Push me or pull you?

4 02 2009

Increasing technological immunity is a real issue. First, we had no fax machine, then we thought it was cool, then we were increasingly spammed through this medium, then we dropped it like a hot potato. Then came email…and the spammers showed up there too…Now we are or will be on social networks, and, yes, you guessed it, there is a share of this span activity going on there as well e.g.  this example today on Twitter – It’s not that common but it happens — you connect with someone and bam, you’re spammed! This kind of Push Me marketing is and won’t work in the Social Media sphere. We’re about about Pull YOU marketing here.

Let’s look at some numbers. Last week I was at the Social Media Club in Denver and was really interested to hear from a larger company who entered the Social Networking space last summer. Quark has roughly 1,000,000 users [a total estimate from Jim Brown] of their software product. They are also present on Facebook (~421 fans), Twitter (~200 followers) and YouTube (~36 subscribers) and discounted other platforms. They do not blog [or not that I could see].  I have to say that I am definitely glad they are trying to use those platforms.

So I asked Jim Brown of Quark,  “are you getting more traditional marketing folks wanting to shake your hand these days?” Jim replied “yes, my budget is certainly on the increase”. Jim then spent some time discussing how SEO was part of his activity. This was, after all, the topic of the evening.

During the presentation Jim showed us how the Facebook page is packed with keywords that may attract visitors. Twitter is mostly being used as brand monitoring – Quark mostly pushes content similar to their press releases or other marketing activities. Mirroring online traditional marketing activities is something we also advocate. Jim also seem to have great customer services with product users on Twitter. Kudos.

Did I feel like being a Quark fan hearing all this? Um, not quite. Did I feel that the ‘brand’ was trying to engage and empower their users to connect with it or better :),  among themselves. It’s unfortunate, but most brands who reach a certain size live in some state of fear of reaching out.

Where are the PEOPLE, I ask myself and Quark? How is a large brand like Quark empowering users to speak for and against its product? 1,000,000 users (not confirmed) and only 421 fans on the facebook page…. hmmmm….

So, what would I hope to see?

Social media: Where is the user generated content? Where are the contests to let their fans show what they can do using their product? 1,000,000 users should have a few fans, no? How about promoting them? Show us videos, pictures of your users playing with your products… people proud to be your users will do free marketing for you, help them benefit from the groundswell.  Pissed off people are a fact of life, we all get tired of being marketed to. As such a successful company, you have to be creating the right product… so using such positive people about you will always be more powerful than.

– Social neworking: Use it properly – If I type ‘Quark’ in Facebook, I hope to find Quark there… but they are nowhere to be seen.  The second page result is ‘Designer Against Quark’ (~302 group members). I keep searching and find in Groups: ‘I use Quark all day long’ (~91 members), or ‘We love Quark Xpress’ (~58 members).  To find Quark (the official page), you have to type ‘QuarkXpress‘ – point being that putting yourself in the shoes of someone living on Facebook is a good thing to do when engaging on those platforms.

Be everywhere:  You cannot guess where your customer will hang out, so you have to try looking everywhere first, then draw some conclusions.

Think about integrated marketing in a new way: Marketers love the words ‘integrated’ marketing. It’s easier to be integrated when you push your message than when you’re trying to engage your audience. Mirroring your content and carrying your customers’ voice though is a good first step, then you have make sure that everything you do elsewhere (offline) should be replicated online. Again, change your voice there…. the people want content, not propaganda. Integrating your marketing also means to use traditional means to build your online presence. You didn’t have URLs of you business 10 years ago, you now should have you Twitter account on your collateral. You have to be there and engage.

Start a blog, not a clog 🙂 Some call corporate bloggers: “cloggers” as they just push similar content to their press releases. This doesn’t create trust, nor engagement, it just wastes your time. Blogging is about the users and your brand’s ‘higher purpose’ (soapbox :)).

I’m really glad to see large brands putting their feet in social media waters and paddling about. The next step is to engage. Get in there upto your knees at least! Remember, we’re all human (ok, most of us). As good humans, we know all about immunity. We prefer to be pulled towards you.  Attract us, don’t attack us!



