Style 2.0 – Wow!

As many of you who read this blog know, I am constantly searching for things that are new and social to write about. To that end, I couldn’t resist jumping on the news my friend, Mike Pratt, recently shared with me about some exciting things he and the Style Coalition (which he and his wife Jean co-founded with Yuli Ziv) are doing to change the fashion industry. To that end, last Wednesday, luxury handbag and accessories online retailer, Avelle, worked with the Style Coalition to launch their five year anniversary campaign. While Avelle’s campaign itself embraced social media, it was different in many ways from the run of the mill variety many of us a slowly getting used to experiencing.

A few highlights:

  • Because the campaign is run by the Style Coalition vs. going through an agency to the traditional media, Avelle is one step closer to the consumer and thus is more likely to be perceived as being “engaged in the conversation.”
  • The Style Coalition, which consists of 10 top shelf bloggers/online publishers, is posting and creating conversations/engagement about some of their favorite topics like, handbags and accessories.
  • Avelle wants to encourage conversation with its customers so the posts by the Style Coalition’s bloggers will be focused on the products & brands that Avelle carries but not explicitly about Avelle itself.

To sweeten the pot a little, the Style Coalition is going a little bit “old school” and will be giving away Avelle Gift Cards (substantial) via a variety of contests. The campaign itself will run over the course of three weeks with embedded widgets in each post by the Social Coalition providing cross linkages and additional value to each blog’s readers. Of course no good social campaign would be complete without Twitter – Avelle’s is using the hashtag #Avelle5Year.

For all this engagement and effort, the publishers will be compensated, in effect directly as the Style Coalition passes through revenues. Who doesn’t love a win/win where the Style Coalition can increase the effectiveness of its outreach and brand engagement while putting more revenue directly into the hands of the “value add-ers.” This “outside-the-box” approach is one that more businesses need to be thinking about where:

  1. Innovative thinking is encouraged and rewarded.
  2. A win/win is created for all stakeholders involved (as opposed to, “look at the great publicity you’ll get out of this ‘Joe/Jane’ blogger.”)

Oh, and my favorite part? The Style Coalition is providing full campaign tracking, stats and management. This way, brands like Avelle will not only suspect that the campaign is working, they can actually pinpoint which elements worked, which didn’t and how such successes (or failures) can be repeated again in the future in a more scalable fashion.

You go Mike! Way to combine beautiful people, their clothes and accessories and the world of social. To quote Facebook for a second, “Aaron likes this way of doing business.”

Live from Ad:Tech SF, Jimmy Wales

The good news is that Ad:Tech cares enough about the concept of “social” to go out and get one of the original consumer generated content guys in Mr. Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia fame. His session is titled: Wikipedia, Wikia and the Future of Consumer Generated Media.

The room is fairly crowded (3rd FL of Moscone West). We’re about 2 minutes from showtime…
Jimmy is walking through background data on Wikipedia (what it is, what it isn’t) as well as its global reach. One thing that is fairly impressive is the fact that Wikipedia is the fourth ranked Website on the internet (behind Google/Youtube, Microsoft and Yahoo). He predicts that by next year, Facebook will move up into top five. Interesting stat – 4th largest Web property in the world has 25 people that work for it full time. I guess this makes sense when you think of the thousands of people that volunteer to contribute all of the content.
A few high level thoughts/data points:
  • Amazing that Wikipedia was launched in 2001 (in the thick of the dot com crash). Wales said the tough economic times drove a lot of the innovation behind the genesis of the site.
  • “Most brands have been afraid to be associated with user generated content.” This is changing with growth/penetration of YouTube, Wikia and Wikipedia content.
  • “Online advertising has gone down the rathole of direct response marketing.’
  • Brands might want to start taking a look at advertising against user generated content.
Oops… gotta run to my next meeting. For a continuation of this and other Ad:Tech activity (#AdTech), go here for the live search feed.

