Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: Current, Social Media, Todd Feldman
Vodpod videos no longer available.
If you spend time in Social Media like Todd and I do, the things spoofed in the video are pretty funny, but I wonder of this is what Social Media looks like to people outside of the social media echo chamber. I know a few people with the word “Chief” in their title who are responsible for making decisions about how their company messages its brand to the world. Most of them perceive social media much like it is presented here. If this is what social media looks like to them, then we as evangelists need to get busy.
What has you experience been with executive decision makers? Do they have similar perceptions? How do we change that perception?
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: marketing, monitoring, Radian6, Social Media
Yesterday, I was having a conversation about Social Media with a guy responsible for a major US retailer’s e-commerce site. His position was that nobody has figured out how to monetize Social Media; therefore there’s not a compelling reason to invest in it. I argued that the point is not to use Social Media to generate Revenue directly, but rather to drive engagement with the Brand and to use it as part of a Sense & Respond mechanism. In a timely turn of events, someone on Twitter pointed me to a post over at Online Marketing Blog titled: “Top 10 Reasons for Monitoring brands in Social Media“. Written by the Marketing VP at Radian6, a company that coincidentally provides Social Media monitoring tools, I think this makes a compelling case for convincing organizational leaders of the need to wade into the Social Media pool and start monitoring and participating in the conversation. I have included the entire post below….
[Editor’s note: We’re excited to share this next guest post from David Alston of Radian6. A fast emerging leader in the field of social media measurement, Radian6 (a TopRank client) provides social media monitoring tools to hundreds of leading PR firms, ad agencies and brand marketers.]
David is VP Marketing at Radian6 in New Brunswick, Canada with previous experience at several tech startups in the interactive advertising and the video over IP space. Most recently, he was partner and VP of Marketing at PR firm, Revolution Strategy. His blog is TweetPR.
Social media has simplified the art of the soapbox shout. Information is shared with the masses now using easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools and is recorded and cached for infinity. A shout out loud in social media has no geographic boundaries and is not time-limited. These two points make the non-stop monitoring of social media an important to-do for any brand owner. And monitoring social media does not just mean blogs. It should include video and image sharing sites and microblogging sites like Twitter, along with opinion and discussion forums.
As a provider of the tools for monitoring hundreds and even thousands of well known brands online, we’ve found a multitude of reasons for paying attention to what’s being said in social media. Here are the top ten:
The complaint – Watch for posts complaining about your products or services, company, and staff. Catching something early means getting a chance to show how responsive you are. A complaint is an opportunity to demonstrate problem-solving abilities. A posted complaint may also draw out other comments from people with the same concern, which provides an opportunity to reach out to them as well. And who knows, impressing customer with great customer service may generate some positive posts about how you resolved the problems.
The compliment – Compliments can come in many forms. It could be a congratulations message about a recent award. It could be a customer raving about the experience they just had with a product or with customer service. Social media compliments are the online equivalent of those old school references or testimonials of days past. Create a delicio.us account or use another social bookmarking utility and save all of these compliments in a list for future use. Potential clients looking for reassurance on a purchase decision would love to see what others think of your company and products.
The expressed need – The best way to watch for expressed needs is to look for keywords often used to describe those needs. People shout out what they are doing and ask the general public for advice occasionally when they are about to make a purchase. Both of these situations provide an opportunity to reach out with an offer of assistance or a free demo for example. While this may seem intrusive at first glance consider that great retail clerk who offers to help when you are trying to locate a pair of shoes in your size. A social media poster often appreciates that someone is listening and does not mind an offer of assistance expecially if it’s done in a helpful way.
The competitor – If you are watching your industry and the keywords used to describe it you will probably be the first to know when a new competitor appears on the scene. From a competitive intelligence perspective you may also wish to be alerted any time a competitor’s name is used. Knowing this may highlight opportunities to reach out to potential customers who have indicated they are trialing a competitor or dissatisfied with a competitor’s product or service. You may also discover which industry players are advocates for competitive brands giving you the opportunity to reach out and see if they are interested in knowing more about what you have to offer. Competitors will also often talk about subjects they are strategically interested in and being able to stay on top of those discussions allows you to anticipate potential future moves.
The crowd – Topics will often pop up online that draw huge crowds from a page visits or commenting perspective. There is a lot to be learned in discussion threads especially when they have the potential to affect your brand. Following the swarms can give you a better understanding of current sentiment and thinking towards a certain topic and who the players are that have opinions on it. It also may point out a topic that you will need to monitor going forward. Tracking a topic’s viral nature and how long it lives can give you an idea of its relative importance. You may also decide to participate in the crowd discussion thread early in the process, giving your company exposure to those currently involved in the discussion and to those yet to join.
The influencer – Influencers within a space can carry a lot of weight. They gain there power either from the number of times they post on a topic, the number of people who link to their posts on a topic, the number of people gathering to comment and how engaged visitors to their posts become. The hive that forms around an influencer helps spread an opinion on a brand faster and that opinion express potentially carries more weight. Often an influencer’s post appears prominently in a topic’s Google search results thus affecting the views of even more potential customers. Knowing who these influencers are and their opinions of your brands helps you determine who to reach out to for help as advocates or to understand why they currently hold a negative view.
The crisis – Discussions happening in social media can serve as an early warning system before an issue goes mainstream. By using advanced tools you can observe new words popping more frequently about your brands. If you were an airline, as an example, the sudden appearance of the word “cancellations” along with the words “bad” and “customer service” would immediate trigger a need to drill into the posts driving them. Tracking these “crisis” words over time on a go forward basis would also then help gauge the effectiveness of any outreach campaigns to address the underlying issues.