Thanks !!sahrizvi!! (back in… for the great pull the net picture!

Your participation is required (no duh!)

14 01 2009

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the roots of and early influencers of web 2.0 and customer relations (the re-birth of Trust 2.0 , the village Not-So-Fool,  Napster, Gen y…).  More and more, Health 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are taking the stage….. the 2.0 juice is everywhere, are you sick of it yet?

If you’re sick of it – You’re certainly experiencing a culture gap :).  If you’re excited about it, that’s probably the right feeling. It starts to get crunchy when you can claim and act as you are embracing it. Every segment of your company’s value chain should start thinking 2.0 collaboration. As the economy drops, it is essential that more brands engage in conversation.

The economy may be tanking but that’s not the case with all that is 2.0. Let’s talk about growth for a moment: Twitter 343% (users) and grew by 752%  in traffic in 08′, Ning 251% (users), Linkedin 193% (users) (the state of the Economy helping), Facebook 116%.  When was the last time you saw figures like that?? Staggering, isn’t it?

Now all those “sick and tired of this web 2.0 malarkey” would have you believe that this is all just a fad. A wild management fashion that will blow over by the time Spring comes. Just something to keep those geeks and young’uns occupied when they should be doing some “real work”. Right. Call me silly, but I see several major cultural and behavioral shifts here (feel free to add more):

– Numero Uno: This growth is conversation based.  Robots have no place in the hive and the communities are watching. Communities value quality, authenticity and collaboration. Sounds trivial doesn’t it? There you go, arguing that that flashing your sensory advertising 7 times in front of someone’ eyeballs may do the job. Forget that.  It’s just part of the noise.  As a product manager, a brand marketer or simply an employee, your online attitude and your ability to converse are making or breaking your business model.  The economy is just magnifying any cracks already there. Your products, your sales tactics and PR in general can only stay alive if you’re engaging with your consumers. No, it’s not only your engineering team’s job to do so… if you think so, you’ll fail.  Someone somewhere is  conversing about the features or service add-ons they’d like to see.

– Numero Dos: This growth is participation based. Your product, your brand (personal and company), your PR, and your support operations have to be able to engage and sustain conversations if you want to stay relevant. Relevancy has 2 axes:

– your current customers and prospects (do you empower them through conversations? are they getting your brand experiences for the same price they bought you product or services?). Are you in conversation with them before and after they bought your product? Like a good Chef, does your brand walk around Twitter or Facebook and see if what you cooked went beyond expectations?

– and Google of all places 🙂 Your brand digital footprint is constantly analyzed by search engines to create rankings.  Engaging in the conversation is cheaper and more effective than hiring any gizmo PR firm.

I’ve  seen a lot of debate on Chris Brogan’s blog lately about lead generation methods. Guess what, the most viral of us are spreading the word faster than ever before. I knew of the DIA air plane crash before any news coverage, I knew about the earthquake in Thailand and that my friend Neil just bought his new iPhone before he called and told me. Yes, your traditional communication methods are still relevant but engaging in conversation is required. Social networks and social media are not just for kiddos anymore – those of us 25 years of age + are the fastest growing segment on most networks.

So here’s your case for change:

– Your social media engagement should empower your users, especially if you are developing software or any collaborative tools. Sounds trivial, yes, now go listen to the blogosphere or the twitterverse and judge for yourself.

Brand monitoring should be like breathing – people are already talking about you, now listen and engage where necessary. I am always pleased to see brands replying to me when I comments about their product on Twitter or else

– If customers come back, great – if they speak about you on yelp.com, facebook or twitter… it’s better, their friends are listening.

Good blogging is the mothership of social media – it’s like going to a networking event– you’re putting yourself out there.  You may be anxious at first but there are no robots in this room, just human beings, style gets you only so far. Substance rules.

It all sounds very much like a village right?  People using technology have created more human avenues for connection than ever before.

Finally, if you think you don’t have the budget for this, your current marketing budget mix is wrong. Just because you’ve done marketing this way for 10 years doesn’t mean you’re right, that it’s working or that people are not immune to your message. It isn’t. And they probably are.

Let’s go man! It’s exciting.