Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Can Social TV Succeed?

My boyfriend doesn't get my social media addiction. He posts to Facebook once in a blue moon and doesn't have an account on any other social network. In fact, we've had discussions on what hashtags are and why they are necessary (he hates them) on more than one occasion. One such discussion occurred when we were watching Glee and the song title/segment hashtag appeared in the corner of the screen.

Yet, the other night when Peter Griffin from Family Guy tweeted during the episode and I called out the handle while it was on the frame, my boyfriend insisted I look up the account immediately. Turns out, the show had been tweeting to the account for about a week, and the one from the show was "live tweeted."

So it was a success ... right? My boyfriend, the anti-social media poster boy, engaged with a brand/product on social media (sorta) after seeing it on TV.  He didn't convert and join Twitter, so at most he just crystallized his love of Family Guy's cutaways.

Oddly enough, he was intrigued by The Glass House in which the audience decides the outcome of a Big Brother-style reality show and are able to tweet questions or challenges to the cast. Did he vote or submit? No.

I know what you are thinking. My boyfriend is a bad test case for social TV. Well what about me? I LOVE social media, and like 77% of Americans, I'm usually using another device while watching TV.

But there is still a problem.

I don't watch TV shows live.  According to Nielsen, live TV viewing dropped 2% from last year. With many young adults "cord cutting" to get their entertainment cheaper on Hulu or Netflix and many others using DVRs, this will continue to be a problem for social TV.

If TV execs think social TV is the answer to the drop in live viewing, think again. I won't give up my freedom to watch on my own time and freedom from commercials (more bads news for the TV business). I tend to watch only a few hours at most behind the airtime, but I've seen many people tweet/post that they will be signing off until they can watch a show the next day just to avoid spoilers.

Live events, like sports and presidential debates, have an edge and clearly mix well with social media. As for other TV going social, doesn't seem like the recipe to success.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Facebook Funny Business Part II

When I wrote my original post about Facebook advertising, I hadn't planned on another. However, with so much buzz about the drop in post reach, I just had to weigh in.  Since the change to Edgerank has occurred, the amount of people my page posts reach is only about 58% of the amount before the change. Thus, I decided to test out a promoted post again. This past week, I ran a promotion on a post from the week prior. That post had reached even less people than others as of late. 

I was very happy with the results. The paid reach was nine times that of the organic reach. We also got about 18 new page likes in that time, with only 10 showing as coming through the promotion. My concerns from last time were that many global fans didn’t seem connected to our brand. The two post shares seemed shady in that manner (no comment just a straight share to their timeline which had many other shared posts), but the new page likes were legitimate and tied back to employees at our global affiliates/business units.

 I didn’t run for the full ad spend, so it only cost $4.45. Unfortunately, that price is not what large brands will be able to get, as Mark Cuban shows.

Sure he and many other marketers are upset, but as another blogger put it do we have much room to complain about the drop in reach when it is a free service. I tend to agree. Do people complain about LinkedIn’s premium membership pricing options? No, because those have been established from the beginning. Had a sophomore in his college dorm thought about how to monetize and build out advertising packages for a college who’s hot or not site, we may not have even had a reason to be upset.

Regardless of if we should be angry or not, a new workaround is being tested to allow page fans to get notifications/alerts whenever the page posts new content. Until it is officially announced as other updates to Facebook are to all users (do most even read those?), will you ASK your fans to do this to receive all of your page posts? Will the average Facebook users truly understand the necessity or think it is just another loop to jump through?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bad Customer Service and Social Media: A Volatile Mix

I've noticed some rants on Twitter about some people not receiving responses by companies for customer service and then not having a social media presence to even try to reach, which got me thinking about a blog post I wrote for my company blog in June 2011. Sadly for consumers, the data I had pulled regarding customer service was updated in March 2012 and nothing has changed.

customer service - first world problem
  • 64% of respondents said that during the past 12 months they had left a store because service was poor
  • 67% had hung up on customer service without having had their problem addressed
  • Only 16% of respondents preferred to deal with a customer-service problem face-to-face.
The report urges consumers to try reaching out to brands on social media for responses. However, as my Twitter feed shows, some companies still don't see the value in monitoring those accounts.

