Inbound Marketing Summit Lessons: Listen, Be Authentic and Measure!

If hearing the words “listen, be authentic and measure” brings back childhood memories of your parents badgering you about “brushing your teeth, keeping your elbows off the table and/or putting your clothes in the hamper,” that is a good thing. It means those of us who are doing our best to lead the social charge are doing our job helping companies think about the best way to embrace this thing called “social.”

I’m writing this post as I fly back from the Inbound Marketing Summit in Dallas, TX and as a result, I have the aforementioned themes from the title of this post fresh in my mind. In fact, it seemed that “listening, authenticity and measurement” came up nearly every session at the conference. You know why? Because they are three of the most important things you can do when it comes to companies starting out on their “social” journey.

To that end, I’m not going to cop out and just share a bunch of tweets with you from the event (I’ve done this for a few posts recently and it really is a lazy way of conveying infomation). However, I am going to reinforce the title of this post with three messages from the conference – one from yours truly, one from uber-blogger, Chris Brogan and the last from IBM vet and author, Mike Moran.

Lesson One: Listen

Okay, I told you I wasn’t going to cop out but I lied. For my portion, I’m posting my presentation that talks about:

  1. How companies and their customers got disintermediated in the first place thanks to the phone and web
  2. Five ways companies can “listen” and “engage” with their customers
  3. Examples of the results companies can expect when they “listen” and “engage” with their customers

Lesson Two: Be Authenic

While this is something that Chris Brogan mentioned during his keynote, it’s not what I want to focus on when I drive this point home. It’s something that clicked in my head while Chris was speaking — something I’ve heard him say several times but didn’t really digest it until yesterday. During the first five minutes of his presentation, Chris likes to warn, “”oh yeah, I like to curse during my presentation. If that offends you, you can pray for me in church.”

Whether Mr. Brogan is intending to do this or not (I’m assuming he is ’cause he’s a pretty smart feller), what he’s telling his audience right up front is that he’s a no bullshit kind of guy. A nice guy, but not one that sugar coats things. Hearing this for the third or fourth time I realized what a brilliant analogy this was and how it subtley planted the seed of one of Chris’ main points. To be clear, I don’t think Chris is advocating that companies should swear or by surly with their customers. What he is pointing out, however, is that it’s okay to be a human being. That means showing your less polished side sometimes.

The more I think about this, the more I appreciate its brilliance.

Lesson Three: Measure

Mike Moran did a nice job talking about Internet by the numbers during his session. One of the highlights from his talk that really resonated with me was that one of marketers biggest fears with social or any new type of marketing for that matter is that by measuring it, you are immediately putting yourself on the hook to fail or succeed. Obviously marketers don’t mind the succeeding part but the risk of failure can be daunting. This is a particularly difficult pill to swallow for marketers that are used to well established techniques and metrics of tactics like direct mail, advertising, e-mail marketing and even paid key word search.

During a webcast I did yesterday (5/26) on the value of content marketing, one of the participants, Joe Pulizzi had an equally pleasing answer when the question came up around which metrics to use around measuring the success of content marketing. Joe warned that I probably wouldn’t like his answer but went on to explain that it really depended on what the goals of the marketer were. Joe went on to explain that because marketers/companies measure so many different things depending on their product, service, marketing tactics and audiences, the measurement needed to align with the companies objectives. Amen Joe!

 

There were obviously tons more great lessons to be learned from a lot of really smart speakers at the event. What did you learn while you were there (or from following along on Twitter with hashtag #IMS09)? Feel free to share in the comments or provide a link back to your Inbound Marketing Summary posts.

