Changing definition of what social means

This post came from working with business-to-business marketing clients and prospects over the past six months or so. Based on the experience I had talking to clients and the work that I have been doing I came up with a what I’ll describe as a working hypothesis.
For a number of years, business and consumer social marketers have taken The Cluetrain Manifesto as their talisman. Social media marketing was about  re-defining the relationship between stakeholders and a business. This was around a number of values including:

  • Transparency
  • Speedy response
  • Humane
  • Resp0nsiveness

Things have changed, at least in Europe. I would put part of the change down to technological capabilities influencing the philosophy around social and the fact that business-to-business are measured exclusively on sales when they are not corporate HQ. And if they are corporate HQ for a non-US domiciled company the focus is much more quarterly results-orientated, so even the corporate social accounts are expected to carry their weight in terms of delivering regular prospective customers.

The focus has changed:

  • Brand communities and corporate reputation have given way to performance marketing
  • Influencer programmes have given way to prospect-baiting content marketing
  • Engagement has given way to CTA (call to action) and customer path to purchase
  • Building customer loyalty has given way to purchase satisfaction

The emphasis has moved from the brand to performance marketing, even for what would be seen to be corporate communications. The fig leaf of reputation used to protect corporate PR has been torn away in social media. A secondary aspect of this is a less tangible decline in the stock of social media or community professionals at least within the business-to-business context.

Whilst the organisations I have been dealing with are in the early stages of thinking about marketing automation, with only a few going through the costly integration process for the likes of Eloquia or Pardot – the philosophy behind them has become the defacto view.

I spent far too long writing this post, in between starting drafting this post and pressing publish, two of the authors (David Weinberger and Doc Searls) responsible for the Cluetrain Manifesto have updated it to reflect marketing realities online which broadly touch on areas of my hypothesis and I have included a link at the bottom.

In the words of Bill Hicks business-to-business marketers run the risk of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

More information
The Cluetrain Manifesto
New Clues
#NewClues and #VRM – Watching The Watchers

Links of the Day | 在网上找到

Former MS privacy chief warned of NSA spying | Telecom Asia – The issue is that most privacy laws were drafted to cover communications, not computing and that technically it is possible to encrypt data and store it securely in the cloud. However, that is not possible if one wants to compute with that data

Here’s What Some Teens Are Using Instead Of Snapchat And Instagram To Share Pictures In Class – interesting that this is innovative and yet people have been Bluetoothing content for years

Xiaomi Confirms It Sold 61M Phones In 2014, Has Plans To Expand To More Countries | TechCrunch – so Xiaomi is valued at roughly 750 dollars for each handset sold this year?

Alcatel’s new Pixi smartphone can run Windows, Android, or Firefox OS | The Verge – interesting move, curious why SallfishOS isn’t getting any play

How to get 35 million downloads in 7 weeks / The short head of Apps – part 1 | The Short Head – great data analysis on app downloads with data via Appbrain

U.S.: No alternate leads in Sony hack – Tal Kopan – POLITICO – this is starting to get embarrassing

‘Monster Strike’ Gives Former Social Media Giant Mixi a Second Act – – really happy for the people at Mixi, I thought their first mobile social network was a smart play, but you can’t fight Metcalfe’s Law

montblanc timewalker urban speed smart e-strap turns a timepiece into a smart watch | Design Boom – interesting less in the ‘extinction of Swiss watchmakers’ which isn’t on the cards (by tech companies anyway) and more in the user context in the design, the information conveyed is discrete, glanceable and filtered only for the really important shizzle

Only 5% of US iPhone users say they’re very likely to buy an Apple Watch – not terribly surprised suspect its more aimed at China, Korea, Japan

Fintech Trends in China to Watch in 2015 | TechNode – P2P consumer lending and comparative shopping engines a la

Moth City – great digital comic

Is Xiaomi developing its own operating system? | WantChinaTimes – interesting that this is focusing on low-end handsets and is seen to be a target for FireFoxOS rather than Android or SailfishOS

One Of The Most Elaborate Alternate Reality Games Ever Is Launching In 2015 | ReadWriteWeb – really interesting idea

At CES let’s just concede defeat for an open standard for IoT | GigaOM – no XML for the IoT?

Huawei Smartphone Shipment Rocketed Over 40% YOY to 75M Units in 2014 | Technode – focus on cheaper handsets rather than trying to crack premium

Leaked NSA Documents Reveal The Best Way To Stay Anonymous Online | Business Insider – but will that stack perform at a usable speed?

LG brings LINE to internet enabled fridges, ovens, washing machines and more | SiliconAngle – what is the user context that this envisages?

JR Rolls Beacon Navi for Tokyo Station | Wireless Watch Japan – interesting internal navigation application of beacon (low power Bluetooth technology

Dark Mail specifications – step on the road to strong email protection

Hands On: How Haptic Technologies Will Bring Touch to VR | Make Use Of – break out your Nintendo PowerGlove

China Blocks Access to Google’s Gmail as Ban Escalates – Bloomberg – just formalises what has been going on

From Gongkai to Open Source | Bunnies Studios – really interesting examination of IP differences and opportunities

Things that made my day this week

These are some of things that have made my day this week

New Balance China made a video out of what looks like a product photoshoot of different MT580 colour ways

I had fallen out of touch with podcasts since the demise of Lawrence Staden and Stephen Bell’s ‘Loz n Belly’ weekly commentary on economic issues a few years ago, but got hooked again when I was introduced to Studio 360’s American Icons programmes. If anyone has any recommendations for good financial and economic podcasts let me know in the comment box below and will give them a whirl.

