Tag Archives: social media marketing

Email vs Social: Channels aren't social, humans are

Email vs Social: Channels Aren’t Social, Humans Are

Email Marketing vs Social: Channels aren't social, humans are

The discussion regarding email and social and which one is the better channel (email is dead yada yada) is getting rather tedious. What makes this entire debate really frustrating is that it’s completely worthless in the larger scope. Oh sure, email marketers feel compelled to douse any suggestion that email is dying in order to reassure clients that they should still be spending with them, but other than that, what’s the point?

The people we market to will make the decision as to what channel is best suited to their needs and that’s the only choice which matters. Everything else is simply politics and drama.

Email is a social channel because by definition, any interaction between humans is social. It doesn’t matter if that interaction took place in person, via email, by phone or Twitter. We are social, we build communities wherever we go because they suit something bred in the bone which spurs us to seek out others and interact. The web hasn’t reinvented humans. Quite the opposite in fact! We’ve colonized cyberspace, bringing all the light and darkness which dwells within us. Virtual reality will not make people better in and of itself, but hopefully, we’ll apply it to make the world a better place for our kids to grow up in. Continue reading

Are Your Customers Trying to Find Your Business on Their Phones? 5 Facts That You Should Know

Are Your Customers Looking for your Business on Mobile Phones? 5 Facts Worth Knowing

Are Your Customers Trying to Find Your Business on Their Phones?  5 Facts That You Should Know   There has been a lot of talk about the power of mobile marketing.  From text marketing to applications, the market is abuzz with the “power of mobile.”

For some businesses it seems like a perfect fit, while other companies struggle to see the value of implementing a mobile marketing strategy.

That’s why when I read a great article in Entrepreneur Magazine that had some information consumers use of mobile phone, I thought I would share it with you.  The article was based on the findings of a recent research study done by Harris Interactive.  I’ve grabbed 5 highlights to share with you here: Continue reading

Social Media Day Antwerp

Social Media Day Open Forum: You’ve Got Questions! We’ve Got Answers!

Social Media Day AntwerpSocial Media Day by design is a pretty free-form event. Some local events are strictly GT parties and some are trying to add a little more. At the Social Media Day event at Hangar 26 in Antwerp on June 30th, J-P De Clerk and team have put together a great party and networking event! But, they also have decided to include the opportunity for people to gain and share knowledge and insight on social media marketing.

Everyone has questions about social media and especially about leveraging it for marketing, even those of us who might be considered knowledgeable or even “expert” at it. At the event, from 5 PM to 6 PM, there will an open social media forum with Olivier Blanchard, where you can ask your questions and get answers and insight from a thought leader in social media.

Now, one hour is almost certainly not going to be enough, so you can also ask your questions via email, comment, our LinkedIn group or even Facbook. J-P has assembled an all-star team of social media pros who will review the questions and answer them.

As well, and I’m very happy to say that you can ask your questions right here! Leave a comment with your question and we’ll get you an answer fast!

Once we’ve collected all the questions and shared answers and insight, we should have some great material for some very enlightening posts after the event!

Linkedin recruiting

5 LinkedIn Must Haves

5 LinkedIn "Must Haves"With everyone going on about the wonders of Facebook and Twitter, our poor friend LinkedIn sometimes gets left out in the cold.  While not one of the most visible sites, it is definitely one of the most powerful.  With millions of people from all over the globe taking part in the conversation on LinkedIn, it is definitely a place online where your audience thrives.

What I usually hear when I speak to prospective clients about LinkedIn is that “I’m not B2B, I’m B2C.  LinkedIn will never work for me.”  Aside from that statement oddly rhyming, that statement can’t be more false.  Whether you are B2B or B2C, you can carve out your own audience on LinkedIn.  I’ve said this quite a bit, and lately people have been asking me to put my money where my mouth is asking “Can you prove that there is ROI in LinkedIn?”  My answer, “Absolutely!”

About 60% of my business comes from LinkedIn.  True.

While my firm may be unique, we handle accounts for a wide array of clientele that get results on LinkedIn.  Not only sales and referrals, but speaking engagements, sharing of content to a wide audience, hits to their website, media appointments and much more.  I’m not saying that 60% of your business WILL come from LinkedIn, but it is definitely a spot where you need to be.

But my purpose here isn’t to sell you on the wonders of LinkedIn.  It is targeted to those of you out there who are registered with LinkedIn (for a week, a year, 10 years, whatever) and don’t have your completed and are just waiting for the magic to happen.  Generally those like this complain that they don’t see any results from LinkedIn.  Here’s why: you’re not doing anything.

So let’s get moving and create some stellar results!  Here are my 5 LinkedIn “Must Haves” when you are trying to market yourself using this massively useful site:

1.  You MUST Fill Out Your Profile:  A name and title is not enough.  LinkedIn gives you ample opportunity to showcase yourself and your brand.  Instead of leaving half of the profile blank (the percentage of which LinkedIn will show you on the right hand side of your profile), why not take an hour or two and really fill it in properly.  Want people to call you?  Add a phone number.  Want people to look at your website?  Mention it with hyperlink at the drop of a hat.  Don’t skimp here…this is where people are going to find you credible or not credible.  Oh, and one final thing.  Have a professional profile picture, nothing wild and off brand.  No picture = no credibility in my book.

2.  You MUST Join Groups:  Not only must you join groups, you must also take part in them.  I know it seems like a tall order, but this is one of the areas where the magic happens on LinkedIn.  Now don’t get stuck on the fact that you have to find groups only within your sector, you want to find those in addition to groups where your target consumers may be.  For example, if you are a cosmetic surgeon in NYC you may want to join 25 groups on cosmetic surgery and 25 groups based around the NYC area.  The idea is simple.  The professional ones will help you gain news and knowledge in your sector while the others will help you share your business and expertise with target consumers.  I say join as many as LinkedIn allows (50) and start working them!

3.  You MUST Ask Question and Answer Questions: There is a wonderful function of LinkedIn that allows you to answer and pose questions to your network as well as LinkedIn at large.  This is a great way to get in front of prospective supporters, consumers and referral partners – so don’t be afraid to jump in there and share your expertise by answering a few questions now and again.

4.  You MUST Reply:  Nothing drives a social media user up-the-wall more than sending messages that never are replied to.  I’m not saying the mass messages that start with those wonderful words “Dear Friends”, but rather those emails sent to your on LinkedIn.  Not interested in what they have to say?  Give them a polite “No thank you, but I appreciate your kind offer”, don’t say “Leave me alone” or ignore them completely.  This is networking.  Would you act like that in a cocktail party?  Nope.

5.  You MUST Bring Your Profile Alive With Testimonials and Applications:  Even the most engaging profile can use a helping hand now and again.  First off, anyone that you have ever worked with or has known you professionally – ask for a recommendation, a mutual recommendation.  This is an eye-catching way of proving credibility and the quality of your work.  Never ask for testimonials from people you don’t know, never worked with, and just friended.  That’s tacky.  On the application side of things, go onto your profile and scroll until you see the Applications section and click “More Applications.”  This will take you to a section that allows you to not only integrate your Twitter account and your WordPress blogs, but also share pdf files and PowerPoint presentations.  These are wonderful ways of bringing your profile to life.

