Tag Archives: Marketing

How Not to Suck Online

Now that social marketing has become mainstream, everyone is doing it, but not many are doing it well. Sadly it is far easier to use social media than it is to use it effectively. When social media was new and exciting, most of the users exploring the space were like a pioneer community. Dependent on each other for insights and understanding, each pioneer sharing their impressions of the new territory they uncovered,and discussing as a group, including the implications for their community and the people yet to follow. As the number of users has grown,the number of people using social media to advance their personal or business agendas has grown as well.

Online engagement, social networking, and inbound marketing are three legs of the seat we have when we move our marketing program into the social space.  Ignore anyone of them and you have a very precarious perch, though many occupy that unstable position because they allowed form to triumph over substance . Here are three types of people that don’t seem to “get it”.

overshareThe Over-sharer

Some people seems to spend all of their time filling the interwebs with the minutia of their lives. Not  just the good meal, or fun vacation, or difficult day at work, but every random thought and opinion that goes through their head. Nothing is too mundane for them to share, or too personal. If they have a fight with their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, family or all of the above, we’re going to hear about it in glorious living color. Things that they would not say at a small public gathering now become the center of their published actions. Their political and religious views are shared not just once or twice, or in appropriate conversations, but frequently, randomly, and loudly – especially during elections, where they engage no one and change no one’s minds.

A business woman shouting into a old style megaphoneThe Cheerleader

This person is benign, and for the most part are positive influences but their social engagement is like cotton candy, sweet, pretty, seemingly large and important, but without real substance when you get involved. They are characterized by being too sweet, too nice, and too positive. There is no one who values positive people more than I, or who recognizes the importance of positive support for our friends and communities when they are in strife or facing tough times. I know on a personal level how valuable emotional support from your online community can be when you are struck by an emotional challenge. But that having been said, online engagement is more than cheer leading or using superlatives. It’s being an integral part of the community on a deeper emotional level. It starts with recognition and interaction, but interaction by itself doesn’t necessarily generate engagement. That challenge needs to be met by becoming someone that is valued because of what you have give to the community.

Sleazy salesman pointingThe Promoter

This person is easy to see in others, but seems to be harder for people to recognize when they’re the ones originating the thread. Perhaps that’s a result of being raised in an outbound marketing world, or hearing the phrase inbound marketing without understanding what that actually means. But these are the people that pimp their services, get started in conversations about the value package for their product or services, or ask you to connect on LinkedIn because they have so much to share with you to improve your business.

 

 

Making it work is really pretty simple – be genuine, be honest, be consistent,  and remember the three social concepts that are the undercurrent of almost every interaction online – social contracts, social objects, and social capital.

iStock_000005658260XSmall copySocial contracts are not a community’s terms of service, but the contract between the members of any community  An often unwritten or un-verbalized agreement between the members of a community determining what constitutes behavior that is laudatory, acceptable or unacceptable.   The overtly commercial phrase or shameless self-promotion are just two of the clearest violations of the contract, but each special group has their own, more refined agreements which become obvious when you observe the group for a bit and see what actions on the part of its members generate praise or criticism, or even worse, no reaction at all. If you’ve ever “unfriended” someone because their actions bothered you, you’ve seen the social contract in action.

Social objects are things that people have in common – the shared experiences or passions that help us identify with individuals  or a group. Something that we have experienced in common, a high school or college we attended, a love of food or wine, a shared interest in a sport or a sorts team – the list goes on and on. Social objects are the glue that holds together a group of strangers on Google+ or Facebook, where our shared experience and shared emotions bring us together. Social objects are the things we search for when we first meet people to find common ground, and even in the online world they are the first way we connect.

Social capital is the collective value of all of your actions online.  Generous actions build social capital and self-interested actions deplete it. It is the core of the statement “doing well by doing good” in its application to the online experience. Your build social capital by being supportive or the actions of others, celebrating the success f others, and contributing to the welfare of your online community among other things.  But the crucial part is that all of this positive interaction is genuine and sincere, and is, unlike the cheerleader, a portion of who you are rather than the sum of who you are.

Being thoughtful about your engagement will make you a valued and trusted member of the online community – and that, in turn, will allow you to realize all of the benefits, personal and professional , that people seek from social media.  In the words of author Ruth Reichl  “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”

 

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Hucksters, Hype and Honesty

“The Large Print Giveth” by Tom Fishburne

Everyone wants (or needs) to be a marketer in today’s world and they all seek different roads to success. Not all of those roads are effective, and many of them can be downright counter-productive. Being a member of a social network, or using the term social media doesn’t mean you’re using social media effectively,and you can as easily be a social media abuser as you can be a social media user.

