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Why should Social Marketing (re)start with strategy

April 10, 2014

Wherever we look, we find evidence that Brands get limited value from Social Media:

The main thing is that most marketers approach Social as just an extra channel to promote products and services defined … when social media did not even exist and with the same techniques and metrics as before.

But there is more into it, provided that marketers can challenge what used to know and really digest the paradigm shift that Social Media has brought to business, marketing and sales:

1- Social redefines markets

Markets is an information & mathematical construct. Markets are defined by commonalities between potential buyers.  Way back, very little was known about consumers. The best one could do was to define a market in terms of socio/geo/demo.

So, yesterdays markets were: women 25-30, divorced, urban, 2 dogs and shopping regularly at Macy’s, or  generic segments  such as High Income,  Gen Y.

However, as people engage in social networks:

- They share more information about themselves and this information becomes available  for segmentation.

- They develop connections. Clusters of people start to emerge that did not exist before social media.  They are actually the new types of markets.

Now markets can be defined as “Fitness moms”, ” Gamers passionate about First Person Shooting “, “Frugal”, “Green activists”, “Food lovers”, Parenting Moms”,  “49ers fans”, “Walking Dead addicts”, “Coupons hunters”, “People  concerned with climate change”,  Nerds, Bikers, “Republicans from Florida”, “Bird watchers”,  “Quantified self early adopters”,  “Americans living in Paris”,…. These definitions of markets are richer and more actionable. Some are niche and some large.

These markets are built by people self-organizing around content (blogs, youtube …) and though social connections. These tribes are visible and  form new opportunities for companies willing to offer products and services tailored to these “sociographies” and to take market share away from 20th century winners.

They offer perfect spots for new entrants and innovators.

2- These new markets are “conscious” &  powerful.

It is not just that these markets are new. The nature of these markets is also different. Actually very different.

When markets were defined by socio demo,  they were just collection of people with similar attributes. Period. Now people in these connected markets can talk to each other, engage,  share. Their IT infrastructure (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Youtube) is at least on par with the ones used by the big brands.

People within these markets also learned to communicate, engage, mobilize and some leaders even develop audiences that rival the ones of  mainstream media. They have  “community codes”, leaders , “social etiquette” and expectations around transparency and relevance that can no longer be ignored and yes they have moved a significant share of their TV time on mobile and social.

They are what some people called  “conscious market” and more often than not, they have the upper hand.

So what should brand do?

I wish I knew ;-).

Maybe read Augie Ray’s post again:

And then start with STRATEGY (not listening, not engagement, not building FB pages with millions of followers, not social CRM) but strategy.

Assess the market.

Understand where the old “mass marketing” rules still apply and where change is imperative.  In the areas where you decide/are forced to change, restart from the beginning: Market analysis, new Segmentation, Product innovation (or validation), and then and only then build “social media” programs.











Valentine’s Day in Social Media

February 14, 2014

Valentine’s day is upon us. Cards, chocolates, fresh roses, fancy dinners, even diamonds — showing how much you love someone translates into big bucks for businesses. Last year, the report issued by the National Retail Federation forecast a total spending of over $18 billion, or $130 per person on average for Valentine’s day in the US.

The “holiday” celebrated on February 14 is the first major opportunity of the calendar year for many retailers. As a matter of fact, as soon as the Christmas decorations get taken down, store windows are adorned with pink hearts and cupid cutouts, and special aisles are stocked with Valentine’s day must-gives. In social media, Valentine’s day starts being on people’s minds a little later, and takes a few weeks to really become a topic of conversation throughout the social web. The following graph (trend over eCairn’s database of 850 influencers located in 17 countries) shows that talk around Valentine’s day really picks up speed in the first days of February (with around 15,000 conversations in the first week of the month). This week, our database recorded more than 30,000 conversations mentioning the holiday.


Trend for Valentine's day in social media (eCairn's database), 2014

Trend for Valentine’s day in social media (eCairn’s database), 2014

The transversal view of our database provided by the eCairn Tribes Insider draws a less commercial picture of what happened in social media in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s day.

