Tuesday, 6 October 2009

SMN, Business and consumers see things very differently

Why is business so hesitant to enter social media and social network spaces (SMN) despite the strong encouragement of consumers? Consumers love SMN. Facebook has grown to the size of a large country and China now hosts more social network profiles than North American and Europe combined. Consumers have clearly voiced for some time that they want business to be part of this space.

Mike Sachoff wrote in WebProNews

Not only do consumers want brands to be active participants in this SMN but they, in repeated surveys, have stated that they have greater confidence in brand messages received in SMN then any other source than family and friends. Given this it becomes particularly odd that business still shows such reluctance.

Thomas Crampton

So what is it that is keeping business away from SMN? Well there are a number of reasons but the one that seems to come up most frequent is "we are afraid of what people will say about us". Ms. Ochman recently wrote what she found to be the

BL Ochman, reposted in socialmediatoday, wrote

The reaction of business to avoid SMN has both logic and contradiction in it. The logic would suggest that by putting yourself in SMN then you open yourself up to comment. This only stands to reason. However, the contradiction is that consumers will and are discussing brands in SMN regardless of whether business is there or not.

If you consider the old adage "the opposite of love is not hate it is indifference" then the only thing worse than having consumers saying bad things about your brand is having them saying nothing at all.

My personal belief, after having talked to many clients about this concern of theirs, is that it is not based on fear but denial and lack of understanding. I say denial because there is the illusion that if business sticks to traditional marketing strategies then somehow they will go unnoticed in SMN. This is not the case at all. The only result of this is that brands miss the opportunity to know what is being said of them and to actively choose how to respond. So it begs the question for business; what would be considered worse? To find out consumers are speaking ill of your brand or that they are saying nothing at all?

Much success,


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Leaked or Launch: LG BL 40 campaign leaves me guessing

LG had just launched a massive Asia and Europe wide social media campaign. It appears from the postings that it is about recovering leaked technology before the launch of their new product the LG BL 40. But it looks a lot like a slick attention getting launch campaign. US10,000 dollars to recover a lost phone? Seems pretty steep.

Example of postings seen:

“Leaked, the newest technology threaten competitors”I’m sure the phone that LG is looking for is embedded with the latest technology. In truth, mobile manufacturers first purchase the competitors’ new handsets to examine and analyze. On the LG’s timeline, this technology must be related to the new Chocolate phone. The new Chocolate phone is the successor of the original Chocolate sold over 21 million globally. Accordingly, the new Chocolate must have jaw-dropping features.We need to keep our eyes on what the media states. What do you think?

And here is a look at the phone in question:

Monday, 24 August 2009

Social Media Marketing: Asia hits social media like a tsunami

Social media has not been around for very long. Social networks and social media found their birth in the West with the likes of Friendster and YouTube. But it appears pretty clear that it is in the East that social media will grow up. Depending on which study you quote the numbers range from staggering to unbelieveable on how fast Asia is adopting social media.

70% of Chinese internet users have a social network profile

Hong Kong and Singapore have more registered users on Facebook per capita than the U.S.!

If all of these consumers are online where is business? Back in April I wrote an optimistic blog about how business would follow the rush of consumers to social media. However, a half year later we are still waiting for business to join the party. Prosperity Research has helped many brands make the smooth transition to social media but many are still cautious to move forward. But as business starts to adapt to the new model of social media marketing I am hopeful they will take on board the new rules that apply. After all what makes social media "social" is about people talking to people.

Much success,


Monday, 17 August 2009

Social Media case study: Broadcast vs. Engagement in forums

There is a lot of discussion going about these days about the difference and effectiveness of broadcast and engagement styles of marketing.

Broadcast is the bastion of old school marketing. We still see it used extensively in the new "social media" arena primarily because it is less expensive, familiar and to some degree effective. However, if social media has a mantra at all, it is "engagement".

Engagement is the "social" part of social media. Where two individual (even if one individual is a multinational) can come together and converse. This theoretically creates a more powerful bond between consumer and brand which then compels (or propels) the consumer into spreading the brand's joy far and wide with no further motivation than the satisfaction of "engagement".

Well is there any truth to this? I for one sure hope there is. I have never been a fan of advertising and I am one of the biggest proponents of social media.

We conducted an 8 week longitudinal study testing the effectiveness of broadcast vs engagement marketing techniques in forums and on Twitter. This is an "early days" study, and so the experimental design is rough. Below describes the Forum study, the Twitter analysis will be presented at another time.

Over an 8 week period approximately 200 forum entries were posted to over 150 different English language forum sites each week. For the first 5 weeks a broadcast technique was used. On the 5th week through the 8th an engagement technique was introduced. There was no activity during the 6th week due to client review. The broadcast technique is described as:

  • Threads were created using statements (not questions)
  • Forum entries were written as a product message without intent to initiate a conversation or get opinion. There purpose was to deliver an informational message.
The engagement technique is described as:

  • Threads were created as questions so as to elicit a response
  • Forum entries were written in a conversational manner. Not all entries contained brand messages
  • Replies to comments from readers were followed up and brand messages were included when appropriate
  • The brand message was included at least once in all conversations


During the first 4 weeks of pure broadcast the view rate remained low in relation to total number of posts. What is most telling is that during this period there were no comments left on any of the forum entries despite the approximately 5000 views.

Engagement was introduced in week 5, however with week 6 being a temporary suspension of the campaign the effects were not reported until week 7. There we can see a significant effect. The view rate shot up to almost 3 times previous counts without increasing the number of weekly entries. But the most significant finding is the comments. Comments, which were absent from the broadcast phase now represented almost 10% of the view rate.

Whereas it is too soon to make judgments about the effectiveness of engagement over broadcast based on this limited case study, it is clear that there is a definite change in behavior which can be seen in both increase in views and more importantly comments.

