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How to engage on Twitter: Questions & Requests

January 9, 2017

questionAnother category of Tweets that are gold nuggets for engagement are: direct questions.

As we analyzed the behavior  of many Sales Rep and Relationship Managers on Twitter, we are amazed that so few use “questions ” as opportunities to engage.


It’s however that simple: “if someone asks a question, he/she is expecting people to answer and engage in a dialog”.

So, most questions from prospects should be viewed as opportunities for a discussion…. much better than a cold call or a “template email“.

Here are different types of great questions that we frequently spot ( ranked by the strength of the opportunity for engagement):

  1. Direct request/ask for resources: “Do you know of an expert in xyz?”
  2. Ask for help for someone else like “My niece is looking for an internship in London, anyone can help?”
  3. Job posting
  4. Business questions
  5. Personal  & Casual questions

There are also questions where one should never engage in public :

  1. Technical questions – If you don’t know about the topic, refrain from answering
  2. Political questions – Keep in mind your answer will be public
  3. Financial questions (in regulated industries), like “Should I buy this stock?”

For the last two, you can do a two step engagements or a DM if you already know the author very well.

Here are the tactics to use to engage on the various Tweet questions, using examples:

1. Ask for resources:


This is dream come true opportunity.  A prospect is asking for a resource, a professional and you /your firm probably have clients that matches the profile.

Why not killing two birds with one stone and  make the introduction? This way you’ll  make an existing client happy while solving a prospect problem.

You should do this carefully though. Never forget that Twitter is public and the  people  you don’t refer will (may) also see the conversation. These might be clients too !

Here is how you should proceed:

  • First you should reply: “I know people that can help, do the job/project … , follow me and I’ll DM you their contact details”
  • Look up in your CRM for prospective candidates
  • DM the contacts to your prospect.

Also put a reminder in your calendar to check in a few weeks how things end up unfolding.

2.  Ask for help

Even affluents need help finding internships for their children, job opportunity for people they know, family, former employees …

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 6.02.32 PM.png

If the prospect is key and you can hire his/her child or make an introduction to someone who can, you’re clearly scoring points and getting closer to a deal.

If you can’t you may still know someone who can.

3.  Job posting

Employment/Recruitment is one of the key reason people network (see the success of LinkedIn).

Most small business broadcast their job opportunities and they will notice if you help them spreading the word.


You should definitely retweet and show that you’re here to help.

There is a chance that – thanks to you- one of your follower will see the Tweet and jump in the conversation.  So:

  • Broadcast the request to your Network, RT and Like or do a quoted Tweet (you want to prospect to notice you are helping him/her)
  • If you know specific people who would be a fit. Reply that you can help and make the intro in private.

3. Business questions

You should answer Business questions (unless the regulation prohibits you to do so).

Your answers  build up your credibility and also help you start a consultative dialog with the prospect.

This is critical to make you the go-to person in the niche you target for your domain of expertise.

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 6.09.53 PM.png

I get that this is not an easy one, but let’s say you’re a financial professional helping startups. This is a great opportunity to have a solid dialog.

This takes time. These are the Tweets you should spend the most time on. You should take all the time you need and provide a deep and knowledgeable answer.

In the example, a click on the picture takes you to a medium article.

Our recommendation is that you comment on Medium, then RT and Like the Tweet and also reply to the author asking for feedback on your Medium comment.

Hopefully you may have content in stock (from your brand….)  but keep in mind that 1) you need to build credibility with the prospects and 2) your comment on Medium is here  to see by any of the target’s friends, including *our best friend*: Google.

4. Personal questions & Surveys

People use Twitter to get feedback/ answers on a wide range of questions:

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 3.58.20 PM.png


Most of the time, the questions are so generic that whatever industry you’re in, you can answer them.

Many people also use Twitter to perform quick surveys on… about anything.

One click to answer, a split of a second. This won’t give you a client but participates in keeping you on the map.

Remember (Twitter 101) that every 5 tweets you should have a cat picture. Well, this counts as your cat picture of the day.

