Digital Marketing Consultant | Craig Wilson - Part 5

You are now the product whether you LIKE it or not
18Apr13

Expect a growing wave of complaints and resentment on social networks over the next few years as the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn increase their efforts to generate revenue through advertising.

You see, since the launch of these hugely popular social networks many of were under the misguided impression that we were the customer. We enjoyed using these amazing free services, connecting with family, friends, colleagues and new people around the world. Its been wonderful and it has revolutionised the way we communicate.

And its free!!! How good is that?

Hold on, didn’t your parents always tell you “nothing in life is free”?

Well, they were right. You pay one way or another for most “free” services. Payment doesn’t always have to be financial. Sometimes we pay in time or attention. That’s how traditional “free” media like TV and radio works. It interrupts our attention and asks for 30 seconds of our time in return for free entertainment.

And so it will be with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. These are big expensive beasts to run. Free memberships don’t pay for staff, servers, large buildings, Segways and funky cafeterias.

Up until recently Venture Capital was funding the growth of these services and the focus was on attracting users who in turn shared their life, loves and information. Eventually these networks had to start delivering a return to the VCs and shareholders and inevitably advertising would be the solution.

The good news is that the services are still free…. BUT you are now the product. All that information you have shared, all those like buttons you have clicked, all those groups you have joined have helped the networks understand more about you so they can attempt to deliver more valuable solutions to their real customers; the advertisers.

Ask most people what they think Facebook is for and they’ll say ‘it’s there to help me make friends’. Guess what? Facebook’s boardroom isn’t talking about how to make you more friends. It’s talking about how to monetise your social graph.” Increasingly that will be via a range of “targeted” products like Graph Search, Suggested Apps, Sponsored Posts and Sidebar Ads.

Facebook has been doing advertising for a while but its only recently that users have really started to complain about it. That’s because initially the ads were focused on the sidebar and we’d grown accustomed to that style of advertising on other sites and Google search results.

But the shift to mobile forced Facebook, and others, to rethink how they serve up advertising. There’s now room for sidebar ads on the mobile site so now the ads are steadily being seeded into your stream or newsfeed. And that’s not kosher according to some users.

Now Twitter is evolving from it’s Promoted Posts product to  unveil its newest ad product, which enables “keyword targeting in timelines” allowing brands to serve up ads to users based on the content they’re actually tweeting. (Read more about it here)

The bottom line is you need to get used to it or unsubscribe. These networks need to make money in order to continue providing you with a “free” service. They will push the limits of your loyalty to their service over time, but as long as they aren’t losing more users than they’re gaining they won’t desist.

Whether you like it or not…you are now the product.

How to rock social media in just 30 minutes a day
5Apr13

Social media has become an invaluable marketing and communications asset for many organisations over the last few years but it also represents yet another task for marketers and business owners to cram into their already busy schedule. And there are now quite a few social networks that can’t be ignored, so it can been seen as quite a burden.

The most common question I receive when recommending a social media plan to clients is “but how much time must I dedicate to it?” The good news is that, with a bit of planning, organisation and automation, you don’t need to become a slave to social networks. In fact, you can manage 6 popular social networks in just half an hour a day.

The team at Pardot have assembled this great guide to demonstrate how you can rock social media in just 30 minutes a day. It covers, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram and also has some excellent automation tips.

Follow this plan, fine-tune it for your business and social networks and then be consistent and you will have gone a long way to really optimising the benefits of social media.

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The state of social advertising [Infographic]
13Mar13

Social media has become ubiquitous and naturally the world’s advertisers and marketers are following the trend and allocating an increasingly larger share of their budgets to the leading social networks.

If the future of advertising is to start participating in the stream that people want to use and around 80% of active internet users are visiting social networks and blogs, then its only natural that the marketing dollars will follow. In fact, in the USA over 75% of brands have already incorporated social advertising into their integrated marketing budget.

