30 September 2008

Tweet Tweet Not Ring Ring

In a great initiative by Telstra, Bigpond have set themselves up on Twitter. What a great way to connect to their customers.

But, like in so many cases, old practises don't work with new media. They've almost applied the same rules you would to writing your customer a letter.

You'll notice that nearly every one of their responses is the same spammed message on where to send an email. Instead of directly dealing with the issue at hand, they lead the customer to another place. And the tweets aren't even unique, just copy paste jobs.

You'll also notice the ® after every use of the term BigPond. Lame. And not very personal.

I think it's great to see them jump on board. So so so much potential. But at the moment they're not really Twittering, just using Twitter.

Hopefully their social media response team isn't just on Twitter and will respond to this blog post too.

So what is a good example of a company using Twitter? Check out NASA, and even then they're only using it as a broadcast.

28 September 2008

Bloggarrr!

I love when brands show a fun side. Google does it a lot. Not only does it humanise them, but I think it shows the people who work for them are passionate. Here's one I recently discovered...

If you're a Facebook user, go to Settings, Account Settings, Language and select English (Pirate).

Abandon Ship!

24 September 2008

$1,000,000 Wasted

The front page of this week's B&T says social media marketing is about to become massive. Of course some of us have known this for a long time.

Roy Morgan is moving into word of mouth and social media research. The Population has just launched, one of the first pure social media agencies. Neilsen Online is montioring conversation buzz in the blogosphere. And Nestle has just launched Australia's biggest social media campaign costing around $1 million.

Except the campaign is shit. And not even a social media campaign.

In fact, I feel like I'm almost going to repeat myself word for word.

Once again we're seeing traditional approaches towards new media. The Chunga Championship campaign is about a fake character who plays a fake game. He has a fake blog. And a fake Facebook page. And a YouTube channel. All of which will die in three months.

There is no integration of the brand. There is no content creation with consumers. In fact there is no engaging with consumers at all. No influential people or niche communities have even been asked to join their conversation.

But there are banner ads. Lots of banner ads. Oh dear.

John Broome, head of Nestle's confectionery marketing responded to the $1 million cost and future campaigns saying, "I think we'll see ourselves going above that... A lot will depend on the success of this particular campaign."

In my eyes this campaign will not succeed (I wonder what metrics they will be using to measure its success anyway?).

Lets say, just hypothetically, this campaign flops. Nestle aren't not going to run another social media campaign any time soon. Even though this isn't really a social media campaign.

Surely there are better ways to spend $1 million?

22 September 2008

Groupies And Fans

My good friend Julian Cole loves to compare social media with the music industry. I certainly hope social media won't collapse on itself like the music industry, but the analogy is a great one. And now I will attempt to further this analogy... somewhat loosely.

Every brand (band) has its evangelists (groupies or fans). And with social networking sites bringing in big numbers, brands are attempting to capitalise on this. It would appear there are two approaches when it comes to Facebook (if you were to ignore banner ads... which you should). The first being Groups and the second Fan Pages.

The question is... when should you use which (or at all)?

Facebook Group

Too often a marketing team will rush in to make a Facebook Group. And much like a blog, this should be a long term strategy, not a quick fix to make sure you're part of this new Web 2.0 trend that happens on the Internets.

But many people find Groups somewhat useless after being established. A sudden rush of your evangelists will join but then the curve will start to flatten and eventually turn into a trickle.

That's because there has been a change in Facebook behaviour with the introduction of Fan Pages. People no longer use Groups as a badge of honour to sit on their page. Given this change, Groups have become high involvement tools, for both the consumer and the marketer. People sign up to Groups wanting more than just the name, they want interaction and response. So when can you use a Facebook Group?

I'm currently the Marketing Officer for MONSU Caulfield, the Monash Student Union. I look after a lot of our promotional side of things as well as bit of branding and communication. Part of this role includes working with our Facebook Group. Over the past year we've seen the Group go from 300 to 900 members and only now am I realising how and what it can be effectively used for.

