The Internet causes us to lose our contemplative thinking skills if we don’t unplug occasionally.
Our Year Preview was a little delayed this year. Hope it still counts.
People like to talk about the death of media channels. Heck, I’ve done it. Death makes for great link bait, so there is bound to be a lot of that kind of talk as digital channels mature. And while different digital media channels are always at risk, (because: Facebook), legacy media still matters because its prestige creates familiarity and lowers purchase risk. Seeing a brand on a broadcast scale demonstrates investment and commitment. Broadcast media investment and commitment gives prospects and consumers more confidence in the strength and success of the offering. Nothing provides that confidence like traditional media. 30 second spots may not ever deliver the quantifiable ROI that SEO does, but they do deliver familiarity and when it comes to purchase risk, familiarity is a soothing balm that is hard to beat. Still spots must be seen to be remembered and there is a lot less opportunity for that- Even in broadcast.
Content marketing is not just for B2B anymore.
Like any new trend, Content Marketing is sometimes derided for being a buzz word– A marketing fad that gets the kids all hot and bothered but rarely delivers sales or revenue bumps to justify the hype. Like any other marketing technique or tactic, content marketing won’t solve a product problem or lousy strategy. That said, I’m a strong advocate of content marketing to drive leads and build prospect confidence. B2B marketers have learned that Case Studies with genuine insight and credible client endorsements build report with remote prospects early in the sales cycle who have little else to go on.
Consumers need stories too. They always have. Now the web gives them access to the stories of their friends, co-workers, and peers. They want to know the experiences of those similar to them to help manage the risk that prevents them from buying your product. This is a case where B2C marketers might learn a bit from B2B marketers- how to tell the story of “challenge, solution and result” to consumers nervous about spending money in a very difficult economy.
Content marketing is tough in paid media–particularly broadcast. 2013 will see it get easier though. I’m looking for more opportunities for long form programming arising out of a glut of channels. I’m also wondering when we’ll see Pandora, Slacker, or Rdio find a way to use long form programming to help labels and other music marketers expose their new artists to audiences with a propensity to be interested in them. I’m expecting to see auto dealerships use long form television to do more than yell deals at channel flippers on Saturday mornings. I expect to see some interesting experimentation this year.
Want a better deal from your vendor? Negotiate a case study. Need to close a deal with a prospect and just can’t come to terms? Negotiate a case study. The Case Study is the magic gap-closer. I expect to see it being used this year to improve net income from both sides of the ledger-revenue and expenses. 2013 is the year to formalize case study agreement from both your vendors AND your prospects. Need help figuring out how to do it?
Ping me. (ok, no more shameless plugs. Sorry.)
If your PR agency isn’t discussing how to place your content into critical traditional media channels, 2013 is the year to find a new PR agency. Your brand story is an essential part of your value proposition. With shrinking staffs, it’s hard to get writers and editors to pay attention. You need to be aware of the pain your offering relieves and the novelty of your approach. Framed broadly and without the hard sell, in 2013, PR efforts will get more traction narrowing the narrative and finding the real value in the learnings of their customers.
Multitasking Effects Communication
How do you get anyone to listen to you if everyone is talking? This is the essence of the communication challenge in 2013. The ill-effects of multitasking are well known. Nowhere are they more apparent than in the communication exchange. Customers are talking more than ever and that is changing the way messaging gets interpreted.
In 2013 I’m looking for both shorter and longer messaging as marketing communication formats continue to propagate. Shorter messaging will particularly effect pre-roll online video advertising. Skip data is more useful than many people realize. And while studies suggest that skippable preroll is not as effective as standard preroll, when you factor in the ability to use skip numbers to measure creative (yea, I went there) you can begin to find messaging and communication methods that resonate more powerfully with customers and prospects. 2013 is the year we stop guessing about what kind of online video ads really work and which ones don’t.
While Content marketing may be on everyone’s lips in 2013, knowing how to do content marketing is a lot easier than knowing what content to actually build and deliver. In 2013, i”m watching for marketing thought-leaders to have more content that matches their prospect’s specific pain points and sales cycle orientation. Prospects need to see themselves in the stories of actual customers and learn something valuable from their experiences. That’s context. It was remarkably lacking even in the best content marketing in 2012. I expect to see much more of it in the coming year.
