Archives for posts with tag: Social Media

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There’s always the air of change swirling around whenever a year end approaches quickly and a new year with new opportunities start to evolve.. Mistakes made last year are filed away as learning experiences; things you haven’t accomplished last year and new objectives for the upcoming year; and new opportunities are just waiting to be taken advantage of.

I believe 2012 is going to be a year that will stand apart from many others.

After the economic despondency we had to experience the last 4 year and the numerous, destructive decisions we have made over the last few decades, I believe 2012 will be the landmark opportunity for change.

2012 offers the chance for common sense and redemption for all that’s wrong with corporate greed and mismanagement. In 2011, people became aware of this inequality. 2012 will be the year where change will begin.

Yet perhaps more than anything, 2012 offers a chance to change the world around us. Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, if there’s something that can be done to improve both our own fortunes and those around us, we should grab it. I see a groundswell of people distrusting institutions and renewing their belief in the power of their community. And the strong belief in their own power to make a difference.

Social platforms continues to open up new areas and teaches us that greatness and bettering ourselves and our fellow man is infinitely preferable to selfish needs.

2012 we all need to travel into greatness. Let’s make sure to connect along the way.

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It’s the time of the year where we reflect on the year almost passed and, at the same time, we are in desperate need to find last-minute gifts. Below are a few of my favorite books of the year, insightful readings that shaped my year. (All links are non-affiliate)

Shift & Reset

Brian Reich, SVP/Global Editor for Edelman, is not happy with the state of non-profits and how many brands utilize Social Media to advance their objectives. Brian reveals a deep narrative that gives you a better understanding why the current methods of marketing increasingly fail and how to embrace the new paradigm. What I especially liked about this book that he doesn’t leave it to theory and big words. The book is filled with inspiring and clear action steps for non-profits and commercial brands.

The Flinch (Free)

Need a swift kick in the butt? Get this book now. It will kick you into action.

So, what is “The Flinch”? As author Julien Smith explains: “It’s a reaction that brings up old memories and haunts you with them. It tightens your chest and makes you want to run. It does whatever it must do to prevent you from moving forward. (…) Whatever form it takes, the flinch is there to support the status quo.”

The Flinch is not a marketing book, it’s a personal improvement book. When you read this book, you will learn something about yourself. And, who knows, you might just discover you have more guts and gumption than you ever imagined.

We Are All Weird

Any book list without mentioning Seth Godin’s work is not a complete list. Part of the Domino Project, “We are all weird”, nails what many have been saying is broken about marketing. The old days of blasting out your message to the masses and having it succeed are doomed. People don’t want mass marketing, they want me marketing.

Sure, mass markets will always exist and generic products and services will continue to garner profits, but they will become a minority and be outgrown by the new norm of being weird.

“The weird set an example for the rest of us. They raise the bar; they show us through their actions that in fact we’re wired to do the new, not to comply with someone a thousand miles away.”

It’s a quick read but one that will stick with you for a while.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting

Let’s face it: We all hate meetings, dread the weekly status, the meetings that exist for no reason, just to satisfy a corporate agenda. This book not only taps into this feeling and our meeting culture, but also suggests how to make meetings more effective, efficient, and worthy of attending.

So, if you’re sick of feeling like your time is being wasted by pointless meetings or are simply looking for ways to improve your professional capacity and productivity at work, then I highly recommend getting a copy. Buy one for all your co-workers, you might just transform your company in 2012.

Lost Decades: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis.

As a marketing professional, you need to understand the mechanics and details of our global economy because they determine behavior of current/future customers. “Lost Decades” is a comprehensive exploration of the political and economic roots of the current crisis as well as its long-term effective.

The authors show how financiers, politicians, and ideologues ushered in the crisis, and highlight the challenges we need to overcome to avoid more lost decades.

It’s a not an uplifting book but it gives you an understanding how silly the arguments and positions of our current breed of politicians are. If we get policy right, we’ll be fine in 10 years. If we continue on the current path of the two-party system ideologues, we might be in a permanent crisis.

Before I Go to Sleep

Let’s end on a positive note: “Before I go to sleep” is my favorite fiction book of the year.

Imagine waking up every day not knowing who you are. All memories disappear every time you fall asleep. Your partner is a stranger, explaining your life each and every day all over again. You used to have a normal life and now a mysterious accident forces you to live this bizarre existence.

I finished this book in one reading because of the strength of writing, and the way the author is able to transcend the basic premise and present profound questions about memory and identity. For me, this was the book of the year.

