The running joke in social media circles is that Google+ is a wasteland. No one goes there or pays attention to anything posted there. Facebook and Twitter remain royalty with all other networks orbiting them. The more this myth is believed by communications pros, the more we do a disservice to ourselves and to our clients. Facebook is dying. Slowly but surely, it is committing suicide. I won’t be so bold to say that Google foresaw this when it launched G+, but clearly it has positioned itself as a viable alternative since Facebook went public.
G+ launched in September of 2011 with as much anticipation as skepticism based on Google’s previous entries into the social sphere (Buzz and Wave anyone?). So where are we now 15 months later? Google announced 500+ million people signed up for the service with 235 million passively involved (e.g. using Hangout feature or +1) and 135 million are using all features of the service. So, less than a year and a half in, Google+ has half the number of Facebook users; generally accepted at 1 billion.
The mobile space is an area G+ is poised to overtake Facebook very quickly. Facebook’s mobile apps leave much to be desired. Difficult to use, the Facebook experience on your phone is completely different from what you experience on your computer. Compare that to Google+. Its recently redesigned apps for iOS simulate the experience from your computer as closely as any app I’ve ever used. There’s not feature that’s missing, the design is gorgeous, and the ease of use is amazing. All of this is great, but none of this is why Facebook is going the way of the old MySpace.
Facebook doesn’t have a viable business model. Its stock has been up and (mostly) down, currently sitting at $26.26; about $12 below its IPO of $38. It can’t sell its advertising effectively, it is grasping at straws at new ways to create revenue, and those new ways tend to draw massive backlash. Google on the other hand, doesn’t have to worry about monetizing G+. It simply adds the data it generates to bolster its search product. That means Google can cater to the needs of its users without worrying about its stockholders. A company whose stock continues to drop is a company hemorrhaging cash. As Facebook continues to put its revenue needs above the experience of its users, it will continue to push people to G+. My prediction is that Google+ has as many or more active users than Facebook by New Year’s Day 2016.
This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on August 14th, 2012.
I’m fortunate to be connected to hundreds of outstanding public relations and marketing professionals. All of them are fantastic at their job, and I’m a smarter person for just knowing them (that includes the proprietor of this blog, and the many contributors). Given all the good I see the industry accomplishing each day, at least one a month it seems an entity or a person commits such an egregious screw up that I’m left to question the future of public relations. Or at least how these people have a job that pays them more than minimum wage. The subject of today’s post is Progressive Insurance.
I’ll get right to the point. According to this Gawker article, Progressive paid to defend the killer of one of their client’s in court. Read that sentence again. Notice I didn’t say “basically” or “in essence”. No. This company paid its lawyers to defend a guy who ran a red light and killed Katie Fisher.Comedian (ironic, huh?) Matt Fisher, Katie’s brother, documented the entire situation in this Tumblr post. What happened boiled down to this. The perpetrator was underinsured, but his insurance company paid what was due to Katie’s family under its policy, which was still short. The Progressive policy that Katie had entitled her loved ones to more compensation. Progressive said no. Katie’s parents were forced to sue the other driver, and who showed up to defend him in court? Progressive’s lawyers.
Understandably, Matt Fisher was PISSED. So, he wrote about it on Tumblr yesterday, and what did Progressive do to respond to all the negative attention it got on Twitter? Respond in a human manner? Take responsibility for the TERRIBLE job it did at using human reason rather than a contract to determine what it needed to do? Oh no. Of course not:
This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain they’ve had to endure. We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations. Again, this is a tragic situation, and we’re sorry for everything Mr. Fisher and his family have gone through.
Beyond the stock response, which is a huge middle finger to anyone upset with Progressive in this situation, this is what happens when the PR department does nothing to stand up to the legal department. I get that each company has legal obligations and contracts, and it must adhere to those. When a person is dead, and the only (for lack of a better word) comfort the surviving family members get is settlement money, I am of the opinion that you have a moral obligation to expedite the process (while doing due diligence) to help ease their pain.
I’m fortunate enough to never have lost someone I’m close to, though that day is coming. I can’t imagine the extra pain the Fisher family was forced to endure in this situation. Truly, every PR failure in this situation can be fixed with one sentence.
Act like human beings.
Read the comments section. They are absolutely making very relevant points. Here are a couple:
- With every stock answer tweet Progressive sends out with Flo’s face next to it, they are destroying that lovable character they’ve spent YEARS and (I’m assuming here) millions of dollars to build.
- The fact that Progressive extends empathy to the family when the company itself is a big part of the pain of the family.
This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on May 16th, 2012.
Last night’s #pr20chat was on the subject of integrating offline marketing tactics with those being used online. More to the point, ensuring “real world” tactics are still playing a large part in the strategy for your organization or client(s).
I’ve been wanting to write about Klout for a week or so now, and why I think Klout is a good starting point for a lot of things, but in the end doesn’t mean anything. This all started for me with the infamous Wired article a few weeks ago where an executive’s job interview essentially ended after his Klout score was deemed too low. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, posts were written about how much Klout sucks and how it is making those in the PR and marketing industries lazy.
