Posts Tagged ‘social media’

A fellow Bulwark employee and I recently attended AZIMA‘s August dinner event: How To Build Social Communities For Your Brand. The night’s speakers was Kevin Spidel, a self described “recovering political hack” who has extensive experience building and growing online communities in the political realm before doing so for more mainstream clientele.

Though the entire presentation was excellent and worth reviewing if you can find a copy, here were the few takeaways that really stood out to me. (Not all the ensuing content was covered or discussed during the presentation, but has simply served as a foundation for the following thoughts.)

Online communities are not audiences. Like the minions, they need direction and support.

“Communities are not audiences”. This is an important starting point to remember. Communities simply don’t happen. They don’t just appear all of a sudden and coincidentally happen to be comprised of people with strikingly similar preferences, passions or habits. Communities form for a reason. If you’re wondering where a given community is in the consumer funnel, forget it! You’re thinking of a different funnel. So don’t think like that. For that reason, communities do not need to be spoken to. They do not need marketing in the raw sense. They are beyond that point. What it needs is direction and purpose.

“Once you have a brand ambassador, forget a digital strategy. You need a volunteer strategy.” As vendors, or as markers, we easily get wrapped up in numbers. “What’s the ROI from last month?” “How was last month compared to like-month from last year?” “This customer just bought our product. How can up-sale him on additional products or services?” These are all statements that stem from the line of thinking that dwells on numbers and upper-right trending charts. It’s too easy to only view a consumer as a potential repeat consumer. Measureable performance is one thing, but when it comes to an organic community in an online setting, that is simply not the case.

Singer Michael Buble let a fan accompany him on stage for an unstaged duet.

Once you have a self-appointed brand ambassador on your hands, the possibilities are limitless. So, stop figuring out a way to keep selling stuff to that individual and come up with with a plan to empower them as vocalists. Provide a way for them to vocalize and share their experience or opinion. Build them a soapbox that they can stand on and say it in their own words. Better yet, let them borrow your soapbox.

If you think about it, brand ambassadors will continuously and willingly purchase your brand, so don’t worry about that. Your strategy for those consumers should be to help them educate and proselytize within their circles – circles that you most likely don’t even know exist and to which you will certainly not have access.

And, the gem of the night: “Loyalty is lack of a better option”. HALLELUJAH!!!

We as marketers have a propensity to pat ourselves on the back at the thought of how loyal our customers have become. We often credit our elaborate campaigns and strategies as the reason our consumers like our product and service so much that they are unwilling to defect to a competitor, even at the temptation of a lower price or additional perks.

WRONG!

Maybe, just maybe, it’s because they don’t have a better option. Or, said different, consumer’s don’t know they have other options. Every company thinks they provide the best products within their industry. Every pizza parlor thinks and advertises theirs is the best in town. Every bike manufacturer sells the “best bikes in the world”. On top of that, each one of those companies’ marketing campaigns suggest they have successfully conveyed that idea and that is the reason they have as many customers as they do.

Now, let me tell you a different story. A friend of mine has been with his insurance agent for close to 15 years. All his insurance is through the same agent. Minus any catastrophic claims, they’ve been through thick and thin with each other. Their business relationship has even survived the possibility of changing to a competitor based on price….until recently. My friend was recently solicited regarding his policy and this unnamed competitor offered the same coverage, plus additional products at a noticeably lower price. Not just a few dollars, but a considerable sum. My friend even consulted with his long-time agent first, to see if he was able to compete with the new competitor. His agent still could not get within the same ballpark. Given that my friend was actively looking for ways to cut living costs, he has now agreed to terms with a brand new face and a brand new provider. Just like that!

An Ohio native, Lebron James was destined to play for Cleveland his entire career. Until Miami came along with a better offer. Even loyalty has as price.

At the end of the day, doing business with consumers or other businesses comes down to three things: price, results and tolerance. Are consumers comfortable paying the determined price to receive the expected return? Are the results in line with the consumer’s expectation, and within reason relative to the vendor’s price? Does the consumer harbor enough tolerance, mentally and financially, to accept the results (or lack thereof) relative to the price and expectation. When it’s said and done the consumer will ask themselves one thing: “Am I getting what I pay for?” Consumers will be loyal to those that get the job done. End. Of. Story.

Building and nurturing communities within your brand has an intrinsic way of bypassing all of that. Healthy communities are comprised of believers, and even their faith in the brand will be tested. That’s normal. As you continue to educate and monitor your fold, the likelihood grows that their trust and belief in your brand will stand the test of time.

