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So Google+ has been getting some very positive reviews, and has been able to scale relatively quickly. But one thing that has been on my mind is that no one is asking the one really critical question, which is understanding the engagement metrics on the platform. Without understanding how often people are engaging… for example how much time they’re spending, the scale numbers don’t mean as much.

It’s not too surprising that people have just been focusing on the number of users. In general, people have a love affair with scale. They usually want more people on a given platform versus better quality engagement. For me when it comes to social, at the end of the day it is all about engagement. I would rather have users to 2 to 3 times more engaged if that meant there weren’t as many of them.

It would also be interesting if we compared engagement on Google+ against Facebook and Twitter. Wouldn’t it be really interesting if you could look at all the social networks and see what percent of my online time I spend on one specific network? Not sure if any measurement company has been focused on this, but it may be a really interesting sweet spot for social. Kind of like when TV ratings come out, or box office numbers the Monday following a movie premier.

Unless you have been living under a rock lately, kind of like the guy in the Geico ads, you’ve heard about Google plus. I’ll give you my two cents about what I think about the service so far. For background, I currently have accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Overall I’m impressed with Google+. The feature that I like the most is called circles. They allow you to create your own circles of friends. So for example, I can create a circle of family members, a circle of people I work with, and a circle of people who are marketers.

This one feature is the reason why I think Google+ will succeed. You see, the problem with multiple social networks is that you have to keep on going to each site to cover off on different parts of your online life. So for me, I use Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for professional. With Google circles I can put both my personal and business social networks all in place.

I’m going to keep playing around with Google+ over the next week or two and see if I continue to like it. Once they open up to everyone we’re really going to see how useful it is since everyone’s going to be able to access so much more content.

Seth Godin is a well-known author who has written several best-selling books. I’ve read a couple of them and most recently I read Meatball Sundae. The essence of meatball sundae is that you shouldn’t apply old marketing business concepts into the new marketplace where the customer is in control.

One example Seth uses to drive home this point is the role of product development vs. marketing. Traditionally, the marketing department has been used to come up with the best way to articulate the product to the customer. Or put another way, marketing is used to “spin” a message.

The point Seth is making is marketing should have a much different role. Marketing should be used to influence product development to ensure that what is being crated will resonate with customers. So in theory, you could have a poor advertising campaign, but still a successful product launch, because at the end of the day people care about great products.

I think more people need to think like Seth. He truly understands how the marketplace has evolved and has great advice for those willing to embrace change. If you’re interested in learning more from Seth, you can join his Twitter feed or become his friend on Facebook.

I want to take a second and congratulate HBO for recently launching their new service called HBO GO. For those of you are not aware, HBO GO is a service that allows you to watch HBO on a tablet or phone if you subscribe to HBO via cable or satellite.

The reason why I like the service so much is that it reinforces that at the end of the day it’s all about content, and as a consumer, I want to consume content wherever or however I can. What’s also nice is that the customer controls when they watch HBO versus the old television model which is all about daypart viewing. Some cable or satellite companies do provide the option for on-demand viewing, but not all companies offer it.

I also like that HBO is building a relationship directly with their consumer versus strictly relying on the distribution channels of cable and satellite. This allows HBO to better compete with companies like Netflix, who are several years ahead of them.

So hats off to the people at HBO, many of which I used to work with in an earlier job. You guys have cracked the code (for now) for how content companies should work going forward.

Here’s my tip for the week on how to be more successful in creating marketing programs. Begin with the end in mind.

Focusing on the end helps us understand where we need to start. It also defines what success looks like. If you don’t begin with the end, chances are you’re going to spin your wheels coming up with the right marketing solution.

Also, it’s better to have a really good discussion early on about what the end should look like. Oftentimes we start building marketing programs not having a clear understanding of what success looks like. And we use the tactical deliverables, (I.e. creative reviews), to evaluate our version of success. I’m sure that we all have been there at some point. It gets really frustrating, there’s no clarity, and everyone has a different understanding of success. Not good.

So that’s my advice for this wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Begin with the end in mind!

25 years later

So as most people know this was the last season of the Oprah Winfrey show which has been on for 25 years. I’m not usually a big fan of Oprah, and most of my watching her show was at the begrudging request of my wife Carolyn. Carolyn actually went to the show couple times which was always fun because she usually come home with a fun story or a gift. One time she came home with a video iPod player.

I’m really impressed by how well thought through her last show was. I thought the show would be all about Oprah and everything that she had done over the last 25 years, but she actually made it about the viewer. Her message was that each and everyone of us has a platform and the power to make a difference. Her platform was her show. And she was very lucky and successful and having that platform. But at the end of the day, we each have something to offer each other. And her charge to us was the figure out what that was.

Congratulations to Oprah on having a positive uplifting message on her final show. She has done a lot for the city of Chicago.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the past couple years is the importance of getting different opinions. The act of actually doing this is no walk in the park … in fact, it’s actually pretty difficult. But it’s extremely important to create an overall better marketing experience.

Some of the best projects I’ve worked on the past couple years are actually some of the most challenging collaborative efforts. There were strong points of view and intense disagreement. But eventually, we reached consensus on the best way to move forward. And everyone felt good about where we ended up.

So ask yourself the following questions next time you’re assembling a team or even just having a meeting.

Is there anyone in the room that is not in your department?

Do you have someone who is highly analytical and rational?

Do you have anyone who is highly emotional?

Does anyone have in-depth research or insights about your customer?

Do you have anyone who is not familiar with your product or brand?

If you’re able to answer yes to more than one of these questions then chances are you are in a really good place to get a good dialogue and intense collaboration started.