Saturday, June 9, 2012

Have we really cracked earned media?

The hope and wish of driving more efficiency into one's media spend has been the dream of many big brands forever.  The old saying, if i just knew which half of my media budget was working I would gladly cut the non working half.  The promise of all this conversational marketing, customer dialogue, "likes", "followers" and "check-ins" is that it should foster connections between brands and consumers and drive cost per acquisition of customer downward, improve ROI, deliver Life Time Value (LTV) enhancements.  Is it working?  It seems to depend.  The tools to harness all of the conversations already going on out there are coming into place but we need to get better at integrating into existing conversations rather than forcing you into one a brand has created for you.  The end game is higher consumer engagement but the experience, time and place needs to be more organic and natural rather than sort of  pre-planned.  I believe it is fair to say that Facebook realizes the fatigue of "likes" and is looking to innovate and find new and improved ways to make this bridge between brands and consumers more natural and less forced.

Are you social media saturated yet?

I now have a bunch of friends and colleagues that want to follow me on Pinterest.  I must say with Linked in acceptances, Facebook friends, Pinterest followers, Google+ circles it is getting to be rather tiresome and seems endless. Oh and don't forget my check-ins on Foursquare, almost forgot about that one.  Managing all of these social circles takes time and it is a fair amount of work.  The intent is all good.  I feel more readily connected with people I know but I do wonder where is this all going?  What is relevant to whom, when and why is work.  i don't want to be stiff and unfamiliar yet the dribble that my kids and I find to be fun is, I am sure, annoying to work colleagues and vice versa.  Well, I supposed someone will come along and make that organizational task easier, I hope so!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts on Pinterest

I have been spending time on Pinterest these days.  Such a simple and elegant interface.  It will be interesting to see how they monetize the business.  Makes huge sense for commerce affiliate programs, this alone could be enough to make for a multi-million dollar company. Surely the consumer behavior of pinning will be going mainstream. But, there are a considerable amount of boards that are not a natural fit for commerce monetization.  Yet, Pinterest is a meaningful service for so many categories such as designers, architects, contractors, stylists, decorators, etc.  Pinterest is poised, in my opinion, to define monetization in many other categories that are less apparent than commerce affiliate programs. I am sure we will see Pinterest invent new buiness models to monetize these other categories. What do you think?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Evolving Communities of Interest, the Key to Social E-commerce Growth

Facebook e-commerce. I am glad to see that Facebook understands that it needs to continue to integrate new, creative functionality that facilitates and services communities of like interests.  First of all, you need to ensure that the community is really a community to begin with.  I would say that Facebook communities are still very loosely defined and based on one dimension, so far, people I know. And, it is a cross section of family and friends as well as business colleagues. At least mine is!  Not the best-defined community.  Far less focused, than say Linked In, which has strictly been defined as my business community.  Albeit with less emphasis on really knowing and caring in a personal sense, my community, at least I know it is all about my business life.

I look forward to seeing Facebook help me further break out and define the different types of communities that I belong to or want to join.  Better defining the type of community I participate in will, in itself, further define the type of social commerce that might fit that communities needs.  One could argue that my social commerce ability to influence others’ purchase decision and spending level could be much greater. For instance, my yoga group should be a more evolved community within my Facebook world but it is not yet a very evolved Facebook group. Maybe it never will be! But I do know that ecommerce and event spend of my “wallet” would be impacted by such a group.   The purpose of the community, I would argue can have a significant and ongoing impact on that groups ecommerce needs and wants.

With approximately 600 million Facebook members and a recent financial valuation of $70 billion in US currency, a member is worth $116,667.  If each person “likes”, on average three brands than the value of a “like” is $38.89.  Clearly, we are beginning to have a meaningful impact on the marketing acquisition costs of reaching and targeting consumers; this is a great starting point for brands. I am pleased to see that unlike other aspects of digital media big brands appreciate this and are putting resources towards growing this marketing approach. Now we need a way to ensure that the ROI is there. Can communities embrace social ecommerce in a way that is meaningful to its community and in doing so deliver the scale and consistency of performance that any channel of sales needs?  That part needs work, in my opinion.

Facebook ecommerce needs to work on tools and connections that further create “high functioning” communities.  I define “high functioning” communities as a community that has a core member group, has achieved a level of communication that is consistent, has a predictable level of interaction and has sustained that level for six months or more. 

Likes are a good start.  It is helpful and powerful to know that a person I know either bought a product I want to buy likes a similar piece of music or is going to an event I am considering.  It makes sense to me that these fact points will positively impact my ecommerce decision-making.  But, I would argue that this recommendation really does not require much community participation.

So what do communities need to make them more productive and useful to the end user?
• Ways to encourage product browsing
• Quick purchasing ability within a social network
• Relevant incentives, either deals or product announcements
• Ways for brands to collect user’s data
• Group buying incentives that deliver group buying benefits

Facebook ecommerce appears to have the focus and capital to continue to innovate.  And, a “high functioning” community will survive and evolve itself either inside Facebook or in ways we have yet to see.