As we close out 2008 I wanted to mail in at least one blog post between now and tomorrow night so I decided to resort to a wordle. A wordle is essentially a tag cloud of your site. I like to see from time to time what it pulls out as the thematic elements of what I’m writing about. So here it is. Pretty accurate I’d say.
I know a lot more than I did in 2007 .. What about you? What did you learn?
My friend Jason Breed who is the senior director of business development at Neighborhood America, which probably has one of the best developed social networking platforms in the industry, sent me a great post about the melting pot that is social media. Jason has a wonderful perspective and insight into what “large” companies perceive and what they want and ultimately what they need. Herein are is thoughts.
It’s very intriguing to me in my travels to listen to people discuss the term “social media”. People of all types and experience levels in the corporate space relate it, mostly as a negative connotation, to existing social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, etc or they relate it, still with negative connotation, to consumer marketing flops dating back to the GM “tell me what you think about Suburbans” snafu to more recently the Motrin Moms incident.
Other areas where social media gets used a lot is with web 2.0 initiatives. First, anyone still referring to versions of the internet have their own issues, next, the majority of the population still does not understand exactly what a blog, forum or certainly a wiki is or does. Why should they? They are a series of features and tools not solutions. When is the last time you woke up and said to your loved one, “can’t wait to forum today!”? While the tool sets have some social elements to them, there are many corporate blogs still run by the marketing department that are far from social. In fact, many still use them to self publish push messaging while fully moderating comments and publishing selected content. Something about lipstick and pigs come to mind here.
So what is social media, well it does include much of what is mentioned above however it also includes a whole world of opportunities that takes a bit more creativity to understand the possibilities.
To me, social media is simply a term of interaction. It has become a container term for a lot of things however it all comes down to enabling interactions. The ability to develop a cycle of communications between two or more parties either through online or mobile. Understanding this as a framework, you can apply this interaction to employee communications, consumer transactions, partners, CRM, BPM, shareholders, etc or any mix therein. In fact any department from construction to office management to sales, development, customer support, logistics management, public relations, human resources, and any other department you can think of can use the construct of developing better interactions (ie. Social media) to begin to solve traditional business issues.
When you get beyond simple marketing and word-of-mouth campaigns, it becomes much easier to understand how applying social elements to traditional processes can save time, costs or even increase revenues. Consider the traditional sales cycle that is manually touched 4-5 times before it gets into a sales funnel or CRM package. Using social elements, even a small sales team could manage a lot more information from customers with better purchasing metrics if you had a creative way to allow customers to automatically feed the CRM system on the front end through a professional (social) interaction.
For those who understand the construct that the social environment has allowed us to create though improved interactions beyond the obvious consumer marketing tactics, 2009 will truly be a very constructive and profitable year for businesses of all shapes and sizes
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what might be the defining “thing” that could change the tide for companies that are ready to embark on their own social media journey. Well, this morning as I was reading greg verdino’s blog, he has a section in there that points to the topics he speaks about, and one of the topics is called “are you ready?” he essentially is saying the following and I quote:
You can — but only if you’re ready to move beyond the old ways you’ve always done things, ready to rethink the fundamentals of how business happens, ready to embrace change and ready to take action.”
Great topic to talk about, but as I was thinking about it more, I’d like to add 3 more words to it, and it’s this.
“Are you ready to be human“?
Are you ready to leave your unending, take no prisoners drive, your ego, and your self serving ideals at the door and act like a human who can speak normally and speak one on one with your customers, with your employees and with your prospects? Sometimes we feel like we have to do this dance and we have to “act” like something that is completely alien to us. So let me ask you, when you want to make friends with someone, do you act the same way you do when trying to get a new client or new deal or contract? No..You act like a human, you act like yourself. Remember transparency? We talk about it for a reason.
Be Human. it works.
Yep add my blog post as one of those end of year “lists’. But as I’ve stated, I’m going to scale back what I read. I’m going to hone in on quality. With that being said here is my list with reasons why. They also are in no particular order either.
- Paul Chaney’s Conversational Media Marketing blog always has an interesting post or content. It’s light, it’s a good read and it’s insightful.
- Shannon Paul’s Very Official Blog is always in the sweet spot. Her stuff is short, generally, always to the point, and it resonates on many levels.
- Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog is a no brainer. It’s updated daily and it’s chock full of content that makes you better at what you do. Even if you don’t do “it”, it’s worth reading.
- Chris Brogan is our Grand Poobah”. Now I know he’s taken hits lately but look, Chris gives away 10 times more than he takes, and thus he should be a blog that you check in on from time to time. He’s a content creating fool.
- Valeria Maltoni true to her tag line, “connects her ideas with people”, and will make you think. When I read her stuff, that’s what happens. Her blog is another that I dip into every once in a while for perspective. She’s current, always on point and she’s eloquent.
- I like the Ignite Social Media Blog but it might be because it’s very vertical for me. I’m entitled to one or two of these, and this is one of them.
- Ok, so something about Joseph Jaffe makes me want to read his stuff. It’s funny usually, and underneath it all, there’s generally some sort of marketing theme or message.
- Beth Harte is one smart cookie. She says it in a straight shootin way. She’s respected, she’s connected and she knows all things marketing. You will love her perspective.
- Brian Solis is a good read, he churns out content, it’s not over your head, it’s current and it’s useful. Boom.
