How to plan for Twitter media

I was in Minneapolis last week for a session for marketers hosted by Twitter. I had two big takeaways:

1. The stats

  • Twitter has 100 million active users. Over 600,000 new accounts are added daily.
  • Not everyone tweets; 40% of users just listen. They’re seeing one billion tweets produced every 4.5 days.
  • Over half of Twitter’s active user base is on mobile. Enhancements like the upcoming iOS5 integration will drive further mobile usage along with overall user base growth. It’s a bit premature to think that Facebook will become the web.

2. You need to plan.

Twitter offers three paid products: Promoted Tweets, Trends, and Accounts. Using these effectively requires a bit more than throwing some budget out there to see what clicks. Campaign integration is key to making spend work and brands need to plan ahead to maximize value.

For example, let’s say you sponsor a big sporting event and assume you already have a Twitter account.

Preparing for your event, you’ll want to build your follower base – this number constitutes your initial reach, the bigger the better. Promoted Accounts help build your base and Twitter’s research shows that these followers are stickier than organic follows. Offline, you should be promoting your Twitter handle in stores and on packaging and other portable materials that consumers can take with them and look you up later.

Leading up to your event, you should be engaging with your ecosystem on an ad-hoc basis to drive organic impressions. In addition, your content calendar should drive conversation topics and you can use Promoted Tweets to target messages to specific demographics, driving customer acquisition. Although consumers always love to hate advertising, research shows that Promoted Tweets don’t spur higher unfollow rates than other tweet types. You should be tracking and optimizing message efficacy, monitoring elements like content and daypart. 

On the day of your event, you’ll want to use a Promoted Trend to drive traffic. The text of that tweet should contain a link leading to a monetizable consumer action. Brands need to plan ahead on this one, as inventory is limited and can sell out. The last thing you want is a competitor purchasing a key hashtag that diverts attention away from you – think about how Pizza Hut generated massive social media attention during the last Super Bowl despite Papa John’s position as official sponsor.

The infrastructure to support all of this includes a communications workflow and trained staff to support consumer engagement before, during, and after your event. Links that you include in messages should facilitate tracking, whether through URL shortener, landing page, or other method, ideally integrated with your existing analytics platform.

This advice might seem familiar, even too simple for some. But many brands still approach Twitter as a domain limited to 1-1 direct engagement, missing opportunities for valuable one-to-many reach. Increasing brand awareness on Twitter takes more than “let’s get retweeted by someone with a lot of followers.” Instead, brands should plan on channel integration to maximize advertising investments.



Separate content from platforms

When it comes to social media, content and platform usually find themselves lumped together in the earned media category. A better approach for brands lies in separating platform strategy and content planning.

Today's widely used framework describing media opportunities consists of three parts: paid, owned, and earned. These terms describe the nature of content and are often used synonymously with the platforms on which they are served.

View full size on Flickr

When it comes to social media, content and platform usually find themselves lumped together in the earned media category. This leads to confusion during the activation planning process, limiting strategic options for brands. It's easy to believe that customers are inevitably in control if anything on a social media platform is considered earned media.

A better approach for brands lies in separating platform strategy and content planning. Platforms evolve constantly, whether technology evolution, user behavior, or regulation change. Content should take advantage of platform context while supporting business objectives. Every platform has earned, paid, and owned opportunities:

  • Television: media coverage (earned), advertising/advertorial (paid), niche networks (owned)
  • Word-of-mouth: brand advocacy (earned), BzzAgents (paid), employee ambassadors (owned)
  • Social media: posts/tweets/likes (earned), social ads (paid), sponsored communities (owned)

When content and platform are considered separately, social media begins to break down similar to a molecule under a microscope. In fact, under close investigation it starts to look a lot like a combination of digital media + traditional content models, catalyzed by current cultural trends.

Asset allocation and your marketing budget

If you’re a marketer, what percentage of your spend should be allocated to emerging channels, e.g. social media and mobile platforms? And within those channels, how should investments be directed? Instead of giving in to the most persistent sales person or using a dartboard to randomly make decisions, adapt an approach from financial services.

Earlier this week, I touched on investing and asset allocation. To take that further, let me modify an excellent piece from Fidelity on the importance of asset allocation:

Budget allocation is the process of spreading your spend among different engagement channels. Different media react to changing market conditions in different ways. Neither diversification nor budget allocation ensures a profit or guarantees against loss.

According to Fidelity, there are three key considerations in asset allocation:

  1. Unique financial situation
  2. Comfort with investment risk and flexibility
  3. Retirement goals and time frame

Which can be roughly converted into:

  1. Your company, unit, and personal skills and budget
  2. Corporate risk tolerance and appetite for innovation
  3. Business goals and measurement intervals

Those factors are unique to each marketer in a particular role. For example, you could quit today to go work for your nearest competitor and all three factors would be at least slightly different. Another way to look at the combination on aggregate would be as the basis for strategic positioning.

