Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shooting From The Hip With Social Media

Big news everywhere we turn this week and last from the world of social media.  Early last week Nielsen reported that 22 percent of all time spent on the Internet is social.  According to a study by the big research company, web users spend one in every four and a half minutes they are online on social networks and blogs.

Some equally compelling data from another research firm, as reported in eMarketer, shows that 50% of Facebook users click on Facebook ads to "like" a brand and 33% of Twitter users share opinions about companies or products.

It seems as social media permeates our lives and  new levels of connectivity are added through mobile devices, entirely new consumer behaviors are developing.

Up until recently it was rare for me to see friends on Facebook mention specific products other than those associated with pop culture such as TV Shows, Movies, Music and Books.   But in the last couple of weeks I have seen friends speak glowingly of experiences with consumer brands that exceeded their expectations in one way or another like Netflix, ZipCar, GroupOn and Trader Joes.

Companies are being forced to react to all this on multiple levels.  Never has the pressure been greater for a business to absolutely delight their customers and tap into an ever growing pool of potential evangelists who will share their experiences on one of their preferred social networks. (Disappointing and frustrating them carries too much downside - witness the AT&T/iPhone debacle last week.)

So at the highest level, companies need to weave social media considerations into their entire operating mentality. And, on a more granular level, they need to be dedicating more and more resources and strategic thinking to intimately managing specific social media platforms and channels.

For most companies this is not proving easy.  According to another piece of research released this week,  as reported in Media Post, more than half of companies say they are using social media with absolutely no strategy.

"... most companies appear to be shooting from the hip, with no cohesive game plan or measurement systems in place. Even among those with a plan, few have written policies and communications protocols in place, leaving the organization exposed to problems arising out of employees communicating in ways that inadvertently hurt -- rather than help -- their company brands."

Shocking, but not surprising in such fast-fracturing media landscape.  Seems companies are barely able to keep up with their traditional and online media executions, and when they do develop a clever social media idea, it comes out of nowhere and doesn't seem to be connected to a broader marketing strategy.

Is Virgin America's offer this week to offer free flights to Twitter influencers "shooting from the hip" or smart marketing?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Best Business Presentation I Have Ever Seen

We all strive to tell our business story in a clear, concise and compelling manner.  Weaning, editing and ultimately leaving things out of a presentation is much harder than including lots of information, and the best presentations, just like the best poems, books and other forms of art and communications, tell a story with such apparent ease and focus that we are inspired with the the artist/executive/entrepreneur's vision and capability. 

Such is the case with Netflix's business plan which was recently posted online for the world to see by their CEO, Reed Hastings.

It takes 5 minutes to flow through the 40 or so slides, after which one can see clearly why Netflix is so successful. It's their laser focus on succeeding at one enormous opportunity and their thorough understanding of their competition and where they sit in a media landscape changing at light speed, dominated by companies 10X as large.

The presentation not only shares Nettflix's vision and some broad insight into the future of Television, but some great business management aphorisms such as: "Rather than depending on one genius, we democratize innovation" and "To have profitable growth in such a huge market, you find a segment in which you can gain and maintain leadership."

Finally, it is just fascinating to watch a company that started as a direct mail business (and continues to generate most of its revenue from mail subscription) have such an enormous impact on the future of digital media.