Thanks to the Executive Director of one of our 90:10 Middle East (90:10 ME) customers in Lebanon, I was invited (and given the great opportunity) ten days ago to come and give a lecture to the Executive MBA participants (all managers and directors of companies from Lebanon and the region) at the American University of Beirut (AUB).
I was impressed by the high interest of all participants by the subject: ’social media’. Not about how to use Facebook and Twitter, but how Social Media has changed the way we (should) market our brands, products and services to consumers, to potential buyers. More than 45 minutes of Q&A…!
The more I meet professionals and managers of brands and companies in the region around social media strategies, the more I feel there is a big need for such lectures, conferences, forums and workshops. This will be part of the 90:10 Middle East effort in the coming months. If interested, I have as well created a LinkedIn group: Social Media Hub Middle East dedicated to social media news and info from the region. Join us and share your experiences, case studies, doubts, questions, promotions etc…
The answer could be the one painted in this viral ad promoting the upcoming FITC digital and technology festival in Toronto. The ad is set in the future and shows a narrator in a deserted office (preserved as a museum) describing the remains of the last advertising agency on earth. An ad agency which ignored the power of digital andsocial media.
The change we see is a cultural and structural one with high social impact on the world we live in.
It is not always understood !
Traditional advertising no longer works. The gap (and break up) between the consumer and the advertiser is growing on a daily basis as shown in this great video.
Businesses should start seeing the web from a business-strategic point of view and understand, find and align their web-strategy with it. Companies should stop producing TV ads or banners without any call-to-action. And starting Twitter streams like “clowns” is definitely not the right way to approach the future of customer communication… says Martin Meyer-Gossner (a web business strategist).
There are three problems with advertising in any form, whether broadcast or online:
Consumers do not trust advertising. Dan Ariely has demonstrated that messages attributed to a commercial source have much lower credibility and much lower impact on the perception of product quality than the same message attributed to a rating service. Forrester Research has completed studies that show that advertising and company sponsored blogs are the least-trusted source of information on products and services, while recommendations from friends and online reviews from customers are the highest.
Consumers do not want to view advertising. Think of watching network TV news and remember that the commercials on all the major networks are as closely synchronized as possible. Why? If network executives believed we all wanted to see the ads they would be staggered, so that users could channel surf to view the ads; ads are synchronized so that users cannot channel surf to avoid the ads.
And mostly consumers do not need advertising. My own research suggests that consumers behave as if they get much of their information about product offerings from the internet, through independent professional rating sites like dpreview.com or community content rating services like Ratebeer.com or TripAdvisor.
It is time for media owners to innovate – ditch advertising and become a platform.
As the use of social technologies begins to climb the maturity curve, new skills (until now not widely understood) such as community & conversation management have begun to move to the forefront of discussions within businesses. Most are starting to realize that they have a missing job function in their team. But which job function: a Community Manager, a Social Media Manager, a Traffic Manager or a Conversation Manager.
Considering what Nestlé’s Facebook Fan Page went through a few days ago, it is becoming important for most brands to start having dedicated resources to manage their conversations. But businesses need to understand whether they need primarily a content-oriented person or a relationship-oriented person.
John Bell in a recent blog post described both functions of Community and Conversation Managers as follows:
So, do they need a community Manager? Here’s how I see the main responsibilities of a community manager:
Steward a community conversation amongst a group of people who have come together to interact together presumably over some shared affinity (they all love Dancing With The Stars TV show; they are all moms with grade school-age children; they drive the same car)
Help keep order with a soft touch
Remain responsible to the community first
Their job is really to nurture and often grow a community of people. Now, the affinity that brings them together may be the brand. That gives the community manager license to participate in the community but certainly not at the expense of the other community participants.
A Conversation Manager is a bit different especially as we think about how Twitter and Facebook work. Even with the threaded comments available now in the Facebook Wall posts, These are streams of utterances and brief conversations. More importantly, brands are hosting their own handles and pages which feel more personal and involved. A Conversation Manager’s responsibilities include:
Offering fans and followers a steady stream of valuable content and experiences
Responding to visitors who want to engage with the brand or need some help
Offering a pov as a brand or subject matter expert
Steven Van Belleghem believes (so do we at 90:10 Group) that ‘traditional advertising no longer works. Advertisers need to change their day-to-day working methods. The gap between the contemporary consumer and the traditional advertiser is growing on a daily basis. This era is not the end of the advertising market, though it is the end of the advertiser!‘. He explains to us this change of trajectory from advertiser to Conversation Manager in his recently published book titled The Conversation Manager and following presentation.
What about the Social Media Manager?