As I said in my original post, once a consumer has exhausted their avenues to reach the brand, they will seek out information from other consumers. What's worse than one unhappy customer venting to the world with no response or engagement? A whole gaggle of them seeking each other out to crystallize their disdain for your brand by sharing in their tribulations . As from my old post...

"Let’s not lose sight of the fact that brand loyalty hinges on maintaining that relationship beyond the initial transaction. If I’ve exhausted all of the brand’s resolutions with no positive results, I’m not too keen on buying into that brand in the future. More likely since I’ve already located a sounding board for the product concern, I’m going to tell others how bad my experience was with the brand. Due to the far-reaching and quick dissemination of information via social networks, one nasty tweet could easily turn into a PR nightmare [haven't there been enough of these in the past year to get companies to take notice?!]. Companies need to seek out user-generated content based on their brand/products and take appropriate action to resolve issues (or just take an interest if not needing to respond to negativity)."

Don't give customer's a reason to complain about your lack of service on social media. First you should make every effort to not let a customer leave your store, website or hotline without a resolution. Then get a social monitoring tool, get Google alerts and/or Twilerts and be responsive!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Facebook Funny Business

Surely you've heard the disappointment many advertisers are voicing about Facebook ads (and likely investors are voicing as stocks plummet). In case you haven't here are a few examples:

After GM pulled their ads, I defended Facebook—but really all social media marketing—in that it should be used for engagement and not necessarily assessed by how it affects ROI. As one blogger put it,“Social media is very much like an executive: It has unquestionable value, but it's neither easy to measure nor perfectly measurable.” Plus I had really great success with a Facebook ad campaign back in 2010. You know back when they were still Facebook FAN pages.

I was working as a marketing manager for a shopping center. The page had only 159 fans (cut it a break, it's a local business) when I started at the end of November 2009.  By reaching out to my network (all people close proximity to the center) and promoting the page on other advertising, the website and within the center, the fans had increased to over 500 in May 2010. 

Since I was teeing off our big summer event series, I decided to try Facebook ads to get more fans. In one month’s time we more than doubled our fans to 1,300 and all for about $100. With the influx of fans, engagement increased by 450 percent!

Sure, sure. That was then and this is now, but the way I see it is that targeting may be the problem for these other brands. I had it a little easy working for a local business; I geo-targeted my ads and focused only on friends of current fans. For a global company, like the so-called Virtual Bagels, it is not quite the same.

I work for a global B2B company now (it’s been quite a change) and have been managing our Facebook  content for about two months, since it was finally decided by upper management that social media won’t really work as just a promotional platform.  I hadn’t managed a brand page for over a year and a LOT changed. (For the lack of change Zuckerberg has in his wardrobe, he makes up for it in privacy, timeline, etc updates).  Yet, I still— begrudgingly considering the funny business others have had and the whole crap about having to pay to reach people who already like the page—find myself pleased with the results of a recent Facebook ad purchase.

Now I may be comparing apples to oranges, but I just recently launched a promoted post for the page. Promoted posts don’t allow targeting, and quite frankly, I didn’t even know exactly how they worked. According to Facebook, “When you promote a post, it will be shown in the news feeds of more of the people who like your Page than you would reach normally. Friends of the people who have interacted with your post will also be more likely to see the story in their news feeds for up to 3 days from when the post was first created.” NOTE: On the same Help page Facebook also mentions that when you DON’T promote that nothing has changed about how your posts are shared with the people who like your Page. Mary, Mary—quite contrary! But I digress ...

