Experience Management Blog

3 Reasons (Some) Marketers Will Give Up Earned Media in 2014

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Most people start slowing down in the few days leading up to Christmas.

Not my pal, Augie Ray who somehow found the energy to throw down a significant 2014 prediction.

His prediction: Three Reasons the Marketing Department Will Give Up On Earned Media in 2014

He’s Partially Right, but for the Wrong Reasons

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Facts and Fictions About Promoting a Facebook Post

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I will be the first person to say that I love Facebook. I love seeing photos of friends and figuring out how to use this powerful channel as an opportunity to build a brand’s community. However, I think anyone out there who runs a Facebook page for a brand has been frustrated to see a huge drop in fan impressions as Facebook is making the “pay to play” message very clear. If you’re ready to embrace this new way of thinking, then let’s chat about how to do it successfully… and how to avoid the confusing messages out there.

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The ROI on Stickers… and Social Media

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sprinklr stickers

You’ve seen them many times. Stickers on the cover of people’s laptops.

Some proclaim an allegiance to a movement, team or brand.

At Sprinklr, we have a few different stickers we’ve made over the course of the years.

Expensive? Not particularly, but if we went into the purchase of these stickers with the question of “What’s the ROI going to be?” we never would have bought them.

Recently, however, I had an experience that made me glad we did.

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Social Media Predictions for 2014

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Forecasting Marketing in 2014: Social Media Predictions

Even though spending on social media marketing is at an all-time high and continues to grow, there’s a good reason that the overall portion of the marketing budget dedicated to social channels remains comparatively small. Frankly, this is a bit surprising. It’s been nearly 10 years after social media arrived on the scene and today social media essentially dominates as a share of digital consumer attention, yet social channels remain an under served target for many businesses.

The underlying reasons for this general underinvestment in social media marketing are complex. In general, marketers have discovered that attaining their objectives through social media can be 1) less predictable, 2) the outcomes harder to tie to specific business goals, and 3) because the discipline itself is one of the fasted changing in the media business. Also, directly translating traditional marketing activities into social media usually doesn’t produce the best results, as marketing efforts typically have to be rethought for two-way engagement, user participation, and/or viral amplification.

Real-Time Marketing Cycle for Social Media

Some of the current data is sobering:

Yet over 70% of marketers plan on increasing their investment in social media next year, and by an average of 50%. This means marketers will be doing more in social, expectations by the business will be higher, and successful outcomes more important than ever.

In this environment then, my research indicates that marketing teams will be looking to increase the effectiveness of their social marketing efforts in three ways: a) by better adapting their digital assets and campaigns to social channels, b) shifting to a focus to managing for quality metrics, instead of just quantitative measures, and c) preparing for more rapid engagement in new channels including mobile and new emerging social networks.

Against this backdrop, here’s what 2014 holds in store for social media marketing:

