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					How to Use Social Media:
An Onramp for Corporate Marketers

a position paper prepared by: Bill Franchey

peerFluence, Inc.
San Francisco, California JUNE 2009


an ARTS FUND company



Table of Contents

Executive Summary
......................................................................1 Introduction
How to Use this Paper
......................................................................3 Benefits of Social Media to Companies
.............................................4 Why Virality Matters?
 .........................................................................6 Web Advertising
................................................................................7 The World of Facebook

How SNAP fits in
........................................................................10 Planting the Seeds (the “S” in SNAP)
Put People before Tools
..................................................................11 The 13 Skills of the PR Pro of the Future
.........................................12 Start by Listening

Nurturing the Network (The “N” in SNAP)
Fishing Where the Fishes Are
 ...........................................................16 Understanding the Types of Fish
 ......................................................19 The Strength of Weak Ties
..............................................................22 Case Study: The Strength of Weak Ties 2.0

Authenticating the Message (The “A” in SNAP)
......................................................................................28 Display and Video



Maintaining the Momentum

Personalize the Experience (the “P” in SNAP)
Social Media Goes Mobile

From the 00’s to the 10’s
All Employees are Marketers
...........................................................38 Newsworthiness on Social Nets Improves
.......................................38 A Native Human Environment
 ..........................................................38 Social Media Drives Shopping and Video
........................................39 Influencers are Found
......................................................................39 Top-down Branding
........................................................................39 Marketers Organize Around Social Media Marketing
.......................40 Your Parents and CEO are on Facebook
.........................................40 Even Newer Digital Media Models Face Great Change
....................41 Traditional Ad Networks Contract
....................................................41 Independent Content Distribution Flourishes
...................................41 S for Social Added to CRM

Conclusion and SNAP Tear sheet



Executive Summary

Marketing, like any expense, comes down to Return on Investment (ROI). How much brand awareness, marketability, product awareness and, in the end, revenue, can be generated by the dollars spent on marketing? But marketing isn’t just about ROI. Like any expense, marketing also involves risk. Sound marketing involves making decisions to maximize the return on investment given an acceptable degree of risk. Until now, social media has fit into the realm of experimental marketing. Most major advertisers allocate small portions of their marketing spend toward the growing but still untested social media arena. This white paper challenges that philosophy, first by disproving the idea that marketing spent on social media is untested, experimental and unmeasurable, and then by creating a playbook of best practices for planning, building and succeeded on social media outlets. The playbook is called SNAP -- for Seed, Nurture, Authenticate and Personalize. SNAP is an onramp for corporate marketers to introduce their brand, generate awareness, create viral messaging and generate traction through corporatecontrolled and user-generated content. SNAP is not a step-by-step process. Rather, each of the four modules must work simultaneously and must feed each other to advance the objectives and goals of the campaign. While it starts with planting the seeds for an already trusted brand to be disseminated to an audience, those seeds must continue to be spread and nourished. It is that audience, which must be nurtured and cultivated in its habitual environment, which will ultimately be responsible for iterating the message to extended nodes in their networks. As importantly, an effective social media campaign requires authenticating the message by communicating in the language of the audience, presenting a clear, consistent, believable voice. As in traditional advertising and marketing, it often works more effectively when the message is personified with an easy-to-recognize brand that evokes an emotional connection. Finally, an effective social media campaign depends upon personalizing the experience for your audience. Simply put, it means getting the right message to the right person.


Social media is not, as some would believe, a one-to-many campaign that is splashed across online pages. Indeed, it can’t even be referred to as belonging to the business-to-consumer space. Social media, by contrast, belongs in the business-to-consumer-plus-consumer-to-consumer space. In this form, where it can be allowed to thrive naturally and virally, it can be one of the most targeted, measurable, most cost-effective forms of marketing. Social media can generate brand awareness, product awareness and revenue -- all of which can and should be monitored by corporate marketing.


If there is a single marketing campaign that has generated significant buzz for its bold, well-constructed manipulation of social media, it was the Barack Obama presidential campaign. Barack Obama built a brand around the message that Obama = Change, and galvanized hundreds of thousands of fans to donate funds in small or large amounts, and to volunteer to join his “Hope” campaign. Where Al Gore may get credit for the first online campaign, Barack Obama will get credit for what is already becoming known as the Facebook campaign or the MySpace campaign” or the YouTube campaign. Was it a grassroots effort? Yes, in a way. But if the definition of grassroots effort means delivering a singular message broadly to the masses directly, then this was definitely not a grassroots effort. To be sure, Obama communicated directly to some voters via blogs and email. But the core of his online campaign had nothing to do with one-to-many communications. It involved creating a brand message using traditional marketing and new-media tools such as video, contests and position papers, and then building a small, centralized group of core, hand-picked, targeted peer influence leaders who became brand ambassadors for disseminating those messages to their own networks of “friends,” who in turn spread the word to their friends, and then their friends, and so on and so on. This armed the Obama campaign to be in multiple places at once. As Obama was giving a speech in one city, conversations and meetings were organized in online nodes by countless devotees reinforcing the message across the nation.


Where Obama truly broke new ground is by entering the conversation that voters were already having, in their native habitat (i.e. Facebook and MySpace) and via classic brand leveraging techniques achieved cult status months before the November election finally arrived.

How to Use this Paper
As the Obama campaign showed, there are ways of gaining marketing advantage by following some best practices, identifying trends in a timely fashion, and knowing what questions to ask to drive strategy. It is not just about hosting the best conversations, but making those conversations more effective. Among the questions this paper examines are: How do you find consumers on social networks? How do you move your existing consumer base onto the networks, so as to better reach them? Where, when and how do you enter their conversations? What messages will they accept on their networks? Do you monitor their activity? If so, how? And how do you maintain that relationship once it is established? The question is not just how to establish a brand on social networks, but how to establish a brand’s social graph on the networks. It also means discovering what data is important – and whose data to use, and where to locate your presence. Equally important is how to draw fans in by endorsement of their reputation, and through experiential marketing, customer-driven product development and interactive tools. Throughout this paper, case studies are used in various industries to showcase how other organizations and corporations are addressing these issues.


Of course, as the graphic below illustrates, sifting through a sea of social media sites, applications, widgets and platforms can be daunting for any corporate marketer. The most effective way to solve this problem is to know your clients, and find out what sites and tools they use on a regular basis. Some of the best practices outlined below will help. Note also the rapid growth of many of these sites. Facebook, for example, grew from 80 million weekly users in June to ... million visitors by ... Even Friendster, which just a few years ago was considered out of fashion already, continues to gain millions of new users.
social media now Top Social Media sites
unique worldwide visitors in millions blogging social networking picture sharing video sharing music sharing Micro blogging RSS widgets chat rooms podcasting

message boards

Our SNAP program will help you not only define an onramp for succeeding on social media, but it will also help you build, maintain and grow your risk-return profile for the dollars you spend on social media. In today’s environment where every dollar spent on marketing must be justified against both ROI and risk, SNAP will give you a playbook for success that is justifiable, cost-effective and measurable.

Benefits of Social Media to Companies
The World Wide Web is mostly a collection of documents. A library connected to time. Today, innovators believe information becomes more valuable as more people use it. It is not the creation of data, per se, but rather the methods of creation, delivery and, more importantly, the dispersion of data that is of value. Indeed, much of the innovation resides within the dispersion of data, and the rate at which it spreads.

Ly co Sc s T rib rip Be d 2 od bo 3m 23 m W 24 eb m 56 .co m fri m 24 en 29 m Ba dst m id er Si u Sp 31m xA a c Or par e 4 ku t 4 0m t 6 Hi 46m m 5 5 Fl 8m ick r Ya 64m ho o W Ge in do ocit W ws ies or dp Liv 69m e M res Sp s1 a ys pa 1 ce ce 4m s 8 7m 12 Fa 6m ce bo ok 20 0m Bl og ge r 22 2m
Source: comScore November, 2008


To capture this dispersion, savvy companies are turning part of the distribution control to the consumers themselves, via social media. These companies prosper by searching out, nurturing, and tapping the expertise of individual online communities, customers included. If tapped correctly, today’s companies have a goldmine of potential customers, all of whom can be brand ambassadors – spreading marketing messages virally at little to no cost to the company. The most powerful form of marketing is an advocacy message from a trusted friend. Social network services have become the platform by which those messages are created and communicated. The consumer has become the marketer. “If a company trying to sell a new product knows where people seek advice and information about the product, it can intervene in the process and raise its chances of success,” says Donald Lehmann, a professor of marketing in the Columbia Business School. Social networks have evolved into platforms to organize users’ Internet experiences. Users are posting a massive variety of content. At the core of social networks is the social graph, an online embodiment of the global network of human connections. Beyond the social graph, social networks facilitate a number of participatory applications such as blogs, photo sharing, messaging, multiplayer games, event invitations, and video exchange. These are the classic social media services out of which social networks originally evolved. What is social media? They are online applications, platforms and media which aim to facilitate interaction, collaboration and the sharing of content. Convergence among Internet applications is making the social network as comprehensive a computing platform as the browser or the operating system. It is already possible to do nearly any Internetrelated task from within a social networking service.

