MAD Perspectives Blog

Facebook Stumbles, but Social Media is NOT Dead!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A lot has been written in the weeks since Facebook's IPO stumble.  The social media bubble has burst and all social networks are under close scrutiny.  If Facebook cannot succeed, then allegedly, none of the other networks can succeed either. What does this mean for all the adjacent platforms that are monitoring and analyzing our social behavior? The bubble burst, social media is dead, long live...what?

The focus on the financial models of social networks is long overdue.  Like the Internet bubble of the late 90's, many social networks have emerged with little differentiation and even weaker business models. A reliance on advertising  (e.g., Facebook, Foursquare) and group based coupon revenue (e.g., Groupon, Living Social)Advertising is simply not enough. Personally, I find the ads that appear on my Facebook page less than compelling and honestly, a nuisance. Location based services are intriguing and finding coupons for discretionary purchases are helpful.  However, most local businesses that I've talked to are not a fan of the Groupon model.

Facebook is popular, prevalent and provocative.  900 million monthly users (as of March 2012), 80% of which are outside the U.S. and Canada, reflecting over 125 billion (yes, that's a B!) friend connections and 3.2 billion Likes make Facebook both popular and prevalent.  It's provocative in the way it introduces new features or changes personal settings.  It's always asking for forgiveness, not permission.  This is reflected in its public launch.  While Facebook is certainly THE social network of all social networks given the previously noted statistics.  It's business model is still suspicious.  Facebook and its investors were hoping to ask for our forgiveness in the pricing of the stock  and number of shares issued, regardless of the fact that the corporate structure still leaves Mark Zuckerberg in full control of company strategy and decisions about future stock issues that could devalue the investment even further.

However, this does not mean that social media is dead. To the contrary, it's a wake up call to pay attention to the basics. A business plan must show how value will be created for customers. Value will translate into revenue. Revenue should be invested in further value creation in the form of product development,employees, R&D, partners and go-to-market channels. Social media has connected both consumers and business in a manner not previously seen. It's like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Users of social media have an expectation for instantaneous access to information from friends, family and companies. We desire candid opinions and informal interaction. It's like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Once it's out, it's impossible to put it back in.

Like any emerging market, social media is now undergoing growing pains.  There has been an amazing amount of VC funding available to almost any company with a social proposition. The challenge is in converting ideas into sustainable businesses. Is it realistic that they can all survive? Of course not. There will be mergers, acquisitions and failures. Like Darwin's theory, it is survival of the fittest. And, that means those with a viable business plan.

What's your perspective?

Using the Top Social Networks for B2B Marketing

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There is an ongoing debate about the use of social media by business-to-business (B2B) companies. However, according to B2B Magazine, 93% of B2B marketing are using some form of social media marketing. As expected, Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular. However, tactics, resources and metrics are key challenges. These challenges are connected and reinforce the need for a comprehensive strategy, integrating your social media efforts with your overall marketing plan. However, it is first important to understand how you can best utilize each of these social networks.

Here are a few thoughts:

     - LinkedIn:  create a group for your brand, create a company page and promote products, encourage employees to provide links within their profile to the company webpage(s), share company presentations and videos, integrate twitter feeds and corporate blogs, recruit employees

     - Facebook:  share news and videos, , promote and share pictures and comments from events, highlight expert knowledge from both employees and customers, create community through customized product pages (invite Likes, discussion, links to more information on company website), recruit employees

     - Twitter:  listen to what others (customers, competitors, influencers) are saying, share content (provide links to articles, re-tweet influencer content, invite input from your followers to validate strategy

For additional insights and tips on using social media for B2B marketing check out Social Media B2B, Marketo, Hubspot,

Identify your goals. Consider how these platforms, or others, may augment your marketing, customer service, product development or sales efforts. Be brave and be patient.  Social media is a broadcast channel enabling you to reach a very wide audience.  It takes time to build a valuable following and to learn how to interact effectively with them.

What's your perspective?

Facebook Video Chat - Will You Use It?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, July 07, 2011

Yesterday, Facebook announced the integration of Skype (currently being acquired by Microsoft) for video chat.  What does this mean?  It means that in addition to clicking the chat button to have an instant messaging system with one your friends who is online, you can now elect to have a video chat with that same friend.  Imagine Skype within the framework of Facebook - you have a pop-up window with the talking head of your friend.

This announcement was surrounded with a lot of hype.  Sure Skype gains access to Facebook’s 750 million users.  And Facebook gains access to arguably, the most recognized VoIP platform.  But do Facebook users really want to video chat with their friends?  I performed a quick verbal survey with my friends and they were all a bit quizzical about the need for video chat within Facebook.  Perhaps this is a generational issue.  I’m older than Mark Zuckerberg.

My friends and I use Facebook to stay in touch.  We do not post comments every minute.  We do not expect instantaneous response to any comment.  We share pictures, we comment on items in the news; we ask random (and often ridiculous) questions.  We promote our favorite causes.  We rarely use the existing chat function.  We actually enjoy the random updates and casual means of staying in contact with geographically dispersed friends.  It’s a light touch, not as intentional as an email or a phone call.  We feel “safe” in not actually verbalizing our thoughts, but sharing them in a few short sentences.

I’m a big fan of social networks.  I help companies identify their strategies for using social networks.  As businesses continue to adopt Facebook as another channel for communicating with their customers, I do see how B2C companies can use video chat to enhance their consumer relationships.  Any company focused on customer service, now has another mechanism for connecting to, interacting with and responding to consumer concerns.  Companies can expose their personality even further through the use of a live person, interacting with friends and fans.  I can imagine emerging technology companies who use Facebook as a recruiting platform, testing applicants’ interactive capabilities using video chat. 

Video is memorable.  Video is personal.  Video exposes both the individual and the company.  This additional exposure does not come without risk.  Representatives of the company, who are currently managing their social presence, will have to consider the impact on their policies and guidelines.  Further training may be required verbal communication requires a different set of skills than written communication.  For those firms already concerned about regulatory and compliance issues, video chat is something that will never be turned on.  If companies turn on video chat they will be required ‘walk the talk’ even more consistently then ever before.

What do you think about Facebook’s new video chat capabilities?  How will you use it?  Will you use it at all? 

What’s your perspective?

Social Media as Your New Years Resolution

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 03, 2011

It’s a new year and you’re making your resolutions.  How about a resolution to jump on the social media high speed train?  You’ve read the buzz but you’re a bit skeptical about time, effort and results.  These are fair concerns.  There is not a company who has engaged in social media that has not posed questions about how they are going to leverage this dynamic medium.  I have just a few bits of advice about getting started:

  1. Think about why you want to use social media.  In most cases it starts as an effort to increase market awareness.  This is a great way to get started!  My advice then would be to think about the image you want to present to the market.  Do you want to be an expert?  What does that mean?  Does it mean you need to be the smartest person in the room or that you can bring the necessary resources to the table?  Bottom line, social media is going to help you share your perspective in a new way
  1. Get organized.  Figure out who in your organization will be your social advocates.  It will be beneficial if you think about how representatives, from different business groups, reflect your business.  These individuals can provide your customers with unique perspectives that can help them understand your business and its products, strategy and culture.  Align your social communication with your overall marketing plan and strategy.  Commit to a plan!
  2. Define your social content strategy.  Think about who your customers are and what content will fulfill their needs.  Social media is about personalizing your business and its content.  This means that simply pointing customers to your website is not going to win a lot of new customers.  However, sharing your insights about industry trends, emerging products or markets, business benefits of your solutions or seeking input from your audience, will drive awareness.
  3. Select the relevant social platforms.  You need to be where your customers are.  Here is a quick summary of some of the most popular platforms:
    •  - LinkedIn – for a business person or business this is the default platform to use.  It’s more than a virtual rolodex; it is a platform for sharing content about your capabilities, engaging in conversations with like minded individuals via LinkedIn Groups, and increasingly a tool for employee recruitment.
    •  - Blogs – I’m a BIG fan of blogging as a means of communicating with customers is a casual way.  Blogs provide the ability to flesh out your thoughts in a less formal manner than traditional briefs or whitepapers.  They also enable feedback from your customers which can educate readers about your company, impact product roadmaps, or simply influence further blog discussions.  A small firm can share insights abut what drives their day to day business while a large company can encourage individual bloggers, from different business disciplines, to discuss the topics that influence their activities and decisions.  In all cases, the blog should reflect a unique point of view.
    •  - Twitter – In many cases, twitter for business can be just keeping up with the Jones’.  However, many companies use twitter to actively listen to their customers.  By searching on keywords a company can capture a trend, discover customer satisfaction issues, and invite debate on a trending topic.  Twitter is immediate and democratic, meaning it is wide open like the Wild West.  However, the Wild West is now very heavily populated and the direct benefit for B2B companies is unproven.
    •  -  Facebook – this is the ultimate social platform for individuals.  And, let’s remember this platform was created by a college student to find, connect and communicated with other students.  Its role is consumer centric.  Its focus remains the individual despite a company’s ability to create a Fan Page.  Companies that have found success on Facebook are those with a consumer audience and who create a unique proposition on Facebook.  There have been debates about Facebook displacing the need for a traditional website.
    • For B2B, I completely disagree.  Facebook does not easily enable a B2B business discussion.  It does not allow you to share documents.  However, it is a great platform for personalizing your business.  Post pictures or videos from industry conferences, community events, internal celebrations.  Emphasize the company culture and the unique individuals employed at your company.  Now prospective employees have a much better understanding about the culture of your company.
    •  - YouTube – Video is pervasive and memorable.  YouTube has changed the face of video forever, making user generated video and its lesser quality – acceptable.  Video puts a face on your business.  I’ve seen whiteboard sessions, mockumentaries, product demos, and corporate advertising posted on YouTube.  It is possible to create your own channel which could be beneficial for companies who want to post a series of videos.  Like all marketing & communication efforts, video efforts must be planned and organized.  See my previous blogs on this topic

Don’t be afraid to just try one platform.  Be persistent.  Don't let social media be the resolution that fades away!  It’s ok to experiment and figure out what content and which platform works best for your business.  Despite all that you read, no single company was an instant success at using social media!

What’s your perspective?

Social Media & TV, the next BIG thing?

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 07, 2010

If you ask media pundits about THE big innovation of the last millennium, they will tell you it was the TV.  Social media is garnering a lot of attention in the early part of the new millennium, but where does social media go next?  A natural assumption is that TV and social media will have a marriage of sorts.  One thought is that news broadcasters will incorporate social media more prominently into their every day actions.  Most local broadcasters take advantage of user generated video, regardless of quality, to capture traumatic events.  Here in New York, multiple amateur videos of US Airways Flight 1549 were incorporated into local broadcasts about the event.  But, is this enough? 

Morning “news” programs and talk show hosts, such as the last hour of the Today show or Oprah, now incorporate email and tweets into their daily routine.  Typically the hosts have an assistant, on or off screen, who is online following the discussion and informing the hosts on-air as the hot topics.  This seems to be a natural fit as these programs already have a well defined communities.   From another perspective, marketers are using social media networks to gauge interest and popularity of network programs.  American Idol and Lost are just two examples of programs that have huge followers on both Twitter and Facebook.   And, 77% of broadcast newsrooms are using social platforms to microblog news links to their followers. 

In fact, one could assume that broadcast TV is a natural fit for social media.  TV has driven coffee room and water cooler conversations for years.  Now those conversations happen on Facebook or Twitter.  However, the challenge remains that TV, for now, is” lean back” experience regardless of watching on the network’s pre-determine schedules or our own ad hoc DVR-enabled schedules.  Social media is a “lean-forward” experience.  We need to be on our PCs or mobile devices to post content.  How do we bring the experiences together?

Software vendors at broadcast conferences such as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and International Broadcast Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam have been demonstrating user interfaces which incorporate both Facebook and Twitter.  Are we ready to give up part of our 42” HD viewing space to tweet on the TV screen during our favorite sporting event, reality TV program or sitcom?  Of course, this means sitting on the couch with a keyboard.  The interest in internet connected TVs will certainly enhance the functionally.   However, today’s 18-30 year olds aren’t watching network programming on their TVs, they are watching on their PCs or mobile devices.  Is an integrated social media/TV experience needed?  Do we even care?  Perhaps it’s about trying out new tools and seeing what works.  And, maybe what doesn’t work will drive innovation to something beyond social media on our TV screens.

