Social Media Marketing:Less of Big and more of Small

I jumped in on the weekly #brandchat discussion that was happening on Twitter yesterday to answer the following question:

What do small businesses need to be doing less of?

Great question. Here was my answer…

Less of Big and more of Small.

I got an “amen and a hallelujah for that tweet. What did I mean? Hold tight because I’m going to use a couple of baseball references again, but I will keep it short and simple.

The first is this. Did you know that baseball players get paid millions upon millions of dollars to fail seven out of ten times? That’s right. They generally have to hit the ball three times out of ten, and they are considered good at what they do. Why? Because it’s so damn hard to do.

We often overlook or I should say, most seem to think that implementing social media can be done by…

A monkey.

What ends up happening is that folks bail out after a month or so because talking to people, customers,  monitoring sites, creating consistent content, is hard and it’s labor intensive. You have to really work at it and be diligent. Sorta like hitting a baseball.

Not everyone can hit .300.

Funny thing is, baseball players who do hit the ball 3 out of 10 times, work very hard at it, constantly. Some are gifted and it comes naturally-the rest, which is most of them, have to work just to get near .300.

Same goes for creating and planning and implementing social media. It’s hard and not for the faint of heart. You have to believe and trust in yourself and your abilities to get it done.

But you know what? Being a singles hitter or maybe  someone who hits the occasional double in baseball  aint a bad thing. We all can’t be big hitters. Playing small ball is OK.

In the social media world, there are a lot of choices and sites and things that you can do so that you or your client can be seemingly everywhere. That’s really tough and can lead to some serious social media burnout.  But here’s a better idea. Quit trying to be a home run hitter. Play small ball. Be really good at hitting singles and the occasional double. Meaning? Be really good at blogging. Have a solid Twitter strategy. Be honest about what each piece of social engagement is going to bring back. In the baseball world that’s the equivalent of knowing you cannot hit a curveball. Know your limitations and be really good at what you can be really good at.

The payoff? A really long career and a happy client.

18 reasons a social media snake oil salesman might want out

Last week I wrote a post that got a tremendous amount of love from the folks over at social media today and rightly so, it was all the reasons why I love social media.

But what if you were sick of it? What if you were a snake oil salesman trying to cash in on the social media phenomenon and you were starting to realize that this social media stuff sucked? What might be your reasons for getting out and jumping into real estate short sales or something?

Your excuses, er reasons might look something like this:

1) You didn’t realize how much work it took

2) You realized that people aren’t into your “get 200 Twitter followers” for $19 a month program

3) Your social media certification classes didn’t really take off like you thought

4) Stealing other peoples content was hard work

5) Spamming hashtags wasn’t driving any business

6) No one is calling you or responding to your sign up landing page with exclusive offers and social media tips

7) People were not sharing your viral videos that you stole created

8. Strategy? What strategy?

9) The trusting client is pissed because the Twitter account you created for them with the 30 tweets, 30 followers, and the 5000 people you’re following, hasn’t really amounted to anything

10) There was too much to learn

11) You’re tired of RT’ing others on your 6 month old Twitter account

12) You never figured out what that Facebook vanity URL thing was

13) Case studies? On what?

14) Social media is dead anyways

15) You hate creating content and no one was coming to the blog

16) Social Media ROI isn’t important

17) It doesn’t work

18) When someone asked you about Gowalla and Foursquare you looked at them like this…

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You have 11 months to step up your social media game

What are you looking for when you read the latest link bait blog title? I’m always looking for the new tool. I’m looking for what I haven’t found yet, We all are. It’s why new diet books keep popping up on book shelves. Because people keep buying them. Because what worked before just doesn’t seem to be doing it now. We’re all constantly looking for a new approach, a new way to do things. Social media is no exception. We just have a different name for it, it’s called social media obsolescence.

Here’s an example:

You see as a society we’re just not satisfied. This extends to the social networks that we use. Yes, we all are using Facebook, and they are truly the exception to the rule. They are the immovable force. But other sites just die on the vine but for no other reason than it has reached it’s point of critical mass. It’s now in decline for the simple reason that we are looking for, no craving more than what that site delivered to us flawlessly.

