Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brands on Twitter: 76% of Accounts Infrequent Users

Many Apply Traditional Marketing to Emerging Channel

from AdAge...

I often have a love-hate thing going with Twitter.

On one-hand it's a platform for the trivial. A time-suck. A platform to distract and, at the same time, isolate ourselves from subjects out of sync with our own world-view. On the other, it's a proven platform that carries incredible power to reshape how we learn, interact and share with communities online. For marketers and media-makers, it's hard to think of a recent innovation that's altered our landscape more than the simple 140 character platform. And for that I'm skewing to the love side of the spectrum.

Where do companies fit on the spectrum? Is it on the collective corporate radar? How is it being used? And in an age where advocacy carries the day, is it being used as a way to truly engage customers and other important stakeholders to the brand?

Our firm, Weber Shandwick, analyzed the Twitter phenomenon this fall, specifically into how Fortune 100 companies use it as a barometer to share with our clients.

The take-away: Most companies fail to realize Twitter's full potential as a market engagement platform. While 73% of Fortune 100 companies registered a total of 540 Twitter accounts, effectiveness based on level of activity, interaction and engagement were off the mark. Brand-squatted accounts, as reported last week in Ad Age, remains an issue for many companies. For those that are on board, many more are largely tepid accounts with limited activity and interactivity (76% of accounts tweet infrequently). Even more telling is how companies apply currently traditional marketing practices to this new media channel, including:

  • Twitter as a newsfeed: 26%
  • Twitter as brand-builder: 24%
  • Twitter as direct marketer/sales channel: 16%
  • Twitter as thought-leadership channel: 11%
  • Twitter as customer service channel: 9%
Clearly there is much work to be done to cultivate an engaging brand presence through Twitter. It starts with a clear, company wide-strategy for using the medium to its full advantage, then following through with consistent and meaningful presence that engages relevant communities of interest.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ten Things Social Media Can't Do!

A Healthy Reminder for Setting Expectations

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B.L. Ochman
B.L. Ochman
Amid the endless pronouncements about social media -- often shortened to "social" these days by consultants trying to sound like they know what they are talking about -- is the reality that social media is not a solution, or a sure bet.

Social media can't:

  1. Substitute for marketing strategy.
    A Twitter campaign or a Facebook page that announces your weekly specials is not a marketing strategy.

  2. Succeed without top management buy-in.
    Social media requires a way of thinking that includes willingness to listen to customers, make changes based on feedback and trust employees to talk to customers.

    The culture of fear (of job loss, of losing message control, of change) is ingrained in corporate cultures. Top management has to want to change.

  3. Be viewed as a short-term project.
    Social media is not a one-shot deal. It's a long-term commitment to openness, experimentation and change that requires time to bear fruit.

  4. Produce meaningful, measurable results quickly.
    One of the complaints about social media is that it can't be measured. But there are many things that can be measured, including engagement, sentiment and whether increased traffic leads to sales.

    Those results can't be produced or measured in the short term. Like PR, social media marketing often produces its best results in the second and third year.

  5. Be done in-house by the vast majority of companies.
    A successful social-media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience and the best social media marketers now have more than 10 years of experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content and contests into online marketing.

    You need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience -- a combination not generally found in in-house teams, who often reinvent the wheel or use the wrong tools.

  6. Provide a quick fix to the bottom line or a tarnished reputation.
    Social media can sometimes provide quick results for a company that's already a star. When a well-loved company like Zappos or Google employs social media, its loyal fans and followers pay attention.

    However, there's a lot of desperation in a lot of corporate suites these days, and many companies seem been convinced that a social-media campaign can provide a quick fix to sagging sales or reputation issues. Sorry, nuh, uh.

  7. Be done without a realistic budget.
    Building a site that incorporates interactivity, allows user-generated content and perhaps also includes e-commerce doesn't come cheap from anyone who knows what they are doing.

    Even taking free software like WordPress and making it function as an effective interactive site, incorporating e-commerce and creating style sheets that integrate with the company's branding, takes more than time. That takes skill, experience, and money.

  8. Guarantee sales or influence.
    Unless your effort can pass the "who cares" test -- and most simply can't -- your social media efforts will fall flat.

    And unless you know how to drive traffic to your contest, video, blog, event, etc., you'll have little more than an expensive field of dreams.

  9. Be done by "kids" who "understand social innately"
    You can climb Mount Kilaminjaro without a sherpa guide, but why would you? Experience and perspective can make the trip easier, or even save your life.

    Companies trying to run social media without experienced consultants waste time, money and reputation on their efforts. And then, sadly, many decide that this new-fangled approach doesn't work.

  10. Replace PR.
    No matter how great your website, video contest, blog, Twitter strategy, etc., you still need publicity. Or you may end up with a tree falling in the forest and nobody hearing it.