  1. Marketers will get Facebook fatigue as the social networking giant continues to change its algorithms. Fresh off the most recent — and rather contentious — changes to brand pages, marketers will re-evaluate how much they invest in the platform in 2014, looking for a more diversified social strategy. I’ve long recommended that companies serious about social media should avoid driving their traffic to Facebook in general, and the latest round of changes by Facebook should give marketers reason to carefully rethink their plans.
  2. The resurgence of Google+. Now that Google+ has grown recently to become the #2 social network online, it will get new respect by marketers next year, who will figure out how to incorporate it into their social marketing plans.
  3. Image-based services and surprisingly, blogging, will see new emphasis. Whether it is Pinterest or Instagram, or images in feeds on Twitter and Facebook, compelling visuals continue to drive high engagement and attention. Marketers will be looking at expanding their efforts in this area next year. Blogging will also return as a key engagement strategy that avoids the lock-in and control issues of major social media sites.
  4. Integrated marketing begins in earnest. In 2014 it’ll be practical for the average organization to largely achieve a long-standing goal: Easily create an integrated marketing campaign that has presence and engagement capabilities at all the major social and non-social touchpoints. What’s new that will finally make this happen? The rise, maturity, and recent prominence of new multi-channel and “omnichannel” marketing platforms like Marketo and Eloqua that perform a lot of the work automatically to make consumer experiences seamless across Web, mobile, social, and other digital channels.
  5. Real-time marketing will get real. RTM was all the rage this year, and powerful examples like T-Mobile’s customer retention effort demonstrated that major, market shifting results were possible. But most organizations were just learning about it in 2013. Next year, they will begin integrated real-time efforts into their social media efforts, particularly as more companies build social media command centers capable of scaled listening, triage, and dispatch
  6. Social marketers will continue to struggle with mobile. Over 250 million Facebook users are mobile-only and that number is growing. While Facebook was able to gets its act together around mobile, it took an investment and effort that most marketing organizations won’t possess. Organizations willing to focus on mobile-first for their social marketing efforts will fare better, but it will be another difficult year adapting marketing strategies to both social and mobile.
  7. The move to measurement of quality of engagement, instead of quantity. Not that quantity won’t continue to matter, as it always determines the ultimate funnel size, but as measurement methods continue to improve dramatically, social marketers will also be able to determine if their efforts are resulting in the quality of engagement needed to drive business outcomes, like conversions. You can’t manage to what you can’t measure, and measuring quality of engagement will ensure more effective and efficient marketing campaigns in 2014
  8. A significant shift in the social networking landscape. The emergence of Snapchat and a host of other new social networks and apps shows how dynamic the industry is. Marketers will find it easy to focus on the old standbys like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, yet some of the best demographic segments will shift their attention to new social networking services in 2014, and smart marketers will allocate resources and budget next year to tap into them.

Of course, much more will happen in social media marketing next year, but these will be some of the most significant in my analysis. That’s not to say that some of the strategies of five years ago aren’t still key. For example, I’m still sanguine the major investments in customer communities have the biggest bang for the buck, even as the window increasingly closes on the easy opportunities.

What are you seeing as the biggest trends for social media marketing next year?

Real-Time Marketing Examples and Case Studies from 6 Major Brands

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Real-time marketing examples from 6 major brands

Real-time marketing enables companies to connect with consumers in the same way that consumers connect with each other – with timely, highly relevant content. When done correctly, interactions of this type increase engagement, boost earned media, and help humanize large brands.

Large organizations are constantly striving to be more engaging in social channels. They see the potential for earned media to offer transformational marketing benefits, but they struggle to be more than an outlet for company news and generic stock photos. Real-time marketing is a business practice that uses the conversations and activity of the market, consumers, and critical constituents to inform production of relevant and timely content. When brand content is rooted in this model, marketers can:

  • Become a source of trending news and content
  • Publically demonstrate a customer service commitment
  • Connect to seasonal events and trends

Our latest white paper outlines case studies from 6 major brands (Nissan, CitiBike, Absolut, WestJet, Xerox, and AT&T) that are achieving these outcomes through salient real-time marketing tactics.

Here’s an example of what’s inside our new white paper:

Absolut uses a local, current event to produce creative content 

5 Points NYC

Objective:

Absolut Vodka has a longstanding affiliation with the arts, and uses its social presences to align its brand with the art world. It made sense as an extension of that branding for Absolut to connect with the street art community as it processed the demise of the famed 5 Pointz graffiti park in New York.

Real-Time Marketing at Absolut
Action:

The spirits brand has an active Twitter presence, heavily focused on its involvement with visual arts and collaborations with the art community. The brand’s print advertising has long been praised for its creativity and artistic nature, and its social presence is a natural extension of that concept. (See #OpenCanvas, #TransformToday, #TransformBasel) So, in the wake of 5 Pointz’s closing, Absolut tweeted a simple image that memorialized the site.

Result:

The tweet yielded [117 retweets and 64 favorites], a substantial increase in engagement from the brand’s typical tweets (usually 1-10 retweets and 0-5 favorites). The success of this real-time tweet demonstrates the inclination of consumers and brand audiences to more readily engage with brand content when it is relevant and timely – especially when the brand has a longstanding voice in the context of a given trend.

