After a weekend out of town, but one that felt like I spent most of the time behind the wheel driving, I was excited to get the official work week started. Waking up to a cloudy sky and dropping temperatures wasn’t motivating, nor was the idea that there was a very strange technical issue still awaiting my undivided attention. I was fortunate to have my cofounder look into the issue while I was away and was pleasantly surprised to discover the issue no longer remained.
The unfortunate part however is that we have not clearly identified what caused the original issue and incorrect experience. I’ve scoured the behaviors that lead to the issue arising last week, but yet have been unable to identify the cause. Thus, we are not sure what the cure was.
Has anyone else felt this way: elation from the issue apparently correcting itself, and then more frustration from the confusion or lack of ability to understand what has actually happened?
From time to time I’ll look at the number of Facebook Friends I have or the number of connections on my LinkedIn account. Or, even scan the Followers on the various Twitter accounts I access.
Without question, all accounts have some virtual-friends —- people I haven’t met in person. While I can’t necessarily argue for actual value of these friendships, isn’t it not enough or more inline with new-age Internet relationships to connect with people you haven’t met in-person? I mean, don’t people connect on dating sites without ever meeting in person until the “final” stages?
My question is this: can valuable relationships exist from virtual friendships, connections, acquaintances?
Some days it feels like just yesterday that I launched Tweet My Style with an orchestrated campaign for Rebecca Minkoff. That was early 2010 and the website ended up running a number of promotions for various brands including Seychelles, BC Footwear, Ban.do, ALDO, Current Elliott, Lords of Liverpool, and others. We ended up with just over 30,000 total unique Twitter users logging in and posting pictures.
During the half year I was developing Tweet My Style there seemed to be several competitors popping up every other day… By competitors I mean websites catering to people who take pictures that are fashion oriented and share socially. This mainly included style bloggers who essentially built their audiences off the traffic sent from networks like chictopia and lookbook. Both of those sites, according to compete, have seen a drastic drop in traffic over the past year. This made me wonder if style blogs also are seeing decreases in traffic?
Quickly running through some of the style blogs that were growing at the time of Tweet My Style (i.e. The Glamourai, Man Repeller, etc.), I notice that they now lack the traffic numbers for compete to even report: “This site has relatively low traffic.”
There appears to be HUGE declines in traffic, and likely audience reach, or at least “owned” audience reach, for many of the players in the online fashion space over the past few years. Similarly, the Tweet My Style competitors (although not direct competitors) raised around $10 million from angels and VCs and the three major websites I checked (Go Try It On, Fashism, and Pose) now appear to lack the amount of web traffic for compete to report on them as well.
All this to say, there are many more individuals sharing and posting their style pics and fashion editorial pieces online. But why have the major players in the space just a short time ago taken such a deep fall in captive audience retention and influence?
My hypothesis is that Instagram essentially killed the utility providers like Fashism, Go Try It On, etc. It doesn’t necessarily make sense for a style blogger to be vertical when you can build and grow with a much larger reach on Instagram. Obviously, the Instagram followers are most likely nowhere near the devoted style audience that an profile gets on Pose or a similar website.
And the bloggers? It seems their reach and influence too has begun to wane. Traffic to their websites has dropped significantly because people consume their sartorial content elsewhere. While Twitter and Instagram followings can be in the hundreds of thousands of followers for some of these style bloggers, why is it that few can direct that audience to consume any little bit of content from their own web property, their blog, let alone a partner website for a promotion?
For example: I highly doubt the 726,000 Instagram followers for Aimee Song of Song of Style is anything close to a captivated foodie, fashion and design audience. After all, if there are nearly three quarters of a million people as part of a devoted audience or following, why is it that too few can be guided to Song of Style’s blog website in a large enough number that compete would be able to report on? After all, the blog appears to be updated more often with “fuller” content.
If the real seed of the style blogging movement was looking at photos of attractive (mostly younger) women wearing trendy outfits, then the need for, and consequently the influence from, a blog or editorial contribution has been severely hampered by social media… the same source that enabled and built the trend of style blogging.
So, while it seems more monetary success is coming from the style blogging space (i.e. bloggers getting paid), the value, if any, is mainly in the appearance of someone stylish. Not in traffic numbers. Not in drawing an audience. Not in delivering customers or driving sales. It appears to be that the return for a brand or partner would be the image that is taken and shared on Instagram and various websites, most insignificant one possibly being the blogger’s own. That there is truly no captive audience should begin to effect brand campaign budgets and strategies if it hasn’t already.
Watching just a few seconds of a cheetah running in slow motion was impressive
It’s fairly well known that Borders and Blockbuster essentially gave away their future to companies like Amazon, and in time went out of business. While not every company can be an early adopter, there is never an acceptable excuse for a company to ignore the tidal wave that is on crash course into the business’ future.
Remember the mail-order catalog business? Unfortunately it seems that many retailers and brands don’t recognize the parallels between what ecommerce did to the mail-order catalog business, and what social media is doing to standard ecommerce companies.
It’s not only astonishing that companies who have customers under the age of 60, and companies that have bulks of customers under the age of 35, lack a social media marketing strategy aimed at customer acquisition and driving sales. All too often these companies, like the Blockbusers and Borders before them, rely on their established size, reach and way of doing business. But like the fate of those two companies, so will be the fate of ecommerce companies that fail to accept and engage their customer base on the social web.
To be clear, I’m not promoting the selling of actual goods on social networks themselves. I’m referring to companies that time and time again, punt. Rather than embrace the realities currently shifting “business as usual”, they choose to neglect their customers with their “wait and see” approach that serves as a blatant miss to the people that buy their offerings. If anything could have taught us about the shifts in customer acquisition and sales growth in the last quarter century, it is that punting now only costs the company much more later, and in cases like Borders and Blockbuster, finished the company.
Social media marketing is not a “take a step back and ponder”, nor does it require a management meeting to draw up some roadmap that will ultimately fit nicely into the company’s doomed fate honed from the “couldn’t care less” marketing team. It requires marketers to get their hands dirty. It requires a web dev team willing to build and learn for the sake of the customer. To actually learn their customers’ behavior and interests online. To learn who their customers are and how to reach them.
Put simply, social media marketing is caring. Caring about your business. Caring about your customers. To succeed, it requires that a company cares enough not to punt, or wait and see.
For those who follow me on Twitter, you recently learned that I cut the chord on cable television. It’s felt great. The annual savings could be as high as $948! That was just from the basic cable package — nothing special.
Now, I’m not going to retire on that amount of savings, but even after buying episodes of shows I love (The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Breaking Bad… oh AMC) and subscribing to Netflix streaming, and using Amazon Prime, I’m still going to reap some significant money. But, I will not be able to watch USA vs Mexico, and I will have to subscribe to MLB.com — which as a Red Sox fan in New York City I have to do in order to watch games that aren’t nationally televised or on the YES network.
So as you can tell, I’m getting all of my viewing pleasures via the Internet. I don’t receive the Netflix DVDs in the mail, and I don’t frequent a REDBOX or similar kiosk offering. I actually watch more “television” now than I ever did, but often in the comfort of my Kindle Fire at 2AM when I’m finally unwinding and turning in for the night.
My question: is this ecommerce or entertainment?
With Netflix’s House of Cards, can anyone even have a discussion as to what the best show on TV is when, arguably, the best show to come out this year came out not on the television, per se, but through Netflix streaming… and in its 13 season entirety.
Welcome, to the new normal. #loveit