Big Data For Everybody
The Big Data hype has been around for years. It was largely spoken of in abstractions, though. People who really knew about it didn’t really share too much. Honestly, it got pretty boring quickly if you didn’t get all frothy about clusters and regression analysis.
Many people know that data is more valuable than money, because data can be used over and over, and money spent only once. If, for some reason, you don’t believe this, seek help immediately. Or don’t, because you will believe it this year. If you have data (a lot of it) and you are unclear how to monetize it, there is no shortage of services to help. Behavioral data from your CRM can be more valuable than traditional opinion research, too. Knowing what people have actually done in the past is often more predictive than knowing what people think they will do in the future. People are, of course, creatures of habit and not as self-aware as they think.
Of course behavioral data really doesn’t tell us why people do what they do. Knowing that is certainly important in figuring out when people might change their behavior.
Battle for the CRM feed
This really is an outgrowth of big data. Your company’s CRM database is the head of the data-well for many businesses. Until recently, in larger enterprises customer service and marketing have had a friendly, if somewhat distant relationship. I’m looking for that to end in 2013. Gloves will come off in the largest enterprises as marketing realizes The big data it needs is coming from the call center. Customer service executives will have a choice to make about how they share in a way that’s bound to frustrate C.O.O.’s. Big Data needs to serve both operations and marketing, but how those constituencies get serviced and how the data turns into meaningful stories is very much up for grabs. Grab it we all will in 2013.
Usability work has to focus on the lowest common denominator– now that is the mobile device. Make sure your stuff works on all three platforms-iOS, Android, and yes even Windows 8. (See platform parity.) The best way for you to think about development for new media is thinking “mobile first”. No the the desktop and lap top are going nowhere, but the growth is all mobile. Remember this when you are reviewing your email and website design changes this year. It matters more than you can imagine. So many missed opportunities when your stuff doesn’t work on the mobile device.
Remember the old platform (Windows vs. Mac) wars? Well, they’re back– only this time they are on the mobile device. And instead of two platforms there are three and none of them are open (I’m waiting until next year to worry about whether Tizen will mater). In 2013, I’m watching for real passions to begin to flare as the platforms become more similar, usability improves (especially on Windows and Android phones) and device competition heats up. The truth is the platforms are becoming more similar and the devices are too. What really matters though is that the device and the platform get used. One of the most fascinating things about the platform wars in 2012 was that more Android devices were activated than any other, but way more iOS web traffic was observed. To me those findings meant that more people had Android devices, but iOS users were more adept at using their mobile device. Remember “follow the money” in the 70’s? no? well, “follow the traffic” is the same thing. While content may be king, the king is naked without usability. Usability is essential to traffic, and traffic is money. Search is money; data is money; traffic is money. There’s a lot of money disguised as other things out there. It gets confusing, but competition helps. Here’s to less confusion in 2013.
With Netflix, Boxee, Amazon, and iTunes all in serious adoption mode, the cable box abandonment trend is nascent. And much like traditional television, cable boxes will not die (remember, we will not fall victim to “death-hype” this year), the cable box will simply have a competitor sitting right next to it. Cable pricing models will begin to change. Customers who are not sports fans will start to figure out a way to end their forced subsidy of football (both professional and college) and baseball. I’m optimistically hoping that in 2013 carriers will need to figure out how to bundle entertainment packages that defend from the dreaded (and highly unlikely) a-la-carte pricing that would ruin their bottom line.
Branding First on Facebook
As a client recently -and quite brilliantly- pointed out to me (hi, Ellen) Facebook is the new “cigarette break”. Brands can get attention on Facebook but its very hard to get real engagement there.
Nobody likes this. Blame EdgeRank. Recent analysis we’ve completed makes it very clear that any attempts you make to send people to sites other than Facebook seem to get handicapped by Facebook’s algorithm. What to do? Create unique, sharable content that keeps people on Facebook. Treated it as the walled-garden it seems to insist on being. By all means, move people to your site with content and offers, but try harder to created a branded experience that can exist on Facebook discreetly. Use email, and Twitter to drive website engagement. You still need to organize your customers and prospects on your website. I look forward to being corrected on this observation in 2013 because Facebook doesn’t immediately strike people as the branding platform it seems to want to be.
