5 Lessons Businesses Can Learn from the Just Bieber Experience [podcast]

Yes, I saw The Justin Bieber Experience yesterday against my better judgement (kids choice). However, in spite of still not being a big fan of his music, I came away much more impressed than I thought I would. In fact, I was so impressed with Bieber’s approach that I did a quick podcast today on five lessons businesses can learn from Justin Bieber.


[updated: couldn’t resist adding a link to this video — hat tip to John Johansen for finding/sending — of James Earl Jones reading lyrics to Bieber’s Baby Baby song. Brilliant!

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.

5 Take Aways from the ANA’s 2010 Masters of Marketing Conference

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending my first Masters of Marketing event in Phoenix, AZ (recap here). The thing that blew me away at that event and convinced me not only to come back, but also to sponsor this year, was the amount of talent amassed in one place at one time. Unlike many other conferences, the speakers all stick around and network… for three days. This leads to unprecedented access to people like:

  • Mark Baynes – CMO, Kellogg Company
  • Marc Pritchard – CMO, Procter and Gamble
  • Erin Nelson – CMO, Dell Inc.
  • Keith Pardy – CMO, Research in Motion
  • Ralph Santana – CMO, Samsung Electronics NA
  • Jim Speros – CMO, Fidelity Investments
  • Joseph Tripodi – CMO, Coca-Cola Company
  • Ted Ward – CMO, Geico Auto Insurance
  • Mary Beth West – CMO, Kraft Foods
  • Michael Francis – CMO, Target Corporation
What’s amazing is that the ten CMOs I’ve listed above only represent about 1% of the senior marketers attending the event. Given the talent and experience the Masters of Marketing event attracts, you can only imagine the quality of the 3-day marketing “MBA” you receive after attending. And that’s assuming you only make it to 50% of the sessions. Even more impressive is that many of the marketers seemed to be singing off the same song sheet. To that end, here are my five key takeaways from this year’s event:

Top Take Aways
  1. Companies are getting back to basics when it comes to defining what their brand stands for. Several speakers talked about the importance of a brand having purpose and there seems to be a greater awareness of a need for the brand to be better connected with its customers.
  2. While the topic of social media came up in almost every presentation, it’s still not a top priority for most brands. What is encouraging is that if social wasn’t on last year’s CMO’s “must do” list, it definitely is this year, even if it’s priority number 8, 9 or 10.
  3. As a follow up to point number two, most marketers are at least “social curious.” As someone that lives and breathes social media, I had at least a dozen very interesting conversations with marketers who wanted to know more about things like Twitter, location-based marketing and developing a social strategy.
  4. While many of the presenters included clips of their 30 second spots, it felt more integrated versus “showcased” in comparison to last year’s event. In fact, Coca Cola CMO, Joe Tripodi, only showed video clips from Youtube and customer research projects. By the way, with the exception of Seth Greenberg of Intuit, Joe seemed to be the most socially savvy CMO of the bunch.
  5. The uptick in the economy this year was reflected in the event itself. First and foremost, there were easily 50% more attendees this year. Also, the quality of the receptions and entertainment were ratcheted up a notch or three. To me, that’s a good sign that marketers are feeling comfortable (or at least cautiously optimistic) about spending again.

Another thing I included in last year’s wrap up post were some of my favorite tweets from the event (many were quotes from the speakers). You can see all the tweets from the event that were tagged with #ANAMarketers but once again, I’ve selected my top ten (in no particular order) out of the hundreds for your viewing pleasure:

  • @ANAmarketers: Friend casting on Facebook has no media cost. Friend casting was 4 more times more effective then a banner ad for #Intuit #ANAmarketers
  • @StepByStepMktng: AmEx CMO John Hayes: build a narrative around the WHY of what you do inside and outside the company. #ANAMarketers
  • @betterads: #ANAmarketers: @Starcom Laura Desmond – “Paid Media gets the party started, Owned & Earned keeps it going all night long”
  • @ANAmarketers:Very cool: #Target’s take over of the Standard Hotel in NYC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ_v_WrahrM #ANAmarketers
  • @WellsMelanie: Social media can do a lot–but it can’t solve brand problems, say top marketers. #ANAmarketers http://bit.ly/dtylTj
  • @lisarosenberg: Univision’s Graciela Eleta: There is no average American. 46% of all people under 18 are minorities. #ANAmarketers #PNID
  • @cindygallop1: All CMOs speaking @ #ANAMarketers showing work – PLEASE give your agency shout-out by name. Best new biz opportunity they will have all year
  • @StepByStepMktng: Dell CMO Karen Quintos: we love data. We measure everything. we’re mining through data all the time. #ANAMarketers
  • @aaronstrout: Laura Desmond also talks about curation, content, conversation. Did she read @JaffeJuice’s #FliptheFunnel book last night? #ANAMarketers
  • @maryleesachs: Joe Tripodi of Coke talks about moving from measuring impressions to expressions, from loyalty to advocacy. Makes sense. #anamarketers
Oh, and while this isn’t really of value to anyone but me, my response on Twitter from the lovely and talented, Leann Rimes, was hands down my favorite tweet during the event. In fact, I did a quick podcast a couple of days later on what brands could learn from how Leann engages with her customers (and prospective customers like me).

All in all, this conference felt like a big success. As I mentioned earlier, my company, Powered, was a sponsor and our goal was to meet some smart people, create some additional brand awareness, demonstrate our thought leadership (we gave out copies of colleague, Joseph Jaffe’s latest book, Flip the Funnel, to 500 of the ANA’s members) and managed to collect a few business cards in the process. While sponsorship wasn’t inexpensive, I would definitely do it all over again if I had to sign on the dotted line today.

As an added bonus, there were some great performers at the event including the Goo Goo Dolls (remember them)? If you liked the song Name, here is a live recording (thank you iPhone 4) of the performance. I have to say, the sound quality is actually pretty good.


Social Media Help Desk: Social Won’t Kill a Crisis, but Lack of Social During a Crisis Will Kill You

Date: Wednesday, October 27th
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 PM CT (note your time zone)
Speakers: Valeria Maltoni, Doug Wick (moderator) and me (Aaron)

A PR crisis comes and goes without much warning. The 24/7 environment of social media networks is a perfect farming ground for these potentially uncontrollable situations. While most companies have a solid foundation for social media engagement, these guidelines do not provide an integrated strategy, capable of navigating the murky waters of a PR storm. When the storm hits, the customer dictates how much preparation and reaction time you have. This is the worst time to learn to deal with the situation.

Establishing an integrated social media strategy is the key to weathering these situations successfully. Join Valeria Maltoni, Aaron Strout and Doug Wick as they explore the foundations for planning ahead and preparing for a PR crisis. Valeria will spend 30 minutes discussing the crisis communication groundwork and remaining 30 minutes will be focused on you and your questions. By attending, you will learn:

  • Why companies need to be involved and communicate early on.
  • The steps needed to build a communication framework for your organization and weather a crisis in real time.
  • How to keep your cool during a crisis.

You in? Sign up now. And if you want to ask questions ahead of time, feel free to leave ‘em in the comments!

Marketing: Why it’s a Waltz vs. a Tango

Spoiler Alert: I’m not going to tell you anything that you don’t already know in this post. I’m just reinforcing something that I was reminded of last night as I was helping my wife ramp up for her new job which is to do a little social media marketing for an online publication/content hub.

To be honest, it’s always easier to market a company that has great content and fortunately the company she is working for has great content in spades. It’s also makes it easy when a company hands you the reigns (with some guidance of course) but doesn’t give you eight billion rules and regulations that you need to follow (I know, I know… I worked in financial services for nine years… some companies need to be strict about how they market… but still).

Here comes the roll up the sleeves part. Yup, the part where I tell you why it’s the waltz versus the tango. As my wife was going through her company’s Twitter account we started talking about ways to engage their audience. By the way, as of yesterday, there had been seven status updates and seven followers and that’s not a knock against GC — hell, they at least had the self-awareness to know that they needed help — just a little background on the task at hand.

The easy thing to do might be to rush out and follow a list of 500 mommy bloggers. Or find a bunch of companies/people that auto-follow everyone back. That would certainly help with the optics around the follow/follower ratio. But would it do anything for the engagement level? Hardly. The first order of business was to reach out to a few of the seven followers and engage them in conversation (seeing some “@’s” in a company’s Twitter stream is the second thing I look for after a decent follow/follower ratio).

