It’s been a long road, but I am delighted to announce the launch of the EchoJunction podcast!
This podcast is all about finding the industry’s finest minds from around the globe and picking their brains to help us all make sense of the noisy, fast moving and complex social media and digital marketing landscape. The podcast is in interview format and is very much about the “why” not the “how”. Cutting through the day to day noise and turbulence isn’t easy but the guests on this show will absolutely help you piece the jigsaw together.
The calibre of guests in the early episodes is top drawer and I think you will learn a lot from a variety of perspectives. For example, the opening 4 episodes cover:
- Scott Brinker, probably the global expert in his field, talking marketing technology
- Thought leader, leading influencer and NY Times best selling author Jay Baer talking the social media landscape
- Renowned local digital marketing expert Gavin Heaton talking social business for enterprises
- Robert Rose, top 10 influencer in his field, talking content marketing and media trends
Future guests will also come from the worlds of big data, marketing software and digital marketing. The podcast covers a broad strategic canvas but brings different perspectives and insights to deepen your understanding of social media, digital marketing and marketing technology.
On a personal note, producing a podcast has been quite a learning experience. From discomfort with the sound of your own voice to thinking on the spot in a live interview, it has been extremely testing but also extremely satisfying. I am learning on this journey with you in every sense. Please bear with me through the inevitable early rookie errors from a new podcaster; I am absolutely committed to this podcast for the long run, with the intention of producing an episode per week. Every. Single. Week.
By Adam Fraser
What a few weeks it’s been for live streaming.
First came the “breakout app” of the SXSW conference this year – Meerkat. Then came the launch of Periscope which had been acquired by Twitter earlier this year. Throughout – Twitter, the social zeitgeist and the digerati went into an excitement meltdown.
My stream became congested with [Live Now] precursors. Everyone went a little balmy in the way only tech and social media obsessives can when the “next big thing” emerges.
So hype or reality? How important is live streaming? And who will be the winner between Meerkat and Periscope?
Short answers in order. Real, very and not sure.
We have had live streaming before of course. Simple webcams were a fad in the late 1990s and UStream has been around since 2007 (but has a different business model and a less integrated social connection). And YouTube has of course been dominant and significant in online video more generally, a sector which Facebook are making some serious moves in.
But the game changer here is the confluence of technology development (iPhone6 video capability is astonishing), improvements in mobile broadband (allowing live steaming to transmit with less buffering), social media maturity (mainstream and at scale, to say the least) and the development of simple apps to produce live streaming (Meerkat or Periscope). We have a perfect storm of drivers to make this medium scaleable. The friction in the live streaming process has been almost entirely removed. Click one button (quite literally) and you can live stream to the world with immediate social notifications and a community to comment along the way.
We had cracked one to one “live streaming” (not that we called it that) with Skype and Facetime. Now one to many live streaming is easily available and ‘in-play’.
Of course the less serious side is people live streaming themselves making dinner, buying a coffee or sitting on a plane. We went through this on Twitter and the day to day clutter aspect isn’t key (and shouldn’t become a distraction).
As this develops the use cases and applications will be broad and impactful. Beyond cooking shows, live Q&As and many other traditional “YouTube” channel type applications, what does this means for media and broadcast rights more broadly? This is not so much disruption as potentially nuclear Armageddon.
Think of the value of live sports rights alone. Previously not easy (understatement) to broadcast live events quickly and easily to a large audience. Suddenly not so difficult. And very very difficult to prevent. I am not saying this will overnight create a broadcast quality alternative to TV but you can see where this could go.
Any events where live broadcasting has been monetisable are now in play and at risk of disruption in the long term. Think conferences, music concerts, live comedy. IP and copyright issues aplenty for the legal fraternity to ponder, but remember Napster and how peer to peer music sharing began? If copyright breaches happen at scale this is not an easy can of worms to contain.
This also has ramifications for the way news events are reported. Even the BBC has already been experimenting with Meerkat.
In terms of Meerkat v Periscope the jury is, by definition, still out given the newness of the offerings. The two apps offer different approaches and features. The key feature offered by Periscope not currently offered by Meerkat is the ability to upload replays of previous live streams. Once a Meerkat stream is over it is gone (a la a Snapchat message). Clearly Periscope will also benefit by being owned by Twitter, including accessing its social graph which was unceremoniously pulled from Meerkat. Meerkat is already adding new features in response.
Gary Vaynerchuk and many others are still – sensibly – sitting on the fence on this hotly discussed topic. It is premature to call the end of Meerkat but Twitter’s ownership of Periscope certainly confers advantages.
Too early to call who the “micro” winners will be, but I think as a genre, live streaming’s time has come.
By Adam Fraser
After months of thinking and talking about it, and a few weeks of actually doing something about it, the day is finally beckoning.
My own podcast (“We’re talking social and digital”) is about to launch. Exciting times. I am pumped and committed for the long term to this project.
It has made me take a step back and think about how important podcasting has been (and continues to be) in my own educational journey. Central. Absolutely critical.
As I have previously written, I am extremely bullish on podcasting and personally love the format. Never a wasted moment for me anymore. Running, commuting on the train, driving anywhere alone, folding laundry, doing the ironing; I’m the guy with the headphones on. Listening. Absorbing. And learning so much.
In advance of my own launch, I wanted to take the time to acknowledge and thank a number of key podcasters who have been so central to my own educational journey. None of us ever stops learning – especially in the dynamic and rapidly changing social and digital space – and I have no plans to slow down on my voracious podcast consumption schedule anytime soon.
So here we go – my first ever list post. I had resisted for so long. The Buzzfeed approach to headlines had been held at bay. But here are the top 5 marketing podcasts that have shaped my thinking and I highly recommend.
