Posts Tagged Facebook
This picture of Mark Zuckerberg and his new bride remind me eerily of American Gothic.
Add the pitch fork and Iowa.
Everyone wants to be on the winning team. It just takes longer for some people to see the winning.
I remember walking my first Bay to Breakers race about a decade ago. I had a very broken arm and lugged around a cast that ran from my fist to my armpit. An hour into the 7 mile race someone with a bullhorn was yelling to the masses: “The Kenyans have already won. Go home!” I laughed and limped along with the thousands of others — appreciative of the update.
Social media isn’t too different. The early adopters have been claiming victory over traditional marketing channels since Facebook and Twitter were mere puppies. Search, email and general multi-media marketing/advertising might have a few things to say about that. But if you just look at the growth of Facebook and Twitter memberships over the past year — they’re signing up more people now than they were two or three years ago — you can start to see the not-so-early-adopters getting on the bandwagon.
And that’s OK. We all can’t be died-in-the-wool Yankees, Patriots, Red Sox or Phillies fans. Someone has to get on the bus last. So grab your licensed apparel and get on the social media express. But to the newcomers to social, I’d caution you from drinking solely from the awareness pitcher. Check that box and skip ahead to finding out how social media can drive lead generation and business development — because that’s the Kool Aid pitcher the cool kids are filling up from.
It can look a little like this one that I know was used in generating ~$200 million on software/solutions business leads for an enterprise facing company with a big blue logo.
Not as sexy as a Facebook page with videos of the trendy people at your company doing fun things in skinny jeans. But it works. And it will take this kind of coordinated approach to driving business for social media to run with the Kenyans.
I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a post about research and measurement in PR for some time. Namely, I really want to ask why PR hasn’t done a better job making this core to the function when there are scads of resources on the subject. Frankly, I’m not the expert on this subject as I’ve spent more of my career creating content than measuring how it impacts the audiences its intended for. Despite having an advanced degree in this area, I’m guilty as charged. Instead I reached out to my former colleague — Forrest W. Anderson who is not just a measurement expert but one of the sharpest communications strategists I’ve been around in my career.
Below is an un-edited Q&A I had with him this week. My questions. His answers. My parenthetical interjections.
Q: What is the single most important thing people need to remember when looking to measure the impact of communications programs?
A: The single most important thing people need to remember when looking to measure the impact of a communications program is their definition of impact, which should come from the initial, measurable objectives of the program. If you’re trying to change behavior (increase sales, reduce employee turnover, etc.) you should try to measure that change in behavior. If you’re trying to change awareness and/or attitudes, you should measure changes in awareness and/or attitudes. Most likely you would do this with a pre- and post-program survey. If you’re trying to increase media coverage, then you might measure clips. If you’re trying to increase positive media coverage, then you need not only to count clips but assess the tone of the content in those clips.
Q: What is the most common mistake you see companies making in buying measurement and research?
A: To me, the most common mistake I see companies make when they do invest in measurement and research is they focus more on evaluation (or measurement) and less on the research they should do to plan the program. The first step in any program should be to articulate a measurable objective. The next step should be to do research on the target audiences and the business environment so you know what kinds of messages and concepts will appeal to the target audience, which media reach the target audience and what’s going on in the world that might affect the way your target audience will react to your intended messages. The evaluation piece is fairly straightforward, if you’ve created a solid measurable objective for the program.
The measurable objective is a big stumbling point. Without one, you cannot evaluate. This is why so many companies that invest in media evaluation systems that use online data bases are disappointed after a year of using the service. Neither the client organization nor the evaluation system vendor thinks out what the measurable objectives should be for any given program. It frequently turns out, then, that there is a mismatch between what the tool measures and what the organization wants to achieve.
Q: Communications research has been around a long time, why haven’t PR people done a better job making it core to their programs and the industry?
A: I think there are a number of reasons.
- In the past it has been expensive relative to the investment in the program, so there was a question regarding whether you should spend the money trying to get more results or measuring what you achieved. The online systems have made clip analysis less expensive than in the past, and we can also do surveys online for much less than in the past.
