Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Analyzing My Linkedin Network and Applying Insights

As more people are adding more and more social networks to their overall web of online activities, understanding the relationships of these networks is valuable for many applications.  As a marketer, I find that these networks are critical for identifying key people that may be influential or using as a tool to segment people for marketing purposes.

I recently pulled my Linkedin network graph to understand the relationships between my various contacts and people who are key to my network connections.  Here is what it looks like, with my annotations added.



The labels are obvious.  Most of my network clusters are groupings of people where I have worked, clients I have worked with or other social groupings.  The main take-away from the 'jelly-fish' look of my network is that the primary use of Linkedin for me is business contacts.  I have some University and High School connections, but I have not actively sought these connections like I have on Facebook.

The red circles are key hubs that connect various networks and have a significant volume of connections themselves.  These are people that I actively keep warm as close contacts due to their influence on other people and their ability to keep me connected to various groups.  That being said, these are not the only people that I keep in contact with, but what this graph shows me is the importance of them if I want to keep connected to various clusters or grow my overall network.

If you want to Linkin with me, go here - ca.linkedin.com/in/paulcowan/


Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Facebook Paradox

Marketers have been flocking to Facebook as a means to create direct relationships with their customers.  This has been an excellent means to break down the barriers between customers and brands, but recently have been under much scrutiny due to the inability for marketers to directly engage with fans.

The following infographic illustrates this problem.



The stats are shocking.  Under 1% of fans engage on brand pages.  Facebook even acknowledges that the newsfeed only reaches 16% of fans, but recent newsfeed changes in September 2012 have been noted to reduce newsfeed impressions even more (which has been validated in studies I have done for clients, most achieving in the range of 5 - 10%).

The reality is that in this channel there is no 'loyalty loop'.  It is much more like a galaxy, with fans constantly spinning off into space with no gravitational force to pull them back to your content.

The question for marketers: Why invest in this channel if I continually need to reinvest?

I still see Facebook as one of the most viable channels for driving engagement at a very targeted level.   Marketers can do some very simple (or complex) things to help create a smart social strategy.

1. Use Facebook as a Key Component to CRM
Build programs that are designed for customers to give you access to their Facebook data, creating some sort of value exchange for this information (loyalty programs, exclusive content, etc).

2.  Mine Data and Build Custom Audiences
Use the data you are getting access to and build discreet segments.  Tie this into your existing database if you can understand the type of customer that they are.

3.  Deploy Media
Use custom audiences to upload your segments and experiment with messaging.  Target these fans with specific messages, using tactics like 'dark posts' to publish to micro-segments.  Develop the most relevant messages to the right audiences.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Operationalizing Agile Marketing



I recently posted a presentation titled "Driving Engagement in an Always On Marketing World".


I've received some positive feedback and wanted to expand on the notion of Agile Marketing.

What is Agile Marketing?

The 'Agile' approach is a term stolen from the software world where it is commonly used to describe a process of rapid iteration and incremental improvement on previous versions of the product.  The advantages of this are faster-to-market products and a system of real-time learning and improvement.  The growth of real-time marketing and ability to optimize communications using algorithms has led to markers looking to adopt these approaches.  

The Biggest Challenge.  Traditional Marketers.

Marketers have been doing Agile Marketing for some time, they just didn't know it.  Email, .com, Search Engine Marketing and Optimization were the first disciplines that took this approach.  Digital and direct marketers have been employing iterative approaches to communications by pivoting messaging based on user response for years.  The reality is that most senior level marketers have never been exposed to the actual deployment of these approaches and those executing have not had to seek senior level approvals for their test & learn approaches.

But the evolution of marketing is making everything digital, and thus, also creating optimization capabilities in real time.  But this is a new concept to traditional marketers who are used to highly rigid brand architectures, logo guidelines, annual planning cycles and traditional agency briefing processes. 

As brands need to create more contextually relevant content in owned properties (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc), they have to move away from the traditional communications process of; 1) Brief agency, 2) Agency produces ads and 3) Weeks of making it 'pop' 4) Move through matrix of approvals.  Instead, companies need to empower employees and their agency representatives in the production of real-time content that drives relevance.  Both of these groups need to be able to break away from the traditional processes that they have established and move toward a newsroom type of approach in pursuit of consumer attention.

Change.  Easily Said.  But No Easily Done.

Harvard Business Review echoed the need for brands to move to the newsroom approach.  This approach is very easy to adhere to in theory, but the reality is that no brands are structured to produce content at the volume and frequency in which it can be deployed.  This structure needs to combine the structure of a newsroom, with more responsive and agile reporters/photographers who can deliver messages that deliver against daily (or hourly) relevance, and traditional marketing by mapping back to brand messages and key product pillars.  The structure requires that an editor-in-chief has the latitude and authority to publish on behalf of the brand, but also gives reporters the freedom to act as Agile developers - in a nimble and iterative manner.

Oreo has had it's SuperBowl post lauded as the pinnacle of Agile Marketing, responding to the power outage and posting through social channels.  It drove significant engagement and was highly relevant to a current cultural event.  But, having a team of people amassed during key events, or trying to predict when cultural movements will happen are both very challenging for marketers to scale.

View image on Twitter


The key to scaling a newsroom+brand approach is to determine how to best harness technology, consumer insight models (predictive models, optimization engines, etc) and publishing/advertising tools to make the production and delivery components manageable.

Is the End of Marketing As We Know It Here?  No, Not really...

So with this being said, traditional marketing still has a place in the overall marketing schema.  Developing a positioning with emotional appeal to the target segment is still the cornerstone of any marketing plan.  The tactical deployments are changing.  Television still remains the most effective mass reach vehicle available.  But with increasing fragmentation of consumption (Cable, Satellite, Online, PVRs, Streaming, etc) and the impending ability to purchase advertising similar to digital (buying audience engagement instead of potential exposure), the deployment systems that exist tomorrow are going to demand the real-time iteration that the digital world is experiencing today.

Marketers need to develop new organizational structures that are going to be adaptive to the shifting desires and demand of their target audiences.  Successful marketers are going to create content creation teams who will be empowered to iterate on brand stories and create real-time linkages to current events and key marketing messages.




Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another Cable Increase - Yahoo!

So I get a letter from Rogers today:

"...(Rogers) costs went up 10% more than last year... Rogers will absorb much of these increases..."

This means prices are going up.

Then I looked back at the Q1 reporting to the street:

"Our first quarter results reflect continued top line growth combined with good traction on cost controls. We delivered double-digit adjusted operating profit growth, margin expansion at all three segments, and a 27% increase in free cash flow,"

This means that shareholders should be happy.

As a customer, this is another price increase with little obvious payoff beyond a new online portal where I can watch back episodes of "Chips".

As a shareholder, I'm confident that inertia will stop customer from churning and going to more affordable alternatives like torrents and P2P sharing.