May 10 2010

Groupable: Virtual Yente for Groups and Corporate Sponsors


by Andrew DiFiore

Imagine an online service that matches groups with corporate sponsorships (and vice versa). Enter Groupable: a social network of self-organized, grass-roots entities looking for corporate sponsorship, and corporations looking to reach potential audiences.

Groupable recognizes your hiking or cooking group has greater power to set trends and to influence others than that of its individual members. The service uses its own proprietary algorithm to calculate a Groupability Index, an influence rating that takes into account Groupable’s sponsorship activity data as well as activity from a variety of social media data points such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Klout, blogs, and podcasts. The index rating is calculated based upon aggregate scores in the following categories: authenticity, engagement, and relevance. This enables sponsors to zero in on the demographics that will produce the greatest return on investment (ROI).

Groupable

Groupable’s strength lies in its ability to aggregate similar interest groups into marketing packages. Best suited to established organizations that might be seeking sponsors. This works well in the real world (e.g. uniforms for little league team) as much as online (e.g. sweeps prize for popular mommy blog).

“It’s about knowing which groups to engage with so as to maximize word-of-mouth equity,” says Groupable CMO Michael Klausner. “The Groupability Index provides marketers with a single reference point that captures a group’s ultimate influence potential.”


Jan 25 2010

Google Real-Time Search the Ticket for B2B Social Media


by Andrew DiFiore

Is it really much of a surprise that search is becoming more real-time?

Nielsen recently reported that social media usage has increased by 82% in the last year and showing no sign of slowing any time soon. Social media is the number one activity online (surpassing porn). Microsoft inked deals with Twitter and Facebook back in October 2009 to include status updates on Bing. What took Google so long? Who cares? With 65% of all searches, Google’s integration of real-time conversations is potentially a real game-changer.

The reason businesses and B2B marketers should pay attention is that Google (and the users) give more weight to the latest news as it relates to their queries, especially from unbiased sources (Google does let you override this via Show Options… sidebar).

I’ve always advocated to clients that it doesn’t really matter how your customers find you as long as they find you. It may be your web site or your Facebook page, whatever the touch-point, it is all goodness. This means if you want to get the most out of your SEO strategy then your social media must be optimized — tweets, Facebook status, Yahoo Answers, news articles, press releases, and so on.


Sep 4 2009

Fake Friends, Love For Sale


by Andrew DiFiore

Recently, Michael Learmonth of Advertising Age did a post about uSocial selling followers and friends to give the impression that a company’s Twitter or Facebook page are wildly popular. Sort of if you can’t make it then fake it.

I know this is nothing new; affiliate marketers have been doing this for decades. I guess for some, the perception of popularity is good enough.

I suppose this type of service was inevitable and we’re likely to see more companies like uSocial crop up. But, as many of the commenters of Learmonth’s post point out, tactics like this fly in the face of what social networking is all about. And the danger to social networks like Twitter is that they become irrelevant to the people who matter most. And the truth is: there is always another social platform around the corner; maybe its Posterous or Netlog or Lifeblob.

There is an inherent risk when a social community becomes too big.  As more and more “marketers” (and I do use the term loosely here) jump aboard the Social Media bandwagon (e.g. Twitter grew 1,444% over last year as of May), the more they clog these communities with useless tweets and mindless blog-babble (or blabble). The personalities that make these communities worth the effort of participation move on and you’re left with PR agencies pitching to other PR agencies.

To be fair, I see how tempting it is to “game the system” with so many competitors vying for the same eyeballs and clients growing impatient for results. Who has the time to build meaningful relationships… lets just buy ‘em. The problem with this line of thinking is it is self-deluding. If your goal is to generate real conversion then obviously paying for followers or friends fails to do this. Of course, you might be thinking: I need to appear popular in order to attract real conversion. Maybe but this is a slippery slope (and one I plan to put to the test and report back on in a follow up post). If enough people are gaming the system then these “stats” become meaningless, visitors will catch wise and assume any high number has been jerry-rigged.

The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is a self-correcting system. Whenever there is a flaw in one product, a new product comes along and fixes it. For example, lets say you are following 5,000 people on Twitter but most of the time only 20% of the tweets are useful and you don’t want to miss them. You can use tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to group and prioritize your Twitter feeds, making your social media life easier and more efficient. There are more tools like these going beta every month, designed, in part, to address these types of unintended uses (or abuses).


Aug 11 2009

So Your Social Media Sucks… Don’t Blame the Technology!


by Andrew DiFiore

It is easy to get caught up in the hype of Social Media and desperate times begets desperate actions. But don’t do Social Media if your reasoning includes:

  • It’s so cheap
  • Everybody else is doing it
  • I’m afraid of missing the boat
  • I heard one Tweet and all your dreams come true!
  • I have an account on Facebook and it feels like magic

Don’t kid yourself (or let anyone else kid you), Social Media takes time, strategy, and yes, money.

Now, I’m not talking about creating an account on Twitter or Plaxo (most social networks are free to join).  Social Media marketing is so much more than having a Facebook fan page or leaving a comment on Scobleizer. It is about participating in and contributing to the conversations. And there ain’t no room for introverts if you’re looking to affect change.

For marketers who want to use Social Media to advocate their brands, this means bringing something of value to the table; not just a sales pitch but rather something about your brand story worth telling, in a way that is unique and easy to retell. Most people in these communities don’t really mind that you are there with an ulterior motive as long as it is in line with what the conversation is about. Furthermore, most don’t mind telling you exactly what they think of your product or service.

All too often, companies assume they can “control” the message like in traditional media (e.g. newspapers, television, radio) but they can’t; nor should they try. The Social Web is a multi-channel, interactive medium with the power to spread ideas quickly, exponentially. You can track and direct the message but once it is out there, it is out there. If this concept scares you then stay away from Social Media.

In order for a Social Media marketing campaign to be successful you must have something good to sell and then have an engaging way of selling it. I’ll assume the first is a given. The second is where you must get creative. There is no substitute for great ideas regardless of the medium. At the end of the day this is really why clients hire us. Sure, we may be “masters of technology” but it is the power of our ideas that separate the good from the great!

Never Compromise the Effectiveness of a Campaign!

This is the #1 reason why Social Media campaigns fail.

No doubt, we have all been there. Months in the planning, doing the research, coordinating the creative and technical teams, building up your online social capital. The landing page has been optimized. The behavioral metrics are in place. And then the unthinkable happens: client gets cold feet. Thinks the campaign is too risky. Maybe a funny YouTube video would be better. Ugh!

This is the no-win situation. If the vision of the campaign cannot be realized then the best thing to do is not to do it. I know we may not have this luxury. Unfortunately, if the effectiveness of the campaign has been compromised then it will most certainly fail. And with its failure comes the inevitable assumption it failed because Social Media doesn’t work.

Alas, this may be a self-fulling prophecy for some. The Social Media road is littered with the corpses of failed campaigns (half-baked in the sun). But there are a few bright examples of companies who didn’t compromise, who marched forward with courage and conviction, and were richly rewarded.