Friday, March 12, 2010
Perceptive businesses have harnessed the influence of the individual to positively impact brand loyalty and brand reputation. These companies understand that the game is no longer just Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and to that end, have invested the resources to identify and engage the individual influencers that motivate target audiences.
Inattentive businesses have neglected that i2i has become an important part of the cognitive process for selection between various alternatives. Many are suffering from a non-participative risk and losing years of costly earned brand loyalty to individuals that may or may not have an association with the corporation. Others have established a presence but haven’t taken the time to understand how to leverage these channels. These companies are missing opportunities everyday to engage with the influencers and reinforce the brand’s position.
As a global society we are shifting away from an environment in which businesses have an uncontested authority. Furthermore, the new media arena has changed the dynamics of many industries, inviting an overwhelming variety of options for retail and business consumers. As a result, the influence of trusted i2i communications is becoming a vital component in the search for solutions.
The savvy business owner will ensure that the integrated marketing approach no longer only focus on maximizing the business impact on the consumer mind but will additionally support the requirement to personally engage the individual. Resources within the company will need to be allocated to ensure that you are leveraging every opportunity to communicate clearly and consistently to these valuable influencers. Understanding the i2i relationship is a critical component to having a successful brand in a world of 24/7 information availability.
Leverage the opportunity to engage with the new influencer (the individual):
- Join the platform that your target audience chooses to communicate
- Show up, engage, strengthen a relationship, and build trust
- Listen with empathy, not to push your own agenda. Opportunities will follow.
To learn how to better engage with individuals or more about i2i communications in the new media you can contact Nick Giacopelli (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Digital Brand Expressions (www.digitalbrandexpressions.com).
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It’s now official that Yahoo and Microsoft will be merging their paid search platforms. They’re making their plans to move forward under the banner of the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance. Are they a legitimate threat to Google? Probably not. For the sake of argument though, let’s pretend this is going to work. What do they need to do to catch up to the market leader?
1. Strike while the iron is hot. Google is somewhat vulnerable right now. They’re distracted between Android, Buzz, Chrome, Wave, the Google phone, etc. There’s also been a pretty vicious backlash over the privacy debacle that Buzz caused. This is the best possible time to grab for market share. Unfortunately, the Search Alliance as they’re calling themselves, will not happen until the end of the year. So this one’s out. By the time they’re ready to launch a unified platform, Google will have developed something that actually works to counter.
2. What’s in a name? Search Alliance? Really? Was The Unified League of Cooperative Search Engines taken? Their main competition has them beat, hands down, in branding. People don’t search. They “Google it.” Do better than something that sounds like it came out of a name generator.
3. Make it easy. The plan is to use the Microsoft AdCenter platform as the ad management system. The online interface is cumbersome and unintuitive. It could be worse though. It could use Yahoo Panama system. Microsoft’s desktop tool is also better than Yahoo’s, though I find it can be somewhat iffy with saving and uploading all the changes that have been entered. The truth is, the Search Alliance needs to build a new system from the ground up. It needs to at least be competitive with AdWords and AdWords Editor.
4. Get results. Yahoo will be supplying the ad inventory. The thought is that this will guarantee Yahoo more revenue, and it benefits Microsoft to have access to a larger audience. What’s really going to happen is that Bing’s competitive advantage- the highest conversion rates of the 3 major engines- will disappear. Yahoo will flood them with ads, and as a result, costs will increase for advertisers while performance declines. This can’t happen. Find a way to keep costs down and quality up.
5. Work with me here. One thing the Search Alliance is getting right: Yahoo’s staff will provide support to agencies. I shudder at the thought of having to work with Microsoft’s staff regularly, and I feel for the individual advertisers who will be stuck with them. I’ve never gotten a straight, useful answer from someone at Microsoft. Their editorial policies are the strictest of the major engines, but their staff seems incapable of clearly explaining policies or providing assistance to find resolutions. When I have a problem on Yahoo, I make a call, and it’s taken care of.
So that’s it. Provide a good product. Keep the cost down. Make good customer service a top priority. And change that ridiculous name. Even if all of these pieces fall into place, it may not be enough. At least it will be interesting to watch.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Creating and implementing policies governing employees’ usage of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites is a topic in much discussion among business policy makers today. Social media usage affects employees and decisions makers in all areas of the company, from the C-suite to HR to Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and IT. Consequently, all of those areas need to be involved in the development of the corporate social networking policy and how employees use social media when their communications are a reflection on the business.
Businesses frequently cite one or more of these reasons for hesitating to move forward with an employee usage policy for Facebook and other social media sites:
1.The Real Opportunity: while social media policy development affects the entire organization and therefore must involve the entire organization, many members of the management team are not familiar with or comfortable with social media as a business tool. Their resistance to see past the early stages of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as personal environments keeps them from fully understanding the ways these and other social media sites have transformed into broad communications channels for a wide variety of businesses and their stakeholders. In fact, some of the biggest, quantifiable successes in the social media channel are coming from B2B marketers.