Weekly Social Marketing Links: May 25, 2009

Each week, the members of Powered’s marketing, business development and product teams pick a news article, blog post or research report that “speaks” to them. With that article, they need to come to our weekly staff meeting prepared to give a 120 second update on what the article was about and why they found it useful. Links are below:  
Beth Lopez (Marketing)      
Found the article, The One Word You Can’t Say, quite amusing given how we have always advocated the need to view social marketing as a long-term strategy.  Seems that it’s starting to become a mantra at all of the social marketing events and tradeshows.  Per the article, the word you can’t say is “campaign” when referring to social marketing…preferred alternatives include terms like “program,” “initiative,” or even “conversation.”   
DP Rabalais (Marketing)
Great article aimed at CEO / CMO level. Do You Need a Social Media Marketer? Measurement & analystic seems to be the big reason more companies aren’t embracing social media / social marketing.  Another reason we need to continue to plug our analytics/insights capabilities at Powered. To that end, I called out a paragraph from the article that drives our point home:
A recent survey of 110 of the top CMOs by recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles in Atlanta seems to echo Schwartz’s point. The report found that social media was a relatively low priority—ranked in the bottom third. “Mostly it’s because of analytics,” said Lynne Seid, a partner at the firm. “The things that are measurable are a top priority. Most marketers see [social media] as an experiment.
Bill Fanning (Business Development)
This weeks article is titled Social Media vs. Social Responsibility, written by Reid Carr (president of Red Door Interactive).  It’s an interesting look at Social Media being the great equalizer to the companies who over the years have behaved more like magicians trying to trick people into buying their product or service rather than honestly marketing and selling their products and services.
His premise is that this behavior has lead to a severe distrust with consumers and social media allows consumers to have a powerful vioce, finally balancing the power that traditional businesses and media outlets once owned.  He notes that it’s our responsibility as consumers to not only support our favorite businesses by purchasing from them but also by talking about them in various social media outlets. Likewise, it’s our duty to responsibly talk about the poor experiences we’ve had with businesses.
Jay McIntosh (Business Development)
On a self-appointed hiatus this week.
Doug Wick (Business Development) 
A very short article about the brand innovation behind Cereality, a café concept based on our favorite cereals. This article struck a chord because of the way that they developed the idea for Cereality, by building on the brand equity of popular cereal brands and focusing on a food category that is both ubiquitous and taps into brand passion. The approach put forth is similar to the process behind the conception of branded online communities, which tap into passion points and truly put the consumer at the center of the experience. 
A salient quote from Cereality’s founder – “When you hit that zeitgeist and people are excited and find it relevant to their lives, they start a conversation and you have to be at the center of that conversation.”
Don Sedota (Product Management)
This week I picked a report written by Forrester analyst, Laura Ramos,titled Effective Customer Reference Management Anchors B2B Community Marketing Efforts that might be helpful to our program managers in the context of setting up community customer reference strategies for our clients and/or for our own corporate marketing efforts. Hopefully validates/supplements our current strategies in both arenas.

Each week, the members of Powered’s marketing, business development and product teams pick a news article, blog post or research report that “speaks” to them. With that article, they need to come to our weekly staff meeting prepared to give a 120 second update on what the article was about and why they found it useful. Links are below: 

Beth Lopez (Marketing)

Found the article, The One Word You Can’t Say, quite amusing given how we have always advocated the need to view social marketing as a long-term strategy.  Seems that it’s starting to become a mantra at all of the social marketing events and tradeshows.  Per the article, the word you can’t say is “campaign” when referring to social marketing…preferred alternatives include terms like “program,” “initiative,” or even “conversation.”

 

DP Rabalais (Marketing)

Great article aimed at CEO / CMO level. Do You Need a Social Media Marketer? Measurement & analystic seems to be the big reason more companies aren’t embracing social media / social marketing.  Another reason we need to continue to plug our analytics/insights capabilities at Powered. To that end, I called out a paragraph from the article that drives our point home:

A recent survey of 110 of the top CMOs by recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles in Atlanta seems to echo Schwartz’s point. The report found that social media was a relatively low priority—ranked in the bottom third. “Mostly it’s because of analytics,” said Lynne Seid, a partner at the firm. “The things that are measurable are a top priority. Most marketers see [social media] as an experiment.

 

Bill Fanning (Business Development)

This weeks article is titled Social Media vs. Social Responsibility, written by Reid Carr (president of Red Door Interactive).  It’s an interesting look at Social Media being the great equalizer to the companies who over the years have behaved more like magicians trying to trick people into buying their product or service rather than honestly marketing and selling their products and services.

His premise is that this behavior has lead to a severe distrust with consumers and social media allows consumers to have a powerful vioce, finally balancing the power that traditional businesses and media outlets once owned.  He notes that it’s our responsibility as consumers to not only support our favorite businesses by purchasing from them but also by talking about them in various social media outlets. Likewise, it’s our duty to responsibly talk about the poor experiences we’ve had with businesses.

 

Jay MacIntosh (Business Development)

On a self-appointed hiatus this week.

