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Updating Mad Men: The Focus Group

This week Mad Men featured a staple of the media world: the focus group. Whether it's a telephone survey, like the call I received from Nielsen this weekend, or grabbing a group of people off the street, the focus group is a key part of any media outreach campaign. Before understanding the messaging and positioning that world work for the whole, you must first undersand what will work for a small, carefully selected group.

The women of the Mad Men focus group

But today the focus group is open to everyone with a search window. You can open up Twitter and be greeted by a flood of information or check out the LinkedIn groups to find out what business folks are truly feeling. You can even enter traditional forums and hear the complaints and concerns of thousands of people. However, like the PhD who is running the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce focus groups, people need a guide to understand what they're reading. It's very easy to get lost in the "Rats Nest" of social media.

In fact, sometimes you need to entirely dismiss what you're reading or, in other cases, provide additional emphasis. I was quoted in Mashable saying that the social media realm offers imperfect data. The point is, just a few numbers will never tell you enough of a story, you need to understand the context of the person conveying the information, online and off.

Coming back to focus groups for a moment, how they are compiled affects the information you glean from them. In Mad Men the group was made up of young, unmarried women. In fact, just before grabbing the last unmarried secretary an older secretary commented that she wasn't wanted in the room because she was, in fact, older and married.

The results of the session were that women want to be beautiful to attract a man, according to the doctor who ran it, but it could have turned out differently with the older women in the mix. Of course, this is where Pond's finds itself today, with an older, more mature demographic. The eventual conclusion that women are simply looking to be married and that's why they use beauty products was rejected by top Mad Man Don Draper, who noted that putting out a year's worth of messaging would change the conversation.

In the social media world, people put out information for a reason. When looking at social media for market intelligence you must ask yourself "why did this person say what they're saying." Otherwise you're only getting half a story. Social search tools can help you find information and many social CRM tools exist to help you get graphs, charts and numbers to show certain trends, but there is so much more available within the social stream.

Over here at Fresh Ground we have started working with customers on a social intelligence service. That is, we look at interesting pieces of information, put them in context and then distribute that information to the appropriate internal audiences. This is how we help our clients dig up everything from sales leads to competitive intelligence.

So what would Pond's do differently today? Well, first they'd have a lot more information about their target demographic. Then they would use that information to understand the individuals who visit their site. If they wanted to try out new messages they'd probably do a bit of A/B testing on their site to see what works. They may also test certain messages in certain demographic areas, either through online advertising, carefully located display ads or buying air time in specific programs. They'd also dig into the social media intelligence to find out what people in their targeted demographics are discussing, then find ways into those conversations.

And hopefully, when they're done, no one ends up crying or throwing heavy objects at Don Draper.

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Vote for the Fresh Ground Blog!

We need your help. The Fresh Ground blog has been nominated as one of the Best Up-and-Coming blogs in the PR world and we need your help to win. Voting started today, Wednesday, and continues through Tuesday, June 22. If you've found this blog interesting and useful over the past couple of months, please link over to Communications Conversations and drop in a vote for us. We'd really appreciate the help.

Of course, you may also want to sign up for our newsletter!

If, however, you think we could be a bit better in some areas, just let us know! You can leave a comment or drop us an email at info (at) itsfreshground (dot) com. That address gets to both of us at once.

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Manish Mehta on the Nuclear Option: Fresh Ground #15

A little less that two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on how big and small sized companies made the culture shift necessary to realize success in the world of the truly social company. The panelists were Andrew Sinkov of Evernote, and Manish Mehta, one of the original founders of Dell.com and VP of social media and community there.

Due to the #ashtag incident, the original keynoter, Neville Hobson, was unable to attend the event, and Manish was asked to step up and present, which he did. His story, in which he draws parallels between the rise of social media and the rise of nuclear power, was provocative and thoughtful, and we’re including an excerpt of it as this week’s Fresh Ground podcast. You can catch the full audio on the Fresh Ground blog.

The keynote will also be featured in an upcoming For Immediate Release Sessions & Speakers episode.

So here are some excerpts from the first part of Manish’s presentation on measuring social media and business value:

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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Social Media DNA: Does Your Company Have It?

