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  • When did Marketing turn into Social Media

    October 27, 2009 • Uncategorised • Comments (1)

    Marketing as a function within an organisation appears to have declined. Similarly Social Media is springing up everywhere. How did this happen?

    I guess it was inevitable from the start. As the Internet spread, marketing has become more of a pull and connect activity than the passive TV style push ‘at you’ effort.

    ‘Social Marketing’ has become the norm. Ad-words, Twitters, Blogs and emails are full of marketing material. Users are so accustomed to them. Messages thrust through the ether as subliminally constant droplets of marketing pour constantly through our friends and associates.

    This has been spreading since the Internet came about. The rising tide of Social Media jobs and loss of journalistic and marketing jobs points to a change in direction. Now it is big business – a flood of subliminal sales presentations that come by stealth behind us through our most trusted loved ones.

    As corporations are pruning their marketing teams, they are taking on Social Networkers, people who seem adept at making friends and influencing people. Stephen Fry is one example of a great social networker with interesting things to say and to tell us. He gives us useful information, entertains us and delights us with his life.

    Other networkers might be less altruistic and be less obvious in their intentions. They might be working for organisations to sell you things, as associates, on commission, even paid a salary or on a contract basis. They will be good at making you feel ‘special’, especially if you have a network of people too. This is guerrilla marketing, used as a weapon. We call it Social Networking. But can you really trust these people?

    In the world of social media, are we being ‘taught’ that this is a good product, by our peers and influencers. How do we know if our new found social friend is not just a human marketing bot ‘portraying’ a ‘typical’ person within that market segment – hopefully to catch you with the bait of ‘they’re just like me’ to try their product. Perhaps that ‘friend’ you made online, who you divulged your deepest secrets to, is nothing more than a social media expert who is cynically using you to sell to and to promote through your own network of pals.

    Social Media is the future. It influences small pockets of a target market, which have feeds into other small pockets via the individuals in that group. Other terms for it are viral marketing, or neural networks. This has been understood since the 1940’s but has only now been able to be fully exploited with the onset of social networking.

    To look at some of the theory behind this we have to look back to the 1940’s.

    The study of Neural Networks is a fascinating revelation of what is happening in marketing today. Alan Turing’s initially random B-type network from his 1948 work on ‘Intelligent Machinery’ shows what a loosely coupled marketing network looks like – the one we see today in Social Media. However, he aw computers as the ‘unorganised machines’ that eventually self-organise their information and get it to the right place through random distribution. Targeting individuals through connectionist models is part of a well-understood method of neural learning.

    As for the future, we will increasingly see the rise of virtual social ‘marketeers’ parrying and thrusting their offerings to us and through us. Virtual ‘avatars’ add you to their friends’ list of over 1000 people. They send you notices to events miles away from you – that you have no chance of attending. They ask you for personal information ‘because you are friends’ then use it to target you for their clients’.

    ‘Social Media’ is the new ‘Marketing’. If your friend is really a ‘friend’, they will come over to talk to you in the real world, not email you or IM you. A friend is someone you touch, smell, see and hear – in the real world. Someone you party with and cry with – and hug, for joy and pain – to feel the real warmth in human interaction.

    We all have to watch out for social media experts masquerading as your friend. If virtual they are and virtual they remain, then can you trust them? – ask them for money – see if they will lend it to you, or ask to meet them next Wednesday.

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  • Making Money in Virtual Worlds

    August 26, 2009 • Uncategorised • Comments Off on Making Money in Virtual Worlds

    There is a popular misconception that it is easy to make money in virtual worlds people even believe that there paths can be paved with gold.

    This is a myth, similar to the one that anyone can make money on the stock market. Both come from the impression that some people have made it very rich for very little effort or investment. However, like most things that yield high dividends it is due to working the system and having knowledge – preferably from an ‘insider’ source.

    As it was with the now failing stock market, everyone’s cousin is suddenly an expert on this matter. Uncle Bob is now a Digital Media expert. After his job as a shelf stacker at Woolworths, he now turns his talent to networking in virtual worlds and engaging within social networks.

    Auntie Dora has become a PR exec in Digital Media with a list of clients that don’t know exactly what she’s doing for them. However, her PR sounded good so they are confident that she knows what she’s doing. Thankfully they haven’t got a clue, because she hasn’t either. For her, at last, her long chats over the garden wall are paying dividends in baffling people with her rhetoric.