Aligning your brand with the right trends

The brands we’ve looked at have determined practical ways to engage with audiences in real-time. They constantly seek ways to improve these tactics, in order to enhance their brand perception and audience engagement. In aligning their content with trending topics, powerful stories, and relevant concepts, their brands are revitalized and more than just a business. It’s a new way to build brands, and now is the time for your team to get started.

Download a copy of “How 6 Brands Are Leading the Real-Time Marketing Charge” to learn how brands like Xerox, AT&T, Absolut and Nissan have implemented real-time strategies that enable them to produce timely content and engage with audiences.

CTA-6 RTM Exs

 

Global Social Analytics: You’re Doing It Wrong

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jumbled numbers

It seems about once a week I sit down with clients to discuss how they plan to measure their social activities across regions. Sometimes these metrics are well thought out; but most of the time, they’re the results of a caboodle of blog leftovers and bad consultants.

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Exploring with Google Glass

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Rollingwood

 

I’ve ordered a pair of Google Glass and will hand it over to the marketing department on Monday morning. The plan is for every person in our company to use Glass for a week and get familiar with what it can do, as wearables are positioned to be one of the most important trends for brands. Maybe not in 2014, but certainly in the next few years.

After a couple days, my biggest takeaway is that it’s important to understand the potential of Glass and its functionality while monitoring the cultural, technological, and commercial environment of wearables:

  • Cultural, because most people are creeped out at the prospect of being filmed unknowningly.
  • Technological, considering factors including battery life, over-the-air connectivity, and application ecosystem.
  • Commercial, as the price must be reduced from $1,500 to drive mainstream adoption.

Keep an eye on the Dachis Group Twitter feed as my colleagues take turns as explorers in the weeks ahead.

A Recipe for Social Firefighting

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firefighter

We asked leaders from Intel Corporation, Symantec, Altimeter Group, CEB TowerGroup and more to discuss privacy and security in the digital world in our newest eBook.

Today’s excerpt is from Rick Reed of Intel Corporation.

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Should Marketers Give up on Earned Media?

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Marketers are discussing giving up on earned media in 2014. But should they?

Earned Media at Work

Image Credit: Jenn Durfey, Flickr

This blog post is a response to Augie Ray’s post “Three Reasons the Marketing Department Will Give Up On Earned Media in 2014” from his excellent Experience: The Blog. In his post he makes a number of reasonable points for why many marketers will give up on earned media in 2014.  It’s hard to predict the future, but putting whether they will do so or not aside – should they?

We don’t think so.

As our CEO Jeff points out in the comments on Augie’s post, we see earned media as a brand marketing medium which can be a challenge to measure, but is a critical part of brand marketing. Even if achieving earned media is difficult for marketers, that’s no reason to give up on it in 2014, it’s just too big of an opportunity.  In this blog post we’ll expand a bit on Jeff’s point and review the key assertions from Augie’s post.

Issue #1: Marketers struggle to get sufficient reach through earned media on social networks

This concern revolves around the fact that Facebook has increasingly throttled brand reach in an effort to monetize the massive amounts of traffic on Facebook. Who can blame them? They are responsible to their shareholders after all. However, there are two problems with this line of reasoning:

Facebook has always been pay to play

Dachis Group is a Facebook Preferred developer and has undertaken countless Facebook campaigns, content posts, and interactions on behalf of global brands over the years. From the very earliest days of Facebook, fan acquisition for the most part required a substantial paid investment and campaigns even more so – in the old days we typically reserved 50% of a Facebook campaign’s budget for a wave of paid media to accompany the campaign.

Facebook and Earned Media are not the same thing

Facebook is the largest of all the social networks with more than 1 billion users, and most brands have a larger following on Facebook than any other However, let’s not forget that in the last 24 months alone we’ve seen Twitter’s IPO, the rise of Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine. Substantial growth in Google+ and YouTube, plus significant growth from LinkedIn and Tumblr.