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I get up in the morning, check my email first and then explore what happened overnight on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. My streams are littered with reactions to some software updates or a new app release, musings about social platforms and why they’re dead or half-alive, food posts, complaints about flight delays, snarky remarks about politicians or pundits.

It’s my fault. I created this virtual world.

These are friends, colleagues, acquaintances, thought leaders. I chose to follow them. I created this stream. Sometimes it seems silly.

We have so many problems in this world. Our institutions don’t work anymore. We have a crumbling infrastructure. Debt everywhere. People kicking cans down the road. I’m worried about our future. I’m even more worried about our kid’s future.

Social Media was supposed to change the world

We finally had a voice. We finally could speak out. But we tend to talk mostly about entertaining issues: TV shows, sports, weather.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming anyone. I’m just blaming myself. We’ve been given this fantastic technology and we tend waste it on trivial matters.

Since I called myself out…

Over time, I will try to make a meaningful effort to add more compelling content into the stream. And stop bothering people with the triviality of my existence.

The Arab Spring, the London riots, the storm in Los Angeles: Examples were Social Media was used beyond marketing.

Take this video:

A racist woman on the tram.  The viral video – named My Tram Experience – shows a white woman racially abusing Black and Polish people on a train from Croydon to Wimbledon.  The video, which is extremely uncomfortable to watch, sparked millions of tweets on the subject.  The hashtag #mytramexperience was the top trend one day and soon the video had been watched million of times.  Later, following outrage from the general public and many celebrities, the woman, later named Emma West, was arrested.

That is the power of Social Media. And we should remember it when we tweet or post the next time.

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15 years ago I was the digital expert in a traditional agency. Every time someone introduced me as such, a little piece of me died. I studied marketing communications, worked as a Creative Director for traditional media and still everybody pigeon holed me at one point as the digital dude.

The problem with being an expert is that it implies that a certain field can be serviced by one person. I was the digital dude when digital marketers had no seat at the table. Being a Social Media expert relegates you to the back room, to the place where no real decisions are made. As we know, digital marketing can’t be done by one person. The same is true for social. When it was early in the game, one person could service one or two platforms. In the future, social media will become everyone’s job and will be part of everybody’s job description. One way or another.

It’s not about social. It’s about business.

And it’s about getting serious. The objective is not to join the conversation anymore. The objective is to communicate with specific audiences to drive measurable business value. That audience might be on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or some niche platform but using those are just tactics not a strategy.

Nobody should be talking about social media strategies anymore. Instead, you need to talk about strategies that solve problems, based on an open culture with a focus on collaboration.

We have to stop talking about Social Media

We just have to integrate social into everything we do. Social is now as pervasive as digital. Let’s utilize to solve problems and move on.


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The conference season is upon us.

It costs a lot of money to go to conferences. Conference fee, transportation, hotel, expenses. Let’s not forget the time you’ll spend away from your daily work, the loss of productivity.

Why should you go to conferences?

Should you really spend all this time and effort to watch the keynote that will be streamed lived and can be viewed online until the end of time?

Should you follow a presentation that will be uploaded to Slideshare 5 minutes after it’s done?

Should you try to meet some semi-important web celebrity?

Should you feel obliged to see all sessions just because you paid for all this content?

I would argue, this is the wrong way to attend a conference.

What do I remember from conferences?

The conversations. The human connections. Moments where I learn from people what drives them, what makes them tick, what they are working on. The coffee with an interesting person that has 25 followers on Twitter. The drink with a woman who is about to change the world. The discussions about marketing at 11pm with five brilliant minds. The friendships that last.

That’s why I’m going to conferences.

Conference advice

Don’t try to go to every session. You will come home drained and exhausted.

Choose one or two sessions per day. While you’re there, try to focus. Use Twitter (or other channels) to add your voice to the conversation, not just rehashing sound bites of the speaker. Be engaged and present.

The rest of the time, roam the floors. Make new friends, help solve problems, explore new point of views.

Go against the stream.

Most conferences are organized around the sheep principle: Just follow the masses.

Instead, create your own conference. The one that’s valuable to you.

The one that creates memories.

The one that matters.

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I know, this question was asked a gazillion times before. And answered by much more profound minds than I could ever aspire to be.

Let’s look at the question from a different angle.

Let’s not focus on how we are going to consume media (tools, platforms). Let’s forget about the location where we will consume media (home, public place, office, etc.) And let’s not bother discussing what we will do with media (lease it, share it, own, co-own it, etc.)

