Posts Tagged ‘social media marketing’

Interview: John Cass on social media

Friday, September 10th, 2010 by Jon Clements

Interviewing John Cass is akin to a rapid-fire social media masterclass.


The head of digital marketing for Pace Communications in Greensboro, North Carolina – but a dual-nationality son of Manchester and Stockport – has been in the UK this week, catching up with the general direction of social and digital media travel in his birthplace.

A digital marketer immersed in the technology industry across the USA since 1992, and blogger for the past seven years, it seems natural that John would end up making his living in the digital world. Discussing a BBC radio broadcast aired last night about the (brief) heyday of the British computer industry, the programme described early PCs made by Amstrad, Sinclair and the BBC Micro from Acorn. John shrugged, recalling : “I think we probably had all of those”. 

The interview provides great insight into the way social media has evolved in the USA, how brands can work effectively with agencies, the lessons learned and where the digital journey may take us next. 

And for an in-depth summary of what John covered at this week’s Social Media Cafe Manchester presentation, check out Chi-chi Ekweozor’s blog post.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Is your brand up to social media speed?

Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Jon Clements


As we segue into the last part of 2010, it’s worth asking how social your marketing has been this year.

Or, maybe more pertinent a question: how social should it have been?

Reading back on a commentary piece from Interbrand in 2009, focused on the use of social media and subtitled “Make 2009 the year you engage”, the sentiments should seem almost quaint in August 2010. But are they really so quaint and how far have brands genuinely moved with the uptake of social media marketing?

Writers, Bunny Ellerin and Nora Geiss pointed out at the time that “there is still much confusion about how to integrate new forms of communication, particularly digital and mobile, into a brand’s marketing plan.”

And this was despite a predicted compound annual growth rate in US social media spend of 34% – which, based on Interbrand’s figures would mean a figure of $3.1bn by 2014. According to a recent analysis by eMarketer, this level of investment is well underway, with the actual social media spend (by advertisers) this year predicted to be $1.7bn in the US and $3.3bn worldwide.

With all this extra money being spent (granted, calculated on advertising spend rather than other forms of social media engagement) are companies making the most effective use of social media?

Ellerin and Geiss provided a handy six-point social media plan for brands in 2009.

How many of these can you tick off as we reach the final furlong of 2010?

1. Start tracking your brand online.

2. Establish a relationship with an [online] opinion leader.

3. Support a social network in your category.

4. Engage with consumers at one of their many online haunts.

5. Use video to communicate and educate.

6. Go mobile [i.e., phone apps].

I’d be very interested to know if your response to all this is “Duh! Course we are, stupid!” or “Hmmm. Maybe 2011 is the year we’ll engage”.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Social media surveys – the latest views

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 by Jon Clements

Another day, another load of social media survey data to circumnavigate…

But interesting nonetheless.

First, a UK survey from Skillsoft (e-learning company), giving the social media view among “learning professionals”; noteworthy because it suggests that specific sectors are each finding a distinct value in embracing social media.

Unsurprisingly, the learning professionals recognised the social media worth in “exchanging ideas to create community content” (28%) and “empowerment through shared knowledge” (28%) – not the usual marketing/customer relationship mantra one tends to find in analyses of social media usage. In fact, the brand awareness and sales/marketing applications of social media came respectively 4th and 5th as corporate benefits, according to the polled group. 

For those involved in learning, the emphasis of social media appears to fall on “collaborative online communications”. But then Skillsoft’s survey and accompanying commentary could be accused of straying into the mildly Utopian when it describes the power of social media to “create unprecedented knowledge bases that can empower entire industries and even society as a whole”. Not if people get fed up of Facebook’s privacy goalpost changing, it won’t.

As a footnote, it seems that having a social networking policy has not occured to most of the companies whose people answered SkillSoft’s poll. But it’s the issue of lacking serious investment in managing and measuring social media effectiveness that troubles Brand Builder Blog author, Olivier Blanchard, more.

This he picks up from the latest KingFish Media social media usage survey among marketeers, showing that only 9% of the 72% of companies with a social media programme employ someone to manage it while fewer than half (43%) don’t need to show positive ROI to get funding for their social media activities. Blanchard’s conclusion? “Dismal”. He does – however – acknowledge the limitations of the data, with most of the companies polled being small, mostly B2B marketing/media businesses.

Still, it might suggest that outside a few huge brands investing in comprehensive and dedicated social media activity, many organisations are still dabbling in the hope that something miraculous will happen. Maybe it’s because dabbling feels like a low-risk approach with a new, difficult to evaluate discipline -“undiscipline” even, as consumers don’t just behave themselves and act accordingly because social media is part of your marketing effort.

What Blanchard’s comments do underline is that it takes a combination of skills, time, effort and money for social media marketing to stand a chance of working.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Social media wars – let battle begin…

Monday, September 14th, 2009 by Jon Clements

Update: an insightful take on the future of social media for marketing, c/o Sydney, Australia’s Ganador Management Solutions.

Social media versus traditional marketing communications? Gentlemen, please choose your weapons.

It’s always good to see some healthy debate about one theory or another – in any field; but it’s such a long time since I’ve seen a blog post comment so overflowing with vitriol that I thought it was worth a closer look (see comment 2 in the link).