I’m sure I could go on with the wonders of LinkedIn, but these are definitely the ones I am most passionate about.  These steps will help you get the most out of LinkedIn in addition to helping you learn more about shaping your LinkedIn marketing strategy.  Its not easy at first and can be time consuming, but keep with it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your social media following.  It is an ongoing effort that will bring you what your after, if you are patient.

Why Aren’t You Promoting Your Social Profiles? 10 Ways to Make it Happen

Why Aren’t You Promoting Your Social Profiles? 10 Ways to Make it Happen

Why Aren’t You Promoting Your Social Profiles? 10 Ways to Make it Happen

When going through numerous articles on social media strategies it dawned on me that there was a glaring omission: tactics on how to promote your social media profiles OUTSIDE of logging in to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

While it may sound odd, cross marketing is an essential part of a successful social media marketing strategy (as well as a successful marketing strategy).  It is completely understandable that when you launch a social media campaign, you really want to spend a bulk of your time logged into the site trying to achieve penetration and engagement.  For example, when marketing your business’s Facebook Page, you are logging in on a daily basis to update your page, share it and use different onsite tools to engage with your target consumers.

But what about the people that you speak to everyday on the phone or at events?  How about those who you give your business card to?  How about the people on the receiving end of the 100+ emails that you have to respond to daily?

This is where you need to focus on what I call Off-Site Social Media Promotion.  The best part?  It isn’t that tough (which is always a good thing, right?).

Here are my top ten tactics that you can instantly use to promote your professional social media presences…off-site:

1.   Add to Your Email Signature: When it comes to promoting your social media presences off-site, email is your first stop.  In your email signature, add a link to one or all of your social hubs.  Just be careful not to overdo it!  If you are a member of 100 different networks, don’t add them all.  My rule is to try to keep it to around 3 or less.

2.   Add to Your Business Cards:  A trend that I have been seeing is the adding of social networks to business cards.  This is a trend that I definitely support as it adds more relevance to the handing out of business cards (especially in our growing “green” landscape).  The same rules apply, but with business cards I suggest adding the networks where you are the most active.  For example, I may be the most active on Twitter, so that would be the one I would add.  When adding the network address, make sure that you have a custom username so it is easy for the recipient of the card to read and then type into their browser.

3.   Add to Your Website and Blog: One of the best ways of promoting your social networks off-site comes courtesy of the networks themselves.  May have plug-ins that are free and easy to add into the structure of your blog and website.  These look like boxes with your logo, recent activity and a box for the viewer to click to connect.  These allow people who are visiting your blog/website to easily engage with you on the social platforms WITHOUT leaving your site.  Plus, as you update your social networks, it reflects on your blog/website badge which not only makes you look up to date, but it provides your website/blog with fresh content on a consistent basis.

4.   Add Share Buttons to Your Website and Blog: If you are constantly publishing content to your website and blog, why not allow others to share it?  This is a bit more complicated, but a web design professional can help you do this.  If you don’t have this, you are definitely missing a trick.  Also – make sure that you have an RSS feed on your blog, it is very important and can be used in many wonderful ways online!

5.   Add to Your Advertising:  This one is a no-brainer – make sure that you add the link to your social media presence in your magazine, newspaper, radio and television advertising.  Just think: you are spending quite a bit on advertising, why not get the most bang for your buck.  Also, you can use your social media presence to support a contest that you are promoting through your advertising.

6.   Add to All of Your Marketing Collateral:  This is another no-brainer.  If you have brochures, media packs, flyers or physical promotional products – add your social media link to them.  Easy as that!

7.   Add to Your Events: When putting together the promotional schedule for an exhibition or event that your company will be represented at, make sure not to forget to add your social media profiles to the game.  Make sure that it is on the collateral and stand, but you can even run a Twitter contest during the event and promote it through a bag drop.  There are lots of ways…just think out of the box!

8.   Add to Your Contest:  I touched on this earlier, but when you are holding a contest, a great idea is to use the opportunity to showcase your social media profiles.  Especially on Facebook, you are able to nearly duplicate the look of your website on your Facebook Page – it is just down to making the cross marketing happen and finding a designer to complete the job.

9.   Add Your Networks to Your Phone:  This little tip does involve a bit of on-site promotion.  One of the biggest tips that I have is that if you have a smart phone you should have the main social media sites you downloaded and ready to use on your phone.  This way you can share pictures, video and information in real-time from anywhere.  There are always things that you miss that you regret not sharing, this makes sure that it doesn’t happen again.  This tip is also helpful when you need to show people your profile in a pinch if you are meeting them face-to-face and describing your online work.  I’ve had to do it about a million times, so it does happen.

10.   Add it to Your Vocabulary:  Do you ever tell anyone about your social media presence?  Or do you just think they will find it on their own?  In order for people to find and engage with you online, they need to know that you exist online….and many times if you have a very common name brand or name, it can be confusing and difficult to locate you.  So make sure that you talk about your presences on your calls, when you meet someone new, at events and more.  The people you interact with everyday can be some of your biggest supporters on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

I think the overriding message here is to mention your social media presences as much as possible.  Remember, if people don’t know that you are using social media sites to promote your company – they aren’t going to look for you.  Let them know, it’s the best way to go!  At the end of the day, you wouldn’t send out a marketing material without your web address on it, would you?

Word-of-Mouth Marketing: The Ostrich Factor

Word-of-Mouth Marketing: The Ostrich Factor

Word-of-Mouth Marketing: The Ostrich Factor

I had an interesting exchange a few days ago regarding social media and the power of word-of-mouth. I was at my car dealership and one of their senior people was looking at a problem with my car. When he asked what I did for a living we started talking about social media. To set this up right, let me point out that this gent is a vet of the business, has seen a lot of changes and has tons of customer interaction and service experience.

When I mentioned how word-of-mouth has been turbo charged by social media and too many businesses out there aren’t catching on fast enough, his response was one I’ve heard before. While he acknowledged the impact of social media and the reach it provides consumers, he felt that impact was lessened by the fact that most people will take any critical information on these channels with a grain of salt, assuming there are two sides to every story.

This perspective can only be described as the “ostrich syndrome”, but even ostriches don’t actually stick their heads in the sand to evade a threat or something we don’t understand, only we humans do.

The fact is that because of social media and our connected world, word-of-mouth is both your best friend and potentially your fiercest foe.

A survey of 2,800 internet users in 14 countries by InSites Consulting (reported at The Wall), revealed just how much reach word-of-mouth online has today. According to the survey, on average, connected people have about 196 friends each online. The top three countries in terms of the most friends online were Brazil at 360, Portugal at 236 and the USA with 200.

Considering the ripple effect, I’d say there’s some real potential there for someone to exercise influence be it good or bad, regarding their experience with your brand. The weight anyone of these friends might put behind an individual’s opinion really depends on the relationship between them. But overall, who would you be more likely to give credence to?

