London Calling–But are marketers answering?

August 3, 2009

Forgive the cheesy title, but after studying social media use in six different countries, we are heading to London to work face-to-face with actual clients and The Clash has been in my head, along with numerous other songs about London. London has a particular allure because 1) it’s my favorite city and 2) I assume there will be a parallel between the marketing practices of the UK and the US, thereby making it an interesting study (plus the fact that everything is in English makes the research easier). Upon beginning initial research into the use of social media, one of the first things that I found is the dichotomy between companies using social media and those not using social media. Anybody who studies or works in social media knows that social media is still in its infancy. Though many organizations (government, military, nonprofits, corporations) do engage in social media, there are just as many, if not more, that do not engage. Some organizations do not because they question the value of the current available tools, and others do not participate because of issues with access to the tools.

McCannSurveyA recent survey (table at left) by McCann Erickson Bristol shows that “two-thirds of marketing experts admit they do not understand social media despite acknowledging it is here to stay. The Social Media survey of marketing professionals found that 86% of them thought social media is more than just a fad. However, 65.6% of them said they did not know how to use it for the purposes of marketing.” This survey shows a common refrain. Communicators are beginning to see that social media is a viable tool, yet many are struggling to find an appropriate or effective use for it. Throughout the semester, we’ve seen numerous examples of effective social media, but as this survey shows, there is still trepidation to embrace the tools.

So while this survey shows that marketers do not know how to use social media, there are many UK (and European) companies that are using it effectively. The British candy maker Cadbury recently started a social media campaign to promote the new Crème Egg Twisted candy. “Dubbed “Operation Goo, “the initiative invites British consumers to become CIA agents. (That’s Cadbury Intelligence Agents, of which there are now 9,082.) The participants search out the candy bars across the country by finding clues on Cadbury’s Website. The top ten agents then create videos “with Flip cameras supplied by Cadbury, upload them on YouTube, and win points for generating the most social media exposure via tweets and videos. The agent with the most points by mid-July gets $33,000.” What Cadbury is doing here is creating engagement and conversation. Engagement is probably one of the most important aspects of social media. The sheer numbers of people who participate in social media means that the word can reach many more people than traditional media.  One analysis of the campaign stated, “Overall, it’s win-win for Cadbury. They promote one of their latest products through others via a social media experiment and then use and analyse the successful techniques used by the Super Agents to gain the most attention on each YouTube, Twitter, blogs etc.”

Overall, the biggest take away from my own perspective of managing and strategizing social media at work, and studying at school, is that there are numerous opportunities for brands, regardless of what country they are in. With a little bit of research and a Website survey of the brand’s relevant competition landscape, a marketer can help spread the word very effectively, and cheaply. But brands need to realize that they should not engage in social media just because everyone else is doing it. They need to have a strategy just like they would use for every other communication campaign. One thing that should be readily apparent is that an understanding of social media will be in great demand, so there should be future career opportunities for those of us who study it.



July 19, 2009

Brazil is the 12th-largest economy in the world, the seventh country in Internet usage, the largest country in Latin America and the world’s fifth-most populous country with 182 million people.SMin Brazil
Acc ording to a 2006 DM News article, In fact, Wikipedia contains an official definition of Brazil’s voracious appetite for foreign online apps—The Brazilian Internet Phenomenon.Wiki

As our world rapidly transitions from freely-shared information to freely-shared contextual information, the concept of social knowledge has become an increasingly critical function of market intelligence—but more so in Brail than any other global marketplace we’ve explored.

In Brazil, the need for using strategic social media tools to identify gaps in understanding as they relate to the confluence of local culture and web 2.0 is made especially critical by the rare combination of several important factors like religion, political censorship; a pervasive and powerful underworld of organized crime; and the stark juxtaposition of wealth and misery that comprises the offline backdrop for this dynamic and uncertain digital terrain.

The acquisition of social knowledge is an ongoing process that includes a range of adopted behaviors like listening and embracing influencers; and the absence of a clearly defined return on investment. The key for marketers to remember in Brazil is that due diligence must override the compulsion to rush to market—no matter the digital medium, product or service. The complex and dynamic nature of Brazil’s inherent challenges require a period of listening to determine the most effective and appropriate tools, strategies and tactics.

