Mobile Marketing Poised for Takeoff

I came across this presentation in feeds this morning and thought it was worth sharing.  Among the many salient points: 

  • Some great statistics on the fundamental boost to mobile that the iPhone has initiated.  For example, nearly 50% of all iPhone users visited social networking sites, compared to 4% of all mobile users.
  • The convergence of better networks, differentiated equipment with full keyboards and photo capabilities, location-aware technologies, the popularity of social networks and a desire to "stay connected" are all driving forces.
  • Challenges include privacy, ability to test and finding the right partners. 
  • Recommendations include taking the plunge to make mistakes now – taking risks is easier to absorb in an immature marketplace.   

Connections with a Purpose

Web 2.0 and social media are changing the way we interact online.  Can it change how we interact offline too?  You bet it can.  I'm participating in two events coming up that are purposefully out to show how social media can affect change. 

sm4sc

Sm4sc Are you in the Boston area, interested in social media, and interested in social change?  A group of social media enthusiasts in the area have started Social Media for Social Change.  The background of the cause:

Social media has broken down walls and created conversations. IBM does product testing in Second Life. Old college classmates reunite on Facebook. Zappos does intra-office communication via Twitter. All great, paradigm shifting events.

But what about change for the greater good?

You don't have to be in Boston to be interested, and I see this as a grass roots effort that can be spread to other cities as passionate people pick up the vibe.  Here are some social media footprints around this group already:

  • A fundraiser has been planned for Friday, October 10th, at the Harvard Club in Boston, with all proceeds going to Jane Doe Inc:

    Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence brings together organizations and people committed to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. We create social change by addressing the root causes of this violence, and promote justice, safety and healing for survivors.

  • sm4sc is on Twitter
  • Join the sm4sc group on Facebook
  • Check out the sm4sc group on Myspace
  • Vote for a panel on sm4sc at SXSW

More to come as the date approaches.  If you are interested in becoming a corporate or personal sponsor, drop an email to sponsors (at) sm4sc (dot) com.

Blog Action Day 2008

Blog Action Day is a consolidated blog outreach program asking bloggers of all genres to talk about what they do best, but relate a post on October 15, 2008, to the topic of Poverty.  Register your blog and be part of the awareness campaign.  It's easy – they even have ideas to help come up with a post.  This is an easy way to get involved in a good cause.  Check out this video, a well done production to give an overview of what Blog Action Day is about.


Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

 

Join in – the energy of the people behind these events is contagious.- for a good reason.

Is there such a thing as “too social?”

Diluted When I talk to clients and colleagues about social networks, most think of LinkedIn and Facebook.  A few more familiar with social media will talk about Twitter and other bookmarking tools like Delicious and StumbleUpon.  Lately, I am seeing niche social networks pop up through Ning and other tools.  With the profileration of community building online, is there a danger that communities become too diluted?

Take the following examples.  I was recently recruited by the business folks behind local Boston sports personality Jerry Remy to join Sawxheads.com, a community for passionate Red Sox fans.  Within minutes of joining, I had a few dozen connection requests from complete strangers – our only bond a passion for the good guys.  The community allows "friending," blog posts that are proprietary to the network, and the equivalent of Facebook wall posts.  The Boston chapter of the American Marketing Association has also changed up how folks interact with the site adding many social features, like ""friending" and wall posts as well.  (It's actually pretty slick – if you are a member please feel free to connect with me.)  Not too shabby. 

Here's the problem: I want to go to one place, one portal, to get all of my social activity.  I'd almost prefer the front end of Facebook as a single 'portal' that I can access from there, and to maintain contacts in one place.  Do we really need to perpetuate the YASN acronym?  Yet another social network?  I love the idea of connecting with other Sox fans, but I don't like the idea of another profile to update, another source of BACN with all of the connection requests, etc.  There is lots of proprietary content on Sawxheads, and maybe if I could RSS stream the activity to Google Reader it would be a lot easier to digest in one place.

There are startups looking to carry the torch on being content aggregators, whether it's merging activity streams to centralizing the management of profiles.  It seems a long ways off before the pain becomes so compelling that these services will emerge as mainstream…but I think it's going in that direction.  In some upcoming posts I am going to explore the functionality of some of these tools, thanks to some of the folks who have reached out to me to ask for a point of view.  This could be interesting – but hopefully each solves a fundamental problem of spreading out that social goodness too thinly.

Photo credit: cayusa via Flickr

The Value of Program Management for Interactive Marketing

Marketingplan
When most people hear "program management" they think "<yawn>."  It's not a sexy skill set, like User Experience Design, Web Strategy or Flash Development.  I've heard program managers jokingly referred to as "overhead."  They have been confused with Project Managers and can be accused of knowing a little about a lot of topics but being an expert in none.  I had a conversation with a good friend last week about whether program management skills could even add value in an advertising agency environment, whose halls are filled with right-brained creative wizards.  For crying out loud, the main homepage of a primary industry nonprofit for program managers, the International Association of Project and Program Management, has a voice welcome on it's homepage that could be the same guy who does the radio sponsor spots on NPR.  

