Friday, January 29, 2010

The Power of Marketing Friends in Social Media

If you knew five of my friends have tweeted or posted on Facebook rave reviews about their Audi, Q5, wouldn't you push that listing higher? Sure you would, but it's impossible to ask me questions about every topic I'm searching for. Of course, there is a better way to get to the same result, and it takes us back to the "Wisdom of Crowds" -- in this case, my crowd.

My friends and I happen to share similar geography and circumstances for the most part, which causes some amazing similarities. Moreover, I am much more likely to trust my friends' opinions than those of strangers. Anyone that's recently been on the search for a good doctor or dentist or accountant knows intimately how important it is to get recommendations from those you trust. This is "friendsourcing" -- the concept that people I know give better and more reliable answers for me than the world can as a whole.

To say this means we're on the edge of something big is a catastrophic understatement, but marketers have only started to scratch the surface of what this means for them and their clients. At very least, we've got three fundamental paradigm shifts to deal with:
1. What brands say and do in social media has an increasingly direct effect on how they will appear in search engines, both in search results position and in description.
2. The more friends in my social circle (aka my "social graph") talk about your brand, the more likely I am to see your brand, click on your brand's listing and become another voice talking about your brand.
3. Many brands have recognized that their impact in social media is both powerful and tangible, but now that impact will easily spill over into other channels. "Social" isn't just a silo in your channel mix anymore, and the lines will be increasingly blurred with mass media, CRM, SEO/SEM or other channels.

The good news is that it's never too late to stake a new claim in social media for your brand. So to get your team or your clients started, here are some quick first steps: Listen, record, observe and compare

There are a million tools on the market for searching or filtering social media conversations, and many of them are free -- Chris Brogan has an excellent list of the ones he uses here. Most organizations are doing this already, but it's usually in a vacuum from other marketing efforts. Instead of just looking through your "ego feeds" (conversations about your company), start checking on the conversations around your search engine marketing portfolio of keywords, or use Google's keyword tool to analyze your site and start your own list. It's often interesting to see the gap between what people say about you and what they say about your product or service -- this can lead to ideas for new content on your site or places for your social media team to try to change conversations. For extra credit, start comparing the trends on these terms to your offline media: are my mass communications moving this needle? Did my latest direct-mail piece with the killer offer spark some new conversation?

Start holding everyone responsible, but make someone accountable. Your organization's social "footprint" can't be managed as a hobby. Large or small, it's time to take this seriously, because the impact will be felt from cyberspace to the cash register. Almost all marketing units are affected by (and will probably have an opinion on) social media, so it's often good to start with some kind of a "task force" comprised of representatives from each. However, the business needs to make a decision of exactly which person will own its social presence. This person doesn't need to be the one running it day-to-day, but they need to be able to speak to it fluently and have the power to make a difference.

Create a social media "lodestone" within each of your marketing efforts. Even with a cross-functional team or steering committee, it's hard to keep the social media conversation from gravitating to just a couple of marketing functions. To be truly effective, each discipline needs to know how they intersect with social media, and needs to define that in a way that attracts and excites new projects. PR, for example, can own reaching out to specific voices and generating influential conversations. CRM, however, has the opportunity to focus on longer dialogues with individual customers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Online Newspaper Advertising - Latin America

Online newspapers are the essential link for people to stay connected to information, news and their home countries.

When they read the news directly from online newspapers such as La Prensa from Panama or La Republica from Costa Rica, they are receiving un-biased news and information directly from their country. Readers review their local news covering subjects from politics to the latest gossip from their countries' entertainment. Now the technological enhancements of the internet makes reading online newspapers easier than ever!

I stumbled upon an article by Mort Goldstrom about the reasons why to advertise in online newspapers. I think this very much applies to Latin America and reinforces why it is so important for advertisers to include this in their online marketing mix. I hope sharing this with you increases your knowledge and helps you understand more in depth how the online newspaper opportunities can really work for your clients.

