Posts Tagged ‘social’

The Importance of Triggers

May 23rd, 2012 No comments

A simple but very powerful diagram. Picle is an application that was released at SXSW this year. It allows users to take pictures and record sounds over them to create slideshows. A very barebones version of the app was released at SXSW. Picle gained almost 50,o00 users in a matter of days and then had to decide what next steps to take:

1. We can trundle along steadily making changes in the app improving the user experience and making the whole thing a lot more polished. However, this route is doomed to fail, while the experience may get better the inability to attract new users and expose the app to a new audience will result in Picle fading away into the digital ether. This scenario is represented in the rather upsetting looking line A.
2. We stabilise the app and greatly improve the sharing features so that Picle is introduced to new audiences and users. Represented by line B.
I’m glad they’re going with emphasizing the sharing features. It’s the fastest way to seed your product and the inclusion of a viral trigger is low hanging fruit that can help bring in more users (especially with the advent and popularity of OpenGraph and frictionless sharing).

Understanding GM’s Decision: Social Marketing Is Alive and Well

May 15th, 2012 2 comments

GM, the third largest advertiser in the United States, announced today that it would pull its $10 million dollar advertising budget from Facebook. This budget goes towards paid ads shown on Facebook – the ones that you see in the sidebars. GM has said that it will still continue to spend money on its Facebook page and other social marketing efforts (approximately $30 million dollars, according to the WSJ article that broke the news).

If you take one thing from this post, it’s this:

GM’s decision doesn’t reflect on the effectiveness of social marketing.

There’s a big difference between social marketing and people clicking on display ads.

A few quick thoughts:

  • Marketing, not advertising. Facebook is a social site where interaction and engagement are most important for the user. People are much more likely to click on the organic content in their News Feeds, than on what essentially amounts to display ads that have social content. Perhaps the GM news underlies the point that Facebook is an engagement platform (conversations on brand pages or between friends about content from a brand page) and not a one-way communication device (ads with some social proof). It’s difficult to get people to click on display ads. We already knew that.
  • Bad for Facebook; good for agencies and brands. Advertising is easy for Facebook to monetize. Marketing is much harder. That’s bad news for Facebook’s valuation and business model, but it’s not bad news for social marketing agencies whose bread and butter is creating content that spurs a conversation and delivers a brand message. Notice that GM still said that there is value in the “content” on Facebook.
  • Facebook will go on the offensive. I’d like to see a barrage of data coming from Facebook on click-through rates and the effectiveness of their ads – unlikely to happen before the IPO though. With so much of their revenue hinging on ad products, I can’t see them sitting by idly.[1] Undoubtedly there are brands that have seen strong click-through rates with Facebook ads. The GM experience might not be universal.
  • What was the objective? The WSJ article stated that “General Motors Co. plans to stop advertising on Facebook after the company’s marketing executives determined their paid ads had little impact on consumers” and “GM, started to re-evaluate its Facebook strategy earlier this year after its marketing team began to question the effectiveness of the ads.” The italicized words beg the question of what GM’s objective was with the ads? Was it to drive conversion? Referral traffic to the site? Engagement on Facebook? Addition of Facebook fans? Sharing of GM branded content? Without knowing those objectives, it’s hard to understand the full reasoning or implication of GM’s decision.
  • Why do this now? Why announce this three days before the Facebook IPO? To decrease Facebook’s leverage? To drive the stock price down? Cue the conspiracy theories.
  • Everything is conjecture until we get some data. That’s the only way to truly understand this story. What were the spends? What were the key indicators that determined success? Without those metrics it’s difficult to draw any real conclusion about the effectiveness of Facebook’s advertising business.

There are two ways this can go and one inevitable truth here. Either Facebook’s ad products are not great or GM’s experience with them is an outlier. Without some pretty sweeping data, we’re not going to get a real answer there. But what we do know is that, even with putting the effectiveness of Facebook advertising to the side, the marketing, branding, and consumer relations capabilities that Facebook provides are revolutionary.