Last time I checked, generally speaking, corporations didn’t have the best record for credibility with the public. I simply don’t think a corporation stacks up all that well against an average person’s experience if you know them, even just casually.

I do believe that people tend to “average out” negative product reviews on something such as an ecommerce site. I think most of us tend to overlook the extremely negative and the over the top positive reviews and draw more influence from those in the middle. Of course, if the average tone of the reviews is negative, we definitely take that as a bad sign. But of course, the credibility of a critical review of a product or service rises when we know the source, even if that connection is virtual.

So what is this new empowered word-of-mouth via social media going to lead to? Better damage control? Lord, I hope not! How about better products and service right from the start? How about more public scrutiny resulting in improved R&D and Q&A?

Social media and the power it gives word-of-mouth isn’t a threat to be avoided or feared. It’s an opportunity to be embraced and exploited to benefit your customers, your organization and your brand. The worst thing you can do is to stick your head in the sand and rationalize.

What do you think?

Marketer's Important Objectives for Social Media in 2011

Marketer’s Important Objectives for Social Media in 2011

Marketer's Important Objectives for Social Media in 2011

MarketingSherpa has posted an interesting chart derived from a survey of 3,300 marketers asked to indicate their most important social media marketing objectives they hope to achieve in 2011.

The question was: What are the most important objectives for your organization’s social marketing program to achieve in 2011?

Increasing website traffic via social media integration was number one at 56%, followed by improving brand awareness or reputation at 51%. Also top of mind at 51%, was the desire to develop an effective and methodical social marketing strategy.

Achieving measurable ROI from social was most important to half of those surveyed, while converting social media members, followers and the like to paying customers was the primary to 45%. Achieving or increasing measurable lead generation from social marketing came in at 40%.

Why is it that only half of those surveyed thought that achieving a measurable ROI from social media was important? Is this because the newness of social media hasn’t worn off quite yet and we don’t have a good grasp on how to do this? As Christopher Donald of Inbox Group pointed out to me: Would email marketing be all that if we only expected it to create brand awareness and influence reputation? Shouldn’t more marketers be concerned about this and pushing to see the same ROI measurability as email marketing?

The survey results had more than one surprise to offer. For example, only 20% of those surveyed thought that integrating social with CRM and other marketing solutions was a priority. Also, a paltry 12% thought it was most important to recruit departmental staff to perform social marketing activities.

Something else which really got my attention, no place in this chart (perhaps it comes up elsewhere in the chart source: MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report) did I see anything about developing a robust internal social media policy. Isn’t this the first step to developing any kind of social media success?

OK, we all jumped into social and started running, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking stock of where we are internally and developing a sound foundation for success in social media with solid internal policies and social oriented cultures.

If we want to be effective in any of these initiatives, shouldn’t we have robust social media policies in place as a foundation to build up from? If we don’t know what we expect from all our employees (and what they can expect) when it comes to social media, then it seems to me we are putting the cart before the horse.

A healthy and productive social media strategy really needs to be the out facing of a healthy and productive internal policy which supports not just objectives, but a social oriented culture where the focus is on the consumer being the centre of your universe.

I suppose you could say that this isn’t something for marketers to be dealing with, but I would disagree. First, the two most active departments in social media for many (if not all) corporations are marketing and customer service. Second, both these departments are primary customer contact points for an organization. So, how robust and healthy your internal social media policies are will affect how well your customers are served by it.

If your staff knows exactly what is expected of them and what they can expect from social media, then they’ll be confident in their dealings with your customers online. If you have a social oriented culture which puts the emphasis on information sharing, accessibility and empowers every employee to be a customer advocate and problem solver, your customers will be much happier and you’ll gain new ones from the power of social and word-of-mouth.

If you don’t have an internal policy in place for social media then it should be one of your priorities. Evaluate what you’ve accomplished with social and what you think you can do over the next year, but more importantly, take stock of your corporate culture and ask some hard questions about it.

Clear policies are always important to avoid potential disasters. This is especially true if those policies affect communications/relations with customers. You owe it to your staff and to your customers because if you just let the bulls run loose, it’s a good bet that at some point, one of them is going to break some very expensive china.

Highlights from European Social Media and Email Marketing Study

Highlights from European Social Media and Email Marketing Study

Highlights from European Social Media and Email Marketing Study

I’ve just been reading The European Social Media and Email Marketing Study from eCircle and I thought I’d share some of the high level observations with you.

The survey was conducted online with just over one thousand participants.

When considering how people use email and social networks, eCircle reported that 73% of respondents have at least one social network account. The study also concluded that Facebook is the social net with the largest multiplier potential – regarding reach, number of friends and usage intensity.

Those seeking information on products and companies via social remains relatively low at just 28% and that seems consistent with other surveys.

Only 32% of those using social networks are fans or follow a company brand and half of those fan/followers are doing so because they are looking for discounts or special offers from the brand. Are you aware of this desire? Are you doing anything to meet it?

When it comes to advertising, not surprisingly, social network users regard their network as a private garden where they control who they communicate with. Again this study supports the conclusions of others surveys which revealed that advertising in email is generally more accepted than on social networks.

The survey found that 95% of people are checking their email at least once per day. One quarter of email users check their email daily from a mobile device. Even the social networkers still see email as relevant with 85% of them using their email accounts for ecommerce.

Share With Your Network (SWYN) doesn’t seem to be catching on too well with Europeans as only 8% of respondents reported using it. Yet when sharing does occur it can have a reasonably wide reach. 43% of social networkers have more than 100 friends or followers and on average, each shared message reaches 77 people.

Here’s the one bit of information that I loved from the high level findings of the survey: 13% of fans and followers of a company or brand want to be called upon to do something. That’s awesome! A pretty good percentage of people actually do want to get involved and participate with you. So, what are you doing to fulfill that desire? Are you allowing your fans and followers to participate and interact with you?

Report: Where Marketers are Focusing in Social Media

Report: Where Marketers are Focusing in Social Media

Report: Where Marketers are Focusing in Social Media

According to the Social Media Marketing Report 2011, a significant percentage of marketers are investing a good amount of time each week in social media. 58% reported they were using it for six hours or more each week. 15% reported that they spent more than 20 hours a week on social media. That’s a substantial investment of time for anyone and it’s rather interesting what factors influence the percentages.

The experience factor

How much experience you have with social seems to influence how much time you spend on it each week. 63% of people with three or more years of experience spend more than ten hours a week in social activities. While only 41% of those with one to three years of experience spend as much time.

The age factor

Not surprisingly, age also plays a role in how much time marketers spend on social media. The younger the marketer, the more time spent on social. 20 to 29 year olds spend the most time in comparison to other age groups with 41% spending 11 hours or more weekly. 37% of those in the 30 to 39 year old age group spent the same amount of time weekly on social media.

Tool preferences

What tools marketers use for social media also seem to be influenced by how much social media experience they have. Among those just starting out, Facebook was the number one choice with 84% and Twitter running second at 64%. The study authors note that Twitter actually dropped from 71% in their 2010 study. Facebook and Twitter are also the top two choices for those who’ve been using social media for 12 months or less. With both these groups, LinkedIn and blogs came third and fourth.