Photo credit: rodaniel via / CC BY-SA

How to engage on Twitter : Events

August 30, 2016


In markets where prospects are Executives, Affluents, Entrepreneurs, Celebrities – and more generally people who need to manage their personal brand-, there are two things you can be sure about



These people are very active in social media

They go to a lot to events.

and as you try to build relations with these prospects, you will notice that these people also frequently TWEET about events:

  • Events they speak at
  • Events they go to
  • Events they organize / events they need help to organize / look for sponsors

Tweets about these events are excellent opportunities to engage and build relations, and here are a few tactics you can use to get the conversation started.

Warning: the objective of this short article is to make you realize how you can use Twitter to build relations and give you examples. Keep in mind that conversations have to be authentic and fun so don’t rush in building a “chatbot” or an automate.  It never works.


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a. You need to quickly decide whether you can attend the event. If this is an option for you, great!

This case, you can ask a question about the event and get the discussion going. When you meet the speaker, you will reference the exchange you had on Twitter. With one tweet you’ll have already replaced a cold introduction by a “follow up on an exchange we had on Twitter”. Way more powerful.

b. If you cannot go, or if the prospect is talking about a past event:

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.11.14 PM

You can still ask whether you can get a copy of the slides, the recording of the event, or if there will be another event like this in the coming weeks where he/she will cover the same topic.

  c. There are also many examples where the speaker publishes a link to the conference proceedings, slide set….that is broken.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.13.15 PM.png

If you tell the speaker about this and ask him/her to republish, he/she will make a positive reply. And … any positive step is a step in the right direction.


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a. Again you need to make up your mind on going or not.  If you plan to go.

Ask a question about whether you should go, if he/she knows the speakers, has attended a previous event, any specific session he/she recommends…

When you are at the event, you then go see the prospect and thank him/her for recommending the event, stressing he/she helped you make a good decision.

There is a good chance that you may even schedule a coffee /lunch after exchanging a few tweets. Agenda abhors a vacuum and people love to socialize.

b. If you don’t go.

You can still Retweet or Like. Then when the event is done, check if the prospect talks about the event again (I bet you he/she will) and you’re back at  1b.

You can also tweet to the prospect and tell him/her you were not able to attend and ask whether he/she knows about follow up, recordings, share notes….




Sponsoring an event organized by a prospect is a unique chance to spend some quality time with the prospect and build up opportunities for regular one to ones.

When a prospect mentions an event he/she is organizing or for which he/she is looking for sponsors, if it fits your company budget & practices, you should by any mean engage and ask:

– whether the prospects needs a room, a sponsor or whatever you may bring on the table that improves the event.

– work with your marketing team to see whether this could be a more global opportunity to talk to a large group of prospects.

Affluents/ Execs frequently participate in charity events and fundraising. If your company policies/budget/regulations allow this, you can both  build up the relation and make a positive difference


Last but not least,: don’t forget to close the loop. After the first exchanges, follow the prospect and if he/she follows you back, consider inviting him/her on Linkedin.

Photo credit: via / CC BY

Social Media & Wealth Management, 5 key learnings

April 27, 2016

entreprI recently discovered two interesting studies on Wealth Management (one of our key focus market):

and I am highlighting below 5 critical facts for the industry (related to social).

#1 “New Wealth” is a huge & competitive market

PWC reports that “new wealth, including that created by entrepreneurs, continue to rise steadily as a proportion with respondents anticipating it will reach 60% of their assets in just two years” (i.e 2016 😉 ).

If we correlate this with the Cap Gemini World Wealth Report, this means that there are ~2M new affluents in the US and more in emerging countries (including China).

One interesting attribute of the younger segment is that they have relationships with many banks (see graphic below).

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 5.10.47 PM

So the result is that the new affluent market is big … and will be very competitive.

#2 Social Media is key

In this context, “Quality of the Client Relationship Managers” and “Brand Reputation” are listed as a top differentiating factor  for the future (PWC).

PWC, quoting a CEO, Americas of a Multi Family office  “Connecting with the younger generation is a key challenge” and a Private Client: “would like to be able to make full use of technology including social media and mobile”.

They conclude: Mastering Digital and Social Media is becoming best practice.

If we correlate this with #1, it is clear that mastering social media to grow Relationship Manager’s networks with new affluents will be a  competitive advantage for Private Banks and Wealth Management firms.

