Persuasive Picks for the Week of 08/24/09

Twenty-One Top Twitter Tips… from Forbes

Still not convinced of the business value of Twitter? Forbes understands your concern and did some research for you – canvassing scads of businesses and pricey social-networking gurus looking for honest answers on how to make money – if you can make money – with the microblogging service. Their answers may surprise you, as they share 21 ways Twitter can have an impact, and not just as a marginal marketing tool.

College Optional?

Larry Cheng, Partner at Fidelity Ventures wonders aloud if college is necessary for a true entrepreneur. “Sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher every day for four years in so many ways is exactly the opposite of what someone with an entrepreneurial DNA should want to do.” In this post, he outlines what he sees as a “blueprint to success” for those with no degree. First lesson? Take $1.00 and turn into $1.10 by this time next week.

Use Teamwork to Tackle Problems

Of course you know that teamwork is important, but in this Marketing Profs Daily Fix post, Paul Williams outlines in detail – complete with instruction template – how to create a GroupChallenge. Beyond basic brainstorming, a GroupChallenge is a simple and inexpensive way to―on an ongoing basis―inspire creativity and teamwork to generate ideas and solve problems.

Group Challenge Setup - Image from Marketing Profs Daily Fix

Group Challenge Setup - Image from Marketing Profs Daily Fix

Why Waltham Doesn’t Matter

For those on the East Coast, this piece by Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe has created quite a stir. Will it be the new turf war? Kirsner claims, “The new core of Boston venture capital has moved in closer to the city, toward Copley Square and Harvard Square,” and that “as a group, they [Waltham venture capitalists] represent the worst of the old-school business culture.” He has some great viewpoints on risk taking, the innovation economy and what he terms “the vibrant new culture of entrepreneurship.”

Should PR Professionals Use Social Media to Build Their Personal Brand?

PR Week takes a look at two opinions on one of the hottest debated topics in our office. How do you balance personal brand with your corporate brand? Should you? Two PR professionals weigh in.

From Battledecks to measuring ROI – PodCamp Boston (#PCB4) was a huge success!

Podcamp Boston 4Recently I attended my first Podcamp in Boston, the birthplace of the original Podcamp, founded by Christopher Penn and Chris Brogan, back in 2006. From the show of hands to find out who else was new to the “UnConference,” I realized that I wasn’t the only newbie – there were actually too many of us to count. If you are unaware of what Podcamp is all about, according to the official Podcamp site, “A PodCamp is a BarCamp-style community UnConference for new media enthusiasts and professionals including bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, social networkers, and anyone curious about new media.”

I was amazed at the size of the crowd, especially during a weekend conference on one of the nicest days of the summer. It was a wonderfully diverse audience but despite this diversity, the common theme joining us together was our passion to learn – from the sessions and, of course, from one another.

If you weren’t able to attend, don’t fret. CC_Chapman put together this awesome slideshow that includes some great shots from the entire weekend. See anyone you know?

Aside from the hilarious Battledecks and Pecha Kucha session led by Gradon Tripp – where he shares with us the 24 reasons why Twitter sucks – I wanted to highlight the “False Metrics and ROI” session led by Leslie Poston.

During one part of her session, Leslie stressed the importance of first listening to your customers because they are talking about you. If you don’t currently have a social media strategy in place to listen to what your customers and the industry are saying about your business, then you could potentially be dealing with a big PR nightmare like the one that happened with Domino’s Pizza, where a few employees decided it would be fun to post a video on YouTube as they “tampered” with the food. After only two days, that little video was viewed more than 550,000 times, potentially damaging the 50-year-old brand that Domino’s has worked so hard to build. Luckily, Domino’s was watching and listening, and they were able to take action immediately.

But not all companies are as social media savvy….at least not yet.

For example, we can’t discuss listening and not bring up the United Airlines situation where they mistreated musician David Carroll’s equipment while he watched helplessly from his seat on the plane. After trying to resolve the issue privately, which proved ineffective, David decided to create his own music video about what happened and posted it to YouTube. That video went on to receive almost five million views and tons of online buzz. Finally, after more than a year of disputes, United finally admitted they were in the wrong and decided to compensate David for his damaged equipment – A little too late in my opinion.