Again, Facebook and Twitter are one and two among those marketers with 1-3 years of experience. The percentages were higher with 95% citing Facebook as their number one tool and 91% Twitter. Again, LinkedIn and blogs came in third and forth.

When we look at the numbers for those who’ve been in the game for three or more years, things change a bit. Twitter is number one at 97% followed closely by Facebook at 95% while blogs move up to third (86%), LinkedIn is fourth (84%) and videos are higher in this group with 75% using them.

Types of business

The type of business also plays a role with B2C using Facebook and B2B more focused on LinkedIn and videos. B2B marketers are also investing more time in blogging.

My two cents

The only thing which really surprised me here is that a good number of marketers still don’t seem to see the blog as the hub for their social media activities. Perhaps they’ve established blogs and don’t think they need to put more time into them. Sure it takes more effort to manage a blog then it does to start up a Facebook page, but a blog and its content belong to you and you won’t ever find a competitor advertising on your blog as you might find on Facebook. A blog is the one thing (not including the debatable social channel email) in social media which you own outright and have complete control over. I think that’s something worth considering when planning your social strategy.

Future efforts

How will marketers apportion their social media time moving forward? I’ll take a look at those numbers in part two on Friday.

Social Media Swimming Lessons

Social Media Swimming Lessons

Social Media Swimming Lessons

Remember that old video game called “Pitfall”? You had to leap over pits of alligators and swing across swamps and avoid other obstacles. That might be a great analogy for social media if you happen to be new to it. There are a lot of pitfalls and hungry alligators which could ruin your whole day.

So, I thought I would focus today on trying to offer some advice to those just thinking about starting out in social media. I hope this helps and if you have any tips to add, please comment.

If you have the resources than bringing in some outside expertise to help you ramp up on social media is certainly a sound idea. Of course, not everyone has those kinds of resources and that’s who I’m writing this post for. Even so, outside consultants can provide some guidance and the right tools, but you still have to jump in the water (watch out for the alligators!) and learn how to swim for yourself.

I can promise you that at some point there’s a very good chance someone won’t like something your company has done and they’ll talk about it on Twitter or Facebook. Just leaping into that conversation/rant could backfire and that’s why you should do a little learning and a lot of practicing before you take any action.

So how do you get that experience? Well, that’s a damn good question and I don’t have any magic for you here. Learning something such as Twitter is a lot like learning how to play guitar. Your actual lesson only lasts about an hour each week and the teacher then gives you enough homework to keep you busy an hour or two each night till the next lesson. And anyone who’s ever taken music lessons can vouch for the fact that a music teacher always knows who practiced enough and who dogged it. If you dog it in social you’ll get bitten.

Most of us have learned social by doing and I believe it’s the best way. Even if you have a friend who’s a wiz at social, they’ll likely teach you much the same way as a music teacher would: demonstrate, walk through and practice. You can teach someone where the chords are, but they have to practice to get them to make music together.

OK so you don’t have a friend who can teach you and your boss wants you to get all over social media. Assuming you have a basic knowledge of social, the first step you could take is to create a Twitter personal account for yourself and start following those in your industry who have been doing it for a while. What’s working for them and what isn’t? How are they handling negative or critical comments or tweets? How are they engaging people online? How do they leverage social to help drive traffic and conversions? When trying to learn something new, it’s always helpful to learn from the examples of the old pros. Those examples may well include mistakes because just about all of us have had a few of those. Social media moves too fast to know all or be perfect so, the more people you learn from the better your perspective.

Online, lurking is a tried and true method for learning to walk before running — lurking is the duck blind of social media. Many a person has leapt into a forum, Twitter channel or Facebook page without having a good lay of the land and found out the hard way how vicious and unforgiving social can be. Think swamp and hungry alligators!

As well, there are lots of good and bad stories out there documenting social media #fails by brands – a simple Google search will bring up some prime examples. Learn what others have done wrong and then try your best not to do that. Conversely, you can also search for tutorials, whitepapers and tips on using social for your brand. You’ll get a lot of great sites popping up with great info such as err…this one!

To get you started here are a few basic social media tip posts I’ve written here:

Tips on Handling Negative Blog Comments

Tips on How to Handle Negative Tweets

Finding Corporate Success with Social Media

Tweet Tips: 12 Ways to Tweet the Same Thing

What Makes Good Online Marketing Content?

You Don’t Own Facebook

You Don’t Own Facebook

You Don’t Own Facebook

Ed. Note: This post originally appeared on ScottWritesEverything.com.

I’m not breaking new ground here with this statement: You don’t own Facebook.

You also don’t own Twitter, MySpace (apparently it’s still around), Foursquare, LinkedIn, or any other of these so-called social media services.

Why is this important, you ask? Because if you depend on one of these services as your sole means of communication, you’re in trouble.

Think about it: If all you do is post on Facebook, and suddenly Facebook shuts down tomorrow, what are you left with?

You cannot silo yourself to one place for communication, both personally and professionally. It’s just not a good idea because you don’t own the channel.

You may find yourself up in arms about Facebook’s complete lack of regard for privacy. Why should Facebook care? They own the service, and you’re using it for free. If you don’t want your privacy messed with, don’t use Facebook. And create your own social network. If you own it, you can decide how it works.

Yes, I have talked at length about the value I have gained from Twitter. Yes, I rely on Twitter for a great deal of my professional communication. If Twitter shut down tomorrow, would I lose a great deal of value? Absolutely. But would I lose all semblance of communication? No, of course not.

If you use social media, use it remembering that it could be gone tomorrow.

With all that said, the important message to remember: The most important word in social media is SOCIAL.

The goal of social media should be face-to-face interaction in real life.

Why? Two reasons:

  1. Because Face to Face Always Wins (right, DJ?)
  2. Remember, you don’t own the social media channels.

Taking the relationship to that next level takes the need away from channels you don’t own and can’t control.

Just think about it. You might see this whole thing differently.

Seven Social Marketing Inisghts

7 Social Marketing Insights

Seven Social Marketing Inisghts

I’m known for turning a phrase now and then. You’ll find them (some of which have been inspired by other, smarter people) scattered through my posts around the web. Today, I thought I would gather seven of them to share with you all in one place. How insightful they actually are is for you to judge, but I do hope this post generates some thought and discussion.

1 – The web is driven by communities

Communities laid the foundation for the web and they continue to be its engine. It’s certainly true that once companies developed transaction technology, the web started to develop into a commerce channel and money from that kept building it. However, without communities all you would have is huge strip mall with infinite parking. Understanding how communities grow and interact can help you develop a communication strategy which will work.

2 – The email vs. social debate is a red herring being used by some to drive personal agendas

By definition any interaction between two people is a social interaction. It doesn’t matter if it happens via Twitter, email or on a bloody escalator. Each channel has its own strengths and it’s more likely there will be a convergence at some point rather than a replacement. Start thinking in terms of a multi-channel marketing approach and don’t worry so much about the next big thing.

