Search + social media, the evolving landscape

Screen shot 2009-12-10 at 11.31.30 AM.pngYou have undoubtedly heard about Google and Bing announcing partnerships with Twitter/Facebook/et. al. to include real time social media results into their search indexes. However, even if you did hear about it, I think few people have seen what it looks like in Google's environment, so I recorded this short video for the search term "Copenhagen". Have a look. (Bing takes a slightly different, segmented approach.)

Key Takeaways:

  • These results are pulled into the first page of Google, there are substantial reputation issues to consider
  • These updates are not listed like other webpages/fan pages/primary Twitter accounts, they are in a separate area on the page (fairly contained...for now)
  • The searcher will see what is hot at that point in time
  • It seems like this would be very susceptible to fraud and Tweet bombing, would love to get your opinion on that

What does this mean for you and your brand(s)? How are you preparing/sharing and engaging around this? One of the keys to social media gaining the traction it has is its uncanny way of tapping into the power of search and this is taking that to the next level.

Let me know what you think.

[UPDATE 12/11]: It seems that Yahoo has also added in-line Tweets to search results. This model pulls in three recent (not sure the exact algorithm here) Tweets to the bottom of the result page. Screenshot below.

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Ball bearings, social media and you

iStock_000004515838XSmall.jpgAbout three years ago I spoke at an event in a town to the south of Cleveland. The audience was a more traditional marketing audience and they were very receptive to what I had to say...except for one guy at the side of the room. If you give presentations, you know this guy. He nodded a little, but shot an occasional contrarian scowl.

If there is room to become a social media leader in the ball bearing industry, there is room to become a leader in your industry.

After I was done I saw him hanging out toward the back of the room and as I wrapped up my obligatory mingling, I approached him. After introducing myself I asked if he had any questions that he wanted to address with me.

He started, "Matt, I know what you're saying, but this doesn't work for every company. People don't care about some of these products."

I had to wonder what the heck this guy did to have such a low image of his company. I probed a little further, "I think it does apply to every company to an extent and you need to be listening to know when the timing is right. What is your industry?"

Sheepishly the guy said, "We make ball bearings."

I do love a challenge. I mentioned that his company could take a leadership position with customers and in search engines by adopting social platforms now versus waiting to play catch up. He agreed to watch, but I am doubtful that he actually took my advice.

Tonight, I took a quick stroll through the social web. Here is what I found surrounding the ball bearing industry.

How bearings are made:

Bearing service center tour:

Advances in ball bearings using ceramic:

Photos of ball bearings on Flickr:


Wikipedia has a good overview of the industry.

Chinese ball bearing company uses a blog to post information about their products

Other companies syndicate their news via RSS to be listed among related blogs.

Bearing manufacturers have Facebook groups as well. On Facebook there are poeple who love ball bearings and people who hate bad ball bearings.

Ball bearing companies are on Twitter too as are fans of ball bearings and the media that covers the space and professional groups as well. There is actually a lot of conversation on Twitter about bearings.

So, what the heck does this mean for you? Ask yourself, who owns my space in the social sphere online? Do a search inside the top social networks. Who is already forming relationships with my customers/potential customers/influencers? What is the best entry point for my company? How can I get involved NOW in order to not lose more ground?

If there is room to become a social media leader in the ball bearing industry, there is room to become a leader in your industry.

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The cohesion of conversations; brands taking a #(pound)ing

iStock_000007087342XSmall.jpgThe hashtag (aka the pound sign, #) is a ubiquitous part of social networking at this point. The purpose of the hashtag is to be able to track and lump a strong of asynchronous messages together for later review and analysis.

For example, a group of people coordinate and use the same keyword at the end of every tweet. You probably saw this at SXSW this year when people were ending their messages with #sxsw. You can use third party sites to aggregate those messages into a single string that is ordered by date to see how events unfold.

However, the hashtag is also being used to track the community's brand engagement. Situations like #motrinmoms, #dominos and #amazonfail now have a public timeline that will remain in place forever. The massive volume of similarly tagged content will make it very easy for anyone to find what happened and see how the company responded across search engines and social platforms.

An argument that people have used to avoid engagement in this space is that it's a relatively small sampling of people who engage in these networks. Regarding the Motrin Moms controversy, an Advertising Age article quoted a Lightspeed research study that stated 90% of women had not seen the Motrin ad that spawned the backlash online. Of the 10% who did, 8% said it negatively impacted their brand impression. While that is a small number, you cannot underestimate the power of small, passionate groups of people who use turbocharged platforms to connect with and influence other like minded people. Wildfires can start with a single match, right?

Internal listening is paramount

I can partially understand when companies have some hesitation in listening to the broad community and engaging. It's time consuming and you have to have a corporate culture to make it work. However, I do not understand companies that do not listen in the social space for employee engagement issues, brand perception problems and platform breakdowns. These types of issues are having an impact on Dominos and Amazon right now.

#dominos: This one is picking up steam now. For more info on what happened, go here.

#amazonfail: This ramped up a couple of days ago when a "glitch" in the Amazon system starting delisting GLBT titles. People responded to the "glitch" with the hashtag #glitchmyass. It seems to be trending down at the moment.

[Update] Here is page one of the Google search result for Dominos as of 10:30am on April 15, 2009. Notice entry #3 from YouTube, the top news story as well as the next three stories after the new results.

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The bottom line is that these companies should have been listening and engaging all along, should have been prepared earlier with real, honest, personal responses and taken proactive steps to make things right with their community. Waiting a day to respond is WAY too long, waiting hours may even be too long.

Some things to think about:

  • Listening is more important than ever
  • Active listening can pick up issues before they become crises
  • Community building is key (in advance of an issue)
  • Events are being linked together by consumers for all to see
  • The content of those interactions will live on forever
  • The content also appears in search
  • A few, passionate individuals can dramatically hurt or help a brand in its interactions online

Do you go back through hashtags to see conversations over time? Have you come across them in search results?

