A reader has pointed out the irony of online popularity which can generate a 'flash-mob' of customers one minute and a vicious back-lash from the 'flash-mob' which doesn't get instant satisfaction.  We refer to the online riot over 2degrees, which was inundated by a flood of subscribers, who were then frustrated by the inability of the company to cope with the demand.

An article published in the Herald Online http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10590762 quotes a customer talking about 'day 8' of the outage.  Others are suggesting that 2degrees fires its website managers or builders.

Among the views expressed in the Herald feedback from readers is one which suggests that we all re-do our maths.  It is not sent by a Vodafone spokesperson, but Vodafone has placed an Ad. right in the middle of readers' views.  Some of those views are supportive of 2degrees and some are extremely critical, so the Ad. seems a well-positioned and transparent way of weighing into the controversy.

Problems with 2degrees are almost, but not yet like, Jetstar's experience of unexpected enthusiasm for what seemed to be the best deal around at the time.  Interestingly, both companies used a Web-based intermix of e-marketing and social media to attract customers and communicate with them about their service.  But it wasn't the internet that failed them, it was their unpreparedness for the demand and their inability to live up to customers expectations.

Mind you, unprecedented demand has happened in marketing long before social media.  Experienced marketers always warn against over-hyping a new product before the early-adopters have entered the marketplace.  They advise contingency planning for the dreamed of, but unexpected, massive demand that a good deal can attract.

A client of mine had to charter a Jumbo aircraft and fill it with supplies, after we launched a new product with simply public relations and no advertising in the introductory stage.  (The client was delighted, and the campaign won an international award, but thank heavens for an available Jumbo Jet.)

It has not been so easy for 2degrees and Jetstar.   The lesson they provide is social media can accelerate demand and provide a forum for widespread criticism that outpaces in a few minutes solutions which take a few hours or, worse still, days or weeks.

Posted by Joseph Peart
 
 
Every time I look, new information is appearing that raises further questions about how important social media are to public relations and marketing.

Although I have just joined Twitter in the wake of Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, apparently only 8% of advertisers and consumers think it is a very effective promotion tool, according to results from a LinkedIn (I also joined that) Research Network/Harris Poll.

The study also found that advertisers are more likely than consumers to know about Twitter and are more likely to believe in its power to promote products and services.

The research, which included surveys of both advertisers and the US public, showed that 45% of advertisers think Twitter will grow significantly over the next few years. In contrast, 21% believe Twitter will not move into the mainstream and it will remain something mostly  media professionals (like me) and young people (like me?).

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Having found the wellspring of youth in Twitter, I searched further to find how much demand exists among PR clients for measurement of online communications.  I found thatdemand has increased from 29% in 2008 to 41% in 2009, according to the online newsletter Marketing Charts.  However, practitioners still cannot agree on how best to measure the media and their other work.

This research was carried out by Benchpoint for The Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication and the Institute for Public Relations.  It found that 77% of the 520 PR professionals surveyed are tracking their programmes and clients are increasingly expecting this evaluation.

Clearly, we need to continue to look out for useful online measurement tools to add to the survey of what is available, completed by Catherine Arrow earlier this year.  You’ll find it under the ‘Research’ tab on this site.  Cathy notes that, while current in June ’09, tools such as Quantcast, Twitter Analyzer, Technorati’s Twitterati, Blogtracker, Newscred and even Google Trends could be superseded, as the speed of change is so rapid.

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As this website can only grow through your collaboration, please let us know if you come across anything similar to the ‘Engagement db’ study that shows there is a measurable correlation between higher levels of social engagement and superior financial performance.  The study of the top 100 global brands found that Starbucks is the world’s #1 ‘most socially engaged brand’ and is reaping financial rewards as a result of its participation in social media.

Researchers calculated ‘engagement’ by measuring each brand’s presence in a range of channels and examined how deeply involved various departments and executives were with each channel.

Again, I am heartened that the time I am spending researching Facebook, Twitter, Beebo, Blinka and LinkedIn is not wasted, but represents ‘engagement’ by AUT University, which may lead to ‘superior financial performance’.  (I wonder if I’ll get a raise?)

Posted by Joseph Peart