It seems there’s only two sides to be had. Either Klout is the savior we’ve all been waiting for in measuring influence or it’s a meaningless game. The truth is that it’s somewhere in between. Online influence is an important topic. Who is talking about your brand and shaping opinions about it is VERY important. That doesn’t mean that offline influence has taken a back seat and don’t mean anything though.
Speaking at conferences, writing a book, teaching a college class, client referrals, none of these are measured on Klout. Does that make them meaningless? Certainly not. Klout is pioneering a segment of PR and marketing that is critical as the digital realm becomes more important. This isn’t something that is going to be hashed out overnight, or even in the span of a few years.
That picture you see is my Klout score. It was at a 62 a few weeks ago, but has dipped as my job and personal life have demanded more attention. As I’ve spent time on several major projects, enjoying my wife’s pregnancy, searching for a new house, and the Game of Thrones series (I’m reading the books first), my time spent in the social media sphere has diminished. I have a hard time believing that I’m not influencing the world around me, and yes. I know exactly how arrogant that sounds.
Influence doesn’t mean everyone around me bends to my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It means that others around me think I’m valuable in some way. Klout is heading in the right direction. Just don’t think it’s a non-stop flight to measurement paradise.
This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on March 22nd, 2012.
I struggle with ROI in the social sphere, as I’ve talked about before. Google has taken a huge step forward this week in measuring the ROI of social media, as it announced the first concrete effort at valuing efforts in this arena. The three main reasons Google made this change (from the Analytics blog):
- “Identify the full value of traffic coming from social sites and measure how they lead to direct conversions or assist in future conversions
- Understand social activities happening both on and off of your site to help you optimize user engagement and increase social key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Make better, more efficient data-driven decisions in your social media marketing programs
I’ll let you read through the post itself to familiarize yourself. Never before has anyone tried to tie real, tangible, financial results to likes, follows, comments, posts, and so on and so forth. We know the value of social media. It’s networking, listening, identifying new customers, etc. Selling it to the C-Suite can be difficult as the bottom line is the only number they are concerned about. This provides a tool that provides realistic numbers as to conversions, and where those conversions are coming from.
This is not a be-all-end-all tool, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.
This post first appeared on PR Breakfast Club on March 5th, 2012.
This isn’t an argument that says companies collecting personal information is a good thing, but it IS an argument for taking responsibility. You’re using Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Path, and tons of other apps FOR FREE. Ever paid a dime to post your status to Facebook or Twitter? Nope. Yet their IPO is expected to be worth millions, if not billions, of dollars. It ain’t because that photo of your kid is extra cute.
We, the Internet community, often forget that. We are a valuable commodity. We all have wants, needs, desires, hopes, and there are companies out there dying to learn more about us to sell those to us. The price of using these services is not monetary; it’s our information. Anyone who thinks it is Google’s responsibility to simply sit on the goldmine of information it has on its users doesn’t understand the digital business model.
It is our responsibility as consumers to safeguard our data; and each of these companies has provided ways to make your information as private as possible. In the 21st century, if you wonder how a company can make money without actually selling anything, remember this:
If you cannot discern a product a company is selling, the product they are selling is you.
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on July 19th, 2012.
I’ll admit that it’s fun to bash Klout. They are on the front lines of the Wild West of determining influence, and who is doing that influencing, online.
Posts have been written ad nauseam (including on this blog, though they’re not the nauseating kind) on the plusses and minuses of Klout’s service, but I think I’ve finally nailed down what bothers me about the service (which I’m still a member of and will continue to use).
What’s your proof, LaCasse?
Glad you asked.
See that picture to the right (up there, no… there, that’s it)? That’s my Klout score over the past several weeks.
I’ve been busy this summer with a large project at work, moving into a new house, and preparing for the birth of our first child (due August 20th, and that date may or may not be circled in red marker with glitter all around it.), and you know, just enjoying summer with friends and family.
Because of that, my score has dropped from the ballpark of 62 this spring to 56. I’ve been tweeting less.
To put my suspicions to the test, I spent a few days last week tweeting incessantly and then going quiet. You can see in the picture above the spikes of when I was tweeting.
Here’s the question: am I less influential than I was in March? Do my ideas and thoughts matter less? Are they less valuable to my audience simply because I’m not tweeting as much?
I don’t think so. And here’s proof: although I don’t believe the number of people who follow me on Twitter to be incredibly important, that number has continued to steadily rise during the same time my Klout score has dropped.
I have to believe that if I was truly less influential than I was in March, my follower number would have dropped at a similar pace. Are there peaks and valleys to that follower growth? Of course. Generally speaking, that number has inclined while my Klout score has declined over the same period.
This is the main reason I just can’t take Klout incredibly seriously. I think it can be a valuable service… but for that to be the case, its algorithm must be tied more to content than frequency. Clearly, that isn’t the case right now and I think that’s a shame.
I realize Klout is relatively young and has a long way to go to mature as it fine-tunes its product. For the time being, it remains a game as far as I’m concerned, and not one I can advise my clients to pay any real attention to.