Experts in the Industry: Bryan Person (76 of 45)

Let me start by saying that I know I’ve skipped a couple on entries in the Experts in the Industry series. That’s not by mistake. It’s so that my good friend, Bryan Person, can have the number that coincides with his birth year. I figure that this is my blog so I can do stuff like that.
Obviously if I’m willing to make such important sacrafices for Bryan — who is the social media evangelist at LiveWord btw — he’s a fairly important dude. Or at least he is a friend that is worth bending the rules for. Given the fact that he was one of about a dozen reasons as to why I decided to move to Austin, I’d say he’s worth it.
By way of history, Bryan and I first met on Twitter via mutual friend, Peter Himler. I was looking for someone to do some podcast production for me and Bryan was the guy that fit that bill. Subsequently, Bryan became a client of my old company, Mzinga (he was at Monster.com at the time) and we started getting together regularly for morning coffee since we lived in adjacent towns. Since then, we’ve roomed at Community 2.0 together, podcasted together, hung out for coffee, dinner, lunch, drinks etc. And as I metioned earlier, we both live in Austin. Yup, I’m a big fan.
Before I give Bryan too big a head, let’s get on to his questions:

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
In many ways, online community and social media are a natural evolution of what I’ve been advocating for years — using online tools to communicate when face-to-face conversation just isn’t practical or efficient (I was in BBS chat rooms in the mid-90s and using IM to connect to prospective students for our study abroad program in my first professional job a few years after that). But my true “light bulb moment” with what we now call social media really occurred in the spring of 2005, when I discovered podcasting. Geek News Central with Todd Cochrane and For Immediate Release with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson were two of my early favorites (I still listen to FIR every Monday and Thursday). The shows offered rich, niche content that was relevant to me, that I could listen to on a portable device whenever I pleased (hello, mp3 player!), and that came right into my podcatcher when a new episode was published (hello, RSS!). Plus, the hosts of both shows were so welcoming and quickly built up a community of like-minded listeners. That’s the essence of social media, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
Not that they necessarily need the money, but I’d invest the $10 million in the Boston Red Sox, the baseball team to which I’ve pledged my lifetime allegiance. The club and Major League Baseball are already doing some good “social” projects online — fan communities, connecting on Twitter, etc. — but I have a few more ideas kicking around in my brain that I’d be happy to tell them about.
Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
John Wood. His book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, is an inspiration. Since 2000, John’s Room to Read organization has built more than 7,000 libraries for children in developing countries around the globe. He’s this century’s Andrew Carnegie!
Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
Not a chance; I can’t think of anything less compelling than a community based entirely around a commodity consumer product. But … what if a toothpaste maker hosted or sponsored an community around raising healthy kids? Now that might be interesting.  
Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
For marketers: When a company — either yours or one you’re reaching out to — is slow to adopt social media, don’t become overly criticial. Have patience with that reluctant executive. Consider it a golden opportunity to continue to share best practices and success stories from other organizations. Change will come.
Bryan is @BryanPerson on Twitter.

Experts in the Industry: Shiv Singh (74 of 45)

Today, we get to meet one of my favorite people in the social media space, Shiv Singh. In addition to being a new daddy (congratulations), Shiv is also the global VP of social media for Razorfish. In case that wasn’t enough to do, he’s also an active blogger and twitter enthusiast.

I’ve actually known Shiv for a few years now as he was kind enough to come and speak at some of the events for Shared Insights (now part of IIR USA) on portal technology. Since then, I’ve bumped into Shiv at other events like Office 2.0 and try and keep in touch with him semi-regularly on Twitter and e-mail. Given how long he’s been involved in Web 2.0 and social media and the level of clients he gets to talk to on an ongoing basis, why wouldn’t I want to stay in contact with such a bright guy?
With that said, let’s hear from Shiv:
How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
Got into the world of online community originally through my experiences on The Well back in 1995 and 1996. This led me to starting an online community for my high school alma mater (which interestingly has the reputation of being one of the four most powerful alumni networks in the world according to The Economist Magazine). From there one thing led to another and at Razorfish (where I’ve been 10 years) I’ve advised clients in community building and social media on both sides of the firewall – getting employees to collaborate and communicate with each other and on the consumer side building customer communities and helping brands market on social networks and across the social influence marketing landscape.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
If I could invest in one company and only one company, it would be Ning. I think they’re doing an incredible job, have the right philosophies (open standards, cross-integration, letting a thousand flowers blossom philosophy) and have made their platform simple and accessible. There’s so much more that they could be doing though and I think $10million would help them a lot and serve to deliver the kind of value that companies and individuals want but aren’t getting from any other platform.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
There’s no shortage of business leaders and public figures that I learn from everyday. I suppose I’m currently watching Malcolm Gladwell, Duncan Watts, Seth Godin and Tom Peters a lot. I’m drawing inspiration and practical insights from them these days. They’re sharp, pithy and are basing their insights either in rigorous research or in deep experience. I suppose in another month it’ll be a different set of people. That’s how it is for me.

