Tag Archives: media

The POSSE media model

It’s been a few years since I posted the original Own, Bought and Earned media model and the slightly updated version a little while later.

Although it is still a good way to think through your media options, it does feel as though the model is a bit too simple nowadays.

So I have come up with a new one, called the POSSE media model. I’ll explain it below the diagram:

The POSSE media model is built on two basic levels of activity: to produce and distribute content. The better you do these two things (and the more it is based on listening and understanding your audience) the more media exposure you will earn.

Produce content. Can be classed as Owned and/or Social

  • Owned

This is the media you have (more-or-less) complete control over, e.g. a corporate web-site, or a retail store.

  • Social

This refers to branded social media presence such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo. Social platforms that give you a chance to build a presence as a brand. Note that you do not have much control over these in terms of functionality, and the terms of the service can change at any point. (Steve Sponder calls this Borrowed media, which makes sense but I think overstates the transience of these networks. Also I think Social works as a term for now at least, as it is widely understood by people).

  • Overlap of Social + Owned

This is at least two things:

1. Brand-generated platforms or communities specifically designed for customers to co-create and collaborate with brands. (e.g. Dell’s IdeaStorm and Starbuck’s MyStarbucksIdea.) (what Brian Solis calls “Shared” media)

2. Own content such as videos that are the fuel for a brand’s social channels. You do have complete control over the format of your own video (within reason) but the video ultimately boosts other media owners’ site visits. They may also place ads before or after your content without asking your permissions, for example.

Distribute content: can be classified as Paid and/or Seeded

  • Paid

Media placements that you have paid for. Think SEM, banners, sponsorships. It can also be “traditional” media placements such as TV, Print, Outdoor. Paid media is still important, especially if you want a lot of people to see a fairly consistent message about you.

  • Seeded

This is referring to seeding of content among “influencers”. PR agencies, or WOM agencies like 1000heads, can help to build these relationships, identifying who to speak to and how to persuade them to feature your content. Sometimes these will be the people with the biggest reach, but often those people are deluged with requests. So instead, the seeding often happens with brand advocates, people who are genuinely fans of your product or service, or at least people who have shown a previous interest in products like yours in the past. This helps with the credibility and authenticity of their post(s).

  • Overlap of Paid + Seeded

This is where I would put things such as sponsored stories on Facebook, or Twitter’s promoted products, both of which cost money and are based on advertising to people’s social graph. It is interesting that social-media agencies are the ones who are picking up on this, whereas traditional media agencies are struggling with it. “Paid seeding” is also possible using partners such as GoViral who have a network of video sites, or by paying YouTube to feature your video to its users to give it an initial push and get it noticed.

If you do all of the above well, you get some “Earned Media”

This is people posting and talking about your product and its advertising. If you do things well with your own media, choose and manage your social presences wisely, seed to the right people at the right time, and perhaps pay to get noticed by more people, then you should hopefully earn media too. It will give your content extra push (distribution), and you will have earned it so these will be considered the most authentic voices of all. But you cannot guaranteed the message at all, so a lot of what is distributed may be unrelated to your intended communications. Really, positive earned media is a measure of how interesting your content is and how well you distributed it.

Why “POSSE”?

Well, acronyms are always cool, aren’t they?

But in this case, it serves a second purpose. New media techniques such as these are about people, and they need skilled people to make them happen. You can’t have one person spending a load on one advert and expect it to succeed like it used to. Instead, you need to hire many people, with new and diverse skills: editorial content, community management, search engine optimization, blogger relationship management, UX experts, etc etc. In other words, you can’t fix this problem by throwing money at it; to succeed in this new media landscape, you need the right kind of POSSE.


– This thinking was hugely influenced by the original Nokia digital posse (you know who you are), plus lots of people who commented online and in person about my original post.
Brian Solis, who’s Brandsphere is very smart and taught me a lot, but maybe a little complicated for me.
Steve Sponder, who made the excellent PONBE model which clearly influenced this model.

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Social Media is NOT MEDIA AT ALL

I’m amazed I haven’t really considered this before, but what we all call Social Media is actually the exact opposite of media.

Derivation of the word Media: Latin: medium is the neuter form of the adjective medius, meaning “middle”; as well as, a neuter noun meaning, “the middle”

The singular, medium, early developed the meaning “an intervening agency, means, or instrument” and was first applied to newspapers two centuries ago.

Conversely, “Social Media” is a set of tools for people to communicate between themselves, platforms for interaction and relationships, not content and ads.

What do these social tools (Facebook etc) do?

They disinterMEDIAte of course!

“Who said this is media? Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody. So it just seems a bit arrogant. … We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”
Ted McConnell, General Manager-Interactive Marketing and Innovation at Procter & Gamble Co

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Advertising is dead? Depends on your definition.

Some clever people think that advertising isn’t working on the internet.

In a sense they’re right. Advertising is broken and needs to be re-invented. We need to create discussion. We need to add value. We need to do things that matter.

I was reminded by a tweet from @faris that advertising is an old word and has not always meant what it does now.

