“Social Media Return On Investment” – The Mobile Device Industry

With the iPhone4S to be released tomorrow for millions of Americans…we cannot wait to tap into this new device. As we look through the specs of this new, faster mobile device…we see that has the HSDPA technology built in stating that it can leverage up to 14.4Mbps download speeds. Now, there are many that have tested this feature in large, metro areas stating that these speeds in reality are not half this speed. But there are Android phones like the Droid Bionic that are tapping into the Verizon 4G LTE network with faster download speeds.

Yes…our mobile devices can access the network faster and faster and faster. Reading through the OnQ blog by Qualcomm as they address this explosion of social media technologies:

“With all this expansion, one lingering question on everybody’s mind is ‘will the wireless networks be able to keep up with this growth?’ The obvious answer is a resounding YES. As I have explained in these blogs, 3G/4G networks are well equipped now, and evolving in the future, to address the massive increase in the sheer volume of data growth.”

Nielsen release their 3rd Quarter 2011 Social Media Report with some interesting stats on mobile device usage: “The ability to access social media is a commonly used feature among mobile owners. According to a recent study by NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey Company, nearly 2 in 5 social media users access these services from their mobile phones.”

Here is how social media access ranks against other features offered on their mobile devices (from Nielsen’s 3rd Quarter 2011 Social Media Report):

The above statistics suggest we are access social media outlets on our mobile devices more than access the web. WOW!

In Steven Van Belleghem presentation “Social Media Around the World” on slide 140 states, “56% of smart phone users follow a brand on social media.”

What does all this mean…people are accessing information via smart phones. People are heavily using social media outlets on their smart phones, creating data transfer which demands more bandwidth. The more the usage, the more the demand. This demand is fueling the growth of the mobile network. You think you see a lot of advertisements between the major carriers talking about 4G, 4G LTE, unlimited data, throttling…you need to start researching this information. We are data transfer hogs and connecting to others via our smart phones. This is fueling the growth in our networks, which is leading to large investments in the mobile infrastructure and mobile gadgets like iPhones and Droids.

Prakash Sangam, Senior Manager, Technical Marketing at Qualcomm, continues his explanation on the OnQ blog post:

“As has been very well established by now, smartphones are the key drivers for this increase in data demand. When you take a close look under the hood, interesting facts emerge about smartphone usage behavior and the corresponding network resource utilization.

Unlike the connected laptop or computer, smart phones connect intermittently to the network, and generate very small amounts of extremely bursty traffic. For example, when you check for updates from email programs or from social media apps (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), check weather, use location based services, send presence updates for IMs… and many more activites — often described as “chatty apps.”

Every time these apps get updates, the smartphone has to establish the connection, do the data transfer and tear down the connection, which means lot of signaling. Often that means more signaling than actual data transfers. There have been many studies on this, validating the fact that smartphone-generated signaling overwhelms wireless networks. The trend of vastly popular social media going mobile will only further amplify this effect.”

Our smart phone usage combine with our social media usage via these devices is fueling the growth of these data networks. These major carriers are banking on social media usage, connectivity, and ultimately our desire to continue to want to purchase the newest gadget for the faster speeds.

So, why did Apple release the iPhone 4S instead of the big jump to the iPhone 5? Well, many speculate…but here is an interesting perspective from Business Insider:

“If Apple had launched a radically new iPhone 5, more of the folks who currently own iPhone 4 would have upgraded, so Apple would have sold some more 4S units. As it is, the iPhone 4S is likely to appeal primarily to iPhone 3G and 3GS owners, non-smartphone owners, and non-iPhone owners, most of whom (like me) are presumably stoked to buy the iPhone 4S.”

Here is the game…get more people on faster networks, faster infrastructure, and newer technology. These mobile devices, their speed, their apps, and their access  to faster networks fuels consumers to access social outlets like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social applications. The real social media return on investment is the mobile technology and infrastructure that supports the connectivity.

*Blog header image from Yugatech.com.

Google Plus: Is it going to help your search results?

So…while trying to set-up my profile in Google Plus…I am trying to work through securing my profile name just like on Twitter and Facebook. Basically securing my own Google Plus URL with BobbyRettew. In the process of researching, I felt like my account had gone through all the initial set-up steps…so I thought I would Google myself to see if/how this new social network would appear in the search results.

