Archive for March, 2009

Is Internet advertising dead yet?


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A recent article on TechCrunch, written by Eric Clemons: Why Advertising is Failing on the Internet prompted a heated debate on the subject both in the comments and other blogs. The author’s postulat is that participatory nature of the Internet, which presents users with multiple choices ultimately rejects advertising. While surfing the web, people don’t want advertising, don’t need advertising and don’t trust advertising. Good provicative post, which I recommend together with it’s some 500 comments.

Now I know that I earlier have written that I myself don’t believe in mass advertising on the Internet. However, I think this issue is far more complex to be answered by one sentence. For the first, we shouldn’t confuse the concepts of advertising and PR. While both are marketing tactics, they are not the same. Every effort to monetize the Internet, whether it is a website, search optimization, product placement, opt-ins, reviews, e-mail and mobile marketing –  I think it’s too thin to call it all advertising. One thing is to say that advertising on the Internet will fail, and dramatically different thing is to claim that all monetization of the Internet will fail.

But even if we limit advertising to ‘simple commercial messages’, as Clemons puts it – I think there is hope for advertising to survive. I agree with Clemons, when he says:” simple commercial messages, pushed through whatever medium, in order to reach a potential customer who is in the middle of doing something else, will fail”. But I think there is also an answer there.  Yes, mass advertising on the Internet will fail. But relevant and creative advertising for a targeted group of people, while they are in the middle of searching for a certain type of information somewhere in the middle of nowhere of the long tail – will it automatically fail too?

Maybe. But I think it’s worth trying. After all, what do you have to lose? The long tail is cheap.

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How to pick a community manager?

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Lately I see many poor attempts from the organisations to manage the “community issue”. Most of these are still early adapters in Norway, and deserve praise for the initiative. But giving the job to a wrong man will more often than not result in…well, no result at best.

So, what are the common mistakes people do when hiring a community manager?

1.  Placing an add in a local newspaper with text that sounds like this: ” If you’re young and ambitious (maybe a student who’s looking for extra earnings) and have understanding for social media, we have a position for you”.

2. Extending the responsibilities of the exisitng information manager (who has only worked with offline media) to cover social media channels in addtion to the rest of the official communications.

3. Hiring the external social media guru.

The main purpose of getting a community manager is to listen to all those voices on the web who talkes about your organisation, and when approprite, respond to them. He or she is ideally supposed to build the community around your company by being timely, transparent and valuable. But most importantly, the community manager should be able to convey the best attributes and qualities of your company to those who doesn’t know about them yet, or those who got dissapointed. Now how can you ever be persuasive and authentic if you talk about something you don’t believe in or know everything about?

The best way to pick a community manager is therefore an organic way: through natural selection from within the organisation. You’ve got to find someone who’s got both passion and loyalty for your company and a genuin interest and understanding of social media. Before searching for experts outside, look at you employees. Maybe there is already one or more who’s doing the job just for the love of it. No one will represent your company better than those who breath your corporate culture, knows all the stories, weaknesses and streanghts, and proud to be a part of it.

Anyone can learn social media techniquies.You can even teach a crow to speak a human language, but it’s how it’s being spoken that makes all the difference.

How to undertake a social media ‘campaign’

catch-a-star3At the risk of appearing over self confident (I’m just starting my carrier as a digital PR consultant) I decided to express my views on the subject. I hope my more experienced readers will correct me if I’m out of line.

Considering that half of the social media campaigns will fail  I think we should get to roots of the problem and roots of the solution. Surely, there is some truth in the opinion: if you think of social media in terms of ‘campaign’ you’re already failed. The fact is, fundamentally, social media is not about getting your message across – alone. But it’s about that too. As much as it is about having conversations with stakeholders, engaging users in the brand experience, customer service and crisis management ‘just in time’, being transparent and useful. It’s about all this and much more – but it’s never about a monologue.

As i previously wrote, social media strategy rarely holds a stand alone – unsupported by offline marketing communications, value adding services or great creative consepts. My main point of this post  is that thinking about your markeiting communications must start right here. Do you have a great product and a great concept? If you do (very few does) – you will most likely succeed with a blitzkrieg social media campaign that will make people talk long after you’re gone. But if you don’t – and that’s the case for most of the brands out there – don’t try to fly if you havn’t got the wings.

Always start with asking a question: is this product worth talking about? If it’s not, you should ask how to get people talking about you instead. Skittles is a good example of such way of thinking.  Of course, it depends on what business you’re in. That’s why I believe that productification of social media tactics is simply not possible. Only after a good research and a great deal of creative thinking will you know if you can take a shot on a social media campaign, or if it will have to evolve as a long term strategy. Smart brands already found out of this, and not wasting time and money on campaigns that will most certainly fail.

Indeed, we all want to sell something. But most of us will need to accept that it will take a much longer route to success than they would have hoped. And, just so you know, there are not short cuts any longer.