ethanbeute

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Tag: online

1-3-9-12: My Authority Rainmaker Conference Review

Bastardizing Dan Pink’s elegant 1-3-5 opening keynote structure at Authority Rainmaker 2015 … my 1-3-9-12 review of the online marketing conference.

Pink: 1 insight, 3 principles, 5 takeaways

Me: 1 recommendation, 3 reasons, 9 themes, 12 quotes
(yes, I’m willing to break the triad)

 

Subtitled “Integrated Content, Search, and Social Media Marketing (Plus Invaluable Networking),” Authority Rainmaker is Copyblogger‘s (now annual!?) online marketing conference.

I enjoyed the privilege of attending thanks to BombBomb | Relationships Through Video.

To organize my own thoughts (initially captured in 20+ pages of handwritten notes) and to provide a necessarily pale representation of a truly wonderful event (like trying to capture a spectacular sunrise on a spectacular landscape with a photo), my 1-3-9-12 review …

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How Bad Positioning Can Obscure Good Data

It worked.  Link bait positioning drew me in to a series of posts from Dan Zarrella, “The Social Media Scientist,” who uses data to punch holes in “unicorns and rainbows” myths about social media.

A trio of posts (two relatively new, another a few months old) all attempt to shoot down the idea that marketers should “engage in the conversation.”  Those three are summarized nicely (here) by Justin Wise.

In looking at Facebook, Twitter and blog conversations, Zarrella observes that likes, @replies and comments are insignificantly or negatively correlated with some desirable outcomes (more links, views, followers).

Here’s a grab from his post on Twitter conversations:

@mentions, @replies, Twitter, engagement, conversation, Zarrella. study, data, charts, graphic, infographic

Zarrella lays out some data about "engaging in the conversation" on Twitter, comparing percentage of @replies to followers.

I’ll leave the specifics to Zarrella’s original posts (Facebook, Twitter and blog conversations) and Wise’s overview.

I simply want to observe that there’s good, interesting and potentially useful data there, but it’s obscured by link bait positioning – that “engaging in the conversation” does not work.  All three posts attempt to destroy unmeasured, touchy feely notions that marketers must “engage in the conversation” to succeed with social media.  The positioning is great for posting headlines and links to generate clicks through, but it’s not especially fair or accurate.  Because the headlines are more specific and fair than the data positioning, link bait may be too pejorative a word for someone whose work I respect very much.  Still, the work doesn’t support directly the notion that “engaging in the conversation” is fruitless and, perhaps, even counterproductive.

A few quick supports:

1 The measures in the Facebook and blog conversation posts have nothing to do with a page admin or blogger “engaging in the conversation.”  Instead, Zarrella observes interactions as a whole.  So, it’s interesting that higher numbers of comments are negatively correlated with higher numbers of views and links, but it says absolutely nothing about the value of marketers engaging conversations.

2 His correlations of Facebook likes and comments to total views are based on just two pages – HubSpot and OnStartups (note: I “like” both pages).  Those two pages have a combined total of 50,000 fans.  Those two pages are also remarkably similar in topic area (online/inbound/content marketing, entrepreneurship, SMB), so the behavior – if not identities – of both pages’ fans is likely very similar.  To make statements about how effective conversation is for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of fan pages among the hundreds of millions of Facebook users from this narrow sample is a stretch at best.

3 The Twitter piece is the most interesting, but even the graphic (included here, above) provides contradictory takeaways.  Don’t bother replying, because those with more followers don’t reply much, if at all … or reply a lot, because those who do also tend to have more followers.  It also ignores strategy outright.  For example, @replies are the foundation for anyone using Twitter for customer service.

So what’s the use of the collective wisdom conveyed in Zarrella’s three posts?  Read ’em for yourself!  I only observe that it’s far more nuanced than their “engaging in the conversation may be a waste of your time and resources” positioning.

The Bottom Line

The single best takeaway from all three posts is more a reminder than anything else: your most successful tactic is providing great content … or links to great content.

These kinds of posts are plentiful.  Many of these posts are very interesting and potentially useful.  Most importantly, many provoke thought and, somewhat ironically in this case, stimulate conversation.  They should not, however, be the basis for calling into question your entire strategy and reacting in immediate or dramatic fashion.  It’s content marketing, hence the tendency toward link bait positioning.

Have a strategy for how you’re using social media.  Established desired outcomes.  Measure actual outcomes.  Learn, optimize and iterate.

Also, stay informed about others’ outcomes, like those observed by Zarrella.  Then, converse!

(Thanks to Michael Worley Jr for bringing this to my attention by tweeting a link to great content)

Permanence: Online Testimony to Your Personal Brand and Legacy

I’ve been doing marketing and promotion inside local television stations for more than a decade.  Nearly everything we do is highly perishable, especially in the linear broadcast.  It must affect my mindset, because two instances today – neither especially profound – open-hand slapped me in the face with the idea of permanence.