Top 10 tribes with the most conversations about Valentine's day per thousand conversations (eCairn's database)

Top 10 tribes with the most conversations about Valentine’s day per thousand conversations (eCairn’s database)

As expected, dads discuss Valentine’s day plans more than any other tribe in proportion (150 conversations for every 1000 conversations published over the past 6 months). The event management and dating tribes also show strong numbers. More interesting are the numbers for crafts and children related tribes: all craft tribes combined published more than twice as many conversations about Valentine’s day per 1000 than the dads’ tribe. In short, for the influencers the most vocal about the celebration of love, Valentine’s day is about showing how you care in a unique way, without necessarily breaking the bank — and what is more unique than a home-made gift?

Is the strong emphasis on crafts and DIY Valentine’s gifts in social media going against the interest of retailers? Not if they manage to engage these customers in a way that caters to their needs and is in line with their philosophy.

Automotive Market: How Influential is Your Brand?

February 10, 2014

The 2013 figures and rankings in the automobile market are out. There is a staggering number of cars being produced and some of the groups at the top made close or more than 10 million vehicles.

I wanted to know how it translates in social media and whether there was a strong correlation between sales or market share on one hand and buzz or influence on the other hand.

Automotive Groups Buzz in Social Media

Note: The figures below come from eCairn’s db of 500k influencers across 850 tribes and 17 countries.

Starting from the top, if we look at the buzz generated by the top brands, the ranking is very different from the sales ranking:
- Ford is #1 (vs 6 in sales)
- BMW is #6 (vs out of the top 10 in sales)
- Toyota is #6 (vs #1 in sales); one piece of explanation is that we don’t cover the Japanese market today and that’s where Toyota is #1.
- GM is #5 (vs #2 in sales)
- Hyundai is #10 (vs 5 in sales)

Auto WW Pie

There are major differences between the WW figures and country figures; as a sample, if we look at the United States, Germany, France and Brazil, the rankings in social media are very different (the 4 share of voice graphs for the 4 countries in the order they appear below):

- Renault-Nissan is #1 in France’s ranking; Renault-Nissan is a French corporation.
- Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes are moving up in Germany’s ranking; The 3 of them are German corporations.
- Fiat Chrysler tops the ranking in Brazil which is the largest car producing country without a group or brand from within.

Auto US PieAuto Germany Pie

Auto Brazil PieAuto France Pie

Automotive Brands Influence Ranking in Social Media

For the influence analysis, and to keep this post relatively short, we will focus on the French market as an example.

2012 Market Rankings (volume of cars sold)
Note that we are now looking at brands and not groups. Some brands are part of the same group such as Renault and Nissan or Volkswagen and Audi

  1. Renault
  2. Peugeot
  3. Citroen
  4. Volkswagen
  5. Ford
  6. Dacia
  7. Opel
  8. Nissan
  9. Toyota
  10. Audi

Share of Voice
The chart below shows the relative share of voice of the top brands in term of buzz.
Note that some of the top brands in terms of buzz aren’t in the top 10 in terms of sales. Obviously, those are high-end brands that get more media attention than low-cost ones like Dacia.

Auto brand France

Influence ranking
(based on Twitter influence analysis between the brands above, bearing they have a dedicated French Twitter account, and the roughly 2000 top French influencers in the automobile and lifestyle/geek segments)
Noteworthy are:
- BMW in the top 10 though they’re not in the top 10 in term of sales
- Peugeot is #7 vs #2 in term of sales
So Renault is #1 in share of voice ranking but Volkswagen is #1 in influence. Being first in influence means that there’s a good level of integration between the brand social property, in this case Volkswagen Twitter activity, and the influencers from the automobile and lifestyle communities.

Auto Influence Ranking France

Interconnections with French Influencers

The graph below shows how the influencers considered in this study interconnect with each other and with the target brands (through their blogs or/and twitter account). A rectangle is an influencer and a line is a connection between 2 influencers.
- in blue: the automotive brands’ Twitter accounts
- in grey: the influencers

Auto Network France

Zooming in on the area where the blue nodes are, we see that the brands mostly interconnect with automotive influencers and therefore miss the opportunity to engage with other types of influencers who happen to talk about them often.
BMW and Volkswagen are the 2 brands that are ‘closer’ to the rest of the influencers and, as such, top the list in terms of influence ranking.

