I was surprised by the results of a recent Wall Street Journal survey. While 60% of small business owners said social media tools are valuable to company growth, Linkedin was highest rated and Twitter came in a distant third.
My sense is that using Twitter to simply post information is a weak approach. […] It can’t be used as a simple broadcast, or as a replacement for radio ads or coupons.
A better characterization might be that small business owners find LinkedIn a good resource because it matches the way they currently do marketing, which isn’t very social yet.
Go read the whole piece if you like.
If the web was going to change the business of music, where would we see that change? Would it be deep in the bowels of established music labels, rapidly innovating to self-cannibalize their old business models? The established distribution channels, like radio? Uh, no.
As usual, the disruption starts at the edge, with independent artists, new music scenes, and music lovers who are looking for something not pushed like toothpaste or dog food, something authentic:
The Year in Pop - Viral Stardom and Martial Dance Music- Jon Pareles, Ben Ratliffe, and Jon Caramanica via NYTimes.comJON PARELES Well, what is the mechanism? I think what’s going on is that audiences like to find music on their own. You’re having so much stuff thrown at you, like you have Rihanna just blasted at you from all directions, and you think: “Wait a minute, I want something that’s mine. I want something that I’m curious about, where my curiosity hasn’t been smothered by the barrage of marketing.”
RATLIFF That’s the new authenticity. You found it by yourself or with a few of your friends online.
BEN RATLIFF We were talking about Tumblrs last year — sort of little online boutiques that don’t sell you things but shape your taste. Now this year something’s been proven: Pop performers can become truly famous by building their careers themselves online, maybe more efficiently and faster than a major company can help them to do.
JON CARAMANICA Especially if a major company is secretly helping them to do it: 2012 was probably the year when you started to see people who were birthed of the Internet, in about as true a sense as you can, become equally successful in a hard-dollars sense as people who have been birthed from of a major label.
RATLIFF Give us an example.
CARAMANICA A couple of things jump out at me this year. One, you look at the first-week sales numbers of someone like Kendrick Lamar, who had an independent album that was digital only and is now on [the major-label] Interscope, but basically has no major radio hits, even if he is well-liked by mainstream hip-hop. He comes out and sells about 240,000 in his first week. A couple weeks later Rihanna comes out — not her first album and at the height of her pop fame — and sells a few thousand less than Kendrick did.
RATLIFF It’s incredible.
CARAMANICA If I worked at Def Jam [Rihanna’s label], and I’m looking at those numbers, and I had just flown a bunch of journalists around the world to make sure that my pop star had a tremendous amount of presence, and she can’t even sell as many records as a guy who basically can’t crack the Top 20 in the Billboard R&B/hip-hop song chart, I’m really stressed. I think another good example is Lana Del Rey. This starts in 2011 with Lana Del Rey as an Internet thing, and then there’s an Internet backlash, and then there’s an Internet backlash to the backlash. And yet when she comes out [with “Born to Die,” her major-label debut], she not only does respectable numbers, she is someone whom people, for better or worse, took as seriously as any number of pop stars who were born inside the major-label system this year.
JON PARELES Well, what is the mechanism? I think what’s going on is that audiences like to find music on their own. You’re having so much stuff thrown at you, like you have Rihanna just blasted at you from all directions, and you think: “Wait a minute, I want something that’s mine. I want something that I’m curious about, where my curiosity hasn’t been smothered by the barrage of marketing.”
RATLIFF That’s the new authenticity. You found it by yourself or with a few of your friends online.
CARAMANICA Right, but when it turns out that a few of your friends are actually as many people as enjoy Rihanna, that says a lot of things about trends that maybe were there all along, but there wasn’t a frictionless way to serve that kind of interest. And now with the speed with which Internet things are turning into real-life things, it’s not going to make a lot of sense for a label to spend $1 million in development upfront on a pop star who may or may not succeed when you can find someone with a tremendous following online, put a little bit of cash in at that end, and then get the cream off the top.
These writers are so close to the show that they can sound just like the executives that run the labels, who could be tone deaf but have calculators where their souls are supposed to be. Deciding to shift their model to what’s working, partly because it will save them money, but mostly because it speeds everything up: there will be hundreds of artists building followings out there, all in parallel, much more happening in a shorter time than all the entertainment capital in the world could do in the old, ‘fly journalists around the world with Rihanna’ push-based marketing. Instead, stand back and watch (or seed fund from the shadows) social media marketing, and monitor what’s working.
