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how to use social media for business

Find Your Brand’s Cheerleaders

By Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Media, Social Media

Bye Bye BirdieI’ve been having some really interesting meetings today and my head is spinning with contradicting thoughts. Most of them have to do with the nature of “marketing” as we know it, and I’ll admit I find myself wondering if I can ever advocate for it again.

Most of my colleagues would react with something like “what, are you TRYING to get fired?”

But before we go too far, what I mean is that I doubt I can ever really advocate for it the way it used to be, when it was all top-down messaging from marketing departments flush with quantitative research telling them what to say and how to say it. Words like “convince,” and “convert” seem somehow antiquated, as if the era of command and control is just over.

“Dude, what is WRONG with you?” my friends will ask.

What’s wrong with me is that in this era of social software and ubiquitous mobility, a period of ever-present content and messaging has meshed almost completely with daily life. The inexorable move towards technology and digital footprints among even the youngest and poorest demographics means that content sharing is like talking. Hell, it’s REPLACED talking at my house. Some people are even convinced it’s maybe, sort of OK for computers to start doing the messaging without much input from humans at all!

I’ll pass, thanks.

So what’s my point? I firmly believe that in order for commerce enablers to continue to succeed, they are going to have to get human again. They are going to have to use all their smarts, tools, and capabilities to find groups of people who share their values already, who have personal reasons for wanting to consume or advocate for their offerings. They have to seek out and find their cheerleaders, their true fans, and deliver more than those folks expect on a regular basis. They are going to have to enchant them, because there are too many inputs all day long for anyone to give a brand a second thought unless they do.

Sure, the era of Big Data is just beginning. But to what end? My opinion is that it has to be to find those cheerleaders and make them happy, because the era of big marketing to folks who don’t share your values is on the way out, if it’s not already gone.

Discuss.

Dad’s CRM was named Shirley

By Communications, Corporate Strategy, Marketing

Growing up, I remember going into the office with my dad just about every Saturday morning. My grandfather started a kitchen and bath company back in the 60s, and it was a family business with my dad as Vice President of Sales. The office smelled like burnt coffee, printer ink and cigarette smoke. I’d tag along with my dad and draw pictures for the secretaries while he read through his messages and checked on construction schedules. File cabinets lined the back wall of each office, and the sounds of those metal drawers slamming, printers chugging along and faxes coming in created a background drone that I will forever associate with “business.”

After I graduated college and started my first real job, I remember asking my dad how he stayed in touch with all those suburban developers, construction crews, potential clients. “Whatd’you mean, hun?” he asked.

“How do you remember who to stay in touch with? And how often? What their upcoming projects are and when they start?” I asked, feeling overwhelmed by the volume of clients I was learning to manage.

The thing is, he just knew. He’d been working with the same clients for 20 years. The relationships he had with those guys were developed on the golf course and over dinners spanning dozens of projects. Plus, his secretary handled all the files. I think her name was Shirley. She’d talked to clients’ secretaries, and they set up lunches when it made sense. All those metal filing cabinets were filled with the details of every client and project since the company began, and those secretaries’ existence depended on knowing what was happening and when.

When I told him about the first Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM) I was working with, you can imagine his reaction. “Hmm, I guess that’s a good idea”.

I think the idea of a program telling you who to call just didn’t jive with a guy who knew his clients’ kids personally. Plus, collecting everyone’s sales numbers and projections to report at the end of each month was part of his job. How weird for it to be done automatically? I think it seemed a bit like a robot replacing his secretary. I can’t really argue with that. Over the years, I’ve used a few: ACT, Recruitmax, ZOHO. They are what you make of them. For me, it’s a nice reminder to have a conversation with someone. I follow clients on LinkedIn and Twitter to hear how they’re doing.

But oh! business before computers and smart phones and the internet, when secretaries greeted you with coffee and your schedule for the day. Have we lost something? How do you manage your clients? How do you keep in touch without sounding like a robot?

 

 

Why Spotify is More of The Same Old Thing

By Communications, Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Media, Social Media


Anyone who knows me at all knows I’ve been a semi-pro musician for a loooong time and that I love to follow trends in that industry. Please read the following quotes:

Spotify have always had something in common with the record companies…
They’re just another exploitative middleman and in truth don’t care about the music or the artists, they only care about themselves. When a shop gives you free tomatoes does it make you love them? … or does it leave a bad taste once you realize they’re screwing the farmers on your behalf?

