December 8th, 2008 by Sten Franke
The development around Social Media and its adoption in Marketing, gains more importance in the marketing mix. At first glance, it looks like as if the U.S marketers are more courageous in their approach to social media marketing. But at second glance, there are actually relevant successful examples in Germany for the adoption of social media marketing. Langnese and Tchibo are two great examples, on how the social media actually influences the German marketing department. Unfortunately, the big giants Advertisers in Germany are yet to let loose their reservations about social media marketing.
What might be the cause of these reservations from the German Advertisers? A quick and close attention to consumer generated communication platforms provides answer to this question. The digitals communication platforms enable each user to submit contents, as well as to publish them and to connect with other users. Well, what does this imply for the marketers? Quite easy: the brands message seeded in these channels are no longer under direct control of the marketers. Well plain and simple, through this media, the users have taken control over brands communications. Ultimately, the multiplier of brand messages is about being pro consumers and less about classical marketing campaign. We think, this shift of power on behalf of consumers, is what scared most of the German companies, to actually be actively engaged in Social Media.
Although for the most part, this fear is without reasons. Marketers should definitely get in direct dialogs with their target group and their customers. In Social Media, it’s all about direct communications with consumers, since consumers are often also users of social networks, visitors of products valuation portal, as well as forums users and at the same time functioning as brands representatives. Hence, marketers must enter into transparent dialogs in respective platforms with these multipliers. Being pro consumers should also mean for the marketers to give authentic information for their consumers and by using social media strategies, provide a real added value to their target group.
But where and how should a marketer start, in the realm of social media? What should be the first thing to do in regards of social media initiatives? Well, if I – as a company- actually want to get into dialogs with my costumers, then I should better be listening first. Thereby, the first step would be applying comprehensive communication strategies through Social Media Monitoring. But, an effective Monitoring solution is only a small part of the comprehensive social media strategy. Lee Oden provides an overview of fundamentals for communications strategy in social media:
• Audience – Listen and understand your audience and how they communicate/interact on the social web. What types of social networks, media sharing and assets do they engage? What are their goals for doing so?
• Objectives – It’s important to consider both the goals of the company as well as the audience you’re trying to reach. Marketing on the social web is about giving to get. Knowing what your community wants is key in reaching your own organization’s goals because you’re going to give it to them.
• Strategic Plan – What approach will you take to meet the needs and interests of your audience in order to meet your own? Will you engage influencers, will you energize brand advocates or will you create demand by offering non-branded resources?
• Tactics – What social media marketing tactics and corresponding technologies will you use to implement the plan? Blogging, microblogging, social networks, video, forums, blogger relations and outreach. There are many to consider.
• Tools – What specific tools will you use to efficiently monitor, communicate, create and promote social content? WordPress, Facebook or MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Again, there are many to consider.
• Metrics – How will you measure success according to the objectives you’ve identified? What tools will you employ and at what point will you take benchmark measurements as well as interval measurements? Who will you report results to in the organization and will there be success metrics that you can share with the community you’re engaging?
From my point of view, these propositions from Lee are actually quite right. The existing fear of losing control should not lead German marketers to completely ignore this media. Such behavior would inevitably result in complete loss of control. After all, social media is not a temporary phenomenon, but rather it is a long lasting change in communications behavior. Only, a pro active and strategic approach in the realm of social media would enable control in the area of brands communications. Thereby, Leo’s above mentioned strategy propositions do provide some insights. After all, a marketer should not ask the question, if he/she should be engaged in social media, but rather, how long he/she could afford avoiding this social media engagement.
December 5th, 2008 by Sten Franke
This week we started a new local team of the Social Media Club. Our aim ist to meet in informal and laid back atmosphere and offer eyerybody who is interested in Social Media a place to go to.
Early 2009 we will interview Chris Heuer, Founder of the Social Media Club, for a little podcast about the idea of the Social Media Club.
Up to this moment we are still organizing our team of the Social Media Club Hamburg.