Much success,


Monday, 10 August 2009

New (old) digital model: burning down the house

This last week Prosperity Research achieved its final milestone of creating a purely distributed business model. We brought down our website, www.SO-U.TV. Yes I know it sounds so archaic to talk about websites when social networks, mobile computing and Twitter are all the rage. However, it has taken four years to get out reluctant clients to live with out its reassuring presence. When Prosperity Research was established we came up with the simple idea; it is easier and cheaper to go to your consumers than to get them to come to you. At least this is true in the digital world. We saw social media coming and bet right.

Think of a website as a home, one that you can never leave. This is a romantic thought, but imagine the constant maintenance, lifetime mortgage, and since you can not leave you must spend huge amounts of time and money to attract and entertain your guests. Also, if the house needs remodelling or repair the cost can be excruciating.

Reference:Adam Broitman sez 4 reasons web sites are becoming irrelevant

Now imagine if you could live anywhere you wanted rent free. If you tire of someplace you can quickly move to another more attractive and spacious one. You can live in as many places as you like and spend as much or as little time as you like. You always have lots of friends around and someone else always pays the tab at the end of the party. Too good to be true? Not really.

It is called distributed marketing and whereas we started down this path more than 4 years ago it is just now starting to come into its own. Social media marketing is a similar concept and better understood. So putting it in the context of social media marketing, it is simply using "free to post" or consumer generated content areas of sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and more to host your content and conduct your business.

To prove the coming of age of distributed marketing and increasing acceptance of social media, David Ketchum of Upstream Asia was featured in an article recently discussing the huge discrepancy between how business uses the Internet and how consumers use it. Consumers have quickly adapted to distributed marketing and are head over heels in love with social media. So why isn't business? He states that business needs to start fishing where the fish are. Three years ago we coined the phrase "put yourself in the path of your consumer". Not quite as folksy sounding but the same concept.

BTW, www. SO-U.TV is not completely gone. You can find us on 100's of sites and if you feel nostalgic for an old fashioned website, we kept a bit of our past on Ning.com. Come join us!

Much success,


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Twitter: Can't see the forest for the tweets

Not to long ago I wrote a blog about the maturation cycle of social network sites. If social sites did not "grow up" they would cease to move past being a fad and soon die out as amusements turned to boredom. Facebook made it past the fad stage by incorporating good tracking of friends activities, basic marketing tools for business and charities and a brilliant integration of rich media that makes sharing our life snippets so easy. YouTube survived because it is n good video hosting platform. It does not matter that the internal search and marketing suck because most of us view YouTube videos outside of YouTube through embedded players and email forwarding. So what about Twitter?

Twitter has the reverse problem as Facebook and YouTube. You see Twitter was always a useful tool, but it lacked the "fad" component that drove a high user rate necessary to make it successful (e.g. ubiquitous). Back when Twitter was good, but novel, a friend @jayoatway convinced me to join saying it was an amazing search engine. He was right. With the release of apps such as Tweetdeck and Seismic the ability to search huge quantities of information is easy making it a business person's essential tool. So what is the problem? It seems that Twitter has become such a fad that people have forgotten about its best quality: search.

Yesterday another friend @chicagodiane mentioned that I seemed to have been quiet on Twitter lately. I have not been quiet. I just have not been tweeting. You see I took some time to stop and watch the stream of tweets. I wanted to find out who these people are that now call themselves my "friends" on Twitter and what the value of following is.

The fallacy of followers: Twitter's strength is in its search, however, it appears that the Holy Grail for most is accumulating followers. In theory having more followers is a measure of how interesting or "popular" you are and I am sure there is truth in that. However, it does not take much energy to realise that the way that Twitter is set up, having followers, many or few, has little to do with how many times you may actually be seen. Let's figure you are following 57 people (that is about the average Twitter assigns you just for opening an account). Then imagine that each of these 57 write one tweet per day, that is 57 tweets. If you are using the original Twitter application it will display 20 tweets at a time. Right off the bat 37 tweets (or 60%) are likely not to get seen. That is some disappointing numbers. So even if you have more than 2 million followers like @aplusk it is not going to do you much good unless your followers are doing more than just "following" you.

So what are some ways to get seen on Twitter?

1. Engage -- take time to follow conversations that are interesting and respond to others. Responses to others widen the number of opportunities your tweet will show up.
2. Hashtags -- these are predefined search terms that make it easy to follow conversation topics
3. Search optimisation -- make sure your tweets contain words that people will be searching for.
4. Use search -- effectively follow conversation streams that are interesting to you. Build your following selectively. The power of social media is engagement. Find people and start a conversation. However, if they have too many followers you will probably be talking to yourself.
5 RT -- Retweeting is one of the easiest and most polite ways to encourage views of a post. It is true word of mouth. Extend the favour and others will return it.

Most importantly, stay relevant, if you are just hooky-bobbing on somebody's bumper you deserve to get dropped.

Have fun!


Thursday, 23 July 2009

Social Media Success: China video sites critical factor

It is well understood that consumers are viewing a significant amount of video online. It is quickly becoming the CMO's media of choice for online marketing. However, creating a video is not in and of itself sufficient to make it successful. There are many variables that can effect the success of online videos. This post focuses on social media video views based on hosting location and the top sites from data collected between December 2008 and May 2009. The two main locations where consumer uploaded video is hosted are China and US/Europe.

The videos tracked were part of social media campaigns launched by Prosperity Research for a range of clients which include fashion, sports, legal, charities, hospitality and many others. During the period from December 2008 to May 2009 101 videos were released. The majority of the videos were English language videos with Cantonese and Mandarin subtitles. The break down of number of Chinese and US/Europe video hosting sites were about equal at 24 US/Europe and 22 Chinese. After review, sites with negligible views or were closed during the study period were excluded. The remaining sites totaled Chinese (18) and US/Europe (19).