The Events feature has been implemented perfectly on Facebook. Through the group we run regular parties and other events that we invite people to. These have great responses and I know personally instead of checking my diary, I check my Events schedule to see what I'm doing each weekend.

Through the private messaging system we can send out notifications to up to 1,200 people. We are able to easily set up and build awareness for our events, communicate with people and it doesn't even cost a cent.

Key Point
Set up a Facebook Group only when you have a really passionate following of consumers who want to engage and join the conversation.

Facebook Fan Page

Fan Pages are very different. Upon being introduced, they have changed the way people interact with Groups.

A Fan Page, for the most part, act as a badge of honour. On rare occasion will you actually have someone return to your page looking for information.

However, it does work well to build awareness by appearing in fans' News Feeds. Particularly with those more influence members, a Fan Page can quickly spread and build even without an invite option.

These usually work well with products or brands that are iconic. Usually popular mainsteam icons tend to do well, such as Nutella with 561,000 fans (interestingly this page is very active, perhaps they'd have been better off with a Group?). Celebrities such as Jack Black do well with 186,000 fans and TV characters also stand out like Barney Stinson with 56,000.

However your icon doesn't necessarily have to have mainstream popularity. Mi Goreng Instant Noodles has over 45,000 fans. For a brand that does no traditional advertising, not too bad at all.

Key Point
Set up a Fan Page if you have a strong icon, but not necessarily a mainstream one, that build awareness through peer influence. Low to no involvement needed once established.

So before you get the intern to create a Facebook Group or Fan Page because you want to be seen as more Web 2.0, consider what you're trying to achieve as each does different things. Importantly, also consider if you even need one to begin with.

20 September 2008

3 Remarkable Things

Here is three things I've realised over the past few days...

1. Anything can be remarkable.

2. But not everything should.

3. One man's spam is another man's content.

18 September 2008

New Media Business Models

Many people have questioned whether or not there is a possible business model in new media. Looking for not only a sustainable one but profitable as well. Doing what I do best, wasting time on Internets, I have discovered and named four highly successful ones.

Punchbowl Model
Based on a series of YouTube clips called Trent from Punchy this model involves producing free non commercial content. An extension of the brand is then developed, in this case tees and other merchandise. In just three weeks profits from tees have been reported as $15,000. Considering the low production cost, immensely successful.

Ninja Model
Perhaps the most common model, and based on the Ask A Ninja series, free content is produced which is sponsored. This award winning series would be pulling in a substantial amount of profit based on high audience numbers. Note they are also using the Punchbowl Model with DVD and book extensions.

Gervais Model
This model involves production of free content for a limited time. After a certain period, the content is taken down where it must be paid for to access. This highly targets the innovators and early adopters and usually relies on strong word of mouth. The Ricky Gervais Podcast has reportedly made millions by charging just a small amount with many downloads. This technique was used in the recently successful Dr. Horrible series. Note that in case of The Ricky Gervais Podcast they also used the Ninja Model with the original content being sponsored.

Radiohead Model
Based on the recent release of Radiohead's album In Rainbows, content is available for free where consumers have the option to pay. Critics have argued that this was only successful because it had never been done before but this model has also been used successfully by the band Nine Inch Nails. The model usually requires a loyal following. Note that In Rainbows is no longer available, also categorising them in the Gervais Model.

There are two common themes in these four models. The first is remarkable content. None of these can be successful without content that is both highly entertaining and easily spreadable. The second is the lack of a middleman, no record labels, producers or publishers. Instead, the product goes straight from the producer to the consumer.

What models do you think are missing from this list? Do you have any examples that fall into the current four?

17 September 2008

Purple Coloured Music

The first time you see a cow it's exciting. The next time it isn't. Unless it's purple.

The first time you see a busker it's exciting. The next time it isn't. Unless they're playing on your train.

I was on my journey home on the train last night when a young man with a trumpet jumped on and announced he would be playing a few songs. For the next twenty minutes during my ride out of the city I listened to a rather talented trumpeter.

