The Social Media Doppler Effect


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The Doppler Effect happens when an object moving toward you (like a train) makes a higher pitch sound than when it's moving away from you. For most organizations, if social media made a sound it would appear to moving away from them.

I've been doing inbound marketing evaluations for three years now. I've been observing a disturbing trend: The grades are falling, not getting better. When I began thinking about why this is the case, it became clear that the Internet is changing faster than they are adapting.

This presentation examines the reasons why this is happening, provides a case study in digital marketing success and suggests three ways to get in front of these changes.

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  • I think we’re all familiar with the Doppler Effect. If you’re standing still and an object is coming towards you, the sound it emits has a higher pitch when moving toward you than when it’s moving away.Well, if social media made a noise, for most organizations it would sound like it’s moving away. Let’s take a look at what I’m calling the Social Media Doppler Effect.
  • I’ve been doing inbound marketing evaluations for various companies for several years now. I take a look at their overall web presence and grade it against 26 different criteria that provide a rough indication of how well they are or are not they are implementing the principals of inbound marketing.For those not familiar with the term, inbound marketing means taking the opposite approach from traditional, outbound strategies. In the past, organizations relied heavily on things like advertising, cold calling and direct mail. These channels are all being disrupted by various technologies and are not nearly effective as they used to be. Inbound marketing reverses the process of interrupting people with your message and instead offers people valuable marketing content that people want to consume.In the process of performing these evaluations, I noticed a trend. This trend is particularly notable in the industrial automation space, as I’ve been regularly performing competitive analyses for most of the major players in this space. The thing that I noticed is that although most of these companies are beginning to take a stab at inbound marketing, their grades were getting worse.If they’re finally beginning to drink the Kook Aid, why is this happening?
  • Well, it turns out that at least in this case, slow and steady is not winning the race. As we all know, slow and steady is the preferred approach in most organizations. And for most of the other organizations, racing is against the rules, period!As I conducted the evaluations over the past few years and saw the grades going down, my first reaction was to say that I was simply becoming a tougher grader. At first, I was giving some folks some slack because of how new all of this inbound marketing and social media stuff was. But soon I realized that it was about much more than everyone “getting it.”The reality is that they’re simply not moving fast enough. The size, shape and contents of the Internet in general – and social media in particular – are all changing at faster pace than the companies who are using them. Not only are they changing faster, that change is accelerating and the situation is getting worse by the day. That low pitched hum you hear is the sound of the Social Media Doppler Effect.
  • So how does an organization get in front of the train rather than behind it?Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said it best when asked how he became such a prolific scorer. His answer was that he always would skate to where the puck was going to be, not where it has been.It sounds simple and obviously it takes a combination of incredible instincts and phenomenal talent in order to pull this off. In this presentation I’m going to provide you with some answers to this by providing you a massive case study and then examining how you might apply some of the lessons from that example in your own businesses.
  • I’m a computer geek. My parents bought me a Commodore 64 when I was 12 years old and I taught myself to program in C for fun. I spent the next 30 years of my life on the bleeding edge and have the scars to show for it. I had a computer operator job in high school, when pretty much the only computers a company had were locked in windowless, air conditioned rooms. In college, I was “that kid who uses the IBM PC to do our CAD drawings.” When I graduated college and became a plant engineer, I had one of the few PCs in the company – and had to fight the IT director every step of the way to get it. I built web sites in the 90s with a text editor and knew who Mark Cuban was long before he owned a basketball team or swam with sharks.But I don’t tell you this to try to impress you but to try to convince you of my street cred when it comes to technical innovation and how it impacts our personal lives and careers. So when I tell you that I’m finding it a challenge to keep up with accelerating pace of innovation, I hope it gives you pause.Think about how business was conducted in the 80s and 90s. How often did a true game-changing technology come around? Fax machines, personal computers, mobile phones, the Internet… these things happened maybe every couple of years. Thanks to Moore’s Law and social media, we’re seeing game-changers every couple of months now.Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why things are different today.
  • Reason number one for the innovation acceleration is the breathtaking adoption rates for new social media platforms. Google likes to brag about how quickly its Google+ platform grew its user base, but as far as I’m concerned it’s because they stood on the shoulders of giants.Social media is making discovery of new social media faster and more viral than ever before. There’s a big difference between blazing a completely new trail and simply trimming back one that’s overgrown. But for the purposes of our discussion, it doesn’t really matter why these adoption rates are accelerating. The important thing is to recognize that they are.So this means that the next big thing is never down the road. It’s always right around the corner.
