Slideshare: The Future of Social Networks

Charlene Li, one of the authors of Groundswell, pulled together a very thoughtful presentation on the future of social networks.  She continues to be a visionary in the social networking space.  I’ve been using LinkedIn for nearly 5 years, and Facebook for 2 – envisioning these applications and predictions coming true are not as far fetched as they may seem.  What do you think?

 

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Understanding the Shift in Marketing

Thanks to Dave Knox, a brand manager at P&G, for spotting this video.  This is a simple and clear example of how marketing of old is no longer effective, and how “atomized and parallel media consumption” have impacted how brands market today.  Dave mentions this is a good way for a brand manager to illustrate the need for change to management.  I’d add that it’s a way to also explain why the personalized connections through social media are so important.  Worth the three minutes.

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Do Alternate Payment Methods Help Retailers?

moneyAlternate payment methods (APM), in eCommerce terms, are ways to complete a transaction without using the normal credit card authorization process.  For the past couple of years Rosetta has completed a quick study of a hundred leading online retailers using the big players in this space.  Paypal, BillMeLater, and Google Checkout are the ones we have measured mostly due to marketshare in the large online retailer category.  New services and startups continue to crop up, as evidenced by the buzz related to Chris Brogan’s sponsored post around the new service eBillMe.

The major play for each of these payment methods is the additional uptick in conversion – the premise that providing alternate ways to pay will reduce people from abandoning their shopping carts and more broadly appeal to those worried about giving their credit card to a website.  Our study shows that both Paypal and BillMeLater have gained retailer adoption in the last 18 months.  Google Checkout appears to have maintained ground at the same relative group.apm

The list of retailers surveyed is the same list from our recent study on Facebook.  While not scientific, it shows us some trends in the marketplace.  The major points of the APM study this round are that the growth rate is continuing among retailers, and Google Checkout is stagnating.  Two major questions have come up:

  • Why is Google Checkout not keeping pace?
  • Why are other big name retailers still sitting on the sidelines?

Google Checkout recently dropped their incentive program for AdWords customers, but retailers aren’t typically quick to respond.  BillMeLater was recently acquired by eBay from Amazon, who also owns Paypal.   I wonder if the ROI is really there, despite low cost to implement these programs.

What I am more interested in is hearing from you.  Do any of the online sites you shop at regularly offer these methods?  Do you use them, or would they influence your buying decision?  Why or why not?  Our study was picked by DM News and Storefrontbacktalk.com (thanks!) but I’d love to hear what people use and why.

Photo credit:  nicmcphee via Flickr

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Healthy Choice Chooses Wisely

workinglunchEvery once in awhile I stumble across a great example of interactive marketing to share.  Today a friend shot me a link to a microsite from the consumer product brand Healthy Choice, that has a lot of the right ingredients for a successful campaign.  The campaign looks like it was launched last fall but I think it will have a long shelf life.  Here are some reasons why I like the campaign.

  • Comedy is good. The central theme around the microsite is a daily comedy improv show.  The actors are funny, regular people loosely resembling the successful TV show the Office.  They depict characters debating various agenda topics during a lunch meeting.  Quality comedic content can make a site more engaging, more viral and keeping people searching the site for more.  The site’s show had daily updates for several weeks when it was launched, for a “season.”  It appears Season 2 ended in November. With agenda topics such as, “What Not to Do at Work,” “Dealing with Flatulence,”and “Reuse Staples.”  This “best of” show from November 25th is a great example.
  • Consumers engage and direct the content. You can submit meeting agenda topics, vote on future meeting topics, and send a “care package” to a friend who has been in too many meetings.  You can subscribe to reminders about the next meeting, browse through many archived shows and read through dozens of humorous articles.
  • Product endorsement is pervasive but not overbearing. Healthy Choice could just have easily made a microsite about nutrition and product information.  Instead they chose a humorous platform and work the product placement in without diluting the quality comedy content.  When you “send a care package” you can share episodes with friends via email but there also is an option to send a Healthy Choice product coupon.

healthychoice

I’m curious what the cost was to produce the show, site and content, and what the overall ROI would be for a site like this versus an ad campaign in a magazine.  No question I spent more time on this site than reading an ad and that Healthy Choice will have ample metrics to measure consumption of the content.  Well done, Healthy Choice.  Do you think this type of microsite works?  What are some examples of others you have seen and liked?

