A big number of posts, articles, studies and analysis attacking or undermining Social Media's foundations have surfaced lately. And that is a good thing. It is an awesome thing. I’m tempted to say it is the best damn thing that could happen at this particular moment in time.
Let me remind the casual and distracted reader that the individual writing this post makes his living out of Social Media.
I’ve been known to criticize Social Media and its experts in the past. To be fair I have also raised the flag of “we’re too cool to be true” from time to time. Mea Culpa.
Being somewhat violent and critic of one’s own line of work should be implemented as an exercise for all employees, but particularly for those of us who work in Marketing since, given our above-average exposure, we tend to believe we’re more important and enlightened than those working on less “gracious” activities.
Social Media Marketing is far from perfect or being perfected. It is a very novel field of work. There are tons of things to be discovered and explored and there are a lot of mistakes and learning to be made. Probably that is the reason why it is so exiting to work with in the first place and what causes what Joel Mark Whitt calls “Social Media Incest”: Social Media analysts and specialists tend to write and talk about just social media (I’m personally more fond to the term “in-breeding” for some undetermined reason).
Although I do speak about more stuff than just Social Media, I am guilty as charged in that matter as well, since this blog revolves almost exclusively around Social Media / Web Marketing / Web Analytics.
So, we’re in love with ourselves, like the sound of our own voices and are enchanted by the stuff we do for a living. That isn’t necessarily bad, right? It is when we fail to be critic about what we do and when we stop caring about what the outside world says about us and the things we do.
That is the reason why I think the recent attacks and criticism are positive: they get us off our pedestal. Royal pain in the ass, but a necessary and much needed one.
It is time to think again, guys.
We can’t base our work and expectations on just Cluetrain and The Long Tail. Both are awesome, interesting and radical; but things are changing: audiences, markets and companies are evolving and we need to revamp our “theoretic” baggage pronto.
Whether the current economic state is the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it or just a rather big bump on the road is irrelevant. Companies can’t or will no longer fund programs that can’t prove its worth. And by worth I mean money. We need to put “brand” and “reputation” in a slight pause for the time being. Let me rephrase that before I start to take flak.
Companies need to make profits while they build brand and reputation.
In other words, CFO’s and CEO’s won’t wait until Social Media programs are fully built, running and start to indirectly make profits. Might be tough, but such is reality.
The risk under such circumstances becomes one of trying to make profits at any cost.
That is why I don’t like the pay-per-post model. I don’t care how much sense it might make for some. I don’t even care if authors put “sponsored post” in double underline, bold and blinking text, pay-per-post it is (under my black-and-white perspective) just plainly inappropriate. Yet, the whole izea ordeal got me thinking that this type of program makes paid writing “official” and I’m certain that there is a lot of pay-per-post going on under the table.
But I digress. (I do that).
One of the latest attack has to do with the long tail theory, or rather a contradiction of it recently published by the times. Since the data set and sources are still undisclosed it is yet unclear if the authors have a real theory-breaker or just a minor setback of limited reach.
Even if the study has sturdy data to back it up it does not necessarily mean the theory is wrong, just that the model might not apply to everything at all times. It could also mean that just stating that something like the long tail is possible does not make it happen overnight.
The particular universe analyzed by the study published by the Times is the music industry. And although some of the fundamentals of the long tail apply to it better than they apply to other merchant models there are some dark spots in it which might of been overlooked when Chris Anderson draw his conclusions.
The music industry has over 70 years of doing business the same way: Scout or find an artist; make a record; promote, promote, promote; hope for a hit; sell millions of albums. This has two very obvious consequences: a. the audiences have been trained for over 4 generations to be spoon-fed music and b. the record industry knows no better model. This might very well be the two reasons why the long tail might not (yet) be successful for selling music.
But there are other scenarios where the long tail has proved to be right to its full implications.
