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January 11, 2010

Our Biggest Threat are the In-between’s.

As the many cases of late tell us, corporations aren’t ready for social media. Not the least bit. The reality of today is that regular people aren’t adapting like they usually do. They are joining forces. I mean, corporations had PR crises before social media. But they could play them in a not so public way. Nowadays, they have to talk directly to the customers, and they do HAVE to, as the customers join forces and become a force.

So what is it that makes smart people at corporations make bad decisions? I mean, otherwise smart people that know all the rules of engagement, and are highly skilled to maneuver even the most sneaky of sneaky journalists.

My answer to that question is in the in-betweens.

How does an In-between manifest itself

You have an organizational structure at your company where one floor does one thing and the other does the other. Yeah, I know it says in all your internal documents that you have a flat organization, but c’mon, no human society has displayed that kind of behavior, so don’t feel sick about you failing to live up to it.

An in-between issue occurs when there is a change in society that doesn’t match the internal organization. We have seen them many times before. CSR was a question that has been there always, but has not been communicated by the companies as a separate issue. When it became the trending topic on everyone’s lips a couple of years ago, most companies weren’t ready. Most companies still aren’t done with their work.

The problem with the CSR questions are that they grasp over everything a company does and so they are the concern several floors in your office building. Everyone from sales to HR are in some way related to CSR questions as they have to do with society and people and the way we are mean or un-mean to them.

As it is everyone’s question it becomes no ones responsibility. More specifically there is no one who can take decisions in these types of questions until there is a person who is set to decide over these questions.

In-between’s most frequent conflict Marketing vs. Communication PR

It falls on everyone’s plate to do something about it. The most common problem is that between Marketing and Communication PR. More and more questions that were previously so neatly parted between the two departments are now becoming more and more blurry.

The latest in the bundle of these in-between questions are social media. The problem is as always that Marketing owns the channel, the dialogue area or the horn to the street. They are normally the ones talking to the end consumer. PR and corporate communications holds the mandate to talk, but they don’t know how the channels work, and usually they don’t know how to not talk corporatism.

So. The problem is that of ownership and internal organization. One owns the means, one owns the measures.

Solution to the problem

If you recognize and agree this far. Please read the rest with an “open mind”. Bundle them up. I am not joking. It is way past bedtime for organizations built on departments and not on people. So how to govern you think? Well, govern through values, and truly do it. I am sure I am saying this a bit to easily and that someone will have to show someone graphs somewhere down the road. But bundle people, bundle departments, put it all together to a one and the same company.

That’s the conclusion that we all will come to in the end. So why don’t we just execute?


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January 8, 2010

5 Hints on why Gangster Rap and Social media go hand in hand

As you all know by now, it’s the level of gangster rapper in you that makes you succeed or fail in social media. I am going to make 10 strong arguments to why this is the case. But first put on this track, kick back and read this 5 bullet advice stack.

1. Beef it
Ever heard of a true hip hop beef? It can make you or break you. Just as in social media, if you can handle the open battle with another rapper and come out on top, then you’re the new black. So many of the high rollers in social media today have built their success on beefing with others.

2. Listen to the beat and go with the flow
Just as in hip hop you got to learn to hear the sick beat of the street. If you don’t then you’re out the door faster than a rabbit … You cannot prepare for what’s going to be around the next corner, but you have got to be ready for it. By keeping your ear in the direction of the people you trust and follow your heart, then you shouldn’t be worse than any other bloke out there.

3. Give shout outs to anyone you got love for
This is something real gangster rappers do all the time. They shout out to anyone in their click worth mentioning. This rule goes for social media as well. Do them retweets, do them links from your corporate blog, pack people together and connect the dots. If you do, then you set yourself as the crew front man (woman), and that’s where you want to be. If you can take the heat.

4. If you’re different, thou shall be noted
Just as on the hip hop scene the originals come up faster than the ones running main street. You want your mix tape run by the illest dj’s, played on the sickest radio stations and promoted by the realest people. One thing in common for these people is that they have to stay on top of their game. They have to stay fresh. Provide them with new and original stuff and you’ll have a greater chance of making it. Keep that in mind when constructing your rhymes, social media strategy or next marketing campaign.