So, while GM’s decision here might affect Facebook’s bottom line, it won’t change the broader cultural and business impact that Facebook has had.

All views here are my own and don’t reflect those of Attention or any of our clients. 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Thought exercise: Advertisers decide to pull their ad budgets from Facebook. Facebook decides to instead charge brands for their Facebook Pages. Who ends up winning in that scenario?

Viruses and Seeds…and Marketing

May 14th, 2012 2 comments

The next time someone says, “Make this go viral!” point them in the direction of this quote:

All one needs is access to a sizeable mailing list or ad­buy — bread and butter
for large companies who retain advertising firms — and some email or web­-based tool that enables peer-­to-­peer sharing, in to improve one’s advertising yield by 10%, 100% or
even more.

Big Seed Marketing means companies can get the benefits of viral marketing without the
extreme difficulty and unpredictability required to achieve an R value greater than 1. The
real value of viral marketing, therefore, especially for large media companies, is not in
the occasional, unreliable, campaign that “tips” its way into public consciousness from
some small seed, but rather the systematic enhancement of standard ad buys with viral
tools, yielding smaller, but still often quite sizeable returns on investment.

The quote is from a paper on mass, viral, and big seed marketing written by Duncan Watts and Jonah Peretti, the guys behind BuzzFeed.

With all the viral triggers available today (i.e. frictionless sharing, social share buttons), big seed marketing is definitely the method du jour.

Amass a whole lot of people (FB fans, mailing list members, Twitter followers), share interesting content with them, and then give them the tools to deliver that content to their connections (via retweet or share).

The BuzzFeed guys like the big seed approach because it demystifies the viral approach – rather than searching for a mythical influencer (I do disagree with the BuzzFeed guys here – I do think that there are influencers and that reaching out to them should happen in conjunction with big seed efforts) spend your money on 1) growing the seed and 2) creating interesting shareable content.

Here’s the geeky stuff from the paper:

With viral marketing, you tell a small group of people about something and hope that it spreads far beyond them. B is the probability that they tell someone and Y is the number of people that they will tell. BY is the reproduction rate (R) of the campaign. If R > 1, you have a viral campaign. Something is viral if each person who shares it shares it with more than one other person – that’s what causes the exponential growth. But, this is tough because you have to get each additional person to also have R > 1. A viral campaign will die out very quickly is R < 1.

In traditional mass marketing, if N is the number of impressions an ad receives and p is the probability that someone clicks on the ad, then pN is the expected number of conversions for the add. So the number of impressions that you purchase sets a cap on the number of conversions you can have.

The BuzzFeed guys say that somewhere in between the two is “Big Seed Marketing” where even with a R < 1, a campaign can be a success because it’s seen by more people than would see it via traditional mass marketing.

So, what is “Big Seed Marketing”? Let’s take an example. You show 400 people a display ad and there’s a 50% probability they click on it. So, 200 people will view. That’s traditional mass marketing. Now, let’s say you include a viral trigger in the ad – “Share this on Facebook” – which makes those initial 400 people your “seed” group. If each of those people has 400 friends and there’s a 50% change that they share, then 40,000 additional people see the ad – 400 seeds x 50% share x 400 friends. And then those 40,000 people can also share the ad.

Big seed marketing is smart because it is efficient – it’s essentially the underpinning of the Newsfeed on Facebook. Build up a large enough fan base, then get a fraction of those fans to interact with your content, which puts it in the Newsfeeds of their hundreds of friends, which gets some of those friends to interact…so on and so forth. Your message spreads beyond its small seed without the use of influencers.

The question, especially in social, is how you grow that seed size. I believe the answer is content and I believe that companies need to spend money on building the infrastructure to share and then creating things that people want to share.

iTunes’ Social DNA

May 9th, 2012 No comments

Interesting thought, right? iTunes and the iPod/iPhone revolutionized the music industry by legitimizing the selling of digital files and creating an amazing mobile device to play those files.