And yes, there’s a fifth person too – the anonymous crowds which makes its voice heard often. The meta influence of the crowds is definitely influencing and inspiring me in different ways.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
No. Sorry, but I belong to more than enough communities and I’m simply not passionate about toothpaste. I need to nurture the relationships in my existing communities or leave some of them.

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
It’s great to see the social space finally growing up but there’s more maturing that needs to happen. Marketers and businesses are still struggling how to take advantage of social media in a measurable, ROI driven business centric sense. I think we will all benefit if there was a little less hyperbole. Nevertheless, social and social influence marketing is transformative and I believe the best is yet to come.

Experts in the Industry: Kenny Tomlin (73 of 45)

Kenny Tomlin, President & CEO Rockfish Interactive, is one of the rare few in my Experts in the Industry series that I don’t know that well. But when my friend John Andrews of Walmart tells me that I need to include Kenny because he’s the principal of “the hottest digital/social agency in the nation,” who am I to argue?

Fortunately, Kenny and I now follow each other on Twitter and I will be adding the Rockfish blog to my reader later today. In the meantime, let’s all get to know Kenny a little better based on his answers to THE five questions:


How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
In the late 90’s I built an on-line social community for real estate agents (though we didn’t call it a social community at the time). About the same time I launched an ecommerce site that we grew utilizing much of what today would be considered social media marketing.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
Based on their use of social, then I would have to invest in Amazon. They invented how most ecommerce companies today create social community on their sites and they continue to innovate as evidenced by their “See a Kindle in Your City” program. Then, I would donate all the profits from the investment in Amazon to Kiva. They have done a great job using social media to enlarge our view the world along with practical and easy ways to make a difference. One of the most powerful yet underdeveloped uses of social media is it’s power to be used for good.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Historically, Abraham Lincoln. Contemporary, Rick Warren. Whether you agree with his spiritual views or not, Rick is one of the most innovative and brilliant marketers of our time. (The Purpose Driven Life is still today the most effective social marketing strategy ever executed in my opinion). In addition, he built one of the largest churches in the U.S., authored the best selling hardback book of all time, gives 90% of his money away, and now is focused on global issues with his P.E.A.C.E. Plan.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
No. I don’t have the expertise to contribute or the passion on the subject to eavesdrop and learn.

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
The entire world, with one small exception, is composed of other people. The social web gives us an opportunity to connect and learn from them like never before.

April 15: Weekly Content/Social Marketing Links

As I mentioned in our first Weekly Content/Social Marketing Links post, I’ve asked the Powered marketing, business development and product teams to pick one news article, blog post or research report a week that “speaks” to them. With that article, they need to come to our weekly staff meeting prepared to give a 120 second update on what the article was about and why they found it useful.

My goal is to share this content on a weekly basis. Here’s what our third week netted:

DP Rabalais (marketing):

I’ve decided that since I like to travel and have an upcoming vacation on my mind, that I’d stick with that industry for the entire month of April. Today’s article is titled, Travel Brands Lacking in Social Media Activity – it is the result of a an article written by Peter Kim titled A List of Social Media Marketing Examples.

Both articles take a look at brands that are using social marketing and to what degree: the Peter Kim article could be of interest to Sales since it outlines the Social activities of over 300 brands.
 