With the announcement of Twinkies potential death,

there are those who stood not idle but moved quickly.

Alas, some people know opportunity when they see it.

And as for junk food, may everybody enjoy a glorious round of pies after their thanksgiving turkey. Happy feast to all, and to all a good night.

Every wonder what bugs your turkey eats?

But news has it that Bimbo may pick-up these Blondies.

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3 of 5 Trending Topics on Google Plus Have Hashtags.

Pretty funny considering hashtags are a twitter thing. Perhaps google+ should just copy that as well, oh wait they already did about 4 months ago. Now just wondering when they will add a Red Google+ Bird.

Just goes to show that the Google+ crowd is the same twitter crowd. Are they just copying and pasting their tweets? I wonder who would get dinged for duplicate content in this scenario.

 

English: Google plus one

English: Google plus one (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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2011Q2 Google Earnings Slideshttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/60045802/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list

Google as a whole is moving so incredibly fast and so far up the revenue ladder that its intimidating. I am impressed by what google has accomplished and their record breaking growth. But as a business owner and customer, I am saddened by the lack of concern and attention I am given. I feel like an ant on Google’s boot along for a great ride, but if I draw google’s attention then I am going to get flicked off or worse, squashed and rolled into a ball. As much as I hate that google doesn’t seem to care about me as a local pest control business who buys from them, I really feel that riding on the bottom of their boot will still move me further faster.

Honestly, I hated seeing google get picked on in congressional hearings. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I see the government stepping in to play big bully brother. Letting government steal freedoms from my neighboring business means opening up the doors to my coffers as well. But google would do well to make themselves more endearing to those that buy from them. As one SEO put it, “Without and friends, no one is going to help pick them up

 

Need Phoenix Ant Control?

Likable = Linkable

DSC02681

Image by Hug It Forward via Flickr

Twitter is a great tool for engagement. Yes you should use twitter to build links. You find like minded individuals. You share content with them. You tweet out their good content. You make comments on their blogs. You get invited to guest post. You build relationships, you build links. The best links come from humans, not bots, not tools, HUMANS.

In the same stroke. A relationship is about give and take. Again, yes, you should use twitter to build links. But tweeting out self promoting links every 5 minutes, or 10, or even hourly just to build links will sabotage your relationships. ( see rule #3 Thou Shalt Not Blatantly Self-Promote ) So I try to avoid too much self promotion on my own twitter stream. I don’t use my twitter stream to build links for me. I don’t want to loose influence with peers by flooding my twitter stream with ME, ME, ME. I know, as a pest control guy I probably don’t carry too much influence… Even more the reason to guard what little I may have.

No relationships = No Links

FYI- The best links I get and give from twitter usually come from behind the DM curtain. 

( find me on twitter @Thos003 )

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Do you want twitter followers? Well this a little on why I follow or unfollow people on twitter. Not claiming any secrets on how to gain followers. But perhaps a little honesty from a pest control guy could help one figure out this twitter thing.

 

Follow:

I follow people that are willing to converse with me. If you follow me and have a conversation with me on twitter then I’ll usually follow you. If you follow me and respond to a DM of mine, then I’ll follow you. I have a lot of conversations in private. There is a lot that is said behind closed doors. I find those conversations very valuable. There are a lot of people that I check in on, but don’t follow. I use lists.

Unfollow:

I unfollow people that self promote too much. I unfollow people that publish just links. Sorry, but if you if I do follow you and you unfollow me, then I take that as a sign that you don’t want to openly converse anymore and I’ll unfollow you. And yes, I trim down my list on occasion, so if you’re not following me, or not conversing with me then you’re probably not making the cut. Sorry Bob.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Facebook:

Facebook has been a bit more private use for me so I only allow people I’ve meet in real life into my facebook circle. But don’t worry, you’re not missing much if you aren’t there. I don’t facebook much.

I’d also like to thank Kenneth Gonzalez for his engaging conversation that help spur some of this post. Find his blog at,  http://blog.engagedconsulting.com/ … Now back to that problem of me following 666 people. Sorry but need to change that. If you still say, “I don’t get twitter.” then you should read some of the following articles. Or just start posting comments and questions below. …Its called engagement.

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Social media platforms are constantly put in head to head comparisons. So when Mat Siltala from Dream Systems Media did a post about his scorpion sting on all 3 social media platforms simultaneously, the intuitive nature of Mat kicked in. Between Facebook, Google+, and twitter, which platform would be most responsive to a post about scorpion stings? What would be your guess? The results may surprise you a bit.