5. The Gunz come out
It is for real and you got to be able to handle the heat. This means you have to get your crew in sync and make sure you have everyone’s loyalty. Just as in the hood, you cannot have any snitches in a world wide organization. If you stay true to the street this will never go wrong as you will get all the street cred you deserve.

Listen, it is the rules of the street out there and you can’t just come running with standardized forms for people. They just won’t give a damn. It might even be so that it is what makes them pop you instead of letting you go.

That’s the realest advice I can give, for you to take with you during the weekend!

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November 10, 2009

Diminishing returns to scale, and the User as a Fish

I wrote my final university paper on fish, eco labels and international trade. I found that fish are fish and thus belong to no one before they’re in the net, eco labels do create some wickeid kind of price premium and it is actually better to invest in industry than fishery in Tanzania.

So what the heck does this have to do with Social Media? Well it has everything to do with Social Media and the understanding of the medium you need to have in order to get increasing returns to scale on your communication efforts.

The User as a Fish
Just as the net captures the fish, the big corporations owned the web media. The users weren’t satisfied with this and thus they took control of the net seeking every hole they could find in it. And just as with fishery, the industry didn’t particularly care when the fish started to get fewer and fewer and skinnier and skinnier, they just got bigger nets and faster and faster boats with cooler and cooler radars. Fish, just like users move regardless of the traditional dimensions. Fish live in the sea and can easily escape into the sea of another country. Users live on the web and can easily escape as well. Especially since the web has become so big.

And eco labels only work with trust
And just as eco labels allows for companies to charge us more for the same, you see the same pattern with social media. If the company show they care, then users will follow. But as we all know many of the eco labels are BS and in the offline world we have the Sverker Olofsson’s to help us. On the web we don’t need no Sverker as we are all the Sverkers we need. Now, just as eco labels went through a rough time when they were exposed to be fraud, so has corporations like Wallmart become symbols of BS in the online world. It has taken a couple of Dell Ideastorms and Skittles to get back on track. Price premiums can only be extracted where trust is present.

And it is better to Enable, than it is to Harvest
So to the third part of my essay which was about binding this together. Fish move and it is thus the normal way for us people to try and define property rights. But if we are on the web where the users own the net, it is impossible for us to catch anything unless it wants to get caught. Even though we double our efforts and triple our net size, we will see diminishing returns to scale on each dollar we push into it. In order to increase our return to scale we need to invest in our infrastructure and our technology. As in the case with Tanzania, they had already an abundance of fish, just as unexploited areas of the web have an abundance of passioned users. If we invest in the fishing industry there, then we will see an increasing returns to scale on our first few spendings but in the long run experience diminishing returns to scale just as we have in our own industry.

And thus Infrastructure is the answer
So, my point being, it is better to invest in the infrastructure of the Tanzanian industry helping the inhabitants in that country to develop into a modern economy as this will enable us to get a price premium out of our efforts plus give ourselves the chance to sell our own products to people with better finance. Just as it is better to invest in infrastructure of communication as it gives us the opportunity to gain invaluable trust in our target groups that will indeed induce them to talk about us in their own words, but in a positive way. By putting the money in helping the Tanzanians of the web get better at what they do whilst adapting to what you do, is the optimal way for you to make money on the modern web.

Now if you didn’t understand a word of this post. Please don’t feel sad. I just needed to put some of my more philosophical thoughts out there due to the two “x advice on”-something prostitution posts I wrote as my last posts.


November 4, 2009

The difference between Marketing and Tribaling

The essence of good Marketing
When marketing in a smart way you know that you need to be relevant towards your target group. For example, if a person owns an old car that has just broken down, and you are a good marketeer, then you know that this person shouldn’t be offered ice cream as a solution. Your understanding is that this simply wouldn’t fix their problem. Naturally you would try to solve their problem by offering them the kind of new car or reparation service they need to solve their mess. In the best case scenario you become their designated go to guy when a similar thing happens again.

The essence of good Tribaling
Tribaling is different from this as you need to know your customer intimately. You need to know what their passion is and you need to share this passion with them, and aid them in embracing their passion. For instance if a person is passionate about ice cream and their car breaks down when they are out driving, and you offer them ice cream as the solution, you will probably be as relevant as if you were offering the person a new car. In the best case scenario you become their designated go to guy regardless of what has happened.

