Posted on March 23, 2011 by Matt Whiting — Comments Off
Last Friday, O’Reilly Radar published a great interview with Paul Adams, global experience manager at Facebook, about the very simple yet often overlooked idea that everything we, as humans, do ultimately ties back to — well, human motivations.
In the interview, Adams does a good job talking about the importance of ultimately tapping into human behavior at the core, rather than using a new digital tactic as the starting point for designing social media campaigns and other activities designed to elicit action.
I wholeheartedly recommend you click on over to O’Reilly Radar to read the full article, but if you’ll indulge me, I’ll take a few moments of your time pulling out the key quotes that really stood out in my mind.
Although part of my job as a digital consultant at WE Studio D is to stay on top of the latest trends and developments in the digital space, the much more important part of my job is to encourage strategic, holistic thinking that drives real action.
In every interaction, it is my goal to get account partners and clients to take a step back and think about the overarching goal of a campaign and whether our strategies are aligned with what would actually motivate people to change their behavior in the first place. Whether the desired change is as small as clicking like on a Facebook post or if it’s something larger like actually putting money down for a product or service, the “why” that motivates the change is infinitely more important than the “how” or “what.”
Here’s what Adams had to say on the subject:
It’s problematic that many businesses focus on existing and emerging technology, and not on social behavior. Thinking about platform integration first, like Twitter or Facebook, or technologies first, like what could be enabled by ‘mobile location’ or ‘real-time updates,’ is the wrong place to start. Often, businesses need to step back and consider what will motivate people to use what they are developing, above and beyond what exists today. Something that I’ve been saying for a while is that human behavior changes slowly, much slower than technology. By focusing on human behavior, not only are you much more likely to create something that people value and use, but you’re more likely to protect yourself from sudden changes in technology.
Similarly, when it comes to interactions and generating true value online, Adams rightfully asserts far too many companies are focused on the wrong things. The “what” and “how” again here need to be secondary to the “why.”
We’re still seeing the fans and followers arms race — businesses trying to gather as many fans as possible. But I think that’s fundamentally wrong. It’s more important to focus on quality, not quantity, of connections.
For example, many brands run competitions on social media platforms. You have to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ that business to enter. So the question is whether they are making connections with advocates of their brand, or with people who simply love competitions. If it’s the latter, then they’re filling their social media interactions and data with noise.
As I mentioned earlier, people are often most influenced by their closest friends. So only make connections with true advocates of your brand, and market to the friends of those fans.
One of the latter interesting points Adams makes is around the unknown — in this case, the future of the mobile space. Further fodder for the simple idea that the “what” and “how” will change, but the “why” should anchor your decisions.
Mobile is going to be a very disruptive space, and I’m not sure how it will evolve. Rather than try and predict which technologies will be dominant, I think the safer bet for businesses is to understand how these technologies will support human behavior and how they will help people do things they are struggling to do today.
Image by Daniel Slaughter.
Posted on October 19, 2010 by Kevin Murphy — Comments Off
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Facebook was passing user IDs to application developers and providers, enabling them access to private data. Part of me wants to say no big deal — and this probably wouldn’t be a big deal if this data wasn’t being abused by some application providers and developers.
What the issue is:
When you use a Facebook application, Facebook passes a URL string to the application. That URL string includes a personal ID. Facebook IDs look something like http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001687909681. In the last few days, Facebook has taken steps to hide the IDs. What is happening is the applications are collecting referring URL data, a common practice in any digital marketing campaign. Whether or not these applications knew it or used it, the personal IDs were often included in these referring URL strings.
Most applications and companies providing applications ignore this information, but a few used it to mine Facebook profiles and sell data to other companies. At present, Facebook is making some changes to the structure of these URLs. But, as an application user, you should still be wary. Some tips:
- Consider what the value is of the application to you versus the risk.
- Know who the application developers or hosts are and know what their business is. If they are online advertising or data mining companies, they are probably collecting some form of data.
- Don’t log into every application you run across.
- Be cautious about the information you include in your Facebook profile. Even if you have a very private profile, your friends’ accounts could always get hacked.
