Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category

Hybrid Marketing and Fostering “Super Fans”

March 25, 2011

I love to find a smallish business doing a kick-butt job at marketing. And indeed I did find one (actually several) while at SXSW in Austin. I found Heyday Footwear who does a spectacular job of blending online marketing, social media, event marketing and good old fashioned face-to-face meetings to develop their following. At the end of the day, what do they have? A strong following of brand ambassadors they refer to as “Super Fans” who help passionately spread the word about the cool footwear from Heyday.

This article from MOO sums it up nicely.

How about you? Know any cool businesses using a full array of marketing approaches to build their brand? If so, let us know.

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Will I attend next year? Perspective of a SXSW first-timer

March 19, 2011

I should’ve clued in sooner. About a week before SXSW I reached out to several former colleagues in Silicon Valley to see if they would be at SXSW. All of them said something to the effect of “never in a million years would you find me there.” I’ll circle back to this point of view at the end of the post.

Will I attend another SXSW? Perhaps. Whether or not I do will depend on whether I think it’s worth the investment (of time, money and energy.) So, before this year’s experience gets completely foggy, here are some observations of my first trip to the heartland of geekery.

1. You need a year to learn the ropes. I was in Austin only from Friday night until Monday morning. I felt it took me that long to just learn the ropes – where to get the shuttle, how to navigate the Convention Center and various venues, what parties were worth attending, etc. Although I had received good advice before going, you really have to live it to learn it.

2. If you go, stay at a hotel within easy walking distance to the Austin Convention Center. This was probably the biggest frustration of the experinece. I stayed at a hotel aboout 10-12 minutes from the Convention Center by shuttle but these 10-12 minutes made it near impossible to drop stuff off or pick stuff up, to take a short rest, to change clothes before an evening event, etc. Kudos to the shuttle company – they did a great job keeping the route moving and all the various drivers I met were friendly, great Texans. But still, the distant hotel location makes for a tough visit. (PS I still think buying a shuttle pass beats the option of renting a car.)

3. Bring lots of vitamins (Richard was right.) I talked about this in my “pre SXSW” post. I was warned people get sick at SXSW. And they do. You run yourself ragged, eat enough bacon and pork and beef products to last a year and then chase it down with vast amounts of alcohol. Not the most healthy atmosphere. Bring vitamins. I did and I managed to stay healthy. Yay.

4. Pick your parties wisely. There are parties everywhere and all hours of the day in Austin. It’s crazy. Frat party for geeks.

By far the party I enjoyed the most was the Small Business Web party – great venue, fun people and good food and drink. The venue allowed for a variety of activities and it was a nice mix of fun and business. I did not attend parties until the wee hours, but it’s my hunch and observation that it’s best to ferret out and get invited to some of these “offsite” parties to avoid the ridiculous crowds at the main SXSW events. I heard some friends of mine from MA stood in line for parties they never got in. That can’t be fun.

5. Dedicate time before you go to figuring out what sessions look appealing. Then plan strategically. I could ramble on for a long time on this topic. But I won’t. Summarize it to say the sessions were mostly packed and for some, if you didn’t get there early (sometimes an entire session early) you didn’t get in. This was highly frustrating, given what you pay for a ticket. SXSW could and should do better.

I was busy starting a new job before I left for SXSW so I didn’t study the schedule carefully. And once I got there I was busy from morning to night – again, no time to study carefully. So I felt I was winging it the whole time so the sessions I attended were hit or miss.

In particular I found it frustrating when some panelists (example: the authors of Content Rules) totally “winged it” and used their session to take questions from the audience. This was lame. One of the best moderated panels I attended was a session on Sunday on female entrepreneurs. It was moderated by Jessica Vascellaro of the Wall St Journal and all the panelists brought a helpful, engaging perspective to the session. Kudos also go to Seth Priebatsch of SCAVNGR who delivered an excellent keynote on Saturday that was a perfect blend of vision, geekery and story-telling. Very compelling.

6. Don’t miss an opportunity to eat Amy’s ice cream. Especially mexican vanilla. Enough said.

So back to my Silicon Valley colleagues and they’re snarky attitude about going to SXSW. My conclusion is they don’t really need to go to SXSW because they live in a SXSW-type atmosphere 12 months in a year. For the rest of us, it’s a good place to go, drink from the fire hydrant and take in a good dose of geekiness, industry trends and forward-thinking idea sharing.

So will I go next year? Time will tell.

Prepping for SXSW

March 8, 2011

I’ll admit it. I’m a SXSW virgin. But I’m gonna solve that problem in four days when I make my maiden voyage. Have been gathering advice along the way. Here’s what I’ve heard and remembered.

1. Wear comfy shoes

2. No need to be too dressy. Jeans and a favorite shirt will do just fine. (Still wondering why Michelle bought three new dresses in the last 24 hours, but we’ll see about that in Austin.)

3. Bring vitamins. Especially vitamin C. Make that lots of vitamins. Had breakfast with the CEO of my new company last week and he must have said three times, “be sure to bring lots of vitamin C. You’re sure to get sick as everyone does.”