Twelve hours later, the number of followers on her company’s Twitter account had gone from seven to forty one. That may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but now all of a sudden, her company has some content (a dozen new tweets) and a little groundswell (the new followers) at its back. Yes, they have a long way to go because realistically, they need to be closer to 4,000 or even 40,000 followers before they start to see some meaningful ROI. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Adverve: My Recent Guest Appearance

Last week, social media smarties, Bill Green and Angela Natividad, were kind enough to have me on their weekly podcast, Adverve. I have listened to the show a few times before and love Bill and Angela’s wit and insight. This show was no different as we talked about:

  • agencies of the future
  • privacy
  • how a particular well-known church might use social media
I have to say, the topic about church and social media was one of the most interesting / thought provoking I’ve ever discussed. Kudos to Angela for pushing me to really think that one through. If you have a chance, please give the show a listen. You can weigh in on my blog or the Adverve blog (or both if you are REALLY feeling motivated).

Social Media for B2B: It CAN be done

This was originally posted on my friend Tommy Landry’s blog, Return on Now, as a guest post on February 8, 2010.

Why is it that when it comes to conversation about social media, business-to-business (B2B) seems to draw the short stick every single time? As someone that does a lot of webcasts, blog posts and speaking gigs, the questions/comment that always comes up is, “what about B2B examples.” Fortunately for me, I’m able to mention companies like BreakingPoint Systems and Hubspot that do a great job tapping into the power of social media but I often wish there were more examples (with public results) that I could discuss.

In thinking about this topic, one of the main reasons that B2B has taken a little longer to adopt social media into its marketing mix is that it’s harder to do effectively. It’s also feels risky because there is less control then there is in other channels. With that said, I personally believe that B2B companies stand to benefit the most from social media because they live and die based on the strength of their customer relationships. On top of that, many B2B companies actually know exactly know who their prospective customers are so seeking those folks out in a meaningful way and creating relationships with them can have a huge impact on the bottom line.

Given that I’m a prescriptive kind of guy, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t offer up some ways that companies can start thinking about putting social media into practice. There are obviously tons of ways but here are a few (including a diagram that provides more color commentary on item number three):

  1. Start listening. This is easier to do than you think. Set up a Google alert for your company’s name, your competitors’ names and keywords for your industry. If you’re already doing this, consider hiring a “listening” service like Techrigy, Radian6 or Meltwater Buzz. This will help you find out where all the relevant conversations in your space are happening.
  2. Create a Twitter account for your business. However, resist the urge to put up links to press releases, product specs and links to press that are signing your business’s praises (at least out of the gate). Instead, talk about things that people in your industry care about. For instance, if you create bill payment software, talk about the needs of small to medium sized businesses across the financial spectrum (payroll, credit, vendor managment, etc.) Link to reports and industry analysis. Point out other people’s blog posts and magazine articles.
  3. Set up a blog. Before you do this though, make sure you have someone (ideally internal) that is willing to commit to posting at least 5-6 times/month. This can be someone on your marketing, product, or PR teams or even better, one of your executives. Think about creating an editorial calendar to help guide your topics. Most importantly, spend time looking at other industry related blogs — in fact, you should spend at least a month doing this before you set up your own blog. Be sure to comment on those blogs (talk about the topic, not your company). This will help with getting to know the relevant “social” people in the space.
  4. Create an online community. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with items 1-3, start thinking about a online community. Ideally, this is for both customers and prospective customers. Some businesses feel more comfortable about creating private communities where customers can talk to one another. The key either way is to hire a great community manager and let them help you create relevant content via webinars, blog posts and conference calls (see diagram below). A community manager will also help you draw out your customers and insure that conversations stay relevant and productive.
  5. Measure, measure, measure. This is less difficult than you might imagine. This really should start with looking at your current goals i.e. new customers, greater retention, larger share of wallet, referrals, etc. Then make sure you benchmark e.g. look at your webstats and current KPI’s before you launch your social efforts. Then look at how your moving the bar over time. A key place to look is at your web analytics to see what kind of traffic and engagement your Twitter feed and/or blog efforts are driving. Also, it doesn’t hurt to survey customers and ask them if your efforts are impacting their loyalty to your company.

    I won’t lie to you, everything I mentioned above takes effort. But it’s worth trying, especially when it’s done right, because it will yield results. One thing that I failed to mention is the importance of integrating the recommendations above with your existing marketing/channel activity. Social media doesn’t live in a vacuum and if nobody can find the fruit of your efforts, you may as well not have exerted the time and resources.