These instances immediately took me back to a Vaynerchuk take (find it at 19:30) on staying mindful of the fact that our great great grandchildren will be able to see much of what we do.

Instance 1: The final button on an interesting little case study by Darren Dahl in Inc. about a legal and PR crisis faced by Tagged.  I won’t go into the details of the saga, brief as it was, and will instead go straight to the closing quote.  “‘In the age of Google, bad press stays forever,’ says (CEO Greg) Tseng.  ‘This incident will be a part of Tagged’s legacy forever.'”

Instance 2: A blog post from Alexandra Levit titled “Google is Forever,” in which she runs down a young man’s persistent haunting by the press generated by a wildly anti-gay Facebook page he started with blind, youthful enthusiasm in his college days.  You can delete the page, but you can’t delete the press.  He professes great embarrassment it now and alleges it’s prevented him from being hired recently.  (Note: the post was brought to my attention by Dan Schawbel)

The takeaway: We’re building our legacy every day, one decision at a time.  Whatever’s online is testimony to that legacy.

And just for fun … a 3 year old rant (and I mean rant in the best way) on legacy vs currency:

 

 

Groupon Investing in Traditional Media: Smart Play?

This morning I met for coffee a friend whose website I’m writing.  It’s a pretty casual shop that opens at 7am; the owner was still getting everything together at 7:05am.  Part of the process: firing up the music.

“I can’t think of it … what’s the radio on the internet?” she asked.  “Pandora,” I immediately replied without thinking twice.  “Yeah, that’s it,” she said, adding “I like Slacker, too.  It’s deeper.”

Pandora’s built from the Music Genome Project, which started in 1999.  In its current form with which you’re probably familiar, the website itself started in mid-2006.  In less than 5 years, then, “Pandora” has come to mean “radio on the internet” on a fraction of a moment’s thought.  I don’t even use Pandora and the connection is instantaneous.  That’s an important and impressive achievement.

If Pandora’s growing by anything but word of mouth, social networking and maybe some online banners, I”m not aware of it.  I’ve never seen an ad for it in any form.

Meanwhile, “the fastest growing company ever” is now “experimenting with what’s now typically referred to as traditional advertising – TV, print, radio, outdoor billboards – to maintain momentum.”  The former quote comes from a Summer 2010 story in Forbes; the latter comes from this week’s Ad Age.  Both are about everyone’s darling, Groupon, the company that can say no to Google and its $6,000,000,000.

Groupon, Collective Buying Power, logo, corporate logo, social coupon, group

Groupon and Traditional Advertising: Is that what it takes to be a premiere brand, a true household name?

Written by Rupal Parekh, the Ad Age piece is built on the fact that Groupon tried to buy Super Bowl ads, but settled for title sponsorship of the Super Bowl pre-game show because the in-game inventory has been sold out for months (at $2.8-3M per :30).  It goes on to detail their engagement with Crispin Porter + Bogusky for creative and talks with cable networks about their new agency Starcom.  It seems like they’re embracing establishment in hopes of becoming a premiere brand.

Attention traditional media: put Groupon on your “new client that’s ripe for courting” list.

Neither LivingSocial, Groupon’s chief competitor, nor Facebook, which has 50% more users at 600M than Groupon at 400M, has spent any serious cash on traditional media.  Apple, on the other hand, can’t be avoided if you watch an hour of prime time network television.  Google falls somewhere in between, but much closer to LivingSocial and Facebook.  Microsoft also falls somewhere in between, but much closer to Apple.

It’s worth noting that Pandora passed the 400M user mark more than a year ago, a mark Groupon hit at a much faster pace, achieving it in 2010.

Questions for You

Is the Super Bowl a smart play for Groupon?

Is traditional advertising still a basic requirement for a brand to become top-tier, to become a true household name?  Do the spend and presence add credibility to a brand?

Does Groupon need an agency, a creative shop and traditional media?  If so, why?  If not, how might tens of millions of dollars be better spent?

I’d really like to hear what you think – please leave a comment below.

Our Nation’s Common Medium: Why Just One?

In advance of a significant broadband announcement ($25B in new spending) by the Federal Communications Commission, a former FCC Chairman, Reed Hundt, delivered a speech at Columbia Business School that he titled “The End of Broadcasting.”

I read about the speech at TVNewsCheck.com and began to watch it on Columbia’s website.  It seems Columbia’s site or server can’t support the traffic, so the speech is basically unwatchable.  This post, then, is informed by the first 20 minutes of the speech I endured on first go and Harry A. Jessell‘s analysis of it.  I expect to edit this post once I’m able to view the entire speech.

