Yesterday, via the Twitter Blog, Twitter announced a fairly subtle change, which renamed “Replies” (i.e. the use of @username’s) as “Mentions.” Although a simple change, the move makes it possible for Twitter users, and specifically Twitter brand handlers, to track all mentions of a @username or @brand through a tab on their Twitter homepage. In the past, the “Replies” tag only tracked when a @username or @brand was mentioned in the beginning of a Tweet. Something that has been commonly used for direct, yet open, dialogue with an individual or brand.
“When you click that tab, you’ll see a list of all tweets referencing your account with the @username convention anywhere in the tweet—instead of only at the beginning, which is how it used to work.”
In the past, when using the analogy of blogging, I’d compare a Twitter “Re-tweet” to an inbound link and a “Reply” to a comment. “Replies” signified actual interaction and dialogue between a user or brand and another individual within the Twittersphere, just as comments do within the blogosphere. By altering the concept of a “Reply” to a “Mention,” I’d now describe it to my blogging friends as a comment about your brand on your blog, or anywhere throughout the blogosphere.
For those of you not within the PR industry, “mentions” is a commonly used word for tracking company coverage within the press. The idea of applying this thinking to the Twittersphere may not be that crazy. For some time, the Twitterati have pointed to Followers and Re-tweets as the most important metrics on Twitter, but I disagree.
As Biz also mentions in his post, the Twitterati are now regularly including brand mentions within their personal dialogue. His examples:
“I’m flying @jetblue to Boston. Also, folks reference multiple accounts in a single tweet like this: I’m flying @jetblue to Boston with @ev @crystal and @goldman.”
I’d argue that tracking these specific brand mentions, while analyzing the overall tone of the “Tweet,” is more important. Sure its great to have a lot of followers receiving brand Tweets, but the must valuable followers are those that are endorsing the brand or complaining about it within daily dialogue. It’s the future of focus groups and potentially advertising. The influence that a Twitter brand handle is having and its overall reach can be more accurately measured by tracking these newly termed mentions.
In an effort to further integrate two of its flagship media outlets, the New York Times Co. made the move Sunday to launch the new “Global Edition” online and in print, which absorbs the International Herald Tribune within the New York Times – as its global paper.
The online Global Edition, which combines the international reporting of the two Times Co. publications, “will provide readers with a 24/7 flow of geopolitical, business, sports and fashion coverage from a distinctly global perspective through the Website, mobile devices and online newsletters,” notes the new Website.
The print edition of the IHT “was also redesigned too look like The New York Times in all but its masthead logo,” reports PaidContent.
However, as Gawker notes, the Times “appears” to have made a massive error as part of the integration, in its effort to move its existing content from the IHT.com to the new Times’ Website:
“But the Times executed wrong. Instead of redirecting old iht.com links to the same stories on the new nytimes.com server, it simply redirected all content to the same new landing page. When you click through the landing page, you end up not on the story you were looking for, but on the general global.nytimes.com homepage.
So instead of having 993,000 IHT hits in Google, as the search engine now estimates, the Times will soon have just one. For example, a search on the word “paris” within iht.com brings up 588,000 hits; they all appear to end up on the same general homepage, and thus will be collapsed together by Google.”
While it appears to be a huge blunder, I have to believe that the Times’ brass strategically weighed the amount of time and resources (i.e. need to higher outside SEO / tech help) it would take to transfer the individualized content and links to the new Website, versus its desire to send the 2.3 million UV’s from IHT.com, along with additional Google traffic, to the generic landing page – which promotes the new Global Edition and alerts readers.
Even when we made the move to our new blog from our old destination, the decision to transfer existing content and links to the new site was weighed. So the idea that the Times completely overlooked the need to put in a 301 status code to divert to new links seems a bit far-fetched. As Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, Publisher of International Herald Tribune, acknowledges in his note to readers, the Times Co. wants everyone to know that it is a GLOBAL media enterprise, and is marketing this move to illustrate that (read: We’re going to continue to compete hard with the Wall Street Journal on global content) :
“This deepening integration improves the IHT’s competitive position, supports The Times’ award-winning international report and strengthens The New York Times Media Group as a global media enterprise.”
