Talk to people like you would talk to people-It works

I was just looking at recent tweet from someone I follow and was initially going to unfollow him because I thought he tweeted too much about himself. Until I realized after I had looked at a few of his previous tweets, why I followed him in the first place. It wasn’t who he worked for, or that he might be able to help me one day, as a primary reason of why I initially followed him. What it was, was that 1) he had a personality 2) he wasn’t pushing a product and 3) he actually provided some value from time to time. Lastly,  the tweets had a flavor to them, a no holds barred flavor to them. I think I might have forgotten about that.

Brands could learn something from this

There are 2 lines from a piece in Forbes about the why in social marketing that sum up what I’m trying to get to here…

“The mainstream of communications is now controlled by users, not distributors.”  and “You can’t just show up at social conversations with your bullet points and promotional offers. You need to be able to talk to people like, well, like you would talk to people.”

We have or I have talked about and written about these 2 points in the past, but I guess when you read in in Forbes it resonates a bit more. But it hit home when I started to think about the why I follow someone on Twitter. The why of why I engage. It’s not because I want something, well yea I do want something but its not a product or a service, or a gift or a coupon or lastly your ego.

What I want is to talk to someone, to connect with them and be able to call them a friend and a colleague maybe at some point down the line. Nothing really more than that. Whatever happens beyond that is a bonus for both of us. Brings back memories of the line, “Don’t try and make out with me before you’ve even learned my name.”

Brands are you listening? SMB’s are you listening?

There’s a reason Maslow had “belonging” right in the middle of his hierarchy pyramid..We want to connect with people, and with what make them unique. That doesn’t mean we have to force it. We are looking for personalities and their similarities to ours. We’re looking for people we have something in common with and yes the fact of the matter is… We do want to find our tribes.

Information versus Opinion and Search versus Social

Information versus opinion. Whats the difference? Is there one? What matters to you when you are on the verge of buying something? What is your go to process for vetting a new product, service, or company? Does the process change depending on the type of purchase?  So here’s the scenario, I want to buy a new big screen TV. So I do research. My research consists of what?

A) Typing in “big screen TV’s in Google

B) Typing in a specific brand into Google

C) Going into a social network and letting 500 of my most intimate friends know that I’m thinking of buying a TV

D) Going to Yelp

E) Going to Google and typing in “product review sites” into the search box because Yelp didn’t work.

F) Going into a forum and looking up the product name to see what others have to say

G) Asking my neighbor, my co-worker, my college roommate, or the father of my son’s best friend.

H) All of the above

Some of you probably would do all of the above. I see a problem with every single option above with the exception of option G. Here’s why.

Option A)  is probably the most confusing. Why? Simply because a lot of consumers do not know what types of web results they are looking at. They don’t understand what can be bought, i.e. PPC versus a gamed organic result. Either way, the consumer may be in for a lot of hard work trying to find some information-thus this may be a case where they decide to forgo doing research and just go straight to Best Buy and get the deal.

B) Typing in a brand name lends itself to resellers bombarding you with “their” deal. At the least, when has doing research on a brand lent itself to a highly ranked result of a brand reporting that it’s product sucks? Not going to happen? So the results will always positively skew in their favor.

Option C)  has some potential just because more and more consumers are turning to social media for help with purchase decisions. According to Cone Inc.’s recent research,  consumers are seeking out product information and reviews; they’re interested in both the good and the bad since 80 percent of respondents look at negative comments and 87 percent of respondents look at positive comments with the biggest growth area for purchasing decision information being blogs. The only problem? Blogs can be gamed.

D) Let’s say I never went to Yelp before, my first thought is “Oh cool, this is handy”. Next thing I know, its been 2 hours and I have not been doing any research and I realize that Yelp is not the site for product research.

E) My first thought is, do I really want to go down this path?

F) This one has potential, provided the forum that I use has people in it that are genuine and are not cloaking themselves as regular people, but really are trying to promote their product. Don’t think that happens? Think again.

Option G) Probably my best bet, at least I get a real answer. Funny thing is, it’s not a web based derived result and decision, though the process of purchase may actually happen through the web. But then when I know what I want, finding it at the best price, is completely different than deciding what’s is the best performing brand . See the challenge foe the brand?

Look at how brands  have to compete and win against you, your friends and relatives, against gamed search, gamed social and everything else, in just trying to get a message out that says, “Hey our product is good trust us”-

Even better, the company that says “Hey our product is good, but don’t just trust us, trust the people thst bought from us-That’s the gold! But the larger question is how can a brand simplify the process of aligning it’s existing customers with potential new customers while still trying to maintain some type of objectivity thats not clouded by reward systems and incentives? Tough to do isn’t it? Are we now on the precipice of the Infopinion?

When Should Brands Establish Credibility in Social?

The answer to the title of this post is now, but how are they supposed to do that? What does social credibility look like on the brand side? Is it a Facebook and Twitter presence? A Blog? An internal social media strategy? A go to market strategy? Hiring a social media director? What should credibility look like for a brand in the not so new social space? Is it  accruing  a massive numbers of followers and fans? At what point is a brand legit in social media?