This is what appeared above.  It was the 4th item listed in the Google search results. Wow, below was my LinkedIn, Facebook, then Twitter account profiles (in respective order). So recap this, this is the order of what appeared in a Google search for “bobby rettew” after having a Google Plus account for 30 minutes:

  1. BobbyRettew.com (My Website) – Established in 2008
  2. rettewcreative.com (My Business Blog) – Establish in 2009
  3. BobbyRettew.com/about (The About Page on my Website) – Established in 2008
  4. Google Profile (Which is my Google Plus Account) – Google Profile established in 2008 and Google Plus in 2011
  5. LinkedIn (My LinkedIn Profile) – Established in 2007
  6. Facebook Account (My Personal Facebook Page/Profile) – Established 2007
  7. Twitter Account (My Twitter Profile) – Established in 2008

Notice the difference in dates of set-up and between Google Plus and the rest of the Social Networks, and how fast it generated a top search result. Look what information was presented for my Google Profile/Plus account:

It you notice, immediately people can see a few things:

  1. My Google Plus/Profile Picture
  2. Where I am located
  3. Where I am working
  4. My Tag Line
  5. Link to my Personal Blog
  6. Link to my Twitter Profile
  7. Link to my Website

All of this was immediately established based on the creation of Google Plus account. So…this immediately provides an immediate portal for people searching my name to the places to connect with me! Now, look at the order from left to right of the links below my tagline. They correspond to the order I created my links in my Google Plus account.

Ok…so now I get it. This is showing a direct relationships between my Google Profile/Plus account and how I can be found via a simple Google search. This has me thinking…thinking through the ROI for me of having an account. Now, have to figure out what the ROI might encompass from investing time in this new Social Network.

Tomorrow…I will release a post about Circles in Google Plus. It is pretty cool what you can do with these things!

Content can be king outside of SEO…just plain tasty!

Recently…I have become increasingly irritated with rubric’s and how-to’s that are consistently floating around the social space. It is driving me up a wall. Most of this is inside the world of blogging and the social space…that we must find a way to create a path for the perfect blog, that we must create the perfect social “strategy”, and there is a formula for social media messaging.

It is my humble opinion that those that are preaching these strategies, rubrics, and methods are in the business for their checkbooks. Each time I watch the tweets come down the timeline, “5 ways to do…”, “how to measure…”, the perfect blog must have…”, it is all about generating revenue for the person writing the posts.

Writing from the heart and creating great content is not “BS”. You cannot put a path to success when it comes to writing, connecting, and building an online community around a social outlet. There is no magic cookie cutter. Anyone that is selling this, pushing this, or tweeting this is selling it to generate their own income streams and not bringing value to this initial open source community.

If you do not have a passion for writing…then while the hell are you blogging? If you do not have a passion for exploring ideas, generating genuine creative thoughts, and connecting with others online…then why are you interacting in the social space.

I have read more and more tweets and blogs screaming to re-define the word marketing in this social space or 3.0. Many of which are searching to create a whole new space based on consumer trends and big company strategies. Why are they are re-defining this…well it is helping them land the next retainer deal, speaking engagement, big corporate marketing gig. But those same folks who surround themselves in chats an online discussions pushing what they deem is innovation…well they are actually trying to put this social space of user created content into a cookie cutter, placing a marketing dollar to each tweet, blog post, youtube video, and Facebook update.

These same “innovators” are actually stifling the social space right back into the same old marketing channels. Each of these spaces are becoming distribution points of corporate generated content specifically geared to track and generate a metric. Why, because the CEO’s and the VP’s of Finance who sign-off on these initiatives need a metric. We are right back where we started when the social space was beginning to appear.

Twitter is now the AP Newswire, Facebook is the new email chain, and YouTube is now our living television set. Just distribution points for those pesky marketers to generate a strategy for ads, product placement, and sponsorships. WTF…hashtags that are sponsored? Great…can’t wait. Sign me up.

Phil Baumann is right as he writes in his latest post: “Are Healthcare Marketers Destroying Twitter?

“Because hashtags are important, packing tweets with them defeats their purpose. It muddies communication – of all people, Comms peeps should know the vitality of clarity, and the cost of clutter and noise. Why so many Healthcare pros don’t understand such a simple concept is beyond me, but I digress.

I’ve thought to myself: you know, Twitter once had so much promise, and now it’s becoming all serious business and so-called marketing. What a shame. We’ll all lose in the end.”

Thanks Phil, I do not think we will all loose…but there is a big ole shift.

Several months ago, I was talking with a very smart lady, Robbin Phillips after she came and spoke to some students at Clemson. She says it so nicely…(i am paraphrasing): “there is just so much noise out there in this space.” I have to agree.