 

Doug Wick (Business Development) 

A very short article about the brand innovation behind Cereality, a café concept based on our favorite cereals. This article struck a chord because of the way that they developed the idea for Cereality, by building on the brand equity of popular cereal brands and focusing on a food category that is both ubiquitous and taps into brand passion. The approach put forth is similar to the process behind the conception of branded online communities, which tap into passion points and truly put the consumer at the center of the experience. 

A salient quote from Cereality’s founder – “When you hit that zeitgeist and people are excited and find it relevant to their lives, they start a conversation and you have to be at the center of that conversation.”

 

Don Sedota (Product Management)

This week I picked a report written by Forrester analyst, Laura Ramos, titled Effective Customer Reference Management Anchors B2B Community Marketing Efforts that might be helpful to our program managers in the context of setting up community customer reference strategies for our clients and/or for our own corporate marketing efforts. Hopefully validates/supplements our current strategies in both arenas.

 

Cross-posted on http://blog.stroutmeister.com

Loyalty Marketing Meets Social Marketing Podcast: Episode 2

Loyalty Marketing Meets Social Marketing: Episode 1

Loyalty Podcast Series

This is the second episode in the bi-weekly series of podcasts that I’m doing with author and loyalty marketing expert, Jill Griffin (you can find episode one here). During these brief 5-8 minute podcasts, we’ll be talking about the intersection of loyalty and social marketing and how focusing on both disciplines can help large and small companies deepen their relationships with new and existing customers.

In this episode, Jill answers the specific question:

I’ve read in a number of places that businesses need to start paying closer attention to Gen Y and the fact that they have different needs than those of Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers. Can you talk a little about creating customer loyalty among this age group? In particular, what can companies do to help deepen ties with these natural born “Googlers?

Right-mouse click to download

Be sure to check out Jill’s latest book (as referenced in the podcast) titled, Taming the Search-and-Switch Customer: Earning Customer Loyalty in a Compulsion-to-Compare World. You can also follow Jill on Twitter.

May 19: Weekly Content/Social Marketing Links

Each week, the members of Powered’s marketing, business development and product teams pick a news article, blog post or research report that “speaks” to them. With that article, they need to come to our weekly staff meeting prepared to give a 120 second update on what the article was about and why they found it useful. Links are below:

Beth Lopez (Marketing)
Kicking butt on next week’s webcast and our new website this week – she gets a hall pass…   

 

DP Rabalais (Marketing)
Two articles this week. One on how Retailers are Shifting Marketing Dollars. The other speaks for itself…
Bill Fanning (Business Development)
The article I’d like to share was published in Tech Crunch and is titled, Jump Into The Stream. The author, Erick Schonefeld, discusses the evolving distribution of online information, from a collection of web pages to a real-time stream, and the impact on web business and consumers of information. The interesting part of this article is the idea of the new metaphor being “streams” instead of “pages”. Web business are transforming from being owners of content to providing a place to present the most relevant stream of information, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, Digg, Google Reader, and a bunch of others. Consequently, the way we consume information has been forever altered.After reading the article, I started thinking about how this applies to branded communities. I think it re-enforces the importance of being able to share your activity in a branded community with the “stream”. For example, the ability to publish a particular activity to your Facebook feed, or the ability to share an article through sites like digg or de.li.ci.ous. Participating in these types of distribution networks are, and will increasingly be important traffic drivers to the community. It also re-enforces the need to supply a steady stream of new and relevant content to keep the community engaged. The content could be professional, user generated or both, but it needs to constantly evolve.      

This article is loosely based on a blog post by John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks (Twitter, bit.ly, Tweedeck, etc.) titled, Distribution …Now, which he references several times. Also, well worth the read!

Jay MacIntosh (Business Development)
My article this week presents a perspective on the challenges of seller vs. buyer interactions. It’s written by an experienced marketer who has been on both sides of the “fence” at different times in her career. I too have spent several years on both sides and completely understand where the author is coming from when she points out the all-too-common salesy approach taken with potential buyers. A salesy approach is when the sales person thinks, talks and acts as if it’s about them, their product, their company. This is the way the majority of salespeople (and companies) approach buyers even today. They want to tell their market all about themselves and why they’re the best…blah, blah, blah.

Anyhow, I switched over from the buy side to the sales side about 12 years ago. At that time, the promises of the Internet and all the new technologies and tools made it okay to sell/push products. Actually, it was more about just taking the customer’s orders and getting the contract/PO in place. That doesn’t, won’t and can’t work today or any time in the foreseeable future. It is all about the buyer and what the seller can do to grow their business. Start with this as the foundation of developing a business relationship. This foundation based on the seller delivering the goods, provides an ongoing compelling reason for the buyer to buy…it really is that simple!