But for all of its ingenuity, iTunes and Apple have failed to fold the major trend of the day into what is arguably its flagship service.

iTunes has no social DNA.

The iPod/iTunes introduction definitely preceded the social revolution inspired by Facebook, but it seems odd that Apple has completely failed to successfully embed some sort of social thinking into subsequent versions of iTunes.

It’s odd, right? The biggest tech company in the world failing to add social components into its flagship product, especially when there has been so much buzz in recent years about the socialization of digital music – see everything written about and the streaming music set (Spotify, Rdio, etc.) as well as buzz for SoundCloud, etc. A friend pointed out, and I think it’s very true, that iTunes in some ways feels like AOL Instant Messenger when placed in the context of the whole digital music spectrum – first to the game, definitely revolutionary, but then surpassed by others that built on its potential.

Apple did try to create a social network around iTunes by introducing Ping. It didn’t go as well as planned. Look, I’m not going to sit back and second guess how Ping was put together, especially with the benefit of hindsight, but there were major problems with it.

It failed because it was dense and difficult to use. It failed because it never felt like social was the primary function of the network. It failed because it didn’t allow you to do things that you could do on social networks (status updates, view others activity streams, real time updates). It failed because it lived in a bubble and refused to build on the social networks that already exist and are booming. The failure is well documented.

I do think that the main stumbling block with Ping is that it was envisioned as a closed network and it simply did not have the momentum to maintain those feedback loops – there were no viral triggers embedded in its DNA. Social is about creating pathways for people to share and discover information. Ping was introduced as if Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist. Take a look at every nascent startup right now – they have social mechanisms that make sharing easy. Ping didn’t do that. And without those pathways and without the content to maintain a self-contained network, there was no way for Ping to maintain users.

But let’s focus less on why social hasn’t been integrated into the iTunes experience and more on how it could be:[1]

Enable easy social sharing on mobile devices and iTunes. Spotify does this well. If you’re playing a song on Spotify via the desktop app or the mobile app, there’s a button that allows you to broadcast that information to your friends. It’s a simple way to increase engagement with your product.

Apple could do something similar in two ways. First, it could include some of these social sharing buttons in the iTunes interface to allow you to Tweet or Facebook your friends and let them know that you bought the new Black Keys album on iTunes. Second, and WAY better, they could add social sharing to the Music app on the iPhone. Listening to the Beastie Boys? Just click the Share via Twitter button to let everyone know (they already have made a deal with Twitter to integrate the app into iOS and the integration is seamless, so why not take full advantage of it?). That way you can say: “I’m listening to Holocene by Bon Iver on my iPhone 4S – buy it here on iTunes [link].” Social sharing buttons aren’t groundbreaking – why not use them?

Create activity streams. This takes the previous suggestion a step further. Allow folks to create a running history of what they’re listening to that they can share with friends ( already does this). Allow them to tag locations where they heard songs. Integrate with OpenGraph to get this information in front of as many eyeballs as possible.[2]

Make iTunes a home for artists. MySpace is staying alive right now because it found a niche as the go-to site for bands to connect with their fans. It’s still an arena where Facebook has yet to make major inroads. Often times, we’re trying to figure out how to integrate e-commerce into existing sites. With iTunes, we have a different problem – how do we build a community around a shopping experience. Bringing the artists’ into the fold could make a huge difference. The current Lady Gaga Ping page contains her name, number of Ping followers, similar artists, and her Twitter stream. Give me one reason why I would EVER visit that page.

What about allowing artists to have a home on iTunes? Copy MySpace. Allow streaming songs there (obviously, major legal and licensing hurdles to overcome); allow multimedia content; give artists the option to build their presence out via iTunes. If they can do that, the fans will come. And then the artists have a direct portal to e-commerce (although that portal will be available under the terms that Apple sets).

