stop the forced UGC

November 23, 2010 · 0 comments

UGC was always heralded as the pinnacle of social media - consumers who are passionate about a brand and taken it unto themselves to make or say something about it. this was genuine and transformational - consumers who really wanted to participate in a brand who would do the marketing work with and for us.

these people were truly influencers and dynamos that contributed a great deal to the paid efforts of a brand. and then UGC became a buzzword. then it became a tactic. now it's become a cliche.

we wanted UGC to the point where it was made a mandate. this led to our bereft situation now where it is just plain forced. campaign after campaign we demanded of our consumers that they make something for the brand. that was how they had to participate with the brand, like it or lump it. of course it was positioned as true participation in that it meant something (ex. the ads would be used in a later campaign). but it was really an attempt to game a trend.

the net effect, in my estimation, is the blatant use of UGC as a tactic that is all too often pointless, uninteresting and not strategic. it's been diluted and devalued to the point of ambivalence or worse detestation by consumers.

i'll revert (again) to forrester's technographics ladder to point out the folly. there is only a small percentage of people actually willing to make any kind of social content, much less for a brand. the industry has taken a niche interest and attempted to make it a play for everyone. that's a cardinal sin for the ad world.

the fallacious appeal of positioning a brand as in-touch or relevant or hip to the social movement is now turning on itself as fatigue of doing the advertising job for a company sets in.

doing this forced brands to heavily incentivize the program to make it have more mass appeal. essentially it gave an easy campaign route or made it palpable as a promotion. it's a thin veil and has just been a way to run a promotion. so it's not some vaunted social media and UGC garnering effort,it's just a promotion with the barrier to entry as making a hokey piece of content.

much of my issue is that it defeated a few of the core social media precepts.

1) influencers
one might think that social media finds, nurtures and leverages these critically important voices and you'd be right. these people are out there making brand content and sharing to their network (and sometimes elevated beyond that). so naturally, people who make content around a brand are influencers. in this case, you're wrong.

the artifice under which the content came from doesn't identify influencers it merely identifies people who want to win a prize. congrats, that's a lot of people, but few if any actually may be the loyalists willing to genuinely, recurrently participate with your brand.

2) credibility
someone in it for the money doesn't make a convincing spokesperson. it holds true elsewhere and it holds water in this case too. people incented to do something are less credible resources than those who have more pure intentions.

social media is a relationship builder, but these forced UGC campaigns are just an attempt to do something different, quasi-aligned to a consumer interest. especially egregious is where there is no strategic link in doing a UGC campaign - it's doing it to do it. that seems wrong to me. shiny new object syndrome at its worst.

a UGC component should be a natural fallout of a great campaign or the place where the brand is amplified organically. i'm not convinced that the crux of a campaign should be based on user submissions or the only reason for a campaign to exist is to get UGC.

some examples.

3M did a campaign for post-its called "you stuck it where?" asking consumers to submit videos of them using it Post-Its in an innovative way. i guess it could be fun, but i don't understand how that makes for anything interesting other than to say they did a UGC campaign (hopefully with the adjective 'successful'). who really cares to see the tepid product of such an endeavor? and it's not as if they are creating a new market or use for post-its so it's not strategic or relevant.

cadbury had a campaign for their picnic chocolate bar asking consumers to send in their videos of them trying to eat the bar in 30 seconds. so what, i can watch people eat a chocolate bar?

so then what's a good use or a strategically relevant use. the tourism queensland "best job in the world" is a great example. the UGC served an actual purpose. it actually created advocates and influencers. it was incredibly interesting to a broad group of people. and the UGC was just natural to the endeavor they were partaking in.

i'm a little on the fence with the doritos 'white bag' UGC campaign. it was an interesting quasi-crowdsourced initiative that would have been good with or without the UGC component. but it was seemingly a natural extension of the premise around naming and marketing a new flavor of doritos from a consumer perspective.

