Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Will Facebook Rule The World? Sell Apple?

Uhm no to Facebook. Maybe for Apple.

I was looking at the Fortune 500 because Apple's earnings disappointed. They only had a 20% earnings increase. With quarterly profits ONLY double Facebook's 2011 Revenues! Do you know how long it would take Facebook to get to have even as much revenues as Apple has in profits?!!! Years. 

And I remembered when big bad Microsoft everyone was freaking out. They were taking over the world. Well they were once the most valuable company in the world. Now they rank 37th in the US. They are worth $241bil as of today. They were once worth almost $500bil. In 1999. Apple is $537bil today. In today's dollars Microsoft was worth $650 billion back then!

So Facebook if they are lucky will rule the moment or the year. But they will fall just like everyone else. Very few companies have staying power. Not hundreds we are talking tens. Tens world wide. So don't get caught in the hype. In late 1999 someone bought Microsoft at $58 a share. Today they can be bought for $28 a share.

Time spent has been dropping. All sorts of metrics point to Facebook having peaked in terms of user activity. Yet they only corner 11 minutes of our day. Out of a 24 hour day. And they might of peaked........tells me there are other time sucks waiting to be invented.

Do you sell Apple? Have they peaked? Will they become like Microsoft a cash cow behemoth? We don't know. But stock price is based on future earnings and earning growth. Not past performance. All I can say is careful when you buy. Careful when you sell.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Let's Face It You Never Had Control

Working on a new client project. This client had no social media presence. They are a B2C/B2B Home Service Provider. B2B because they can also service commercial properties. The consumer target is upper middle class and above. 

I do not get the email alerts when a new follow is on Twitter. Someone I connected with is young and while fits the demographic (or knows many people who do) had something in her bio that offended my client. She is a minor TV Personality and Model who called herself a hooker and a bitch. She isn't a hooker but she calls herself one because she thinks it is cool and funny. Twitter is filled with porn stars, pimps, bitches, ho's, niggaz, racists, mafiasos,  crazies, gangstas, etc. I have a rule anyone posting unsavory content in my own feed or a clients I unfollow. I can block them but this won't stop them from tweeting about me or my client. I just don't want to see their tweets in the feed.

I got an email that my client didn't want a 'prostitute' in their network. And they are allowed to ask this and so I blocked this account. Then I felt it a good time to explain they have no real control. I have no control. Accept it. It is actually a good thing usually.

Name the brand they all have customers they don't want to know for real. I can list quite a few scary hashtags on Twitter with crazy content. I have no control and my client and brands have no control over what is said. We never have.

I can't stop this person from creating new accounts to follow my client. Same on Facebook. Everyone who knows me, knows that Mashable banned me from commenting on articles I felt were poorly written or deceiving. I have 4 personal twitter accounts. I can create more. I still comment. They blocked just my @SkyPulseMedia . They can't stop me or anyone. I slam them on Twitter all the time. They can not stop me. So they ignore me. And I don't blame them.

But this is good. The enemy you know is easier to deal with than the enemy you don't. The person I blocked for my client has no reason to say anything bad or become a 'terrorist' like I am towards Mashable. But if you wronged someone they can and often will. It happens. People go Delta Skelta.

But I also explained that before Social Media real damage was done in private. People complained, lied, even slandered and still do behind brand's backs. In places they can never see. Doing real damage. They still do. Most human communication is not visible to brands. 

But isn't it great that now there are platforms for these people to rant and tweet on? You might cringe thinking 'But they have networks of people who will see it'. But they always did off line. But now we can know the threat. We can fix the brand image. We can engage. And we can even convert angry people into brand ambassadors. 

Having no control of what is said via Social can be a good thing. Most people want to feel good about your brand. Imagine being able to fix issues with 80% of your upset customers when before they just stewed and complained and you never knew?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The problem with Twitter and Twitter Apps/Platforms

This has been bugging me a long time. There is no desktop nor Mobile App that gives me everything I need. I am not sure why. Bizarrely the same company will have differing tools between mobile and desktop.

For example: I can retweet using the Twitter Mobile App and add a comment. I can not do this on the desktop. Why?

Hootsuite doesn't auto shorten at all. Why?

Using Twitter's Twitpic shows me how many people viewed a photo. from Hootsuite does not. Why?

I can add custom streams on Hootsuite but not Twitter. Why?

How come I can not get basic analytics showing me number of Retweets and mentions per week and month from either? Why? 

I need a special report from Hootsuite to show link clicks  and Twitter offers nothing here? Why?

The auto-fill for my network connections work in Hootsuite desktop but not Mobile App? Twitter desktop gives me some but not all. Why?

How come none of the photo uploaders give me an easy way to mass delete or manage all the photos that have been uploaded to them? Why?

Twitter does not have a tool for Tweet scheduling? Why?

