Posts Tagged ‘planning’

Q&A: Marketers and social media

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

This is the text of an email I sent back in June to Tim Hoang for an article he was writing; Antisocial Marketing. Tim later joined my team at Porter Novelli, which has been one of my greater successes. God knows why, after this email. I’ve used Tim’s questions as the main headings below.

On 23 Jun 2008, at 06:18, Tim Hoang wrote:

Why do you think marketers are failing to capitalise on the potential of social media?

The biggest problem is the word “media” in that question. The very fact that we’re trying to think of and treat people as “media” is an epic failure. These are people, and people will always resist strongly our attempts to use them as channels through which to sell our shampoo and toothpaste products.

Who do I have to talk to to get something done around here?

Nearly everything we do in the dominant marketing world is based on asking questions like “how do we talk to as few people as possible to have as big an impact as possible?” In the dominant model, those few people are journalists, ad sales team, retailers, special interest groups, and politicians.

Now in the emergent marketing world, we’re asking questions like, “who are the most influential bloggers?” and “who are the trend setters among this group of schoolchildren?”

What do both these have in common? I think that we’re asking the same question; “who do I have to talk to to get something done around here?” In both the dominant and the emergent worlds we’re assuming that we – the marketers, the brands, the companies are the subject of the sentence. It’s all about us, and what *we* want to do.

This is the biggest mistake. We can’t buy people like we can buy media space. We can’t come to an understanding with them like we do with editorial teams.

Are we fucked?

Well, no. If we stop seeing this thing we’re calling “social media” as a channel through which we can talk to audiences, and understand that they’re channels through which we can hear our audiences talking about us, we’re about three quarters of the way to coping with the emerging marketing landscape.

Do you think marketers will ever get to grips with social media? After all, marketing is about pushing messages. The general public are now pulling information from the Web and there is no need for marketers.

Marketing isn’t about pushing messages. I think you’re talking about “advertising” there. Marketing is a strange combination of disciplines which could be summed up as “everything that a company does that isn’t simple operations” or, “everything a company does that makes money instead of costing money.” The fact that – for the past three or four decades marketers have been addicted to the quick, reliable, predictable crack-fix of broadcast advertising doesn’t mean that this is all there is to marketing. We need to go back before we go forward – to rediscover some of the things that we’ve forgotten about marketing if we’re going to know how to approach this emerging world

Is there really an opportunity for marketers in the social media space – there are very few examples of successful campaigns? To some it seems to be all hot air by the marketing and PR industry. Or is this down to the Long Tail and the successful ones we wouldn’t hear about them unless it was directly relevant to us?

Campaigns are “oldthink” – they’re a function of finite marketing budgets. Broadcast advertising is expensive – so planners have to think in terms of short bursts of activity; all of our best thinking for the past few decades has been about how to optimize these short bursts.

Today we need to think about long term, sustained activities and programmes, laid down one layer at a time. It’s going to be as much (if not more) about what we do, as it is about what we say.

How can marketers better leverage social media?

Come and talk to us.

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Influence Mapping: The Maverick Cop Way (Part 2)

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008


The story so far: In the last episode of Influence Mapping: The Maverick Cop Way, we discussed a simple process for organizing what you know about influencers. We discussed briefly the decision making unit model we were using, our (very broad) definition of “influencer”, and showed how we can score them quickly for the three key variables reach, authority, and “ease-of-use”. At the end of the process, we found ourselves with something like this:

influence score

Now we’re going to go a little further, and show how we can map the relationships between the various stakeholders. This is the second and final post, and it may introduce a lot more that’s new to you. But stick with it – it might be worth it.

What you’ll need before you start

You’re going to need UCINET, a programme that analyses matrices and networks. It comes along with another programme from the same publishers (Analytictech) called NetDraw that draws networks. You’re going to want both. UCINET costs $250 for a corporate license, but the first 30 days are free. NetDraw is a free download.

They only work on Windows, but I’ve not experienced any real problems running them on a Mac using Parallels.

1. Create a matrix

Take your list of influencers (as per the table above), and add in the four key players from the decision making unit; the initiator, the decision maker, the purchaser and the end user.

Paste them down the left hand side of your table, and along the top edge, as in the illustration below. Excel’s Edit > Paste Special > Transpose command is useful, not to say essential, when you’re doing this. At the end of the process, you should have something that looks like this.

matrix (empty)

The rows show the influencers, the columns show those being influenced, the targets.

Because we don’t think that an influencer can exert influence themselves we drop a line of zeroes down the diagonal. This is more to help us navigate than anything else. Don’t feel you have to do this.

2. Fill in the matrix

Go through the rows one by one, deciding if a given influencer has any effect on the targets (the column headings). So for example, we know that the initiator influences the decision maker, and so on. But knowledge of the end user may well influence the decision maker, too. So – for example – when I’m choosing my dad a computer, I take into account the fact that he’s not so au fait with technology, and that if he can’t use it, he’s going to call me to ask for tech support. So I’d better choose something that will limit these calls.

At the end of the process, you’ll end up with something like this (although probably much bigger). It can take quite a lot of time to go through this process – this may be one of those times when you want to work with a partner to bounce the ideas around.

matrix (filled)


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Influence Mapping: The Maverick Cop Way (Part 1)

Monday, June 9th, 2008


You know the maverick cop? The one who breaks all the rules, has to surrender his gun and badge somewhere in Act II, but nevertheless somehow gets the job done? His approach to solving problems is crude but effective (usually it involves shaking people down, which isn’t something we get to do a lot in the communications business.)

I don’t know that maverick cops are into influence mapping. I don’t know how many people really are, but it’s a big part of my work life. These days it seems I’m always being asked, “Mat, who is the most influential x?”, or, “Mat, who influences the online discussion on y?” or, “Mat, what influences people’s purchase decision-making when it comes to z?” These are all interesting questions, and bear a lot of thought and research and planning.

However, time isn’t something we all have a lot of these days, so right now I’m going to share a very quick-and-dirty method I’ve been working on; the research equivalent of holding a pimp upside down over a balcony.

Before we start, what’s wrong with this approach?

It builds on what we know, or what we think we know. Using it successfully will require all those assets that the maverick cop has in spades: a sharp brain honed by experience, a deep knowledge of the streets (well, your market), and an underworld intelligence network of pimps and hookers (in our case these are more likely to be clients and colleagues, of course.)

Axel Foley aside, maverick cops don’t always do so well out of their jurisdiction. This approach isn’t going to expose surprises or new information so well. It’s all about organizing what you know.

If you are a rookie cop, you’d better stick by the book. That’s all I’m saying. Or someone will bust you down to traffic duty before you know what’s hit you.

And what’s so good about it?

Well, it’s fast, for one thing. And it’s a process – which is another. Now if you add into that the fact that – when you have more accurate data, you can go back and plug it into the model without breaking it, but only making it better – then you’re onto a winner.


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