If you’re a developer or provider of Facebook applications or use Facebook for identity management, you need to be transparent and careful how you use the system.
- Explain to the user why logging in to Facebook from your site provides value.
- Be transparent about what data is collected and how it is used.
- Just because a user agrees to allow you access to their information, doesn’t mean you should abuse it or transfer that agreement to a 3rd party.
Facebook’s privacy practices are not necessarily bad or out-of-line with the industry as a whole. But, as the most prominent network, it has a higher standard and needs to set the bar for all others. As users, we need to understand that there is risk. As marketers who use the Facebook platform, we must adhere to higher standards as well and respect the trust that both Facebook and its customers have placed in us.
Posted on September 14, 2010 by Scott Meis — Comments Off
We’ve all seen the mundane status updates from our friends and brands we follow on Facebook:
- “Cat just coughed up hairball. Great.”
- “PBJ or ham & cheese…hmmm…”
- “People are here. We’re starting our meeting.”
To no surprise, these types of status updates rarely receive a “like” or comment. Following the f8 developer’s conference in April, TechCrunch wrote a post detailing Facebook’s insight into the algorithm that makes the all-so-important Facebook news feed tick.
To most, the news feed has become second nature. Log on to Facebook at some point in the day, scan your news feed and receive quick updates about what your friends or brands you follow have been up to lately. Simply put, a user is far less likely to specifically click over to a particular group, page or person’s profile on Facebook on a regular basis. For online marketers, this emphasizes the critical need to publish content that will continually pique the fans’ interests and prompt them to engage with brands.
So, what is this “secret sauce” that determines what shows up in your news stream? The technical formula can be found on the aforementioned TechCrunch post.
But, what does that mean to you? Great question.
Teach to Digital Fish has done a superb post addressing just that topic.
How is all this being used by brands?? Another great question.
Smart brands are providing extremely engaging content via photos/video, gathering feedback from fans, prompting action and promoting deals. In January, I provided my recommendations and tips around elements that make a good status update. This of course varies based on your overall goals and primary use of a page.
I would encourage you to hop over to Thomas Umstattd Jr.‘s blog where he has embedded a video from a recent SMB Austin event. In the video (at about the 6:30 mark), Thomas talks about the work he recently did on a political campaign and the strategy and tactics he utilized to engage fans in support of his candidate. It’s an excellent case study and example of the crucial role page content plays in bolstering engagement.
No one brand has the golden ticket answer as to how to build a foundation of hundreds of thousands of engaged fans overnight. Certain brands are certainly doing things better than others but all brands should at least be cognizant of thinking through the implications of each and every status update. Most importantly, continue learning, tweaking and improving by analyzing Facebook Insights all the time.
My favorite teacher in high school was my sophomore history teacher, Marvin Reed. History for me has always been akin to storytelling, and that was exactly how Mr. Reed taught. He sat there in his chair in the middle of the classroom and, without notes or an overhead projector, dove into detailed lectures about the wars of Europe, the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the crazy royal families. Yet, the most important thing I learned from Mr. Reed had nothing to do with history.
In his classroom, Mr. Reed had various sorts of historical artifacts. He collected several of them when he was living in Europe in the 1960s — others had been given to him. These pieces included both the Berlin Wall and — thanks to my Japanese teacher’s gutsy defiance of Chinese law — the Great Wall of China. But the most interesting artifact in the classroom had little to do with history and everything to do with legacy. It was a giant ball made completely of plastic grocery bags in the middle of his classroom.
“The ball,” as Mr. Reed referred to it, had grown over the years from the size of a basketball to twice the size of your average yoga ball. What does a giant ball of plastic grocery bags have to do with legacy? Mr. Reed’s idea was that long after our generation had passed, archaeologists of the next generation — or, by chance, if aliens came to Earth — would find this huge ball and know that intelligent life once existed. The ball would be something left behind long after we were gone. The ball is the most vivid exemplification I have of both future and past all in one. History is created by the stories and artifacts we leave behind, so that they may, in turn, continue to tell our story long after we are dead.
For me, this begs the question of how my generation, Generation Y, will be remembered?