lego has a great community with UGC out the wazoo but it's purposeful and the company only embraced it, not forced it into existence.

old spice could have asked for copycats but didn't because it wasn't right. the copycats happened and did so organically which made them far better than the coaxed variety.

i think the industry has already gone a little overboard with the whole UGC affair and it's getting tired. i'm writing this because i think there are completely valid uses for this and directly asking for it, but its overuse is going to spoil it for everyone. not that it matters to many that it gets spoiled so long as they could potentially benefit from it. it's worth protecting because in the right cases, it's powerful.

primary & secondary mumbo-jumbo

August 11, 2010 · 2 comments

a communication plan is a whole. the comprising channels shouldn't be viewed in isolation. they shouldn't be dissected and itemized with appellations such as primary, secondary, lead, support or whatever.

i hear quite often channels referred to in such ways and it shows lack of understanding. in this heavily fragmented media world, with attention at such a premium and ad scrutiny by consumers soaring, there is no silver bullet to reach anyone. a primary medium for one is not for others. each individual's selection is not as homogeneous as it once was.

at the heart of the fallacy is a number of misunderstandings
1) multi-media approaches are always best and in this world, it's how these media compliment each other not take priority of one another. you lead with the whole plan, not any one component. how you might lead with one or use them playing off each other is a tactic of the plan not a reflection of the media.
2) terming anything as primary or lead implies that it can stand alone. this is fraught with potential for not reaching your target.
3) it can put an overimportance on any channel (most often TV) that does a disservice or denigrates other media that they aren't sufficient, capable or otherwise as valuable as they could be.
4) it also implies that the other media is there to prop of the deemed to be primary channel. while that might imply a deficiency it is also a misnomer in what is being supported. the other channels are not there to make up for the shortcomings of one channel, but rather support the entire plan in affecting the target.
5) the new digitization of the media landscape opens up the possibilities for reaching different parts of the target, in different ways, with different messages. the blanketing of a primary medium doesn't have to be the case anymore.
6) a primary medium begs more attention in executing and analyzing fully. this mentality leads to sub-standard execution of everything else. instead, everything should be executed to the right level depending on the channel.

the other aspect of the thinking is that there are traditional channels like TV, Radio, Print and OOH. digital continues to be an afterthought. it can't be a lead medium in the minds of most. my quick snipe to that charge is some agencies not seeing their profit centers of TV production being lost if they don't protect the medium of TV by elevating it to 'primary' status.

so let's all rid ourselves of these pointless adjectives when we talk about our channels. it's inconsequential to apply them and does more harm then intended.

artifacts of thought

July 21, 2010 · 0 comments

as someone who puts a lot of ideas, thoughts and just words out there one the internet through various channels, i ponder the lasting effect of that stockpile of intellect. and i am in no way as prolific as some so i imagine this applies even more to others. what i mean to say is this digital age brings about an accountability of thought not seen before.

in the digital age, things last forever. ideas are artifacts. what we say, write, record and generally produce have an indefinite lifespan. but what if we change? what if we contradict? what if there's new information that bears consideration and alters our thinking? what if we encounter something that just radically reshapes us?

mainly i think about this because ideas are always popping into my head and i let them out. whether online or in conversation or elsewhere, i put them out to see what kind of life they have. i do and say a lot to get reactions from people. i don't always like to ponder ideas on my own. instead i like to put them out there to see what others think and how they can elaborate on them. i am by no means an expert on anything so i value what others can input. agree, disagree, doesn't matter, i'm just testing the waters and often don't have a firm stance myself.

the thing about online though is that it becomes part of you. another piece to your sum. people can interpret that as being your views, opinion, stance, whatever. it becomes part of your legacy. deviations aren't always well received so what happens if you do? what's the effect on perception people will have if they find two colliding ideas?

in politics it's called "flip-flopping" and it rarely, if ever, is an ingratiating quality. ask john kerry. it's not a moniker that is a hallmark of success. most of us have a lot less at stake, but the personal (and relative) stakes are still high.