 

Doug Wick (Business Development)
This week’s article is taken from Business Week’s Executive Guide to Social Media, How CEOs use Twitter. The individual stories are interesting, but the common story is that these CEOs need to be able to hear individual voices, and to choose whose voices are important to listen to at any given time. The power of social is just that, to introduce not only the voices of peers, but the voices of individuals inside companies and inside brands. Within brand communities, the consumer can listen to all of these voices and decide which ones are important given their needs and where they are in the customer life cycle.
 
Don Sedota (Product Management)
On vacation this week – he gets a hall pass…

Monsanto: Turning Heads with Social Media

monsanto

Chances are, you’ve heard of the agri-business giant, Monsanto. If you haven’t, you’ve probably read about some of the controversy surrounding their business. After all, they’ve been identified by the EPA as being a “‘potentially responsible party’ for 56 contaminated sites (Superfund sites) in the US1“. Their genetically engineered seeds haven’t exactly endeared themselves to farmers in Europe and their “aggressive litigation and political lobbying practices, have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of the anti-globalization movement and environmental activist1.”

Young_Glynn-1-1.jpgSo why would I want to write about a company whose director of electronic communications, Glynn Young, says “99% of people online hate and the other 1% think they should?” For one reason and one reason only… they are embracing social media and they are doing it in a BIG way.

I was fortunate enough to hear Glynn speak at The Conference Board’s Marketing Conference last Thursday. Imagine my surprise as I sat there, mouth gaping, as I listened to Glynn talk about the fact that Monsanto (@MonsantoCo on Twitter) has become a poster child for social media. Due to my fascination with this topic and my belief that we could all learn a thing or two from what Monsanto has been doing in the socialsphere, I will try and do a podcast and/or blog post interview with Glynn (and perhaps some of his team) later this month. In the meantime, here are a few of the gems I pulled from his presentation:

  • During the session, I asked Glynn how the hell he was able to pull off the feat of getting Monsanto to embrace social:
    • He found very friendly attorney
    • Got permission from boss
    • Flew under radar for a while until they could prove an ROI
  • Following efforts to fight a particularly tough piece of legislation, Monsanto agreed to write a post for the publication, Crooks and Liars — a publication geared to criticizing companies like Monsanto. Being open and honest helped and the piece of legislation was defeated. [link to: http://crooksandliars.com/%5D
  • Monsanto has an internal community and ~2/3 of employees participate.
  • In spite of having a number of critics, major news media AND all of the PR people from one of their major competitors, Monsanto continues to plug away at their corporate Twitter account (side note: after my numerous conference tweets RE @ Monsanto, I got a couple of nice notes back from the corporate account and a couple of the Monsanto team members on Twitter thanking me for tweeting Glynn’s presentation).
  • Glynn and his team are measuring traffic drivers to Monsanto.com. Facebook and Twitter are now in top 5 in terms of traffic drivers.
  • Monsanto maintains a corporate blog and while they don’t permit profanity and inappropriate behavior, they do allow negative comments (example).

Given how powerful Glynn’s presentation was, I’m going to ask if he will post on Slideshare. If he can’t/won’t, I will be sure to see if he might selectively make it available for folks that want to DM him or me.

Monsanto may be crazy for putting themselves out there when they know how disliked they are but Glynn says that it’s starting to make a difference. The analogy I like to think about is imagine one of neighbors started spreading rumors about you that weren’t true. You could do three things to combat this:

  1. Ignore it and hope it goes away (in Monsanto’s case, that ain’t happening)
  2. Move away (also tough for Monsanto given their international footprint)
  3. Hold a neighborhood meeting and clear the air. This last approach not only lets you tell your side of the story but it also shows that you care enough to get to get the root of the rumors (or semi-truths) in the first place.

So what are you thoughts? Is Monsanto crazy for putting themselves out there? What other companies can you think of that would benefit from “starting a dialog” with their customers and detractors?