We remember our grandparents or great grandparents by finding old love letters or journals and diaries that they wrote during WWI or WWII. Through these personal letters, we get an intimate snapshot of what their lives were like and who they were as people. However, with technology and communication becoming more and more synonymous every day, it does not seem so far-fetched to say our children and grandchildren will relive the stories of our lives through old hard drives and Internet files.
It slightly disturbs me to think my children will be able to access my old Facebook status updates to see what my thoughts or activities of the day were. They will be able to see firsthand my pictures and interests, as well as everyone I was “friends” with via social networks. The truly scary part, however, is the possibility that they will remember me not through an intimate account of my personal thoughts and details of my life events, but rather through a public forum that gives a watered-down description of who I am.
Social networking is so thoroughly integrated into our society that it is not just my generation that has adapted to it but also my parents’ and even my grandparents’ generation that have bought into it. Even e-mail is less frequent because all my friends and family have the ability to keep up with me by writing short messages on my wall, viewing my pictures and seeing my daily status updates. “Real time” has become so paramount that people take pause in milestone moments to inform the world of said milestone moment through status updates.
Moreover, how we represent ourselves through these mediums is interesting as well. The operative word in public forum is public. Much like when we are going on a first date or meeting new people, we tend to want to look our best. It’s no different online. Social networking — despite how much we all want to deny it — has a large component of vanity to it. How many of us have gone through our Facebook profiles and untagged all the unflattering photos others have taken of us? Or spent a precarious amount of time editing and re-editing our interests and “about me” sections? It’s still us — but it’s the more dressed up, “show-and-tell” version of us.
Social networking has made itself a staple in our society and has proven that it is here to stay. That’s all fine. But let us not forget to leave something else behind. These “artifacts” could be diary entries that we wrote thinking no one would ever read them, handwritten letters to relatives who don’t know how to use e-mail, and maybe even choosing to leave the bad photos on Facebook along with the good. Because for a generation that has so much potential, we don’t deserve to be remembered solely through our status updates.
Image by Muffet.
Yesterday, Mashable announced Ford’s plan to unveil the new Ford Explorer via a dedicated Facebook page.
Typically, Ford would unveil a new design at the Detroit Auto Show but the team decided to capitalize on an opportunity to make its mark around a product launch.
If you haven’t explored the page, here’s a quick breakdown on the context of how things came about prior to Ford’s big Reveal day:
- The Ford Explorer Facebook page was created on March 16, 2010. Ford utilized social ads to drive traffic to the page with the promise of giving away a Ford Explorer if the page surpassed 30,000 fans. The giveaway was key in helping build a fan base before launch day.
- A custom tab labeled “Reveal” was set up to serve as a hub for the launch day activity. In essence, Ford’s newsroom for the day as it positioned itself as a key media hub.
- A build-your-own widget was created to assist users in creating their own perfect Explorer.
- Planned content was unveiled throughout the day featuring rich content that went live on the Facebook page wall, Ford YouTube channel and Flickr channel. Content includes:
Though we would all love to think that this innovative launch helped Ford sell zillions of Ford Explorers and created a perfect case study for pairing social media and ROI, let’s look at the approach from a bit more practical standpoint.
Ford was smart. Why? Here are a few reasons…
- INNOVATIVE HOOK: This is the first time that Ford has unveiled an automobile outside of a car show. This is the news hook that various news sites and blogs have been picking up.
- FOCUS ON CONTENT: Appropriate interesting content is necessary to get your target audience involved and enthused about the product. In this case, Ford phased their content so fans were encouraged to return several times today as new content went live. In addition, all content is hosted on familiar social media platforms, encouraging easy sharing and embedding.
- INTEGRATION ACROSS MARKETING: Advertising, PR, social marketing and direct marketing are all in synch to support and extend the campaign. Brilliant integration of the Facebook “like” buttons into online media ads.
- CALL TO ACTION: Besides just viewing the content, visitors were able to enter the sweepstakes contest, find unveil events in their market and easily engage with the “build your own Explorer” module.
- OPEN ENGAGEMENT: The wall posts were honest and seemingly uncensored with good, neutral and negative posts from visitors showing that Ford is interested in real conversation. Ford continues to monitor the posts and is responding to questions and comments.
