Posts tagged ‘Caroline McCarthy’

Social Media Market Leaders Set — Now What’s Your Purpose?

I read a good post the other day from Caroline McCarthy of CNET. The post was about market consolidation in the social aggregator space:

Social-network feed aggregators–FriendFeed, Socialthing, Plaxo’s Pulse–have been part of the dizzying array of Web apps ever since it became evident that the average Internet user was using more than one of these nifty social-media services and just might want to have them all in one place. But they’ve been on the way out for some time: FriendFeed sold to Facebook, and Socialthing to AOL, both brands buried within their sprawling new owners. And earlier this week, another small start-up in the space, the well-regarded Streamy, announced that it had closed its doors; one co-founder departed for Facebook, the second for social-gaming powerhouse Zynga.

As I was reading, it struck me that this kind of application consolidation was happening beyond just the aggregator niche. And, that’s how Caroline closed her piece:

If anything, the overzealous explosion of social aggregation start-ups a few years ago is a sign that even in the urgent, someone-else-will-beat-you-to-it climate of the Web, sometimes things will just shake out over time.

So what does this have to do with b2b/b2g PR and online marketing? I believe this is a positive development because it establishes the playing field. When online consumers establish “winners” in specific online niches, it allows for more focus on strategy and business objectives rather than a focus on tools and tactics. Or at least it should, I should say.

Last year, I spent a lot of time counseling clients on where their audiences congregate online and on a long list of emerging tools to reach them. Now, as Caroline described in the aggregator space, the leaders have emerged decisively. Facebook is THE social network, LinkedIn the king for business and Twitter exploded onto the scene and continues to expand its uses and analytic tools. Every client obviously will have more specialized communities of interest — the Ning community Software Testing Club for one of our clients, for example. But increasingly, the online terrain is being established.

And that means we can spend more time talking about WHY the client is doing social media. Many of our clients want to produce qualified leads and/or use social media to support large deal capture. OK, we’ve built a methodology for that now with recognized brands. Some want to use for customer service, some to support internal comms and some to demonstrate thought leadership. All are good reasons, and they often reinforce each other.

But many companies are still confusing the tools for the strategy. Check out this excellent post from Shannon Paul, and the 50+ comments it generated — my comment is somewhere amongst that long list.

Of course, the role of the communications professional will always include informing the client of new applications that could support their PR program. But those are and always will be just tools. Never use them until you can articulate how they support the goals of the organization.

March 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

Monday Tech Roundup

Some good pieces from last week worth a look and/or a bookmark.

Jason Hiner and Bill Detwiler of ZDNet pick the top 10 IT products displayed at Gartner’s IT Symposium 10/13 — 10/16:

Tom Lowry of BusinessWeek (link courtesy of CircleID) takes a shot at handicapping who could be CTO in a potential Obama administration — some very familiar names:

Related to above — Rich Karpinski of Telephony asks if broadband is a big Obama priority, how about a telecom exec on the short list?

Stephen Shankland of CNET on layoffs and course corrections at Yahoo:

Alice Lipowicz of Washington Technology relays numbers from the ITAA forecasting defense spending at a zenith this year, and set to decline slowly for the next decade:

Caroline McCarthy of CNET relays what Arthur Sulzberger sees as the challenges for the New York Times as eyeballs move online, shared during his keynote at the WebbyConnect conference:

October 27, 2008 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

Facebook Experiments — Advertise At Your Own Risk

If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you’ve got to find a way to monetize the huge traffic Facebook attracts, which they recently claimed has grown to 100 million active users. Advertisers want to reach this mostly young, tech literate demographic. Last week Facebook announced a new beta program that could work for some companies but not many, and changes a fundamental aspect of advertising.

Called Engagement Ads, these placements can be edited by users with comments, saved to Fan pages and sent to friends as virtual gifts. Cnet’s Caroline McCarthy provides a good rundown, with information first reported by Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang:

Since the goal is a large degree of consumer interaction, established consumer brands would seem to be the only advertisers that would fit. Consumers need to know what the product is before they interact with it — smaller less known companies need not apply. But the really revolutionary aspect to me is the ability of consumers to editorialize on the messaging.

Like it or hate it, one of the constants in advertising is the fact that the advertiser controls the message. That degree of control is often contrasted with public relations, in which you “earn” media rather than buying it and don’t control the final message. Engagement ads change the equation — you’re purchasing advertising but don’t have control, since the message can be changed by the audience.

This may lead to spectacular viral success, depending on the enthusiasm level of the brand following. But it can also lead to spectacular failure, if aggrieved consumers use the power of Facebook networking to spread negative comments about the advertiser. Owyang says it the best — Facebook is experimenting, and that means caveat emptor for advertisers:

“Facebook is throwing all kinds of pasta at the wall when it comes to marketing and to see what sticks,” Owyang said. “They haven’t figured it out, and unfortunately, they’re using brands as the guinea pigs and their customers. They really have to make it clear to their community what works and what doesn’t, and develop best practices sooner or later.”

At Strategic Communications Group we counsel clients on how to participate on social networks like Facebook. For all but the biggest consumer brands, there are better ways to identify and engage the right groups on Facebook than experimenting with Engagement ads.

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August 27, 2008 at 8:51 am Leave a comment



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