Convergence among Internet applications is making the social network as comprehensive a computing platform as the browser or the operating system.
Facebook and MySpace, video sites like YouTube and Flickr, microblogging services like Twitter, and numerous others have all emerged in the past three years, and all are nourished by their users. In theory, there is no reason why Google’s vision of an entirely web-based software world cannot be realized using social networks as the underlying platform.


Social Media Optimization
A key aspect of social media marketing is Social Media Optimization, or SMO, which does for social media what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) does for the Internet. On the Internet, SEO is the process of using keywords and related searches to improve the volume and quality of traffic to a Web site from search engines – usually via organic or algorithmic search results. In theory, the higher a site ranks in a search engine, the more searchers will visit that site. SMO, on the other hand, uses mathematical models of influence to determine the strength of influence on players within a social network, thus resulting in a more efficient method for the viral dissemination of marketing messages and tools. SMO, like SEO, is an effective, efficient form of marketing and can lead to even higher ROI (Return on Investment). One of the most effective ways of measuring influence is by using mathematical models that have their roots in the Hoede-Bakker Indexi, which was created to model the decisional power of a player within a social network. In its simplest form, the Hoede-Bakker Index assigns a weight to each person’s influence, thereby determining their position within a social network. When used on today’s social networks, these models, done effectively, combine traditional marketing techniques that analyze the characteristics of the individual with social network analysis to produce an estimate of an individual’s influence. By using these influence models, we are able to develop new models that help determine the strength of certain players within a social media network.

Why Virality Matters?
Viral sharing is more than just the cheapest way to reach new customers – it offers benefits such as the ability to generate leads, drive revenue, build brand awareness, and more. Marketers who harness the channels can leverage networks of socially connected consumers to spread their messages and offers, and drives significant returns with relatively low costs and effort. To extract the most benefit, Web societies must be used not only as a distribution channel, but as a feedback channel, a decision-making body, a discussion group, an innovation network, or an audience for marketing collateral, information feeds, or ideas and opinions.


C. Hoede and R. Bakker, A Theory of Decisional Power, Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 1982


Web Advertising
The idea that ads can be a social experience is one of the industry’s best hopes, and can be much more effective on social media than on traditional Web site placement. Web advertising is expected to surpass $60 billion in 2010, and display and video ads will account for more than a third of the total. Most of what passes for social network advertising today are banners and text links that do not connect to the social graph in any meaningful way, and detract and distract from the online experience.  This is all changing. While traditional online advertising firms are already breaking into social media, innovative new firms focus solely on advertising in social media. These specialist firms deliver compelling ways advertisers can engage users across social media, making online advertising on social networks as engaging and socially relevant as the applications themselves. Meanwhile, other new companies are providing applications that provide real-time social media monitoring and analysis, tools, and Web widgets designed primarily for PR and Ad agencies. The graphic below maps the distribution channel of a single widget, from generation to three single, targeted influencers, then to their friends, and so on. What is a Web Widget? It could be said that the original Web widgets were the link counters and advertising banners that grew up alongside the early web. Later, ad and affiliate networks used code widgets for distribution purposes.

user or link across network


spread spread spread


credit: concept Dion Hinchcli e


These widgets include photo slideshows, glitter text, customized Facebook applications and voicemail accessories. Many applications are customized for easy integration across all social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Tagged and hi5. Other applications enable people to find, make and distribute Web widgets for blogging, social networking services, and personal Web sites. These widgets are often displayed on users’ profile pages on Facebook and other social networks, and then sent in email messages within these networks to their friends. Even if they are not notified, connected users are often pinged by Facebook that a friend of theirs has added new content to their profile page.

What is a Web Widget? It could be said that the original Web widgets were the link counters and advertising banners that grew up alongside the early web. Later, ad and affiliate networks used code widgets for distribution purposes.
While Web widgets are important tools for brands, to be used effectively they should deliver a true benefit to users, avoid overt branding and be relevant to the user if they are to be successful. See the SNAP discussion below for tips on how to nurture, authenticate and personalize the experience for users. “Some of the opportunities that come to mind are viral marketing and recommendations within friend networks, quizzes, surveys, games, and apps”, says David Jones, VP Global Marketing, Friendster. “All enable user-to-user interaction or sharing and can facilitate both brand awareness and shape brand perception within social networks. For example, if a friend recommends a brand, or challenges me to learn more about something via a quiz or survey, I’ll probably take a bit more time to engage in that particular brand or product and allocate attention to it.”

The World of Facebook
Facebook is currently the largest social network in the world, with 132 million unique visitors in June 2008 and was also still the fastest growing site among broad social networking services. According to figures compiled by comScore, Facebook’s visitor growth is up 153 percent on an annual basis. This compares to an anemic 3 percent growth for MySpace. Other social networks showing strong global growth include Hi5 (100 percent) and Friendster (50 percent), despite each of those being less than half the size of Facebook. Orkut and Bebo fall in at 41 percent and 32 percent growth, respectively.


Every Facebook page is a unique experience where users can become more deeply connected with a business or brand. Users can express their support by adding themselves as a fan, writing on a Wall, uploading photos, and joining other fans in discussion groups.
trust in spokespeople, United States 2003 - 2008 if you heard information about a company from each of these sources. how credible would it be?




68 60

60 57










45 25 28 14 20 22 23 26 29 30 36 43




2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008


a person like you

an academic

a CEO of a company

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

regular employee of a company

a blogger

opinion elites ages 35-64 in 18 countries responses 6-9 0nly on 1-9 scale; 9=highest

Companies can send updates to their fans regularly or with special news or offers. Widgets and other applications can be added to a Facebook Page to engage users with videos, reviews, flash content, and more. Facebook’s array of applications is still in its infancy, and new applications are constantly being developed that are ripe for the use and promotion of marketing campaigns and innovative companies.


2006 13 2007 9 2008 12

How SNAP fits in

The Introduction above was meant to familiarize companies with some of the benefits behind social media, the landscape and applications behind it, and the functionality behind the social graph that is its core. Here, and over the next ... pages, we look at SNAP as a playbook for companies to start and build a presence on social media.

Perhaps the easiest way to fail in social media is to venture into social media without a plan, without listening to the audience, and without knowledge of what sites, tools and applications they use and rely on. The first mistake that many early social media campaigns is to simply create a page (i.e. on Facebook), and then hope that people will come. The second biggest mistake that companies make is by alienating consumers with restrictive policies, irrelevant content, or poor service. SNAP is designed to help companies avoid these early mistakes by establishing the Seeds for their brand, Nurturing the audience, Authenticating the message and Personalizing the experience.

Planting the Seeds (the “S” in SNAP)

Where does a company start? Before embarking on social media optimization, social media marketing and Web advertising, one has to understand first how to initiate and manage a social media strategy. This includes matching social media strategies with overall corporate strategies and objectives, and then planting the seeds for your already trusted brand. It also includes developing and understanding how social media networks work, as well as developing talent, assigning roles and responsibilities, and bringing in outside help and strategists. Importantly, it also includes grasping the importance of social media mining analysis and social intelligence technologies.


Talent and Roles
Companies first have to see if there is talent available in-house, or if new talent needs to be brought in and/or if one has to reach outside to interactive marketing agencies. Teamwork between a multi-disciplinary group in-house and an agency is necessary. Currently, in large companies, specialized marketing managers are found within a variety of different departments and roles, often sorted by industries but also sorted by mediums and channels. For example, there are corporate marketers that focus on Web Marketing Advertising, Direct Marketing Search Marketing, Event Marketing and Print Marketing. Recently, two new roles arose to oversee corporate social media presence and strategy: The role of a community manager, and the role of a corporate social media strategist. A community manager is responsible for being an online face to the community. His or her job is to primarily be a community advocate and is externally focused. The social media strategist, who strategizes, creates a plan, and oversees execution of social media strategies, is primarily internally focused on program management. On the operational and implementation side, there are other roles within large enterprises that focus on social computing, including social researchers, analyzing online behavior or creating specifications for future products. They are researching or building social media products that will be brought to market.

