Summer Movie Reviews: Now with 400% More Turtles

– Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2/5

Well, it wasn’t bad. Not like bad “I hate my life. Why did I see this?” bad. It wasn’t great, not really good either. It was acceptable, but cheesier than a 99 cheese pizza.

I got sweet 3D glasses that look like Raph’s mask. I groaned less than I did during Transformers.

By the numbers story. Its the whole villain has the McGuffin gas and is going to infect the city plot. Its not exactly ambitious.

The turtles themselves were handled/designed relatively well. Instead of just 4 clones with different colours they were actually pretty distinct. Didn’t mind the noses. I liked the focus on Raphael because he’s totally the coolest and the best. Continue reading

Return On Investment: Here comes the money!

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Page 102, Groundswell.

… Forrester Research analysts put it this way, “The funnel has outlived its usefulness as a metaphor. Face it: marketers do no longer dictate the path people take, nor do they lead the dialogue.” Once people are aware of your product, a new dynamic kicks in: people learning from each other. Social technologies have revved up that word-of-mouth dynamic, increasing the influence of regular people while diluting the value of traditional marketing.

That’s nuts!

The question then becomes, “why aren’t businesses utilizing social media?” I feel its a good time to remind everyone that social media isn’t just Facebook and Twitter. Social Media is basically anywhere that user generated content can be shared/discussed online. We’re talking forums, YouTube, comment sections, message boards, and even to an extent, depending on your goal, instant messaging and email could qualify although the privacy of these likely excludes them unless you’re using them like direct mail(HYPERLINK).

The answer to why a lot of business don’t feel social media is necessary for them is probably because 1) they don’t know how to measure the Return On Investment (ROI) or 2) they don’t know how to engage and speak groundswellian. However, they both go hand in hand quite well.

Measuring ROI relates back to the POST Process. What are you trying to accomplish? So how do you measure Return On Investment in social media? It depends. What did you set as your goal? Make money? Raise awareness? Both?

Well I went and talked to two people about ways to measure ROI; Ray Bilodeau (Marketing Instructor, JR Shaw School of Business NAIT) and Peter Ono (GM, Digital Marketing & Research at CashStore Financial). They gave me a few ideas of POST goals and ways to measure if you’re actually getting ROI from them.

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Example 1) Goal – Generate sales leads
It isn’t easy or cheap to generate new sales leads through traditional methods. Social media can do this for you at a relatively cheap price. We’re talking Google Ads, Google AdWords/Cost Per Click, Twitter, Facebook ads, YouTube videos, etc. All of these can be relatively inexpensive and can generate far more sales leads for your company than cold calling, direct mail, referrals, etc. Dell has a Twitter account dedicated to selling refurbished computers at an outlet price. It has over 1 million followers. So over 1 million people will be seeing and racing to buy the new great deal they post on a refurbished computer. Thats good.

As far as using Google or Facebook Ads and Adwords/Cost per Click, you can use these to generate plenty of sales leads. Making up numbers, you can have 1,000 people look at an ad in a week. Say you get clicks from 32.33 (repeating of course) percent of those who saw the ad, and then convert on 32.33 percent of them, then that is 100 people that came to you for business and probably only costed your company like 400 bucks on Google. Thats a pretty darn good cost per customer, once you factor in lifetime customer value especially considering the time savings.

Example 2) Goal – Time savings
Time is money. The more time you can save on non-money generating tasks leaves you with more time to spend on money generating tasks. Its easy to manage customers over the internet. Instead of engaging in a personal one-on-one you can engage in a one-to-many format. Hypothetically, you generate 6 leads in an hour by some form of cold calling/referrals/traditional practice. If you can spend 10 minutes in that hour and create 16 leads over social media your productivity just shot through the roof. Search some hashtags, browse some forums/message boards, comment on a blog. Get yourself/your company out there.

Time savings can also work on the customer service side. WestJet’s twitter account is great for this. TicketMaster is good at it too. People calling your company is expensive. If that call takes up 15 minutes of a persons day, then they can only help 4 people an hour. Whats worse is that most of what they are helping people with is likely easily accessible information on your website. But if these people can tweet you and get a prompt reply (say 5-10 minutes) then the number of people you can help in an hour could increase by a whole lot. The faster you help people the happier they are with their experience. A lot of companies are also doing live instant messaging help on their websites now too. This is great. I didn’t even have to click around Sundance Mazda‘s site when I needed to take my car in because the helper in the chat window did it for me.

Example 3) Goal – Communicate a message
Think of this as an email to your active customer base. An email they’ll actually read and not just delete upon arrival. One method of this would be a blog post. This is another instance of time savings. If it takes an hour to write and post the blog and say 7 minutes for someone to read it, and there are 300 someones reading it, then you just saved a number of minutes that I am not going to math out. Its a bunch. This could be done for external readership. Save your community managers a bit of time.

