Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Has Facebook Lost It’s Cool Factor with Teens?

With the imminent IPO of Facebook and the record setting valuation, I had an interesting conversation with my son and nephews this weekend. It seems they have stopped using Facebook. The reason, Mom, Dad, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are on Facebook and, horror of horrors, they want to be friends!

So, what does it say about Facebook when those that gave rise to your business become disenfranchised and are walking away, even if slowly? Does this erode your valuation? Or, we’re these college and teen users simply early adopters and attrition is inevitable and of little business impact for the long run? Is the real opportunity the mature audience with more buying power? Either way, a changing user demographic means a changing growth projection.

Something to think about when considering that Facebook is speculated to be worth $100B.

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Hijacking Social – The Clique Is Holding Us Back

Let’s be honest, if the geeks had their way, no one would be allowed on the web and we would still be passing notes through ftp.

Today, the internet has been taken over by the average person. MySpace and Facebook defined the social network. It is about the party. Are you invited? Are you part of the group? Are you popular? So, how many friends do you have following you anyway?

You know what is the same? The discussion of etiquette and the proper way to engage. Social media has rules. Social media is about fitting in to how it was “intended”. I think this notion of what social media is is holding us back. It might be about the conversation, but it can be so much more than that.

Here are some examples of social media being beyond a personal conversation.

yawnloglogoReadWriteWeb provided a review on a new social app called Yawnlog. People log their sleeping patterns and dreams and then can share them with their friends.  Maybe a nice widget addition to Facebook.  But, a real product?  Here’s the thing.  The value isn’t that you can track this and share with you friends.  It’s the potential for trials and longitudinal studies.  The application has more value for science than a gadget that I’ll use with my friends and discuss what my dream meant.

LouisGray.com talked about what Twitter is really about (see article), listening, not friend following.

“Even if you are a rabid information junkie, the constant updates from Twitter can be too much for anybody to absorb, even with a few hundred connections. To believe that I am seeing all of a friend’s updates with 6,000 connections, or that Scoble can see the updates from ten times that many, is clearly impossible. So while a small population of Twitter is using the service to follow individual’s updates, a huge number are instead using it to broadcast updates, monitor keywords, and occasionally, send direct messages to people or reply in public. Twitter is simply too much to handle as conversations are lost, people’s updates can be of any type, and the limitations of the service, including the much-discussed 140 character boundary, make it a poor foundation for exchanging ideas in a crowd.”

So, when we talk about Twitter as a social network, how can you say that when you can’t really exchange ideas through conversation.  It is bill-boarding.

I think there ia also something to the fact that in the end, 99% of people out there are watchers, not participants.  Maybe they participate in their micro networks in Facebook with real friends, but there are only a handful of people out there that are part of the social.  That leaves open a huge opportunity for social media to fill beyond “Whoever Has the Most Friends Wins” theme.  Increasingly, and you see this particularly with Twitter, that social is pushing past the confines of personal conversation.  As with the web, the value is in the topics of conversations – the information.

Let’s start considering that maybe the power of social media isn’t that it is social but that it is about linking people, experience, and ideas to move forward in a non-cyber world.  Since when did a clique do anything but hold someone back?

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Conversational Preference in B2B Social Media

Anyone that tells you it is simple to get real engagement from your customers through social media – call their bluff.  If they can prove they did it, hire them!

We all know that social media is the wave of the future.  Every marketing department is putting more effort and resources toward it.  The problem is that no one can really get their arms around how to engage the customer.

Eric Brown is on target when he says:

“If there are no comments on you blog and nothing on your facebook wall except from posts from you, You have an ELECTRONIC BILLBOARD, Which is NOT Social Media”  see article

He is right.  You are really just creating another brochure website.  Why do you want to do that?

It’s only been a few weeks since I started Brain Vibe and have found that the easiest part of the processes was getting some traction.  By leveraging social networking venues, letting friends know, commenting, and paying attention to SEO, I’m pretty happy with the results.  People are starting to subscribe and follow, bookmarking is happening, syndication is working, and I’m getting good feedback and comments.   Here’s the thing, those comments, they don’t come in how I expect.  I get emails.  People don’t comment on the post, they go to my contact page and send me an email.  I also get voted up without any feedback and commenting.

I’m not getting a ton of feedback. I’d love to get more, particularly on the articles that seem to be driving viewership, subscriptions, and bookmarking.  I do what everyone says, ask for comments, create interactive posts, put up polls.  I tried a Blog Improv to get participation as well.  Interestingly, the Improv only generated 2 comments (1 from a new professional connection and I’m extremely greatful!).  But, it drove subscriptions and traffic.  Go figure.

