“Influencers Who Inspire” Our Latest Interview With Jason Miller Of Marketo

Jason Miller serves as senior manager, social media strategy at Marketo. He leads the company’s social media efforts, focusing on optimizing social for lead generation and driving revenue. He is a regular contributor to leading marketing blogs, such as Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today and Marketing Profs.

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Pick one: Beer, Wine, Soda, Juice, Coffee, Tea  or Water?

I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Stella.

In addition to your social media strategist position by day, you are also a rock music photographer by night. What is the one band you haven’t seen live yet that you would love to photograph?

I have been fortunate enough to photograph many of my favorites including The Cult, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Keane, etc. But I am missing one, and that would be Cheap Trick. Their management company has ignored my requests for some reason, but there are two shows coming up here in The Bay Area that I will be attending so I am hoping they respond accordingly this time. It’s free PR for them, so I am very surprised to see them pass up the opportunity.

What parallels in skill sets can you draw from photographer & entertainment writer to the social media magic maker you are today?

Creativity, striving for perfection and the freedom to try new things. Social media marketing is all about how creative you can get while selling to your customers and prospects without selling. There’s a great quote from marketing mastermind Gene Simmons that I always go back to: “We need the people to like what we do. The more they like us, the more they will buy.” That’s been his philosophy regarding KISS and their worldwide domination, but it also applies very well to a company’s social media strategy. The mentality of ‘always be closing,’ needs to change to ‘always be helping.’

In your recent AMA webinar on the topic of Social Media for Lead generation you spoke about “getting out there and trying things.” What ‘things’ do you recommend trying first to increase engagement?

By ‘things’ I essentially mean trial and error. Social channels are simply another touch point between you and your customers and prospects. They move in real time and what works for one business may not work for the other. The idea here is to find success stories and strategies, then make them your own by adjusting the tactics to your audience. Many of your early social campaigns will indeed fail, and that’s ok. The key here is patience and not giving up too early.

How do you keep up with all of your different social networks ? What processes or tools do you have in place to make it easier?

It is challenging, to say the least. Hootsuite is essential for managing multiple social networks, but I really love reading blogs. With the looming death of Google Reader, I have switched over to Feedly to aggregate and read the blogs that I love. Flipboard is also a great option when I want a fully-integrated social feed in a magazine-style format, the only problem there is the filtering. But they are getting much better.

You talked a bit about LinkedIn as a critical social tool for lead generation, and it has certainly improved in the recent months. What do you see as the most valuable way for a business to use LinkedIn?

The most valuable way businesses can use LinkedIn right now is for prospecting, listening and building credibility. There is a cornucopia of insights within the platform, if you know how to set up saved searched-around keywords. There is also a tremendous opportunity to engage with super relevant conversations within the newsfeed and LI groups. I am really excited to see the new products that will be coming from LinkedIn for marketers in the coming months, as I believe they are just getting started.

You also mentioned Facebook as being an important lead generation tool no matter the kind of business you are in. Can you explain why that is the case?

The bottom line here is that if your business or brand, regardless of the niche you are in, doesn’t have a presence on Facebook, you are simply missing opportunities. There are more than one billion people on Facebook; if you think your customers, prospects and decision makers are not there, you are wrong. The important thing to remember is that in the world of B2B marketing, your customers and prospects are not on social to be sold to. Entertain them, tell them a story, give them something to share, help them along the way, and when it comes time for them to purchase, your company will likely be top of mind.

Measuring success is always important to any marketing initiative and tying our work with social back to lead generation is no different. For a small business that may not be able to afford a Radian6 or Marketo right now, what metrics do you recommend looking at beyond likes, shares and follows to determine campaign success. Are there any good free tools that go beyond the average vanity measurements?

That’s a great question. For a small business or anyone just getting started, I would recommend something simple but super effective such as Sprout Social. It’s a pretty decent all-around social tool and provides a nice foundation for anyone looking for a quick snapshot of the social-sphere around their business. Once you begin to get a bit more serious around your social measurement of lead gen opportunities, then you need to start tracking social as a lead source, along with referring traffic and conversions from social. You can do that with Google Analytics. The main thing to keep in mind is that when you start seeing leads come in from social, they are almost never ready to buy. You need to have a lead nurturing process in place, and that’s where marketing automation really shines.

We work some amazing and dynamic marketers and CEOs with fantastic ideas, but sometimes best intentions for writing don’t seem to happen. What is your best tip for inspiring busy executives to crank out the blog posts?