Content publishing and distribution comes to mind as an obvious example. The proliferation of blogs that focus on a single topic and from a single perspective have had moderate success all around the globe. This has forced traditional publishers (Newspapers & Magazines) to change their perspective towards content generation and open blogs on their own to stay somewhat competitive.
There is another thing we tend to forget given how used we have become to changes. The Long Tail as a book and as a formal theory has only two years of age. I’ll risk it and say that most companies have not even give it a thought. Also, most consumers are unaware of the new and endless options available nowadays. How can I purchase a track from an obscure band at the other end of the world if I don’t even know they exist?
That leads me back to the need to develop new theories that adapt to shifting times. Long Tail, for instance could take advantage of a “nouvelle promotion” theory, or: “how to market for the long tail”. The risk resides in assuming that just because the options are available, they will be magically found by users.
When TV advertising was in its diapers, agencies struggled for well over a decade before they hit the right formulas and perfected their methods. and they have kept evolving as their target audiences evolved with them.
The real point now becomes: Now that novelty has worn off and that social media marketing needs to become mature: how will things evolve?
The criticism and attacks are just signs of the fact that people are no longer blinded by the glitter and brightness of “Social Media”; but are starting to demand real and tangible results. It is up to us, the people that make a living out of it (analysts, marketers, corporate bloggers, everyone) to step up to the challenge and prove its worth.
Remember the times when we filled our mouths with the "Social Media Marketing is about Authenticity, Transparency, Straight Talk"? It would seem those days are over, if they were not an illusion in the first place.
David made some criticism over his blog regarding the bloggers (erm, "writers") that will take money from companies to talk ang generate buzz about them. I won't spend too long going through his point, but I'll say that I agree overall.
So, I'll try to use logic to digest as much as I can of this.
People trust peers more than corporate blogs. So, let's pay bloggers to write nice things about companies. Yet, people have higher trust on emails from people they know. What are companies to do? a. pay every single person that has a friend to recommend your brand on an email or b. spoof addresses to make people think their friends are recommending our brand.
Of course someone will eventually find out and users will no longer trust "emails from people they know".
(need I clarify I tried to make a point through absurd?)
Using my crystal ball I can foresee: Programs like this will slaughter blog's credibility the same way miss-use of corporate blogs demised how much people trust them.
It is a program that is bound to fail in the long run. Once people start to be suspicious about if what they read on a blog is being "sponsored by Huge Inc." there's no turning back, since bloggers do not have the leverage mass media has to revert such negative perception.
In a couple of years we'll be gazing at a similar report, looking at blogs standing at the bottom of the trust pit, scratching our heads and wondering what went wrong.
But there are two major issues with this type of study.
- They tend to generalize
- They are impossible to compare against other facts and figures.
I agree that 80% of corporate blogs are rubbish. Nothing more than an ill-applied, poorly executed and sad shadow of what a blog should be. I wouldn't trust them myself, and I'm both a blogger (corporate and individual) and a blog-reader.
But there are some awesome examples of decent (and influential) corporate blogging as well. I wonder if that 16% of the people the study showed trusted corporate blogs read the decent ones.To be honest, forrester's report (available for free w/ registration) gives some advice into how to save corporate blogging.
Now, back to the title of the post: "riding every single wave"; that is exactly what (us) marketers are doing wrong. On a couple of speeches I gave this year I underlined that corporate blogging was not suited for every single company ("don't do it because its hot") and that before engaging into it those in charge should be fully aware of how it needs to be done.
(As a general rule of thumb: if your corporate blog pisses some "old school" people within your company, you're doing it just fine).
So, now that the new trend is pay-per-post we'll find tons of companies jumping into that without really knowing who they are paying. Recently I was talking to a local a-list blogger (most probably Argentina's top blogger), a very controversial figure for some, but stainless in terms of ethics. He said "a company that advertises with me should understand that I might criticize them nonetheless". If I managed Argentina's Marketing budget he'd have a Lenovo ad over his site.
