outlets) creating your own content and distributing it through different channels is critical to the success of building a powerful brand. Is it time for a new position? Chief Content Officer, anyone?
6. The world is flat, yes. But it is also hot and crowded as Thomas Friedman pointed out. Two trends here. Global and Green. Let’s start with global. Clients need PR agencies to work with them on a global basis, but it’s not about “Think Globally, Act Locally” anymore. It’s about idea creation and sharing those ideas globally, efficiently. It’s about understanding the sensibilities of different markets and cultures.
7. Green. As I wrote in my post the opportunity for working with green tech companies is huge. But the skill set needs to go beyond pure tech PR. You need to combine b2b tech with experience in public affairs, energy, government relations and corporate reputation.
PR is here to stay. Paraphrasing Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)” song, PR can never die, there’s more to the picture.
my my, hey hey
rock and roll is here to stay
it’s better to burn out
than to fade away
my my, hey hey
hey hey, my my
rock and roll can never die
there’s more to the picture
than meets the eye
hey hey, my my
Here is to a new era of responsibility.
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’.
I met with Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, at the Ogilvy PR offices in San Francisco. He shared with me his thoughts about what’s new in the blogosphere in 2009.
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.
According to a new book released by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, journalists face “two years of carnage”.
Titled “A report, Life in the Clickstream: The Future of Journalism”, the book also revealed it’s very possible that the biggest media companies in the US will come crashing down due to cost-cutting and reduced quality, while five in 11 newspapers will vanish in Britain. After all, more than 12,000 journalists around the world lost their jobs this year.
Media Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren said that usually, journalism has traditionally “thrived on the emergence of disruptive technologies even as economic models have changed”. The Australian newspaper spoke to Christopher and filed a story yesterday.
In the article Warren says: “Like all crises, the challenges journalism faces are rewriting everything we thought we knew about the news media and causing us to question the basis on which the industry has survived and flourished.” Whilst journalists are using technology to find new and progressive ways to keep the public informed, in the report 70 per cent revealed they’re now experiencing increased workloads due to a shrinking of the workforce.
As to the future, 19 per cent said they were excited about the future of journalism, but 35 per cent said they were pessimistic about their prospects.
Just like the PR industry has to modify the rule book in terms of how it uses social media and the Internet to help its clients participate in conversations and reach new influencers outside heritage media; by the same token journalists and publishers face even tougher challenges to retain relevance, especially as audiences continue to fragment the world over and chose multiple sources for information. Add to this the financial crisis now sweeping the world and further cost pressures will only amplify the speed of change.
The Australian article looks at what might evolve if mainstream news organisations collapse, citing research from the City University of New York. That says an organic news organisation could evolve - based on bloggers, video shooters and photographers, it would be augmented by community managers, program developers artists and run by just a handful of editors, all on an annual budget of $2.1 million.
On a brighter note, and to update on my last post about PC Magazine’s decision to cull its print title, Roy Morgan has just released circulation figures in Australia for the last 12 months. The good news is that PC magazines did remarkably well. PC User’s readership climbed from 281,000 to 313,000 while APC went up from 275,000 to 280,000. PC Authority went up from 154,000 to 158,000, and PC Powerplay up from 111,000 to 115,000. Netguide was the only tech title to record a fall, dipping from 106,000 to 99,000. For even more analysis, check out last year’s results to compare.
Some good news to end on.
I’m going to paint a bit of a picture and I’d like to see if you can determine the common thread between the following:
A typical day for me:
- Waking up to my ipod as an alarm clock
- Downloading and listening to podcasts on my commute
- Spordically checking blackberry while on the bus
- Scouring my Google Reader for news, alerts, trends
- Conducting daily business including conference calls, blogging (on TechPR Nibbles and a personal blog), Twitter-ing, e-mailing, etc.
The common thread? It’s all D.I.G.I.T.A.L
Which leads me to think about how much information we consume each day. We’ve all heard the statistics from way back when that noted how much our brains can process every day, hour, minute, etc. But can you imagine what that stat would look like now compared to two decades ago? We are, completely, totally immersed in digital consumption. Can we ever get too full?
I love having each of my days filled with technology. Yet, I’ll admit, there are some days I just want to come home and rest my eyes and not stare at a screen. (It is during these moments that I remember how nice it is to pick up a book and turn pages!) Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ve ever been so informed as I am now. Yes, as a member of Gen Y, I’ve grown up in a digital atmosphere of early adopters and trend-loving peers. But our world is accelerating at such a rapid pace, we Gen Y’ers are definitely not alone.
I consider a large part of my job to be consumption. Yes, I have a lot of producing to do, too. Don’t get me wrong- I love both parts. The Digital World, if you will, allows me to be immersed, 24/7 in news, opinions, reviews, trends, events and beyond and it’s done in a variety of outlets. Yes, I still love to read Real Simple & BusinessWeek when I’m on flights or sitting in a doctor’s office- you can’t beat the glossy pages, let’s be honest. Yet, it goes without saying that technology allows us to do our jobs better and to succeed. It allows us to reach for knowledge at a more rapid pace and to utilize it to the best of our ability.
Did I ever see myself working in Tech PR originally and loving all things digital? No. But it’s introduced me to a world beyond my normal interests because our clients are innovators and influencers. They inspire and they create. So, while some days we may feel too bombarded by digital devices, social media and the likes, when you take advantage of it- the consumption can truly be…delicious.
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?
Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility