What’s the ROI of your phone?

I had to embed this. Partly because I didn’t feel like writing today but also because this is just a really good thought provoking video.

An Open Letter to a New Social Media Consultant

Below is an email response I gave to someone I did not know who is determined to reinvent themselves and reposition their very talented skills in the social media arena.

Dear _____, you’re right, most companies don’t understand what it takes to be engaging, and most don’t have the right staff deployed, and some are not sufficiently funded to create engaging content-but they’re getting better.

And it is a never ending battle to get all the right departments involved and on the same page to really interact with people in a total 360 degree process.

Yes, you’re right, I am an evangelist trying to change this situation, but I am nowhere close though to being an expert, no one is; But I do try to come up with social media based creative, promotional/engagement ideas that are tailored to the client which work to begin the transition into social media- that’s a big part of what I do. I love it. Soup to nuts if you will, from strategy to implementation and all points in between. But I would say 50% of the battle is education on the front end, with a concerted effort on the back end to get them comfortable enough internally to be social externally without me, in the long run.

The great thing about social is that we can suggest specific ways that they can use social media to amplify what they are doing, that might be of interest to people who are not brand enthusiasts- and we can tailor platforms and tools to meet the needs of staff and customers. But in the end- what really determines success is not what I preach and instruct them to do-it’s a concerted effort to “do” it on their own. They need to own social. Not me. I already own what I do, because I have a belief in it’s transformative capabilities. Passion? you bet.

As I have said in the past. “I can teach you how to use social tools and social platforms, but I can’t teach you how to be social. That’s not my job.

I applaud you for reaching out to me because it sounds like you may be starting to drink the Koolaid- but it is a process in which a lot of people try to hopscotch the conversation and go right for the sale. Don’t do that. Be real. Be transparent. Be authentic.

But before you can start selling yourself as a social media consultant. You have to use the tools yourself, utilize the platforms and take some companies from point “A” and back again. Fail some. win some. and try some different things.

It sounds and looks like you have the background-but now you have to apply that to the new media world.

The easiest way to start, would be to grasp something like Tumblr.com and or Posterous or even WP, and start to share your thoughts, ideas, wisdom and experience with others. Join a community like you did with SM2day, comment on blogs and start to build up some new media credibility.

The good news about social media is that it is ever evolving and the diverse backgrounds of some really successful people who are doing some great things for companies of all shapes and sizes is expanding daily, so there is plenty of room for you on this train. Just don’t give up easily. It takes time.

Look forward to talking with you when you come to Naples


The customer experience slips through the cracks for Regal Entertainment Group

Yet another cautionary tale.

Crisis management, contingency planning, reputation management, leadership, why are these so hard? why are they so hard to grasp, to fathom and to implement? Maybe there is a perception that because they don’t figure into the day to day operations of organizations large and small that they’re not that important. Or are they?

It’s funny though, just when they’re needed most, you can’t find them; and it’s right then that everyone seems to ask-“What do you mean we don’t have policies, plans and procedures in place for “…

We talk all the time about the need to have social media crisis management tools, procedures and policies in place for good reason. Why? They work. They help. The mine field is littered with companies that have not done a good job in this area. The most recent is obviously BP Oil.

Why are crisis management policies and plans needed? Because customers, consumers are empowered now.  When customers and people are upset and have been wronged, they can take to social networks and the power of viral socialness and vent and complain and create momentum to make a difference and affect change.

Companies need to be prepared for this-even if it never happens. Because you never know when things will fail and when someone might complain. You never know when groups, large groups, will take to social networks, large social networks and complain about your company. Why wait?

It’s why you monitor. It’s why you listen. It’s why you have these policies/plans in place.

Here’s a mini situation. Two days ago another opportunity to get it right fell by the wayside. This one though isn’t neccessarily social media related, yet the difference now is whereas before there might not have been a way or platform to complain there now is. So it does have social media undertones.

I decided to take my son to see Toy Story 3. There was a huge storm sitting on top of Naples, Florida, so a movie seemed like a great idea. The Regal Entertainment Group operates the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuit in the United States, consisting of 6,745 screens in 546 theatres in 38 states. So they are a large outfit.