Particularly for business marketing, I’m finding that people have preferences in how they want to interact with you.  Social media is one of those avenues and even within it is a microcosm of conversational preferences.  How we measure our success around commenting and interaction needs to be looked at in its entirety.  If I only used direct comments on my blog to determine effectiveness, I miss out on the fact that the way people are connecting with me is through email.  Some people may only vote up your post.  Sometimes, the value is “paying it forward” through reblogging or re-tweeting.  Measuring success of your efforts early on may be looking at indicators that show traction that should lead to participation and interaction.

Look at the big picture:

  • Are people sharing?
  • Are people bookmarking?
  • Are you receiving email comments?
  • Are you receiving tweets?
  • Are you getting comments in syndication but not on your site?
  • Are you finding doors opening because someone saw your work?
  • Are people voting you up?

If these things are happening, it is only a matter of time before people will comment and interact with each other and you.

Here’s what I’ll say about conversation and interaction.  It is something that you will need to nurture and develop.  What I’ll add to Eric’s perspective is that unless you already had a strong following and network to begin with, it is going to take time.  I’ve seen numbers ranging as high as 99% of blog readers are lurkers.  In social networks, there was usually an offline connection that helped to generate interaction on walls and blogs.  For business marketers that are trying to build networks with their customers, a different mindset is needed to get commenting and participation to happen.  You may need to seed participation by leveraging your offline relationships.  And, even then, if you are in PR, you know how hard it is just to get references.

What have you done to get comments?

Please, leave a comment…  🙂


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Social Media Improv

I’ve talked a lot about marketers giving up control of content.  I suggest allowing sales to be the conductors for social media in your organization.  I also suggest allowing customers to take control of the website.

I figure that if I’m going to preach, I should probably practice.  I’m going to hand over the reigns to you to create a blog.  The only guidance I’ll give is the topic.  You fill in the rest to create the story.  However, the story is collaborative.  You provide one to three sentences then the next commenter provides the next one to three sentences.  At the end of collecting, I’ll pull everything together for a single blog.

I think of this as those games where one person says a word of a sentence, the next person adds one, and so on and so on.

Note: The comments are moderated, but I’ll only remove those that are inappropriate (bad language, sexual content, you get the idea).  Comments that are supportive of the site or effort I’ll group onto another page for everyone to view.  I’ll try to fix inconsistencies due to date or where comments come in.

I encourage you to not only to participate but, play tag with your friends (25 Things Facebook style).  So, here it goes.

TOPIC:

If you could change the world, what would that world look like?

Ready, set, GO!!!

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Has Apple and iTunes Missed the Mark?

For all that Apple has done to transform mobile devices and personal computing, has it missed the real market opportunity?  Hampered by ip and copywrite protections of content, it seems that iTunes has limited itself to just a delivery model.  At the end of the day, iTunes appears to be content as another Amazon.

Here’s the thing, iTunes started out as this really cool way to grab music, videos, movies, and podcasts.  It had some capability to show you what people and staff liked best, and pair your selections and purchases to other things you might like.  With the release of the iPhone, you get a plethora of mobile applications. Yet, Apple seems stalled on iTunes as an e-store and electonic delivery service.

In the end, I think iTunes could be a nexus for social media and networking.  If they could overcome limitations of sharing (can I at least pass over a playlist that syncs to another music library or encourages the purchase of a song?) and provide a social network interface that allows you to connect to other iTunes users, there could be some real power behind this app.  Think Facebook meets YouTube, meets iTunes.

Here is what I see as major factors that are and can diminish iTunes as a broader player in the market.

  • Apps will deliver content – think Netflix streaming films on-demand to your phone.  Twitter already circumvents SMS.
  • Direct sourcing of podcasts/v-casts from providers – already happening through browser.
  • Greater ability to share and discuss media in other venues – Facebook
  • Ad dollars are going to the application developers

iPhone’s newness and apps are probably the biggest drivers of customer loyalty today.  But, Apple’s crowd is a trendy one.  While there are loyal cult followers (I admit it, I’m part of the cult), there is a significant segment that is always looking to be at the forfront and social media is where they are today.  Apple hasn’t always been the first, but it has been the best.  Staying the best could get harder when they heavily rely on is hardware and delivery.

If Apple got it right, iTunes could expand into the social media arena consolidating social networks, content, and services in an interactive manner versus today as only a distributor.  There may be money in the transaction, but that is an easy point to be squeezed.  Apple’s proprietary perspective on its assets and constraints of contracts with media companies may be too restricting.  As more and more companies thrive on an opensource model, that competitive agility could leave Apple in a lurch.

In the end, I’m thinking about myself.  I love my iPhone.  I love my MacBook.  But, what gets me thinking about this is I rarely use iTunes anymore except as a music player, a way to get my apps, and to sync my phone to my laptop.  There are cooler, better things, and better ways to get my communications, media, and appliations.  I’m not typically at the front of the pack.  So, that leaves me wondering where the rest of those iTunes users are.

I’ll ask you, do you think Apple missed the mark?

By the way, here is some news that Apple may be thinking about streaming media.   But, is this just a service delivery enhancement?

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