Let’s answer a different question:

How are businesses are going to manage this new media world?

Sure, we have amazing examples of companies utilizing new media to their advantage: Zappos, Virgin America, Starbucks.

But, let’s be honest here: the majority of businesses are completely lost in this new world. They are acting like a 13-year old trying to score a date. They understand the world of media is moving faster and faster while they stand still and fall behind. They desperately hold on to tactics and processes that used to work 20 years ago. Just like the 60-year old who tries to squeeze himself into the wedding suit from 30 years ago. They are more care-takers of media than real managers or leaders of their destiny. This applies to paid, earned and owned media.

But, let’s focus on earned media.

Most brands claim to be engaged in social media. Frankly, they are lying to themselves. A daily tweet or Facebook post doesn’t mean engagement.

It’s checkbox engagement.

Most businesses are barely engaged in the real world. They shield themselves from customers by deploying phone trees, arduous forms and bureaucratic processes. Why would a narcissistic brand believe they can suddenly communicate with their customer base just because there is a new tool or platform?

Time Warner Cable is a great example.

I drop around $200 monthly for cable and Internet service. And I’ve done it for 15 years. That’s around $40,000 in 15 years. Did they ever thank me, offered free on-demand movies for a month, gave me something that says: “Thank you, Mr. Hook, for being such a great customer!” Of course not.

My brand experience is extremely low, if Dish or DirecTV offer me a special deal: I’m gone. I’m just too lazy to research this further and plan on returning their remotes and cable-boxes. And, I’m not alone. Just check out their Facebook page: It’s a great example of brand misery. They post content once a day, never to listen to anyone. People are bitching, complaining, expressing their deep hate towards the brand. Time Warner Cable’s answer: Push another message. It’s all about them, narcissistic, deeply dysfunctional.

They do on Facebook what they do on TV: push a message, push another message, push more messages. This push mentality translates how to engage with customers and treat them. Time Warner Cable has no clue how to navigate and manage new media in positive ways.

They are just one example. As I said before, the majority of brands act that way. They need to take a hard, long look at the mirror and ask: “How are we going to manage the future of media to be successful?” Zappos, Virgin America and Starbucks can answer the question honestly and don’t need to worry about their media future.

The other brands will continue to lie to themselves or finally wake up.

If you don’t engage and communicate with your customers in the new media world, you’ll be talking to yourself very soon.

And you well deserve it.

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Everybody in the marketing world talks about community. At one point, community had a real meaning. We used to live in places that felt like communities. We interacted with other people in our neighborhood, talked to them daily, our little place in the world had the feel of a community. The little store next door. The neighbor we chatted with for a few minutes. Kids driving their bikes down the street. Block parties. Remember those times?

When we started to develop digital landmarks, we created communities grouped around shared passions. And we called those ‘online communities’. That felt real because people lived in those places, sought them out actively and particiapted. It had a communal feel to it.

Over time, everything changed.

The word ‘community’ became meaningless.

Suddenly, any message board, Facebook page or Twitter feed was called a community.

Let me give it to you straight:

– A Facebook page with a lot of ‘likes’ is not a community. It’s just a Facebook page with a lot of ‘likes’.

– A Twitter feed with a lot of followers is not a community. It’s just a Twitter feed with a lot of followers.

There’s a huge difference between a community and an aggregation of people with weak ties.

You can live in a neighborhood and never talk to your neighbors, never know what makes them tick, never care if the store next door will survive in tough economic times. All these people are just neighbors. Nothing more. Just because you live in the same neighborhood (in real life or on your social media platforms) doesn’t mean you’re part of a community.

Community is about a shared passion. Community has context. Community consists of meaningful interactions. When you develop all of these, you have a community.

Communities can’t be created.

People create communities, and unless you have some secret sauce I don’t know about, you can’t create people. You can build digital landmarks and social platforms for people to create their own community. You can develop the infrastructure. The passion, love, heart, blood, sweat and tears is up to people. Not you.

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Many brands feel the need to be on Social Media. Competitors do it. Other successful enterprises do it. Everybody does it. Whenever I meet with brands, they tend to think they HAVE to be on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. They should have a blog and start developing ideas for Google+.

An armada of consultants and agencies tap into the culture of fear: If you’re not part of the Social Web, you’ll be forgotten soon. Why wouldn’t you be on Facebook, the third biggest country in the world? Is there a reason you don’t think about Google+, the platform with the fastest adoption rate of new across all social platforms? Or better: If you’re not on Twitter, you don’t have a business. If you don’t have a blog and create content, you’re not alive.

