Facebook’s Changes: How to Get Timeline Now, What Changes Mean for Brands

Mashable has had some really informative posts on all the recent Facebook announcements of late. The first one here walks you through how to enable Facebook Timeline now. It’s really just a more visually oriented way of viewing your Facebook status and profile.  The instructions are fairly easy to follow but be aware that only other people who have done this will be able to see your changes for now. Once timeline goes out of public beta, it will be viewable by everyone.

Mashable added another article a day or two ago regarding how these changes might directly effect brand pages. And this one discussing what this all means for marketers using Facebook. According to the later post:

“Marketers, who have been told for years that they’re actually publishers now, will have to put that into practice”, says Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, a digital marketing firm. “Facebook is a channel, albeit a collaborative one, that needs to be programmed,” says Schafer. “We need to get people to share and interact with more content.”

This is a perfect example of why brands needs to focus on building an engaging brand experience on their own site and not put all their eggs in a specific social media service’s basket. If you build a storefront in Facebook, what happens when Facebook changes their terms of service? It’s kind of like a New Jersey protection racket…”Gee, it would be a shame if your nice little store had a fire or somethin’, wouldn’t it? But, if you take advantage of our special policy, I can assure you nothin’ will happen.” We’ve already heard rumblings that Facebook is pushing down brand pages from fan’s news feeds, in preparation for coming back to brands with their hands out for MONEY!

Social media is great, until it isn’t. For years, all brands could do was lease somebody elses media to reach an audience. Not anymore. A smart brand, who knows how to find out the information, education and inspiration needs of their customers can now cheaply create their own media channel and build an audience that they own.

Really, we think the safe bet is for brands to take the later course, viewing themselves as media companies, producing helpful, relevant, engaging and entertaining content that people are already searching for and building an audience they own on their own brand site. This site then functions as a distribution hub for the content to be scattered over then entire web. By all means, post it on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and YouTube and any other specific social site that makes sense for your audience. But, don’t for a minute think these social channels will continue to offer brands their services for free forever. It’s only a matter of time before they start flexing their media might and changing for audiece acces.

Optimizing LinkedIn

By popular request, my Optimizing LinkedIn presentation ready for downloading. I’ve been giving it for various groups and the feedback has been encouraging. One person told the group I presented to this morning that he’d been to numerous LinkedIn training sessions and mine was far and away the most practical and informative. That was good to hear because I always want to deliver helpful, relevant information, value and thought leadership.

Please let me know how I could improve this. It’s intentionally designed to be light on text as it’s given as a workshop presentation. Hubspot has a number of more detailed e-books and white papers to walk you through particulars. In addition, the LinkedIn learning center is a great place to lean more. Enjoy!

 

Winning at the Zero Moment of Truth

Google report on the Zero Moment of Truth

Jim Lecinski, managing director of U.S. Sales and Service for Google and all around good guy, has kindly given us permission to distribute his phenomenal report entitled Winning at the Zero Moment of Truth. The 73-page e-book documents the startling changes in consumer researching and buying behavior occurring as the internet, social networks and channels, content like user reviews, ratings and other consumer-generated content,  search engines and “always on” smart phones and other mobile devices converge to create a new kind of world where your brand is not what you say it is but what the consumer says it is.

In reality, the “internet of things” arrived a bit earlier than anticipated. It came in form of the Internet of US! It came about because of our iPhones, iPads, Androids and other smart, mobile devices, perpetually connected to the internet, broadcasting our likes and dislikes…our sharing, creating, commenting, reviewing and recommending. The hard cold truth for most brands is not that the technology is ahead of their marketing efforts…their customers are ahead of their marketing efforts!

Marketing model for the first moment of truth
Legacy Marketing Model: First Moment of Truth

In order to understand the Zero Moment, you have to understand the First Moment of Truth concept popularized by Procter & Gamble. It referred to the first place a brand had to win…when the consumer, stimulated by some kind of marketing communication or advertising like a TV spot, a coupon or a magazine ad stands in front of the product at the retail shelf and decides to put the brand in their shopping cart. The marketing model that goes along with this concept is simple: run creative advertising to get the consumer to be aware, to have interest, to go to a retail location and buy your product. A tremendous amount of time, money and effort has gone into perfecting this system.

graphic depiction of the zero moment of truth concept

What’s changed is huge critical moment now occurs between stimulus and shelf. It impacts every product or service category, whether it’s a considered good like a $40,000 automobile, a $2,500 HDTV or a $3 bottle of body wash. It has implications for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketers.

Consumers still may watch your TV spots or see you magazine ad. But they now immediately  grab their laptop or smart phone and search for reviews to see what others are saying about your product. They go to Facebook or Twitter and ask their friends if anyone has used the product and if so, what they think. They may go to YouTube and look for a vedeo of someone demoing the product…or making fun of it. Before they’ve even been able to go to the store, they have all the information they need and they’ve already made up their mind.

The Zero Moment of Truth describes this dominant role these connections, community and content are now playing in how we research, learn, search and ultimately find and buy products and services.