It’s a shift to trying to create and control a market, to becoming brokers and investors *in* a larger, more social world with ten thousand smaller, denser, social markets.
I won’t go so far as to say that the folks behind these labels have moved to the edge themselves, but they have certainly turned their radar in that direction, and we can anticipate a continued hollowing out of the old, cold label-driven music business in 2013 and beyond.
I recently wrote a piece that discussed the ‘deep inertia’ in the newspaper world. The reluctance to experiment with new avenues in journalism, curation, and news reporting — and to derive new sources of revenue from them — is killing the majority of newspapers.
But in almost every industry the majority of companies are conservative, late adopters, hoping that others will pioneer new digital tracks that they can follow later on, once all the potholes in the roads have been filled.
That’s the case in the adoption of social media marketing, as shown in the Financial Times special report that was published yesterday:
Advertisers rush to master fresh set of skills - David Gelles via FT.com
The new world of digital and social media marketing can give companies increased access to their customers, fresh insights into their preferences, a broader creative palette to work with, and additional data and metrics to study.
Yet there are unsolved questions over how best to organise and execute digital and social campaigns. No single formula has emerged, leaving most companies and ad agencies in a state of constant experimentation. There is also lingering confusion over how best to measure the effectiveness of a campaign, and a company’s return on investment.
Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer of Adobe, the software company, says she pushed the company into digital and social marketing early on. “We saw the insights we could glean from customers, the iterations we could do on a campaign,” she says. “We saw the ability to really, really measure results.” Adobe now spends 74 per cent of its more than $100m marketing budget on digital.
Even for a digital-first company such as Adobe, each campaign is a fresh start of sorts. Ms Lewnes says 20 per cent of her budget is going towards experimental campaigns, and that each product launch requires a different mix of paid, earned and owned media.
Perhaps the largest shift in recent years has been the transition from the one-way, broadcast messaging of television, print and outdoor, to the two-way conversation that social options now allow companies to have with their consumers.
[…]Keith Weed, chief marketing officer of Unilever, the consumer products group that is the second-largest advertiser in the world, says: “Digital is in theory more measurable than anything else, in theory and in practice, but it’s not broad enough yet. What we’ll see is a significant maturation of ROI in digital.”
There is an explosion in social media metrics, but its very early days. The biggest confusion arises from the fact that both conventional broadcast marketing and social marketing are going on at the same time, with very different contours.
Consider what American Express must be confronted with. On one hand, their conventional ‘don’t leave home without it’ style print advertising is still gracing the pages of Vogue and GQ, and meanwhile they are getting huge traction with their new Twitter hashtag campaign. How can they rationalize the ROI of these completely different activities?
The problem may lie in social network analysis. For decades, advertisers have been content to bombard their markets with messaging, and to measure its effectiveness with non-social-network oriented analysis: polls, focus groups, and raw sales numbers. However, the social networks were always out there: they were just not online, and tapping into them was so costly as to be prohibitive.
The transition is happening today, since social networks are online — like Twitter and Facebook — and the buzz that conventional and social campaigns cause can be analyzed in a uniform, social manner. But these new measurement techniques are relatively new, and not a mature as the old school techniques, so folks like Keith Weed are hungry for better and deeper analysis.
Purportedly leaked documents make it seem that Facebook is planning to depart from conventional advertising, where brands can muster ‘stories’ from your friends to make the case for their products rather than advertising content:
E.B. Boyd via Fast Company
"When people hear about you from friends, they listen," the Facebook materials say. "We’ll expand your ad with stories from friends who have already connected." ("Stories" is Facebook’s shorthand for a wide varitey of interactions on the site. In the case of ads, it seems to refer to the fact that the ads will display which of a viewer’s friends have Liked the brand.)
Reminds me of BzzAgent, the company that enlists people to talk up products with their friends. Sketchy.
In the case of Facebook’s plans, we’ll have to see if the materials are real. But if they are, this social spam marketing gives people another good reason to leave Facebook.
Ariana Huffington has a good sense of the turning of the tide in marketing, as a reflection of a fundamental shift going on below the hood in our society:
[…] the most important trend in marketing: the recognition by businesses that there’s much to be said for appealing to consumers’ better instincts, and engaging them with something other than materialism, sex, money, and self-interest. And it’s not a coincidence that this trend is escalating at the same time social media have risen to the forefront in the worlds of both marketing and activism. It’s all part of the changing zeitgeist and it’s only natural that forward-thinking companies would want to tap into it.