Don’t make it about numbers. Make it about your audience.

It makes sense why consultants peddle Social Media stats: It builds an impressive case for Social Media. However, it builds an impressive case for generic Social Media. Sure, Google+ has millions of users and Facebook will reach 1 billion customers soon.

The problem is: your customers are not stats or pure number. They are individuals.

The case for individuals.

It’s a common media practice to segment people. You make determinations in advance who will be your most likely customer: Baby boomers with 4 grand children, teenagers with their first car, parents with newborns.

Still, your segments are just a bunch of individuals all grouped together.

How do you know millions of teenagers driving their first car will love your product? What about the 100,000 baby boomers you expect to buy your service?

As human beings, we’re not that predictable. Why are we approaching our business that way, assuming people are extremely predictable? Just because these amazing numbers (3 trillions on Facebook!) blind us?

Think like a customer. Walk in their shoes.

You have a small restaurant. Do you think some generic blog will attract new customers?

You run a plumbing business. Do you think a Facebook page filled with renters that live close to your shop will get you new customers?

Here’s the truth: a solid and well-defined social presence will get you new customers. But you have to do a lot of research, define your new customers and find ways to reach them. You could reach a gazillion customers on social platforms but you only need the ones that will drive new business.

Social Media is not easy. It’s not some magical potion. Otherwise the world would be flooded with case studies of businesses making a lot of money through their application of social platforms.

Social Media is not the aspirin for your marketing headaches.

It’s not a quick fix or some magic that a consultant will deliver on a silver platter. You need to dig in and get your hands dirty:

– Research: Find out where your audience/prospects are active participants: Message boards, Twitter, Review sites, LinkedIn, etc. Are they open to listen to you on these platforms or do they want to be left alone?

– Plan: Once you know where they are and you feel they wouldn’t mind having you join the party, make sure you understand the culture of the platform and evaluate how others are trying to approach their customers/prospects.

– Strategy: You clearly don’t want to sell coffee to a tea drinker or the newest iPhone accessory to a rotary phone user: Look at the research and all the data you accumulated over time and make a determination how you can apply this information to develop various strategies and promotions.

– Experiment: Don’t think one strategy is the only way to go. Start small, scale up once it works or come up with new ideas when it doesn’t.

It’s not that complicated but many business owners are overwhelmed just running their business and now we added more to their workload. That’s where agencies and consultants come in. They have experience developing roadmaps, initial plans and strategies, can help you with guidelines and even execute everything for you. There are some fabulous marketers out there (Plug, plug) that understand marketing and how social platforms can complement your overall marketing initiatives. Just like you do with all your vendors: make sure to align with a good, battle tested partner.

You’ve developed your business over time because you were smart and made the right decisions. Why would you change that path just because somebody tells you there are gigazillions of people on social platforms? As far as I know, there’s no law requiring your business to be on Facebook.

You should participate on the Social Web when it can help you to reach new customers, help promote a new service/product, add another customer service channel, or help you to aggregate information. Or you’re just wasting your time and taking a placebo with no effect.

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Is it going to location-based marketing? Hyper-local marketing? Google+? Facebook’s timeline? Twitter ads? Social Search? What about the convergence of mobile and social? Touchscreen computing?

Clients ask me that question all the time and my answer remains the same:

Nobody knows what the next big thing is going to be. Nobody. More importantly, you shouldn’t be concerned about it. We haven’t even figured out the basics of digital marketing yet.

Let’s be frank here: The only working tactic working in the digital space is SEM. Measurable, scalable and tied back to your basic ROI. Once you leave the SEM area, digital marketers continue to work in the Wild West. We still haven’t worked out how to engage with customer through display advertising. Instead, we try to try work the attribution and measurement game:

“The metrics are all wrong.”

“It’s not about the last click.”

All true but it doesn’t instill any confidence in our clients when we sell our arsenal of digital tools with a major asterisk attached to them.

We need to fix digital marketing from scratch.

SEM/SEO? Check

Display advertising? Clearly, we need to start from scratch. We have optimized the delivery of ad units to customers but the creative side of the equation continues to be abysmal. The declining click-through rates are proof of that.

Social Media? Most companies have still not understood the power of Social Media. 95% of marketing efforts on social platforms continue to be megaphone-style, mass marketing efforts. Cutting down the power of Social Marketing to almost nothing.