Originating from the Latin Ad Vert, it originally meant: “to turn one’s attention”.

Since people are increasingly ignoring traditional advertising, we have to find news ways of “turning attention” on the web. The way to get people’s attention in this most Darwinian of environments is to earn it be creating genuine value. This can be usefulness (think Google Maps and the value it brings to so many other sites) or simply great, entertaining content that stands out even in a content cesspool.

Where does it leave the media who have relied on the ad break to fund their content? Well, maybe they have to become the creators of the adverts, just as Saturday Night Live did.

When I tune in to that show, I don’t want to be interrupted by ads that are less funny, but I am interested in their take on advertising Pepsi. Would this work again? Does this constitute a “sell-out” on the part of the show? I’m not sure yet.

Another example is National Geographic. They have great content, and awesome content creators (especially their photographers). and a bunch of different ways to bring that content to life across multiple channels (print, tv, web, even now an awesome retail space). But I learnt recently that they also have a “creative services” unit, which will help harness these multiple content possibilities and media formats in association with the right brands. For a price, of course.

So are professional content creators the ad men of the future? How else do they monetise their skill-set when no one wants to see ad breaks anymore?

So ad breaks and banners may be in trouble. But Creating value including compelling content together with the true professionals, and “adverting” people’s attention in a more worthwhile way is here to stay.

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How to do Social Media Marketing without access to the internet.

Social Media Marketing is an an interesting mix of marketing, PR, sales and customer service, and is about engaging with communities. Famously, Dell now does this well, and are no longer in Hell. My friend Mr Whatley does a great job of this for SpinVox, IMHO. To do this, of course you need access to the internet.

But there is another way. It just takes doing something brilliant, like making your store front completely kick ass.


So you make something that rocks, ahem. Then you add the extra piece of genius, which is to make the dials go all the way to 11.

The design and the comic flourish disrupts expectations and connects with a shared passion.

You have created a piece of Social Media without access to the internet.

Then someone takes a photo and puts it on Flickr. And you have yourself a piece of awesome internet marketing without even turning your computer on.

Job done.

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Pro-active Customer Service

Customer Centric

A couple of years ago, a LSE study called advocacy drives growth  showed that a 1% reduction in negative word of mouth resulted in £24.8 million additional revenues. Also, a 2% reduction in negative word of mouth correlated with just under 1% growth of the company.

With all this talk about Social Media Marketing, I wonder if actually Social Media is best used for Customer Service (as Dell have been doing well after their previous hell – that’s a lot of rhymes) rather than blogger outreach of the PR kind. Just because it is called Media doesn’t mean it is an advertising channel.

Most of the time advertising agencies just want to use Social Media as a channel to promote the microsite that they are building.  Instead, the opportunity is really in getting to customers when they are just beginning to get frustrated and engaging with them in an open social way in their spaces before they have really felt the need to complain. Even better is energizing existing customers to become an army of volunteers who will answer questions for behalf of the company.

And then when it comes to marketing communications, a thorough understanding of the actual consumer issues should help identify what needs to be communicated. People are discussing brands online, so this should be the bedrock on which any advertising is based. Most of the time it is not, and instead we are treated to rather random insights which have no connection to creative which makes for ineffective advertising. Great advertising should be rooted in known consumer wants and needs, should have KUDOS and should be made with propogation in mind. 

But at the very least, I wonder how many calls to customer service centres are for similar problems that could have been solved pro-actively?

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disrupting expectation + topicality

Burger King launches a new campaign on Facebook: you de-friend ten people to claim your free whopper. As they put it on the promotional web site: “You like your friends, but you love a whopper”

photo by Damien Toman

This works because it has Conversational Capital. Its playfully harsh approach disrupts the expectation we have of campaigns on Facebook: We are so used to Facebook applications asking us to spam our friends, that being asked to actually remove friends really shocks the system.

Also, this campaign comes at the right time. Topicality is essential to conversation – something that major brands often struggle with if they use 6-9 month processes to create campaigns. But this campaign taps into a trend for reducing and simplifying the friends lists that have got frankly out of hand:

“Social graph shrinkage: Sure, the total population of social media users will continue to grow but with the rise of mososo and a resurgence of in person networking, many consumers will scale back on both the number of accounts they maintain AND their number of so-called “friends” and “followers.” We’ll start using online social platforms to stay connected with the people we actually know and care about. Suddenly, being Facebook friends with your mom will seem less ridiculous than following 4,000 strangers on Twitter.” Greg Verdino, in Peter Kim’s Social Media Predictions 2009

Amen to that.

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WOM attracts more valuable customers

A recent study suggests that the lifetime value of customers acquired via WOM can be over twice as high as those acquired from general marketing methods. (executive summary of the study is available here)

Although acquisition via direct offers or other short-term sales tactics may be more immediately effective and certainly easier to attribute with current tracking mechanics, it often brings in customers who have no intention to stick around: simply put, they go where the next offer is.

The difficulty is that generating positive WOM is more than chatting up some influential bloggers. It is an entire philosophy touching everything from Service Quality and Customer Service, through to creating truly engaging marketing programs that aim to delight customers at every opporunity.