So what does the social advertising landscape look like? The team at Uberflip have compiled this infographic to illustrate the increasing adoption of social ads among marketers, the amount of dollars allocated on these channels, and the effectiveness of these paid social media campaigns.

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Massive shift in advertising spending continues as social networks stake their claim
4Mar13

It is hardly breaking news to hear that there has been a massive shift in advertising spending in the last decade. Many traditional media outlets, especially directories, newspapers and magazines were affected early by the rise of online. Others, such as free-to-air TV, subscription TV and radio have seen more gradual erosion of their bases, but erosion nonetheless.

The problem for most traditional media is that the shift is far from over. In fact, its still only early days and the social networks are just getting warmed up in the advertising market.

The following chart is compiled by Borrell Associates and displays the ongoing migration to online advertising in the USA at the expense of many traditional media. There are some sizable falls in ad spend for some media here…and that’s just from last year to this year.

The initial growth of online advertising was in the areas of display (basically replicating magazine and press advertising) and the early online classifieds.

The launch of Google’s Adwords service saw search engines become major players in the advertising market. And they were different, a lot different. Suddenly advertising could be more contextual, more relevant, more cost-effective and much more measurable. And they were self-serve. Anyone could suddenly build and launch their own online advertising campaign in minutes. As a result, Google now owns 44% of the global online adverting market.

But now the social networks are ready to stake their claims.

Last year Facebook had 3.1% of the global online advertising market, despite never having been in a hurry to build their advertising business. Now they’re starting to take it seriously. Anyone who has used the Facebook Ads Manager tool will know it is very easy and intuitive compared to Google Adwords. Facebook’s Promoted Posts feature is even easier and can deliver great micro campaigns in the click of a button. Their new Graph Search feature is a clear signal that Facebook is about to step up even more in the advertising market.

Then there is Linkedin, quietly bubbling along with another easy-to-use advertising product aimed squarely at the employment market. Last year advertising on Linkedin accounted for 25% of their revenue, and that’s before they opened their API to marketers at the end of 2012. That will grow substantially in the next few years.

Now Twitter is muscling in on the action. The new Twitter Advertising API is a way for companies to automate more of their ad spending. The initial list of advertising partners isn’t very long, but is expected to grow quickly. The API, combined with Twitter’s self-serve ad platform, will allow advertisers to promote tweets based on what is trending and where the activity is.

In effect Twitter is heading in a very similar direction to Facebook. Google+ is presumably not far behind.

For social networks, in which the content generated by users is almost indistinguishable from the advertising offering tools that let advertisers automate their spending based on hard data will be far more lucrative than another generic banner ad.

The rapid rise of mobile usage is also another reason the social networks will grab even greater slices of the advertising pie. Their “integrated” advertising solutions are well suited to mobile display, whereas the display advertising of other media are not.

The shift away from traditional to online advertising will only continue to grow in the next few years as the social networks refine their offerings and mobile becomes our main screen.

The future of advertising
27Feb13

The future of advertising is to stop trying to advertise to people, and instead start participating in the stream that people want to use. People will follow your brands if you contribute to whatever it is the people are up to.

This is a modified version of a statement Stowe Boyd made recently in a post. He was talking about the future of advertising on mobile but I feel it applies everywhere now.

In fact it nails it.

Stop advertising. Start participating and contributing.

The end.

 

Online reputation monitoring: The ultimate guide [infographic]
20Feb13

One of the biggest fears we hear daily from organisations expanding their online presence is how do they protect their online reputation? Its a valid question.

Here are some great tips from the team at Trackur in the form of a very nice infographic. To summarise:

  • Identify your reputations – monitor names brand names, company names, product names and variations.
  • Quantify your audience – who has a stake in your online reputation?
  • Understand your goals – how are you going to measure the whether your reputation is improving?
  • Specify your needs – what tools do you require and what sources do you need to monitor?
  • How will you monitor? – what processes are in place to be alerted and respond to issues?
  • Who will monitor the conversations? – who are you entrusting with managing and responding to online reputation issues?