Once marketers understand the new game they should realize that some things that look bad on the surface can have a longer lasting possitive effect.
But advertising is different than pay-per-post. Advertising is clear and direct. Pay-per-post is misleading. It doesn't matter if authors disclose, there is still some degree of deceit happening. If a user goes to bigcompany-dot-com he expects that the copy is going to be biased towards what bigcompany sells. If the same user goes to averagejoeopinion-dot-com he expects to read what Joe has to say, not what bigcompany told Joe to say.
The move of advertising pay-per-post can (and will) backfire in the nastiest of ways. Because it is fundamentally flawed as a concept within that other type of marketing that "social media analysts" (I am one) are advocating. One based on openness and honesty. It is not easy to do things the right way, and often it takes a long time to pay off.
Sure, in times of crisis people do welcome some extra cash, but not everyone should become a prostitute for that reason.
To conclude and since Jeremiah spent his time commenting on my previous post on the subject, I'll take the time to reply.
I respect Analyst's work. Half of my time I (should) spend looking at facts and figures, understanding what is happening, what the trends are and how to improve programs.
The main issue I see with analysts is that they see half the picture. The half the people within companies don't see. The main difference is that we know we're missing stuff, we need that information and are willing to pay big bucks in order to get it. On the other hands many analysts tend to think they own an absolute truth.
Another problem I usually have is that some conclusions they draw seem to be a tad short-sighted and shallow. It is only when such type of research goes public and digested by bloggers, marketers and others that the real deal surfaces. Yet, those other people who re-read and re-analyze, share their opinions and expertise don't make a dime out of it. Shouldn't Forrester pay all of them as well? After all, they are making significant contributions to the final studies (sometimes before the study is finished, other times afterwards).
In case you were wondering why I have been so quiet on this blog lately, I am now entitled to disclose what I've been up to since it is all now in the public domain.
For starters Lenovo now has its first Japanese blog: Yamato Thinking. It is a actually dual language blog, both in Japanese and English.The guys at Yamato are responsible for much of the design of our computers, thus it shall prove to be an interesting read.
This is a big step for us in the right direction. Enabling a social media strategy on a more global basis is the way to go.
We have also redesigned our Lenovo social homepage. This should now prove to be a fairly useful hub for everything that goes on on the Lenovo Social Media Universe. This homepage will keep evolving and upgrading to usefully serve our visitors and customers. I have wild things in mind.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg for what's being going on.
We have also launched a new service for our customers called "Discover Social Media". The word "service" does not do justice, actually. I'll describe what the intent is and how we plan it should work.
Our aim is to build a community site where newcommers to Social Media can get up to speed with all the trends, sites and services around Social Media. Reviews and best practictices are written and revised by peers. For the time being the site works very blog-like, but that will transition to something more complex and social Networky.
Here's an excerpt from our welcome message:
When you hear about “social networking,” just know that computing is getting more personal, more about you, your success, your family, your interests and the ability to connect with people and information that can help you. Social networking is people talking… about everything under the sun and much more.
As usual the best part of this projects is the people I get to know.
Mitch Ratcliffe is in charge of much of the reviews you'll see on the site. He's done a terrific job, and, I must admit, I feared for his sanity, since he had to actually use all those services. And using them means Signing up and spending time on them. In case you don't know Mitch I strongly encourage you to subscribe to his ZD|Net blog.
On the design part we partnered with Erik Hahr. We got in touch with Erik thanks to our Forums. He is an active participant at the lenovo community and showed a lot of interest and will to collaborate with us. Our experience with him on this project is a good example of how good Social Media can work both ways, for companies and customers.
I'll probably be posting updates on how all this things evolve in the near future.
Since Mariano made it official, I'm proud to say that I'll be presenting at WordCamp Argentina in about a Week (November 8th).
I want to make something different from the usual keynote, but the lack of time might prevent me to go all above and beyond as I would like.
Post disponible en español en redtácora.