To that end, I often find myself pondering whether I could possibly write something that hasn’t been said already. What will satisfy this rabid audience of social media consumers looking for the brass ring or the uber answer? Well the answer is, every day there is another great batch of great posts from some really smart people that I’m pleased to know professionally. Each with a new twist, a different angle, a fresh thought. Which tells us that indeed we are in the nascent stages of this monolith that we call social media.

So what’s there left to do?

What is left is for you and even me, to take all of these thoughts and processes and put them to good use and into action. Then you, my dear readers must pay it forward. No more selfish consuming.

You need to become the next legion of social media foot soldiers. We still have so many people that are completely perplexed and yet those of you that have been playing in the sandbox now for say the last year, know so much more than 75% of the population. That’s you! Start sharing what you know and what you have read. Don’t keep it to yourself.  Be a creator, as well as a conversationalist. Push the envelope in 2010, you have 11 months to get it done!

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10 social sites, posts and tools worth checking out

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. My Twitter stream is my RSS.  Below is a compilation of sites that make me better at what I do. They cover the gamut of posts, tools and resources that someone new to social media or not, should investigate and bookmark and then share with others who might benefit.

1) This first post title 30 top blogs for social media updates is pretty good, simply because there were a few blogs (not many) that I did not know about. As well, the post also contained some links to other worthy posts.

2) If You Care About Search, You Must Care About Social Media and I do. This post rocks it contains video interviews with Vanessa Fox-pay attention to her video, she brings up a lot of solid valid points about search and social- As well as Lee Odden who stresses that you cannot ignore the intersection of search and social.

3) Check out the rankings of the Big Money Facebook 50 of the best brands utilizing Facebook. How many are you fans of?

4) A couple of weeks ago Shel Israel did an interview with E-consultancy promoting his new book Twitterville. If you don’t know who Shel is, Google his name. Pay attention to the examples Shel mentions in the interview.

5) Neoformix is a cool data visualization site, which for me helps in dumbing things down for yours truly so that I can sometimes understand them better.

6) Check out the 11 players in this post on the  brief history of social network enterprise collaboration tools How many did you know about?

7) Sally Falkow is really a smart person, she recently cranked a pretty sweet slide deck

8. I’m a big fan of the Inbound Marketing University (IMU) they offer free marketing retraining programs for marketing professionals—as well as marketers between jobs—looking to gain new skills to get ahead in the competitive workforce.

9) Here’s a quick one, How popular is your website in the web 2.0 world?

10) Lastly I thought this was cool, monitor Twitter lists for keywords with Listimonkey

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The Duration of a Conversation

Chris Brogan recently blogged about the addiction of giving one’s opinion. As I read it a few questions and thoughts entered my mind on why we comment.

  1. Do we comment for the sake of commenting?
  2. Are we going through the motions of commenting because we know it has an underlying effect on our social media status?
  3. We really want to engage in a dialogue.
  4. We want to meet this person.
  5. We want this person to notice us.
  6. We want business
  7. We want something from this person
  8. We want others to notice us.
  9. None of the above. I like reading blogs

I think that the nature of why people blog has changed over the last 2 years. When Groundswell came out, the reasons we blogged were because it was clearly a way to express and connect with others. The conversations were pure and lasted longer than the current, I post, you comment-we’re done model.

Twitter has in effect reduced blogging to more of a long form vehicle for self expression only, whereas in the past it was a catchall for all thoughts both verbose and sound-bite’ish. But it has also exposed blogging to the masses as a way to promote one’s self and not necessarily one’s intellect.

Conversations through the comments section of a blog have been rendered to nothing more than a self promotional back pat and a scrawled autograph by the author.

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The New Black

misterbell

The reviews are in…

1. “Easy enough to use so that a four-year-old could operate one”

2. The development included adapting it to distribute entertainment and news…

3. A review of it  highlighted its potential for widely distributing entertainment,

4. Individual homes had access to music 24-hours a day…

5. The potential existed for “half a million subscribers spread all over Europe”…

6. “I have often marveled why a country like the United States with its amazing enterprise and development has not produced one of its own…

Nope, these are not reviews for the internet. It’s not a new social network and it not a general review of  social media.