In Brazil, social networking site, Orkut is essential for monitoring the cultural sensibilities of online conversation. Orkut
Orkut is the #1 website in Brazil
and enjoys a 79% market share and is 8th in the world.

Additionally, Twitter’s microblogging platform and bloggers like Marcello Tas. Bloglead in effectively monitoring and engaging influencers to interact with their brand. Even citizen journalism sites like Rio Body Count and ViolenciaViolence are abuzz with citizens documenting the massive injustice of Brazil’s ruling criminal class and corrupt government.

A June 2009 VentureBeat blog Reports Brazilian consumers spend an average of 19.3 hours online for personal use versus 9.8 hours watching TV, according to a study released by Deloitte.

With such an enormous and highly engaged audience, Brazil’s digital media landscape provides an endless opportunity to market using social ads— product-based apps that work inside social sites. This advertising while virtually brand new in Brazil, is so relevant that the user wants to install it on their public personal profile on a social network.

There are also promising opportunities to cash in on Orkut apps that drive traffic to your portals using features and titles of news and content, linking to the content . However, it must all begin by listening. A thorough and ongoing listening campaign is critical to addressing the lack of relevance in display advertising that could cost valuable market share for your brand–especially in a market ripe with such a plethora of multilateral marketing and communications challenges like Brazil.

July 12, 2009

Bloggers Rule
Afrigator Screen ShotAccording to Stephen Newton’s article, The RSA just reported the highest rate of internet growth since 2001, up 12.5% to 4.5M users. And according to Jonathan Gosier’s blogpost, Social Media in Africa Part 1, Africa is the fastest growing mobile market in the world with an average growth rate of 34%. The Republic recently made history as the first country in Africa to hold a political debate on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and the Obama Administration has made digital outreach to the continent an integral objective (as evidenced by his recent sms engagement following his Ghana speech)

While South Africans comprise one of the most robust and engaged online social networking communities in the world, we cannot ignore the cultural context within which this fact exists. Fifteen years after apartheid, all things are not equal in this republic. The continent overall still suffers from disproportionate amounts of poverty, and of the roughly 48M people living in the RSA, only somewhere between 2-5M (about 10%) have access to a PC with broadband connections. They are the white elite who largely control the republic and influence the dialogue which tends to dominate the overall thinking and consumer behavior across the continent. The other 90%; however, are very active on mobile social networks and most do have mobile phones that support these applications.

So whether you are trying to reach the 90% of disenfranchised blacks who use mobile networking or the 10% of affluent whites with broadband PCs, plan on the flow of information in RSA being controlled by the latter.

When researching marketing trends in social media and other information about South Africa, I’m astounded by just how much of the information is coming directly from bloggers. The RSA similar to many emerging economies worldwide have more active bloggers than those of the USA. In an April 2009 blog post, Oresti Patricios estimates their online activity rate as having grown by 58% between 2006-2008. Patricios believes, as do I, that the RSA is ripe with opportunity for marketers to engage in the relationship-building, brand monitoring and ongoing dialogue that can pay huge long-term dividends for their company.

Just as Newton argues that companies wishing to penetrate the market in the RSA, should not underestimate the importance of getting online during this global economic downturn; it’s how they get online that can make or break their sales here.

With the cost of internet slowly going down, and its speeds slowly accelerating, many South Africans, are opting to save money by staying at home. Additionally, they look to online reviews of products and services to get the most value for their money.

If you wish to market to consumers in the RSA, engaging bloggers there is not an elective, it’s an imperative. Brands “live” through shared experiences of other consumers, brand equity will be enhanced or compromised based on consumer interaction online. Because bloggers dominate the online content within and about South Africa, their credibility is nearly unmatched by any other marketing outlet. E-WOM is the leading factor in driving sales here. Sites that rate user-generated content like Muti, Afrigator and Laaikit are exploding and vibrant, which gives bloggers unrivaled credibility and influencing power.muti laaikitAccording to Patricios only 15% of consumers trust advertising, compared to 72% who trust what others tell them about products, therefore, bloggers in the RSA can exponentially increase the reach of your message and the equity of your brand among African consumers via mobile and online social networks like Mpesa, Celpay and Etranzact in ways unmatched by any other medium.

Their opinions matter and their reach is vast. They are almost exclusively PC-live which means that their influence will reach the wealthy elite consumers first, and their endorsements will quickly spread to the mobile social networks—reaching non-affluent consumers via mobile social networks.