Almost a week has passed since WeMedia Buenos Aires concluded. I was fortunate enough to attend and other attendees were unfortunate enough to be forced to listen to me.The audience was somewhat challenging, not because they booed at me (they were respectful enough not to!) but because I had to keep the pitch very high-level, thus somewhat boring those initiated in the dark arts of social media.
Since I believe this things take a while to get digested (and my brain is taking longer than usual times to digest) an unordered list of thoughts follows.
- Mainstream Media (is there such a thing) does not get it. Gross tonnage is no longer a valid argument to state that one "rocks" or "sucks". The overall ignorance of traditional journalists with regards to Social Media was put to evidence thanks to Mariano's intervention.
- Video is going to keep migrating from TV to Internet. This is going to take a while. TV will become an "online thing" in advanced countries in the next 15 years or so.
- Most of the action takes place at coffee breaks and lunch breaks. I guess the idea of un-conferences is to try to replicate that. I had a great time chatting people like Mariano, Ismael, Ivan, John, Nicolás and others (too many to link!).
- I like presenting. I like it a little bit more every time I do it. One day I might even get moderately acceptable at it.
- I got a ton of ideas from the BBC's presentation. And I mean real-life marketing ideas.
- Inspiration comes from the oddest places.
- Timing was too strict in some senses and too loose on some others. Some speakers could of got to the point in half the time. Others I would of listened to for hours.
I'll resume normal blogging habits now.
Final part of Today.
Jorge Gobbi, Editor Social Voices.
Social Voices does not cover Europe and the US because they have enough traditional media coverage. Social Voices is a global startup. He's talking about "voices without votes" what the rest of the world thinks about the US election. He's the only Argentine writter. The idea is not to yield their own oppinions but rather to leverage bloggers's points of view.
"Rising Voices" gives grants to develop blogs for those people who don't have access to the internet or blogs. OLPC is huge in Uruguay.
They also try to help bloggers who suffer censorship.
Reuters invests in Social Voices. NYT republished the feed about South Osetia.
Juán Cruz Mones Cazón, idealistas.org
60K daily uique visitors, 500k registered users, 80k organizations.
"Can Internet change the world?" "No, people can, using Internet".
Gives examples of how idealistas.org helps to connect different organizations. "That is what idealistas is all about".
Things are free because people believe that once you start charging for a service another company / guy will come and do it for free.
The free business model is a challenge even for organizations such as Idealistas.
Paulien Osse - Wage indicator foundation.
She's coming to the public asking what people earn. Of course people are reluctant to answer.
"Essentially this is what we do, we ask people how much they make, but on the internet". They are going to display a movie.
This is fun for economists. Just to compare the wages of exactly the same job in different countries. It is essential to know if you know if you're paid propperly.
Knowledge sharing for collective inteligence.
The question on how they validate the date, make sure people are not telling lies when completing their wage information. Paulien says there is only a small percentage are not truthful about their sallary.
Steve Herrmann, Editor, BBC.
When thre was an earthquake in India the BBC got tons of messages of people trying to tell each other they were ok, if they knew something about missing people and other "social" requirements.
On Zimbawe they asked the population to SMS the BBC to let them know what was going on during polling. BBC was banned from the country at the time. People reported all kinds of abuses and other atrocities.
Burma: BBC's reporter couldn't move freely through the country. They contacted the local population to get updates on what was happening.
The Burma story didn't end up very well. They stopped getting messages and emails. The burmanise government shut down the ISP's, BBC was left out of sources.
China Earthquake. They are mentioning the twitter feed. Also Chinese bloggers. They also monitored what was the Chinese media said about the torch relay protests in Europe and the US.
More examples about blogging from countries that are hard for the BBC to get into (Saudi Arabia, Cuba).
They tried an experiment called "Laptop link-ups". Sent people with Notebooks to remote places so people could tell their stories. (Brilliant!!).