Put People before Tools
Different sectors of the marketing industry continue to debate the drivers of marketing in The Network Age, using terminology such as transparency, engagement, relationship economy, conversational marketing, new metrics, etc. But industries are struggling with adopting these concepts. What are the most important skills for a social media strategist and communicator? Ogilvy, which in many ways is still struggling with its traditional advertising and public relations image, nonetheless has identified what it believe to be the 13 most important kills for the PR professional for the future.


The 13 Skills of the PR Pro of the Future
1. Create integrated marketing and communications strategy 2. Deploy live listening posts online and offline 3. Design and deploy and advanced search engine optimization program 4. Plan and run a new media relations program inclusive of head-of-the-tail and long tail media 5. Identify and engage with influencers online and offline 6. Manage communities 7. Integrate new technologies into their own lives 8. Model measurement and performance metrics including new engagement metrics 9. Run quick pilot programs and evaluate on-the-fly 10. Train staff and clients continuously 11. Participate in conversations, not just messaging 12. Create and execute content strategy including video programming (hifi and lowfi) 13. Use digital crisis management While some of this list is either common sense or limited to insider baseball in the public relations industry, it is striking how much of this list involves social media strategy, tracking and identifying influencers, managing online communities and participating in ongoing conversations among consumers and clients. When it comes to corporate communities, developing social media programs have to be understood and mastered by not focusing on tools first, rather than on how people use technology. Many brands and agencies believe they can engage consumers in a dialogue purely by producing campaigns alongside and within usergenerated content and exploiting the YouTube phenomenon. It is of utmost importance to understand the community as a whole and the individual audience of a given campaign first, before trying to talk to them. The right agency can help with corporate social media strategy. However, the wrong agencies can often steer clients toward inappropriate channel policies, especially if they don’t understand the mediums. Often, the right choice may be a boutique Web agency, or a traditional marketing agency combined with a social media consulting firm or strategy firm to guide the message onto the social networks. Marketers will move to the ‘Connected Agency’ - as Forrester’s Mary Beth Kemp and Peter Kim refer to it – an agency that makes the shift from making messages to nurturing consumer connections; from delivering push to creating pull interactions; and from orchestrating campaigns to facilitating conversations. Over the next five


years, traditional agencies will make this shift; they will start by connecting with consumer communities which will eventually become an integral part of their strategies. Getting consumers excited by understanding their interests are what the new agency model is all about. A choice of agency depends on objectives, target audience, online behaviors, budget, length of campaign, etc., says Adriana Gascoigne, Director of Global Communications, Hi5, and former VP of Digital Strategy at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in San Francisco. Ogilvy created its own new social media division called 360° Digital Influence. “What social media tools might you apply? Or, if you choose, what route will you create for your own corporate microsite for corporate blogs, bulletin boards, with a different look and feel?” Gascoigne asks. Social media-focused agencies, by nature, tend to be designed from the ground up and are primarily focused on viral applications, online video, and other socially driven technologies. “Social media agencies not only start with a laser-focused strategy and blueprint, but they are also built with relevant talent and advantageous cost structures that leverage social media capabilities and campaigns,” says Andy Hooper, lead Social Media Designer at the San Francisco-based agency Term of Art. Either together with a large PR firm - but again with these 'connected' competencies - or with boutique agencies that specialize in social media, a strategy depends on a company’s objectives and its target base.

Start by Listening
Before beginning to nurture the audience, a brand needs to spend time with their consumers, listening to what they’re saying. What are they saying about your brand? What are they saying about your competitors? Who are they listening to? What are their concerns? What motivates them? How do they make choices? What brands appeal to them? What tools and applications do they use? What irritates them? What compels them? Only then can a brand begin to plant its seeds. At first, a page on a social media network may not even be needed. A message, a short video, a case study, an interactive widget are all ways to test the waters, and can be planted directly into the conversations that consumers are already having. The goal here should be to offer food for thought. Be creative but cautious, and be careful not to alienate. Avoid corporate speak and overselling. The audience will ultimately be responsible for iterating the message to their friends throughout the


network. Later, once the brand has established some initial traction and you’ve reached a comfort level with what consumers are likely to embrace and disseminate, a bolder, more strategic campaign can be crafted. The Seed phase can also help gather information that can be used later to build target markets and identify influencers. Tapping and using personal data, including email addresses and preferences, that customers provide when registering at one of their sites, or at various other sites, or via tracking devices built into widgets, should all be monitored and stored for later use. Once that database of personal information is created, companies can better target their messaging and strategies surrounding dispersing that messaging (including applying the right methods and tools).

Nurturing the Network (The “N” in SNAP)

Perhaps the most important take-away from this white paper is to cultivate the conversation where your audience is already sharing information and exerting group peer influence. In other words, work within your customers’ native environment. For online marketing strategists who have spent the past 15 years trying to drive traffic to their sites, this point is contrary to everything they have learned. The key to social media is fishing where the fish are. This section is devoted to identifying the habitats where consumers thrive, their habits and tastes, and matching that against a company’s objectives and audience.

cultivate the conversation where your audience is already sharing information and exerting group peer influence


The graphic below shows the basic landscape of social media. At the top are the core social network sites (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.). Surrounding it are various other functional, social sites that allow sharing, discussing, publishing, and microblogging. At the bottom of the landscape are various other social application sites such as massively multiplayer online games (MMO), live streams, live casts, and virtual worlds.
the social media landscape

network building
networking tools opportunities and locate talent, new employees

aim: to create business

facebook 200 m myspace 126 m Windows Live + 87 m ickr 64 m blogger 222 m digg wikipedia Yahoo Geocities 69 m wordpress 114 m slideshare
publish and share
need for channels to place content aim: to build tra c

Hi5 58 m Orkut 46 m friendster 31 m linkedin

social network

google talk meeb


mim skype six apart 46 m twitter
share the mission
opinion leader robust knowledge base

newsvine Reddit youTube delicious stumbleUpon Y! live blogTV Kyte amazon Baidu space 40 m
live cast live stream


social media

microblogg +


Plazes twitxr

aim: to raise awareness


socializr Friendfeed socialthing

technorati feedster

communicate message activities in the social media landscape
need to know and connect with publics opinion on product and service content aim: to create dialogue

Again, identifying where your audience participates within the social media landscape is key to entering the conversation.


“There is very low overlap between the top six global social networks today, meaning the same users generally don’t visit two (or more) social networks in a given month,” says Jones of Friendster. “This means it’s more important than ever for brands to leverage social networks that cater to the specific demographic segment and region they’re targeting.”

Fishing Where the Fishes Are
Think of the value of getting an up-to-the-minute read on what the world is thinking. Look at chat features for social networks -- each one is tied to a moment. Even blogs, which have already become somewhat archaic in some circles, continue to be used by millions of users. So, if a company can track millions of conversations simultaneously, it gets a heat map of what a growing part of the world is thinking about, minute by minute. As users read each other, comment, and link from one page to the next, they create a global conversation. One of the core reasons why such tracking is effective is because the users of social networks themselves are keen on tracking sentiment - brand sentiment, issue sentiment, etc. Until now, most sentiment tracking was done through blogs, discussion groups, and company Web sites. It is a specific demographic that participates in blogs and the like, so all one ever gets is a sampling of sentiment for that specific demo. Social networks are changing all that, creating a way for corporate marketers to discover true broad-based sentiment. However, just knowing where they are is only the first step. Understanding your audience, and how the flow of information works, is the next critical aspect to marketing on social media.

Social networks are changing all that, creating a way for corporate marketers to discover true broad-based sentiment.