The thrust of the comment – made by a Jacob Wright in response to the Econsultancy post and the preceding video film all about social media – is summed up by the phrase he plunders from Jerry Maguire:  “Show us the money”. In short, where’s your cast iron proof that social media marketing works? And he’s got a point. Amid all this wonderful engagement stuff, is anyone spending one more euro, yen, buck or pound on anything thanks to social media?

But, unfortunately, there’s a priggishness that creeps into his argument that suggests social media advocates are merely Johnny-come-latelies who haven’t got the grey matter to grasp traditional marketing, and should do so before they herald its successor. Now, before traditional marketing advocates/social marketing haters rubbish the new kid in town, they have to admit one thing: that for every great piece of marketing activity undertaken, there’s a great big dud consigned to the marketing dustbin of history. That’s life, and all the “straw men” that go with it.

Mr Wright demands engagement with “WHAT MAKES PEOPLE BUY STUFF” (I wish people wouldn’t shout in type; I fear for their blood pressure). OK, so let’s engage ME.

I’m a reluctant shopper, full stop; a shopper of necessity, ie., when the trousers are ready to split. So, in theory, I’m looking for the fastest route to making a purchase; one which barely engages the part of the brain labelled “shopping”. So, when I needed a way of carrying money abroad last holiday, what did I do?

1. Launched Google.

2. Found news sites recommending travel credit cards (the most prominent being a Santander card and a Thomas Cook cash passport).

3. Sought online reviews where I’d get punters’ views.

4. Found nothing on Santander (already I’m worried) and a few discussions about the Thomas Cook card, with mixed reviews.

5. Picked up a leaflet and went for the latter, as it felt like the least terrifying option, despite the mixed messages I was getting online.

It’s risky treating oneself as a case study, but for someone disinterested in buying stuff, I certainly spent time circumnavigating the traditional marketing communications effort to get at the truth before making up my mind. So, Thomas Cook won my business because I trusted real people’s views more than I trust it as a commercial entity. However, if Thomas Cook had been engaging in the same forums and clarifying some of the conflicting experiences of its cash passport users, how many other cautious customers could they harness?

So, while the Jacob Wrights get hernias about metrics (and they count, don’t get me wrong) the customer is out there making purchasing choices with the help of social media.

Olivier Blanchard seems to get the balance right with his insight into proving that social works by looking at its effect on “transactional prescursors” – a lofty phrase for the stuff you do before you buy, I think – and so being able to measure and track its true value in marketing terms.

But also, as The Guardian just revealed, the BBC has a team of reporters dedicated to trawling the social web looking for stories. And if your organisation is engaging in those places, who’s to say these online networking natives aren’t going to find something valuable and NEWSWORTHY (now I’m shouting) in what you’re doing.

Just as the talkies didn’t kill cinema and TV didn’t kill radio, it’s far fetched to think that social media marketing will deal a killer blow to the establishment.

Put your weapons away, gentlemen; there’s room for everyone.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Social media investment increasing – McKinsey

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 by Jon Clements


UPDATE: I wonder if McKinsey’s survey respondents were thinking about social media ROI in the way Olivier Blanchard depicts it here

Is business really benefiting from the use of social media?

It’s now a perennial question coming from companies who want to be in on the action, but also need assurance that it’s not the latest magic potion that promises everlasting life, but – in fact – has been made by boiling potatoes in a back-alley flop house.

Last week’s post by Todd Defren at PR Squared suggested a dual “eagerness” and “wariness” among big companies to get involved in social media activities.

But the September report by McKinsey management consultants – How Companies are Benefiting from Web 2.0 – may begin to allay some of those fears.

Conducted among 1,700 company executives worldwide, this comparative study (taking in changes in business’ social media experience during the past two years) suggests that 69% have gained measurable business benefits from web 2.0.

In the spirit of interactivity, McKinsey has come up with a nifty tool which neatly summarises the findings across web 2.0 used internally with staff and externally with customers and suppliers.

And the results make for interesting reading: McKinsey’s research claims that use of web 2.0 means “a different type of company may be emerging…a networked organisation…using interactive technology” that makes it “more resilient and adaptive”. And the commitment to investing in these techologies is apparently on the rise, with 53% forecasting an increase in spend plus 26% promising to maintain previous levels.

But is it for every company? The research reveals that those benefiting most from web 2.0 fit into the $1bn-plus revenue bracket (and, unexpectedly, B2B organisations) as opposed to smaller or consumer-focused companies.

Uptake of social media for business seems to be developing from the inside out, with 65% of users adopting it first for internal purposes, against 58% using it for customer interaction. However, sales and marketing teams are beginning to outstrip other departments in using web 2.0, with a corresponding decline in users in IT and R&D. And the use of company blogs is becoming focused thoroughly on acquiring new customers versus the needs of customer service, product development and inter-customer discussions.

Does this mean that the early adopters’ fear that marketing would eventually abuse social media by shoe-horning traditional, one-way messaging into social networks, has been unfounded? 

With blogs, wikis and podcasts the most heavily used tools according to the research, users cite the principal commercial benefits to be ideas sharing, access to knowledge, reduced costs and improved employee satisfaction when used internally, while external use has “increased customers’ awareness and consideration of companies’ products” alongside “measureable increases in revenue”.

So, is it time for business’ “baby steps” into social media – that Defren rightly feels we should “applaud” – to become giant strides?

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''