Jay MacIntosh (business development):
I’m sharing the highest of highlights from Web 2.0 (i.e. phrases I highlighted from my written notes):
  • Session titled “Why Social Media Marketing Fails” led by Owyang, Charlene Li and Peter Kim. For a thorough review go here.  That said, here are the sound bites that stood out for me: “Don’t think of SM as a campaign, it’s about building relationships…what kind of relationship do I have today, what kind of relationship do I want to build?” “Understand your purpose with metrics…either activity which is analytics or biz metrics which are outcomes” “One large financial services firm decided they weren’t going to allow employees to engage in conversations with customers, therefore, Charlene’s recommendation was don’t do community/social.” “The most common reason for not doing community/social is executives don’t trust employees to engage in customer conversations!” “Does SM matter today? No. Will it? Yes, it will matter a whole lot because humans are and always will be social beings…we’re just having trouble adapting to these new tools/technologies.”
  • Session on measurement. “½ -2 % of people in social networking sites are “answer people” which you gotta have if you want discussions taking place on your community. Find ways to identify, recognize and encourage these people.” “Social media is about collective action…and why does this matter for businesses? Businesses are effectively conversations and measuring conversations is about measuring the context in which the conversations arise.” “If discussion is important to your community make sure you design it for at least audiences 1) the ½-2 % answer people and 2) everyone else. And make sure you validate people’s roles in the community because they value it (i.e. validation).”
  • Session on Ford’s use of content in SM. “Ford wanted to make storytelling for the consumer easy and they did this by enabling them with content to help them tell stories…Monty used the term “democratize the content” “Overall approach to SM at Ford is that it’s not a campaign, it’s about ongoing engagement.” “When asked how measure the ROI…sometimes answer with the question of how do you measure the ROI of phones, email, wearing pants to the office…hard to measure but he guarantees that all have a positive impact on your business!” “Fords vision for SM is to be one of the world’s leading social brands.” “We use the Sharepoint platform from Microsoft for our technology.”
  • Guy from Digg discussing how publishers can integrate with social networks. “Some interesting stats on Facebook…the average user has 120 friends. Of those approx 1/3 will see a Newsfeed item with anywhere from 0.8 – 2 clicking through to the item of interest. TechCrunch experienced a 100% growth in registrations when they implemented Facebook connect. Others like Telegraph, The Onion, Time, etc. saw registrations rise at least 30% with Facebook Connect.”
  • John Maeda the president of Rhode Island School of Design. “Electrons travel at lightspeed…people don’t”
  • Head of Microsoft Business Software unit. “Sharepoint is a social computing platform for within the enterprise…”
  • CTO of Bluestatedigital (the tech company behind the Obama social campaign). “ They sent 71B emails, had 200k offline events planned via the site, 14.5M YouTube viewing HOURS, $770M raised of which 65% occurred online.” “They accomplished this by driving ACTION. Email was the thing that had the biggest impact in terms of opt-ins and donations. The way to get advocacy is to create ownership. For example, as opposed to just having donors ask others to donate, they allowed individuals to create a personal fundraising page with goal, personal commentary, etc. along with tools to then easily contact friends and family to “support” their cause.” “Email is still king…1) There’s not too much email, just too much unwanted email 2) Nobody reads newsletters (give soundbites with links to more) 3) Give more than you ask 4) Your list isn’t an ATM machine, but if you deliver good/relevant content it can be very effective.” “70% of all actions on the site came from 10% of the members. Segment user/member types by pyramid and develop ways to get people to move up the pyramid.” “#1 fundraiser for the campaign was Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican convention. Within a 24 hour period they had anticipated how their users would react to her and via the site and email rallied people with content and calls-to-action which generated $11M” “Measure everything and test what works good, better, best…for example they had a few different email concepts on one topic…the good email achieved a 30% open rate the lesser had an open rate of 15%. Try and test different content and see what works!” “Biggest unexpected lesson learned is that it’s important not to underestimate what people will do if you provide them with info and tools.”
Doug Wick: (business development):
This is a great article by Chris Kenton (originally published in the CMO Council’s “Marketing Magnified”) that describes at a strategic level the drivers behind marketing measurability, and settles on the biggest impact social marketing has – the effect on intangible assets like goodwill and brand equity. This article shows that path that connects the value of social marketing to the executive suite.  
Bill Fanning: (business development):

This article was written by Adam Weinroth, product manager at Pluck, last week.  The title is “How to craft a social media plan that connects.”  The article emphasizes the fact that there is no “one size fits all” social media plan for all brands.  To demonstrate the point, he outlines 5 tips for strengthening online growth through social media and references examples for eac
h.  The high level points and examples are (check out the article for the details).

