October 1, 2007
Comparing Wal-Mart and Target on Facebook
Target has over 7,000 members and mostly positive comments in a vibrant set of discussions. The Wal-Mart group on the other hand has a little over 1,200 members, no discussions are allowed, and the wall postings are mostly negative.
What is the difference do you think, except for the fact that a large portion of the population believes that one of the two companies is truly evil?
The Wal-Mart home page looks like another interactive ad.. The Target home page is more inviting and enlists the help of users to co-create the experience. Any other differences that you can think of that would result in such a difference in membership and tone of conversation?
We can take the discussion to Facebook - in fact I started a thread on the subject in the Marketing 2.0 group, where we now have more members than the Wal-Mart Facebook group.
September 20, 2007
What is the marketing potential of LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace
Reveries.com conducted a survey on the potential of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace as media for marketing activities (pdf download of survey summary results and analysis are here). The main finding seems to be that marketers are in the very early stages of truly understanding the potential of these new networks - with only 18% of the respondents calling the potential of online social networks as a medium for marketing "huge".
Other interesting tidbits from the survey include the fact that marketers see "word of mouth" as the most promising aspect of social networking sites, and that many pointed out that marketers should participate in the conversations that take place on those sites without interrupting them.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many spammers have already invaded Facebook, Myspace and other similar sites. Go check the walls of the most popular interest groups in Facebook to see for yourself - many are littered with posts that are total sales pitches or with information that is totally irrelevant to the group's conversation.
August 24, 2007
Notable and quotable around the blogosphere
Pete Blackshaw has a great post on the value of a FaceBook group which has 53,395 members who are self-proclaimed Starbucks "addicts." Taking into consideration the Word of Mouth effect, he estimates the value of this advocacy group at $100M.
Debi Jones from Mobilejones.com has a great article on attention and the mobile web 2.0. With mobile phone operators knowing exactly who you are, and increasingly knowing where you are, the mobile user click stream is rapidly becoming much more valuable than regular web user click streams. Look for powerful datamining capabilities coming to mobile operators to help marketers take advantage of this goldmine - and for bad marketers to pester you with spam on your mobile phone...
May 3, 2007
What happens when a geek decides to travel around the world?
What do you think happens when a geek decides that he spent too much time in the office, and quits to go travel around the world with his son?
(here is a link to the video for the RSS subscribers)
6,500,000 million views on YouTube, a sponsor paying him to do it again...fame!
April 4, 2007
A big mac - freestyle
Here is another great example of consumers making the ads for large companies - in this case McDonald.
Notice - almost 5,000,000 viewers so far!
(link to video here for RSS subscribers)
January 30, 2007
More research on viral marketing - and supporting the limited role of "influentials"
Right on the heels of learning that the influentials may in fact not be all that influential in causing trends and other social "epidemics", here comes more research (pdf) confirming the limited role of the influentials and heeding marketers that some viral marketing techniques could easily backfire on them.
Jure Leskoved from Carnegie Mellon, Lada Adamic from the University of Michigan and Bernardo Huberman from HP Labs collaborated on this research project where they looked at the dynamics of viral marketing.
Here are some of their findings:
- We find that most recommendation chains do not grow very large, often terminating with the initial purchase of a product.
- Marketers should take heed that providing excessive incentives for customers to recommend
- product purchases are not far from usual 80-20 rule (the top twenty percent of the products account for 20 percent of the sales), with the top 20% of the products contributing to about half the sales
- individuals' likelihood of purchasing a product initially increases as they receive additional recommendations for it, but a saturation point is quickly reached. Interestingly, as more recommendations are sent between the same two individuals, the likelihood that they will be heeded decreases
- Marketers should take heed that providing excessive incentives for customers to recommend products could backfire by weakening the credibility of the very same links they are trying to take advantage of.
- ...we find that the probability of purchasing a product increases with the number of recommendations received, but quickly saturates to a constant and relatively low probability. This means individuals are often impervious to the recommendations of their friends, and resist buying items that they do not want.
