Where Social Is Going in 2013

Here’s my prediction: Social will get the ‘third degree’ in 2013. I’m starting to see some backlash in the press about social media marketing. The avalanche of startups in the social space over the last couple years are causing VCs to hold their wallets. And Facebook’s stock recovery isn’t happening fast enough.

And so it goes. Nothing to fear. The evolution is almost predictable. Think back to the industry ‘movements’ in the 90s – such as ASP, CRM, Web 2.0, Web/TV convergence.  All of them followed a similar path, and yet, have become ‘mainstream’. ASP = Cloud. CRM = Social CRM. Web 2.0 is just the way things work on the web. And the Web/TV convergence is happening in Social TV. We had the right ideas…just a lot of creative destruction to figure things out, including the nomenclature.

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Marketing with a Mirror

What makes great marketing? I think it’s when you can really see, through the eyes of your customer, how great it is to use your product and are able reflect the emotions and passion related to the use of your product back to the masses.

I’ve studied marketing and word of mouth for 20 years. Marketers love control, but over the last several years of social media growth we, as marketers, feel we’ve lost some control. That’s not a bad thing. If you have a great product or service and you know how to facilitate rather than broadcast, you can catapult past competition.

In 1995 I wrote a book called “How to Market WITH Computer User Groups.” Back then, user group leaders and members (i.e. the geeks) were the analog version of every person in today’s digital participation culture.  The point of the capitalized “WITH” in the book title is that it was ineffective to market “TO” user group leaders. The only way to be effective was for them to be the voice. It was important for them to own the message. And for the marketer, to enable them by reflecting the voice of the customers back onto them. Marketing with a mirror. 

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Time for Social Integration for TV and Publishing in 2012!

We may look back at 2011 as the year social integration into TV and publishing really accelerated in velocity. At least, we’ve seen that in the clients we work with.

Mass Relevance partnered with nearly 100 TV producers, broadcasters and publishers last year, in addition to our work with brands and retailers (stay tuned for more on this). In collaboration with our clients, we established best practices and processes to integrate real-time social content into live and scripted shows, next to articles and immersive social experiences.

Our Director of Content and Production, Derek Dodge (ex-CNN Social Producer) put together this ‘sizzle reel’ of some our TV and media work last year.

When it comes to social, we’re seeing more and more US and international TV producers are ‘getting it’.

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The Next Wave of Social: Curated Integration

The promise of true and deep social media integration is not new. In fact, many of our favorite social experts have been envisioning and forecasting this evolution for some time (see Five Themes for Succeeding in the Validation Era).

73% of CEOs Think Marketers Are Not Effectiveness-focused

I read a fascinating global study on what CEOs think of Marketers, by the Fournaise Marketing Group. Some of the interesting findings for me are:

  • They keep on talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters that their top management has great difficulties linking back to results that really matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or even market valuation (77%)
  • They focus too much on the latest marketing trends such as social media, because they believe they represent the new marketing frontiers – but can rarely demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company (74%)
  • They are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate (72%)
  • They bombard their stakeholders with marketing data that hardly relate to or mean anything for the company’s P&L (70%)

The average tenure of a CMO is still less than two years. largely because of the issues identified above.

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Five Themes for Succeeding in the “Validation Era”

One thing both consumers and marketers agree on is there is too much noise. What’s causing that noise are the 150 million users on Twitter, the over 700 million on Facebook and the millions across other networks of contribution. Last week Twitter reported they host 200 million tweets a day. Each is a person or company’s voice shouting for attention. Everyone wants to be heard, but our ears can only handle so much information.

Steve Rubel, social media thought leader and Executive Vice President for Edelman, referred to this shift in web dynamics as The Validation Era. The implications of this era apply to anyone trying to reach an audience: brands, retailers, broadcasters and publishers.

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How We Curated the Oscars

Real-time social content is a perfect mate for live television programming because it greatly enhances the overall experience for viewers. Through the integration of real-time social content and live programming, people can watch reactions and commentary from a global live audience while they’re watching and hearing a show on TV. Chloe Sladden, Twitter and Beverly Macy, author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing have recently written about how real-time social content will create more engaging experiences for TV audiences.

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Filling the Big Content Gap

In social strategy there is always something missing and something to improve. But there’s one area where I see a big gap.

First, the good news. Brands are starting to ‘listen’ to what people are saying. There are great listening and social media management platforms available, such as Spredfast (plug disclosure…I’m an advisor). However, it’s typically a few people inside the company that are paying attention to user generated content. There’s still a long way to go to make this listening penetrate the depths of an organization to achieve what I call “Customer Oxygen”.

Then, there’s the analytics. There are a lot of ways to analyze the data of what people are saying. Many solutions are out there. The gap here is in making the analysis actionable and operational.

But then, once the listening and analysis is going, brands have the biggest challenge with content. What do they say? How do they say it? They have difficulty finding their ‘social voice’, and figuring out what to say where.
This is the big content gap.

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What’s Here? Announcing Mass Relevance!

For the last couple years I’ve thought a lot about where user generated and social content are going. It’s valuable, but growing exponentially, more of it is real-time, and there’s a difficult-to-manage fragmention of customer experiences.

I’m excited to announce a company my co-founders and I have formed to go after a big market problem. Today we announced the launch and funding of my new company, Mass Relevance, co-founded with Brian Dainton and Eric Falcao. You can see early coverage at the Statesman, AustinStartup (more full story here) and TechCrunch. I foreshadowed this announcement with a market thesis post I just wrote, and the point that there’s a big content gap in the market.

Chloe Sladden on how Twitter and TV work well together
Also, there was a serendipitously-timed cover story in Fast Company on Twitter and TV that is at the bullseye of what Mass Relevance is doing, specifically serving entertainment and media. And you can see this blog post by Brian on how Twitter (and our product, TweetRiver) can help rescue live TV.

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Analyzing Groupon Profitability: 7 Factors for Group Buying Success

I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about the strategy of group buying sites (or daily deals, flash sales, etc.). Groupon is the leader in this space…so much the word is becoming a verb. The questions I often hear are: How do you know if Groupon (and group buying deals) are right for a type of business? What are the factors that make Groupon a profitable strategy?

How do you evaluate and analyze the profitability of Groupon?

Already there are a lot of competitors with Groupon, and several more that are headed toward even more niche group buying capabilities, focused by interest, small city, or people groups. The group buying strategy will continue, and so will the conversation about this. But the model of giving a significant (50%+) discount on goods and services has its dangers. So it piqued my curiosity to analyze this from an economic perspective.

On the plus side, this is a pay-for-performance approach to customer acquisitions. And it’s a sudden and (mostly) predictable burst of new customers and revenue.

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