1.       Know your audience

a.       Scotts

2.       Get real

a.       Kodak

                                                                i.      A Thousand Words

                                                               ii.      Plugged In

3.       Provide relevant content

a.       Whole Foods

4.       Drive community back to you

a.       Dunkin’ Donuts

5.       Leverage social syndication

a.       eHow 

It’s important to note that before you begin thinking about the technology and content needed to connect with a particular segment, you must first understand why you want to connect with them.  Are you trying to drive customer acquisition, build brand loyalty, listen to the community or some combination of the three?  Answering these questions first will start you on the right path to building a comprehensive strategy that not only addresses how to connect with your segment (as outlined above) but also how to achieve your business / marketing objectives once you have them engaged (intelligent merchandising or driving specific calls to action etc.) and how to measure the success of the program in order to continually optimize effectiveness.  This is the difference between a Social Media Plan and a Social Marketing Strategy.

Beth Lopez (marketing):
On vacation this week. 

Don Sedota (product management):

This is another product management related article but I thought it was timely given PM’s recent effort to make product strategy a more collaborative effort and to enhance the level of documentation available per product releases. The article, entitled How to Turn Sales Engineers into Your Biggest Fans, is geared towards the information flow between PM and Sales but the article can easily be applied to AM, Content, Ops, Tech Services, etc. as well.

The author offers the following (selected) advice for PMs in making key business groups more a part of product strategy and release processes and enabling them to do their jobs better:
  • Transparency (builds trust)
    o Clear feature selection process for each release
    o Provide the “why” behind features
    o Share the roadmap
    o Solicit customer/prospect input and involve business groups in product direction
  • Formal Process (sets expectations and provides consistency)
    o Involve key business groups in release cycle
    o Clear and transparent enhancement request process
  • Transference
    o Provide sufficient documentation so that business groups can be self-sufficient in certain situations
    o Provide performance data via efficacy reports, case studies, etc.
    o Competitive data
    o Training

It will obviously take a while before we are hitting on all cylinders for all of this, but I’m excited that we’ve recently started improvement initiatives across many of these facets and that we seem to be heading in the right direction.

Experts in the Industry: Aronado Placencia (72 of 45)

Heh heh… Mr. Aronado. Your time has finally come. After a couple of interviews with you on Lucky Startup (now StartupLucky), it’s nice to be able to return the favor. For anyone that’s not familar with @Aronado – his moniker on Twitter, he’s a pretty funny dude. He’s also one of the hardest working guys in the socialsphere.

I first met Aronado about a year ago via Twitter when he regularly told me that I should hire him. While I wasn’t able to make that happen, I appreciated his persistence. Fortunately for him, he’s ended up in a better place running his own gig at StartupLucky, a company that focuses on “connecting startups with education, inspiration, & funding.” They also do a kick ass set of interviews on their show.
With that as a backdrop, let’s hear how Aronado answered the five questions in the Experts in the Industry series:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I give startups a free & live platform to pitch their ideas/concepts to investors, customers, and potential business partners.  I am good at it because, I have been rejected over & over & over and know exactly what these guys are going through. 

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
After owning two brick and morter businesses ( a restaurant, Daddio’s Superior Bar & Grill and a Real Estate company, Xponential Exclusive Properties)  I thought, my God, if there is a way I can create a business online and work from anywhere in the world, I am IN.  So, I jumped in. 

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
Probably Zappos a few years back.  Why? because they have immersed themselves in the social space and individually the employees have the freedom to be “themselves”.  This is HUGE and, obviously, it has worked. 

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
President Obama…c’mon! This man has stepped into the shittiest job in America in terms of how things were handed to him.  He has rolled up his sleeves and he is DOing what he thinks is right. 

# Would you join a toothpaste community? Why? 
No, because I really don’t care that much about toothpaste.  I mean I use it but…

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
Look, we’re all learning here.  All I want to say is repeat after me: 

“My goal is to be as “ME” as I can be”  Nothing more, nothing less, just be who you are in any space.