Hucksters are, by definition abusers of the social space.  They are all over you waving their products and disrupting the online conversations of every community they participate in. Whether they didn’t read Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing , or they didn’t get the memo that marketing is conversation from the Clue Train Manifesto, these broadcasters are the online equivalent of the loud speaking movie goer or the person who spends the entire evening at a party talking to you about why you need to buy their product.  This annoying tribe is huge, comprised of people who see social spaces as a blank billboard for there personal use, and not a place where communities grow and prosper. The real estate agent who pimps their listings or open houses, the tech company that promotes their product or sales pitches thinly disguised as webinars , are seem by the overall communities online as old fashioned pitchmen or snake-oil peddlers, and have to interrupt huge segments of online communities in order to get a small number of people to respond.  Its been 119 years since  E. St. Elmo Lewis defined this process by his AIDA model, and yet for some people, this is how marketing works.

Hype is almost as annoying – people that make amazing claims and proclaim everything with excessive excitement based on nothing but their desire to be the center of online attention. Its not an uncommon type of promotion, and in fact Gartner even developed a graphic showing how it impacts the introduction of new tech products with their famous Hype Cycle that showed products moving from a “peak of inflated expectations” to a “trough of disillusionment” before reaching enlightenment and then productivity.  I’m a fan of genuine excitement, but you just can’t be excited about everything. Its the social media equivalent of typing with the Caps Lock on. when you spend all of your time SHOUTING, and everything you shout about is AMAZING, you lose the ability to emphasize anything. And after a while people just stop listening or paying attention to you. Add to that the disillusionment and disappointment that follows most hype, and it becomes an even worse choice for your online marketing.

The sweet place in social media – the place you want and need to be is where you earn the right to speak to people about your business because you have earned the ability to do so through an open honest dialogue that has created a relationship with them. To quote a line from Godin’s blog  “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” People want to like you. They want to be connected with you – not your product, not your service, not even your company, but because they like you. The social objects that connect you to others are the places where you can build connections in a community online that wants to hear what you want to share, and in that place, you become the advocate for your service or product that the hypsters and huckster think they are. You become the real deal, not just the appearance of the real deal. It takes a little longer, but the positive impact lasts as long as you maintain your open dialogue.

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A Social Media Guide for Small Businesses

Everybody loves short cuts. Most social media tools are so easy to initiate that people don’t recognize the need for adequate training to use them in an ethical and effective manner. Of course I may be prejudiced since I spend so much time providing technology and social media training, but most people seem to have difficulty achieving business goals on their own.

For most, the challenge is making a paradigm shift to inbound marketing. Their old traditional marketing programs are shoved into new marketing channels, and though the company can claim to have a presence on social media channels, they are not building community, gaining business intelligence, or driving business in these new venues. But for others, the problem is simply that they are overwhelmed. They have difficulty adopting the appropriate channels for their communication because they are confused by the overwhelming choices, and the ever changing landscape of social media.

Our good friends at ColumnFive and Flowtown have rushed to the rescue with the infographic below. Though it is not a substitute for a knowledgeable consultant, or a live course or seminar, it can be a great tool for busy people that have no clue where to start. It will at least help you begin to differentiate the trees from the forest so you can begin to determine where your business might engage most effectively, or where your existing marketing resources might do further research  about expanding your online campaign.  So bookmark this, print it out, share it with your marketing team, or just use it as a cheat sheet for your next cocktail party but most of all use this as a tool  to help you determine  which channels to get more training on so you can deploy effectively.

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Social Media Strategy for Startups – and Everyone Else

With the new year starting, businesspeople tend to spend time reviewing the strategies they employed in the past year, and to determine what new strategies they will employ in the coming year. Our friends at Column Five have designed a great infographic aimed at start-ups, that I think can be applied by almost any small business or professional in working through the ways they can employ social media to create a strategy for their business.

What do you think?

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The Cost of Your ‘Free Facebook Business Page

With over 800 million people on Facebook , all over the world almost every size business wants to reach their customers, clients or communities using “free” Facebook pages – but for many the meter has just started running when they decide to engage there. Like so many other marketing efforts, the costs are not always apparent, but by seeing what others are doing we can project what the cost may be to reach our goals online.

Here’s a terrific infographic that my friends at Column Five developed for the folks at Flowtown (another great company) that more clearly explains the costs of being liked in the facebook world.

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