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April 2009

social media experts : myth or reality?

First of all, let's set something straight:

  • Social media are the content and connections that join people both online and offline.
  • Social media has been around since man learned to communicate, to form tribes.
  • Every kindergartner with friends is a social expert.  They know how to build and maintain relationships.

Social Marketing is the artful practice of utilize the movement and momentum of the social dynamic towards marketing objectives.

Just because you have three thousand friends on facebook, or x# of followers on twitter doesn't mean that you could engineer the same success for a brand, nor does it mean that you can harness this momentum to meet marketing goals and objectives.

A social marketing guru/expert is not necessarily the most knowledgeable person in the room regarding all the newest technologies.  They do however, understand the technology's implications, the social dynamic and the evolving nature of communications.  Nobody has all the answers to tomorrow's problems, because tomorrow's dynamic is not yet known, and today's is still being discovered.  But this cannot and should not stop us from progressing, executing and strategically innovating today.

There's no stopping you from joining the conversation and becoming an "expert".  But just because you are trying, doesn't mean that you have arrived.  Actions speak louder than words.  Prove it. Do it.  And please, please, please, share and talk about it, because we're all yearning to learn.

Related posts from those that get it: Joe Jaffe inspires through rants, Scott Monty demonstrates by leading, Chris Brogan lays down the basic standards for qualification, Greg Verdino breaks down the title, Beth Harte expertly wraps up the debate, Josh Hallett tells it nicely and simply, Mack Collier speaks about the real experts, Kathy Sierra delivers a solid dose of stick-to-it motivation, and Lisa Hoffman call on real experts to stand by their status.

Top 10 Blogger/Influencer Pitch Mistakes

  1. It is not about you, it's about the blogger. Don't focus on yourself, talk about what's in it for the blogger.
  2. Do not pretend to regularly read a blog that you don't.  You're not fooling anyone.
  3. Don't pretend to be friends with the bloggers friends if you aren't really friends with them.  This may help you get your foot in the door, but it destroys the relationship when the blogger discovers that it isn't true.
    • On the flip side, use your network to break through the clutter.  Friends trust friends.
  4. Don't reference a search engine that led to the discovery of the blog. It's irrelevant to the pitch and extremely impersonal.
  5. Don't give away the kitchen sink.  Your goal is to inspire interest and conversation.  Give enough information to inspire interest, nobody cares to read a long email (unless you are friends with them).
  6. Don't leave off without sharing a url for more information, as well as a real name, phone number and personal email address (this email address should include the name of the person pitching).
  7. Always invite further conversation.  Your goal is not just to generate one post, it's to build an advocate and information sharing pipeline.
  8. Consider the context of the pitch before sharing it.  Don't pitch in Twitter if Twitter isn't the right environment for the messaging.  Just because there is less pitching in a given platform than email, doesn't make it a better communications vehicle.
  9. NEVER send a form letter or use a "seeder".  Your goal is to connect, shouting won't get you anywhere.
  10. Don't add to the clutter, break through it. Anything you can do to deliver a truly unique message, be it the vehicle (email, facebook, twitter, phone call, singing telegram), the content or the offer.

twitter: behind the numbers

Twitter-users Adam Ostrow over at Mashable recently published an interesting post comparing twitter audience dynamics to blogging. 

  • eMarketer estimates Twitter usage at 6 million registered users. 
  • Nielsen reports that their unique twitter pageviews are up to 14 million.

Given this breakdown, Adam suggests that Twitter is becoming closer to a blogger experience, with the majority of the audience reading and a smaller minority publishing. 

I don't know that I agree.

Put the eMarketer and Neilsen numbers together, and roughly 42% of twitter visitors are active publishers. The same cannot be said for blogging.  It is far easier to engage in short conversation (Twitter) than it is to regularly publish a full post on your own destination (a Blog).  The dynamics are different.

Additionally, I do not believe that there are 6 million active users (tweet at least once a week for more than 1 month), or 6 million people who have engaged in conversation on twitter more than 50 times.  If we were to hold blogging to the same standards, the universe would shrink, but it would remain substantially larger, as would the blog reading audience.  The discrepancy between audience and contributors would not match up.  And they will not match up.

Reading on twitter is not akin to reading blogs.  The experience is different, the value is different.

Reading a tweet is to listen in on a conversation.  Reading a blog is to read a letter on a topic of interest.  The value exchange is different.  The engagement is different.  And the usage patterns will evolve appropriately. 

Twitter is not short form blogging.  It is a different.  It's a mix of SMS, instant messaging, blogging and mind mapping, all to create something truly unique. 

facebook migration: reclaiming what was never yours in 10 Easy Steps

Fan conversation So someone has built a fan page around your brand, bringing hundreds of thousands if not millions of your brand fans to their destination?  What do you do?