I blame us…us marketing people have gone out and screwed it up. We had to find a way to put in some sort of cookie cutter system so we can track it and metric the crap out of each profile and communication channel online. Hell, we are even spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars for companies like Radian6. We want to track those conversations. And we will pay top dollar to analyze the heck out of those conversations.

All of this stifles innovation. It stifles passionate writing. It stifles true connection. It prohibits individuals to use places like blogs, YouTube, and other creative outlets to become pioneers. We want each of them to think there is a rubric for using these channels then track the success. Why can’t success be simply creating content, writing passionately, making a cool video. What if the only person that you were communicating to was just one person. If that person read it, listened to it, connected with the message…then led to see life through the authors eyes…then success? Right?

I remember when I was working on my thesis for graduate school and some of the many academic articles that followed. Each person in the academy I spoke too told me that getting an academic thesis or academic article approved was like jumping through hoops. My mother calls it “Hoop Dreams.” Yes…it was almost like social construction of knowledge. My genuine ideas were shaped to meet the expectations of those academic gate keepers whose agenda’s were played out in each word that was written. Some argue this process is necessary to form true scholarship…to meet the expectations of the academic world. I see the value in this process, but I also see the value in allowing true innovative writing and thinking to shine.

The connection here is that regardless where we go, where we write, what we create….someone wants to fit it into a cookie cutter paradigm. The social space is starting to shape-up to be just that. We marketers and new media people are trying to force clients, organizations, and small businesses into a framework that meets the needs of our pocket books. Why not just teach the technology and how them to utilize this framework as a place to share our inner thoughts, a place to express our inner beings.

Content is King. Communities grow as content and ideas are created. In order to connect we must share our thoughts and communicate.

I think there is a true progression in the way people create innovative content and connect through their ideas.

Idea —> Content Creation –> Content Shared —> Ideas Consumed –> People Connect … then the cycle starts over again.

A blog is just a place to hold thoughts. A video is visual representation to share motion, action, sounds that represent our creativity. These are just technological theaters for others to engage with our ideas. If we are thinking, writing, sharing in a way that the people that are truly interested in reading, listening, watching, understanding…then their peripheral vision will disappear and become completely engaged in the passionate content we create!

To hell with SEO…sometimes?

Foursquare, Gowalla, Geo-Location…the new ROI?

It was just two years ago and everyone was going nuts about Twitter and creating lots of comparisons between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…and so on. Books were being written about the business applications of these Social Media outlets and conferences around the industry being put on, talking best practices. But the one thing that kept on arising…what is the purpose behind all the mess. Both sides were asking these questions…the groups that created these platforms and those engaging. ROI was a huge discussion. Both the investors of the platforms and the business using these outlets…why and how?

Then…this crazy thing called “geo-location” was emerging publically. Basically not only telling the world what you are thinking, but where you are located when you are saying your thoughts. These crazy technologies popped up with lots of traction, ie. Foursquare and Gowalla. People tagging their location by “Checking In.” A new craze of people jumping on board. The early adopters trying them out and others sitting back to watch the recourse.

A few months ago, I shared a few beers with Olivier Blanchard at a great pub in Greenville and we talked about what all this mess means. Well, a few beers brings out lots on creative thoughts but we both agreed on a few things. But here are two points that came up in the discussion (fyi…I am not speaking for Olivier):

1) These geo-location technologies are the true ROI for Social Media. Why, because now retailers and organizations can now place a name, information, and demographics to a decision making process.

2) These geo-location technologies are creating a true paradigm shift how retailers and organizations reach audiences. This is the point I am excited to write about.

Imagine this…you are planning a trip.  You are getting on a plane and you live in a metropolitan area like New York City. You get up in the morning, grab your bags, and head out the door. On the way to the subway, you drop into a coffee shop for a java and “Check-In.” This coffee shop knows you well because you have been “Checking In” for a while and they already have your carmel latte ready right when you “Check-In.” You grab that java and out the door you go to catch the subway. You have made this trip before because you travel for business. As walk down sidewalk, you stop for a paper and “Check-In” at the local paper stand. After picking up the paper, you make you way down the stairs into the subway…there are television and LED screens along the walls. This geo-location has tracked your tendencies, knows what food you like, what shoes you like…because you “Check-In” to the spots all the time. So now, based on your preferences, there are ads showing on these television screens targeted specifically for you. There is even one that tells you that your plane is on time and references you by name. Geo-location is creating a direct, one-to-one conversation between your location, your tendencies, your buying power….AND their message. This is just one scenerio in this Time Square Effect!