In the words of Mitch McDeere, "It may not be sexy, but it's got teeth."

What is program management?

Wikipedia calls it "the process of managing multiple inter-dependent ongoing projects."  This could apply to several dozen or even thousands of projects.  Program management is a discipline that requires leadership, vision, creativity, organizational and political savvy, and communication.  The large IT consulting firms have figured out that program management is critical to the success of client initiatives.  My old firm Accenture actually created their own training class called Value Driven Program Management, emphasizing the focus on measuring outcomes and return on investment vs. the business case for an initiative.  I always thought that internally at the firm, this skill set was valued more than in the marketplace.

How does it apply to interactive marketing?

Interactive marketing, according to Wikipedia, is the "ability to address the customer, remember what the customer says and address the customer again in a way that illustrates that we remember what the customer has told us."  The online channel is a primary vehicle for interactive marketers who use search engines, email, web analytics, display advertising, optimized websites and (increasingly) social media to engage customers and drive their businesses.  Interactive marketing departments are typically full of deeply skilled SEO and SEM specialists, visual designers, marketing veterans and technologists.  

These marketing departments need the same leadership, coordination, and strategy to drive multiple disciplines, projects and campaigns to achieve goals for the company.  Good program managers in this space are influencing the outcome; they are navigating the marketing, sales and product development organizations in a company to align executive sponsors, building a roadmap and budget, energizing resources to execute on the vision, and measuring the results.  Retailers that do this well have campaigns online that match other channels, exploring multi-channel campaigns.  Who is behind making all of these marketing pieces come together, execute on plan and achieve the value for the company?  Program management.

What about agencies?

In the agency environment the program management domain is just as critical, with the added pressures and challenges of navigating both the internal and client organizations.  Traditional media and new media agencies need this skill set to execute and deliver – otherwise the creative talent will generate a lot of good work but may be disillusioned, unfocused and be at risk for not meeting the client's objectives or expectations.  This video is a parody of the client/agency relationship gone wrong (thanks to Kate Brodock):

How do you see the program management function in your organization?  Is the program management discipline at your company effective?  Why or why not?

photo credit: stephendann via flickr  … and no, that book was not written by yours truly but I'll have to check it out.

A suggestion for the Twitter Lexicon

HandshakeFor months I've been trying to come up with a term to describe the experience of meeting someone in person who I had previously only known on Twitter.  Twitter is a microblogging platform that has a low barrier to entry in terms of finding and making connections.  I've written about several Twitter-to-real-life experiences, and have would like to float this suggestion out to the Twitter community of a term to describe them:

Tmeet1 verb, tmet (pt and pp of tmeet), tmeet-ing, noun

— verb (used with object)

1. to come upon; come into the presence of; encounter, after interaction through Twitter: "I was fortunate tmeet @phillymac in Cleveland after knowing of him through Twitter"
2. to become acquainted with; be introduced to, after interaction through Twitter:  "I tmet @worleygirl at the Forrester conference in April."
3. to come together, face to face, or into company, after interaction through Twitter: "We tmet at social media breakfast" or "I tmet @warrenss over lunch last week."
4. to become personally acquainted, after interaction through Twitter: "When @RichardatDELL tmet @tobydiva, it "felt like [he] had known her forever."

Each time I tmeet someone there is that aura of familiarity that reduces the awkward barriers of first conversation – many times it feels like we're old friends already.  Chris Brogan points out that an avatar helps, especially when tmeeting someone in person.  Is it worthy of everyday Twitter vocabulary?  We'd all save many keystrokes (precious in 140 character limits) and remove the "met in person for the first time" "meet someone in real life" and all other similar phrases.  What do you think? 

1 Borrowed some format and language from "meet." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 14 Aug. 2008. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/meet>.

photo credit: orinrobertjohn via flickr

Social Media Enhances Real World Relationships

Obvious Warning
Call me "Captain Obvious" for this one, but at a recent social media event it became clear to me that all of these social media platforms enhance real world connections.  I have made personal and professional connections that are stronger and more valuable to me as a result of interaction with social networks.  I will still continue to scrutinize who I connect to on each platform, but some recent examples of this:

  • Last week I set my Facebook status to indicate I'd be in New York City for a couple of days.  A few minutes later I received an invite from a couple of old friends I hadn't seen in more than ten years to join them for a reunion already planned that Wednesday night.  It was a blast, I have Facebook to thank – both for the reconnection to old friends and the facilitation of the interaction.  My college-aged cousins will laugh at this since they use Facebook like this all the time, many to actually coordinate most of their social lives.
  • Also last week at the Social Media Camp Boston event, Zach, Kate, Dmitri and I all marveled at how social media tools like Twitter helped make it easier to network, meet and share ideas – especially at social media events. Connecting online seems to reduce the barrier to entry and networking at events like that.  Social media also helps afterwards – my usual routine is to connect via Facebook or Linkedin to folks I meet at events, look to keep in touch, and perhaps down the road look for how we can be helpful to each other.  There is even a social media fundraiser in the works.
  • I've posted about the Twitter-to-real-life phenomenon before, but it seems to be happening more often.  I'm now connected to clients, business partners, co-workers and other industry folks on Twitter.  Months ago I struggled to find people I actually knew in person on Twitter, these days I have a network of professional contacts who I now now in person and can connect with in another way.  Last week I had lunch with Warren Sukernek (@warrenss on Twitter), who I had previously only met on Twitter – he was in the Boston area on vacation and agreed to meet.  Turns out we have a similar background in interactive marketing and roots in Metrowest Boston.