i'm not saying this is going to happen a lot where people are burned by antithetical ideas, but it's becoming a lot easier to arise. job interviews are a universal experience that these instances can crop up in. public figures of all ilks are more acutely susceptible to this. and a lot more people are public figures these days.

this is a different concern than just the personal brand debate that still has verity today. it's part of it, but a different angle. more meta. less about inappropriateness and more about discrepancy.

so should we carefully consider every little thing we digitize? or should we be open with our ideas and put them out there for the world to do what they want with whether you are fully onboard with them or not?

embrace the bottom dwellers

July 13, 2010 · 0 comments

yes, i'm back after a lengthy bit of time off. work was busy, the move, the house renos, and taking a break. but the idea engine was stilling churning so i've got lots to write about for the next few months at least.

i decided to start back with this post because i ran into a friend 3 days ago i hadn't seen in a while. we were catching up and i noted a recent activity she had done that i read on twitter. her response was "ahh, you still read my blog." my retort was "of course i do, i don't respond or comment much, but i still read it. i'm a bit of a lurker you could say." at that moment, a thought that had been percolating for a while coalesced.

forrester defines it as a 'spectator' and not a 'lurker' as i flippantly termed it. someone who just consumes social content, but doesn't really join the conversation (at least in my case, other people's conversations - bad social media travis). what doesn't get talked about is that the majority of people fit into the 'spectator' classification according to their data (or at least a substantial amount of the population). but that's not the part that gets talked about, we only talk about the top rung or two - the 'creators' and 'critics'.

marketing is still a numbers game and it always will be. like it or not, accept it or not, it is still fundamental to success. yes, we are far more sophisticated about it now, but in the end, it takes large amounts of people to buy into your brand for them to be successful and sustainable. plain and simple, irrefutable.

so the 'spectators' are the numbers game (the few at the top being the influencer game). they are there, extracting value, receiving our messages, and likely still being impacted (hopefully positively). they don't want to interact, they don't want to talk, they don't want to dialog. if they did, they would. what i'm trying to point to is the value side of our social media efforts for the 'spectators.' too much is focused on the upper tiers while ignoring the effect we are having on the lower ones.

i suspect that part of the issue lies in that it's not immediately evident the effect we are having on them. it's easy on the higher levels because we have actual consumer output to verify and validate our brand activities. well we don't have that for the bottom. so it's much easier to glom onto the importance of the upper echelons because it can be discerned much easier and that serves the industry. the problem is that the industry isn't thinking of the marketing/advertising industry holistically, they are just thinking of the social media industry and that's self serving.

this isn't morphing into me saying we should use social media as a broadcast channel. not at all. not solely anyway - there's still good effect it can have (more to come on this). all brands should be social. but they can only be social with the consumers who want to be. that's the value they want - the interaction. but there's a whole other sphere who want value from just consuming the content. they are getting value from both the brand's content and from the content derived from the interactions with consumers. but we aren't understanding that side of it and we need to.

how you ask? well, clearly not with social tools. it's back to some more traditional ways like interviews, intercepts, questionnaires to find out how the brand is increasing in key measures, whatever the important ones happen to be for your brand.

is this a more esoteric pursuit of roi than number of comments - yes. does it have its place in our work in social media - yes. if you think about it, the 'spectators' have been the audience of media advertising since forever. we've always valued them before so why should we stop now? we shouldn't. they are a huge market, one that is still very valuable, needs to be included in the mix and substantiated in our overall assessments.

a brief hiatus

April 6, 2010 · 0 comments

dedicated readers (however few you are),

at best i've been sporadic with my postings as of late. not due to lack of inspiration, just time. between a heavier work load, school teaching and my impending move, i've just not been able to get anything posted. i will return though in may when much of the dust on a few things has settled. see you then.