LaunchCamp divided pretty easily into two camps, companies and executives who:

  1. Understand social networking technologies inherently; and
  2. Know they need to do something, but are not sure what.

This divide isn’t new and frankly, it’s not going to end any time soon. In the past I’ve been asked to design training programs only to find that some people within an organization understand social technologies and concepts very well and wanted to move on beyond the basics. Then there are those who are still figuring out how to sign up for a Twitter account or maybe have just dipped their toe into Facebook.

With this type of audience one size never fits all.

But for LaunchCamp it wasn’t just a division among individuals as Isis Maternity Community Manager Cindy Meltzer noted during our recent conversation. It could also be felt in corporate culture.

During the startup panel it became apparent that most tech-based companies being founded today are steeped in social networking tools. Not just because the founders are young, in fact their ages run the spectrum, but because the genesis for their ideas come from first understanding social networking. In other words: the aspect of marketing that takes conversation into account is built in. It’s part of their DNA.

Jules Pieri, CEO of the Daily Grommet

Take the example of the Daily Grommet. When moderator David Beisel asked about how much each company spent on launch marketing, the answer came back as nothing. Though, as Jules will tell you, it was nothing EXTRA. Frankly, marketing is baked into the idea of “Citizen Commerce,” which is the idea that the customers drive the direction of the products featured each day. This isn’t a one-way system of “we produce, you buy” but community conversation of “we find what you want.”

Since the community members are, by nature, excited by the products they’re more likely to take action and talk about them.

The same goes for Runkeeper, which factored sharing right into the product. From the start the idea wasn’t only to use a mobile device to track your routes and save information about you, but to share that information with your friends. By doing that you are, in fact, sharing the product you’re using. If friends want to share back they need to get that product too. The viral nature is built in, not tacked on later.

By contrast I hear from companies that have traditional business models and are looking for a way to build social networking into their marketing programs. This isn’t a bad thing (in fact, it’s great) but it’s also just the start.

To truly engage in this world each company must look beyond their marketing departments and find their communities, then use the tools to engage them. After all, that’s how new companies are finding their way.

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Lee Sherman on Distributed Communities: Fresh Ground #5

In episode 5 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Chuck Tanowitz talks with Lee Sherman, who runs the MintLife Blog. Lee brings over 20 years of editorial experience to Mint, including stints at Quicken.com and Worth magazine.

Chuck and Lee discuss how to create a content-driven marketing strategy, as well as the and differences and similarities between journalism and marketing. Lee shares some key numbers around Mint’s content-driven marketing strategy, and how to avoid thinking in terms of technological silos.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“I think that having a journalistic mindset has allowed us to create content that is compelling, and that leads to traffic, and traffic leads to conversions…”

“[At] the end of the day, we’re a software company, and we’re trying to get people to sign up and use a personal finance application… [You] always have to [keep] that in mind, but … building an audience through compelling content was key to our strategy….”

“[While] we’re very careful about protecting people’s privacy … we know a lot about how people are spending their money, and we’ve produced a number of infographics which illustrate trends in consumer spending, and those things tend to get picked up by other publications.”

“We would not have a publication called ‘MintLife’ if it didn’t actually bring in users.”

“[We] initially were thinking of building a community into the blog, but one of the learnings that came out of our discovery process … [was the] notion of distributed community…. Because of how people navigate to our content, the truth is that the conversation about our content is really taking place outside of Mint.com. [It’s] really taking place on Digg, on Facebook, on Twitter.”

“[We] embraced the notion of distributed community, and started to look at ways to bring the conversation into the blog. We haven’t fully gone down this road yet, but it’s a direction that we’re going to continue to go to, and there are tools like Backtype [and] Facebook Connect [to make this possible].”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Subscribe to our podcast using our
RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreshGroundPodcast.

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Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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LaunchCamp Boston 2010 is Feb 4th

Fresh Ground Communications is very pleased to announce the first LaunchCamp event, scheduled for February 3rd & 4th, 2010. LaunchCamp takes a fresh look at PR, marketing, social media and management -- and the technologies and tools that have evolved around these areas -- and attempts to identify the challenges that organizations face in the launch process.