3 – Social media marketing is not a megaphone

Social media means the traditional marketing monologue won’t cut it. It’s a dialogue and you have to be prepared to have that conversation with people. If you don’t have the time and resources or the will to be interactive, then this channel is not suited for you. The most important skill for social media is listening.

4 – It’s a one-to-one communication

I always try to blog or tweet as if I’m interacting directly with one person. There is an intimacy (just you and your monitor and KB) which exists on the web and keeping the conversation one-to-one is a powerful way to communicate effectively.

5 – It’s not important what technology can do, but what people do with it

You’ve got a lot of powerful tools to show off your product online, but the most powerful thing you can do is show potential customers what others do with your product and how it adds value to their lives. User reviews, blogs, social media and video can all be used to get that message across.

6 – Social media people are born and not made

What I mean by this is that those who thrive in social situations usually have an apparent aptitude for it. It’s not likely you’ll be able to train “Silent Bob” from accounting to be your social media rock star, but Jenny who is the life of the staff parties and a social butterfly is probably a good candidate. Take a good honest look at your corporate culture and ask yourself if you have a positive and social environment. Does yours need some work?

7 – Social marketing is not a panacea

Social media marketing won’t weave straw into gold for you. You need a vision and you need a plan and that means you have to set measurable goals for your marketing via social media. What are your goals and how will you measure success?

Five Key Soft Benefits of Social Media for Small Business

Five Key Soft Benefits of Social Media for Small Business

Five Key Soft Benefits of Social Media for Small Business

Please welcome Annie Tsai as a guest blogger here @ Social Marketing Forum. You’ll love her insight and style!

I’ve dived cannon ball style into social media for small business.

Because the relationship piece of running a business is extremely difficult to measure, the value is often overlooked. Small businesses have however always relied on a strong relationship to drive recurring revenue, which is why adding social media to their marketing mix makes so much sense. I’ve found that more are using social media as a relationship building channel first, and a revenue conversion tool second.

So for those of you that are looking to dedicate what little resource you have to also jumping in the social media pool, this one’s for you.

Five Key Soft Benefits of Social Media for Business:

  1. Social media gives us the opportunity to work and have it not feel like work
  2. Social media allows us to help make this globalized economy much smaller and thankfully, much more personal
  3. Technology in the social media space allows us to filter out the noise so we truly can be discriminant if we want or need to – I personally love Hootsuite
  4. Social media gives you a way to put your employees in front of your company – inject a little more personality into the way you do business!
  5. It’s not just about Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget that social media is much more – we’re creating lots of videos with flipcams with the intent of posting them to Youtube to be syndicated throughout all of our networks. Use visual media outlets to educate your community with insider tips that you’re the expert on. Add a flickr stream of your all time favorite customers to your website.

You ready?

About Annie
Annie Tsai






Anne was born in Michigan, but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently the Director of Client Services at a Demandforce, Inc. and Principle at CXP Bootcamp. Annie first started blogging in 2004 and she’s been blogging at ‘Annie Said‘ since 2008.

“Every day, I wake up and make sure that our employees and partners are working hand-in-hand to create experiences that make sense for the people who keep our lights on. I strongly believe that a case can and should be made for the use of Email Marketing and Social Media to build and grow relationships with both customers and prospects.

Email: annie at cxpbootcamp dot com
Twitter: @cxpbootcamp or @meannie
Connect on linkedin

The Marketing Power of Online Communities

The Marketing Power of Online Communities

The Marketing Power of Online Communities

When many in the corporate world hear the words “online community”, they scratch their heads and wonder exactly what that is. Even if they know what an online community is, they may well be intimidated by the idea of managing one. I call that the “new puppy effect”. Bringing home a new puppy is a big commitment and time consuming and it’s fair to wonder if you have the resources to handle it.

However, the fundamental truth that you should understand is that communities drive the web. Social media isn’t an adjunct of the web, it’s the natural evolution of it. Online communities were the spark which created the internet and the engine which continues to power it.

If you have a blog which features user comments, then you have a foundation for an online community. If you are on Twitter or Facebook then you have the potential for an online community. These constructs are much like reefs are for fish – once the reef is built, the community forms around them. If that community is nurtured and encouraged, then it will reach a critical mass at some point and start to actively contribute.

To some, an online community must incorporate a forum/message board to be viable, but I think we’ve now moved forward to the point where that is not an absolute necessity. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email newsletters can provide a good solid foundation for a thriving online community.

I do believe that it’s a good idea to provide personalization for your community members. Your site should incorporate a preference centre where people can opt in or out of newsletters, create a persona and even subscribe to RSS and other feeds. Don’t underestimate the power of personas for people. People like to earn status within communities and integrating a persona feature which tracks and displays status is appealing to many.

Of course the reef analogy I mentioned assumes that you are feeding the fish. Food in this case is content and the interaction you encourage around that content. If you offer valuable relevant content to people on a regular basis and encourage them to offer feedback and suggestions, you will grow a vibrant online community.

Feeding means you have to have a blog editor and product experts who are active in answering questions and responding to comments on the blog and via other channels such as Twitter and Facebook. If you are not prepared to handle a two-way conversation then leave the puppy at the pound.

Identify those who are most involved in your community and then engage them as contributors. Run polls about product features and seek feedback from your community members about what you are doing right and wrong. Just the sincere gesture of asking your customers for feedback and contributions will be perceived as a big positive by them. With an online community you have a focus group just waiting to be tapped for ideas and the best part is they want to participate and contribute!

SMBs Find Value in Social Marketing

SMBs Find Value in Social Marketing

SMBs Find Value in Social Marketing

Would I be wrong in speculating that SMBs have always placed more value in word-of-mouth advertising than larger corporations? Aside from the fact that it’s very cost effective (pretty much free), each and every relationship they create and nurture is absolutely their life blood. After all, with an SMB, you might only be a few relationship breakups away from oblivion.

So, I’m not too surprised to read a post at eMarketer about a new survey which suggests that to SMBs, social marketing is more attractive than paid search for online marketing. Word-of-mouth advertising is the number one way respondents (82%) reported that customers find them, followed by search engines and the internet (66%). Traditional advertising came in a distant third at just 37%.

In fact, according to the survey, SMBs report social media as their number two priority for online marketing. 44% reported they used social media to market their business which ranked second to a company website at 86%. Email followed in third at 35% (although why it is described as “mass email” in the data is beyond me), then came SEO for better search rankings at 28% and paid search at 21%.

As I alluded to earlier, you can make a good comparison with what SMBs have always done well (relationship and WoM) and how social media and social marketing works. SMBs are good at building and nurturing relationships and will often be far more willing to put in the extra time required to keep those relationships healthy.

As well, there’s nothing SMBs like better than some good old fashioned roll up the sleeves DIY and you can certainly DIY social media marketing. Whether you should or not is a topic for another day.

What you should definitely do is have a plan and a vision before you leap into social media. Social media won’t solve any of your problems if you don’t have a plan to apply it with and that goes for any company big or small. Chris Tompkins of GO! Media and I touched on just that topic at the Fusion Marketing Experience in Brussels last week.