- Six Pixels of Separation with Mitch Joel
A deep strategic thinker and incredibly insightful in his own right, Mitch brings a range of amazing guests to the table and probes them deeply. Often going broader than social and digital marketing, Mitch explores a whole range of topics including writing, productivity, media trends and disruption. This is in depth stuff. Following the usual podcast interview format, the shows last 45-60 mins. Very much looking at the “why” not the “how”, it’s well worth your time. In a swell of tactical noise, Mitch helps you cut to the broader trends and bigger picture shifts taking place.
- Social Pros with Jay Baer
Upbeat, informal, informative and lots of fun to boot, Jay follows a slightly different format. The anchor content is still an interview (with someone working in social media) but there are also features on social media case studies and social media stats. Co-hosted with Jeff Rohrs from Salesforce, the entertaining banter adds to the package. Jay is one of the leading thinkers in this space, so his context and questions draw the best from his guests and his own commentary add to the educational content. Focussed on “real people doing real work in social media” and typically lasting 45-50mins each week, this is a worthy addition to your podcast schedule as you hear and learn from those actually working in the industry at leading brands. [ps Jay’s “Jay Today” 3 minute near daily podcast is also ‘must listen’ stuff]
- New Rainmaker with Brian Clark
The over-arching theme of all of my favourite podcasts is educational, but with Brian Clark and the Copyblogger team this goes into overdrive! The “media not marketing” series of podcasts he produced were top drawer analysis. Each week the learning continues on content marketing, media trends and product development. Often guests pop in for a chat but the best stuff comes in straight exchanges between Brian and co-host Robert Bruce. Dry, witty, intelligent – Brian sounds like a guy you would want to have a beer with and exchange war stories. Lengths vary quite significantly from 15-50 mins. I have listened to Copyblogger podcasts since circa 2010 and shock horror – the long tail of content marketing – became a Rainmaker customer in 2014 with the development of the EchoJunction website.
- This Old Marketing with Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi
No interviews, but great commentary on weekly marketing news stories from Robert and Joe provides both an excellent curation source for current news as well as interesting discussion and analysis around the articles presented. Whilst Robert and Joe head up the Content Marketing Institute, I love the breadth of topics covered across marketing more generally and especially broader publishing and media trends. From content marketing to native advertising, print to social, you will learn a lot from these guys over 50-60 mins each week. Educational and entertaining with a “rants and raves” section thrown in for good measure, this is very much worth an ear.
- Social Media Marketing Podcast with Michael Stelzner
Social Media Examiner founder Michael Stelzner delivers an industry leading podcast on the “how to” aspect of social media. Bringing in a stream of the leading practitioners and tacticians in the industry, Michael expertly interviews guests on execution matters. Whether or not you operate in the “how”, it’s highly valuable education and tactics which also allow a listener to better understand some of the broader industry trends occurring. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, to be successful in this space you need to operate in both the clouds (strategy) and the dirt (execution). Michael’s longstanding weekly podcast (which typically runs for 40-50 mins) brings quality analysis on the tactical and execution side of social media.
Do you enjoy any of these podcasts? I would also love to hear your thoughts on any other podcasts you enjoy.
To be notified about the launch of the EchoJunction podcast, please sign up for our newsletter. I would love to have you on this journey.
By Adam Fraser
It’s been quite a year for fundraising in the enterprise social media software space.
I have discussed previously the deep, broad and complex marketing technology landscape. Almost 2,000 vendors across 43 categories. “Social media marketing” is just one of these categories but even it has its own living and breathing sub eco-system.
I often dissect the social media software market into verticals such as:
- social listening (think Brandwatch, Netbase, Radian6)
- social analytics (think Simply Measured, Social Bakers)
- social customer service (think Conversocial, SparkCentral)
- end to end social media management platforms (think Tracx, Sprinklr, Hootsuite)
There are of course many (many) other niche execution tools which help with listening or publishing on one or many social platforms (think Thunderclap, Tagboard and SocialBro to name just a few).
So as with the entire marketing technology landscape, the social media technology landscape is also deep and broad. There has been a massive investment of funds into marketing technology more broadly but the investment trends within the social media sector are interesting.
Venture capital and private equity investors expect growth, a return higher than the stock market and a path to an exit. Implicit in their investments is confidence in the enterprise social media space and obviously the specific business they are backing.
Some investors are betting that, increasingly, larger enterprises will seek one end-to-end platform to manage their social media activities, all the way from listening, through to publishing, analytics and customer service, rather than integrating a number of ‘best of breed’ verticals.
In the last couple of months, enterprise social platform Tracx raised $18m from Edison Partners and social marketing platform Spredfast raised $24m from Silver Lake Waterman. This comes less than a year after social management platform Sprinklr raised $40m from ICONIQ and social relationship platform Hootsuite raised $60m from a range of investors.
These are just a few examples but they highlight the key take-out – professional investors believe social media technology to be an ‘investment grade’ sector worthy of significant investment. It’s a sign of the maturation of the industry. We have come a long way from the “You should have a Facebook page” view of social media for enterprises.
Whether end to end platforms or best of breed verticals come to dominate within social technology will be an interesting topic to observe over the next 24-36 months. Mergers and acquisitions will also start to play a part in the landscape as some level of consolidation in a crowded market seems inevitable.
The battle lines have been drawn and people have made their bets. There will always be winners and losers, but the social media technology sector as a whole is healthy, growing and growing up.
By Adam Fraser
I’ve heard it a number of times.
You know the elevator pitch you have to give when you have 30 seconds to explain “what your new business is all about”.
I mention social media strategy and social media technology and people immediately jump to the conclusion that “only B2C companies would find value in that”. Better dust off those proposals for Coke, Unilever and Woolworths or it could be a dry summer.
