BDI’s Social Convergence & The Enterprise – Advice, Insights & Lessons Learned from Jet Blue, Unilever, Century 21 and more. What’s Your Best Social Advice?

On Wednesday we attended and moderated two round tables at the Business Development Institute (BDI)’s Social Convergence & The Enterprise event in New York City. I was happy to attend an event with the not-so-usual suspects – fresh networking and opportunities to expand our community are always exciting.

The speakers at the 1/2 day conference ranged from companies such as Harvard to Jet Blue, Unilever to Century 21. Attendees held positions in HR, marketing, business development and other areas of business. I have to say that, having attended a lot of networking and social media events over the last few years, the topics can grow tired. The presentations can all begin to look the same – even infamous Tweets, photos and charts are often reused. But, for the most part, this event was a fresh take on a much-discussed subject: social media in business. I would definitely attend again and encourage others to check out BDI’s events.

The format was three hours of case studies followed by two sessions of round tables where attendees sat down with moderators and discussed pre-determined subjects. I found this of interest because often the attendees have interesting insights and lessons learned to share as well, and typical conference formats don’t usually provide the opportunity for an extended, interactive discussion between panelists and audience. Allowing a few questions from the audience is much different that sitting down with each other after the presentations and really digging into the topics. And, asking the presenters for case studies is a good way to ensure they’re sharing insights and lessons learned – not just observations and opinion like so many of today’s speakers on social media.

Some of my favorite tidbits from panelists included:

- How Jet Blue opened up its communications – and rebuilt its brand – after a crisis in 2007. Speaker Jenny Dervin shared interesting insights into their culture (“we all help clean the planes”) and how they handled customer communications more proactively thereafter – despite knowing it would frustrate in the short run but build loyalty in the long run. Strategies included a video message to crew members and customers from the CEO, as well as a letter to every customer who had ever flown Jet Blue – all in the name of “We’re sorry… please give us another chance.”

 

- “You cannot be successful in social unless you involve the whole organization – let employees engage in social media” – from Paul Hernacki of Definition6. He advises that the entire company needs to be on board for success.  He asks, “Are your employees fans of your brand?” And suggests, “Eat your own dog food – social and the digital lifestyle needs to be part of your company DNA.” He also implores CIO’s to help make it happen by stop blocking of social sites and blogs. “You’re not solving the problem by blocking.”

- “We don’t own our brands anymore, consumers do.” Stacie Bright of Unilever talked about how to handle this new Wild West frontier of social media. “There are good conversations and brand conversations – but we can choose to be a part of those conversations.” Amen. Ignoring the conversations and not making social media part of your business is like my 5-year-old putting a towel over his head and telling me I can’t see him. We also found ourselves nodding in agreement when she said “Have a calendar [for social media initiatives] – anyone can be a one-hit wonder.”

- Consumers want engagement, so humanize your brand – let your employees have real conversations with your customers (what a concept!). From Matt Gentile, Director of PR and social media content strategy for  CENTURY 21. Another great thought from Matt – and one that we have always used with PR campaigns: “‘Measure for success and then adjust for optimization.”

After panels, I moderated a round table called “The Rule in Social Media is that There are No Rules.” Of course, this isn’t completely true – as Doug Chavez, who leads digital marketing for Del Monte, recently told me: “I believe thereare rules. First is that a brand has to listen, second is to engage when appropriate and [value] additive to the conversation, third is that brands need to always be transparent and authentic.” Ok, so he’s right, there are some rules, but the genesis of the “no rules” sentiment is that some companies get too caught up in the rules – instead of thinking about what’s right for their company, they try to find a pre-written playbook or follow only the basics (I don’t know what we’ll do but we must be on: Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook). They fail to create a strategy based around their business goals and often forget that social media is still so new – that while there may be guidelines, the results are still largely unproven. And thus, any “rules” could change tomorrow – or change today if you’re the company willing to take that risk (an example: Ben & Jerry’s abandoning email marketing in favor of just using social media. Will it work out for them in the long run? We’ll have to wait and see).

If you’d like to listen to the panelists and their full presentations, you may do so at BlogTalkRadio.