#3  Segmentation is changing

When people think “social media”, they usually see “another communication channel”(i.e social vs phone or face2face).

Well, it’s not just a question of channel.

PWC tells us that understanding the “new demographic” / Generation Y is critical and  that Women is becoming a critical segment.

This is consistent with the more recent Cap Gemini report: “Segmentation of clients has evolved from traditional techniques based on HNWI age , wealth level and risk profile to advanced approaches based on behavior“.

PWC recommends Relationship Managers to “understand better the different network of influence on which many female clients rely for decision making“.  PWC list “Client Segment Service Model”  as a top differentiating factor  for the future.

Social data clearly enable marketers to identify and address new segments.

In wealth management, even micro-segments (100’s of people) can be very profitable. As an example:

  • Early employees of a Unicorn
  • Alumni of an Ivy league School in a specific city
  • Employees of successful startups in a building in Manhattan
  • Women entrepreneurs interested in crowdfunding
  • Affluent interested in buying wines

This is not a big data challenge per say. The challenge is more to sell and market to 1000 times 1000 people and to collect “smart data” on 10’s of millions of people (not billions).

As an example see below a segment of Women investors in the Bay Area who are interested in crowdfunding:


eCairn tribe of Women investors in the Bay Area interested in crowdfunding


#4 CRM is the top priority

PWC’s survey on top priorities for technology investment for the next two years (i.e now) has two clear winners:

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 6.00.42 PM

Historically, CRM systems #1 function has been for Sales Rep to record and document private phone and real life conversations with prospects and clients in a database so as to manage the customer/sales lifecycle.

With the advent of Social Media, specially when the prospect/client is a public figure and needs to manage his/her own personal brand, conversations more and more happen on public channels and are text based.

The challenge for CRM and for Sales Rep is clearly moving towards harvesting clients and prospects conversations and from collecting sparse data from Sales Reps, to building meta-data and private data-stores from the vast amount of public data available on the web.

#5 Human Capital and Change Management

Last but not least, the generational/ digital divide between wealth managers and new affluents makes it imperative for Wealth Management companies to rethink their Human Capital.

The average age of financial advisors is 50.9 and 43 percent are over the age of 55; only 5 percent are younger than 30. In contrast, the median age of new affluents is only 45. Add the millenials into the mix who are also getting more affluent and you see the call for change.

A major opportunity for Change Management and Training firms



Photo credit: dpstyles™ via / CC BY





” Employee Advocacy” for SEO, maybe not for everybody

March 8, 2016

sado masoOne of our client (a B2B company that sells ~50K+ products and services to VPs of Sales in the US) told me  recently  that they were deploying an Employee Advocacy program with an objective (not the only one though) to  improve their SEO and get found on Google more easily.

I see more and more marketers with similar programs and even vendors/agencies promoting this:

Although I understand the rationale, I’d like to share with you the potential devastating side effects this approach can have in industries where trust and relations are core to the business.

One of the key asset of such businesses is the Social Graph of its employees, starting with the employees who are representing the company to the outside world: Execs, Evangelists and  Sales People.

These people have to develop their network and engage in conversations with clients, prospects, influencers, prospective employees…, sharing their own ideas and yes, from time to time sharing corporate content.

Although SEO rankings are important, the ultimate goal is the positive perception of the brand from clients, stakeholders and prospective clients.

The  Employee’s network (size and quality) is what should be measured:

  • Are your employees connected to the right people?
  • Are their engaging enough with quality conversations with these people?
  • Are your thought leaders influencing the right audience?

And networking is a very “Human” process:

As a user, when I have the slim doubt about whether my “friend” on Twitter or my connection on Linkedin is  just a robot or a “vehicle” for his/her company, I basically shut him/her off.

Worse, if I see many sales rep from the same company publishing the exact same content at the same time, I feel cheated…i’ve seen it so often and have no doubt it translates into a poor brand perception from potential buyers.