    Am I missing anything? You bet I am. But that’s where you come in. What types of social media have you tried? What’s worked? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

    Engaging Your Customers Across the Social Web

    Last night I had the pleasure of speaking to over a hundred of Dallas, TX’s brightest social media minds at the monthly Social Media Club, Dallas meeting. Not only did I meet dozens of new people that I look forward to staying in touch with at the event but I had the opportunity to bounce some ideas, suggestions and case studies off of the crowd. I also fielded some pretty awesome questions like:

    • Should we be paying attention to Google Buzz?
    • Are branded online communities a real trend?
    • How do you let a client know when they are doing social wrong?

    Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone documented the occasion with video but I did put my slides up on Slideshare. I’ve also included links to the pictures that Cynthia Smoot put up on her Gangway Advertising Flickr page.

    The presentation is here:

    Engaging your Customers Across the Social Webhttp://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=smcdallas021810-100219123223-phpapp02&stripped_title=engaging-your-customers-across-the-social-web
    View more presentations from Aaron Strout.

    And if you check quickly enough (those folks at the Dallas Social Media Club are very conversational AND are really good at incorporating the #smcdallas hashtag), you can catch some of the highlights from the crowd. You can also click on the collage below to see Cynthia’s pics.

    A big thanks to Mike D. Merrill and Colin Alsheimer for inviting me to speak. Props also go to Jessica Nunez for her awesome intro, Aaron Bollinger of KickApps for sponsoring and kicking things off, the fine folks over at Zoe’s Kitchen for providing an amazing spread and Muroch Partners for hosting. And finally, big ups to Bill Fanning for driving with me for three hours up and three hours back from Austin to Dallas back to Austin. Viva la Genesis!

    Other great people I met (I know I’m leaving some out so sorry in advance)… Lauren Fernandez, Jill McFarland, Cosmin Ghiurau, Erica Martinez, Amanda HawkinsCameron Gawley, Kirby Sander, Kathy Catoe, Alyssa Gardina, Tom McCracken, David Swinney, Ivan Leon, Kat Farmer, Scott Duke, Barbar BhattiKelly Welborn, Connie Hannon, Matt Smith, Kate Aronson, @vsellis, John Langdon

    Show Me Da Monies: Live from OMMA Social

    This morning, I had the pleasure of listening in on a panel at OMMA Social titled, Social Media – Hot to Connect Metrics with Objectives. As you can imagine, the focus was on the Holy Grail of social media i.e., measurement. The list of panelists are below (David B. moderated the panel). Since I’m live blogging, the write up will be more of a collection of notes/tweets vs. a cohesive write up. Depending on where this goes, I may go back and do a second look. Here goes:

    The panel started off with a discussion of a basic principal of measurement (could be applied to any marketing discipline) namely that it starts with goals. Any company needs to know what they are trying to achieve and ideally, what the benchmarks look like for those measurements. Amber (Radian6) cited a case recently where a company wanted help with measurement yet wasn’t benchmarking across other channels. Of course this isn’t unique but might lead to future frustration as marketers hope/expect that agencies/service providers in the world of “social” will magicially be able to pull meaningfull statistics out of thin air.

    David (360i) asked the question of the panelists, “what one thing do you hear that marketers wish they could measure better?” Some of the answers that came back were:

    • Which of all the stuff going on (Facebook, blogging, Twitter) is the most successful?
    • What is the reach (personally, this is a huge one and likely will make or break many social media campaigns this year).
    • Who are my most influential advocates? What spurs them to take action?

    Another question (this time from Twitter), “when will predictive analytics take hold in social media?” A good response to this was captured by DaveYamon on Twitter…

    @jimsterne says predictive analytics is data poor, SM is data rich: “Chocolate and peanut butter waiting to happen” #ommasocial

    Amber chimed in and said that a lot of companies that Radian6 is working with are still in the early phases of adoption. So understanding second and third level impact is still on the horizon. She also emphasized the need for commonality in language between brand marketers and the C-suite. Knowing what “ROI” means and what the expectations are of what’s getting measured (and what’s possible) is key.

    Carla (Six Apart) mentioned the importance of letting go a little bit of the rigid structure of traditional measurement.

