Measuring the Impact of Customer Relationships with Social Media

18 11 2009

A few weeks ago I posted a white-paper, Determining the Impact of Customer Relationships, providing some well researched information on social media measurement and analysis. I also created a slide deck outlining the information in much more digestible format. The deck provides a good outline of the importance of measurement as the web continues on its path toward a widely adopted social communication platform. The presentation also provides a good overview of the type of data the social web provides, how businesses can utilize the data to obtain actionable insights, and how to synthesize those insights into a measurable social media strategy. Some case studies are also provided to outline some good examples of social media success stories. Enjoy!


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Social Media Measurement & Analysis

13 10 2009

Organizations continue to adopt social media marketing practices at an increasing rate, yet most still look to create highly measurable social media strategies.   In a period of time when budgets are scrutinized and executives seek proven methods over experimental tactics,  marketers must utilize the plethora of data available via the web to justify large capital investments on social media marketing.   So… What kind of data does exist on the web? How do we measure this data?  What kind of insights does this data provide? and How do we create this so-called measurable strategy?  

In September, we set out to answer all of these questions in an effort to pave a path for measurable social media strategy development.  This white paper covers the importance of creating a measurable campaign, types of data we can measure, how to measure and analyze this data, how we might determine a financial impact of our social media marketing efforts, and much more.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  Enjoy! 

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The Importance of Listening

18 09 2009

Listen UpMajor brands and corporations are beginning to find the value in social media marketing, yet many still do not know how to begin the process. It is easy to set up a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Flickr photo stream etc. but what exactly does this accomplish and why choose these social media sites? The main-stream buzz around social media has created almost a clarion call amongst executives to undertake social media initiatives. What many do not realize is that social media marketing must be executed with a clear strategy consisting of strong metrics, objectives, and goals. The “ease-of-use” of these technologies has really created a tremendous problem within the marketing world, in which marketers are throwing out traditional long-term planning and strategy development to jump head first into so-called “social media marketing.” One of the most critical components of social media marketing is determining how to effectively engage the target audience before even attempting to do so. This can be accomplished by listening to the conversations that are already occurring online even before building that Facebook fan page or Twitter account, a step that many marketers forgo. As marketers it is essential that we understand this critical step in social media marketing.

WHY WE LISTEN

Today, more than ever, people research products and services online before making a purchase. Social media marketing utilizes a pull strategy allowing customers to reach out to products, services, and brands, relevant to their own experiences, via the web and social media sources. Therefore, it is important organizations know how to engage their audience to provide some sort of value, in a relevant manner. Through the process of listening, organizations can find where/why the audience looks for products and services, and determine how to effectively reach them.

A VIRTUAL FOCUS GROUP

Listening to the online audience essentially serves as a virtual focus group. Conversation occurs across a wide array of social web components such as ratings/review sites, blogs, multimedia sites, wikis, and social networks. Listening reveals insight into satisfaction, brand association, brand loyalty, product ideas, product improvements, demographics, competitor activities, market opportunities etc. Once organizations have gained a deep understanding of the online audience, strategic objectives and relevant success metrics can be defined to develop a measurable social media or marketing strategy.

LISTEN BEFORE ENGAGING

Social media marketing allows organizations to establish meaningful and impactful connections with their target audience that may lead to valuable long-term relationships. Social media marketing works similar to offline conversations and business networking. A dialogue is established in which both parties exchange thoughts and ideas. The exchange allows individuals to find relevant connections, which may then lead to a valuable relationship. It is necessary for companies to begin the process with social media monitoring, to first listen to conversations already occurring online. Listening and analyzing to the on-going social communication produces valuable insights that are then used to effectively engage the target audience. 

What are your thoughts on the importance of listening in social media marketing?

