Social Media, Advertising … and You

Lois Martin Marketing, advertisting, social mediaThis is chat guest post is by Lois Martin (@loismarketing), longtime KaizenBiz community member and marketing and public relations advisor for small to mid-sized businesses. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Lois provides strategic planning, social media management, graphic design and copywriting services.

Two or three weeks ago I became involved in a “side” conversation with fellow Tweeps during the #KaizenBiz chat. The conversation caught Elli’s attention – along with several others – and resulted in my landing in the guest seat (or should I say “the hot seat”???) for this week’s chat.

It’s interesting to discover business – and discuss business – from many angles during our time together each week. What is most interesting is when the topic of advertising or marketing arises. In the “side” conversation the other week it became clear that many of you are frustrated with what you view as intrusive, disrupting and interrupting advertising in social media. So … let’s discuss!

The best things in life AREN’T free!

If we admit it, all of us have been spoiled by the proliferation of free applications, free tools and other freeware on the Internet. When you stop and think about them, each has been a form of advertising or marketing for its creator. Many of these “freebies” stand on their own and support themselves – but such is no longer the case for major social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Highly-secured server farms and highly-skilled staff cost thousands of dollars to build, maintain and expand as the popularity of social media grows.

Will that be cash or credit?

Trust me – I’m right there with you. I find advertising disruptive and aggravating at times too.

Many of you who participate in #Kaizenbiz know that I am a Formula 1 racing fan. Nothing bugs me more than commercial breaks during the live broadcast of a race. Invariably, a key overtake (AKA “pass”) or another moment for the history books takes place during those crucial three minutes. I can hear all of you saying “Grrrr …” with me! We’ve all been there. Sometimes we are not afforded the luxury of split-screen action or timeouts on the field to allow for Kelloggs, CocaCola, McDonald’s, Honda et al  – who foot the bill for our entertainment.

Hmmmm. When you think about it that way, maybe those commercials aren’t so bad after all. Agreed? Yes, we pay for cable, satellite or other digital subscriptions – but how much would it cost you if the advertisers WEREN’T there?

We now return you to our regular programming …

So here we are back at our topic: social media and advertising. Elli, your fellow #Kaizenbiz chatters and I look forward to your hearing what you have to say – or tweet.

Join us Friday, June 7th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT on Twitter (use the hashtag #KaizenBiz) and add your insights and expertise to this conversation:

In using major social media – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – do you think that paid advertising displays or posts disrupt your experience? If so, how?

Have you, your company or your clients purchased advertising in social media? If so, what were the results or outcome?

 Would you prefer to pay for a subscription to social media as an alternative to viewing or reading advertisements? If so, what would be a reasonable monthly fee for Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?

 Who has been the most effective with advertising in social media?  Have you purchased a product or service as a result of a social media ad or “page”?

 What are your thoughts about targeted advertising in social media? Do you find it intrusive – or smart?

About the author: Lois Martin is a marketing and public relations advisor for small to mid-sized businesses. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Lois provides strategic planning, social media management, graphic design and copywriting services. Lois’ clients include a number of retail, financial, motor sports and specialty contractor companies. For more information, contact her at Lois (at) loismarketing (dot) com

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Could the End of Free Come To Social Media?

social media, Twitter, Facebook, GoogleTwitter pulled a cute April Fool’s joke back on April 1st of this year. The joke was that there would be two tiers of service. The free level would remove all vowels and the paid level would include the vowels. While this was good for a laugh, another post caught my eye that asked some interesting questions. Justin Fox asked if users would want to be paid for their contributions and could the major social media sites continue to provide a free platform for the majority of users.

A little background

It’s worth reading Justin Fox’s post, How Long Will You Be Willing To Tweet For Free?. While he wrote about a bet between Nicholas Carr and Yonchai Benkler as his starting point, his focus was on how the big social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google could keep offering a free platform for user-generated content (peer production). Curiously, he ties in research on The Prisoner’s Dilemma in which two individuals are told they can earn money if they cooperate but get nothing if they do not cooperate. Fox makes the connection that people will engage in peer-production as long as they perceive they are getting value.

The value for users

The magic or attraction of social media sites lies in the varied content that is created by the users, the peer production. This means you can find something about pie making, gaming or even social media because someone is posting relevant content. For businesses, large and small, have a vehicle to broadcast their message, drive sales and engage with their customers. And it’s for free! You can’t get that with advertising on television or print media.