There is an old adage that goes like this-To get a job you need experience, with the response being… “but how can I get the experience without the job”? So how or when is a brand supposed to go about establishing credibility in social media? What does that look like? What is the line of demarcation for when a brand is accepted as being social. We need to ease up on the castigation of brands that move too slow in social media. Let’s let it marinate first. I know some will say if not now then when but…

At some point you were new to…

On Brand Experience

When I was in grade school, one Christmas in particular stood out for me but not for the reasons you might think. My parents were not getting along at the time and for whatever reason, I received a ridiculous amount of presents from my father. Some of which I was not even interested in nor had I asked for.  I found this odd and yet this one thought was not lost on me even at that young age-I thought that my dad was trying to buy my affection.

I remember thinking that why couldn’t he just spend more time with me? Why couldn’t he have just hung out with me and talked with me? That’s all I wanted to do. I didn’t need presents. Well maybe one or two but…

Now let’s think about the brand experience. Before the age of social media, we really didn’t talk about the brand experience. It didn’t really have a name. It was just marketers trying to sell something. However, once consumers found their voice-It became readily apparent that they wanted a say so in what they wanted from the products they bought.

Pay attention to that last sentence.

It’s funny but sometimes I think we have been beat down so much as consumers that we misconstrue good customer service as a warm “live” voice on the other end of a phone. Great customer service? Someone who cares. Ironically, Brand loyalty starts out with the intent of the consumer hoping to get something from the brand, but then is actually cemented by something as simple as a conversation or recognition that you actually exist.

That’s all we really want. We just want to talk.

Coca-Cola knows how to work the crowd on Facebook

As I was reading through The Big Money Facebook 50: Companies making social media work.article yesterday, I saw that Coca-Cola was the number one brand on the list. I wanted to see why so I decided to check it out. When I got to their page I was greeted with this.

Which prompted me to ask or question on Twitter the following:

The answers came fast and furious. Surprisingly or not, they were mixed and I can see why. As social media marketers and brand execs struggle with the best way to have conversations wrapped around their brand, they always run the risk of reverting back to a push style method of marketing. And that’s the rub.

What if consumers prefer that method? Or just don’t care? They just want whatever the brand is willing to give them for free, and they don’t care. So with that being said, giving up all of my contact information, profile information and my friends information for what might be behind the welcome screen doesn’t matter. Apparently not. Or the promise of what might be behind the curtain is compelling enough for me. Given Coke’s status as the number one brand on Facebook according to this list, I think we know the answer.

So what’s my point? Yes the conversations are important but sometimes  customers don’t want to talk with brands, they just want what the brands are willing to give them provided the customer is willing to give up its privacy. Do you really think that Coca-Cola is that sexy of a brand to be worshiped all the way into the #1 spot on Facebook? No. It’s the allure of what might be.

Brands: You can’t hide and then expect to participate in social media


So I’m late. There’s a killer pick up game of basketball going on down  at the park.  I know they play every Monday , Wednesday and Friday at 5pm. For weeks I sit and watch them. This time I’m gonna play. There’s 11 guys including me. They pick up teams and I don’t get picked. WTF? I know I can play with these guys, their games are weak. Yet, I still don’t get picked. Why is that?

Because they don’t know me. Even though I’ve been watching them for weeks, they don’t know me. I could have easily played dozens of times over that span of time and yet I chose not to. Now when I want to, they don’t want to let me, because they don’t know me or anything about me. I’m not even a  familiar stranger to them.

All I had to do was take that first step and become part of their little community. I don’t even rise up when they needed a 10th guy so they could run. Benny, Joe, Arnold, Rambis, Chris D, BV, California, Stick, Coach, and Jackie, could have used me but I stayed passive and quiet. Just watching.  All it would have required was an occasional appearance in one of their games, and I could have played any time I wanted. Minimal effort on my part to get the ball rolling.

You’re a brand, thinking about social media. Thinking about community, about your customers, about growing your reach and your depth. Thinking about getting in. What should you do? How would you do it?

20 Twitter brands behaving badly


I was doing some research for a Twitter webcast that I have coming up, and something caught me by surprise. I came across a post featuring the 100 most mentioned brands on Twitter. While the list is interesting, what I thought was more interesting and what prompted this post were the number of brands that were mentioned(talked about) a significant amount of times and the ones that I could think of, who did NOT have a twitter presence.  Some might not think much about it. But to me, given what is happening with Twitter, I think it is somewhat significant. Why? What a golden opportunity to talk with people about your brand that already talking about YOUR brand!

Below is a list of large brands that are currently doing a really poor job of managing the Twittersphere. This easily could have been a much larger list.

  1. Nike
  2. Apple
  3. Microsoft
  4. Coca-cola or Coke
  5. Sony
  6. Adidas
  7. Nokia
  8. Skittles*
  9. VW or Volkswagen
  10. Subway
  11. Mercedes, MercedesBenz
  12. Audi
  13. Heinz or Hjheinz
  14. Lexus
  15. Budweiser/Budlight
  16. Rolex
  17. Levis
  18. Converse
  19. Toyota
  20. Mountaindew

As a marketer you are challenged every day for marketshare, eyeballs, mentions and anything else that can get people talking about and engaging your brand. For big brands, people already are talking about you. Good or bad They want to talk about you. Twitter allows you to do both. You can listen to what they are saying and you can create communities of brand champions. Yet these 20 are a) slow on the draw b) don’t care and or c) are too arrogant to “bother” with Twitter. We’ll see how long that lasts, but know this, There are many many more.

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