If you had $500,000 how would you spend it?

Marketing budgets are tight, very tight in fact. It’s not, therefore, uncommon for CMOs to put aside a portion of their budget and have the agencies pitch their best ideas to get a share of that pot.  When it comes to PR, the idea de jour is to create some program that utilizes social media or digital in some way.  This is actually pretty sensible for many situations BUT the challenge comes when you have to justify that spend versus other, more traditional areas of marketing.  Let’s say you propose creating a vertical social network on Grouply for people that love mountain biking.  It’s a pretty targeted program and you could measure the success based on how many people join the network and how many actively engage with the community.  Great idea if your client is somehow connected to this community.  You  could suggest a blogger relations program to address certain misconceptions about your clients product.  Again, great as in this instance you can measure how the bloggers now talk about your clients products.  However, the challenge here is how does the client know that spending money on a social media program that would be a better use of his or her budget than say placing a piece in a trade publication?  The end metrics are very different and not easy to compare unless you’re very lucky and the client only does one form of marketing at activity at a time.

Right now some clients are leaping in to social media/digital because they inherently know it is a good way to spend money and they have a good enough reputation within their company/they are brave enough to deal with the consequences.  However, for all the ones that are doing this, there are still plenty that aren’t.  By this I don’t mean that they aren’t spending money on social media but rather that they are not spending as much as they could.  Clients still default to the tried and trusted that is easier to justify.  And frankly I don’t really blame them.    Having failed as an industry to convince our clients that they have to use measurement tools for every campaign, I fear we are about to repeat the mistake with digital.  If we do we will lose a lot more than the pots of money CMOs are putting aside right now.  We will have lost the opportunity to make PR truly the new advertising and that would be a real shame.


Twitter’s growth isn’t being fuelled by teens

According to today’s New York Times Twitter‘s success isn’t being driven by teenagers. In fact it’s being driven by almost every other demographic. This seems surprising at one level but not at others. Teens spend more time text messaging than on sites like Twitter. Indeed teens account for only 9% of Facebook’s users according to today’s article. This shows that Twitter and Facebook are being driven by people with an income, rather than people who have an allowance. Which in turn suggests that the value of these social media properties that has been so wildly elevated, is probably justified.

The rampant success of sites like Facebook and Twitter makes me believe there may be another generation of social media sites about to truly explode. Twitter appears to be doing well in part because it enables communities to form around a person’s comments even though many of those people involved don’t know each other. Facebook is quite the reverse, deliberately so. I therefor love that places like Ning and Grouply are tapping into the intersection of these sites. Grouply, for example turns old style Yahoo! or Google Groups into vertical social networks. In other words they allow you to build a version of Facebook just for the 2000 people who love a certain obscure hobby. The cool thing is that unlike Facebook, you don’t have to know these people to join the group. In that way they are bit like Twitter where you can follow a stranger’s Tweets. I’m sure that at some point a site like Grouply will get bought by someone like Facebook or Twitter so they can open up this market to their millions of users and in the process offer advertisers another way to reach an interest group. From a PR perspective, a place like Grouply is fascinating as it also gives you a way to find some very influential communities AND to learn what their conversations are.