Social recommendations. Half the fun of listening to music is sharing it with other people. The other half is looking down on people who don’t know anything about the bands you’re listening to. There’s a certain amount of collaboration/one-upsmandship that makes so much fun. Is there a way that can be baked into iTunes? Leaderboards or discounts for users that are able to recommend music for others – where that recommendation results in a purchase? I personally like this idea because, although I was very excited for the Genius function (you choose a song, Apple creates a playlist from it), I felt that it never lived up to what it could be. Plus, people are better than robots (for most things).

Discovery through social data. Take a look at what Next Big Sound is doing – aggregating social data about acts to allow people to draw insights and make decisions about them. With the proper segmentation this could be a fantastic way to find out about new music. Billboard even uses Next Big Sound to come up with a “social” chart. An iTunes integration would be great – allowing people to find popular music as it’s gaining momentum.


Apple’s work has been revolutionary in so many ways, but it would be nice to see them push iTunes even further.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Reasons why it hasn’t been integrated: 1. Apple is a hardware company – they don’t care about social; 2. Apple is focused on product first – everything else should take care of itself; 3. It doesn’t matter! iTunes is the clear leader in market share; 4. It would require a complete overhaul of the iTunes concept; 5. There’s no clean way to do it; 6. If Amazon isn’t doing anything in the space, why should we?
  2. Not sure about the OpenGraph idea – it would cause an immense amount of clutter on Facebook. And there’s the fact that Apple and Facebook don’t seem to like each other very much.

Responses to Tragedy

March 27th, 2012 No comments

There’s been a lot of talk about Trayvon Martin’s murder and social media.[1]

It shouldn’t be surprising that there is a spike in social media conversations surrounding events that resonate with the public – we talk about them in real life, so it makes sense that we’ll talk about it on the internet.

At Attention, we’ve noticed that most events that trigger a substantial social media response follow the shark fin pattern. They spike out of nowhere and then gradually decrease (the interesting part is figuring out what causes the spike and if the rates of change can be generalized across cases). It’s a visual representation of the human attention span – everyone talks about something for a day or two and then we gradually move on to something else.

It happens all the time: Komen v. Planned Parenthood, Kony 2012, Occupy Wall Street, Goldman Sach’s resignation letter, Troy Davis…

I don’t think there’s anything groundbreaking in the fact that social media hyper-drives the focus around significant moments like these – that’s the point of a connected network with frictionless sharing. It’s a neat phenomenon, but it’s expected.

I think it would be more interesting to see if there is a lift in the conversation volume surrounding the general topic after one of these events (e.g., did social media conversations about the death penalty see a sustained volume increase after the Troy Davis execution?). It would also be interesting to find out why this story lay dormant for over a month before gaining national attention – this post has some answers (took time for facts to come out, etc.).

There are a few things about the social media reaction to Travyon Martin’s death that I do find interesting.

Social media as a release valve. We’ve seen an immense outpouring of grief, support, outrage, ignorance, and solidarity via social media, especially Twitter. Those emotions would still exist (although to a lesser extent, because less people would know about the case) absent social media, but where would they be funneled toward? In this respect, I think that Twitter and other social media outlets act as a pressure release valve. Would the existence of social media have diminished the likelihood of riots after the Rodney King trial? Who knows – contemporary experience says probably not (see: London Riots (read this Wired piece), Arab Spring, Occupy – all instances where there was significant social media activity that facilitated offline action) – but I do think that social media does provide some relief.[2]

Speaking out. Social media influence is a topic that we constantly discuss. Without looking at data, I’m not sure who the influencers are in this case – I’ve been particularly drawn to @Toure, @Baratunde, and @bomani_jones. Influencers are usually defined as people that move the needle and spur conversation. I’m more interested in the fact that two unlikely people could become influencers (in the real sense of the word) out of this tragedy.