The videos were posted to the sites using the same title and description across all sites. The only differentiating factor was that on Chinese language sites the title and description was translated into Chinese. The views tracked were those recorded by the site. This study makes no claims to the accuracy of view counters on these sites with one exception. The China site www.9mv.com recorded view rates that appeared too exaggerated to be accurate and the site was eliminated from the analysis.

The two comparisons of video views are a comparison of total views during the period on the sites included in the study. The second comparison of views on the top 3 sites from China and US/Europe.

Total views of videos by location:

Top viewed sites for China and US/Europe


The results of the analysis provided some surprising information. The expectation was that the US/Europe sites hosting predominately English language videos would receive the majority views. However, the China sites significantly outperformed based on number of views. There was also the expectation that popular China video sites www.youku.com and wwww.tudou.com would have been top performers but they did not make the top 3 spot for China. This first analysis does not provide clear reasons on why China video views outpace those of US/Europe at this point, but the results clearly point to the importance of China video hosting sites as a critical component of a social media campaign.

Monday, 8 June 2009

We trust family and friends more than strangers

It may come as a surprise to some, but a recent study by Mintel revealed that online recommendations from "virtual" friends is the second most accepted form of advice for making a brand decision. As you would expect, family and friends ranked as number one.

If you are a digital marketer this is very encouraging. However, as they say, the devil is in the detail. A closer look at this study provides some interesting details.

According to this study of consumers making brand decisions:

34% look to friends and family
25% ask their spouse (not quite family I guess)
5% use online friends

So even though online recommendations is the second most accepted source for brand decisions it still only represents 5%! That is very low. If online recommendations in the form of social media, blogs, forums and other consumer feedback is largely ignored 95% of the time where does this put TV, print, radio and other forms of advertising? Well, I have a thought on that.

The path that most of us take in making a decision to buy is usually not a snap one. It is usually a process of research and talking it over. The more important (more money) the more time we put into making our decisions. That influence which nudges us one direction or another at the final moment is most often from family and friends. However, before that final decision was made such influences as social media, TV, print and radio all played a role in helping us to do two things:

  • Learn that we needed something
  • Learn what it was that we needed
To summarize: Traditional advertising will be here for a very long time. Social media is very real, and as always, we trust the people we know more than those we don't.

Much success,


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Hong Kong My "Real" Home

Today's blog was supposed to be about something quite different. But yesterday something very significant happened to me. This and some dramatic events of the last week, made me feel compelled to write about the effect these have had. The two events are my application for permanent residency and the other is the controversy set off by a series of videos my company marketed for a local hotel chain.

Recently I passed my 7 year mark in Hong Kong. For those that don't know, this is the time a person can apply for their permanent residency which provides a life time visa and more importantly a sense of belonging. I had looked forward to this day from the moment I had first stepped foot in Hong Kong more than 7 years past and with it came a flood of memories.

By many accounts Hong Kong is an unlikely city for me to live. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with cold winters and dry summers. Hong Kong humidity makes me sweat so much and I wonder if I will ever adjust. Try as I may, I have never managed more than a few words of Cantonese, and over crowded places tend to make me uncomfortable; preferring the quiet of my small Sheung wan flat to the bustling streets. So what is it that made me want to stay?

It is all those things and more. It is the uniqueness of Hong Kong that makes me want to stay. And, arguably, it is what makes others want to come as well and quickly fall in love with this city; opposites attract? I don't know, but I do know that if I wanted sameness I may never have had left the US. Whereas shopping malls, high end restaurants and luxury shops maybe the mark of a good city, and Hong Kong has clearly won this race, those things can be found in most places. So what compels a person to choose one destination over another to visit? Partly it is the familiar but mostly it is for that something different, something special. What makes a person choose one place over another as their home? That is connection.

I remember the big lunch I was taken too when I arrived in Hong Kong. It is the long running tradition and joke, repeated over and over that the new Westerner gets taken to Dim Sum. Inevitably the chicken feet arrive. The Hong Kong hosts chide and smile while the guest shows shock. For my initiation the shock was on my Host's faces when I stuffed one in my mouth easy as you please. Not my favourite Hong Kong cuisine, but can't get that back home for sure.

Language is seldom a barrier in Hong Kong, less so than in some other English speaking countries. My most flabbergasting experience was during a trip to the U.K. While trying to buy tickets to the theatre, the language barrier of a common language was so frustrating for us both that the sales person ended up presenting a printed list of times and prices to short cut the embarrassing exchange. In Hong Kong I still often face issues with language, but in a different way. For those of us that do not speak Cantonese and those that do not speak English a second language has emerged. Simple sentences, gestures, smiles, patience and on rare occasion a reach for the mobile to call a helpful interpreter. Hong Kong has held strong to its unique and ever evolving Cantonese language, even when English was dominant in the governing class. Hong Kong has adapted to accommodate those that find Cantonese undecipherable and that some say you need to be born to in order to speak. So even when I listen to Cantonese and understand all most nothing at all, I realise I maybe separated by a language but not a language barrier.

I highlighted these two experiences because they were the focus of the two videos mentioned earlier. There are four videos in total, but only two were released. The videos received warm to neutral reviews for three weeks. Over 50,000 views and no negative comments. But when it was suggested that the videos portrayed Hong Kong and its people in a bad light some strong, but isolated, negativity started to emerge. The possibility of negative interpretation is not lost on me, but I see if very different. The real situations shown were ones I have lived through and can be seen repeated every day. Real people, real culture, rich and alive, intriguing and inviting. Tourists stream up and down the side streets every day looking at things they would never see at home. Some jump in and others maintain a distance, but they take pictures and, I would imagine, smile when they tell their friends. These videos showed a reality that is seldom seen in Hong Kong promotion. When you pull back the faux facade of the picture postcard-esque promotional campaigns usually associated with Hong Kong what lies below is the real essence of Hong Kong; the people and its culture. Hong Kong has strongly protected it culture and selected the best of the West to build a modern city steeped in long standing traditions. These make the real stories that are remembered and told over and over long after the memory of the generic luxury shop indistinguishable hotel room has faded.