Rachel Happe has taken a stab at articulating the primary responsibilities of both Social Media and Community Managers. Here is how she defines the responsibilities of the Social Media Manager:
Social Media Manager:
Content Creation (Blogging/vlogging/podcasting) designed to spur conversation/viral sharing
Responding to conversations about the brand and the content
Ensuring input/feedback gets channeled to the appropriate internal functional group
Curating and promoting UGC
Managing tools – mostly social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) and blogs
So what do you think? Do you agree that there is a difference in these three roles? and if so, do you agree with how they have differentiated them? If you happen to be a ‘community manager’ or a ‘conversation manager’ or a ’social media manager’ reading this post, please do share with us your views on your job function and the challenges you are facing every day
Co-creation is a powerful trend in product development that has been around for quite some time. But as I have written in an earlier blog post (Brand 2.0: when crowdsourcing becomes a must…) co-creation has recently started to gain more traction with social media bringing communities together.
Most companies have innovation as one of their top priorities. But many face challenges in innovation management – be it ability to co-create with customers, or utilizing employee talent. To address this challenge, enterprises have to embrace open innovation, co-creation and collaborative innovation.
John Windsor’s recent blog post about his friend who runs a business in the outdoor sports market is very relevant:
He described the paradigm shift we’re experiencing really well.
My friend says that he’s at a crossroads. He currently has his agency produce TV spots to run on targeted cable channels. All in, he’s spending a few hundred grand to reach a similar number of viewers.
It’s all good.
Until he starts looking at what his fans are doing on YouTube. People, who love his brand, are making their own spots by the hundreds. And, they’re popular. A half dozen of the videos have been viewed by over 1.5 million people.
At the end of the day, it comes down to math. It’s either creating TV spots and buying the media for them for a lot of money or getting 9,000,000 viewers at the cost of $0. The decision seems easier than it really is. While the cost of the 9,000,000 viewers is 0, my friend has lost some of the control he had over his brand when he used his agency. The trick is moving from a creation mindset of controlling the message and broadcasting it to a curation mindset of inspiring and guiding the people who are creating and sharing the digital videos.
While most companies understand the power of collaborative innovation, the means to achieve it is not always available. They need an alternative to current ad agencies and crowdsourcing platforms. At 90:10, we have been working on a whole series of products that offer companies the strategic direction, engagement, connectivity, relationship management and ROI.
The following slidedeck gives you more details about our approach.
If you’re interested in the products themselves and how they can create value for your company – let me know.
A common feature across the Middle East region is that young people make up a relatively high percentage of the population (in some over 50% are less than 21 years old). In most countries the “net generation”, regardless of its geographic location or cultural background, tends to be comfortable with online technologies and prefer the speed and variety of content delivered through the web and mobile channels.
Next 25th and 26th of March will be held for the first time in the region (in Beirut Lebanon), ArabNet 2010, the first international conference for the Arab web industry, bringing together leaders from across the MENA, Europe and Silicon Valley to discuss cutting-edge trends and emerging opportunities.
I’ve been invited (and am very pleased) as a guest speaker (representing 90:10 Group) at the ‘Social Media’ panel, featuring among others, Ghassan Haddad, Director of Internationalization at Facebook and Timothy Bataillie, the MENA Biz Dev Manager of Netlog, the region’s largest social network for youths (14-24). Full program here.
But where does the Internet stands today in the Arab world (source: startuparabia).
At present there are roughly around 56 million Arab internet users in the Arab world, representing only 17% of the 337 million population.
More people are getting online in the Arab world, and are relying more and more on the Internet for their news, videos, social interactions and more, but only 1% of all content online is in Arabic, not offering them much choice.
Online news consumption is gaining ground with 22% to 34% of the people using internet at least as much as print media to read news.
On average, 70% of the people in the four main Arab markets researched use social networks in some capacity and about 15% use social networking sites at least once a day.
About 6 million internet users in the Middle East – or about 12% of the total online population in the region – have access to broadband networks.
People in the Arab world are spending about three hours per day on the internet on average, which is already on par with the amount of time spent on TV.
About $56 million or 1% of the total media advertising spend is online in the Middle East.
8.3% of active Facebook users come from the Middle East & North Africa, representing a 7.9% penetration. The number of users under 25 years of age represent 60% of active Facebook users in the region. Fastest growth in user adoption in the region is in the 55+ age group.
Among the Arab countries, the top 7 countries in active Facebook user numbers are: Egypt (1,820,000), Saudi Arabia (920,000), Morocco (860,000), UAE (840,000), Tunisia (690,000), Lebanon (680,000), Jordan (490,000).