We have also seen the major social media sites explore various revenue sources such as targeted pay-per-click advertisements, paying for increased visibility of your posts and other options. There seems to be a desire on the part of the social media sites to keep their users happy while trying to find ways to provide actual monetary value to their shareholders. Some of these have been hit or miss, including turning off some users so they cancel their accounts.

An emerging tension

At the end of his post, Fox notes that all of the larger social media sites are heavily involved with Wall Street. The question here is how long can Twitter, Facebook and Google balance providing their free platforms with the demands of shareholders and investors. There is another tension coming from users who are evaluating the return on investment they are getting given the time commitment, level of engagement and ability to broadcast and self-promote. Fox points out a concern that if users perceive the value as failing them, they will abandon the social media sites.

Being paid for contributions or remaining committed to peer production

This is an awkward dilemma. There are many users who are on Twitter, Facebook or Google who use the sites for personal reasons. They may be producing content but it’s not for monetary gain. On the other hand, small businesses and multi-national corporations use the sites for visibility and broadcasting. They might see value in becoming a sort of paid staff when they provide content. After all, finding new ways to increase revenues is certainly a part of business.

The value received from participating on these sites is not necessarily based on monetary gain. There has been some research done on how it effects people. It seems that social media provides a great deal of gratification including activating parts of our brains that interprets rewards. A “like”, “retweet” or positive votes can make us feel very positive.

What is the greatest value that the major social media sites provide?

What sort of mindset is needed to account for the social media site business model(s)?

How would it change your participation if you knew user-generated content was recompensed?

How would it change your participation if you were the one being paid to generate content?

How do you see the major social media sites manage the demand they increase revenues and create profits without losing their “magic”?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.

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Is It Time To Check Out Of Social Media?

There isocial media, engagement, reducing use of social medias a plethora of social media sites we can use. You could literally spend all day on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter and there would still be more sites you didn’t even get close to engaging. So, why cut your time spent when this is where the action is?

Join us for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz on Friday, January 25, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT and discuss “Is It Time To Check Out Of Social Media?”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice.

Is social media passé? Continue reading

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Opening Up the Search for True Transparency

Transparency, KaizenBiz chat, Steve BirkettTransparency is a buzz word that has spread rapidly into the common parlance of the social media era. Prompted initially by individuals sharing more and more of their personal lives online, and the blurring thereof with our professional lives, the creeping call for transparency has now reached the global corporate level.

Advocates assert that any and all organizations must embrace the concept, share more of their operation, and become open to letting this increasingly connected world see what goes on behind the curtain. “Open kimono” may well be business bingo lingo that predates the digital era, but it takes on new meaning with the sheer number of channels now available to businesses.

Just how much should be revealed before crossing the lines into overexposure? 

Furthermore, can the “true transparency” that many believe is required to become a fully social organization ever be achieved?  Or is this a naiveté destined to remain in the realm of aspirational blog posts and academia?

Defining “True Transparency”

Initially, we have to understand what is being asked of organizations pursuing greater transparency, then extrapolate a spectrum of just how far down that path they might go, both in theory and in practice. At the one end we have a closed, inaccessible attitude, unwilling to disclose anything of value. At the other, a truly transparent organization will answer any questions about their operation and publish as much of value as possible, open for all to access.

But there are, of course, limitations on this spectrum…

First and foremost, some companies operate within strictly regulated industries that will restrict the level of transparency. Even if a company in the financial sector wants to air everything to its interested parties, for example, it is bound by overarching regulatory bodies and compliance requirements. Similar limitations exist for pharmaceutical companies, law firms, and many others. So can such organizations ever be wholly transparent?

Secondly, the question arises as to exactly what an organization gains by pursuing all out openness. There are clear advantages in sharing some information, ranging from increased connection with customers to greater trust in how they do business. It can be argued, however, that there also exists a point of diminishing returns, after which the incremental benefits gained are outweighed by the risk that comes from making one’s operations available for all to scrutinize.

Teasing Out the Transparent 

In Friday’s #KaizenBiz, we’ll seek to understand what true transparency means conceptually, what limitations exist in the real world of business, and whether or not it is beneficial for an organization to pursue complete openness.