The first is Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, who is on Twitter as of today with already 50,000 followers. Ideally I’d like to see her use this platform to get a Trayvon’s law passed – either revising the Stand Your Ground law in Florida or doing something about concealed weapons and gun control. Through Twitter she has a direct platform to some very important people and could continuously press for broader systemic change. It could be a real platform.

The second, oddly enough, is LeBron James. Last week, Lebron organized his Miami Heat teammates and took a picture of them wearing hoodies. This was both a show of solidarity for black youth unfairly targeted and a way to stand up to idiots like Geraldo Riviera. A simple picture tweeted with a few simple hashtags, but it spoke volumes. I don’t know what it was that got me about this picture. I think it was the fact that someone so big was standing up in his own way for someone so small. And that he did it in such an understated way. It made me happy to see that today’s athletes (even one who is focused on being a “global brand”) are emboldened by our media options to step up and do something selfless without overtly calling attention to himself. LeBron was just one of the thousands of people showing solidarity in the Twitter stream.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Like most people, I’m outraged by the fact that George Zimmerman hasn’t been charged yet. Obviously, it’s impossible to know all the facts, but it certainly doesn’t seem like a case of self-defense, so the Stand Your Ground law shouldn’t apply. Add in the fact that Trayvon was unarmed, had no history of violence, Zimmerman seemed to be paranoid, overzealous, and distrustful of African-Americans and the picture becomes clearer. Why a self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman is allowed to carry a concealed weapon is beyond me. As much as this is a story about racism, it’s also a story about gun control. No reason for this man to have a gun.
  2. I realize that this is a loaded paragraph, but unpacking it is a completely separate post.

NBA and Social Media, Redux

March 8th, 2012 No comments

You can find Part I of my NBA social media ideas here.

I had so much fun writing up my first list of NBA social media initiatives that I thought I’d take a second pass at it.

In terms of delivering a marketing message, the NBA is in a wonderful position with extremely valuable assets: an engaging on-court product that delivers something new every night, a slew of superstars in the primes of their careers, vibrant personalities amongst players, coaches, and owners, and scores of rich content in the vaults.

NBA fans can go to a variety of different sources for news, information, and opinions about the NBA. But the NBA can leverage its assets to add value to fans beyond the third-party analysis that they can get elsewhere.

On to the ideas:

(Google+) Hangout with David Stern

If it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for anyone.

Recently, President Obama held a virtual town hall meeting on Google+. 5 handpicked individuals participated in the Hangout with the President and quizzed him on a variety of issues. In addition to the Google+ Hangout, the President also answered pre-screened questions submitted via YouTube that the public voted on.

YouTube Preview Image

David Stern is, by all accounts, extremely quick-witted, funny, and engaging – listen to any of his podcasts with Bill Simmons if you’re not convinced. He’d kill in an environment like this. In addition to the State of the NBA press conference he gives during All-Star Weekend, the NBA should put him in front of fans in a social media setting. The hangouts could happen three times a season (start, All-Star break, end) or when major news breaks. The end of the lockout would have been a perfect time to hold one to clear the air and get fan relations moving in the right direction again.

The NBA could also have any major personality interact in a Hangout with fans. They could have Hangouts between NBA players where they discuss their favorite basketball moments or answer fan questions. Partner with USA Basketball and do a worldwide chat (actually, all of these chats should be global) with the Olympic team.

There are a couple of nice wrinkles to this plan. First, it’s video – so it’s naturally more engaging. From a fan perspective, you’d rather watch people talk than read an interview transcript – especially, when the personalities are the main draw. Second, with video you are creating assets that can live on all of your owned channels and can be shared across the internet. An hour-long Hangout can be broken down into several digestible pieces to be shared.

The President’s Google+ Hangout was widely considered a success with over 250,000 submitted video questions and countless more viewers for the actual Hangout. That NBA could anticipate strong engagement if it deployed a similar tactic.

