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Category: Social Media & Digital

Google+ and Digital Trends

Google+ and digital trends for marketing, PR, advertising and salesGoogle built it and people are coming, well coming to create profiles anyway.

Google+ still feels pretty empty and only full of those who particularly like the sound of their own voices, but so far so good. The stats are reassuring so far and ‘everyone’ is talking about it. But will the ‘the people’ come, will they use it, and most importantly will they end up staying on it?

It remains an open question at the moment despite the huge amount of column inches written and an even greater amount of media speculation in the weeks since launch. Most of which, it’s fair to say, has been written by men and a great deal of it by the early adopters, many of whom are in their 30s and 40s ie Generation X, who appear to make up the bulk of the GooglePlusers so far.

Now forgive me for being unduly commercial here, but unfortunately the Gen X’s might make a lot of noise but there has never there been a more cash-starved generation in recent history – they are the true Squeeze Generation. Many are wrestling with high debt, high mortgages, high-maintenance offspring, rising cost of living (and the cost of educating said offspring in the UK), aging parents and a very difficult personal economic situation whereby most don’t have any savings or pensions.

Boomers and Seniors are in a much better state, generally, with more disposable income per head – in the US in 2011 the biggest age group is 50 and the 50+ age groups have $2.4 trillion in annual income, which accounts for 42% of all after-tax income. The Millennials aren’t doing so badly either if they are living with their parents ie the Boomerang generation, or being bank rolled by them, which seems to be a growing percentage, certainly in the UK.

So what do these top and tail generations all think about Google+?

If you ask your average CEO, teen or grandma about Google+ and she (she because 85% of brand buyers are women) will look at you blankly. All of the ones I asked are on Facebook, and they still looked at me blankly. Most haven’t even registered the furor and to be honest, none of them seemed that bothered. Now, I hate to get commercial and pedantic about this, and I know it was hardly a large sample and this was the general reaction to Facebook and Twitter in the early days, but this isn’t the early days of social media and so if we accept that they might just be representative, where does that leave us?

As a digital Consultant I spend a lot of time reading, researching and looking into the future at how things might pan out. At the moment I think there are a number of issues at play and no one can predict the way it’ll pan out with any confidence given Google’s weight and ability to influence users, but the strongest issues I have noted already are:

1. Mobile Creating Social Silo’s – most Millennials don’t use email except for sign ups and they bypass Search unless they are doing a school, uni or research project. They are surprisingly slow to adapt to new networks and most stick with what they know. Just because they ‘grew up with’ social media doesn’t mean they are quick to adapt or comfortable being early adopters. The way they use social media is also interesting – they frequently seem to adapt the way they use the site to do what they want it to do, so there is no added incentive for them to leave.

2. Habit. Most peeps haven’t the time to use more than two or three social networks and most are entrenched in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and struggle to keep up to date with those. Most ordinary people “CBA” (“can’t be arsed”; it’s a Millennial term apparently) it would appear, especially Boomers (who are surprisingly techno phobic or Millennials (who are surprisingly techno lazy). That leaves the smaller pool of generation X peeps, who are – hardly surprising – the ones rushing to use Google+. They like shiny new tools and tend to be mavericks – perfect for early adoption. Whether they will stick it out or whether it’ll be like Wave, Buzz, FriendFeed, Quora and all the rest that they have played with and abandoned, well that remains to be seen.

3. Gimmicks. So what if Google+ has Circles? Facebook has lists, as does Twitter. Few people use them. Trying to force people to use circles isn’t go to work outside of the uber-organized and geeks amongst us (and that does include me, yes). Why? CBA, mate. Especially Millennials. Don’t want your grandma or boss to see your drunk pictures? Unfriend them. Job done. Don’t want the boss or your parents to read your bitching? Use chat or IM. And ignore the fall out. Like wearing tights with holes in them, it really doesn’t seem to bother them what people think. Don’t like it? Tough.

4. Late to the Party. Google are, sorry, but they just are. Social Media is no longer the Wild West, it is accepted, integrated, corporate. People don’t like change but having adopted something they are then unwilling to give it up or change again, there’s just too much history. It’ll have to be forced down their throats, and if Google do that, they may just see most people start to avoid Search and anything ‘Google’ completely. Can they do that? On either side? Oh yes, they really can.