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The two hour minumum

iStock_000002783708XSmall.jpgI am sure that if you are in an agency, on the client side or an individual in the social media space, the following question has popped up.

How much time do I need to spend in social media each day?

I hear this being asked in meetings, presentations and see it pop up across the web. To be truthful, there is no set rule here. However, I have come up with the guideline that I'll talk about in this post for engaging clients in new work, managing existing campaigns, talking to up-and-coming bloggers, etc.

It's the two hour minimum per day.

Why two hours?

The two hour minimum comes from my experience here on the blog as well as in the agency environment. I've given this a lot of thought, but at the end of the day, I've tried different formulas to arrive here.

To give you an example, I spend around 5 hours a day personally on this blog and in my networks. This is on top of my workload and personal commitments. I've found that if I spend around two hours I can stay above water. As soon as I dip below that, my community suffers. That's what I am trying to avoid. I've backed this up through client work where that number seems to fit with our internal teams as well as client-side teams.

Two hours is the absolute minimum amount of time that a company/individual needs to spend EVERY DAY in this space.

What do you do with two hours?

Oh, trust me. Once you start engaging, two hours goes by like a speeding bullet. The following items are a good foundation on how to spend the time each day.
    Listen - Check your feed reader, check your Google alerts, monitor Tweetdeck, do a Twitter search (unless you've added them into your reader), check Technorati (you never know), look at your commenting service (co.Comment/Backtype/etc.) to see who has replied to you. This isn't a one-time thing, set a schedule through the day and check back for 5 minutes.

    Engage - Monitor those conversations through the day and reply as close to realtime as you can. Overnight delays are common and (I think) accepted in most cases. During the workday, however, you can make more impact by replying within 2-4 hours. If you have a blog, write a post or at least brainstorm new ideas based on what you're seeing.

    Discover - Another part of the day should spawn from the listening and engagement phases. You should constantly look for new blogs, people on Twitter to follow, new relevant posts to comment on, etc.

This sounds like a lot to do in two hours, eh? It is. Remember I said this is a minimum starting point for entry into the space. The commitment will grow over time.

*Variables: Note that the complexity of your business/industry will weigh on this minimum requirement. If you have 5-10 brands, you may need to spend an hour each. This is not set in stone, just a guideline to get you thinking and talking.

What next?

Scale is important to be aware of in social media. The more success you have, the more time it will take to grow to new successes. The more you monitor, the more conversations, the more people you meet, the more time you spend.

Be aware of this and scale your two hours up to 3, 4, 5 to a full time person to a team of people. Richard Binhammer at Dell (@richardatdell) could probably teach a class on this.

Advancing from two hours

As you grow, it's crucial to maintain your level of engagement. This is a financial commitment for your client/company and needs to have accountability.

Some situations that can tell you when to scale:

  • When your response time is slipping due to volume
  • When your discovery portion of the time you're spending is limited due to listening and engaging
  • When your customers ask you to ramp up

These are good problems to have by the way. It means your community is starting to embrace you and your team. The goal is to grow steadily over time for maximum results. Quick wins are few and far between. It takes real effort and dedication.

How much time do you spend each day? Please weigh in on the poll below.

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The power of the trust economy

iStock_000006741261XSmall.jpgWho do you trust? Sounds like a simple, black and white question doesn't it? Trust in the real world (read offline) is something we're all familiar with. We've been burned by people or thrown under a bus or two. We adjust our construct of what trust means over time.

Online, however, this becomes more difficult. As trust levels drop with the stock market, it is also playing out in the microcosm of our online social connections. Savvy spammers have begun leveraging the trust equity that people and companies are establishing.

A couple of weeks ago I started noticing a trend on some of the micromedia sites that I use, including Twitter. Spam accounts were being created using an iteration of a social celebrity's username. I was friended by accounts from Scoble, Tamar and others. Or so I thought. If you looked closely at the invites, they were from the accounts scobleizer_ and tamar_ (note the underscore). Once the account clones were working they spammed about 2000 users and in most cases gained 200-400 followers before they were shut down.

Seeing that trend, I joked around with the following message:

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To my chagrin, my username was quickly used with the underscore scam. I had 20+ followers alert me that this happened and I took the appropriate action. This happened two times once with _mattdickman and once with mattdickman_. Each time, over 350 people followed these fake accounts based on the trust I've established.

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Another example of trust abuse happens when people/companies don't engage in this space and create a vacuum. Just ask the Dalai Lama. A fake user came on to Twitter and created the account OHHDL and had around 20,000 follow them. It was later revealed to not be an official channel of his holiness.

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So, how do you make sure this doesn't happen to you? If it does happen, what is your response? I think having a supportive community (like mine) helps a lot as they spread the word and make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

Has this happened to you? How would you respond?

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Executing a listening plan

iStock_000000564491XSmall.jpgLast week I wrote a post on the lack of listening that is taking place among top marketing executives. In my opinion, most of the problem with listening stems a lack of the right tools and a lack of an action plan for what to do with the information.

Two of my top key takeaways from that post got me thinking.

  1. You have to have humans involved
  2. You have to have an escalation plan

I'm a visual person, so I wanted to come up with a construct that could frame this challenge in the enterprise for further discussion. Here is what I cam up with, let me know what you think:

[Click to enlarge image.]

The data layer

The data layer has been getting a lot of attention lately. Many companies are very active in this space and provide great solutions. However, data without human filtering is useless. The key to the data layer is that you're listening to the spaces that matter and that it spans media types.

Data alone without human filtering is useless.

Aggregating news, TV, radio, blogs, micromedia, message boards, etc into a single location is becoming a necessity. People are doing this now, but the information is rarely synchronized and shared in a coordinated manner. Good filtering in the data layer can help to eliminate work in the human layer, but it's a fine line to make sure that emerging trends aren't excluded. The solutions that exist in this space at the current time are not adequate for major global brands.