So in essence people jump to two headline conclusions:
- social media’s only value is in marketing and directly driving sales (the “broadcast fallacy”) – i.e. it is purely an advertising mechanism, a channel to blast out your message
- social media is thus only of value to companies targeting a mass consumer base (the “you need a Facebook page” strategy)
Social media is a communication medium. A platform. So is a telephone system. Historically businesses may have used a phone system for many operational purposes including:
- cold calling customers and trying to sell stuff
- taking inbound enquiries from customers wishing to do business with you
- managing customer service issues
- listening to feedback
- receiving complaints
- asking for input on new products
- dealing with queries from job applicants
- performing market research
- internal collaboration
We need to separate the medium or platform from the business use for which that platform is used. An ineffective mechanic should not blame his tools. Inappropriate use of telephone “technology” is not the fault of the medium. The phone system is just there, open for use as a means of 2 way communication. Good use and bad use.
Social media platforms and technology can also be used for many many purposes within a business. Yes sales and marketing are in there (although stand alone hard sales messages go down particularly badly on social) but so are all the other items on the list above, plus others. Many use cases relate to business processes unrelated to traditional sales and marketing.
Social media is not and has never been a reach and frequency broadcast channel.
Think of social as the modern form of the telephone with much better functionality. As with a telephone you can use it to shout your brand message, talk about yourself and block your ears. Based on the nuances of this platform, you will be more effective if you use it primarily as a way to listen to your customers, and also a mechanism to answer their questions and communicate with them about whatever topic they wish at a time and place of their choosing.
Social is not TV, Radio or Print. We need to stop treating it this way. Its two way and transparent nature was a game changer. It is a platform which works best as a high engagement 1:1 communication channel. At its core it is a medium of connection.
Businesses struggle with this for many reasons not the least being the inherent and very real difficulty of scaling effective execution of 1:1 communications. But also because they desperately want it to simply be another channel to blast out their own messages. Much easier to apply existing old school marketing activities and thinking to a new technology. Ceding control of your brand to what consumers say about you rather than what you want them to think is indeed a scary prospect.
Its always been this way – the first ever TV adverts were radio ads read out on TV. Go figure. The wrong use of a new media technology.
Inappropriate use of a platform does not render the platform itself as flawed. We should blame the orchestra conductor not the baton he uses badly. The wizard not the wand.
By Adam Fraser
LinkedIn has come a long way from its origins. What began as a largely text based, pseudo job board has morphed into the prime B2B content distribution, marketing and networking platform in the world. Yes recruitment is still part of the story but there is so much more there if you look under the bonnet.
LinkedIn started out in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman in 2002, going live in May 2003. It’s the world’s largest professional network with more than 347 million members in over 200 countries and territories, and over 6m members in Australia (almost half the Australian labour force). Its website has a nice visual showing user growth since its inception. The pace of recent growth is impressive; having taken over 7 years to reach 100m users (in late 2010) it hit 200m in mid 2012 and 300m in late 2013.
With more than the 90% of white collar professionals signed up to LinkedIn in some mature markets, it is almost ubiquitous in many professional sectors. Across the board it is the 14th most popular website on the planet.
Less fashionable and talked about than its consumer focused peers in social media, LinkedIn is a financial powerhouse. Its full year 2014 results showed revenue of $2.2bn and EBITDA (fancy accounting term which is a good proxy for operating profitability) of $592m . Nice (as a comparison note Twitter’s equivalent numbers in 2014 were revenue $1.4bn and EBITDA $300m ). It is forecasting revenue of close to $3bn in 2015. That’s a healthy clip.
LinkedIn listed on the NY Stock Exchange in May 2011 and its stock price doubled on day one. People were concerned about over-valuation as it ended day one a $9bn company. Its market cap today is now over $33bn.
So how is LinkedIn now making money? It has 3 primary revenue generating divisions:
- Talent Solutions (recruitment related products and services) – 57% of revenue
- Marketing Solutions (sponsored posts and advertising) – 24% of revenue
- Premium Subscriptions (individual subscription packages) – 19% of revenue
Its full year results also highlighted some interesting trends:
- It now has 3m active jobs listed on the platform
- 70% of its members come from outside the USA – it is a truly global platform
- Over 1m long form posts per week are now generated on its publishing platform
After initially opening its native blogging/publishing platform in October 2012 only to influencers such as Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Barack Obama it opened this platform more broadly in February 2014 with great success. Whilst I have previously written about not building your media house on rented property, as a driver of awareness (and hence potential traffic back to your own mothership) LinkedIn’s publishing platform (and enormous audience) is of significant value.
In the past couple of years, LinkedIn has sensibly bolted on acquisitions which have both strengthened its core offering and diversified its range of services.
In July 2012 LinkedIn acquired Slideshare, a sharing platform for business documents, videos and presentations. In a honeymoon period for content marketing, this was a very important strategic bolt on. Slideshare is now the world’s largest community for sharing presentations and other professional content. Often over-looked, there are a number of ways businesses can use Slideshare as part of their B2B marketing. This is an important content discovery platform and should be a key consideration for any B2B content marketing strategy.
In April 2013 LinkedIn acquired Pulse, boosting its capability in publishing, content curation and content distribution. This has been seamlessly and effectively integrated into the LinkedIn platform and provides further compelling reasons for professionals to “check in” and spend more time on LinkedIn.
In February 2014 data-matching job search start up Bright.com was bolted on, removing a potential competitor and boosting capability in LinkedIn’s core recruitment value proposition
In July 2014 LinkedIn acquired Bizo, a company that helps advertisers reach businesses and professionals. Bizo offers targeting and analytics for display and direct response ads. Significantly this gave LinkedIn a chance to expand its reach (and associated marketing offerings) to platforms beyond LinkedIn itself. As alluded to it in its own blog announcement on the acquisition, it also enhanced LinkedIn’s analytics and targeting capabilities. Bizo has more than 2000 publishing partners and is now fully integrated into LinkedIn’s platform.
