6 posts categorized "Social Networks"


Esomar Innovate Conference, Copenhagen (1 of 2)

I attended the Esomar Innovate Conference in Copenhagen  (16-18 June) but I wasn't able to see all the presentations. Here is a handful of thoughts and observations about the bits I did see:

* The giant step that market research could take to help innovation everywhere hasn't yet happened. We're still waiting for the moment when the representatives of the big research factories arrive on  stage and acknowledge that they are running on empty, that it is becoming harder for them to sell the dream of certainty even to the weakest of clients and,  that after helping to deliver mediocre products and communication and helping to kill the many dreams of enthusiastic brand managers, planners  and creatives, they are closing their factories down.

* The majority of speakers came from the UK, western Europe and the US. The majority of people in the audience came from the developing world.  Either there is nothing very innovative happening in the developing world or those of us from the developing world cannot write very good papers (the 20-page-long variety that Esomar requires for entry).  My feeling is that the problem is with the papers themselves and the dominant, Western rules of discourse.  The people who judge the papers are from the West and they will naturally prefer a style and thinking process that is close to their own style and thinking.  The problem with the Esomar papers is similar to the problems with most of research reports: they tend to get out of hand and dilute insights and issues in an avalanche of words.

* Gregg Fraley was the keynote speaker and  I really enjoyed his speech  while I was watching it. I am trying to remember now what he was talking about. I recall a picture of the iPod. And a picture of Steve Jobs.  And a slide saying "Starbucks is dead".  Watching the speech was  like watching a good Hollywood movie - enjoyable but without providing a lasting experience that could really touch your life.

*The presentation of Márta Hoffman (RI, Hungary) and István Kozári (Initiative) was the highlight of the conference for me, and and not just because it was the only presentation from the developing world.



In a nutshell, Márta and István have changed the way in which Tic Tac connects with consumers online in Hungary.  In the past Tic Tac had a reasonably good but very static site. The site celebrated the brand but was not particularly useful for consumers.  Márta and her agency found gifted young people and co-created with them a concept for new online community for Tic Tac. 

The community is based on a strong insight into Hungarian society (not only) that the  research  uncovered and that lead to the "Networks of Favours" idea:


The  "Network of Favours"  is the concept for the Tic Tac community. People join the site to exchange little favours : walking a dog, watering plants, and such things. 

It ticks several boxes:

  1. It is useful to people and doesn't celebrate the glory of the brand (and being useful is a must if a brand wants to join an online conversation);
  2. The scope is  bigger and more important to people than the category and related territories e.g. "freshness", and;
  3. It is the right territory for Tic Tac.

The role of research in the development of the community was crucial: Márta and her agency found the right people to co-create with. They didn't just utilize creative consumers but included people from agencies and the client's company. They created an engaging environment for them. They facilitated,  moderated and interpreted the sessions in an informed way that was  in-line with the thinking on the brand. All of this led to the insight, ideas and real results.  And it was fast and affordable. This is what good research should do.

For everything else (technical innovations in market research) there is Google and Facebook. Ironically, it seems easier for the researchers lacking the intuition needed for doing the research job properly to displace the issue and create the need for a new, high-tech, silver bullet research methodology that will deliver pre-packaged ideas for innovations to clients' desktops.

I think that we need more case studies like the one on Tic Tac to dispel the "silver bullet" myth.

I work on Sure/Rexona and one of our key tasks at the moment is to find a way for the brand to join (get a permission to join)  the relevant conversations that are already taking place, online and off. The case that Márta and István presented was an inspiration for me, worth much more than the general discussions about innovation (with inevitable calls to actions, figures of percentages of innovations failing in the market and pictures of  iPods and Steve Jobs).

Here is the presentation that Marta has kindly shared with me:

(I have copied the photo of Márta and István from Henrik Hall's article.)


Marketing the Human Resources or Human Resourcing the Marketing?

For the past couple of months I have been looking for a job so I encountered several HR agencies and HR people in Prague. This was not the first time and I am still surprised how this works respectively does not work.

OK now my ideal take on recruiting is that a) I have / create over the time a list of clients and b) I have / create over the time a list of “workers”. I network both with a) and b) and go figure what happens... in the future a) may become b) and vice-versa. You slowly grow both group and you have a lasting quality relationships with both. That means not only good steady income, BUT also building YOUR goodwill.

Of course recruiting is one thing, but you also need a recruiter. The recruiter in my opinion needs some trades not only skills because recruiting is a craft as much as a mission (much like being a teacher). He / She should have at least an understanding of psychology, sociology and have empathy to say the least. That is more than experience or what I call a craft - craft and experience can be obtained, learned.

