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Social Media Neophytes and Great Hopes

16 07 2009

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel organized by the local Entrepreneurs network about social media. The audience was clearly a majority of neophytes from local businesses, agencies and even government. I think it was an eye opener for me as to what people have on their mind. For them, the 6 panelists certainly gave them tons of useful information. It was participant driven which was a great experience. My natural tendency is to discuss on this blog larger phenomena occurring in the social media world.  I’ll therefore try to address those same questions a bit more regularly on the Extanz blog. For now, I want to focus on some of the points raised at the event….

Time devoted-to make effective? What to listen? How to listen?

I think entrepreneurs are even more wary about the time sucker that social media can be. Let’s just consider Twitter to start with as it’s probably the most straight forward one. If you’re lucky, and you have more than one

computer screen, I would pull up applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or PeopleBrowsr and start setting up searches, creating groups by interest. Scout for topics that your company is involved with, see what results come up. Tools like Twitter or Friendfeed are the most valuable when listening or monitoring that action. You or your company’s ‘social’ networks act as a knowledge guardian, you’ll be able to stay on top of what’s of interest to you (being the Tour de France or what are your competitors are up to, what customers/consumers are saying, etc). Most of these applications will allow you to create ‘columns’ or ‘groups’ that filter by keyword. Scroll through it, see what is being said and reply / participate if it’s worth your time. You can also share links or articles you find valuable or simply RT (re-tweet) with your comments. I would also advise using these tools in conjunction with Google Alert, Filtrbox, OneRiot and other similar tools which are much more efficient search tools than staring at Twitter all day.

ROI 101: Return On Investment 101

Throw away any of the usual metrics you’ve learned. Building relationships for a person or a brand cannot be measured as a statistical number. You will still see more followers on Twitter, more fans on your facebook fan page. Ultimately, if you share valuable content and engage in conversations, you’ll have a clear sign that people like your content. This clearly has a more powerful impact for you or the brand you represent. Also, I hear too often that people don’t use Google Analytics yet on their… this is a must have. If you expect to show any sign that your time is spent appropriately, Google Analytics will be able to show you this progress.

What percentage of your marketing strategy should be devoted to social media?

That will depend on your audience. The more you deal with tech industries and the knowledge industry, the more important it’ll be for your company. For example, a company like Crocs (not so much knowledge industry based) has one full time dedicated employee for Social Media (George Smith Jr) out of 3-4k people worldwide. Make sure to think about every activity you carry as a company and how to leverage social media in relation to those activities. Social media is not a marketing play, it’s a relationship play. Relationships happen at every step of a company’s value chain. Social media can fit in those segments. See what happens. Draw conclusions. Be creative. Repeat.

Some simple steps to get started:

Level 1- Join groups related to your industry in Linkedin or Facebook, engage there. This might be enough as some of audience is already there.

Level 2- Join twitter, start following 50 people who you care about as a company, start listening, share interesting news in your industry or localized content, engage where you can.

Level 4- Create a facebook page and try to get your other marketing activities to promote that facebook page. Link your Twitter account to your facebook fan page.

Level 5- Start a blog… this is a difficult exercise and can be time consuming, but it is still what can carry your business voice the furtherest. Remember that if you blog, stay away from clogging, don’t use this as just another ad channel (#fail).

There are 100s of things you could do, but start there. Your company’s digital footprint will benefit and you may be able to spend 1-2 hours per week without losing your boss’ trust. Finally, it’s more complex than it seems. If you want to be effective at it, getting help is usually well worth it.

Off you go,

Thank you for you great pictures:  by quelquepartsurlaterre, ToniVCjohn.d.mcdonald

@YannR

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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.

Yann





Got A Higher Purpose?

16 11 2008

I never thought I’d write as I do now, in this case,  in a blog. My work has revolved a lot around marketing and business development for hi-tech, software, internet startups and social media for  3 years now. Good things can happen. How do you feel about blogging, tweeting, writing your self and putting your status out there, or even Brightkite – ing yourself?