If you’d like to hear what some of the attendees and online followers have to say about social media, visit our Sweet Marketing Advice site, created to capture advice not only from the attendees of the BDI show, but of our network as well. We wanted to share our offline experiences today with our online community as well. And, as a thank you to those who took the time to share their best tips, we created a voting mechanism for the community to choose the “Sweetest Advice” – the author of the advice that the community votes as the best by 5 p.m. Friday, July 23, wins an iPad. So please visit the site to not only learn some great tips, but to vote on your favorite. You can submit your own advice too, if you’re so inclined, and see what the community thinks of your expertise.

As an aside, we listen to our community and some of the early feedback on our Sweet Advice Contest is that it was just another Twitter popularity contest. That was disheartening to hear but we re-evaluated our contest rules and text after this feedback. Let me be clear that the intent was to open up the experience for those not in attendance, to capture a variety of “best tips” to share with all of you, and to learn not only from the panelists and speakers, but from the attendees themselves. We thought it would be fun – but also useful – to have both the BDI attendees and our online community share their best social media convergence and marketing ideas, and to have the community vote on which advice was best. We changed the auto-tweet button on the site to share each tip as part of the Tweets – in an effort to make the Tweets more valuable.

Of course, entrants are also inclined – and yes, encouraged – to ask their community to vote for them if they like the advice, and they may choose to write what they want in order to get them to do so – but our intent was to entice people to give advice, aggregate it in one spot, ask the community to vote on the best advice and offer an iPad as both an incentive and a thank you for sharing. The advice voted the best – highest number of votes by Friday at 5 EST – will win an iPad from us, and the community benefits from an aggregated spot of great social media and marketing advice. Enjoy.

Special thanks to BDI and Steve Etzler for the wonderful conference and the opportunity to participate. We learned a lot and met some really great people. Great job on the conference.

 

Persuasive Picks for the Week of 6/21/2010

Lacking a game plan when it comes to social marketing? You’re not alone. Social Marketing continues to perplex many marketers, according to eMarketer. In its article, “What Makes Up a Social Marketing Strategy,” the critical components of an effective strategy are reviewed, with some startling facts of how many marketers are still operating this element of their campaigns “without a game plan.”

Social media with a business twist. Tony Bradley of Network World writes about Salesforce.com’s unveiling of Chatter this week at Cloudforce 2010. “Chatter brings social networking to the enterprise in much the same way salesforce.com brought Web 2.0 to the enterprise–enabling the benefits of social networking to be utilized for new strategic advantages.”

Top 10 Most Tweeted Brands – if you’ve never checked out the weekly “10 Most Tweeted Brands of the Week Chart” by AdAge you might find it an interesting – or at least entertaining – bookmark. This week, Simon Dumenco outlines how the Twitterverse tells the media to “shut up” and why being a trending brand on Twitter is not necessarily a good thing, among other things.

Can you hear me now? Apple addresses iPhone 4 reception issues… or not. CBSNews Tech Talk discusses Apple’s lack of PR advice for Steve Jobs in dealing with the iPhone 4 antenna issue. “Allow me to make the official introductions: Steve Jobs, meet Apple’s PR department. Apple’s PR department, meet your boss.”

Twitter, PR and BP. TechCrunch takes a look at the lessons. TechCrunch”s post, “When Social Media Becomes The Message: The Gulf Oil Spill And @BPGlobalPR” takes a look at how BP is floundering from a PR perspective, and how social media can take over and shape your company’s message – whether you like it or not. “Someone on Twitter or elsewhere on the Web  will find ways to challenge the message, as @BPGlobalPR is doing.” The PR lesson here – credibility counts more than ever.

 

 

 

I Know You, I Know You

At last week’s PRSA T3PR conference, one of the audience questions to me was whether or not today’s “marketing celebs” overshadow their clients. The question was asked with the comment, “I know a lot of the marketing ‘Twilebrities,’ for example, but I don’t know any of their clients.”

My reply was that I didn’t think it was an issue – that maybe you are not the client’s core audience and therefore the marketer hasn’t promoted any of his or her client news to you. You may know the marketer because he or she talks about marketing, business, PR, social media – all things you would want to be paying attention to as a fellow marketer. But, if their client sells widgets and you don’t buy widgets, it makes sense that you wouldn’t know the client. In fact, dare I say the marketer might be doing a bad job – over-promoting his or her own work to the wrong audience – if you did know all of his or her clients. Wouldn’t it get annoying if they talked so much about their own work – instead of promoting to you what you find valuable, such as shared insights, experiences and – when the time or circumstance is right – client news, products or services?

