You’ve probably heard the term “marketing mix” before, it was originally coined to explain the balance of resources applied across the 4 P’s (placement, price, product, promotion) of traditional marketing. I’ve written about this in more detail in an earlier post here. Today, I’ll be writing about the social media mix, which takes the balancing concept and applies it to social media.
Many people I talk with are overwhelmed by the amount of growth and evolution taking place in social media. It can be a struggle to build the case for portfolio adjustments when you’re too busy to keep tabs on the latest developments in social media and maintain perspective on the related trends. It’s true that what’s happening is complex but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it may first appear. This post aims to put some structure around how to approach your social media mix and provide some tools to develop an online communications strategy. You should be able to run through step #4 in a few hours with your team. At that point there is some research to do, after which you can probably finish up in another few hours.
Step #1: Gather Your Social Media Portfolio
Start by doing a quick inventory of the social media channels that you already use at your organization. Write down each channel onto a sticky note (i.e. Twitter streams, Facebook pages, company blogs, newsletters, etc). A common early discovery during this process is that different channels have been set up, and are managed by, different people at your organization. The result is that communications may not be well coordinated, may duplicate efforts and/or under-serve parts of your community. For the moment, don’t worry about any social media channels that you think you want to use in the future, we’ll get to those later.
Step #2: Collect Your Content
The next step is to do an inventory of the types of content that you currently distribute through social media channels and the types of conversations you’re trying to foster (i.e. product ideas, white papers, case studies, events information, customer service). Start a list but instead of making stickies at this point, simply list each content type on a page with one type per line. You’ll use this as the first column of a table in the next step (frequency & formality lens).
Step #3: Look Through 4 Social Media Lenses
Not all of the following lenses will be appropriate for your organization, but they represent a range of perspectives that should provide insight into your situation.
1: Consider Frequency & Formality
Frequency and formality represent two key qualities to parse how content types relate to each other. Take your list from step #2 and draw out two additional columns, the first should be labeled frequency, the second formality. Frequency and formality tend to be inversely related such that more formal messages go out less frequently. Of course, this depends on the specifics of your business. If you’ve got ten content types, then rank them from 1-10 on each scale. You’ll use this table in a later step.
2: Consider The Condensing Funnel
With this lens you’re looking to see if content is being funneled through your communication channels. For example, your organization might twitter absolutely everything it does, blog about many of those things, and use a newsletter to present only the best stuff. It’s rarely the case that any organization’s messaging will be this simple, but this lens can help highlight how and where content gets redistributed in a condensed format.
3: Consider The Waterfall
As you go through the previous step, you may find that there is a waterfall of content that runs through your channels. For example, some tweets lead to blog posts, and some blog posts might turn into white papers. You want to highlight this because it can help set up some content development practices once you have an online communications strategy in place. More on this in step #8.
4: Consider Subscription Size
Looking at social media channels based on the number of subscribers is important because it will have a huge impact on your ultimate strategy. It takes time and effort to transition communities across social media, and there is often significant attrition when you do it. Thus, it can be helpful to rank channels by their number of subscribers. Add the subscription ranking to the channel stickies from step #1.
Step #4: Connect Content & Channels
The next step is to start grouping your content types under one of the channel cards from step #1. If one content type goes under multiple channels than make a duplicate sticky for it and don’t forget to record the related formality and frequency rankings on each sticky note.
A couple things to watch out for at this point, you might find yourself putting all content types under each channel. Resist this urge! As a general rule, people tend to respond best when receiving a specific type of information from each channel they subscribe to. With this exercise you’re trying to distill what types of content are best suited to each channel. Limit the number of times you assign a content type to different channels. The limit will depend on how many content types and channels you have, but aim to have no more than three channels for each content type.
Consider this, organizations use Twitter in many different ways. Some use it to send out information about where their staff is traveling and presenting. Some use it to send out a stream of interesting industry links. Some use it to share quick ideas, or questions. These are all valid uses but each is most effective when used alone because it offers subscribers a consistent experience they can count on.
One final note on this step, it’s likely that you’ll have one social media channel whose function is to serve as a digest of all the other channels. This is completely normal, and a good thing. The key is to figure out whether that channel is a blog, a twitter stream, a newsletter, Facebook page, or something else. Limiting each content type to two or three channels will allow you to distribute content (or meta-content) through a digest and at least one other channel.
Step #5: Distilling The Essence Of Each Channel Through Consolidation
Ok, you’re half way done. Take a look at your groups of stickies as they sit under each communication channel. Add up your formality and frequency rankings separately, and calculate the averages. Now organize your groups from left to right with informal on the left and formal on the right. If there are two rankings that are the same, place the group with the greater frequency ranking to the left.