To that end, please consider the following questions:

Is organizational transparency an option or an obligation in the digital era?

Can “true transparency” ever be a realistic objective or are there acceptable limits?

Does a culture of openness equate to a transparent company?

Are there specific industries and/or organizations that have a right to maintain opacity on their operations? 

What do you want to see from organizations that open themselves up for all to see?

About the author: Steve Birkett is a senior marketing associate at Brooklyn-based agency Esvee Group (http://www.esveegroup.com/). Specializing in translating brand identity to new media channels and content, he is a passionate advocate of building online networks and openly contributing value to the resulting communities. You can further connect with Steve on Twitter via @EsveeGroup, or on his more musically-inclined personal handle, @AboveTheStatic.

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Social Media Is About Perception…Changing Our Vision

Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu Social MediaThis post is by guest blogger, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu, (Twitter, @mediasres) the Director of Social Media for the Tonner Doll Company. We’re celebrating our 3rd anniversary of this Twitter chat as we explore Social Media, Perception and Organizational Decision-Making this Friday, July 20th, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT on #KaizenBiz.

In Social Media everything is about perception… but perhaps not in the way you think. Counter to the Marketing and PR “message control” approach to Social Media, what truly is radical about Social Media is that businesses have now a new way to perceive and this changes what they are and possibly influences how they make decisions. This new perception gives them insight into not only the World but also their own place in it. The challenge is how to become aware of this mode of perceiving and incorporate what is seen into new decision making processes.

Organize and organism

There are close conceptual connections between “organize” and “organism” and it sheds real light to consider our enterprises as living things. Living things have an inside and an outside, though the boundary can be subtly blurred. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of any organism is how it perceives the world. For instance that shark can smell blood kilometers away, or sense electrical pulses up close says something about sharks. Bats are both blind but can “see” flitting insects. Perception goes a long way in defining what an animal is, and what is possible. So any business that wants to understand itself needs to take stock in exactly how it perceives, or more specifically orients itself to the world around it.

What are the organs of perception of your business?                      

An important conceptual analytical tool in this question is John Boyd’s OODA loop. His Observe Orient Decide and Act bears close resemblance to the Kaizen PDCA Shewhart loop, with notable differences. Boyd’s OODA is a consciousness and strategy model that allows us to read businesses as if they are living things seeking to constantly orient themselves more quickly in ever changing environments. The OODA loop in a fuller schematic looks like this:

OODA LoopEssentially it is a feedback loop wherein an individual seeks to identify features and patterns in its environment, and to adapt its orientation as quickly as possible to changes, going through its loop faster than its target environment is making changes. It’s staying ahead of the breaking wave.

Speed of Feedback

One application of the OODA loop that perhaps appeals most directly to Social Media marketing is his emphasis on the speed of feedback. Rather than seeing Social Media as a new channel for company message, it is perhaps more enlightened to understand Social Media as a new mode of perception for a business, a quick-pulse, quick-twitch sensitivity that gives it striking new powers of knowing where it is and cues on how to proceed. Community managers and their spaces are no longer just low-end Customer Service features but have become human hubs of brand intelligence. Self-organized consumer consensuses – whether they be found in data or expressed in conversation – become real-time tea leaves to be read.

The problem with new sense organs though is that you can’t just plug a new mode of perceiving onto the old architecture without potentially causing a fair amount of confusion. One is ever in danger of overreacting to, or more usually censoring out completely the new information. It has no natural place in the modern Marketing business model. Its speed of awareness, the very proximity to the customer or user, do not fit easily into the time frame of long campaigns, or company customs of self-perception. Things can happen in minutes, or days in Social Media and those events can be large windows into a business’s environment and markets, keys to possibilities or dangers not otherwise seen.

Q1 If we think of your business as an animal, how does it perceive its place in the world? What are its organs of perception?

Q2 If Social Media comprises new organs of perception? How does it challenge the way business used to see? What is new in what it sees?

Q3 If Kaizen is continuous & gradual business improvement, how does the speed of Social Media enhance that?

Q4 How does the speed of Social Media perception and decision pose difficulty to Kaizen improvement?

Q5 If your company adopted a much faster decision cycle do you think the role of Social Media would be increased?

Q6 Community Managers are a new hybrid which speaks and listens as the brand. Has their position in the decision process changed? 