Yet it would appear that they have no  customer service contingency plan in place for when their systems “go down” to complete transactions. Their contingency if you will, is to take cash, which systemically eliminates the huge section of their customers that came armed with a debit or credit card only

So here’s how it went down.

3 windows all open and yet all were saying they could take cash only because their systems were down. Wait, no this one says it can…  We went from one window to the next to the next. And yet one window was able to take debit or credit cards?  Wouldn’t all windows be on the same system? The information seemed to be inconsistent. No messaging to let people know of the current situation. No one out front, no signage, no manager, nothing.

We were able to get in, but I was already thinking about the disconnect in “managing” a customer service situation that seemed to be getting uglier by the minute.

Next up, popcorn and snacks. My assumption? I used the debit card out front, so the system must be back up and on line. Long line later, I order, present my card and am told that the system is down and they can only take cash. Are you serious? I tell them I just used it out front. They say they are told that the system is down. I tell them to try it. They say, like robots, that they are only to take cash. You mean you’re told only to take cash? Yes. You can’t even try and swipe the card? No. I just waited in line for 15 minutes. Sorry.

I look behind me and the line is swelling. I look to my left and it’s like this exact conversation is happening across the board. Where’s the manager, where’s the signage, where’s the “make it right act”? Rainchecks? free popcorn? Something?

I resolve to blog about it because I don’t have time to talk to the manager who I do spot trying to handle several large groups of irate people. I wonder what would have happened if I had tweeted about it? What would have happened if they had been proactive? I probably would have blogged about that as well.

But now a not so favorable customer experience will now end up online thanks to the intersection of search and social media…Oh well.

Why are companies allowing you to operate without a net in social media?

And yet it’s happening, alot! According to a May 2010 study by Digital Brand Expressions, 59% of social marketers are operating “without a game plan.” How is that possible? I’m not sure who is at more fault here, the marketer or the company they work for? I would understand that a small number might not do this, but half? Six out of Ten are just creating Facebook, Youtube and Twitter profiles?

What’s the point? Geez! From that same study the distribution was interesting for those that “did” have a plan..

What’s up with HR? Last time I checked HR is one of the easiest departments to integrate social in to. No plan for HR and it’s social media recruitment and vetting of candidates

And last, the irony of it all. This is the one that makes me chuckle-It’s like admitting that seat belts save lives but I’m still not going to wear one.

Clearly, we still have a long way to go in this industry…

Your customers are not using Social Media-Case Study

I was talking to an SMB owner the other day who is doing everything that he is supposed to do in regards to social media usage for his company, and doing it seemingly correctly. By correctly I mean he has a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account which he updates semi-regularly. He is transparent, authentic, and he shares content and advice liberally when he can. He reads and comments on other blogs when he has time and he is thinking of starting  his own blog. He loves what social media can do and is a champion of it. There’s one problem tho.

His customers are not on Twitter and Facebook.

Or are they? The back story: It has not been a year of engagement for either platform that he’s on and thus the growth of fans and followers has not been consistent or completely measureable. He still loves it, but his perception that social media could be a game changer for his business is waning.

My thought? He may be echoing a larger sentiment of SMB’s far and wide. More and more businesses are walking away from social media because they are not seeing “the immediate results”.  Perhaps the first mistake is coupling the term “immediate results” with social media-Social is not a quick fix.

If we look under the hood of  the SMB owner, we would see that though he is on multiple platforms, there is minimal engagement. His usage of both is scattershot and not very consistent. The effort that he puts into both is casual at best and he measures nothing. If we add a dose of unrealistic expectations coupled with zero strategy, then he is ripe to walk away and say that social media did not work for his business.

So are his customers using social media or not? He doesn’t think so. What do you think?

Using Twitter to grow your business-Webinar

Using Twitter to Grow Your Business
Live Webcast June 23, 2 PM ET / 11 AM PT

Twitter describes itself as “a real-time information network powered by people all around the world that lets you share and discover what’s happening now.” And with over 75 million global users generating over 50 million tweets per day, there’s a lot to share and discover.

