Quick-n-dirty Social Media Podcast: Episode 4 Recap

For the most part,  co-host, Jennifer Leggio and I got our act together for episode four. The only wild card for this one — and it was a big one — was the news that pop icon, Michael Jackson, had died just before our show got started. And while neither Jennifer or I are huge MJ fans, it felt only fitting to take a moment of silence during the show for “Mr. Moonwalk.”

For anyone new to the show, recaps of episodes one, two, and three can be found here. We’ll also be posting the roster for next week’s show on the Blog Talk Radio show site soon.
If you missed this week’s show, you can listen to an archive of episode four here. If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you’ll find a recap of this week’s show below:
  1. Featured Social Network: Blip.fm. If you like music and you like Twitter, then Blip.fm is the place for you. You can DJ your own music, listen to others, give “props” to your friends or cross-post links to your favorite songs in other networks like Friendfeed, Facebook, etc. On the positive side, it looks like Blip has some element of a business model by allowing users to buy songs on iTunes and Amazon. They also have tons of live versions of songs. On the “room for improvement” side, not every artist has allowed their songs to be played leaving a bit of a gap.
  2. Special Guest: Michelle Heath, CMO of ForEx startup, Currensee. During our 10 minutes with Michelle, she talks about how she and Currensee are tapping into the power of social to not only create but promote a community for foreign exchange traders. Good stuff.
  3. Case Study: Pitney Bowes/Lithium. I could talk about this or I could send you over to Jen’s much better write up on her ZDNet/Feeds blog.
  4. Executive on Twitter: This week’s exec is the CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School, John Halamka. During our conversation, Jen and I discussed the fact that John doesn’t fit the normal “featured exec” mold because he doesn’t follow many people back and he mostly uses Twitter for updates. However, given his field, I thought he was doing a good job at providing some transparency in a normally tight-lipped space.
  5. Point / Counterpoint: Is social media too cliquey? Inspired by Jennifer and my mutual friend, Doug Haslam’s post, we talked about whether folks in social media were shy as Mack Collier claimed or just arrogant. Find out who took whom’s side by listening in.
For next week’s show, we need your help. We’re trying to decide whether or not to move our show up an hour to start at 5:00 PM ET / 2:00 PM PT. If you have thoughts on this front, either leave them in the comments below or tweet one of us… @aaronstrout / @mediaphyter.
What, this recap wasn’t enough? Well go and listen live or download archived podcasts here.

Twitter as the GPS: Video from @JeffPulver’s 140 Character Conference

Last week, I was lucky enough to be asked by my friend, Peter Fasano, of Coke to moderate a panel called “Twitter as the GPS for the Greater Social Media Mesh” at the 140 Character Conference in NYC. The idea was to talk about how Twitter is helping businesses navigate in a “2.0” world. Given the backgrounds of our panelists, we decided to focus on four different vertical industries: financial services, entertainment, advertising and CPG.

My fellow panelists were:

  • Brian Morrissey (@bmorrissey) – Digital Editor at Adweek
  • David Berkowitz (@dberkowitz) – Emerging Media Director, 360i
  • Hadley Stern (@hadleystern) – Vice-President, Fidelity Labs
  • Peter Fasano (@pfasano) – Principal/Lead Catalyst, Mass+Logic and Social Media Marketer at The Coca Cola Company
This is only a twenty minute video so I highly encourage you to spend a few minutes listening in. If you have thoughts, comments or feedback that you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below. I have my fellow panelists e-mails so I’m happy to ping them to try and get an answer.

Why Authenticity is More Important Than Ever

This post originally ran in Mediapost’s Marketing Daily on 2/18/2009

We live in an age where the Internet and the telephone have created enormous scale and opportunity for businesses large and small. For the most part, this has been a good thing, allowing companies to reach, acquire and serve more customers than ever before. While this reach and scale has helped to foster innovation at an unprecedented rate, it has also served to disintermediate companies from their customers. The end result has been a growing lack of trust on the part of the consumers. 

As a business owner or someone who works at a big company, you may think to yourself, “What does it really matter if my customers trust me? Obviously, it would be better if they did but what’s the real harm? At the end of the day, they will end up turning their back on me for someone that can provide my same product or service ‘faster, better and cheaper.'”

While this may be true, it’s where many companies have lost their competitive edge. Where’s my proof?

I’ll start with Best Buy, a company you are likely familiar with. Not only is Best Buy listed as the second most valuable brand according to Interbrand Design Forum’s latest rankings. It’s also listed as number 24 in Vitrue’s list of top 100 most social brands. Granted, “social” isn’t the sole driver of their more important ranking of “most valuable” brand, but it does plays a key role behind the prestigious “most valuable brand” ranking.