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on July 8th, 2011.
I just finished watching a video from LeWeb ’10 in Paris starring Gary Vaynerchuk in which he discusses the ROI of social media.
Whatever your feelings about Vaynerchuk, he raises two very good points.
- The word media did indeed (mess) everything up as far as understanding social media is concerned
- ROI in this sphere is incredibly hard to put a number on for some businesses.
I realize the irony of writing that last sentence on the blog of the maven of SM measurement.Shonali is giving and kind, what can I say?
In large part, I agree with Vaynerchuk.
ROI for social media is based primarily on two things: patience and relationships. We live in an instant gratification society in America. Want that new album? Download it from the digital music store of your choice. Need tickets to the big concert? Check out StubHub. We all want what we pay for RIGHT NOW.
Therein lies the problem with many of our clients. They’ve just plopped down whatever you’re charging per month for your services, and they don’t see a 10% increase in business the next week. Obviously, something has gone terribly wrong.
As communication professionals, it is our responsibility to re-train our clients and customers to a different way of thinking. They must understand that the real ROI of social media is building relationships and reputation. New customers and increased business will come, but it might take a few weeks or a few months to see those results.
There is no single number we can point to that will convince clients of the value of social media because honestly, the only number they care about is their bottom line. And that’s completely fine. The trick is convincing them that social media is another tactic for them to increase their business.
Just like radio ads. Just like TV ads. Just like newspaper ads. Just like chamber of commerce mixers. Just like business conferences. That said, some business owners are unable to let go of that thinking linking ROI to straight cash homey.
Where I depart from Vaynerchuk is essentially calling those people irrelevant.
They still represent a large part of the business community, even if that line of thinking is slowly eroding. Since many of these people control the budgets of companies who want to get into social media, but view it as a fad, it is difficult to convince them it is a worthy investment. That’s why it is important to point to examples of ways they are already investing in relationships outside of the social media sphere.
While Vaynerchuk has given up on these people and cast them aside, I believe they can be convinced, converted, and made true believers. It’s simply knowing how to speak their language.
Numbers bring comfort to those who control budgets. It becomes easily quantifiable, easily justifiable, and it remains in a comfort zone that’s been developed over the course of many years.
Showing these folks that social media is not “media” as they understand it, but much more like relationship building they focus on in other areas is the key. It’s changing the definition of ROI in their names.
- @reneehulshof LOOK AT ME! I’M KING OF THE WORLD!!! 22 hours ago
- @reneehulshof That said, this situation needs to be made an example of so it doesn’t happen again in the future. 22 hours ago
- @reneehulshof That’s the thing. It has zero to do with politics as this has happened in the past with GOP. It’s EVERYONE /bangs head on desk 22 hours ago
- @YQJ31 @Garwin7 @karatikki Morning commute a bit longer as i drop the kid off; maybe 20? In a small town, gas prices hurt, more manageable 22 hours ago
- @reneehulshof It’s unreal and completely infuriating. This is Stalin type stuff. Everyone in DC holding office should be removed; start over 22 hours ago
- So the #IRS defense is, “No, no, no. We’re not partisan! Merely incompetent and stupid!” Gotcha. That’s a winning defense for sure. 22 hours ago
- @karatikki @Garwin7 To be fair, my current commute is all of 3-5 minutes depending on traffic. Still. I’d like the option. 22 hours ago
- @Garwin7 @karatikki @YQJ31 Fair point. 22 hours ago
- @Garwin7 @karatikki @YQJ31 I’m in full favor of everyone working from home. 22 hours ago
- @karatikki @YQJ31 @Garwin7 Not how it works, you’re right. But it’s how it SHOULD work. 22 hours ago
- @reneehulshof @adriennemay Mind. Blown. 22 hours ago
- @karatikki @YQJ31 @Garwin7 Yeah, I’ve been told its because of a pipeline that runs through MO, but who knows. 22 hours ago
- @YQJ31 @Garwin7 For whatever reason, gas is usually cheaper in MO. So, chalk one up for the Show-Me State over IA. 1st time for everything. 22 hours ago
- @Garwin7 @YQJ31 Gas was at $3.29 this time last week. This morning it’s $3.85. Gone up 30 cents in the last 48 hours here in Missouri. 22 hours ago
- RT @bgckids: Some of our employees accepted @HU_PettisCounty’s challenge and rode their bikes to work today! Check out the photos https://t… 23 hours ago
- Happy birthday to a heady PR pro and smart sports fan @reddusfoximus! 1 day ago
- RT @CaledonVirtual: It’s been a week since our open house, and we’re getting requests for the video we showcased. In all its glory: http://… 1 day ago
- FAMOUS! vine.co/v/bEXPbzAxJpz 1 day ago
- Not that I wasn’t disappointed in Obama before this week, but man. Was anything he said in ’08 real? Hope? Change? Transparency? None of it. 1 day ago
- @chinlovesiowa The timing of it. The over-the-topness of it…something ain’t white in the milk there. Maybe I’m wrong. 1 day ago
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