12 things I thought I knew About Social Media in 2011

As 2011 winds down, it’s time for me to reflect on the state of my social media world in 2011.

Things that I thought I knew about social media in 2011:

1)      That I knew what I was talking about

Just because I might know more about social media than the average person, it didn’t preclude most corporate heads to assume that they knew just as much about social, if not more, than I did. Can you say bite your tongue?

2)      That the whole ROI thing would have sorted itself out by now

We’re getting closer, more and more corporations seem to now understand that you need to associate some type of KPI to a social initiative, which is a start in the direction of measurement; but you still had the camps of “you can’t make money from social media” to “let’s just grow our audiences across all social platforms and call it a win”.  Ugh!

3)      People would trust what I know and do as I advise

I found out in 2011 that although people would nod their heads in agreement when we’re in the conference room, once I was gone- the silos reemerged, the battle lines were redrawn, the skeptics reappeared and the notion that a consultant was not necessary reared its ugly head-and thus the follow up discussions were slow to evolve. Can you say self doubt?

4)      We had gotten over being enamored with the quantity of friends, followers, fans and likes

Some have and some have not and we’ll leave it at that. It’s a blog post in and of itself.

5)      Corporations were ready to be transparent in 2011

They’re ready as long as they have their social media policies in place. Even then, after the policies are in place, there’s transparency and then there’s “their” definition of being transparent-on their terms, and not the terms of the masses. It’s actually a start.

6)      That the “new guard” would be saying something different

New social media faces and new social media names talking and preaching about things we talked about 4 years ago. Where is the disconnect? Is the customer not getting it? Or is the consultant not listening? Or are we still not there yet? Do we want them to repeat what we have been preaching? Maybe so.

7)      That the “old guard” would have evolved

Old faces and familiar names talking about the same things we talked about 4 years ago. Is nothing new? Or do people just not get it? Or is it uncorrelated wisdom? Do we need to start teaching SM 201 and 301?

8)      That FB would get to 1billion users in 2011

This is going to happen but I am starting to see little tiny micro-cracks in the Facebook brand. Can you say Facebook Burnout, Blowback or Billion?

9)      That Twitter would be making money by now

Well they sorta are making money and they are rolling out custom pages for brands.  Does that count as truly making money? No. The problem? Would you pay 5 bucks a month to use Twitter? No. Would you pay to advertise on Twitter? No. That’s my point.  I think I might have predicted in 2009 that Twitter would be making money by now as well…Le Sigh

10)   That 2011 would be the year that corporations would be ready to adopt social media both internally and externally

Ha! Just because I got in to the boardroom and we were talking about it, didn’t mean it was going to be happening anytime soon. Of course I thought 2010 was going to be the year as well. Can you say mad silos?

11)   Brands knew what they were doing on Twitter.

Last time I checked, brands are still using Twitter as a push style vehicle for marketing and selling product. Some have gotten creative, but most are of the Tweet with a link with no conversation camp….Does it work? Let’s ask them? Oh wait we can’t because all they do is tweet links and sales. Is there an alternative? Sure there is, don’t do it in 2012.

12)   Google Buzz would be around.

Silly me to think that Google Buzz was viable. Actually it wasn’t. Neither was Sidewiki or Wave either. What’s the over/under on Google Plus survival? 2 years?

How do my “things I thought I knew compare with yours? Let’s share.

The Top 5 Challenges for Digital Brands in 2012

Last week in a very thought provoking Tweetchat hosted by Lisa Petrilli, the discussion, though swirling around how an introvert uses social media, somehow segued into driving website traffic. So my first thought was a poll was in order. But then I started to think about 2012 and the challenges that most brands will face and thus the basis for this post was born: The challenges for a digital marketer or a digital brand in 2012. What are they specifically as it pertains to the web?

1) Driving traffic–  The challenge in 2011 is the same in 2012. In order for people to know that you are open for business you have to get them to your website, your blog, your Twitter account or your Facebook page, right? Whether you’re a click and mortar or a web based only company, either or requires  more than just a cursory amount of effort revolved around driving traffic. So you have to think about things like:

  • Site design that incorporates SEO
  • SEM to artificially drive traffic
  • Some type of lead generation
  • Social site design geared towards your target audience
  • Content creation

All with the premise of driving traffic. Eyeballs.

2) Engaging that traffic-You’ve got them to your site(s) now what are doing with them? In 2011, it was all about doing “something” with someone once they had visited your site, your blog or your Facebook page. Well that hasn’t changed. In 2012, it’s imperative that we determine what engagement looks like. What does it feel like, what does it smell like? Is it conversational? Interactive? Is it wrapped around gaming? You have to test, you have to experiment and you have to understand that you have about 20 seconds to get it right.