  • The second phenomenon that’s fueling accelerating innovation is mobile influence. And so I must show you the obligatory graph that illustrates the breathtaking growth in not just the mobile space but he smartphone market in particular. I’m guessing you’ve seen more than a few of these over the past year. But guess what – this isn’t the really interesting part. If growth were the only factor, it would help support innovation but it wouldn’t necessarily fuel its acceleration.
  • For my money, this is the much more interesting graph. It shows the amount of time people are spending in web browsers vs. mobile devices. Notice that the browser time has stayed essentially flat while mobile browsing has steadily increased. If you look at industry surveys that dive into how and where people are using their smartphones, you discover they’re not just using them MORE, they’re using them DIFFERENTLY. We’re checking Facebook while sitting around waiting rooms. We’re talking smack during football games. We’re sharing predictions about plot twists during Walking Dead episodes. And while I apologize in advance for the visual, one of the top five locations we’re using mobile devices is in the bathroom.So the point of all of this is that smartphones aren’t just allowing us to use the web more, they’re allowing us to use it in different places to do different things
  • Now to wrap up this discussion about how quickly the web is changing, I have a couple of charts to help visualize this acceleration.Here we see the number of major Google algorithm updates per year. As you can see, this chart is nowhere near linear. It’s geometric.As a practical matter, this means that at least half of the search engine optimization tactics you used three years ago are completely useless now. It also means that reviewing your SEO strategy once a year was probably fine as recently as 2009 but in 2013 you better be tearing up your old strategy once a year and revisiting it quarterly.
  • Here’s another illustration courtesy of Avalaunch Media that shows a nice visualization of the history of marketing channels over the last 200 years. There are two observations I have when looking at this.The first, most obvious, is (once again) the accelerating pace of entirely new marketing channels opening up. If you look closely, you’ll notice that this is not drawn to scale. The right half of the graph covers 40 years while the left half covers the other 110.But what’s less obvious is a crossover event that occurred just over the last decade. What’s not shown here are the owners of these marketing channels. For 170 years, any company with enough money could go to a channel owner and flood it with outbound marketing messages. Today, the users own the channels in social media. It’s not simply a matter of spending money. You need to be clever, creative and innovative. You need to skate to where the puck is going to be.
  • So raise your hand if you’re a marketing manager or executive who thinks they’re going to have nightmares of shrinking market share and feelings of social media inadequacy…I don’t blame you if you feel that way and it’s easy for anyone to make observations as I have and scare the crap out of you. What’s a little more challenging is providing advice for dealing with the situation.Luckily, I found what I view as the single best digital marketing case study ever. Although it wasn’t selling a product, it was nevertheless pure marketing genius and I promise you there is much to learn from it.
  • They say it’s incredibly dangerous to talk politics as a public speaker and I have no intention of doing so. But because I think it adds credence to my argument I will share with you that I did not vote for the President this time or last time. But that doesn’t stop me from admiring the way he formed his campaign team and giving credit where credit is due.And so I hope that you can look past political bias from either side and take a dispassionate look at this case study. If you’re a supporter, you might be offended at the manipulative tactics. If you’re not a supporter, you might underestimate the courage and business acumen it took to pull this off.After reviewing this report, I became convinced that the President’s digital marketing strategy was THE reason he was reelected.
  • The first thing that Obama for America (or OFA) did differently was their laser focus on getting results. As someone who has been involved in political campaigns from the inside, I can tell you that this almost never happens.And so I present Exhibit A for the prosecution: Instead of using traditional polling, OFA used computer modeling to predict outcomes. As a result they were orders of magnitude more accurate than the Real Clear Politics poll averages. This particular result came from the crucial swing state of Ohio. OFA models in all five of these states came within a half a percentage point of actual election results.So I ask you: Who’s determining marketing strategy in your organization? Is it driven by polling or by modeling? Worse yet, is it driven by gut feel?
  • If you want to talk about results, it doesn’t get any more bottom line than revenue. Using digital marketing best practices, OFA was able to raise the top line at every level; more donors and a higher average donation size meant a nearly 20% increase from 2008.How would an 11% increase in customers look to your company? What about a 24% increase in average purchase size? Or how does a 38% revenue increase sound to you? It probably wouldn’t suck, right?