- Some communications professionals are afraid of what they will find out if they measure. An agency, for example, might not want its client to learn that a program had not achieved the goals the client requested or the agency promised. This is a very unprofessional point of view because there is no way anyone can improve as a professional if they do not measure the effectiveness of what they do, learn from it and try to do better. The same situation exists for some internal communications departments, with organizational executives taking the client role and the communications departments acting like agencies. Again this is too bad. There is a fair amount of anecdotal and some scholarly evidence that communications departments that do evaluate are more highly thought of by the CEOs of their companies than are those that do not evaluate.
- Last, but certainly not least, I believe many people go into public relations to avoid having to deal with numbers and numerical analysis.
(So true. I’ve lost count how many PR people have said to me “I’m not good with numbers.” Cop out. Reading cross tabs isn’t that hard. And who hasn’t had a client that was BS-ing his boss about results?)
Q: CEO’s often just want to pay for clippings and see their names in headlines, how do you get past this?
A: If a CEO is that shallow, you’re going to have a number of operational problems in the organization that probably will outweigh communications issues. These will only be the tip of the ice berg. That said, the best way I know to influence CEOs is with data. If a senior communications person believes the organization should be doing something, he or she should look for data that supports their point of view and present it to the CEO. For example, if our communications executive (CE) believes the main competitor is winning partly because of the good media coverage it is getting vs. the poor media coverage the CE’s company is getting, a quantitative report demonstrating this would be more likely to sway the CEO than just saying “I think we should do this.”
I once did a $200,000 communications audit for the U.S. subsidiary of a European owned company. The whole purpose of the audit was to demonstrate to the European owner that the U.S. subsidiary needed to invest in public relations. The study made the case and HQ supported a major increase in PR funding.
Q: Is social media helping or hurting research and measurement in communications?
A: I would say social media is confusing research and measurement in communications. What it is helping is dialog. In the past, there were very few direct communications channels open between an organization and its stakeholders, so market research gave management insight into who comprised a stakeholder group, what they cared about, what they thought, etc. However, with social media, organizations can actually communicate directly with stakeholders, assuming stakeholders wish to communicate with the organization. This is great!
The danger comes when an organization begins to believe that a handful of active users of social media users represent the entire stakeholder group. There can be a big difference between what a few vocal individuals think and what most the population thinks. So, I believe social media is a wonderful way to get some insight into stakeholder groups, but I also think we need to be very careful about extrapolating that insight to larger populations. I do not believe social media is a replacement for research.
(I agree with that. And think the hype and sex appeal of social has done a lot to distract companies from focusing on the basics — like research and measurement. People are off building Facebook pages when they haven’t even studied their core audiences to see how they interact with existing PR content and programs.)
Q: Is agenda setting theory still valid?
A: Unless I misunderstand your question, the agenda setting theory is based on the idea that the media sets the news agenda by choosing which topics to cover. Thus the news media exerts great influence over not only the topics its audience thinks about but also how the audience thinks about those topics. I’m not sure I ever completely bought into this theory, because I believe good journalists tried to choose topics that were of interest to their audiences and did some research with their audiences to determine what these topics were. So, the influencers were influenced by those they influenced.
Whether this last bit was true in the past or not, it is certainly true now. Anyone with access to the Internet can publish now, and very many do. Tools such as Twitter’s “Trending” will tell you which topics (or key words) are being discussed the most at any given time, and journalists can and do use those kinds of tools to choose the topics they cover. I would say the influenced are influencing the influencers more than ever before. However, this is just a theory. I don’t have data on this.
Q: If you could build a strategic communications program for Facebook, what would it look like?
A: This sounds like what should be a paying gig.
I told you he was sharp. It really should be a paying gig.
Facebook, Forrest W. Anderson, IABC, Institute for Public Relations, Jose Mallabo, measurement, media, PR strategy, public relations, research, San Diego State University, social media, The Excellence Study
I’ve lived through a couple of bubbles in my time – dot.com and housing come to mind, anyone? And something tells me the longer I’m around the more I’m going to have to live through.