Location-based marketing? Coupons are nice but they are not the be-all and end-all of location-based marketing strategies. By focusing on pure coupon play, you’re missing out in great opportunities.

The next big thing is already there.

Actually, there are many next big things. You’re just not using them properly yet. You’re not innovating enough using all these new platforms.

The majority of brands act like little children riding a bike on training wheels. After a few minutes, they get off the bike and ask: “When can I drive a car?”

Let’s try to ride the bike properly first.

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Let’s be honest here: Customers suck. They always want more, demand things you never thought about and expect too much. And it gets even worse: Those silly customers now have tools to connect with us directly. They expect you to explain flight delays of 2 minutes, share with their friends that the coffee they ordered was 2 degrees hotter than expected or just create sites that bitch about your hard work. Life would be so much better without any customers, wouldn’t it? No complain letters, no legal threats – just doing your job.

Your dream just came true: I’ll show you ways customers will hate you. And leave you for good.

No, it’s not a pipe dream, not some fantasy. Below are ways to make sure you never have to deal with customers again. Let’s get going, I want to make sure your dream comes true as soon as you desire.

1. When you develop communication for your company, make sure to include images like this.

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It communicates clearly that you’re lying. You don’t respect the intelligence of your customers. Listen, we all know meetings like that never happen. But you claim your company is that haven of collaboration, creativity and empathy. Communicating to your customers you are a liar.

Perfect.

A bunch of customers will never come back. Saving you a lot of money for marketing and loyalty efforts.

2. Force people to watch your videos.

Don’t you hate it when you go to sites and you have to sit through 30 seconds of video before you can go to the real content? Your customers feel the same way. To lose customers by the thousands, make sure to increase the length of the video to 60 seconds, add a sign-up form and hide the “close’ button. You are a champ.

3. Upsell. Everywhere. Anywhere. All the time.

So, that silly customer of yours decided to buy your product. They researched, they filled the shopping cart and now they want to check out. Why would you make it easy for them by asking for minimum information to finalize the deal? Let them jump through hoops: Ask them if they want to bundle that product with something unrelated, force them to sign up for newsletters, gift wraps – anything to slow them down. Anything to make sure they’ll never complete the purchasing process. One less customer to deal with.

4. Make sure your keyword buys are not relevant.

Let’s say you’re selling expensive candles. They smell nice, they illuminate the room. You could buy relevant keywords like “emotional candles” or “beautiful candles” or “anniversary gifts”. Why bother? Just buy “cheap candles” and “lights”. Your bounce rate will go through the roof, your effectiveness drop and your sales vanish. Added benefit: You can proclaim “SEM doesn’t work” and fire that pesky SEM/SEO dude.

5. Work with ad networks that allow you to use pop-ups

You get a guaranteed impression that doesn’t work and annoy the customer for sure. Bingo. Oh, added benefit: You can proclaim: “Display advertising doesn’t work” and finally fire your agency. Thank me later.

6. Use your social media platforms as push marketing tools

So, your little Social Media boy worked hard to get you thousands of followers. The fool that he is. He’s all happy and full of himself. Kick him in the knee caps by enforcing the following policy: We will post sales messages every hour on the hour. We don’t answer any questions. We just use these platforms as another megaphone.

See your followers/fans count drop by the hour. Take that, Social Media boy. Added benefit: Well, you know.

7. Make sure to implement animated buttons

They will certainly be the most hated part of your customer experience. And make them pray to be blind. Make sure to use as many animated buttons as possible and you won’t have any customers left.

8. Make sure to force customers to register

To be really efficient in your customer-deletion tactic, make sure to force them to fill out a form before they purchase your product. Even better: before they can go to any content. As you know, customers can’t wait to be part of your CRM system, they want to be contacted based on your agenda. Not based on their desires and needs.

9. Advertise on a site that makes you sit through loading of ads until the real content appears

Some sites have more than 10 display ads. It takes time to call all these ad servers and load the ads. Make sure you’re the last in line because customers were waiting for content and now you made them wait for your silly ad. Perfect. Another customer lost.

10. Ensure that your customers become the slave of your media strategy

Your customers live in the mobile world but you force them to go through your site? Perfect. Make it even better by forcing your customers to have Flash on their mobile device: Awesome, all your iPhone customers will disappear. You’re the man.

When you followed all these steps, you should be left with no customers. You executed the plan flawlessly. Congratulations!

You’re on your own now. Good luck.