  • When you talk about building any system, robustness should be a consideration. Another massive advantage OFA had over their opponent was availability. “Game Days” were disaster preparedness exercises where their team simulated nightmare scenarios, such as a catastrophic database failure or Amazon’s East Coast data center going offline. It’s not enough to have it in a manual. The lesson is that you actually have to practice and practice disaster recovery scenarios until you have them down cold.The stakes for a marketing system aren’t quite as high as an operations system when it comes to availability. However, there are man-made branding disasters that can prove just as costly and it pays to have systems in place for those, too.
  • Now that we’ve seen some of the results, let’s take a look at the strategies they employed that led to them.
  • The first strategy they embraced was to trust only in data. As we’ll see, data would dictate which email subject lines they’d use, which television commercials would air in which markets and even what words would be used in speeches.Once they started taking a hard look at the data, they found that many assumptions and traditional messaging were far inferior to the ones they ultimately used.
  • This is the guy OFA hired to be their CTO. His name is Harper Reed. He has extensive start-up experience, which is exactly the mentality by which the campaign operated. One of the things they did that personally consider to be “courageous” is that they put the technology and marketing people in charge and didn’t interfere. The policy people did not have the authority to tell them what emails to send and the speech writers were powerless to set email subject lines.“The core of the campaign was not flashy or even particularly innovative except in the willingness of senior staff to listen to numbers people rather than consultantsacting on old-fashioned political intuition.”In an old-fashioned political campaign, the policy wonks determine the strategy and the speech writers deliver it. Instead, OFA made a decision that data be their consultant.
  • The final strategy decision that stood out to me was their commitment to testing everything. It’s one thing to use analytics to measure how well your strategy is working. But it’s entirely another to build a deliberate framework in which absolutely everything is tested, measured and optimized.One startling example was a single email that changed the entire course of the election. In June 2012, they were being badly outspent, as is common for incumbent Presidents. To solve this problem, OFA didn’t craft an “I’m being outspent” email. They crafted 12 of them. And tested them. Based on responses, they chose the best performer and let it rip.The result was that that – based on projections from the test data – the final email raised $2.2M more than the worst would have. And it was $1.8M better than the median.Based on this slide, can you guess what the most effective subject line of the entire campaign was?
  • “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory,” according to Sun Tzu. Having a great strategy is a good place to start, but it requires sound tactics in order to deliver results. So let’s take a look at some.
  • If you’re going to skate to where the puck is going to be, then you’re going to need a methodology that lends itself to rapidly evolving. OFA used something called DevOps that accomplished just this. "DevOps (a portmanteau of development and operations) is a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and information technology (IT) professionals. DevOps is a response to the interdependence of software development and IT operations. It aims to help an organization rapidly produce software products and services.”The Social Media Doppler Effect means that marketing plans are going to have to adapt very, very quickly. This can obviously be a huge challenge in a large corporation with thousands of products and multiple divisions governed by a hierarchical bureaucracy. Implementing a methodology similar to DevOps is the only way to keep pace.
  • When it came to reaching the crucial 18-29 year old demographic, the Obama campaign came to a startling realization50% of their targets in this demographic were unreachable by phoneBut 85% of them were friends with an Obama 2012 Facebook app userOFA launched “targeted sharing” to Facebook friends who were voters in swing statesUsers received an email requesting that they contact six specific friends, with their names and photos600,000 people reached 5 million voters20% of those 5 million took some action, such as registering to Vote
  • OFA used communication analytics in two different ways.First, they built a tool that looked at local newspaper coverage by geographic region and determined how people reacted and which parts were quoted most. This was passed back to the speech writers so that they could optimize the messaging accordingly.Second, they used communication analytics in order to figure out which channels would be most effective. They collected data from supporters about their viewing habits. Then, for each channel and time slot in swing states they projected how many supporters would be watching at specific times and then went after the shows they felt would be most cost-effective. The end results was that their ads were appearing to 60 micro-audiences while the opponent’s ads were appearing to 18 macro audiences at the same time for the same cost.
  • OFA conducted 240 A/B tests on their donation page, resulting in a 49% increase in conversion rate. Some specific lessons they learned:Sometimes, ugly stuff wonA completely separate strategy was required for mobile – had to create specific one-click appMoving from one long step to 4 short steps increased conversions: “Turns out you can get more users to the top of the mountain if you show them a gradual incline instead of a steep slope.”
  • Given all of these lessons learned from a political campaign, how can this be applied to your businesses? How can you skate to where the puck is going to be and get in front of that social media train?