The Final Destination for Social Media

The Final Destination for Social Media

It’s amazing how much of the conversation around social media focuses on…social media itself. That is, the tools. Blog posts with “social media” in the title tend to get higher readership than posts about SEO, white papers or just about any other marketing topic. Tweets about Twitter statistics generate far more retweets than if the topic is email statistics.

None of this is bad of course, just interesting. It shows we’re still collectively in the shiny-sparkly stage when it comes to social media. That’s natural, part of the way we (particularly early adopters) are made: we are fascinated by new technologies until they become part of the fabric of everyday life, at which point we collectively shift our focus to the utility of the tool rather than the technology itself. And social media tools are complex, so it will likely take a while to reach this stage.

What will social media look like when it’s mature?

But let’s take a mental leap through time; what will social media look like in x years, when it’s mature and just another tool we reflexively reach for when needed, like picking up the phone today?

  1. First, social media will be ubiquitous. It’s telling that, although growing in number, relatively few companies today include links to their social media points of presence on their websites. Yet virtually every company’s “contact us” page includes their fax number. When was the last time you faxed someone at a company to ask a question? One sign of social media maturity is that social media information will be right there on every contact page along with phone number, address and key email addresses. And maybe the fax number too.
  2. Second, social media will have to be less fragmented. Social media is fundamentally a powerful new communications tool, so think of it like the telephone. Can you imagine having multiple phones sitting on your desktop: one for talking to coworkers, one for customers, one for prospects and business contacts outside your organization, and one for personal phone calls. One provides video capabilities. One only lets you speak 28 words before disconnecting you (140 characters equals roughly 28 words, on average). All of them let you talk to just one individual or a group, but the function works completely differently on each phone. You get the picture. No one would put up with this. For social media, that means either that one platform will end up being dominant, or management tools will evolve to the point of giving users a single monitoring, management and response platform across all of their social media accounts.
  3. Third, social media will have to provide a single login. People are overwhelmed with the number of different systems, applications, websites, platforms and other accounts they need to log into on a daily basis. The ultimate social media management tool will provide a single login to all an individuals points of social media presence, for participation, monitoring and analysis.
  4. Fourth, that ultimate tool / dashboard / system will enable management of multiple accounts. An individual should be able to manage several personal and/or business-related accounts from a single login, and tweet or provide status updates from one or any number of those accounts simultaneously.
  5. Fifth, social media management should ultimately be based on contacts, not platforms; for example, today one can send an email to another individual, a predefined group (e.g. “Accounting Department”) or to an ad hoc group. There’s no need to think: “hmm, Joe is using Outlook, Sally is on Gmail, Fred uses a webmail system…” No, you send an email to a group of recipients, and they get it, no matter what email system they’re using. You set up a conference call, and any invited participant can dial in, no matter what phone company they use. Social media needs to evolve similarly.
  6. Finally, it goes without saying—all social media needs to be multi-platform. A user should have a productive experience on any device from a smart phone to a desktop PC with a large HD monitor (or even a Minority Report style screen).

Given the extraordinary growth of Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook and some of the later entrants like Google Plus and of course the ubiquity of Youtube, it is unlikely that any one social network will dominate now or in the future. So that leaves the emergence of tools to help companies manage their communications across social channels. So what does the vendor landscape look like?

No definitive categorization of these tools has yet to emerge, although the broader segment is often referred to as social media management systems (SMMS). As always with nascent markets, the vendors of this new category use similar terminology and can appear to be offering similar capabilities. However when we look closely at the the vendors, the reality is they come at social media marketing from very different angles.Whilst there is some overlap and convergence in capabilities, broadly we can define five key classes of vendors.

5 types of social media management vendors

The sharers – these are the email and marketing automation vendors attempting to make their platforms relevant for social media marketing. Typically their strategy revolves around making email content assets shareable within social networks, with analytics to support the tracking of the conversion process from this distribution. This class is the least sophisticated in social media marketing capability. Examples include Eloqua and Marketo.

The listeners – the buzz monitoring vendors, whose heritage involves providing the listening and feedback loop to track brand reputation and sentiment. This class of vendors is typically weak when it comes to the fulfillment of marketing campaigns, but provide solid intelligence to support campaign decisions, rather than sophisticated functionality to execute the campaigns themselves. Examples include Radian6 and Brandwatch.

The social inbox managers – these tools are often designed for the social media manager, rather than the broader marketing department. They can be very useful for the aggregating of interactions and publishing of messages on multiple social media channels, but are more centered on managing the day-to-day conversation rather than the implementation, automation and measurement of marketing campaigns across social media. Examples include Hootsuite and Spredfast.

The page builders – this class of tools is focused on page building capability for Facebook Pages and often the curation and management of the wall posts. The single channel nature of this class limits their use for wider social media marketing efforts. Buddy Media and Involver would fall into this class of vendor.

The campaigners – the group of social media vendors that are most focused on managing marketing campaigns through multiple social media channels. Often having templates for various types of campaigns to automate some of the processes and sophisticated tracking of goal metrics, this class of tools allows marketers to easily launch campaigns and measure value from their social media marketing efforts, tracking how campaigns are performing and who the social advocates are that help spread marketing initiatives.

You could say that social media management systems need to be all these things. And you would be right. However social media is fast becoming as ubiquitous as the telephone. It has overtaken email as the dominant internet communication protocol both in terms of number of global users and minutes used. Every department in a company uses email and every department uses the telephone. That is a lot of different types of interactions that will have to happen over social media. Don’t be surprised if the vendor landscape gets more complicated in the short term before consolidation starts to happen.

When will social media become a mature technology? That’s hard to say chronologically, but when we spend as little time concerned with social media as a tool as we do today contemplating how a fax machine works, when social media use becomes as routine as dialing a phone number or sending an email—then we’ll be there. And we’ll turn our attention to new shiny-sparkly things. Or is social media already mature?

This post was co-authored by: Richard Jones
Richard Jones
Richard Jones is the Founder and CEO of  EngageSciences, a social media marketing platform provider, headquartered in Oxford, United Kingdom, with clients across Europe and the US.

The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet

The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet

The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet

I had a very interesting conversation with John Caldwell of Red Pill Email Marketing the other day. In all honesty, I don’t have many uninteresting conversations with John. He’s someone I consider to be both a source for sober second thought and a thought provocateur. Recently we found ourselves in the midst of a “chicken and the egg” discussion regarding the internet, communities and communication.

Did the internet start up because of communities or did it start up and flourish because of the need for more efficient means of communication? At the core of this question is something I’ve preached for many years: The internet is driven by communities and without them it’s just one big strip-mall with infinite parking.

You probably know the story of how the roots of the internet grew from a DARPA project to connect computers at such places as NORAD HQ, the Pentagon and SAC. But did those seeds take root because the people involved needed to communicate and then the community formed or did they grow because a community had formed and to thrive they needed to share information?

Can you have a community without communication? Well, probably not and it is that ability to communicate which allows those communities to grow larger and gain influence. It may be that a community can’t even know it actually exists ‘til communication is possible. Take for example recent events in Egypt. Social media provided a communication channel which united individuals, let them know others shared their concern and were ready to support them.