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Gamer 2.0, Exploring the use of Gaming, Community, & Social Media

25 08 2009

The video game industry has always been at the fore-front of using innovative technologies to create unique, fun, and addicting experiences for their ever-evolving tech-savvy consumer marketplace.  That being said, its no surprise the gaming industry has been utilizing social media as an effective means to reach their audience and expand gaming experiences into the online social realm for years.  I remember my first real social gaming experience with Starcraft (another Blizzard MMOG), around the same time that Napster ruled the world and DSL internet connection became wide-spread.   Fast forward to today, and we are see new start-ups like Zynga, Playfish, and Playdom create a multi-million dollar industry from social games via social networks, a burgeoning virtual goods economy, and new gaming experiences that blow my once coveted Sega Genesis out of the water. 

Recently, I worked with Partner and head of Interactive Strategy at Crimson Consulting, Karen O’Brien, to conduct research on gaming industry trends and the use of community and social media.  After completing an extensive competitive analysis across multiple game sites and gaming social networks we narrowed down important industry trends as well as some best practices for utilizing the social web to reach the new Gamer 2.0.  

Where do you see the industry heading?  Will mobile soon outgrow console or even desktop gaming platforms?  Will console gaming be overshadowed by social network gaming? Or, will social games on the console be the first step toward integrating social media and television?


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Five Ways to Create an Engaging Artist/Musician iPhone App

30 07 2009

AppsYesterday, I posted my analysis on 10 iPhone artist/musician applications and their content strategies. After analyzing my findings and thinking about what is currently available in the music app world,  I came up with five content strategy suggestions for musicians, marketers, app developers, and labels to create more engaging and value-oriented artist/musician apps. Each of these strategies offers some sort of value to the music fan that will always keep them coming back and may one day create a valuable revenue stream for some artists. 

 

1. Use OpenID technology such as Facebook Connect and utilize existing social networks to create a community.

The problem I found with most of these apps is that their community platforms exist only within the application itself.  This means that you can only communicate with other people logged onto the app, normally strangers, without any sort of identification or profile. This creates chat-rooms full of spam, wingdings (smiley faces and what not), and fragmented conversation that is really more annoying than interesting. The solution to this problem lies in OpenID technology such as Facebook Connect, which may soon proliferate the web.  Allowing users to log-in to the app using an existing profile, such as their Facebook account, would open the app up to a world of possibilities.  Social gaming companies such as Zyng and Playfish are perfect examples of app developers harnessing the power of Facebook’s word-of-mouth/viral capabilities.  Facebook Connect might be the easiest solution to creating an engaged community, because lets face, when you fall in love with a band/musician/artist, the first person you to tell “You gotta hear this!” is a good friend. 

2. Provide lots of content ranging from photos, videos, artist information, podcasts, FREE music etc. and make sure its quality content.  

Every should have the ability to stream FULL tracks from the artist.  Why would I download a musicians iPhone app if I can’t even listen to their music?  This seems like the most basic value that a music application can offer to a consumer. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have all your music streamed for free (although I strongly believe that it should be), but a music app that doesn’t offer any sort of music seems counter intuitive.   It’s also possible to post content directly to the applications photo and video portals, but this can also become very troublesome.  If you want to see what I mean, download the Lady Gaga app and watch an episode of her mobile show and compare it to the mobile show on the Soulja Boy app.  The difference is good quality produced content compared to a shaky iPhone video camera taking poor quality video of the every-day life of Soulja Boy.  While there’s a case for approaching video content in both of these ways, at least make sure its meets some quality standards. 

3. Allow and encourage user generated content

The only app that offered access to some type of user generated content was the Dave Mathews Band mobile app with photo sharing capabilities. Allowing fans to upload content to the app creates an interactive and immersive experience while also providing tons of unique content for the app. The apps could also link to existing social sites focused on user generated content such as Youtube and Flickr. Really, the mobile music app could be utilized to access an the artist’s entire cohesive web-presence with the touch of a button – I think there’s value in that. 

4. Create or enable the artist radio

When I heard about Irving Azoff’s partnership with Clear Channel to create a.p.e. (Artists Personal Experience) I thought “Brialliant!”  Who else would be the perfect tastemaker for new music other than your favorite artists themselves.  Not only that but if you love an artist’s music, your bound to be interested in their musical influences, experiences, and idols.  So why not integrate something that provides this entertainment in the artist’s mobile app? An artist specific radio station playing a similar type of genre, or music that influenced an album, or the band’s monthly new music picks…. the possibility of creating interesting and engaging content is practically limitless.  Another way to approach this would be to just include podcasts on the app – but I feel like this concept could be stretched to create something pretty unique. 