3) Keeping the traffic-The segue from the last sentence in #2 says it all. You have 20 seconds. For some of my friends, when they are telling me a long story and I start to lose interest, I tell them to quit circling the airport, land the plane and get to the point. Marketers and brands will need to land the plane in 2012. Remember when websites were stuffed with content because marketers and webmasters thought that’s what we wanted? Guess what? The challenge now is to do more with less and strike the balance of keeping your users happy, engaged and delivering exactly what it is that they are looking for. Keep your users focused in 2012. Be iconic, keep it simple.

4) Converting the traffic-This is the holy grail of web marketing and sales. Doing something with the people that have come to your site(s). From the dawn of the internet, the goal has always been to convert the people that come to your site into either a lead or a prospect or a sale-Either for your company or your partners. This has not changed. The challenge in 2012 will be to further understand how to utilize the social tools, sites and platforms that now exist in order to convert the passive visitor into something other than a mistaken click, a browser or a passerby. In 2012 social will continue to help deliver customers to websites, but it still falls back on you to deliver on the promise of a good  customer experience. The biggest issue? Brands and marketers doing everything to get to the prom but not getting the kiss at the end of the night. Why? It will always be about the customer experience. Don’t discount the importance of search in this equation.

5) Getting the traffic to return-Repeat business, Word of mouth and increased sales, this is what it’s all about. It’s why people go into business, it’s why companies sell stuff. What’s better? The one off or the repeat customer? Why will people keep coming back to a website? Because  of the initial experience. How many people give a crappy website a second chance? None. They come back to good sites that are  easy to navigate, easy to understand, simple to use, that are safe, secure and trusted and they can find and get exactly what they want without much more than 2 or 3 clicks.  Put yourself in the place of your customer. Search for your own product or company the way they do. Do you/they find what they are looking for? Can you be found through search and social? What is your perception of the branded web experience? What are your competitors doing? What are your favorite sites? What brands do you follow on Twitter and Facebook? There’s a reason you follow them. You need to take that mentality into 2012 when it comes to marketing and branding your web presence.

Meet your own expectations as a consumer and flip them into those of your customers.

15 Things I’ve Learned from 138 Social Media Tweetchats

More than 2 years ago Jason Breed and I decided to create a Tweetchat.  The format was pretty simple, we would find a killer, compelling host in the social space, like a Beth Harte who was our very first host, and we’d pick a killer, topical, compelling, subject. After we settled on the topic, we  would collaborate on 3 questions and off we would go to promote it for the following Tuesday. We also decided to create a killer, award winning, website thanks to developer Terry Mckyton that would captures all of the conversations in real time and even allows you to tweet from the site, but other than that, we were ready to go have Tweetchats. Boom.

When Jason first called me, he was looking for ways to  brand  his previous company. At the time, the Tweetchat, “Journchat“, was on fire and that was our inspiration. In the course of about a 1 minute conversation, Hashtagsocialmedia was born.  We had no idea that 2 years and 138 tweetchats later, “Hashtag” as we call it would still be chugging along.

So what have I learned?

1) Tweetchat’s don’t work w/o participation. From having great hosts to having great participants, you need both to succeed.

2) The content comes from the crowd. The gold is in the conversations.

3) Trolls can easily be exposed and don’t last long, but contrarians can bring balance and perspective.

4) There is always a retweetable soundbite that can sum up the discussion. Always.

5) There is never a shortage of topics though some seem to be more popular than others.

6) Passion is never on short supply.

7) Smart people are everywhere.

8. The generosity of the hosts has always surprised me and yet doesn’t.

9) The value of the conversations lasts longer than the Tweetchat

10) We can always learn and takeaway something even from sub-par Tweetchats

11) Every Tweetchat will be different. No two are the same.

12) There is a ton of room for growth for all Tweetchats.

13) There needs to be a next gen level of Tweetchats

14) Businesses, brands and companies should incorporate tweetchats into their marketing mix

15) People actually learn from tweetchats.

I could easily come up with 123 more “things” I have learned, because I have learned something from each and every one of them, but the point is, there is always a takeaway. In fact, not only have I grown from these Tweetchats, but also from the half dozen others that I pop in to from time to time. The bottom line is that Tweetchats are a tremendous opportunity to network, grow and expand your user, knowledge and friend base to the nth degree.

I’m better because of our Tweetchat, I’m better because of the people I’ve met from them, and I know it brings value to others and that makes me feel pretty damn good. Tweetchats work. So tell me, have you participated in our or any Tweetchat? What has been your experience?

Content May Be King, BUT…Customers Rule!

Guest Post from Chris Doster from Digital Response Marketing Group

As a “newbie” to the digital marketing space, I may only have a “surface level” comprehension of this ever evolving profession, but I know my customers…

Since the days of dial-up AOL and old school cell phones with plans that required a bank loan, I’ve been marketing products and services to the medical device industry about as far back as when Gates and Jobs (R.I.P) were just getting started..

