What Marketers Can Learn from Singer Leann Rimes

This post originally appeared on Social Media Marketing Magazine on 11/1/2010.

I have always been a music enthusiast, but I’ve never been that interested in country music. And while I’m not ready to race out and fill my iTunes account with the likes of Kenny Chesney and Garth Brooks, I recently purchased a few songs by the lovely and talented Leann Rimes. Why the sudden change of heart? If you must know, it was because of a single tweet. Well, it was actually two tweets… and the fact that during a show I saw at the ANA’s Masters of Marketing event, she was authentic and genuinely made an attempt to connect with the crowd of 1,500 senior marketers.

As someone that embraced Twitter back in 2007, I regularly use it to learn, engage, and build relationships. To that end, I often make a point of acknowledging people, companies, and organizations when I feel like they are doing a good job. This may or may not mean anything to them, but it’s my style, and so far, it’s borne a lot of goodwill and business value for me.

Getting back to Leann Rimes and her performance at the ANA conference last week: as she was wrapping up her set, I took the time to look her up on Twitter and send her a thank you tweet. Imagine my surprise when she actually tweeted me back (twice)!

The reason I’m sharing this experience is not to show off—although who doesn’t love having a successful female country singer tweet them back—but rather to point out a lesson that big brands could learn from this experience. For starters, it doesn’t hurt to follow Ms. Rimes’ lead and ensure that your brand is perceived as credible and authentic. That was the thing about Leann that got me to tweet her in the first place. But more importantly, the fact that someone as busy as she must be took the time to tweet back to a potential fan was huge.

Did she do it because she knew that I was on the fence about liking her? I don’t think so. Looking back in her tweet stream, it appears she does that with a lot of people. It’s just who she is. What I can guarantee is that while she is a very talented singer, one of the main reasons she has become so successful is because she engages her “customers.”

Now would I have been as excited if a brand like Lexus or Starbucks tweeted me back? Probably not. But I do appreciate it when a brand takes the time to acknowledge me, and it has made me more likely to stick with that brand. For example, in the case of WiFi provider Boingo, I’ve actually become one of its biggest fans, primarily because Boingo regularly engages me in conversation on Twitter. Now Boingo only earns $120 per year from me, but I tell everyone I know about Boingo, have mentioned it in blog posts, and have even gone so far as to be interviewed in an article about Boingo and the “network effect of super fans” on the FASTforward blog.

So is your company engaging its customers? It doesn’t take a lot to get started—just a good listening tool and an internal and/or external resource that can help reach out to customers (or prospective customers) who are mentioning you. You’ll be surprised how far a tweet, a blog comment, or even a Facebook “like” will go in turning people’s heads.

Social CRM FTW! (Guest Post)

Today we have a guest post from Lauren Carlson at Software Advice. I don’t normally do a lot of guest posts but Lauren asked very politely and as a big believer of social CRM, I thought this might be an interesting topic for the folks that read me on Citizen Marketer 2.1. Enjoy!

Lauren Carlson of Software Advice

Social CRM has gone from vaporware to one of the most buzzed about terms in the enterprise software market. Take a quick look at Google Insights for Search and you will see that the term’s popularity has increased exponentially over the past few years [see Google trend data below].

Paul Greenberg, the recognized thought leader in social CRM, describes it as “the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.” Essentially, it takes the vendor-customer relationship from transactive to interactive. That is all fine and good, but what does that mean for companies actually using the software?

With an eye toward providing a little clarity about the space, Software Advice, decided to write up some case studies that illustrate how actual companies have implemented social CRM technologies. Each study highlights how social CRM was used to resolve real world issues and improve business operations, taking social CRM from a concept to a solution. You can view the article here and read each case study in depth. However, the following is a very brief overview in problem-solution format.

Problem: Chordiant, an enterprise software company, needed to find a better way to coordinate the needs and desires of the individuals involved in the product requirements process.

Solution: They created Chordiant Mesh, and online community powered by Jive’s Clearspace, where employees, developers, customers and partners can collaborate about product development. The feedback was very positive, resulting 15 successful collaborative product releases.

Problem: Linksys, a Cisco division that provides VoIP and networking solutions to consumers and small businesses, needed to reduce support costs while upholding high levels of customer support.

Solution: The company partnered with Lithium, an early leader in social CRM, to create an online support community. The deployment of the community increased self-service participation, which reduced the need on costly phone support. Linksys reported savings in the millions.

Problem: Enterasys Networks, a data-networking company, has hundreds of employees stationed around the globe. They required a social networking tool that would eliminated geographical boundaries and let their employees communicate in real time.