Still as Patrick at Blogstorm echoes Gawker, the weighed decision to kill all recurring traffic that occurs through existing (i.e. long-tail) content / links seems like a big risk for a company that has been complaining to Google about how its content is optimized within searches.
It should come as no surprise that layoffs/cuts in the newspaper industry has now become a local story. On Friday the Boston Herald reduced their staff by 24 people through buyouts and layoffs.
13 people voluntary took the buyout offer while 11 people were laid off, the Herald Reported. The cuts resulted in a 6 percent work force reduction that was primarily on the businesses side of the paper.
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe’s deadline for employees to take voluntary buyouts has passed, with a reported 24 people opting for the buyout, 26 short of the needed number. It has previously been reported that the Globe is losing $1 million a week.
The Globe’s parent company, The New York Times, also made headlines last week when they announced 5 percent salary cuts for most employees. Additionally, executive editor Bill Keller said that they paper will eventually face layoffs, probably in the range of 60-70.
The new issue of the magazine features a fold-over flap cover that covers half of Manny Ramirez’s smiling face (must be that new contract). The front of the flap has one sentence that reads, “You wouldn’t settle for an incomplete cover” and the backside of the flap has a picture of a Gatorade bottle with the sentence, “Then don’t settle for an incomplete sports drink,” above a picture of a Gatorade bottle.”
This is a pretty large step for a magazine to sell their cover space and is clearly a sign of the times for ESPN. But is is the right move? It seems like this could be the equivalent of selling your soul to the devil, as ESPN The Magazine is making it pretty clear that they’re willing to make a Powerade ad the first thing their customers see when the pick up the magazine. While this may be necessary financially, it certainly seems like a major compromise of principals for the magazine.
This story on AdvertisingAge has some background on Powerade’s new anti-Gatorade campaign.
Robert Thomson has drawn press recently for his comments regarding Google and how it devalues everything it touches. However, it’s his recent internal memo that has everyone reallytalking. The memo, which was distributed last Thursday to all Journaland Dow Jones’ staffers (first reported by Chris Roush of Talking Biz News), signaled a strategic shift by the Dow Jones / News Corp. leadership in moving towards a focus on breaking news for Dow Jones Newswires. Thomson wrote:
“Even a headstart of a few seconds is priceless for a commodities trader or a bond dealer — that same story can be re-purposed for a range of different audiences, but its value diminishes with the passing of time. Given that revenue reality, henceforth all Journal reporters will be judged, in significant part, by whether they break news for the Newswires.”
To no one’s surprise, the part of the memo focused on judging reporters on breaking news – sent ripples through Journal bureaus across the country.
Jeff Bercovici of Conde Nast reports that reporters for the Journal were taken back by the tone of Thomson’s message:
“It’s a pretty definitive statement to say that henceforth people will be significantly judged by the frequency with which they break news for bond traders,” says the reporter. “That hasn’t really been the mission of reporters here. It was to make sense of events for the lay reader, and to dig into stories and tell stories in a way that people would remember.” “It’s depressing to a lot of people who have been there for a long time,” says an ex-staffer who left recently. “Maybe there’s a market for selling this s*** to people who are creating trading algorithms, but there’s nobody on the Journal‘s staff who wants to write that stuff. You didn’t sign up to write 130-word squibs. You signed up to file 3,000-word mini-New Yorker stories for the front page.”
Adding more fuel to the fire – even though it’s likely a coincidence in terms of timing – two Journal investigative reporters left this week to start a new company.