I might be a dinosaur when compared to “digital strategists” of the modern day new media, but some things will never change.  One constant, in my humble opinion, is the fact that with all the high-tech “reaching out” methodologies and social channels that exist to make companies more engaging, and accessible, is that the CUSTOMER, still rules…

Now as a guest columnist, I don’t mean to ruffle any virtual feathers here, but since the dawn of the “world wide web”, those of you with the secret skills of “I.T” haven’t always been the most popular staff members in the office.  Much like the respected yet confusing golf pro, it often seems that the “geeks” that create  software, apps and sites and make them tick, make many customers go “blink, blink” with blank stares like a “South Park” Character.

You might proclaim to the customer that you have the “golden ticket” to traffic, conversions, and  “conversations”, but you still get “the look”

So do I have all the answers for the fledgling social media marketer, of course not.  But this much I do know; I am your target audience.  I know enough to be dangerous in regards to “search and social”, but you all play a game I am not familiar with…

From my experience, the majority of business owners are way too busy making payroll and making a marketable product.  To assume they understand your business would be assuming you know theirs….do you?

My simple suggestion would be to consider what I was taught back in the dark ages of that lost art of face-to-face sales calls.  Combine the “high tech” with a bit of “high touch” and remember that people buy from people.

All the “CMS” tools  and knowledge you may drop on a client, all the technical jargon and “buzz words” may make you appear as the “King” (or Queen) of the Digital marketing world.  But if you forget that “nothing happens until there’s a sale”, and that making a connection with your prospect is your most important tool, you just might forget that “Customers” still rule…


Why Do Organizations Still Fear Social Media?


You don’t know what you don’t know

Before organizations can begin to think about having or being a social brand or a social business, they have to back up and temper their opinions or notions of what they think they know. Invariably what I see when I walk into the largest of the large or the smallest of small companies, are companies struggling with 2 schools of thought: (1) That they must corral the social employee and (2) How do they control the social customer. Usually they don’t know where to focus their efforts first.

This struggle is perpetuated by fear. Why? Companies fear what they can’t control. They fear an employee that waxes on about their company in a negative manner off hours on Twitter or Facebook, or they fear the customer that complains about their company or number (2a) they fear the competition doing more with social media than they are.

Let’s take social out of the equation and think about fear for a second and how it motivates companies. Better yet, let’s think about how fear motivates us. If we’re an athlete, we train or work out to get stronger and faster in fear that we might lose. If we work for someone, we work longer hours for fear of losing our jobs. In school we study harder in fear of getting bad grades. In the food service industry we deliver faster, fresher, food in fear of not getting customers or… the customer complaining.


Stronger. Faster. Longer. Harder. Superlatives motivate us.


In life, our fears motivate us into striving above and beyond what is expected. In business, specifically social media, our fear of it is motivated by the unexpected. What’s the difference? One spurs action and the other may spur inaction. But why can’t organizations just move forward with social media? Why can’t businesses just get it going?  Is it really fear? No, it’s not fear per se, it’s more about the unexpected or the unknown.

We know what the general expected outcomes are going to be if you or I work harder, or study longer or train harder. We win, we’re successful.  The problem with social media is that it’s still in the stage where the majority of business leaders still don’t know what A+B+C equals. It keeps changing, it keeps getting refined and redefined. They still can’t associate a bottom line, quantitative value to it. Qualitative yes, quantitative no. Essentially, companies are still struggling with what the value of a like is and are still trying to determine what the impact of the rogue social employee might be to an organizations bottom line.

Internally, companies can incrementally become a social business, which in and of itself may be the easiest jumping off point. Baby steps that can be controlled, if you will. They should be commended for becoming or attempting to become a social brand or business, replete with that level of uncertainty. It’s OK, uncertainty exists when  rolling out anything new, right?


What do companies that choose to wait and see do?


So what should these noobie freaked out, paranoid,  wannabe social companies do? It’s easy. Start with creating a basic set of easy to understand and comply with social media policies. Set the bar on what the expectations will be internally for your social employees both on the clock and off the clock. Create an internal accountability plan. From that, companies can start to build a base and a foundation to create baby step, measurable social initiatives.

Keep in mind that each “social” company will be different from the next. Until these companies have use cases that uniquely apply to each of them, every instance of anything internally social, will be a precedent of some sort. In other words, you will learn from your mistakes and you will build from that.

We’re a lot further along than we were say, 5 years ago, but the fact of the matter is that because of the amoebic like nature of the social web, we can’t with certainty, predict what the outcomes will be of even the best, most thought out, best funded, social initiatives. There is just not enough data yet. So is the fear well founded? Absolutely. Should it spur us into a state of inaction? Absolutely not.