Small and mid-sized businesses have discovered Twitter and are using it to raise awareness of their business, engage and support customers, generate leads, drive sales and much more.

Presented by MyVenturePad and SAP, this live interactive webinar will explain how small and mid-sized businesses can quickly and easily get started on Twitter, as well as advanced tips and techniques for using Twitter to grow your business.

This free, one-hour session will cover how to:

  • Establish and build your Twitter presence
  • Use Twitter to engage and support your customers
  • Generate leads and bring in new business using Twitter
  • Use Twitter as part of your firm’s marketing mix

Brian Solis is author of the new book Engage, the complete guide to build, cultivate and measure success in the new Web. He is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. He is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning New Media agency in Silicon Valley, and has led interactive and social programs for Fortune 500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. BrianSolis.com is among the world’s leading business and marketing online resources.

Marc Meyer is the Director of Social Media and Search at Digital Response Marketing Group in Naples, Florida. He frequently speaks, writes and evangelizes on the emergence and convergence of social media into our lives, and his blog is ranked in the Adage Power 150, the top 5 of all social media marketing blogs ranked by Post Rank Analytics. Marc is also a featured writer and member of his favorite “go-to” site, Social Media Today. In recent months, Marc was nominated as one of the top 100 online marketers of 2009, has won a Hermes creative award for co-creating a Tweet Town Hall on healthcare, and has been recognized as one of the top social media strategists to look out for in 2010.

Steve King, moderating for this event, is a partner at Emergent Research and a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Steve’s research is focused on identifying, analyzing and forecasting global trends and shifts impacting small businesses, including the growing small business role Facebook and other social media are playing. Steve is the blogger in residence at MyVenturePad.

Monitoring “G”

I was pulling some info about tomorrow’s #hashtag social media host Shel Holtz when I came across a video on his Posterous page about Gatorade’s  brand monitoring war room.

The video is well done and I love how they are investing time and effort in polishing and managing the brand via a social media war room. But it was the comment below the video that bothered me.

ooohhhhhh amazing !!
You check the stats of your websites ??? You gather tweets – with like, twitter search ?
Sooooo impressed !

I would volunteer that a bit more is required than that; but see what we, as marketers and managers of brands have to put up with? And you wonder why we  keep having to “sell” social media?

“Like” social media is “like”, soooo easy!


Internal/External buy-in to social media is tougher than you think

Interesting how the intersection of what I’m thinking coincides with what others are too. Take for example the Forrester “social maturity” survey which wants to know which companies are ahead of the curve in implementing social technologies for both external use (i.e., for customers/consumers) and/or internal use (i.e., for employees/partners)?

I had been thinking pretty hard lately that the more that I talk to various companies of various sizes one thing is becoming quite clear. My passion and understanding of the power of social is not theirs. They may want to be part of the conversation but it’s not the same as mine, or the same for other similar organizations or competitors.

It’s all over the board.

Part of the reality is that companies want to be like their competition, or may just want to tap into the stream, but they want to do it on a 9-5 basis say maybe 3 times a week. The rub is, they want to enjoy all that socialness has to offer externally but are not as committed as they need to be internally. Which begs the question.

What level of buy-in and to what extent of buy-in internally do you need with social media in order to be successful externally?

Forrester is dead on in where they are going with this. It is clear that many companies have made some major strides in planning and organizing for the use of social technologies. But one of the primary questions we know they are asking is “where does my company stack up  compared to my peers and competitors in the use of social media-both externally and internally?” It’s natural to want to know how you stack up.

Is it a chicken vs. egg thing? Internal or external? Can you do one without the other? Are you doing one and not the other? Are you doing anything? Or do you still think it’s a fad? Take the Forrester Survey

The Social Media Press Box

When things are going good we don’t need to do anything. Maybe.  That’s what a lot of companies and people do. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So somewhere along the line, the Cleveland Indians have decided to “fix” something. According to ESPN the Indians have established a 10-seat section in left field for bloggers and social media users in an effort to engage fans and further the Indians’ brand in the social media space. It’s called the Tribe Social Deck.