There was a key strategic game changer in the Bizo acquisition and integration. As stated in the LinkedIn blog (bold is my emphasis):
“Today we also extend our reach beyond the LinkedIn platform with LinkedIn Network Display, an audience network which gives brands the opportunity to engage professional audiences with display advertising both on LinkedIn and off-platform across thousands of publisher sites on the web.”
Pushing the ever-present privacy concerns to one side when looking at social media targeting and big data, this is an important and significant expansion of LinkedIn’s reach. Thoughts spring to mind re the Google framework – where ads appear on many properties beyond its own via the google display network. LinkedIn is expanding its tentacles beyond its own site, but utilising its proprietary data on its users. It doesn’t take too much imagination to start seeing your LinknedIn identity becoming your de facto digital id, driving content and ad targeting on many online properties outside of LinkedIn.
What next? LinkedIn is looking at the possible launch of an intranet service for businesses. A move into content recommendation, marketing automation or even CRM isn’t that big a leap. It is moving from a position of strength.
In terms of marketing the conclusion is inescapable. When you are thinking B2B marketing you simply have to think LinkedIn (and Slideshare). The fact that it was never “fashionable” actually works to LinkedIn’s benefit. People were never there because it was a cool place to hang out. They were there for business. And unless LinkedIn scores some major own goals they are unlikely to be leaving any time soon.
By Adam Fraser
The worlds of the marketing and IT departments have never been closer.
As I previously discussed, there are now a plethora of software tools available to marketers. Approximately 2,000 tools. Being comfortable with technology and analytics is no longer an optional extra for digital marketers – it’s table stakes. As often quoted, Gartner have forecast that by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.
The term Chief Marketing Technologist is becoming increasingly understood and adopted in the USA – the true hybrid CMO/CIO role. As Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec.com describes, it’s a “marketer who understands technology. A technologist who is passionate about marketing” . A Gartner study from 2013 in the USA showed that 70% of companies sampled had a chief marketing technologist.
In early 2015, the Economist Intelligence Unit with Marketo surveyed 500 senior marketers from around the globe. Two of the key conclusions were
- Marketing needs to invest in new digital skills and operational expertise – marketing is shifting from an art form to art & science
- Marketing must leverage technology to succeed in this world of individual engagement at scale
In considering the synergies of a collaborative approach between marketing and IT, I like this quote from David Rubin, head of brand at Pinterest, from a KornFerry paper “Driving Change in a digitally transformed world” :
“With greater philosophical alignment between the CMO and CIO, technology turns into a weapon – instead of a cost.”
The PWC Digital IQ survey in 2014 indicated 5 key behaviours driving the success of an enterprise’s digital strategy, one of which was listed as the strength of the CMO/CIO relationship.
Many trends in the digital marketing space are global, but this particular topic is one I think where there is a clear disparity between the USA and Australia. In Australia whilst there is certainly awareness and discussion on the CMO/CIO convergence, I don’t think we have progressed to the point where the true hybrid role has gone mainstream.
Quick experiment to confirm – searching on Seek.com.au today (Feb 25, 2015) there were multiple listings for CMOs and CIOs but zero search results returned for the term “Chief Marketing Technologist”.
The over-arching reason why the CMO/CIO convergence issue has become the topic of so many conversations is based on the broader shifts happening in the market, namely the “digital revolution” driving the need for significant change management processes within enterprises. The Altimer group define digital transformation as:
The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.
Unquestionably the worlds of the CMO and the CIO are converging and will continue to do so. A key question to consider – is this departmental relationship enough to facilitate a true enterprise-wide digital transformation? The stakes are high in executing on this. An excellent 2012 study from Cap Gemini and MIT showed how digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry, driving real results for the bottom line.
Interestingly, the Cap Gemini/MIT study identified 6 common factors driving the successful digital strategies of the digital leaders, one being:
IT-Business relationships. Digital transformation is about re-defining big parts of the business, and IT is essential in doing it. In some companies, the CIO is the perfect Building Digital Maturity: Digital DNA person to suggest and even drive digital initiatives; in other cases the digital agenda will be driven by business or joint IT-business teams. In any case, shared understanding between IT and business executives is critical to success.
A common view is that the CMO should lead the digital transformation of an organisation. The 2014 State of Digital Transformation Study from the Altimer group confirmed that 54% of CMOs were driving digital transformation versus 29% CIOs/CTOs (and only 42% of CEOs).
Whilst customer facing aspects are not the sole consideration in an enterprise’s digital transformation, understanding the digital touch points across the end to end customer experience clearly represents a key aspect, hence the obvious interest of the marketer in driving this change management process.
We need technology solutions to meet a business requirement which is executing on a corporate strategy. Ultimately the CMO v CIO issue, whilst critical, is only one aspect of the jigsaw puzzle. The key is driving the overall business changes needed and reaching the desired strategic end point, not necessarily the methods (or org structure) you use to get there.
What is clear is that IT is a key enabler of this process. The extent to which they are driving the process may vary depending on the individual characteristics of an organisation, but at a minimum they absolutely need to be engaged, contributing and facilitating.
Marketers clearly have a seat at this table, quite often at the head, but the key for any organisation is to remove the silos and harness the collective IP of the senior executive team to drive the holistic digital change program needed in these dynamic times.
With other business processes arguably also in play beyond marketing – including customer support, internal collaboration, operating efficiency and employee retention to name a few – this digital change process will sensibly encapsulate more than just the CMO and the CIO. It also needs to be backed by CEO sponsorship.