So what is the point of this winding blog post? It is that I came to, and fell in love with Hong Kong, like I believe so many others do, not because of the picture perfect promotional campaigns but because Hong Kong is a real and vibrant city full of contrasts and culture at every turn. So after 7 years I wrote and signed to the Immigration department that

"I have, do and will consider Hong Kong to be my only place of residence".


Douglas White

Monday, 25 May 2009

Twitter: are we smarter or dumber?

Recently Thomas Crampton wrote on Twitter that he was giving his interns at Ogilvy a Twitter test. He received some interesting comments, most negative, but mine was in the affirmative and I would like to explain why using more than 140 characters.
I had been thinking for sometime what this hyper abbreviated world we live in has done to our mental capacity. Are we dumber, as some think, because of our short attention spans or are we becoming super speed human computers? This is worth a brief moment to explore.

Our not too distant past:

Not so long ago we received our information in regularly scheduled, carefully packaged, and formatted requiring no action or response. The average person may have read the morning paper, listened to a bit of radio and tuned into the 6 o'clock news. It didn't matter what channel -- it was all the same news. During the day there were few interruptions because of no mobiles, email, faxes, msn, social sites or other such distractions. A nice leisurely pace to quietly digest a bland diet of well processed news and information. It is not a stretch to think that you would require a long attention span just to keep from going CRAZY! Imagine having no stimulus coming in between the morning paper and the evening news.


The average person probably now processes more information in an hour than a person just a short time back did in a week? year? lifetime? Using myself as an example, I receive several hundred emails every day, maintain several msn conversations, read 30 news feed, manage a team of 11 people, check out what my colleagues are doing on Linkedin twice per day, comment and giggle at new posts on Facebook at least 3 times a day, spend more than one hour a day researching online for business and a bit more for fun stuff to do after and watch a stream of twitter messages. This is only a portion of what passes my, or your, eyes and ears on any given day. It starts to become more clear that the appearance of a short attention span is, in fact, really a finely tuned brain that is able to process volumes of data, sift at lightening speed, and make quick and concise decisions with out missing a keystroke.

So how does this pertain to a Twitter test?

I could summarise most of my high school and university education in one concise Tweet. What I quickly learned in high school and University was that there were always enough, if not too many, facts around. Research was the easy part so keeping stuff in your brain did not make a lot of sense. It was always just a short reach away. What was valuable was being able to organise and communicate these facts.

  • Context -- relevant to conversation
  • Continuity -- maintain the thread
  • Concise and well formed -- 100 characters
  • Syntax correct @,#, DM, RT,
  • Correct references included (tinyurl)
  • Correctly sited (@douglaswhite)

Monday, 18 May 2009

YouTube a distant 3rd: Behind Facebook and MySpace

Surprised! Not really. Last week I wrote a blog, Social Sites a whimper or a Yell!, on the 3 stages that a social site must go through to be successful and not linger or fail. I pegged YouTube as having failed to successfully reach the third stage. This week Hitwise released data confirming my theory. I find no satisfaction in being right on this point. YouTube is a hero in my book. This application revolutionised communication by allowing free and unlimited sharing of videos. The world opened up in a way never before imagined. This was not a "me to" application, but a real revolution. But that said, if it wasn't for the deep pockets of Google it may not be around today. Why?

The 3rd important stage a viable social media/network site must evolve into is "Strong and Stable". This is recognised as the phase where the social site adds value to the end user and through this enjoys a stable user base and is able to generate revenue through channels aligned with the sites business model. There is no question that YouTube is widely used. YouTube videos can be seen everywhere. It is currently estimated that 67% of online videos streamed are through YouTube. But what does this really mean? It all seems OK but is it really?

The difficulty with YouTube is that it lacks functionality that bring people in and holds them. It is my guess that we all view more YouTube videos on Facebook or embedded on other websites than on YouTube itself. There are few, if any, functions on YouTube that make it an enjoyable experience for anyone other than those posting and managing their videos. So how does a site with enormous infrastructure costs that are disproportionate to their member numbers survive. This is the conundrum for YouTube. Whereas, Facebook and MySpace have evolved to make their sites a destination, YouTube seems to being moving further away from this target goal while providing no revenue stream to fill the gap. At this point I could paint a disappointing picture that YouTube will fall back on old school tactics of forced in-video advertising and possibly paid hosting. I hope they arrive at a more innovative and less intrusive solution, but I am not optimistic. In the mean time I assume they will continue to reach ever deeper into Google's pockets.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Social Sites: A whimper or a YELL!

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. All are in the press these days and if they are not part of our lives yet they probably soon will be. So how do they fare when judged against "what makes a successful social site"? Let's have a read:

Social sites have been around for some time now. And in that time I have had a chance to observe some fairly standard activity that either leads to success or obscurity for social sites. Keeping things simple, there are 3 phases that a social site needs to survive and there are 3 groups of people that will help to make or break it.


  1. Fad and Frenzy -- everybody jumps on board. Vampire bites and hours of endless surfing with no real point or reason. This is a very important phase for a social site.
  2. Get Real -- Rapid fall off of people as they realise that they are completely wasting their time on what seems to be a senseless and all consuming past time. Use and tools need to get sophisticated to retain interest.
  3. Strong and Stable -- Innovation leads to value. People recognise useful tools and ability to make time work for them and not take time from them.


  1. Time wasters -- These are usually the first on an application and the last to leave. With hours of endless time to waste, they are usually the ones that push the next group off because of persistent annoying behaviour.
  2. Convince me -- These are the people that tentatively join after a bit of coaxing but do not get caught up in the craziness and drop off quickly. However, these are the core group that will return if the app makes it to the 3rd phase.
  3. Innovators -- These are the people that see the future. They transcend the silliness and ego that drives social sites in the first two phases and can recognise the long term potential. They develop the apps that turn a "waste time" app into a valuable tool.