Now, look at the kinds of content in each group and see if you can articulate the essence of that content. For example, if you use twitter to share insights from conferences,Â quick responses to articles, and product feature suggestions then you might say the essence is about “thoughts”. Your blog, however, might be where you explain upcoming product features, offer short form analysis of industry publications, and tell product stories, thus it could be about “ideas”. Ideas are less formal than white papers or case studies which may be better suited to a website channel about “intellectual property” (i.e. fully baked ideas). Finally, your newsletter might feature summaries and links to your best content, thus serving as a “digest”.
The next step is to assign a value to each channel. From the above example, Twitter might be about fostering community, your blog might be about brand awareness, and your newsletter might be about establishing credibility. These values will help as you start comparing channels.
Now that you’ve got your channels organized with distilled descriptions, related types of content and values, it’s time to compare them to each other. What you’re looking for is overlap between channels. If you find significant overlap, you should consider combining the channels into one. If the channels aren’t next to each other in your table, feel free to rearrange. You may find that frequency/formality is not the best organizing principle for your channels. If this first approach failsÂ organizing by value may work better for identifying consolidation opportunities.
When you consolidate columns, you’ll save resources that can be applied to other under-served parts of your community. This is where knowing the number of subscribers can play into your calculation. For example, it may not make sense to foster two separate community groups if there is a great deal of overlap with respect to value and content types, especially if the subscriber base on one is significantly larger than the other. You may get more return on your social media investment by prioritizing one, and putting a placeholder at the other that directs people to your active channels.
You work so far should point you in the right direction, but you’ll want to validate your predictions through research. At this point you should have a solid understanding of your existing social media mix, where it’s falling short, and how it might be improved. This is enough information to develop an online survey that can be distributed via your existing channels. I don’t want to get into a detailed discussion of online surveying in this post, but everything you ask should tie back to an actionable change in your mix. In the case of the community group question above, you might ask a series of questions to understand what types of content your subscribers are interested in receiving from these channels, if they are aware of your other channels, if they subscribe through both channels, and if they would consider migrating from one to another?
Step #6: Filling In The Gaps
With online survey data in hand, and an understanding of consolidation opportunities, you should start getting a sense of any parts of your community that are under-served or not served at all. Most of the time, your community will tell you what kinds of social media investments they’d like you to make. Individuals in your community will know the landscape better than you do, so listen to them for clues about where social media can take/bring/foster your community.
At this point, I recommend running a structured ideation process with your team to generate additional ideas. I won’t get into a detailed discussion of structured ideation here, but I do want to share two quick pointers.
- Be Crazy – ideation works best when participants feel comfortable contributing any idea they have, no matter how crazy. Encourage outside-the-box thinking.
- Generate Quantity – Don’t focus on quality, it’s about quantity. This is not a finesse game at this point, the best ideas arise when you generate lots of ideas.
Next, look for similarities and differences between the ideas you’ve generated, and converge on the ones that are the best fit for your organization. At the end of this step you should have a list of ideas for where you’d like to take your social media mix. The next step is to prioritize them and structure them into a strategy.
Step #7: Building Your Strategy
Strategy starts with the process of prioritizing those initiatives that with return the greatest value for your investment. I’m not going to go into depth here about the strategy process because I’ve already written a post about that here. In this post, I share a prioritization tool that will help you identify which investments to make based on their impact and how feasible they are to complete. The second tool is focused on managing how you get from where you are today to where you want to be by tieing specific tactics to your strategy. Please go check that post out, and come back. If you run through the two exercises, you’ll end up with a road-map for an online communications strategy.
Step #8: Sketching Your Content Flow
This is the final step, and a really important one because it will show the results of all your hard work to your team in a visual way that they can easily understand. Think back to the waterfall lens from step #3, remember how you identified which channels feed into each other? This is the place to sketch out what the flow looks like. Having a picture will help your team stay on track when they’re ready to share content with your community.
It may be helpful to start by putting your digest channel at the center of your diagram and working from there. What are all the inputs to the digest? How does it drive subscribers back to the original content? Spur conversations on your blog or in your networks and groups? Where does IP ultimately get spun off?
In the quick sketch above, I was working with the idea that the e-mail digest might also be where you launch your latest white papers. Perhaps initially distributing white papers through your e-mail newsletter will foster subscription growth (i.e. subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest IP before anyone else). There are obviously many tactics you can use to tune up or down specific channels and how you do it should tie back to your research findings.