By Adam Fraser
Snapchat has become the poster child for the “millennial social network”. Launched in mid 2011 as a mobile only platform, it now has at least 100m monthly active users (some speculate the actual number is closer to 200m), 71% of whom are under 25 and highly engaged, sending more than 800m snaps per day.
In stock market parlance, millennials have gone long Snapchat and short Facebook. Quoting again for the recent medium post “A teenagers view of social media“:
“Snapchat is where we can really be ourselves while being attached to our social identity. Without the constant social pressure of a follower count or Facebook friends, I am not constantly having these random people shoved in front of me. Instead, Snapchat is a somewhat intimate network of friends…”
Snapchat is more popular than Facebook with teenagers in many markets.
However, the social network with the ultimate millennial audience may just be growing up in media terms.
It has gone through the tried and trusted model of social networks – attract an audience, allow free reign for “organic” content, then once a scalable loyal base has been established, find a native way to monetise this via advertising and sponsorship. As Gary Vayernchuk says “marketers ruin everything” and in Snapchat’s case with 100m+monthly users in the very attractive “youth market”, the marketers are certainly coming.
Snapchat has evolved a great deal since it commenced as the quirky mobile app which allowed users to send video or photos which disappeared after 10 seconds.
In October 2013 it launched stories, allowing users to create connected narratives which lasted 24 hours. A rolling storyboard of your daily life. Increased engagement. Increased attention.
In May 2014 it moved into the straight ‘traditional’ text messaging space dominated by WhatsApp by adding text chat and video calls.
In early 2015 it launched its new Discovery platform which in one fell swoop effectively moved Snapchat into the world of online publishing, backed by sponsored ads. In a complete pivot from its trademark disappearing messages, 11 media partners including CNN, MTV, Daily Mail and CNN offered short form video content in a separate area of the platform. Snapchat’s own announcement on this included a telling remark:
“This is not social media. Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”
Interesting move. Snapchat is self-proclaiming itself “not social media”. No algorithms to determine what is found within Discovery. No self-curation of content. For now this is controlled by Snapchat. Straight media within the broader messaging platform. The content refreshes every 24 hours encouraging regular engagement amongst its users. The advertising options within this are more open, including a possible “click to buy” button.
Shortly after the launch of Discovery, Madonna released her new video on Snapchat. Now I know its not 1985 and Madonna is no longer at the peak of her powers but that’s still an impressive marker for such a new media platform. Not itunes. Not Facebook. Not Instagram. Madonna chose new kid on the block Snapchat. Rumours had previously emerged of Snapchat’s interest in the music industry based on its audience demographic.
It’s still early days, but of all the networks Snapchat seems to be managing the inverse relationship between revenue generation and user experience the most effectively. Driven by the powerful psychology of ‘view it now or it disappears forever’, the sponsored content to date has been received reasonably well.
800m snaps and 1bn stories viewed daily. Thats a lot of attention – the scarcest commodity around. Whilst not yet profitable, investors like what they see. A current fundraising is rumoured to value Snapchat at $19bn.
Novel and unique as Snapchat’s platform is, ultimately they have followed the golden rule of media. Its all about the audience. Build a large, engaged and loyal audience, then the monetisation opportunities will take care of themselves. Snapchat needs to execute on this without overly disrupting the user experience but it seems to be navigating this minefield reasonably well. Whether it is worth $19bn is a question for another day, but the new kid on the block is growing up fast.
By Adam Fraser
There’s no question about which visual social network is flavour of the month at present. Insta’s hot. Everyone love the Gram.
Its user numbers have just passed Twitter at 300m, making it the fastest growing social network in 2014 and well known social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk just pronounced Instagram as the most important network to focus on right now in 2015.
So after a high profile period, the “other visual network” Pinterest seems to be somewhat flying under the radar at present. Which may lead some to believe it can be ignored. Depending on your demographic, this could be a serious mistake.
I recently wrote about respecting the differing psychology of individuals when they are on different social networks. Never is this more pronounced than with Pinterest.
Pinterest launched in early 2010. Its popularity skews to the USA geographically and heavily to the female demographic with women comprising 80% of its user base (and 92% of its Pins). Users have already created 750m boards and 30 billion individual pins.
In Australia, the latest stats show Pinterest having only 355k users (versus 4m for Instagram and 13.8m for Facebook as context). Globally Pinterest has 70m users (noting it doesn’t publicly confirm its user numbers) verus 300m for Instagram and 1.4bn for Facebook. Whilst its absolute numbers are well beneath the headline user numbers of other platforms, its relative ability to generate clicks and consumer activity is unsurpassed. Already valued at $5bn, investors can clearly see the potential here.
Another unique aspect of Pinterest is the shelf life on its Pins. They last forever, as Pinterest is not focused on user feeds, but on category pages and popular sections. Consider the useful life of a Tweet (we must be talking minutes) or a Facebook post (at best a few hours). Pinterest pins are evergreen, consistently available for browsers new and old to discover. They can generate repins and traffic for years.
The pins are not the only thing with a long shelf life. Pinterest’s female users are incredibly loyal and ‘sticky’. An incredible 84% still pin regularly 4 years after they joined and they actually get more active with time. Longevity is the ultimate challenge for any social network (think Friendster and MySpace) so this trend of loyalty and increasing activity is incredibly important.
Intent to buy is the real differentiator for Pinterest versus other social networks. The psychology of the (largely female) Pinterest user when browsing and creating image boards is aspirational. How they want their house to look. The dream holiday. The perfect outfit. The sumptuous recipe and home cooked meal. And they are ready to click and buy when in this mindset. According to data from Shopify shoppers are 10% more likely to make a purchase compared to those who arrive from other social sites and the average order coming from Pinterest is $80, double the average order coming from a Facebook viewer (and higher even than google referrals). These are critical and commercially very valuable differences.