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Untapped CRM: Social Breadcrumbs

listeningpostMarketers have a lot of data. Online, they know where you live, what you clicked on, and what page layout (among other things) is more likely is going to drive you to make a purchase. They know what you searched for, what ads you saw and how long you spent on their sites. Signs are pointing to an elevated sophistication of using that data – get ready, because with the ability to combine your activities in social media with your online behavior, targeted, personalized approaches to marketing to you could be what’s next.

Exhibit A: CMO’s want to read the tea leaves

Mark Taylor, colleague at Rosetta, recently mentioned a study from the CMO Council that highlighted some key insight as to how CMOs feel they are deficient at understanding and leveraging customer data. Some key findings:

Marketers were asked about their top three areas of focus. Among the responses cited:

* 47% want to leverage existing resources to enhance customer communications.
* 41% would like to explore new customized communications technologies.
* 39% want to move marketing investments to Internet and mobile channels.
* 33% wish to improve behavioral targeting of advertising and online marketing campaigns.
* 32% want to adopt and use CRM and sales automation applications.

Exhibit B: Online activities reveal customer emotions and behaviors

I had a conversation earlier in the week with Evan Schuman, former retail technology editor for eWEEK.com and PCMagazine and author of the retail industry blog StoreFrontBackTalk.com. Evan recently posted a provacative article about how semantic information about a user’s activities could lead to more targeted marketing activities, and I’ve had it on my mind since.

Extensive analysis of a consumer’s Web interactions has been used for years to try and target pitches more effectively. But new research suggests that…every digital comment made by consumers anywhere—in a product comment, an IM, on a social network site, in E-mail and via, exchanges with a live chat tech support person, coupled with Web traffic analysis—can be mined for hints as to emotions and other thoughts.

What it could mean

Imagine what organizations who are savvy enough to tie their CRM data to semantic, social media content left as breadcrumbs out there. Evan rightly suggests that every consumer responds differently to emotion. When you’re sad, so you seek out comfort food or buy some new music? When you’re happy do you surprise your spouse at home with a gift? Could your social media activity be somehow tied, through emotion, prior history, or simply by subject, to your purchasing or brand buying behavior?

Some examples

Consider some possibilities. I’m sure we could come up with better ones together but here’s a stab at some.

  • In Twitter your posts could be mined for relevant information. Say, you have a cold and are under the weather, and you like to post about it as you are down in the dumps. Imagine a coupon for Advil Cold & Sinus showing up in your email shortly after you have a conversation about cold remedies, and a targeted ad on a news site gives you 20% off on a home humidifer.
  • In Friendfeed, you show a pattern of mentions about football in blog posts and comments, and favorited Youtube videos – and your favorite team wins the next playoff game. Knowing that when you are on an emotional high you tend to make an online purchase, retailers start showing specific discounted offers pop up on eBay and Amazon related to your team. Beyond the fact that the team won, taking it to the next level targeted people whose buying behavior changes at these peaks.
  • Imagine if in a Myspace posting you share the loss of a beloved pet. You start seeing ads and receiving offers for “comfort” items.

Evan responds,

What consumers receive is nothing bizarre: A pitch from Amazon or Borders or Walmart for a particular kind of product. But what they won’t likely know is that the pitch was prompted by … a MySpace posting the software thought “sounded sad.”

Technologically? This is quite do-able. Psychologically sound? If the software is done properly, yes, these predictive packages can be frighteningly accurate. But here are the big two questions: What about privacy and morality?

Sure there are many concerns about privacy, morality, and transparency. Is it going above and beyond using this type of data to target customers, or just the next logical evolution? It sure makes me think a little more about what I share on searchable outlets, but I am not so sure connecting me with the right products at the right time would be a bad thing. What do you think?

Photo credit: fenchurch via flickr

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7 Things Strikes Again

I’ll be the first to admit I’m skeptical when it comes to memes.  I’ve got to be honest that I am not a huge fan, but on occasion they can serve a good purpose. “Meme” has “me” twice in it – which can be two times too many – and like many I’m not always comfortable talking about myself. (Bryan Person did a great job adapting this particular one to talk about others, but I’m admittedly not that clever.)  To start off 2009, I’ll give this one a shot. 

Good friend Len Devanna once described memes in a positive light:

It helps strengthen the online relationships I’ve established. It puts me in a position to share something I otherwise wouldn’t – which helps to provide some context around who I am – especially for those who only know me through an online relationship. It also helps create new relationships.