4. Attend the sessions of interest but don’t be too anal about sticking to a schedule. It’s really about the networking.

5. Have fun. Major party event. Use this to network and have fun. (see item #4 on list)

6. And most importantly, don’t forget your business cards. Especially if they’re MOO cards.

I’ve heard other advice too that I haven’t remembered. Guess it doesn’t make the top 6 list.

See ya’ll in Texas!

Marketing on Facebook – is it worth it?

February 3, 2011

Facebook recently hit a ginormous milestone. They now have more than 600 million users. And if those users are anything like me they are now checking their Facebook account more frequently than they turn on their television.

So, Facebook must be a marketers nirvana. Right? You should build a page for your busines. Right? Well, it depends. If you’re going to start using a Facebook page to market your business, tread carefully. Here are three things to consider:

Attracting visitors to your page and keeping them coming back
Setting up a basic Facebook Page for your business is not that hard. My friend Sally set one up for her art business in no time at all. The trickier part is getting people to “like” your page and to come back and visit often. There are ways to do this. Just know that it is best done with a strategy, requires some time to keep current and a good imagination and business sense to create the right content.

Support – Good luck with that
Facebook offers all their support online. They have a “Help Center” easily accessible under the Account menu in the upper right corner of their UI. They call it help and if you have time and patience you might be able to find answers to your questions. But if you ever want a human being to help you, good luck. I clicked on a link for how to “Promote your Facebook page or Website”. The content is clearly written by a technologist and not a marketer. So while you might see what button to push, it’s not necessarily going to get you the results you desire.

While they don’t offer a way for a human to help you, they do make it easy to find a “Contact our Sales Team” link. How considerate. Thanks Facebook.

Privacy and Facebook terms – always changing
Facebook has earned a reputation as a company that abuses their users privacy. And the privacy rules are ever-changing (and ever making people cranky.) On top of that Facebook is often changing their terms of use and one thing is for sure – the changes they make are for their benefit. Not ours.

Facebook has rights to all of the content you put on your business Page, including posts, videos, photos, viral campaign elements, etc. I’m not saying they’re going to do this but they have the rights to use this content however and wherever they would like. Says so right in their terms. Just be careful and be mindful that what’s yours is theirs too.

So creating a Facebook page for your business – is it worth it? It could be, but if you build one don’t assume they will come. You need to build it and have commitment to stick with it. It’s also a good idea to find a buddy who has already forged their path on Facebook. Your buddy can help you since Facebook doesn’t offer that option.

4 Reasons to Start Your Own Blog

September 21, 2010

This post is focused on why an individual may want to start a blog. I will follow with another post on why a company may want to start a blog. The comparison is pretty interesting.

Reason 1: Learn a new skill

The first reason to start a new blog is that you will learn a ton in the process of doing it. Today those learnings are quite valuable. The world of online communities and opinion sharing have become a new way of life. A way to make connections, become educated and make decisions. Blogging has become a valued skill in the professional world and building your skills with a personal blog is a good place to start.

Reason 2: It’s easy to get started

There are many popular blog platforms. Two that I recommend are WordPress and Blogger (now owned by Google.) Both are free and both can be up and running within an hour or so. For some valuable advice on blog platforms check this post by Problogger.

Reason 3: It focuses your thoughts

The third reason to start a blog is that it forces you to take time to bring your thoughts together in a cohesive manner. In today’s frenzied world, having some disciplined time for focusing our thoughts is a win-win, and another reason to start blogging.

Reason 4: Shares your personality with the world

The fourth reason to start a blog is that your blog becomes a centerpiece for sharing your personality and point of view with the world. Sure, you can do this on Twitter in small bites of 140 characters, or you can do it on Facebook, but this is often only shared with people who you personally know. By comparison, a blog enables you to to share your point of view with the world as robustly or succinctly as you would like, and you will be exposed to people you otherwise don’t know and may never meet.

Extra/Bonus Reason: It’s not hard to decide what to write about

Don’t overthink what your blog should focus on. You can write about work or a professional topic or you can write about a personal topic – your family, a hobby, etc. A friend of mine is living through a medical emergency right now and her blog is one that I visit most frequently. It’s personal, it’s filled with her personality and it comes from her heart. Perfect ingredients for a compelling blog.

In conclusion my advice is don’t overthink it. Get with the program and join the blogosphere!

A Little Social Media Help

September 3, 2010

I have been so woefully absent from blogging. My apologies. For those of you who keep coming back for more, here is a quick but helpful post relating to social media.

The nice people at Constant Contact just published two new resources on social media. These resources are designed for small businesses and small non-profits, but honestly, the info contained in here is helpful for businesses of all sizes.

Social Media Marketing Glossary: Includes definitions for about 80 different social media terms, in many cases grouped by the site they are tied to (i.e., you’ll find “Mayor” under “Foursquare,” “Hashtag” under “Twitter,” and “Like” under “Facebook”)

Get Started Building Your Social Media Presence: This guide offfers actionable advice for businesses using 14 popular social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Angie’s List, Foursquare, etc.) It is organized by type of site and explains what each one is, why it’s useful, and has tips for using it effectively.