- we find that there are limits to how influential high degree nodes are in the recommendation network. As a person sends out more and more recommendations past a certain number for a product, the success per recommendation declines. This would seem to indicate that individuals have influence over a few of their friends, but not everybody they know.
- Finally, we presented a model which shows that smaller and more tightly knit groups tend to be more conducive to viral marketing.
This paper also exposes the potential long term negative effects of commercializing relationships on the value of personal recommendations and word of mouth in general - a practice used aggressively by some well known marketers.
January 24, 2007
Online word of mouth is much more powerful (or dangerous) than offline word of mouth
The latest issue of Revenue magazine has an article on the impact of online research on off-line purchases. Quoting from comScore Networks research they found that in the "toy and hobby" category, 42% of people who did online research bought a product directly related to that research - except that 88% of those people made their purchase off-line and only 12% made their purchase online. In the Consumer electronics space, 18% bought based on online research - but 93% of those bought off-line.
Quoting from Opinion Research, they found that "77% of people who do online research before buying a product purchase something when they went to the store the last time they did online research," with "over half (52%) purchased just the item they did research on, while another 18% purchased that item and additional items."
Another Research paper, this one from Perfomics is quoted as saying that "the majority of consumers conduct research online during his year's holiday season and 43% plan to make both online and offline purchases based on that research." It goes further to say that "the majority of consumers become more brand- sensitive after conducting online research."
That pretty much confirms that unlike what some analyst firms pretend, online word of mouth has the potential of being much more effective or dangerous than off-line word of mouth.
Take the personal example of Mercedes Benz which was well documented on this site (Mercedes - a case study on how to squander a great brand, Mercedes says that cars fail in the first 50K miles - after that it's the fault driver, Mercedes Benz does not care about its customers, and Mercedes Benz - poor customer service ROI). For a long while, those rants came out on the top of a variety of Google searches. So if half of the potential buyers do online research before buying, a disproportionate number of them will run into my online rants and at least pause, if not decide against buying this product. The online negative word of mouth reaches a much larger audience than any off-line word of mouth recommendation would have, plus it spans over a much longer period of time, and it also attracts additional negative word of mouth, which only makes the case stronger!
As an example, witness some of the comment excerpts that are still being made on those stories on a regular basis:
- "Just read your blog, Just decided not to purchase a 60K Mercedes I was looking to buy." (01/04/07)
- "I drive a C180 classic kompressor 52 plate with 35K on the clock. Since day of purchase in Feb 06 the colland warning light comes on every few days. The feeder hose has been replaced, the cap and the head gaskett and still the coolant light comes on every few days. My local MB dealership are at a loss what else to do." (11/21/06)
- "I for one will never buy a Mercedes Car again and will continue to discourage others from doing so" (11/07/06)
- "I PURCHASED MERCEDES ML 350, 2006 IN APRIL 2006. FROM DRIVER'S SEAT, THE LEFT SIDE VIEW MIRROR IS ONLY PARTIALLY VISIBLE! I SHOWED THIS TO HBL DEALERSHIP IN TYSONS CORNER VIRGINIA, AND THEY AGREED TO THIS DESIGN ISSUE, WHIC CANNOT BE FIXED, EVEN IF IT IS A SAFETY HAZARD...THE BEST REMEDY IS TO SHUT OFF THE AC DUCTS ON BOTH DRIVER AND PASSGENGER SIDE! THIS IS THE RESPONSE I GOT, FOR PAYING HIGH PRICE FOR THIS EXPENSIVE CAR " (11/03/06)
- "I like most people who feel badly let down by MB will never buy another car from them, I thought I was buying quality and reliabilty." (07/27/06)
- "Like some other people, I decided I shall never buy or even hire a Mercedes car again." (06/22/06)
- "Funny that I stumbled on your site googling MZB's home office customer service...I should have learned my lesson the first time. I will never lease/own a Mercedes again. They do not stand behind their quality, or service. I hope people read this and take notes." (05/26/06)
- "I've run an independent MB repair shop for over 20 years & believed in the quality of their cars...until now. I'm loosing customers left & right. I can't, in good concious, recommend a new merecedes to my loyal customers, some have been with me since I started & wish to keep me as their mechanic.I am seriously thinking of switching to Lexus,since Mercedes stated this is the car it will try to get as good as by 2009." (04/22/06)
There is no way that these stories could have affected that many people over such a long period of time in the off-line world.