So what does this really mean for the Journal going forward? First of all, I have to agree with Dean Starkman, a former reporter with the Journal - who posted this for the Columbia Journalism Review:
“Any implication that Journal writers are lolling around, not working hard enough, and don’t share Thomson’s sense of urgency about the crisis in newspapers is a joke. If they worked any harder over there there’d be nothing left but a few pools of butter on the newsroom floor.”
In my opinion, the reporters at the Journal work harder to break stories than any other news organization – already. Yes, some are working on big, page 1, deep-dives, but the majority are chasing news. That has only increased over the last several months as editors have gotten in their ears about the need to break differentiated stories that will bring page views and advertisers. They’re not living in a bubble, sheltered from the media realities that are now upon us. They realize what it will take to survive in this time: breaking original stories that draw traffic.
It’s not any different across the industry. Reporters scattered throughout the country, who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs, are getting pulled into covering breaking financial and corporate news. There’s no way around it. Trend stories are being pushed if (they’re lucky), and completely dropped in most cases.
In fact, the Journal has been one of the few papers to actually avoid this in some respects, maintaining the ability to cover trend stories about “the clouds” on page 1.
However, with this memo, it appears that Murdoch and Thomson are moving away from those Journal-famous page 1 stories. It’s Baffling, as some pundits have noted, given that Murdoch has taken dead-aim at the New York Times since he acquired the Journal, shifting its content towards political and mainstream news and away from straight Wall Street headlines. Now they appear headed to challenge business wire services like Bloomberg and Reuters.
Just another illustration of the changing media times, and even more reason for private companies to look elsewhere, for pitching their positive, trendy, story.
The idea may seem far-fetched, and I doubt too many current CEO’s (Chief Executive Officer’s) will go for the working-title, but the idea of having someone within a corporation solely responsible for managing the creation of original, social, non-advertorial, content is already being realized (Look no further than Scott Monty at Ford embedded above). The economic and media tumult will only bring more – with new potential titles.
In his open letter / blog post yesterday, David took a hard look at what that idea means for journalists, as they try to stay above water and gauge their career paths – amid the tumult within the industry. More interesting, at least in my eyes as a communicator, he specifically looked at how thecurrent media meltdown has created a scenario where there is high demand from corporations to create original, social, non-advertorial, content and a growing number of unemployed journalists in supply – who understand how to create and aggregate it to specific audiences. David calls it “brand journalism.” A win-win it would seem.
But how did we get here?
In order to understand why every company is suddenly realizing that they need to become a media company and hire editorial officers; marketers and communicators need to understand how the current recession is shattering “old media” and greatly accelerating its digital evolution.
“Imagine someone about to begin physical therapy following a stroke [and] suddenly contracting a debilitating secondary illness,” researchers at the Project for Excellence in Journalism write about the news media’s long-overdue embrace of the Internet in 2008, just as a global recession began wreaking havoc on the industry’s biggest advertisers.
Some of the main conclusions of the report, included:
The advertising revenue model which has driven media since its inception can not support media in the digital age (put it in stone).
Several newspapers will fail and numerous others will cease seven-day home delivery in 2009 (check: Seattle PI, Rocky Mountain News).
While newspapers average an 11% profit margin and collectively take in about $38 billion in revenue, those revenues have dropped 23% in the past two years, while staffing at newspapers has dipped by one-fifth since 2001.
Classified advertising at newspapers could be nonexistent within five years.
Revenue for local TV outlets fell by 7%, an unprecedented amount during an election year.
In 2008, magazine newsstand sales fell 12%. They’ve dropped another 22% this year off of that awful base.
TV Guide, the erstwhile 17 million-circulation goldmine, was sold in October to OpenGate Capital for $1, or $2 less than a copy at the supermarket checkout.
“Bernstein Research predicts a 20% to 30% drop in 2009 TV station ad revenue.”
“For the last reporting period, Nielsen Media Research said, CBS’s prime-time audience was down 2.9%, ABC’s down 9.7%, Fox down 17.5% and NBC down 14.3%.”