The message it sends is that the company, for whom you may be a very valuable client, the same company that promises to deliver a customized, tailored and personalized service, is viewing the time spent with you in social as a cost, not as an asset. #Fail

This is particularly important in industries (like Private banking) where the banks are losing businesses to robot advisors. The last thing a bank should do in this context is to “robotize” its employees, telling them to publish (or sending for them)  pre-approved content polished by a PR agency.

The more personal and authentic you can be, the better.

And guess what, the more personal you are, the lower the chance to infringe regulations.

It’s perfectly fine to FINRA that a Relationship Manager tweets that the Warriors will win the NBA title ! and it is a sign of pretty good judgment. And if I RT and got an invite for the next game, then, hum…  this could  be the beginning of something.

In these industries, the idea of using employees to share as much branded content as possible is “screwing sales to make marketing numbers”.

It is a very dangerous gamble.

What we recommend is that Sales People, Thought leaders and Evangelists activity in social match the following pattern:

  • 50% minimum engaging in conversations of their customers and prospects (help, kudos, talking about pets, food, sports, life, events).
  • 25% sharing their own opinions
  • 15%  curating influencers, media and news outlet content (this can come from marketing)
  • 10% sharing brand content

Only by staying within these boundaries can the sales rep really create new relations and nurture existing ones.
And above all, this should be FUN !


PS: I had the chance to meet a great entrepreneur who told me S&M was standing for Sales and Marketing, hence I could not resist the picture.

Photo credit: Chefzwerg via / CC BY-SA
















Socialselling works, only when done right

February 16, 2016

labyrinthThere are lots of positive buzz around social selling. However, most of the articles are fairly generic (works/ does not work …) and very few actually go into facts and data:

  • in what situation does it work or not
  • how to setup the right processes and metrics to generate a positive ROI.

Having practiced social selling for a few years now  in different verticals (Wealth Management, B2B Tech, Consulting Services, Pharma), here are a two learning’s we’d like to share:

#1 social selling is like consultative selling and it only make sense for products and services with significant value ( >~ $20K), where trust & knowledge are key selling points.

#2  Social selling without a plan does not work. It’s  is like distributing flyers to a random audience.

Let’s start with #2:  Serendipity Social Selling

The first step in social selling is to build relations with potential buyers. This is done by actively listening to people in your target market and engaging with them on a regular basis  with meaningful comments.

  • Social Selling can’t be automated (no-one wants to talk to a robot and it is a recipe for an immediate turn off).
  • Social Selling can’t be done by the “Brand”:  most consumer don’t want to build a relationship with a brand on social media – they want to build a relationship with the people behind the brand.
  • Social Selling can’t be delegated to a first line agent that would  take over the initial discussion. You need to be authentic and relevant in each and every engagement you have a potential client.
  • This process  takes time and  is similar to networking in the real life.

The net that the social selling process does not scale. You can reach 100M’s of people at once on the web. You can spam as many people as you want  but you can’t really get their sustained quality attention.

There is therefore  a limit on how many people you can target. Our experience is that this limit fluctuates around the Dunbar number (~150).

It is critical to carefully pick your 150 i.e the 150 people you need to listen to , engage with, transform into “professional friends”  and become the go-to person for your domain of expertise.

Should you not limit yourself to 150 and grow your network in the 1000’s, the maths will kill you:  The probability that you engage with the same person frequently enough to build a relation is too low and your chances to build a meaningful relation vanishes.

It may be fun but from a business standpoint, it is not efficient and it does not work. You’ve just spread yourself too thin.

Still, “Serendipity Social Selling” is what most people do: Engaging almost randomly with 1000’s of people on Twitter, with no strategy, no process  and being happy with an ever increasing number of friends/ followers.

On the other end of the spectrum, If you don’t follow enough people, you run the risk of either “stalking” your target or being too slow growing your network

The magic formula that we have empirically  uncovered is:

15-20mn per day, 100-150 targets, 5 engagement opportunities per day, 50 new professional relations per year and 5 sales.

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If a sales rep does a reasonably good job at targeting and engaging such a quality group of people, he/she should end up building 50 new relations per year i.e 50 people you could ask for a meeting and engage in a sales conversations.

Then it’s all on him/her and depends on the product/service sold but reasonably one could make 5 sales.

This result brings us back to learning #1.