Easy. Go to lunch with them and ask them questions. Record the conversation, then have it transcribed via TranscriptionStar or a similar service. You can extrapolate from there and possibly even have two or three posts from one conversation.

As an aspiring comedian, would you please share the funniest social media update you ever posted or remember seeing across your networks? 

I don’t know if it’s as funny as it is disturbing, but I once tweeted that I woke up one morning still unable to forgive George Lucas for introducing Jar Jar Binks to the world. Somehow it got retweeted tens of thousands of times, and I ranked as the number one influencer for Jar Jar Binks on Klout.

Interested in learning more? Please leave any questions or comments for Jason below.  You can also catch up with him on the Marketo blog or follow him on Twitter.

A “Win-Win PR Situation” for Abercrombie & Fitch

The SituationApparel retailer, Abercromie and Fitch issued a statement on Tuesday titled “A Win-Win Situation,” in which it stated a “deep concern” over the association between Mr. Sorrentino and the brand. A&F offered up a “substantial payment” to Mr. Sorrentino “to wear an alternate brand.” For those of you that live under a rock, the above mentioned, Mr. Sorrentino aka ‘The Situation’ found instant stardom as one of the notorious cast members of MTV’s hit reality series Jersey Shore.

Apparently, following last week’s episode of the Jersey Shore, A&F executives thought it was “terrible, terrible news” that The Situation was sporting a pair of A&F sweatpants. Execs were so distraught that they immediately asked “What are we going to do it about this?”

Of course the most obvious solution would be to compensate Mr. Sorrentino (as well as other cast members) for NOT wearing their brand of clothing and to issue a public statement about the request. OF course! Oh and coincidentally, the timing of the statement resulted in its reference during yesterday’s A&F earnings call during which the retailer’s Chief Executive Mike Jeffries chuckled, “Is no one going to ask about the Situation?” Hmm….

This PR flack thinks this was pure brilliance. Issuing a public statement requesting that perhaps one of THE most well-known reality casts stop wearing their brand has only drawn increased attention to their label of preference. This strategy had their story leading off all the national morning shows, including The Today Show, feature coverage in the Wall Street Journal, and all the top national dailies, as well as features in all the celebrity rags and fashion trades. On top of that, The Situation, and A&F are also nationally trending topics on Twitter today!

Well played, Abercrombie. It will be interesting to see if these reality stars bite and if so, what other brands will jump on the anti-Jersey Shore bandwagon. I guess the old adage holds true – any publicity is good publicity…???

What do you think about this PR strategy? Share your comments below.

An Easy Social Media Lesson From The Peanuts: Talk With Me, Not At Me

One of the most famous cartoon dynamics could pretty much sum up the difference between successful social marketing and unsuccessful social marketing: The Peanuts. I’m sure you recall that when the grown ups are talking at the children, all the children hear are muffled, annoying sounds. But when the children are talking with each other, they are interactive, listening and clear with one another.

A lot of what we spend our time talking with clients and prospects about in meetings these days is social media. Obviously, it’s the hot new buzzword, especially in marketing and PR, and many companies are still trying to figure it all out: “Is it necessary for us, how will it help us, who should manage it, are we doing okay with our current presence?”

Most of the time, the companies we speak with have some sort of presence started in social networks – usually, with one of the more popular and well-known networks such as Facebook or Linkedin. Maybe they’ve posted a few photos on Flickr and some videos on YouTube.  They’ve taken steps to establish accounts and make a few updates, or they  might even be quite active on Twitter. But most of the time – if they’re asking for help – they lack the “Three I’s” – a strategy for integration, interaction and intriguing content.

Here’s a simple way to get started on a strategy that involves the three I’s – and ensures that your messages don’t come across like a Peanuts parent:

  • Social media is about community
  • Community is about relationships
  • Relationships involve hard work, consistent communication, trust, and emotion

If you keep these elements in mind, you’ll begin to see the subtle – yet important – differences between talking at your audiences and talking with your audiences. People tend to listen more – and remember more – when they’re involved in the conversation and you show that you care about them – either by asking their opinion, mentioning something relevant to them or connecting in a unique (intriguing) way. You can’t build a relationship – or a community – if you do all the talking (you know, like those Twitter accounts that are just links to a company’s news releases, or a Facebook fan page that never actually involves the fans.)

How are you integrating social media into your marketing plan to talk with your constituents and not just at them? Are you asking questions? Responding to answers? Listening to opinions? Have you integrated your content across networks to ensure an ongoing and compelling brand story? Are you putting the right resources behind your social media efforts to build a community and relationships? Step back and take a look – making some minor changes in your approach can make a huge difference in your success.