So with your personal situation in mind, next comes the asset allocation. We can use high-level asset classes similar to the the Fidelity example:

  • Bonds = traditional media
  • Domestic stock = digital media
  • Foreign stock = social media
  • Short-term investments = cash reserve providing flexibility to quickly boost positions in any of the three

A certain amount of risk is necessary for any portfolio to grow; conversely, too much risk puts brands and careers in jeopardy. There is a marketing equivalent of the collateralized debt obligation – promotions giving away free stuff with no value capture plan.

If you’re not in the marketing department and understand what I’ve outlined here – be suspicious of what’s going on if you see your brand’s portfolio wildly out of balance. Black swans make for good movies, not corporate events.

Revisiting the media consumption diary

Almost three years ago, I started thinking about a media consumption diary while researching and analyzing advertising trends. When I finally got around to tracking my behavior, I found it difficult to keep track of time even while recording items up to several times a day.

Flash forward to last week, when I was speaking at a conference about social business and the need to compartmentalize data. Today, a site like Daytum provides a tool for tracking consumption with wonderful visuals to help make sense of the information.

The Economist recently posted an insightful piece on how viewers watch television – and how they woefully misremember their time spent doing so. It’s easy and likely correct to assume that the same misattribution occurs in surveys that ask consumers to recall use of other media: mass, digital, and social.

I’ve got a challenge for you – start a media consumption diary and track your usage over a day. If you can keep focused, go for an entire week. I’m certain that what you learn will have interesting implications for how you think about data and consumer behavior going forward…

More on social media and socialism

Stowe Boyd says that I've gotten into a conflated muddle with thinking on why social media isn't socialism.

I disagree.

To Boyd's post, there's little "shared meritocratic ethos" in today's web; for example, I'm feeling a lot of heat around the idea of getting paid, e.g. Izea and Twply, not to mention Twitter phishing.

In contrast, Jon Burg gets straight to the point about why a complete shift of power to the people should and will not occur.

I wrote it before and I'll publish again – social media isn't socialism.

Socialism, from the wikipedia definition, describes a situation with (1) collective ownership of means of production and distribution along with (2) an egalitarian distribution of wealth.  

(1) Each participant chooses their own publishing tools and distribution channels.  Investing too heavily in a common system produces negative results, as pointed out by Steve Rubel describing Robert Scoble's diminished brand value.

(2) You and I may share content freely, but not for others to take credit for our thoughts and ideas.  If an individual consistently produces valuable content, that person should be rewarded, not ripped off.  Plagiarizers redistribute "wealth" by stealing from owners and claiming value as their own.

Individuals need incentive to participate.  Competition drives innovation.  Cooperation helps sub-groups succeed together.

Did I stutter?

Social media isn’t socialism

If you’ve started blogging, photosharing, or tweeting to any extent, then you’ve witnessed firsthand the “social” nature of social media.  Individuals post opinions and ideas, share emotions, and exchange thoughts on topics ranging from mundane to profound.

As for me, I love LOLcats as much as I love social psychology.  Socializing increases the value of content.  The channels may have a feedback mechanism, but they’re worthless unless put to use.

However, socializing shouldn’t be confused with socialism, although some principles seem to apply.  For example, social computing has facilitated a transfer of power from traditional media institutions to a widely distributed base of smaller beacons, typically individuals.

But individuals need incentive to participate.  And the incentive they seek is typically not monetary.  It’s more often activation of the feedback channel – that others agree, disagree, share, favorite their content.  The system requires individual ownership and authorship to work effectively.

When someone plagiarizes content, the social system breaks down.  Individuals who plagiarize seek to claim credit for themselves.   Social media is already social and a Robin Hood-style redistribution of value isn’t required.  But credit and attribution remain key to socializing and increasing the value of content for everyone involved.

So, political scientists, where does social media end up then?
  • We share ideas in the commons, but seek individual credit, which isn’t communism.  Not all blogs are created equal.
  • We participate in content aggregators like AlltopSocial Media Today, and Social Computing Magazine, but retain personal ownership, which isn’t quite socialism.  
  • We compete with others by publishing individual blogs or photostreams, but also distribute freely and encourage others to share, remix, and improve upon the original, which isn’t quite capitalism.

What I can tell you is that it’s important to give credit where credit is due.  And while we may find ourselves in the midst of a power shift from institutions to individuals, social media may thrive on socialization, but it isn’t socialism.

Hey! nielsen beta

HeynielsenSo as my media consumption diary tells me, I watch a lot of TV.  And just in time for the start of fall TV season, I’ve gotten started on Hey! nielsen – in the company’s words, "part opinion engine, part social network, and part buzz tracker."