who owns social media

March 10, 2010 · 0 comments

below is the unabridged version of an article i wrote for our company newsletter.

so who owns social media? that it is so hotly contested is itself dripping with irony. the answer is simply no one owns it and everyone owns it. okay, so that's still a little cloudy. let me explain.

when i say no one owns it, i mean in the strictest sense that no one person or group outright has dominion over the channel (if you can call it such). that any one part of a company's business is singularly responsible is a recipe for failure.

instead, everyone owns it. the collective of all an organizations disciplines internally and all its partners externally. true social media practice is built on a key precept of the channel: collaborative approaches. remember, social media isn't just about consumers participating in marketing, it's a structural shift with tools that can enable both sides.

naturally, this falls to areas in the company whose function us communication (Marketing, PR, etc). yes, they lead the charge but the whole of the company plays a role. every employee represents a network that is a communications vehicle of great power and influence in building successful activations and corporate prosperity. everyone has a vested interest across the organization, so each must own it in their own way.

apart from the broader employee base, the communications departments, as stewards of the corporate and brand trademarks, are the internal champions for socializing the organization with their consumers, they need to own it by reinforcing its place with the broader marketing plan and invigorating it into all areas.

of course, the comms groups rely on a suite of external partners (like us) who support their efforts. when it comes to social media, it is not a turf war for ownership, but a shared responsibility. social media is a unique situation where the channel crosses all disciplines. all partners own it collectively in so far as we can facilitate it through our respective areas of expertise for clients.

the best outcomes are always going to emerge from collaboration and social media is no different. in fact, it is the space most in need of it given its scope and requirements for success. no one can own it outright, but we all, as contributors to the business, need to own it so that it is firmly entrenched into all areas of our clients' business.

superletdownbowl for canadian advertising

February 8, 2010 · 0 comments

so i was asked by media in canada (MiC) to give my thoughts on the superbowl - canadian edition. this gave me reason to watch a sport i otherwise don't much care for, and pay special attention to the canadian feed that is far inferior to that of the US one. that and host a party where i drink some beer which has delivered me to this state of hyper-incredulity i find myself writing this post in (at least first draft to be edited by a sober mind).

i'm going to go out on a very sturdy branch and say most (ie. all) canadians are quite discontent that they are forced to watch the canadian feed of advertisements during the superbowl. there's all the hype around the american advertisements and then all the disappointment when they see the canadian offerings. at least there's the internet to temper that letdown now and we don't have to wait for those retrospective shows to air the spots (every 5 years or so).

i'll just be one of the choir boys by saying the canadian offerings were standard fare. nothing really imaginative, nothing provocative, nothing gritty, nothing clever, nothing entertaining even. just a lot of by-the-book ads. it's to be expected really except that we have an expectation from years of superbowls to want the advertising to be special. yet we hope.

where i'll take this commentary on the (canadian) superbowl experience is from a strictly media perspective (supposedly my expertise). what i found was not just bereft of excitement and allure, but prodigious in its repetitiveness and unoriginality. to be upfront, in writing this article i tracked every commercial in a spreadsheet (oh the nerdiness) for later comparison so i'm supposedly informed in my statements.

my main finding was that repetition was a rampant theme. i'll get to naming names, but i just don't see the value in the buying strategies i saw in this year's superbowl. there were more than a handful of advertisers, each of whom bought more spots than i feel was really necessary. to the point that it was overkill and maybe even left consumers with a negative feeling for the brand by sheer volume alone (ie. annoyance).

if the superbowl is the epitome of destination viewing and not partaking in commercial avoidance, than what i saw was aiming to fight that opportunity and punch it in the face. in the superbowl is a captive audience who, in a high percentage of the audience, is there for the commercials or at least is not zipping, zapping, or walking away. that attention can work in favor of a brand by creating something memorable and playing it once or creating something pedestrian and repeating the hell out of it until it sinks in.

well, canadian advertisers in the superbowl, you went with option #2. resoundingly. kudos.