In the UK they have a project for schools where they send a journalist to let kids know what journalism is about. They create news from this schools and then publish it on the BBC. This program has cought up in other countries and regions as well.
BBC uses blogs as a publishing platform for their star journalists (the screenshot is from Peston's Picks, title: "We own the banks").
They use an interactive map about the general mood around the financial crises where people pinned thier economical problems (unapyable mortages, rising food prices, etc).
To exmplain globalization BBC painted a crate and send it all over the world, then they encouraged readers to ry to spot it at ports and boats, take pictures at it and send them back to the BBC. Amazing shots.
And thus the day ends... sort off. Pictures coming soon.
I've skipped blogging and tweeting an entire track, since I just came down the stage mysel. Went to have lunch and now I'm reporting again. (Does that make me a journalist?)
What the readership will most regret is that I've skiped Josh Cohen's Keynote. I regret it myself.
Officenet - Leonardo Piccioli;
THere will be no secrets in the future. "That my competition learns about stuff we're doing is a risk I'm willing to assume".
"I talk with everyone" -> I talk with customer, I talk with unions, I talk with government.
Juan Carlos Lucas.
1. Amoebas are easy to predict.
2. Human Beings are harder to predict than Amoebas.
3. Most managers don't know #2.
The way management is done today is not going to work for much longer.
There is a shift in paradigm.
Twitter as an example of this change. Juan Carlos asked the question of what twitter was publicly made on twitter, this yielded "collective intelligence" (note: I need to further think whether I believe in the concept of collective intelligence or not)
Leaders as strategic coaches.
"What do we have to learn as Managers"
1. We need to be openminded and flexible observers.
2. We need to constantly learn.
3. We need to motivate conversations that add values. (watch out not to confuse tool with conversation)
4. We need to systematically add value. We need to embrace the new before it is even perfected.
5. We need to be authentic collaborators. Lies are no longer good for business and they will be even less so.
"Instead of looking for answers we should be looking for new questions".
Ernesto Van Pebrogh.
Chart from Forrester that shows internet users behavior. People over 27 years are considered "innactive" because they download instead of uploading.
Youngsters will beb in positions of power within companies in the next 10 years. This "Digital Natives" do "Social Homeworking".
Facebook has about as much population as Japan. 50% of Brazilians will have access to internet. 30 Million Brazilians use Orkut weekly.
Web 2.0 is not a technological revolution, it is a philosophical shift.
We need a new work ethic.
Managers need to think how to make their employees happy so they become marketers as well.
That companies block access to 2.0 applications makes no sense.
Luis Alberto Quevedo. Alejandro Prince. Alejandro Piscitelli.
The invention of writing changed all the social interactions. Probably the first texts were love poems and contracts. There was a technological revolution.
Invention of press. Then the concept of "nation" develops. Today we live in a massive herd of 7 billion people.
Internet changes yet again the way information flows. Yet this is not "another leap" it is a big leap, we're going through a major social change.
The digital breach does not exist, the breach is social and economic. At least 60% of the world's population is not in a good jape to make the next social revolution (in the sense of things changing).
New York is the most connected and social media prone city in the world. NY Times only has 0,7% of outgoing links. This is their doom. This is their breach with the rest of the social media world.
"The best writting happening right now is stuff written for TV". TV before was all redundant. TV today is more dense in terms of narrative.
Rupture between profesionals and amateurs (proams).
The 2300 billion clicks on google are the "spirit of today's world".
"hat are the consecuences: "ways to know what we are loosing".
We are still living with 19th and 20th century media. TV still plays a major role on today's life.
For mass media their business is not "to share" it is to amass consumers. This clearly oposes the 2.0 model.
One more block left. Which means one more post left today.
Mariano Amartino is moderating a table on Blogs.
Leandro Zanoni is presenting.
Blogs. over 100 million, 380K in Argentina. Social Networks; MySpace 220 Mill. users, facebook 90 million. Thousands of social networs.