The reason I chose Best Buy as the example to illustrate my point is that it is the epitome of a company that understands the importance of authenticity, and it comes from the top. From its well-documented employee community, Blue Shirt Nation, to its management team which is best exemplified by CMO Barry Judge, this is a company that conducts its business openly and honestly.

During a recent voluntary separation package offer that Best Buy made available to its employees to try and stave off having to do what so many other big and small businesses are doing, Judge openly discussed on his blog the pain that he felt about losing a large number of co-workers.

The comments on Judge’s blog exude empathy and compassion in spite of the fact that Best Buy is a huge company and it needed to reduce headcount, which is not unique in the current economy. But on his blog, Judge’s authentic and honest tone makes him, and his brand, human. And people have a much easier time trusting a human, especially one they can empathize with, instead of a cold and unfeeling corporation.

Additionally, Best Buys’ current ad campaign features real store employees recounting stories of helping customers and the reward it provides to them personally and professionally. Taking this a step further, Judge has also openly discussed the genesis and evolution of this ad campaign on his blog, going so far as to welcome public feedback and asking for input on which creative executions are the right ones to put on air.

In this example, Judge and Best Buy are not only trying to put an “authentic” face on their brand by letting their employees do the talking, they are involving their customers in the process to ensure that they get it right. In doing so, they are garnering trust — something the Enron’s and the leaders of many of the large financial institutions have stolen from us over the last several years.

These examples of what Best Buy is doing demonstrate some of the essential qualities that are increasingly becoming competitive differentiators between brands like:

  • Blogging from the heart — even if if feels a little too open and honest
  • Using customer feedback to drive upcoming marketing and advertising campaigns
  • Responding to customer comments in a human voice

After all, who would you rather do business with? A company that you know and trust? Or a company that offers the lowest price? Yes, price will always be important but in a highly commoditized world, it’s things like authenticity that lead to trust that will truly make one company different from another.

How authentic is your company? If the answer is “not very,” it may be time for a change. Just ask Best Buy. The results speak for themselves.

Quick-n-dirty Social Media Podcast: Episode 3 Recap

The third episode of Quick’n’Dirty Social Media Podcast (#qnd) was a little smoother than episodes one and two. For starters, I remembered to set the length of the show for 45 minutes vs. 15 so all the listeners could follow along for the duration. I was also able to play our new bumper music, Bring Back the Bass, at least at the tail end of the show (thanks to Brett Petersel for providing). Next week, I promised co-host, Jennifer Leggio, that our show would go off without a hitch… we’ll just have to see!

If you missed this week’s show, here’s what we discussed:
  1. Featured Social Network: Glue. They are doing some very cool things with social browsing. They also just released a press release that said that they are exposing some of their APIs so that developers can use Glue’s functionality in their sites. Jen and I both like what Glue is doing a lot and will continue to keep my eye on them.
  2. Case Study: This week’s focus was all about the small business. Ever see one of those mobile food carts floating around the city? Yeah, the ones that sell bagels or tacos or sausages? Well guess what. They are starting to use Twitter and the results are paying off. In regard to Korean BBQ purveyor, Kogi, Kate Krader, restaurant editor for Food & Wine magazine says in the background article “That [Kogi’s recognizable brand name is] 90 percent thanks to Twitter.”
  3. Special Guest: Mike Murray, CSIO of Foreground Security was kind enough to join us to discuss true social engineering in social networking / social media. Pretty powerful stuff. If you weren’t a little wary about who you “friend” in the socialsphere before, you might be after listening to Mike speak.
  4. Executive on Twitter: Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO of Kodak. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffrey and hearing him speak at this week’s 140 Character Conference. I was pleased to see that he was as funny and genuine in real life as he was on Twitter. Definitely worth the follow.
  5. Point / Counterpoint: This week was a little less of a “square off” and more of a recap of Jeff Pulver’s recent 140 Character Conference. If you weren’t lucky enough to attend, the videos from the event are up. I loved the conference and while Jen didn’t exactly disagree with me, she decided that conference producers need to be careful to focus less on the tools and more on the goals of we business folk (think “lead gen” vs. “e-mail marketing” for instance). I agreed but my take was that we needed to ratchet it up a notch and apply that thinking to all social media events, not just those focused on Twitter.
  6. Special Bonus: one of our listeners encouraged us to talk a little about Twitter and it’s role in the latest Iranian elections. We didn’t have much time to cover such an important topic but did manage to spend a couple of minutes opining on the subject.
Jennifer and I are in the process of working on next week’s show but we promise it won’t dissapoint. At a minimum, Jennifer has a special announcement that should get folks excited. If I say more than that, Jen may disown me as a co-host.
What, this recap wasn’t enough? Well go and listen live or download archived podcasts here.