Being the Uni student that I am, I rarely give to buskers unless they are remarkable. Yet I gave to this guy.

Matt Granfield has an excellent post on how anything can be remarkable if you make it, including brown shoe laces. And now buskers.

15 September 2008

Stealing Social Currency

There are two things marketers seem to be obsessed with. The first is acronyms. The second buzz words.

And I love them both.

Today I'd like to introduce you to the term "social plagiarism". Urban Dictionary defines it as...
"When one uses a story or anecdote that they received or overheard from another individual they know, and they do not cite the source. In turn, implying that they themselves are the original source of information."
Let's say for example a friend of mine named Seth told me exclusively he had a book coming out soon called Tribes. I tell my mate Julian who then tells Simon but fails to include me in that story, thus making it appear Julian and Seth are BFFs (acronym intended).

I find this particularly interesting, especially given the buzz lately around social objects and social currency.

Is this something marketers can capitalise on, helping stories spread with continual "first hand" experiences?

13 September 2008

Advertising Your Competition

One of my marketing hates is when a campaign, usually a television spot, advertises an industry and not a specific product.

Most advertising fails to integrate the content with the brand. Throwing a logo at the end of a commercial rarely does anything. Same with making the logo bigger. This spot promotes online casinos, not Ladbrokes Casino. This joke of a campaign advertises instant noodles, not Fantastic Noodles.

But when you see an Apple iPod commercial, you know it. They aren't advertising any MP3 Player, they are advertising iPods.

Same with Coke and Pepsi do it well too. Schweppes has done it well here and I think Solo has pulled it off here too. In all four cases, they promote their specific product and brand, not the soft drink industry.

Yet so many campaigns don't. A waste of money and one of the many reasons the television spot should ensure their will is all in order before a long and painful death.

10 September 2008

Purple Cow


07 September 2008

Chimpanzee That Social Media

Just like the Apple iPod launched the MP3 market, The Ricky Gervais Show launched the podcast market and later the audio book market.

For anyone who hasn't listened, it is well worth the $50 or so for hours and hours of entertainment. Originally launched as a free podcast, they have since commercialised it at a very cheap price and made millions from it. It turned from podcast to audio book and established two whole new markets along the way. "Podcast" became Word of the Year in 2005 and people are now starting to realise the potential behind audio books... and the fact that they don't have to be scripted novels.

Of course this model relies heavily on good content. But Radiohead did something similar with their latest album. Dr. Horrible was a free web show that will do the same thing. In all three cases, it was a successful and profitable business model.

All it takes is something remarkable to successfully launch a whole new market. And that's what social media needs, at least in Australia.

One amazing campaign and people will start to see social media's potential.

05 September 2008

Eighth To First

Currently a search on Google for pigs don't fly brings up my page as eighth. For pigs dont fly (without the apostrophe) I'm third.

I know there are many lists and posts around for ways to maximise your SEO, but I was hoping my readers could give me one piece of practical advice each. How do I work towards a ranking of first?

04 September 2008

Social Tubes

The Internets.

Social media would not exist without it.

Let me explain.

I had an interesting conversation last night about this very topic and thought it would be swell to blog about. In a few days I'll be preparing another post discussing the difference between new media and social media but I thought I'd get this out the way first.

There are numerous definitions of social media and all of them rely on the Internet. While certain elements existed long before Al Gore was punching away at his keyboard, its full extent and potential had not been realised until recently (although some foolishly still have their doubts). As technology developed over the past twenty years, we were able to identify, engage and ultimately build a relationship with niche targets of consumers.

Yes this was possible before. But not on this scale. Not this measurably. Not this easily. Not this effectively. And most importantly, not at this cost.

Blogging, podcasting, social networks, image, video and file sharing and the uptake on user generated content all happened because of the Internet. Some of which still haven't hit critical mass.

Without the Internet, the term "social media" would never have been coined. And people working in this area would be looking for a new job.

What do you think? Does social media exist without the Internet?
The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. Also ponies are evil.
Pigs Don't Fly © Copyright Zac Martin