I’m torn between 2 webcasts this afternoon :
2pm : PR Newswire’s Authentic Communications : Examining Social Media and the Online Conversation
3pm : Vocus : Maneuvering the New Media Landscape (archived through Vocus homepage)
… so I listened to a bit of both.
Some interesting points raised in each :
Authentic Communications : the Facebook case
– Larry Harris, EVP Integrated Marketing, DraftFCB, working with Facebook, claims that the company’s annual marketing budget is $500 — and says that’s spent on BBQ — Facebook is completely driven by word-of-mouth.
– Harris feels the share feature in Facebook allows a properly set-up marketing link to work very well.
– In Facebook, you get three strikes before you’re removed as a user – but in reality, the community itself is best at policing itself. Authentication and bond to a ‘real world’ community helps Facebook’s credibility.
– Facebook was launched in Feb 2004 as an online version of Harvard’s print version Facebook by one of its students – it was immediately successful with requests from other universities for a similar service resulting in corporate launch.
– There are 13 million unique active users as of today on Facebook – 3rd in Canada behind Microsoft and Google.
– More than a billion and a half photographs are stored on Facebook. Users have the capability to remove photos of themselves posted by other users, if tagged.
– The average freshman will spend an average of 2.5 hours setting up his or her profile and choose to provide personal information including room and phone numbers.
– Groups like athletic departments regularly ban member participation in social networks, fearing negative PR, but Facebook’s privacy settings are reassuring to these groups. Consequently, Facebook has 1/3 of their user’s mobile phone numbers.
– Chris Kelly, Facebook VP describes it as : Unparalleled access to information about the people around you — an efficient tool to work with your real world community (ex : status updates)
– Kelly proposes that advertising needs to be a collaborative, rather than an interruptive medium, in the social media space.
– Are seeing groups from different demographics step onto Facebook now, but still dominated by younger users.
– Major brands are showing up on Facebook through individual interests (ex : high school student starting a group about Daimler-Chrysler Jeeps).
– Groups about causes (ex : breast cancer fundraising) are very popular on Facebook – used by Starbucks to communicate with the user generation.
– Facebook’s banner ads are run in collaboration with Microsoft.
– The things that are static on Facebook do the best, apparently – also, the more local it is, the better it does – use of the sponsored story – sponsor links with logos drive the value and deliver the results that have worked with advertisers on Facebook – insertion into the dialogue & meeting users where they live is the key to success for marketers.
– Facebook created 1400 profiles for each of the candidates in the recent US 2006 race in order to study usage. Found that more than 1 million users connected with candidates. 1.5 million users connected with issues. Worked with ‘Rock the Vote’ and were able to help register 50 000 voters. Advertisement started to drive traffic towards direct engagement. Example : In Conneticut Second District, where the U of Conneticut is there was a tight campaign. Traditionally, university aged participation is low – using Facebook, they increased voter participation by 600%. Result : The Democratic candidate beat his Republican counterpart by 83 votes.
– Facebook’s two largest regional networks are London & Toronto.
Since I was having technical difficulties with this first webcast, I jumped over to the Vocus webast :
Maneuvering the New Media Landscape
– Tim Cox of Zing PR, the keynote speaker, gave a social media 101 talk during this short webcast.
– Cox states there are ‘tectonic shifts’ in the balance of power : companies no longer control the message. PR has to engage customers directly, on their terms. It needs to engage both traditional and new media, but it’s time consuming to do so + there remains the need for ROI efficiency.
– Can a single PR campaign be deployed across both traditional and new media? No, according to Cox – Now, we have to think in terms of dialogue, instead of monologue. Have to see blogs as a conversational medium – so have to be a ‘better listener’. You have to understand what your clients are talking about + understand the power of tagging techniques & social bookmarking.
– Need to change your mindset to work with social media – believes corporate blogs and RSS feeds are critical components – but his presentation focuses more on tips for embracing conversational media :
– Targetting : have to develop a relationship with bloggers, who are intolerant of pitches.
– Making your news more accessible to conversational media : uses PRWeb to issue social media press releases which include hyperlinks and are designed to be readily found by consumers – Cox states PR practitioners need to develop a new storytelling style in order to build brands and goodwill in a way that will be well received.
– Social bookmarking : Cox considers this a key aspect to a good social media strategy, describing them as breadcrumbs on the Internet which allow us to share our interests with other people
– Case study : Swedish company BEMZ – launched in Sweden a couple of years ago and is moving towards a US launch – make slipcovers for IKEA furniture. His strategy combined traditional with social media relations and included ‘real quotes’, links to the corporate website, downloadable photos, bookmarking etc. Release here.
– Methodology for blogger relations : Cox doesn’t rely exclusively on PR database in building his blogger lists – sees Technorati as a great place to start : suggest PR reps take the top 10 on the relevant subject, and then read them. From there, look at the blogroll and see why these are connected to the top 10. Views as a time consuming but essential process.
– How blog pitches differ from traditional pitches : must take into consideration that bloggers aren’t trained journalists – approach must be personal. Many detest newsreleases as something which interposes itself between them and the real message, thereby blocking transparency. Require a direct relationship. We have to figure out how to help our clients become more proactive and engage directly with bloggers. Have to be careful and selective about how to approach the blogger.
– Tagging : sees it as making it easy for people to find the news – he looks carefully at the news release and pulls the key words.
– How to track blog coverage and ROI : tricky – not easy to quantify, so didn’t have a good answer. Can base an analysis of the blogs ‘that matter’ using Technorati.
– Convincing clients to invest in social media : comes down to the extent to which the client understands social media. Show them how much is written about their company in blogs & how much people are using blogs now to find out about companies, make purchase decisions. So educating them is the starting point. Suggests recommending books to clients, including the Cluetrain Manifesto and Naked Conversations.
– How to get involved in social media with a limited budget : would allocate his budget to research at the beginning and include targeted objectives in the campaign.
– Considers trackbacks as critical to generating buzz.
Cox didn’t have the chance to answer my question on what to do when a blogger’s contact information isn’t made available – if I can’t send them an email, I find myself having to move on, as I’m against astroturfing and don’t want to risk having my client getting backlash for being perceived as imposing himself in the conversation. I’m curious to see how he broaches this issue.