In this speech, Hundt argues that every nation needs a “common medium” with the following characteristics:

  • Reaches 100% of citizens
  • Is easy and customary for 100% of citizens to use
  • Is culturally accessible (in common languages)
  • Is open to participation
  • Is good for business
  • Is full of “news” and is sufficiently “local” in its manifestation
  • Is owned privately, not publicly
  • Provides to the government access to the citizens

According to Hundt, the FCC began the policy of favoring the internet over broadcasting as the nation’s one common medium as far back as the period 1994-1997.  Interestingly, Hundt described this as a “confession or admission,” from which I infer a heretofore duplicitous stance.

A couple examples of broadcasting being disfavored by Hundt’s FCC:

  • “This is a little naughty: We delayed the transition to HDTV and fought a big battle against the whole idea”  (Ethan: why!?  HDTV is gorgeous and beloved)
  • It was “simply astonishing” to Hundt that the government continued to promote broadcasting by subsidizing converter boxes for consumers in the analog-to-digital transition – “Those people would have been much better off getting a voucher for broadband internet subscriptions”  (Ethan: completely ludicrous, more below)

I consider this visionary policy.  I don’t know if you were using the internet between 1994 and 1997, but to call the experience “lacking” would be kin to calling water “wet.”  For a government agency to recognize the value and benefit of the internet at that point is praiseworthy.

I absolutely accept that the internet has infinitely more potential as a valuable information medium in the long term than broadcasting.  Per Hundt’s criteria above, the internet trumps broadcasting in openness to participation, facilitation of commerce and pin-point localism.

What I reject outright is the premise that a nation needs just one common medium.  In Jessell’s words, “what would you rather have, the best broadcasting system in the world or the best broadband system.  My answer: both.”  Agreed!  As I’ll continue to argue, broadcasting and broadband are unique and complementary.

Also, support of one medium (broadband) should not require the suppression of the other (broadcasting). However, Hundt suggests a nation is going to choose just one “because government in any country wants a way to reach everybody.  It will encourage it and promote it up to some level.”  I’ll ignore the Orwellian overtones and suggest that internet and broadcasting should be understood, appreciated and treated as unique and complementary media.  Two recent illustrations and an anecdote:

I also reject that the internet is superior for access and ease of use.  Let’s start with Hundt’s converter box line to tear this one down.  The FCC mandated that television stations kill off analog broadcasting in favor of digital.  The transition was extremely costly for broadcasters, though it cleared real estate in the spectrum that the government auctioned off for nearly 20 billions of dollars and dramatically improved the quality of broadcasters’ signals.

To aid in the transition, our federal government provided $40 vouchers upon citizen request to be used for the purchase of digital converter boxes so an old analog TV would still work in the all-digital broadcasting future (now present).  To suggest, as Hundt did, that “those people” (read: older, poorer) would be better off getting “a voucher for broadband internet subscriptions” is completely ludicrous.  In my world, $40 buys you ONE MONTH of broadband access.  In many cases $40 covered the entire cost of a converter box, which is useful indefinitely.

That’s just access.  Now, consider ease of use.  As a blog reader, you probably take for granted how easy it is to get online.  Have you spoken with someone who’s old or poor about selecting and purchasing a computer or setting up and paying for a broadband subscription?  Have you seen the line at your local library to get online?  Meanwhile, a television or radio can be cheaply purchased and simply powered on.  Whoever does so has immediate access to emergency information.

Let’s just pretend that the government’s need to access 100% of people is based in the dissemination of emergency information.  At present, clear protocols and enforceable requirements are in place for broadcasters to support these efforts (Emergency Alert System).  Should not the effective use of this system be properly credited and indefinitely employed by the agency which mandated it into being?

In conclusion:

  • I support government efforts to encourage and promote broadband access; I’m very curious to learn the details of the FCC’s imminent broadband announcement.
  • I look forward to the day that broadband internet provides 100% reach to American households at an extremely inexpensive price.
  • Internet and broadcasting are unique and complementary media.
  • In the near to medium term, broadcasting is less expensive and easier to use for more Americans.
  • This is an extremely complex set of ideas.  Among the related topics that could be explored:  mobile TV by way of traditional broadcasting and mainstream media as the foundation for a significant share of searches and social exchanges online.
  • Because nothing even close to a dollar-for-dollar, online-to-traditional model to support journalism exists, a threat to broadcasting remains a threat to journalism.  Call me old-fashioned, but I consider journalism a necessary precursor to some semblance of democracy.
  • Agencies of our government are busy determining your future.  To the degree you’re uninformed or disengaged, they’re doing it without you.  If you don’t care about broadcasting and broadband, think about those things that do matter to you.

Worth noting:

  • We do not pay for television at our house.  We use an antenna and a 32″ HDTV to enjoy the cleanest, highest-quality pictures and sound available from several local broadcasters.
  • We pay $37/month for moderate-quality internet access (Qwest DSL).

Interesting fact:

Related links:

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