Auto Network Brand France

The picture below illustrates that there are a lot more influencers talking about BMW on Twitter (blue nodes everywhere) for example than those who engage with BMW’s Twitter account.
Auto Talking about BMW


  • Brands have invested in social networks. 80% of the brands in this study have a country specific Twitter account.
  • Engagement is happening only with the influencers in the industry though those brands are talked about by influencers from many different niches.
  • Brands have an opportunity to broaden and improve how they build relationships with the people who care about them.

Which Social Media Channel Should Fashion Pros Use?

January 22, 2014

Using the eCairn application, we can figure out which social media channel Fashion Professionals should use. Let’s check which social media channel is discussed the most in eCairn’s Fashion Tribe:
Any surprises here?

New Year Resolution

January 14, 2014

I don’t make new year’s resolutions.
But I know lots of people do. Or do they really?

At least, very few people talk about them in social.

We found 15440 ‘New Year’s resolution’ conversations among the 30 millions blog posts from the 400k influencers that we have archived in our database. Even if we zoom in on the new year period, between Dec 15th when the first conversations took place until now, less than 1% of the influencers’ posts talk about New Year’s resolutions.
If we compare with conversations on ‘christmas gift’, we see a 1/10 ratio between both topics.

NY Resolution Pie

NY Resolution Trend

As expected, the peak is on January 1st. And another peak on January 6th (more social activity on Monday ;-)!

More interesting is where people are talking about new year’s resolutions (based on eCairn’s model of breaking down social media into tribes):

  • Productivity and Personal Development top the chart.
  • Fitness and Nutrition come in second.
  • Then come Minimalist, Public Speaking, Emailing, Diet tribes
  • Further down are Moms, Dating, and Leadership (not shown in the chart)

Top Tribe NY Resolution

Now if we focus exclusively on a vertical, such as sports, the percentages drop a lot and show significant differences between tribes:

  • Running is 4x biking, to pick 2 of the most popular tribes.

Top Tribe NY Resolution Sports

In running, conversations about new year’s resolutions are centered on:

  • Goals for 2014
  • Weight loss
  • Health and Nutrition

NY reso running word cloud

In productivity, the conversations are also about goals, with weight loss being a top one, but with a different spin:

  • Plan and achieve goals
  • Setting new habits

NY reso productivity word cloud

Bottom line, new year’s resolutions are a lot about weight loss but different groups of people talk about it differently based on their personal interests.

MOOCs everywhere

December 30, 2013

moocs_ecairnIf 2012 was dubbed the year of the MOOC by the New York Times, 2013 may have been the year of “the MOOC disillusionment”, a phrase coined by reporter Ry Rivard of Inside Higher Ed in July 2013.

Certainly, a lot of disillusionment was voiced by no less than Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun, a top player in the MOOC business. Several months after predicting MOOCs would bring about a revolution in higher education, Thrun acknowledged issues with how MOOCs are currently utilized, issues important enough for Udacity to move away from the free model of the beginning or from partnerships with higher education institutions and embrace a more corporate oriented offering.

One sure thing is that the social web is not indifferent to massive open online courses, and actually quite vocal about them. Who did the debate on MOOCs bring around the table over the past six months? What does it bode for MOOCs in 2014?

Looking inside our segmented database of 400k influencers, one observation is that talk about MOOCs is not limited to the education tribes: the topic is discussed in circles with a broad range of interests.

Top 25 tribes publishing the most content on MOOCs in the eCairn database (June to Dec 2013)

Top 25 tribes publishing the most content on MOOCs in the eCairn database (June to Dec 2013)

Conversations published in the education tribes across the board make up only about a quarter of all conversations about MOOCs. Another remarkable fact is that the 25 tribes in which the most content is published about MOOCs barely reach the 50% mark in total volume of conversations found in our database. This means that, if MOOCs are indeed central to the education tribes, they are actually very present everywhere else. Indeed, the top tribes publishing content relevant to MOOCs (outside of the education tribes) fall into very diverse categories:

high tech business careers arts
personal technology, cloud computing, data, wireless/mobile, apple, geek españa vc/entrepreneur, social media marketing human resources, career, leadership/management, librarian music all, art overall, music – electronic

This speaks to the wide appeal of the current MOOC offering, and can only encourage disillusioned MOOC providers to (re)assess their goals and further engage with education professionals (influencers from our education tribes?) to fine tune their models and better serve the audience they want to reach.

If anything, this momentum should make MOOC providers hopeful for 2014.

2013 in review

December 30, 2013

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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