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Digital marketing success means more than shifting marketing spend

by: Graeme Foux

March 3, 2009 – In a marketplace weighed down by poor sales
performance, online appears be a rare silver lining. Time and again
companies report continuing growth online whilst faltering elsewhere.
Google recently demonstrated this resilience, posting positive earnings
for the fourth quarter of 2008.

For marketers faced with shrinking budgets and reluctant consumers, this
is one of the few bright spots. So you might think, accelerate the shift
in spend from traditional to digital marketing and everything will be
fine. If only life and business was so simple. Marketing Directors face
new and unfamiliar challenges to deliver a successful digital marketing
strategy. Firstly, the complexity of digital marketing and its rapid,
unrelenting pace of change is a culture shock to many traditional
marketers. Oh for the days of lavish advertising campaigns and huge TV
audiences. In digital, the audiences are more fragmented, the campaigns
require a greater mix of activities, and both the technology and
consumer behaviour keeps changing. Forget about a one year strategy,
digital marketing success requires careful measurement and constant
adjustments to marketing plans and thinking.

A second key challenge, often unspoken in the delicately balanced
eco-system between agencies and brands, is that there are insufficient
agencies with the strategic digital marketing resources that major
brands require. How many times have I heard Marketing Directors bemoan
the lack of new ideas coming out of their agencies. Curiously, in some
cases it’s the brands pushing the agencies to take on new digital ideas.

And of course it’s not just agencies that are racing to recalibrate
their capabilities. Whilst marketers enthusiastically debate the merits
of Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, the truth is that many traditional
marketers are struggling to understand how to respond effectively to the
social media phenomenon. In fact, brands have a major challenge across
their marketing and communications teams, not only to improve
understanding of the new medium of digital, but to make a mindset change
around consumer expectations and the competitive threat. With tough
economic conditions resulting in lower staff levels, this problem is
exacerbated.

At Knexus Digital, we’ve been working with brands on these specific
challenges. We’ve separated the needs of digital marketing teams from
traditional marketing and communications professionals. The former need
new and better tools to stay competitive and track rapid changing market
developments. With time at a premium, the tools need to be fast and
flexible. Knexus Digital has been developing a combination of content
and tools specifically to address that challenge. Meantime traditional
marketing and communications professionals, who may have limited or no
direct involvement in digital marketing, require content that will help
improve their understanding of digital marketing and how it will
ultimately redefine their own roles. Here we’ve designed content
packages that sit on a company’s intranet or extranet, providing latest
expert insights on digital marketing.

For Marketing Director’s, there’s a clear message here. You may well
need to target more of your spend towards digital marketing, but also be
prepared to change the way you operate and support your team to deliver
success!

##ends##

ABOUT KNEXUS DIGITAL

Knexus Digital, the essential digital marketing resource, delivers
latest insights and market intelligence to leading global brands. We
combine exclusive digital marketing content from leading experts with
innovative productivity tools to drive success.

Our rich programme of 450 + latest digital marketing topics is delivered
by 25 leading experts to suit the flexible needs of our customers –
ranging from 10 minute expert insights online to 120 minute offline
networking opportunities. Coupled with this, our powerful tools provide
effective networking & collaboration, blogging and reporting
capabilities.

In essence, Knexus Digital helps marketing teams acquire new skills and
insights to adapt to a fast-changing marketplace. In the face of global
competition and shrinking marketing budgets, we provide digital
marketing solutions in quick, easy and cost-effective ways.

ABOUT GRAEME FOUX

Graeme Foux is founder & CEO at Knexus, a media tech company based in
London.

Graeme has worked in digital marketing for the past 16 years, both in
Europe and the U.S. He is a successful entrepreneur, having built and
sold one of the pioneering internet consulting businesses of the 1990’s.
He founded Knexus in 2002 to focus on B2B social media, and is
responsible for leading growth in both its Knexus Digital and Knexus
Tech divisions.

Is moderating social networks a legal obligation?

Social networking continues to boom in popularity, but those businesses who choose to use this platform as a route to market their brand will always battle with the fear of being left wide open to bad publicity. This is exactly what can happen if user generated content (UGC) is not moderated effectively, but is reputational damage the only consideration for a business, and what are the legal implications for brands found to be taking an irresponsible attitude towards moderation?

Rob Marcus, founder of Chat Moderators, a company specialising in judging contributions to social media, comments, “The case for moderating to prevent brand damage is simple – if you don’t want to be associated with inappropriate, offensive or potentially abusive material then moderation will seem like a relatively small price to pay. However, some brand owners are confused about the legal obligations of moderating a social networking initiative. Over the past few years I’ve seen some cases of negligence caused by brands not effectively managing user-generated content (UGC) – but whether they face prosecution or not is where the uncertainty lies. There is more Law in this regard than just the Defamation Act, although that’s where most of our legal discussions begin.”

Duncan Lamont, a partner at Charles Russell legal practice, comments, “The law of defamation has struggled to keep pace with technology and, in particular, how people choose to use it. Parliament gave protection to websites which allow user generated content from libel but only if an item is deleted reasonably quickly when a complaint is made. But experience showed that frequently websites were too slow to notice what was going on or to respond to it. Very recently, the courts have taken the view that it is not proportionate to allow expensive libel actions over postings only seen by a very small group of people i.e. five or ten not thousands.

“However the Defamation Act is not the only problem for websites – people choose to speculate on the guilt or innocence of celebrities caught up in criminal law (potentially a Contempt of Court risk), republish copyright protected works, use obscene or racist language or other offensive slurs or material, all of which fall outside the protection of the Defamation Act 1996 leaving brands potentially exposed to damaging allegations that they tolerate discrimination, race hatred, or worse. Un-moderated sites are always at risk of being hijacked, and when things go wrong a critical media may well label as irresponsible any brand owner who was simply relying on their terms and conditions being complied with.” Marcus comments, “I believe it is the responsibility of social media owners to ensure that comments are “fair and decent”. From time to time, brand owners tell me that they’ve been advised not to moderate, in order to avail themselves of a so-called ‘section one’ defence under the Defamation Act – that of ‘innocent dissemination.”

The Defamation Act 1996 protects against the publication of libels in certain circumstances, not the multitude of other potentially offensive material that can be put on websites. Lamont continues, “Although with persistence and determination it is possible to identify the poster of offensive material and possible punishment meted out, it is usually the brand that suffers more from its inability to control the content. A particular problem for websites is privacy – a new area of law that did not exist when the Defamation Act of 1996 was enacted. Privacy invasions are going to be the subject of increasing damages awards, whether what is said is true or not. The invasive comment may be enough to justify a claim and this is something that may get through key word searches and require alert moderation.

“The law is likely to remain “publish and be damned” with no legal obligation for brands to moderate, in the same way there is no legal obligation on an editor not to publish material that is subsequently found to be objectionable. Editors and owners of websites have Article 10 Rights – freedom of expression. The law punishes what is published, not what might cause offence but then again might not. But as brands become increasingly aware of the power of their identities, and the damage that can be done by malicious posters, the likelihood is that there will need to be much more moderation, including “light touch” moderation on those prestigious sites people actually want to visit and have an expectation of honesty, truthfulness, accuracy, decency, fairness or any of these.”

Marcus explains, “All of our clients appreciate that their responsibilities extend beyond the Defamation Act. They are not concerned that by moderating they might be giving up a questionable defence to libel actions (that of being an innocent disseminator), as they know that moderation is the only way for them to manage their responsibilities to other laws (such as copyright, sexual offences and contempt) and to the quality of the user experience. It is impossible to deal with trouble-makers and bullies, or even to answer simple questions from an audience, without moderating. Owners of social media sites might be better off viewing moderation not so much as something that opens the door to litigation, but as an opportunity to enhance brand values by raising the quality of the user experience.”


Rob Marcus,Director, Chat Moderators