24 hours later, how did Ford fare from its creative launch?
- Brian Skepys notes that Ford increased its fan base by 10,000 fans in one day (currently at 53,000+ fans) and has most certainly prompted competitors to begin thinking about alternative ways to launch cars outside of the traditional auto show setting.
- WE’s twendz tool shows strong positive sentiment around #fordexplorer hashtag. In addition, kudos for the team for integrating a promoted tweet into search queries around #fordexplorer. While the Ford Twitter profile remained active throughout the day yesterday, it seems that the team could have done more on the stream to maximize utility around the great content it had created and to tap influencers within target market launches nationwide.
- On the video front, the spots positioned on the page Reveal tab generated a total of 50,857 views — not bad for day one as this will continue to snowball as buzz spreads. Hopefully the Ford team is digging deep on YouTube Insights to assess the demographics of its viewers and look at the referral links and search terms driving views.
- The launch strategy alone created significant blog activity helped create a side door entry to garnering buzz.
- All wall post chats throughout yesterday generated strong response and active dialogue. Kudos for opening up dialogue with consumers from a variety of different perspectives. These chats will likely provide incredible direct feedback from some of Ford’s most passionate brand enthusiasts. Hopefully the team will create easy-to-access transcripts of each of the full chat sessions.
Did Ford Miss Any Opportunities?
Opportunities will always surface after the fact. Ron Callari does note one important potential miss around focusing on the Explorer’s Web-based features. As Ron notes, these features may have been of particularly relevant to the targeted social savvy audience base.
Kudos. Time will reveal the full impact of this launch but the fact of the matter is that Ford ditched the old school strategy of dumping millions into traditional advertising and instead created a smart, interactive and integrated campaign that took their messaging and content direct to consumers. For an industry that constantly relies and thrives on innovation, Ford took advantage of an opportunity to step outside of its comfort zone and create an alternate strategy to generating buzz.
Last but not least, it will only take a couple handfuls of these to justify the effort:
@nathanmisner also provided analysis for this post.
Over on my Facebook page I’ve been playing host to a weekend-long debate, which has evolved into a discussion worthy of it’s own blog post.
The question: Are we dumbing down as a culture? And if so, what role does media play?
Cited: 3 dueling op-eds
- Does the Internet Make You Dumber? WSJ, Nicholas Carr quotes the Roman philosopher Seneca: “to be everywhere is to be nowhere,” arguing that the hyperlinked structure of the internet contributes to a persistent state of distraction which, research indicates, hampers deep thought and, along with it, retention of information and absorption of knowledge.
- Mind Over Mass Media, NYT, Stephen Pinker argues that new forms of media have always caused panics (the printing press, newspapers, television, paperbacks), but such panics fail reality check. The oft-bemoaned perception that we are dumbing down as a culture is not supported by evidence to the contrary, such as the modern output of scientific innovation.
- Does the Internet Make You Smarter? WSJ, Clay Shirky references historical disruptions in culture fueled by new media evolutions (the Protestant Reformation, fueled by print) to illustrate the pattern of initial break-down of cultural/intellectual norms followed by an explosion of new creative outputs which raised societies to a new level.
The debate sub-streams
- To what extent does media contribute to the dumbing down of a culture? Or does it? Or is it the symptom of a dumbed down culture? Evidence to support the “dumbing down” hypothesis is seen in the insipidness of so-called “Reality TV,” the political and cultural extremes cultivated by and reinforced by news agendas (FOX) and the 24-hour news cycle, and the persistent distraction we suffer from as a result of our hyperlinked, short-form internet and social media behaviors. Does media fuel this, or is it merely a mirror reflecting the culture as it is? Or is it a distorted mirror, reflecting culture at the edges?
- Why are there so few culturally and politically meaningful comedians compared to two to three decades ago? Who are the Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor of today? (John Stewart and Stephen Colbert of course…) Is this evidence of a cultural dumbing down? Or is it evidence simply of the business-minded Hollywood machine which has optimized to produce pulp for the masses rather than the edges?
