“New Marketing” and “Social PR” are Simple. Talk With Me.

I constantly see chatter, blogs, articles and tweets out there about “New marketing” and “How PR works – or if it’s even necessary” now that social media is so mainstream, easy and accessible. Oy, I am so tired of the misconceptions that social media has somehow replaced these important roles in business. But I’m even more tired of everyone over-thinking this whole “new marketing” thing. Is it really that complicated? Here are a few quick “rules” to it that I think anyone can grasp:

- Social media is a tactic tied into a larger communications strategy. Key word: strategy. Have one. Actually, have more than one, because it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there are different communications strategies across different parts of your business. Communicating with customers about a service issue is not the same as trying to sell to a prospect or get the attention of a journalist. Make social media a part of how your business communicates. But don’t tell me your “social media plan” replaces solid marketing and PR.

- Marketing has changed in that marketers (and others, like politicians) now have to talk with their audience, not just at them. One of my favorite quotes on this is from Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff in the book Groundswell: “Marketers don’t understand channels where you have to talk and listen at the same time.” That was in 2009, and I think that while many marketers are now understanding that they need to be on social channels, they still don’t know how to start actual conversations that lead to valuable interactions between their business and its audiences.

- New marketers (and PR execs) make their audiences feel important. You can only do this by building a two-way relationship. That means that you listen as much as you “talk,” even when the “conversation” gets uncomfortable (i.e., complaints about your business or products). Be prepared to handle both your brand champions and your detractors – but always let them know how important they are by talking with them. Ask questions, recognize them, make it clear in your content (Twitter updates, Facebook posts, videos, what have you) that you’ve listened to them. Need an easy example? Think Old Spice. People watched, listened, shared because they were a part of it – feeling important and recognized – even if but for a second.

- Share great content. You’ve heard this a zillion times -  but maybe it’s more important to say share interactive and meaningful content that others will want to share as well. Oh, and it should be relevant to your business, whether it’s meant to be a revenue-generator, a branding campaign or simply an awareness builder. A favorite example of mine is Life is Good Radio. It’s sticky content that ties in perfectly to their culture and company mission. If you don’t know how to build good content, get help. Seriously – without it, you are not marketing in today’s world.

- Remember, it’s not that complicated. It’s just changed. Quite simply, you can’t dance if you don’t stop leaning against the wall hoping someone will talk to you. You have to start the conversation. If you don’t know what this means, you probably shouldn’t be in marketing in the first place.

What are your best tips for “new” marketers and social PR?

Can Second Life get a Second Life?

I read Mitch Wagner’s Computerworld blog post last week, “Fast, Easy, Fun” with Second Life founder Philip Rosedale –  and it made me wonder – what would it take for me to try Second Life again. My first experience with using Second Life was not positive to say the least and I don’t think just hearing that it had new functionality would be enough to entice me to change my mind. What I didn’t hear in this article is what Rosedale has planned for changing the way people think of Second Life.

In my opinion, Second Life’s problem is twofold –

  1. Technology: Yes, they HAVE to make it fast, easy and fun because when I tried it, it was slow, difficult and boring.  For all of the press and promise Second Life had, it did not appeal to me in the least. In fact it was kind of creepy. I do recall liking the name I came up with and my outfit, but beyond that, it just seemed like a bad trip. I REALLY wanted to like it but in the end, it did nothing for me but crash my computer and waste my time.
  2. Public Perception: Aside from Mitch, I do not know ONE person who is on Second Life. Obviously someone is, but it’s no Facebook. They are going to have to really work hard to make people think its “cool” and be willing to try it again as it seems to me that the world has moved on.  No one is there, not much is going on.  I’m not sure people would even admit trying it – like going to a lame party and then hoping no one found out you were there.

So, what would make me try Second Life again? How can they revive their brand?

What would make me try any service or product again that is not only dated but that is often ridiculed by the general public?  Would I say I just started a new Plurk account?  Would I tell a friend that I just cut my hair with a Flow-bee? Would I say I just bought my boyfriend some Old Spice…..well…I wouldn’t have a year ago because I’d be afraid to hear, “Hey Lisa, 1975 called, they want their cologne back.”

So why would I now?  How did they revive their brand?

As we know, Old Spice did something brilliant but simple – they made people talk about their product again.  They made it seem cool to use their product, they made it seem like cool people were already using their product, and they made people laugh.

It sounds like high school, but honestly, people want to know that other people are doing something before they will do it, especially if they fear being mocked for doing it. They really want to know that the cool people are doing it. And they want the promise that they will get something out of it – fun or learning, they have to believe there is good reason to try again.

Second Life has to invest just as much in PR, marketing  and advertising as they do in the technology.  People say that PR & marketing are now irrelevant – but think about how many times you’ve said Old Spice in the last ten years, and then think about how many times you’ve said it in the last two months. Old Spice didn’t change their product, they just changed how people thought about their product. Of course the quality of technology, product, or service matters, but how it’s packaged up and sold matters almost as much.

For me, its going to take a better experience and some very cool promotions. My friend even suggested setting up a Sterling, Cooper, Draper Pryce and letting people interact with the characters – now that would get me back there.

So, what would make YOU try Second Life again?

Disclosure: Mitch Wagner is currently a client of PerkettPR

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/19/10

Avoid the #1 Mistake People Make in Media
Valeria Maltoni expands on the importance of “comments” and provides 7 types of memorable comments to keep you on the top of your game.

Is Facebook Headed For Trouble?
Informationweek contributing writer Michele Pepe-Warren shares the results of the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business report that reveals Facebook might be the most used, but its definitely not the most loved.

Study: Social Media Marketing Reduces Reputation Crisis Costs by 33%
The past year has shown numerous brands making the wrong decision when it comes to the use social media for crisis management. This post from Andy Beal shares data from a new Forrester report that shows properly structured social marketing initiatives can save money in addition to reputation.

3 Simple Strategies For Your Social Tactics
This post from Samir Soriano on B2C Marketing Insider shares three tips to help provide more value to your customers when executing your finely crafted social strategy.

Old Spice guy and his viral media coup are social media game-changers
This week’s picks couldn’t end without a nod to the ever popular Old Spice Social Media Campaign. There are numerous posts covering their efforts, but this one from Rob Dickens on Memeburn.com does a really nice job of chronicling the brand’s efforts stemming back to the 70’s.