User is the key player. Prosumer, simple and dynamic, services. FREE. (My note: free for SOME...)
Bloggers are not pro guys. Leandro wonders about what happens with new journalists who won't depend on mass media.
Ernesto Tenembaum takes the stand.
"I've worked on everything, TV, Radio, print, now I have a blog and I'm modern" (I love this guy's soft irony).
The Medium does not matter. "When we founded "XXIII" we looked at circulation, on TV we are pending on ratings, on blogs it is the same, we're pending on clicks and visits".
Everybody is always looking at what catches the attention.
"Most of what's blogged is not journalism, it is a form of comunication".
I'm interested in blogs as a way of democratizing information.
"It is the same old story, on a news paper, on a blog, on TV, it is just telling stories".
"I'm a big Paul Krugman fan."
"There's a lot of Catharsis going on on Blogs".
Daniel Fernández Canedo takes the stand.
News must be interesting to get readership. Clarin Blogs opens the newspaper to blogers. 12K blogs opened so far, in comparison "El Pais" from Spain only has 10K.
What is going to change is the business model.
We have changed our reading habits, we read less extensively and less profoundly.
Journalist have no option but to become better journalists.
iFocos introduction, Andrew Nachison.
"WeMedia" is as much about "we" as it is about "media". Some people think WeMedia is about blogging, this is not exactly the case, it is about people publishing. We're not riding towards utopia, trust is in flux. Who we trust and how to get the information that we trust is at stake.
We share information with those who we know and have choices about who we trust and who we get information from.
The course of our society can be changed through media which is now in everybody's hands.
Media (all types) has not saved the day so far.
Eduardo Hauser - Daily Me
Daily Me is a News personalizer.
1. Fragmentation. Content is no longer in hands of a few. Content publishers (such as music indostry) freaked out. The real change is that things have shift from the real world to the digital and have become more fragmented, smaller units.
2. Timeless. TiVo as an example. Eduardo says he only watches political debates and sports live, everything else goes through TiVo. TV ad model has changed. There is a new format of TV spots that lasts 3 minutes. Only the way we do things changes, not the actual things we do.
3. Payment methods. We spend less money more times.
4. User participation. The first change newspapers did was to allow comments. Second largest tendency is twitter.
5. Distributed Experience. information flows around no matter what the medium. Thank RSS for that.
6. Gadgets got better. 19 million blackberry accounts. 150 iphones / ipods available. Kindle figures not available. Kindle makes RSS feeds available, one pays .99 for access and convenience, not for the content.
Confusion all around.
Analysis Paralisis (LOLCat as an example)
New aliances, NBC & Microsoft. New york Times and LinkedIn. Infamous union between Time Warner and AOL, they decided to join forces for all the wrong reasons.
Viral distribution. Many companies (Such as MySpace or Facebook) never run any sort of publicity.
13 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute.
Guy Kawasaki's Twitter Feed used as an example of the massive reach. Startups are cheap, escalating is expensive.
Audience question: 3 minute TV ads.
First Tivo Remote skipped 30 seconds, thus oing over ads. Creatives created ads that are not disruptive.
I'm presenting at WeMedia Buenos Aires next week.
I'll be talking about Lenovo's Social Media Programs (particularly blogs) as well as the "Voices of the Olympic Games" program.
After thinking about whether to present the Dick Hardt way or with a minimalistic presentation I decided on the second option; I don't want to be pending on the slides.
Slides and notes will become available after the event.
I'll let you know how things go.
- All this and that
- Blog Design
- long term thinking
- Mountain Biking
- myself and I
- philosophical rant
- Servers and configs
- ThinkPad Tips
- November 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- November 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- November 2007
- October 2007
- September 2007
- August 2007
- July 2007
- June 2007
- May 2007
- April 2007
- March 2007
- February 2007
- January 2007
- December 2006
- November 2006
- October 2006
- September 2006
- August 2006