Last November in Paris, at LeWeb, Joi Ito moderated a panel on the Middle East with Rabea Ataya, Chairman & CEO of Bayt.com and Habib Haddad, Founder of Yamli. Their shared with us (video below) their view and vision of the future growth of the web in the region.
The Arab Media Outlook latest report (PDF) summarizes the region’s opportunity:
Our analysis points to significant opportunities for media companies in the region to use the power of web 2.0 to develop new revenue streams and to maximize the value of both new and existing premium content. Distribution to mobile broadband devices including mobile television will play an important part in this. Another priority area is the development of audience measurement processes for both print and broadcast media. The absence of reliable audience figures makes it difficult for advertisers to target their advertising and to assess its effectiveness, which reduces their willingness to spend.
As far as Twitter is concerned, it is difficult to have any precise figures. Last July, the region counted less than 15,000 users (source SpotOnPR). Since, the growth has been phenomenal, but still difficult to measure precisely its impact on media and brands. Hopefully, I will learn more about the region’s adoption of social media and new web 2.0 start-ups at coming Arabnet conference (25th and 26th of March in Beirut). Promise you to tweet from there and blog as I return to Paris.
There is a great opportunity for businesses to use social media to enable conversations and to create communities that extend their capabilities and engage their constituents in richer ways that results in higher retention, lower risk, increased ROI, and faster operational capacity.
Businesses entering the social media space must first figure out where their audience is (isn’t it the beginning of any type of strategy?). Working with communities of any kind, whether it’s a forum, a fan page on Facebook, or a bunch of people on Twitter discussing a particular subject every week, takes care and time. It involves developing true relationships with the audience by helping community members with information they need or solving their problems. A lot more goes into developing the type of respect, authority, and relationships in communities that generate successful strategies and attained goals for companies.
Chris Pirillo, last November at LeWeb, gave us his ‘original’ thoughts about the essence of ‘community’. Community …
…lives inside us. Where I go, community goes. We create it based on our preferences, like dislikes and the people we link up with.
…is becoming increasingly distributed, as we distribute our ideas and thoughts across social networks.
…requires tools that can’t be built (so don’t try), ie if its us, we can’t scale ourselves.
…is a commodity, but people aren’t. It’s easy to set up a website or blog, but the people and voices behind it are what makes it unique, special.
…cannot be controlled, but can be “guided”.
…is no longer defined by physical boundaries. You probably have more in common with a geek living on another continent than your next door neighbor.
…grows its own leaders. the best leaders come organically out of a community, and is not an appointed one. It’s crucial that communities grow it’s own leaders for credibility and respect reasons.
…is the antithesis of ego. Community is myself and everyone else, not just me or my Twitter stream.
… is everywhere, inside you. It’s what you share, your passions — and it’s this that will spell success.
If there is one company who recognizes the vital importance of communities is Coca-Cola, who has developed an Online Social Media Principles and has put its fans (consumers) at the heart of its (online) strategy. This presentation by Michael Donnelly, Group Director of Worldwide Interactive Marketing for Coca-Cola, is a great example of how companies should embrace social media and build social communities.
Computing security, too, is changing. IT security staff should think carefully before exercising a reflex to prevent employees from communicating with Facebook’s e-mail or Skype’s Internet telephony.
You cannot protect yourself from everything. You must learn to balance risk and performance. The cloud and software as a service have appeal, but they introduce a huge shift in how technology is managed and controlled. Software for intrusion detection, antivirus, and firewall protection is still essential, but there are limits to what’s practical.
China’s incoming firewall revealed that while it’s possible to block some incoming information, it’s not practical to block the widespread outbound flow of information.
Don’t try to shut down the two-way flow of information, because you can’t stop it. Transparency is in.
What I generally recommend is for companies to educate users on the risks and responsibilities of online reputation management and to tell employees that corporate conduct rules apply online, too!
The following presentation about ‘The Future of Work’ is interesting, as gives us some insight about how some foresee work in few years from now.
Businesses are increasingly using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes, but those same companies don’t want employees logging on during work hours. For a majority of companies still, an employee wasting time on social media is a performance problem.
Productive employees are too busy with their work to spend lots of time in social media having personal conversations. Instead, they use social media as a mean to get their work done. This is true in any sector of the company, being marketing, PR, HR, R&D, NPD or CRM. Although social media channels seem to be mostly qualitative in nature, employee and users activities can be easily quantified.
In fact, business has not changed. Social Media has just shifted the way business is done. Hard and Soft Metrics still apply. Hard metrics for the financial impact: Cost Reduction and Revenue Generation. Soft metrics, the transactional precursors: Brand & Product Mentions, View & Click throughs and Traffic Impressions.