Social Selling does not work for business where the Customer Lifetime Value is too low.

In the optimal situation,  Sales Rep will close ~5 sales in year one (could go higher with referrals but one should start with the estimate of 5 sales per year ).

Beside listening and engaging with prospects, he/she will have to manage the clients and create/curate some content so the 1h per day becomes more a 25% of his/her time.

This gives the boundary of the social selling process: 1/4th sales rep, 5 sales per year.

So the factors you should take into account before deciding whether Social Selling is good for you are:

  • Presence of the prospective clients in Social
  • Customer Lifetime value versus Cost of the Sales Rep assuming the performance will be 5-10 sales per year
  • Are trust and knowledge key success factors for closing?
  • Is the sale transactional or relational ?
  • Do you have the right sales rep to engage in social?

If all of these are yes, they you definitely should give it a GO !



Photo credit: berendbotje54 via / CC BY

Women, Unicorns and Entrepreneurs

January 26, 2016

Today is our compilation of some wonderful articles we read over the past

Women and Money

  • Control the $: In this article about Philanthropy, we discover that women now control more than 50% of the wealth in the USA. A number that is bound to increase.
  • Get less $ from successful ventures: Here, we learn that ventures lead by women and backed by VCs showed an exit rate 37 percent lower than that of startups led by men. The article points to a research from Sahil Raina who hinted that a lack of women partners in the VC world is partially to blame for that disparity. As a matter of fact, Angie Chang tells us that only 11% of investment partners at VC funds and 15% of angel investors are women
  •  Odds are stacked against women on ‘Shark Tank’
  • Women behave differently than man when the market is unstable


  • Population: 229; Valuation: $1.3T; Got $175b in funding.
  • From innovation, Americans build disruptive business, Chinese follow with enthusiasm and Europeans regulate. Hence the 101 unicorns in California alone. No surprise as, according to E&Y, VC investment in the San Francisco Bay Area alone tops $24.7b while Europe is only at $10b.


  • Be resilient: The #1 trait of startup founders” by @writerpollock – and per @sethgodin, a highly valuable skill.
    The team @ecairn agrees wholeheartedly.
  • Be reasonably patient: @lilbovness and @andrewparker talk about five years in the making overnight successes
  • Out of the ~2000 startups from the top USA incubators we analyzed, about 15% have now more than 20 employees

Photo by





Why social media will never be like mass media

December 15, 2015

Guest Post by Yann Gourvennec

“Social mass media” is an oxymoron

I first coined the “social mass media” phrase in a Hootsuite video a while back, more in jest than in earnest I have to admit. Social media has indeed been considered by (too) many professionals as a new means to apply their good old mass media communications recipes. Regardless, there are many issues regarding this vision of social media as the new mass media. In my eyes, one should try and get back to the basics of word of mouth marketing. In this piece, I will describe why I believe social media will never be the new mass media advertising professionals – and some of their clients – think it has become.

Consumer, I love you and I know you

 The following video, as far as I know, is a Microsoft commercial. So much for those who think advertising agencies have no sense of humour. At least the one behind this video has a sharp sense of self denial. It briefly sums up the situation: advertisers (and their clients) spy on consumers, track them and “personalise messages” (another word for spamming maybe?), thinking this is enough for clients to feel loved and recognised. But all this ends in a divorce. Don’t imagine advertising is useless though. As a matter of fact, It has already been proven that advertising is efficient in the long run and has a track-record of stimulating desires and behaviours. For those who still get this wrong, please refer to the excellent demonstration on the importance of advertising in Byron Sharp’s How Brands Grow opus.

Mass media vs. social media

The reason why social media cannot make do with mass media approaches lies elsewhere. In fact, like it or not, mass media and social media are sitting on the opposite sides of the marketing spectrum. And confusing one for the other does pose a problem: not only is is bit like trying to place round pegs in square holes, it is also pretty ineffectual.