10 Reasons to Advertise on a Newspaper Website
Frequency- The online newspaper Web site user spends more than twice as many hours online than the general user. Online newspaper users are three times as likely as general 'Net users to be online during the workday when out of reach of other media - 8-11 a.m. is a new "primetime" for media consumption (Source: "Power Users," 2006, MORI Research)

Credibility- Branded content brings a higher quality audience. A study from the Online Publishers Association (OPA) showed that OPA audiences were more likely to buy products and services in a number of key categories, including automotive, entertainment, financial, home, travel and business to business.

Targeted- If you want to focus on a particular backyard, advertising in an online newspaper is more personal and more relevant because it is local. Newspapers also publish a plethora of niche sites (youth, women, movie fans, Hispanics, are illustrative) for virtually any demographic advertisers could possibly hope to reach. - "Newspapers know more than ever about their web audience because of online registration programs and audience segmentation software"]

Purchasing Power- Eighty-nine percent of newspaper Web site users purchase online compared with 56 percent of general users. Forty percent of online newspaper users have incomes higher than $75,000; 69 percent own their homes. Eighteen percent of online newspaper users have spent more than $2,000 online in the last six months.

Content- Excluding e-mail the most popular online activities and content categories include national and local news, sports, financial information and entertainment news and things to do. [Shopping, cited in the original, is lower on the list.] Fifty-four percent of general Internet users visit online newspapers for local news, compared with 40 percent for the local TV station Web site and 20 percent for the local radio station site. ["Power Users," 2006, MORI Research]

Advertisers Believe in Newspaper Sites- Online newspapers have enjoyed eleven consecutive quarters of double digit increases for advertising since NAA started reporting online ad spending in 2004.

High Profile- Online newspapers generate very large gains in Online Ad Awareness among C-level and other higher management job holders: C-level managers showed a 23 percent increase in Aided Brand Awareness, VP/director-level managers showed a 38 percent increase and other management showed a 37 percent increase following their exposure to an ad campaign in online newspapers (across all industries.) When the brand metric shifts to Message Association, C-level execs showed the largest increase in lift after exposure to campaigns on online newspapers, at 88 percent. No management category showed less than a 51 percent increase. (Dynamic Logic's MarketNorms database, 2006)

Reinforcement- Fifty-six percent of online newspaper users also read the newspaper in the past five days, and repetition increases awareness.

Cutting Edge- Newspaper Web site users are more likely (by almost twenty percent to own some kind of portable electronic device. They are also more interested in receiving advertising and product offers through those devices. Forty percent of online newspaper users are aged 18 to 34. [Source: "Power Users," 2006, MORI Research]

Mix- A variety of recent studies have demonstrated the power of online, when included in a mix with traditional media, to elaborate the brand message. Newspaper, print, and online products combined have the highest penetration and most desirable audience of any other local medium.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Time Management in Marketing & PR

“I need more time”. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get this done”. “I’ll be burning the midnight oil”. How many times have you heard any of these from a co-worker or said them yourself? Marketing and PR projects can be just as much of a time crunch as in any other industry. With that said, it’s important for clients to understand project timelines/deadlines so the work can be completed on time and efficiently.

1. Make a plan
You have a project, now make a plan as to how it will be implemented. Who will be working on the project? What information is needed to get it done? When is it due? Who is in charge of putting the project together for delivery?

2. Implementation
Now that you have your plan together, with tasks assigned, it’s time to implement. Have regular meetings with team members to make sure everyone is on track and there are no problems. Handle any problems that arise immediately. If someone is unable to obtain a key piece of information, brainstorm, reach out to others, if necessary.

When working on the project timelines, build in time for reviewing and making changes to the project (brochures, scripts, ads, etc).

3. Delivery
When delivering the project, have someone with fresh eyes review the project. Make changes where necessary to ensure a valuable product is delivered.

4. Thank the team
Don’t forget to always thank your team members for their important contributions. If something went awry, consider it a learning experience and don’t make the same mistake next time.

5. Review
Review what went right and wrong on the project. Take team members’ input seriously. If necessary, do a case study and distribute it throughout the company. Everyone will appreciate knowing how to do things more efficiently.

These are just some of the things that can be done to ensure your project stays on task and on time. Any other suggestions?