While there are relatively few cultural nuances for American marketers to consider when engaging this audience, one reigns supreme: you must not treat them like journalists, but rather thought leaders, and avoid spamming them with press releases or advertisements. Instead, focus on establishing credibility and building a genuine relationship with them that is based on a mutual interest in common issues. Strategies here should seek to involve them in an aspect of your brand by soliciting their expertise or thoughts on issues as they relate to your brand.

If you can create an experience for these thought leaders that they positively associate with your brand, they will be your strongest ‘E-vangelists’—exercising their formidable WOM platform to drive your brand in the RSA and throughout Africa.

From Creating Buzz to Creating Lasting Conversations

July 11, 2009

In a time when tourists and investors rely on a country’s image to make economic decisions, the “new” post apartheid South Africa is in the process of re-branding theirs.

For a company entering the South African market and looking to make a long lasting impression, it is a good idea to first identify and market to, through and with value-added influencers to leverage the full potential of social media marketing.  Sure, mobile marketing platforms, such as MXit are huge in South Africa, but mobile marketing alone is not good enough when searching for a long-term solution. Only after you rally your troop of willing influencers (creating interest, buzz and conversation) is it wise to use mobile marketing and other social media tools for short-term campaigns and marketing.  


Influencer Roles

Influencer Roles

 How does influencers improve the marketing of your product or service in South Africa?

  • Marketing to influencers increases awareness of the product or service within the influencer community.
  • Marketing through influencers uses influencers to increase market awareness of the product or brand amongst target markets
  • Marketing with influencers turns influencers into advocates of the product or firm.

South African winery Stormhoek sent a bottle of wine to South Africa’s top bloggers and held a Geek dinner party with Robert Scobel and Dave Winer, just one of the many events they hold for social media influencers.  Stormhoek’s plunge into social media marketing has won it several awards and accolades for marketing innovation. Sure, they also take part in tactical gimmicks, such as Facebook giveaways and funny viral Youtube videos, but when the last prize was won and the last laugh silenced, they returned to the relationships they took time to build in the social media community that transformed that initial buzz about their brand into lasting conversations.

In one of its many efforts toward re-branding South Africa, The Brand South Africa International Marketing Council (IMC)
is bringing a group of top-notch US bloggers to South Africa (accompanied by top South African bloggers) in the first week of December and hosting them on an eight day tour that will showcase South Africa as an extraordinary nation of creative and innovative problem-solvers.

It’s Web site states:

South Africa is alive with possibility, but whose word are you going to take for it? Ours? We hope so, but let’s be candid. It really helps to hear first-hand from balanced and independent voices telling their own stories.

Explaining the thinking behind the tour, an IMC representative said:

“If you’re in the market for almost any product or service these days, and you have an Internet connection, the net is your buyer’s guide.  You don’t need to listen to sales pitches or succumb to slick ads. You go online and get recommendations from people your trust, other consumers, your peers. That’s the new reality for everyone in the marketing business.”

It’s Whats in the Middle That Counts

July 4, 2009

After the U.S. and China, India ranks as the 3rd largest consumer market in the world!  That being said, it is not surprising that there lies enormous profit potential for companies looking to market to the people of India IF done correctly.

One key insight that brands should consider when looking to use social media to market to India is the ever-growing population of the “Middle-class”.  Some have reported an estimated 350 million “Middle-Class” people in the country while other experts report that that figure is a myth and in fact, (by American standards) there is only approximately 60 million “Middle Class” people living in India.  At any rate,  McKinsey and company predicts that by 2025 there will be 500 million middle-class Indians.  These reports offer a significant enough figures for any company or brand to seriously consider when proposing a marketing plan for their product or service in India.Wells11

Wikipedia defines middle class as:

The broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socioeconomically between the working class and upper class. This socioeconomic class encompasses the sub-classes of lower middle, middle middle, and upper middle, and includes professionals, highly skilled workers, and management. As in all socioeconomic classes, the middle class is associated with a shared and complex set of cultural values… In other class societies, middle class refers to people between the laboring masses and the ruling class.

Focusing on the right target audience and researching the behaviors and interests of that market will be the first step in any brand succeeding in marketing in India.  Companies who focus on this target group from a marketing standpoint will be positioning themselves for success, but what is the BEST approach to take to appealing to this audience?