Solution: They decided to deploy Salesforce.com’s Chatter application. The company experienced improved service performance, thanks to real time collaboration on service issues. Additionally, the sales team was able to work more closely together and close a record number of deals in the first quarter after implementing Chatter.

Problem: H&R; Block, the tax preparation experts, wanted to find a way to see what their customers were talking about in order to anticipate problems before they arose.

Solution: The company decided to use Radian6’s social monitoring technology to achieve this goal. The trend analysis tool allowed the company to drill down into community conversations and see which topics were creating the most buzz. This gave them better insight, enabling H&R; Block to be more proactive in their customer service.

Problem: Pepperdine University’s business school was looking for a better way to encourage collaboration among students, staff and faculty.

Solution: They partnered with Yammer to create a Twitter-like environment where users could interact and communicate in real-time and with more transparency. They saw an increase in community participation, due to the familiar UI, which has helped to enhance the learning and teaching process.

Because it is still in its fledgling stage, Social CRM still has a few kinks that need to be worked out. However, these case studies stand as a testament to the potential of this new market segment. It will be interesting to see its growth and maturation of the coming years.

What Can I Do for You?

As we move closer to one of my favorite holidays of the year — that would be Thanksgiving — I’ve doing a little thinking about what I’m thankful for this year. Of course I am extremely thankful for my loving family and my kick ass job, boss and colleagues here at Powered. But at the end of the day, I am also incredibly thankful for you. Yes, that’s right, YOU. The people that read my blog, endure my tweets and indulge me on Facebook.

This year, with your support I’ve:

  • Landed a book deal
  • Been invited to speak at numerous conferences
  • Connected with dozens of prospects and even a few customers
  • Learned a TON about marketing, social media and location-based services
So now it’s my turn to give back to you. Just tell me what you’d like to do (join you for a webinar, podcast, write a guest blog post, grab a coffee, help paint your kitchen). You name it. And while I can’t promise that I’ll do it in the next seven days, I’ll try and schedule it as soon as possible. For FREE. Because you deserve it.
p.s. there is one thing you could do for me if you feel so inclined. As we wrap up Movember, I’m shaking trees for donations. Consider giving $5-10 to help kick cancer’s ass?

We’re Writin’ a Book

Okay, when I say “we’re writin’ a book,” it’s a Dummies book. Which of course is a real book. But it’s not like we’re creating the next great American novel. More specifically, the “we” is my good friend and geo-location savant, Mike Schneider and me. And the Dummies book (Wiley imprint) we’re writing is Location Based Marketing for Dummies. To my knowledge, it will be only the second printed book on this subject. Our friend, Simon Salt’s book being the first.

In the book, we plan to cover a broad array of topics including:

  • Choosing the right platform(s)
  • Building a LBS campaign
  • Creating a relevant offer
  • LBS as part of your loyalty program
  • Integrating LBS with other marketing efforts
  • Developing a monitoring strategy
  • KPIs and Measurement
Mike and I have started writing the book already and plan to have the book wrapped up in March of 2011. The book is scheduled to be published in June of 2011. God willing, we’ll start the pre-orders around May. As soon as there is a link up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, we’ll be sure you know about it.

By the way, I’d like to give a special thanks to our acquiring publisher, Amy Fandrei. She’s not only super smart but she knows her stuff and has already done a fantastic job at “herding kittens” so to speak. Let’s hope she’s not sick of us by the end of this process.

So How you can help?

I’m glad you asked. If you’re a LBS platform or vendor, we are interested in access to your executives, platform and case studies. If you see a new LBS hit the scene, send @schneidermike and I a tweet with the hashtag #LBM4D. You can also keep checking in and letting us know if you discover cool offers, glitches, Easter eggs and any other LBS topics that might be noteworthy. Tell us if you have specific things you think the book should cover, we are always listening.

And of course, you can read the book!

Brand Haiku

Some people hate the fact that wifi is now available on airplanes. Not me. That’s because a few of my more creative ideas have come to me while on a plane (see my 45 in 45 series as an example). My latest is a fun little exercise that I’ve asked a number of my blogger friends to participate in. The goal is to write a haiku about a recent brand experience — good or bad.

For starters, let me share my haiku about my recent experience at the Intercontinental Hotel’s Crowne Plaza property in Atlanta. While I was only able to capture a brief part of my great stay at the hotel, I would argue that it was the most important part… and one that would make me come back for more.

Stayed at Crowne Plaza
Tons of workspace in lobby
They are biz friendly

And here is the list of my blogger friends that have also decided to participate along with a link to their blogs. If you want, we’ve made this easy by linking each blog post to one another. So while you can access all the posts from here, it may make for more fun to read them serially by clicking on the link at the bottom of each person’s post:

POST SCRIPT (11/15 @ 9:45 AM CT): After a grueling last few weeks working on his Social Strategy Report, Jeremiah is taking a few days off from blogging. However, he did offer up his #brand haiku via e-mail. His is posted below:

Stayed at Encore.
Very nice rooms on the strip.
I will return soon.

