Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Perspective on Social Media (Saturday Catch-Up) From Radio-Info

Another Perspective on Social Media

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Cid Carver is not your average up-and-coming marketing professional. A senior at Suffolk University, Cid has a vision for how social media is changing the worlds of education, marketing, and technology. Already, she has worked with two leading marketing firms, New York City based Situation Interactive and Boston based Regan Communications. And, as a young professional, she has been courageously outspoken about how most public relations and marketing campaigns are misusing Facebook and Twitter in trying to reach the younger end of the 25-54 year old demo.

Carver, who is currently a teaching assistant for an honors seminar on social media and new media technology, recently shared a white paper with me that she authored regarding marketing campaigns in a social media world.

This week in Radio3D, some highlights of Carver’s paper, where she shares observations and ideas culminated from a focus group of 25-31 year old adults, conversations with permission marketing guru Seth Godin, and comments from some of the world’s most interesting digital marketing bloggers.

Carver wrote:

>> There is a growing number of cynical customers who view any advertising or marketing strategy as potential spam. The easiest way to pass someone’s “spam filter” means that you need to win his or her friends. The easiest way to win a friend is to be remarkable.

>>One of the most compelling reasons to friend a brand on Facebook is to receive discounts, followed by simply being a customer of the company, and a desire to show others that they support the brand.

>> Most people will only join a group or fan page if it has something to do with their friends, either sending them an invite or seeing it on their wall, but nearly all focus group respondents I interviewed were turned off by the idea of company representatives sending them requests.

>> On Twitter, discounts, up-to-the-minute information, and exclusive content were the main draws for someone to become a follower. According to an eMarketer study, only 2% of respondents follow brands on Twitter to show their support. Twitter is less personal than Facebook. In fact, most survey/focus group participants indicated that if they posted a negative comment, then they would ask for either discount or refund of that product or service they complained about.

>> Privacy is a concern of many social media users. I believe that a major barrier to Facebook advancing as a marketing vehicle for older consumers is that most older users do not actually understand how to manage their own Facebook account and set up the privacy settings to their standards.

>> I would assert that people who are a fan or group member of an organization or brand do not always generate more business, but being part of the online conversations can build goodwill, loyalty, and help to deflect crisis down the road.

>> As The Wall Street Journal reported on August 3, 2009, “A growing number of businesses are tracking social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to gauge consumer sentiment and avert potential public relations problems.”

>> Chadwick Martin Bailey recently conducted research among social media users about why they had first decided to follow brands, and allowed them to choose as many reasons as they liked. Among Facebook fans, the top reasons were being a customer (49%) and to show support (42%), with discounts and promotions coming in third (40%). Another 34% simply said it was fun and entertaining to become a fan. On Twitter, being a customer won out (51%), with discounts (44%) and fun (42%) rounding out the top three.

>> With regard to the idea of PR firms looking at the conversations, and joining the conversations to see what their ''followers'' are saying, most social media users who I interviewed were especially apprehensive about being contacted by company representatives on behalf of a brand, product, or service. Godin may have said it best, “Public Relations firms and campaigns are spammers. You need to have a good story, and that is not the primary focus any more. Apple is not on Facebook and Twitter, but look at how many people knew about the iPad. It is because they have a great product and an even better story.”

>> People are being bombarded with advertisements, event pages, fan and group page invites, but they don’t understand how to manage all of this information being thrown at them, making them apprehensive to trust anything coming in from outside of their close network of friends.

>> “Brands feel pressured to join the ‘conversation,’ but should they always participate? It used to seem as if brands were giants and that big brand marketing made them that way. It’s weird how marketers are now trying to be our friends, like they’re nothing but digital neighbors…. Maybe some brands shouldn’t be conversational. Maybe most shouldn’t,” wrote Benjamin Palmer in MediaWeek last year. Companies need to remember that although they are being pushed to speak louder and participate in these conversations, sometimes it is more important to sit back and listen. It is imperative to be proactive and not reactive, but not all situations require a company representative to say anything at all.

>> Having Facebook and Twitter has opened new pathways to hear from and directly speak to the stakeholders for brands, organizations, and PR firms. These new online channels have allowed the consumer to voice their opinions, whether positive or negative, and in most situations, the consumer is more likely to post a negative comment over a positive comment.

>> Social media is not a fad. Facebook and Twitter are not going away. The consumer can voice how they feel about a brand and make it public to their community of friends, followers, and representatives of brands and organizations who are willing to listen. The consumer does not hold all the power, but neither does that PR or ad campaign, or brand. It is a balance between all networks. Facebook and Twitter will continue to shape the way in which people interact with companies, brands, and everything else around them.

>> Some interesting statistics from my recent focus group research:

Are you a fan on Facebook of any companies, products or services?
Yes... 17
No... 14

How did you become a fan of that page?
Friend Recommendation... 10
Saw an Ad... 1
Saw it on a Friend's page... 8
Company Recommendation... 0
Other... 3

How likely are you to become a fan of something if a company recommends it to you?

Very Likely... 0
Likely... 1
Somewhat Likely... 10
Not Likely... 18
Don't Know... 2

All of this supports the idea that momentum with existing fans is the fastest way to find more fans with social media.

Cid Carver is a young social media enthusiast. If you’d like to reach out to her, e-mail 

About the Writer

DisplayFuture-minded and passionate, Daniel Anstandig’s experience includes developing digital business strategies for media companies, designing content strategies for broadcast and interactive, and coaching executives.

As the President of McVay New Media Consulting, Anstandig has advised The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Clear Channel R&D, The White House Commission on Remembrance, Glencoe-McGraw Hill, and various broadcasting companies in the USA, Canada, and Europe.

In 2009, Anstandig founded Listener Driven Radio, a software company that develops interactive programming tools for broadcasters. The company’s premiere “crowdcasting” product, which integrates real-time audience voting into a radio station’s live playlist, has already been utilized by Citadel Broadcasting, CBS, Virgin Radio in Europe, Harvard Broadcasting, and several other major broadcasters around the world.

Prior to joining McVay Media in 2001, Daniel’s experience includes stints as General Manager, Network/Syndicated Program Director, and On-Air Personality. In 2001, he was named the #1 Young Entrepreneur by Young Entrepreneur Magazine, in recognition of an internet-radio company he founded. Daniel is also a proud two-time recipient of Edison Media Research’s 30 Under 30 Award.

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