Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Social Media ROI (God. Just writing that makes me sweat)

At an astoundingly douchey mixer held by the club promoters of the digital world (Digital LA), I was approached by a very pushy young man who was hocking applications. After figuring out my position in our Company and my affinity for Social Media, he posed the question "What is your ROI?".

I thought about it for a moment, and I responded. "We don't speak ROI, we speak relationships and community."

He laughed nervously, and i ran away.

ROI? Good grief, doesn't he know that social media is all about Teh Gudwillz and teh Relashunshipz? I have since obsessed. The positive impact of our SM campaigns is evident to me, but our bottom line would still seem unaffected. How do I convince the boss folk that this is a good investment?

Below is a starting point. Obviously for a small business like ours, it's not necessarily all applicable, but its a start on what I'm sure will be a lengthy discussion as SM begins to settle into its place as in the world of brand management, public relations, and marketing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I am increasingly Opposed to our involvement in Afghanistan

An exchange in the WH Situation room with The VP and the President's advisors.

"Can I just clarify a factual point? How much will we spend this year on Afghanistan?" Someone provided the figure: $65 billion. "And how much will we spend on Pakistan?" Another figure was supplied: $2.25 billion. "Well, by my calculations that's a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a question. Al Qaeda is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every dollar we're spending in Pakistan, we're spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?" The White House Situation Room fell silent.

Read more at: The Huffington Post

Friday, October 09, 2009

Barack's Nobel

It is a shock, no doubt. Nobody expected our President to receive the Nobel Prize. What has he done? He's only been in office for less than a year? Hell! He was only eligible to win as president for 2 months before nominations were closed. Is this the Nobel committee's way of giving a final insult to the Bush administration, who's critics (Al Gore, Paul Krugman) seemed to be winning prizes left and right for the last few years? Or is it more important than that?

I think the key to the Nobel Committee's decision lies in the brevity of time that Barack Obama has spent as President. Just as it is the most shocking part of the announcement that mere months into his presidency he's won a prize given to MLK and TR, the fact remains that President Obama has turned the global conversation back towards unity, hope and diplomacy in a VERY SHORT TIME. A few years ago, this country was still coping with the fact that we tortured detainees. We were mired in conversations about whether or not Waterboarding was considered torture, and dealing with a war fought under false pretenses. Remember the awful images of Saddam Hussein being executed? Remember? It seems a world away. We are now debating taking care of each other (Health care), our focus lies in bettering this world and not in creating tactical nukes and alienating friends with missile shields.

President Obama, through peaceful political means changed the entire direction of global politics by inspiring the world's most powerful nation to hope and better ourselves. We are now talking to Iran, with a heavy hand and backed by all our allies, including those who previously supported Iran. The world is already a safer, and more united place because a Hawaiian-born African American man from Chicago decided we still could. Imagine this world under McCain and Palin. Remember this world under Bush and Cheney think of how much has changed in a year, and then ask yourself in 2009 who else has done so much to bring people together? I can't think of a single more powerfully uniting figure.

Congratulations, President Obama. Well deserved.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Twitter Killers?

I know. I know. This is my second post in a row about Twitter that has a question as its title. I know the posts have been Social Media heavy lately, and I know I owe you all my analysis of Chicago's failed bid for the 2016 games, but bear with me my dears, as I spin a yarn of greed, ego, and the powers that our personal accounts and engagement are up against.

Gather round Tweeps, and Facebook friends. Tumblrs and MySpace pervs.

The whole thing began about a month and a half ago when one of the top 6 agencies in town sent over someone who referred to himself as a "Social Media Agent" to meet with the celebrity I work with from time to time. Astounded at the notion, since social media doesn't pay off directly, and talent agencies are very aggressive in monetizing everything, and 10% of nothing is bupkes, I was eager if not thrilled to see what this guy knew and what his insight might be into monetizing SM.

When he arrived, I was a touch shocked. Was it possible that a man well into his forties could have insight into SM ? I'm in my early thirties and I can barley keep up, could it be that this man had the tech savvy that I lacked and therefore some sort of insight into monetization that would make everyone very rich? I listened to his pitch with five people present in the room.

The pitch went as follows:

There is a huge amount of money to be made by celebrities who Tweet.

He has a Company that is willing to pay per commercial tweet according to the amount of followers a celebrity may have.

The company hosts a variety of brands that the celebrity can choose from, so the celeb could choose brands that are applicable.

The company requires every fifth tweet to be a commercial with up to 40 tweets a day for it to be profitable.

With the formula pitched, Ashton Kutcher could make over one million dollars monthly.

Naturally there were questions to be asked.

Firstly, the Celebrity in question has an honest but unimpressive 5k followers. Not nearly enough for it to be worth it.

"That can be easily addressed with a service we employ that can artificially boost your numbers. We could have you up to 50k in 2 weeks.