    Another good Twitter comment by Forrester Analyst, Augie Ray

    What is the value of a follower? Depends on what they’re saying! #OMMASocial panel<-the tweet that proves its own rule

    My new friend, Siouxsie Jennett, asked a question that built on Augie’s point. She mentioned that the CEO of a client company was complaining about only having 200 followers on Twitter. Her question was how to make the C-suite better understand the relative value of a follow. For instance, the aforementioned company only targeted 1,200 companies worldwide. From that perspective, 200 out of 1,200 looked pretty darn good.

    Another topic of focus was share of conversation. This metric measures the share of possible conversation that a company could be part of. For instance, a small B2B company should expect to get the same interaction/share of conversation as Nike. But this company should be looking at the amount of conversation around their industry and specifically, among their competitors.

    Bottom line, panels like these never dig as deep into the world of metrics as we’d like but there definitely were some interesting perspectives shared. To that end, keep an eye on the Twitter stream coming from OMMA today for other interesting nuggets.

    Ten Most Poplular Citizen Marketer 2.1 Posts of 2009

    For the record, I’m totally following the pack on this one — something I don’t normally do. But give the fact that I had a lot of posts this year, I couldn’t resist putting out a list of the ten most popular posts on Citizen Marketer 2.1 aka “Stroutmeister.com.”

    One funny aside, my Experts in the Industry interview with Ken Burbary – a good friend and the head of digital strategy and social media at Ernst & Young — got 6,786 hits in one day. Why did this not make it into your top ten you ask? It’s certainly not because I get so much traffic that Ken’s post didn’t rate. But rather, it was due to a misdirected shortened URL in a tweet by a Ms. Demi Moore. Yes, that Demi Moore. I wonder if any of the 6,786 people that visited Ken’s interview that day actually stayed and read the post.

    With that as the backdrop, here are the top ten in reverse order. I tried to provide a one sentence summary to help you decide whether or not you want to spend the time reading. Enjoy!

    10. Experts in the Industry: Jennifer LeggioI’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the popularity of this post is 50% due to Jennifer being a rock star and 50% due to her being my Quick-n-Dirty podcast partner. #justsayin

    9. What’s the Deal with MovemberWhile the post itself was shit, I am most proud of this one because of what #TeamAustin did with Movember [hint: it had something do with raising $17,800 to fight cancer in men]

    8. The Virtual Tongue: How to NOT Use Facebook for Business – In fairness, this one was a little bit of a rant but it got a surprising number of comments and retweets, mainly because I think many folks knew exactly what I was talking about.

    7. Five Reasons Why Your Comany’s Website Sucks – To be honest, this one is a little bit of a headscratcher because while the topic is an interesting one, it was definitely not one of my better posts.

    6. How We Market – This was definitely one of my favorites, probably because it spoked to the value of “eating one’s own dogfood.” The fact that it got 19 comments also didn’t hurt.

    5. Experts in the Industry: Diane Hessan – No real shocker here. Diane, the CEO of Communispace is a smart woman and one of my favorite people in the world of community.

    4. Marketers Beware the Age Wave – I co-penned this post with my good friend, and now semi-regular blogging partner partner, John Cass. It speaks to the risk that marketers face if they ignore the impact of GenY consumers in the coming years.

    3. Can Social Marketing Save the Auto Industry – this post (which wasn’t really even a post but rather a teaser for a kick ass webcast I did for my company, Powered) was an amazing discussion with the heads of social media at Ford  – Scott Monty and GM – Christopher Barger, along with the fabulous executive director of community at Edmunds.com, Sylvia Marino. Definitely worth the hour of time investment.

    2. Social Marketing Challenge: In 100 Words or Less… – Amazing what a $20 iTunes giftcard and a challenge to describe “social marketing” in a 100 words or less can do. 54 comments on this one and one winner in the smart and witty, Shannon Paul.

    1. Experts in the Industry: 45 Interviews in 45 Days – I would have been shocked if this handn’t been the winner (it was twice as popular as #2 on this list). In short, the concept of creating a series of 45 interviews with smart online/social people leading up to South by Southwest was one of the better ideas. Not only was it great blog fodder but it had crazy SEO implications. I’ve also had at least half a dozen people ask me if they stole the concept – of course I agreed. Oh yeah, I ended up interviewing closer to 75 people and ran way past SXSW but that was neither here nor there.

    So these are according to the numbers. What was your favorite post on Citizen Marketer 2.1? Let me know in the comments so I can better plan my content calendar for next year.