Here’s an example. A year ago I had a conversation with Jason Keath, founder of SoFresh, a social media conference for marketers. At the time, he was consulting for several companies on marketing and social media. I paid attention to Jason because he’s a fellow marketer and I was interested in his posts about marketing. I learned about some of his client work as well – but to this day the only client of his I remember is one that I was personally interested in (because it involved shoes). Likewise, I follow other industry colleagues and competitors because I’m interested in their marketing and PR insights, not necessarily because I’m interested in their clients’ products and services. I remember the ones that do apply to me – something I would buy or use – but I pay attention to the marketers because I think they have smart things to say about marketing, PR and social media opportunities and challenges.

Some, like Kelly Cutrone of People’s Revolution, I learned about and began listening to because she’s a PR veteran and I am interested in learning from her. Now, as a lover of fashion, I also happen to pay attention to her client work. But even if I weren’t a fashion fiend, I’d follow what Kelly does because I value her stories and experiences in PR.

What do you think? Are today’s influential marketers overshadowing their clients?

PS – Just for fun, my headline’s a nod to an SNL skit. Who knows which one?

Photo Credit: Michael Halsband

Constant Contact Acquires NutshellMail; Social Media Marketing Made Easy for SMBs

By now, you’ve likely heard the big news on our client front today – Constant Contact has added social media marketing to their arsenal of tools for small businesses and organizations, through the acquisition of NutshellMail. Now, while I may be biased, I can honestly say that NutshellMail does exactly what the name implies – captures your social media networking in a nutshell so you can easily keep up and not miss a beat. I’ve been using the tool for a while now and am happy to be able to spread the word -  I find it invaluable for keeping up with all of the great conversations that I don’t want to miss.

In about five minutes time, you can be set up on NutshellMail and choose how often you receive an aggregated e-mail delivery of your most important messages across networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Why is this important? Because one of the biggest frustrations or roadblocks we hear about from businesses who want to include social media into their marketing mix is lack of time. It’s time consuming to log into each network and keep up with not only your replies, but the topics that are of interest to you and your business. NutshellMail makes it easy – you see all your network activity in one snapshot. And I love that I can reply across networks directly from the email. Other options let you see who your new followers are – or who stopped following you – which can be helpful in analyzing what content is compelling and what isn’t.

I’d love to hear what you think. It’s free and easy – so if you try it, please share your thoughts. And stay tuned to Constant Contact – as you know, they also offer Email Marketing, Online Survey and Event Marketing – as they plan to add more social media marketing tools that will help small businesses and organizations easily execute the most effective and successful marketing programs possible.

For more information, check out the video below or details on Slideshare.


Social Media Marketing Made Simple for Small Businesses – VideoTechnorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Social Media is a Fad … Like Websites Don’t Matter

Today I heard at least three different people comment that social media is a fad. Although they were positioning it in jest, there was also a bit of questioning in their tone. So let me ask you this:

- Do you use email?
- How often do you IM?
- Do you have a website? What about a blog?
- Are online ads still around?
- Do you Google?
- Have you tried Bing?

Social media isn’t any more of a fad than these very technologies that you and I and millions of others use every day. “It’s just a fad” – unless you’re talking about fashion and style – tends to come from resistant-to-change-and-scared-of-being-left-behind people. I remember when instant messaging was first used in the office of my PR agency back in the early 90s. A lot of people complained about it and said they’d never use it, what was the point when you could just pick up the phone, etc. Personally, I think they were just terrified of IM’ing messages to the wrong person (which was always an enlightening event usually resulting in insults), but eventually they came around to understanding that IM offered a different kind of value than the phone. And one that they wanted.

Similarly, we used to represent a provider of ad blocking software. This was hot stuff in the mid- to late 90s, as many people hate online ads and even more predicted the demise of the online ad market altogether. Yeah, I think we know how that worked out (if I had a dime for every start up business plan I’ve read where advertising is the revenue model….).

Social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s not a fad. Sure the hype will die down – but that’s a good thing. Once the novelty wears off and growth steadies, the market will shake out, the less useful technologies will fade away, the user demographics will be easier to plan around, and we’ll all have a clearer picture of what value it all brings to business.

What do you think?