2.Where to Begin: most companies don’t have a workable process in place to move through the steps required to develop a customized social media adoption plan for their organization. Adopting social media throughout the organization means that all employees need at least a basic understanding of social media sites: how they look, how they work, and the connections they are capable of forging. At the same time, these digital outposts need to be understood in the context of how they can enhance business communications. While the senior decision makers in the organization understand business protocols and communications, they often have little or no hands-on experience with them. Conversely, less seasoned team members are entirely comfortable with social media as personal communications environments but often lack the business experience required to think through the situations and scenarios required to develop workable policies and protocols. Without a knowledgeable guru to guide the enterprise-wide process, companies suffer months of spinning in place, false starts, and, in the worse case scenario, embarrassing public fumbles.
3.Uncertainty about what employers can ask employees to do/not do, on their own time: with employees responding to email around the clock and working with teams around the globe, the line between personal time and work time continue to blur. As companies provide mobile devices and other technology solutions to make working anywhere anytime easier for employees, the line between company use and personal use is almost non-existent. Many companies are torn between the need to protect themselves from inappropriate behavior by employees during business hours on business equipment and the desire to leverage the benefits that being active in social media environments are bringing to companies.
4.Fear of viruses, malware, and other system crippling intrusions is another obstacle that has many companies clamping down on access to social media sites through company systems.
5.Loss of Productivity: This is probably the biggest reason that 69% of companies in the Americas don’t have employee social media usage policies in place. While they often cite fear of system security as the issue (see #4), more often than not that is the mask management puts on its greater fear--that access to social media sites will make employees less productive. A lot less productive.
According to the Manpower survey, among companies that do have a social networking corporate policy guiding employee usage of social media, 63% report that it is instrumental in curbing productivity loss due to enabling employees to use social media while working. A quick Google search on “employee productivity social media” shows a mix of opinions—with five articles being clearly pro-usage, three being strongly anti-usage, and two being neutral.
As with most issues affecting morale, productivity, and leveraging new technologies, the answer isn’t for companies to put their heads in the sand but rather to full explore the risks and rewards as they pertain to their specific organizations.
DBE’s five-phase enterprise social media adoption process is helping our corporate clients explore the benefits of social media for their entire organization (HR, IT, marketing, sales, customer service, etc.), assess the risks to reputation, productivity and other factors, and to develop policies and protocols that guide their employees behaviors in the social media space when they are communicating on behalf of the company. It also helps them understand the ways their off-the-clock social media behaviors can affect their employers and themselves.
By leveraging a proven process for helping your company adopt social media best practices for your organization, you greatly reduce the risks and exponentially increase the opportunities social media communications present to all areas of your business, while being 100% in control of how your company moves forward.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Crazy Egg: Their tagline is “visualize your visitors” and with their heat mapping tool, you can get a quick picture of how visitors are navigating your site and what areas are generating the most interest. True, Google Analytics’ site overlay feature does something similar, showing click through rates for different elements on a page, but we think Crazy Egg’s heat maps are more user friendly and better for quick assessments of what is and isn’t working. Here’s an example of a Crazy Egg heatmap for the DBE Services page:
The tool is relatively inexpensive, too. For sites with 10,000 visitors or less per month, it costs just $9 per month and goes up to $99 per month for sites with 250,000 or fewer visitors.
GetClicky: GetClicky is a web analytics program. We’re big-time Google Analytics fans here, but GetClicky provides some juicy additional data that we’re definitely intrigued by. It provides all the usual tracking, but where it seems especially useful is in tracking downloads. In addition to providing how many of a particular download occurred, GetClicky will also tell you information about the individual user who completed the download, including:
link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5CACAFFE%7E1.DIG%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtml1%5C01%5Cclip_filelist.xml">
- What company or ISP they came from
- How they arrived at your site, and if it was from a search engine, what keyword they used
- What time they performed the action
- How long they spent on the site
link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5CACAFFE%7E1.DIG%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtml1%5C01%5Cclip_filelist.xml">
If you had the time and resources, this could be a great little prospecting tool to see who’s been checking you out and who you might want to reach out to. It can also provide a clearer picture of who is interested in your content to help inform your marketing strategy or future content development.
GetClicky also provides Twitter Analytics. We haven’t played with this feature yet, but from their website, it sounds a lot like a HootSuite or TweetDeck, but integrated directly into your web stats. They say you can enter keywords that you want to monitor on Twitter and GetClicky will “do the rest”, plus you have the ability to reply or retweet directly from GetClicky.
Again, the tool is pretty inexpensive, starting at just $9.99 per month and increasing from there: http://www.getclicky.com/help/pricing. (There’s a free version, too but the data it offers is more limited).
We’ll keep you posted as we continue to find new tools that we think are worth sharing.