- And what about the role of education and critical thinking? One could argue that all three of the op-ed author’s arguments about the impact of the internet and social media on us as a culture are accurate — the internet, like all media, is simply an amplifier — widening the gap by which the dumb are becoming dumber, the smart, smarter. But isn’t it really an issue of critical thinking abilities and the willingness to apply them? Is this skill being taught more or less than a generation or two ago? (remember McCarthyism?) Does classical education or internet-enabled knowledge assimilation contribute more or less to one’s ability to absorb and [critically] process knowledge?
The meta: the medium is the message
Interestingly, the discussion is in many respects an example of “the medium is the message” at play:
- Living room —> Web —> Facebook. The conversation originated in my living room as a wine-sotted debate between my husband and our neighbor, crossed over onto social media when I opened my laptop to hunt down the NYT op-ed as my contribution to the debate, then posted on Facebook.
- Internet-facilitated connection of culturally and geographically dispersed nodes. Once on Facebook, the discussion then drew in an individual from my hometown (whom I hadn’t spoken to in 20-years, aside from him friending me on Facebook), my husband (sitting across the room from me debating with me on Facebook from his iPhone), a martial arts buddy from across the country and a couple work colleagues from opposite coasts.
- Facebook’s alienation of “professional creators” via sketchy privacy and copyright policies. Meanwhile my neighbor exited the debate completely once he walked across the street and went home because, as a professional photographer, he wants nothing to do with Facebook and its questionable privacy and copyright issues.
So what do you think? Are we dumbing down as a culture? And does the internet and social media play a role?
George W. Bush has a Facebook page and a Twitter account as of yesterday, although the latter appears to be fake. Still, Bush’s foray into the social media world makes perfect sense to me: Twitter and Facebook are great tools for listening to what people have to say. And the former president, as we know, has always been interested in what Americans are talking about — whether we know he’s listening or not.
All jokes aside, I’m glad to see more politicians using social media. It promotes transparency in government. For example, it’s easy for most voting-age Americans to watch Obama’s failed campaign promise to bring troops home from Iraq within 16 months. Thanks to social media, it’s tougher to flip flop, go back on promises or mislead the public. In a sense, we the people are poised to take over the traditional media’s job of keeping government accountable. That is a level of democracy the founders of this country could never have dreamed of.
Then again, social media can’t prevent scandals or stop power from corrupting. Future Governor Sanfords probably won’t create a Facebook photo album called “Appalachian Trail” and post pics from Argentina; future Monica Lewinskis probably won’t tweet “I’m under the podium, lol!” but the fact remains that social media helps keep politicians accountable. There are tens of millions of people on Twitter and hundreds of millions on Facebook, and their ability to spread news and shape opinions is making it tough for politicians to hide things in the shadows.
However, social media provides something even more important than transparency: Connection. Through social media, politicians can connect directly with their constituents in the same way corporate leaders can connect with company stakeholders. In Ye Olde Days, political candidates would ride trains from township to township. But towns aren’t communities anymore. Social networks are communities. Word doesn’t spread from village to village, Paul Revere-style. Word spreads via viral trends online. So, as more politicians join our online communities, their ability to listen to and understand us becomes greater.
Back to the matter at hand, I say congratulations to Bush’s staffers for getting “him” online. I say “him” with quotes because he isn’t running either account. Bush is not trying to build relationships and he is not trying to connect with people, which means his move is more of a publicity / reputation management stunt than anything else. That automatically makes it a failure as a social media strategy because nobody is interested in a boring feed of tweets like this: “Since leaving office, President Bush has remained active. He has visited 20 states and 8 countries.” Ooh la la.
This kind of social media is easy to spot because of the way it fails. Bush has just 7,000 followers on Twitter and 92,000 on Facebook, as of today. That is miniscule — Bill Gates got more than 100,000 followers on Twitter in 8 hours and John McCain has more than 560,000 fans on Facebook. Getting involved in social media is a nice thought, but it has to be done right. Consider Bush’s Facebook page. Since the page is public, rather than personal, people can’t even “poke” Bush, as many people lamented on Twitter yesterday. Maybe the Twitter account isn’t entirely worthless though… if Bush isn’t contributing his own thoughts, I guess he’ll just have to re-tweet Karl Rove.
