This past month of March saw the launch of Twitter’s promoted suite for mobile. It has been nearly two since Twitter launched the same products for the desktop. Twitter has taken an extremely cautious approach to launching all its promoted products and has learnt from its Quickbar fiasco.
My interest in the subject of Twitter advertising was piqued through an old blog post by Augie Ray on Forrester’s endorsement of ‘sponsored conversations’ or paid blog post advertising. In the blog he refutes Forrester’s position on the topic, which results in Forrester taking notice of blog and engaging Augie in a back and forth discussion. FYI this blog post helped Augie get noticed by Foresster where he eventually went on to work as Senior Analyst for Interactive Marketing.
Anyways, while reading about how sponsored conversation didn’t make sense for bloggers my mind turned to micro-bloggers or Twitterers, I had just noticed a couple of tweets with the #ad next to them, did the same rules apply for them? Well I certainly think so. Having used the #ad even once will make your followers doubt the credibility of anything else your endorse in the future. But contrary to my belief I found this radio show on Sponsored Tweets blog in which IZEA’s CEO Ted Murphy talks about how a sponsored tweet by Kim Kardashian brought down a company’s servers.
Well this is where I find myself a little confused, the whole reason we turn to social media for reviews and recommendations on what to buy are because we believe that these are being made real people and these are their honest and genuine opinions. The whole act of sponsored tweets feels like we’re moving back to TV and print ads where you have celebrities like Kim Kardashian making false claims about the abilities of a hair removal product she endorses. And yes I know that the sponsored tweets are solely the opinions of the Twitterer, I find that extremely hard to believe that you wouldn’t be biased to company that is paying you to tweet.
And this where I feel Twitter’s promoted products could win. Let’s take the promoted tweets for example. By promoting a tweet by celebrity your getting rid of the #ad and thereby differentiating advertiser and editor and make it seem more like the thoughts represent those of the individual tweeting. As for promoted tweets by the brand itself, a number brands are witnessing varying levels of success. You can find all the successful Twitter campaigns using promoted products on Twitter’s business website. The targeting capability is also really impressive as i learned through this Alchemy infograph from a couple of weeks ago. However I have learnt that Twitter still lacks is the ability to target mobile users based on their geography, which is extremely important considering the success of offers/discounts on Twitter and how well they could do if they were promoted to the right mobile audience.
In terms of metrics to measure the success of a Twitter campaign, I really like that costs are based on costs per engagement and gives you an easier way to assess your qualified reach through Twitter. I think that the same metrics of a banner ad should be applied to promoted products. To me promoted products feel like a more developed and smarter version of banner ads and the same norms as creating a banner ad should be employed. For example while behavioral targeting worry with banner ads is negated through Twitters targeting ability marketers still need to pay attention to their creative and ones that have a really compelling piece of content. Also similar to banner ads the introduction of Twitters new self serve platform for SMB’s should hopefully drive down the prices of Twitter ads as more brands look to get on there. On a side note to that, I think that American Express is really doing a great job with social media first with Foursquare and now with Twitter.
The challenges going forward are huge for Twitter, while it is currently trying to weed all the spam out of its system, Facebook is soon to join the advertising game. And with its much larger user base will certainly be a go to option for marketers over Twitter.
A few days ago my Dad, who lives in Bombay, asks me what exactly do i want to do for a living once I graduate from MBA school. The thought depending your lively hood on Facebook seemed a little perplexing for him. So I decided to give him a little ‘gyan’ on social media for dummies. Here goes….
If you take a look at any of the past mediums of mass communication for brands you’ll notice that they’ve pretty much been unilateral and thus in the true sense haven’t been channels for communicating but rather only been channels for advertising. Brands used TV spots, print ads, radio messages, point of sale displays to spread their message. There was no real way for the consumer to speak back to the brand, congratulate the brand for doing something good or criticize it for its poor practices or products.
That’s one aspect that social media/digital media has completely turned on its head. Now with the help of third party social websites such as Facebook (800 million users), Twitter (500 million) or company owned websites or blogs and so on, brands are not only able to speak to a more targeted consumer base but are also able to hear what the consumer has to say in return and learn first hand from their consumer preferences. Brands are no longer advertising but rather communicating. As a result brands can now test their new product attributes with their true customer base instead of testing it on a focus group of non product users, listen to customer complaints and ensure quick turnaround in solving the problem and importantly having online presence has become a stamp of legitimacy, all brands need to have presence in some form. The other gain from the growth of social media has been the amplification of ‘word of mouth’. Consumer are no longer restricted to verbally informing 5-10 of their close friends the negative or positive experience they had with your product. With an average Facebook user having close of 245 friends, word can spread wide and far really quickly.