The human layer

This, in my mind, is the key to success. No matter how good the data layer, you still need a human looking at it who knows the business, challenges and processes. You need to spot trends across media, uncover new innovations, and listen to what is happening with internal department responsibilities in mind.

The humans in this layer should span media formats, look for trends and spot emerging issues to flag for appropriate follow up. Within a company, these flags will need to be communicated to the right department at the right level. That's where the action level takes over.

The action layer

Listening without action is a waste of money and is one of the reasons I think more companies are not engaging. Companies are huge, siloed beasts that eat disorganization for lunch. Rolling out a listening plan is a challenge, but not one that can't be overcome.

The humans who review data need to know the structure of the organization and the people involved. In other words, these people need to be 100% integrated in the company's culture/process. They need to know the legalities of the business, HR issues, communications opportunities, brand/product feedback, how employees are engaging and representing the company and what is being said about the companies media properties.

In a company that is fully engaged in social media, this structure is VERY flat and responsive to even the smallest issues/opportunities.

Within each layer there needs to be an escalation plan. I didn't show that in this diagram, because each department will be different. You need to think about how the business operates and look at the possible issues that could arise. For each possible issue, determine who needs to know what and how fast they need to know it.

Here is an example for a consumer product company:

  1. Issue is detected. What is the issue?
  2. It's a product safety problem. How serious is it?
  3. Lives could potentially be threatened.
  4. Alert all heads of departments by SMS/email as well as key contacts within each department
  5. Schedule call as soon as possible

A cross-functional team needs to sit across all related departments to bind this process together and ensure success. They determine alerting protocol and responses. In a company that is fully engaged in social media, this structure is VERY flat and responsive to even the smallest issues/opportunities.

Listening as step one

If you remember my post from late September "Should your company blog?" (it applies to your company/CEO/VP/or yourself), the first step in the process is listening. The more companies that take this first step and listen are on their way to a solid foundation in customer engagement. You can't start truly engaging with a strategic insight until you listen. What's stopping you?

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How would you improve this? What am I missing? I'd love to have your feedback.

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You suck at listening!

iStock_000002581157XSmall.jpgWell, not you personally (I hope). A recent CMO Council study, however showed that only 16% of 400 executives they surveyed have an online listening plan in place. 56% have no plan to track of drive word-of-mouth and only 30% thought they had the ability to resolve complaints quickly. Why such a low percentage? What is stopping these CMOs from implementing a plan?

Personally, I think that creating a listening plan is pretty easy. It's what you do with the information that you are collecting that is the hard part. This is where these marketing executives are falling down.

What you do with that information once you have it? How do you get all of the other departments to commit to the initiative? How do you execute on it without losing productivity? It really comes down to creating a customer service culture, where the customer is the priority. This is not how a lot of companies operate, however.

From my post earlier in January, here are three keys to listening online:

  1. Find your customer and spend your time there. While Twitter is great for some brands, you will find that message boards, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut, etc. may hold the majority of your customers. If you're listening in the wrong place you're not doing any good.

  2. Use technology to speed the process. Instead of watching Twitter for 12 hours a day, subscribe to the RSS feed for your keywords on Twitter Search. Do the same with keywords on Google and your Technorati page. Check this a couple of times a day. On top of that, you can overlay that information on top of the monitoring tools.

    Big tip, I've seen monitoring companies sell their services as the end-all of this area and they are not. This requires a human being who knows the industry and company to make it worth while.

  3. Create your active listening plan. Listening is a good first step, but a lifetime of listening without action is not going to move the needles that you need to move for your business. Creating an plan for what to do with the information you learn is key.

    I wrote this post in February of 2007 on active listening and it still holds true today. This quote sums it up:

    "Agile marketing companies are leveraging new technology to create real, one-to-many and many-to-many conversations. They are using the outcome from that interaction to make meaningful, remarkable, relationship-enhancing changes that impact their clients in a positive manner. Are you listening?"

Key Takeaways

  • You have to have humans involved. This is often overlooked with all of the technology that we have out there, but humans can spot trends, flag issues that matter and ignore ones that don't. Whatever automation you employ, make sure you have a smart person reviewing it.
  • Have an escalation plan. Don't just listen for listening's sake. You need to know what to do when you hear something. Set action alerts when a certain criteria is met, set a clear path for issues to be escalated through and assign a person to follow up and make sure they're resolved.
  • Use the community to improve your ideas. Just like the examples I mentioned in this post listening can give you insights into your customers that would otherwise cost you millions in testing and research. Listen hard and act on what you hear.

At the end of the day, listening is easy. Setting up the systems and processes that take what you hear and turn it into a business resource is the hard part. What steps would you take if you were in their shoes?

2/3/09 - IMPORTANT UPDATE: I think that it's important to note that 75% of journalists get story ideas from blogs. How can you not be monitoring the space that has this much influence over the editors who cover you? This single reason alone should be enough to get people off of their butts and starting to plan their strategy.

Also, check out Jon Burg's great follow up post "10 reasons CEOs need social insights and 6 steps to setting this up".

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Talking with Danny Kim

9232129A-9EBC-4367-A48A-4578F3A24717.jpgOne of the highlights on my trip to keynote the IDG "Next Generation Marketing" conference in Seoul, South Korea was having an opportunity to stop by the Fleishman-Hillard office (my employer) and meet our team there. I presented the same keynote to our internal group and was pleased to see a lot of nodding heads around the conference room. These ideas are truly global!

As a wrap up to my day, the team invited in one of South Korea's top bloggers, Danny Kim. Danny is a published author, tech blog-father and all around great guy. Our conversation varied from blogging experiences to PR pitches to presidential elections. Here is the video that the fine folks in the office put together with some of the highlights. I hope you enjoy.