My close friend who is involved in recruiting as a top manager on the client side for about 8 years told me that he feels the recruiters’ qualification is that they “breath and have a pulse”. I think it might be little bit harsh, but lets say recruiting does not work very well in comparison with the ideal and / or theoretical side. The worst part is that even when the bad recruiting agencies go out of business etc. it will take a very long time to repair and recuperate the entire market and business field AND it will take enormous amounts of money dropped in brand building and goodwill building.

Now the question I ask myself: isn’t Marketing in Czech Republic and probably the entire Eastern European context in the very same situation? Isn’t marketing analogically to HR and recruiting an unprofessional field filled with unprofessional workers? Have we really moved from MARKETER = SOCIAL STATEMENT to MARKETER = JOB / MISSION?


What would you like to read about?

When I was to write this article, I had not a single clue what to write about. After trying to find a topic for half an hour, great idea came to me out of the blue – “use your network to decide.” – approached me as a SMS in my head. I went for Linkedin and asked my network for help, using their answers section. Without any support of promoting my question, 10 responses came back to me the next day.

Then I improved this idea and decided to post all the answers here. I see it as a challenge for professionals to contribute with their thoughts in discussion underneath. Then the article could be updated or separated to several different articles, being put together as a collective piece(s). This is how I would like to explore power of the Perfect crowd – blog that brings together professionals from different parts of the world.

I am also directly involved in answering those topics, right below them. This is the way how to keep you all satisfied… hopefully. Let’s get started:

1. “I would like to read more about social networking and social search and how it's going to influence/develop on the internet.”
Short reply:
In my opinion it is very hard to predict future, at least for me. I am sure that there are several gurus who know the answer. Are they willing to share with us?

2. “I am in the process of building myself a website, I am in sales and it is going to be part of my new self marketing campaign. Sales people would be interested in reading an article that may include some tips, maybe what to do, what not to do and tips to getting traffic to a newly created site.”
Short reply:
Let me start at the end. As soon as you build your new web, there are several ways how to get visitors attracted to it. Just please keep in mind, that if your web has nothing to tell them and is not user friendly, they will end up there just once or maybe twice :)
Shortly, to get your web some traffic, firstly optimise it for search engines while programming it. Few tips could be found on the internet under SEO shortage, also there are specialised professionals/companies to help you with this. One of basic rules is to be honest and not cheat; otherwise your web could easily appear in the internet hell.
Next step, I would recommend, is to get involved in forums discussing questions related to the content of your web. Each of your posting should be finished with the link to your web. In this point also consider relevance of your postings, as they will serve as your marketing tool.
I would also keep the link of your web in your e-mail signature and let your friends, clients or prospect know that it exists and how they could benefit of its visiting. Spread a word.
Finally, I would include RSS to the web, to keep visitors constantly up-to-date, as well as would try hard to keep the web fresh (there could be found dozen-illions of dead webs). Next steps depend on the type of your business and the purpose of the site. In some cases I would recommend to have people signing-in to keep them in close contact with you, to provide them with special benefits.

3. “I would welcome practical advice on how a small business could implement a marketing strategy that incorporates social networks and interactive online marketing. The killer hook would be a framework in which you could calculate a reasonable expectation on ROI.”
Short reply:
Wow, what a request! Thanks for that. My opinion is that this can not be answered in general speaking, as each small business needs to be approached individually. ROI could be really hard to calculate in major of cases. From the top of the head I can highly recommend two things:
a, the book “Buzzmarketing” by Mark Hughes, which could give you few ideas, although it is a bit older.
b, approaching WOM experts, for example Outbreak could also answer your question.
To summarise this topic, in case of small business it is crucial to focus on knowing your target group, ways how to approach them, as well as the benefits that you are able to provide, in the deepest depth. That should lead to finding the best and most effective solution right for your business.

4. “I would like to see an article explaining how to take advantage of the social networking opportunities. What social networks are there on the Internet? What are some of their advantages/disadvantages? How can they be used? What are the pitfalls? Should one take the offers of linking into "LIONS"? Is it best to link just to people you have actually met? These are just some of the questions that I have.”
Short reply:
I will answer this from my personal experience. I use Linkedin and have a wide network; it is not including just people I know in person. It helps me to help others, as well as ask for help – what you give is what you get. This is meant in terms of professional advices, hiring or expanding my knowledge. Moreover, I can recommend people I worked with and find new resources or business opportunities.
You can also find me on other sites, but I do not use them as much as Linkedin. To list sites that could be interesting for you, I should have known more about your expectations. Generally speaking, I am aware of MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Xing, Bebo, Orkut, Windows Live Space, Hi5, LinkedIn, itLinkz, YouTube, Flickr, Second Life, Twitter and Jaiku.
Additionally I can only recommend one and one thing only – if you have a chance to meet within a group of people from the network personally, it is a fantastic opportunity to get closer with them. We do this monthly on Xing and have to say, there I see how real networking completes the internet one.