What I thought was a slam dunk argument (communities first then communication) became a lot less clear as I considered the question. After all, isn’t the beginning of any community as simple as two people meeting and saying hello? On the other hand they’re not a community at that point. Once they know they have a shared interest they then use whatever communication methods are available to them to share their point of view and attract other members.

So my conclusion (not being a sociologist or anthropologist) is that every community starts with a simple communication, but at that point it’s not a community and as such, communication and community run parallel and not one after the other. Frankly, I don’t think I’m smart enough to make a firm declaration on this – although I’m willing to do so just for the sake of an entertaining argument. I’m sure someone a great deal smarter than I has already figured this out.

The one truth I do know is that communities do drive the web and if you want use the web as a marketing tool effectively then you have to know and even be involved in the communities you are trying to reach out to.

While reaching out to other communities, establish your own too. Build a community around your social media efforts and nurture it and you have a resource that is priceless. I’m not just talking about selling stuff to people either. Using a blog as your hub, you can combine other channels such as Twitter, Facebook and others to establish a resource which will be great for you, your customers and generating leads. These communities provide valuable feedback, content and of course, positive word-of-mouth.

And getting back to my conundrum…

It doesn’t matter which came first. It only matters that you value both.

Join me in Brussels for The Fusion Marketing Experience on March 23rd!

Product Recommondations and Trust

Recommendations & Online Trust

Product Recommondations and Trust

Trust me.

Now there are two words which can make you cringe. If someone has to tell you or ask you to trust them then it’s a good bet you either don’t know them or don’t trust them. Knowing someone (having a relationship with them) is a big factor for trust. Sometimes that relationship might not even be direct and personal. After all, people have made careers out of pitching products based on the reputations they’ve established via TV or some other medium which makes them appear trustworthy.

And then there are the experts, those people who have dedicated a good portion of their lives (you’re told) to becoming brain trusts in their field – you trust them because you feel you should. Not because you know or even like them, but because you’ve been told by some letters after their name or the friendly announcer on the news program, you ought to.

Trust is a funny thing. I trust my doctor because he’s got the credentials and the license, but, that trust only goes so far. I had to develop a relationship with him where that trust built up over a number of years of good advice and the kind of professional compassion and skill I look for in a health care professional. The time it took for that to happen would likely have been greatly reduced had he been my neighbour. A neighbour (I might add) who returned my lawnmower without prompting from me.

I invest trust in people because over time, they have demonstrated to me that I can. I cast a jaundiced eye towards anyone who expects me to trust them just because something on their wall or uniform states I should.

So, who do we (internet users) trust when it comes to product recommendations online? According to information from the GlobalWebIndex “Annual Report 2011” which was reported this week in eMarketer, when it comes to product recommendation sources, the numbers show a 47.5% increase for social network contacts over their July 2009 report statistics. That’s more than double microblog contacts at 21% in second spot and far more than trusted bloggers at just 16%. Traditional media didn’t see such increases (not surprisingly) with radio at 8%, followed by newspapers at 3% and TV with only 2.5%. Maybe traditional media sources are simply maxed out on trust or perhaps word-of-mouth has been undervalued in the past because it didn’t have the amplification of the web — I believe it’s the latter.

The web does cast a spell on people where they may feel an intimacy and connection with others they have met online which really is not justified. However, even if the person we are trusting online is redistributing some amount of professionally sourced information about a product, just having that recommendation come from someone we believe we have a connection/relationship with is going to increase the perceived value of that recommendation. As well, there is equity which comes from shared friends via social networks – if you’re a friend of mine and a dozen other friends of mine too, that adds weight.

Of course there’s the “every person” factor – the perception that they are not being paid to shill and have actually used the product or service because they needed it.

I don’t think WOM has become any more credible (it’s always been powerful), but the internet has amplified WOM beyond anything we’ve seen previously. That reach and volume is only going to increase as people use technology to document their lives and experiences. When almost everyone has a smartphone and starts using them to record and broadcast the minutes of their lives, they will also broadcast every experience with each brand and share that with countless other consumers they have connections with. All the experts in the world won’t have the power to sway consumer opinion if one “soccer mom” with a smartphone tells her friends you suck.


Oliver Blanchard: Think Beyond Marketing

Oliver Blanchard has led a pretty interesting life. He served in the French Fusiliers before moving to the US and working with a variety of B2B and B2C Fortune 500 companies and SMBs.

He’s currently runs BrandBuilder Marketing and functions as senior strategist. He helps companies develop, build, integrate, manage and measure social media programs.

He also helps corporations with reputation management both online and off.

Oliver will be one of the keynote speakers at The Fusion Marketing Experience on March 23rd in Brussels. He’s got a lot of interesting and provocative things to say, even his blog’s bio page get’s rave comments and that’s gotta say something special about him.

Here’s an excerpt from one of Oliver’s many insightful posts:

“If you are using social media channels for “marketing” and mostly for campaigns, no wonder you aren’t getting any concrete results: You are doing the same old stuff that already was working marginally well five years ago, only it has been repackaged to sound hip with the times and include a few more channels. That’s it. The only problem is this: You aren’t doing “social.” You are still basically just creating content, pushing it out to potential customers, and hoping they will bite.

And that is why you are getting nowhere in social media, no matter how many people click “follow” or “like” on your stuff.

Fact: Calling “marketing” by another name or adding “social media” to it won’t change what it is: Marketing. Just because your ad agency’s digital department has rebranded itself a “social media” department doesn’t mean anything has changed or improved. Same products and services, different skin. That’s it. Don’t limit yourself to that. If you want to make social media work for your organization, think beyond marketing. Think beyond campaigns. See the whole field.

By the way, if you are gauging success by measuring retweets, followers, shares and “likes,” I guess you also gauge success by measuring website hits, right? Same deal. Same ridiculous, empty, diversionary metrics that mean absolutely nothing. People clicking on buttons on the internet is about as valuable to your business as counting how many cars drive by your office every day.”

Read the full post:
Social Media For Business: Taking Your Program Beyond Marketing Campaigns

I know everyone says this when promoting an event, but The Fusion Marketing Experience is not the same old show. We’re going to get in the kitchen with marketing thought leaders who know how to cook and know how to make you think. We’re going to shake some spice and bang some pots & pans to make some noise! And it’s all going to be served up really hot!

No velvet rope or podium! You’ll be in the kitchen interacting too — bring your chef hat.

Social media marketing success

Finding Corporate Success with Social Media

Social media marketing success

When people mention social media marketing, it’s all too easy to think they are referring to Facebook and just Facebook. However, social media marketing spans a number of channels such as Twitter, social sharing sites and of course, your blog. A holistic approach targeting all channels and a blog as the central hub is a winning social media strategy.

But how do you prioritize those channels? How should the money be spread around?

A study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research (reported by eMarketer), indicates that many Inc. 500 companies are using a mix of tactics in social marketing.

According to the study, 71% of companies used Facebook last year which is up from 61% in 2009. Twitter was close behind with 59% and blogging at 50%.