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We bring good memes to life

If you live in Cleveland (or follow the NBA at all) you are sure to know about LeBron and his pre-game chalk hurling ritual. Basically, he walks to the scorer's table, gets a handful of chalk and launches it into the air in a huge puff of smoke. Very dramatic. I've seen kids around Cleveland pretend to do this in the street and grown men demonstrate it in line for lunch (I am not kidding).

That's why I love this ad from Wieden which plays on this insight and the experience and is right in line with the brand.

To go along with that, Nike has this LeBron ad when you enter downtown Cleveland. Note the smoke at the top of the photo.


This goes to my post about being ready to pounce. This is a more public example, but the execution is terrific in what could have been a lost opportunity.

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Five big social media contradictions and how to manage them

iStock_000002248298XSmall.jpgWhat's fast to build, slow to grow and needs constant attention? No, not a Chia Pet. It's social media! I've given this post a lot of thought over the past couple of months as I talk with executives and marketers who are discussing their entry into the social media space. Some are skeptical, others are passionate. Most have incorrect pre-conceived notions that are contradictory to the way things actually are. Ironically, most of these contradictions have been used as selling points in the early days of the space. So, here we go.

Contradiction 1: Fast setup, slow build

Yes, it is true that you can create a blog in less than five minutes. However, a five minute blog is going to have the same marketing impact as letting an 2-year-old create your brand identity. The physical build of a blog will take months to get right. It needs to be professionally designed or at least customized to look unique.

That, however, is the easiest part of blogging. The real build comes in building your community. It took me around 8 solid months of posting 4-5 days a week to really start making traction. Only around a year and a half in did I start to feel like I was making an impact.

Tip to manage: Look around at people who are successful here. Look at companies like Zappos, Dell or Comcast and see how they use it. Look for other companies in your space and seek out what they are doing. Ask experts, people are very accessible here.

Contradiction 2: Cheap up-front, financial marathon

I think way too many companies think of social media as an inexpensive alternative to pricey paid media options. On the contrary. The physical build/setup/design/etc. is in line with traditional digital implementations (think website/microsite). The real investment comes in the personal time necessary to make an impact. The build is just the tip of the iceberg.

Personally, I estimate that I spend 3-4 hours a day on this blog and within my online space. That's reading, commenting, writing and thinking about digital marketing and social media. That's on top of my workload and travel.

Let's say you have a community evangelist to work your digital marketing as well as social media. There are around 260 work days a year. I am a proponent of companies dedicating AT LEAST 2 HOURS A DAY to do this right. (Obviously, the more time spent the better.) Take agency rates of around $150/hr and that works out to around $78,000/year minimum just to manage the work. More time = more chances for engagement = a better chance for success.

Tip to manage: Look at the people/companies who you admire and ask them how much time they spend. Do your own estimations. Look a the content they're creating and estimate what it took to build. You have to show that this requires a continued commitment from a financial perspective.

Contradiction 3: Open/transparent/mashed-up meets legal and regulatory

While the spirit of social media and participatory marketing is open and extensible, there are real fears that MUST be addressed with the legal team. The best way to do this is to address them head on. Legal teams have been trained to defend brands, stop "unauthorized use" and do it quick. That doesn't fly in this space, it backfires.

Extending marketing and customer service into social media requires the full commitment of the organization at all levels. Everyone needs to be comfortable with the strategy and be kept aware of the execution. If this doesn't happen, it can lead to big trouble.

Tip to manage: There are a ton of examples here. Look at Scrabulous for example. The best idea is to sit down with legal and draw parallels to help them put this in a framework. Can you compare traditional media outreach to blogger outreach? Can you compare your phone reps to your Twitter reps? You can and you should.

Contradiction 4: Creating real estate turns to building on other people's property

Up until social media, digital marketing has been all about creating real estate. Websites, microsites, Flash demos, webinars, virtual offices, etc. Marketing around these spaces required volume to be successful. Email lists were crucial, online ads drove volume and measurement supported these tactics.

Social media is about finding where customers already exist and finding ways to add value within that space. Solving problems, crowdsourcing product and service development, creating cool applications, etc. all add value. Customer service may be the silver bullet in this space. Measurement needs to adapt to your business. Throw out the standards and find what matters to you, then measure it.

Tip to manage: Again Zappos, Dell and Comcast are case studies in the making here. Think about how Nike+ shifted the paradigm of tracking runner's progress and extended it to widgets, Facebook apps, etc. The iPhone is another example where you can add value and get the marketing benefit.

Contradiction 5: Unlimited opportunities to engage, finite places to make real impact

There are literally thousands of places to engage with your customers online. The challenge for brands is to find out where they are, how they move and what they find of value. The other challenge is to dedicate resources to support customers in the places that make sense while limiting waste. Facebook is a great platform to use if you add value to your customers through your marketing. However, if your customers aren't there it's a waste. If you don't see that they shift to a niche network on Ning next month you will continue spending time and begin wasting money.

Listening is key to keeping the pulse of your audience. It lets you see changes in location, sentiment and identify memes that resonate in real time. It lets you be able to pounce and that's key.

Tip to manage: Follow big brands and follow personal brands too. Look at how Chris Brogan engages with his community and grows his business. Look at how Mario Sundar advocates for LinkedIn. Watch Guy Kawasaki extend his business and build new ones (seemingly) on the fly. Watch Jeremiah Owyang redefine what it is to be an analyst while helping to empower an amateur analyst army. See Gary Vaynerchuk kill it every day and inspire everyone he touches like in this video:

What contradictions would you add? Any other examples that people should pay attention to beyond the ones I noted?

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The age of Facebook vs. MySpace: January edition

iStock_000005753573XSmall.jpgWhat does the real population of Facebook look like? How does it compare to MySpace? This is the latest edition of my look at social networks and their populations from a marketing perspective.

All numbers in this post are US-only and are collected using each site's advertising management systems so they are up to date and accurate from a marketer's perspective. (Who wants to talk about populations that can't be reached by marketing? Not me.)