Q7 What business decision-making roles are most resistant to taking advantage of Social Media perception? How do you bridge this gap?

Q8 If you could imagine a business that is born with strong Social Media perception, what would it’s decision-making process be like?

About the author: Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu, currently based in Thailand, is the Director of Social Media for the Tonner Doll Company.  Interests include Social Media ethics and designing social spaces; he considers his work in Social Media an expression of his study of Spinoza.

 

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Multi-Directional Expressive Capability-Gold Dust For Organisations?

This post is by guest blogger, John Twohig, co-founder of the Ahain Group , a social business consultancy based in Ireland. Please join us to explore MDEC: Multi-Directional Expressive Capability with John Twohig this Friday, July 13th, at 12pm ET/5pm BST/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

Through-out history, humans have possessed the ability to express themselves by speech, body language, song, and the written word. Historically this meant we had to physically gather together in groups, large or small, for multi-directional expression to take place. By this I mean more than two people are involved in conversation and people expressing themselves freely and in different ways.

With the advent of Online Social Media Platforms that has all changed. Just logging onto your chosen platform allows you to instantly enter a “Mutli-Directional” conversation or dialogue. This allows you to exercise your “Expressive Capability”. For a Social Business Strategy to have success, it is my opinion that MDEC activity is the gold dust, one of key drivers and measurement of ROI.

This Multi-Directional Expressive Capability is spooking business and traditional marketers. They feel they have no control over the conversation’s direction after they put their message out onto the online space.

It is this very MDEC communication model that gives Social its power. Originally the marketing message direction was one way (what is referred to as broadcasting or push marketing). As in, then-a TV adverts tells you about a companies product/service; a one way conversation. Now, thanks to Social Platforms the messages are:

  1. Business 2 Consumer(B2C)
  2. Consumer 2 Business(C2B)
  3. Consumer 2 Consumer about Business (C2CaB)

Businesses and organisations feel they cannot control the C2CaB aspect of the conversation. In the C2CaB aspect of the conversation, consumers can and will discuss, review and /or rate your product or service in an honest open discussion.

Old Model

Broadcasting your marketing message is not the correct model for online marketing. Content has to motivate the online community. There has to be an edu-tainment value to inspire the community to express why they are happy or unhappy with your business/organisation. Coca-Cola is now measuring their success by the total amount of “Expressions” rather then the old metric of “Impressions”.

What are Impressions

Impressions are created when somebody clicks on a landing page containing a promotion. The numbers of clicks/impressions the advert receives indicates the ability of the company to drive traffic to that advert. The problem is I could really like an advertisement and not take action.  In fact, I could like the advertisement so much that I click on that page numerous times and never buy the product.

Expressions

Expressions are different…and the best way to measure your online success. If you take action and express an opinion about the business or organisation, you are contributing to that online community and online profile.

  • Commenting on their blog
  • Posting on their Facebook wall
  • Commenting on their posts on Facebook
  • Sharing their content with your community
  • RTing Tweets which you find interesting
  • Sharing your content with their community

Above are just six of the ways you can take action. This expression of interest in a business or organisation is the metric that Coca-Cola is now using to measure its online marketing success. There are many more methods of expression but the list above contains some of the most popular.

The Benefit

“Social Proof” and “Peer to Peer” recommendations are the gold dust to online marketing. These expressions are what all businesses and organisations should be pursuing to grow their market share and increase their profile in today’s popular culture. This Nielsen Report should provide some food for thought.

Real engagement matters

MDEC will help business, organisations and communities gain exposure in the online space. In a new model such as todays’ social platforms, which are only 7 years old, it will take time for people to adjust. People are driving this change as they are intolerant of businesses and organisations that are not authentic. They are intolerant of companies’ management do not engage and they are certainly intolerant of businesses and organisations that do not make an effort to edu-tain them.

How can the MDEC model help biz/orgs leverage “The Wisdom of Crowds” to achieve innovation and efficiencies?

What would be the most important area to focus a Social Business Strategy

If  impressions do not measure engagement, what role do they play in MDEC?

How would you describe the ideal model for marketing to consumers?

About the author: John Twohig is Co-Founder at the Ahain Group, Social Business Strategist and Blogger. He is the first person to name the new communication model that online social platforms facilitate, Multi-Directional Expressive Capability (MDEC) and its benefits to business and organisations.

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