What I see is a bunch of useful tools that are only half complete. Tools that require me to use other tools from different brands all for the same purpose of using Twitter. Why should I have to patch together my use of this service using 6 or 7 different tools?

Granted it is better in totality than Facebook. We all know Facebook insights to be very weak and not accurate or in effect more rosy than they really are. And you can't listen on Facebook like you can with Twitter. So why isn't Twitter realizing how much more powerful their tool can be than Facebook, especially for marketers if they make it easier for us to use and manage? If they want to monetize they had better start doing this soon because it threatens their business. Trust me I see the sponsored Tweets in Hootsuite and this is not going to make them a lot of money long term.

But they could easily have their photo and video sharing hosted on a YouTube/Flickr style platform that allows easy management and offer another place to host ads. They could complete their tool set for marketers. Facebook is a passive platform. Twitter is active. Big difference. They should take advantage of this.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Asking the Right Questions

Do you have a marketing consultant or agency working with you now? If not do you get approached by any? How many pitch their services without talking about your business? How many don't ask questions about your goals? How many don't do a simple Google to look at your online and possibly your offline marketing efforts?

I get a lot of emails from agencies that offer free E-Books and Webinars to showcase what they do. I sign up because I want to see what the competition is doing. Too often the content is "We will do this for you" without asking if "This" is right for your business. Or they showcase a case study but no proof anything worked. Or have the wrong perspective. Often to make what they do look rosy and attracting.

When looking for Marketing and Advertising help and advice the biggest red flag is when your potential vendor doesn't focus on your needs and your results. They should ask you more questions than they do 'Selling you stuff'. When they say 'What is your budget' before they review your business and ask questions about goals, they really mean 'How much money of yours is for the taking'.

I get this stuff representing a client all the time. Whether daily deals, advertising opportunities, promotional events, they never ask me what my client's goals are. They never ask me what I am looking for. They want to know the budget for something not budgeted. They want something beyond my clients current resources (did they not use the Google?). I know they mean well. But really what I see is they are pushing the sales pitch so they can sell, close the deal, make themselves money.

This is a service business. My service is helping you make money. My service is helping you maximize that based on your available resources. 

It could be training your staff how to use social media more effectively. It could me figuring out the best types and outlets for paid media. It could be improving your customer service or brand image. 

My service to not me making money. 

I am supposed to make money only by helping you grow, sell, improve. If I am not doing that I should be fired. And you should look at all marketing agencies and media vendors that way.

Did your agency or consultant ask you the right questions?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are Your Employees Your Brand Ambassadors?

The genesis for this post is from an experience I had last night at a minor league baseball game. The park is beautiful, very fan and family friendly. Concessions used to be very reasonable now they are edging to the high-ish end. All the employees are friendly and helpful. The home team is a Class A club for a Major League team very far away. They are very heavy into Twitter and Facebook and do it pretty well. Though last night was Social Media Monday Night. Tweet Your Seat for a chance to win a bobble head doll ...of the state Governor. They already gave out 1500 of them. Seriously? That is not enough reason for me to tweet my seat. I tweeted to tell them their phone app sucks (what were you thinking ATT for making such a horrible app?)

Back to my story. My friend Cheryl Burgess at Blue Focus Marketing has been blogging for awhile about the Social Business. Her take which I agree on, is that all your employees represent your business whether they think so or not. Online and offline. They have potential to be your greatest brand ambassadors. If they are happy and treated as assets by a company they will pay you back every time they deal with customers, clients, vendors, each other. They will do this online and off. Now I recently bashed on someone writing about social business who failed to take into account the fact if employees are not paid well and 'it's just a job' to them, they will never be your brand ambassadors or by in to the social business ideal.

So last night two employees selling concessions. One had beer and peanuts. Peanuts was $4. Beer $3.75.

'Isn't anyone drinking? Peanuts $4. Oh I know they are over priced. But you are at the ball park and I have food for you' 

People laughed at his honesty. But I am not sure my feelings on this. To me I might reconsider some of my price points.

Another concessionaire in the seats walks by me. His shirt says 'Turning every visitor in a loyal fan' on the back. I asked him if he was doing that. He said 'Haha! no not me' 
Which said to me he isn't paid enough to truly buy in to this great purpose.

I say this often. With 98 or 99% of human communication private, you can not separate offline from online. You must consider how every employee and customer will feel about your business, products and brand. And make them your real brand ambassadors. I wonder how many of the 30 Trillion emails sent each year in the US contain discussions on businesses and products you will never see or hear with much more damaging results than anything said online. Or how many more visitors that concessionaire will not turn into a loyal fan in person while you see his one Tweet saying 'Go Team' has you snowed everything is fine in Happyville. If your employees are not happy offline they will never be your brand ambassadors online or anywhere.

