Social Media Explodes Intimidation Factor for Pleasure (and Business)

Dance and Poetry Slams let anyone show off their talents via digital and social media

As a writer, I’ve watched with interest the spike in popularity, of all things – poetry – as seen in “Poetry Slams” at venues across the country – and made accessible to all on YouTube.

The strength and power of the authors performing original poetry on stage – to wildly enthusiastic crowds of young adults—is remarkable to see.  The creativity and energy is inspiring to any word lover.

Along this vein, I recently came across a similar forum – this time for dance – individual, short dances again featuring amazing talents, in a format that makes it easy and fun to enjoy.

Contrast both of these examples with poetry books gathering dust … with intimidating theater performances, and you can only conclude: social media is opening up new modes of personal expression.

The relevance to business marketing is obvious: out with the old, company to customer line of marketing communication.  Each of us as professionals, and each of our companies, has a bold new set of tools for self-expression.

The ability for potential customers to find us – and relate to us – through media that may alert, inform, even entertain is proving very successful for those willing to express themselves.

If you’re not doing so already, explore your own personal interests and business niche, and go online to find how they are being played up in social media.  Then find your voice.  Let your business communications reflect your personality – or a personality for the company. Have fun (gasp), and you’ll find you are connecting to audiences as never before.

 

Hyundai’s Confidence is Showing Through Social Media

hyundai_santa_fe+front_view

I’m in the market for good, late model used car.  While I like the idea of driving a new set of wheels off the lot, I dislike how much of the purchase price I’ll lose when they hit the street.

What make and model is in the lead that will handle two kids and a dog?  Not Honda, the Pilot is too pricey. Toyota would have been a lead off contender, but not today, not next year or maybe the next five.  Ford is coming back, but it doesn’t have a model that adequately suits my needs.

Like a lot more people, I’m looking at a Hyundai, specifically a 2009 Santa Fe — stylish, reliable and crash worthy.  With a family, I like to play it safe.  The company, however, is doing anything but, judging by its models, markets and marketing.

No Silver Bullet wrote about Hyundai’s different marketing approach last year.  So, when we learned about its new “Uncensored” campaign, we had to comment again.  Hyundai’s is exploiting growing confidence as a mature automaker and it is clear these folks are playing for keeps by eschewing the same, tired automobile marketing.

“Uncensored” captures what the car maker says are very organic conversations, unscripted, unedited remarks of drivers as they tested various Hyundai models in major U.S. cities this spring.  Now, a company would have lug nuts for brains if it were to air negative comments.  What’s notable is how the company takes the campaign two steps further.

First, according to the Hyundai press release,”125 non-Hyundai sedan owners will be given a new 2011 Sonata to drive for 30 days. Their comments will be posted – unscripted and unedited – on Hyundai’s Facebook site. The second is a multi-city ride-and-drive, which includes a video booth where consumers can film their drive impression and post video directly to their own Facebook page.”

Yeah, Hyundai has confidence… and some guts.

How odd.  A car company has me anticipating buying one of their cars, watching their commercials and searching out the comments on Facebook.  Better yet, amazing.

Twitter Interview with Jason Baer

As a lead-up to the PRSA Counselors Academy Conference, an annual meeting of independent PR agency owners (and an event I try to never miss), I interviewed social media superstar Jay Baer (@jaybaer) of Convince and Convert, who is presenting at this year’s confab. He is among a small group of forward-thinking social media strategists and luminaries who are helping the rest of us harness the  power of the social Web.

This is a recap of our conversation, matching the style of Jason’s well known Twitter interviews, on how PR agencies need to think about the practice of social and digital media.  Even if you aren’t with a PR agency, this has noteworthy information nonetheless.  It originally appeared on the PRSA blog, “Comprehension.”

@RAReed: We’re transitioning from thinking and talking about social media to doing and measuring its effect. What are agencies getting right?

  • @jaybaer: Social media is so all encompassing that it’s lost meaning to say that you’re good at social media. There are so many facets to it now.
  • The best break social media into pieces and focus on possibilities and outcomes, influence or outreach, brand community or social CRM.

@RAReed: On the flip-side, what are the biggest missteps agencies are making with social media?

  • @jaybaer: Agencies tend to silo their social expertise where they only have a couple people who are the social media experts.
  • There is too much focus on social outposts like Twitter accounts, a Facebook page or YouTube channel versus opportunities to be social.

@RAReed Larger agencies seemingly have the horse power to get a leg up on social media practices.  Where can smaller agencies catch up?

  • @jaybaer: I think smaller- and medium-sized agencies make the transition from traditional to social-enabled PR much easier than larger agencies.
  • Smaller agencies are closer to customers.  They adopt new services more easily  and can change what they do for the client with less internal friction.
  • Large agencies can dedicate staff to social media but that’s not necessarily good.  But they have clients that can experiment more.

@RAReed: What skill sets related to social media do the majority of agencies still need to develop? SEO immediately comes to mind.

  • Content optimization and analytics in all forms and fashion. It’s being better at Excel instead of Word.
  • Marketing is not a campaign any more.  Think of it more as a river and that changes everything.  Monitor and respond in real time.

@RAReed: What are you out to convey in the pre-con session that won’t be covered in the regular CA sessions?