The Middle Class has proven to be the drivers and innovators of  changes in India and what they like and prefer is clearly setting the precedence of what is demand and what is not in this country. The acquisition of  credit, cars (in which they can be chauffeured), condominiums and vacations are a few elements that are driving forces among this demographic group.

Appealing to these interests in such away that promotes Indian culture and values is what is fast proving to be the most effective strategy.  In other words, products that cater to the needs and interests of the people and making them  “Indian-friendly”.   For example:  Instead of chicken Nuggets, market Chick-pea nuggets. 🙂

On a final note, the readings suggest that Indians appreciate subtly and indirectness in their consumer marketing/advertising.  Using Social Media platforms, particularly those that  an be accessed by cell phone, can prove to offer the subtly and indirectness that is most appreciated in Indian culture as opposed to traditional media tactics because the content will be created and accessed by the people who are interested instead of being force fed to everybody at once.

Web 2.0 Goes Bollywood-for GOOD

July 4, 2009

Paper Planes by M.I.A.M.I.A. Paper Planes
Title India Blog
Many Indian NGOs are abuzz online, using social media—particularly Web 2.0 (or mobile) technology—for social change. In India, Web 2.0; and mobile technology seems fated to catapult funding for India-based cause initiatives and among one group in particular—the Buntys and Bablis—the fastest growing market in India, and potentially the most influential consumer market in the world.attb4b9a

Hard to Ignore HeaderThe real Indian market does not lie in the metros or the villages, according to Ashok Rajgopal of Earnst & Young, who believes that the Indian urban growth story until now has been driven largely by metros. And contrary to popular belief, it is not the urban Indian who drives trends, but the long-ignored Buntys and Bablis who collectively comprise the future market, not just of India, but arguably of the world. “Bunty and Babli” are popular names for boys and girls in small-town India, drawing their inspiration from a 2005 Bollywood film titled Bunty Aur Babli, which follows the wild road trip of its two ambitious title characters, whose origins lie in small Indian towns.
Bunty & Babli
Fifty-one districts in India have at least one town with a population of more than 500,000. Together, they have twice the market potential of the four metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata) combined. And this year, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) says the ratio of spending to earning is higher in Tier II towns such as Nagpur, Jaipur, Surat and Coimbatore than it is in the metros. Here, over 23 million Indians – more than the population of Australia – will number among the country’s wealthiest citizens.befpre TrebdsbuffTrendsNiff reports that India’s population is 1 billion people with more than 200M mobile phone users. This figure is growing at nearly 100% year-on-year, and rural subscriber growth is taking the lion’s share of it. Additionally, roughly 73% of mobile Indian consumers are spending online which means there is no cultural or widespread aversion to engaging in online transactions.

Rural MARket phone header

The article, “Emerging Rural Mobile Market in India,” provides extensive research on the growing marketplace for mobile industry in rural India, which is expected to surpass 500 Million users by 2010 with an addition of about 5M to 6M subscribers every month.

Reliance Mobile — which has an active subscriber base of over 35M and 20M Reliance World application enabled hand-sets — executed a pan-India ad campaign from mid August to mid September, 2007, on Reliance Mobile’s phone network for Fari and Lovely Scholarships, which generated around 50,000 leads—60% were from tier II and III cities.

Nokia has recently launched a range of services called Nokia Life Tools currently for India only, and designed specially for the consumers in small towns and rural areas of India. Nokia, too, recognizes India as one of top emerging mobile markets.Before WATblog

The WATblog believes mobiles become more powerful and networks become faster, it opens up the vast world of the Internet to mobile advertising, but could mobile giving be next?

Innovative Giving Header

Using mobile technology, people can give $5 from any country in a matter of seconds using their handset. According Jim Manis, President and CEO, Mobile Giving Foundation, “Half a million dollars were given via mobile last year, so mobile giving is showing great promise,” he said. “It’s a great way for non-profits to raise money, communicate with donors and engage them wherever they are.”

In a recent article by SocialEdge, three mobile trends empowering social entrepreneurs in emerging markets included: reporting and response to human rights violations; access to opportunities and knowledge; and giving communities new ways of addressing issues and contributing to the health of the community.