Three very well know social media apps are YouTube, Facebook and the up and coming Twitter. Each of these represents various stages of the 3 phases.

YouTube (no success yet) was the most promising. With its explosive launch and unique offering – VIDEO, YouTube set the world ablaze with imagination. YouTube provided us with a new world of choices, new ways to share and hours of good fun. YouTube enjoyed one of the most explosive Fad phases of any social media application to date. However, since that time they have not been able to transition to the Strong and Stable phase. YouTube has not come up with a solid business model that provides long term profitability. My comment to my clients is that YouTube is a good platform for them to host their videos free of charge. But it is lacking as a good marketing tool and their poor search capability and overwhelming amount of content makes it almost impossible to use with out additional help outside YouTube. Without the deep pockets of Google supporting YouTube they most likely would not be able to continue. The cost of supporting their services is too prohibitive without a legitimate revenue model.

Facebook, despite the occasional bad press, is a poster child for success. It grew at meteoric speed and then faced intense pressure to retain viewers. Exhausted by vampire bites and inane gifts, the “convince me” group started to leave in droves. What made Facebook greatly successful is that the Innovators were able to see long term value in the deep connections that Facebook allowed. This ability to manage connections whether they are friends, events, social media or virtually any other had huge value. Facebook matured into a good personal management systems. With its attention to small business and organisations, it opened itself up to limitless content creation. The ability for individuals to filter and minimise unwanted communications makes it very attractive. It is almost impossible to eliminate spam from your email, but with Facebook you only see what you want.

Twitter is the up and coming new Social App. The hype is huge and people are logging on and jumping off in droves. However, the innovators have clearly identified Twitter as possessing great potential. The question is will Twitter successfully make it through the final Strong and Stable phase? I am betting it will.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

How Social Media changed advertising

Social media has changed advertising. Advertising has, since its inception, held a dubious position within society. For example, when we watch TV or view a web page we consider it "what pays for the stuff we like". However, there are those of us that buy magazines just for the ads and the Sunday paper is filled with shopping specials. But, by and large, it is what is passed by for more interesting content. I have written a number of blog posts on this topic. I have over the past several years written several blog posts about advertising's diminishing effectiveness with consumers.

Advertising is diminishing in effectiveness largely due to explosive growth of Social Media and Social Networking. Never before have consumers had such control over brands. And consumers do this without constraint. Social Networks allow for free and unhampered communication and connection. How can advertising compete with all that fun stuff flying about?

Well, Rich Cherecwich of Imedia Connect has an interesting solution; make advertising look less like advertising. This is a good step forward. At Prosperity Research we have avoided the advertising dilemma by been using video based social media marketing strategies with our clients for years. Consumers appear to be very willing to engage with brand messages provided those messages add value to their lives and are interesting. it is all about being relevant.

How about the value of video based social media. Well a recent article from Clickz.com made the generous statement that video was a good bet in a recession -- probably one of the most effective and affordable methods to reach and retain your consumers.

Much success,


Monday, 20 April 2009

Social Media slams Banner Ads 2 to 1

Social media's superior effectiveness over banner ads is likely attributed to 2 factors:

  1. Brand information found on social sites is the #2 most trusted source of brand information, second only to family and friends.
  2. Social sites are growing at a rate of 2:1 over all other internet areas making them the most active areas of consumer to consumer (C2C) conversations.


Brand Mentions Preferred over Ads - eMarketer via kwout

Industry information has been pouring in for more than a year showing a significant decrease in the effectiveness of banner ads and traditional forms of marketing. Additionally we are all very aware of falling printed advertising value as more and more people use the internet as their primary source of information and entertainment. What this means is that marketers must shift their traditional perceptions of advertising and marketing and adjust to a new set of rules that govern digital marketing. 

  1. Social Spaces are powerful arenas for consumer opinion and they are democratic
  2. Generally, people do not like advertising and especially don't seem to like it in social spaces
  3. Consumers are sophisticated and trust each other more than businesses for brand recommendation
  4. Consumers have the ability to filter out unwanted noise; advertising is the first to get filtered
Marketing in social spaces definitely plays by a different set of rules. But if business recognises and respects these rules social spaces offer significant advantage for smart brands that can adapt.

Much success,


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Consumers lead and business follows

With the exponential growth of social sites and the empowerment of individuals to create their own “15 minutes of fame” in the digital realm it is no wonder that businesses are starting to recognize the potential. Almost a year and a half ago I started writing blogs about this trend and at the time I was continuously puzzled by the lack of enthusiasm by business for this unprecedented opportunity. I thought that this was miraculous. You had your customers in a single place (social site), telling each other what they liked and willing to listen to what others had to say. It seemed like a marketing dream. Well business is finally catching on, if a bit late.

In our office we always knew that when business decided to jump on the band wagon it would be a huge and dramatic shift. Well it is happening and it surpassed even our expectations. Recent industry studies provide some startling, if not exciting, statistics:

  • Chief Marketing Officers in Asia and North America rate Social Networks, video and video sharing as their top priorities
  • 88% of marketers are currently using Social Media in some capacity
  • Over 90% of business owners are using Social Media

This begs the question; why are business owners more likely than marketers to be using social networks and media?

I think the answer to that lies in the nature of social networks and the democratic quality they afford. In social networks the consumer is king and each has a more or less equal voice. Where once tools of marketing were limited to those with skills or money this is no longer true. Anyone can use Facebook (over 200 million members) or YouTube and a camcorder. With these resources available, even small business can create masterful marketing campaigns with modest budgets and ability to reach clients with little concern for normally typical restrictions such as geographic location. Of course managing an effective campaign is always best handled by professionals so kids don’t try this at home, ha ha.