5. “It would be interesting to read about changing face of content and advertising in the converged world - trends in content & advertising on three different screens - PC / Mobile / TV.”
Short reply:
This was the hardest one for me to respond to. Generally speaking, in this “fast rotating” world I see trends in content to be short, unique, personal, interactive, engaging, entertaining and relevant. This applies to almost every channel. In print I see PR being more successful than full pages ads. Huge potential, but also risk is in involving consumers into building the brands (possibilities are wide). To recommend a site talking a lot about new trends, I would go for Trendwatching.

6. “I know you didn't include public relations in your list, but I'd like to suggest it. I'd like to see an article surveying how much pr consultants charge, how their fees are broken down and what a typical pr proposal looks like. I find that there are tons of books, articles on how to write a press release etc... but when it comes down to the nitty gritty how to info there isn't much out there. Good luck and let us know what you decided to write about!”
Short reply:
In this case I can just hope that a PR pro is reading this and willing to get back to you.

7. “Perhaps a "does and don'ts" of promoting your idea through existing social media platforms?”
Short reply:
In my opinion, life is nicer when experimenting. Of course, there are certain rules in every niche of the world. To answer your request I would need more information, what you meant exactly by “promoting your idea”? Does it mean “using social media platforms for marketing purpose”? Maybe one of above short articles explains it a bit. Maybe someone else will contribute.

8. “I would be interested in new trends/buzz words like "mavens". Came across that term last week and it is taking off in North America. Good luck!!”
Short reply:
Just one recommendation in this case: “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” by Malcolm Gladwell. It is also shortly explained on Wikipedia.

9. “All those topics are fantastic, and I also love the idea of public relations. An article featuring different social media tools, and how effective they are for certain groups would be a nice read, however, in an easy to read format. There were a slew of these articles a few months ago, but with the advent of new tools (Twitter and all the mini-tools that came afterwards for it, for example), it's time for a new review of what is out there. Hope this helps!”
Short reply:
I am currently working on a presentation, which is to summarise this “new world” and explain three things about every media/technology listed: what it is, how it works, what its usage could bring for the concrete client. I just can say that it will not go for newer things than Twitter, Jaiku and Data matrix, so I am not the right person to fulfil your wish. Is anybody else willing to educate us?

10. "What would be great, rather than just looking at social media, would be a focus on how to effectively use each tool, and also how to actually judge results. It's easy to advocate Facebook, Youtube et al, but what methods are there for proving any of the benefits? Either that, or seeing as there are so many, many tech blogs out there, take a personal look at tools for your role at an interactive marketer/sound producer..."
Short reply:
Let me put it this way, how do you usually prove benefits of having something? You measure your situation before, during and afterwards. Does this work for this “new tools”, as well? When not talking about webs, mailings, banners, Youtube and other measurable “gadgets”, or how we are going to call them, what exact tools and methods of digital marketing you are willing to analyse? Mostly of those coming to my mind I would categorise as hard-to-measure the results of. I have to admit, on the other hand, that I do not consider myself being the most educated person in the world :)
To answer the second part of your topic, rather than using too many words, I would re-direct you to the following presentation (we are heading there).

Finally, instead of writing one article I have written 10 short ones, thanks to you. Now I would be happy to see you, readers of this blog, contributing to the above mentioned topics. Would you? Please do.

Martin Svarc


Charlie vs. Dead White Men

Charlie has been born out of web 2.0, in 2007. Ten years before Charlie, in 1997, Richard Barbrook says "that the rapid spread of personal computing and now the Net are the technological expressions of the desire of many people to escape from the petty controls of the shopfloor and the office". He continues: “Despite the insecurity of short-term contracts, they want to recover the independence of craft labour which was lost during the process of industrialisation. Because of rapid technological innovation, skilled workers within the hypermedia and computing industries are precisely those best able to assert this desire for autonomy”.

Ten years later Web 2.0 seemed to be the yellow brick road leading off from the path of the boredom of the shopfloor and the office. And not just for those working within the hypermedia and computing industries but for the many researchers, account people, planners working in agencies named after Dead White Men. These men may have originally had strong visions, but these visions aren't necessarily shared by people working in agencies today.