What you need to know right now:

  • MySpace's total population is down 4% in the US
  • Facebook now for the first time has more people ages 36-45 than MySpace, soon will overtake 46-50 as well as 31-35
  • Facebook's over 30 growth is still booming at around 24% per category
  • Facebook's under 30 growth was stagnant
  • MySpace still dominant in HS and college age groups

Facebook Overview:

Facebookhad fairly consistent gains across most age groups, however for the first time I see slowdowns in the under 35 population. Surprises include:
  • Less than 2% growth in the 18-21 and 22-25 year old groups (down from approx. 22% gains over past 4 months)
  • 13-17 year old growth is under 8% and the 26-30 year old group gained just over 11%
  • Facebook is 56.89% female and 43.11% male

MySpace Overview:

There were some surprising shifts in the population of MySpace this month. Of note:
  • Overall, the US population on MySpace dropped by 4.16%
  • 26.87% drop in the 36-40 age group from November's numbers
  • 32.93% drop in the 41-45 age group from November's numbers
  • 40.65% drop in the 46-65+ age group from November's numbers
  • MySpace is 52.71% female and 47.29% male

MySpace down 4%; Facebook under 30 stagnant; Facebook finally overtakes MySpace in 36-45 populations

January's look at the real age of MySpace vs. Facebook (US)

Click to enlarge image.

Here are the actual December-January numbers:

AGE RANGEFacebookΔ last monthMySpaceΔ last monthoverall variance

Other key takeaways and burning questions:

  • These numbers represent all total users who can be reached through each site's advertising systems (not all active users)
  • I'm continually interested in the Boomer audiences on these sites and how they engage
  • MySpace's reporting system has been on the fritz, we'll have to see next month's numbers to get a real sense of the space
  • MySpace skews younger than Facebook, engaging more of the highschool population
  • Will need to look at Facebook under 30 numbers next month to see if the growth remains slow

What do you think? What other networks are you investigating? The demographics and targeting options on both sites let you reach your audience in targeted/tailored ways.

UPDATE: Data sources: If you're curious, here is where the data comes from on both sites.

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You can't do that on Facebook


Hopefully you got the reference to that great TV show of the 80s "You Can't Do That on Television". This post, however, is the first in a series of posts covering a couple of common mistakes that marketers are making on Facebook. First up...

You've gotta be you.

A post on drew McLellan's blog prompted me to write about this in more detail. I think most marketers are not aware of the limitations of Facebook and they port over bad habits from other social networks. Unlike on MySpace where companies, brands and spokespeople (real or imaginary) can have a profile, on Facebook you cannot create an account that does not belong to a real person. Comprende? If it's not a real person, don't create an account.

Let's break down the Facebook terms of use that specifically cover this:

Facebook clearly states that "except for advertising programs offered by us on the Site (e.g., Facebook Flyers, Facebook Marketplace), the Service and the Site are available for your personal, non-commercial use only"

Users agree NOT to:

  • register for more than one User account, register for a User account on behalf of an individual other than yourself, or register for a User account on behalf of any group or entity;
    This means: Don't sign up for somebody else or a group

  • impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity;
    This means:Don't sign up and impersonate somebody else (no ghost accounts), don't create fictitious accounts and don't lie about who you are, your name, how old you are or who you represent

Hopefully this is pretty clear. Like I said, I don't think marketers read the terms and conditions on most of these sites, but it's important to know how they work and engage in appropriate, more successful ways.

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Success in social media means being ready to pounce

iStock_000003890669XSmall.jpgReaction time is a major competitive advantage in social media. What I mean by reaction time is the difference between an event or popular meme and the opportunity for your brand. This is one of the reasons that a comprehensive listening plan is so vitally important to any company. It takes one blog post, one media mention or one video phenomenon to present you the opportunity of a lifetime.

Don't get me wrong, it's crucial to create a social media strategy and have a plan, but part of that plan needs to give you the tools to stay fluid and react in real time. The strategy needs to act as a guide.


Monitoring Plan: Listening is key to success in social media. It's the first thing I recommend to my clients in this space and it takes a real commitment. The tools for this are all around. You can use any combination of options. Most programs that I use involve the following:

  • Monitoring Service: Radian6, Collective Intellect, Nielsen, Cision, Vocus, BackType (per Jason Baer) etc.
  • Google Alerts: They're easy to set up, they're real time and they are proactively sent to you
  • RSS Reader as aggregator: I use Google Reader to subscribe to the following two options to stay on top of things in an easy, manageable way.
  • Blog Search RSS: Go to any search engine and enter your keywords then look for the RSS symbol. They'll let you subscribe to those results and monitor changes (try Google, IceRockey, Technorati, etc.)
  • Twitter Search: The ultimate in real-time listening, enter your keyword and subscribe to the RSS feed

Analytics: Having analytics and using analytics are two very different things. This is one of the most powerful tools that we have as digital marketers. Know your site, look at the keywords that are bringing people there, what sites are they coming from, why are these things happening? Also, find out what is important in your analytics package and go over it regularly. It only takes one week of skipping a report to miss the next big thing. You can isolate opportunities through analytics. I'll cover this in more detail in January.

Popular memes: Keeping your ear to the ground and staying active in sites like YouTube, watching what's popular on Digg/Delicious/Facebook/Techmeme/etc. gives you a way to stay relevant to your audience. If you're trying to reach women ages 40-55, you need to find what they're watching, what they find funny and what moves them. Think about Mentos and Diet Coke. Mentos found out and embraced the meme. Diet Coke was late to the game, reacted negatively and finally saw the light.

Taking Action

Shortening Time to Customer: Too many companies have an unnecessarily long delay between identification of market opportunities and the time the customer is aware of the response. Legal review, group think and death by committee are killers. There needs to be a clear path to the customer and a knowledge of what is critical to get review (some things do need legal input) and what is good to go. I would suggest making this path as short as possible.

