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Digital Engagement and its metrics- AKA How Stickiness became Engagement

Posted by John Horniblow on Apr 22, 2009 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

How  Stickiness became Engagement

The  concept of  digital or online engagement has always been an integral part of  the interactive vernacular from its very nascent days . In the early days at the run of the last century the people in the interactive business coined the phrase “stickiness” as a way describing a site or service where a consumer ( or the sites audience)  would spend more time , continually revisit a site,  play with more things , discover new features  or actively converse with their friends. The social communications technologies were all well alive in the early adopter phase , bulletin boards, chat room , and IM.    In the heady dotcom days the concept of developing media properties was all about stickiness. How else could you realistically place  a value on your property  and it potential for media placement if its audience didn’t  return to site , stay longer , use its features , play games, watch or listen to media and go deeper than the 1st page ? 

The real opener for Engagement or the liberator,  so too speak, has been the uptake in the broadband connection at home , rather than having it relegated to the work place . The “always on” connection at home changed the descriptive concept of Stickiness to Engagement.   The simple fact that there was a  general mass market adoption of high speed internet  predicated a  change in the vernacular as the  real marketing potential of the medium opened up.  The availability of more connected , richer  experience  from the consumption of media ( video, audio , and animations ) and a greater depth in connectivity to services( e-commerce, search)  and information opened up the medium and metaphoric description of  Stickiness had to evolve to more active verb of  Engagement.  

The Age of the True Consumer’s Voice and Consumer Generated Content  

Engagement never remains static( not that stickiness did either). The recent mass market adoption of social communication technologies, as in the last 3- 4 years, has  led to today when we talk about the social media revolution, and Engagement  has taken on a new face . Todays social media technologies are facilitators of conversations and dialogues not just confined to one site or group but open to any and everybody, almost anywhere, instantly. Everybody has a voice, a digital persona, a digital footprint and a devise for communicating digitally.  It  is the age of the “True Consumer’s Voice” . Digital Engagement is now the social communications evolution , encompassing social media, digital media and interactive services. Its  not surprising that the UK government recently advertised to appoint a Director of Digital Engagement  to help direct its efforts in “overseeing a move to engage more with citizens through social media and other digital technology.”

The Metrics

So how do we measure Engagement ? The debate is relatively new . In Eric T Peterson’s , web analytics demystified , he describes  Engagement  as  ”an estimate of the degree and depth of visitor interaction on the site against a clearly defined set of goals.”  I think there’s room to expand upon this. Webanalytics is one sided and there are two sides to the equation.

To me a website is essentially a closed environment , although blogs and RSS has opened up content distribution.  The measurement of the closed environment is Quantitative  and measurable, which is the web analytics view point; the end to which  we can determine the quality of a website visit . The engagement metric  comes down to , the depth to which a consumer will go into your site and propensity to interact with or view “critical content” , their ” length of visit”, whether or not they come back e.g.  ” frequency of return visit”.

 If we were to add the consumer’s perspective and become more subjective in the classical marketer’s view,  using the analogy of the “path to purchase”,  we could add the  propensity to which a consumer would recommend or talk about the site,  its content or  its services to a friend using something like the net promoters score. ( you can’t find that in the web analytics) . This, when coupled with the web analytics , gives a good view of a loyalty or advocacy co-efficient for the site. 

In the Open Web or social media context  its about all about Consumer Generated Media ( CGM ) and there’s another dimension which is purely Qualitative. Its the understanding of the voice and tonality of Engagement or behaviourial responses a consumer has .  You can measure  and analyse  Buzz, Tonality and Sentiment, with the real  appreciation of the true consumer’s voice.  When you add your closed systems reporting , e.g.  the  web analytics  to your Open or social  measurement of consumer’s voice then you really see the whole picture.

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SoundCloud – A new realm in music and social media

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 13, 2009 in Design, General, Social Media Marketing, User experience

soundcloud

Music is at its very heart  a social media! 

Andy  Cato - “Sharing music has always gone on. It’s giving music away that’s the problem. We wanted to come up with a 21st century version of what we used to do with cassette tapes. When you give music away for free it’s disposable. When you share it, it’s done with love.” 

There is an inherent need for music publishers to create buzz around tracks and artists but also to work in their spheres of fellow producers, musicians and their fans or audience.  So in the artist self publishing  and artist self promotional days , that have the music labels traditional A&R business scrambling, what could be more relevant than a social network of music “taste makers” , musicians, labels and publishers? The emergent answer is ; SoundCloud !!  

In the burgeoning world of social media applications  there is a  launch  of new business concept  everyday, redefining the working practices of many social and professional scenes across all types of businesses.  Music, while being at the forefront of consumer media consumption changes, is no different.  While in its nascent days SoundCloud offers a full social network for the  thriving  music scene based on the simple sharing and following concept. SoundCloud makes it easy for people to send & receive music. Simple as that. What it isn’t is one of those illegal peer to peer file sharing platform that have  all but hijacked the music industry and elevated music piracy to the epidemic level. The promise of music uploading and sharing in this community is that you cannot share music without the consent of the proper right holders and any user sharing music illegally runs the risk of having their account deleted and being reported to the relevant authorities.  You can make your music private or public and shareable. What could be more easy than uploading your latest mixed  track, to your known group of promoters and tastemakers or giving it a limited  public preview or limited public download that could be shared across the social media websites across the world?