A) You could contact Facebook and have a form letter to sent to the fan page admin telling them that they violated the terms of service and passing the group to the brand stewards.

B) You could ignore your brand fan pages or advocate groups, and engage only on your brand terms.  This is not advisable.

C) Or, you could contact the group or fan page admin.  The only problem is that you cannot identify the admin from a fan page, right?

Maybe.  But there is a shortcut that I have found that could make your life easier.

UPDATE: Since Facebook's recent redesign, this may no longer work as non admins can no longer see a list of all fans.

Step 1: go to the unofficial fan page.
Step 2: Count the number of fans.
Step 3: Divide this number by 10. Write down this number.
Step 4: Click on the number of fans.
Step 5: Go to the end of the URL, you should see a number 1.
Step 6: Replace the number 1 with the number you wrote down in step 3, divided in half.
Step 7: Start adding numbers (like the hot and cold game) until you look to be near the end.  Manually, start clicking backwards to the last page.  Chances are, one of the first people to become fans of the brand started the page
Step 8: Invite the 'founding fans' to preview the official brand page.  Offer to profile them and make them rockstars.  They are your original Facebook advocates. Use this to your advantage.
Step 9: Repeat this step for all the other fan groups you have on Facebook.
Step 10: Maintain active relationships with all of your brand ambassadors.

    Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

(PS - if there is a suicidal cult using your brand imagery on their fan page, it's VERY OK to have Facebook pull the page)

Posts That Inspire : 12 Great Posts

For the past two weeks, I have been gathering a list of posts that best provoked real thought.  Hope you enjoy them, I know I did.

ad literate : Context is King

... Now, not that I want to rain on the online viewing parade but I do want to encourage a moment of caution before we all drink the YouTube Koolaid. Caution inspired by the idea that it’s not only content that is king, context has a pretty good claim to the throne too... - Here's to hoping the ad networks are reading this post.

advergirl : Social Site Experience: The coolest thing.

... At their best, brands set an expectation for an experience. They connect what a company does to what it says about itself. Capital was a project just like that - find the cool, genuine stuff and tell a tight little story about it... - I wonder how remarkable these social sites will be in 3 years time.

tech n' marketing : 11 Things to Avoid When Using Twitter

... Since Oprah joined Twitter, you can be sure that hundreds of thousands of “stay-at-home moms” across America have begun tweeting. There are of course endless debates surrounding this topic and whether this is a good or bad development, but one thing’s for sure, there are now many new people joining Twitter who have no idea what they are doing... - Hillel is an old friend, and he's on fire with these Twitter posts.

BL Ochman's What's Next : PR Pitch From Hell

...The subject line "Love your blog! and question" led to the dumbest PR pitch ever... - for my response, I would defer to the Conversation Agent post below.

Chaos Scenario : Social media snake oil

... At the end of the day it's about your competitive environment, your customer and your strategy. Work on those first and then understand which tool is the right fit. - Strategy first, tech and toys later.  I can buy that.

The Viral Garden : Secrets of the top Marketing and Social Media blogs

I can't find a snippet that summarizes it, but trust me, it's THAT good.

CK Epiphany : Everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask...

Wouldn't it be grand if we could tap our collective intelligence and create our own marketing survey ... a research project that was truly "for marketers, by marketers"? Now we can. - I don't have any pithy questions, but I hope you do! This looks like a great project, so ask away!

Conversation Agent : When is it a good idea to include bloggers in your media outreach? (PS - this post wins for best image)

... The best pitch is in fact a conversation...  - I wonder how many impersonal social cold pitches actually work.

Greg Verdino : Are you a middle finger marketer?

... It's marketing at, rather than marketing for.  It's investing in the promise of new business rather than in the reality of your current clients.  It has more to do with your ego than it does with your customers.  And to your customers, it probably amounts to something akin to a tacit "screw you" -- so don't be surprised when your customers reply with, "no, screw YOU." - solid post, but the real kudos goes to the anger and passion, the hard imagery followed by a real marketing lessonIf you aren't already reading Greg's blog, do yourself a favor and start.

Hee-Haw Marketing : What makes you human?

... We can’t build influence in this space by yelling louder. We must be good listeners, engaging in reciprocal relationships and mindful of the needs of others. And to be talked about, we should do all these in ways that people find worthwhile enough to share. Yes, the sorts of things likable, interesting people might do... - this is a must read for every marketer chasing social success on twitter, blogs, facebook or "viral". For more, check out the Chaos Scenario post above.

Innovation Playground : What Is Social Branding?  What Makes A Brand Social?...