December 4, 2006
AdAge picks on the BofA video
AdAge today picked on the recent corporate ode to the Bank Of America and MBNA merger, which was caught on video, uploaded to YouTube and viewed hundreds of thousands of times- calling it a "Ghastly Brand Embarassment," and saying "you'll feel a deep-seated embarrassment unparalleled since you were caught in flagrante by your girlfriend's father."
I think we called the other kind of CGC - Corporate Generated Crap.
November 18, 2006
Citizen generated content on the last elections
This is a great CGM piece on the last elections (via Susan Getgood)
Who ever thought there was a "latent" need for a self-parking car?
Thankfully a marketer at Lexus did...and it works great - sort off...(see movie)
November 10, 2006
The other CGC...
Maybe it's a different kind of CGC all together - corporate generated crap.
November 9, 2006
Peer pressure in Social Media
Giovanni Rodriguez found that the business benefits of social media are becoming quite apparent, but the pressure to stand out -- and do something different -- is mounting (disclosure - I am on the advisory board of Hubbub PR). He starts his excellent post by saying that: “There’s no question – the early success of peer-driven, social-media programs will put pressure on businesses to both adapt and adopt. But, for some leaders, there’s another question: in a world where everyone participates, what does it mean to lead?”
In their rush to stand out, companies and people will screw it up - let's just hope that they don't break it for the rest of us.
October 18, 2006
Confidential ethnographic research on YouTube
Here is a confidential video prepared for Google Internal Use only...fascinating research!
(via Grant McCracken)
September 8, 2006
More people unhappy with Hummer...
Apparently McDonald's is giving away toy miniature Hummer cars with their happy meals, irking environmentalists and causing the Environmental Working Group and HybridCars.com to create the Ronald McHummer Sign-o-matic site (used to create the image in this post).
Responding to the widespread negative feedback to the co-promotion between McDonald's and Hummer, Bob Langert, the VP of Marketing at McDonald's wrote on the company blog - which is ironically named "open for discussion" - "the miniature Hummers are just toys, not vehicle recommendations or a source of consumer messages about natural resource conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, etc."
Talk about the misuse of a corporate blog as a communications vehicle or a marketing tool.
First off, do you think that McDonald's VP of Marketing seriously believes that Hummer is in the business of making kids happy? And do you think that he is expecting people who read his blog to believe that? A cross-promotional deal with Hummer is obviously meant to promote the car to young people. Other car manufacturers like Toyota have clearly decided that pitching cars to this age group will be beneficial in the long run. On a good corporate blog one would expect frank and honest talk - not corporate speak like this.
Matthew Fried from Enviroblog obviously thinks that the VP is either naive or disingenuous, and in doing so exposes the second misuse of McDonald's corporate blog. Apparently he left a comment on the Marketing VP's post yesterday - which still has to be approved. So much for calling the blog "Open for Discussion!"
September 7, 2006
What happens when consumers really do not like you?
This is apparently what is happening to Hummer H2 - with a few people setting up the web site FUH2.com and hundreds of others sending in their own FUH2 pictures - which led to the creation of a poster as well as the video below (via John Winsor).
Social marketing vs. social marketing
Nedra Weinreich from Spare Change and others, who had been using "social marketing" for decades to refer to the use of marketing to address health and social issues, took issue with the new usage of the terminology - especially when Forrester launched a "Social Marketing Bootcamp" and Jupiter launched a "Social Marketing" practice. Forrester backed down and renamed their bootcamp "Social Computing Boot Camp," while Jupiter refused to rename it's practice - fueling the ongoing feud over the use of the terminology.
While it is unclear to me how good a term "social marketing" is to refer to the marketing of social issues - I disliked the new usage of the terminology from the get go.