Finally, all the content that you’re distributing needs to be accessible on an ongoing basis for your community. Making content accessible will alsoÂ improve your search engine optimization. Following this, changes in your marketing mix are likely to require changes to the format of your specific communication tools (i.e. website navigation, newsletter layout, etc). You can refine these changes through A/B or variance testing as you implement your strategy.
I hope this post is helpful, and I’d appreciate any feedback you have on how to improve it.
As web 2.0 hits full stride and mashup ventures attempt to extract additional value from Web 1.0 properties, there has been much talk about how user generated content (UGC) fits in. With the heightened pressure of an economic crisis, UGCX programmed panels on monetizing user generated content through communities and mashups. it’s clear that many consumers are currently willing to produceÂ content without compensation, and in most cases without the hope of future compensation. It’s less clear if/when this content has value. And, if/when it does, how do we extract it?
Let’s look at mashups first, they are taking a cut of existing business by adding efficiency and turning up new business opportunities. They add efficiency by supporting relevant/targeted marketing opportunities, subscription, lead generation, etc … while driving down costs through improved conversion rates. On the other hand, the value of UGC seems balanced between direct revenue and the possibility of increased competitiveness. In the first case, communities can sell their content through an online marketplace. In the second, they can be leveraged to promote products and services while offering significant input to the product/service development process, which ultimately leads to more competitive products.
How It Might Play Itself Out
With this in mind, imagine a future web experience that would allow you to take your social networks wherever you go. This shouldn’t be to hard considering the recent announcement by Google about Friend Connect. So now, as you look for a movie on Netflix, you can review not only aggregate Netflix data, but also data from your friend-set. It gets even more interesting though when you have a mashup that helps you understand how your community differs from others. This information should have some value for you, and has obvious value for marketers. Perhaps there is a social pact that underlies consumer generated media, which states that companies must use this information do deliver more relevant marketing and better products and services?
I suppose, companies that don’t use it will simply be less competitive when it comes to the experiences they offer. That said, I do see a potential problem with UGC networks. Part of what would allow such a system to work is it’s ability to relate your desires with those of your friend-set on multiple dimensions. It assumes that you’ll be interested in the films that your friends are interested in, and that there are relevant similarities and differences in your preferences. Perhaps this is possible, but I’m not so sure that pulling patterns out of my friend-set will be more relevant than aggregate market data based on transaction history. I’d love to see some data on preference similarities among friends. Intuitively, I would imagine there are shared values but then I also wonder what role geography plays? Perhaps the answers will come out of web 2.0 ventures.
If you follow this thread, I sense that it eventually leads back to a question about how consumer generated media will relate to professional journalism? Even if there are preference similarities in my community, I’m still not sure I would trust them over a professional journalist whose reputation rests on his/her research and integrity. I wonder if we’re not experiencing a pendulum swing towards the production of UGC, which will continue until the next wave of monetization models play themselves out?
The world of UGC is still the wild west, and I don’t think consumers have really established what return they want from their UGC investment. For some it’s simply recognition, for others it’s making a buck. Until we have more experience working with this content, and understanding all the dimensions of it’s value, I suspect that consumers will continue producing with abandon. I predict a point, however, at which the pendulum will stop swinging in it’s current direction and the market will demand greater reliability and quality. In a growing stream of UGC there is a need to establish credibility that hasn’t been figured out yet. I don’t think that the friend-set proposition resolves this UGC challenge, though I could see it as a component of a solution. I’m concerned that communities will foster the viral transmission of ideas because they will be relying on each others recommendations without anyone conducting an in-depth analysis. And, if someone did do the work, how would you distinguish it from everything else?
The Value In UGC
- Democratizes sharing of information
- Distributes content efficiently
- Fosters dialogue and diverse perspectives
- Enables crowd-sourcing and problem solving
- Provides large data-sets for analysis
Another thing that will probably play out is an understanding of where having our community really makes a difference. Considering what kinds of value are held within UGC is obviously the issue here. For consumers, extracting value may require being open to marketing messages based on your community. For marketers extracting value may mean providing the community with tools to foster social engagement and enable more relevant marketing. In other words, consumers will continue generating content if companies are able to demonstrate that it will improve their products and services in a tangible way.
In the past weeks, I’ve been writing about where marketing has been, and where it is today. This post is focused on where marketing needs to go from here.
Before I start in, you might want to skim my previous posts on the state of marketing today: Visualizing How Marketers Got Here, Where Marketers Are Today and Internal vs. External Marketing.