  • It begins with social targeting. We’re going to have to do a better job at finely tuning our messaging. You can’t spread your advertising budget across a few dominant media channels anymore and hope to reach your audience efficiently. It’s getting more fractured, not less.There are a few ways to use social targeting to accomplish this. One is to mine demographic data to learn about your audience. This can be used to craft and target narrowly focused messages. Think of it as fine tuning your messages.Another is to identify influencers that can carry forward your messages to potential customers. Think of it as amplifying your messages. And finally, you can mine social data to identify both old and new media preferences of your audience. Knowing where they’re spending their time, what they’re reading and where they’re doing it helps you identify the best hangouts to spend your time in.The end goal is to get much, much more efficient with all of your efforts so that you can accurately target micro-audiences, maximize the responses and testing, measuring and optimizing.
  • A major implication of the social media Doppler effect is the pace at which strategies and tactics will have to adapt and change. This means that there will be more of a need for advanced audience modeling and analytics to understand the movement habits of your audience.As we’ve seen, adoption rates for new social media networks have increased dramatically and can seem to appear from out of nowhere. It’s going to be important to have tools that analyze data patterns from social media that recognize patterns and – more importantly – shifts in patterns. The reality is that the way we use these social networks changes and we’ll need to have sensors that can detect shifts.
  • Finally, we need to achieve digital singularity. This means eliminating silos like mobile vs. desktop and print vs. digital and website vs. social media. Instead, these all need to be cogs in the same machine that are all working together. Here again we can look to an example from the OFA campaign. They targeted Facebook friends in swing states and sent them emails with names and photos of six specific friends. They asked them to contact these friends and the result is that 600,000 people reached 5M. And 1 million of those eventually took some action like making a donation or registering to vote.So the lesson here is to start thinking of ways to combine these channels together in order to proactively drive results. It’s not enough to Tweet your press releases and share cool photos on Facebook. You need to leverage the strengths of each particular tool and build a complete system the drives better results.If you can use social targeting to optimize your messaging, monitor trends and activities with modeling and analytics and use best of breed tools to execute, I think that’s the formula for becoming the Wayne Gretzky of social media.
  • The Social Media Doppler Effect

    1. 1. The Social MediaDOPPLER EFFECT by Jon DiPietro
    2. 2. WHY were gradesgetting WORSE?
    3. 3. Slow and steady is NOT winning the race.
    4. 4. “I skate to wherethe puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
    5. 5. Innovation is AcceleratingYou are here.
    6. 6. User Growth FAST Growth Begets FASTER Growth
    7. 7. MobileInfluence 3,000,000,000 Global Internet Device Shipments Forecast 2,500,000,000 Tablets 2,000,000,000 1,500,000,000 We are here 1,000,000,000 Smartphones 500,000,000 Personal Computers 0 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013E 2014E 2015E 2016E Source: Gartner, IDC, Strategy Analy cs, company filings, BI Intelligence es mates The Rise of the Smartphone
    8. 8. MobileInfluence Mobile Is Different
    9. 9. 40Pace of 35Innovation 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Major Google Algorithm Updates
    10. 10. Pace ofInnovation Is It Getting Crowded In Here?
    11. 11. NowWHAT?
    12. 12. Somebody Figured It Out
    13. 13. Results Hamilton County, OH early vote: 57.68% (predicted) 57.18% (actual) Modeling Beat Polling
    14. 14. Results 2008 2012 Total Raised Online $5000M $690M Donors 3.95M 4.4M Average Per Donor $126 $156 More Donations from More Donors
    15. 15. Results Disaster Proof
    16. 16. Strategies
    17. 17. Strategies “We basically found our guts were worthless.” Trust ONLY Data
    18. 18. “The core of theStrategies campaign was not flashy or even particularly innovative except in the willingness of senior staff to listen to numbers people rather than consultants acting on old- fashioned political instuition.” Separation of Church and State
    19. 19. Strategies Test EVERYTHING
    20. 20. Tactics
    21. 21. Tactics Technology
    22. 22. Tactics Social Analytics
    23. 23. Tactics Communication Analytics
    24. 24. Tactics Optimization: Landing Pages
    25. 25. What’s Next?
    26. 26. Social • DemographicsTargeting – Age – Sex – Profession – Geography – Language • Influence • Medium – Old Media (TV, radio, print) – New Media (desktop, mobile) It’s Getting More Fractured, Not Less
    27. 27. Modelingand Analytics Social Graph
    28. 28. DigitalSingularity Website/Social Media Desk/Mobile
    29. 29. Jon DiPietroEmail:jon.dipietro@domesticatingit.comTwitter:@JonDiPietro