Give ’em a hammer… Give ’em a twitter…

15 04 2009

As far as social media circles and events go, I like to think I get around. While I am getting around, I tend to meet 3 kind of folks. Recently, the kinds of conversations I have had with them have caused me to wonder about this whole social media hype thing that we’ve got going on…. so here’s my view…

Group 1: By far the largest and getting smaller by the minute….Never heard of it or totally confused. Social media what? Why do we need this anyway, it’s not really for business! Kids stuff. Goofing around.  Ok, everyone is talking about Twitter… maybe I should get on Twitter then (law of the hammer) and start pressing “follow”. But, errr, what am I going to do with it? I really don’t have time for this. Our website is a fine piece of art, we look good, we’re different. We’re participating, right?

Group 2: Getting up there now in numbers…..We’re afraid, man. What if someone, somewhere, says something, thinks something… geez we’re so used to sending those press releases over the fence… our sales people are here for the interactions… Inbound marketing, what? No, we have engineers for that.  They can see the future. We’ve just hired a guy who worked at Apple anyway. Sorted, man. The customer voice, yes, we do surveys – candy for  everyone! You’ve probably met someone like this recently too.

Group 3:  Finally the toolers,  social media is equal to social networking –  They are all over it, their company has a twitter account, and man it’s rocking in there, we’re doing it right cos we have a facebook fan page, a twitter account and the CEO is on Linkedin… This is social media, right…? Huh, well, let’s see now. Chances are good what we’re going to see is a bunch of mundane conversations when someone can spare some time… or maybe they’ll hire a junior cos “they know how that stuff works, right?” Ah, not so fast now. And blogging? Yeah, we do that or we thought of doing it but…

Yes folks, Give ’em a twitter… Give ’em a hammer. Everything is looking like a tweet :). Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is an awesome tool, just be mindful. I see workshops on Twitter or Linkedin everywhere like some kind of  new gold that we have all got to get a piece of.  But you know what? I just can’t see how just using one of these tools along is going to turn into a real return. Therein lies the catch….tweety-birds!

Questions you should ask yourself at this moment include:

  1. How is my web strategy supporting my overall marketing strategy?
  2. What are the different components of my web strategy?  Usability, design, copy, SEO, social networks, social media, blogging, adwords… maybe email marketing… Ultimately, it should be about lead generation and converting viewers into customers or at least starting the qualification process… right? Once again push doesn’t work and pull is not easy.
  3. Now, how will social media support your web strategy?  Is this about a time suck or truly turning your customers into advocates? What’s more,  if you venture into the social media space, how is the rest of your marketing plan supporting Social Media and vice-versa…??
Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

My spin on the groundswell levels of success are that they are not mutually exclusive but reaching gold straight off the bat is kinda like managing a hole in one during your first round of golf. Some can. But the rest of us….. you get the picture.

So here is a potential way of looking at levels of success in Social Media…

Not Even On The Podium: You’re pushing your promotions through social networks. Your credibility will suffer. That’s more like a fail.

Bronze: You’re listening and talking with people but having mundane conversation is killing your efforts. Are you truly contributing or making noise e.g. Tweet: “going to the gym now”?

Silver: You’re engaging and energizing your customer base. Passion is the corner stone of social media; where are those passionate users? Are you empowering them to do more with products or services? Are you teaching them, educating them? Are you putting your customer in a position to teach other industry users? They may do a better job than you, you know…

Gold: You’re providing a 3rd space(s) where customers are actually talking to each other and supporting each other. You’ve integrated activities through social media as well as the customer voice or use of your product or services.

Bottom line, if you go on your own, measure and measure your effectiveness; engagement is an art. Wasting time is a hard price to pay for just being on the networks. If you need help, I would seriously check if your prospective provider has a rock solid methodology… it’s no surprise that “Establishing a method for engaging consumers in online conversation” is ranked top of the tactics used by companies by the Aberdeen Group.

Social Media is not a cooking recipe, there will be some experimentation. Having a sound methodology and measurable processes will save you a lot of guess work and just doing social media because everyone is buying a twitmmer these days. Finally,  in the words Social Media, there is also Media… quality media.

Thank you chazferret for his cool picture!

Onwards and upwards,


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!