amongst my small gathering of friends, i asked them about the ads. asking if they had seen them when they were on their 3rd viewing. as validation for everything i have been lead to believe in my career, the notion of 3+ frequency holds true. while they had vague recollections of the spot previously, on the third go-round, it had reached its saturation point. then the spots kept airing.

remember, this is one of the largest audiences of any show and people care to watch the commercials. it's not a show with the passivity that plagues normal tv advertising in attaining traction. so why all the spots and why the utter mundaneness?

my assertion is purely a factor of the canadian approach to the superbowl. rather than mimicking the US model of a big splashy, high production spot that is memorable, we in canada rely on the traditional safe spot, and run it into the ground so as to have the same effect. i suppose that's fair given the relative situations. but why does it have to be that way?

in totality, the ads were like the party mix i served. all the dregs of many bags, thrown together, and presented as something new. a melange of old ideas, sedate creativity, and pinpoint banality wrapped up in borrowed excitement coupled with a media buy that allowed the repeated airing of innocuous ads.

here's the point where i become an apologist. if all that was presented to the media planner was a standard, conventional ad, then what i saw was the best strategy for it. without standout creative, then the media has to work hard to hammer the point home. it's just a numbers game.

but as quickly as i dole out that apology, i take it right back as i challenge the industry as a whole. that shouldn't be the case, superbowl or otherwise. we shouldn't aim for middle of the road. mediocrity shouldn't be our strategy and media shouldn't have to make up for it. we're better than that.

the media strategy in place, though, is completely legitimate. take a lackluster ad and show it multiple times, eventually people will pay attention (that's a generous characterization). but what could have made it incredibly compelling is instituting the notion of storytelling as the creative message. there were a plethora of companies who had at least 2 minutes or more of airtime and wasted it on rote tv ads. that's a lot of time to be able to tell some kind of insightful, product-driven story that makes the consumer take notice.

that's two minutes of airtime that could have weaved a deeper story, explored an insight, involved consumers, emboldened the audience, shown the company to be caring and not faceless, spoke to how they are making canada a better place or otherwise been anything but what they were. the oomph and impact of something meaningful was mostly absent. i'll repeat, this doesn't need to be expensive.

yes, storytelling is a vague and non-uniform concept, but it is nothing if not absorbing. what we know of tv ads is becoming passe. we as marketers need to find new ways of speaking product truths, virtues and benefits and that way is by weaving an interesting and compelling story about the brand or involving the consumer themselves.

as a parting shot (and not wholly unrelated) i would also challenge the notion that this year's canadian superbowl was sold out for ctv. what would they have done if they weren't flogging the olympics? probably ran ctv ads which, wait, i guess is no different from what did happen. i get promoting the olympics, but there were very few commercial breaks void of some kind of ctv olympics spot and an athlete profile heavily branded with ctv. it was just too much.

apple's slap to social media's face

February 3, 2010 · 0 comments


image from http://www.mobile-t-mobile.com/mobile-network/iPhone-vs-Rock.html

yes, i'm a week late in talking about the iPad. i guess i'm too contemplative to shoot off an instant treatise on the matter and i wouldn't want to be accused of linkbaiting. i shall save you my scathing remarks about the iPad as a failed execution of a promising idea (and complete naming fail) and stick to how this non game changer will affect the digital media ecosystem. and by changing it, i mean it won't, but will allow others to.

the iPad is being heralded as the savior of the slowly withering print media business. a meritous prospect and certainly a company who has shown aptitude for bailing out industries unable to acclimate themselves to new business models and changing consumer sensibilities. it is essentially the device i envisioned as the future modus operandi for journalistic distribution.

what a device like this brings to not just the industry, but the medium itself (as a disassociated form of communication) is mainly:

  • real time content
  • simple sharing
  • rich content and experiences
  • interactivity (content and ads)
  • ancillary content readily available
  • direct link to advertisers (site, purchasing, social, promotions, etc)
  • searchability
  • mobility
a compelling set of reasons to believe people will flock to it and advertisers can support it.

