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Google Goggles - The Next Evolution of Search?

This week Google launched Google Goggles, the amusingly and confusingly titled new search application for their expanding mobile phone enterprise.    To learn about how this new "visual search" application works, you can view the viral video they created to promote the service:

[youtube Hhgfz0zPmH4]

Now, I realize that this is a new service, and that it is surely to evolve into something quite powerful and amazing that's not yet apparent to us mere mortals, but does anyone else find the demonstrations offered by Google in this video to be laughable?  Seriously, look up a book that I am holding in my hand?  Why, so I can buy it?  But I am holding it in my hand!  Take a picture of a leaf so I will know what kind of tree it fell from?  I havn't needed to know that information since Grade 3.  And my kid ain't getting Droid phone, no matter how much he begs me this Christmas!

But perhaps I'm being too narrow minded.  Maybe people will use this thing to search for consumer reviews for a restaurant instead of judging by the Zagat sticker on the door, the menu that's posted outside, or the number of people actually eating there at that moment.   Maybe Canadians will gravitate to the service because typing a search with gloved hands in -40 degree temperatures just isn't that practical.  Only time will tell - but until then instead of taking pictures of people's business cards I will just have to enter their contact information the old fashioned way!

Social Media Influencing 28% of Shoppers - MarketingVOX


Social Media "Listening" versus "Hearing"

Everybody talks about the importance of “listening” to social media as a meaningful and necessary first step to developing a social media strategy.  In real life, barging into a conversation without knowing first what people are saying is just plain arrogant and rude.  The same is true in social media.

But is there a difference between “listening” to individual social media discussions and truly “hearing” what people have to say?  One person using his digital soapbox to spout his negative views on your brand is different from what a larger contingent of people has to say.   One is a tactical PR issue that potentially needs to be extinguished, while the other presents a more strategic opportunity to leverage the “wisdom of crowds” to augment future actions.

Tapping into consumer conversations is pretty easy.  There’s an abundance of free and professional-grade tools that will provide you some anecdotes in a heartbeat.  I’ve heard of numerous instances of marketing managers holding up a handful of tweets to prove to their organization that a controversial campaign is well-liked and working.  But we all know that it takes more than a few voices to comprise a widely held view.  Obtaining a proper context for social media opinions takes a more disciplined approach, possibly combining what’s being said in social media with other voice of the consumer research.  Even if no other research exists, a rigorous search and analysis of opinions and their potential influence is what’s required.

Social media is a long-term commitment, in terms of both analytics and engagement.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that listening to social media is as easy as a push of the button.  It’s a messy, messy, messy world out there in the blogosphere – meaning that you need to have the patience and resources to accurately dissect and measure the conversations that matter, not just any incidental, commercial or irrelevant mention of your brand.  Right now I think the lack of familiarity with the social media environment is making it possible for agencies and brands to pass off analytics that lack the depth and precision required to accurately measure the true promise of social media – a medium defined by peer to peer discussions with the potential to influence perceptions and purchase behaviour.

New Social Media ROI Video

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Social Media – New (and True) Relationship Marketing

The goal of Relationship Marketing is to enhance loyalty and the long term value of a consumer by recognizing and rewarding their behaviour.  Its origins are in the direct marketing world, leveraging sophisticated data banks that keep track of spending levels and purchase preferences to serve up “suggestions” on other things you might want or need.

The emergence of social media has changed the game.  Increasingly, consumers are becoming aware that social media offers them a soapbox to stand on to discuss their feelings and frustrations with the brands they choose.  In grabbing the microphone, they’re obliging brands to listen, and possibly engage in a dialogue.

This new paradigm is challenging business, as it has implications for areas well outside of the marketing department.  Developing the protocols, processes and human scale to manage the social media world has a lot of companies playing catch up.  But the payoff will be worth it for the first to adapt, because at its essence, social media is about a personal connection between people.  And personal connections are how true relationships are formed.

Key steps for companies interested in true relationship marketing:

  • Start listening – Conduct a thorough conversation analysis that you understand the nature of the discussion.

  • Provide value – there needs to be some rational or emotional payoff between a consumer and a brand in order deepen the relationship

  • Be real – Social media is about peer to peer engagement. Marketers are quick to revert to traditional marketing models and tactics – which by definition are impersonal and lack authenticity.

  • Measure your progress – While measuring ROI is as challenging in social media as any form of marketing, it is still possible to measure the proliferation of discussion that will come when you engage consumers, particularly influential ones.

So while social media is unlikely to supplant direct and database marketing anytime soon, it has a rightful claim on the term Relationship Marketing because all personal relationships start with a conversation.
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