5. Offer interactive content such as mixing, re-mixing, social games etc. etc.

Make the content interactive.  This can be achieved in a number of ways such as allowing users to remix, mix, or interact with the audio content itself.  An approach that many major brands have been using within mobile apps is integrating interactive games into the applications.  This is where you have to get creative and come up with some a game that is relevant to the music, artist, and associated content. It could be something as simple as a trivia game, but allowing users to interact with the content will create a fun, unique, valuable experience for fans that will have them coming back for more.

What other ideas do you have to improve the current artist/musician app?

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Crowdsourcing Video Game Development May Save The Gaming Industry

24 07 2009

The video game industry recently announced its fourth consecutive monthly decline, posting a 31% drop in sales on video games and video game consoles in June of 2009. The decline in revenue may create a major set back for video game developers seeking large amounts of invested capital for development. While most game developers feel the crunch, some companies believe that community crowd sourcing might help generate the pool of capital needed to create new game titles.

Publisher, Roundhouse Interactive, has teamed up with Frima Studio to create the first community-designed video game, The Game Cartel, by December of 2010. The community will function as a democratic voting system in which developers will place ideas out to the cartel members and they will decide the direction of the game from genre and story-line to even the name. To join the cartel, members are charged an upfront fee of $50 which gaurantees them a copy of the game and covers incentives that will be offered to keep members active in every step of the process. Roundhouse and Frima hope to attract up to 100,000 community members in order to generate an investment pool of $5 million for the development of the new title. 

The Game Cartel

Crowdsourcing game development seems to be a hot topic in the gaming world as revenues continue to slump. Gabe Newell of Valve, has also eluded to a strong interest in community financing. Gabe stated in a recent interview, “What I think would be much better would be if the community could finance the games. In other words, ‘Hey, I really like this idea you have. I’ll be an early investor in that and, as a result, at a later point I may make a return on that product, but I’ll also get a copy of that game.”

There are many trends influencing developers seek this community outreach, such as the recent surge in use of social media and participation in gaming communities, the popularity of highly customized game experiences (such as Little Big Planet and XNA Creators Club, and unescapable economic pressures. If The Game Cartel proves successful, expect to see a lot more developers using crowd sourcing as a means to end. What I question is whether or not creative integrity is lost in the process of crowd source development for an entertainment product. Most games are created by a group of developers that have become experts in user experience, creative game-play, and design. These crowdsourced games may lack the innovation and dynamic game play that most gamers now expect.  It will be an interesting experiment none the less.

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Will Mass Media Still Exist within Decade?

22 07 2009

Mass Media of the PastWill traditional mass-media still have its place in society 10 years from now?  This is a question I began asking myself after the death of what many consider the last true worldwide pop-icon Michael Jackson.  MJ could have only reached such super-stardom through mass-media, utilizing a limited set of media channels aimed at massive nationwide audiences. Clearly with the rapid growth of the internet, digital technologies, and social media, the so called long-tail of media is in effect.  The clout that mass media companies once had with traditional media is withering away as people continue to interact on the web through blogs, social bookmarking sites, message boards, micro-blogs, social networks etc. searching for more customized, niche based sources of media.   This leaves us with a very fragmented and highly targeted consumer culture online.

What I come to question then is what happens when this sort of consumer niche seeking activity carries over into offline social interaction in the real world.   Ten-Twenty years from now, will each individual become so niche focused and spread across such a diverse set networks that some basic commonality is lost?  If we take this long tail effect to the extreme, we would end up with a society that seems to lack a broad set of common interests. This is why I believe that traditional media or mass media may never completely disappear. Lets face it, in many cases people want to be told what to like.  They need common interest to relate and share with strangers. They want to join the crowd and share in large-scale community experiences.  In some cases push-based marketing may still prove to be successful.

Then again, millions of people are joining social networks each month.  Will Facebook become the next form of mass-media?  What are your thoughts?

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