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Rewards, bribes and bikes for a very worthy cause
7Feb13

Want to feel good about helping some kids who really need it? Like to get some very cool rewards for doing so? Can I bribe you and help your business at the same time? Read on….

In 2010 a client of mine discovered that I was a keen cyclist and asked me if I’d join their team for the Tour de Kids, a grueling charity ride to raise funds for Starlight Children’s Foundation. That year they rode from Melbourne to Sydney and I joined in the last few days with the Colliers International team from Canberra to Sydney. That just whetted my appetite.

In 2011 I signed up for the full ride; 1200km in 7 days from Adelaide to Melbourne riding with the Virgin Money team. It was tough. We had one day where we did a 20km climb through the Otway Ranges then backed it up with a 10km climb. That really hurt but it was one of the best days of my life. (Here’s a video report of that day). By the time we arrived in Melbourne 40 of us had raised over $550,000 for Starlight.

In March 2013 I am getting back in the saddle again for what appears to be an even tougher ride around Tasmania. The last few days go from the rugged west coast, across Cradle Mountain and back to Hobart. The stage that says “Cradle Mountain” and “199km” looks terrifying. I can’t wait!

Admittedly this is a personal challenge for me that is truly rewarding, but I will also be training extremely hard and trying to raise as much money as I can along the way to for the Starlight Children’s Foundation to help kids much less fortunate than us.

That’s where you, the rewards and the bribes come in.

Firstly, you can simply donate any amount you are comfortable with via my Fundraising Page. Every dollar counts and I’m truly appreciative of your support.

But here are the inducements, the bribes, the rewards I have dreamed up if you’re willing to go above and beyond:

  • A copy of The 4-Hour Body signed by the author Tim Ferriss himself will go to the first person to donate $130 (and nominate the reward). I used the diet and training advice in this book to get in shape for Adelaide to Melbourne and am doing so again for Tasmania.
  • Donate $150 (and nominate the reward) and I will feature your chosen listing on InsiderJobs Freelance for 12 months. Value $240 Note: we are launching an Australia-wide version of InsiderJobs in February so you might want to promote the listing to a national audience.
  • Donate $500 (and nominate reward) and I will personally search engine optimise your website for 5 search terms using NLYZR and my in-house SEO team. (worth over $2500)
  • Donate $1000 (and nominate reward) and I will do a 2 hour “Adapt or die” presentation to your team or your clients in Newcastle or Sydney (elsewhere if you cover travel expenses). I have done similar presentations to major Australian companies around this topic and it gets a great response. Feel free to contact me to learn more.

PLEASE NOTE: Deadline for all of these offers is Wednesday 13 March, 2013

Honestly, any support you can give is very welcome. The above inducements are there to help me reach my fundraising goals quickly. The more we raise the more families we can assist during very trying times.

Here is more information on the Tour de Kids.

Starlight Children’s Foundation

Starlight Children’s Foundation (Starlight) is proud to be the major beneficiary of Tour de Kids.

Starlight’s mission it to improve the resilience and wellbeing of seriously ill children and their families by delivering programs that restore the joy and happiness that serious illness takes away.

Living with illness or injury can cause enormous strain in the lives of children and their families. The pain, loneliness and isolation that sick children feel dominates their lives, and they often miss out on normal experiences that healthy children take for granted.

Physical recovery is only part of the solution. Starlight delivers innovative programs designed to make children happy and lift their spirits when they need it most.

Starlight’s programs include Captain Starlight, Starlight Express Rooms, Starlight Fun Centres, Starlight Escapes, Wishgranting, plus Livewire and Club Ado for teenagers.

For more information on Starlight, visit www.starlight.org.au or contact Starlight on 1300 727 827.;

SEO: How search engine optimisation has changed for the better
4Feb13

Search engine optimisation is a big part of my business. Its an area we can help clients improve quickly for long lasting results. Unfortunately its also a practice that is rampant with cowboys and snake oil salesmen, most of whom are still employing outdated SEO techniques that either don’t work or could even punish their clients.