New features continue to be added which are improving the user experience on Pinterest. Guided search functionality was added in April 2014 (there is a strong product search potential for Pinterest – Google take note), and messaging added in August 2014. Facebook and Twitter have both experimented with buy buttons and it’s not hard to envisage Pinterest moving closer to direct e-commerce as a future business model.
As happened with all booming social networks before it, the marketers are honing in on this extremely attractive demographic and platform. Promoted pins are now widely available in 2015, having been tested in 2014. It remains to be seen if this will impact the user experience but to date the ads have been as native as they come, blending in well with the overall experience.
Pinterest is not for everyone or every brand. But if your target audience is female and your business is retail/consumer focused it absolutely should be part of your marketing play-book. Pinterest is the ultimate example of why social networks are not always about headline numbers. Quality of attention, engagement and action metrics matter. Pinterest over-indexes on these things.
By Adam Fraser.
There has been lots of discussion about Big Data in recent months. Everyone seems to be talking about it, including marketers.
If you want to get technical and big data geeky, the definition of big data is:
Data that is difficult to collect, store or process within the conventional systems of statistical organizations. Either, their volume, velocity, structure or variety requires the adoption of new statistical software processing techniques and/or IT infrastructure to enable cost-effective insights to be made.
So how big is the data in our universe at present? Here are a few sample facts to give you a general sense:
- As far back as August 2010, Google’s Eric Schmidt stated that we now create more data every 2 days than we did from the beginning of time to 2003
- Estimates re the Internet of Things show there will be 50 billion interconnected devices within the next 5-10 years (all transmitting data)
- 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and 6 billion hours of video are watched every month
- Facebookhas 1.35bn monthly active users, storing more than 300 petabytes of data from its users
- Approximately 200 billion tweets per year are sent on Twitter
By the time you read this no doubt all these numbers will have increased again and there are many more mindblowing stats on how much data we now create. Case closed – the pool of data to analyse out there is ‘big’.
Marketers are chomping at the bit to discuss the multiple possible use cases for this vast data pool. Yet we still live in a world where Facebook itself cant judge the sentiment of photos uploaded by its users. I still regularly get newsletters from brands that don’t seem to know or acknowledge my actual status as a customer. When I call financial institutions it’s clear multiple customer databases don’t talk to each other – old phone numbers, old addresses etc on different departments’ systems.
Examples are all too common of brands not delivering the right message at the right time. Not doing the basics analytics well. Not joining the dots from disparate pieces of customer information. If the foundations aren’t there, attempts to jump into more complex big data analytics are unlikely to be immediately effective.
There is no question that big data analytics can produce significant benefits and insights for organisations following the correct business processes and asking the right questions. But marketers may want to focus on effectively using the “small data” they have first, before super-sizing to the larger unstructured pools.
By Adam Fraser.
When Facebook announced its $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp in Feb 2014 that was a pretty big statement. This was Facebook after all – THE dominant social media platform, with its own native messenger platform to boot.
Yet despite its undisputed market power and dominant leading position in social media, Facebook felt the need to pay a…a-hum… “full price” for a messaging platform. $19bn for a company not yet making any money. Clearly a long term strategic play based on its impressive 600m user base, not a short term financial one.
The price paid, and urgency to buy, shows how seriously Facebook took the threat from messaging platforms. They saw the growth in messaging platforms and saw a threat. They were acknowledging a trend. Messaging, a natively mobile form of communication, was becoming a serious business. Some even forecast that messenger apps would soon be bigger than social networks, and stats in late 2014 showed messenger apps were growing at the expense of social networks.
When social media really hit the mainstream it seemed that everyone wanted to be a “publisher”. Not necessarily in the NY Time sense of the word, but it was all about the sharing. Sharing publicly. What you had for lunch. Your views on Breaking Bad. The party last night. Everything had to be shared with everyone.
The growth in messaging in recent years is indicative perhaps of a broader shift. Are millennials in particular developing a deeper sense of privacy? Are they coming to the point where not everything has to be shared in public? Ironically we no longer speak on the telephone that much, but we are coming full circle back to a place where people increasingly want to use social platforms to communicate with individuals in private. Communications with close friends. Generally 1:1; possibly 1: a few; but less frequently 1: world.
The trend to 1:1 is clear when you look at the strategies of the larger ‘traditional’ social networks. Instagram introduced direct messaging in December 2013. – allowing users to send each other private images or videos. Pinterest added direct messaging in August 2014 . Twitter has long had a direct messaging service. And we all remember the kerfuffle when Facebook insisted users download Facebook messenger in a separate app in July 2014. Messaging now matters.
So is the whole social media landscape changing? Is the growing popularity of messaging services indicative of a broader trend? Arguably yes.
The rapid growth of Snapchat in itself is indicative that users – even millennials – have certain communications that they want to have in private. Discussions around live public events – major sports, reality TV, the Oscars, breaking news etc – will likely remain the staple of the more public sharing mediums. Sharing of more creative visuals on Instagram lends itself more naturally to ‘group’ display. But the truly social/close friend/personal communications may increasingly migrate to messaging platforms.
This view from a teenager published on Medium is well worth a read and is insightful in this regard.
On Facebook – “it’s dead to us”
On Snapchat – “it’s where we can really be ourselves…Snapchat is a somewhat intimate network of friends “
Social media is too big, too broad and too global to make too many sweeping generalisations. Social media and large group/public sharing is not “dead”. Instagram in particular is thriving at present. But the rapid growth in Snapchat (currently the fastest growing mobile messenger app) and Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp alone tell you messaging is a serious force to be taken note of in the social stratosphere.