The thrust of this post is that marketers will be more and more focused on knowledge management in the future. We already know that companies are tightening their belts, and that marketers are under increasing pressure to demonstrate ROI. I propose that the shift to knowledge management is an excellent means of addressing these pressures.
I’m gonna cite some research from SiriusDecisions below that will help support my argument.
Why Knowledge Management?
70% of companies that participated in the recent research study said that their sales growth strategy for this year will be focused on optimizing the sales process. How are they going to do that? One way is to increase efficiency by allowing sales people to focus on having conversations, rather than digging up the materials they need to support the new relationships they are building. This is the area in which marketing, and knowledge management, can help.
Just for the record, sales is really hard. You’ve got to have a deep understanding of your products and services, keep track of many relationships, understand market trends, and withstand a significant amount of pressure to close deals. Plus, many departments are constantly trying to interface directly with salespeople, which can lead to an overwhelming number of mixed messages. In response to this, salespeople often insulate themselves by selling the products that they are most comfortable with, which is not necessarily good for the company or consistent with the larger business strategy. I sincerely feel for sales people, and I see a significant part of marketing as empathizing with sales people (they are customers of marketing), and trying to provide them with products and services that meet their needs and make their lives better.
Let’s return to efficiency for a moment, and I want to include a link to my previous post about customer relationship management tools (CRM) , where I compare several CRM vendors, because they can be a big help here. The good news is that CRM tools are getting better, easier to use, and can have a huge impact on productivity. I want to specifically talk about the knowledge management functions of the CRM, the best one I’ve found is SalesForce Content, but such tools are also available with different feature mixes from SAVO, SugarCRM, NetSuite, and the other’s mentioned in my CRM post. With these tools it is possible to manage all your assets (case studies, testimonials, collateral, pricing, press coverage, etc) where the salesperson maintains a record of his/her client communications.Â SalesForce Content, goes even further by making it possible to tag those assets, rank them, and view the history of revisions.
As some background, 82% of executives in the study stated that the sales reps they spoke with were not prepared enough for their meetings. Knowledge management is one way to make the necessary preparations quicker because your sales team can have all the relevant assets in one place. This should start to address the data showing that 50% – 80% of marketing content is not used by sales people. But, it’s not just about making the content accessible, it’s about putting it in context, and improving it’s quality. On the context front,Â CRM systems can already capture all e-mail communications with potential clients so salesperson will know if the prospect ever contacted the company before, if they’ve read the company newsletter, and even and what they clicked on. People in the CRM biz call this a 360Âº view, and it makes taking over accounts, or transitioning them, much easier as well.
So it’s clear that this can improve efficiency through accessibility and context, but it’s also possible to improve the quality of the information through the ranking and revisioning functions. This functionality allows the marketing manager to work as a moderator, take responsibility for tracking the latest updates to the archive, and add value. This is a second means of addressing the low rate of content use. Knowledge management is less about creating content and more about taking to collective knowledge of the organization and preparing it as a resource for the organization. Following this, the research shows a shift away from content creation and towards content management. I suspect that this data also accounts for greater attention being given to online communications and digital collateral, which is more quickly revised and distributed. Here’s are the high level takeaways:
- More moderation (less content creation)
- More attention directed at identification of gaps and opportunities
- Greater distribution of knowledge
- More, and distributed, knowledge inputs
- Improved harvesting of best practices & insights
- knowledge is more accessible
What The Cost and ROI?
Knowledge management isn’t just about solving a content problem, it’s solving a conversation problem. So how do we know if it’s working? One way is by tracking the use of content that’s in the system. With SalesForce Content, it should be possible to correlate conversion to the assets used in the sales process. With the 360Âº view of clients, it is also possible to qualify clients more efficiently though improved sales process reporting (i.e. average sales cycle, deal size, etc). Finally, the CRM makes it possible to understand the engagement level of salespeople to measure their performance and the value of the system itself.
Simply put, knowledge management allows salespeople to be smarter. Plus, it distributes work that was once done by marketing staff to the people who interact with the customers most and understand their immediate needs. This helps offset the resources that marketers will invest in knowledge management practice. Finally, knowledge management allows for a more agile approach to the development of marketing resources, because it allows salespeople, and others, to participate in the process.
What kinds of knowledge are we talking about?
Here’s a sample of the kinds of things that you might find in a knowledge management system.