  • @jaybaer: We’ll talk through the social media planning process to build a sustainable strategic framework around all social activities.
  • I want people to learn how to be social and not just how to do social.  Forget thinking Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.  Be tool agnostic.

@RAReed: What are the three or four most important things agencies can do to differentiate and market their social media offerings?

  • @Jaybaer: Understand the science and math of social media.  There is a lot there that people don’t gravitate toward as much as they should.
  • Know the data and numbers.  There’s a right time to tweet, a best way to update Facebook and the right way to search optimize a blog.
  • Help clients with social media CRM and customer retention more than campaigns or the customer acquisition component.
  • In the end we’ll wonder why we thought social media was good for customer acquisition when it’s clearly a loyalty and retention tool.

@RAReed:  What are the first, most important steps an agency should engage in to build its social media presence?

  • @Jaybaer: Understand what you’re good at, be specific about it and then create and atomize content that supports that supposition.
  • Whether it be blogs, podcasts, webinars, speeches, know where you have to participate in the inbound marketing domain.
  • Embrace giving away info snacks in order to eat a meal down the road.
  • Drive content awareness via search optimization. People will eventually find and recognize you as actually good at that particular thing.

@RAReed:  I need a one word answer to this last question: In 2010, when it comes to social media, PR agencies must _________.

  • I’ll have to give it to you in two words: embrace math.

20 Things That Happen When There Is No Plan For Social Media

What happens when you don’t plan your use of social media?  The same thing that occurs with any other PR, advertising and marketing communications tactics.  You end up doing the wrong things, at the wrong time, with the wrong focus.

If you don’t plan, you:

  • start doing before listening.
  • think social media is traditional marketing.
  • won’t know how social media fits into your company’s overall strategy.
  • don’t recognize how social media should complement your overall marketing strategy.
  • won’t know who to engage and where to find your audience.
  • can’t know if the bulk of your customers are or are not online.
  • won’t know what it is you want to get out of social media.
  • approach Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as strategies.
  • won’t know the difference between a group page and a fan page on Facebook.
  • believe the here-and-there-post approach to blogging will build an audience.
  • think the number of fans/followers is the only metric that matters.
  • can’t decide who from your company will engage your online audience.
  • fail to determine how much time to spend on social media.
  • believe you control the message.
  • assume that social media tools don’t have a cost.
  • ignore setting accurate benchmarks.
  • won’t hone your message for simplicity and clarity.
  • pass up the opportunity to demonstrate what you know.
  • ignore the fact that social media tools are temporary.
  • expect to only get when you don’t give.

What would you add to this list?

Where Are You Listening?

big-ears-front-150x150The gurus of social media are talking a lot about how the rules for communicating with customers are changing, and major marketers are starting to apply them.

The crux of the new perspective shared in a seminar given by Chris Brogan and Peter Shankman was this: Companies must switch from asking themselves, “where am I advertising?” to “where am I listening?”

Companies should listen more than they talk.  Because customers are starting to listen to their “human web” or online network more than they listen to what companies themselves are saying.

This blog has already addressed (at length) the need to take a what’s-in-it-for-me (the customer) approach to putting together their marketing materials; to hear and use what the customer is saying about why they buy; and, to share valuable or useful, versus sales, information.  All of this pertains to relevance — and being heard above the din.

Scanning the web for brand-related conversations is the newest tool in the research arsenal.   Interestingly, in Web Chat can be Inspiring (see article pdf ), listening via online videos has brought IBM to the “discovery” that “potential customers tended to care less about its technologies themselves than what those technologies could do for them.” (I.e., people were talking about meetings and conversations, not VOIP and cloud delivery models.)

This should not exactly be a shock to the system (should it?!?).

The point of the article is that IBM, as well as Harrah’s and Microsoft, are starting to base their ad campaigns in part on web chatter, using what people are saying in their ad themes, content and even photos.   Then, they’re using the same Web tools to measure reaction and further hone their campaigns.

The Human Web

Back to the human web concept … and enter Customer Service.  If customers are starting to believe more in their own networks, then every company’s job is to figure out what it can do to make people like it and talk about it. Improving customer service to the point of creating evangelists is considered key to this.

The second key is interaction. If customers are talking and asking questions, they are engaged and ready to buy.  Being part of that conversation is a better sales opportunity than any ad, according to Mssrs. Brogan and Shankman.

Companies can begin to improve their interaction immediately, in many ways, even without using social media tools like blogging, Tweeting or Facebook fan pages: very simply by asking customers to engage on existing web sites; or by creating user communities or customer forums; or by commenting in online industry forums and other blogs, for example. Every touch point can be a potential means for interaction.

See What They See

There are free (blogsearch.google.com and search.twitter.com) and paid listening tools.  Starting to listen via simple search tools puts you in the customer’s shoes.  You see what they see.  This will inevitably lead to a self-evaluation, and questions like, “how strong is my own brand presence online?”  Or, to the realization that “gosh, my competitors are everywhere!”

Yes, says guru Brogan, your brand presence online is a competitive tool.

He reminds us that Google is a machine that cannot share emotion.  A basic search can never express the human element of an “I just got dumped” tweet.  Think of your own personal searches for say, hotels.  I know the first thing I look at are the reviews.

“More and more people are asking others first,” note the gurus. A new part of our mission as marketers must now be to listen, engage, and build fans that do your PR for you.