The challenges for marketers are significant in tackling the rapidly growing new kid on the block – brands may be even less welcome in this more intimate, private zone.
By Adam Fraser.
In the business world of old it was nice to compartmentalise. To draw up transparent and obvious lines in the sand for segmentation of a sector. Easy delineation. When changes came they seem to crawl up on us.
If only the world of social media were this easy. Rapid change is a permanent and seems to come quarter by quarter not decade by decade.
Instagram and Pinterest – they’re the image based social networks? Yes…until pretty much all the networks went very visual – even business focussed LinkedIn.
WhatsApp and Viber are for messaging. Yep…but now even Pinterest has a direct message platform. As does Instagram…and Facebook of course. SnapChat is based around 1:1 or 1:few messaging.
Twitter used to look very different to Facebook. Glance now at a home screen – not THAT different any more.
Are all social networks converging? A post for another day. But one area of real interest and rapid change is the online video space.
OK thats an easy one. YouTube is by far the market leader. Well yes but…what if I told you that on Facebook, brands uploaded more videos directly to Facebook rather than via YouTube last month? Yep, this is a major landscape shift from recent months – as Facebook focuses more and more on video uploaded directly to its own platform it is actively (and successfully) attempting to eat some of YouTube’s lunch.
Facebook’s focus on video has been apparent for a number of months. In September last year it was reported that Facebook was trying to poach ‘talent’ from YouTube – people operating Multi Channel Networks (MCNs) on YouTube.
At an analysts call following Facebook’s Q3 results, in October 2014, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg said:
“The investments we have made in video have also played a big part here. This quarter we announced a new milestone for video on Facebook achieving 1 billion video views a day of made videos. During the summer the ice bucket challenge drew more than 10 billion video views by 440 million people which is a good sign of how far our video product has come.”
When Zuckerberg presented and answered questions at a very interesting town hall meeting late last year, he covered a wide range of topics re Facebook. One quote to make YouTube sit up and take note:
“Five years ago most of Facebook was text, and if you fast-forward five years, probably most of it is going to be video, just because it’s getting easier to capture video and the moments of your life and share it”.
A study from Social Bakers showed that in December 2014 brands uploaded more videos directly to Facebook rather than linking to a YouTube upload. With Facebook being the largest social network of over 1 billion global users this is not an insignificant trend for YouTube’s overall business, which in late 2013 was estimated to control 20% of the US online video ad market.
A January 2015 blog post from Facebook confirmed the increasing importance of (native Facebook) video and guided publishers on what type of video content they believed would work best. This hinted at more disruption to the ad sharing models for online video publishers.
Facebook is benefiting from an unfair advantage here. What do they say about the Golden Rule? – he who controls the gold, makes the rules. Facebook owns the users and controls its own platform rules. It is auto-playing videos in the news-stream but only if you upload the video direct to Facebook. Big difference in user experience. Big difference in engagement rates. Big incentive for people (especially brands) to upload directly via Facebook’s video platform rather than linking to a YouTube video.
Higher engagement rates are a natural consequence of this Facebook operating tactic, which feeds the desire to only upload via Facebook. Stories of brand’s successes will spread. Smart move by Facebook. It’s their house – they make the rules (as I previously discussed).
The themes of digital disruption, rapid change and shifting business models are evident in spades in online video. Video is the latest “next big thing” for 2015. YouTube remains the dominant force in this space – no question – but it will need to keep evolving to hold its leading position in this turbulent landscape. When Facebook focuses on your main business line it’s probably worth sitting up to take note.
By Adam Fraser.
Scott Brinker at ChiefMartec.com produces an excellent infographic showing the breadth and depth of the marketing technology landscape.
In 2014 there were 947 companies with offerings in marketing technology. Before you fall off your chair at that number, just a year later in the 2015 update there were 1,876 vendors across 43 categories. That’s right – nearly 2,000 companies with offerings in marketing software! For a longer term context, note that in the first edition of this analysis in late 2011 there were only 100 vendors. Thats quite an explosion of marketing technology in circa 3 years.
What is going on here? 2014 was already a staggering number but in just a year it has almost doubled.
First and foremost (and self evidently from the growth in the number of operators) this is a macro market growing fast. Really fast. IDC forecast a global sector valued at $20.2bn on software solutions for marketing in 2014, growing to $32.3bn by 2018. Hence the much quoted stat from Gartner that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs. Investors like the potential of this sector having invested almost $50bn in this space. The world (and hence the marketing world) is increasingly digital.
Suddenly CMOs are operating in a world where they need to be familiar with a range of bigger picture IT related issues – roadmaps, data architecture, platforms, the cloud, integration – as well as ‘mechanical’ issues re the operation of numerous individual tools. No question the worlds of the CMO and CIO are converging. This is driving a “new” job definition in the USA of ‘marketing technologist’ – hybrid marketing/IT professionals who operate increasingly sophisticated tech powered capabilities from within the marketing team.
Realistically, all marketers must now become part ‘marketing technologist’, regardless of their specific job. Big data is having a big impact on the world of the marketer. Beyond analytics, there are now certain skills all marketers need to have in 2015.
Scott has 4 key take away high level points from the landscape
- Marketing has unquestionably become a technology-powered discipline.
- The quantity of martech ventures is a barometer of how much marketing is evolving.
- The marketing technology field is heterogeneous, with a very broad range of products.
- To thrive in this environment, marketing should steadily develop its technical talent.
I think points 2-4 are self evident but I would like to explore point 1 a bit further. This is not what Scott is saying, but my extended rhetorical question is – has marketing become a science not an art? Do smart tools, big data and algorithms now power marketing rather than creativity and intuition? Do we just flick a switch for magic to happen?