however, all that is at the expense of the prevailing social trend that apple loves to ignore. for starters there's the noncollaborative approach they take. they have the most rabid fan base and tech outlets fawning over their every move. not tapping into that community is a massive shame. especially when everything i read leading up to the launch was a better product than what it turned out to be. then of course there is the closed nature of the applications and approval process that is not open source to say the least.

apart from those ample shortcomings, there are a couple other points that make this anti-social to the core.
  1. the limited typing (unless you're lugging around the keyboard) make it difficult to do many things like say commenting or blogging
  2. no multi-tasking means that your socializing around content will be severely limited. so no IM'ing while you read a newspaper article and talk to your friend about it. heck, can you even listen to music while you surf the web?
  3. no networking or means that you will not be able to easily access your files for sharing. since this is a complimentary device to another computer, it's folly to think that you shouldn't have centralized files that this could access so they don't live in 2 places. and there is no SD card on the device just these snappy, sure to be overpriced accessories that apple forces you into to have any kind of memory input.
  4. of course there is the most common gripe of no Flash support. think of how much content on the web (YouTube, games and otherwise) is not only inaccessible form the device, but not sharable.
  5. no camera. this is probably just the bullshit game apple plays to get you to rebuy the device in a year's time like they did with the iPhone. but no picture or video support for people to create content for their networks is inexcusable.
sure there are the apps for social things, but it's not enough for what this device is supposed to be. it's not enough beyond it's little brother the iPhone to really consider buying. sure it might save newspapers but it's not close to giving the consumers what they want in the social domain. with that list of flaws, what will the consumer uptake really be and if it flops, does it take the hopes of the waning print world with it (probably only temporary)? is this the first flop for apple since jobs came back to the company?

social media roi - as i see it

January 20, 2010 · 0 comments

much of the accumulated mass of information on social media concerns roi, a favorite topic of the multitudes of experts, gurus and the like on the subject.

at times i think the focus there is more abject defensive posturing to an infant medium vs. pondering on the natural course of things. i make this statement because it is such a transformational vehicle that truly rattles the cage of established thinking and the roi justification is a a natural high ground that is unassailable.

i do believe that in whole or at least in part. roi is truly important, but we may have vaunted it before really understanding how social media works for the purpose of legitimizing the new space. that being true, then i'm fine with that discussion as it seems to have moved the needle, but we need to take the foot off the peddle some.

please don't take the above (and below) the wrong way, roi is absolutely important, but let's be fair about it, especially in comparison to other media. that's where i think all the friction comes from. it's so dramatically different than other media, we have to use roi as the only point of comparison. but social media has been impugned and held to a higher standard than the old ones.

i would lump in other digital media into the same camp in terms of standards it's held to. since the dawn of digital media, the underlying technology and trackability has been both a boon and a bane to the industry.

i'm going to re-iterate this because i could be made to be an roi hater, when i'm just a malcontent. media roi is incredibly important, but it must be fair and universal across all media. i'm also going to state that my major focus in the following is around brand advertisers. that's the field i play in and where so much of the money in advertising, and more broadly marketing, is spent. there is likely a different case to be made for retail or direct response advertisers, but they are a different beast and outside of the scope i want to tackle.

my qualm with social media roi is threefold
1) the measures are meaningless unto themselves
2) the necessity to validate social media is more pronounced than with other media
3) it is myopic to view it in isolation of other marketing efforts

meaningless measures
the measures that are bandied about routinely are mostly meaningless. what does a comment, a blog post, a tweet, or whatever really mean? is that really engagement? is it really making your brand more favorable to consumers? and how is any one of those things unto itself indicative of a relationship to a brand?