They don't pay per click, they pay per follower?

"Yes, but who knows how long they'll be doing that for. So we have to get on this right away so we can get the numbers up and the tweets going."

Is the tool you use to boost the numbers Ok by twitter?

"Well, not exactly. Which is another reason why we would need to get on this right away."

Who else is doing this?

"Well, if say Ashton Kutcher would do it.."

Is he?

"No, but if he were.."

Why wouldn't he want an extra 1 million a month?

"I don't know."

Ok, so Ashton doesn't do it, but you haven't told us who. So who else would be interested in doing something like this?

"Well, we want to keep clients protected."

At this point the celebrity interjected. "Do I have to tweet and choose the ads myself or can my guys do it?"

"Oh for sure your staff can do it, 40 daily tweets is a lot."

The celeb's assistant sank into his chair. But the feeling of all in the room is that this bit of sketchiness would not see the light of day. I was glowing at being able to thwart something that would be detrimental not only to the celeb's brand, but to the Twitter community as well. After all, posting for a profit defeats the idea of sharing. Its filling a quota and manipulating. It goes against what the Twitter community is all about, and leaves the door open for the profit hungry "Man" that drove MySpace into the ground. I had come head to head with the capitalist machine and managed to defend my online socialist utopia for another day. God bless the EFF and Creative Commons, keep your filthy corporate greed out of our web, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

This was 45 days ago.

Yesterday it all resurfaced with the acquisition of 2 interns who's duties include Tweeting. Calls were made and the whole mess is a "go". Now it is up to the Twitter community to react. Do we reject advertisement as a part of feeds altogether? Is an individual endorsement more valuable when not contractual? (See? It does connect to the previous post.) All this remains to be seen. I have faith that something so sneaky and ill conceived has little to no place in the twitterverse. However, i have noticed something that insists on a caveat for this sort of marketing on Twitter.

Picture 7

Which leads to this site.

Picture 8

Although i believe that weight loss products and Acai Berry drinks are beneath LAist, their tweets are transparent, and we do not expect a personality or a connection to a website like we would a brand. Their twitter feed is simply links to their blog and their blog makes money off of ads, ergo this is fair play. This cannot be said of corporations and celebrities who use twitter to further their personal brand. Their unspoken contract with the web and in social media participation is to provide the public with information about themselves with goodwill and without trying to make a cynical buck off of us. However, if we find ourselves following celebs, and clicking on their every link with the same blindness with which we accepted hookers and club promoters as our MySpace "friends" then the FAIL Whale is upon us and we can only watch the potential of yet another Social Networking site diminished and destroyed by corporate greed. It really is up to us.

Monday, October 05, 2009

A sucessful contractual Twitter feed?

"The ways of the Living Force are beyond our understanding... But fear not. You are in the hands of something much greater and much better than you can imagine."
―Qui-Gon Jinn

A Protocol Droid fluent in over 6 million forms of communication, and able to communicate with binary loadlifters has only NOW discovered the value of Twitter? So it would appear, as Twitter-friendly nerdery everywhere welcomed Anthony Daniels, who is better known throughout the galaxy as C3PO, to the world of Social Media. His newly minted Twitter account handle bears the name ADaniels3PO and he boasts a modest following of 1700 accrued in the short time of 5 days.

It would make perfect sense that someone who owes his career to the genre of Science Fiction would be tapping into the Nerd/Geek rich world of social media, where no matter how mainstream things are, they retain an air of geeky innocence. However, such has not been the case for Mr. Daniels who's recent discovery of Twitter happens to happily coincide with a new website and the beginning of his national tour with Star Wars in Concert. Is it possible that someone in the marketing department for Star Wars In Concert was prescient enough to see Mr. Daniels as an indirect marketing tool? Contractually obliging him to a twitter feed seems contrary to the "Feel-Good Community" of Twitter, but the opportunities for the concert can hardly be ignored. When a visual music and lights show starring your favorite movie rolls into town, who better to be a spokesperson than one of the stars? It takes the notion of celebrity, product, and word of mouth to a whole new level.

Do I think it was a draconian marketing person who put him up to it as a part of some awful, greedy contract? No. Should Marketing people encourage it and make available all resources to those who are promoting their goods? You bet! Anthony Daniels should have the full support of the enormous companies affiliated with Star Wars and the concert, and they should all be touting his Twitter feed. I bet they could pump those numbers well past the 2k mark they have now, and in turn give Mr. Daniels a powerful tool for his personal brand as well as allowing him to maximize his role as a spokesperson for their brand.

Let me put it this way:

I wouldn't know about Star Wars in concert if it weren't for Anthony Daniels. Anthony Daniels would never have told me about it unless it was through his Twitter feed. His Twitter feed inspired this blog post, which in turn, touts Star Wars in Concert. The force is strong in that.

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