Monday, December 29, 2008

Social Media Marketing requires an attitude shift

This is true of Corporations, their Marketing teams and agencies. Currently, they view it with a trepidation never seen before. Some of them dismiss Social Media Marketing as hype, a bubble that is waiting to burst.

Nothing can be farther from truth than that.

From my interactions with Marketer’s, CEO’s, browsing and talking to the few experts on Social Media, I could draw a picture as to why there is discomfort in accepting Social Media Marketing. Some of it has been well-chronicled and some are my conjecture. It is as follows:

For Marketers -

  • Move from a broadcast approach (which they know a great deal about) to participating in conversations with people who are not there to buy anything
  • Move from a command-control approach to ‘letting go’. There is no formula or established practice for them to fall back on
  • Not sure about the ROI (this is a debate that is unlikely to be resolved soon)
  • Need to adopt a common-sense approach which they abdicated long ago to uninspiring research
  • Need backing from top management as there is a need to be prepared for failures along the way before they strike pay-dirt.
  • They have to hunt, train and create Social Media Evangelists within their organization
  • They have to do it all themselves and not leave it to an agency like in the case of advertising, DM, PR or digital
  • Numerous technologies and applications that seems to be growing exponentially is adding to the complexity

As regards agencies, Social Media Marketing is likely to bypass them completely if they do not act fast. The reason is simple. Social Media is about conversations. One cannot converse on behalf of someone else – it then ceases to be a conversation!

However, there is a need for what I call ‘Social Media Marketing Coaches’. The closest analogy is the coach in sports like NBA, Tennis (can you imagine a Grand Slam winner without a coach), Athletics and so on. The coaches are not the actual players. They are in the sidelines guiding and motivating the players to victory. Agencies need to identify and develop coaches within their system to cater to the growing demand. Or else they will lose to consultants who are aplenty. They will also lose precious income.

Adrian Ho in this incisive article is clearly of the view that Agencies will not have any role to play in Social Media Marketing. It is debatable though.

Social Media Marketing is here to stay. In countries like India, its relevance might be confined to the youth (who in any case form bulk of the population) and to target groups with reasonable internet penetration. However, its importance to corporations is without doubt being established every passing day.

All that Social Media Marketing demands is a simple shift in attitude amongst all of us.

Just be social!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

3F & The New Agency Model

The 3F Principle

Failure, frustration and fortitude are what I call the 3F factors that seem to propel some people into coming up with newer agency models.

However, this was not always the case. People quit existing large agencies because they were unhappy and disgruntled at the state of affairs. They started their own agency which grew and made people unhappy and disgruntled at the state of affairs - the circle of agency life, if one can call that.

However, this is a brave new world with many Bravehearts.

Adrian Ho, in the inspiring presentation above, has narrated how failure made him launch Zeus Jones, a unique marketing service proposition for clients. Adrian, who was head of planning at Fallon Minnesota, an agency many people admire, is being very modest when he talks of his failure (if those are failures, then people like me do not deserve to exist!). However, one can understand what he is trying to express.

Closer home, frustration with existing large agency models led to two of my good friends - Ramesh and Anto - to come up with Hungry&Foolish.

In both instances, failure and frustration led to a positive outcome. However, it required enormous fortitude for the newer engagement model to see the light of day and hopefully succeed as time goes by.

I am not for a moment saying that existing models will not work or that they will be replaced. They will continue to exist and grow. However, Zeus Jones, Hungry&Foolish and hopefully many such disruptive agency models act as a much needed booster shot for the industry and clients alike. These newer rules of engagement will enable a much more holistic approach to the business of marketing communication or so I hope. While at it you can also take a look at what people say about Anomaly, a differentiated agency (link to their website) that I admire.

Amidst all this noise I had almost missed out the fourth and most important ‘f’, fortune.

And fortune, as they say, favours the brave!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Let's do a viral!

This is a refrain used indiscriminately these days by marketers and agencies alike.

Very often one attends meetings wherein the client and agency discuss animatedly about doing a viral. The result: A TV Commercial which in the best of times would have been the cause of severe migraine is uploaded on to YouTube or the company website or emailed to unsuspecting victims. The client and agency pat each other on the back and the poor viewer who is subjected to this soaks his or her head in cold water.

This is not a viral by any stretch of imagination.

Faris Yakob has summed it in his inimitable style – “Viral is a thing that happens, not a thing that is.” To reinforce this further he has come up with a very strong blog on ‘spreadable media’ with a wonderful video which is spreading like (you guessed it right), a viral!

However, if one still wants to see examples of good viral that are truly viral, take a look at Ignites pick of Top 5 Viral Marketing in 2008. Hope it gives you an idea or two for your brand.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Making of a social anti-social

Social Media fascinates me. Having said that, this fascination was confined to extensive browsing and lapping up all that was happening in this world. I seldom ventured beyond a greeting or a ‘digital mumble’. Inertia and my naturally reticent nature prevented me from ‘opening up’. In short, I was an anti-social in a social world without the necessary etiquette to move forward. However, constant exposure to Social Media can be so infectious that even the most powerful of defenses can crumble. That is exactly what happened to me.

Groundswell, the book, catalyzed my interest in the potent mix of 2.0 world (or is it 3.0 now), brands and people. In addition, there are a lot many people who are my inspiration and who will be featured in these pages as I progress on this journey.

Eons ago, I entered the wonderful world of ‘dotcom’ when the bubble was about to burst. I learnt a lot and had a whale of a time. Now, I am entering the world of Social Media when the global economic crisis is now truly Global. I guess, my timing sucks.

I hope in a small way I am able to transmit my interest to readers and fuel great many debates. This union of free thoughts and action will probably help someone, somewhere understand how people, brands, agencies and communication are affected and also can derive benefit from the media called social media.