In summary what is known is that business is now catching up with consumers in social networks and media. Because of the ease of use, consumer control and democratic functioning of social networks and media, small to medium business are achieving good success in utilising these resources and this is clearly seen in the industry statistics.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Was Jesus the first Social Network Marketer?

I watched a documentary the other night on the life of Jesus. Not being a particularly religious person, most of the relevance to it being Easter weekend slipped past me. But, being the founder of a social media agency many of the aspects of his methods used to spread his teachings resonated deeply. 

According to this documentary Jesus was a common man that tailored his teachings so they had relevance to his audience. He made sure that he incorporated common language and examples that people could relate too. He also was well rehearsed making sure that his messages were consistent over time but changing some key words and examples to fit the particular audience. Additionally, he packaged his teachings so they were easily understood and repeatable. Lastly, he was mobile. According to this documentary, Jesus did something quite uncommon for the time; he traveled.  He traveled from town to town repeating his message consistently. This is word of mouth marketing. If you tell one person and they tell two people and they tell two more then eventually you can reach critical mass with your message and it will self propagate.  

What are some of the key elements of a good social network campaign:

  1. Relevance -- keep the message relevant to your audience
  2. Consistency -- keep the message consistent so as not to dilute it or create confusion
  3. Sharing -- make sure that your message is packaged so that it is easy for people to share
  4. Seeding -- put the message out in as many relevant places as possible to ensure it will be seen or heard
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I am not suggesting I know anything about Jesus beyond this documentary, but I could not miss the parallels to social networking. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and when done well it can be quite extraordinary in its abilities. Jesus may have been one of the first to understand this.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Product Review: HTC Cruise 09

This phone was sent to me under the most odd conditions. It was a jumble of bits in a plain white envelope with no instructions or software. The only thing that was included was a document stating that if I used any of the interesting functions, broke it, lost it or returned it late I was going to PAY! Not a very inviting way to start a product test. Well you can imagine that bag of bits managed to find its way to the side of my desk quickly and did not move until. . . .

I had visitors from out of town. What is the best way to test a phone? Hand it to someone that does not have one and really, really needs one. And so I did. These guys were both 40+ Americans and brighter than most. But we all know that when you mix over 40 with technology it all seems to go a bit pear shaped. Well this had all the markings of a pear in the making. The first time it rang the one holding it was so startled that he tossed it to the chair like a hot potato. From there is got appreciably better. By the end of the day the pair had grown quite fond of the phone and were using it more than I would have imagined. They especially found the intuitive user interface helpful. Big buttons on the touch screen meant that 40+ did not have to squint and it all seemed to make sense despite the huge array of options.

Many a picture was snapped and sent along with text messages and good old fashioned phone calls. I must admit they did not try many of the advance features, after all they were on holiday. The GPS system could have come in handy a few times, but being lost in Hong Kong is half the fun if you have the time to spare.

All in all, the HTC Cruise received high marks from these travelers. And it passed the most difficult test of all -- the over 40 test. So you know the interface must be good.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Data Driven: Video 8 :1 over Banner Ads

The data is in from Adtech. 10 billion clicks were counted from across Europe and what early analysts predicted is now being proven true. Banner advertising is on the decline in effectiveness and video is on the rise. Banner advertising CTR has fallen from .4% approximately a year ago to .2% at the end of 2008. Whereas video continues to gain the consumer's attention with an average CTR of 1.7% and climbing. This is 850% better than traditional banner advertising.


The Latest Ad Click Count - eMarketer via kwout

Additionally, video use on commercial websites is quickly approaching 100%. A recent survey of vertical sites showed that, on average, 79% of sites surveyed where using video. 59% had it placed on their home page. A number of factors is motivating this movement. The first is technology. Streaming video no longer places a burden on infrastructure and many SaaS provide hosting often for free. Second is that video is a powerful communication tool. It captivates and engages more effectively than print or still images by engaging several senses at once with the attraction of movement.

It should not come as a big surprise that people enjoy video. We have been captivated by movies for a very long time and most of us were raised by TV. It only stands to reason that it would become our online communication tool of choice.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Social Media: Playing to the strengths of People

It has been long known that different people learn in different ways. In university psychology these "different ways" were called modalities. We all know that some of us prefer to read while others can listen with precision and others prefer waiting for the movie to come out. This is one of the great flexibilities of social media; it can be all of these and more. Additionally, improving the impact of a message can be greatly enhanced by delivering the message in different ways at the same time. Example: mixing pictures and text or video and subtitles. In a recent study a huge increase in viewing time of videos was demonstrated by adding subtitles, mixing video and text.

When we think about it, most of us know this makes perfect sense. Demonstrating once again, that going back to our psych 101 text books can give insight into the workings of social media. Much can be gained by understanding people. After all Social Media is about "Social". We as an industry do not need to be Psychologists or University professors to figure this out. It usually is no more complex a problem then looking to our friends, family and ourselves to see what they "are doing". Often we will find a discrepancy between what we want to believe people will do and like and what is the real situation. After all we all want to believe that the work we produce is the best. However, in real life, probably only our mother will love it without question and for everyone else the jury is still out. Pragmatics is the success to Social Media. KISS.

Much Success,


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Social Media Example: Global Real Estate Investment

IP Global's Managing Director is very charismatic and knowledgeable when it comes to international real estate investing. It was a logical fit that he should utilise video to fully capture his compelling delivery of current real estate investment insights.

IP Global has a long standing in Asia as a premier real estate investment group by creating wealth through sound real estate investments for their clients. With ever increasingly geographically diverse investment opportunities and an increasingly mobile investor group, moving their messages online seemed the right choice. Starting with a redesigned website that provided deeper information was a first start. But to relay timely information to clients a podcast was recognised as a highly effective tool.

IP Global is looking to produce regular updates of their investor podcasts to keep their savvy investor base up to date with economic and invest information in a manner that is quick, concise and portable.