Kenny Laurenson
______________________________

i’d feel sick after reading this article, but i’m listening to aretha.
all an artist is asking for is r-e-s-p-e-c-t. is there any other business in the world that could operate this way? could you imagine going to the gas pump, without prices listed but you had to buy and they’d charge your card an undisclosed price?

marvin etzioni

______________________________

Spotify ties its service to Facebook or Twitter and thinks that’s cool? Paying for their premium service should mean privacy. I can’t even set their app to not post on my FB wall without losing the ability to listen to music. So for something that could be so cool, it becomes just another piece of malware.

Bye bye, Spotify

Dave Abbitt

Spotify was supposed to be the new model for legitimate, social sharing of music. Everyone was excited because they could listen to anything they wanted, anywhere they were. The holy grail!! It was going to take iTunes for a ride, usher in the new cloud-based model. But it turns out they are paying artists a pittance, mostly shilling for the labels, and sucking your profile from Facebook right into their vortex. They also do a pretty disappointing job with search, catalog accuracy, and curation.

I have decided from all this that the intersection of privacy and commerce is essentially nonexistent; comments like those above along with the IPO of Facebook signal the end of any hope of that dream for me. Now that they have unending pressure to increase revenues every quarter, they will be forced to exploit all of our data for their own purposes and folks will run, not walk away. If the reactions of these Spotify users are any indication, we should be prepared for a revolt against big data without transparency. Hell, maybe I was naive.

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Is there a way to have profits and privacy?

Three Myths About Quality Customer Engagement

By Communications, Corporate Strategy, Social Media

As PR, branding, and engagement professionals, we see it as our jobs to “maximize engagement” and help our clients start and maintain conversations and relationships with their customers. So it’s tempting to base success on the quantity of those efforts sometimes. How MANY connections, and is it more than last month? How MUCH content publishing, and is it enough to keep our clients “top of mind?” Marketers are rewarded (or fired) based on the ROI of their efforts and the increased sales they generate through them. So more relationships are always better, right?

Well, according to this excellent article in The Harvard Business Review, not so much. Their research has uncovered a few myths about how customers really interact with their favorite brands, mainly that people really DON’T hold brands in as high esteem as they do friends and family members–in fact, only 23% in the study said they had a relationship with a brand. So don’t attach unrealistic expectations to those other 77%. They aren’t interested in connecting at that level.

Secondly, interaction does not build relationships–shared values do. So no matter how often you’re communicating with a customer who doesn’t share your philosophy, you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort. Find the customers who share your values and make sure they are satisfied with every aspect of what you do. Be authentic.¬†Of the consumers in the HBR study who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason.

Third, frequency of contact doesn’t really enhance these relationships. Treat EACH interaction as precious. Ask yourself–does this email make my customer glad they know about us? Are we providing value in every post? Are we providing useful, actionable information or joy? If so, then five or ten really well-timed communications can have far more power than 300 canned marketing speeches. The last thing you want to do is overload them with more of what we all claim we’re trying to avoid–NOISE.

Treat your customers they way you would like to be treated, and focus on those customers who share your values. Somehow that seems so simple.

The Power of Going Unplugged

By Social Media

I’m taking a little time off, and for me, it’s important that that time include disconnecting from social networks and the internet, in general. Because my work is so intimately tied to platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, I’ve got to refuse to log in, otherwise risking getting sucked in to engagement that will take away time and focus on the task at hand. A client who is a small business owner like me advocated going without checking e-mail while I’m gone and, indeed, I’m going to attempt this. “You’ll hate yourself for it if you do,” check e-mail while away, she said.

What’s the task at hand? Total relaxation. An opportunity to rest and refresh. Time to celebrate friends and explore new places.

I’m lucky that I have a great team, people I totally trust to mind the store while I’m away. That, and trusted friends and family give me the peace of mind I need to shut off, shut down and just chill (hopefully there’s a beach in my imminent future). I am a big proponent of taking time away from work — I don’t admire the workaholic or the business owner who has “never” taken a vacation. Where’s the fun in that? I strongly encourage the people I work with to take time away, to value it and reap the benefits of it. YOU should do it, too!

I’ll be back with great stories of adventure and (hopefully) uneventful travel.