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I wouldn’t claim by any means to know what I’m talking about today... Let’s face it no one really can... In such a fast moving world... I certainly didn’t choose the title of this session... And when I sat down to put this deck together it scared me a little... But web is all about collaboration... So I stuck out a few tweets... I blogged about the seminar on my blog... And my network did the rest! Hype... Part of the reason I’m here I think is that I’ve tended to be quite outspoken on my blog ( www.travelblather.com ) about the need to get the basics right before we get carried away with all this web 2.0 excitement. I still believe that – but increasingly I feel the excitement is more than justified... In fact putting this deck together made me all the more convinced that whilst there’s hype around the edges of this remarkable ride... There IS a real shift taking place here... More on that later... What I’ve ended up with to share with you today is some theory... And generally best some practice... I’d like to start with some theory... If I may...
The first few slides from this deck are borrowed from iCrossing’s VP for Social Media Antony Mayfield. And he in turn borrowed this analogy from the luminary web strategist Kevin Kelly. (If you don’t know who he is, I’d highly recommend Googling him and finding out.) Think of the web as an ever growing sphere - a machine linking up lots and lots of computers - constantly expanding – doubling in size every couple of years – expanding into more and more facets of life.
And as that sphere expands, it disrupts – Things like telecoms (suddenly telecom companies see their business models under attack from Skype and instant messaging). It disrupts things like the music industry, things like newspapers, retail – it disrupts all of our industries very time it moves further out – and then it absorbs them. And then suddenly media just becomes, well, the web – phone calls will just run over the web, music will just be downloaded or streamed on the web.
At the moment it’s expanding to the point where it’s really touching our daily lives – our relationships – the social networks that we’ve always had are being replicated and expanded online. It’s having a massive impact upon the way that we communicate – the way that we experience things and share those experiences with those around us. It’s making it possible to have far larger social networks, It’s making it possible to stay in touch with people more frequently It’s making it possible to find all of the other people that are just as interested as you in new camera lenses for the Canon 50D or whatever your particular obsession (of the moment or of your life) might be. It’s expanding and absorbing and disrupting... BUT the point is that it will become normal – just like email.
At the moment it’s something we call Social Media because it’s something new and it’s something different. But it’s incredible how quickly we normalise things in our minds. Can you remember what life was like before emails or mobile phones? In the future it will just be how we live... We won’t even notice it... A nice theory – but IS THIS HYPE?
I’d say no… it’s here to stay – a few numbers I pulled from google stats – (thanks Alastair for the suggestion!) http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/landing/internetstats/ And it’s becoming part of the mainstream… my mum is on Facebook for goodness sake… but (for a UK audience) p erhaps the best example is one Antony Mayfield often quotes:
Enough said! If the Daily Mail is telling you it could give you cancer... it must have entered the mainstream.
The social web has all sorts of impacts for the individual… I’ve talked about the way it makes staying in touch and finding new networks so much easier… BUT there’s a downside… It’s making it more difficult to make decisions – there’s an over-abundance of information here. A few Travel purchase stats – many of them you will probably be familiar with… - 20% of Brits will spend at least 8 hours trawling the Internet for a cheap travel-related deals. Greenbee.com survey, January 2009 On average, customers make 12 travel related searches, visit 22 websites and take 29 days from the first time they search until they make a purchase. Comscore 2007 – rather old stats now… but still significant. I believe that the brands that are able to resolve this conflict will ultimately be the ones that win big in the online travel sector
And how will they do that? It starts with understanding the changes: We’re moving from an old situation of channel media – where there was easy control… You chose your channel – developed your message and shouted it as loud as you could – (I call this foghorn marketing…) to networked media – human networks where everyone can be a contributor and a publisher and everyone has virtually equal access to distribution… it’s all rather more complex… We now compete for people’s attention in Real Time... We use the phrase “ Attention Markets ” – the idea that we are constantly having to earn people’s attention rather than expecting to get it... or being able to buy it through advertising... or to manipulate it by influencing those old channels like newspapers and TV with PR. And increasingly old methods of measurement will be meaningless too - We need to move away from the blunt instrument of measuring eyeballs and start to measure engagement – WHY? because it’s engagement that produces purchase... It’s a far more precise tool... Though it’s more complex to get measurement of engagement right increasingly we CAN... Before we get too carried away… let’s not forget…
Some things are still very much the same: We are talking about real people... The technological landscape may have changed BUT... people are still the same . They still need to find the right weekend break or the right family holiday for them – in the same way they did when they only had the phone or the high street travel agent to do it. The things that excite and motivate people don’t change, even though the platforms they use might. If anything these new platforms allow people to be more like real people online... If they find something they like that excites them – or conversely something that really annoys them... they can now SHARE it. The social web makes this really easy. The focus needs ultimately to shift from asking “how do we communicate this – how do we shout it out” – to “how do we create something that people will share and distribute because it’s so good” – (useful, funny, whatever). Increasingly we as marketers will need to get our products and services just right for our customers... And whilst we are about it – let’s not forget that people relate best to... people . Much of what social media is about is offering customers a real, personal connection with the people that work for your company. More on that in a moment...
