Social Media Marketing

action is real > great agencies deliver action

Richard_Nixon_campaign_rally_1968 Show and Tell is the basis for the entire media/PR industry.  A great talker or sincere conversationalist can inspire and empathize.  Talk is very important. Talk works.  But even the biggest ad spend or social inspirational effort cannot sell a clearly broken product.

So what's an agency to do when they are tasked with selling a broken product? 

Fix it.

Great agencies and consultants don't operate in a communications silo, they empower and partner with their clients to deliver real solutions.  They join the real marketing discussions, including product, design, distribution and internal/external communications.  They don't just think communications, they bring real marketing strategy to the table. 

Talk without action simply doesn't work.

Don't think social.  Think business.

Inspired by the video below.

finding value in your shiny objects

Social Beyond Singular Campaigns

Social currency for a brand can grow in two ways: slow and steady or slingshot

The slow and steady growth is more likely sustainable, but as most campaign metrics (and marketing metrics) utilize a traditional purchase funnel, slow and steady efforts often fail to hit key "awareness" benchmarks.

Slingshot tactics are far more gimmick-heavy and generally reach scale quickly, but they generally go dark a couple of weeks later.  These are campaigns in every sense of the word.  Give out a few free Macbook Pros on Twitter and watch your follower counts soar.  Give away seven free iPhones and watch your brand become a trending topic.  Create that incredibly creative Facebook application or visualization of the conversation, and hold up your scaled short-term engagement as your success.

But is Slingshot-value real social value?  It this where most brand will play in the space?

Probably.  As dirty as it sounds, Slingshot Marketing is going to be much of what we see in social over the coming few months.  The strategic vision, budgets and dedication to doing social right just aren't yet there.  Yet.  But with the inclusion of some basic marketing know-how, your slingshot shiny objects can be of value.

Here are a few basic principles:

  • Build ongoing social support into all activation budgets.  If you can't perform customer support triage, it will be very difficult to inspire a new consumer perspective towards the brand.  This doesn't need to be expensive, but it does require some training and strategic setup. 
  • Build for an ups and downs, not starts and stops.  Your brand doesn't need to be inspiring new conversation everyday, but it does need to be present, real, relevant and responsive to the conversation 365 days a year.
  • Slingshot Marketing/shiny objects should speak to your core brand value.  Don't give away an iPhone when you are selling a low-tech pair of socks.  Connect your shiny objects to the brand value prop.  Make your promotions speak to your messaging.
  • Invest in personalities and relationships.  Always have a twitter account available for following, and a brand page on Facebook where people who engage with the application can gather for current engagements and future activation.
  • Level set with key stakeholders that this is a shiny object, not a full social strategy. 
  • Setup your measurement, learning process and KPIs in advance. 
  • Listen to the conversation.  You just may find a few advocates and opportunities.
  • Setup a follow up lessons-learned session before you start.
  • Always bring ideas for a more strategic plan as a next step.  Neither you, nor your clients will find continued success in gimmicks in place of real marketing.

setting the record straight: Techcrunch - the community

People on a bridge
Networks Vs Communities

A network is a connection.
A community is built on top of a network.

A network does not require activity.
A community is active, built by and of people.

Where do blogs fit in?

A blog is a publication in a social context.

Communities are built around shared affinities.
Shared affinities are discovered via front-facing social objects that draw like-interested individuals. 

When thousands of active readers converge on a blog, engaging in threaded commenting and lengthy discussion - is this a blog or a community? 

Blogging has evolved.  There are now three categories.  And a fourth is just around the corner.

3 Primary Categories of Blogging

  1. Social Journalism - NY Times blogs - professionally authored and published, the social arm of a traditional media property
  2. Community Blogging - blogging as part of a conversation, a broader community. 
  3. Broadcast Blogging - traditional publishing in a blog setting.

While the technology suggests that TechCrunch is a blog, it is only a matter of time until the next category emerges.

4. Content/Community Blogging - creating social objects as conversation pieces to inspire an active community.

A blog on a community page may currently serve this purpose.  But a community function on a blog (similar to Mashable's Community) changes the blog dynamic.

Disqus and Typepad Connect bring threaded conversations to blog comments.  But I'm waiting for the technology that connects comments and commenters, enabling deep, structured conversational engagement in the comments.  I'm waiting for the community in the comments. 