Mass media means content in small supply for large quantities of people


In traditional media, content has to be as unique as possible, and therefore must be in limited supply. Quality being a subjective criterion I won’t take it into account. The objective with mass media is to deliver content to the greatest number of people; hence its name. Having vast amounts of content, let alone user-generated hardly comes into play. What matters is that the content in question be applicable to the majority. Even on the scale of a small country like France (65+ million inhabitants) or Britain (60 million), mass media audiences reach tens of millions of people. The numbers are a matter for debate, we’ll get back to that later.

first pic

Mass media follow a logic of content in limited supply, as unique as possible, delivered to large audiences (cable/satellite channels mimic that approach but only reach a fragment of that audience).


Social media is a horse of a different colour

 On the opposite, content on social media is plentiful, it lends itself to duplication and is therefore easy to adapt and share. Unlike traditional media, it is not all about copyright and uniqueness. The norm, on the contrary is that of the Creative Commons license. It grants readers the right to share, use and build up upon existing content. Nevertheless, Creative Commons does not mean copyright-free. One should not get confused, rules also apply to online shareable content.

Visionary Marketing - 24

Social media is guided by the rules of word of mouth marketing. In this environment, content is inexhaustible, groups of readers or participants (vs. viewers/eyeballs) are small and segmented. Media (“message”) views are weak, and even sometimes reduced by the platform (Facebook shrink your post views by tweaking edgeranks to encourage you to “promote” your posts)

Stop confusing social media for TV ‘audiences’

 On social media there is no such thing as passive audiences like on mass media. Even though real content creators are and remain a minority of 0.1-10% depending on subjects and platforms (check Forrester’s social technographics diagram for reference), and can even go up to 20+% in some cases if small content creation like Facebook posts is taken into account, no user of social media is entirely passive. As a result, there is something amiss with the use of the term ‘audience’ when it comes to social media. An audience being a group of passive users, looking at the same piece of content without interaction.

In this instance, I am not taking so-called “social TV/radio” into account. One might think that this is a game-changer and that social turns binge viewing into interactive viewing but I would disagree with that. Social impact is different according to the kind of shows (deemed “high social” and “low social” shows by Nielsen). Its impact is still low (except for “high social” shows) and besides, one may also look at this phenomenon as two activities carried out side by side rather than interaction being added to passive mass media viewing). For more information on TV viewing and the social impact on “audiences” check this 2014 piece by Nielsen at

Audience, viewers, potential viewers, what are we talking about here?

In my opinion, the definition of ‘audience’ that one typically uses in the case of mass media, and that one extends to websites, is way off the mark when it comes to social media.

audience noun [C] (GROUP OF PEOPLE)

B1 [+ sing/pl verb] the ​group of ​people together in one ​place to ​watch or ​listen to a ​play, ​film, someone ​speaking, etc.:

B2 [+ sing/pl verb] the (​number of) ​people ​watching or ​listening to a ​particular ​television or ​radio ​programme, ​reading a ​particular ​book, or ​visiting a ​particular ​website

source: Cambridge dictionary

Assuming one can measure precisely the “number of people” watching a website is already walking on thin ice. On the Web, users/consumers are building their own schedules, collecting pieces of information in no particular order and sometimes, “consuming” several pieces of information at the same time. Their attention isn’t always focused on one single task. On many occasions, we have found out that, when calling back B2B leads generated through a Website and asking them about what they wanted, a vast majority of them couldn’t even remember visiting the Website, let alone filling in a form, just one day after the capture of their email address. Besides, as I was working for one of the world’s largest telcos a few years back I noticed quite a few times that official Web audience measurement could easily be twice as big (at other times twice as small) as what I could see with my own eyes on my site-centric stats dashboard. I can’t explain why nor will even try to, all I know is that I only trust site-centric analytics.

Moving forward, with regard to social media, the use of the term ‘audience’ is really unconvincing to say the least

And now a few facts and figures. Imagine that you publish a few tweets to your 13,000 followers. It is a good number for a ‘normal’ user who is neither an expert nor a celebrity. This score would place you in the 500 first Twitter users in London or first 250 in Paris, and even higher than some minor local celebs. Obviously, in the States, the stakes would be higher.