Jim sites several examples of zeros moments of truth in his report:

  • A busy mom in a minivan is looking up decongestants on her mobile phone as she waits to pick up her son from school.
  • An office manager at her desk, comparing laser printer prices and toner cartridge costs to determine which office supply store has the best price
  • A student in a cafe, scanning user ratings and reviews while looking up a cheap hotel in Barcelona.
  • A winter sports fan in a ski store, pulling out a mobile phone to watch video reviews of the latest snowboards
  • A young woman in a condo, searching the web for juicy details about a guy with whom she’s been set up on a blind date

Kim Kadlec, worldwide vice president of Global Marketing at Johnson & Johnson puts it this way in the report:

We’re entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. The consumers is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another say: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?

That’s the question every marketer should be exploring and using to examine every piece of traditional advertising and marketing. Is it delivering value? Is it helping to answer the consumers need for information. Is is designed to engage and amplify across this environment filled with zero moments of truth. Something to think about.

Social Networks: Harnessing the Power of Groups to Change Society

The internet is now deeply embedded in group and organizational life in America, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Researchers found  75% of all American adults are active in some kind of voluntary group or organization and internet users are more likely than others to be active group participant, with participation highest among users of social networks.

According to the study 80% of internet users participate in groups, compared with 56% of non-internet users. And social media users are even more likely to be active: 82% of social network users and 85% of Twitter users are group participants.

This isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. Just in the past week, the dictator of Tunisia was  toppled by an uprising that started with a man who set himself on fire in protest to this rulers injustice, which was then recorded, posted, blogged about and spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, the Arab world is showing tremendous interest and concern in the event because they’re worried such uprisings, fueled by the social web, could spread to their nations.

What we’re witnessing is not just the power of social networks, it’s the power of Reeds Law , which describes the ability of large networks, particularly social networks, to scale exponentially, thereby serving has a conduit for almost instantaneous information transfer to the masses. Add mobile phones in this mix and you have a powerful channel for revolution. The established top-down command and control hierarchy’s in society are tremendously  threatened by this ability we now have to connect directly with one another…and they should be. Look what happened in Tunisia? This is not an isolated incident.

If the social web has the ability to impact governments and nations this way, what hope does a brand stand…other than to embrace change and become a part of the conversation?

10 Trends in Mobile Technology

Mobile Gaming

From the Wall Street Journal the top trends in mobile for the coming year. Here they are:

  1. Tablets will take over the world
  2. Android will take over the world
  3. Apps will take over the world
  4. 4G will take over the world…eventually
  5. Parts for mobile handsets and networks will be in short supply
  6. The attorneys will have a field day protecting turf via patent warfare
  7. Security and privacy will be insecure and not so private
  8. China will screw everyone
  9. Your phone replaces your wallet/purse
  10. Location, location, location…as in using your phone to broadcast yours to everyone and allowing marketers can know your location so they can bombard you with coupons, offers and other Minority Report-like advertising assaults.

Mobile Virtual Goods Generate 4X More Revenue Than Ads

There’s gold in them ‘thar hills of virtual stuff. According to data from analytics firm Flurry, mobile virtual goods are hot. So hot, in fact, they’re far surpassing the revenue generated from mobile advertising.

The study, conducted using data collected from leading iOS social networking and social gaming apps, shows that in September of ’09, out of close to every $2 of mobile revenue… either advertising or virtual goods…over 2/3rds went to advertising. Just one year later, not only has the amount of revenue grown significantly, the amount going to virtual goods…swords, gold coins, respect points or plum trees for farm plots…has shifted dramatically to where virtual goods now account for $8 of every $9 in revenue. And, because Google’s Android Market does not yet support in-app purchases or micro-transactions, the data doesn’t include users from this rapidly expanding platform.

Virtual goods sales were already going gang busters on social sites like Facebook. Michael Pachter, Wedbush Morgan Securities video game analyst, reports that social gaming revenue has grown from approximately $600 million in 2008 to $1 billion in 2009. Further, he forecasts that social gaming will generate nearly $1.6 billion this year, and grow to more than $4 billion by 2013. That’s a lot of quarters for plum trees on your Farmville farm.

The convergence of social and games will continue to expand their reach into our lives. In fact, social gaming is reaching a tipping point and with Wal-Mart and Verizon now selling iPads, the size of social gaming’s audience will quickly surpass prime time television viewership.

For marketers, this sweeping technology, entertainment and behavioral change represents tremendous opportunity to create highly engaging content built around the core premise of your brand, then invite consumers into a branded experience that extends far beyond your physical product or service. In fact, maybe it’s time to start thinking beyond the five “P’s” when it comes to marketing. Maybe it’s time to add a “V”. Seems plausible doesn’t it…the brand manager of the new realities has to think about Product, Price, Place, Promotion and Virtual. Can you imagine what a virtual version of your brand or brand experience would be, could be? If not, you should start dreaming. There’s money to be made for the imaginative mind.

Facebook by the Numbers: 500 Million Infographic

Facebook reached it’s 500th million member yesterday and to commemorate the occasion, the folks at Mashable had this handy little infographic put together.

The original on Mashable here.