Experts in the Industry: Christine Perkett (71 of 45)

We were lucky enough to have one of Christine Perkett‘s colleagues, Lisa Dilg, as the 8th interviewee in the Experts in the Interview series. To this date, Lisa’s interview is still one of the most visited in the series. So what I’m wondering is if we can create a friendly rivalry between two very smart, well-connected and savvy PR women who truly understand how to tap into the power of social…

Before we get started, a little background on Christine. I first met her along with my old boss, Barry Libert, at the California Pizza Kitchen back in the summer of 2007. We were thinking about using Christine’s company, Perkett, as our PR firm (Christine is the founder and president of Perkett). For anyone that’s ever met Barry, he’s a big thinker and can be a little overwhelming in a first interview. Fortunately for Christine, she’s cool and calm under pressure and was able to roll with the punches. Ever since then, I’ve had an appreciation of Christine and how hard she works.
Now onto the questions:

In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I help people successfully connect and communicate with their core audiences – person-to-person, business to customer, brand to consumer, etc. – and I’m good at it because I listen first.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I’d say my first foray into online community came through working with clients – as far back as a decade ago – that connected users with other users in more interactive ways. It wasn’t called “online community” then but in essence it was. For example, clients such as Salesnet (now RightNow) – which used SaaS to connect sales executives for sharing best practices and defining methodologies – were the first of their kind to recognize the value in adding community and social aspects to an otherwise anti-social business process.  

I also worked with plenty of start-ups in the 90s that created social and community aspects around everything from online swaps to dating to gift exchange. Unfortunately, most of them were ahead of their time.

If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
Oh that’s tough. The popular answer would of course be Twitter or Facebook or some other entity already proven to be well accepted and on its way to success. But I thrive on innovation and intelligent risk – it’s why I love working with start ups! I’m close with an entrepreneur who built and sold a successful company in the last boom and who has several other brilliant ideas. Although I can’t share yet, one of those ideas combines community, user-generated content, video and Digg-like voting in a way that no one’s yet delivered. Oh it’s so cool! It’s like those old “choose your own ending” books with video. I’d invest my dollars there, absolutely.

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
I found this question particularly difficult, as so many of our public figures have let us down lately. I can’t truly say there is one I most respect – I’ve never been much of a “favorites” type of person. But I have to say I really respect Hillary Clinton. Not from a political standpoint – I’ve never voted for her and I actually hate politics, but from the viewpoint of a strong and resilient, assertive woman. Personally, she’s proud of who she is and doesn’t apologize for it no matter what the naysayers throw at her; she kept her private decisions private during a very painful and public intrusion in her life, and she rebounded. In her career she’s also had disappointments but she didn’t let them stop her from embracing other opportunities – she didn’t win the Oval Office (this time) but she accepted her current position as Secretary of State with grace, poise and commitment. She possesses some admirable qualities that more of us could embrace or learn from: strength, pride, commitment, grace, tenacity, poise, forgiveness, loyalty and resiliency.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
No, but I would follow a toothpaste brand who had interesting or entertaining content to share on Twitter, or perhaps join their Facebook fan page if they delivered compelling reasons to do so. Come meet me – and engage with me – where I already am. Otherwise, I have to track too many communities. Thus, Twitter’s brilliance.

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
Hmmm so many topics…. So little time. Okay here are a few things:
  • The social media Kool-Aid….there are way too many people enamored with the new wave of “social media experts.” Just because someone tells you they can set up a Facebook fan page, capture video or understand Twitter doesn’t mean they are going to help you make the most of these communities. I think “expert” goes way beyond that – do they know how to deliver compelling messages and content through these tools? Are they able to teach you who to engage with and how to create relationships? Do they understand why you want to be a part of communities – is it personal, business, both? Can they clearly and succinctly explain the ROI and value to those they are trying to teach – whether it’s an individual like an author or a jeweler, or a business selling enterprise software? The SME moniker is overused, abused and tiring.
  • PR is not dead. I don’t care how great social media is. Like I said, you can use as many tools as you like. You can record as many videos as the next guy. But unless the messaging is compelling and it’s reaching the right audience – thus making an impact – it’s a moot point. PR will always have a seat at the table – social media is just forcing the good PR up and the bad PR out. And it’s about time!
  • The economy is tough for most everyone right now. So many articles talk about the employees laid off or the bad leaders who got us into this mess. What about the good leaders – small business owners for example – who are forced to make tough decisions to keep their business alive? It’s not easy – or fun – for them either. People tend to overlook that or make it personal.
  • People are very passive/aggressive in social media. Watching
    the behavior – and the underlying messages – is absolutely fascinating. I can’t wait to see the fallout of the madness and where everyone lands.
  • I’m glad I met you, worked with you and that we’ve stayed in touch. Thanks for this opportunity, Aaron. [AWS: Same back atcha Chris!]