What’s your perspective?

Is the debate about Privacy...or Control?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, May 27, 2010

In light of the active discussion about Facebook and privacy over the past few weeks, let’s talk about these topics as related to businesses using social platforms.  Unlike consumers, businesses don’t worry about the sharing of personal information like address, birth date or likes.  The primary concerns, for every business when they enter into the social arena, are brand reputation, confidential information, investor relations and security.   The benefits of being social, authentic and transparent can outweigh the fears, but it requires some advance thought.

The bottom line to this rampant conversation about privacy is control.  As individuals and as businesses we want to control the flow information.  We want to control how we access information.  On the one hand we want to control the message.  We want to control who has access to that information.  From a business perspective, we want to limit the information a competitor can discover, while providing enough meaningful content to educate and attract new customers while retaining existing customers.

As individuals on Facebook, we actively seek social interaction with out “friends”.  We actually even accepted the Facebook Terms & Conditions when we signed up.  These T&Cs told us that information shared on Facebook is public, not private, unless we set our privacy settings accordingly.  Can we be social and private simultaneously?  Again, it’s about control.  We want to be social within a framework that we define.  We define who we want to be friends with, whether we allow access by Facebook applications or if we want out Facebook content searchable by search engines.  We control what is truly public.  We become concerned when the framework for establishing that control is changed.

For businesses, the Facebook controversy reinforces concerns even if your business is not using Facebook.  It reignites concerns about what being social may mean for your business.  The issues for a corporation are far more complex but no less concerning.   Let’s address a few of these issues in the context of privacy or control:

1. Brand Reputation:   Social media provides companies with another channel for using pull marketing strategies to gain brand visibility.   The company does not want to be private about its brand, but it does want to retain control.  Social media by its very nature is social, which mean companies have to give up a little control.  However, in giving up some control they will learn more about what their customers really think.  It is important for companies to engage in active listening or monitoring of online conversations.  This will help companies regain some control. They will be able to refine their messaging based on the open, candid feedback of the social internet.   It will come down to common sense in determining how to address negative sentiment.

2. Confidential Information:  Companies are always seeking a competitive edge to win business.  There have been many reports on the underhanded methods that companies will use to win market share.  While companies generally trust their employees, they are concerned about the information employees may share, unintentionally, on social platforms.  This includes information about product roadmaps, R&D developments, financial performance, go-to-market strategies and customer engagements.  Companies must invest in educating employees as to the company policy on social network participation and how or when corporate content can be shared.  This topic is all about privacy and controlling what content should or should not be kept private.

3. Investor Relations:  Given the broad, open nature of social media, many CFOs are concerned about the impact on their investor community (public or private).  The SEC continues to evolve its policy around social networks, but statements thus far recognize blogs as an approved medium for facilitating information between customers and stakeholders.  Blogs are not any different than any other statements when it comes to the anti-fraud provisions of federal securities law.  In short, avoid any ability to create speculation about the company or 3rd party valuation.  This is an area where control, in the form of a defined social media policy and ongoing monitoring, is important for compliance purposes.

4. Corporate Network Security:  IT Departments already face ongoing challenges regarding spam and malware.   The can control access to social networks from the corporate network, but that may be contrary to agreed upon goals.  They fear that employee access and participation on social networks from their office computers will expose the corporate network to increased attacks.  Again, a policy to define how the company will engage in social media, will help the IT group to understand who, what, where and how employees will engage and to continuously assess their network security solutions.  The goal is to maintain the privacy of the network and prohibit unwanted attacks.

While companies will give up some control as it comes to the social conversation about their brand, they must and will establish policies to guide their employees toward appropriate social networking on behalf of the company.  Just as Facebook has explicit, if somewhat shifting, privacy policy, companies must be cognizant of these policies and disclaimers as they leverage Facebook and other social platforms.  It’s a delicate balance being social.  The privacy debate will persist.   Policies will continue to evolve.  We will struggle to retain control.  But, individual and companies will be less private and more social.

What’s your perspective?