Google+ Mattering to business and Instagram Mattering To Your Kids
There’s really no way around it, so I’ll say it: Google+ is a pain in the ass. Just admit it and get on with it, because search=money. It matters because Google (the almighty) needs corroboration to make its search results better. It doesn’t seem to trust its old simple spidery self. Google+ is the way that Google can improve search relevancy by having peerage into conversations about web content. That’s fine and perfectly understandable. Google faces serious threats. In order to improve search results businesses will need to get into Google+ and that probably means you.
As painful as it is to manage yet another social media platform, Google+ is still pretty good. It’s rather painfully complex because it allows you a lot of control and personalization that Facebook and Twitter really don’t (and aren’t meant to). I’m looking for the Google+ UI to get better and for the API to open up so it can merge into my other social media feeds more simply. If I follow my own Barnes Law of web apps (that states for every app you can think of, at least three have been built already), this app exists too. I just have to set it up… That 2013 punch-list is getting longer by the minute.
Instagram is huge with the kids. It’s Twitter with pictures and it’s Facebook without the emotional baggage. It is the perfect tool for the youngs to define themselves though sharing visual symbols. Can you speak in pictures? I bet you can. If you aren’t already, I watching for you to start in 2013.
Have a great year!
Quicksilver has engineered some quality content here:
With nearly everyone hooked into some social media source or another, employers have discovered a new, unethical avenue to assess job candidates: asking for usernames and passwords and logging into social media accounts. Particularly Facebook.
High unemployment makes for desperate job seekers, and it’s that desperation that has many falling into this trap–handing over their personal log in data just so that they’re not passed over for a position. But despite the seeming popularity of this new hiring tactic, there are certainly enough negatives to make it worth reconsidering.
What, exactly, can you learn from logging in to a candidate’s social media accounts? Generally, a candidate’s ability to do a job has nothing to do with how they conduct themselves in their private lives. All that a Facebook page will tell a prospective employer is what the candidate ate for dinner, or their thoughts on last night’s episode of 30 Rock. Is that crucial information?
Further, taking pains to uncover this information can put you in a compromising situation. Suppose you log on to a job seeker’s page and find out they are pregnant. Now you know that they’re in a protected class, and if you don’t hire them, they may have grounds to press discrimination charges. If you had stuck to the interview, where it’s illegal to ask such questions, you wouldn’t have this issue.
Anything that you could want to know about a candidate is fair game in an interview, so violating privacy is really unnecessary. Besides, speaking with someone face-to-face is a far better indicator of their employability. You can get a sense for their critical thinking skills, learn about their prior experience, and even throw in a few curveball questions to keep them on their toes.
Interviews are a two-way street. Smart job seekers—which are the kind you want to hire—spend much of the interview process assessing potential employers, looking for the best fit. If you are invading their privacy before they even sign a job offer, candidates are more likely to feel harangued than welcomed into the fold. Your top choice hire might be the top choice for other hiring managers as well, and you cut your odds of winning a great employee when you ask for their Facebook password.
Even after you’ve requested a candidate’s personal log in information, checked out their profile and made sure they were a perfect fit, you’ve really only been lulled into a false sense of security. You don’t need to plan for any embarrassing social media misfires—you know your team better than they know themselves. Except, people are unpredictable. Someone with a completely respectable online profile could turn out to be the worst fit. Maybe they erased all of their disparaging remarks about their former employer, along with the strange incriminating photo albums. The thing is, you can study a candidate’s profile for hours and still not be any closer to predicting whether a potential hire will work out.
A big problem with this invasion of privacy is that candidates will begin to see your company as something to fear. No one wants to work in such an insecure environment, where their every move is being stalked. Employees want to feel valued and trusted, not like they’re back in fifth grade quivering in front of their overly strict math teacher.
Security and trust must be cultivated. By showing your employees that you respect them and their right to a private personal life, you allow them to breathe. They don’t have to be afraid to come to work. They can start to enjoy their jobs and become better at them, fattening your bottom line.