 

What I also find appealing is easy to use interface, a simple but effective and non nonsense way of getting at what you are there for , listening to music . This is not a Rhapsody or Pandora like website either , but a more socially driven sharing platform minus any overbearing commercialism . 

The Angel 60 Channels

The Angel 60 Channels

But lets not kid ourselves , not every budding or aspirant  musician or DJ is bound to be a radio star or a pioneer in digital music business model such as The Angel , Radiohead, Prince or Groove Armada. What is clear in this application is that realm of music PR belongs in the hands of its fans and promoters.  ”Social Media”  places the audience at the forefront of PR or word of mouth promotion, playing into the hands of the real evangelists; the buzz creators.  SoundCloud will only grow and mature over time from its early underground days. What interesting to me is that the  age of mix tape or mix CD   is a fading long gone distant memory.

Music and its digital portability has placed it upon the crest  of  the wave of change in traditional medias,  creating an urgent need for the major Records Labels and Publishers to review there very model of business. The new wave of artists and their producers are clearly taking control of their own livelihoods and their media.  

http://soundcloud.comjohnhorniblow

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Branded Content – Social Marketing deal : Groove Armada and Barcardi Rum

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 22, 2009 in Branded content, Social Media Marketing, User experience, Viral Marketing

Groove Armada and Barcardi Rum deal

groove-armada1

There are “No Rules”  anymore when it comes to the music industry and how band or musical acts market themselves in the digital age. To underscore the changing ways of doing business and the ability of an act taking control of its music and image outside of the “record deal”  -  traditionally label based system, Groove Armada’s deal with Barcardi Rum is unprecedented. Its a pure play “Branded Content”  deal.  The UK based , world renowned DJ  and dance music act Groove Armada, has signed an exclusive one year  recording, DJing and promotional deal with Barcardi.  And it  has the music industry pundits questioning whether its a  ”Sell Out” or another wake call in the ever evolving era of media portability and its impact on all traditional  entertainment media. 

In the 21st Century music scene, with music sales down and the internet transferring power to the artists, their options are wide open. In what could be called a symbiotic exchange or  promotional deal, Groove Armada gets to be promoted and play to new audiences worldwide under the marketing flagship of Barcardi. It is what could be called a branded content  viral or social marketing deal too.  Bacardi is  the facilitator of content or  music sharing, is  associated to a “hip act ” and right in touch with core audience and their media and social habits.  A  four-track EP – the only music to be released under the contract  -  was launched by Tom and Andy Cato at the Midem international music convention in Cannes yesterday.  

The Branded Content – Social marketing deal 

The EP will be delivered through an innovative sharing mechanic called Bacardi B-LIVE Share; a pioneering online application encouraging and rewarding consumers who share Groove Armada’s music from the EP with their own online communities.  Andy Cato says of the model -
“Sharing music has always gone on. It’s giving music away that’s the problem. We wanted to come up with a 21st century version of what we used to do with cassette tapes. When you give music away for free it’s disposable. When you share it, it’s done with love.” 

The first track  has just been released  as a free  download for free from http://www.bliveshare.com , Baracardi’s brand spanking  new music / promotional sharing platform. 

In what is surely  an experiment in Social Media and Viral marketing , to get the other three tunes, fans must share the first with their friends, who share it with their friends, who share it with their friends.

To get the second track, the fans and their network of friends must spread the first 20 times through the website. To get the third, the network must share it 200 times. And for the fourth, the first MP3 must be shared 2,000 times in total.  The originator or ancestor  being able track their spread of music through their social network with a window of six weeks to spread it, after which time all four songs will go on sale through normal digital stores.

The site includes social sharing applications with Facebook , MySpace , blogs , websites , and a call to social  email campaigning.  

 So download your  exclusive Groove Armada track “Go” from me :)  

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Digital Marketing ?

Posted by John Horniblow on Jan 6, 2009 in General

The many faces of  Digital Marketing

Is it a website,  a media campaign, a banner ad or pay per click?, rich media ?  Is it  an email campaign,  mobile campaign or maybe a microsite, SMS or Intelligent Voice Messaging (IVM)? consumer generated content ? 

What  about blogs, Twitter, Social Media Networks , Bebo,  Hi-5,   Linked-in, e-acadamy and Facebook, or Web2.0 dynamic, distributive content-driven websites. Does it include optimized keyword searches (SEO), SEM SSM, Digital PR or buzz? Is it e commerce , widgets, or mobile location-based marketing?

Digital marketing is all of the above – born out of the information age  at the end of the 20th century  it’s simply marketing in the digital age.  Consumers’ lives have becoming increasingly connected. Convergence and “always on” connectivity is becoming  increasingly mainstream, and new important channels of communication and opportunities are opening to marketers.

Social Media Marketing is emerging as one of the most important, if not the most important, source of information for the consumer but also for the marketer in listening too, responding and measuring consumer sentiments. 

Marketers have now gained the ability to enhance, empower, interact, converse and otherwise live within ever deeper segments of consumers’ lives, well beyond the reach of traditional media.  In the 21st century, the database is the marketplace and the way in which a consumer interacts or engages with a brand and vice versa may well be a new form of marketing . And one thing is clear – data is and  will be at the centre of it all. 

Digital marketing is  not digital for the sake of digital but an application of established marketing practices  re-thought or re engineered in the digital world. It is  all about permissioned based , persuasive and at times pervasive consumer engagement.

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