Let’s take the market research industry as an example. Many creative and entrepreneurial researchers began leaving big research agencies before Web 2.0.  After leaving they tried to establish smaller versions of big agencies, using the same hierarchies and structures but with fewer people. Eventually, they started to send their junior people to clients for presentations while sitting back and supervising and perhaps retiring all together. Structures and people – whether in the field department or the coding department – were needed to get jobs done.

Then along came Web 2.0 and the word is spreading that the emperor really is “naked:” the market research industry might not be much of an industry any more. Who needs a field department when there are global online research panels or even Facebook? Who needs the latest breakthrough research concept testing methodology when you can work with creative people, not on a concept test, but on developing a real product or service?

We (the clients) need creative people (complete with faces, talent and knowladge) not market research agencies. We are already following the good people, to their own agencies and we will continue to follow them even if they move from one big agency named after a dead guy to another agency named after two dead guys. This is the push. The pull is the desire for autonomy, the need to be free and fulfill one's own vision  – and the need for genuine collaboration with other people.

It is less lonely out there than it used to be. Web 2.0 connects the creative researchers online and builds connections that can be then taken off-line, whether to a café or a workshop. As it turns out, collaboration and friendship can replace structures and hierarchies. 


Online research panels vs. social networks

There is a lot of discussion these days in the research community about incentives (points, money, coupons, possibility to see the results of surveys etc.) for respondents participating in online research panels. I think that the most interesting alternative would be the possibility for a respondent to take her incentives, quit her participation in an online research panel and join a social network instead.

The transition from an online research panel to a social network is similar to the transtion from a totalitarian society to a true democracy - this is how I see it, with my Eastern European mindset. Online research panel are built top down. Respondents are neatly segmented and kept in their cells to emerge only to do the tedious tasks of checking boxes in research questionnaires. Then they collect their wages and go back to their isolated cells. Misbehaving, dissident respondents are thrown out of the panel.

Social networks are built from the bottom up by individuals with faces and personalities. People aren’t paid to join social networks – they do it because they want to participate.

Facebook, one of the largest and most successful social networks, has recently launched their own polls, enabling anyone to do her own research. At the moment, the design of the research is very narrow: it is possible to create one closed-ended question per poll with a maximum of five answers. The site charges for the research depending on how quickly the results are provided and how large the sample size.

The polls maybe simplistic, but it’s only the beginning... I also think that the best research on Facebook in the future probably won’t be polling but rather research done with groups, those small communities built around common passions and interests. There is no charge for the researcher to join, participate and listen. However, one has to ask what a researcher could charge a client for such work.

Let’s consider two scenarios for the future. In the first, online research panels become more important in the future as they offer a two-fold incentive to respondents – more money and the means to participate and see the results of the surveys. In the second, online panels will gradually disappear to be replaced by social networks which will offer research as an added product to generate revenues, similar to the way that advertising is now added to social networks.

If I had to bet money on one of these scenarios, I'd put my money on the side of the social networks

I tried to do my own poll on Facebook  yesterday, asking the Russians on Facebook question about major religion in Russia in 2100.

This is the intro screen.  You can then type in your question plus 5 answers and pay for the survey:




Once you have paid (this poll cost me $11), your poll goes live and you can start checking the progress:


I have received the results (100 completes) in about 8 hours:




Facebook and virtual networks

I used to believe that development of smart and new research methodologies was the way forward for market research. Since then I have worked on number of projects that required real insight into people, their lives and the lives of the things that people buy. The key insights for these projects came from individual people: Greg Rowland provided insights into culture; understanding of the interaction between people and things came from Richard Seymour; great insights came from Daniel Dumoulin, who conducted qualitative research and Matt Hart helped us to transform the observations and insights into ideas for products and communication. Yes, some of these guys have their own agencies but the agency name is a secondary tag; their individual skills are the real added value.

This is the age of endless possibilities for creative individuals in research, marketing, design and increasingly in advertising. Instead of losing their identity inside faceless agency, the individual can use some of the social networking sites, such as Facebook, and create their own global network, their own virtual agency - across regions and across specializations. The network can come together on a basis of common interest – the given project - and the individuals can disperse after the project is finished and form another, different network when needed.

It is easy to apply these rules to consumers and establish a community/network of consumers around common interest using existing sites (Facebook or a blog) as platforms for discussion and co-creation; or one can just look for existing community that consumers have established themselves, and listen. It is about people, not about methodologies.