That last number is interesting! Remember, Facebook is a proprietary channel and it’s open to your competitors as well. Putting all your eggs in that basket or any basket is something to be wary of. Grow your social marketing success from your blog and radiate outward from there.

Those companies using social media also seem to be winning with it. The study found that 85% of them considered Facebook as successful which is up from 54% in 2009. However it hasn’t quite matched more traditional online communities for success, 93% viewed message boards (forums) as a successful tactic. Not even measured in 2009, foursquare, makes a great impression with 75% of companies reporting it as a successful tactic. While Twitter held pretty steady compared to 2009, with 82% reporting it was a good tactic for marketing.

More companies are seeing the value and importance of social media, with 86% reporting that social media is somewhat or very important to their business and marketing in 2010.

It’s encouraging to see leading companies opening up to new ways to interact with the public and market their products, but are they following all the way through on this new way of thinking? This isn’t just a case of new marketing channels to push product through, but a fundamental shift in how we market and communicate to customers.

While marketers may be trying to figure out which channel has the best bang for the buck, consumers are blithely moving from one to the other and back again as it suits them. They won’t ask if you are there or even wonder why – they will simply talk to whoever is.

Marketers have to find solutions which provide a voice on all channels the consumer travels through which is consistent, flexible, engaging and useful. In traditional media the consumer had to tailor themselves to fit the channel and they were willing to do so because of the limitations of the technology. But those days are gone and now marketers have to tailor their message and the delivery method to fit the cross-channel consumer

Social media marketing : A river called social

A River Called “Social”

Social media marketing : A river called social

I used to go “tubing” on a river not far from Toronto. Tubing is where you ride an old tire inner-tube down a river or creek. On this particular river, part of the fun is that there are some pretty good rapids which give you a bit of a rush. My wife and I went camping and tubing there at least once a year and I felt pretty confident that I had mastered it.

I don’t tube there any more because the last time I went, I almost drowned. I hit one of the rapids, the tube flipped over and I found out what it was like to be shoved into a washing machine and put through a full cycle. I came very close to a soggy end (even with a life jacket on) because I was overconfident and thought I knew what to expect from the river.

Social media is like that river – it’s powerful and swift and just when you think you have it mastered, it can suddenly change and suck you under. Any “riverman” will tell you that you can never assume you know all there is to know about a river – a river runs and you have to keep up with it.

We’ve seen the power  of social media bring a torrent of change to places such as Egypt and Tunisia – demonstrating the power of social to connect so many people and empower them. People realizing they are not alone, speaking up and speaking together, using social media to unite and amplify their voices. Not to be glib, but it’s been a great example of WOM.

You can call me a romantic, but I constantly find myself being inspired by the power of the individual to reach out and be heard via social media. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the various sharing sites present the opportunity to broadcast one’s self around the globe.

As we admire the power of this river we would all be well advised to heed this warning from futurist Alvin Toffler:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
–  Alvin Toffler

That sums up the immediate and future destiny of just about anyone who wants to do more regarding marketing than simply sleep through the class in college. We aren’t even at the beginning of the end or even the end of the beginning – a beginning which can only promise us rapid change. What I’m learning is that what I know today might be challenged tomorrow and I have to stay open minded.

Change will be constant, change will be dramatic and change will be quick. If you stagnate, you will be swamped by your competitors.

Whatever social metrics come along, they won’t paddle your canoe for you. I grew up on a river and it was never the same thing twice. You may know a river, but you can never really understand it and you can certainly never take it for granted. Just when you think you know it’s limits, it breaks the banks and moves mountains.

We still have a lot to learn, unlearn and relearn about the river known as social.

Social media monitoring : Attentio acquires 365Research

Social Media Monitoring: Attentio Acquires 365Research

Social media monitoring : Attentio acquires 365Research

In 2010 we saw a lot of agencies consolidating resources and services via acquisition and it appears that 2011 will be no different. European social monitoring and research company, Attentio, just announced they’ve acquired 365Research, a market research technology company. According to Attentio, the move strengthens their technology and product proposition. Continue reading


Smart Social Media: Where Is The Captain?

Cap’n Crunch cereal was first brought to market in 1963. The original Cap’n Crunch character might seem vaguely familiar to some and that’s because he was created by Jay Ward, the same animator who gave us icons such as Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and George of the Jungle.

The Cap’n is an institution to generations of kids and fondly remembered as a part of childhood for many. It may have been during a nostalgic moment for the aforementioned childhood that drove the guys at “The Giant Steps” boutique marketing agency to go on a hunt for the Cap’n online and on social.

The Giant Steps is a small marketing startup out of Chicago which seems to understand that today, the consumer calls the shots and you don’t own your brand anymore. When they spotted the new retro packaging for the cereal, the two founders decided to let the folks at Quaker Oats know how much they liked it. After searching high and low for Cap’n Crunch, they found him MIA. Sure he had a mini-site, but no social media presence on either Facebook or Twitter. When they tweeted about this, the folks at Quaker Oats politely tweeted back, telling them that no plans existed to bring the Cap’n back to active social service. Wrong answer! (BUZZ)

So, what did “the Giant Steps” do? They did what small marketing agencies with imagination do best, they used the situation to create a campaign with a “Where’s the Cap’n” Facebook page, a great landing page with video explaining the campaign, online petition and even “missing” posters you can print out. Then they started tweeting. It took all of about 1 hour from the time it launched to the time I saw a tweet about it, checked out the site, watched the video, visited the FB page, called them and started writing this post. Not a bad example of cross-channel interaction is it?

Quaker Oats is being schooled by two guys running a start up in Chicago on what social marketing means today. A company with a brain trust of marketing mavens has had it’s shorts pulled down by two guys probably not long out of college and that’s gotta say something for the power of the web and social media.

I spoke to Michael who is one of the partners at the agency behind the campaign and he sounds like a guy who really gets social media and multi-channel marketing. I really got the impression that Michael and his partner are truly big fans of Cap’n Crunch. Sure, they’ll get some exposure, but these guys are in it for the old sea dog! Yes, corporate world, people really will do it for love — even for love of an animated logo.

Why not have someone role playing such a great hero of the milky seas and interacting with fans? Sure, he’s a brand, but brands like the Cap’n straddle that line between a brand and a personality we can actually relate to. People don’t talk to brands normally, but brands such as this are more than just that aren’t they?

Ahoy Quaker Oats! Opportunity right ahead!

When initially contacted, did the person tweeting for Quaker Oats take their comments back to the marketing department and start a conversation on this? They certainly should have – after all, a conversation is a two way stream of ideas. When you are on social you’ve got to be as good at listening and using what you hear to generate ideas internally as you are with simply spouting company lines.

Hopefully the good people at Quaker Oats will see this as the golden opportunity it is and respond by jumping on the bandwagon! If they’re smart they’ll respond positively as did Coke regarding a popular grass-roots Facebook Page . Should they take it further and put a little effort and resources behind these two guys, this could really payoff for them.

Join the cause here and stand up for the guy who stood up for us every morning…even in milk: http://wheresthecapn.com