One way we describe this shift at iCrossing is to use the term ‘Connected Brands’. (READ THE SPEECH BUBBLES) Those brands that win in the travel sector online... Resolving this over-supply of information problem that customers are wrestling with will be the Connected Brands. I think the key ingredient here is TRUST – either because the customer already knows you OR because you have the right credentials in the online travel space... More about that in a moment. But first let’s consider for a moment some basic principles of this new more complex on-line world
Here are the 3 golden rules of engagement that we use at iCrossing – this for me is what the ‘Hype’ bit is all about... Before you let anyone tell you you ‘need to do something social’ or they can develop a ‘viral vide’o for you or whatever... Step back and consider some basic rules of engagement – if there is one slide in this deck you take note of folks... It’s this one... And it’s the most simple! Understand your networks Before you wade in... Listen . And before you listen... Find. That can take time to do... Networks for now don’t just open up in front of your eyes with a Google search... (But that will probably change soon with Google social search and other tools more devoted to social search) Social search will ultimately be MASSIVE I think. 2) Be useful to your networks This is absolutely NOT rocket science... If you work in marketing, you should know your customer already... Sure... Conduct some more research – you might want to consider using some search term analysis and some social spaces analysis (stuff we do a lot of at iC – we have a rather smart tool that visualises networks which is immensely useful)... but be considerate and be appropriate 3) Social media offers the possibility of proper two-way communication – in real time (or thereabouts). To be credible in this space you need to commit to being available and being responsive. That takes money and passion and commitment. Personality is everything in these new online spaces.
How does this work in practice? I wanted to give you a real example of a travel client that we’ve worked with at iCrossing… but I can’t. You could argue that this means iCrossing isn’t up to much in the travel sector? Actually we do loads of work with the travel sector… I think it’s more that the travel sector has been behind the curve… but there’s massive interest now compared to last year… we’re on the verge of launching Social media projects with several really big UK travel brands. Remember how I said right at the beginning that I think this shift is becoming more real, more important… anyway…. Toyota was launching a cool new town car called the iQ. Before we did anything we listened and learnt. We discovered 2 particular communities that we figured would be real influencers in people’s perception of this funky little town car – the design community and the green driving community. A social space (blog format) was developed and driven by strong editorial input – written by Simon our in-house automotive journo. Content was designed to make a useful contribution to existing online conversations around cars, design, technology and fuel efficiency Toyota (after some arm twisting it has to be said) gave us exclusives on the new car – so we really had something unique and useful to communicate Outreach (seeding) was used to attract attention from relevant sites and bloggers. As Simon wrote more for the IQ blog, he began to participate where he could in some of the conversations in these communities. As a result of these conversations he came across hypermiling – the idea of seeing how far you could drive on a single tank of fuel. We convinced Toyota that this would be a fantastic way to engage with the green driving community and do something genuinely interesting that would prove our faith in the car itself. A hypermiling attempt based on an 18 city road trip on a single tank of fuel generated fresh, unique editorial. The team used the This is iQ blog, flickr , Tw itter , Vimeo a nd live GPS trac king to allow for maximum engagement with the challenge. You can see the results on this slide – It got picked up all over the place… including the New York Times… THE BIG IDEA – was that at the outset there was no big idea ... And taking a risk was a key element of the strategy
That’s not to say that there aren’t clever things going on in the Travel Sector – In the days of foghorn marketing it made sense to try and create some kind of personality behind your monolith of a brand... Because you had only the one voice to communicate with many different people (sure you could be a bit selective by using CRM to segment your customers a bit – but it was a pretty blunt tool.) For businesses focussed on customer service – and for travel sector brands that should be what it’s all about – the real people behind the brand are its biggest asset Web 2.0 is driving this desire for engagement with real people – so it’s time to open your business up... And let people in . The perfect way to demonstrate your brand in action and develop deep, really useful relationships with customers is to set up a blog... Mr&Mrs Smith’s blog is a good example... You get a real sense of behind the scenes... Personality and credibility are key – in this online world of over abundance you need to show customers who you are and why they should trust you. (NB we handed the Toyota blog over to Toyota to run themselves after a year or so... Ultimately it’s better coming from the people on the inside...) And this one – I love it – VisitFlorida’s website is a multi-author blog. Faceless content on a website just describing the delights of the Sunshine state – no matter how well it’s written – pales into insignificance compared with using real people who are experts. You gain: - Credibility, Personality/Empathy, Authority, Impartiality
