Wednesday, October 27

Public Displays of Promotion

There are a few common truths when it comes to social marketing promotion programs:
  1. Consumers love free stuff
  2. Free stuff is a great way to attract consumers to your social spaces and reward those already connected with you
  3. Consumers get mad when they can't get their free stuff
  4. Social media is the perfect place for them to complain about it
There is nothing more painful than watching a brand's social promotion go awry. Between my own programs -- and following other marketer's promotions -- it seems any type is fair game. Online coupons, sweepstakes, and contests all have the potential to attract the haters.

Sometimes online coupons don't print correctly. Sometimes consumers are too dumb to enter a contest correctly. Sometimes (actually more frequently than you expect) your well-planned and orchestrated promotion is just too complicated for consumers to interact with.

Whatever the cause, social media provides a very public space for them to express their outrage. It doesn't help that places like the Facebook Wall overtly encourage other haters to pile on the criticism. Misery loves company, crowdsourcing becomes crowdcomplaining. Compounding this is the fact that your VP of Marketing can watch it unfold in real time. Assuming they even know that you have a Facebook page.

These Public Displays of Promotion require marketers to take extra care when planning and executing programs. You must be ready to deal with the vocal minority of complainers. They will show up eventually.

The following are my Guiding Principles for Managing Social Promotions. They are tuned towards Facebook, since that is where we execute the bulk of our programs. They can be adapted to any place where you can be publicly flogged.

  1. Your program will spawn haters. Doesn't matter how simple or straightforward it is. Someone will find something to complain about. Ensure you have clear user guidelines and T&Cs on your Facebook page that state what types of user comments can be deleted.

  2. Prep your Consumer Relations team about the promotion, even if they are not involved in moderating your Facebook Wall. A pissed-off consumer's resourcefulness is amazing when it comes to getting free stuff. 1-800 numbers or Contact Us email addresses are only a quick Google search away.

  3. Pre-announce a promotion start date at your own risk. You will quickly attract an angry mob if that sampling form isn't ready at 6 AM on the day you promised.

  4. Establish clear roles for watching your Wall after a promotion starts. Especially over the weekend. Murphy's Law states all online coupon inventory shall be depleted on a Saturday afternoon.

  1. If you pre-announced the promotion date, then launch it at midnight the night before. Seriously. Making it live "sometime that day" won't cut it. There must be a promotion countdown ticker synced with the atomic clock somewhere.

  2. Don't launch it on a Friday, unless you have a robust process for managing issues over the weekend.

  3. Keep It Simple. No multi-step processes or fancy interactive modules.

Managing The Impending Chaos
  1. Be prepared to address common user issues or complaints. Deputize the person or agency managing your Wall to respond immediately to these. It often will halt comments from other upset users.

  2. Don't delete any complaints unless they violate your user guidelines (see Preparing above).

  3. Often the community will police itself, and other users respond to complaints before you do. Watch these conversations to ensure they don't turn into a good old fashion flame war.

  4. If complainers pile on, then limit the public exposure on your Wall:
    --Change the Wall default view to Brand Only until the fury dies down. Users can still select the option to also view what other Fans have posted, but this will limit most of the views.
    --Prepare a group of new Wall posts to flood it after the conversation dies down. This will push negative posts off the first page view. People can still view them, but they need to make an effort to see them.

  5. Remind your boss, Consumer Relations, PR agency, and family members that this is only short term and will pass. Usually in a day or two. If they really freak out, then find a couple other marketing promotions on Facebook where the exact same issues are occurring. It happens on almost all of them.


  1. Write a status post announcing the promotion is finished. This helps prevent late comers from posting about how they can't find it. This happens often when coupon blogs continue linking to your page post-program.

  2. If late comers do complain, then respond with a comment explaining it is finished. This can help prevent piling on.

  3. If you are announcing the winner of a contest, then be prepared for the entire complaint process to start all over again. Some people just hate it when others win free stuff instead of them.