If it doesn't enhance a real world relationship in some way, isn't it just spam?  Okay, many folks build businesses exclusively through their online networks but for the majority of the folks using social media tools, would the tools be as popular if some sense of value wasn't being realized?  Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the value these tools are providing and get caught up in the buzz.  How has social media benefited you recently, and what advice would you recommend to others?

For reference on the growth of social media, Len Devanna recently shared this presentation from Universal Mccann on how popular things are getting.  

The Brand Factor: Do Established Brands Have It Easier?

Social MediaDo big, well-known brands have it easier or harder than start-ups trying to make an impact and leveraging social media?  Jeremiah Owyang, the well known social media analyst from Forrester Research, recently wrote a very thoughtful post on the current challenges in social media.  I also recently attended Social Media Camp Boston, which had a number of enterpreneurs presenting on tactics they take to leverage social media platforms.  This got me thinking – what types of companies lend themselves to social media?  I see three major factors that can help to answer this question, among others:

1.  "Traditional" Marketing and PR
2.  Budget for Social Media Efforts
3.  Community Leverage

Traditional Marketing and PR

Many large companies and established brands have yet to embrace and understand some of the tenets of social media.  They are unwilling to relinquish control of the message.  They struggle with fears of engaging customers directly and giving them a voice – looking to avoid negative PR instead of embracing customers and engaging customers.  They term "audience" is still used prevalently because of the one-way communication mindset, where "community," "listening" and "conversation" are not words some of these companies would associate with marketing. 

In some ways, this parallels a presentation I attended at Forrester's Marketing Forum called "The Interactive Marketing Maturity Model."  Shar Van Boskirk did an excellent job capturing four levels of maturity in embracing interactive marketing, which I believe also applies to leveraging social media:

  • "Skeptics," characterized by little or no interactive experience and assessing if interactive has value for them
  • "Mavericks," organizations that have a few isolated team members that appreciate interactive and run stand-alone programs but lack support to improve current efforts
  • "Practitioners," companies who have several years of experience and are piloting emerging media, and
  • "Optimizers," who have company-wide support for interactive efforts and are working to optimize multi-channel (including offline) efforts.1

With very few "optimizers" out there in the big corporations, it can be difficult for those companies to bridge the gap and trully leverage social media.  They need to retain talent in the industry, like Ford's recent hire of Scott Monty and Nationwide's recent hiring of Shawn Morton.

On the flip side, smaller startup organizations can be more nimble and have few constraints around controlling the brand message.  A great example of this is Freshbooks, led by chief "magic maker" Saul Colt.  Their entire marketing approach is to build a community of passionate users and embrace their customers with open and earnestly helpful dialog.

Budget for Social Media Efforts

More traditional organizations will ask the ROI question.  As Jeremiah points out, it's difficult to measure ROI on "engagement" and no industry standard exists.  Larger established brands may be less willing to take risks – where startups practically need to take a risk to differentiate themselves.  An untapped, unproven landscape in social media is ripe for startups (even though they may be spending funding rather than profits).  Albert Maruggi of the Marketing Edge, thinks companies need to get past the ROI question, using magazines' spending $14 million to buy a baby picture of Brangelina's kids as an example.

I think it should be easier for larger companies to allocate budget (including resources) to focus on social media due to their scale and the relatively low barrier to entry of leveraging many of these tools.  Sometimes process and a lack of executive sponsorship get in the way.

Community Leverage

Another factor in determining whether big brands have it easier is whether they already have a community to tap into.  Nike's Jordan division is a well known and loved brand – leveraging social media platforms and tools should be easy since there are passionate fans out there who would willingly participate.  For crying out loud, people fight and even risk lives in getting a hold of the latest shoe design. 

Smaller startups need to build communities, one person at a time.  Melanie Notkin has done a terrific job at building a community over months leading up to the launch of SavvyAuntie.com, using her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  It can be arguably harder to build a community than to engage one that exists, but I'd be interested to hear from folks who have more expertise on each before I decide on that one.

So which is it?

Do big brands have it easier or harder leveraging social media?  Are there other factors to consider?  Please take the poll and let me know what you think.

1 Source: The Interactive Marketing Maturity Model, Shar Van Boskirk, Forrester Research, April 9, 2008.
Photo credit: mrwilleeumm via Flickr