Very few issues in business are black or white and I think this topic is also one of relativity. Marketing has always been about knowing your customer and understanding the numbers, but I think most would agree, the rapid evolution of technology since the advent of the internet has allowed a depth and granularity of numeric analysis, together with a speed and ease of capture, not previously possible. Marketers can quickly and cost effectively track and access more data than ever which inter-alia should assist business decision making.
That being said we need to always remember tools are….just that…tools. Technology is there to help. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Tools are not a substitute for effective business processes, strong corporate culture, aligned happy employees, insightful strategic analysis or creative brilliance. As Bill Gates said:
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Having the world’s best CRM system doesn’t magically transform a business into an effective sales organisation. Likewise you can implement the best workflow and content marketing software in the world, but if your content stinks and you don’t care about your audience’s needs, you won’t succeed. There are a myriad of tools available in social media marketing but without the correct strategy, they won’t be a magic wand to success. Human IP still matters. You need the right advice and the right people to drive your marketing strategy and business processes, facilitated by the right tools.
Don’t start with the tool, start with the business problem you are trying to solve.
We shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the volume of marketing software tools out there. We should be grateful that we will live in an era where if the correct culture, processes, people and strategy are in place, we have some amazing, cost effective and easily accessible tools available to fast track us to success.
By Adam Fraser.
I have been a big fan of podcasting for some time. Not normally an “early adopter”, I think I may actually qualify in this case having jumped on the podcast bandwagon as far back as 2009. I think its a medium worthy of further investigation whether you are a marketer or a ‘consumer’ of content.
Podcasts have their origin in the post internet area with the advent of MP3 files and MP3 players (of which the iPod was the most popular). The term podcast was coined by journalist Ben Hammersley in a newspaper article in 2004 and has stuck ever since. Consider podcasts your own personalised, cutomisable radio station which can be easily consumed from any setting in today’s smartphone dominant world.
The benefits to consumers and the reasons for podcasting’s growth include:
- Multi-tasking capability leads to time efficiency – you can listen to podcasts while performing other activties – walking the dog, running, driving, folding laundry, gardening – thus allowing podcast content to be squeezed into hitherto non-productive times
- Customisable – unlike conventional radio, you listen to what you want, when you want it; it’s on-demand audio 24/7
- Portable – with advent of smartphones, podcasts can be easily consumed anytime, anywhere
- Frictionless – especially since the launch of the recent Podcast app which is pre-installed on all Apple devices, podcast episodes download automatically via wifi – no need to “sync” with a computer anymore
- Breadth of content – From light entertainment to the insights of global thought leaders, podcasts are a great education and entertainment medium; also, content quality has certainly improved in recent years
- Intimacy – a deeper emotional connection is developed via voice; you feel like you “know” the presenter in a way it can be harder to develop via written words and other content forms
- Price – to date podcasts have been free
No question that the internet itself, followed by the growth in mobile and smartphone penetration, were the foundations upon which podcast growth was built.
After a few blips in the road, it looks like podcasting is beginning to gain some traction and hit the mainstream. Podcasts and podcast networks have become a serious commercial business. In the USA 15% of adults listened to a podcast in the last month and 30% have listened to a podcast at some point. Apple confirmed in June 2013 that it had surpassed 1 billion podcast downloads on the iTunes platform, and it now hosted more than 250,000 podcasts in 100 different languages. The recent Serial podcast certainly seems to have ‘cut through’ to the mainstream in a way podcasts hadn’t previously.
That all being said, podcasts still have some way to go to catch up mainstream radio. Looking to the USA as a guide, 52% of audio consumption is still via broadcast radio, compared to 1.7% being podcasts. However the incumbent market leader (radio) should not underestimate the growth and disruption potential of podcasts. Think about the impact YouTube has had on TV consumption; I believe the time is approaching where podcasts could begin to make a similar indent to radio.
As I have discussed in a previous blog, the consumer of today wants to consume content on their timetable, on a device and at a location of their choosing. Why be restricted by the schedule of a radio broadcaster, when you can choose exactly the type of audio content you want to consume, download it and listen at a time and place of your choosing? The basic consumer proposition of the podcast is superior. Exceptions may be live events (breaking news, live sports) but for general entertainment and learning, the podcast as a distribution mechanism wins (assuming of course quality of content is consistent).
So if the fundamental proposition is better, why have podcasts taken longer (than say YouTube) to hit the mainstream and take more market share from radio? A range of things come to mind including:
- Technology: until relatively recently the means to download a podcast had more friction – connect to a computer with a cable, sync with iTunes etc Improvement in smartphone technology, and the podcast apps there-in, have materially improved ease of access.
- Video v audio: TV was starting from a more dominant starting point v radio hence the more obvious initial target for disruptors
- The breadth and quality of podcast content took longer to develop and improve
The game changer to me which could catapult podcasting even further into the mainstream is connected cars. Approximately 44% of radio is currently consumed via commuters driving in cars. Yes you can currently play podcasts via your car audio system but there is currently friction making this more fiddly and cumbersome than pushing a single button to listen to the radio. Once connected cars gain share and the technology develops further, it will become as seamless to listen to exactly what you want via a podcast as it currently is to switch on the radio.
Just 14 manufacturers control 80% of the global car market. Each one of them has a connected-car strategy. A mobile research group from the USA predicts that in 2015 50% of cars will have Internet connectivity, and this will grow to 100% by 2025. The podcast market is already circling to meet the expected demand from connected drivers on the backbone of Android Auto and Apple Car Play.
Radio has been relatively insulated from much of the digital disruption of the past decade. Its time has now come.