Very true words.  Thanks to Ken Burbary, Marc Meyer and Eric Guerin each for taking the time to tag me and write some great posts – this has been a great experience to get to know them better and I hope this reciprocates. Without further ado…7 random facts about yours truly.

  1. gnomeI stole a lawn gnome and took it across the country. In the summer of 1995 two friends and I took a 50 pound cement gnome (actual picture) from a random house in a New Jersey suburb and took it all the way to the Redwood Forrest and back.  You know those Travelocity commercials?  They were based on us.  Loosely.  Very loosely.  Well, I don’t know if we were the first to do it, but we definitely were legends in our own minds.  We took pictures everywhere with the gnome and mailed postcards back to the house we stole it from, authored from the gnome.  At the end of the trip we returned the statue with a stack of pictures, a large foam sombrero from Taos, NM, and a huge map tracing the journey.  We never met the family as we were afraid of the consequences.  Is there a statute of limitations on that stuff?
  2. I am a sucker for the Muppets. I haven’t bought the entire series on Time-Life DVD (yet), but I have a renewed appreciation for the adult humor sprinkled throughout.  The best part is that my 3 boys, ages 7, 5 and 2, are also now hooked.  The kids watched all of season one during the Thanksgiving road trip from Boston to Philly.
  3. I’d rather have a week of skiing than a week on the beach for vacation. Before kids I would get close to 20 days a year on icy slopes in New Hampshire and Vermont.   Nowadays the 3-4 times a year will have to do, but I long for the days of the week-long family trip to Vail.  The back bowls above the tree line are perhaps my favorite place on earth.
  4. I graduated college not knowing what I would do for a living. When I started college I thought I would be an attorney, but after working for a summer at a corporate law firm in Manhattan I was not enthused.  I was a Political Science major, but I interviewed with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in the weeks after graduation and was hired for one of the last two spots that summer in Boston.  Now as a partner at Rosetta, I can reflect fondly on the two months I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.  The panic was a growing experience.kenwood-evergreen
  5. I spent 5 summers as a camp counselor at the overnight summer camp I attended as a kidCamps Kenwood and Evergreen, in Andover, NH, have been the summer homes to me, my sister or both every year since 1985.  Today my sister is the head counselor for Evergreen (the girls camp), and her husband is the same for Kenwood.  I am in denial that my oldest son is a couple years away from actually attending.  While somewhat hokey, the movie Indian Summer really nails the overall feeling of summer camp.  Hard to explain to someone who didn’t go.
  6. I have retired from the game of golf three times. I am consistently inconsistent and it drives me crazy. What can I say, I have moments of glory followed quickly by the agony of despair.
  7. I seem to gravitate toward change. I like project based work that has measurable outcomes and doing my best to influence the outcome.  I also like new or fresh starts, especially once I can get past that point about a month or so after you start anything new where you quite suddenly realize how big the task is at hand.  This goes for everything, from a job change to starting in social media.  I like the challenge but it is, well, challenging.  Seth Godin talks about it well in “The Dip,” which will be the subject of a future blog post.

Thanks for reading, and if you are interested in learning more about some fascinating people I know, here are the folks I have tagged.  I’ve tried to provide a representative cross-set of connections who have provided valuable insight and perspectives (and as far as I can tell haven’t been tagged yet):

  • Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek (aka MichelleBB), CMO for marketing firm Quaero and fellow member of Forrester’s Technology Marketing Executive Council
  • Eric Glazer, VP of Marketing at Cambridge Healthtech Associates, expert on communities in healthcare, and my son’s soccer coach
  • Colin Browning, former head of business development at Mzinga who recently joined Chris Brogan‘s New Marketing Labs team
  • Connie Bensen, community guru and social media teacher extraordinaire, whom I’ve started to get to know through social media and hope to meet one day this year
  • Erika Watters, a retail marketer who has really found a great storytelling voice at her personal blog
  • Sean Bohan, self-described “renaissance caveman” – a social media consultant who just “gets it” and has real experience to back up his insights
  • Beverly Cornell, Director of sales and marketing for Iterotext, who connected with me after seeing me mention the agency I work for, Rosetta, on Twitter (subsequently we had a laugh when we realized she thought I was talking about Rosetta Stone).

Please join me in encouraging these folks to keep this one going, we can all learn a bit more about each other.

The rules:

  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged
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