Is social media another one of them? Maybe. Is a market cap of $80 billion for Facebook rational? Alan Greenspan must be trying his damnedest to make those old thumbs Tweet #social-exuberance.
It strikes me that my framed Pets.com certificates and my wall have more than a nail in common – both were worth a hell of a lot more when I bought them (yeah, that was a stretch, thanks for sticking with me on that one). So now that I’ve said it, let me compare the stock market bubble to the housing market bubble to see what these bubbles might have in common.
There are basically three ways to value a stock, and they are pretty much the same as how the real estate market valued my wall.
- Price per square foot (adjusted for how nice the stuff in my square footage is)
- How much an identical house in my neighborhood sold for
- Make shit up
- Discounted cash flows (predictions of how much money a company will make in future years, adjusted for how fast they will grow and how long they might last)
- What comparable “peer” companies are trading at (adjusted for cash, debt (including options), assets and risks)
- Make shit up
Both Facebook and Amazon have market caps of around $80 billion ($82.9 billion secondary market estimate for Facebook on 1/28, $76.8 billion actual market cap for Amazon on 1/28). So if they were houses, and I was pre-qualified for an $83 billion mortgage, I could take my pick (well, my wife would, let’s stay grounded here).
As far as revenues go, estimates for Facebook for 2010 are around $2 billion while Amazon is on track for something north of $30 billion. In housing terms, Facebook is listing a very funky two bedroom loft conversion while Amazon is listing a 30-bedroom ancestral estate. So, there are either some really, really nice upgrades in that loft or there are 28 secret bedrooms priced into the deal.
Yes, an $80 billion estimate for Facebook is likely high. And yes, Facebook and Amazon don’t have identical business models. But yes, the same people who sold me Pets.com shares are the same people who collateralized my mortgage and are the same people selling Facebook shares to foreign investors to avoid SEC regulations.
That must be one amazing loft. I need to go check it out, I do need more wall space.
Amazing how hot the juncture between e-commerce and social networking has gotten. It’s simple, really. E-commerce is eating into the overall retail segment. And, marketers go where the crowds are. Right now those crowds are not on AOL or WPIX (except for this page about Victoria’s Secret). They’re on Facebook and Twitter.
I remember having some very heated dialogue over using ‘social commerce’ as a thought leadership position within the corporate PR program at eBay about 3+ years ago. I don’t recall what side of the argument I was on, but needless to say, despite the PR agency’s best efforts (you know who you are) to make it real, it took a Joe Pesci pen to the neck (Nicky in Casino) and never saw the light of day.
Sudden hotness has arrived in that kink of a place where social and commerce are meeting.
After CyberMonday all the rumors were about Google to buy Groupon for $2.5 billion (Kara Swisher reports the offer is $5.3 billion). A colleague of mine asked if they’d call it Goopon? Heck, for that mountain of money, they can sponsor the TSA and rename it Gropeon. Today, Payvment announced a $6 million round of venture financing. In recent weeks Facebook has launched Deals to sit on top of its Places product. And, all you need to do is do a Twitter search for #CyberMonday to see how much traction commerce gets on Twitter.
So, while TechCrunch ponders if Amazon missed the boat on social commerce the reality is we all did. Or we would’ve called Nicky and his pen off back in 2007, created a Moto RAZR app for surfing the Urban Outfitters page on Facebook and retired on Black Friday 2009 on the speculation that Google was going to buy it.
Lesson of the day: A lot of the time the PR firm is right.
Update 1: Dec. 2: Groupon: In the days since Mashable posted the Google buys Groupon rumor, most of the banter has been about how sexy the deal is. Rumors about M&A are dead sexy and dramatic. But we all know that most deals don’t work. And the honeymoon usually ends quickly once the hot company gets ingested. I’m just happy someone is giving some sound analysis to this deal before it gets done. Thanks, Sucharita.
Update 2: Dec. 3: Milo.com: Having worked with eBay Classifieds Group before and while classifieds was being integrated into the eBay.com marketplace, I find this $75 million deal to buy Milo.com…fascinating. I have to figure it out in light of all the above, eBay’s constant refrain about mobile as well as it’s M&A history. More later.
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