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13 Jul

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Social Media: Not about marketing, but changing the company

July 13, 2009 | By |

Don't just talk. Listen! Just broadcasting with more & smaller megaphones: Not the way you want to go.

There’s one good thing about the live-streamed and much discussed Vodefone press conference where the telco presented their new brand strategy: We have another good example to discuss the relationships between companies, brands, social media and advertising.

For those who haven’t been following the discussion, here’s the short-short version: Vodafone are re-branding themselves. Hired to help them is Scholz & Friends, a large ad agency. From now on, they target what they call “Generation Upload”, the new generation of consumers that’s always on and shares their stuff online. Also, Vodafone now wants to treat their old, trusty customers at least as good as new customers.

Duh.

Anyway. Back to the point. Thomas pointed out:

[…] Scholz is an advertising company. They are not business consultants. And social media won’t change that. They talk to marketing directors about ads, not about products. They might talk about products over coffee, but they will never change a companies behaviour. Claiming to do so, claiming to listen, claiming to put the customer first and then not living up to the expectations is worse than not even rise all sorts of expectations that can never be fulfilled.

This really nails it: You can’t just use social media for marketing and advertising and hope that anything will change. It won’t. Not a single one of your company’s problems will be solved, not a single customer more happy with you. (Your management might be happy ’cause everything seems new and hip, but this shouldn’t be the benchmark.)

Social media – and more importantly, underlying principle of dialog with your customers on eye level – requires a corporate culture, and structure, that allows for dialog. Requires it even! In some areas, that’s perfectly normal and doesn’t require a large change: If you buy clothes, you can always expect that the sales person will talk to you, particularly if it’s a small owner-run business. Nothing new there.

For larger corporations, sometimes it’s not as easy. They need to change. A lot. To change, you don’t hire an ad agency.

(Although some common sense might come in handy, as Johannes points out.)

It’s a problem many companies have, it’s hard to figure out who to hire to help you navigate this weird space that’s called Social Media. (I’m not pitching my services here – I’m just a one-person outfit, not in competition with said large agencies, although I sometimes work with them.) Instead of ad agencies, hire business consultants. Let them help you. (If instead you still want to hire communications consultants of any sorts, be prepared to change after their advice.)

(Edit: If you’re an ad or PR agency, here’s your part of the deal: If you offer social media services, make sure to negotiate the privileges required to change your client’s company, not just their image. You, too, face a very different challenge than a few years ago.)

It’s not about finding a new wrapping for your old dusty product. It’s about inventing a new product. Maybe that requires tearing down your old factory and building a new one.

Just for completeness’ sake, here’s a screenshot I took today (almost a week after the press conference) on the Vodafone website:

so-called vodafone flatrate Screenshot: A Vodafone offer touting a smartphone and the “SuperFlatInternet” plan (not a real flatrate)

Not only is it – as far as I can tell – not a new product, but it’s also a prime example of intransparent, misleading pricing. (Quoted prices: Monthly 44,95; monthly 49,95; monthly after six months: 59,95.) And there’s not a trace of a true internet flatrate.

Not following up on new announcements: Bad. Also, another example Why The Telcos Are Doomed.

Update 16 July 2009: Point in case, Laura Porto Stockwell over at Digital Dialogs came to the same conclusions and has a neat Forrester report to back her up. (via Johannes)

Photo by ehnmark (Creative Commons). Screenshot (Creative Commons).

10 Oct

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Berlinblase summarized in one Moo card

October 10, 2008 | By |

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Berlinblase is back. But as of now, we have a Moo card that says it all:

berlinblase.de. live, raw and uncut by Flickr user dotdean Image by dotdean, licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc)

Not enough info? There’s (a bit… work in progress…) more on Berlinblase > About, as well as a brief intro to the crew.

26 Sep

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State of the Blogosphere 2008 (brief summary)

September 26, 2008 | By |

Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere is back, this time split up into five daily installments. (Start with the introduction.) What can I say? Some impressive numbers. Note that the data is a mix of stats gathered through Technorati and feedback gathered in a survey of some 1.100 bloggers (methodology).

First up, and hardly surprising, blogs are here to stay. Also, the lines between blogs and mainstream media (MSM) are blurring ever more. While top blogs are becoming more MSM, those mainstream media are adapting techniques of blogs. Fun fact: “95% of the top 100 US newspapers have reporter blogs (see The Bivings Group).”