The graphic below shows the three general types of players on a social media network.
1% Leads, in uences, creates original content. Invests in the entire process of their social network. The most important members to reach and cultivate. 5-10 % Consume content, lter and post shared media. Socially active within the network. The higher the level of participation, the more vibrant the community becomes.

in uencer



85-90 % The largest group of participants. They are the enthusiasts of brands and communities. The sheer numbers of this group and their value as consumers of content and of brands makes them important.

social networking population

Entering the conversation in social media requires entering at the top of the pyramid, where the influencers are. They are the ones who will decide whether your message gets moved virally through the network. They are the ones who everyone else listens to and follows. While the advocates in the middle also play a strong role, they take their cues from the influencers. The advocates will then champion the message and disseminate it to the multitudes of enthusiasts who are all too eager to embrace it and continue it along the line. Charlene Li, VP at Forrester and author of Groundswell, advises six steps toward building presence: 1. Start small, listening first and experimenting 2. Develop relationships, not campaigns 3. Find your revolutionaries (aka peer influence leaders) 4. Align metrics to your own goals 5. Get the help you need, whether that be from social media consultants, boutique marketing firms, PR agencies, interactive media, or traditional agencies. 6. Prepare for failure As Li points out regarding her sixth point, one of the most difficult aspects for many corporate marketers is “letting go of control.” One way to minimize that loss of control is to measure sentiment before launching a campaign. Knowing where the


fishes are, and gauging whether their sentiment for your product and services is positive or negative, can help you decide when or whether to enter a conversation. “The key is to advance the conversation. The last thing you want to do is to feed the trolls,” Li said. Sony leveraged a popular “Vampire” Facebook widget to reach its community. Sony Pictures, the parent company of the very scary 30 Days Night vampire horror film, re-branded the existing application and launched a sweepstakes contest to generate registrations. Sony placed banner ads on the re-branded vampire applications which promoted the movie. It doesn’t take a stretch of imagination to realize that consumers who opt-in for a vampires application, where there is already a network group of viewers with like interests, would also like a vampire movie. The campaign was only live for three weeks, and there were 59,100 sweepstakes entries, 11,642,051 visits for the bite page, and 17,652,567 for the stats page. Sony was happy: it exceeded expectations, while users of the application were not over-branded by offers, but instead were offered value by giving away prizes, and tied into a movie that already existed. What worked? Sony figured out where the already existing community was; and rather than trying to rebuild something completely from scratch, it leveraged an existing successful Facebook application. In other words, Sony reached out to where the fishes already were. By spinning the case further, Sony could have also sponsored elements from the movie and integrated it within a game: Vampires could fight at different scenes from the movie. A spin-off game could have emerged around the first game, where members could give virtual gifts related to the movie, then cross-selling other Sony products and merchandise. Note that, while not every campaign is this successful, the Sony experiment showed that, with little costs to the company, it was able to create a campaign that was virally successful. With moderate effort along the way, the campaign could have been converted to a much-more long-term campaign for the company. And, if the campaign was copied, the same method and strategy could have been repurposed on similar applications for other films, games, and other products.


Understanding the Types of Fish
Understanding your audience also means knowing how to differentiate between the different types of consumers. The graphic below shows a version of the diagram on page .., but this version separates out the influencers into their various characteristics.
the in uencer is more than one dimensional grease the skids

in uencer

1% description

2547 0450 9620



5-10 % description

sharing photos


5-10 % description

in uencer but really....

in store promos

social networking population


food junkie

sports nut


zen master

As in real life, influencers for a brand will not always have the same personalities, traits and interests. A sports enthusiast may have a different profile from a book worm or a Zen master, and their online profiles and patterns may not always reflect their real-life profiles. Later in this paper, we’ll address how to “grease the skids” to improve the viral spread of your message; and how to create messaging and a story around your brand, in the language of your audience. The use of demographic and behavioral data can help identify those types of fish. While numerous private marketing organizations can help companies access the right information, the U.S. government has a wealth of demographic, workplace, educational, and financial information about its citizens. Nonetheless, probably the best source of information is the expanding social database that resides within such companies as MySpace, Facebook and others. Four types of information commonly found in the social database include: • Demographics – People (willingly) upload information about their age, sexual preference, political stance, work, school, email address, phone numbers, etc.




Psychographics – People also share (willingly) what they like, what motivates or saddens them, hobbies, music, etc. With all this information, companies can find inner drivers and motivations. Status messages can be especially telling, particularly when someone is going through relationship pains. Technographics – Companies can also monitor activity by analyzing how customers use each social tool such as blogs, social networks, bookmarks, rating sites, etc. Relationship Networks – Perhaps most importantly, they share their network information, so that companies can see who has become their friends, what they think of each other (top friend apps) and eventually find nodes, and influencers.

Demograhics can be extremely useful to help format plans and spread messages. Not only are demographics necessary for targeting the right clients, but they also make sure the wrong clients aren’t inadvertently targeted. For example, inadvertent advertising alcohol, cigarettes, or adult materials to people under 18 can open companies to legal, civil and regulatory problems. Psychographics are also extremely important – for example, by knowing that person X just suffered a break-up or divorce, messaging or products can be targeted based on this information. Likewise, technographics are important to decide which tools to use. For example, when designing campaigns, using gaming, videos or comic platforms/tools can speak more effectively to the teenage audience. Armed with detailed knowledge about how their customers use social media, companies can be better equipped to move forward with their plans. It is important to understand the people before deploying tools, messaging, products, etc. Another key behavioral tool is to analyze how customers reach out for advice on products and services. Do they reach out to experts for advice? Or do they look to their peers and “social connectors”? To test this behavior, Professor Lehmann at Columbia Univesity, along with coresearchers Jacob Goldenberg, Daniela Shidlovski and Michael Master Barak of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, completed a study in 2007. Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, the results showed that subjects often preferred to consult social connectors over experts. On the other hand, innovative consumers who already understood the basics of a given product, but needed more details, were more likely to seek out experts. Once marketers have an understanding of their target markets, how they work, how they behave, and how to measure them, companies can then turn to the


relationship networks themselves to determine the dynamics behind them. This is where analysis such as Social Media Optimization can help determine not only the key target markets, but also their effectiveness, how their networks are built, and how messaging is disseminated virally. The graphic below shows the value of viral messaging from the initial influencer, first to their group of advocates and then to the broader group of enthusiasts, and then through an interconnected and growing base of consumers-- and their lifetime value to the company. As the diagram shows, the influence value of a consumer relationship has a cascading effect which magnifies peer influence.
the value of viral peer to peer messaging

in uencer the in uence value of a consumer relationship is: 3.2 rst 2.1 second and .8 in the third degree asuming a $25K lifetime value. the terminal value of a ... customer improves to...

This is where hyper-targeted, micro campaigning can truly gain traction. For a fraction of the costs of impressions on air or in print, the right message can be presented to the ideal consumers via viral peer messaging. On social media, the efficiency and feedback loop inherent to Internet advertising finally removes the ROI veil of even momentum marketing campaigns.

For a fraction of the costs of impressions on air or in print, the right message can be presented to the ideal consumers via viral peer messaging.


The Strength of Weak Ties
American sociologist Mark Granovetter, inspired by the work of Russian mathematician Anatol Rapoport, in 1972 wrote the highly successful The Strength of Weak Ties. This paper defined the strength of ties as a function of the amount of time, emotional intensity, intimacy, and the reciprocal services which characterize the tie. What does Granovetter’s work have to do with today’s social networks? Importantly, Granovetter’s theories have a strong impact on today’s viral marketing messages, and how they are dispersed. Because each person has multiple contacts, a bridge provides the only route along which information or influence can flow from one of these contacts to another. Weak tie bridges are the channels over which far-away ideas, fluencies or information are often carried. It is those weak ties that, in the absence of strong ties, integrate diversity into communities over social networks. However, without such a bridge, the community would be without access to and knowledge of this rich data set. The graphic below illustrates the difference between strong ties and weak ties, and absent ties.

absent tie

weak tie

strong tie

Clearly, one of the best ways to establish whether or not a person is an “influential bridge” to broader communities is to start with the identifying characteristics which are provided by the person themselves. These traits are often provided on profile pages within social network services. But these traits are just a start, because they do not provide an inner look into what that person’s broader network looks like. Counting the number of friends is another


strong indicator of a person’s influence, and is one way of identifying the size of the person’s network. But again, it only goes so far. In an interview with peerFluence, Granovetter said one of the keys in determining whether a person is an influential bridge is to go beyond the number of friends they have. “Some people could have the highest number of friends simply because they collect friends. That may be negatively correlated to whether they are an influential bridge. What matters is not just how many friends they have, but whether those friends are in separate networks from one another.” It is that “influential bridge” to broader networks which can help determine the value of a person for corporate marketers who are trying to build brand awareness and reputation about their products and services. In an effort to take the impact of influential bridges and test it “in the wild,” peerFluence built a survey around case studies on Facebook, and examined the strength of weak ties and the related hierarchical structure of viral messaging. The case study on the following page is a snapshot of the broader case study:


Case Study: The Strength of Weak Ties 2.0
Within any social network, interpersonal ties are the connections that carry information between people, and are categorized as strong, weak, or absent. Weak tie bridges are the channels over which far away ideas, influences or information are often carried. While strong ties tend to breed more localized cohesion and fragmentation, weak ties integrate diversity into communities. Without such a bridge, the community would be without access to and knowledge of this more rich data set. In this study, peerFluence captures the relation between the strength and degree of specialization of ties, and between strength and hierarchical structure – two topics left unaddressed in sociologist Mark Granovetter’s The Strength of Weak Ties. The theory, confirmed by the data, showed that strong ties aren’t necessarily needed to create influence. What is needed, however, is a certain “greasing of the skids” before a newcomer can gain acceptance and, eventually, influence within a network. In the study, two fictitious profiles for young women were created on the social network Facebook. These two profiles were then distributed to both target groups and to random groups of men and women as “friend requests.”