And all this means what?
Marketing towards tribes is thus not about marketing towards target groups that are passionate about something. It is getting to know your customer well enough to know how you can help them, regardless of the problem they’re facing.

Hence, Tribal marketing is knowing who still prefer the ice cream instead of the new car when the old car has broken down.

To attain this understanding about your customers you will have to listen, interact and connect with them. If you do, then both you and I know you can keep them margins high on your products and you don’t have to waste money on people that don’t want to have it. You can specialize and outsource some of the production and loads of the business development to the tribal leaders. You can earn loads of money from knowing who is connected to through loving what you do.

Just some nightly thoughts. Now sleep.

October 26, 2009

Keep the offline business, but please expand in the online business

Some companies just won’t get on this train of social media and search. Some companies are just too ignorant, too arrogant and too self indulging to understand that the future does not lie in the past, but in the future. Adapting has always been the human beings way of survival. It plays out in all parts of our society. Europe was leading until the kings, church and queen stuff made the “janks” want to turn on us and become a republic. They then ruled the world until now when we see the Chinese take over as they change, they adapt and most of all, they adopt better practices instead of relying on best practices.

It is time for corporations to start listening up, start being radical and start making changes. It is time to start being available where people search for them, where people want to talk to them and where new business opportunities can be mutually arranged. I mean. If you are a corporate CEO and read this… I know there are a few of you out there. Are you REALLY going to tell your stock owners that there was a market buying stuff from your sector, but only not from you, and the only reason for this being that you didn’t understand it?

You conquered the offline world with success. You have opened stores in every diary desk in the world. Your growth has been fantastic and thus your stock price has reached beyond what was ever expected. Now the opportunity is for you to double it. Make it digital, make it easy, make it cheap and most importantly, make it available where ever, and when ever.

If you have supply chain problems, set up a franchise where people in different countries can establish their own online supply chain for that country. If you have problems with optimization, then use affiliates to do the optimization for you. If you have problems with data collection, then tap on into Facebook. If you have problems with knowledge then start reading a good blog, or even a book.

Most importantly!!! Being a part of the online community is NOT what many people say it is. It is not either or. It is not a zero sum game between offline IRL stuff and online stuff. It is a new market. Why not move into it. Why not take the corner spots on each street and why not put people in your stores? It is that simple. It is all the same. You know how to do this. A new format, yes, but you know the art of business and what’s happening truly is business. Keep the offline, add the online!

All I am asking you is to treat this soberly. Compare, prepare and try it out. But please do it now!!


October 17, 2009

Bye bye Best Practice – all hail social media

bestpracticeBest practice is a term that has originally described a method or a process “…that is believed to be more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc.” The idea is that there is some way in which you can do something that will result in better outcome than all other ways of wanting to produce that specific outcome.

Remarkable is never done twice
Best practice is thus a way in which you make your working process the most effective in comparison to other working methods. Of late, this concept has become more synnonym with “good ways of doing a thing” or “a way to do a thing correctly”.

With regards to social media I think we can calmly say that there is no such thing as best practice. The rule of “everything you do, I should do better” must apply to all activities. Ie. if you are to make something spread between users in social media, it needs to have never been done before. Or, at least, it needs to be some time inbetween the last time and this time you’re doing the same thing.

I base this on the notion that people only talk about you when you give them a reason to talk about you in the extremes. “I LOVE them”, “I HATE them”, “They are THE BEST”, “I heard they make WONDERFUL”.

Thus there is no room for best practice as if you copy someone elses campaign, and do that with perfection, it is merely at most an “as god as the other one” campaign.

There is no other company better at being you than you
Secondly, it is important to know that people does not want you to do something that others do. They want your company to do what you want to do. This is important and perhaps one of the main reasons why todays media is much more of a strategic question than it has ever been before. Read More

October 6, 2009

Taking charge of Branding the Long Tail

I read a blog post today that said social media is not for making money. I think this is only one side of the coin. I believe that you can utilize social media to make loads of money today and in the future. I am unsure if this posts give you reason enough to trust me, but if we discuss it I am sure we’ll reach a profitable conclusion.