I thought it was just my perception that OS X had slowed down somewhat over the past couple of iterations, but this video gave me some food for thought.

I am just a sucker for fractals. I spent far too much time in college in front of a Mac 7500 and a colour monitor going deeper and deeper into a Mandelbrot set, so this video really resonated. Play it on full screen, sit back and enjoy

I have a boundless fascination of mechanical watches and this teardown of a Rolex Submariner brings home the miracle and beauty of their mechanical engineering. You can take your Apple Watch and shove it up your….

2015: just where is it all going?

It’s become a bit of an annual tradition on this blog for me to put together some guesswork on what is likely to be coming down the pipe over the next 12 months.

Sony Corp. cleans house with the management teams of its US businesses. One of Sony’s start-up bets (the e-ink watch, smart locks etc) comes good. Sony will still be supported by its Japanese financial services business.

For years IBM has charged Huawei a fortune for consulting, telling Huawei the IBM way. In 2015, I could see the student becoming the master as Huawei sells into IBM enterprise markets in the developing world and possibly Europe.

Shareholder activists don’t take a run at Google. Google is moving from a growth stock to value as search advertising revenue growth is declining. However the structure of Google makes life very difficult for the activists to gain leverage. Any activist that does take a run at Google would need to go to court to help dismantle the two-tier structure that handicaps the shareholder voting structure. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be shareholder grandstanding and public letters to the board. Google’s privacy and antitrust regulatory woes will continue to fester outside the U.S.

As Fred Wilson over at A VC put it, the sharing economy is actually the rental economy, the digital economy equivalent of bulk breakage: breaking a larger container down to sell smaller, more manageable pieces to consumers for a profit. It’s disruption usually stems from breaking regulations: labour laws, public transportation regulations, laws governing guest house and hotels rather than innovation. It is likely to prey on the have-nots and is likely to see increased resistance. For me it is indicative of a move in founder culture, from the counterculture influenced start-ups of Apple’s era to a yuppie Patrick Bateman-like culture today. Expect more societal push-back as geeks become the new investment bankers in terms of being societal punch bags.

IoT / wearables
There won’t be an over-arching XML type bridge for the IoT. Battery life will limit the fantastic visions that pundit have for wearables and the internet of things.

I would be surprised if we didn’t see some devices trying to power themselves by scrounging energy from wider electromagnetic spectrum (wi-fi networks, cellular devices, radio, TV etc).

Consumer electronics
We are going to continue to see baby steps towards more immersive experiences, as VR glasses slowly make progress in the marketplace. OLEDs would be an ideal application for VR glasses, particularly if they want to hold off smartphones in a frame. Content is likely to role out in a similar way to IMAX – visually stunning documentaries about space and nature alongside computer games. It will be interesting to see what James Cameron does with VR. There will also be some baby steps towards haptic feedback (think a better Nintendo PowerGlove).

Despite The Interview, Hollywood still won’t do cinema / digital simultaneous releases, or global simultaneous releases for any content that wouldn’t have been direct to TV/video in an earlier age.

The YotaPhone2 won’t get the customer base it deserves as it struggles against the superior marketing muscle of Samsung in the premium Android segment of the market.

The Cyanogen distribution of Android won’t go anywhere fast due to its geographic exclusivity agreements with the likes of OnePlus and MicroMax cramping the style of handset manufacturers with global ambitions. This offers an opportunity for Jolla’s SailfishOS.

Google revamps the resources and process to get more Chinese smartphone manufacturers going through its official channels for compatibility (CTS) and have a Google Mobile Services (GMS) license. At the moment there are a number of Android handsets going into developing markets without these, which means Google is losing out on incremental licensing revenue.

There is a change of emphasis in business, social is no longer well, social. Businesses start to pull ‘social’ media back into business functions. An increased emphasis on paid media over earned engagement / community management and marketing automation makes social look more like electronic direct marketing.

Asian platforms WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk have led the way in both consumer and brand adoption. They will continue with a relatively slow international rollout. Facebook Messenger doesn’t seem to fill the same user context as these applications, is this an opportunity that a SnapChat or new player can fill?

Things could get very interesting if WeChat or LINE professionalise their international marketing and start rolling out some of their more advanced features internationally such as integrating payments and m-commerce. They can’t do it by going alone, they would need to be good partners and deals like that take time to negotiate.

I suspect that international e-commerce will have breakout years., Rakuten and Aliexpress have been percolating for years. Combine this with the valuation put on Asian e-commerce outfits, it would be quite easy to see how cost-conscious consumers in economically challenged Europe and the developing world may appreciate a new Amazon. Secondly, Chinese purchases of foreign goods are likely to expand further due to a rapidly developing logistics network within China, increasing international acceptance of UnionPay and a rein-in on more ostentatious tastes due to Mr Xi’s anti-corruption drive. Consumers will be looking for quality less overt luxury and premium products. Foreign travel for shopping will start to be scrutinised by the government and foreign shopping through intermediaries will become professionalised by the Rakutens of this world.

We’re likely to see European states take a similar stance to India and China and more widely blocking sites for security considerations and media IP enforcement. Expect the UK and Australia to lead the way in terms of site censorship.

More information
Who is behind the e-paper FES watch? | WSJ
Sony Qrio smart lock crowd funding page
What Just Happened? AVC