Below is the first podcast released to the public. It was posted across a large number of strategically targeted Social Media sites to ensure that what sites their investors are most comfortable viewing their information they will be readily available to them.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Social Media Monetisation and equivalent media buy

There has been much talk on how to monetise social media marketing techniques. The amount of speculations does seem warranted based on the industry figures associated with social media marketing and the vast amount of money that potentially is up for grabs.

  • Growing at a rate of 2:1 over other internet activity
  • Second most trusted source of brand information
  • Video growing at 50% year on year
  • Video based marketing enjoys higher CTR
  • Digital budgets grow while print, radio and TVC shrink
If you operate a social media platform (e.g. Facebook or Twitter) the answer may be a bit foggy. But if you are an social media marketing agency the answer is clearer; equivalent media buy!

When discussing the costs and advantage of social media compared to other online strategies it is often about comparing apples to oranges. Social media is about engagement and consumer content, whereas paid search and display ads, SEO and SEM work differently. Making the argument for the benefit of social media can sound a bit esoteric when the bottom line is at stake.

However, if you engage in a results based discussion
  • Search engine results
  • CTR
  • Conversion
then an apple to apple comparison can be made against existing SEO, SEM, paid search and display ad budgets. So sell social media's clear advantage over traditional and familiar online marketing strategies where you can capture existing budget by proving equal or improved results instead of attempting to sell the "unknowns" of social media. Once the sale has been made then the additional value of social media will become immediately clear and evident and will sell itself going forward.

Prosperity Research has activated hundred's of social media campaigns and a summary of the finding shows a cost comparison against paid search and displays ads as:

Social medial campaigns average about US$ .12 per view/ click
Industry rates of .1% CTR for display US$ 1.25 per click
Average cost of key search term in 3-6 space US$ 1.00

In summary, our survey of campaigns based on apple to apple comparison of results show that social media costs can be significantly less than traditional forms of online marketing.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Social Media meets Public Relations

Are you in PR and wonder what Social Media's impact is? Well Douglas White and Simon Taylor shed light on this hyper hyped area from very different backgrounds. Learn what they believe is the factor for success. the Hong Kong PR Network hosted this event February 2009.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Social Media predicting human behaviour

One of the great advantages to social media is that it is social. The rules, norms and activities are similar to our everyday life. It is about meeting, sharing, building relationships and generally following basic forms of etiquette. This provides social media experts a wealth of established scientific information to draw upon from the fields of psychology and sociology. Coming from a behavioural psychology I immediately picked up on this in the early days. Whereas, human behaviour appears to be somewhat unpredictable it, in fact, can be very predictable. At a minimum we have well established guidelines to follow that allow us to manage expectation on what people may or may not do.

What I see for many social media campaigns is unrealistic expectations towards consumer contributed content. It appears that many establish their campaigns around having lots of consumers upload, comment, rate or do some other activity. When in fact research holds true that, in general, people are not that participatory unless pushed. The chart below of a recent study reinforces that only about 9% of consumers contribute as much of 80% of the content and the rest tend to watch.

Social media is able to create impressive amount of consumer interest. However, people will be people and setting expectations realistically will help both consumers and business achieve a more satisfying experience.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Social Media and the Golden Rule

A significant amount of what needs to be known about being a successful Social Media Marketer can be gained from looking at how people that are successful in the real world behave. Social media is called that because it is "social" and mirrors many of our beliefs, social customs and expectations that we hold in the real world simply translated to the online environment and facilitated by technology. I touched on this topic some time back in a blog entry title "If you don't know, ask yourself". It was a cheeky title for a very practical solution. Since we are, above all else, social beings it stands to reason if you have questions about social propriety online you should be able to look no further than yourself for the answer.

When I ask myself these questions I find them supported by 3 significant influences I have had in my life. First, I was raised in a small town so simple pragmatic metaphors serve me well when trying to explain myself. They usually start with "and my grandma used to always say. . . ". Second is my academic pseudo career. My education is primarily psychology with a significant amount of study in statistics and behavioural psychology. The third leg of this stool is IT consulting. I have been an IT geek and web lover since day one. So put them all together and you get a down to earth farm boy keenly aware of human behaviour and loves the online world. Is there a better combination for a Social Media Expert?

So when you are puzzled by Social Media marketing or just how to navigate your own Facebook profile the simplest response is probably the golden rule:

“Do unto others as they would have them do unto you”.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Marketing Minute: Business needs Social Media

The business opportunity with Social Media is enormous. There are more than a billion people online and 60% of those are in Asia and using social networks. Social media sites are out pacing all other Internet areas by a margin of 2:1. Prosperity Research has been pioneering social media for a significant amount of time in Hong Kong. This V-blog quickly defines why "Business needs Social Media". However, that said it is a tricky place to do business and the inexperienced may not fare well. It is best to understand well before entering because the backlash for mistakes can be unmerciful.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Marketing Minute: What is Social Media

Funny that we can find ways to keep talking about the same thing in so many different ways. I revisited some writings I made 3 years ago and pulled out a very familiar message. I then reviewed a blog entry I wrote 2 years ago and found it to be virtually the same. I am now creating v blog entry saying much the same, but this time I am moving. Well I hope you like my good effort. And I hope after 3 years of reading and hearing me talk about it, there is still something fresh and exciting to be found.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Twestival Hong Kong 2009

More than 180 cities had the first ever global twitter party to raise money for the charity Water. Brought together in less than 4 weeks, this immensely successful global event demonstrated the power of Social Media. Digirati heavy weights, twitter fans and the just plain curious converged on Yumla in Hong Kong to twit the night away.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Asia to dominate online video market

Recent statistics coming out show Asia, China, South Korea, and Japan, to grow at a significant pace for online video viewing as reported by ReelSEO. These countries, along with Hong Kong and Singapore, enjoy huge Internet penetration rates and access to broadband. Consumers in these countries are showing an enormous appetite for online video as it quickly replaces TV and DVD sales as a primary source on information and entertainment. Keeping pace with this is online marketing spend. It is expected that in 3 years this will exceed 15 billion USD per year demonstrating a 50% increase. Prosperity Research has been anticipating this trend for more than 4 years now by advocating the use of video as a key marketing and communication tool. Now commonly referred to as Social Media it has many advantages over traditional models.