1Source: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto

Live from Community 2.0: How to Be a Kick Ass Community Manager

Broadcasting live from the Community 2.0 Conference. Lots of great people AND content here at this two day affair. A panel that I thought people who read this blog may want to pay attention to is the “How to Be a Kick Ass Community Manager” panel with folks from Intel, Sega and Techrigy. Here’s the list of panelists:

I’m going to cheat a little here and provide some of the key points from my fellow attendees who are live twittering this panel. Here are some of the most salient points:

  1. Tsahi Levent-LevitsahilWho’s the community manager of the community for community managers? #C20

     

  2. Tina BottisBrightFuse“Fail often. Fail Fast. And learn just as fast”. #c20

     

  3. Mark D. F. WilliamsmdfwOne problem with ‘teaching’ community management is that it is often more art than science. Lot’s of grey. Practice makes perfect. #c20

     

  4. templedftempledfRecurring theme: you’ve got to network in this community. Since there’s no Community Mgmt 101, we have to help each other. #C20

     

  5. Janet JozefakJanetJoz@cbensen hmm participation, or rather value of, is rather “subjective” – what do they value for the brag sheet out of curiosity? #c20

     

  6. Connie BensencbensenBrands are starting to monitor their employee’s participation in social media. Intel gives brag sheets to their staff to show off #c20

     

  7. Bill JohnstonbilljohnstonRT @templedf: @JoshProStar: create brag sheet for reluctant bloggers to show the reach and impact of what they contribute. #C20

     

  8. Aaron StroutAaronStrout@KellyRParker says execs are MUCH more willing to embrace social/community activities when they can see measurement/results #c20

     

  9. Jim RobinsonwhirledviewGreat transparency: Intel publishes employee social media guidelines publicly #c20 http://bit.ly/vwxc0

     

  10. Helen TrimhelentrSome Intel product dev employees have community management goals built into their role and performance measures #c20

     

  11. Helen Trimhelentr60 employees involved in the community at Intel. Training and support important but so is Exec buy in #c20

     

  12. Aaron StroutAaronStrout@JoshProStar and @KellieParker talk about walking the fine line between being transparent but not pissing off HR #c20

     

  13. templedftempledf@JoshProStar: get the 90% lurkers to participate by hitting arteries. Find the topics that are interesting and untapped. #C20

     

  14. Helen Trimhelentrone way to make the senior management team more comfortable is to set your community / staff guidelines. They like boundaries #c20

     

  15. Connie Bensencbensenask your comm what they want, what would make them excited? #c20

     

  16. Helen TrimhelentrIntel: key to successful community is an AMAZING community manager. Hear hear #c20

     

  17. Helen Trimhelentr@kellieparker huge demand for community managers – no school you can go to! #c20

     

  18. templedftempledfCommunity management blog with tips and advice at http://conniebensen.com/ #C20

What are your “tips and tricks” on how to be a kick ass community manager?

How is Mobile Changing Social Media?

iphone-toastLast week, I received this question from @dbaron in my weekly webinar and wasn’t able to get to it. But I also felt that it is a larger topic that warrants a blog post. It’s a question we get frequently at Powered, typically with a follow-up question about how our platform handles mobile.

The answer right now is, at the same time, a lot and a little.

In terms of participation in social media, much is now driven by mobile devices. The iPhone and similar new smartphones by Blackberry have become portals into popular services like Facebook and Twitter, cameras that post pictures instantly for friends to see, an outlet to let your friends know where you are and what you are doing. In terms of content creation for social networks, I actually do a lot more on my iPhone than I do on my laptop now. When I’m out and about I often have lot more going on that is post-worthy. I think the emphasis on the newsfeed and short bits of information in most networking services is a response to that behavior.

Networking is just becoming more interesting and powerful with GPS-enabled devices and location-based services like Brightkite (geotagged photos) or Moximity (geography-based networking).

However, the world of social marketing hasn’t been impacted much by mobile yet. This is for two reasons.

First, marketing through services like Facebook is still being figured out (and Facebook Connect offers many of the answers there), as ads don’t perform very well and pages don’t create long term engagement. If the model is still evolving for the broad web, the much younger mobile web has nothing to emulate.

Second, these networking services are communications tools, and mobile devices are still at their heart communications devices. While people may browse for the odd piece of information like a sports score or Madonna’s age (to settle a bet), it is rare to see prolonged sessions of browsing on mobile devices the way you see them on laptops. Mobile has narrow attention that allows little space for marketers to squeeze in without angering the user.

But small geography-powered services that address particular mobile use cases – like finding a restaurant, checking movie times, or delivering timely updates on events, will find niche audiences where offers could be served within the narrow attention of mobile in a relevant way. And once Facebook and other networks get a firmer grasp on how best to integrate marketing, those models can be extended into the mobile space.