Yes, a huggggge shift has happened since the birth of RSS 2.0 in 2002. There are 250 million blogs out there, don’t tell me you still feel like it may be a waste of time? Your blog is the door step of your company. Welcome them, connect with your customers and industry. So how often should you blog? hmm well, how often do you like visitors? Do it often, be interesting…

I have heard countless times:

  • What is our business going to blog about? Is that worth the time?
  • Are you doing the narcissist thing?
  • Gee… what if somebody say something bad about us?

Do you ask yourself the same question when reading a good book? Probably not. Does the writer? Probably not. So what’s the difference? We’re all here to learn and feed our brains with good stuff. Are we nourished by the traditional corporate newsletter? Hmm, not really. By press releases?  Hmm, not really.  So why do you keep doing them?

We’re searching for the good stuff – Isn’t that what blogging should be about? Micro-blogging aka Twitter … is in the same boat. SO, here is the deal, your business is in an industry – You own the creation of content to customers, prospects, competitors, partners… You own the distribution, no more traditional media. But here’s the key…you need to position yourself as a thought leader and always blog about the higher purpose of your brand. The more you do it, the more your brand will be seen as a leader vs just a player.

It’s hard to do. I’ll give you that. Blogging about a higher purpose is not easy but when you open a book you expect that level of content and connection. What’s stopping your company (I would recommend external bloggers, us :)) from generating the same level of content you read in newspaper? Nothing. Your brand can create journalistic content and you can do it now.

Blogging about your brands’ higher purpose will engage and envelope customers in your brand. You will do well.

“Hey, what’s your higher purpose Yann”? I’ll speak for Extanz. We’re here to share our journey through social media. We take our clients and you through that journey and hope to share and shape forward thinking ideas, people, enterprises and action. We’re here to be extraordinary with you.

Cheers!

Yann

Thanks Laughing Squid and SteveGarfield for your cool pics.





The Relevancy Bell Curve… Google, Brands and Blogging

20 10 2008

“We don’t actually want you to be successful”  said Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The company’s algorithms are trying to find the most relevant search results, after all, not the sites that best game the system. “The fundamental way to increase your rank is to increase your relevance,” he added.  

In this extract, from AdAge.com we hear more confirmation that SEO, Public Relations and Marketing are in fusion mode to become Social Media Marketing and PR 2.0… I feel quite good about this…

Here what we think here at Extanz:

The tools are ready: Brands and businesses in general can now own the distribution of their content and directly connect with their constituents and customers via social networks and RSS connectivity. This is the ultimate form of business relevancy as regular people (or businesses) are connecting via the internet to businesses they believe are trustworthy. Google is looking for trust, are you?

You own distribution: Business blogging, and blogging in general, is the mothership of relevancy. A business should (not increase) but shift resources from traditional marketing to blogging. You may also need to reshuffle who is in charge of blogging (hint)…. Comcast’s success with Twitter was started by people in customer service, not in corporate marketing. The spirit of blogging resides in creating real connections with customers. Help your customer, make them smarter, educate them. Traditional marketing minds want to push information. Blogging is about pulling your customer’s interest towards the higher purpose of your business. Together we rise.

The Digital Footprint: What the heck is that? The other day, I followed someone on twitter someone called Pixelbender (this makes me laugh as it expresses the gap between our understanding of reality and how the virtual world is reframing what’s really real) 🙂 – Back to the digital footprint… I see it on every network, from the LinkedIn super networker who has 10,000 + connections (Not me, but I’m working on it) or to Obama who has 100,000 + followers on twitter (first page result for Barack Obama) – the more connected your business is (and you are yourself), the more relevant you become in the eyes of the search engines. Your business digital footprint is like putting a series of billboards along social network highways. The earlier you get on board, the more you’ll lead in terms of being relevant in your industry.

Stay or become relevant through social media!

Stay or become relevant through social media!

The Business Social Graph: To our example last week, just put Barack Obama in Google, or check where Twitter is lined up… like on the first page – that is relevancy based on how much a person or a business is connected. Except that once again, the internet tends to create sprouts (remember the Bell Curve?) – The first cool brand on the block will be able to build higher and faster connectivity with customers and prospects because of the viral mechanism that the internet offers. How do you stay on top? By staying relevant and feeding EXCELLENT and USEFUL content to you constituencies!

– Lastly, not everyone is an early adopter… but you can build your brand journey step by step and we can help – and by the way, we know how to make you successful and relevant

Cheers

Yann