NOT A PRIORITY
While I might possibly agree that for small companies, with very local business, social media is not their immediate priority, it cannot be the case for companies with consumers spread across markets in one or several continents.
FOR YOUNG CONSUMERS
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind the top social networks in order to get a clearer picture of network engagement and user demographics. As Brian Solis had added:
Remember, it’s how you interpret these numbers combined with an understanding of the real world needs and experiences of the people you’re attempting to engage that determines the success or failure of your social media program.
Those numbers clearly show that the 25 – 54 age range represent an average of 42% of total social networks users.
Having said that, what really matters is that with social media, people of all ages are more than ever ‘connected’. They search, discover, comment, dialog, discuss, blog, create, and share all these on social media. At 90:10 Group, which I head for France and Italy, we say ‘a business that operates without a comment box, operates broken’. So get ready.
For B2C, we are in B2B
Traditional B2B marketers resist social media because it doesn’t work when they use it as another outbound marketing channel. They will often say: “We’re a B2B operation! We don’t have social-savvy customers like B2C companies.”
Instead of thinking B2B vs B2C, just think “human” said Chris Brogan.
To conclude, I recommend business to start looking ahead and transform their enterprise into an ‘Enterprise 2.0‘, for efficient collaboration and knowledge exchange, even if this mean ‘chaos’ for most managers. Enterprise 2.0 changes the traditional structured information flow and order. Information flows laterally as well as up and down, cutting the chains that hold back collaboration in a traditional office environment. But when done right, this chaos boosts overall productivity.
The latest Media Engagement Barometer commissioned by Motorola’s Home & Networks Mobility business has revealed a shift in consumer influence that hasn’t been widely recognized yet:
Age no longer dictates a consumer’s willingness or
ability to use media technology or services
In fact, all generations – Millennials (or Generation Y) (75 percent), Gen Xers (74 percent) and Boomers (66 percent) – recognize the role entertainment technologies play in helping them keep their lives in order, which helps explain why Millennials (80 percent), Gen Xers (78 percent) and Boomers (78 percent) are equally likely to desire to be constantly connected. Consumers are interviewed in relation to a new study that reveals a disappearing generational gap in media consumption habits. The purpose of the study was to explore how different generations engage through technology products and services with family, friends and colleagues.
Top Three Takeaways
Connectivity is more of a lifestyle issue. The desire to be accessible at all times is seen as a necessity across generations (Millennials 79%, Gen Xers 64%, Boomers 65%).
There is a two-way dialogue between consumers of all ages, as they engage with technology products and share their experiences. The majority of Americans report influencing the decisions of their children (75%), friends (74%), colleagues (67%), and parents (58%).
Parents, grandparents and children alike are actively engaged in the tech sphere of influence. Gen X and Boomer parents reveal that they are influencing their children’s tech habits (87% Gen Xers and 79% Boomers) even more than their Gen X (62%) and Millennial (76%) children influence their habits.
Connectivity is a Necessity
Millennials (80%), Gen Xers (78%), and Boomers (78%) are equally likely to be constantly connected.
Seven in ten Americans (70%) feel it’s “important for me to always be accessible” and nearly eight in ten (78%) feel they are constantly connected with family, friends, and colleagues, regardless of physical location.
Demand for Content, Anytime Anywhere
In spite of their everyday use of technology, 70% of those surveyed are still excited by the ability to live a connected lifestyle and, regardless of where they are, have become reliant on the ability to access and share content including video images anytime, anywhere.
66% of Americans expect to be able to access the same content no matter where they are.
Universal Need for Customization
A strong majority of Millennials are interested in personalizing their television viewing experience: 71% are interested in customizable applications for their televisions (vs. 56% Gen Xers, 46% Boomers).
The majority of Americans (57%) have received a customized recommendation from a program based on their individual tastes and roughly half of those have received a customized suggestion (44%) and they have acted on it.
Sphere of Influence – Now it’s about “My Community,” not “My Generation”
Roughly four out of ten Boomers and Gen Xers are reaching out to their colleagues (43% Boomers, 45% Gen Xers) and significant others (43% Boomers, 43% Gen Xers) for advice.
Men are more likely than women to be influenced by their friends (60% vs. 51% women) and colleagues (44% vs.
30%). Women say they receive it from their significant other (48% vs. 34% men).
Contrary to the image of Generation Y as the “Net Generation,” internet users in their 20s do not dominate every aspect of online life, as found out as well by another study published by Pew Internet & American Life Project earlier this year. Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop, and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email (although teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people).