Making Sense of Social Media

I love Social Media.  And if you’re here reading MY blog, you must too, because I’m not exactly at the top of them thar Google pages.

And, if you love social media, I’m willing to bet you’re on Facebook, Twitter, have posted some YouTube videos, occasionally save stuff to Delicious and maybe even write a blog of your own.  In other words, you understand social media and how it has become an important way to connect with consumers.

But how do you make sense of social media to other people?  How do you “sell” it as an important part of your marketing plan?  I think it’s totally fair for people to ask the question, and it’s our job to prove its value.  Here’s how I’m doing that:

  1. In the beginning, go rogue. It will take a little time to build a meaningful base of Twitter followers or Facebook fans, so do it on your own in your spare time.  Once you have some impressive numbers, start to share the story.
  2. Connect the online conversation with real-life events. Use social media to promote events or promotions and show your internal audience how you increased traffic by using social media.  A tweet-up is a great way to do this.
  3. Find and send out articles about brands using social media to grow sales. Duh, right? But the important part here is that you have to keep doing this.  You’re not going to convince anyone right away.
  4. Conduct your own training. You might have to tailor your training to the type of person you’re talking to.  The Common Craft videos are useful for a variety of audiences.
  5. Get people to dip their toe in the social media pool. Convince them to gign them up for various social networking platforms and see what sticks.  One person may love Facebook, another might love Twitter.  But if they’re not living it, they’re probably never going to get it.
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Mark Silva Interview

Mark Silva is internet pioneer.  Not only does he run one of the best interactive agencies in the country (Real Branding in San Francisco), he also started RealBeer.com way back before blogs and user generated content were buzz words du jour.

I had a chance chat with Mark Silva before we headed into the Great American Beer Festival this past week.  In less than 3 minutes, Mark manages to summarize how companies need to connect with consumers in the web 2.0 age.  Then we went inside and drank some beer.

For more on how Mark thinks, check out his blog.

For those of you reading via RSS, click here for the video.

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How We Use Web 2.0 to Start Brand Conversations

I’ve looked all over the interweb for a simple, social media/web 2.0 flow chart-diagram-type-thingy.  Most of what I have found is really technical (like this) and goes on the theory that everyone knows and uses EVERY social media application.

So I got to doodling today and came up with this:

Web 2.0 Brand Communication Flow Chart

Maybe this is overly simplified, but this isn’t intended for all you blog-reading geeks.  It’s more for people who work on the brand side, with small budgets and want to get the word out.

Here’s how it works:

  • Content is developed.  It can come in the form of photos, in-store displays, videos, promotions and more.
  • That content is packaged up and formatted for a blog. (I really considered adding “website” in that box, but decided against it).
  • From there the content is shared in your favorite social networking and bookmarking websites.
  • THEN, the content is promoted on Twitter.  Personally, I see Twitter in a world of it’s own and different than blogs or social sites.
  • That’s it.  Pretty simple.

But give me your thoughts.  This is by no means perfect or finished.  It’s just a starting point.

ESPN Finally Embracing the Conversation

They’re a little late to the game, but ESPN is finally getting in to the conversation game on espn.com.

ESPN Conversation

The good:

  • They offer a tag cloud and the topics flash when that topic has been commented on.
  • “ignore user” and “report violation buttons are offered
  • ESPN is also offering a blog platform

The bad:

  • They allow up to 1500 characters.  I’d like to see them go with the “less is better” approach and limit it to 140 so that there could some Twitter-like mash-ups/widgets and text messaging updates available.
  • It looks like you have to manually refresh to see new comments.

ESPN Conversations 2

Create Your Own Online Sponsorship

I’ve been keeping my eye on how brands are using blogs to create their own, customized online sponsorship.  Although these are really just blogs that are built and maintained by a brand team/marketing department, I call it an online “sponsorship” because it’s not JUST about the product(s).  It’s really more of a blog that appeals to the target consumer, with product placement or brand mentions built in.

Here are a couple examples of brands that are creating their own online sponsorships:

The Cleanest Line
The Cleanest Line

Patagonia might do this better than anyone.  Patagonia’s blog is called The Cleanest Line and it covers topics that are meaningful to the brand: outdoors activities and environmentalism.  Although they do discuss Patagonia products, the blog is more focused on topics that are of interest to the consumer, and because of that, it comes off as totally authentic.  It’s almost like talking to the sales clerk at the outdoor store: product is part of the conversation since he’s there to sell you some stuff, but he’s also willing to give you advice on where to hike or paddle that weekend.  The authenticity and interesting content will keep readers engaged in the blog – which results in Patagonia keeping their name and image top of mind with the right consumers.

Awearness

Kenneth Cole Blog

Kenneth Cole is implementing the same tactic, but in a slightly different way.  Their blog, Awearness is all about politics and social activism.  Unlike Patagonia, who sprinkles in product info, the only links to the brand I could find are Kenneth Cole’s Intro/Profile and a few play on words (Awearness and Clothes Mindedness) in the name and section headers of the blog.  There’s a ton of content on this blog and I love the message they’re communicating, but I’m having a hard time seeing the benefit to the brand if the only branding is via these elements.  I would rather see less content, and more about how the Kenneth Cole brand is adding value to the cause.

Marketers beware: This may look like a great way to build some online presence to a targeted audience, but maintaining blogs like this take up a lot of time and energy.  It’s easy to jump into a project like this without realizing the time commitment necessary to make it work.  If you’re going to do it, you need to be willing to sacrifice a lot of time…or have the momey to hire someone to do it for you.

Craft Brewer’s Conference Presentation

I’ll be presenting as part of the “Harnessing the Power of the Internet” panel at the Craft Brewer’s Conference later this week in San Diego.  As it is with any presentation, knowing the audience is extremely important.  Based on my past experiences at this conference and my eight years in the beer business, I’m guessing that my fellow presenters and I will be talking to people who are somewhat unfamiliar with web 2.0 technologies and are really just interested in tactics that directly affect sales.

With that in mind and knowing that I only have 15 minutes to present, my message is pretty simple:

  1. The internet is a CONVERSATION tool.  An effective website is more than an online brochure.
  2. Continually evolving content is critical to engaging customers/consumers.
  3. The internet IS a selling tool.  More and more, interested customers/retailers are conducting their own research online and choose which brands they want in their establishments.  If you can give them the right information and give them a way to reach you, the sale is already closed.

Here is the PowerPoint part of my presentation.  Of course this is just the visual part of the presentation, so if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I would be happy to respond.

My New Resume

Screw resumes, they’re obsolete.

I’m not looking for a job or anything, but when I do, my resume will just tell people to “google me” and give them some search words to get them started.

If I was hiring and received a resume that did this, I would be uber impressed. Right off the bat, it would tell me that this candidate has:

  • confidence in what other people say about them.
  • made an impact their.
  • no interest in feeding me a line of bullshit and is the real deal.

Now whether they’re the right fit for the position and has the right skills, that another question. But at least you’ve cut through the clutter.
So here’s my resume. Go ahead. Google me:

(props to my friend Mandy for sparking this idea)