Three Whats and a Why – Mary Meeker Meltdown

Reflections

It’s that time of year when Mary Meeker releases her internet trends report. It’s the one that melts the internet.

Now, I will leave you to your own devices to go through the 164 slides in your own time. There is plenty to read, review and digest. But I’d also encourage you to look at a redesigned (and re-imagined) version of Mary Meeker’s slides. After all, in 2012, Mary Meeker encouraged us to think of one of the core trends as “re-imagining everything”.

But before you immerse yourself in “trends” … take a moment to reflect on the last 12 months in your business or organisation:

  • What mattered in mid 2013?
  • What matters now?
  • What are you measuring?
  • Why are these things important?

Understanding your own Three Whats and a Why can help you determine which trends are worth your attention, and which are just noise. Choose your signals wisely.

ReflectionsCreative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Earned Audiences–Where Twitter Meets TV

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There was a time when sitting down in front of the TV was a family affair. It was me, Dad, Mum and maybe a dog. The little brother was tucked up in bed and the little sister, well, she was far off into the future. And while there would be the occasional conversation – mostly during the ad breaks between episodes of Prisoner – or when the footy would break at the end of six – watching TV was a shared experience with limited variation.

These days, the tables have turned.

Sure, we still arrange rooms around a large glowing screen. But it’s not just one glowing screen in the room any longer. The big one on the wall fights for attention with the various smaller devices – smartphones, tablets and notebooks that adorn our laps. TV is no longer the centre of authority in our night’s entertainment – it’s just the context for a much broader conversation.

TV shifts from content to context

One of the most interesting transformations that has come about in recent years is the demotion of TV from centre of an experience to the frame for that experience. These days, TV is just the start of a conversational journey that happens within a home. From there, hundreds, thousands, millions of streams of opinion, humour, sarcasm and even spoilers, issue forth from the devices of the people who are consuming shows while simultaneously co-creating as-yet-unwritten meta-narratives via Twitter, Facebook and specialist apps like Beamly or GetGlue. The shows provide the context into which “prosumers” pour their creative energies and content.

What does this look like?

ABC’s Q&A program creating earned audiences

QandAtweetsA great example of social media connecting audiences is Australian Broadcasting Service’s Q&A program. Actively curated for live amplification during broadcasting, the #QandA stream prompts conversations amongst participants, friends and connections along with a generous smattering of online trolling and vitriol.

Some participants argue with points raised live on the show, some share links supporting their arguments and others just simply throw their best lines into the void hoping that their 140 characters will somehow be picked up and shared with the TV audience. One of the more prolific protagonists, Wolf Cocklin, has gone so far as to create a line of #QandA related merchandise that he sells via creative community/marketplace, Red Bubble.

Tellingly, this audience sprang up organically, adopting the #QandA hashtag and generating a massive stream of content. At first, the QandA producers appeared unaware or uncertain of how to approach this new community of viewers. After all, they were at times, unruly and prone to swearing. But as an “earned audience”, it was icing on the cake of broadcasting. For while TV runs multiple rounds of surveys to understand (and extrapolate) viewership, people who participate using #QandA:

  • Self identify
  • Reveal a range of interests via their profile and publishing
  • Share networks of others
  • Rally audiences and grow reach

In many ways, this audience is the programmer’s dream. So it makes sense that before too long, tweets began appearing on-screen and spurred on by the promise of 5 seconds of fame, participants responded, growing a massive audience that spans Australia’s three timezones.

The last couple of months has also seen participants publishing their tweets many hours ahead of broadcasting. This strategy seems designed to maximise the possibility of a tweet being broadcast. After all, the views of the show’s panellists are known in advance as are the hot topics of the moment. And if you can give the producers a few easy, early tweets that can be loaded into the system, then everyone wins.

Bridging the brand and consumer gap with earned audiences

While the lessons from #QandA are interesting, it would appear at first glance, that going from “conversation to conversion” is more challenging. For some time, marketers have been keen to identify the connection between social media and sales – with many giving up the ghost. But new research sponsored by Twitter seems to suggest that Twitter-based brand exposure does indeed drive action. This includes:

  • Visiting brand websites
  • Visiting brand Twitter pages
  • Searching for the brand
  • Consider trying the brand
  • Retweeting the brand

As expected, the tweets that originated from the brand were less effective than those that originated organically (or appeared to be organic).

While this is interesting research, it smacks a little of research that shows that “radio ads are more effective”. For no matter how engaged or how “managed” a branded social channel may be, Twitter chats, hashtags and the like remain wild, contested territories for brands. Yes, there can be cut through, but it comes with risks.

And while the stickiness, energy and passion that comes with social media may be the flame to the marketer’s moth, an earned audience is not a PERMISSIVE audience. And just because people are talking about you, doesn’t mean that they want to talk TO you. That requires a whole different level of trust. And it’s a world away from TV.

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LinkedIn Publishing – Where the Personal and Professional Brand Meets

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LinkedInPublishing When LinkedIn started publishing content via its LinkedIn Influencers program, it moved the social network for business professionals in a completely different direction. For many business leaders, this was a great, simple and powerful way to share business philosophy and insight. It was blogging without needing to have or create a blog. And because each item was automatically shared with your LinkedIn connections, there was no extra work required to distribute your writing.

But there was a problem. It was a closed system, and only a select group were granted access.