None of these platforms algorithmically throttle a brands’ access to its following. All of these platforms provide endless unique opportunities to design creative campaigns that yield substantial engagement from audiences. There is no shortage of places online that are far from Facebook’s grasp to earn consumer attention. Snapchat now has more photos shared daily than Facebook.

Issue #2: Brands must take ever greater risks to earn media

As brands have pursued more and more timely participation in the news and events of the day, many have crossed stirred up a whole lot of bad blood and publicity. Ray rightfully cites disasters like Kenneth Cole during the Egyptian revolution, Epicurious following the Boston Marathon, Taco Bell mishandling a product promotion and many more.

All of these are legitimate screw ups on the part of the brand, but it’s also important to put them in context. A typical brand publishes 1 post to Facebook every single day. Our platform at Dachis Group tracks more than 35,000 brands (and that’s just the big ones you’ve heard about), so assuming all of those brands are doing just that, that means brands in aggregate are posting at least 245,000 Facebook updates per week, and 980,000 per month, or  11,760,000 posts per year. And that is just Facebook, let alone Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, etc. Yet, the vast majority of brands have never had anything remotely resembling a serious social media snafu.

The only conclusion we can draw is that brands are actually really good at avoiding risk with social content. It doesn’t mean all of the content is world-changing or even particularly good, but the overwhelming body of evidence indicates that brands are using social media safely.

Issue #3: Earned media just doesn’t work

If true, this is probably the most damning of objections for earned media. If it just doesn’t work, then it doesn’t matter if you can get infinite reach with no risk – it’s a waste of time.  We believe strongly that earned media is a brand building medium. This makes it difficult to measure, but doesn’t reduce it’s value.

Rather than simply make a counter-claim, we can look to peer reviewed research to answer this one:

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

“Consistent with the predictions, social media use positively contributes to brand performance, retailer performance, and consumer–retailer loyalty.”

Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s 2013 AAEA & CAES Joint Annual Meeting, Washington, DC

“Empirical results show that social media exposure is a significant driver of consumer behavior through altering evaluation of product characteristics and purchase choices.”

Information Systems Research Journal

“Our findings show that engagement in social media brand communities leads to a positive increase in purchase expenditures.”

Journal of Marketing Research

“They find that (1) both traditional and social earned media affect sales; (2) the per-event sales impact of traditional earned media activity is larger than for social earned media; (3) because of the greater frequency of social earned media activity, after adjusting for event frequency, social earned media’s sales elasticity is significantly greater than traditional earned media’s; and (4) social earned media appears to play an important role in driving traditional earned media activity.”

Plus, there’s the research from Comscore and Facebook Power of the Like paper (though, one must consider the source):

“In the case of Starbucks, exposed Fans and Friends of Fans showed statistically significant lifts in in-store purchase incidence for each of the four weeks following earned media exposure.”

“The increasing cumulative lift in purchase behavior among exposed Starbucks Fans and Friends of Fans provides strong evidence of a latent branding impact of earned media exposure. This same latent effect was observed in the lift in purchase incidence among exposed Fans and Friends of Fans of retailer Target.”

The unifying theme across all of these documents is that earned media in social works, but that it is primarily a branding medium – not necessarily a transactional one.

Conclusion

So to conclude, will marketers give up on earned media in 2014? Perhaps they will. Effective social marketing can be challenging.

Is it better for large organizations to shift ‘ownership’ of social away from marketing? Maybe. Though we’d argue that ‘ownership’ of social has been resolved through the widespread adoption of social media centers of excellence and other tactics for weaving Social Business across the enterprise.

SHOULD marketers give up on earned media? Absolutely not.

The opportunity remains enormous. New trends like timely and real-time marketing are just being born, and rather than retreat into a shell, marketers should continue to improve the quality of social media execution if they want to achieve outsized results.

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Enterprise Social Marketers

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2014 new years resolutions

2013 was filled with retweet-worthy social media stories… some awe-inspiring, some not so fabulous. Brands are finally getting the hang of doing social, but there’s still room for improvement. Let 2014 be the year your company goes from just ‘doing’ social to being social, with the help of these 10 tips.

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