Google+ Count


Have Matt in circles (2158) – That is a fairly good audience. Google+ is fresh. It’s the new upbeat social hang out. One could speculate that it has more real users… or not. But Google didn’t take the cake for Mat’s scorpion sting post.

Twitter Count


3,618 Followers – That is a healthy twitter following. Mat Siltala has been a very busy busy body on twitter. His follower to follow ratio is fantastic. He puts out a steady stream of useful content. And he laughs out loud some funny infographics. But can twitter compete with the socialness of facebook?

Facebook Social Weight


Friends (602) – Clearly Mat is more selective with his Facebook audience. With a count of 602 the facebook audience is a fraction of Mat’s Google+ and Twitter following. But honestly, Facebook seems to be more intimate. Mat’s lower friend count is because Mat is selective about who views his Facebook stream. And in Mat’s case, he shares things that are bit more private. So I naturally believed that Facebook would be the best setting for a conversation about scorpion stings. Regular life happens on facebook.

And the Scorpion Sting Survey Says…

Twitter wins!

So wait… twitter isn’t just about news and high-tech stuff? You can actually have a conversation on twitter about life? Do you want to know what I had for breakfast?

Okay… I will keep the meal tweets to a minimum. But I was shocked that twitter got the bulk of the interaction. Granted, this wasn’t a planned out scientific test so there are a number of variables that alter this example. But even still, a pest control guy can pick up a conversation on twitter about bugs. And if you know how to converse then you can effectively communicate with twitter. If you can communicate then you can market.

What are your thoughts on operation Scorpion Sting?

Related Articles

I know sad that I must blog my own quotes…

Likable = Linkable

As Shakespeare so put it, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Apparently this tweet was liked, as I received some mentions on it. This concept is the summation of a key element in search engine rankings and therefore the core of gaining search engine rankings.

Is Content King?

The search engines want to believe that the best content on the internet will win. They gauge this by links. If you like something then you will share it with others by linking to it. Who hasn’t gotten an email with a link in it to a funny video. Funny is almost always likable. Who doesn’t like things that are funny?… Okay maybe its not best to crack a joke when in a heated argument with a wife. But let’s not get into timing right now. The idea of the search engine tallying up links is to find the sites that are most liked by all. Content should incite people to like you. Content should give people a reason to link to you.

Offline Likability = Online Linkability

To expand this concept one step further, I believe your offline likability is also proportionate to your online link-ability. This is going beyond what the search engine would expect. Search Engine’s believe that people more likely to naturally link to an awesome hotel’s website after having a fantastic weekend of sterling customer service. Hence the best hotel wins. LUMPS - SEOI ..Perhaps. But popularity of lesser hotels may out weigh the likability of awesome less known hotels. I believe we are now taking this one step further. I am more compelled to share articles from individuals that I know and like. I win more links from people I meet and establish a relationship with. Take for instance Dennis G., he’s likable and thus linkable. I am much more likely to link to Ebay after having met Dennis.

We could even Expand this chain to:

 Likable = Linkable = Tweetable = Diggable = Stumbleable = Remarkable = Rankable

As one comment I received stated… “Wow, thanks for that. I have to summarize today why losing links is a big deal, ane explain why they are going to lose their rankings.”

Glad I could help. =)

“So this is good and dandy for individuals but what about businesses. Are we in business to be friends with people?”

If you have not figured out the new online order, YES, YOU NEED TO MAKE FRIENDS.  Granted, being likable does not mean being buddy-buddy. You don’t need to be a BFF. But as a business you do need to serve a purpose and people need to like you doing that service. Disney probably puts it the best:

“Do what you do so well, that the people who see you do it, will want to see you do it again, and will bring others to see you do it.

Adding a smile to your service helps bring them back for more. Being friendly helps them share your business with their friends. In today’s online world this is amplified over several thousand social connections. Social media works best for those that know how to act socially acceptable and be sociable. I am a pest control guy. My first priority is to get rid of bugs, my second is to make you smile a little longer.

Now go out and be LIKABLE!

Google’s announcement of its new +1 feature looks like an obvious attempt to compete with Facebook’s “Like” button. If you like a page’s content, you’re able to +1, or vote, for Google’s link that takes you there.  And just like that your friends with whom Google associates you will be notified that you +1ed the page.  Since this has been announced, much has already been said regarding the usefulness of the feature.  In the long run, we thought +1 was just going to be another Buzz or Wave.  Great in theory, but failing in execution.

Or…What if Google’s +1 is really just a Trojan horse for all those spammers and gamers in cyberspace?