- Competitive Intelligence
- updated market trends reports
- updated selling point documentation (unique value propositions)
- a competitive landscape matrix
- the most common impediments to conversion and interventions
- By Sales Stage
- sales scripts
- contact templates
- conversion trends based on CRM data
- touchpoint data (newsletters, e-mail, etc)
- discovery quide
- capabilities documentation
- assessment letter
- methods & practices library
- anecdote library
- presentation templates
- case studies
- biographical information
- legal assets
- statement of work documentation
- pricing guidelines
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to any thoughts, comments, or feedback!
Day two at the UGCX. There are four tracks at the expo including Social Content, Photography, Music, Videos and Gaming. Again, I’ll be focused on the first track but will be checking in on the others for specific speakers. Here’s a quick play-by-play of what I saw today.
- Keynote: Guy Kawasaki, Founding Partner Garage Technology Ventures. A conversation with Guy got the day rolling. The first question was about Guy’s Alltop project (tag line: aggregation without aggravation), a better news aggregator? My current aggregator doesn’t aggravate me, but I’ll check it out later. According to Guy this site fits into his ongoing project “to prove that you can generate a million dollars a year working from home and managing a website with a couple of people” (think Hot of Not). It’s really more than that though, and I think his comment was really more about his previous project Truemors. The latter is a simple CGM based business that requires little maintenance, and which was set up inexpensively. Here are some of the other things he touched on.
- The secret to gaining audience and how to market your services? “Good stuff.” Give people great services and the rest will come. Guy’s two theories of marketing: 1) “the bullshit option” – look for marketing leaders and suck up to them 2) “nobody is the next somebody” – spread out your message to the masses to find the next big evangelist. Guy obviously prefers the latter. It’s not a trickle down thing, marketing is about finding water underground … marketers should be drilling lots of holes.
- Next question, what are VC’s looking at these days? Most see no IPOs in the short term, and no liquidity. Plus, ad models are breaking. Meanwhile, the rules that govern asset allocation are throwing off fund balances, which is going to take some time to correct (updated valuations). In the meantime, you can get an office, furniture, and good labor on the cheap to get your next business off the ground. For 25K-50K you can do some serious damage. Don’t worry about what the VCs are doing, just get started on your project with less money.
- A company to check out: Tynt. This service embeds code into your page so that when people copy and paste stuff you’ll be able to track it … and your watermark will allows readers to find the original source. Good idea.
- What’s Next for Social Content? Moderator: Andrew Warner, Founder, Mixergy.com Speakers: Rachel Masters, Vice President of Strategic Relationships, Ning, Oren Michels, CEO, Mashery, Blake Cahill, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Visible Technologies, Richard Jalichandra, President and CEO, Technorati
- Measuring sentiment in CGM is one of the biggest challenges for the next generation of platforms and technologies. Though, according to Blake, 70% of CGM does not actually include good sentiment data.
- Same message over and over again: listen to your community and foster dialogue.
- Oren game a quick primer on APIs, which basically allow companies to make their back-end data available to partners. Think of it as adding lego connectors to your data. This allows millions of Twitter mashups to proliferate.
- Rachel talked about the WD40 community on Ning …. you do have to wonder how deep that community can really go? It also makes me wonder if there will be an era of consolidation in the future, maybe a group of lubricant groups? How can we embed communities in communities? Which is the REAL lubricants community?
- Richard talks about the importance of reading other people blogs, and commenting on them, as part of the process of building community for your own blog. In the keynote Guy said that he friends anyone who friends him on Twitter because he sees this as a gesture of respect, and because it allows him to direct message with anyone he meets.
- A mention of an interesting Technorati feature that allows their users to adopt a common tag and define it (a la Wikipedia).
- The Last Hurrah: Monetizing Groups? Moderator: Nate Brochin, CEO, Groupable Speakers:Â Â Justin Ramers, Director of Social Media, The Active Network, Laura Fortner, SVP, Marketing & Insights, CafeMom, Ryan Hupfer, Communicator of Awesomeness!, HubPages, Adryenn Ashley, Chief Idea Bunny, Wow! Is Me
- “Self-organized grassroots communities seem like the perfect micro-target for marketers, but it seems that effective business models haven’t been developed to access these communities.” Hmmm, this sounds like a very traditional approach. I’d say try participating in the groups, adding value, and building trust. Then ask them nicely for their thoughts about your stuff.
- Ryan from HubPages said something interesting, apparently they look at Google Search and find gaps that are not being served by adwords. I’m not sure how you would do this but he said, “if you’re interested in coffee, there might be an under-served search for Venezuela Coffee. We find those gaps and help you monetize them.”
- Adryeen seems to be focused on connecting communities with relevant brands/sponsors. The group gets a deal, the brand gets potential customers. I wonder if a third party can really do this well. It seems that companies need to learn how to do this themselves.
