Zeus of Marketing

Archive for March, 2011

The Oracle of Omaha has Spoken, Is Anybody Listening?

When E.F. Hutton, oops, Warren Buffet Talks, Everybody Listens

Like most of you, I´m perplexed at current financial activity surrounding Social Media companies and the effects it could have in the future opportunities for this nascent market.

On Tuesday, respected , sometimes idolized, investor, Warren Buffet, declared that most social networking websites “will be overpriced,” adding, “It’s extremely difficult to value social networking site companies. Some will be winners, which will make up for the rest”

Before jumping to any conclusions, let’s review some facts:

Present 2011:

  • Foursquare, which grew 3,400 percent in 2010 and whose founder recently said the company hit a valuation of $250 million.
  • LinkedIn, the professional social networking site, set for an IPO, trades for about $3 billion.
  • Twitter, discussions with potential investors have come up with valuation estimates of $8 billion to $10 billion. And in December,
  • Groupon, turned down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google instead raising $950 million from a variety of investors. It is expected to go public, with advisers saying it could be worth $15 billion
  • Facebook, a Goldman Sachs investment deal produced a total valuation of $50 billion.
  • Google, actual market cap was $190B as of 3/30/2011, for perspective, Microsoft is currently valued at $216B, Apple at $322B and IBM at $200B

And since I strongly belief that those who forget the past are deemed to repeat it:

Recent Past 2005-2009:

On July 8, 2009, Time Warner repurchased a Google’s 5% interest in [AOL] for $283.0 million (purchased in 2005), which amount included a payment in respect of Google’s pro rata share of cash distributions to Time Warner by AOL attributable to the period of Google’s investment in us.  Following this purchase, AOL became a 100%-owned subsidiary of Time Warner.

Divide $283 mil by 5% and you get a valuation of $5.7 billion for AOL.  When Google bought its stake back in 2005, it paid $1 billion, valuing AOL at $20 billion overall.  When Time Warner and AOL merged in 2000, AOL was valued at  $166B from that peak, AOL’s valuation has now fallen 97%.

Ancient Past (In internet Years) 2000:

In 2000, a new company called AOL Time Warner was created when AOL purchased Time Warner for $164 billion. The deal, announced on January 10, 2000 and officially filed on February 11, 2000, a merger structure in which each original company merged into a newly created entity. The Federal Trade Commission cleared the deal on December 14, 2000, and gave final approval on January 11, 2001; the company completed the merger later that day. The deal was approved on the same day by the Federal Communications Commission, and had already been cleared by the European Commission on October 11, 2000. Due to the larger market capitalization of AOL, they would own 55% of the new company while Time Warner shareholders owned only 45%, so in actual practice AOL had acquired Time Warner, even though AOL had far less assets and revenues.

Reaching your own conclusions:

I could go on and on about the pros and cons of overvaluation, e.g., how investment drives innovation and competition versus how a financial bubble burst would not only more deeply affect our economic environment, but seriously lower our confidence in efficiently testing and using these great tools in our marketing plans.

I will close this week’s post with a strong invitation to let me hear your thoughts via the comment section as well as referring you to my recommendations for the industry in a previous blog:

If You Can’t Beat (or Buy) Them, Join Them – Need for a Social Media Ecosystem

Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana


March 31st, 2011

How to Succeed in Social Media by Really Trying

Always Repeat a Successful Formula

I wish I could quote the classic Broadway musical, turned movie, now turned musical again, but when it comes to a successful Social Media effort,  you really need to try and try again.  Once a successful formula is found, repeat and repeat again (it worked for The Producers , West Side Story and Hairspray, not too sure if Spiderman will  “turn off the dark”).  The good news in Social Media,  leaving Hollywood and Broadway behind, is that when you have the tools figured out – it should become second nature. And then, maybe, you could write the book on “How to Succeed in Social Media Without Really Trying,” turned webinar, turned conference…you know how it goes.

Lately, I have been sensing frustration regarding Social Media in marketing cycles. Particularly, in CMO articles and blogs written over the last few weeks. Without naming names, these marketers have been going about it all wrong. Their top five mistakes include (I have included hyperlinks from previous blogs that include steps to help remedy them):

1.    Failing to execute against an overall marketing objective.

2.    Using Social Media tools for one way communication only – failing to engage the customer in a relevant conversation.

3.    Focusing on “bling” instead of substance (even with 500+ million users, Facebook is still not the most effective medium).

4.    Failure to identify a long term strategy with the social initiative (how to leverage the customer contacts).

5.    Failing to execute against an overall marketing objective, oops did I say that already?  Trust me is the most important one!!!

They say that the best way to deliver a message over time is repetition. Remember our 3+-frequency rule in media planning? With that in mind I am including a hypothetical case study in chart form that “repeats” the importance of following a Social Media Strategy.