The Plot

I’m going to be Mr. Journalist here for a minute, and disclaim that I’m not going to reveal my sources, but let’s just say that I have a few friends that work for the search engine.  One of them I co-captains with on our high school cross country team.  The other dated my sister and owes me several, very large favors.

I can tell you that this will all come to fruition tomorrow when Google pulls the meanest April Fool’s joke ever conceived since the beginning of the internet.  Google knows that the only people that know about their +1 feature are SEO pros and marketers.  Some of the coding was leaked prior to their public announcement, but they know who is using it and who is already seeing the feature in their search results.  Google, one of my friend’s teams to be exact, is already tracking a couple half-created bots and have their eyes on a few more key targets that they expect to have something up and running by tonight.

This will be Google’s Trojan horse, sent among an unknowing city of Troy.  Troy welcomes horse.  Greek, Google, makes inside the fortified SEO’s wall.  Troy is overtaken.

Red carpet for you Lemming.

Who’s going to save the Lemmings?

The social wave is HUGE. Many people and companies are hoping on their surfboards for the very first time. Google is trying to find a way to police the waters.  Large companies are entrusting their brands into the hands of SEO and marketing firms.  Their job?  Get ranked.  Get seen.  Garnish page views.  Amass Facebook Likes.  Rack in Retweets.  Stack on Shares.  Etc, etc.  N..E..way possible.  In recent weeks we’ve seen big names like Forbes and JC Penny get hit for black hat link building. The Kung Fu Panda chopped a few more heads off. But Google’s not stopping there…  The +1 feature is to weed out those that game our social circles.

Think of it like the old Lemmings game.  Certain lemmings in the crowd have a specific assignments that benefit the group.  Some of them even sacrifice self for the betterment of the team.  Google just sent a lemming headed for the nearest cliff holding a giant “+1″ sign.  Their upcoming weeding tactics will be more sophisticated and much more stealth, but their first effort is for the masses.

We know quite a bit about pest control and a little about SEO.  Let’s just say that there are a lot of bugs that are about to get squashed.

Taco Bell is the first ever to use a promoted tweet to make an official statement about their lawsuit.

Taco Bell promoted tweet about lawsuit

Taco Bell promoted tweet about lawsuit

I arrived to work exceptionally early today.  I got my tabs and windows up and running and noticed something that looked completely normal.  Taco Bell was promoting a tweet.  Sweet!  I was hoping for a free taco.  Or, better yet, a free Nachos Bell Grande!

Turned out that this promoted tweet was much different than any other I had ever seen.  Taco Bell was using their promoted tweet to release an official company legal statement regarding a class action lawsuit from a California woman regarding the quality of their beef.  No free tacos.  No half off discounts.  Rather, a one page statement of legal jargon and adamant statements by Taco Bell’s President and Chief Concept Officer.

Should Taco Bell Promote a Tweet about their Lawsuit?

I’m not here to argue the validity or falsehoods of this lawsuit.  In all honestly, its not even going to detour me from eating there.  I love their food.  In fact, this has prompted my co-workers and I to go there later today for lunch.  And we’ll all probably check in on Foursquare from there.

To me, the debate at hand, from a marketing and public relations standpoint, is whether or not using a tool like a promoted tweet is the appropriate or effective way to issue such a statement.  This was the first I had even heard that Taco Bell was being sued over such a claim.  Would I have even found out about it had they, themselves, not pushed the issue in front of me?  When I notified my boss of the tweet and apparent lawsuit, he knew nothing either.  However, my other two co-workers did have knowledge of the lawsuit.  They had heard about it on the radio before today.

At first I thought it was an ill-advised move.  Why go around broadcasting your controversies?  And why would you pay a platform like Twitter to do so?

Then my public relations degree kicked in (Yeah! BYU, class of ’06).  The more I thought about it I have only one word:  Brilliant!  Yeah, Taco Bell is going to inform more people about the lawsuit than probably would’ve found out about it in the end, but it’s better that you be the one informing them than a bunch of angry customers, and bloggers, and Twitter users, and news achors, and Facebook updates and aspiring writers.

Just consider the speed at which Twitter and Facebook function?  It takes literally minutes for someone or something to be a national trend for all the wrong reasons.  With today’s social media boom, wrong reports and ill-speaking travels like wildfire in windy conditions.  If the history of public relations and publicity has taught us anything, it’s better to get out in front of an issue before you have to chase it down.

Still a bold move? Yes.  I had never seen anything like it.  Was it a wise, bold move?  Only time will really tell.  But for now, I say definitely.