    Previously unemployed cousins are now Heads of Digital Media in companies they founded themselves. It sounds good anyway and because they used to carry the tea tray in a PR firm they know all about PR too. These people all get away with it because we, the rest of the world, are the uninitiated in this new digital world.

    It is easy for anyone to become a Digital Media guru. It is a young discipline with a low cost of entry. All you need is free accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Upcoming, Plick and a few virtual worlds, such as Second Life. Next step is to get someone to write about you – any online or media press will do. You can even give yourself a false identity and write about your alter ego so you become a publisher and blogger as well.

    Finally, publicise yourself as being the best PR for digital media. This is a sure fire way to grab companies’ attention. They will immediately look up to you as someone with some credibility and knowledge of the situation, mainly because they have no knowledge on this area themselves and are groping in the dark more than you are.

    Congratulations, you are now a Digital Media expert.

    This is a scary scene and not uncommon. At this point, if you represent a company or your own enterprise, you would do well to remember the dot com bubble where everyone got on the bandwagon and some got sorely burnt. Virtual or digital media space is the new ‘dot com’ – or ‘dot con’ bubble if you get it wrong.

    ‘Me too’ is a very compelling scenario and no one wants to be left out in the cold. However, this phenomenon is moving along at such a rate that no one can keep up. Either people are afraid of being left behind so grab whatever looks like the best eye-candy or alternatively are too blinded by media headlights to move at all.

    My advice is, as with all innovative technologies, when faced with a new environment or technical innovation follow best practices used in the past when adopting new technology.

    Check out your provider for their track record, speak to their existing and previous clients to assess satisfaction. There are already a lot of disaffected and disillusioned companies out there that spent a lot of money for very little return. It would no do your CV any good if you were to help your company become one of them.

    I hope this illuminates potential pitfalls in this expanding market. Please post a comment here should you need further opinion.

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  • The commodity of information

    August 7, 2009 • Uncategorised • Comments (2)

    Information used to be highly prized, but with the advent of networking sites and social media, information value has decreased to almost zero. Information is now a commodity, easy accessible and at different qualities. Most people will go for cheap and cheerful, or even ‘free’ if it is available.

    We now have forager mentality, where people casually seek information from many sources, and use comparative sources to assess the value of the gleaned information. Some use sophisticated software to validate and authenticate the source of the information, but this is rare and usually inside the domain of the organisation.

    Does this mean that information has less value?

    The inevitable answer is – Yes.

    Just in any scenario of supply and demand – the more available a product is, the less value it has to the consumer. Perhaps information sources should take a look at the diamond market model – however, because of the relatively few diamond producers, diamonds can be kept at premium prices.

    However, due to a proliferation of information disseminators, there is unlikely to be a consensus agreement. One supplier will always break the cartel, even if it is Uncle George writing his blog in his garage.

    Whether to enter the fray is always an issue – so many ‘networking’ sites and ways to communicate now, how do you choose?

    One curious turn of events that appears to be coming out of this is the value of ‘following’, a known and valued commenter, who adds Insightful and relevant comments to blogs and other sources, might be thought of as more relevant than the initial blog item poster.

    Free e-books now proliferate the market, from great minds and novelists. I wonder what will happen as information keeps being reduced in value.
    (See: “The latest craze: Free e-books offerings” http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090807/ap_on_hi_te/us_free_e_books )

    One free book that is worth reading as it is an expose of the IT industry written as a novel: http://www.martinbutlerresearch.com/

    So, in summary.

    Is the information we issue irrelevant, simply because as even ‘history’ changes at such a fast pace, we cannot keep up, or that one opinion is rapidly superimposed by others ?

    If this is indeed the case, and there are issues of task switching and attention deficit here also, where do we go from here?

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  • Why did they do that?

    May 16, 2009 • Uncategorised • Comments Off on Why did they do that?

    Response to “Why did they do that?”