While I checked the post throughout the promotion, it seemed like I was running into the same trouble described in the BBC News articles. The reach was 5x that of our usual post, but the people liking the post seemed odd. Many were from India, not working in my company’s industry. One commented with just a link back to a Facebook page for some childhood star out of India, which I hid as spam. However, I checked the names against our company directory and found that one was a current employee. And looking at the pages I could, I saw the same spam comment was placed on another person who had liked the posts page.  All just a matter of linking one person who engaged with one of their friends and then one of their friends and so on.

I had postponed the promotion when I thought I was only reaching fake accounts. By that time, I received a comment (aside from the spam), which—sorry to say—is a big deal since we only tend to get likes, from someone legitimately interested in the organization, some more page likes from others in the industry and a much wider reach than the usual post. All of that for about $6.50? I’ll take it. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe bots or fake accounts don’t exist, but it does mean it doesn't have to happen to everyone.

My advice to others questioning Facebook ads: target, target, target! And as for promoted posts, if you are a global company, promote the content that is universal.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Not Another Millennial Post

Why hello there Blogger. It has been a while.

My disdain over articles like "Millennials want this" and "Gen Y expects that" and "Why Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25" (Under 25) has become too much to fit into 140 characters. Also, I think I hit a nerve, hence some downvotes, on my small rant in the comments of "5 Things Millennials Want From a Brand" (5 Wants). Thus, here I am on another forum to explain myself in greater detail.

In that “5 Wants” article I posted my first comment in  response to someone saying they, at 66, want the same things that are credited to millennials wanting. The comment continued to explain how we shouldn't make too much of age distinctions, I agreed by saying:

"Digital natives" aren't necessarily millennials. Early-adopters from any generation have experienced the growth of tech and social media, and some have the additional perspective of having watched broadcast TV do the same. Just as, not all millennials take to digital like what is assumed of them. (Mind you, most of the millennials I know that aren't very well-versed in digital are on the older side of the age spectrum).

Let's talk more about how we market to INDIVIDUALS at a certain stage in their life, not generalize based on age. 

Now let me point you to one of my very old blog posts about generational targeting. (I’ll take this moment to apologize for the outdated photos on some of my old posts, which I will attempt to find and replace shortly). The article I am discussing in that post is a great example of my comment above. As the AdAge article puts it, 

Appealing to Generation E [everyone] requires a massive shift away from the standard "What are they looking for in a product?" to "What does this brand say about me as a person?" 

According to the "5 Wants" article, I, as a person who falls into the age range of a millennial (although one who, per “Under 25,” shouldn't be a social media manager, which is oddly one of my responsibilities in my corporate communications role), want to LOOK like I care. No. If I care, I really care. I don't buy into brands just because of their advocacy campaign to broadcast to the world that I am changing it for the better. I volunteer for and/or donate to causes because they mean something to me. When I do that, I don’t feel the need to make everyone aware of my good deed. Sure, I may ask others to participate if they can, but I don’t sensationalize what I did.

Since people, both millennials or others, are making these sweeping statements (the author of the “Under 25” post included) about a generation that, quite frankly, spans too many ages, others are quick to judge me and my peers. As I put it in another comment to that "5 Wants" article,

"It is because we, to paraphrase Bill, "make too much of age distinctions" in these types of discussions that fuels the vitriol about GenY being a group of entitled, lazy kids, which is not true of all of us." 

Proving my point, someone else later responded to the article:

The difference between this generation and previous is this one places the highest value on fame, getting noticed, being noticed ... As noted, it is more important to look like you care, and feel good about yourself for caring, than really making selfless sacrifice. Thus the cause-marketing fashion statements. Most in their 20s are self-centered.

Truth be told, I did fit the above description for a time in my life—my early 20s. I bet all of us no matter what age we are now did at that age or maybe a little earlier. This isn't about Gen Y; it is about an age when we, as individuals, are trying to launch ourselves into the "real world" and really have no idea how best to do that. 

As for the arguments that this generation grew up in the age of “digital,” so WE are changing the way business works. New technology is what is changing advertising and the workplace.  Stop thinking that just because we were born into this digital era we are the only ones that can understand it. What generation built these new technologies? Can't be the ones being born into it!