This could also be done internally. If you’re the CEO or some higher up in a larger company, this could be a new and more personable way to get that latest memo out there and maybe instead of “reading” it your employees will actually read it. The same type of time savings can apply here too. Say instead of having to meet one-on-groups at your business, you could post this blog and then only people with questions would need a face-to-face. Or, maybe this blog creates a discussion amongst your employees and they find ways to answer those questions amongst themselves increasing your time savings.

Example 4) Goal – Discussion
Why would you want to create a discussion? Maybe you can save yourself some dollars in R&D or market research if you can energize a conversation the right ways. If it only takes a few hours to collectively spark, condense and analyze a conversation within your market/customers/clients then that is some pretty nice ROI isn’t it? Its a form of direct feedback that is probably a bit more useful than an online survey where everyone clicks through on the middle select to finish quickly. This is where your blogs and comment sections, and internal or external forums and message boards really can come into play and serve your company well.

Also, if you manage to get a real discussion rolling then maybe your energized customers will share their experience (word of mouth) to others and your company’s presence just expanded. Maybe someone Google’s their issue and comes across your archived discussion and finds the answer to their problems and you and the customer get some time savings from this.

In conclusion, social media is a really powerful tool but you have to know what you’re doing and know what you want to accomplish. I wish I had a pun to close this out but I fear that might ROIn it. (Get it? Ruin… ROI… ROIn)

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And thats a wrap on my social media class and the accompanying book. I want to thank everyone for reading and I encourage you to check back irregularly for irregularly scheduled random blog postings. Also, please follow my Twitter for obscure references and occasional musings. If you’re a business pro who wants to know how my combination of killer street skills and ingenious marketing ideas can improve your business, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and we can discuss big fat financial terms there.

See you later and have a Merry Christmas!

Energon, Energizer, Energizing!

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How do you energize your groundswellians? It seems weird to say, but you need an energetic idea. Something with energy that energizes them to ener-do things. I ran out of “energ__” words.

But if you think about it, the concept is quite simple. Making a YouTube video or a Facebook/Twitter challenge is a great way energize your audience. But not if its something boring such as “Like, favourite and share this video for a chance to win (something equivalent of the cheap plastic toy in cereal)!!!!” or “If this article gets 50,000 shares one lucky person will get a (something equivalent of the cheap plastic toy in cereal)!!!!”

It has to be an energetic idea, and this means it has to be interesting. Sharing a video or a status does nothing. Hardly anyone is going to investigate the company. There is no ROI. People will just see the reward, share and forget.

What is the purpose of that? There really isn’t one. It does not add value to the company. This is simple value chain analysis from any Business 101 class. Activities must add value to the company somewhere in the chain.

So what are good examples? Challenges work. Febreeze has done it with their car fresheners and sprays. The whole “We guarantee it can destink anything!” sort of thing. They’ve made advertising campaigns around it, YouTube videos, articles, etc. They’re energizing their audience to virally market their product for them.

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Blentec did something similar with their “Will it blend?” campaign. They challenged people to find and submit items that their Blenders could try to blend. It was a huge success for them and people were buying and buzzing about Blendtec blenders blending blendables. I have a cheap blender that sometimes sucks with ice. It sucks that I can’t make a decent smoothie or milkshake. Sure wish I had a Blendtec. Those blend everything! Or so it seemed through their campaign.

This isn’t that difficult of a concept, but the application is challenging. It could be hard for an insurance agency for instance. Can’t exactly encourage people to burn down their houses or crash their cars. But a carpet cleaning company could do a Billy Mays style guarantee to drive up enthusiasm. “We guarantee we can clean anything from your carpet or we do it for free!”

Video game companies tend to be good at this. Well crafted teaser websites can create a lot of buzz for their new product as people try and decrypt tidbits of information to discover details of the new game. There is a website out now that people think is Bethesda operated and is teasing the new Fallout game. Its got all the gamers out there trying to figure out every little detail they can. (update: turns out the website was a well crafted hoax. But it still worked in Bethesda’s favour)

A good testimonial campaign can incorporate this. Honda did it recently in a huge customer appreciation campaign where they had Honda owners do the advertising for them through Facebook or YouTube testimonials about how great their cars were. Then they gave a guy who has had his Honda for 1,000,000 (A MILLION) miles a brand spanking new Accord. How’d they find him? They created buzz online, energized their customer base and found this guy which made for a great example of the quality in Honda vehicles. Properly maintained and A MILLION MILES ON IT!

I’m generally a believer in things are usually simpler than they appear.

Stand Back! Tweeticane Coming Through!

Tweet tweet! Twitter rocks and its arguably the best social media tool out there. Can you listen? Yes. Can you talk? Yes. Can you engage? Yes. Can you energize your customers? Yes. It really is one of the ultimate social media tools. Everything is in one place.

Followers: Your audience. Your direct audience.

Hashtags and searches: Groundswellian Google.