In the last 18 months Google has has rolled out a series of updates to its search engine that have changed search engine optimisation for the better. Google increasingly rewards genuine high quality content and punishes cynical gaming of search. I’m happy to say that all my clients have benefited.

This excellent infographic from Fuzz One explains how search engine optimsation has changed in the last few years and how you can ensure your are generating Google-friendly content. Of course, my team and I would also be happy to guide your organisation towards better web marketing results if you’d like some assistance.

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Social media for customer service [Infographic]
21Jan13

Social media is ubiquitous now and for many organisations it has become an essential and effective marketing tool. But social media can also be highly effective as a customer service tool, something that relatively few organisations realise or utilise.

I have found from interactions with larger organisations that if you can fix an issue that a customer is having via social media you’ll find it’s one of the best marketing channels you’ve ever worked in. Leave them hanging, and you’ll find out the opposite is true.

This Infographic from ClickSoftware highlights compelling stats, for example, customers who engage with companies via social media spend 20%-40% more with those companies. So, how do you use social media when interacting with corporate brands or with your own customers?

Dollar Shave Club: a case study in retail industry interruption (and a very funny video)
14Jan13

My theme this year is “adapt or die”. Last week I explained 5 ways businesses must adapt in 2013 to survive and thrive. I am convinced that organisations must either commit to making significant changes to the way they do business or keep doing what they’ve been doing and try survive while their market share is steadily eroded by smarter, faster, more nimble competitors.

I’d now like to introduce you to one of those smarter, faster, more nimble competitors….Dollar Shave Club.

Here’s a start-up that launched in mid- 2011 and then relaunched in March 2012 and is already making a big splash in the exciting world of…..men’s razor blades. You know, that purchase you have to make at the grocery store once a month. Its been dominated for a century by Gillette and Schick. No other challenger comes close. Until now.

This video (which had had over 8 million views) is their main marketing tool and hilariously and effectively explains why you should stop buying blades at the grocery store and start buying from Dollar Shave Club. It’s pure genius. In 90 seconds they have skewered the industry leaders, entertained us and invited us to be part of their”club”.

A close look at their website is like a blueprint for online retail success:

  • the aforementioned video tells you everything you need to know…and its laugh-out-loud funny.
  • a prominent call-to-action “A great shave for a few bucks a month – DO IT”
  • a testimonial (which is fairly tongue-in-cheek)
  • a simple range of 3 packages to choose from
  • a simple and fun rewards program for sharing the Dollar Shave Club story, “Free blades for life”
  • a quick and easy payment gateway you’ll only ever need to visit once
  • Facebook sign-up option for membership
  • social media sharing

The whole site contains the same irreverent, “they’re just razor blades guys” style humour. Its fun, its compelling and it works a treat. I signed up within minutes and was actually excited when my blades arrived.

But the real genius is in the very simple proposition and business model.

The blades are made in South Korea and can be found under different brands in Pharmacies across the USA. They’re pretty good, not much more than that.

But Dollar Shave Club turns a traditional $15-20 grocery store expense into an easy $7 / per month subscription. They don’t just get the sale, they get your repeat business and a nice big database of customers.

Their product line is ridiculously small. Just 3 types of razor blades. By focusing in this way they maximise buying power and minimise overheads.

The Dollar Shave Club business model doesn’t rely on advanced computer algorithms and other amazing tech innovation like many startups we follow. It’s simply a business where the founder Michael Dubin looked at an industry and said he wanted to help men have fun with shopping online, because, “Women have all the fun [shopping online] with fashion, shoes, and accessories.”

By making shopping for blades easy, fun and more affordable they have seen explosive growth and have attracted an impressive $10.8 million in VC funding. For razor blades??!!

An old industry suddenly interrupted by a simple but new way  (subscription) of selling an existing product, executed extremely well. Hell, any of us could do that…couldn’t we?