Blogs are no longer one size fits all.  Comments are no longer one size fits all.  It's time we recognized them as such.

Inspired by a tweet from Andrew Weissman. Kudos to Howard Lindzon for sharing via retweet.

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Amazon vs Verizon : customer service 1.0

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

About 7 years ago I had my first customer experience with Amazon.  I had ordered a college textbook. It shipped 2 weeks later, which they told me (via email) was normal.  I was behind on classwork and furious with them.

Two years ago I had another issue with an Amazon order.  I used the click-to-call button on their website and in seconds my phone was ringing with a HUMAN customer service rep on the line.  I was very impressed.

This morning, I got the following email from Andrew P, a longtime close friend:

I called Amazon today, as there was confusion for a refund I received.  Spoke to a very nice guy, American, English.  The order was some of Aliza's textbooks.  The confusion was resolved simply. 

Afterwards, I asked him to check the status of my order I placed last night for a textbook (not sure if I told you I started an MPA program at FDU).

When I finished the call he says, "And good luck in school."
I thought that was a great personal touch.

Amazon didn't win this advocacy via paid media.  They didn't even utilize cutting edge technology.  They put a smart and capable customer service rep on the phone.

With all this talk about technology, good marketing is about the right mix of great people with solid delivery (often powered by tech).  Kudos Amazon, for getting it right.

Verizon Communications Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Compare this to Verizon.  Two years ago I and my fiance (now wife) both had Verizon phones under contract.  Our phones were dropping calls regularly. As it was cheaper to switch to Cingular/ATT, we asked Verizon if they could offer any breaks.  The Verizon rep told us while we could switch carriers, we were violating a contract (how offensive!).  Cingular on the other hand, threw in an extra $100 to cover the cost of switching carriers. 

Verizon couldn't get their sales support in line with their product offering. Not much has changed.

From the looks of the video below, Verizon still has some serious customer service issues.  While they are spending millions on media, they still cannot get a handle on the basics - human service.

Verizon, if you're listening please feel free to shoot me an email.  We should talk. 

Hilarious Verizon Support Video Below

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10 Reasons CEOs Need Social Insights ... and 6 Steps to Setting this up

executive CEOs are busy people.  They don't write the market briefs, they read them.  CEOs look to a trusted inner circle of resources, both people and data, to inform their decisions.  Likewise, they rely on trusted people and resources to execute their visions.  But is social intelligence part of this trusted inner circle?

Matt Dickman recently posted:

A recent CMO Council study, however showed that only 16% of 400 executives they surveyed have an online listening plan in place. 56% have no plan to track of drive word-of-mouth and only 30% thought they had the ability to resolve complaints quickly. Why such a low percentage? What is stopping these CMOs from implementing a plan?

Below please find my 10 Reasons CEOs Should be Listening to the Conversation

  1. Reporters are listening to the conversation.
  2. Verbatims from the conversation are organic. Verbatims from focus groups are not.
  3. Your consumers are talking.  They need to know that you care.
  4. Two minds are better than one.
  5. Crisis prevention - get out in front of the rising issues.
  6. You cannot start a conversation without getting to know the conversational conventions of the community.  This is true at the high level report to CEOs and broad activation strategy as well.
  7. Metrics point to data. Insights speak to people.  Machines don't purchase your product.  People do.  Get to know them.
  8. Break out of your comfort zone/echo chamber.  Social insights offer broader scope than focus groups and traditional market research.
  9. Social insights are both timely (near live) and time sensitive.
  10. Relationships start with mutual respect. You are the executive face of your brand. If you aren't listening, then your brand isn't ready for a two way relationship.

6 Steps to Setting Up Executive Listening

  1. Identify your listening goals and communicate these efforts to senior leadership.
  2. Identify a passionate and informed social maven for social leadership.
  3. Engage a social listening solution that fits your staffing, social goals and activation dlieverables.
  4. Establish your reporting gameplan.
  5. Share insights and gather feedback from the CEO's inner circle, optimizing social insights for maximum reach.
  6. Establish communications plan for publicizing these efforts (and potentially participating further down the road).
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social yelling - the day after the superbowl

  • Not everybody likes the loud party guy with all the friends and buckets of charisma.  But lots of people do.
  • Nobody likes the wannabe party guy who is just loud.