Mentions and retweets: Conversation. Conversation sharing. Listening. Talking.

Links: Information sharing. Spread awareness.

It serves as a great top-of-the-funnel for your purchase funnel

It becomes a little more difficult to use it properly. To be honest, its hard to say exactly how to use it to accomplish your goals. There is no 100% accurate and successful plan or tips-and-tricks guide. If I knew of one, I wouldn’t be sharing it in a blog because I’d be way too busy selling it to the highest bidder and retiring in Bora Bora at the age of 23.

But since I am not that lucky, here are a few tips on engaging, tracking, and energizing your customers/followers!

  1.  Keep an eye on the trending topics. Not just the 10 or so that line up on the left side. Browse Trendsmap. Create a HootSuite account and set up a number of searches that you can keep an eye on. If you’re a big time gaming company then you should have a number of saved searches. #(company name) #(name of game)  #games #gaming #xbox #ps4 etc. Those are your conversations. Keep tabs on them. You don’t have to always insert yourself into them, but you definitely should be listening. If you notice a trend in your trends then you just got quality information that probably came a lot cheaper than some in-depth R&D.
  2. Don’t be stupid. Kenneth Cole found this out the hard way. Don’t use #Egypt or #Syria when you’re promoting new kitchenware or surround sound.  Don’t make borderline jokes. Too many people are thin skinned and with enough of an uproar you’ll find that even people that don’t care will get on their soapboxes just for something to do. You’re the “one” in the one-to-many. “With great power comes great responsibility.”2011-02-03-kennethcole22011-02-03-kennethcole2
  3. If you’re not on Twitter, get on it and make sure no one is pretending you are. You don’t need your own “Janet” on the internet causing you trouble. Go lock up your company name. If you’re big enough, get it verified. Now you don’t have to be tweeting every day, especially if you’re Technographic Profile has nothing going for it on Twitter, but be semi-active so you’re not a dead account and so that people know that you’re probably the real account too.

There you go. A 400 word guide to using Twitter.

Does the groundswell even lift, bro?

Once you’ve set up your groundswell should be able to get its swell on by itself. You can work with it as a spotter, but you want it to do all the heavy lifting itself.

In non-bro-dude-gym lingo, you want the groundswell to support itself. Basically, this is your new customer support hotline. People should be able to Google their problem and get to your site to help. This could be your FAQ, your community message boards, or an outside message board where they can find a solution.

For instance, isn’t it better if I am able to Google “How do I kill the High Dragon on the Sacred Ashes mission in Dragon Age: Origins?” and find my answer somewhere on the internet versus 1) calling Bioware or EA and asking for help (that their customer support likely has no clue about) or 2) Going on Twitter and saying “OMG DAO SUX THE DRAGON IS TOO DAMN HARD!!1! eFFF THIS GAME!! #BIOWARESUCKS#EASUCKS #XBOXSUCKS!!

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Now that is a bit of a goofy example but the principal is pretty universal regardless of if you’re business is blenders, vacuums, computer programs, newspapers, or swimsuits. But this is where your groundswell can support your company. The great thing about it is that the general public is able to create posts, answers, questions, reviews, help, tips, tricks, etc. The focus can also be on more than one of your products, your company, your competition, prices, etc.

This is the one-to-many/many-to-many effect.

However, before you start to create a community for your groundswell, there are three points that must be outlined:

  1. Problem you are going to solve
  2. How you will participate within the groundswell
  3. Create a support community or join an existing one

1. Problem you are going to solvePut yourself into your customers’ shoes. How will you create a community that will solve customers’ problems and create value?

2. How you will participate within the groundswell. You must keep activity in your groundswell that there is the generation of new content.

  • Drive people to your community (such as a message board) from messages posted on your Web site, social media accounts, products or other advertising efforts
  • Participate in the groundswell by helping people by answering questions and engaging in conversation. After a while hopefully the groundswell itself does this, but it doesn’t mean you can stop.

3. Create a support community or join an existing one

Whether your organization decides to become active in a pre-existing community or create a new one of your own, the goal is that both will be beneficial and add value. The community should be able to support itself, listen to conversation about your product, and talk to and engage with users about the product and what they like or don’t like, as well as let word-of-mouth travel.

I keep coming back to Bioware for this because I’m most familiar with their community and the way it is engaged. With the upcoming release of Dragon Age: Inquisition and having been a somewhat active member of the forums for the passed two years I can see how they’ve changed their approach to pre-release as well as the game’s construction based to an extent on what the community itself desired. The only details being released are about what has been confirmed for the game. Also, the changes in the combat engine, appearance variety and dialogue system in the new game stems from a dissatisfaction felt by many fans in the previous game.

As far as plain interaction with the community, I feel it is well done. Members of the development team and writers seem to pop in and have discussions on occasion or to debunk/confirm “rumours” to help keep control of their community and the expectations of the game. Those are good things.

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Source: Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.