Using "social marketing" as a catch-all category for the (not-so-new) marketing techniques which include viral marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, community marketing, consumer-generated-content-based marketing, and other social media-based marketing "techniques," not only "hypes up" the value of those methods unnecessarily - it also engenders the danger for misuse, abuse and the ultimate destruction of those marketing techniques for everyone.
Many clueless and panicky marketers, who have witnessed the decline of marketing programs like email marketing and other interrupt-based marketing methods - which incidentally they destroyed in the first place - will now jump on this latest craze and screw it all up! As usual, they will throw dollars and especially technology at the issue without understanding the underlying fundamentals and ethical considerations that allow those methods work in the first place.
You don't believe it? By now, the value of word-of-mouth marketing is being threatened by the lack of disclosure by very large and respected marketers like P&G and others. And with so much "fake" consumer-generated content going around, some people are already asking for some sort of "organic labeling" before it is too late. When it comes to "community marketing," the jury is still out as it is one of the younger hot new marketing memes - but history shows that it will only take time for some clueless marketers to latch on to that one as well and potentially spoil it for the rest of us.
I really hope that Jupiter and other industry analysts and industry associations will show leadership in this space and try to create some sort of self-governance amongst their clients and members - but somehow, and based on the descriptions of those new services, I am not so sure that is part of the agenda.
Hopefully I am wrong!
August 29, 2006
What happens when you "manipulate" buzz
Pete Blackshaw over at CGM picks up on a post by the Freakonomics guys in which they argue that the fact that there was such a discrepancy between the pre-release Internet buzz for the movie "Snakes on a Plane," and the actual success of the movie at the box office, may be attributed to "manufactured buzz."
One conclusion which Steven Levitt at Freakonomics comes to when answering the question "what does or does not make Internet buzz translate into commercial success" is "One reasonable answer to that question may be that when the buzz is faked/manufactured, commercial success will not follow."
Whether intentional or not, "manufactured buzz," along with other viral "gaming-the-system" marketing strategies are just another threat to the future credibility of word of mouth marketing - another one being the lack of disclosure policy which some companies refuse to endorse.
August 28, 2006
Why wisdom of crowds does not always work
The most current issue of the Harvard Business Review has an interesting article in which they marry the wisdom of crowds "theory" with the Condorcet jury theorem - which was developed by a Frenchman in 1785 (requires subscription).
To understand how the theorem works, imagine that a number of people are answering the same question and that there are two possible answers - one correct and one incorrect. Assuming that the chances that an individual will answer correctly is more than 50%, the theorem proves that the probability that a majority of the group will answer correctly increases towards 100% as the group size increases.
That explains why the wisdom of crowds works well for consumer product testing, or to predict well documented political races. It also explains why it failed in other areas, like predicting whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. With little information available, individuals had a higher likelihood of picking the wrong answer, making the chance that a majority would predict correctly close to 0% as the size of the group increased.
August 17, 2006
77% of online shoppers read consumer reviews...
According to a new studies released by Jupiter Research, "77 percent of online shoppers use consumer generated product reviews/ratings and those who find them useful are more loyal to stores with reviews/ratings featured." Other research reveals that "consumers who post feedback on forums, positive or negative, spend 22 percent more online than do consumers who have not posted on forums." And somewhat surprisingly, "90 percent of large companies believe that consumer recommendations are important in influencing other consumers' purchase decisions."
The issue for many companies is how to consistently track consumer generated reviews and incorporate that voice of the customer component into their product innovation processes. There are literally hundreds of sites where people leave their feedback. Amazon provides product-specific searchable consumer generated reviews, but many other popular online stores, like NewEgg do not enable that level of searchability.
(Via Customer Listening Blog)
August 9, 2006
The revenge of the longtail...
This is a great video from YouTube explaining what happened to popular media and marketing...(via Chris Baggot)
July 31, 2006
Old brand logos "web2.0-ified"
Here are some good ones:
Pfizer beta - Yikes
July 24, 2006
More good cgm examples