If we were to measure our “reach” for this 13,000 follower-tweet, one would then use online apps such as the excellent Now, you would certainly think that reaching thousands of people (a true “audience”) in a single message is quite an achievement. Well done Twitterer, you will go far! Well, not so, not so. This is all wrong. And time and time again I have seen people with stars in their eyes because certain ‘influencers’ (notice the inverted commas) were able to drown the cyberworld with thousands and thousands of views. Hold on. All these numbers are just the result of the piling up of potential readers (get the nuance?) So actually, it does not mean much if anything at all. It may be good. It may be bad, only time will tell.


Lacking imagination, I made a research of my own Twitter handle. Try a search on any given hashtag and you will reach (potential) huge “audience” numbers. And you would be completely wrong.


Shareholders and advertisers looking for ‘audience’ numbers in Twitter are in for trouble


Of course, I don’t mean that tweeting is useless. On the contrary, I love it and think this is really powerful. But if what you are after is an “audience” of mindless followers gobbling up your words you’re in for trouble because this isn’t the way that social media is working. Social media isn’t so much about valuing numbers as it is about valuing interactions, and even so, meaningful interactions.


There is a case however, in which social media will act (almost) as mass media: it’s when you are already famous. Snowden attracted 900,000 followers a few hours only after opening his Twitter account this year and so did the Pope and Obama before him. Big deal, they are already widely known and popular. You, and your brand, may not be so lucky. I even heard that advertisers were buying tweets from celebrities at incredible prices for a single tweet. Not only is it astrosurfing – and therefore mildly illegal – it’s also not very effective. Tweets aren’t messages, impressions aren’t views. There is a huge misunderstanding here. So, unless a mass media journalists sees that tweet, many chances are that it will remain the Internet’s best kept secret.


Twitter and Facebook (and the like) aren’t real “media”

The bottom line is that Twitter and Facebook, to name a few social platforms but all of them are concerned, aren’t real “media”. they are more like – at least their timelines are – uninterrupted pipes of information. In order to reach a large number of views, one will have to share the content several times (that is exactly why I publish my articles several times during the day on Twitter, an approach I learned from Guy Kawasaki when he came to visit the guys a few years ago. Even though Twitter tries to suppress that (hence shooting oneself once more in the foot).


As a matter of fact, you cannot assume that everyone is in front of their gaspedalscreen at the time of your first Tweet, nor even the second. (Facebook works differently – you won’t be allowed to post the same kind of information as many times without being penalised – but in essence it is also an interrupted pipe of information pouring from your friends and friends’s friends). Sometimes, a promoted message pops up as an attempt to revive Seth Godin’s archenemy (marketing by interruption) and they even get a few, very few, clicks for their money. As Hugh once put it, advertising Is the cost of being boring.


This phenomenon is interesting because timelines on social media such as Facebook or Twitter are somewhat disconnected from user accounts. One may very well use one’s social media account and even post a lot of stuff, without paying much attention to other people’s opinions/content. And this is exactly what a lot of people do; and most brands too. Because they think it’s “media”, means all they have to do is post nice things, preferably nice kittens, and people will “like” them and that’s that. Obviously, no-one can be more mistaken.


The infamous edgerank


In addition to that, certain social platforms such as Facebook reduce the reach of your messages (thanks to the infamous edgerank that controls which posts are to be displayed on users’ timelines). This is what drives brands mad at the moment, seeing how much they invested in paid social media and how much deeper their pockets must be to keep going.


Now, do you understand a bit more how social media differs from mass media? Imagine being a TV series producer for the BBC and that the channel managers decide to turn off your audience’s TV sets of their own accord. Their aim would be to get paid to turn those TV sets back on. Would you still deal with a business partner like the BBC? I don’t think so (as a matter of fact the BBC operates without advertising which is even more virtuous).


Different ways of using social media (and not necessarily as a conversation tool)


To make things even more complex, there are more than many ways of using social media. Social media can be used as a tool for one to many and many to many conversations, crowdsourcing, sharing, creativity, and even messaging. More often than not, we start using these tools and it only starts dawning on us that more possibilities exist much later on in this process. I started using Twitter in early 2007 and remained puzzled by the 140 character microblogging system for quite a few months. You may add Social to TV though, It’s flavour of the month. and You can certainly notice that there is yet another difference with mass media, the latter being a one-way channel.