Brands may not be expected to "participate in a two way dialogue" on broadcast television, or during a 30 second Superbowl spot (though they should be listening and learning).  Because for those 30 seconds the brands are the life of the party, they have purchased the stature of everybody's friend.

But just seconds later, someone else is the focus of attention.  The second your spot ends, you cease to be the center of attention.  Sure, people may speak fondly of you the day after, remembering your great punchline.  But if you don't join the next party, everyone will have forgotten you in just a few weeks time.

The superbowl is great for mass awareness.  But it would be a shame to throw away all that awareness without the most rudimentary digital/social follow up.

The Game is over.  Let The Conversations begin.

Social and the Superbowl, finding the synergy

99904243_c62c3e6cdf_b A few weeks ago an experienced agency veteran told me that "We are all snakeoil salesman".  He was suggested that our discipline is that of selling refreshment by broadcasting that message, even in the absence of a product that actually refreshes.

I beg to disagree.

I could not market snakeoil as anything other than an ironic accessory for hipsters.  Because the media world I live in is not one of broadcast messaging (for the most part).  I live in a world of conversation.  Broadcast messaging has it's place, but in my world, conversations cannot be bought or sold.

Conversations cannot be generated or seeded, they cannot be created by a brand or media property with white space alone.  Conversations can only be inspired, participated in and fostered.  You cannot force me to talk.  You're welcome to join my table.  But if you would like me to share your message, you're going to have to earn my advocacy (for the most part).

There is no 30 second spot equivalent in social media.  There is no easy mass appeal solutions.  There is no superbowl for social media.

Your microsite may have become a Facebook application, your widget may now be an iPhone app, but without cultivating a meaningful presence or relationship, without tying your efforts to a campaign and your campaign to a brand and your brand to a relationship, what have you accomplished?

This weekend, millions of us will watch brands gamble millions of dollars on fantastically overproduced commercials interrupted by what is often a less than exciting football game.  We will sit glued to the screen as Coca Cola releases their newest expression of excitement, Doritos shows off yet another prosumer inspired vision and beer companies attempt to make us laugh by (a) creating comically awkward social situations or (b) utilize animals as actors in non-traditional settings (hilarious, that one always gets me).  We will see 3 million dollar creative gambles.  And as always, most will fall short of their promise, leaving only a few memorable spots that may be discussed in the weeks ahead.

But for mass reach, there is nothing like the Superbowl.

Your 30 second spot in the superbowl is only as meaningful as

(a) it is remarkable and

(b) your follow through you offer the day after.

Would your company, client or brand be better served by investing $3 million on mass eyeballs or $3 million in sustainable relationships, in better customer service, in truly remarkable social responsibility?  And if you are investing in the former, don't you owe it to yourself to invest equally in the latter?

If you need to drive awareness with everyone, make a big splash.  Go for broacast TV (and online video).

But if you want to drive your business in the long term, think beyond the splash.  Earn your marketing.

Because social isn't free, and while it may be intuitive, it sure isn't easy to get going.  Nobody can market snakeoil in this social world.  And no, there is no social Superbowl, no way to buy millions of eyeballs for millions of dollars.

Don't substitute shortcuts for marketing. Use them only when appropriate. 

Don't just broadcast, kickstart and converse.

social media and political insensitivity

(Disclaimer: I have never read the Quran. I enjoyed having Mein Kamph in the bathroom for some light reading in college.  The views expressed in the videos embedded below are not my own.)

Fitna How do you tolerate intolerance?  Should you?

A member of the Dutch Parliament is being called out by the Dutch courts for insulting Islam, comparing the Quran to Mein Kamph. 

My Question
Is the democratization of media always a good thing?  Is it a good thing that one man has the right to stand up and reach hundreds of thousands via YouTube to share this non politically correct perspective?

Does the web celebrate the niche because the mainstream media doesn't serve their needs?
Is this a good thing for democracy?  For humanity?

Original Fitna Interview (part one) video below

Dutch Commentator on the Political Retribution over Fitna video below

My 2 Cents
I'm not sure that humanity is bettered by voices that call out one another's religious beliefs.  Nor am I convinced that assimilation is the answer to multi-culturalism.  But I can say I am proud of a culture that allows even the most un-PC people to voice their un-PC opinions.

With this in mind, is it acceptable for a PC country like Indonesia to block this content?