The Indian spirit of giving can be linked to religion, and even Indians living abroad have been influenced by Western philanthropic ideals. And according to the Charities Aid Foundation, the Oxford-educated second and third generations of the wealthy Indians abroad, as well as the rural Buntys and Bablis in India, want to be innovative in their philanthropy. Mobile technology has the potential to facilitate this desire by changing the sources and forms of traditional giving via mobile technology.

Considerations & Insights

Historically speaking, many Indians do share a widespread distrust for NGO’s due to a lack of accountability for the way donations have been managed in the past. Therefore, Indian NGOs need to build public credibility with greater transparency in their operations; and technology-based solutions for rural areas will allow prospective donors to channel philanthropic contributions, and will have a significant effect on helping to increase the volume of donations received by Indian causes.

Perhaps organizations like our next client should consider implementing a text-to-give option which allows mobile users in India and abroad to engage in the typically small mobile donations that can add up to major revenue.

Any mobile giving Plan for this market; however, should account for the need for NGOs to build relationships with donors to make them more comfortable donating, which Web 2.0 is uniquely positioned to excel at.

Additionally, there are still infrastructure considerations particular to rural India, especially with regard to expanding the availability of 3-G speeds. Therefore, India needs to really work to create the regulatory environment to facilitate the creation of the next-generation wireless infrastructure and service.

Can Social Media Help Bypass Advertising Regulations in Sweden?

June 28, 2009
Do not accept jars from this bear.

Do not accept jars from this bear.

As technology and Internet usage booms throughout the world, with more people using social media tools and going online for most aspects of their life, I always find it interesting to see how other countries stack up on time spent online. Upon researching social media in Sweden, I found the following fact on the official Website of Sweden:

“Young Swedes surf the internet as much as they watch TV. More than one in four 12- to 15-year-olds watches TV at least three hours a day. Just as many spend as long surfing the internet. Half of all five-year-olds and one in five three-year-olds have browsed the internet. Children aged 12-15 prefer to chat online, while 9- to 11-year-olds are more interested in playing computer games. The most popular game is The Sims. The most popular chat rooms are:,,,”

Upon researching further, I found that Swedish children spend 4 hours more online than children in other countries (9 hours vs. 5 hours). Based on the countries surveyed, only Brazilian children spend more time at 13 hours. The relevance comes from further learning that “Sweden banned all TV advertising during children’s prime time in 1991. Furthermore, commercials featuring characters children are familiar with are prohibited until 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends.”

So why does this matter? Because advertisers are missing out on a great opportunity to target children to sell their products, the possibility is opened that they could start turning to social media to reach children, who in turn will either buy the products or ask their parents for them. In other words, Facebook, LunarStorm, SkunkSpray, and Hamsterpaj can run strong targeted advertising campaigns on social networks to ensure that more children’s eyes are reached in a new way to compensate for the lost TV viewing.

For example, 25-year-old Swedish toymaker Playsam is new to Facebook, but is well-known to Swedes. They could begin advertising and reaching out more with their products. Playsam toys are pretty expensive, so a child isn’t likely going to ask his or her parents for a Playsam toy, but seeing ads for the toys could still help drum up business by

Playsam. These will remain on your shelf as "heirlooms"

Playsam. These will remain on your shelf as "heirlooms"

getting stuck in children’s minds, which in turn leads them to tell their parents. Or the parents could be targeted online as well. Brio toys can do the same thing.  This toy company has been around since 1884 and has a good Website where you can order their products, but showing ads on hamsterpaj could again reach new eyes, just as traditional TV commercials would. Of course, this business opportunity isn’t limited to toys. Food, clothing and technology companies can all use the popularity of the internet to their advantage. Facebook already has targeted ads that run on users’ profile pages. These ads change based on your information and discussions. Often they change based on your IP address as well. So while Brio might not be able to put up an ad during a rerun of Bamse (the bear in the picture above), it can appear when the usual Bamse viewer logs onto Swedish Facebook.

Imagine the fun!

Imagine the fun!

It does not appear that there is legislation regarding this type of targeted online advertising, meaning that the opportunity exists for companies to reach their audiences in a new way.

As a side note, while Swedish children spend a lot of time online, in a reversal of roles, one article stated that Swedish children are concerned about their parents’ web habits, feeling that they spend too much time online and view “inappropriate material.” All in all meaning that there is near unlimited possibilities for companies to hawk their wares in Sweden to youngsters and grown ups alike.