Jim Morrison and the importance of relevance

From my NETT blog:

What are the most important factors to consider when you’re communicating ideas to people? How do you get your message across successfully?

From my days as a journalist writing for newspapers and magazines through to my current work presenting digital marketing messages or lecturing to students, a few common themes have emerged in terms of what works consistently.

Actually, I exaggerate – there is really just one fundamental rule in successful communication: make your concept relevant to your target audience.

This is expressed as a couple of acronyms:

• WIFFM – what’s in it for me?
• WSIC – why should I care?

If you can understand what matters to your audience and work out how to relate your message to their concerns, you’ll get your point across.

This principle isn’t limited to written, visual or verbal communication messages: it extends to the communication of ideas, and can include the dissemination of those ideas through a variety of media.

Take music, for example. My favourite band of all time is the Doors, led by the late great Jim Morrison. The Doors tapped into the Zeitgeist of the 1960s with music that protested against traditional mores.

Their sometimes dark messages about love, fitting in and pushing back against parental barriers struck a chord with young Baby Boomers who were just starting to flex their muscles and question the structures of the world that they were inheriting.

Read the full story


Australians love social networking

The latest Nielsen stats show that Australians spend more time on social networks than any other country. We’re spending nearly seven hours a month on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, with the US and UK a distant second and third at just more than six hours. Nielsen reports that nearly 10 million Australians are now using social media.

Time Spent on Social Sites by Country, December 2009
Country Unique Audience (000) Time per Person (hh:mm:ss)
United States 142,052 6:09:13
Japan 46,558 2:50:21
Brazil 31,345 4:33:10
United Kingdom 29,129 6:07:54
Germany 28,057 4:11:45
France 26,786 4:04:39
Spain 19,456 5:30:55
Italy 18,256 6:00:07
Australia 9,895 6:52:28
Switzerland 2,451 3:54:34
Source: The Nielsen Company, 2009

My name is Ray, and I’m making this up as I go

(Reprinted from the Zazoo blog): I was listening to an interview recently with the head of Razorfish, one of the world’s largest digital agencies (If you want to keep up with what’s happening in the digital media, I can recommend Susan Bratton’s Dishymix program, it’s very informative).

It was both surprising and refreshing to hear this fellow, Clark Kokich, frequently use phrases such as “none of us know anything” about digital media, “we’re actually inventing this as we go along” and “there are no experts”.

If the head of an organisation that is billing hundreds of millions a dollars a year in digital media is prepared to admit this, it’s time for all of us working in this space to come clean. This is the guilty secret of digital media “experts” all over the world: no one really knows what consistently works. There are a few principles to be applied, but unlike traditional media – be it advertising, marketing or publishing – there is no established framework that ensures a certain level of response to a program or campaign.

If someone tells you they have a fool-proof way to engage your customer base and turn ordinary customers into raving fans, guaranteeing huge exposure and profits, they’re bullshitting you. We’re all still experimenting with clients’ money.

So why on earth should customers take their money out of traditional marketing and advertising budgets and give it to online? Well, one big reason is that traditional methods are becoming less and less effective as the world’s embrace of online irrevocably changes their life habits (you can hear more about this in a Zazoo-produced podcast interview with Ad Age colunnist Bob Garfield published on the HotHouse blog this week. Be warned, this interview is not for the faint-hearted.). You need to find alternative ways to reach your customers, or else your competitors will get there before you.

Ready or not, your world is changing. Finding your way in the dark with someone who has a torch, however dim, is more effective than sitting there cursing the dark. And those torches are getting brighter all the time.

Hope I get connected with my friends before I get old

Matt Thornhill writes on MediaPost this week that the fuss over the over-45s embracing social networking doesn’t stand up to statistical scrutiny.

He writes that “No doubt, Facebook’s growth among adults ages 45+ seems impressive — an increase of about 900,000 users in September alone (76% of whom are women). But Facebook also added over 1.7 million 18-34 years in same month (62% women), more than twice as many.”

He subscribes to Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen’s hypothesis that “our motivations change as we grow older. When people are young, they perceive their future as open-ended, so they tend to focus on future-oriented/knowledge-related goals. When they grow older, gradually, over time, they feel that time is running out, so their focus tends to shift towards present-oriented/emotion-related goals.

“In other words, with the clock ticking, we don’t want to waste time with relationships that won’t feed us emotionally.”

I agree with his point about the lack of interest in boomer-specific social networks, but I think if he looked deeper and compared the numbers to the percentage of people in that age group who use computers and the Internet compared to the 18-34 crowd, he’d find that the numbers are more impressive. Anecdotally, I know an enormous and growing number of over-45s joining Facebook.

This week’s social media links

From the Zazoo blog:

Here are a few interesting stories about social media that have been published in the past few days:

Social Media Benchmarks: Realities and Myths

“….many clients still ask about benchmarks. They ask, ‘What are good CTRs, CPCs, CPMs, etc. so I know how my programs stack up?’ Well, there’s good reason those benchmarks are hard to find. Lacking a reliable source, I ran my own analysis over the last three years and came up with many eye-opening results…”

Australian Social Media Statistics Compendium

“With so many new social sites emerging it is very important for marketers to have Australian specific intelligence to determine which channels are the most attractive to pursue as part of your marketing strategy….”

How Accurately Can You Gauge the ROI of Social Media Tactics?

“Marketers are under constant pressure to measure everything they do. The result is often a default to tactics that are more easily and accurately measureable, regardless of their effectiveness. This is especially true in social media marketing which often requires qualitative measurement rather than quantitative metrics that are more familiar to online marketers….”