5. Marketplace. Google is obviously after advertising revenue (have you SEEN the vast expanse space it has built in everywhere on Google+?). They want brands in there selling and the people to come and buy from them. They also want to be able to sell advertising space. But to do that they need an audience that has disposable income. I refer you to the points above.

6. Impact on Marketing. Well it’s a game changer, that’s for sure. Demoting search for Twitter and Facebook is one thing, but it won’t stop people using them, just make marketers job more difficult unless they can persuade brands to completely buy into Facebook and Twitter… which they will have to do if that is where people are socializing and sharing and ultimately buying. So in a way Google’s actions may actually backfire because it’s going to be difficult to persuade brands to invest in a network when the actual people who buy are happily socializing elsewhere….Yep, welcome to silo world.

7. Impact on organic SEO. I think the temptation for Google to swing Search towards brands on Google+ is going to be nigh on impossible for them to resist. The trend we already see towards Social Shopping whereby you see what your friends recommend on Facebook is only going to accelerate and that’ll distort SEO as well. The business of SEO is going to get very messy and people may just give up on trying to make content or sites SEO friendly and just pay for social-site specific advertising instead.

So maybe advertising will be the game winner in all this, after all. Just not, perhaps, in the way Google are hoping. I am sure Google have done their research, but whether they have researched the right things or reached the right conclusions is another matter, and whether people (and businesses) will behave in the way Google wants them to is yet another matter altogether.

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Fashionably Late… or Better Late Than Never?

Further adventures in Social Media world

Twitter gets ever more popular, is it too late for businesses to join in?

Twitter gets ever more popular, is it too late for businesses to join in?

A pal of mine announced this week on Facebook that the House DJ consortium KOTG (Keep Off The Grass) he heads up had ‘just discovered Twitter’.

I was stunned.

Not because I thought they shouldn’t, quite the opposite, but because he seems to be into all things online and fairly marketing savvy. He uses Facebook a lot, especially for promoting the KOTG events, so to confess to having ‘only just discovered Twitter’ seemed amazing
especially considering I joined it in 2006, a few months after it launched, and have been known to *ehem* bang on about it a fair bit.

So I asked him – like you do – what had taken him so long? His reply? “The cool kids are always late”, to which I have to confess I laughed out loud, which perhaps wasn’t kind, but while being late might equal cool in the music world (I’m still not convinced, actually), it’s completely untrue when applied to media and technology, which is why over the last decade all the geeks and techno bods have become the coolest kids in the world, let alone town!

In fact, in light of the current social media privacy uproars, that’s actually like claiming that you are being ‘fashionably late’ to a party, when you in truth you spent ages pretending you didn’t really want to go, got lost en route and only manage to turn up when the bouncers have been sent in to straighten the place out and some of the peeps are thinking about calling a taxi.

On the plus side it did get me thinking.

While there is no arguing with the fact that sites go in and out of fashion – just look at ecademy, which was the place to network online in the early noughties and is now somewhere the savviest online networkers and most brilliant techies and businesspeople I know can’t mention without shuddering – at what point in business terms does being ‘fashionable late’ (lol…sorry, still making me chuckle) become ‘don’t even bother’.

Forresters’ report of B2B marketing last year highlighted the way corporations and businesses are using social media in all areas of business from making purchasing decisions, keeping tabs on trends and competitors to promoting their brand and recruiting staff.

And they concluded that if you were B2B business and you weren’t in social media already in 2009 then, as they put it so succinctly, “You’re Late!”

B2B is a way behind B2C social media marketing, and KOTG is definitely B2C, albeit on a small but perfectly formed scale, so where does that leave them in the grand scheme of things? Wasting their time or is it just simply a case of better late than never? We are all aware of how much the sheer ‘noise’ level has increased on Twitter, especially over the last 18 months, and as a digital strategist who uses Twitter as part of marketing cycles for my clients I know it can be an uphill struggle at times, depending on the product and brand. And obviously changes are in the air, as already noted about the privacy uproar.