Opportunity Report: Create a daily/weekly opportunity report for your client or management. List key trends, key partners, memes that impact your customers, pop culture trends, etc. Doing this a couple of times will prove easier. You can have a junior person compile this, but it should have senior review to make sure all of the opportunities are seen.

Content is Key: Marketers need to have a mind shift. We are content creators. Not the usual content either, the content we're creating is open source. It needs to be free from copyrights, open to the public and easily repurposed. It could be video, photos, copy, a logo, a story, etc. This is not a website, but content that finds the customer and rings true to their ears. It shows up in their social sphere, on their turf and in their language. The best marketing is doing this now. Examples are hard to find, but agencies/companies are making it work. More on this in January too.

Keep Your Mind Open: This is also important. Not everything that comes out of this will be new media. It may require doing more events, possibly advertising in a new place. Alternatively, an opportunity may come up quickly in the online space. It seems marketers are finding/leveraging new services at breakneck pace. I caution clients and I'll caution you, be strategic about your selections of platform and service. Make 100% sure your customers are there.

Measure. Measure. Measure. Any digital campaign should have measurement at the heart. Key interactions need to be recorded and have meaning assigned in order to manage performance. A/B testing messages is easier than ever. Unlike offline marketing, we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to maximize the dollars we spend on behalf of our clients in real time. Allowing money to underperform is negligent in this day and age. If an ad isn't getting clicks, find why. Test the copy, test the target. It may mean taking it down and refocusing the spend. It's up to us to measure and respond.

What would you add?

[UPDATE: David Alston from the comments below was profiled on Shel Israel's Twitterville notes. Another great case for listening and reacting.]

[UPDATE 2: Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the need to pounce in this video. Listen up PR folks!]

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HR in the age of social media

iStock_000001943264XSmall.jpgI am far from an HR specialist, but I often see companies who are struggling to adjust to the age of social media. On the flip-side, I see a few companies who understand this shift and take advantage of the possibilities.

We're operating in a difficult economy, surrounded by a shifting, unsure world. HR practices of yesterday are not possible to maintain. Leaks happen, employees are building personal brands and creating content that is (like it or not) related to your company.

As challenging as this is, it also is an unprecedented time to use social media to engage and acquire the best talent in the world. It takes a clear strategy, a solid focus on what works and the follow through and commitment to make it work.

Here are some successful, and unsuccessful lessons from social media. What would you add?


Don't create a staged, inauthentic video that makes you look silly (I'm talking to you Bank of America)

Don't post a video that you wouldn't want to have used against you for the rest of your agency's life ( Subway pitch aka "When we roll we roll big")

Do create a video that allows people to see who you are, how you operate and do it in an authentic way (One of my favorite videos from Connected Ventures will either implore you to run away or apply immediately)

Picture 9.pngDo give the world an insight into your culture using the tools of the trade (I always enjoy the Critical Mass Always in Beta site which evolves as they need it. Through video, photography, new applications, Twitter and more they engage their customer and recruiting audiences in an authentic way.)


Don't think that people who you are laying off/disciplining/promoting/hiring/etc. will keep quiet, don't think their peers won't find out from Twitter first. Once it hits, the message (right or wrong) spreads very quickly.

Here are some layoff announcements on Twitter:

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Do be proactive, honest and open (Zappos is a great model for this. They missed some funding and the CEO sent a Twitter message linking to a blog post with more info. Some employees made a video to help people cheer up.)

Here is the original message from Tony, the Zappos CEO. Note, you could see all of their customer and employee reactions in realtime at

Picture 8.png

I could go on and on with other platforms, but this should get the conversation boing. How are you using social media for HR? It's has the potential to be an amazing sales tool or it could be a repellant for new talent. Would you know? Are you listening and engaging?

Let me hear what you think!

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IDG Next Generation Marketing 2008 - Sung Lee, VP MySpace

5D968294-ECAB-4B97-9D47-88585C69E7B0.jpgSung Lee is the VP of Operations for MySpace in Asia. Her presentation focused on the ways in which marketers should approach social network marketing.

Key takeaways:

  • Social networks are bigger than you think
  • People, brands and artists are able to create their presence on the web
  • The online experience is offline as well in the form of events, etc.
  • MySpace has 118M unique visitors with over 51% growth in the last two years
  • 12M of those users are in Asia Pacific
  • 70K videos uploaded daily
  • Self-expression, connection and discovery drive social networking
  • Driven by the "me" economy
  • Social media is redefining the marketing channels and the media mix
  • Reasons for friending brands; 29% notice of events, sales, offers / 28% recommended by a friend / 23% want to associate with them / 23% discounts, coupons, samples / 11% want to support the brand
  • Key stages of social network marketing: Create a community -> Cultivate relationships -> Build long-term CRM
  • Pass along from a peer drives 34 times the pass-through and 20 times the purchase intent versus ads on MySpace
  • Five steps to build momentum know the audience, keep it real, empower the audience, enable dreams, leverage the power of the platform
  • Cartier example drives traffic to download songs, MySpace allows for scale across languages and geography
  • Questions to ask yourself first: do you know your audience, can you customize the creative, do you have engaging assets to share, are you willing to continue an ongoing dialogue
  • Platforms are expanding into mobile and will continue to become more prevalent over time
  • Personal connections with the brand is the differentiation strategy for MySpace over Facebook
  • MySpace is relatively new in Korea, but is growing exponentially

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IDG Next Generation Marketing 2008 - Gerry Gouy MTV Networks

Picture 36.pngI'm here in Seoul South Korea (after 21 hours of travel over the past day). It's 9:30am on Tuesday here in Seoul and I'm going to bring you the best points from the IDG Marketing 2.0 and Beyond conference.

I'm speaking tomorrow as the opening keynote and I'll post the Slideshare deck here tomorrow. The presenters are partially in English and partially in Korean, so it's the first time I've used a translator and they've pulled it off very well.