Mobile – It's Not Just For Out-Of-Home Anymore 06/22/2010


Do you graze on Twitter on your iPhone while you’re watching Friday Night Lights? Do you post on Facebook from your Droid during American Idol finals? If so, you’re not alone.

According to a new study of smartphone users by media agency Initiative, 60% of mobile web usage is taking place at home, while people are watching TV, listening to the radio or right before the nod off to sleep.

Nearly a third of smartphone users start their day connecting to the internet on their mobile device and 45% end their day that way.

MediaPost Publications Study: Mobile �

via Mobile – It’s Not Just For Out-Of-Home Anymore 06/22/2010.

Apple iOS 4 review


In case you’re just dying to know what all the new iPhoney goodness is all about, CNET has this helpful rundown of all the shiny new features in Apple’s iOS 4 being released this week.

Some of the features I’ve seen demoed are stunning. Apple keeps upping the game, that’s for sure. But, I’m getting tired of feeling compelled to fork over $300 every July for the newest phone. Is there such as thing as Apple Status Quo-a-phobia?

Apple iOS 4 review | iPhone Atlas – CNET Reviews.

Does Social Media Engagement Translate to Brand Sales? Yes!


Excellent post by social media thought leader Brian Solis on how social media engagement on sites like Facebook and Twitter is translating into sales for brands. New research reveals that over 60% of Facebook users and a whopping 79% of Twitter users are more likely to recommend a brand since becoming a fan/follower on these social networks.

Solis goes on to point out that actively and thoughtfully engaging consumers in social networks is fast becoming a base expectation. But, brands beware! Reread the first part of the lead sentence in this paragraph again…the part about actively and THOUGHTFULLY engaging.

It never fails to amaze me when I find big brands using social media channels as yet another avenue for interruption or push messaging. You see this all the time. Some brands think it’s still all about them. This is the quickest path to irrelevance and having consumers dismiss you as hopelessly out of touch. This channel is NOT about what you have to say. It’s about LISTENING and joining in the CONVERSATION and one of the best ways to do this is with relevant content.

Brands have a tremendous opportunity to use social media as a platform to develop and employ a new set of relationship skills and a distribution vehicle to serve up content that seeks to first provide a value to their audiences. This skill set doesn’t come naturally to brand marketers who have spent years of their careers and millions of dollars perfecting their ability to TALK AT people through ads, direct mail, press releases and the like, delivered via traditional media channels. This is a comfortable and easy-to-manage process, for sure. Unfortunately, it’s a marketing method sharply in decline and no wonder: There’s very little consumer value delivered in this legacy advertising/pr, interruption-based approach.

The mantra of the internet in the first part of this decade was: if you’re not on Google, you don’t exist.

The mantra going forward is: if you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, you don’t exist.

This isn’t just the opinion of young people, according to the research Solis references.

“It shows they are not really with it or in tune with the new ways to communicate with customers.” Female 18-24.

“If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter, then they aren’t in touch with the…people.” Female 55-59

I know this to be the case from my own experience. I own two Lexus cars. I love them. But, there’s one problem…their keys suck! They have some kind of manufacturing defect in the plastic of the key fob and they become very brittle and break over the course of normal use. Now, aside from the fact that a cheap, crappy key is a big disconnect with a luxury brand experience, there are two other major irritations that go with this problem:

1) When the key fobs break, the transponder often falls out. Without the transponder, you can’t open the doors remotely and in certain cases may not even be able to start the car.

2) Replacement keys cost a ridiculous $200 a piece.

Least you think I’m petty and needlessly using the blog to harp on a personal matter…this has happened to three of our four main keys. Do you think Lexus covers this under warranty? Ah, no.

The last straw came a couple weeks ago when the third key broke as my wife was engaging in the extremely abusive behavior of removing it from her purse. I decided to see if Lexus was even listening on social media so I tweeted about the issue and got no response. So, I then posted it on Facebook…where I also got no response. In a Twitter search, I found lots of posts from Lexus about their new sexy new sports car…along with my tweet gripping about the key. In a Google search, I also found lots of links to people complaining about Lexus key fobs breaking. Either Lexus is not listening or they don’t care. And, you know what…I’m not so sure I care that much about $50,000 cars with cheap, crappy keys. After all, a $50,000 that won’t start because of it’s crappy key is the definition of useless. And infuriating.

This is obviously a customer service issue and social media is a great, real time lab for listening to customer complaints and issues and fixing them. Just look at what Comcast has done using Twitter to improve it’s customer service experience. If nothing else, responding to complaints on social networks gives brands the opportunity to not only solve problems but let everyone know they’re doing so. In the process, they can turn the complaints into compliments. This clearly reflects positively on the brand and everyone can know about it…something that doesn’t happen in a call center interaction.

But, to be relevant on Facebook and Twitter, brands need to go beyond using it to resolve customers service issue. A brand needs more than a social media presence. Brands should be surprising and delighting potential customers and customers with content that seeks to answer their questions and need for information first…and you can gently and organically integrate your brand into this content when and where it’s credible and makes sense. By taking this approach, a brand earns the right to be heard.

We call this approach Branded Conversations…listening first, then providing relevant content that answers customers questions and need for information. We think it’s a new marketing practice whose time has come.