- Keynote: Fred Durham CEO and Founder CafePress:
- “I’m always amazed by how groups and communities can be segmented.” Perhaps more importantly, how they can allow for a diverse selection of views. CafePress is home to the guy who wears the “I heart Halliborton T-shirt” as a parody, and the guy who means it when he wears it.
- Merchandise happens when issues reach a fevered pitch online. It’s a cross-over to a new form of expression. Think of The Spaghetti Monster virus that spun off many communities and groups.
- “CGM captures sentiment more accurately than old school media.” More sentiment, yes. Of course, there’s the whole issue of what’s gonna happen to traditional journalism. That said, this gels with the fact that people trust recommendations more if they come from friends.
- All Mashed Up – The New Web as a Platform Moderator: Adam Hirsch, COO, Mashable Speakers: Paul Buchheit, Co-Founder, FriendFeed, Gannon Hall, CMO, Kyte, Peter Yared, Founder & CEO, iWidgets, Ryan Barrett, Software Engineer and Co-founder of Google App Engine, Google, Inc, Rooly Eliezerov, Co-Founder & President, Gigya, Inc
- These guys are all about making data and relationships flow across networks. One of the common themes is getting the information to come to you, rather that making you go to get it.
- What are widgets? “Ten years ago they were functional tools on the desktop. Today the iwidgets are more about self-expression, and they used to increase self-expression.”
- Three kinds of video content that can be distributed with widget tools across the web 1)UGC branded – companies and customers working together to product content 2) Authentic – from mobile devices 3) Produced – made by companies.
- Again, FriendFeed is an aggregator of your life-stream. In response to a question about market research, Paul talked about how product/service development in the context of communities have an implicit connection to the market. It’s not about developing a finished product, it’s about making a practice out of design evolution.
- How to Make a Buck? Monetizing Social Media & UGC Moderator: Ritchie Hecker, Chief Bootstrapper, Bootstrapper.com Speakers: Kevin Yamano, Director of Inventory Management, Clearspring Technologies, Adam Gries, CEO, Social Dynamics, Chris Chinn, VP of Sales, Watercooler, Ashish Dixit, Founder & CTO, Green Patch, Inc.- We’re on the final stretch of two days of User-Generated Content, or Consumer Generated Media, or whatever else you want to call it, and I’m feeling a bit brain dead. So, please bear with me as I pry my eyeballs open for this final presentation. I’ve gotta say, that I think the right conversations are taking place here, it’s just that many of them have taken place several times in the last two days.
- More on widgets here, how to create them, share them, and use them to tap into ad serving networks. The takeaway: at this point no one is investing to develop these tools specifically for their site when they can tap into excellent third party options that plug into existing platforms.
- Widgets allow extensive insight into consumer behavior which can help brand market their products, or which can be sold to third parties.
- This was followed by some debate about privacy of data. Adam said “If the utility benefits outweigh the privacy concerns. then people may accept it and install the application”. In the end, it may be all about perception though, and the reality is that most people don’t realize what kind of data is being pulled out of their iPhones.
- @jsafir on Twitter hit the event trend hash with: “Porn sites, which monetize well through lead gen, subscription and advertising, are the original success in UGC. Homemade videos…” and yet not one person has talked about this! There have got to be tons of lessons from this industry, which is very UGC oriented.
- Speaking of, how can we get better at making sure that widgets are serving up relevant ad placements? That’s a challenge that these guys are tackling today.
- Last interesting point by Adam: one way to monetize content is seen in gifting on Facebook. In this case, the gift receiver must download and install something to view the gift. While this does not represent dollars today, it offsets the cost of distribution. Down the road, greater distribution equals greater monetization.
Ok, that last one was actually quite lively. Whew, that was a ton of UGC dialogue though. I hope this was hopeful to anyone who was unable to attend the event. You can also see the Twitter stream for the event at #ugcx. Thanks for reading, and please keep reading my UGC!
As a fairly new blogger, not counting the blogging I’ve done for clients, I’m excited to be attending the UGCX in San Jose today and tomorrow. If you’re here, please drop me a note to get in touch. Here’s a link to more information about the conference if you don’t already know about it, which is understandable considering this is the first year. You can register at the door, so if you’re in the Bay Area and want to catch day 2 that’s certainly possible.
There are four tracks at the expo including Social Content, Photography, Music, Videos and Gaming. I’ll be focused on the first track but will be checking in on the others for specific speakers. Here’s a quick play-by-play of what I saw today.