Happy reading. And I promise to be back soon. Or at least sooner than 10 months…..

B2B Social Media: Six Months Later

October 12, 2009

When I first jumped into the deep end of the social media pool in March 2009, one of my early conclusions was that social media is about creating dialogue more than it is about pushing marketing message out to the masses. This conculsion holds true.

And it’s gotten even better in the last six months! As social media has taken hold in our society and in B2B companies of all shapes and sizes I have seen a subtle but hugely important shift take place surrounding the importance of and role of marketing in these same companies.

Marketing is Moving into the Driver’s Seat

I have been involved in marketing for more than 20 years. Call me old. Or call me seasoned. I’ve been around the block a time or two, and I’ve always known that marketing was keenly dependent on sales in trying out new marketing messages, ideas, etc.

Now, with the help and power of social media, marketing is moving into the driver’s seat. When we have a new message or new positioning idea to test we can go directly to customers on Twitter or another social network to give it a whirl. When we want to ask customers for input we can post a poll to our blog or ask a question to a LinkedIn group. If we have two customer testimonial videos and we’re wondering which is more powerful we can post them to YouTube and receive feedback very quickly. Social media has given us a more immediate and direct conduit to our customers.

The Olden Days

How did we do it in the olden days – you know, back in the 90s? We were highly dependent on sales. We would create new messages based on customer input and competitive understanding. Then we would teach the inside sales group how to convey these messages and wait and see how they worked. If we were lucky the inside sales team was disciplined enough to test them and provide feedback to the marketing group. Only then would we consider using them more broadly in the market.

Marketing Now Much More One to One

The dynamics have changed. Marketing can now create dialogue more quickly and more directly with customers. As a result, marketing has become more nimble and can add more value to our companies.

There has been an old adage for years that sales is one to one while marketing is one to many. True. But now, with the help of social media those of us in marketing roles can be one to one as much as we can be one to many. I love this!

Let me know if you have any examples of how this changing dynamic is coming to life in your world.

Twitter Advice

June 15, 2009

If people within your company are debating (like most out there) what is the best use of Twitter for you business, take a look at this post from David Berkowitz of Social Media Insider. Very helpful advice.

Actively Monitor Your Brand on Social Networks

April 8, 2009

As social networks expand and become more influential it is critical to regularly monitor discussions related to your brand. Some of these discussions you will want to actively engage in while others you will just want to read from afar.

So how do you get started and how long will it take? Hubspot offers great advice on How to monitor your social media presence in 10 minutes a day.

LinkedIn: A Basic Element of your Social Media Presence

April 7, 2009

linkedinIf you are part of a technology company considering what your social media presence should include, one simple place to start is LinkedIn. You may know LinkedIn from a personal/job hunting perspective as most of us have professional profiles posted on LinkedIn. But there are ways LinkedIn can also best be used to represent your company.

Where should you start?

When looking at this from the company angle, the first place to start is to familiarize yourself with the “Companies” section of LinkedIn. You can access this section from the top menu on the LinkedIn site. It takes you to a nice search box. Enter the name of your company and see what the current company profile says about your firm. My guess is that many of you will find inaccuracies in the description. Determine who from your company is responsible for keeping the profile current and contact them if there are changes needed to the profile.

What can people learn about your company on LinkedIn?

There is a lot of valuable information about your company on LinkedIn. Much of this information is generated based on analysis of the LinkedIn profiles created by current or former employees. The information you can find from a Company profile page includes:

  • Current employees (those in your network pop to the top of the list)
  • New hires
  • Recently promoted employees
  • The mix of males and females in your company
  • Median age of your employees
  • Likely career path: companies that your employees previously worked for or may work for in the future

Why do you care?

I can think of many ways your customers, partners, potential employees and others will be using LinkedIn to become more informed about your company. Imagine these scenarios. Are they applicable to your company?

You want to attract the best possible talent to your company. Your presence on LinkedIn influences how potential employees perceive your company.

Clients and prospects use LinkedIn for informal background checks on your employees. This may be of particular importance if you are a service oriented business (IT services firm, consulting firm, PR firm). Why? Because your “product” is your employee base. Clients will be gathering intelligence on the people assigned to work with them.

During certain stages of your customer experience LinkedIn may be an important data source. There are certain critical times in your customer experience – perhaps it’s during the info gathering phase, perhaps it’s during the proposal phase or perhaps it’s post-sale during a critical support experience. During these critical touchpoints anticipate that your customers will be checking the LinkedIn profiles of your employees for information that may impact how they will be served by your company.

These are three examples of how the Companies section of LinkedIn may be used by your customers and others in your market. No matter what type of business you are part of, it’s important to remember your LinkedIn presence is one more touchpoint the world has with your company. It’s one more factor that’s impacting the presence your brand has in the market. Take the time to make sure your profile is up to snuff and keep it current. It’s one small step into the social media world.

Additional blogs that may be of help on this topic:
Guy Kawasaki’s How to Change the World
Emiel Van Wegen’s Research Reinvented