Brand is not just visual images and tag lines, it is the collective emotional response to images and experiences... All broadcast businesses are in big trouble, and user-generated videos are just the beginning. There are more to come... - I don't really agree with much of this post, but it's solid food for thought.  Broadcasting is not dead.  The mass reach of sweeps TV is better for branding than social.  There is a role for both forms of marketing.  Doom sayers may be validated in 20 or 50 years from now.  But in today's market, major brands should not be dropping all media for social.  They should be adjusting their allocation and integrating their marketing.  Because percpetion is based on a multitude of inputs, including traditional media!

The Social Marketing Blog : Susan Boyle Knows Something You Don't
Giving them a predictable, repeatable experience each time they use your product is one way - I'd say it's the price of entry. No amount of viral videos, marketing gimmicks or slick mailers are going to matter if you've got a shoddy product. But beyond what's expected, how are you exceeding expectations, creating the "wow" factor, and still being on a level that they can identify with. - I had a very similar post written a while ago, but then came across Scott's post and decided to link to it instead.  My key takeaway: tell a good story, inspire people.  Make them believe.     

Hope you enjoy them, I know I did!

social spam : there are no shortcuts

Wall of spam You can mass email bloggers.
Using automated tools, you can auto-post comments onto "relevant" posts.
You can buy email databases of "influencers".
You can perform a basic search on LinkedIn and mass email your top 100 targets.

But 99 out of 100 times, your "personal message" in the social channels will be less than relevant, inauthentic and far from effective.

What do these tactics do for you?  What do they say about you?  Does it say that you get it, understand social or sincerely desire a relationship?  Does it make your message meaningful?  Or are you just spamming in a more personal (social) channel?

Technology does not replace human relationships and human communications.  It enables it.

Great ideas and strong strategies will succeed.  Junk mail is still junk, no matter the platform.

case study: Domino's - is response enough?

DominosLogo Backround

A couple of Domino's employees posted an immature video of themselves contaminating the food at their local Domino's.

This video went viral.  Within days it was viewed nearly 1.3 MILLION times, was embedded in about 300 blogs and had well over EIGHT THOUSAND comments.  This was a social disaster.

Domino's responded the very next day, posting a sincere, honest and personal video on YouTube.

While the speed and strategy of this response was commendable, the video response only netted just over 306K views, 86 blog posts and 3K comments.

Social outrage clearly travels faster than an apology or response.

Key Takeaways

While Domino's took all the right steps after the fact, there is a lot they could have done before the disaster struck to soften the blow in the event of a social disaster.

  • They could have leveraged a community of advocates or supporters, if they had one.
  • They could have utilized their friends and followers on Twitter or Facebook, if they already had these relationships in place. (note: Domino's is on Twitter at @dpzinfo speaking to 300 people after the fact)
  • They could have directed all of the sympathetic supporters referenced in their video to an advocacy page or community.  They could have even collected verbatims and shared them online.  If they onlhy had the infrastructure setup to support this.

No matter how hard you erase, you cannot unprint the digital conversation.  

Response allows you to enter the conversation.  But conversational presence and readiness before the incident would have enabled a stronger response and possibly even a dampend the impact of the offending viral message.  If only...

- - - - 

PS - is this a sustainable proposal? Would you ever recommend these steps to a client?  I would.  But not as a response.  Response and disaster recovery are a fringe benefit of advocacy, but not the sole purpose or social marketing.

social without WOM = OLA

Social Media Marketing Madness Cartoon by HubSpotImage by HubSpot via Flickr

In plain English: if you set out to achieve social media/marketing success, without focusing on the value of Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing, all you're doing is advertising.

A bit ago, I sat down with a number of traditional marketers in a social setting outside of the workplace.  One of them jokingly commented, Will everyone at the table who writes a blog raise their hand.  Then another said, Will everyone who reads blogs raise their hand.  Clearly they intended to communicate that only geeks and teenagers read blogs. 

Ignoring the research and the stats, I couldn't help but wonder why they didn't consider that very conversation between the three of us to be social media.

Every conversation is social.  Every referral is social.  Something as simple as seeing every mother in BJs (a big box retailer) buying Pampers is a social marketing success.  And while you're at it, ask any of those mothers why they only buy Pampers, and you will get the same answer: because it doesn't leak.  That is powerful.  That is social.

Capturing this message in a traditional media like TV, can be social.  A social call to action can present in print, on the radio, or even in packaging.  Social media is not a digital practice.  It is a marketing discipline.  It just so happens, that digital is often the most easily scaled and measured environment for Word of Mouth, and this is where the social confusion kicks off.

Sure, many of us work at digital agencies, but we don't market to blogs, twitter or to Facebook.  We market to people.  And people talk.  And we trust people.  So we market accordingly.

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