In this hypothetical case a CPG cleaning products company has a very specific business objective: New Product Development for their disinfectant line of products, and a very innovative strategy: Using Zeus of Marketing five steps to a successful Social Media strategy process to identify new product ideas. (Just kidding on the Zeus of Marketing steps, they are good but by no means patented or unique).

SCRM: Hypothetical Example


While work-in-progress (I am developing this chart for an up coming whitepaper),  I wanted to share with you some insights (no pun intended) that have been surfacing as I research the topic of Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM).

1.    Rule number one in marketing: understand you customer.  Nothing delivers more understanding than insights – and as shown in this chart, the amount of insights is inversely proportional to the amount of information as it is processed through the five steps.

2.    Social Media value is created once you have a long-term process to capture (listen), monitor, analyze and engage.

3.    The process works for all, if not most, marketing elements, product development, customer service, crisis prevention, market testing, etc. and in real time, for the near-term and for the long term as well.

4.    Social Media engagement creates a long-term relationship with your customers – can you think of any other tool that could lead to such loyalty opportunities?

In this hypothetical example, the company not only manages to achieve its new product development objective, but also identified a list of influencers, as well as,  the right venues to introduce and educate customers about their new product, once launched. Imagine how you could leverage this process for your specific objective(s).  Another piece of good news is that I am not the only one looking at the Social Media opportunities by using SCRM,  I have visited a few companies that are taking the steps and delivering best-in-class services and solutions. Feel free to contact me if you want additional information or recommendations about thought leaders in this area.

Is there hope?

In the new world of Social Media even “Spidey” has a chance.Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana


1 comment March 24th, 2011

Pray for Japan: What Can Marketers Learn About Social Media in Times of Crisis?



Love and Prayers Going Your Way

In a week when Social Media followers and practitioners expected with great anticipation a barrage of forward thinking news from the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW), Mother Earth showed us who really sets the priorities. The earthquake, tsunami and most recently, potential of a nuclear meltdown have taken over the world’s attention, as it should.  No new widget, not even the invention of electricity should take precedent over human catastrophe and lost of life. Personally, my deepest sympathy and prayers go to all those affected by these events.

With that said, we should reflect on how our existing or planned Social Media strategies could help rather than hinder world events and crises. To do that, I have selected examples (I’m sure there are thousands of others) on who got it right and who missed it, ending up this post with a recommendation based on my previously recommended five interactive steps to developing a successful Social Media Strategy.

Who Gets It?:

Cameron Sinclair: From the stage at SXSW, Architecture for Humanity’s Cameron Sinclair announced a $75,000 commitment from donors to rebuilding from the Japanese earthquake, along with a personal pledge: If the donation link bit.ly/sxsw4JP is re-tweeted 100,000 times, he’ll donate 10% of his own salary. How’s that for a fast response and strengthening Architecture for Humanity positioning and awareness. (co-founder and ‘chief eternal optimist’ (CEO) for Architecture for Humanity, a charitable organization which seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings professional design services to communities in need).


Live Long and Prosper

Google: With little fanfare, the world’s leading information finder is doing what it does best: finding and sharing information. As an immediate response to Japan’s earthquake, the search engine created the 2011 Japanese Earthquake Crisis Response page. It isn’t filled with over-hyped media stories or breathless reporters, but instead an elegant, if not utilitarian, listing of information that people need. A simple interface is available for people to find relatives or report their current location. A listing of blackout schedules, shelter locations and transit information is also in an easy-to-find format. A clear win versus Yahoo and Bing.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T: Verizon Wireless has joined AT&T in offering free wireless calling and text messaging to Japan in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami to hit that country last Friday. Verizon will provide free calling and texting through April 10, while AT&T separately said it would do so through March 31. All four of the nation’s largest carriers are also allowing customers to send $10 donations via free text messages to a variety of organizations, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army, aiding relief efforts. Verizon and AT&T phone partner Apple, has begun accepting Red Cross donations through iTunes in amounts of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $200. It doesn’t matter who followed who, the important thing is that it helps and they will be remember by all those affected for the rest of their lives. Talk about loyalty and continuity incentives.

Who missed it?

Microsoft Bing: Immediate social outrage. Rather than donating $100K and tweeting about their good deed to encourage others to donate, the social media team decided to donate $1 for every retweet, up to $100K. Seven hours later the company apologized for its shortsighted decision. Since then, Microsoft basically admitted this with its subsequent pledge of $2 million in cash and software… no re-tweeting needed. Perception of Microsoft is further worsened by the fact that its competitor and market leader, Google, was so immediate, sincere and flawless.


Squeezed Too Hard?

Gilbert Gottfried: the comedian who supplies the voice for the squawking duck character in most Aflac commercials, started to post at least 10 jokes (in his usual not ready for primetime manner) to his personal Twitter feed (@RealGilbert) about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — a market that accounts for 75 percent of Aflac’s revenue. Aflac responded well by immediately dismissing the comedian from its payroll – but more caution next time in selecting a persona to represent your brand, please.