Online Marketing’s Evolution

“What’s the future of interactive advertising? Executives from interactive agencies and marketing technology tech companies tried to answer that question at two conferences this week in New York City. Discussions ranged from the challenges of working in social media, risks for agencies in using pay-for-performance models, one online marketing sector that’s thriving, and Amazon.com’s crowdsourcing initiative. Here are some takeaways….”

Social Media Fails To Manifest As Marketing Medium, Report Likens Twitter To TiVo: More Hype Than Reality

“Social media has reached critical mass, with 83% of the Internet population now using it… But for all the media industry’s hype and buzz surrounding social networks, microblogs, and other social networking platforms, the genre has failed to become much of a marketing medium, and in the opinion of the Knowledge Networks’ analysts, likely never will. The report, “How People Use Social Media,” finds that social media is having a profound impact on the way people connect with each other, but that it’s not becoming a very meaningful way for people to connect with brands, or advertising promoting brands….”

The Social Data Revolution(s)

“In 2009, more data will be generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008. Information overload is more serious than ever. What are the implications for marketing?….”


Community building: Do customers want another social network?

Reprinted from the Zazoo blog:

With the recent explosion in Facebook and Twitter use (the media hype and recent stats are backed up by anecdotal evidence such as the stream of high school and uni friends that have discovered me on Facebook and a bevy of would-be porn stars following me on Twitter), it’s inevitable that some pundits are starting to ask if we’re reaching social media overload.

Judy Shapiro, writing in Ad Age, writes that, “We use our different social networks to enrich different dimensions of our lives. Therefore, as you would expect, we want different things from our different social networks…. This is the heart of the problem. As marketers, our knee-jerk reaction to every community we create is to motivate members to create rich and robust profiles of themselves so they can connect with each other in new and powerful ways. While this approach may be desirable to us as marketers, it may not be best for consumers. We need to be mindful and respectful of the realities our customers live in and the truth is that managing all these social profiles is none too easy, the technology and tools notwithstanding.”

She suggests marketers take a close look at their community-building strategies, asking “Are we being practical about what we expect users to reveal about themselves in our communities? Is our community a hub where users will congregate regularly, where rich profiles are of value or are we creating a secondary ’spoke’ community meant to address narrow or temporary niche needs? In short, as marketers do we demand that users create too many profiles in all our community-building programs?”

The Harvard Business Review has also discussed this issue recently, recommending that companies treat communities as a high-level business strategy that is integrated across business functions, rather than just being the domain of the marketing department. A Facebook group or a Twitter account is not good enough.

The HBR authors advise that companies shouldn’t try to control communities, and should view online networks as just a tool for community building, not an entire strategy. In other words, get out there and meet people face-to-face rather than just via the Internet.

It concludes: “Although any brand can benefit from a community strategy, not every company can pull it off. Executing community requires an organization-wide commitment and a willingness to work across functional boundaries. It takes the boldness to reexamine everything from company values to organizational
design. And it takes the fortitude to meet people on their own terms, cede control, and accept conflict as part of the package”

Anyone up for the challenge?

A Twitter epiphany

From the Zazoo blog:

They say a year on the Internet is like seven years in the offline world – think of it as dog years (oh no, now I can’t get this image of my Dalmatian chasing his tail out of my head!). In that case, a year in social media is at least twice as fast.

So 10 weeks is a long time in the life of Twitter – by my complicated reckonings, it’s about a year ago. Now that I’ve completely confused the issue, I’ll get to my point: 10 weeks ago I wrote a post questioning the business value of Twitter (two posts, actually). Since then, Twitter has really entered the zeitgeist, with global users supposedly jumping from 6 million to 8 million just in the past couple of weeks, up from practically nothing 12 months ago.

There have been articles in just about every major newspaper in the Western world trying to explain the appeal and the utility of the service. It’s been used by Australian and American politicians, Rove, my resident breakfast radio announcer Adam Spencer and schoolkids. Most of the coverage has been favourable if somewhat bewildered, though some people are looking at it harshly, such as IT philosopher Jeremy Pettit, who wrote, “Didn’t Nietzsche say, ‘Soon everyone will learn to read and write, and that will be the death of language’? Brilliantly offensive. I’m sure he had Twitter in mind. The morbidly self-obsessed screeching to the morbidly self-obsessed in bite-sized chunks.”

Anyway, after writing those earlier posts I decided to become more pro-active and try to test the business utility of following scores of people and having them follow my 140-character musings (BTW, I’m @raywelling if you would like to follow). I tried to seek out social media experts to follow and sought the advice of more experienced Twitterers about how to monitor what’s going on in the Twittersphere.

I’ve watched people of all ages and backgrounds join up, particularly social media geeks, such as the hundreds of people attending ad:tech this week who drove the conference search term up to the #2 trending term on Twitter on Tuesday.

After attempting to manage the growing flood of postings through Tweetdeck (a specialised Twitter browser) and setting up regular searches on terms I’m interested in (contact me via the comments box if you want to know how to do this), I noticed a few trends settling in, such as the fact that an increasing number of posts tend to be links to interesting/useful blog posts, stories, videos, photos etc. (if you’re wondering about the problem of long web addresses in a 140-character environment, there is a widget you can use to shorten addresses to a manageable length).

Anyway, I had my Twitter epiphany this week. After viewing a tweet from a social media PR expert in the US who happened to be in Sydney speaking at a conference, I decided to follow him. Within minutes, I had a direct message from him noting that I was based in Sydney and since he was in town, did I want to catch up for a drink? We did catch up, and even if it doesn’t turn out to result in extra business, I can now clearly see how these connections can prove to be extremely useful. If nothing else, I met an interesting person who I would never have connected with through conventional means.

They don’t call it ’social media’ for nothing!