They’re for the phone!

One has to wonder whether our ideas have really changed that much since the advent of the telephone. The ideas haven’t changed, just the means to communicate have.

Today, our online communications goals revolve around the following:

  • We want to talk-we want to be heard
  • We want to have conversations.
  • We want to distribute content to the masses
  • Entertainment, news and music
  • Keeping it simple.
  • We want to make money
  • Subscriptions models still make the most sense
  • The United States is still getting bashed for something.

What does this tell you? A lot has changed? Not much has changed? At the end of the day, we strive to communicate in the easiest most profound ways possible.

Our most basic human desire is still to talk and to listen. We are motivated to make it as  simple as possible to have a conversation. We are constantly pushing the envelope of ways to connect, to share and to listen to each other and others. Look at all the apps and programs that revolve around this notion. Simplifying our lives, consolidating our contacts, streamlining our relationships. All for the sake of communicating.

Isn’t it amazing that those 5 statements could have been made this past Monday? and yet it was over a 100 years ago! So what is your take-away from this post?

Talking and listening will always matter. We will always be captivated and motivated and willing to pay for entertainment and music. Keeping it simple is still a priority in our lives, and the only business model that appears to still make sense, is a subscription model. Ironic isn’t it?

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How are you driving people to your social media presence?

cattle

What are you planning to do to drive people to your social media presence? And do you have the money to do it? I read this question this morning and thought, boom, dude you nailed it. It was a post in Clickz by Sean Carton. Though he didn’t really answer it.

So lets talk about that. What are your plans? You have gotten the gig, but now you are tasked with driving traffic to all of the social media properties that you have set up for the client.

Quick question though. Is that really a function of social media managers? To drive traffic? Or is that a pure marketing function? A search function? Something you pay for? Something you outsource?

I digress. So what are you going to do get these communities/social media personas jammin?

I think first and foremost, as Jason Falls has so aptly put it,

To be effective in social media, whether as a marketer or just an ordinary participant, you must, first and foremost, communicate well.

Ok so you have that down, you can communicate with the best of them, now what?

Well if we’re to look at social media as a messaging and communications type of activity, wouldn’t that responsibility ultimately sit on the shoulders of PR? Should PR pros be responsible for driving traffic to social media networks?

Or is it something a marketing department should do? Does a community manager do that?

Wait, I’m blurring the message here. Let’s go back.

What are you going to do to drive traffic? I don’t care if you’re in marketing, PR, or IT, you have been tasked with making this social media thing work, so wutcha got? And don’t go telling me we need to define our objectives and align them with our strategies. We get that. Yea I know numbers don’t truly define success but they certainly are going to determine a lot of things going forward. So pick your poison.

  • We have blogs-what’s your plan to drive readers?
  • You’ve created a Facebook fan page or group page, how many friends are you going to get and then what will you do with them?
  • You’ve create a social network on Ning now what?
  • What is your plan to grow your Ning group or your community?
  • You’ve got that Twitter profile rolling, what’s your goal? Do numbers even mean anything anymore? How many conversations are you looking for?
  • Now that you have that podcast where are you going to find that audience? What is going to compel them to tune in every week?
  • Wikis are a cool collaborative tool if people know about them and feel compelled to contribute. So why should they do anything with yours? Out of some benevolent stroke of contributing for contribution’s sake?
  • Is a big budget going to make it easier for you to create these communities? You know once your PPC campaign ends, your traffic might leave to..
  • What if you do suck at communicating? Then what?
  • Who should be responsible for the success or failure?

What I keep coming back to, is that with each bullet point, it still helps to define the purpose of why you are doing it in the first place. Here’s the problem though. There are a lot of hours involved in any of these activities, and if any company or person is going to work on these, then we or you need to see something on the back end that is justifiable. Is that ROI? Could be. Is it return on engagement? Well…

Try selling the story that because of social media, you had one killer conversation or engagement per blog post. Or you have 30 really awesome friends on that Facebook fan page. Or you helped 1 customer out who found you through Twitter…

I’m not sure those type of numbers can justify the time suck and investment of resources.

So I ask you again, what is your plan of action for driving traffic to your social sites and communities.