The first sample profile was created under the alias Thiera Sheisa – a moderately attractive blonde in her twenties wearing a Von Dutch trucker cap. Her profile showed a playfulness, a professed interest in music and boys, and plug-in applications including Super Poke. The second sample profile was for Pinkie Sheisa, the younger sister of Thiera – a busty blonde with a decidedly more hip photo showing a plunging neckline and bare midriff. Her profile showed a more serious, challenging side to her personality, with interests in cultural, professional and social groups, and with feeds and applications such as an enrollment as a fan of The New York Times’ Facebook page.

What is needed, however, is a certain “greasing of the skids” before a newcomer can gain acceptance and, eventually, influence within a network.
Researchers at peerFluence sent friend requests for both sisters to the same sample groups. Friend requests in the target group were selected for their network value against criteria such as size of social graph, academic achievement, financial status, prominence, and geography. In addition, a control group of random Facebook members was also selected. The results of the two tests showed strikingly different results. In Thiera’s case, she established 162 friendships, of which 43% were unsolicited. She also received 161 person-to-person messages, 832 pokes and 31 wall postings over the course of the experiment, but her follow-up invitations and the seriousness of the friendship requests confirmed Granovetter’s hypothesis: that one must have a connectedness beyond casual acquaintance to bilaterally transport data on a network. Pinkie, on the other hand, was able to accomplish what her sister was unable to do: capture viral attention and traction. Both the seriousness and the dispersion of Pinkie’s profile were vastly superior to her sister. Pinkie received 811 friend requests, the vast majority of which were unsolicited. Additionally, these friend requests allowed peerFluence researchers to initiate new friendships, totaling 1803. Pinkie’s network spanned the globe, with the largest concentrations in Los Angeles, New York, Silicon Valley, Canada, Israel and London. Her network was vertically oriented toward high finance, fitness models, adult entertainers, music lovers, and the Middle East. Pinkie was poked on averaged 39.4 times her day, and messaged over 2,852 times. Over the course of the experiment, Pinkie promoted events such as the theatrical release of a documentary film, the opening of a small business, and the arrival of brands on Facebook – all in spite of the fact that Pinkie doesn’t exist!


How was Pinkie able to generate such enormous viral popularity? The first reason has to do with the technology of social media. Photo and wall postings, event announcements, status updates, and new friendships appear in the news of previously unconnected networks as a new friend addition multiple times each day. Many of the people in Pinkie’s network had never seen or heard of Pinkie or her profile before, but first learned about her when they read about a connection of theirs becoming her friend. This publishing network activity helps perpetuate the momentum on Facebook and other social networks. But Pinkie’s experiment also confirms what her sister Thiera was not able to do: succeed in bridging a weak-tie network that included millions of impressions. In spite of the fact that she was fictional and had no prior acquaintance to any of her “friends,” Pinkie showed that with a little axle grease a weak tie could grow virally, and that the more connected one becomes, the more efficiently one becomes further connected. This confirms a positive feedback cycle, referred to as the Mathew effect, or “the rich get richer.” Although not the focus on the experiment, the study also clearly demonstrates the conclusion that sex does indeed sell, in social media as in many other forums. Follow-up studies near the end of the sixmonth study also demonstrated that, unlike in the real world, social media acquaintances do not blow away, and continue to be useful for subsequent viral messaging. Finally, the study also clearly showed the value of selecting and establishing core groups of targets for the initial dispersion of friend requests. While Pinkie was able to generate friendships across the target group and the control group, the target group was much more successful in generating the right type of viral dispersion of messaging, and the right type of follow-up requests that were sought. *************************************************************************************************

Authenticating the Message (The “A” in SNAP)

As we mentioned earlier in this paper, each part of the SNAP program works only if they are done in conjunction, continually, simultaneously. So, while nurturing the audience on social media, it’s equally important to authenticate your message by: • Inspiring passion and brand ambassadorship through storytelling • By establishing credibility, trust and brand awareness • Using tools and applications to tell those stories


• And maintaining that campaign via a long-term relationship with a continual loop of online events, content and activities. The Authentication stage is where traditional advertising and marketing techniques can be employed to great effect. Anyone in the advertising world, or in all the world for that matter, remembers Joe the Camel. And, before that, Penny the Penguin. For good or bad, the personification of those brands and the success they had building brand awareness cannot be denied. That same type of messaging is effective in social media as well. The benefit of social media, however, is that it’s much easier and cost-effective to get a heat map of what the audience likes, craft a message around it, and test it on social media. Of course, authenticating the message won’t be effective unless the story is told in the language of the audience, in a clear, consistent, believable voice. Again, the Obama campaign is a good example of the effectiveness of creating that brand, and repeatedly authenticating that message in the language of the audience, using storytelling, tools and applications. The Obama campaign was not a campaign that sent a message to millions of people online, as some would have us believe. Rather, it was a true testament to the use of hyper-targeted, micro-campaigning as a powerful alternative to online advertising or to traditional advertising and marketing. The Obama campaign spent a grand total of about $467,000 on Facebook. That pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars in traditional advertising (TV, radio, print, etc.) and about $8 million on online advertising that the Obama campaign spent. And yet, top marketing strategists attribute that paltry amount of $467,000 on Facebook to generating as much buzz, as many donations, and at least as many votes as did all of the rest of his advertising spending. Obama, with more than twice the fans of his closest runner up - in this case, the BBC’s Chris Moyles Show - topped the list with 2.5 million online supporters by election time. Barack used weak ties and effective social messaging to allow everyone to feel they were participating and were part of the campaign. “We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide. If they want to support a campaign, they can get on the Internet and finance it, and they will have as much access and influence over the course and


direction of our campaign that has traditionally been reserved for the wealthy and the powerful,” Obama said. For Obama, relying on the viral messaging of “influential bridges,” and targeting those thought leaders to build networks of friends and supporters, was a key aspect of the campaign. The key for Obama going forward will be whether he can maintain that level of interest and involvement during his presidency. His “Organizing for America” initiative is his first push to turn that interest into an online, social media campaign, and it mimics the same type of “we’ve got to work together” message that he repeatedly drilled into the American audience during his inaugural address. Meanwhile, skilled tacticians will be carefully segmenting the rest of us into levels of participation, ranked according to our influence factors, to help build that message and spread it virally to the advocates and enthusiasts. All of this will require new, innovative and creative messaging, storytelling, tools and widgets to keep the flame burning. Unlike Obama, we don’t all have a founder of Facebook to manage our campaigns. And yet, once a company grasps an understanding of how social media works, and how and where its audience is using it, a campaign can be created that employs the same tools and applications that the audience frequents. For example, The New York Times jumped on the Obama campaign itself to drive traffic to its Facebook page by launching an Obama video promo and asked the audience: “What should Barack Obama first address as President?” Again, the use of video and interactive campaigns and tools to attract interest was key to the campaign. Knowing where the fishes are is only the first step toward entering their conversations, knowing what they watch, read, and listen to. In the late 1990s and even in the early 2000s, the power of using Internet marketing was chiefly about search wars. Now, that war is over, and Google has clearly won. But there’s an entirely new battleground being fought over social networking. The key is how to creatively use tools, messaging and viral campaigns to bring customers together and get them on your side. The graph below from Pew Internet shows that in this modern and ever evolving market, the fishes are constantly on the move. Trends within the digital generation are very different depending on the demographic and the medium. One must pay attention to what they are fishing for as well as where to fish.