Listening to online conversations doesn’t have to be difficult. As Leslie pointed out, there are several online tools (both paid and free) available to help any organization do a better job of listening to online chatter. These tools are designed to make social media participation easier and more streamlined, as well as help companies do a better job in monitoring and managing their online presence. Some of the tools she highlighted include:

  • Radian6 (paid)
  • BlvdStatus.com (free, offers campaigns)
  • Google Alerts (free, keyword based, boolean search terms to help you narrow)
  • Google Analytics (free, fully customizable)
  • DNA13 (Paid, encompasses print and web)
  • HaveAMint (free, fully programmable in php)

If you aren’t currently using some of these tools above, you may be doing more work than you should. Don’t miss out on valuable discussions – both positive, which you’ll want to elevate – and, as in the cases outlined above – some negative, which you’ll want to address as soon as possible

If you are interested in seeing Leslie’s Podcamp session for yourself, you can view it in two parts below:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Overall, PodCamp Boston was an amazing experience and it will definitely not be my last. In fact, there are plans in the works to bring the first PodCamp to New Hampshire and I am proud and very excited to be on the planning committee for that event. If you haven’t been, be sure to find one in your area and go. I guarantee a quick ROI on your very small investment!

Photo credit: Elizabeth Thomsen

He Said, She Said – Confusion on Social Media vs Social Marketing

I’ve learned a lot about social media over the last several years but one thing that really sticks out for me now is the confusion between social media and social marketing. Part of this problem stems from the multitude of people using social media that equate it to the ability to use social media effectively in marketing. This confusion may be one of the biggest misnomers in business today. Your ability to chat on Twitter, create a video or “friend” all the most influential bloggers does not mean you’re good at social marketing.

Part of the problem is that suddenly, just about everyone claims to know social media – or more specifically, how to do execute social media in marketing. A lot of “one hit wonders” – someone who struck gold with a video that went viral, or a firm that had early success with one client (usually, a major brand name) – are claiming to be the “gurus” but aren’t necessarily delivering consistent and whole strategies for a variety of clients or businesses. Take, for example, Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz’s wedding video – aka, “The wedding dance video.”

I’ve read plenty of blog posts where people are touting this as “a great example of marketers taking advantage of video and social media.” But that’s not wholly accurate. No marketers planned this as a campaign – it happened to be a video of a couple at their wedding that was incredibly entertaining, accumulating more than 10 million views on YouTube in less than one week. Then the marketers took notice, as written about by Google: “The rights holders for the song in the video – “Forever” by Chris Brown – used these tools to claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by “JK Wedding Entrance Dance.’” And that’s fantastic. But the truth is, it was happenstance – and yes, the marketers caught on in time, in order to increase sales. But I wouldn’t say that they “used the video for promotion,” rather, it happened organically. It wasn’t a planned “viral video” (because you don’t create “viral videos” – you create great video that you can plan a viral marketing campaign around) by brilliant marketers. And this video doesn’t make Jill and Kevin, Chris Brown or the rights owners brilliant marketers.

The truth is, while social media isn’t as radical as some may claim it to be, it has presented an entirely new way of thinking and interacting – especially for businesses – and for the most part, we’re all on a pretty level playing field. What will shake out in the next year or so is the “social media expert” moniker – we’ll see who is really developing ongoing and persistently smart and effective social marketing strategies, vs those one hit wonders or “I can set up a Facebook fan page for you” consultants.

It’s been interesting watching the explosive growth of social media’s popularity, especially for marketers. When we first introduced Twitter to clients over two years ago – suggesting its use as part of marketing, PR, customer service and sales strategies – we were one of the first PR firms that had established a corporate entity on the now-explosive microblogging service. In fact, we were part of the early discussions around whether or not corporations should be on Twitter at all (and maybe a little too ahead of our time, but that’s another blog post). Luckily, our stance was yes. What’s really interesting in that post, by the way, is reading the comments and comparing the attitudes then to now.

Today, what we’re finding is that our counsel isn’t needed to convince clients that social media is important. Rather, it’s to help clients understand the definition of social marketing vs the “social media” buzz-worthy moniker. I’ve been interviewed several times over the last couple of months about social media for business. In almost every interview the question arises: “What’s the first thing a company should do when thinking about social media for business?” My answer is always – “Know your business goals. Be clear on what you are trying to accomplish first.” It’s surprising how many businesses just want to jump in feet first now that social media for business is all the rage. But the bottom line is, whatever you do with social marketing should tie back to your business goals – whether it’s increased awareness, definitive thought leadership, sales, better customer service, leads, business development, partnerships, etc.