What actions are you taking with your business and employees that ensure their offline and online presence is one of positive promotion of your brand, your products, and your mission?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Offline word of mouth trumps online today

I recently had a short Twitter exchange with Ted Rubin because he wrote a blogpost called Want to Scale Social Messaging get your customers to help.

The thesis is great. But reality is your customers don't care enough to help you. We all know the current platforms suck for scale. You can't reach most of your customers via social only a small percent. Partially because people on average only like to engage with 2-5 brands regularly so good luck being in that group, and everyone has such busy feeds if we see 3% of the posts and tweets we are lucky. So good luck having your message seen. On top of that so few people retweet and share stuff and with each person averaging only 13 mins of Social Media use a day most of our time is spent elsewhere.

But it sure would be great if I could get my customers to share more for me. We are big fans of Chobani. I LIKE and RETWEET anything I see of theirs on Facebook or Twitter. Yet rarely see anything. They post and tweet a lot though. I just don't see their stuff. 

So what do you do? I was at a dinner Tuesday night. about 20+ people. All owned smart phones. None were using them. I was talking marketing with the owner of American Flatbread a very popular casual but upscale restaurant in Waitsfield, VT near the Sugarbush and Mad River Glenn Ski Resorts. They don't do that much on social but have nice followings in spite of that. They do some paid advertising. They are always packed. George said when he goes to tables asking where they heard about them this is what they always say: 'I was on the Ski Lift and I asked the person on the lift with me where to eat that is good'. That is the number one response by far. They make a great flatbread pizza with local ingredients and their staff is very good.

Yes when people are pissed they will come to social to complain. And some will come to praise when they are happy. But Social lacks scale. It should be part of every marketing effort. And definitely take what it gives which is one on one engagement, customer service and brand building. But for scale? It would take an army of employees to talk with all your fans and followers every day.

I have said on this blog many many times. The biggest marketing impact will be focusing on a great product or service, great customer service, and the right price point. The rest will take care of itself. Offline. Via Word of Mouth.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Auto Advertising...Cars Must Sell Themselves

Recently my friend Gunther Sonnenfeld linked a story about Ford using Ryan Seacrest to launch the Fusion with a Social Campaign. We got into whether this will help sell cars dragging in @Ford and Scott Monty.

Instead of dissecting the tweets because I was a cynic and they felt the impact will be outsized, I did some basic research. Ford has an eroding cash flow position. Their stock is down 50% from it's peak of $18 last year. The current Fusion is on pace to sell 225,000 units this year. This is their big family car and they need to grow the sales. Not sure their target number.

Scott was the brains behind the Fiesta Movement. This effort helped sell 30,000 cars ($390 million) which was highly praised and impressive. But now the Fiesta is failing.

@Ford told me they have 70 Facebook Pages. I checked it out. The top 2 are for Ford and Mustang:

Worldwide since that is what Facebook is they have 190,000 actions per week on the two pages. This totals new Likes of the page, Likes of posts, Comments, and Fan Posts. So just under 30,000 a day but just over 3,000 a day for the Ford page.

They have a Fusion Page:

But they have only 500+ actions per day.  I estimate Ford needs to reach millions and millions in the US each week. But Scott and Gunther feel reaching 10,000 engaged fans is better than reaching tens of  millions that only half pay attention.

But here is the catch. Cars have to sell themselves. Forget any spokesperson, TV ad, Radio spot, or Facebook page. The minute that car hits the street it is a rolling advertisement. You see it cruising and you see who is driving it. One of my favorite car commercials is the Kia Soul Hamsters. This car is aimed at the 18-25 year old market. But in person the car is pretty dorky vs what I see in the commercial. And in Albany NY I never see anyone under 50 driving it. So my view is kind of ugly car for old people. Won't buy.

When we do buy a car we have issues like price, what kind of financing is available, the local dealer ads and incentives. When we see them in person we decide immediately if we want one. And we ask people we see driving them in person (not via Social) if they like the car. I assume the Fiesta owners are not a glowing army for Ford now days. Or also possible the new Focus or competition has eaten into the sales?

So can 10,000 engaged fans for Ford propel the Fusion to sell more than 225,000 units? Maybe. But I am not very optimistic. There is a lot of competition in that car segment. And Ryan Seacrest isn't going to sway anyone in my opinion. Now I will state since Ford is going to spend big on this launch I fully agree with their campaign as part of an integrated marketing plan. 

I will end by highly recommending you listen to the last Mitch Joel - Joseph Jaffe podcast on Facebook. They have some very good takes on Social for Brands and why we really don't engage or care about them. I will revisit this launch when the data comes in. But it is safe to say if the car isn't attractive when seen on the road, or the right price point, neither social nor paid media is going to fix this. The car must sell itself.

Also if Auto Advertising is of interest Chris Baccus has a great one it is linked to your left!

Author's note: We love Ford. And we want them bountiful success. This post is more a discussion on Auto Advertising and Social Media vs any car or company viewpoints.