“According to Media Dynamics, the average price of reaching 1,000 households with a 30-second spot in prime time, has jumped from $8.28 in 1986 to $22.65 in 2008 — but effectively more like $32, because between 150 and 200 of those 1000 households use DVRs to skip past the ads.”
As you can probably tell by now, no media outlets are immune. There were more than 28,000 layoffs in the media industry last year, the highest since 43,420 layoffs in 2001, and the majority of those on the editorial side will never file a print byline again.
So what does this mean for marketers at corporations?
They can no longer rely on “old media” to reach mass or niche audiences with messages, and they need to move their budgets in new directions
The Internet has flipped the control dynamic of news / information on its head: the prospective consumer is now in control of finding the information / content they want
Niche audiences prevail across the Internet and don’t welcome intrusive marketing
Google is the gatekeeper of brand reputation, making SEO and linking integral parts of marketing
Content is still king – and we need to create our own
Essentially marketers need to adopt the practices that “old media” is frantically trying to adopt online (albeit too late) to survive, and some forward thinking marketers are already moving in that direction.
According to a study released in December by Junta42, 56 percent of marketing decision makers plan to increase spending on content marketing for 2009. Social media tops the list (68%), followed by e-newsletters/email (60%), blogs (56%), case studies (55%), online video (51%), white papers (46%) and micro-sites (43%).
More will follow, with the guidance from the very journalists and editors David is writing to, along with marketing and communications practitioners, agencies and folks across the blogosphere and Twittersphere that understand the tools needed to create and aggregate content which: is easy to find and search-able (i.e. Google friendly), generates page views, is linkable, isn’t looked at as intrusive, doesn’t sound like an advertorial and increases dialogue around niche areas with current and prospective customers.
David Carr of the New York Times eloquently said in August of last year that “We are all Arbiters of the News.” The Fortune 500 are looking for a few of those “We’s” to be “CEO’s.”
More research – this time by Aberdeen Group (Via eMarketer) – suggests that companies are increasing spend on social media marketing at a time when marketing budgets are being cut across industries. As we covered last week, Forrester recently reported that 95% of social media marketers will maintain or increase social media spending in the downturn.
Aberdeen reports that 63% of companies (defined as best-in-class) plan to increase their social media marketing budgets this year. More interestingly they found that 21% of their respondents plan to increase their spending on social media marketing by more than 25%.
Also echoing Forrester’s recent report, Aberdeen’s findings indicate that companies are hungry for effective measurement of social media. 39% of companies found it somewhat difficult to measure social media, and 20% said it was very difficult.
While it was a good weekend for the top seeds at the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, it was also good weekend for the #2 provider of sports-drinks. Coca-Cola Co. (Coke), who owns 22% of the sports-drink market with Powerade, used the tip-off of “March Madness” to market a non sports-drink to sports-loving hoops fans.
“While student-athletes and coaches are provided with VitaminWater cups at press conferences and during timeouts, even members of the media must drink all beverages — aside from coffee — out of a VitaminWater cup.”
However, the most interesting aspect of Coke’s VitaminWater campaign for the tournament is happening away from the action on the floor. The company is using TV spots which end with a call to action to their new Facebook page, skipping their Website all-together. The TV spots, which are available on their Facebook page and on YouTube with alternative endings (embedded above without the call to action), end with a simple call to their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/vitaminwater.
One particularly funny one (assuming you’re not a Kentucky fan) includes former Duke star Christian Laettner reliving “the shot” during daily activities – including a turnaround jumper with a VitaminWater bottle into a trash can, in front of fictional neighbor and former Kentucky coach Rick Patino.
So how is the Facebook / TV spot call to action working for VitaminWater? They’ve garnered nearly 50,000 fans in the first week of the tournament and are trying to keep the dialogue going on the page by updating their stream with the aforementioned videos and celebrity photo endorsements / print campaigns (including Carrie Underwood and Alicia Keys).