Perhaps the most critical argument against asking for a job seeker’s username and password is that the practice is (technically) illegal. Facebook’s terms of service clearly state: “You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.” All site users must agree to these terms of service before registering with Facebook, so if you have a presence on the site—you did, too.
Violating a site’s terms of service is against the law. Although it’s atypical for users to be charged with a violation of terms, it’s not impossible. You may luck out and slide under the radar, but you might not. So, instead of having a potential employee taint your reputation by posting unflattering status updates, you could end up embroiled in a legal scandal that will drag your company’s name through the media mud.
Less Invasive Alternatives
If you’re eager to learn more about a candidate, head to Google and plug their name into the search field. You’ll find that most people have a multitude of PUBLIC records, none of which require a personal username and password to access. Many people keep their Facebook profiles private, but you can still gather insight by looking on sites like LinkedIn or Twitter.
For employers who won’t be satisfied without seeing a candidate’s Facebook, check to see if they’ve “liked” your business. What savvy candidate wouldn’t? by liking your business your candidates public profile is easy to see. While you might not see the private correspondence between your job candidate and their mother-in-law, you will get enough of a glance to make sure that the interviewee is not certifiably insane and that they’re unlikely to do something that might jeopardize your company reputation.
Any candidate who lacks a sufficient social media profile may not be a good fit anyway. It’s 2012. You should be able to track down at least a few records online, and at the very least, you can contact former employers and references. It’s impossible to know a candidate fully before hiring them, but if they have a solid record of experience and several references behind them, you can be confident in your hiring decision.
When Pew speaks, I listen. Their new study suggests The “Facebook as news-feed” narrative continues. This makes Facebook vulnerable in that its “specialness” is at risk.
Most Facebook users receive more from their Facebook friends than they give, whether the measurement is the number of friend requests received, the use of the “like” button, the number of messages sent or tagging people in photos.
The main factor driving this phenomenon is that there is a segment of “power users” who specialize in different Facebook activities and contribute much more than the typical user does, according to a new study that for the first time combines server logs of Facebook activity with survey data to explore the structure of Facebook friendship networks and measures of social well-being.
There’s that term “power users“. They matter. A lot. I think many of them (particularly women) are very compelled–or will be –by Pintrest. Ultimately the site doesn’t matter nearly as much as how Facebook will keep their power users happy. Stay tuned.
Invite-only Pintrest is on fire. According to a report by Experian, the site received over 11 million visits the week of December 17th, which is 40x more hits than just six months earlier.
Compare that with Facebook. In the United States it lost nearly 6 million users, falling from 155.2 million at the start of May to 149.4 million at the end of it. This is the first time the country has lost users in the past year.
Apples to oranges? Maybe. Facebook is huge. It’s not going anywhere soon. But while social media is hot, there is plenty of reason to believe that Facebook’s hegemony isn’t assured.
If you can’t trust your fans, who can you trust?
Lots of talk recently about the distinctions between Millennials, digital natives and their older generational counterparts. This is an insider tactic for leveraging fear the olds have about their technological skills. As most people in charge of things are olds, it makes sense that younger or more technically competent people would socially leverage their tech chops to level the playing field. I’ve seen it in full resolution over the past 15 years. It’s nothing new. People use coded terms and words to mark themselves and to suss out new acquaintances. Technical competency does this too.
Facebook has been a key tool in this social manipulation. I’m wondering if it has gone too far. While Kid-King Zuck does his best Steve Jobs impression introducing new features and functionality, KKZ and company has made what I believe to be a fatal UI/UX mistake by finally over-featuring Facebook.
Features that aren’t used are worse than waste. They are obstructions and confusions that cause frustration and internal dissonance in the user–alienating them from the technology. “why did I post that?” “who cares?” and “Ooh did I creepy over-share?” These are not pleasant thoughts. Our brain punishes us for them. As Facebook becomes more sophisticated, it becomes more complex and stressful. People have to budget their time. I’m a big believer that social media is a feature (a means) and not a platform (an end in itself). We don’t Facebook just to Facebook but KKZ&Co. seems intent on making that happen– even though they contend they are not. “Don’t just enjoy–share” seems like a good mantra until you consider the consequences (asymmetric surveillance). Its no “eureka moment” to understand the platform must self-generate useful data. People like things that are easy. The Open Graph does that just dandy.
