In this week's Five for Friday, let's take a look at social media from the perspectives of a member of traditional media's old guard, a B2B marketer, a media futurist, and a media buyer. Plus we'll look at an interesting take on why companies should focus less on what's next and do a better job of handling what's now. Put it all together, and you've got "marketing through the looking glass" -- everything looks kinda familiar but nothing is quite what it seems.
Here are some of my favorite reads and interesting ideas for the week ending April 27th, 2012.
Inside the AP’s Social Strategy
Great look into how a veteran of traditional media has moved into social. They’re not just present on Facebook and Twitter (with more than 20 accounts); they actually have a micro-targeted strategy for each to clearly govern their respective uses. They’re not using social to simply push out information to readers -- depending on the account and platform, they also gather resources and engage their audience. But perhaps most importantly, they view social media as a deadly serious requirement of the new media world, and staff those accounts accordingly. The AP’s guidelines for social include Facebook for engagement, Twitter for breaking news, neither platform gets the story first -- it still hits the wires before social, a rule the AP calls “sacrosanct.” Obviously even in a digital and social world, traditional has it's place -- and the AP has well-defined rules for how the pieces fit together.
How B2B Marketers Are Succeeding With Social Media Marketing
If this headline surprises you, start worrying. Social Media Examiner’s 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report gives a good overview of how social media is being used by marketers, but more interestingly it points to how business-to-business marketers -- often thought to be lagging consumer brands -- are actually beating out B2C marketers in terms of social media success. B2B marketers are seeing across-the-board 10% lifts over their B2C counterparts in generating new business partnerships, achieving improved search rankings, and gathering marketplace insights as a direct result of social media use. If your're a B2C marketer, maybe you can learn some social media lessons from your vendors. And if you're a B2B marketing who hasn't yet begun using social as a serious business tool, maybe you need to start yesterday.
Five Ways To Weaponize Your Brand Storytelling
So you have fans and followers. So what? Top-flight media futurist Mike Walsh says the real business value lies not in the numbers but in your ability to get those fans and followers to talk about the stories you’ve curated around your brand. Get people interested enough in a story and they’ll share it with all of their friends and followers. Here’s how: Track and understand which stories get the most attention, and whether that attention translates to new customers. Deeply research your customers’ lives and the types of stories they’re already telling--then you’ll know how your brand fits into their social storytelling. Leverage new platforms (like Pinterest) if you can do it in a way that makes sense for your brand and the social lives of your customers. And if you’re going to reach for the world’s attention, be prepared to know what matters to your customers locally (even if "local" is halfway across the globe from where you sit).
Why Digital Ad Forecasts Are Irrelevant: The Future Is Not Display Ads
If you work in the business, you've seen plenty of those studies that project just how big the digital display ad spend will grow over the coming 3, 4, or even 5 years. This article suggests that those numbers are totally irrelevant. Not because predicting the future is turning into something of a fool's errand, but because the future of advertising has little to do with display ads as we know them today. People are spending huge amounts of time on social sites that eschew standard IAB display units in favor of "native formats" (Facebook Sponsored Stories, Tumblr posts, Twitter's promoted tweets and trends, branded content, etc.) What does this mean for marketers? Simple: say goodbye to one-size-fits-all advertising. It’s now a requirement to appeal to your customers by acting like them--participating in social spheres of influence, building an audience and creating content (see “Five Ways to Weaponize Your Brand Storytelling” above), and presenting that content through paid media placements and earned media opportunities that integrate seamlessly into each social site's network experience. And be prepared to change course at a moment's notice. So what’s the future of digital advertising?
The Hidden Power of Mundane Ideas
This one would be a big idea, if only it weren't so obvious. Oh -- but being obvious in this instance is actually a very good thing. When most of us set out to innovate, we are so concerned with hitting on a proverbial A HA! moment. But in doing so, we just might be missing out on the regular, simple stuff (on the mundane and the obvious stuff) that really matters. Just because your customers are giving you direct feedback about new wants they hadn't even realized they had and endorsing innovative features they’d love to have in theory, that doesn’t mean your brand should ignore the obvious patterns about what they currently do and like right now. Here's the catch. If you're missing the obvious little things, chances are so is everyone else. And that means there's an unaddressed (or at least under-served) need waiting to be satisfied. Sometimes the best way to truly innovate (not merely invent the new, but create real value for your customers) is to focus on the near-in easy asks and answer them better than anyone else.