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Friday, December 10, 2010

For Social Media Marketing, it's the End of the Innocence

It was really just two or three years ago when many "traditional" public relations agencies and their business-to-business clients were wondering if social media marketing was just another shiny new toy, a passing fancy, an amusement for idle minds and hands that would have its 15 minutes of fame and then fizzle.

Since then the question has transitioned from "what if social media marketing is real" to "how do we maximize it for our business?" Add to the list "how do we make sense of the hundreds of social media marketing channels, applications, and analytical tools, etc., that are evolving and being ushered in and out on a daily basis?" And "which ones are right for us and our key stakeholders?"

Flashback:  excluding the early adopters, from 2007-2008 business-to-business public relations and marketing professionals started to kick the social media marketing tires in earnest.  At that time, many professionals and their organizations were signing on to LinkedIn and Twitter for the first time just to be there;   to see what the fuss was all about.  Yes, the great recession influenced the number of LinkedIn and Twitter newbies as these platforms are ideal for job hunters.  But a great many also were logging on to figure out how to begin integrating social media into their existing marketing efforts.

Then in 2009, providers of marketing services in the business-to-business world started their deep dive, en masse, into social media marketing.  And at the same time, PR agency prospects took stock of whether the agencies involved in their new business reviews were walking the social media talk. Do you blog and comment on blogs?  How many Twitter followers does your agency have?  What type of content are you generating and tweeting?  Do the managing partners tweet?  What should we do?  If they didn't ask, they were thinking it.

2010 was a watershed year for the marketing services industry as far as the impact of social media marketing is concerned.

Today, as 2010 winds down, if you live in a B2B world and work in public relations and/or marketing, you are likely (hopefully) well versed in social media marketing -- as a counselor and/or as a practitioner. Because the train has left the station.  In 2011, social media marketing loses its innocence and you better be planning for it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Confessions of a (sometimes) Twitter User

I've had a Twitter account now for several years. In fact, I have three Twitter pages -- one where I share personal thoughts and information, one for a hobby of mine and a third for work. In the beginning, I used to post to all three many times per week, and on occasion, several times per day.
But over the past months my Twitter activity has declined. It may be because I'm active on three different social networks or because I'm trying to manage the messages in my four email accounts. It could be that I read a couple of newspapers every day and try to read the many magazines to which I subscribe. Or it could be that I spend any available time reading numerous online news sites and blogs, or try to write for one of the two blogs to which I regularly post. I also listen to the radio and watch TV, which also takes up some of my "media" time.
My reduced Twitter use may also have something to do with the fact that I was getting inundated with tweets -- literally several every couple of seconds. By the time I'd read and commented on one, or re-tweeted it, 15 more demanded my attention!
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy social media in general and Twitter specifically, but with so many social media and news outlets, it's hard to keep up with all of them. Apparently I'm not the only one feeling a bit overwhelmed.
A report released today by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project says that of all the Americans who log onto and use the Internet, only 8 percent of them use Twitter, and that a much higher percentage of Internet-connected Latinos and African-Americans use the service than whites.
There were other interesting findings from the study as well. Again, of all Internet users, 7% of men used Twitter while the number was 10% for women. Only 5% of white Internet users use Twitter while the number for blacks is 13% and Hispanics 18%. Urban dwellers use Twitter at more than twice the rate of their rural counterparts, 11% to 5%, while suburban usage fell in the middle at 8%.
Age also plays a factor in who uses Twitter. Fourteen percent of those 18-29 years old use the service, but the percentage drops to 7% for 30-49 year olds and 6% for those over 50.
So despite the estimated 50 million tweets per day in the US in 2010, a relatively small number of Internet-connected people seem to responsible for them.
Please feel free to tweet these findings.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Won't Do Nation

Way back in September 2009, President Obama went to Hudson Valley Community College in New York to give a speech on innovation.  The choice of location was interesting, as the southward journey of the mighty Hudson River tells a sequential story of the demise of the American economy. 

The Hudson Valley runs due south from Albany to New York City. It is bordered on both banks by the tracks of railroads and the ancient mansions of families with names like Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, Delano, Astor and Rockefeller. On its southward journey it passes towns like Schenectady -- which Thomas Edison chose as the birthplace of GE. Then it moves further south past KingstonPoughkeepsie and East Fishkill, which once housed more than 50,000 IBM employees in 3 bustling plants that built and tested mainframe computers and designed and developed advanced semiconductors. Those plants today are shadows of their former prosperity. Further south, it passes IBM's headquarters in Armonk, its research center in Yorktown Heights and continues to New York City, where it rolls past the palatial offices of investment banks and AIG.

So it was an interesting venue on that day 15 months ago when the President laid out a three-part plan to rejuvenate innovation in a country and a region that once set the bar for the world in technology innovation.  His plan called for:

1. Investing in the Building Blocks of American Innovation. 
2. Promoting Competitive Markets that Spur Productive Entrepreneurship, and 
3. Catalyzing Breakthroughs for National Priorities.

It was a bold and detailed plan that you can see in the accompanying diagram. It set as a priority restoring American leadership in fundamental research.  As we stand on the verge of continuing the Bush-era tax cuts, the idea of restoring our leadership in R&D seems remote. We appear to be a nation and an economy hell bent on cutting costs rather than investing in the kind of research and development that made us the most powerful and prosperous nation in the world for over a century.  While there are many who claim that stimulus plans rob future generations by burdening them with debt, it is hard to believe that the residual impact of cuts could exceed the negative impact of not investing in research and development required to create new jobs, revitalize industries, support education, create new industries and keep us focused on innovation in a world that is increasingly competitive.

We have always been a defiant nation. That has served our greatness when directed at outside threats.  But it serves to hasten our demise when used against each other. We seem to have forsaken the "Can Do" attitude that fostered more than a century of innovation along the banks of the Hudson River and across the nation. We have replaced it with a "Won't Do" attitude that divides us and defies any attempt to unify us in a common purpose to restore our greatness.  Has protecting wealth trumped stimulating innovation and the ability to compete globally?