Quick note to help folks (even those unfamiliar with Twitter) track what is being said about your brand.
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So the topic came up today in the Twitter-sphere – Adwords, social networks (Facebook in particular), and their success (or lack thereof). I think its been talked about in the blogosphere or in conversations at various tech conferences but its worth repeating.
For all intents and purposes, it boils down to what Adwords was intended for and the way it works versus the evolution of the web today.
A few years back (eons in Internet time), the Internet was a super efficient way to find things – information, places, stuff to buy, etc. etc. etc. Google came along with a great way to search through HUGE amounts of data, create Google PageRank to make “authorities”, and basically try to get you results that most closely meet what you’re looking thus avoiding a huge number of porn links when searching on children’s bedtime stories.
The algorithm they devised was evolutionary (not revolutionary, one of the most overused terms in high tech) and it worked extremely well. As time went on, since the dominant behavior on the Internet was “searching”, using the information gathered and the search algorithm Google created they devised an ultra -efficient way to advertise. They already knew that you were searching (because Google is a search engine after all) and they knew what you were searching for and therefore Google could simply place paid ads next to your search result that would turn up sponsors who had stuff related to your search. This was brilliant in its simplicity because it was (and this is the key) ADDITIVE to your current behavior. VALUE ADD – simple, straight forward, and very very effective.
Google later expanded this to allow you or I to put ads on our site that would reflect something related to the information on the page upon which you placed the ads. Again, effective, but not as clearly value add because people on your site may not have necessarily been in “search mode”. They may just have been reading out of interest. But since the Internet was still basically viewed as a giant repository for information and “stuff” that you sifted through, “search mode” is what people generally were still in and it masked the few times people weren’t in “search mode”.
Now, with the advent (or rise) of social media, behaviors are changing. “Search mode” is still a dominant behavior but not what it once was. See, social media (blogs, networks, Twitter, etc. etc.) make the Internet more and more a place to “socialize”. Behavior changes from “searching for something” to “killing time” or “marketing” or “making connections”. Lets call this “hanging out” mode.
Now if you’re on a social network, you most certainly are not in a “search mode”. So then, what happens if Google indexes my Profile page and serves up an Ad related to the content there? The answer? Who the hell cares!
Why is that? Because if I’m on Facebook or OpenWine Consortium or any other social network, I’m probably not “Searching” but doing some sort of “socializing” (BS’ing, networking, hooking up, whatever) – I’m in “hang out” mode. Indexing my page and serving up ads related to keywords and content is NOT additive to the social media experience or the current behavior so this ad will be ignored. Even blogs, which are chock full of information, don’t see much return on Adwords because while they do typically report or inform they, more often then not, are sparking conversation or continuing conversation. Unless the blog is specifically reviewing something, in which case a few ads on where to buy that something may work, contextual ads are ineffective. This inefficiency in the original model was masked by the fact that predominant behavior was searching. Now with the behavior being socializing, Adwords and the searching optimization are only slightly more useful than putting up a static add.
Even Google admits that it hasn’t solved the social network advertising/monetizing behavior.
Net-net: Save your money. Buying keywords is NOT social media marketing.
Now, Google is looking to create a sort of “FriendRank”, in a recent patent application. They call it “Network Node Ad Targeting” and they intend to use a person’s social map to determine the number and quality of connections they have (and therefore their influence) and pay those influencers to allow advertisers the serve ads to their friends. Interesting, but we’ll see how it plays out. I’m sure they’ll be takers, but I’ll be awefully pissed if a friend or other contact is the source of ads I recieve! Still not a value-add unless the friend somehow has the ability to control the ads that get served and influence what goes to our friends (i.e. some sort recommendation and reputation system). Reading this patent, I don’t think it cuts it at all.
I’m a huge fan of niche social networks. I think Facebook is nearing complete uselessness unless it is the center of you and all your friends’ social lives. Why? Too general.
On the other hand, Ning.com has taken the tact of making really good social networks easy to put up. Effectively commoditizing the social network (as it should be) and forcing there to be a real purpose for the social network. Families, Alumni groups, soccer teams, music lovers, fan pages, you name it and Ning probably has network for it.
This is actually the ideal model. Niche social networks mimic real life more closely. You don’t have 1 social group do you? You have work people, college buddies, soccer team friends, neighbors, and only sometimes so these lives intersect. So why would there be only one social network?
I created OWC as a way to redefine a trade organization. Update it. Rather than a stuffy, meet once a year/quarter and have a newsletter organization, I wanted the wine world to benefit from meeting each other 24x7x365. I wanted to have an organization that could teach and evangelize and lead by example.
What I’m learning is that there is no replacement for offline meetups. Thats not to say new connections aren’t being made and value isn’t being created. On the contrary, that is happening in a big way! What I’m saying is that even with an online community there is great benefit to getting together on a regular basis. Just being out and giving a couple of presentations over the last couple of weeks helped me put faces to names and voice to faces. Not only that, the online community benefits as well – there was a huge traffic increase since my talks and a pretty big membership serge.
So, I wouldn’t say this is a surprise but a confirmation. Social networks are a compliment to organizations, not a replacement for interaction.