Key takeaways:

  • There is not digital media, it's all media
  • Viacom global youth study found three groups, the most interesting is the "Golden" age group
  • Golden age of youth - People age 25-34 continue to consume music, gaming, etc. in the same way they did when they were teens
  • Golden age groupers are more financially stable as well as happier about who they are as individuals
  • 25 was found to be the ideal age that youth around the world to aspire to
  • Biggest global trend is a flight to quality
  • Move to more traditional platforms that deliver their needs
  • Deals usually span 3-4 media platforms, not 7-8
  • Examples of mobile campaigns that are well executed and truly integrated are lacking
  • ROI on mobile is tougher to get to
  • Video is a huge opportunity on mobile - paid content is very tough to pull off on mobile - ad supported content is the way he has seen success
  • Samsung integrated campaign immerses you in the experience with very light branding
  • Eagle Eye film - TV/online/mobile
  • British Airways - MetroTwin - Focuses on the similarities between London and New York - provides recommendations and matches you with a person/venue in the other city
  • Convergence within distribution platforms is a key factor
  • Music is a chaotic industry and is a portal to see the future of media. There are no set rules anymore.
  • Broadcast and online is HOT.
  • Credit crunch is hurting true integration. Digital was an afterthought. More advertisers pushing for true integration between broadcast and online. Mobile is left out.
  • Mass audiences are going away on single platforms, they're reached through 360 programs across multiple channels

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Over one billion served

That's right readers, just a couple of days ago Twitter received its one billionth update. The image below shows where it stands at the time of this posting.

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Let's think about this, because the velocity and volume here are staggering.

Some questions to think about and talk around are:

  • If Twitter is not even mainstream, the growth could be exponential. How can we handle this much data? RSS only helps so much.
  • There is a massive amount of information here, a majority of which is just noise. How are you finding the signal?

What other questions does this bring to mind for you? What do you think?

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Inside//Out: Yammer

7A740759-0D67-40BE-9E3A-1E5CE0129350.jpgWhat do you get when you take Twitter, make it private and add some security/privacy restrictions? You get Yammer. Yammer is a private micromedia community where businesses or organizations can sign up for their own "private" network. This is not the same as installing something behind your firewall, the information is on shared servers and could be a liability depending on your industry. If you need it protected and super private then check out

Use is the same as on Twitter and Yammer has released decktop, BlackBerry and iPhone apps. It does not, much to my dismay, integrate with Twitter or any other existing network. For me, this is a killer as I cannot keep more than a few accounts active and still add value.

Yammer burst on to the scene on September 10 when it won the top prize at the TechCruch50 competition. The opinions were split at that time as well. Some people thought they just copied Twitter and put a spin on it, others thought the spin they put was a large enough point of differentiation to give it top prize. I'll let you decide.

Here is a quick video tour of Yammer:

[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

My key takeaways:

  • The potential for knowledge management is tremendous; aggregating links, identifying trends and business development identification are just a few of the major points
  • If your company is new to this space, this is an easy, low-cost entry point that allows some control
  • Lack of tie-in with other services is a hinderance to the super-connected who would most likely have championed Yammer (it's not too late guys)
  • Portability and device support is on par with anyone

I asked about Yammer on Twitter yesterday and here is what people had to say:
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What are your thoughts on this? Are you using it? Did you try it and abandon? What would it take to succeed with your business?

Download the Techn//Marketer podcast here!To help you stay on top of what is happening in social media, mobile and new marketing you can subscribe to the Techno//Marketer podcast on iTunes. Stay informed and get access to new videos first.

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What would you tell the next generation of communicators?

ohio-university-logo.jpgI am at Ohio University (my Alma Mater) tonight speaking about the evolution of communications with the PRSSA chapter. My presentation hinges around the convergence of digital, traditional PR/advertising and the need to look at communications with a broad view.

What specific advice would you give to students in one of the top journalism schools in the country? What advice would you have given yourself if you could go back in time?

Leave a comment or send me a message to @mattdickman on Twitter.

[UPDATE:] Here are the responses I've received to date. Feel free to add a comment with your advice.

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Brand engagement in social media

I just saw this new report from eMarketer about the presence of brands in social media and what consumers expect from them. Of note is that 34% of people think brands should engage and interact regularly, 51% think brands should engage, but only intereract when requested. Only 7% thought brands had no place in the social media landscape.


I think this does not take a number of things into account including the value-add to the community, the quality of the offering and the level of participation (being a member of the community vs. just being there).

What do you think about these numbers? Are they low/high in your opinion?

[UPDATE:] See a similar study conducted by Cone (disclaimer: Cone is also part of Omnicom Group).

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The age of Facebook vs. MySpace

iStock_000005753573XSmall.jpg [Update: New November stats available here] This is a continuation of my look at social networks and their populations from a marketing perspective. When it comes to this arena Facebook has most of the buzz, but MySpace still has the volume. As strategic counselors to our clients, it is important to make qualified decisions about the vehicles we use as part of a campaign.

MySpace has become the red headed step child of the social media world as Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn have continued to gain popularity and support. But, what does MySpace really look like and how does it compare?

I was able to pull comparison numbers for the age of both networks and some interesting patterns emerged. Take a look at the following graph that shows MySpace in blue and Facebook in red.

The age of MySpace vs. Facebook (US)

Click to enlarge image.

MySpace has more people in every segment (nearly double across the board), but a couple points stand out:

  • The 13-17 age group on MySpace is four and a half times larger than that of Facebook.
  • Every age range between 18 and 50 is close to double on MySpace what it is on Facebook.
  • The 50+ group on MySpace is 10 times larger than on Facebook, that is a 1000% difference.
  • The 50+ age group on MySpace is nearly one quarter the size of the entire Facebook community.

