It seems that during the rise of Social Media marketers have been confounded by the Twitter software platform and have struggled to understand its impact on the companies that they serve or their profession. The temporary nature of Twitter communications is contradictory to one of the prime directives of marketing, defining and increasing brand value.
When I visited Silicon Valley in San Francisco in 1992 I saw the first Yahoo! billboards that promoted the notion of the internet and the Yahoo! directories and in 1998 or 1999 I noticed the beginning of Googles search engine results pages driven by content backlinks in a form of a popularity contest. Five or six years later the idea of search engine optimization is born when competition starts to erupt over link names and search engine page results or SEPR ranking.
Marketers were watching Google carefully and noticed that it was much more cost effective to adevertise on the internet and you could advertise to individuals unlike mass media of the day. Marketing was moving slowly into the world wide wieb and soon the crawl would be a walk and then a race to see who could stake the best words in a form of ‘virtual land grab’ so that when searchers entered a phrase into a search window the products promoted by savvy marketers would rise above their slower and less internet knowledgable competitors.
Branding also evolved quickly in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s mostly due to the rise and fall of world economies and old school advertising agencies we pressured heavily by Public Relations firms that repeatedly SHOUTED their messages. It appeared that quanitiy and repetition had triumphed over quality, at least in most cases. The repetition of brand messages fit well into the theory of branding where it was assumed that products would be purchased in perpetuity and that brand managers would strive to maximize profits and determine how to position brands so that competitors could not take customers and sales from the brand.
Economies of scale in manufacturing and advertising were critical drivers of brand equity where eventually competitors would start to outsource in continually lower cost global locations while seeking any advantage in their brand warfare. Eventually the global outsourcing trend moved from a crawl to a brisk walk and then a frenzied dash to Canada then to Mexico, China, India, Brazil and the Phillipines.
Software suppliers like ASK, CA, BaaN, IMI, SAP, Oracle and IBM provided big corporations big systems to control global supply chains and achieve the dream of global economies of scale. The stretched supply chaines required supplier agreement timelines of up to two years which became a problem and eventually bankrupt corporations like Nortel who were competiting with Asian competitors of handsets and telephone infrastructer with product cycles of six months or less. The Nortel products and inventory, on-hand and future committments was obsolete before it could be manufactured The large ERP systems compounded the problem as planning cycles were optimized and precise, thoug it was doubtful if the users were capable of assessing the risk or trained to deal with it nor were the suppliers capable of adjusting quickly to the new world order. Time was speeding up and the corporations with few long term obligations and even fewer long term investments would reap the rewards. Marketing and Branding followed the trend of cost reduction and increasing speed and internet services and product vendors like Cisco, Oracle and SAP were happy to comply with the direction and push hard when they realized giants like IBM were afraid of leaving profitable territory.
Rise of the Internet and Speeding up of Time
One significant consequence in the speeding up of time in business is that products have become commodities and in markets like fashion it may be as little as two or three days after a model walks down the runway in Milan that a knock off or copy of very good quality clothing is being loaded into a container in Asia bound for European and American retailers. Branding is the only distinquishing feature in the commodity game and marketing the main value driver.
From early 2000 to about 2005 marketers had an easy time cutting advertising costs by shifting to PR and internet advertising, mostly around email and simple websites and while a lot was said about electronic commerce not too much was happening, yet. As cost competition rose so did competition for favourable internet branding position and this cause the creation of a new profession, search engine marketers which could exploit the tendency of people to type a few words into a search engine box and be ‘served’ the answers to their questions. Google made billions by being a servant.
SEO Entrepreneurs Take Profits from the mouths of Search Engines
It didn’t take entrepreneurs too long to figure out how to exploit search engines and learn to stand between product manufacturers and millions of buyers who wanted to buy their products on-line saving 50% or more in the process. Soon every brand would be pushed down in the search engine results pages or SERP. The process accelerated faster with the creation of the Social Media software platforms WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and soon SEO entrepreneurs could create content and backlinks to easily manipulate the SERP and amateurs realized what was possible and they climbed aboard the gravy train.
In an attempt to counteract the trend Google buys Metaweb the semantic database firm, starts its own blog platform and starts archieving Twitter feeds while pushing the SEO entrepreneurs to create video content and feed its YouTube pipe which it aims squarely at the old Media conglomerates. In the meanwhile Blockbuster Video enters bankruptcy protection in mid 2010 and Twitter reaches over 150 million users, most of them mobile and in countries like Brasil and India. Sylvester Stallone shows the world the new Twitter marketing resonance rules as his move Expendables first catches and then screams by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Inception. Stallone is fueled by a clever tsunami like Twitter campaign fueled by millions of Brasillian Tweets.
The quick rise of Social Media and Twitter makes it harder to convince advertisers that search engines would or even could continue to deliver the brand value and in late 2008 or early 2009 over half of searches started in Social Media software platforms. Corporations quickly start jumping into the Social Media and Twitter pool with both feet distressing all of their suppliers who must quickly re-face products that were designed in the late 1990’s to now work in a world where business models and time had accelerated beyond recognition.
Twitter Time and Resonance Rhyme
With only 140 characters the Twitter software platform is able to deliver stunning value by combining content and backlinks so that if a Tweet or micro blog post is not popular it expires. No need to assess or rank, no need to archieve. All of the work is outsourced to the Twitter community. Better still no need to worry about old content, good bad or indifferent, and certainly no need to build server farms worldwide.
Instead of charging fees based on ‘clicks’ and forcing customers to spend money and time on SEO that is totally disconnected with sales, Twitter charges advertisers according to how long a Tweet is heard and how far it goes across groups in the Twitterverse. Unless a Tweet is ‘Re-Tweeted’ it expires though advertisers can promote their own Tweets which means that Twitter will place a very few of them in their Trending dashboard making them visible to millions of Tweeters globally.
Marketers get multiple branding messages for free which is a pleasant change from SEO models where a ‘conversion’ or sales ratio of 5% is considered wildy successful, if you don’t count that you have to pay for the other 95% of ‘clicks’.
Branding has moved to virtual real time speed with Twitter though marketers haven’t had the opportunity to explore or determine best measures Resonance or the relationship between Customers, Products and Content.