Archive for the 'Social media' Category

Influence this, buddy

Wahooly offers online influencers stock in startups to help promote the companies (article).  Sounds like a good deal, right?

Not so fast. The first clue is that Wahooly charges a monthly fee of up to $450.  They’re not stupid.  If you’re a startup, they want your money, not your stock.

Even worse, it’s a sucker’s bet for online influencers.  Multiple the paltry number of shares you would get with the miniscule probability of success of a typical startup divided by the desperation factor of a company that doesn’t have a real marketing plan and sinks to such a program times the reality that dilution makes your stock worth a fraction of what you expected in the miracle event the company has a successful exit.  The average value comes to bupkes.

Do you really want to turn off your friends, business associates, and network and devalue your personal brand for that?

Real online influencers who don’t mind being bought, er sponsored, get cash or a junket to Maui (my operators are standing by).

If you’re not at that level, you’re much better off sticking with the free promotional USB drive, happy hour drink, or steak dinner their PR firm offers.  Failing that, at least get a photo of you and a hot booth babe or boytoy.

Social Marketing: It’s Relationships, not Numbers

I’m a numbers man.  Yeah, it’s a competitive guy thing.  Today it’s marketing metrics.  Seven years ago it was social media.

I saw the top Dallas LinkedIn member had 1,200 connections.  In the words of a A Chorus Line, I said “I can do that”.  And I did, and much more.  In three years I was number three in the world.  Objective achieved.

Value modest.  Cost in time great. Return low. Recommended no.

The past two years the game has changed, expanded to Facebook and Twitter.  But there is one difference.  At least with LinkedIn I had access to connection data like location and industry to target contacts.  I had an email address I could mail (for now, until LinkedIn takes that away). It’s a real contact.

You don’t have that with Facebook and Twitter.   The value of a marginal unengaged contact is nil. And 100,000 times 0 is still 0.  As Paul Gillin writes in Do fans and followers really count?, anyone can buy or acquires tens of thousands of followers.  So you can keep your 45,293 twitheads.  I’m not impressed.

Our updated scorecard for the Twitter numbers studs:

Value negligible.  Cost in time modest. Return negligible. Recommended never.

And it’s a good thing.  Because you can focus on the numbers that really count – customers, sales, and engagements.  You can build relationships that have real enduring value … not big numbers filled with hot air.

Now if you still want to build those LinkedIn connections, have I got a deal for you …

Share This – LinkedIn continues to lust after Facebook

LinkedIn continues its derivative copycat strategy with Share This (TechCrunch article).  As a corporate strategy, LI has to be “like” Facebook to defend its turf from FB juggernaut incursion.  As a marketing strategy, deeper integration with the online world builds LI’s brand and reaches a larger audience that can be converted to users and paying subs.

But let’s be clear.  It’s NOT a product strategy.  As LI focuses on marketing and other frills, it continues to neglect the core networking product that is little changed, and in fact is continually restricted, over the years, an area where LI feels little heat from users, competitors, or investors.

Social Media for CEOs 2: Everything Old is New Again

Digital Conversations are not truly a “New” Marketing Paradigm.

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets (people) are getting smarter — and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members
communicate in language that is natural, open, honest,
direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or
complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is
unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk
in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission
statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-importantto-
us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder
networked markets have no respect for companies unable
or unwilling to speak as they do.

That and much  more were written over 10 years ago during the Internet go-go years.  It’s the Cluetrain Manifesto by Locke, Searls, Weinberger & Levine with an update here.

Social media and marketing is no longer a fad or hip.  It’s mainstream.  Customers aren’t ad targets.  They are beyond being  just stakeholders.  They are active creators and owners of your brand.

Social Media for CEOs 1: Play or Fade

This post kicks off a series based on my recent presentation for CEOs -  “Digital Conversations: The New Marketing Paradigm.”

Social media is very real.  It was bleeding edge ten years ago.  It’s mainstream today.  Facebook has grown to 400 million users.  LinkedIn has 60 million business  members.  Growth is starting to tail off, but only because the market is starting to become saturated.  It’s embedded in how people interact and communicate.

If you don’t participate, you condemn your organization to irrelevance.  Look at the music industry.  The major recording labels refused to embrace digital technology and changing consumer behavior.  As a result they’ve been left behind.  It’s a business in freefall.

The stock market reinforces the impact of social media. Two year old video site YouTube was bought by Google for $1.6B.  NBC TV has been around for over 70 years.  The major TV network is worth about $6 billion.

In the phone field, eBay bought Skype, another 2 yeard old company for $4.1B.  Qwest is a former Regional Bell Operating Company and over a century old.  It has 30,000 employees and a market valuaton of  $9B.

Major new media publisher Facebook is estimated to be worth $4B.  Compare that to the NY Times Co., which owns a stable of top newspaper and magazine properties and a valuation far less of $1.7B.

Are you ready to play, or have your consigned your company to fade into oblivion like the record labels?

Social media basics – Integration

The richness of media has led to people to consume it in personal and  different ways – both desktop and mobile, on computers and portable devices, with apps like email, newsletters, RSS readers, blogs, microblogs, and integrated services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Buzz.  And it’s  increasing with innovation from new devices like the iPad to the proliferation of mobile apps and plugins.

Today you have to reach your customers, prospects, and the public on all these channels to ensure they receive your message.

Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Promote all the ways people can learn from and interact with you.  So list links to your key services, including your web site, blog, Twitter, etc.  If you have many links, create a web page or use a service that lists them all.
  • Promote these services everywhere – on each individual medium, your sig, your web site, all your emails, your blog menu, etc.
  • Take advantage of social media integration.  For example, make sure your blog postings can be received by email.  If your blog service doesn’t provide this feature, set up and link to an RSS to email service like Feedblitz.  Another example -  you already have a LinkedIn account.  Set it up to read in your Twitter updates and WordPress blog postings.
  • Don’t forget to brand.  Use Namechk or a similar service to search for available names across multiple social services. Use domains or subdomains like twitter.mycompany.com to point to your social media sites.
  • Use automatic cross posting from Posterous or other services. For example, I use WordPress blogs whose posts are read by LinkedIn  and which integrates  Twitter updates that are also read by LinkedIn.
  • Write Once-Publish Many.  Each social medium has its own blend of formats and lengths.  When you create original content repackage it for other media.  For example, instead of posting an entire newsletter in one blog entry, break up into multiple postings.

A Social Media High

I gave a presentation last week in Houston called Digital Conversations: The New Marketing Paradigm to hospitality industry CEOs (thank you, my HP friends!)

Social media today is where the web was ten years ago.  While the industry is far from mature, it also has had five years to bake. It’s power is undeniable.  Customer power is remaking entire industries.

Core technologies from video to blogging to twitting are well known.  But they’re at the bottom of the food chain.  The challenge to corporations is not simply having a presence, but in smartly integrating social media and thinking in the enterprise.

The keys to social media success are leadership, organization, structure, and strategy …  just like any critical business function.  The higher the corporate level at which social media is adopted, the greater its value.

Borrowing from Abraham Maslow, I created a Hierarchy for Social Media Success.  Click the image below to see it full size.

Social Media Hierarchy

Ask not what social media can do for you …

… Ask what you can do for social media.

Today social media is not an “if.”  See Social media fact: Everyone is doing it.  There are plenty of successful business cases.  Your customers are already uploading, networking, writing, and interacting online.  And they are being engaged by your competitors.

It’s not a “what.”  I list a host of marketing, sales, and business uses in What social media can do for your business.

It’s a “when.”  And it’s a “will.”  When will you start your social media engagement?  When will you find the willpower to make it a part of your business?

Most businesses don’t have a social media expert or especially a social media manager.  That’s where Blue comes in. Ask what Blue can do for you.

We help you two ways.

1. Consulting for medium and large businesses. Blue offers consulting and retainer services for corporations and their divisions, offices, and staff.  We plan, evaluate, launch, measure, and maintain social media programs that deliver value to your core business.  Our seasoned expertise encompasses not just social media, but also Internet marketing, classical marketing, and management consulting for integrated services and real results.

2.  Tribe Blue for small businesses. Tribe Blue uses a group approach for entrepreneurs and small business owners all over the world.  It enables us to provide powerful coaching, social media consulting, and accountability at an affordable investment.

Social media fact: Everyone is doing it

In What social media can do for your business I wrote “Social media is no longer a gimmick or cool toy for geeks.  It’s an established platform that can advance multiple phases of your business, including marketing, sales, customer service, and recruiting”.  Still not sure?

One of the top fears of businesses is that few people are actually using social media.  This is a prudent approach.  When you’re short of money and resources, you can’t afford expensive risks.  It doesn’t pay to be on the bleeding edge.

One example is the rise of  the Internet.  In 1995 the Net exploded.  By 2000 it was clear it was real but the business case for many companies was still murky.  Another five years later the market finally caught up.  Web sites and Internet marketing became a standard part of the business toolkit.

Social media is undergoing a similar transition.  It’s a trend that’s been growing for several years.  Today it’s no longer hype but a fact.  It’s where your customers are.  Maybe “everyone” isn’t quite interacting online, but over half of US Internet users, more than 100 million people, certainly are.

According to Trendstream and Lightspeed Research:

  • 92 million (44%) have a social network profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere
  • 79 million (43%) upload photos to Flickr and other services
  • 23 million (15%) upload video such as to YouTube
  • 18 million (13%) write a blog just like this
  • 11 milion (7%) use a separate microblog like Twitter

Your competitors know this.  Already 18% of small businesses have active social media marketing programs, according to Vistaprint and Hawk Partners.  Another 14% plan to start within the next year, for a total of 32%.

What social media can do for your business

Social media is no longer a gimmick or cool toy for geeks.  It’s an established platform that can advance multiple phases of your business, including marketing, sales, customer service, and recruiting.

Here are a few of its uses.  Of course just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Social media is a means not an end.  Just like any program, make sure you first have a strategic, operational, and accountable plan that serves your marketing and business goals.

What Social Media Can Do
Branding Distribute company news
* Learn what people are saying about you
Promote Positioning
Establish Expertise
Internet Increase web site traffic
Improve search engine rankings
Other Marketing PR & Communications
Product updates
* Industry news
* Competitive news
Sales * Increase Leads
Run Promotions
Improve sales
Promote discontinued/distressed sales
Retain customers
Customers Learn Problems
* Solicit Suggestions
Enable questions
Other Promote open jobs
Seek Funding
Run background checks
* Top 5 small business uses according to a survey
in Ad-ology Marketing Forecast 2010

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