Whether it’s on a Facebook fan page or the messaging in videos, white papers, advertising, or widgets, social media involves forming bonds and promoting community value. It means building a community through transparency, openness, and paying attention to people’s needs and what they are saying. Storytelling requires rethinking what celebrity means, rethinking what newsworthy means. The stars on the network are the fans, and what is newsworthy is whatever that audience determines is newsworthy. It requires a deep knowledge of the networks, starting with you.


Successful content on social media is: • Relationship-driven • Audience-guided • Competitive • Product-Placement Compatible • Cinematic/Edgy • Public-Interest Oriented “Entering social media as a brand doesn’t remove some of the core needs of any brand entering any new market space. You still need to define your brand essence and the core value proposition and differentiating principles that make your brand special,” says Scot Gensler, Vice President, Business Development, at Current Media. “Once that’s in order, you need to engage in communities that are likely to have the biggest impact. Consider overall reach, and target within your demographic, then determine what the right format is for telling your story. Then dive in and become an active participant.”

“Like no other medium, video allows marketers to make instant, unforgettable emotional connections with consumers. The marriage of audio and video imagery is the perfect vehicle for quickly telling a story with your brand, rather than delivering a one-dimensional advertisement,” says Bismarck Lepe, Founder & CEO of Ooyala, an Web video publishing platform. “As video becomes easier to watch and distribute across the Web, it will quickly become the most powerful, ubiquitous option for effectively reaching your audience.” The new battleground is display, and the emerging category of video. Every minute, 10 hours of video are uploaded to the video-sharing site YouTube which now shows hundreds of millions of videos each day. Ultimately, it comes down to advertising, as marketing chiefs are turning to the Internet to create branding initiatives. While YouTube is great for watching and sharing videos, newer applications are taking video to the next level – having a conversation in video. For example, some applications allow users to access the Twitter microblogging service directly from their desktop, and also cross-post to other services. Social media has enabled any company to essentially act as their own network for distribution, their own studio for production, and their own label for promoting their


brand messaging. The production costs little, and the distribution costs are essentially $0. Meanwhile, a new generation of independent filmmakers are making it easier for corporate marketers to produce their own videos. There are over 2,000 film festivals worldwide, and over 125,000 filmmakers registered on, the primary site used for film festival submissions. A new company, Storyboard, is acting as a sort of dating service for matching filmmakers with corporate marketers seeking to produce videos, especially for social media. Filmmakers are matched according to location, genre, awards and accolades, and other capabilities. “There are hundreds of thousands of filmmakers out there who would love to showcase their talents and get paid for it,” says Adam Hootnick, founder of Storyboard. “On the buy side, the demand for professional filmmakers is growing exponentially, although until now they have had no way to screen for the right filmmakers. This is going to create an outlet for the creative, niche-driven video maker to finally find a home.” Once they are produced, these videos can then be posted on the Web or, more effectively, distributed on social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace. “In a day where brands are trying to break through the clutter in social media, premium video content is lending them a viable platform to enter the conversation with their core consumer,” says Bill Masterson, EVP Digital Content Partnerships, Media Rights Capital, which is the Hollywood agency behind some of the highest quality web-purposed content online today including Priceline’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. In the campaign, Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane features William Shatner’s famous alter ego “The Priceline Negotiator” in animated intros of shorts which spoof various pop culture icons. The Priceline campaign has been an ongoing success with consistent viewership that has already grown into the tens of millions. Cort Cunningham, Director of Advertising and Brand Development for, said, "We're excited to align the Priceline brand and the "Negotiator' character with Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade, in an effort to engage and entertain consumers with compelling content created specifically for the digital space." 


Rich Media Applications
Social media applications can also provide rich, immersive experiences for users. Dell, for example, has a factory that allows visitors to customize a PC and have it shipped to their door. Starwood Hotels is opening its new prototype, The Aloft, and has built a virtual version in Second Life to get members’ feedback on its design and features. It has sponsored concerts there to bring in visitors. The challenge is finding an innovative technology that can be matched with your products and messaging, and which can draw out target clients through viral campaigns. “Corporations can become the single-voice advertiser on entire apps, they can integrate their products into apps as virtual goods,” says Markus Weichselbaum, CEO, TheBroth Pty Ltd, whose Puzzlebee is a Facebook application. “In our particular case, they can make their own sites more interesting by adding interactive features (puzzles or drawing contests), and they can use our existing widgets and create viral campaigns or widget advertising campaigns.” “Advertisers need to wake up and realize that an optimal environment already exists on the social Web just waiting to be monetized in subtler, more intuitive ways.” says Keith Rabois, VP of Strategy and Business Development at Slide, the company known for Facebook’s notorious SuperPoke! app, and formerly with LinkedIN. “Not only will these strategies extend their reach by orders of magnitude and save development costs, but will ultimately be more appreciated by their prospective customers.” Dell Computers, along with a social media marketing agency and Graffiti Wall, a popular self-expression Facebook application, deployed an interactive marketing campaign that encouraged existing Graffiti artists to be involved in a contest that spurred a member-created campaign resulting in affinity toward Dell. Rather than creating a new application, this campaign took advantage of an application – and community – that already existed. Facebook members who used Graffiti were encouraged to join in a contest to win a 22” environmentally friendly Dell monitor (appropriate for artists) to create art around the theme of “What does Green mean to you?” The contest lasted for one week. Over 7,000 pieces of artwork were created and submitted to the contest. By watching the replay of the art being created, viewers see hidden messages from the artists as they discuss what green means to them.

The challenge is finding an innovative technology that can be matched with your products and messaging, and which can draw out your target clients through viral campaigns.


Not only is the end product important to the corporations, but gaining access to the “log book” is equally important. The community of artists on Dell self-regulated and voted off pictures that were not appropriate, and afterward the community voted. The winners were from the U.S., Canada, Sweden and the Maldives. The campaign successfully engaged thousands of members, creating a campaign on behalf of Dell, and the community was rewarded.

Maintaining the Momentum
One caveat for companies is not to run risk of a mentality of short-lived campaigns when it comes to social media. Communities existed before a brand reaches to them, and will continue to exist after the campaign stops. Marketers should plan for long-term engagements with these people, rather than short spurts. “The key is to develop relationships, not campaigns,” says Charlene Li, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, whose book Groundswell is a national bestseller. With the relationship forming, that is the time to take it to the next level. Even many of the examples cited in the section above, while successful in their own right, could have been built into long-term relationships, with brand ambassadors to lead their messaging and drive viral groups of followers. For example, a company could encourage artwork to be part of next-generation green computers, with proceeds going to non-profits or back to the artists to continue developing new products and campaigns. These experiential marketing campaigns should not be created only within the walls of a closed garden, such as limited to Facebook, MySpace or Bebo members, but also spread to the open Web. However, unlike most marketing campaigns that deploy heavy ads or message bombardment, such social media campaigns are successful because they turn the action over to the community, let them take charge, decide on the winners. A campaign needs to move the active community from Facebook closer to the branded microsite, closer to the corporate Web site, migrating users in an opt-in manner. BMW’s Graffiti contest invited Facebook users to color in outlines of 1-Series cars with the theme “What drives you?” It enlisted a core group of active social-network participants (more than 9,000 submissions in the first seven days) into a fun, transparent evangelism effort. Participants spent, in many cases, hours personalizing images of BMWs that they then shared with friends. On top, it took advantage of the friend-to-friend newsfeed mechanism at Facebook to spread


word of the campaign beyond the paid media program. The concept and the images themselves captured the attention of bloggers, columnists, Twitters, etc. After a participant submitted a Graffiti, they took a look at BMW's pure site to comment and link to their favorites. The five winners all received BMW Art Car models - sorry, not real cars - by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, etc. Some Graffiti submissions would later be selected by BMW and used in flash banners posted on a series of Web sites showcasing the new 1-series. The campaign was successful due to the call for participation within Facebook as well as Web sites outside of Facebook such as Boing Boing. As BMW looked to the Web to build buzz for the 1-Series, it was giving its video commercials an added boost: BMW sponsored Boing Boing TV with pre-roll “sponsored by” billboards and full commercials. One of the most successful social media campaigns was conducted by Victoria’s Secret for the PINK sub-brand. The success of the campaign owes as much to the surrounded messaging, interactive campaigns, and related content as it does to the show itself. Building on the success of the Victoria’s Secret online fashion shows, PINK took the social network campaign even a step further, taking those weak ties, especially between college-aid women, and bridging links between them. PINK models tour the country at college campuses. The company advertises through MySpace, Facebook, partnerships with MTV, and youth-oriented blogs. In addition to having a section on the main Victoria's Secret Web site, the brand also has its own Web site, which allows users to view pictures from PINK fashion shows, look at new merchandise, and download PINK desktop backgrounds and buddy icons to their computers. The brand is one of the fastest-growing lines launched in Victoria's Secret history. Beyond PINK, Victoria’s Secret continues to experiment with social media. In fact, it’s one of the biggest corporate users of the new advertising platform on the right bar of Facebook pages. Victoria’s Secret used it effectively to promote its Dec. 3, 2008 fashion show in Miami Beach, including an interactive RSVP function which gave users online access to parts of the show and also allowed Victoria’s Secret to better gauge who was logging in. Still, if it wants to continue to engage users via social media, Victoria’s Secret will have to come up with new, creative uses of content and distribution. It’s been more than a year since the PINK campaign hit its peak on Facebook. Without new messaging, new content and new distribution, maintaining those relationships can be challenging.