And as a double added bonus, here is my friend (and occasional #bromance) David Armano’s snarky haiku tribute to moi.

If you want to participate, feel free. Just let me know where your blog is and I’ll add you to the list. And to keep things rolling, consider tagging one of your friends in your post so that the chain continues.

And a few ex post facto additions:

Webinar: Retain Brand Loyalty with Location-Based Services

So I’ll be doing a webinar with social media smarty, Cody Barbierri of Piehead, next Wednesday (11/17) titled Retain Brand Loyalty with Location-Based Services. The webinar is free and it will take place from 2:00 – 3:00 PM ET.

Here’s the official writeup of the event:

Facebook has expanded the value of location-based check-ins for its 200 million plus mobile users. Twitter has broadened the horizons of its geolocation platform to provide more value for businesses and users. Foursquare has exploded to more than 4 million users and continues to offer businesses ways to build brand loyalty. Location-based services are certainly here to stay.

Utilizing mobile and location-based concepts to engage an audience on new levels can do wonders for a brand that’s looking to increase customer loyalty. The marketing potential around these services, like Foursquare and Facebook Places, represents an opportunity for brands to engage and retain their key audiences.

Location-based services represent a new access point for brand engagement and marketing opportunities. While every brand’s marketing goals and objectives are different, some of the potential uses may include special offers and discounts sent via mobile, games and mobile apps.

Join two industry leaders for this thought provoking web seminar and discover how targeted location-based service campaigns can drive increased consumer engagement and long-term brand loyalty. By attending the event, you will not only learn about the major players in the space, but also gain greater insight into how to:

  • Track customers using various location-based services
  • Engage with users to ensure increased brand loyalty
  • Retain and develop relationships while giving potential customers reasons to convert
  • Analyze marketing efforts and customer response through continuous analysis
  • Cody and I will also be available to answer your questions during a live Q+A session.

Hope you can join us! Register here.

Paid Media… Meet Social Media: The New Twitter Model

For three years, many of us skeptics have wondered aloud about the viability of Twitter. Will they sell sponsorships? Can they corporate tools help merit their billion dollar plus valuation? Would power users be wiling to pay for their services? Apparently, the answer is no (or at least not at the core). Instead, Twitter is taking a page out of the paid media book of tricks — but with a social twist.

Witness, the promoted trend. Some of you who still make your way over to Twitter.com may have noticed that at the top of the trending topics list, their is now a little yellow “promoted” box. According to a trusted source, this slot is purchased for 24 hours and as of right now, is selling for somewhere in the $100,000/slot range. While little data has emerged about the success of these promoted trends (or the accompanying promoted tweets), up to 80% of the advertisers who have tested promoted trends and tweets are repeat buyers.

Twitter also has a third product called recommended accounts which they plan to dial up over the coming months (beta tests with select brands ran in September). These accounts can include people, companies and services. What I like about this last model is that it fulfills on the promise of marrying social media (an annuity) with paid media (ongoing costs). It will also put pressure on companies to get strategic about their bio, picture and quality of their tweet streams.





Coming Soon

While I’m still not 100% sold on the value of the sponsored tweet (apparently they are sold on a cost-per-click basis), I do like the idea of the trends and follower recommendations, especially as things like geo, demographic and day-part targeting come into effect (I’m assuming that Twitter has plans for those in the works). All of a sudden, brands will have an opportunity an amazing opportunity to present relevant content via links based on location, profile, current trends and past behavior. And most important of all, this gets done in a place that’s become a regular hang out spot for millions of regulars.

Where things could get really interesting is when tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are fitted for these same types of paid media opportunities. I’m just guessing here but I have a hunch that Tweetdeck’s launch of their latest version that includes real time updates is signaling a tighter integration between Tweetdeck and Twitter (otherwise, I can’t imagine that Twitter would allow Tweetdeck full access to its API). It’s this kind of integration that will prevent Twitter from being disintermediated from itself by the ecosystem of tools and clients that have cropped up over the last three years.

Which brands will be most successful using Twitter’s new paid offerings? I guarantee that any kind of travel and entertainment business will benefit from this. Retailers — particularly around the holidays — should also benefit from the opportunity. B2B will definitely have a tougher time cracking this nut but then again, many B2B companies are more niche advertisers anyway.

What do you think? Will Twitter truly realize it’s billion dollar plus potential this way? I have a feeling that they may just be onto something.