However, despite everything that’s written about it and all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, and yes the snotty attitudes from some of the ‘latecomers’ and dismissal by others, it can be extremely effective as a marketing tool as long as it is used properly, with proper analysis, reporting and monitoring…

And fun and addictive if it isn’t 🙂

As a girl who has been early in to just about every digital trend there’s ever been, with daughters who use it all as naturally as breathing, I definitely think it’s not going away any time soon and here are my top 5 reasons why I think so:

  1. People’s lifestyles are more fragmented and busier than they have ever been and they can end up feeling disconnected – social media makes it easier to keep up with friends and family and trends, plus it makes it easier to make decisions (what’s everyone else doing?), and makes them feel connected to the wider community. Don’t ever underestimate the power of feeling ‘one of the gang’.
  2. People are used to looking at screens and getting information at the press of a button. It is in our nature to find the short cuts and to want it NOW, so this is our perfect medium, so it really isn’t going to stop any time soon.
  3. The digital revolution has driven a whole new way of working, especially for parents, and in their turn they are raising a generation for whom it is normal for parents to work from home, even if only part time, using a computer, and a huge number do it as a career, marketing themselves, networking online and running their businesses, all using the internet and while they still often ending up looking like something out of The Matrix. It’s becoming the norm, not distinctly odd as it was when I started way back in 1995!
  4. The computers that run the web love anything that is frequently updated and fresh and if that isn’t social media I don’t know what is! Social media = SEO = being visible online = comment/purchases/sales/influence/decisions…etc etc
  5. It’s fun. We are a species who likes to play. We learn when we play and we play as often as we can wherever we can. This is just the latest way we do it and until we get bored it’s here to stay.

So… glad you decided to join Twitter, @ KOTG_DJs, welcome to the party, look forward to reading your tweets! 🙂

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Social Media at Cybermummy Conference 2010

A couple of month’s ago I was up in London to meet with Vodafone peeps about their Working Women campaign, for which I have been one of their Brand Ambassadors.

One of the other women ambassadors was someone I knew in her online persona, A Modern Mother and British Mummy Bloggers, but not in person as Susanna, so it was really nice to get to chat with her face to face at last.

We soon realized we had a huge amount of synergy going on, not least a background of marketing, being early innovators online (we discovered we knew each other from the earliest Twitter days, when there were only about 50 of us Twitter peeps from the UK and not many more from the US!) as well as working virtually to enable us to maintain a professional career and be a hands-on mum.

And out of that came a big discussion about her latest baby, the Cybermummy conference, and I am delighted to share that I will now be speaking at Cybermummy about social media and how you can make it work for you.

The Cybermummy Conference is a first for the UK, who have consistently lagged behind the States with all things WAHM (www.funkyangel.co.uk was the first WAHM site in the UK, launching in 2005) and the online and virtual working mum revolution, and as such is to be welcomed with open arms.

Using technology to work virtually, and being able to promote your business and network without leaving your chair is an amazing thing when you think back to the past and the need to commute to do a job worthy or the title, to have to pay an agency huge sums to promote your startup or new product, or to get up at 5am to go along to a hideous BMI breakfast meeting!

With my business midwife hat on I have noticed a huge improvement in the speed in which a business can be set up and start to turn a profit, just using all the online tools and techniques now available.

The plus points, and they are HUGE, are that women are no longer quite as hampered by biology as previously (still hampered, but nowhere near the same level), children benefit from having their mums (and dads) around more,  household income isn’t swallowed up in traveling or childcare costs, and the business and marketing fields has been leveled quite radically. It has, in fact, never been easier to start a business and the chances of it succeeding are higher than ever before, mainly as a result of the flexibility and lowered costs bought about by technological advances.

The downside is, of course, the isolation when you work from home, and the lack of camaraderie that you have on tap in an office, which is why events like Cybermummy are so important. Networking online is one thing, and very valuable – I met both my business partners, Sally and Helen, through online networking – but the buzz and support you get from being with your peers and colleagues is something else again and a chance not to be missed!

So if you haven’t booked your tickets yet, what are you waiting for?! See you there…

www.cybermummy.co.uk

I consult on social media and media strategy over at The Media Marketing Co, where we do digital marketing and pr strategy and campaigns. If you would like to contact me there, please do, or by my email on claire[at]claireburdett.com

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What Can Social Media do for Your Business?

We’ve all heard about Social Media, heck seems like the whole world is suddenly talking about it in confident – or less than confident – tones, or claiming to be an expert suddenly.

Yet despite the pain of the recession and the realization, albeit slow, of the huge benefits that can be gathered from Social Media involvement for brands, the vast majority of companies still seem confused about how best to leverage Social Media for business, and of the ones who have been brave enough to jump in, most are still only dipping their toes in the Social Media water

Firstly then, for the technophobes amongst us, here’s a quick gallop through the current Social Media landscape, by which we don’t just mean Facebook or Twitter.