Proving ROI of Word of Mouth activities is notoriously difficult. But at the very least, using one of the imperfect tools that measure positive WOM and customer advocacy as a success metric makes sense, as it drives the organization to do the types of activities that acquire more valuable customers.

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2009: The Year of Mobile Social Media.

Mobile and Social.

As far as predictions go this one is fairly obvious: 2009 should be a breakout year for Mobile Social Networks: Always-on, Context-aware devices + microblogging behaviour comes together to create possibilities far exceeding those of PC-based media.

This feels so wrong and uncool, but I have a confession to make: I prefer microblogging my status on mobile Facebook than on mobile Twitter.

In fact, I’m hooked and check status regularly on Facebook mobile (m.facebook.com). No special app, just the mobile site. First thing I see is a list of statuses (stati?). Most of my Nokia colleagues are on Facebook, and are doing the same. Even though Facebook was clearly not set up as a mobile network, it is working just fine for us.

I spoke to Christine Perey about this when she visited us at Nokia HQ. She somewhat patronizingly said it must be that Nokia Employees do not know about the “better” mobile social networks and the technical enablers that are available. That is rubbish of course, partly because we’re building some interesting ones.

What this actually proves is the power of the network. Metcalfe’s Law. The value of a telecommunications network proportional to the square of the number of people in the network.

One distinction is that whereas telecommunications networks are, apart from the people in them, basically otherwise identical, virtual social networks do have differences in terms of User Experience and features etc. Perhaps we can add in the quality of the user experience into the equation, since this does impact the value too.

Value of a Social Network to an individual =Uex(N)2

Where Uex = the quality of the User Experience and features to the individual, and N = the number of people in the network… or at least the number of people the individual cares about.

Since more people I care about are spending their time on Facebook than on Twitter, it appeals to me much more, even if it is not designed with microblogging in mind. (Although the fact that you can comment on a status seems much better than having to put @someone, which seems a very clumsy way to communication to me: wastes valuable characters and means you can’t easily see a conversation stream).

I mentioned once to Jyri Engeström (founder of Jaiku, former Nokian and all around nice fella) in Helsinki that the barrier to entry for microblogging has been going down as people realise that it is after all just like updating your Facebook status. People don’t think they are microblogging, but they are regularly updating their status (especially if they check Facebook from their mobile device). Now Jyri is hoping to move the industry forward by achieving an interoperable microblogging network, which would get over this need for people to be using the same service as each other. Then the value can truly be in the Uex, and we can get back to building remarkable social services, without the size of the network being the determining factor in people’s decisions.

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5 reasons why corporate websites are not dead

There was a time when having a web presence was enough for a corporation.

Clearly that is no longer the case, and some are saying that there is little need for the brochurewear that exists currently, and that it should be replaced by social tools.

But I think that web sites as brochures are going to be here a while longer, for the following reasons:

1. Blogs are actually not the ideal way to organise information. Posts listed by date (albeit with a decent search facility) are good for the very latest news, but it is difficult to quickly find information on a range of products that have been released over a period of time on a blog. Finding such a range of information is often the primary reasons to visit a corporate blog.

2. It’s too early to dive head first into social tools for company sites. Participation is growing all the time, but we would do well to remember the 90-9-1 rule: websites designed for the Creators will marginalize the Lurkers. A corporate site has a duty to the people who do not want to participate, but want clear, well-structured information about the product.

3. Honest opinion is essential in the purchase process. Posting negative reviews to a corporate site is laudable in terms of transparency, and may even be the first stage towards accepting that every brand has a dark side (which may be essential to recognize if we are to be authentic). However, is a corporate web site really the best place for consumers to go to get the unfiltered opinion? It is my belief that corporations will always filter the information available on their web site: it would be irrational (self-harming even?) to do otherwise. Buyer beware.

4. Realistically, changes at large corporations take time. The number of stakeholders involved in maintaining corporate sites is huge. Many people “own” part of the site, and are averse to dramatic changes in the section that means most to them. Again, self-interest, and to a certain extent ignorance of the possibilities, will hinder any chances to change.

5. Corporations do not have a personal voice, and therefore most corporate blogs suck. Corporations are a collection of individuals. Individuals should want to have their own space to express their opinions, which will of course be tempered by their employment situation, but will not have to go through the rigorous legal checks – unlike everything on an official corporate site.

In essence, I am arguing that a corporate site that is just brochurewear is an important communication tool. As long as their is implicit understanding between consumer and corporation that this is the corporation’s attempt to display all the key information while making things the products and services look their best, then this is fine as it is. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you may look for user reviews of books you like the look of.

Social tools are then used by real people (including employees of that corporation) to discuss the products and services with which they are involved. It is my belief that people lead the tribe, not brands. Brands are at best social objects, i.e. socially relevant topics of conversation. People should get involved with communities, and marketing can do its best to stoke the fires of conversation. And if your corporation doesn’t have people able to connect with social media and lead a tribe, well then, perhaps you don’t have the right people any more.

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