The ROI – There has been a lot of buzz lately on how to successful measure online marketing and outreach campaigns. Much of the focus has centered around the topic of engagement. While a universal engagement metric has yet to be agreed upon there are still a number of effective ways to measure engagement and ROI in general. Track the mentions of a brand in user-generated content before, during and after a campaign. Isolate positive words associated with a particular brand and gauge the number of times they were used over a period of time. Alternatively, you could sort all posts mentioning a particular brand or topic by number of comments or views to uncover the top 50 discussions where potentially engagement was the highest.
The audit – A brand is the sum of all conversations and is no longer completely controlled by the corporation. By analyzing social media a corporation or agency can score a brand’s overall user sentiment, determine which words are commonly associated with it, understand which competitors rank closest in buzz or online mentions, uncover which sites are advocates, and rank which social media channels contain more discussion versus others. By isolating which sites are discussing your brand or a competitor’s brand, an audit can also help pinpoint possible ad placement opportunities for reaching the most valuable and engaged audiences.
The thread – With so many social media channels to shout out on, conversations often become splintered. A discussion can start within one channel and quick leap into another making it rather difficult to follow. Following discussions using keywords associated with it can help bridge the thread across all types of social media. This thread would then appear as a connected conversation for easy analysis.
Customers, prospects and peers are discussing your brand, your industry and your competitors right now in social media: with or without you. Unfortunately, choosing not to listen doesn’t make those conversations go away. Actively listening means protecting brand reputation, discovering opportunities, staying competititive and avoiding runaway crisis’.
Filed under: Content, Disney, Engagement, Social Networks, Uncategorized, Virtual Life | Tags: Club Penguin, Disney Interactive, Disney Online, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pixie Hollow, Virtual Magic Kingdom, VMK
Second Life is looking for it’s Second Wind. There.com isn’t quite there yet. The media hype that surrounded virtual worlds just a year ago has ratcheted way back. Real world companies who came in not understanding what they were getting into quickly faded away after they didn’t get what they were expecting.
But one demographic seems to be doing quite well in the virtual space: Kids. If you have one of these living under your roof, you probably know that they are actively participating in online virtual/social networking spaces. They are joining online social networks at increasingly early ages (pre-school in the case of Club Penguin) and in those spaces, they are forming relationships that are very real.
This high level of participation has made kid-oriented worlds like Habbo, Gaia Online, Neopets, Webkinz and Nicktropolis more successful that adult oriented virtual worlds. Disney’s launched Virtual Magic Kingdom in 2005 with a target audience of 8 – 14 year-olds. Seeing business opportunity in the virtual space, they paid $350 Million to acquire Club Penguin last year. This year, Disney launched Pirates of the Caribbean Online to attract a somewhat older, but still teen aged audience (mostly boys) and Pixie Hollow (targeted at girls) is set to be launched later this year. The longer range plan, according to Mike Goslin, VP of Disney’s Virtual reality Studio, is to “have a large number of virtual world for a range of different audiences… sort of like a theme park.” The strategy also includes making the different worlds “feel like a common experience” including the ability to move your social contacts between virtual experiences.
Last Week, Shel Israel posted an fascinating video interview with Goslin and other senior team members from Disney’s Interactive Studios.
In the interview, the Disney team talks about the differentiators that they bring to the game. The most interesting one for me was the idea of Context. Like physical playgrounds, Disney sees their virtual worlds as socializing environments. In them, kids are learning collaboration skills, communication skills and social skills, but as with most everything Disney does, these interactions and communications are done in the context of a story. Disney believes creating social environments and communities around a context adds value to both consumers and business. On the customer side, building environments around a theme drives engagement by communities of interest who are passionate about that theme (think “ESPN Fantasy Football”). This leads to large communities that are defined by their common interest as opposed to the relatively small number of people that may be in your friend list. Those large communities with common interests provides a context for a business model like advertising. Because the community is all there for the same reason, they will likely engage in predictable ways (i.e. minimize random and inappropriate behavior).
Conspicuously absent from the interview was any mention of Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom (“VMK”). VMK was launched in 2005 as part of the Disneyland 50th year celebration. In it, participants create rooms themed after Magic Kingdom attractions, play mini-games, collect inventory and make friends. Just seven months after launch, Disney announced the game surpassed one million players and over 1.3 million personalized in-game rooms. Last month, with no advance notice, Disney announced that they would be shutting the doors on this virtual theme park on May 21. Predictably, the outcry from the “community” has been loud and is growing as the date approaches. A number of petitions have collected thousands of signatures, boycotts are being threatened and one group, VMK Kids Unite, is organizing a protest at the gates of Disneyland on May 10 which may be covered by CNN and CBS. Obviously, adults are helping to organize these efforts, but the kids are the driving force. Kids who are already comfortable with the participatory web and who want to have their voices heard.
So here’s my takeaway. From the interview, its clear that Disney understands the business opportunity in Virtual Worlds & Social Networks. The also have a pretty good idea how to build communities through contextually engaging virtual experiences. On the other hand, Disney’s decision to shut down VMK demonstrates that perhaps they don’t really get the “social” component. In these social environments, Disney’s role is to provide the frameworks (architectural, security and creative) and the context, but the real content is created by the participants. In shutting down VMK, they aren’t just closing an amusement park attraction. They are throwing away the work of the thousands of dedicated, passionate kids who have spent countless hours building and sharing wonderfully imaginative experiences, and in the process, will be alienating many of their most dedicated and influential advocates.
What do you think? Is closing VMK “just business”? Will the kids get over it? Is this consistent with Disney’s brand?
Update #2: My daughter wrote a song and created a video about saving VMK. Check it out here.