Technorati also has some background on blogger demographics and motivations for us (Who Are The Bloggers). Sadly, the blogosphere is still strongly male-dominated: two thirds, globally, are male (that’s 73% for Europe, 57% for the U.S.). Bloggers are, on average, also well educated (70% have college degrees). Surprising to me: Nearly half are parents. Also, female bloggers are twice as likely to sell ads on their blogs.

In day 2, Technorati covererd The What and Why of Blogging. Not to go into too much detail here, one thing stood out for me and that’s the metrics bloggers stated to use to measure the success of their blogging efforts. The key success metric (for three out of four bloggers) is personal satisfaction, “with the average blogger looking at four distinct metrics. Personal satisfaction is by far the most popular measure of success, However, bloggers also track a variety of quantitative metrics ranging from revenue to number of subscribers or comments.”

Hardly surprising but worth mentioning anyway: The majority of bloggers stated to feel a positive impact of blogging on their professional life. (Like being better known in their industry or haveing used their blogs as a resume.) This is something I’m sure a lot of you would agree to. I sure do: even without actively pushing the topic, when speaking to prospective employers and clients my blog has always come up in the conversation, and never in a bad way.

Funny: About a third of bloggers received free products like DVDs, books or electronics. Personally, while I do get invites to services and the like all the time, I rarely get physical goods. In one somewhat absurd case a company offered to send me a laser printer cross-Atlantic from the U.S. West Coast to Berlin. (I didn’t accept.)

As I’m posting this, Technorati has made it to the third installment of the State of the Blogosphere, The How of Blogging. Here, you can find some info on how much bloggers invest annually (more if run ads, more in Europe), how they track their visitors (two thirds Google Analytics) and how they attract them (Technorati, Google, tags etc.). Nothing too surprising here. But only 17% of bloggers use mobile updating tools on their blogs, it should be interesting to watch how (or more likely: how quickly) that changes with iPhones, Android and other smart phones gaining so much traction lately.

So much for my very brief summary here. Over the next couple of days, there’ll be two more chunks of info. The two that are due should actually be quite interesting: The next installment will cover blogging for profit, the last one the role brands play in the blogosphere. For those updates, keep an eye on Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere page.

By the way, while Technorati gives you the rundown on what drives the blogosphere and looks back to the recent developments, there’s also a look at where we’re headed: Adam Ostrow of Mashable has a neat brief overview of trends and the future of blogging and social media as it was being discussed at BlogWorldExpo. (Buzzwords include such things as comment ownership, widgets, ad networks and Twitter.) A good, quick read.

17 Sep

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October is web season in Berlin (come & play!)

September 17, 2008 | By |

Just as last year, this October Berlin will be home to a whole bunch of great web events. Most notably, O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Expo will be in town, and no doubt will attract all the movers and shakers of the Web 2.0 world. Last year it was a blast. (One of the fun things: Asking Tim O’Reilly how he’d tell his mom what Web 2.0 is, a video that also was featured on the expo frontpage for quite a while. Here’s how.)

Also, BarCampBerlin goes into its third round. If you haven’t been to a BarCamp, put your name on the waiting list right away, I promise you won’t regret it. Where Web 2.0 Expo is all business, BarCamp is all about community. It’s just so much more intimate.

The awesome folks of Pl0gbar will organize another Pl0gbar (19 Oct), I already reserved the whole upper floor of Sankt Oberholz, Berlin geek crowd’s favorite coffee shop. Just follow the glow of the white Macbooks.

Of course, there’s more, like the Facebook Developer Garage, EduCamp (organized by Steffen Büffel), Girl Geek Dinner (organized by Nicole Simon) and, last but not least, a TechCrunch Meetup (from what Mike Butcher told me, Thursday the 23rd is the most likely date).

A good overview of the activities can be found on BerlinWebWeek.de. (Hey, they even have the fancy cover flow thing going on!)

my moo cardI’d love to meet up if you’re in town, make sure to say hi! Also, feel free to connect on any of these channels:

 

On a side note, a few friends and I will kick off a little side project I cannot talk too much about just yet. Just two hints: Remember (ironically-named = “Berlin Bubble”) Berlinblase, a spontaneous mashup of all things web 2.0 to cover the expo? (Links: Tumblog, video, Twitter.) Well, let’s just say we’ll try to push that a little further, plus are gathering a fun little geek team to rock SXSW as well. (Sponsor applications will be accepted soon.) Stay tuned.

Update: Got no Web 2.0 Expo Europe conference passes yet? As part of a blogger outreach program, Cordobo/Andreas has a registration code that’ll give you a 35% discount.