Here are the actual numbers:

age range Facebook MySpace variance
13-17 4,943,960 22,618,106 457%
18-21 9,957,600 20,326,180 204%
22-25 6,833,380 13,029,345 191%
26-30 4,282,200 10,528,581 246%
31-35 2,402,720 4,958,016 206%
36-40 1,503,640 2,843,813 189%
41-45 727,880 1,577,310 217%
46-50 473,240 981,911 207%
65+ 703,020 7,030,912 1000%

Takeaways and questions:

  • These numbers represent all total users, not active users so take it with a grain of salt.
  • I don't have growth numbers on MySpace so it's tough to gauge its vitality at this point.
  • MySpace has a huge number of Boomers in their community. I will watch this demographic in coming months.
  • MySpace skews younger than Facebook, engaging more of the highschool population.
  • Populations between MySpace and Facebook (18-50) mirror each other in terms of population trends.
  • Both sites offer ad targeting

What do you think? Are you still considering MySpace for campaigns? The demographics and targeting options let you reach people in tailored ways. I do think that the marketing options on MySpace are very limited and that's one hesitation that I have personally. 


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Should your company blog?

iStock_000004684908XSmall.jpgThere are a lot of blog posts out there about whether companies should create blogs of their own. Blogging seems to be an entry point that most marketing people can easily wrap their heads around. For me it's always come down to five questions and the answer to all five has to be yes. Those five questions are:

  1. Are you listening to your online community? - Are you spending a minimum of two hours a day searching, reading Google alerts or using a monitoring tool like Radian6?
  2. Do you have something unique to say? - How will you differetntiate yourself from other blogs and other companies? This could be your people, the information you publish or other forms of thought leadership.
  3. Are you willing and able to say it? - Can you talk about your industry and are you willing to put it out there?
  4. Are you willing to be challenged and criticized? - This goes with the turf. You have to be able to facilitate conversation in a respectful manner to grow a community.
  5. Are you willing and able to dedicate the resources to succeed? - People always underestimate this one. A good rule for this to succeed is to have one person dedicated to the success of your strategy for a minimum of 4 hours per day (2 hours of which is listening and commenting). That is one half of a full time person's week. Have staffing plans in place as you grow and start realizing your success.

Here is a visual decision tree that I use to see if clients/readers/individuals should create a blog. I'm a visual person and these help me think things through.

So, should my company blog?

blog decision tree.png

My caveats:

  • Identifying a voice is a next step once you're past this point
  • I know not everyone should create a blog, but it's what companies "get"
  • A blog is not always the ideal entry point with every audience, audience analysis will tell you more

What are your thoughts on this? Would you add any other questions? Do you think any of these are not necessary? Let me know what you think.

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How old is the population of Facebook?

fofb_cover_250.jpgWith the latest version of my Face of Facebook eBook, some interesting comparison stats have emerged. I have already shared the explosive growth numbers by country. In this post I want to talk about the age of Facebook and more specifically the growth of some key audiences. Note that all data is collected directly from Facebook's advertising management system and was updated on September 15th.

The 30+ audience is the fastest growing segment of Facebook.

If we look at the total makeup of Facebook in the US, it is still heavily skewed to the under 25 crowd. By volume, the 18-21 group is the largest population. This is followed by 22-25 and 13-17 respectively.

[Click for a larger image.]

When you look at growth of the population by volume there is a similar pattern, but it has slightly different spread. In the following chart you can see that the college 18-21 population grew by the most users. Much of this can be correlated by the back-to-school rush happening now. Past that point, however, you will notice that the 31-36 and 36-41 groups added the third and fourth most users for the month.

[Click for a larger image.]

If you were to stop there you may think there is little potential for the 30+ audience. But that is a hasty decision. Take a look at the followiung chart that shows the pace of growth over the past month. The 30+ segments have the first through fourth top spots. Overall the 40-50 segment is the most explosive of all. Growth in the 50+ segment was close to the 26-30 segment and surpassed all segments below 25.

[Click for a larger image.]

I will be sure to keep an eye on this trend in the future. What other stats do you want to see? Would having this on a per-country basis be beneficial? Let me know, I want this to add as much value for you as possible.

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The Face of Facebook; free eBook (volume 2)

fofb_cover_250.jpgNew updates for volume 2 (August-September 2008). Download the updated report here (3.9Mb, PDF).

As a marketer and blogger, there is no shortage of noise about Facebook as a marketing platform. One of my struggles has been to decipher what is accurate and what is mis-guided hyperbole.

I took it upon myself to get some answers using Facebook's own ad targeting system and I created this comprehensive eBook for marketers to give you a snapshot of what the real face of Facebook looks like on a Global and US level.

The report answers the following questions:

  • What country populations are growing the fastest?
  • What US age groups are growing fastest?
  • What does the global population look like on Facebook?
  • What is the age/gender breakdown of the US Facebook population?
  • How many US members are over the age of 25/30/40?
  • What marketing options can I use to reach my audience?
  • How much is it going to cost to reach them?

Download the report here (3.9Mb, PDF)

Here is the SlideShare version. It's easiest to see in full screen mode.

This is a report that I will be updating on a monthly basis to show how the population is changing and how marketers can respond. Is there anything else that you want to see?

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Vegas or bust; live from Blog World Expo

BlogWorldSpeaker08_135pix.gifI am in Las Vegas for the next couple of days for Blog Word Expo 2008. This is my first Blog World and it's shaping up to be a fantastic event. I have the pleasure of running a panel tomorrow morning at 11:30am with two very incredible people, Neil Vineberg and Louis Gray. If you want to ask a question, leave a comment on this post or shoot me an email. I'll send the response on Twitter.

Micromedia: The Next Big, Small Thing - Room F303 This session shows marketers what the true power of services like Twitter, FriendFeed, Pownce, Flickr and Facebook have on a micro level. Also known as "micro blogging", micromedia has exploded with the growth of mobile technology and lets us look into the future of platform-agnostic marketing. Don't be left behind.

If you're in town for the conference please stop by for the panel or make sure we connect. My mobile number is 216-408-3312 and my email is Looking forward to meeting you.

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