If you are looking for Christine on Twitter, her handle is @MissusP.

Ad Age’s Five New Rules

Wow. I’ve always admired Ad Age but part of me has always had a problem with their “advertising-centric” focus. I know, not surprising for a publication that has the word “advertising” in it. And don’t get me wrong, editors Abbey Klaassen and Jack Neff definitely dish some serious “social” but a post by Neff today really made me stand up and take notice. 

The article talks about Simon Clift, CMO of Unilever, and his warning to marketers that “ Brands aren’t simply brands anymore. They are the center of a maelstrom of social and political dialogue made possible by digital media” at Ad Age’s Digital Conference last week. Clift went on to state that marketers that don’t “adapt their marketing… are in grave peril.” But what impressed me more was Neff’s “five rules” at the end of the article. A sign that not only are main stream companies but also main stream publications are starting to understand the transformational movement that’s now underway. 

My favorite rules out of the five are easily numbers two and five but I really like all of them: 

  1. Listening to consumers is more important than talking at them. As Mr. Clift said, “We may be ahead of our competitors, but we’re most definitely behind consumers.” The consumer is not a moron, she’s the person defining your brand.
  2. You can’t hide the corporation behind the brand anymore — or even fully separate the two. Even this editor’s creaking computer only took 0.13 seconds to show that Philip Morris is owned by Altria Group. Welcome to radical transparency, where bad corporate behavior will damage your brands, and vice versa.
  3. PR is a primary concern for every CMO and brand manager. If “marketing” and “PR” are not the same department, tear down the wall. Spend time deciding whether PR is underleveraged in your organization.
  4. Cause marketing isn’t about philanthropy, it’s about “enlightened self-interest,” as Mr. Clift puts it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. Don’t be ashamed of your profit motive, because great branding and doing good are increasingly one and the same.
  5. Social media is not a strategy. You need to understand it, and you’ll need to deploy it as a tactic. But remember that the social graph just makes it even more important that you have a good product. Put another way: The volume and quality of your earned media will be directly proportional to the impact and quality of your product and ideas.

Experts in the Industry: Peter Shankman (70 of 45)

Oh where to start with Mr. Peter Shankman aka @SkyDiver… Well for one, I am a true admirer of the brilliant work he’s done with his Help a Reporter Out (HARO) service. If you’re not familiar with it, Peter puts out an e-mail three times a day that plays matchmaker between reporters looking for sources/experts for articles and blogs and volunteers that are willing to act as the aforementioned sources/experts. Last I checked, I think Peter said that he had over 75,000 people signed up (Wow!)

I’m also indebted to Peter for sending hundreds of new followers my way after mentioning me as someone to follow on one of his daily HARO reports. For that reason, I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to meet Peter face to face at the recent SXSW/Mashable party my company, Powered, sponsored (thank you for the introduction Susan Bratton).
With that as a backdrop, here are Peter’s answers to the five Experts in the Industry questions:
In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.

When you find that you’ve really good at talking to simply EVERYONE, you find a way to help people and make money by doing it.

How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
I’ve had a blog for years, and ran a PR firm for years prior that catered almost exclusively to web and online companies. Hell, I was one of the first editors of the AOL Newsroom – I was in online and social back in 1995.
If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
I would invest in a company that took all the current networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and aggregated them into ONE useful network that could tell me what all my friends/colleagues were doing in one place. Barring that, I’d invest in a company called Social Studies, which helps schoolkids learn that posting something online means it’s public forever. (Company doesn’t exist, but it should.)

Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Richard Branson continues to do his thing, do it well, and not give a damn what other people think. I envy that.

Would you join a toothpaste community? Why? 
I’m a lifelong member of www.dropzone.com – I already have. When you’re passionate about something, it’s worth the join. We live as a society built on passion.

Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
We could be such a smarter and better society if we counted to three before doing 99% of the things we do.