Road to the #Finals

The NFL had a successful initiative in the Road to the #SuperBowl effort where it partnered with Chevy to essentially create a social media dashboard for the NFL. Users could browse tweets from players on playoff teams and could also see tweets with the hashtag #superbowl.

The success of this initiative hints at a broader possibility. The NBA should create a microsite – or a page on – that is the NBA social media hub. Create an easy interface to display tweets from every NBA player, official team handle, owner, or senior executive. Organize it whatever way works best (maybe by team).

Make it as easy as possible for your fans to view the information that they want. I’d check this site once a day, minimum.

NBA Social Charity

NBA Cares is a great initiative. It’s clear that the players enjoy it and that the NBA is proud of it. We see commercials for it during every NBA game. Maybe there’s a way to involve fans into the philanthropic effort.

Given the existing NBA Cares infrastructure, I think that each NBA team probably has a few charitable efforts in its region that it regularly contributes to. The NBA should create team-specific hashtags (#PistonsCare, #KnicksCare) and pledge that it will donate X number of dollars to the charity that has the highest number of hashtag mentions while guaranteeing a minimum amount to each other charitable effort, or split the X amount of dollars proportionately based on the hashtag mentions.

There’s been success with social charity efforts. Street King (a client at my agency) pledged to donate a meal to a child in Africa for every Facebook visit it got during a specific week – there was a great response. The same has been done for disaster relief efforts – Bing donated money based on retweets during the Japanese tsunami.

Fans care and want to be involved. Give them ways, no matter how small, to be active.

Social Expert Community

This one is for the die hards and it’s a little more involved .

Obviously, its far too hard to create a new social network around a specific affinity. It seems highly unlikely and probably inefficient to sink money into creating a social network specifically for basketball fans.

What the NBA could do instead is bake social functionality into its owned channels. Take for example. There is a wealth of content on the site in the form of game previews, recaps, features, news stories, and opinion columns. But, aside from comments, are there any social components to the site?

The NBA should create a simple widget, embeddable in every piece of content, that allows the average fan to answer questions about the NBA and flex their NBA knowledge. Here’s the wrinkle though. The questions are all predictions (e.g., “Will the Bulls beat the Sixers tomorrow night?” or “Will the Mavs be a higher seed than the Lakers in the playoffs?” or “Will LeBron win more than 3 NBA championships?”). Have the widget live on every piece of content (with questions tailored to that content), but also create a separate site where all the questions live and fans can ask their own questions also. Incentivize users to ask or answer questions by creating leaderboards and awarding prizes (trip to the All-Star Game or Finals, or season tickets) for the fan that answers the highest percentage of questions correctly. Give out badges and create levels of expertise (gamify (is that a word?) the process).

Sports fans LOVE voicing their opinion and they all think they know what’s going to happen down the line – this would be a perfect outlet for them to prove exactly how smart they are.


Now I don’t work for the NBA, so there’s a freedom to the ideas that I can throw out in these posts. But the NBA has a certain amount of freedom too – there’s a broad fan base that wants added value…just give it to them. You can be creative and you can be diverse. All of these ideas add value to the fan experience – providing access and information – deepening the fans’ relationship with the NBA.

Excited to hear what other ideas you all may have.

Shared Moments of Truth

March 7th, 2012 No comments

I just read an interesting ebook published by Google called “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth.” I have a few problems with it.

But first, here’s a quick explanation of Google’s argument:

First Moment of Truth. In 2005, Proctor and Gamble defined a consumer’s First Moment of Truth as the point where she stands in a retail aisle choosing between products. She has to decide which product to buy based on her accumulated knowledge. The purchased brand wins the FMOT.

Second Moment of Truth. A Second Moment of Truth occurs when the consumer uses the product – essentially, will it live up to its promises and satisfy the consumer?

Zero Moment of Truth. Google believes that the First Moment of Truth is not the point in time at which a brand wins or loses a customer. It posits that there is one step before that – the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) – where a consumer gathers information about a brand. And although Goole doesn’t come out and say it, it believes that search optimization is the way to win the ZMOT.