Personalize the Experience (the “P” in SNAP)

To build and maintain those relationships, one of the best practices that has been developed as social media has grown is to personalize the experience through precision-targeting. The objective is simply getting the right message to the right person. As a campaign is created and built, as fan bases grow through influencers, advocates and enthusiasts, companies have been building their own bases of data based on their user profiles. Personalizing the experience gives companies the chance to use that data to build long-term relationships. To be sure, personalizing the experience isn’t about building a relationship between the company and the user. While those relationships can be effective, social media isn’t about a consumer and a company. It’s about a person and his or her friends. Still, a brand and its message can be part of that conversation. “Social media is about me and my friends, and not about me and my brands,” says Carol Werner, VP of Sales at Mochi Media and former West Coast VP Sales of MySpace. “Leveraging the power of social media is not something I believe brands can duplicate.” What does make sense, Werner says, is targeting content to me on Facebook based on my profile information. This is one of the main reasons that banner ads tend to be low-priced for space on social media sites -- they are not targeted to specific audiences. Much more successful is either precision-targeted ads that deliver the right message to the right group of targeted consumers, or to use precision-targeted content (messages, videos, widgets, etc.) that are virally distributed based on the core messaging discussed earlier in this paper.


channel type

speci c query with speci c campaign in mind
channel type

right user for right message

same marketer
channel type

secondary query with speci c campaign in mind
channel type

right users for right message

The inputs into the schematic above are the social media usage data (users actions on social networks), plus user-supplied information and the marketer’s expert knowledge. A marketer might make a specific query based on a specific product campaign, for example, that will target users based on the data inputs and deliver the right message crafted to appeal to that user. Of course, some of this precision-targeted messaging can also be used to build and customize relationships directly between companies and consumers. Sites and fan Pages such as My IBM, My Subaru, MyAOL – imply a one-on-one connection between each consumer and the company. The sites with “my” prefix is an outgrowth of an increasingly customized world of technology, such as the iPod and TiVo. It illustrates how companies are striving to show that they can be as intimately connected to their customers as are vogue social networking sites. At, the company seeks to collect data through survey questions and through categories and passions. Then, the company creates new


content and offers new rewards (redeemed through the purchase of Coca-Cola products) based on what was created by the customer. My Starbucks was created as an idea site - to solicit consumer feedback on its stores, products and image problems – but has evolved into chat rooms where Starbucks loyalists can grouse about the chairs in stores or a lack of free wi-fi connections. According to Starbucks, the 150,000+ customers who have posted responses at My Starbucks Idea since March 2008 have led to tangible results at stores, such as the introduction of a “splash stick” to prevent spillage from coffee cups. A related strategy that many companies are following is outsourcing their community platforms that are created around their brands. For the most part, they lean on the SaaS (software as a service) models that the white label social network, collaboration, or even insight community vendors provide. One recent trend is through the use of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) social networks. These are social network systems that can be customized to suit companies’ needs, and are driving the emergence of a wealth of ultra-niche networks. Ning is one of the largest promoters of the DIY wave. One former ad executive calls viral loops such as Ning the “most advanced direct-marketing strategy being developed in the world right now.” Viral expansion loops have long existed in the offline world. Tupperware parties, in which each attendee was a potential salesperson, are a classic example. YouTube deployed a viral mechanism by allowing anyone to embed a video link in their blog or MySpace page. The more people who saw it, the more links were embedded, and soon, millions of users were funneled directly to YouTube. Significantly, viral-loop networks do not create content. They organize it. They rely on the wisdom of crowds to create or aggregate masses of material to fill them. The viral adoption model is an inexpensive way to grow an audience.

Social Media Goes Mobile
Meanwhile, the iPhone experience changed the field for users, companies, and developers. In the first quarter of 2009 Apple sold 4.4 million iPhones, while Google's Android and the new Palm continue to build on the cross-platform, application- and service-driven model. SMS is going mainstream in the USA across virtually all verticals and demographics,  usage having doubled year over year.  A significant portion of this is


due to a surge of social media activity  in the youth demographic via mobile handsets. Personalization can also be conducted effectively via mobile electronic devices where precision-targeted messaging follows users across locations and life context. However, people use the mobile Web differently from their computers: the display is small, users are on the go, often doing something else simultaneously, and typically have little time, creating new opportunities for developers and marketers alike. CBS’s mobile business teamed up with Loopt, a social-mapping service, to deliver the first location-based mobile ads in the U.S. and Europe. As one is walking down the street checking sports scores on CBS, they may get a banner ad: “Getting Hungry? Pizza is $5 off around the corner.” “Mobile users of all ages are getting everything from simple news and weather information to staying in touch with friends and current events using  post-PC  applications like Twitter  or Facebook,” says Jay Emmet, GM at OpenMarket Amdocs, who is the largest mobile transactional hub in the U.S. “Other companies, such as Hook Mobile, are entering the social media market by creating  applications that directly integrate with the larger social networking sites like Facebook, to keep users connected via their mobile phones.”

From the 00’s to the 10’s

This is the year social media marketing went mainstream. According to  Forrester, 75% of U.S. online adults use social technology. Marketers depend on  their customers more than ever as a messaging vehicle, and are deploying social influence marketing campaigns  more successfully than in 2008, which saw  its fair share of experimental failures.  “I think we’ll see more tie ups and collaborations between brands and the larger social networks”, says David Jones, VP Global Marketing, Friendster. “We’re at a juncture where social networks are becoming the primary starting points and communication platforms online. If you look at the top 20 Web sites on the planet in terms of traffic, eight of them are social networks (including Friendster) that didn’t exist just 5 years ago.” As companies deepen their understanding of consumer interactions in social media, and as new services gain acceptance -- Facebook Connect, for example, to


enable a socially filtered browsing experience -- the lines continue to blur between marketing efforts on a specific Web site and broader social messaging across the Web. Expect to see new social advertising formats and new  social research that leverage the complex relationships across social graphs. As this happens, social media marketing becomes the glue that binds together a company’s overall CRM or marketing strategy. 

All Employees are Marketers
Companies continue to debate about the management and control over its social media efforts while boundaries between consumer-facing and internal community approaches are blurring. As budgets and headcount shrink, companies do more with less, and the best ideas and intellectual capital come from inside and outside the company. Employees empowered with the right tools collaborate and share knowledge with  connections both inside and outside the organization, but companies need to deploy enterprise solutions to direct and monitor messaging across the network.

Newsworthiness on Social Nets Improves
Defriending and filtering are more prevalent, driven by an overload of newsfeed data and a desire for a higher quality social network experience as part of daily life. Facebook recently upgraded its news feed to allow filtering by friend groups and networks. Twinfluence and Grader for Facebook and Twitter lets users prioritize social network friends based on their based on their relative power in a given network. Social rank algorithms allow filtering searches on social networks, tapping into the social graph and social networking environment data to make search results more relevant. Influence ratings are a currency.

A Native Human Environment
Social media brings humanity back to digital interaction. The world is no longer a collection of "users," "customers," and "shoppers." People seek meaningful connections, self-expression, and community. Social media is not just about Web 2.0 features and applications. Users want a social experience; they seek meaning and organization. This is the same online as offline: social networks persist regardless of device or platform. People connect around subjects that matter to them, and have live simultaneous conversations. A platform keeps metrics (time spent, level of disclosure, etc.) via replies, comments, ability to influence, and the value of their learning. But users simply want a meaningful and relevant experiences.