they might mean something on some level. it took some time for the consumer to do each of those, so there is some affinity, or it might be artificial if say an incentive was involved (ie. contest). it's not to say those things are bad, they are quite important to the ongoing dialogue around a brand, but i wouldn't use them as the best measures of social media efforts.

validating social media
as my tangents above would indicate, there is an asymmetry in the standards between social (and more broadly digital) media vs. traditional media. social media is beholden to far more scrutiny. might as well jump right to the main point of contention and the main driver of any business – profit.

i'll come right out and say it, when have we ever directly linked brand building efforts like a tv spot, a newspaper ad, or outdoor billboard back to a sale? don't think we have. we can interpret or assume that they are doing that, but can't completely verify it, especially down to a granular level of any one spot, ad, or billboard. yet, we are asking a contest on facebook to do just that. why? doesn't seem fair.

again, i think it's because we had to validate moving the industry towards a social media mindset but now we've established a double standard.

a big shortcoming of the industry so far is we haven't put social media alongside traditional media and tracked it on the same measures. it's always been directional at best for brand advertisers, but still very valuable. these are measures like favorability, purchase intent, brand specific metrics, and the like.

this is slowly taking root, and i for one am pushing this forward on my clients. it's the fairest way to judge social media, especially in light of my final point. let's shift our efforts to promoting these bad roi readings and into making better, more standard measures.

it's part of a whole
judging social media, or any media for that matter, in isolation is folly. every marketing and consumer activity contributes to and coalesces as the sum of a brand's existence, as it impacts consumers. in reality, no one part is ever on it's own in impacting consumers. none. so why are we making social media accountable on it's own?

all types of media – paid, earned and owned – work together to make behavioral change on consumers. this can be said to happen at any one time, but also over the course of time. it is really the entire history with the brand and all the messages consumers have ever seen that make an impact on consumers.

not even direct response or retail advertisers can escape this truth. it is everything in market and over time that impacts a consumers ultimate behavior – a purchase. while a consumer may buy something because of that one ad (and use the specific tracking device to measure it like a unique url) that is not the only way in which they decided to take action.

where this is likely to be solved is greater campaign integration of social media and more holistic tracking of those campaigns. then we can get reads on how all the paid, earned, and owned media associated with a campaign are working together in a meaningful way. we may also be able to isolate any media performing better or worse, but at least all on the same scale.

that, though, is slow coming. the research has been slow to integrate new media forms in their broad brand studies. or it's in there in a token way and certainly not as robust as say tv tracking is. which is fine, because we have many years of experience there to have that level of sophistication. so it will grow for social media, but in the interim we'll be left with a gap.

wrapping it up
if anything, the limited roi values we do and can assign to social media should force us to scrutinize traditional media even more. but it doesn't seem to be going that way.

part of the problem is, the many who write on social media, that's all they do, so it is only seen in isolation. that's why i'm a proponent of not segmenting this work out to specialty shops, but rather holistic media companies (like my own) who see the entire picture of paid, earned, and owned media.

let's also consider the primary function of social media - relationship building. like any human relationship, it takes time. most don't get married or make a friendship on one encounter, however intimate. we are challenged on the roi because it has to fit nicely in a fiscal year. well, that's not realistic with social media.

so sometimes the equation doesn't balance because our efforts may be realized later. take for instance higher involvement categories where the time between purchases is longer. it's hard for any media to accelerate that, but ongoing presence over time will be valuable when that window opens. yet, we still hold accountable social media to an unfair roi standard.

in closing, let me re-iterate that i'm not an roi hater. a realist, yes. it is just another media form and only part of greater efforts. so, say it with me now - campaign roi, not social media roi.

disassociation of information - travel edition

January 12, 2010 · 0 comments

i'm not a big traveler by any stretch. this past vacation was my first in 7 years (my honeymoon) and only by virtue of having won the trip (otherwise it would have been longer). i like seeing the sights, but it's often very shallow for me so i'm not keenly interested.