  • Video is more compelling and engaging than static text or images
  • Video crosses culture and language barriers better than text or still image
  • Significant reduction in video production costs makes it competitive
  • Effective alternative to TVC
  • Affordable for SMB's
  • Aren't things just better when they move?!

In summary Asia is seeing great resilience in surviving the U.S. based financial crisis and is poised to take the world's marketing solutions to a new level by leading in online video dominance.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Business says video most effective

It is an otherwise gloomy outlook for business with consumers spending less. Both offline and online marketing strategies delivering disappointing results for business. However, there does appear to be a silver lining shining through; video.

A recent interview with Schwab's Mike Naughton, VP of media and central marketing has put a focus on the effectiveness of video showing a 20% increase in consumer response over nonvideo online campaigns (banner) as reported by emarketer.

"We noticed that consumer interaction with video ads [in the “Talk to Chuck” online campaign, which ran from September to December 2008] was 20% higher than it was with nonvideo creative."

These results are being repeated with great predictabiltiy. Therefore it is no surprise that business is positioning their marketing strategy around these impressive statistics.

A study by Reardon Smith Whitaker and recently releaseed in emarketer shows clearly that online is a priority for advertisers and marketers, but in a consistent trend, banner advertisment (nonvideo) has fallen significantly out of favour.

PermissionTV also conducted a survey of advertisers to gauge the “tactics on which US marketers plan to focus their online marketing budget in 2009”, with the top response being video.
  • 66.8% of marketers suggested that video would be their among their priorities for 2009,
  • versus 22.8% for banner advertising.
Though most of the statistics are based on U.S. data they are no less credible when applied to global or more specifically Asian markets. Asian online spend is growing at a pace impossible in the sated North American and European markets. It stands to reason that by logical extension, a trend that is siginificant in North America and Europe becomes history making in a market like China.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Data Driven: The Video Decade

Video is the number one growth rate for online marketing budget spend. Dwarfing all other categories with approximately 50% year on year growth forecast. Additionally, video is seen as the most important marketing tool for online retailers in 2009. This is largely due to the 40% increase in retail videos views and it being attributed to overall sales and customer satisfaction


Ad Network Prices Take a Hit - eMarketer via kwout

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Data Driven: Small Business Missing Digital Opportunities

SME's are missing out on the greatest marketing opportunity ever made available to them; moving on-line. Traditionally small to medium businesses have relied on expensive marketing solutions such as print and TVC largely because these have been the only channels available to them. However, with on-line being where consumers are these days, why are more business' not taking advantage of on-line opportunities? Here are some basic guidelines for being more effective online.

1 -- Don't spend too much on the website. Most business' believe that the website represents their entire online presence. When in fact, for the majority of business it is only a sign like the one hanging outside your shop. Its purpose is to get people's attention. And like the sign outside your shop, without additional marketing, only the people that walk by will see it. Therefore, spend enough to make your point, but remember, for most business' it is only a "virtual" sign and little more.

2 -- Spend your on-line marketing dollar wisely

Paid search - This can be very effective in getting traffic to your site, but it is usually the most costly form and has low conversion (e.g. sales). If you have specialised services or can absorb the costs this may be a useful tool. Key points: paid search means every time someone clicks on your ad you pay! So don't tell your friends to "check you out" because every time they click it comes out of your pocket.

Display and banner ads -- These are not as costly as paid search but have a lower effectiveness rate. Estimates put click through on display ads at about .04% with a much lower actual conversion (sales) rate. So what may appear to be a better deal based on impressions and cost per click usually ends up costing more per client However, display ads allow you to put a little piece of you on a web page. That is, unlike paid search which is only text based, display allows you to use pictures too (cool!)

Social network and video -- This is early days for this form of marketing, but case studies from Prosperity Research suggest that is is more effective than paid search and display on several dimensions; sustainability and cost per click. Video based social network marketing that utilises high quality video and word of mouth techniques has show to result in cost per click about 1/4 the cost of paid search and produce long term search engine results without additional spend.

When exploring your online strategy it is best to always determine what you goals are. Your budget and desire to engage your customer will help you prepare a plan that fits your needs. There is no one perfect solution to get customers storming your doors. Different customers respond to different methods of marketing. So keep it simple and remember the Internet is inherently free so if someone is trying to sell you something, make sure you are getting your monies worth!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Data Driven: World Dominated by Video!

2009 will be the year of video. With the rapid expansion of broadband access and highspeed mobile, video is becoming as quick and common as text messages and email. What is even more promising for those that live in China, is that broadband penetration and internet usage is exploding in China. Additionally, China is not facing the same financial problems as the rest of world. Thus making it an incredible opportunity for exploring new usages and potential of video based marketing.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Data Driven: Game Score West 1 China 50

It is early in the game but it appears that China is the clear winner. Whereas in the West only about 1% of Internet users create content, about 50% of Chinese are contributing online. Additionally the type of content contribute by the Chinese is more substantial. Where in the West most use email as the primary tool, Chinese are writing blogs and actively participating in online conversations making them significantly more influential.

What even further skews the score is that the Chinese are currently spending approximately 570 million hours a day online!!! This is very significant since the Western usage of Internet is only making a slow upward growth the China market is just getting started. Opportunities are huge and can only be expressed using phrases like WOW, OMG, and This is SUPER HUGE! Well established companies, like Prosperity Research, stand to do very well due to their proven track record and early in. But clearly this is a big room and the current quantity of service providers is insufficient to fully meet demand.