- Mashable is the source or the site you would go to if you needed information, if you need updates and if you could only go to one site. This is it. Check it out.
Here are 10 more that I read because they are prolific in cranking out content that is in tune with the issues of marketing, PR, social media, and life. You didn’t think I could just read 10 blogs a day did you? Well neither will you, not with this much quality out there!
- Ari Herzog
- Liz Strauss
- David Armano
- Peter Kim
- Jeremiah Owyang
- Mack Collier
- Amber Naslund
- Adam Cohen
- Gavin Heaton
- Ken Burbary
Like I said, it’s quality over quantity, though all of these people churn out some pretty good quantities of content. I could only hope to do the same. I look forward to continued learning from all of them.
At its core, it’s people and it’s talking. It’s a dialogue. and yet we have given it a fancy name. But at the end of the day, it’s doing something that a lot of us have trouble doing. talking. Go figure. talking, communicating and sharing; and maybe that’s why a lot of people are amazed at its impact. Because it’s pulling people out of their shells, out of their cocoons.
At the end of the day social media is the art of having a worthwhile conversation, using tools to have those conversations and then in some cases, wrapping business processes and applications around them. Sometimes I think we over-analyze what’s really going on here.
In 2009 you have a choice you can either do what you did in 2008 or you can look at 2009 as a chance to get it right. Everything is upside down, including the way we used to market to consumers and the way consumers used to listen to marketers.
If you’re relying on the way you “used to do things” then stop. If you think you have a robust social media marketing presence, because you have a lot of “friends” and “followers” then stop. Seth Godin likes to quote that this is the “imitation of turbulent activity” .You are in the echo chamber and your clients (if you have any) aren’t in there and chances are they not listening to you anyway. But you wouldn’t know that because of your personal social media involvement-and the fact you might have your self important blinders on.
You’re “moving for the sake of motion” as my friend Jason Breed over at Neighborhood America would say. And that will get you nowhere. We need you to change. You need to change and you need to adapt now to even newer rules of marketing that are evolving before our very eyes. Realize the current situation for what it is.
Today I talked to 1 clients, 2 prospects, 1 partner and 1 colleague. All very distinct and different conversations about marketing, social media and the client customer relationship. None of these individuals know each other and yet in so many words, all 5 of us agreed on the same exact thing. Here it is.
The way you market to your clients, the way we market to clients is not the same as it was 1 year ago and 6 months ago. Now you might be thinking, “I know that”. But do you really? Do you really know that these are different and challenging times? Lay off’s every day. Numbers down with all companies of all shapes and sizes across the board, and you might be pitching the same way you did 6 months ago? Forget 2008.
You need to take more time now with the client, the customer and the prospect, than you have ever done before. You need to understand their pain and their challenges before you can even think to market with them. Notice I said with, and not to. And you’re going to try and get the client to utilize social media marketing? Ha! Put yourself in their shoes. They don’t know social media, and in fact what they really care about is getting warm bodies thinking about their service or product.
So the question is, what are you going to do about it? What is your plan? 2009 is almost here. You have to have a plan that is going to separate you from the echo. Be different.
I’ve read a lot of 2009 predictions of what’s going to happen with social media, but I think this one will work for me. This is what or how I’m going to measure every engagement and work hard at showing every client that I pitch on social media. Hopefully you will understand and maybe, just maybe, you might want to adopt this mindset as well. Here it is.
If you are a customer or client or marketer that is looking at social media as something you can possibly adopt or fold into your marketing intiatives, then measure social media this way..
Will social media save me a dollar? or Will social media make me a dollar?
If you can answer either one of those questions with a yes, then why wouldn’t you try some aspect of it? Simple.
I’m currently watching engaged in a lively saturday morning discussion with Jeremiah Owyang, and Ted Murphy Founder/CEO of IZEA on whether bloggers are going to become more of an advertising vehicle for brands. Though this not neccesarily a new topic, it may be becoming prominent again based on a lot of external economic factors. It started with this:
Jeremiah goes on to say “Bottom Line: Expect more brands to ‘buy’ bloggers and tweeters as the economy dips, this truly is cost effective marketing”
But is it? Will you, as a blogger become more open to being paid by a brand or company to shill their product to your loyal readers who come to your site because of your candor and POV? Won’t that change the scope and the depth of your posts? Is the economy such that we now will come expect that a Chris Brogan is now going to start pitching product? The easy answer is, “just avoid any paid posts”. But what if you don’t know? Chris might be the exception in giving full disclosure of the paid post.
My tweeted thought:
You as the loyal reader will now be the audience to a pitch from your author, full disclosure is not a prerequisite either, although Ted Murphy does mention:
So how do you feel about that? Is it going to change now how you read or what you read from your favorite blogs?
Will full disclosure matter? Will you read a blog post knowing it is essentially a paid pitch for a product? Isn’t that the same as a celebrity spokesperson? What if they pitch but don’t tell, because they know they will lose readers if the readers knew that it was a paid post?
So there’s more to this Twitstream but the question is more geared towards the reader, since bloggers have been getting paid for quite some time now for paid posts. It all comes down to the “big bloggers” and theirloyal readers. Will your loyalty wane if you know going forward, that the post you are reading, is a paid, sponsored post? Do you care?