Not all crises are of the magnitude that the world has experienced this week. Most are product or service centered, e.g., Toyota recall,  ¨Domino’s YouTube Kitchen Nightmare”,  etc., and we are mostly prepared to deal with these for the most part, albeit, I bet Social Media could help us improve it.  But for every company, particularly if words in your mission or positioning include “green”, environmentally conscious, local or global citizen, etc. you better get prepared to respond fast, deep and as sincerely as possible.

If you go back to my posts on the importance of monitoring  (So You Are Listening, Now What??? 
January 18, 2011) and the one on engagement (Past Dreams are Enabled by the Present to Ensure the Future”
February 7, 2011), steps two and four in my framework respectively, you’ll be reminded of the critical elements necessary to be ready when a crisis hits. In the ideal world you would have already integrated a Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) process where as part of your customer database you include your influential and loyal fans location and their areas of influence. With this information in hand you could instantly notify, incent and engage these selected customers to:

  • Provide feedback on the locality (neighborhood, state, region, country) immediate needs.
  • Request feedback/ideas on what can be done.
  • Recruit them as ambassadors to disseminate your response.

This information will allow you to quickly develop a program that is based on needs and built from the ground up, therefore reducing any self-serving outside perception.

Imagine the goodwill, peace of mind and last but not least, the number of blogs that will be written about you.  Seriously, it does start by sincerely acting on what you preach by being positioned as a citizen of this constantly shrinking world (International borders are disintegrating by the second).  Talk about truly humanizing your brand.

In case you haven’t done so yet, please:

Text 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross ($10 charge will appear in your provider’s monthly bill)

Google Crisis Response Center [http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html]

Facebook Disaster Relief Page [http://www.facebook.com/DisasterRelief]

Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana



6 comments March 17th, 2011

Is This Annoying?

Thursday's Zeusday Doesn't Catch as Well

This week’s post is an announcement. Just when I thought that “Tuesday’s Zeusday” was beginning to catch-up and it could represent a long-lived catch-phrase, I have learned through my research (and colleagues feedback) that Tuesday seems to be the worst possible day to do anything on-line – including publishing a blog (It seems to also hold true for e-mail)

For this reason I will be moving my blog to Thursdays. I sincerely hope that this does not cause any inconvenience to your schedules or routine. I would love to hear from you if you have any anecdotes related to the “Tuesday Conundrum” in the comments section below.

Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana

Why Tuesdays Suck for Social Marketers
Paul Sutton

In 1979, long before I was born (not true), Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats sang about not liking Mondays. In 2005 I had the huge pleasure of listening to Sir Bob speak about entrepreneurship at an event, and the even greater pleasure of interviewing him afterwards. So what does this have to do with the social web or PR? Not much admittedly, except that a) the guy is a stone cold motivational genius, and b) my own hate is not for Mondays but for Tuesdays.

In the world of social media marketing, Tuesdays suck big time. At least, that’s my experience. A while back I wrote a blog post that I was sure would tick all the right boxes, raise a few hackles and hit all the sweet spots along the way. This was to be my ticket to the big time; the day when Solis would come knocking at my door for guest slots. Now maybe the post just sucked, but I prefer to blame this particular failure on the fact that I published on a Tuesday. And I never have since.

OK, so that in itself is not much evidence for stating that Tuesdays are the social media equivalent of a beach party in Skegness in the middle of December, ie, dead. But week after week, across blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms, it seems to be that Tuesday is just a bad day to get engagement. Publish identical posts on a Monday and a Tuesday and I guarantee that the Monday post will get more shares, reads, likes or tweets. Same for the other days of the week. Try it yourself.

So why is this? My theory (and it is just an unproven theory based on educated guesswork) is that Tuesday is the day when people get their heads down in the office. On a Monday we get into the office wanting to get back up to speed. We devour information in blog posts and tweets to ensure we didn’t miss anything over the weekend. The following day, we get down to work. We don’t have time to read anything in any depth and so social media information, unless truly outstanding, is wasted. By Wednesday, we’re regaining interest and this stays with us as we approach the weekend, when we naturally become more social.

So my advice is quite simply to avoid announcing anything significant on a social network on a Tuesday. Don’t publish your best blog posts, don’t launch anything on Facebook, don’t upload your latest and greatest YouTube video. Just ride the day out, accept that people aren’t feeling that social and move on. Anyone else had similar experiences?



March 8th, 2011

If You Can’t Beat (or Buy) Them, Join Them – Need for a Social Media Ecosystem

Over the past two months, I have been advocating in this blog the integration of Social Media tools into your overall Marketing Plans, rather that looking at them as stand alone strategies. I hope that you have been “listening” to the events of the past few weeks and noticing that the major players are moving towards positions that support my recommendation. Recent integration moves by Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are making it easier for marketers to plan and use these tools strategically. This post highlights select announcements and its implications.


Continue Reading 5 comments March 1st, 2011


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