- Keynote: Bruce Livingstone & Kelly Thompson, Founder/CEO & COO of iStockphoto, kicked off the day by talking about how they empowered users to sell their images through istockphoto, and they announced a new audio offering. They claim the system is the only true royalty free stock audio.. In the talk they outlined six key principles from what they’ve learned at iStockphoto.
- Passion is the glue – A team that is passionate and has complimentary skills. Mold a crowd into a community then get community into the DNA of the organization. Following this, many of the most successful feature sets come from customers within the organization.
- Innovation is key - You have to keep innovating to stay ahead because the pace of product/service evolution is quick. The shared an example feature they created, which the community didn’t ask for, that completely failed. The feature essentially gave users a temperature rating of how they were perceived by other users (a la Ebay, but visually). Constant innovation means failure.
- Outsource the crowd – Look for opportunities within your organization to put the crowd to work for you. iStockphoto allowed the crowd to name their new products/services. They use “inspectors” from the community to police new submissions for rights issues.
- Prepare for scaling - It would be a shame to be successful and then fail because of the inability to scale. Sounds like that almost happened. Make scenario planning a regular practice?
- The unknown unknowns – In this case they talked about setting up redundancies in their supply chain, namely data centers. Apparently an ice storm took out a telephone pole and brought the site down for a while back in the day.
- Flexible focus – It’s about being able to move seamlessly from operations, to development, to performance assessment, etc …. which all comes back to customer service.
- Social Content for Big Business – Laurel Touby, Founder & Senior VP, mediabistro.com, kicked off the day as our moderator. Panelists included: Lane Becker, President, Get Satisfaction, Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer, Lithium Technologies, Inc, Marty Collins, Group Marketing Manager, Microsoft,Â Matt Warburton, Ex Director of Community Management, Yahoo. I know Lane from my work at Adaptive Path, he was one of the original founders. Get Satisfaction allows “real conversations with company employees and other customers who will answer your questions about the products and services you use”. It’s worth checking out.
- What is CGM, and what is valuable? According to three panelists there is value in almost all CGM. The real question is about how you get the value out, and to what you apply it to. Lane was somewhat contrarian, stating that it’s not ALL valuable. He also pointed out that the even bigger challenge is, not just how to get the value out, but how to give it back to the consumers who originally created it.
- CGM does offer an easy way to get insights into potential new products. Lane gave an example from the Timbuk2 community which kept asking for a diaper bag. After sustained community conversation for a year and a half, they finally produced it and it’s become a best selling product. Listen to your customers people. this is just another channel in which to do so.
- Several panelists talked about using the community to provide product/service development insights and opportunities at low cost. I wonder if there is an issue of self-selection here?
- Communities inhabit a “space” which can be architected to provide ques about the way to behave. This space can foster community with the right balance of moderation and personality. Enforcement of guidelines is important, but you’ve gotta do it in an appropriate way. Lane quoted Flickr’s guideline and a good example, “Donâ€™t be creepy. You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.”
- How do you quantify ROI? You can tie ideas back to product development and revenue, you can track leads, if you have a single sign-on you can measure engagement against purchasing behavior, you can count calls you didn’t have to take based on the number of times a community answer has been sourced. Marty talked about a community index report she creates every month. Sounds like a dashboard report, probably a good idea.
- That said, community managers are getting hurt badly by the economic turn down. Being in marketing still makes you the most likely to get cut first. The advice, get your metrics up to snuff asap, and keep telling emotional stories. There is an advantage in being able to combine the qualitative and quantitative.
- Video Games: The Real Big Gorilla – Moderator Jonnie Forster, Partner, Forster Bros Speakers: Thain Lyman, Sr. Executive, Activision, Dennis Fong, CEO, Raptr.com. Ryan Okum, President, StreetWise, Matt Connors, Consultant. So I switched over to the video and games track for this to learn about how CGM is working it’s way into this market.
- It started with Avatars, and profile customization but is rapidly expanding into game customization. For example, there is a new editing suite for Guitar Hero that allows you to create your own tracks.
- Ryan talked about building private/branded communities through their technology platforms. He spoke about Spider-Man 3 for Activision, which allowed game customization and community participation. His spoke to the importance of blending earned media with media buys. David Armano wrote an interesting post about this topic here. One other point was the importance of owning your own community rather than working with a gaming community provider. StreetWise used to rent their community but now they focus on helping companies develop communities of their own.