Monday, October 18

Is that a CTR in your pocket, Or are you just glad we noticed you?

Rhythm -- the self-reported largest mobile video ad network -- recently published an overview of mobile advertising metrics (download here).

It contains comparisons between types of mobile ad units, including user response across Apple devices and Android phones. These are basic benchmarks, but useful as mobile advertising moves beyond static banners into rich media and video. Of course, you would expect charts from a mobile video ad network to portray mobile video positively...

A sign that we may be headed down the same beaten path of misguided metrics is Mediapost's article, which focuses on the most irrelevant part of the study = Clickthrough Rates. The last thing we need to burden Mobile Advertising with are the scarlet letters C--T--R. Of course CTR is high (at least compared to its old, sickly online relatives). It's a new advertising medium and benefits from limited ad exposure. People are bound to click on them out of sheer curiosity.

CTRs are always high in the early days of a new interactive ad channel. Guess what, it's nowhere but down from here. CTRs naturally decline over time, leading marketers to pine for the days when they delivered results on the left side of the decimal point. Focusing attention on them now does nothing but set Mobile up for disappointment in the long run.

Monday, October 11

Social Broadcasting For Dummies (everyone but you)

A recent global study (here's the summary) has encouraging news for trying to monetize the value of Facebook brand pages:
  1. 92% of Fbook fans of brand pages would recommend those brands to friends
  2. Over 33% "want to buy this brand's product more"
Awesome stats, until you do the math. Let's assume your Fbook page has 100,000 fans. Yeah, yeah, I know Starbucks and Coke and Oreo have millions of fans. But take a look at your competitor's Fbook pages, slap your face a couple times, and get real.

Let's also assume the average Fbook user has 130 friends. But of those 130 friends, only 50% are truly personal connections/peers (or at least in the same target market).

Advocacy Impact:
(100,000 x 92%) x (130 x 50%) = 5,980,000 potential influencees

Which are decent Word of Mouth results, although this assumes that all 92% of your fans will proactively recommend you. When is the last time you did this on your personal Fbook wall?

This is the point where WOM measurement goes all fuzzy and leap-of-faithy. After a user joins your fan page, the odds of them "liking" or commenting on your page regularly is fairly low. Resulting in even lower chances that their Fbook friends notice the connection with you. Meaning the reach and frequency of these WOM impressions could be much smaller.

So let's dissect a more direct measurement = Purchase Intent. It's great that a third of your Fbook fans intend to buy your product. But at the average fan count (my best guess is between 30K - 300K per brand page), this isn't exactly the type of sales numbers that excite most CFOs. Since your fans are primarily already users of your product, we are really talking repeat purchases -- not new user acquisition. So the sales impact is even lower.

So what's a poor social marketer to do? Pump more money into acquiring fans, in order to increase the final output? Then you run the risk of having to justify that investment. The dreaded Fan ROI discussion. Online advertising faces enough scrutiny when we micro-measure it on hundreds of data points. Imagine defending your social media spend with hypotheses and best guesses.

How about guaranteeing that these advocates reach millions of potential consumers, based on established distribution channels? Measured by criteria and research tools already accepted industry-wide?

Recently I presented on leveraging branded social spaces to generate advocacy content, but leveraging paid media to distribute it and reach a wider audience. Resulting in a much broader impact that can actually be measured: Brand-Distributed Consumer Advocacy.

Hopefully it goes beyond cramming product reviews in banners (although that's a good start). Use standard reach/frequency to measure its exposure. Apply standard Dynamic Logic/Comscore brand effectiveness studies to really measure its impact.

In my perfect world I never have to justify the value of a fan, and the number of fans is irrelevant. Instead the focus should be on the amount of advocacy content they generate and its impact outside of Facebook's walls.

Just get ready for a whole new list of buzzwords such as CPWOM (cost per thousand advocate mentions), behaviorally-targeted sentiment, and influence intent. Online marketers never pass up a chance to complicate the simple.

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