From what I can tell, if Nielsen can get critical mass here it could be the social news arbiter of the entertainment industry.  Face it, digg is best for tech geeks.  Lipstick is for the celebrity obsessed.  These sites work best around a long tail issue.

Until the site opens to the public, you can read the blog, subscribe to their YouTube vids, join their Facebook group, friend them on MySpace, and follow them on Twitter.  That’s a lot of social media – mostly for marketing – and all the value is in the community being created.

The Media Consumption Diary

Earlier this year, Jeremiah posted about his media consumption diet.  I had a follow up idea in mind for about seven months and finally got around to it last week – the media consumption diary.

In my response to Jeremiah’s post, I thought about my use of/exposure to (mostly) measured media channels.  For the past week, I have been keeping a diary of time spent with media.  What follows is a totally mundane post, so before I lose you, here’s the value:

  • Keep track of your own patterns using a spreadsheet like this one.  It’s tough!
  • Don’t update more than 2 – 3 times a day; you’ll likely bias your consumption.
  • If you are a marketer – think about your diet vis-a-vis that of your average consumer.  Then recognize the biases that exist from your own habits and be aware when planning media in the future.

Here’s my media consumption diary from the past week:

  1. Internet:  35 hours (46%).  Mostly during the day at work, but also multi-tasking with TV at home/night.  Can’t remember any ads I saw.
  2. Outdoor:  17 hours (23%).  Some while commuting, but mostly while at sporting events.  I went to at&t park and Fenway Park (where the Red Sox beat the Yankees 10 – 1).  I remember at&t messages all over at&t and Covidien, CVS, and F.W. Webb in Fenway.  Although I feel outdoor ads are quite unengaging, brute force repetition gets the recall job done, I guess.
  3. TV:  17 hours (22%).  Almost all while multitasking in the evening with a computer.  Except during last Sunday’s football game.  Can’t remember any ads.
  4. Mobile:  4 hours (5%).  Usually while commuting, so counted most of these as multitasking with outdoor.  Can’t remember any ads, although most content I use doesn’t have any.
  5. Radio:  2 hours (3%).  I don’t spend nearly as much time with the radio as I did when I owned a car.
  6. Print:  1 hour (1%).  This number surprised me the most.  I picked up a Boston Herald on Monday to read about the Patriots – Jets game.  I had this week’s copies of Adweek and Ad Age, skimmed to make sure I didn’t miss anything via RSS.
  7. Direct mail:  0 hours (0%).  Other members of my household take care of it before I can.

What’s a "typical" week?  I don’t think one exists for me.

The media consumption diet

Jeremiah Owyang, part of the Media 2.0 Workgroup, posted on his media consumption diet.  Chris Saad and Brian Keith followed his lead.  The commonalities aren’t too surprising – lots of internet, little traditional media.

What’s notable is the fact that these early adopters are engaged with media channels in inverse relationship to the amount of advertising money being spent therein.  In other words, they’re spending the most time where the least amount of advertising dollars are focused.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, through the first nine months of 2006, here’s how media spend looks:

  • TV: $47 billion
  • Magazines: $21 billion
  • Newspapers: $20 billion
  • Radio: $8 billion
  • Internet: $7 billion

But this disconnect doesn’t end with early adopters.  Forrester data shows that the media mix of North American households ranks roughly in this order: TV, Internet, radio, newspapers, magazines.

Looks like we’re in for more shifting in 2007.  How do you think this year’s upfronts will play out?  Some companies are going to be like Kevin Bacon in Footloose – the part where he’s playing chicken but can’t veer off the road because his shoelaces are stuck.  Consumer behavior has made the shift to internet from TV unavoidable – they’ve tied companies to the gas pedal with no choice but to keep on going.

So for my "diet"?

  • Primarily PC-based internet.  Mostly RSS for news, some web sites are regulars.  Only a few e-mail marketing lists.
  • Mobile internet.  Work makes Blackberry a must, so I’m chained to a clunky UI.  Lots of RSS here, too.
  • TV.  All the shows I catch on DVR are from Fox and ABC.  Or ESPN.  Hint – avoid commercials, just tune in 12 – 15 minutes after the show starts.  Later towards the end of the season.
  • Magazines.  Lots of subscriptions, never read them.  See RSS, above.
  • Newspapers.  Ibid.
  • Radio.  None.  Want to save the environment?  Don’t buy a hybrid.  Sell your car and use public transportation instead.  But doing so comes at the expense of radio time, which can of course be replaced with podcasts.
  • Outdoor.  Typically ignored as much as possible.  There’s much better stuff being done outside the US.

So – what’s in your diet?