    Debs Butler (Debs Regent inSL) says:

    Thank you for this article Tateru, this is a nice article.
    It is true that everyone has their own set of utility values, which differ from person to person (as well as information, experience and circumstance).
    All choices are therefore subjective and according to each individual’s collective understanding, embedded into the experience and circumstance of that person who is making the decision.
    Therefore, I agree Tateru, with the underlying principle of Information Theory, we all make the best decision we can at the time based on the information we have at that time.
    I also agree that different people do not make decisions for the same reasons, because all our ‘reasons’ differ because all our aims also differ.
    Before you criticise another person (corporation or organization), it is wise to appreciate that they are doing the best they can with the information they have at the time, given their own particular goals and identifications.
    If you want to encourage an alternative decision, I suggest that the best way you do this would be to add to the decision makers information pool with accurate, detailed and quantifiable information.
    … criticism welcomed … add to my information pool please
    *smiles*

    Continues……

    Debs Butler (Debs Regent inSL) says:

    As I stated earlier, there is a body of evidence in Information Theory that supports Tateru’s arguments here, for corporations as well as individuals.
    Many large corporations follow well established and proven economic principles to increase profits – their ‘utility value’ is in maximising profits for the benefit of the shareholders whether it be legislated or not, massaging their individual bonuses in the process.
    With the recent increase in information (and collapse of share prices and occasionally bonuses), errors in the ‘thinking’ processes of the corporations are being made increasingly apparent making change happen with new choices being the outcome.
    Once again we go on the merry-go-round of information available + utility value leads to choice made (leaving out the added complexity of probabilities).
    Again, back to Tateru’s original posting, “they’re making that choice with good reasons”. – reasons to ‘them’ that is.
    *thanks you for feedback*

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  • Honesty, Trust and Privacy

    May 15, 2009 • Uncategorised • Comments Off on Honesty, Trust and Privacy

    Follow on from ….. http://zhaewry.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/honesty-trust-and-privacy/#comment-96

    Dear Zha and daleinnis,

    Truth and honesty as well as trust and privacy as well as clarity – and can I add, integrity to this list are all of the same quality – Sincerity!

    As you say, a totally pseudonymous person can be deeply honest, or totally deceitful, however this is also true of a non- pseudonymous person, I think of the snake oil salesman, who is undoubtably a con-artist, but little old ladies believe in him, his stories, and his wares. The same goes for pseudo-identities.

    What really matters is what goes on in a heart, how much sincerity is in our interaction with others. Too often a person will promise and cajole for their own aims, without considering the pain and hurt it can afford others.

    As a child I was taught a trick, which I call ‘switch’, where you imagine yourself in the position of the other person with whom you are having the interaction. This way, you may understand more clearly the effect of what you have said and done, on them.

    Ultimately, that is all that matters, the effect you have had on someone else, so consider carefully before you lie or conceal a truth, because eventually the real truth will out. Better always to tell the truth initially, rather than to cause pain and evade the issue, which will increase and escalate until it becomes unbearable or unconcealable.

    …………………… Follow on >>>

    Yes, Valliant.

    Many of us agree and have been writing on this subject for a while now. If you notice, I do not hide behind my virtual identity of Debs Regent at all, my real name is at the top of my posting, rather than my pseudonym.

    To demonstrate greater integrity, it is vital that we who do business through Second Life do not hide behind an ‘avatar’ or an avatar name. Because, just as actors are known for who they are in their real lives, we are also actors, albeit on a virtual stage.

    This alternate stage is one of greater reach and interactivity than those in film and theatre. Therefore it is more imperative that we operate with integrity and sincerity. Actors walk away from their characters, which in some cases their real lives emulate, we cannot.

    It is important to note here that there is an epidemic of apparent Second Life deaths and ‘outs’ (including some very deep-voiced ladies). It seems that virtual worlds are having their own variant of ‘swine flu’, one where our ‘inconvenient’ avatar character is either killed off or the actor behind it exposes their true identity, which often transforms the appearance of the associated avatar too.

    As we are all pointing out here, to be seen to have credibility in the real world is to give the belief to the other person that we are behaving in all honesty, this is still not the case in many business scenarios anyway.

    I envisage a seesaw effect in virtual worlds where – from the lack of trust due to hidden identity – we will swing to over-confidence about an individuals’ integrity, simply due to the fact that they come out and ‘unmask’ themselves.

    Remember, virtual worlds have had many tales of robbery and overstatement, some by so-called ‘credible businesses’. There are crooks everywhere and if you have something of value, whether it be your heart or your wallet – be sure to know that they will be out to take it from you, especially if you are unwary.

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