Right now, we’re in the transition phase — the marketing world still looks like a split-screen, with most companies going about things in the traditional way, but with many pioneering ones breaking new ground by building their brands while trying to help make the world a better place.
Marketing is often a leading indicator of where a culture is at and, even more, of where it’s heading. Marketing has always been most effective when it takes ideas that are in the air and crystallizes them, so that they resonate with us in ways often beyond our conscious understanding. This is what is so powerful about the combination of social media, marketing, and doing good.
I don’t mean to disparage the value of her observation, but because she is looking at this cultural shift based on what’s what in advertising, she is seeing the tip of the iceberg and analyzing its movements without factoring in the iceberg below.
The decline of mass culture that is going on in the Western world is the direct consequence of the splintering of media and our defection from the communities that mass media defines.
The other day I saw Pew numbers showing that almost nobody below 25 watches local TV news anymore, for example. Which doesn’t mean that these folks are uninformed about what’s going on, but that the ‘imagined community’ that local TV broadcasting tries to conjure into being simply doesn’t exist for them.
The ‘message’ of mass media is not about Iraq, American Idol, or the NY Yankees: it’s mass identity. And when people turn away from mass media — and mass advertising — they aren’t just becoming unaware of the goings-on on some reality show, they are walking away from belonging to a collection of cultural aspirations and obsessions.
And what fills the void for those that operate outside the limits of mass media, which are market-facing, and market-oriented? What happens when you aren’t bombarded with car ads, when you stop listening to music about bling and champagne, or you stop subscribing to fashion magazines telling you what to buy and wear?
One thing is clear: people’s extra-market motivations start to come to the surface. People begin to care more about connection in communities, the state of the world, and, at the most fundamental level, a meaning for existence.
This is being called social marketing. It’s a good term, for perhaps conflicting reasons. First, people associate ‘social’ with ‘social causes’, meaning ‘societal causes’ in a philanthropic sense. But more importantly, this marketing will take root in social media, where our connections to each other — the social context — is as important as the content.
This need for meaning often is trivialized as becoming cause-oriented, but our involvement in causes is the outgrowth of our desire to live meaningful lives, instead of as consumers.
I don’t mean this is some fuzzy spiritual way, some obsession with enlightenment or finding a path to heaven, but on a very practical day-to-day level. It comes down to this: How are we to spend our time, and what is worth being involved in?
Returning to Ariana’s points: yes, some marketers are hoping that they can affiliate with these aspirations for meaning. And in this transitional era, where both mass and social media are prevalent, we will see very different Super Bowl ads in the coming years.
Ariana cites Derrick Daye, who is new to me, for coining the term ‘ethosnomics’:
Brands increasingly must stand for something beyond just rational items. Brands can’t, however, just ‘stand for’ the cause du jour. Doing what others do, just because they’re doing it, won’t work very long or very effectively. Corporate social responsibility efforts will need to be believable, sustained, and engaging. Some of the strongest will come from those brands that connect the public and the personal in today’s financially-strained world.
Yes, we will judge them by their works, but a soda company won’t buy our allegiance by talking about clean water in Africa. They will have to recast their business so as to not be doing harm, open up transparently, and to actually be viewed as being motivated by extra-market motivations.
In a time when things is so bad, businesses can only hold us by dedicating themselves to a better world, even if they have to totally transform themselves — even if they have to invest everything they have — to do it.
Steve asks the first half of a really big question:
Press releases became a bit more social yesterday as PRWeb added trackback functionality. As Mike Manuel notes, this news comes on the heels of Six Apart’s commitment to making the trackback (defined) a web standard.
Will press releases ever gain the ability to also send trackbacks? I imagine this would cause blogger outrage. Taking this a step further, if trackbacks become a web standard, what will happen when ads start sending/receiving them? There’s a collision in the making as traditional marketing tools adopt social features and vice versa. It’s a necessary collision that will occur now that consumers control the message. The shakeout should be fun to watch. Which tools will become acceptable for marketers to use and how?
The second half?
If people are at work on projects in the social marketing sphere, please contact me. It’s potentially huge.