Large traditional portals are no longer the end-all, be-all for everybody, but instead open content and connectivity to targeted consumers across the Web. Google’s Open Social and Friend Share and Facebook’s Connect (plus many copycat services) create an integrated social experience, with social graph data at it’s core. Native news feeds and activity streams on mainstream social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are among the most successful uses of the social graph. We anticipate new uses of these feeds for purposes such as in the awareness and consideration stages of the marketing funnel. Facebook Connect is a stunning innovation, but early implementors barely scratch the surface of what is possible. Imagine your personal profile and social actions following you across the Web, not just on the social network where your profile was created. 

Social Media Drives Shopping and Video
Shoppers closely watch their friends’ purchases, reviews, and recommendations. Retailers can tap into social computing to improve the online shopping experience and their sales numbers as a healthy alternative to discounting. Social media has begun to influence online video in place of traditional programming guides, and gaming companies have provided social communities in the living room around premium content; we are seeing TV enter the social graph. Sustainable revenue from consumers around increased personalization, interactivity, and social computing will be key factors in TV’s survival. 

Influencers Come First
Online social influence conversations dictate brand affinity and purchasing decisions. Participating in a conversation online, sharing an opinion and influencing  a purchasing decision explicitly or implicitly are now second nature for many consumers. They have mainly gone unnoticed in small groups within the walled gardens of social networks, with limited spread. Local influence went viral in 2009 as social network analysis vendors matured and, as a result, marketers are paying more attention.

Top-down Branding
In spite of working in isolation of the  marketplace brand managers do extensive customer  research to define  their brand’s manifestations. Yet brands are largely defined by consumers. Consumer influence shapes brands; brands no longer shape consumers.  


Targeting consumers based on exhibited behavior is moving out of the click-stream display world. Personalization, social profiles and social graphs of relationships are now accessible. Marketers now know not only who is interested in a given product or service, but also who has high engagement and influence with other interested parties. Market researcher International Data Corporation calls advertising on social networks “stillborn,” plagued by low click-through rates and confusing advertising formats. This is a failure of execution, not an inherent limitation of the medium. New startups have built technology to unlock implicit data hidden in social interactions, and tap into basic browsing behavior to personalize recommendations. The result: a new way to identify real-time, implicit intent. In terms of value, each consumer commands a personalized CPM based on behavior, influence, market demand, and context. There is some basic social science to learn. Social graphs on Facebook and other networks are crucial, but they merely put online something scientists have written in notebooks for decades. Which friends really matter to marketers in a social graph? Weak ties are the real glue, not close friends,  because they bridge disparate communities and spread ideas. Academics have long studied the basic mathematics of networked systems, and applied it to everything from immunology to the power grid. Instead of reinventing the basic science we can pay more attention to researchers like Mark Granovetter, who first shaped theories governing influence across social networks. 

Marketers Organize Around Social Media Marketing
Social media is part public relations,  part direct response, part brand marketing, part  customer intelligence, and part sales support with no single group being accountable. Very few have an integrated approach. That is changing as companies budget and treat social media as a third dimension of marketing with its own team,  objectives and initiatives. Companies are rallying around opportunities presented by social media to gain a competitive edge and in some cases as a means for survival into the next decade.

Your Parents and CEO are on Facebook
Not just relatives, CEOs are now on Facebook. At the very least, they are on LinkedIIn or should be. A thoughtful response to a business card is finding the contact on the major social sites, and if it is not there, “no online profile” is second only to “they do not show up in Google” for losing credibility. Social media is not a fad; it is fundamentally changing how we relate and interact with each other online. CEOs are onboard.


Traditional Ad Networks Contract
There are too many networks  contesting the same inventory and limited ad dollars.  Auction-based, self-service advertising exchanges provide a marketplace for buyers and sellers of online ad inventory to transact directly with one another. These platforms now have the potential to transform the way digital ad inventory is bought and sold. Social intelligence vendors apply an algorithmic approach to remnant inventory thereby targeting the right users with the right message for the next level of precision-targeting.

Independent Content Distribution Flourishes
Public attention, no longer confined to media outlets, spans across search engines, podcasts, blogs, video blogs, news  aggregation, content feeds, review sites, and other social media. It is not enough to rely on professional media and traditional distribution channels - content distribution now means delivering content over the Web. Two decades ago the introduction of the personal computer, along with deregulation, fundamentally changed the telecommunications market, allowing small businesses to set up local and regional wire distribution networks that beat the incumbent public relations wires at a lower cost. Today's change is even more fundamental.  Broadband is becoming universal, and it is two way. Providers offer huge storage facilities to the public, often for free. Individuals throughout the world are self-distributing new media content. Citizen journalists connect with people they already know, and new audiences, with highly specialized messages their audiences want to hear: local events, sports, celebrities, technology,   networking, opinions. Meanwhile, high-budget websites are not connecting with their audience, a problem typically blamed on too much noise on the web. But it is not noise. The competition plays a new song that traditional media companies simply do not know how to play, to a crowd they cannot reach. Referral consumers are more stable, and their attention more broad, than consumers acquired through advertising. But they are choosy. Poor quality content goes nowhere. Content that speaks to its audience goes viral. To play in this world, one must be honest with the message, and open to new distribution models. To be sure there are big channels: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Viacom. But independent, federated channels offering free distribution are where many of the most influential consumers find their news of the world. Content must be available, serendipitous, nearby. And messages must be packaged to go portable across the weak tie bridges that connect familiar audiences to the world at large. Truly, the world is connected across six degrees of separation, perhaps five.


Yet most links are ineffective, bridges to nowhere. Thanks to some amazing new technologies a large company can now reach consumers everywhere in a secure, consistent, controlled way, at very low distribution cost. Better yet, they can become their own distributors, sponsoring, producing, and hosting not only their content, but that of their loyal fans.

S for Social Added to CRM
Successful customer relations management will inevitably have a social media component.   Watching, analyzing, and influencing what customers say on social sites about a brand, its maker, and its competitors, is a new field that merges traditional CRM with online reputation management - and has been dubbed Social Customer Relationship Management or SCRM. When customers have a question or comment about a product -- Should they buy it?  Is it a good value?  How to fix it?  Is it cool? -- they increasingly turn to friends and strangers on sites like Facebook or Twitter rather than a salesperson or company-operated support site. A forward thinking company puts its salespeople, brand ambassadors, and support staff right where the customers are talking, either by participating directly, or more effectively and efficiently, via new social software tools and methods. Most of the activity is from new start-up companies, but already successful companies such as Salesforce are branching into the field. Some basic techniques have been mastered for finding relevant conversations amidst the sea of chatter, and analhyzing via scientific network analysis methods how the conversation spreads, and which customers are the most influential at spreading it. Integrating this data into customer relations systems, and normalizing it so that the results are useful, are two major challenges. The next technical hurdle will be providing the ability to respond in near real time as customers seek product recommendations from peers during the point of sale. For now, companies should answer the question of whether to ignore social media or take the challenge. By monitoring, facilitating, and leveraging the online conversation about its brand, a company enhances its CRM data. They can pick up not only expanded profile information about their customers, employees, and business partners, but also the vast knowledge base on the social web: knowledge, insight, know-how from citizen product experts.


Conclusion and SNAP Tear sheet

While there is no golden egg for how to set a strategy for social networks, the winners will be those who host the very best conversations. To do this, hypertargeted, micro campaigning can be a powerful alternative to traditional marketing campaigns that utilize online advertising and click-driven Web sites. On social media, at a fraction of the cost of impressions on air or in print, the right message can be presented to the ideal consumer. The significance of this as it relates to the return on investment (ROI) of a marketing agency’s budget are no less than astounding. As the U.S. economy continues to grapple with a sagging economy, and as marketing budgets shrink, social media has become an increasingly easy decision to justify. The next form of social media will be about creating "whole products" and complete experiences, in real time, across the web, mobile, and live. Each user creating his or her own experience and moving seamlessly through information that is available to them anywhere, anytime, sharing rich content with a diverse set of groups and networks that the users themselves define. Innovative companies that are able to listen to these needs and deliver products based on them thrive as people eagerly come aboard the social network.

Note: Tear sheet is on the following page


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