Image by Jill Clardy
Posted on February 26, 2010 by Melinda Moseler — Comments Off
To get a better understanding of where we are today we often need to look to the past. In a recent MediaShift blog post Craig Silverman shares insight about what was happening (or more accurately what wasn’t) in Turino, Italy, during the 20th Winter Olympics in 2006.
Graeme Menzies (formerly worked for Microsoft), now director of online communications, publications and editorial services for the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) noticed how much buzz YouTube was getting, yet it was not being utilized at the Turino games.
The social media landscape in 2006 wasn’t what it is today.
“The website is the mother ship,” Menzies said. 60 million site visitors over the period of the Games and somewhere near a 1.5 billion and 1.6 billion page views — and humbly admits they can’t possibly create it all and engagement with audience is a large focus.
Each medium has its place. The fans own the Facebook conversation. He Compares Twitter to a telegram and reminds us after a few minutes content may not be relevant. YouTube continues to be a huge draw.
They’ve also released a free mobile app, provides as much content as the Online Spectators Guide, Cultural Olympiad, news and up-to-date images from the web-site.
“We’re done at end of March, so our goal is to be in the moment…being ahead of the pack is just as bad as being behind. We don’t want to be on the bleeding edge or behind the times. We want to be in the moment.” Of course this will change by 2012 for the next round of Olympics…..
This is a great example (imho) of learning from the past, moving forward with a strategic media plan (which includes traditional mediums not discussed in depth here) and using current digital media tools to reach specific audiences and engaging with different demographics in campaign with a short time span.
Yes, the action is right in our backyard but the passion surrounding this Winter Olympics seems to be at crazed level this round, eh? How are you following the 2010 Winter Olympics events? What do you think we’ll see change as we move forward in 2012? Sadly, I know I just have a few more days “to be in the moment.”
To be honest, I’m more than a bit worried when it comes to kids and their communication skills. I’ll take it multiple steps further and say I’m concerned about the current trends around how we all get and share information.
While Idiocracy was an absolutely terrible movie, it did paint what many fear may just be the future of mankind. For those who have avoided wasting 84 minutes of your life on the film, allow me to summarize the concept briefly. In the movie, survival of the fittest has been replaced by survival of the dumbest as laziness and an obsession with mindlessness has rotted our species’ brains over time. We in turn are left with societies that can’t think for themselves and spend days on end watching trash TV, contributing nothing and rapidly devolving.
Results from a recent survey by the Pew Research Center underscore what may be construed as a similar, though far less exaggerated decline. The study, which was released on Wednesday, indicates that the percentage of teens and young adults who actively blog has dropped off by about 50 percent when comparing 2009 with 2006. As was predicted, the other main trend of the study revolved around the meteoric rise in the popularity of social networks.
As long(er) form methods of communication drop off in favor of status updates and wall posts, where will the future content creators of tomorrow hone their writing skills? Will uploading mobile photos and clicking “like” displace thoughtful discourse and ultimately lead to a dumbed-down society? Before LiveJournal there were journals but what comes after them both?
Image credit: Marind
Ever since I joined Facebook in 2004 (and MySpace at some forgettable moment likely before then), I’ve been interested to see how social networking impacts an individual’s social structure. When one of my more outgoing friends reached the 1,000-friends mark during Facebook’s first year, my interest in that question intensified. Would this friend truly be able to maintain meaningful relationships with such a large group of people?
The short, predictable answer is no, and countless numbers of people have been interested in this very question, including, most famously, Robin Dunbar, professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. Though the results of his study will be published later this year, the Times Online has the early scoop on Dunbar’s latest findings. Some key excerpts below.
Dunbar is now studying social networking websites to see if the “Facebook effect” has stretched the size of social groupings. Preliminary results suggest it has not.
“The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world,” said Dunbar.
“People obviously like the kudos of having hundreds of friends but the reality is that they’re unlikely to be bigger than anyone else’s.”
Having some scientific proof of this constraint, how will this affect how companies attempt to become a part of their customers’ online life?
Image by acordova