The data-mining prospects for Facebook are now mindbogglingly rich. Pre-crime is no longer science fiction. It will be absolutely possible- given the size of the dataset- to begin to uncover “Lone Wolves” –to see anger, depression, persecution complexes, and delusions of grander emerge in digital behavior even before they manifest physically. That’s provided, of course, people stay on the platform. They may not but probably will. Sadly I expect to see people who don’t Facebook treated with more than just a little suspicion. That isn’t good. Facebook takes more than it gives.
RWW has pointed out that Facebook’s feature roll out seems a lot like AOLs in the bad ol’ days. Features become just so much bloated code. Isn’t that what happened to Microsoft? Isn’t that the single biggest risk to Apple? Apple’s case is particularly interesting given their success is tied directly to elegant simplicity. Ironically, making things simple is very hard. I think it was too hard for Facebook and it may be too frustrating for users.
That said, power users are building groups and spending a little extra time to shut out the prying eyes. Facebook allows that, and that may explain why IT folks are generally happier with the current changes than Facebook’s core audiences. Google+’s circles accomplish the same thing in fact its built on groups but Google+ demonstrates the high cost of switching. People just aren’t migrating. Yet.
All we need is an api that reports on the behavior we want to merchandise. Everyone has a dataset of behavior that we all would share if the social contract was more fair and more opt-in as opposed to opt out. I forecast an api that allows everyone to strip the interface (Google+ Facebook myspace etc.). The end game is really the sign-in and owning the authentication key. That’s actually the holy grail in all these efforts is and where MSFT and APPL are really missing the money train. Users want to make certain data available on a permissions basis – without the clunky and unnecessary middleman platform.
Personally my Facebook news stream looks more and more like my inbox did in 1999. A stream of business news with jokes and personal stories sprinkled in.
Honestly, it is far too easy to extend personal anecdotes about Facebook. It’s a dumb thing to do. People ALWAYS complain loudly when they change it . Still, more features do not make a better experience. Improvements that cause increased complexity are not really improvements as much as they are just changes.
Pre-crime and Gladys Kravitz as Big Brother aside, Facebook isn’t going anywhere. Marketers must adapt. Usage could fall an unimaginable 20-30 % and it wouldn’t matter much. I’m skeptical of more centralization on the web. It rarely works. Something is needed to thread or web presence together but I’m not sure an “entertainment sharing platform” is the thing that will do it. I still expect Yammer and Jive or a competitive equivalent yet to be named to come on strong (because of security) and pull us away from changing our settings on Facebook and put us in control of our communication again. Facebook is an enormous security risk and productivity suck for business. I just can’t see businesses of any size continuing to allow greater access as Facebook grows forward. All that aside, the cost of switching to Google+ is high because the Kid-King has your social record and he’s got no intention of ever giving it back. Migrating your data will be made very difficult. That’s the price of free.
A large, fast migration is unlikely. I anticipate Facebooks demise as death by 1,000 cuts. Slowly, as kids deem Facebook uncool and pick up other tools that are faster, more relevant and more opaque to their parents. That is still at least 5 years away.
For now though, professionally and personally, we’ll suck it up– complain for a few days and then go back to our regularly scheduled posting. I’m looking forward to the next thing.
I know… “Let’s put a contest on social media !!”
Ugh. I hate that. Most of the time it means “let’s get our luke-warm customers to tell us how much they love us.”
No. That idea is just 100% marketing fail.
And yet, there’s this. How come this worked so well?
It works because it’s about the story. The love of the contest– not the love of the brand. Nokia didn’t say “make an ad about us” or “tell us how much you love us” or “make a commercial for us”. They just said “do something cool with our stuff”. They got it. Will it sell phones? Well, they have some issues there. Those issues go beyond brand recognition– no marketing initiative can solve that.
But there is a very straightforward lesson If you want to be successful with a contest in social media. If you wish to maintain the faintest hope of viral success, you simply have to release your vanity and your brand standards and trust in your customers ability to create something people will be interested in and share.
or buy some ads.