John Byrne and BusinessWeek.com are taking its leadership position with their social media efforts one step further this morning by syncing the comments on Business Exchange, its social-networking site, to Twitter. The move makes it the first major business media outlet to sync comments with the service.
“Business Exchange now allows you to simultaneously post your reactions (brief comments) to articles on both BX and Twitter with the click of a button. Once you link your Twitter account, we will automatically tweet your reactions to the articles posted on BX. You can choose to post to Twitter on a case-by-case basis or send all of your reactions on BX to your Twitter stream.”
The move makes obvious sense for BX and their users, and BX has made recent changes which included shortening the length of comments and renaming them reactions to make the sync work. BX users were already able to sync with LinkedIn, and most users use this syncing ability to portray their LinkedIn profile within the Business Exchange community.
Following in the footsteps of BusinessWeek.com’s overall strategy to increase reader engagement through user comments, the move is being made to increase user engagement with the Exchange community – which has been difficult to do so far. Elizabeth Holmes of the Wall Street Journal notes on Digits that:
“Only 3% of users have been actively commenting.”
Holmes doesn’t let on if the Journal is considering a similar move to sync Twitter with their Journal Community, but you know the folks posting for Digits and the creators of that community are itching for it.
Twitter isn’t anything new for BusinessWeek staffers, as almost all of which are on the micro-blogging service. In fact, @BWBX, Business Exchange’s Twitter handle, has been active for some time now — with Ron Casalotti (BusinessWeek’s Director of User Participation) and other staffers pushing BX conversations into the Twitter Stream. They’ve built a following of more than 2,000 and will become even more popular in the Twittersphere given the new syncing feature.
While the move is a step in the right direction, I still believe Business Exchange needs to implement a Facebook-like type of share feature that would allow you to read the uploaded content (News, Blog or Reference Material) without officially leaving the community. I’ve noticed Facebook doing this with publishers on their new pages on Facebook. You can read an entire story from Fortune Magazine without officially leaving Facebook, and commenting while doing so. This would make it much easier for the users on Business Exchange to comment within the community on the full content. You currently find yourself having to go back to the community – and away from the full content – to comment.
A yawn is never a good way to start a conversation. As the first two posts in this three-part series pointed out, the way you start the conversation is as important as the content (part 1 and part 2).
I’ve not tried to be exhaustive in describing some of the multimedia formats you might adopt in starting your conversation, and the posts to date have covered video, animation and a call-to-action microsite. I wanted to finish with an interactive website employing a game to draw visitors in to the key messages; draw them in to thinking about the issues; excite them about propogating the message.
Just needed to find one I really liked.
Fortunately, I was Haymarket Brand Media’s guest at the Revolution Awards at the Grosvenor, London, on Friday evening (thanks again for inviting me Matthew), and now I don’t need to look any further.
“Judges thought that Honda’s ‘Problem Playground’ campaign was a great way to launch a new car, being both fun and engaging, as well as showing outstanding attention to detail.
A key focus of Honda’s passion for innovative engineering is to benefit the environment, and with this in mind, the car marque wanted to increase the sales oof its Civic Hybrid model.
The campaign focused on increasing traffic to a website that featured a ‘problem playground’, inviting users to solve puzzles. The digital activity aimed to closely associate Honda with the idea of finding cost efficiencies and environmental solutions by inviting users to move the pieces of an online puzzlein order to reveal information.
The campaign delivered 140,000 unique users to the landing page, with consumers spending on average of 2.5 minutes on the site. Those driven to the site spent time with the content, with an average of eight pages being viewed per visit. In total, 5,500 hours were spent on the site.
Judges said there were lots of puzzles for people to solve, with impressive integration of voice-over messages. They concluded that the campaign was an innovative way for the brand to communicate its messages on problem solving and the environment.”
What better way to finish this post but to check out the Cravendale sister site at www.makethetea.com, get the kettle on, make a brew and think about how you’d like to start your conversation in an interesting way.