I think I like the idea. Maybe it’s just the timing of it that I don’t like. So tweeters and bloggers get a press kit, media guide and press releases, and are free to update followers and readers throughout the game just as they normally would. But unlike the traditional press box, they don’t get any access to players or managers.

What will the tweets and live blog updates look like if the product on the field sucks? Isn’t that like fanning the flames? There is not a “stated” policy in place that requires them to say positive things, but I can see it now…

The Indians are down 6-0 in the 3rd but there seems to be a lively game of keeping the beach ball alive in left center#Indiansrock

This could be a problem. By hiring or inviting this social media deck to the game aren’t the Indians setting themselves up to go against the MLB social media policy? Check out this quote from Curveball: MLB’s tight control over social media

Multiple sources have confirmed to me that Major League Baseball is cracking down on Twitter usage, ordering MLB.com writers to cease tweeting about all non-baseball topics and scolding players for their Twitter usage in general.

I know, apples and oranges right? In the defense of the Indians they are allowing the fans to let it flow and are not going to try and control the message. It will be interesting to see however, how many games brutal honesty will get you in the social deck. The Indians are hoping that reaching out to influential Bloggers and Tweeters who happen to be passionate Indians fans will be the bridge to a warmer and fuzzier relationship with “other” fans. Transparency might only get you so far.

So while the Indians aren’t directly telling users what to send out to followers and the like, the whole process can have some influence on the type of coverage the team is getting.

OK, in theory I get this, and I would probably try it as well. I’m just not sure it’s going to work. It’s going to end up being subliminally manipulative of the message and the conversation. It’s like paying for blog posts. Look at this quote from Dominic Litten:

“They’re reaching out to people that are Cleveland sports enthusiasts or fans because they know these are the people that are going to spread that message: ‘Hey, it’s fun’ or ‘The Indians are doing cool things.'”

I agree but let’s see what happens. At the least, I applaud the Indians for trying. It’s just that the timing is not the best given the product on the field. But hey as we have always said, the conversations are happening with or without you-I just hope the Indians have thick skin.

The “other” types of social media users

This is such a transcendent time isn’t it? I’ve been thinking a lot about how people use social networks and why. We have talked a lot about digital natives, immigrants, early adopters, lurkers and what not, but there is another group I’ve been tinkering with that I can easily add to the mix.


The newbie in social media might think, and somewhat accurately I might add, that it’s easy to just dive right into social and worry about the big stuff later. True, you can, but I like to categorize those people as the one’s who leap before looking. They’ll join any and all social networks that they can. By the time they stop to worry about the little things, there will be bigger stuff on top of the big stuff and they’ll gravitate towards that.


Then there are those that might look before leaping but don’t really know where they are landing. They are flying blind into social media. They’re excited. They’re not even taking the time to learn, but that’s not really a concern. They’re just happy to be here. They learned just enough to be dangerous. Like how to upload and share photos. They are a critical component to the success of social media-they will share the coolness of it all with others.


Some do manage to land after leaping but then they don’t know where they are. Those are the one’s who join a social network without really vetting the users of that group. It just seemed like a cool network to join; Or a cool tool to use, or a good idea at the time. They created a profile and started to interact before realizing that this group is not really for them. There are a lot of people that fall into this category. The good news? They liked their initial experience. Eventually there will be a tribe for all of them.


Still others leap and never land-To me those people are not really into it for the right reasons; they are the marketers, agencies, advertisers and companies that are trying to capitalize on all the buzz that they’re hearing. They will create a profile, add a link, and not much more; they’ll think that’s sufficient to get it done- -they’ll soon move on to the new shiny thing. Those people will shortly be touting how brilliant and cool Augmented Reality is.


There is of course those that might land but they don’t really care if they do-they are the ones who will test drive, use the networks a bit and move on, declaring that social networks don’t work. They don’t give it a chance. They are not really engaging-or don’t understand the level of engagement needed to be successful. Those are the Tirekickers. They might be useful as beta testers and not much more. If they decided to stay around longer than a month.

What other types of users are there that I could add to this?