• Our Friend the Faceclutcher
  • Conspiracy Media Group is a social research and communication strategy agency.

    We focus on finding insights amidst the noise and guide clients in how those insights can but used to move their business forward.

Invasion Of The Twitter-Snatchers

We posted recently about the growing volume of bot-generated posts in social in general and on Twitter in particular. Good piece on slate about this “artificial stupidity”. It’s relatively harmless to the average jane/joe but for businesses who are paying for social listening tools it’s a real problem as an increasing quantity of what they interpret as relevant volume is utter bullshit.

Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina.

The vapidness of the results from social listening tools are a dirty little secret of the industry, the equivalent of the fake clicks that are a big part of online media, but eventually this issue puts at risk social listening as a research tool. Hopefully Twitter fixes things before it gets damaged beyond repair.

The Twitter Analytics Mess


A few years ago blogs became disastrous for social analytics. The blog content farms like Demand Media corrupted blogs as a source for analytics until Google changed the algorithm and cleaned it up.

Twitter is suffering from the same issue now. Bots and other high-volume oddities have clogged search results and rendered broad analytics virtually useless. Trust us, don’t trust Twitter results via social listening tools. They’re generally full of odd spam and bot-crap.

This isn’t Twitter’s only issue for use in analytics. The network increasingly feels like a PR Newswire source and less like a true environment for social exchanges. This combo of Bot-spam and Newswire-centricity has us depending less and less on the network for getting real insight into consumer point of view on a brand or a topic. I imagine us leaving Twitter out if it doesn’t get cleaned up soon.

LEGO Takes Over The World

If there’s been a better marketer than Lego this year I’d be stunned. Hard to imagine anyone’s been better even for the last 10 years with a couple years where you could vote for Apple or Red Bull.

Between the brilliant product tie-ins, crazy amount of cool consumer content on YouTube, and now great movie with really rich extended content (without the overkill of Anchorman 2) it is a relentless march of great customer engagement.

Managing Editor VS Chief Listening Officer


Very much like the post from Josh Hallett about the “newsroom setup” model. Investing in the Managing Editor first feels like a sensible choice but I always get nervous when the singular motivation for social is finding ways to speak to customers and prospects as opposed to greater focus on listening to serve other purposes.

You can of course distinguish between listening via social to serve multiple purposes within a company and social marketing as it is likely being referenced here.

018-pee-wee-herman-listen-to-reasonDamn though I wish companies would first install Chief Listening Officers (worst title ever) in their groups who would intelligently manage the information available for all possible uses within a company.

Where the Frak is my Social Media Unobtonium?

Recently saw Avatar with my sons. Lots of cool Signourney cussing and crazy-eyed Colonel Quaritch violence.

I couldn’t shake the feeling though that I was watching an object lesson about what could happen to big chunks of the social media world.

Don’t mean to get all Pandora mystical on you but the planet of social media is an amazing place. People run around on trees, doing within reason pretty much whatever they’d like and without interference. Whenever they want to mind-meld with the entire world both past and present, they simply ponytail-jack their way into the system and do the whole Na’vi social-network thing. They can feel the love, exchange communal knowledge, decide where the best burrito can be had, or whether to get a Prius or Volt, all of it. The straight dope from those who know from all over the world. What could be better?

But then of course the people from the planet of stupid show up. Instead of appropriately listening and learning from these gentle Na’vis, as Sigourney suggests, we bring in Colonel crazy-eyes. This goon and his boss ignore the real power; the connectedness of the populace and the planet, the amazing ability of the people to plug in and share thoughts, knowledge, memories etc.. They instead go for the unobtonium underneath the big tree. Which as far as the stupids are concerned has real ROI. And the pursuit of which will destroy what makes the place magical and valuable in the first place.

I was talking to someone recently from a large financial services company who runs their social marketing practice. He has set up a social monitoring system through which he can hear everything everyone in the world, online, has to say about his company, his competitors, and the whole category in which they compete.
This gives him and every part of his company incredible insight into what the market cares about regarding products, and service and the future. He’s also dipped his toe into having a voice in the space. Built a small but growing community in the social network and blog space where he can publish content to those who care. In spite of this very cool and valuable system of direct and relatively unfiltered communication with customers and prospects, he’s under pressure from his boss, the crazy-eyed Colonel of his company, to deliver ROI. Which in their terms means sales, directly measured. The same way they measure sales through direct or sales through clicks off of a banner.

And so they’re going to strap themselves into those giant metal robot things and start trampling the social planet in order to extract the unobtanium. Now, I’m no ROI snob. We’ve all got to earn a living, but for Eywa’s sake can we please not demo the planet or that big tree thing, and blow this insanely wonderful listening and communication system in order to turn social marketing into the same crappy ROI piece of shite digital advertising has become?

Let’s not be skxawang’s please!

Search, Social and Content: BFFs

Let’s assume for a minute you’re a marketer trying to figure out the best way to spend your money (assuming there’s still some pennies left in the jar).  Or maybe an agency trying to figure out the best way to spend your client’s money.  Where in the hell do you start?

I’d want my agency to show up with a plan that starts from the inside out.  A plan that starts with a content and communication model addressing the needs of people who are demonstrating interest in your products, your competitors or your category in general.  This interest can be demonstrated through hand-raising (search) or conversation (social) but it better be one of those two before they start talking about anything broader.

This search and social strategy should also include some kind of content or publishing plan to serve the needs of the in-market community.  The joining of content strategy with bffs search & social creates a core marketing threesome in which we can all enjoy participating.

Achieving Social Marketing Enlightenment

Marketers should think of social monitoring and marketing like Buddhists think of meditation.


Let’s count the ways:

1) Meditation is a conscious effort to change how the mind works:

Social monitoring and marketing can serve the same purpose for the marketing mind.  Consistently listening to the unedited conversations that customers and prospects are having in the social world will eventually rewire those old marketing brainwaves. However, you have to stick with it for lasting impact. Which leads us to #2.

2) A day of meditation does not a practice make.

A social monitoring and marketing system should not be stuck on the end of a crappy media plan.  It should serve as the underpinning of the entire marketing program.  Remember:

Facebook ads Social Strategy
Facebook app Social Strategy
“Viral” video Social Strategy

Don’t get us wrong we love Facebook, and those fine people at Barbarian Group who produce a lot of the virally videos. But these can fall into the category of “tactic as strategy” pretty easily. Even Facebook reps will tell you they are best used when a good strategic shop figures out how they are a part of a bigger plan rather than as a one-off buy. Otherwise the effort dies quickly. And that leads us to #3

3) Meditation is not a tactic in the Buddhist toolkit, rather it serves at the center of the Buddhist life:

Social monitoring and marketing should sit at the center of a companies’ efforts. It should feed the way they think about themselves, the way they understand their role in the lives of their customers. It is the foundation from which everything else emanates.

If used properly it not only leads to social networking campaigns (which is its most obvious use but methinks also its least impressive), it can also inspire and inform product development, customer service, public relations, advertising, human resources and I’m sure we’ll discover much, much more. Virtually every aspect of a company is served better with a healthy dose of shutting up, listening to the voice of the people in the social ecosystem and getting your social meditation on.