Know your business goals. Recognize the difference between social media and social marketing and beware of “social media experts” that don’t bother to ask about your business goals. If they don’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish as a business, all the greatest videos, Tweets or Facebook fan numbers will be a moot point.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 08/16/09

LInkedIn GroupsHow To Use LinkedIn Groups To Drive Website Traffic
Jason Yormark shares five tips to help drive traffic to your blog using LinkedIn Groups.

Corporate Twitter Toolbox: Twitter Tools for the Enterprise
Sudha Jamthe lists off the top market-leading Twitter tools to manage social media engagement with your customers.

The Five Ws of Social Media Listening
Chuck Hemann guest posts on the SocialMediaExplorer blog and shares his take on the who, what, when, where and why of social media listening.

Six steps to controlling brand buzz on review sites
Neal Leavitt asked a number of industry experts, analysts, and agency heads about their online brand monitoring experiences and how they handle criticism and negative buzz. Their perspectives are revealed in this post.

Online communities are most authentic
Chris Abraham reminds us that online (virtual) communities are filled with real people – and why it’s important to take your involvement (and your brand’s involvement) seriously within such communities, in order to be most effective

PR: Needed, If Not Loved – and Sorely in Need of Industry Change

I had the pleasure of receiving a complimentary copy of Rafe Needleman’s book, “PRO PR TIPS: Public Relations Advice from a Jaded Journalist” recently. (Thank you to its sponsor, ITDATABASE). This book is a brief and humorous – although sadly accurate – compilation of 100 tips that Rafe started originally as an occasional exasperated Twitter rant, which then became a blog, which now he published as this book. (He’s continuing to add to the blog, however.)

Most of the tips seem obvious. They attempt to help PR pros keep it simple with items such as “Tip #33: So lonely – When I say, ‘I really can’t take a call right now, I’m on deadline, can you e-mail me?’ please do not respond with, ‘But I really want to talk to you.’” or “Tip #11: Ruthless – Don’t take clients you don’t believe in.” Others might be a surprise to certain types of PR executives… such as “Tip #23: Lip Service – Please don’t kiss me. 95% of the time, it’s just awkward.” (Sidenote…kissing journalists? Maybe in Hollywood but not in the real world!)

My personal favorite tip was more of an assessment, really: “Tip #4: Needed, if not loved – No matter what people say, some companies really could use good PR counsel.”

It was good to read this acknowledgment, of course, but it brought me back to the question of why are PR executives so often the subjects of rants and raves? Why is such a seemingly docile profession so often the catalyst for a journalist’s wrath or a bad marketer’s scapegoat? Then I remembered several other items I’ve recently read that showcased exactly why, at least from a journalist’s perspective, PR is “not loved.” Just today, Jennifer Leggio, Social Business Blogger at ZDNet (and in communications herself for Fortinet, where she is the Strategic Communications Director), wrote this post, titled, “Public relations fail: A lesson and a rant.”And last week, Gina Trapani revived her “PR Spammers” wiki, calling out the domain names of agencies who have frustrated her.

So what is the lesson here? The lessons go far beyond the irritations with PR executive’s who kiss hello, spam-like pitches and overzealous jargon. The problem is industry-wide and won’t change until the PR agencies and industry leaders stop and take a serious look at what they’re teaching and doing each day. We’ve got to figure out how to change the archaic business model – how to make a profit without turning PR into a dumbed-down version of email spam because executives are under pressure to “hit” so many media targets (as opposed to working with a few for quality). It all seems so obvious – but the truth is, PR agencies don’t want to invest the time it takes to do the media-relations portion of PR well (the kind that doesn’t have the business world using PR as a dirty word every day.) And until we stop breathing down the necks of account executives about billable hours (and cramming in as much pitching as possible), this won’t change. We need an industry-wide call to action – it’s going to take a village to fix these problems and it’s only going to come in the form of a revised business model for agencies.

With the advent of social media and such public displays of humiliation, PR executives will be forced to choose between keeping the C-suite happy or keeping the journalists happy. Let’s not forget the clients need to be happy, too (although I suspect clients will need to learn to appreciate quality, solid strategy, long term ROI and good reputations over “quick-hit” quantity as well… but that’s another blog post).

We need a change so that the next book Rafe writes has tips like “Tip #4: PR – Needed and Improved. Hooray”