These “Check-In’s” are the public domain of your credit card transactions. But now they are combining your purchasing power with your location from a public position.  This is like the “global” version of your CVS or Walgreens Card…telling everyone where you are going and what you are doing. The marketers are eating this up as fast as they can, leveraging the information we knowingly post publicly; why…to help you make purchasing decisions.

Our Social Media transactions (both on a conversational side and a location side) are becoming the collective database we knowingly support each time we go the local super market for eggs and milk and “Check-In.” We are creating the ROI for marketers. This comes to no surprise because we are a debit card/credit card carrying society. Now…it is more public.

This post is not meant to poke holes in our Social Media tendencies but bring an awareness to the massive database we are creating. There is so much value in the “Checking In” model. We are helping the local retailers compete with the big box providers. If there is one group that should try to leverage this technology…well it is the small retailers or companies trying to compete in a global economy.

Trust…Building True Social Media Relationships! The Real SM ROI!

Over two years ago, I ventured into this world of Social Media by opening my first Twitter account. I remember being on Facebook and watching my friends simply updating their status with “I am Twittering”. I was wondering, what the hell are they talking about. I had just opened my Facebook account a few months prior. So…off I went and I was trying to figure out this crazy world of Social Media and the technologies that support this crazy interaction.

I think I remember engaging in the Social Media Club here in Greenville, SC and attending one of the early Monday morning events. It was a new crowd that I have ever been exposed and thought, I need to figure this out quickly! As I navigated this new paradigm, I realized that the only way I was going to figure this mess out is find thought leaders in my community…to not only engage online but meet in person. I quickly starting using this new found 140 character communication pathway to follow people. Those who had lots of followers and were relatively close to me in my area.

I met so many interesting and diverse people. We had a common theme…figure this crazy thing out! Along the way I met this one person via Twitter. This person walked to a similar beat as myself. I started following this person’s Tweets and began to realize he not only had something to say but also had a good sense of business…and this crazy new paradigm shift. As I followed him, I started going through who was following him and who he was following. Honestly, I followed as many of people he was following as I could. I spent the first three months just watching the conversations. Learning the lingo, understanding the relationships in this place, figuring out who was doing business and who was just shooting from the hip without a leg to stand on!

This was right before the market “crash” and the marketing world was turned upside down. As I began to watch the conversations and see who was chatting, I quickly learned who the “thought leaders” were and who were those that were capitalizing on others ideas. I also learned how to leverage online relationships. Engage in thoughtful conversations and at the same time ask questions to help me figure out this new exploratory art, but not ask for  too much info. You know, that free consulting thing that no one wants to give out.

I began to notice that this one individual had some street cred and he also shared some similar passions, using digital media and visuals to engage audiences. He was a photojournalist at heart! So I dropped him a DM and said, hey…can I buy you a cup of coffee. He agreed and one morning over two years ago in the Coffee Underground, I sat at a table and wondered if online business relationships could translate to in-person conversation. My new friend (and now colleague) and I shared a cup of coffee and a bunch of war stories about storytelling, photography, and this thing called Social Media.

Over two years later, we catch up, talk some business, have a few beers, and chat about dreams and possibilities! From branding, photography, documentaries, and even some local gossip…that beer every so often has turned into mutual trust. We have traded business, referred each other to potential clients, shared billable knowledge, and just shot the shit. Trust.

So, how can you measure your Social Media experience? He is actually one of the thought leaders when it comes to Social Media ROI. I think he is getting tired of talking about this broken record debate, but he has a consistent valid point, it is more than numbers. So what is my Social Media ROI after two years of engaging with this new fangled technology? Well…here it is: I have made a few friends, learned some cool knowledge, gained some followers, and even increased measurable web traffic to my site/blog. But here is the true Social Media ROI…I have made a good friend! I am blessed to have friends like Olivier Blanchard not only in my contact list, but in my quick dial to have a beer! I am fortunate to be able to say hey, this is more than all of this marketing bullshit! I have gained a colleague, one I can look up to and even call on for a favor! Ok mister @thebrandbuilder … I have an iPad waiting! Enjoy your trip to France!

So here is my question…who have you met via a Social Media and truly created a real relationship?  This is not a corny question! Who? Who can you say you met online using one of the technologies and now have taken the relationship beyond the digital interface? What is your Social Media ROI?