As a result social media marketing has gained in importance, with brands wanting learn how to best leverage social media to their advantage. Brands are investing heavily in online research, listening, advertising and consulting agencies such as Forrester, NM Incite and Radian 6 offer brands with in-depth analysis of what is being said about the brand in the social space. Brands then use this data to plan their social media strategy; how they should respond to their online critics, whom should the brands be targeting their online campaigns to and so on. Lastly, social media marketing also entails deciding how, when and where online should a brand market itself and also ensure that its online efforts are consistent with its offline ones.
A very interesting thing happened today, a G-talk conversation with a good friend of mine resulted in a full blown discussion on the role of social media and how a brand should use it to its advantage.
The funniest part is that the conversation begun with a question on the whereabouts a common friend who hadn’t changed his Facebook status in 4 days! I know what your thinking, a lot of you’ll don’t update your status everyday but the truth is our friend updated it every other hour with things he ate for lunch, dinner, breakfast, mid-lunch snack, mid-dinner snack, mid-night snack etc.
Anyways the conversation somehow then veered the new much hyped physical soft-board i had growing up as a kid which is now an online visual one aka Pinterest! So first we ooh’ed and aah’ed at Pinterest’s stats, you know 87% women and 11.7 billion unique visitors. But the true meat lie in how brands are using Pinteres to their advantage, its clear how Pinterest is helping designers and visual artist but then came up the case of Whole Foods. Here’s a really good article that shows how a brand that doesn’t pin pictures of any of its products is gaining popularity on Pinterest.
While Whole Foods is succeeding by pinning pictures other things such as furniture or so on that mirror their values, how does a company that really doesn’t have such unique values create an impact on Pinterest?
I think that a lot of companies can learn from what Whole Foods has done and it really speaks to what social media in general is all about as well. For a brand for example lets say Oral B (toothbrushes), they could pin pictures of people with great smiles or of really neat and clean things. The whole point is to create an image of your brand, it goes back to how would you like to position your brand. By pinning picture of different Oral B toothbrushes your probably not going to get any followers and in fact you might turn-off people from your brand. This actually takes you back to the days without social media where advertisers could keep stuffing their messages down your throat and you had no way to tell them how annoying that stupid commercial that played during the game and whose tune is stuck in your head really was.
The key to social media is to understand that it isn’t just another channel of distributing your message, you use social media to talk to your consumers not advertise to them.
Develop relations and bonds and consumers will ask you what the latest in toothbrush technology rather than you inundating their Facebook newsfeed with random messages on bristle strength. This is your chance as a brand to learn from what your consumers are saying, speak directly to them and get a real perspective on their point of view. While this may be done in conjunction with traditional advertising for maximum output.
And as the story of my missing friend should indicate engage us with your content and then we’ll be the ones looking for you!
I think the 80’s-90’s were a great time to be growing up in Bombay, India. You had the introduction of computer games(Lion King), Media(Mario), Sega(Sonic), and the PS 1(Smackdown 1), while at the same time you had space to go down play your invented form of cricket (you know the ‘six and out’ rule or ‘hit a glass full toss out’ rule). I really do feel that this one of the reason you don’t see too many big hitting cricketers from Bombay!
Anyways what does this have to do with this post? Well pretty much everything, I went to a school with sprawling grounds, looking forward to the breaks so I could go play and then came home with the sole intention of playing some more. Somewhere in between there I tried to read(outside of studying) with very little success, it is now, nearly 20 odd years later that I’ve finally developed a habit for reading. The correlation between reading and writing has long been prophesied, so now I’m going to try and proof that.
Currently, I’m getting my MBA from Southern Methodist University(SMU) located in Dallas, TX, far far away from the first love of my life, Bombay city. If i were to liken Dallas to any Indian city the closest I can think of is Ahmadabad. They’re not similar in terms of economy, but more in terms of lifestyle of the city. As a gujarati kid whose mom grew up in Ahmadabad I’ve had my fair share of summer holidays spent in that city. The laid back lifestyle, the distances between places, lack of public transportation and mix of urban and rural population, even the weather at most times makes me feel that Dallas is a lot like Ahmadabad.
As for my life here, in the past few years I’ve gotten extremely interested in the intersection of technology and marketing(thanks Steve Jobs for helping phrase that). Where this intersection is most prevalent is in the role of social media and how its changing the way we make decision and garner information.
In my opinion its helping shape the future where everything is going to change from ‘pull’ to ‘push’.
You’re never going to have to search for what’s the latest song, the song is going to present itself to you on your Facebook news feed or on a blog post like this one that you follow or through a suggestion when your watching some random YouTube video. And its all going to be tailored for a ‘unique’ you. We’re still a whiles away from that but that in my mind should be the end goal for any existing or new business.
The better we get at tailoring the more integral we become to marketers.
Anyways I got to run to class now, stay tuned for some more of my thoughts on Bombay, Dallas, MBA school, social media, music and my life in general.
In the words of Timon from the Lion King game: It starts……