Frederic Cavazza’s drawing is spot on: social media is not mass media, but it differs from community platforms too

We have already established that mass media is used in one way only. The fluctuating element of consumption in mass media, is the users’ viewing time. With the rise of the plus7/catch-up TV concept, it has turned television viewing into a live/recorded mass media.

So, beware, don’t always trust the numbers. The audience of social media ads are not really cumulative.


Caption: The Perrier ad on Facebook reached 6.7 million “views “ but are we talking about views or reach or potential reach… and what is 6 million views to Perrier, honestly.

And even so, the reach is modest, considering the amount of engagement that is out of reach for low budgets. (I witnessed several examples of low budgets that attempted to micro-target audience on Facebook. Well, even using ads, they obtained weaker results than this very blog post, through pure organic reach).


Mass media and social media do not have common audience figures

 I dug deeper into the French media audience figures (the ones that were available to me), which are huge. Even on mass media, interpretations vary. Audience “points” fluctuate (anything between 561 000 and 581 000 peopler each point). Thus, average audiences are huge, only a handful of Websites reach such numbers, there is no comparison.

Even a niche channel like French leading news channel BFMTV that has an average audience of 2%, reaches around 1 million spectators. The evening peak (between 9:15 and 9:30 PM) represents an audience of 27 million people, everyday except on Saturdays.

A: an amateur video about Nutella shot by a user who is not impressed by Ferrero’s advertising campaigns


B: mission 404, a highly engaging viral video by Orangina produced by Studio Bagel (a Canal+ company). A brilliant viral video example.


Caption: The evening audience peak on TV, mass media by excellence


So, if we want to compare the audience on Youtube, we can look at the following cases: (A) an amateur Nutella video (with almost a US-type score) and superior ranking in YouTube on the “Nutella” keyword and (B) Studio Bagel’s (Canal +) professional viral video “mission 404” (a very engaging and highly successful several-million-euro super production). The cumulated audience of these videos is of around 6 million each. Mass media capture their audiences around brief moments, with YouTube, it’s a different story, there is a long-tail effect. (Note that with catch-up TV, the visibility time is extended to another week).


Note: there are of course YouTube videos like Gagnam Style with billions of views, but this is out of proportion. Let me refer back to our analysis on the Korean phenomenon in our book Mastering Digital Marketing Like a Boss.


Recently, in 2015, Google has tightened its grip on Youtube and is trying to find its own economic model regarding mass media. Nothing too surprising, according to what I discussed previously. It has taken years for YouTube to attract serious advertisers to its platform, now the latter are seriously anxious to get value for their money.


Social media platforms are not, in fact, mass media: there is a lot of content out there and Content Delivery Network costs are impressive and rocketing with views (a 15 minute HD video weighs around 200 million bytes, or even 1 GB if uncompressed). It is extremely costly to narrowcast such content overs CDNs, a special infrastructure is required, it’s not as trivial as it seems.


It’s possible that the cost for Youtube be around 100 million dollars per year for bandwidth and storage only. I would say this is a bit underestimated. Despite this, audiences, as we have seen, do not match. monetising such “audiences” therefore really causes an issue. Besides, from a user and usability point of view, online monetisation is truly annoying and a real deterrent because of the increasing invasiveness of online video advertising. All of this is prompting users to adopt ad blocking systems and circumvent the issue.


Again, social media and mass media work in different ways. To sum it all up, this article aims at prompting brands to look at social media differently. Maybe they should also look at advertising differently, or so Pepsico’s Brad Jakeman said, but as I’m no expert in advertising, I’ll take his word for it. Brands should realise that relying on paid media is not always a good move regarding the return on their investment, even though it looks like it’s the easy way out.


Visionary Marketing - 43

social media vs antisocial media

As a conclusion, it is important not to confuse paid, owned and earned (word of mouth) media. Advertisers’ approach to social media is, in my eyes, flawed. And Facebook pages should never be – IMHO – at the centre of a social media strategy. The aim of word of mouth is that people share your stuff on their pages, and not to transform Facebook into a Website generator; even though the latter would be delighted that the Internet be entirely encapsulated within it.

Given all that, it’s about time to go back to word-of-mouth marketing basics.







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