Taking a leaf out of the book of every digital business launch from Google+ to the now defunct Plurk, LinkedIn relentlessly kept tight control over their publishing platform. The early focus was on high quality insight from big-name business leaders like Virgin’s Richard Branson and Ryan Holmes from Hootsuite. Take a look through their various posts and you’ll notice something interesting – a collapsing of the personal and professional. The most popular articles (and the most interesting) tend to blur the lines between an individual’s business experience and their personal decision making. And I have a feeling that this has set an agenda which will be important to watch.

Eventually, the invitations started to broaden and other voices began to be heard, with new articles and more content filling our LinkedIn streams. LinkedIn Pulse would aggregate and promote the most popular posts, channels and authors – effectively filtering business-related news for us. All we had to do was choose where to focus.

A couple of weeks ago, LinkedIn announced that they were extending their publishing platform to 25,000 more LinkedIn members. So now if you are quick, anyone with a LinkedIn profile can reach an audience – or at least, reach your own connections. For the moment, you have to apply, but no doubt, this system will be extended to others in the near future.

The thing that is most interesting to me is not that LinkedIn is moving in this direction, but that business professionals are flocking to it. Up until recently, convincing executives to engage with social media was almost impossible. Despite widespread adoption of social networks by consumers, many business leaders remain sceptical, unconvinced and unlikely to commit the time required to see the benefit in social media.

But LinkedIn may have solved the challenge by making social media simple and obvious. After all, we all like to be “influencers” – even if there are 25,000 of us.

This is, however, not just about professionals, reputation and publishing. In the mixing of these professional and personal profiles, there could be something greater at play. Is this a way for LinkedIn to stake a claim against Facebook’s social domination? Will we see more insight, personality and flavour in the lives of our business leaders? Will personal and professional brands start to collide in new and exciting ways? One can only hope.

And in the meantime, my first LinkedIn article has just been published. It’s a departure from the marketing and digital focus I have here on ServantOfChaos. Hope you like it.

The Mayan Apocalypse? No, Just Eloqua’s Early Christmas Joy

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Sneaking a last minute deal in before the holiday break, Oracle announced an $871 million acquisition of marketing automation vendor, Eloqua. Representing a 10x multiple on Eloqua’s annual revenues, it marks the first of what is likely to be a string of consolidations in the marketing technology space over the next 12 months. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

  • A win for Eloqua customers that comes with a catch . This deal looks set to accelerate the Eloqua solution roadmap with Oracle bringing additional focus and resourcing to solution improvements already slated for 2013. That means that existing customers can more readily tap the customer experience functionality that supports front of house operations through Oracle’s existing sales, service, commerce and social foundations as well as the big data and analytics capabilities that are vital to the digital marketer’s credibility. Many Eloqua customers will have made companion investments in Salesforce and will be keen for ongoing reassurance that integration will continue to be supported.
  • Oracle secure a beach head beyond the IT line of business.The acquisition significantly bolsters Oracle’s marketing credentials – adding mature, cloud based marketing automation capabilities to their Customer Experience Cloud offering. Eloqua’s strength has been its strong connection with the marketing departments at its 1200 customer locations, and this provides Oracle’s sales team with a vital beach head beyond the IT line of business. And with the projected shift of technology budget from the CIO to CMO over the next two years, this will be essential to the longer term success of the Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud and the previous Market2Lead and Vitrue acquisitions.

Why marketers should care

Marketers have fallen behind in the technology stakes – suffering under the weight of outmoded marketing models and outflanked by their fast moving, tech savvy, connected customers. This announcement brings yet another level of change and signals a new wave of consolidation and innovation that will challenge marketers in the year ahead.

On the positive side, the investment in thought leadership and focus on marketing technology coming from the likes of Adobe, IBM and Salesforce is helping to educate and mature the market. This will not only assist CMOs to formulate business cases and justify technology and skills investment through 2015, it also provides fertile opportunity for the marketing automation vendors like Act-On, Hubspot, Marketo and Neolane.

Where next?

Oracle has thrown down the gauntlet to the other enterprise software vendors. Who will blink first?

The acquisition has revealed a gap in the Salesforce marketing offering. SAP is nowhere to be seen. And Adobe and IBM can no longer afford to sit on their hands. Oracle’s bold move may have brought Christmas early to the team at Eloqua, but does it usher in the Mayan Apocalypse for enterprise marketers or represent a new dawn? 2013 is just around the corner.

Eloqua has released a FAQ and an announcement deck that can be downloaded from their blog.

What Facebook’s Year in Review Reveals About Us

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facebooktrendsAus The promise of big data is that it can reveal to us the truth in our behaviours, not just our beliefs.

Just think, for example, about your internet use over the last year. Or month. Or even week. What did you do? What sites did you visit? What did you click on? Why did you share a page or two, a link or a video? Now, imagine if we did the same thing for your friends – if we knew what they looked, liked and loved?

facebookstories2 And if we did the same with their friends, and their friends’ friends.

If we could overlay that in some way to create a visual tag cloud, we may just get a sense of what is important to our communities. We may garner some magical insight into what it is like to live in this rapidly changing world.

Well that’s what Facebook Stories is doing. Of course, it works best if you are a heavy Facebook user (I’m not), but it’s an interesting experiment that shows everything from your own personal timeline stories through to the trends that impacted us by country and by category.

But, for me, the most interesting thing that Facebook Stories reveals is where the pulse of our humanity lies. Take a look at some of the trends – you’ll see what I mean.