GSP East moves Social Media forward

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Earlier this week I was at the O'Reilly Graphing Social Patterns East Conference where I hosted a panel on Advertising versus Appvertising. Joining me on the panel were Michael Lazerow (Buddy Media), Kevin Barenblat ([context]), Eddie Smith (SocialMedia Networks) and Chris Cunningham (appssavvy). It was a provocative 45 minutes with some great questions from the audience at the end. Here are my takeaways -

1. Join the conversation is dead. It is not enough to encourage marketers to find ways to join the conversation. That is an oversimplification of what is happening in the social media space. Anything that anyone does has to provide a return more specific and more tangible than joining the conversation. No marketer can justify investments in social media by simply saying that the brand needs to join the conversation. We've moved beyond that today.

2. Social Media needs to talk the language of marketing. While all the media buzz and the successes of specific blogs and social networks have propelled social media into the mainstream (not to mention the usage numbers), from a marketing standpoint this domain is still very fresh. Brands are still trying to figure out what will work and why. The vendors (and especially the new social media specific ones) are trying to figure that out too. 

3. Engagement metrics are still a blur too. I'm still waiting to see a vendor, a consulting firm or a brand introduce a strong metrics framework. The simpler answer is that the metrics depend on the campaign and the specific social media program. For some it maybe impressions, fans, downloads or contributions but for others it can be the number of visitors that get driven to a brand microsite. No one is tracking whether social media programs have direct brand lifts or directly influence conversions.

4. Brand monitoring needs to evolve. Sure, the Umbria's, Cymfony's and Visible Technologies of the world provide a lot of business value. But they can do more to push the industry forward. For example,  I wish these firms would publish reports showing engagement by industry and then for the major brands in each industry. A comparative look would help us begin to understand if there's a co-relation between engagement and company performance.

5. Applications are huge and will only get bigger. Why? Simply because they are profitable and viral tapping into how we actually use the web. More than that, they're also measurable and portable. Applications can also serve as the link between the walled garden social networks and the brand websites. For an example of a major brand playing around with applications, read about Coke's. Remember, the application is the new ad unit.

I strongly recommend attending the next O'Reilly Graphing Social Patterns Conference. Dave McClure and his team did an awesome job. The photograph above is courtesy Duncan Davidson.

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Mike Spataro said:


Boy did you hit the nail on the head. Great points. It's amazing how radical a concept "join the conversation" still is with some brands, but you're right about the immediate need to move beyond.

On point 4, we are definitely more than just what you call a 'brand monitoring' operation, but again your suggestion is well taken that publishing industry data drawing a correlation between action and results would be helpful.

We have seen tangible results with individual clients who have moved from tracking to intelligence to action.

Thanks Shiv.

laurent said:

About 1) : May be I'm not meeting the right company but the one I met have not joined the conversation. They may scratch the surface at best (with monitoring) but to me, brand monitoring is like staying on the side line watching the game happening. I've met companies where one individual reads may be 20-30 blogs in his field. But there're hundreds out there that he/she doesn't read though they have value because that's where his/her customers socialize online. There're some examples of companies who have joined the conversation but in my mind, not a majority. So it's not dead. It takes a long time for things to happen and this is still fairly recent.

Hi Shiv:

Joining the conversation is not sufficient - but it is a necessary precondition for any company wanting to move into the century. - I disagree with you that it is dead. Many, many large organizations I talk to have not even taken this simple step.

Regarding measurement, take a look at our work on brand advocacy:

Changes in advocacy are a leading indicator of changes in sales.


Daniel said:

I agree. It's not enough to engage folks. It's absolutely necessary to GALVANIZE them. Big difference, but it can be done.

In my business, I've found that once my fans/customers are fired up, I'll get an instant ROI in page views, free publicity, etc.

As Martha Stewart would say, it's a good thing.

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