A .500 Average

Adam Sarner recently asserted that 50% of social media initiatives are failures. The short snippet I read was light on details and never defined success. That’s probably because success is such an individualized thing. No two clients are alike.

I’m not sure how the PR industry measures itself. I’m sure it’s not as anal as baseball, but efforts at statistical analysis are sure to progress. Batting .500 right now sounds good to me. Let’s compare that to the success/failure ratio of big IT integration projects. Their average is less than major league pitchers.

Despite the headline, Adam ended on a high note.

“When asked whether the faltering economy will mean that businesses are cutting back on this largely unproven field of social media for marketing or customer relations, Sarner said he didn’t think so, and that many businesses will turn to the Web to stay in touch with consumers during a difficult financial climate. “This is going to be a lifeline,” he said. “You don’t ruin your customers, and your spirit of customers is probably the only thing you have.””

Right on…


Perception and Behavior

The Conversation Group occupies an interesting niche. Our clients come to us because we understand social media. They value our ability to uncover the new influencers and engage them on blogs, social networks, or other digital venues. Their objectives often require a mix of media relations and marketing initiatives. This split between pr and marketing can be difficult sometimes.

A client may have a BHAG like “increase our valuation by 50%.” In part, that’s a matter of perception and thus a job for public relations. PR deals with people’s perception of events, brands and products. It’s a difficult discipline to pin down in terms of ROI yet most everyone can point to examples of artful PR initiatives, even if they are unaware that an agency was behind the article or TV spot.

Marketing is about influencing behavior. Another client’s BHAG may be something like “let’s increase sales in our online channel by 50%.” In order to achieve that goal, marketing strategies and tactics are employed to influence behavior. A successful marketing campaign will cause more people to purchase the product online.

What happens when you integrate the two practices? Can behavior and perception be influenced by the same agency? I believe the answer is yes. This is a new take on integrated communications. At the end of the day, this is what our clients are asking us to do. Integrating pr outreach with marketing programs has the potential to drive consumers in the direction that a brand desires.

Public relations and marketing each have their strengths and weaknesses. Together, they augment the weak spots of each discipline. Such augmentation is difficult at best when two teams handle PR and marketing separately. That’s why I think The Conversation Group will continue to deliver real results for our clients. We are able to move the needle on perception and behavior all under one roof.

Brogan on Utterz Board of Advisors

Utterz has added Chris Brogan to their Board of Advisors. Chris’ insight and passion for new media is sure to add value to the Utterz platform.In Chris’ own words, “I’ve always been drawn to new technologies that can dramatically enhance communications and conversations. Utterz does just that by letting anyone communicate in whatever form they want, whenever they want, as easily as picking up their mobile phone. I’m looking forward to working with the team at Utterz to realize the huge potential of their service.”Utterz is a client of my employer, The Conversation Group, and I’m glad to see them bring a social media guru like Chris onboard. Great things ahead for all.  

Shaking the Money Tree

Jeremiah Owyang moderated a great panel last night at the MIT-Stanford Venture Lab. The word of the evening was monetization as applied to multiplatform social networks. Specifically, opportunities for developers within Facebook’s F8 and Google’s Open Social API. The panelists included:

Jia Shen – Rock You CTO and Co-Founder

Sourabh Niyogi – Social Media VP of Engineering and Co-Founder

Steve Cohen – Bebo Head of Platform

Ken Gullicksen – Morgenthaler Ventures, Managing Director

Jeremiah stirred things up with his opening remarks. He observed that this space is difficult to monetize and offered this supporting fact, MySpace ad clickrates are just 25% of the clickrate of website ads. Clearly, when kids hang out in MySpace, they are not thinking about shopping. This grim statistic hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of marketers who are desperately trying to follow the eyeballs as they spend more and more time away from traditional media. 

Jia Shen offered up some Rock You stats to counter the argument that advertising chases the cool kids away. He asserted that Rock You widgets are on 18% of MySpace profiles and 60% of Facebook profiles. He also said that Rock You widgets attract 1.5 billion page views per month.


Sourabh Niyogi of Social Media has some interesting insights based on their social media advertising platform. He claims that applications on Facebook are seven times more viral than MySpace. He also claims that it took them less than a day to port a Facebook app to Bebo but it took 5 days to port the same app to Open Social.

Kevin Marks made Google’s Open Social seem very straightforward. Open Social accomplishes three things:

1. It allows access to the people and friends in your social graph

2. It manages data persistence

3. It manages user activity streams

Open social is currently in .7 developer release. Many developers are using Shindig, an open source Open Social project to cut their teeth on the development environment.

Finally, Ken Gullicksen, a venture capitalist expressed faith in the future. He believes that there is so much demand from advertisers to follow their audience to online venues that monetization is inevitable. Capturing eyeballs is still the name of the game. “Before you find a business model, find a pleasure model…”