- Based on Dennis’s comments, I’m getting the sense that the real takeaway here is that people who are interested in gaming tend to be highly likely to participate in online communities. He’s providing a platform with Raptr that allows companies to develop communities without having to start from stratch. His big insight was to tie his community into other social networks (i.e. Facebook status updates, tweets, etc about theÂ game you are currently playing). That’s not too much of a surprise considering the proliferation of mashups.
- Keynote: Craig Newmark, Customer Service Rep & Founder Craigslist. This was the post-lunch keynote. I have to admit that I got in a bit late because my lunch meeting ran a bit longer than expected. I got there as he was recounting how the Craigslist was used during the Katrina aftermath. He highlighted the importance of getting out of the way of customers. From there, he discussed how the “flagging” system, which is used to report abuse, is dependent on the user community. The Craigslist staff is just there to help. This philosophy is embedded into the organizational DNA, “any user-generated site has to build a culture of trust to be successful.” He went on to explain that trust is only possible if you mix commerce with socializing. From there he raised some interesting questions about how CGM could impact social/governmental issues. One thing that really struck me about Craig is that he’s really good at saying no to opportunities that are not 100% within the brand promise of his service. Like many in the audience, I wonder if he’s not actually too disciplined in this regard because there appears to be so much low-hanging fruit around Craigslist that the mashups can access without back-end data.
- Beyond the Desktop: Social Content Goes Mobile -Moderator: Adam Hirsch, COO, Mashable Speakers:Philip Miano, National Sales Director, Third Screen Media, Eric Litman, Chairman & CEO, Medialets, Bryan Barletta, Associate Editor, Mediabistro.com, Jonathon Linner, CEO, Limbo.
- Jonathan started the panel off by talking about mobile trends and the rapid adoption of smart phones.Â He asked about how we define the “smart phone”? He hypothesized that it’s more about the users than the phones themselves, and pointed out that more CGM transactions occur through mobile devices than any other channel (though I wonder how he defines CGM based on this …. i.e. does filling out a support request form count?). Jonathan explained that his firm allows developers to embed code into their mobile applications allowing Google Analytic like reporting.
- Eric then offered some Forrester data that shows that 1 in 4 marketers have explored marketing on mobile devices. “Like talking on the phone, succesfull campaigns are less inturruptive and more conversational.”
- Bryan talked about an interactive mobile game that takes advantage of GPS capability and that allow users to create treasure hunts. Sounds cool.
- Jonathan posited that phones are a one-to-one interactions, where computers are more likely to be shared by multiple users. Not sure I agree with this, but what would the implications for design be? For CGM?
- Various comments about the way mobile CGM will affect citizen journalism.
- On the whole this panel seemed to lack focus as it bounced from mobile marketing to the adoption process and ultimately projected theÂ ubiquity of mobile devices. What was missing was an in depth discussion of the mobile eco-system, how social networks will follow us into the mobile context, how CGM is uniquely suited to mobile, or how mobile standards will change the game.
- Where did you Stick your Video? Video and Viral Marketing Moderator Jay Durgan, Board of Directors, Outhink Media, Inc Speakers:Adam Hirsch, COO, Mashable, Shay David, Founder, Kaltura, Satva Leung, Indi Producer, Joe Oh, Manager, Hub Strategy, Robin Sloan, Online Product Strategist, Current TV
- Adam jumped in by talking about where to start posting videos …. in short, get them on as many appropriate places as possible, but start with TubeMogul.
- Robin talked about one of my favorite TV organizations, Current TV, whose catalog is based on user generated content. He was responding to a question about how the content creator gets value for their content. Current has explored many models, but one that I thought was interesting is a program where users can create advertising content for third parties. The key is establishging a clear understanding of monetary expectations up front. Focus on transparency.
- Joe talked about the importance of metric tracking around video performance online. He notes increasing pressure around metric reporting because viral video no longer seen as a means of driving innovation within marketing departments. It’s now more about wrapping process around the development of content.
- Satva asked Joe to talk in more detail about the metrics he’s looking for, great question. Joe then explained that the tools for tracking effectiveness of video are not on par with what is available for web pages. This lead to a discussion of the new technologies that are coming down the pipe to get video metrics up to snuff (hover tracking, video notation, in video links, etc). Of course, everyone wants to be able to track videos to conversion rates.
- Robin wanted to know if anyone is doing A/B testing with video. Sounds like a cool research project.
Ok, that’s it for day one. This is the first time I’ve blogged a conference, so I had no idea how exhausting it would be. I feel like I’ve tapped into the CGM community, but I’m not sure if I’ve heard much that I haven’t already been exposed to online. I have met some interesting people though, and hope to meet more over a drink shortly!