That whole ‘real people’ thing can work really well on Twitter – Here are a couple of travel brands doing it very nicely: @Easyjetcare – Paul (yep a real person). I asked Paul a few questions actually – I made contact with him via Twitter: He told me that as “easyJet is one of the 50 top most brands in the world mentioned on Twitter, it was a natural progression for us. It is always to ensure that we maintain our care message, as it can be perception that low cost airlines do not care for their customers, which in our case is very much the contrary.” - What top 3 things you've learnt from setting up - good or bad? 1) Act on customers feedback, people give feedback to ensure things are fixed. 2) Don’t be shy, no matter how offensive customers can be in their tweets, still interact with those customers as they can be the biggest advocates. 3) Remember the key to social media is to be social don’t make it a one way street and use it who a customer would use it and not just to send out offers all the time. Add value to the customer and make it personal . @Cheapflights – Jemima (another real person) Real push for engagement – note stuff like background pic of the week. Jemima has a smart strategy for what she tweets when – in terms of time of day and day of week . If you want a non-travel example that is truly awesome check out zappos – the US online shoe retailer.
And here are a couple of interesting Facebook examples. Something that’s particularly interesting these days is the way that people are using Facebook as far more than just a space for interaction. Increasingly there’s a much more sophisticated technical element: STA Travel’s t-shirt competition creates excitement – great for its target audience Virgin Atlantic has developed a Facebook app for Flying Club members – to view flight info and their membership account on their Facebook page... Remember the bit about ‘Connected Brands?’ this is a great example of a brand being wherever its customers are and want it to be – the App was co-developed by members of the Vflyer frequent flyer community.
And I can’t mention Virgin Atlantic without mentioning BA could I? I’d hate to be seen as partisan! I love this idea... ( www.metrotwin.com ) another genuinely USEFUL concept – cleverly executed AND easy to expand too. Also love the subtle branding... Wonder if they will offer a Facebook app for this? (And... Of course I’m not even touching on mobile today)
Questions if there’s time: - Are different social media tools more appropriate for different types of travel brand? Does the cyclical nature of travel purchasing make it easier or harder to REALLY engage with customers? What impact does embracing Social Media have on a company’s internal organisation?
Social media for marketers: Unpicking the 2.0 hype 11.11.09 Jeremy Head Travel Editor, iCrossing [email_address] www.travelblather.com connect.icrossing.co.uk
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40% of sales are influenced by social media McKinsey
Over 30% of our leisure time is now spent online, according to a TNS survey in late 2008 across 16 countries. TNS, December 2008 In mid-2008, social networking accounted for around 10% of worldwide online time. This is a category that didn't exist 3 years ago. Nielsen, March 2009 Globally, social networks have enjoyed a 25% growth in unique visitors in the last year. Comscore, August 2009 39% of UK Internet users - more than 15.4 million people - will use social networks at least once per month in 2009. eMarketer, April 2009 It’s here to stay…
It’s (still) about REAL people… Image (cc) Elvire.R.
Your customers have been set free… they now live in connected networks of experiences and information that help them make all their decisions. In this new world, brands need a new approach… Those that are aware , active , useful and trusted in these networks will succeed. These are ‘connected brands’ http://www.bestiario.org / … interacting with your brand Brands must live and be valued in their customers’ networks
“ What makes Toyota's effort interesting is it doesn't feel like it was scripted by suits. The hypermiling challenge contains an element of mystery that draws in readers. The bloggers acknowledge there's a chance the stunt may fail, and the appearance of a "whatever happens, happens" attitude from Toyota conveys the company's confidence in its product — something other car companies don't have the stones to pull off.” Wired’s Autopia blog, 29 th January 2009 A low-fi execution with a risk element that conveyed confidence CASE STUDIES TOYOTA IQ