you see, i'm a big nerd, information junkie (most often a useless information junkie) and somewhat history buff. i like knowledge, but too often that knowledge is disassociated with the physical object or site you are seeing. some people like just being there and seeing it, but for me, what makes it interesting is all the information behind it which is located in a library, or online, or in people's heads and not all at the source.

that's disassociation. something i've been meaning to write about for some time and will shortly about a number of other things. digital solves the disassociation.

sure there are tour guides (or small tour books), but that's still very superficial. maybe enough for some, but not for me. also, the tour guides can't possibly speak to everything and perhaps i'm interested in something they don't know about or isn't part of the tour. if i'm looking at the mona lisa, that's great, i can see it's well painted. but the real interesting part is about da vinci, the time it was made (all the cultural and economic influences), the style, who it was (though i don't think that's known – bad example), and how it got to here (changing hands, restoration, preservation, etc). if it's a building, then the architect, the style, why is it important (who used it and for what), factoids about its features (hidden symbols or what-have-you) and anything else notable.

to me, this type of information is most valuable when presented with the thing of note. you can behold what you're reading and see it with a much more informed viewpoint. it's much more powerful to solidify the imprint in your brain of the object along with its corresponding background

as a fun little bit of synchronicity to go with theses thoughts was all the talk about the changes in the mobile world, namely Android and the Apple tablet. both of these technologies and whatever else becomes of this unfolding landscape are precisely the answer to the disassociation.

imagine going to an art museum or in my case a site of the mayan ruins, and renting out a tablet or downloading a digital tour guide to your mobile device. there you'd have the breadth of information of your location to make it a complete and informed experiences. you become your own tour guide and build your experience as you wish with vast knowledge on the subject matter and also the inputs of everyone else (as noted above).

aside from renting a device or downloading something, the evolution of location based services has a huge impact on the travel industry. aside from that wealth of information being accessible instantly as your location is determined, there is also the casual tourism side of things. walking down the street in a foreign place just opened up a whole lot of opportunities with LBS.

information is freedom, and the new digital tourist will have the freedom to take in as much or as little of the experience as anyone could want. and the ever emerging mobile platforms will be driving force to combat disassociation of information.

vacation connectedness

January 11, 2010 · 0 comments

i'm sitting here in the cancun airport after a week long vacation (first in 7 years) in the mayan riviera. i've got a few hours as our return flight has also been delayed, albeit, only 2 hours compared to the 14 hour delay for our departure. i thought i would take a few minutes and write some thoughts on connectedness, especially as it pertained to vacations.

unashemedly, i love technology. i love it always being around and feel somewhat empty if it's not within arms reach. i was derided by many (including my wife) for checking facebook and twitter and posting therein. i see no problem in doing this, so long as it doesn't take over your trip – which it didn't. it's simply staying connected with your social graph and the real world. you being at a resort is but a respite from reality.

i see little difference between using downtime beside the beach/pool to be on a wi-fi connected netbook (my acer aspire one) or iPod Touch and reading a book or magazine as some would state. the coming onslaught and proliferation of e-readers are going to throw those people who cling to that belief into a tizzy.

in my mind, a vacation is not a vacation from technology as many would see it. technology is an integral part of everyone's life and a part that i don't want to vacate from. there's still some stigma there that i don't understand. my various devices allowed me post pictures daily and exchange fun comments from people thousands of miles away. i was able to stay up to date with the 100+ or so rss feeds, which as fellow readers can attest, just a week away is a mountainous backlog. my netbook gave me plenty of opportunity to do some much needed writing both by the water and on the plane. there was also ample time to catch up on a backlog of podcasts and explore new ones.

technology didn't impede me taking day long excursions to mayan ruins, just amplified it by sharing with others. it didn't stop me from drinking (many) cervezas by the pool or eating mightily. it didn't stop me from relaxing, but gave me a relaxing activity that fueled a lot of thoughts (or maybe people want to be free from thinking). technology enhances. it's only when it overtakes that it's problematic.

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