I thought it’d be important as I setup that organization to outlast my tenure as Executive Director. I’m taking it step by step. Its established now, even attracting sponsors and producing the events (like the Wine Blogger Conference in Sonoma in the Fall). Behind the scenes I am preparing to announce the board of directors, a new strategic partner that will help attract potentially thousands of members, and eventually closing on getting official non-profit status (because there isn’t a membership fee I really need to get some revenue to pay for the non-profit paperwork preparation – a non-trivial task).
In the meantime, its pretty cool to have the Wikipedia page, in a geeky sorta way.
Here is a message I recieved after finishing my talks on social media…
Hey Joel. I heard you speak at ‘s event. I really like your point about moving from technology to sociology. You’re a great speaker. And you didn’t call anyone a “douche-bag” which – although strangely endearing when Gary V says it, probably didn’t go over too well with the “old guard” wine insiders…
Im just getting into all the social networking stuff after really just putting it off to long. You and Gary inspired me to do that!
That’s just cool…mission accomplished…
Image by hannesseibt via Flickr
This week was the Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) and last week was Inertia Beverage Group’s DTC Symposium. At both venues I gave a talk about social media (the term that has been hijacked by Web2.0) and why the wine industry needs to pay attention.
My bottom line points are simple. I’ve written about and preached on the “Wine Life Value Chain” where I talk about how the strength of a relationship basically has direct correlation to influencing a wine buyer. The closer you are, sociallogically, to the source of a wine recommendation the faster and more likely you are to buy it. So with that theorum guiding my thoughts we look at social media.
Social Media is basically conversations online, but the nice thing for wine (or bad) is that “word-of-mouth” becomes lightning quick and globally scalable. So get on board and incorporate it into your business.
The reason for this post is we basically had a case study in the power of social media yesterday with Twitter and the wine crew (or it seemed like the wine “hit men/women” on Twitter yesterday!). Here’s what happened.
The scene starts with Jill finding a wine writer in Florida at Tallahassee.com using the pseudonym of one of our fellow wine bloggers (DrDebs). Jill tweets “Hey, someone is hijacking DrDeb’s good name” and to boot she was reviewing TERRIBLE wines and giving them good ratings – Yellow Tail, et al. A bunch of people immediately flocked overthere to check it out and left some choice comments for . DrDebs
Next, one of Jill’s “followers”, Brittany aka WineQT, is from Florida and notices that the reviews from Fake DrDebs is eerily similar to a newsletter written by Nat Maclean. Sure enough, it was plagarized! We quickly see WineQT tweet out that “Fack DrDebs ripped it off!”. Subsequently, Jeff Stai of Twisted Oak Winery sees this, logs a complaint with the website “Tallahassee.com”. Within an hour the post is removed from the site for copyright violation!
Within an hour, a small post about wine that was plagarized was noticed by someone in LA, recognized as a fake post by someone in Oakland, and taken down by someone in Florida! THAT, my friends, is Social Media. That is word-of-mouth to the 100th degree. And that is what wine companies can tap into if they just take the time to learn how!
This weekend was the Inertia Beverage “Direct to Consumer” Symposium. I had the pleasure of presenting one of the larger sessions called “Marketing on Social Networks” and basically took it a little more horizontal and spoke more on “Marketing in Social Media”.
I think the presentation went well but a few things we are very certain in my mind as I start to evangelize and encourage people to participate via the OpenWine Consortium social network – since marketing in social media is a sociology problem and not a technology problem, wine companies have more of a head start then they think. Sure there are a blizzard of tools out there, but what is happening is that these technologies are moving in a direction that allows the skills that every wine brand already has offline – building a community around their product and getting to know their customers – to leverage the Internet to build that community on a much larger scale. Thats the basic synergy with Inertia’s business model. Once that broader community is established beyond just the tasting room, the final step is translating the connections made into a wine sale. Without the technology to do that, a winery is pretty screwed.
I really wanted to wineries to feel a little more comfort then they seem to be. Two main reasons – 1) online social stuff is happening and fast, but its not replacing everything tomorrow and 2) There are ways for wineries to benefit even though they are wearing many different hats already (and many don’t involve sitting in front of a computer 25 hours a day). This is where my talk and my co-presenter – Gary Vaynerchuk – differ. Always one for a bit of hyperbole (go figure) Gary says – email is dead (for some and many millenials, yes, but not completely), you have to be on every network all the time, and you can’t control your brand (which I agree with but influence is different from control). Ah yes, and he believes that there is no role for PR anymore with the new technologies – a point we differ on, its changing but PR doesn’t stand for Press Release so having built billion-dollar brands I can tell you PR is vital to a strong brand. Without PR there would be no Gary Vaynerchuk. PR is the art of image shaping and influence and there is alway a role for that. Most people have to outsource it, but others control it themselves (GV obviously controls his own PR). Anyway, long discussion.
Overall it was a good talk and hopefully we can get calmer heads to prevail and really help wineries to move forward with online strategies rather then just use “the sky is falling” discussions.
Well, now the in-laws are gone, daycare is back on (they had a week off for vacation after the 4th), so I have to try to get back into the groove!