I agree with most of the points in Google’s analysis. It’s undeniably true that consumer make decisions about brands before they walk into a store. And they use the internet to do it – accessing a world of information at their fingertips. These are the awareness and consideration phases of the classic marketing funnel.

But something strikes me as off about Google’s framing of the Zero Moment of Truth. And, unsurprisingly, it’s the fact that it focuses so little on social.

Obviously, Google is a search company. That’s its bread and butter. 5 or 6 years ago, they’d have been fine focusing the Zero Moment of Truth on search. But social is just as important today. And the ebook starts to ring a little untrue once you realize that Google’s “Ways to Win the ZMOT” all stress focusing on Google products. Here are their ways to win: put someone in charge of ZMOT (obvious); find your zero moments (which all happen to be search terms and queries that users type in to find information); answer the questions people ask (also search query related); optimize (use paid, owned, earned media – ok, now we’re moving away from search…); be fast, not perfect (universal agile planning advice); don’t forget video (Google owns YouTube).

Now, I can’t fault Google for stressing search as the key part of ZMOT, except for one thing…Google has made such a big deal out of the importance of Google+ (it’s even going to impact search!). Why then would they not focus more on social as a critical moment of ZMOT? They pay it lip service, but don’t really get into how social can help win the ZMOT. They’re talking about it without talking about it – and they seem to narrow the entire world of social to the small sliver of user reviews and ratings (unscientific proof – “review” shows up 183 times in the book vs. “recommend” being mentioned 4 times).

If anything, social is gaining importance relative to search. Optimizing for search only helps you if the user independently decides to enter a query related to your product. But if you optimize for social you can perform inception on your potential audience (only half-kidding). I might not know that I want a new pair of running shoes until I see a friend “like” a post about the new Nike Lunar Glides. At that point, I might be triggered to run a search for shoes, but it doesn’t happen until I get that social trigger. Consider that there are over 1 million links shared on Facebook EVERY 20 seconds and you get a sense of the scope of these triggers. And social is even more important, because if a friend posts about Lunar Glides, I’m not going to type in a generic shoe search – I’m going to type in a search for Lunar Glides! So social optimization in ZMOT has added benefits and might be even more important.

Curtis Hougland, just wrote a great piece about the marketing funnel becoming a marketing loop in an age of fragmented attention and media instigated by the dominance of social. Two points are worth mentioning.

First, awareness is a social game. It’s the most direct path to get in your customers’ mind because a) people trust friends’ recommendations more than a search engine and b) with the amount of time people spend on social, it’s simply more efficient to raise awareness on social platforms. I think the data shows that social is growing relative to other sources, in terms of referring traffic to websites. And people spend more time on Facebook than any other site (even though Google can claim more unique visitors).

The second point has to do with the positive feedback in the marketing loop. In social, ZMOT is not a one time only thing – it’s ongoing. Spend some money to improve your site’s SEO or search placement and you’ll win the consumer that is already motivated to search for your product (or something near your product). But spend some money on spurring social conversation allows you to create a ZMOT for a consumer before they even know they have one. And it allows each consumer to turn their Second Moment of Truth or First Moment of Truth into a Zero Moment of Truth for someone else (e.g., publishing a purchase decision or positive review to Facebook that their network sees).

Ultimately, I think Google has given a name to something that we’ve called awareness or consideration in the marketing funnel/loop. But they’ve missed the boat in terms of maximizing effectiveness during consumers’ Zero Moments by only paying lip service to social.

Our attention spans have seen a steady decline creating a need to refocus marketing strategy. Consumers are no longer willing to sift through pages of search results or read websites that sound like corporate press releases when they can easily pose a question on Facebook or Twitter and get a response from someone within their social or interest graph within a few minutes. Search is and will always be an integral factor in purchase decisions, but as Google has recently admitted by prioritizing G+ results within search, social is now the true zero moment.