The event is designed to help entrepreneurs make the essential decisions needed to launch their brand, product or service. It is organized by PR, marketing, social media and business professionals looking to identify and replicate some of the best practices in the market for moving entrepreneurial organizations along the growth curve.

The event is being organized in conjunction with the Social Media Club Boston, Social Media Breakfast Boston and PRSA Boston Chapter, and being graciously hosted at the Microsoft NERD Center. Fresh Ground is pleased to be the founding sponsor, and we're still looking for additional sponsors for the event.

Why LaunchCamp?
There are plenty of events designed to foster startups and help entrepreneurs find money, but there are very few events that focus on "the big splash:" how do you get the attention your company needs to grow and reach its business goals? This event is perfect for entrepreneurial organizations -- especially bootstrapped, angel-funded and early-stage venture-funded businesses -- looking to accelerate their growth using social tools and techniques.

Who is LaunchCamp Designed For?
This event is perfect for entrepreneurial organizations -- especially bootstrapped, angel-funded and early-stage venture-funded businesses -- looking to accelerate their growth using social tools and techniques. It is for both skeptics and those who need to convince the skeptics. It's also perfect for "intrapraneurs": innovators within larger organizations who are trying to create change.

LaunchCamp Boston 2010 is being held at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge on the afternoon of Thursday, February 4th. There are two other events taking place before LaunchCamp:

  • On Thursday morning, we're hosting Social Media Breakfast Boston #16: a Social Media Breakfast Bootcamp. The bootcamp event offering entrepreneurs and business people with a little less background in social media to get themselves up-to-speed in advance of the LaunchCamp afternoon event.
  • On Wednesday evening (Feb. 3rd), Social Media Club Boston and PRSA Boston are hosting a panel on the State of Journalism, Media and PR in 2010.

Registration for all of these events is now open. To register or find out more about LaunchCamp Boston 2010, please visit http://launchcamp.eventbrite.com/.

Speakers and a more detailed schedule will be announced shortly. If you're interested in speaking at the event or sponsoring the event, please contact info@itsfreshground.com.



EVENT SPONSORS






EVENT ORGANIZER & FOUNDING SPONSOR





EVENT CO-ORGANIZERS




HASHTAG FOR THIS EVENT IS #LaunchCamp.

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Paul Gillin on Social Media Marketing: Fresh Ground #4

Fresh Ground Podcast #4In episode 4 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Todd Van Hoosear talks with Paul Gillin, veteran technology journalist, author, blogger, researcher and consultant. Paul is a popular speaker who is known for his ability to simply complex concepts using plain talk, anecdotes and humor.

Todd and Paul talk about how to start in social media, measure ROI, give up control (and why giving up control can be so valuable) and “ditch the pitch.”

This interview was originally recorded a little more than a year ago.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Starting small is fine. There’s no reason that you have to make a big enterprise-wide commitment to social media in order to start some spot blogging, launch a podcast or do some video … training.”

“[A] lot of what goes on in social media is in fact what we have been doing on television, and radio and in print communications and in newsletters… We’re simply using a different means to do that, and we are creating a two-way channel around it.”

“When you can take a company … as big and as conservative as Procter & Gamble and say this company is making a huge corporate-wide commitment to a new way of communicating with its customers, that is … a pretty compelling case that this idea has gone mainstream.”

“There are paradoxes in social media… The more control you give up, the more control you get… The more you give away, the more you get in return… The more transparent you are, the more control you have over information.”

“The trend is very clear that people who influence important constituents are important to institutions, regardless of the media they use. As mainstream media continues to decline, and crumble in many cases, this may be all we have left in some markets.”

“The traditional [PR] pitch is almost a scripted engagement, and I know that if I ever want to play games with a PR person’s mind, what I’ll do is start asking intelligent questions… When you’re talking with someone who has a high level of knowledge, as most bloggers do, you can’t deliver a pitch. They’re not going to listen to it. They don’t play the game. They’re not trained in the game like journalists are. They are going to challenge you right off the bat. So you can’t go in unprepared. You can’t go in with a scripted plan. You have to go in with a plan for a conversation, and that requires a fundamentally different approach to PR.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

icon for podbean Standard Podcasts [ 10:53m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Subscribe to our podcast using our
RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreshGroundPodcast.

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Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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