How to strike the balance between your blog and Twitter

seesaw

Do you feel like Twitter is stealing the oomph from your blog? That you don’t blog as much as you used to? Yea me too. A lot of good topics get thrown under the 140 character bus in the form of epiphany like sound bites. So what do you do about it? How are you striking the balance between the 2? Are you on a schedule? Do you tweet at certain times?

How do you decide when to save that mind blowing tweet for a full blown blog post?

I used to blog every day, and now? 3 times a week. However there are days that I might write 3 blog posts in one day. Is that you? Here’s what might work for you. Because though I may be only blogging 3 times a week, I’m getting my source material from Twitter.

So though Twitter might be stealing some of my thunder, it is also creating the lightning for my blog posts.

Use Twitter as your source and inspiration for topics.

The real trick though, as has just been pointed out to me by@newjerseyliz, is how do you manage to read tweets, respond to tweets, read blog posts and respond to blog posts and write your own blog posts? And do it consistently. That’s why my Twitter network has evolved into my own personal RSS filter of what I should read. Maybe yours should too? Tell me what’s working for you.

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When the tweet doesn’t live up to the hype

play_risk

What do you, what can you do? You click on a compelling tweet with a link and it brings you to a lame blog post or just bad content. You took the link bait. What do you do? You read it and you say to yourself this is bullshit. It has a lot to do with credibility going forward doesn’t it? You feel like a sucker.

Trust? Your trust of who sent the link is diminished. Your skepticism for any subsequent posts is raised and the likelihood of ever going back to that blog and or to even follow that Tweeter is in jeopardy. So is this you? Are you the offender? If it is, here is one piece of advice. We’re not that stupid.

Don’t play us.


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Should bloggers be held to journalistic standards?

head1

Yes they should. But they’re not and that gets them in trouble.  remember the old saying, Measure twice cut once? That means you’ve only got one shot at cutting the piece of wood. The point being “make sure” you have the right measurement. Be sure about your post, before you hit publish.

Back in September I remember asking Brian Solis the exact same question at Web 2.0 expo in New York, “Should Bloggers be held to journalistic standards?” and he answered yes. Bloggers need to be held to some type of standard.Why did I ask Brian? Because he has a unique perspective, he’s a content creating machine and he cranks out volumes of noteworthy and spot on commentary about the social media and PR space and he is accutely aware of what he writes and says.

But a larger point is this.

Bloggers need to hold THEMSELVES to some sort of standard.

Why? Because when they start writing about people and companies and events- and if they have any type of influence, and they get it wrong-the backlash can be brutal for all parties involved.

Which leads me to the reason I’m writing this post. Yesterday Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang wrote a post about the social media company, Mzinga. It did not go over very well.  Suffice it to say that regardless of whether Jeremiah was correct in what he asserted or speculated, what happened next was nothing short of a shit storm.

Yes the mob mentality reared it’s ugly head again and yes Jeremiah was wrong in his approach. But at some point, 2 things need to occur. One, the Mob mentality needs to back off. and Two, Jeremiah needs to apologize.

After comment #19 Jeremiah realized he screwed up and he ultimately apologized and posted a retraction of sorts. However the mob continues to vent some 60 comments later. At last count there were 2 posts that were sympathetic.

So what do we learn from this?

Interestigly enough, even a Forrester analyst has room for improvement. It’s a simple as this for Jeremiah and actually speaks to a vlog I did prior to this post. One of the things we must do, as hard as it is, we must:

Practice a sense of patience.

Instead of rushing to break a story, perhaps it might make better sense to feel the situation out or better yet..”Measure twice, cut once”.

Ultimately, since we do not want to be policed by the mob mentality, we have to police ourselves, and hold ourselves to some type of journalistic standard. No one else will-unless of course you count the blog mob and twitterati.

Lastly, for the mob mentality. Ok  so you’re pissed. And you let Jeremiah know about it. Ok he got that. I get that.  But reiterating over and over again, virtually the same thing, gets tiresome, boring and lacks any type of  originality or constructive criticism.  Maybe the mob needs realize that pitchforks and torches never really worked that well anyway.

simpsons-mob-torches