Fortunes on branding
One thing that many companies spend fortunes on today, in order to make money, is branding. Branding is all about putting your brand in the right light so that people think that it is the best option when given several to choose from. I believe, and many with me, that social media is an excellent place where a brand can make it big, and thus also make loads of money, by being the better of two choices.

I mean c’mon… it’s no newsflash that people talk on Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, QZone, Friendster, Jaiku (well not so much talk there anymore..)… For me as a user, these services has become a way of expressing myself to my friends in a much more lasting way than before. People can check up on me without having to talk to me and thus maintain the “nice weather” convo without actually talking to other people.

Social networks are in a way, one way, for us as individuals to stay on top of what’s up in our network. What’s hot, what’s not. What’s lame, what’s game. It is also a way for us to stay on top of that game, and in a sense, a way of us to put our personal brand in the right light.

Branding the long tail
So, what does a company brand have to do in all of this. Well, some say they don’t belong, I say those same people are very wrong. I say that brands have an oportunity to stop being brands in social media. What I’m really saying is that your future brand value, and thus your purchase surplus produced on the web, is in fact at best odds when you have no brand at all. What I am aiming at is utility and function. Read More

October 4, 2009

Social media doesn’t change the game

The GameThe Game, the husstle, the folding of the sleves, the pick it up from the ground and brush it off. There is nothing with social media that changes the basics of YOUR daily work. It is what’s around you that has changed. I made an analysis of social media the other day and I sort of stumbled over a way to describe this change that everyone is talking about.

I decided to split it into three areas of interest or historical context. The production of media, the consumption of media and what influences us as human beings.

The evolution of media production
By now you know the story. When speaking of the change social media has brought upon the world, most people speak of media production capabilities. Production was first controlled by who ever had a pike and some power to hack a message into a stone wall. The posibilities of media production was then adopted and controlled by church and state. Then the area of “mass media” came about with the introduction of the printing press, later radio, later tv, later internet 1.0.

Mass media has however never been MASS media as the production has been primarily controlled by institutions such as news paper, religious institiutions, churches, corporations etc. Production has been expensive and has thus been in the hands of those who have had the money to produce. Reach reach reach reach. If someone starts talking bach you reach a little bit more and you simply crowd them out. In some instances, you enforce rules to control the production. Read More

September 13, 2009

Social media Automation

I thought I would write something about automation as I get many inquiries about this topic. What can be automated and what can not be automated online. My simplest answer is that everything can be automated. But most stuff shouldn’t be.

That’s why I LOVE spammers
Spammers usually look at vulnerabilities on the web and try to exploit them in any way possible. They automate as much as possible as they shoot from the hip and try to make a hit. I tend to look at spammers to see what smart solutions they have made that I can use to make my work more efficient. I use them and their creativity to become better at what I do. If something can be automated, it should be. If something can be created easier, then it should be. There is no natural law that says all dialogue has to be between two people. The only law in any social interaction is that everyone should get something out of the dialogue. Think win-win and the rest will follow.

What is a good Social media Automation?
If I for example can generate an automated response that solves a problem for another person, then that is a GOOD solution. If I however do not solve the users problem, then I get a problem. Thus it is in both peoples interest to make sure that any automation you do in social media (in particular) helps to solve problems rather than create them. Read More

August 13, 2009

Institutional brands vs. user generated brands

Image Borrowed from Merge Left marketing

There has been some talk for a while about brands not knowing how to work in social media. People think companies are too pushy and that they try to push their thoughts upon the users. In many cases this is a correct view. Companies do have their agenda. They want to make as much money as possible for as long as possible. This post will deal with two types of ways to ensure you build good starting blocks for your brand to succeed in social media.

The Institutional Brand
The biggest difference with this post and many others is that I recognize the need for an organization to construct their own brand. As I have said in previous posts, a brand is a composite of many raw materials. Internally, in an organization or in an institution, these raw materials are built, they are kept, and usually also written down on a piece of paper called “brand manual” or “brand guidelines”.

An institutional brand lives and flourishes within the organization. The smallest organizations often don’t think of the brand as something separate from themselves, in medium organizations the brand is perceived as the light of god, and in bigger organizations the brand becomes either the guiding star or the culture in which everyone works. Good or bad, an institutional brand is the sum of it’s raw materials and its employees.
Read More