Everybody who is interested in gettting involved, please contact me SMC_Hamburg@ethority.de
Our first meeting will be on the 22.01.09 7pm @ ethority (Protugal-Haus, Büschstr. 7)
December 5th, 2008 by Sten Franke
Now, it’s finally official! The BVDW Arbeitskreis Social Media gets to work. The Arbeitskreis (Working Group) is managed by Axel Schmiegelow (sevenload&denkwerk) and Sten Franke (ethority)
This new BVDW Arbeitskreis aims for market transparency and together with Online Marketer (OVK) – under BVDW standards – also sets out to develop social media platforms. Hence, the Arbeitskreis Social Media will become the representative party and competence centre of Social Media platforms for the German market.
Sten Franke about the long term objectives:
“In the long run, it’s about developing standards for advertising in social media and those standards should be compatible to changes happening around the social media’s world”
The establishment meeting took place at ethority – in the heart of Hamburg – amongst others, present were United Internet, GWP, MySpace, StudiVZ, Lokalisten as well as Unister.
Beside the main focus on the possibilities and opportunities in Social Media Marketing, the Arbeitskreis will also emphasize on minor protection and data privacy as well as market research related to the realm of social media.
The Arbeitskreisp is not a closed circle group, but rather it will actively seek interfaces and cooperation in the future – e.g. with OVK or AGOF – in order to accomplish the above mentioned objectives.
As soon as the first results of Arbeitskreis Social Media becomes available, we will give you the coverage in details.
December 2nd, 2008 by Sten Franke
Today, I stumbled upon a posting at The Strategy Web Blog. Among others, Martin is mentioning in his article the six effects for companies, who are participating in digital conversations using social media. Those effects are:
The multiplier effect:
Social media opens access to (potential) customers as well as partners and it manifolds information acceptance and allocation for brand’s and company’s communications.
The globalization effect:
Breaking the geographic, mental and psychological distance to customers, hence, establish credible contacts to target group.
The Networking effect:
Networking between companies, customers, interested party and partners can lead to new markets – see Cluetrain manifesto “Markets are conversation”.
The quality improvement and protection effect:
The improvement of products, quality and services should not only come from internal vision of the companies but rather from the market and consumers. This way, a product development strategy would not fail on the market.
The sales funnel effect:
People buy something from other people: networking between people – through word of mouth – leads become infinite numbers of potential customers.
The “humanization” effect:
Over decades companies came across customers like an impenetrable construction, they functioned in such fix structures with little regards of humanly gestures. This art of behavior changes since social media trend surfaces: customers begin to take notice of humans behind the work and actions of companies.
The multiplier effect is one of the most crucial effects in the utilization of social media for companies. This effect in particular is one of the reasons, why companies in Germany are still having such problems in adopting social media. The communication platforms of social media can spread the news about companies and their products virally – faster, plus with wider coverage than any classical media.
Even when the following example was not coming from the world of brands’ and company’s communications, the twitter activities concerning terror attacks in Mumbai as well as the latest earthquake in Indonesia, showed how fast news travels and multiplies in social media. This multiplier effect can be a blessing and even a curse at the same time. However, marketing and communication executives should be aware of the fact, that even with or without their participation in social media, their products and companies are subjected to conversations.
Another new component Martin mentioned, the humanization effect (also explained by Brian Solis in his Social Media Manifesto) sounds actually quite plausible. This do apply in dialogs with the customers, since they are now no longer subjected to faceless anonym Call Center agent but rather to a twitter or social network profile with picture and name in it. This is the case for the U.S customers of cable entertainment, Comcast. With Frank Eliason in twitter, Comcast customers can relate more easily to the brand. Ultimately, social media does make a product / company more human and less of a black box.
I can’t agree more in terms of the effects, which have impacts on products development and sales. But I would likely put Word of Mouth into networking effect, since conversations between consumers are the crucial part, which then lead to purchase decisions. In the realm of social media, being pro consumers and actively engage in sales processes, is the ideal.