The big four in the West are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Blogs play a huge part in raising company profiles online, in fact it is fairly difficult to coordinate a Social Media marketing campaign without one, and in addition there are thousands of smaller and/or more niche sites across the Internet.

Add to that the bookmarking sites – Digg, Stumbled, Delicious – and then all the other myriad forums and special interest sites where you can chat, connect and interact with…er… other human beings, who would like to know about you and what you do, need what you are doing or producing, already know and like what you like.

The biggest rises in social media usage and participation over the last 18 months has been amongst the 35+ professionals and these are likely to be your customers (or potential customers). So how many people are we talking here?

Twitter – 23 million unique visitors per day; 3 million tweets per day

YouTube – 85 million video views per day

Facebook – 300 million active users; 122 million visits per day

LinkedIn – 43 million members; 13 million daily average visits

Blogs – 133 million currently indexed by Technorati

To put that in to concepts you can grasp easily – if Facebook was a country, measured by population it would be almost the size of the USA according to Facebook‟s stats in 2009. On the 16th September it was announced that Facebook‟s online community had crossed the 300 million threshold; according to US census bureaux there are currently 307 million people living in the US. Which means that Facebook really is fairly large, and the fastest-growing group on Facebook are women aged 40+. Desirable consumers in fact.

So why aren’t more businesses using it?

Many of the company owners I have been talking to this year have given me a range of reasons from the old chestnut “You can’t make money on the internet”, to “Twitter and Facebook are just for kids and students with too much time on their hands”, “My colleague/partner/associate says it doesn’t work”, “No one wants to talk about boring Project Management on Twitter”, to that perennial favourite, which is actually the most valid of the lot, “I don’t have time.”

At the other end of the scale the front runners, such as Dell and Starbucks, who are deeply and broadly engaged in Social Media, are reaping the benefits of increased profits, expanded customer base, enhanced brand recognition and reputation. OK, quite a chasm, but exactly what benefits and to what extent are we talking about?

In June 2009, Dell announced they’d earnt $3 million in revenue from Twitter. Which is pretty impressive by anyone’s standards. So how did they do it? Dell reported they were able to use Twitter to post coupons, announce new products and drive traffic to their Outlet Store.

Obviously this didn’t happen overnight, and in fact it took 18 months for Dell to sell their first  $1 million from Twitter, and although the $3 million is a drop in the bucket given Dell’s $12.3 billion in revenue during the first quarter of 2009, it has bolstered Twitter’s case that it can “change businesses‟.

The key to a successful Social Media campaign is to keep it small – small, frequent and focused. Huge creative ideas that make a short massive splash are doomed to fail in this medium, which is the very opposite of traditional advertising, PR and marketing. With a Social Media campaign you need to identify the right platforms to reach the right people, say the right things in the right way, keep the message consistent and frequent, and link everything together to make a cohesive and integrated whole. Here, small is good.

The bad news is that you have to be consistent over a period (from three to 18 months is standard before you get measurable and tangible results) and that means every day, every day, every day, sending a consistent message out that people will like.

That means tracking down the people who want what you are selling and taking it to them – the sheer volume of noise communications on Social Media means you can’t rely on people coming and finding you and then buying from you.

Like, I said, it isn’t traditional media – Social Media is crowd driven and everyone here is equal, so you have to go out and:

• Find your potential purchasers i.e. Your Tribe

• Work out what they need and want

• Tailor what you are selling to fill that need

• Take it to them – which may require changing how you are selling it

• Wash and repeat.

So, simple, yes. Easy, no. But the good news is that:

• You don’t actually have to make time or learn new tricks, there are people who can do it all for you.

• You don‟t have to spend huge amounts of money; a successful Social Media (SM) campaign can be very cost effective and still give an excellent ROI.

• And it certainly isn’t just for the Big Boys – in fact the modest inherit this particular earth a whole heap quicker than the boastful – just watch followers and fans fall away if you bang your own drum too much.

Interestingly, the incorporation of Social Media into the business toolkit has resulted in the playing field being effectively and literally evened because Social Media is about people having conversations about stuff that interests them, baffles them, inspires them, helps them, intrigues them and downright annoys them. And your brand and your services and products will fit right along in there, whatever your size, so long as you remember this is a conversation not a lecture. Engagement is all.

This article is an excerpt from ‘WTF Can Social Media do for Your Business’, published 2009, and this extract was first published in Wikizine, the online magazine of Wikidivorce.
© Claire Burdett 2009.

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