Weekly Social Marketing Links: July 7, 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)
Facebook’s Own Estimates Show Declining Student Numbers; Now More Grandparents Than High School Users – Intereting article that speaks to changing demographics of Facebook users. What’s even more interesting is that the data is from Facebook’s own ad platform and the data is showing there are fewer high school and college users on FB today than there were six months ago. Interesting read to say the least.

DP Rabalais (Marketing)
My weekly article is, Three Ways Healthcare Brands Can Leverage Social-Media (from MarketingProfs). While the lead-in is actually quite good, the three big points that are promised… well, let’s just say they didn’t blow me away.

Here’s the Cliff Notes from this article. The big “Three Ways” are:

  1. Listen
  2. Participate
  3. Learn

I have to say, I’m a little disappointed that this article didn’t deliver a little more value (because MarketingProfs is usually pretty awesome)

Bill Fanning (Business Development)
The first post is from Scott Berkun (The Berkun Blog) titled Calling Bullshit on Social Media.  Similar to the post I shared a few weeks ago predicting the demise of Twitter, I had to read this one simply based on the title.  Scott takes an honest and somewhat cynical look at “Social Media”, the hype, history and the behavior of both participants and marketers of social media.  While he makes a lot of good points, I don’t think of most PR firms or Social Media Consultants as the “greedy” gaming the system.  Sure, there are always a few but typically they don’t stay in business long.  Call me naïve.     

The second post was written by Tim Walker and titled In Defense of Social Media Manager.  This post highlights the debate between Chris Brogan and David Thomas about the necessity of the role and job title “Social Media Manager”.  Included are links to each of their blog posts stating their positions.  Both worth the read.  In part, I agree with Chris that companies ultimately should focus measuring what they need to change like sales, trials, PR coverage etc and that Social Media is a set up tools to help facilitate the necessary changes.  He also says that using these tools is “part of a job function, not a standalone vocation.”  This is where I have to agree with David Thomas, especially with larger organizations.  Until everyone clearly understands the tools that are available to them and how to behave while using them, it probably makes sense to have someone focused on understanding the medium thoroughly.  As the medium becomes more widely understood, we will probably see fewer and fewer “Social Media Manager” titles.

Jay MacIntosh (Business Development)
The article is entitled A CMO’s Guide to Social Media. It’s authored by a woman named Dana Theus who is a strategic marketing consultant with years of client-side experience. Though it’s much longer than the 140 microbites we’re accustomed to, I found it to be very worthwhile (but of course I did else I wouldn’t be sharing it with y’all now would I?). Anyhow, it’s an insightful POV on the societal and technological trends that have made the world more “social”. AND she offers a few strategies that marketing leaders might actually pursue. One of the things she discusses is something I’ve been hearing a lot of marketers say during my past 8 months of social media immersion – “Social media is simply another communications channel.”

I agree that social media is a communications channel but it’s not “just another” one. It’s radically different. As one of my social media heroes, Doug Wick, points out social enables three-way dialog to take place; brands with consumers & consumers with consumers. That changes all the rules of engagement. Which reminds me, wasn’t it Einstein who said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results?” Time for marketers to stop the insanity!

Doug Wick (Business Development)

This article is about Moonfruit’s high-exposure campaign on Twitter where they gave away Macbooks in exchange for retweets and followers. While the campaign was a wild success, it provides a little context on the downside. First, the campaign giveaway didn’t exactly link with Moonfruit’s real business, which is web design. There is a relevancy issue. Also, there are reports that Twitter had to cap or control the buzz because it was a strain on their infrastructure, showing that these free tools have their limits when used for marketing. An interesting case study in the evolving medium.

Don Sedota (Product Management)

Based on some of our recent prospect efforts, I found the latest Razorfish Social Media “Fluent” report  had some interesting info regarding the financancial services industry and social media. The report was Twittered pretty heavily yesterday and was also Yammered internally, but thought I would mention a few takeaways I had regarding their financial industry insights:

  • Out of 7 industries, Financial rated last with regard to propensity for social context interaction with a brand (only 13% being likely to interact)
  • As an industry, the financial industry ranks a very distant second to the Auto industry (92 vs. 6.3) as far as positive consumer sentiment (as determined from positive/negative conversations on the web) and ranks 6 times better than Pharma (6.3 vs. 0.96)
  • BofA has the highest share of voice (31.6%); almost 3 times more than Wells Fargo
  • Wells Fargo has the highest brand sentiment out of 6 financial brands at 71%
  • Online share of voice and sentiment is closely tied to offline voice and sentiment
  • With the recent tumultuousness in the financial industry, there’s a ripe opportunity to improve these metrics for financial companies
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Community Powered, Live from SXSW: Lee Odden

Photo Credit: Susan Bratton

Photo Credit: Susan Bratton

Next up in the #CommunityPowered podcast series featuring Susan Bratton of DishyMix, is the CEO and founder of TopRank Online Marketing. Lee also publishes Online Marketing Blog which is recognized as one of the top marketing blogs by Advertising Age and ranks in the Technorati top 50 blogs (by fans) out of 133 million.

Listen in as Lee talks about the importance of companies starting with a strategy, avoiding a “siloed” approach and focusing on measurement and objectives when getting started with social. Lee also talks why he’s bullish on “listening” and why he’s excited about the integration of social and web anyltics (think WebTrends meets Radian6). As a side note, Lee further endeared himself to me by sharing his passion for content and how it can drive deep customer engagement – well done!

In addition to reading the Online Marketing Blog, you can follow Lee on Twitter at @LeeOdden.

Right-mouse click to download.

NEXT UP: Henry Jenkins, Director of MIT’s Collective Media Studies Research Lab.

How Important is Authenticity? Just Ask Bear Grylls.

A few weeks ago, my friend, Chris Brogan, who just happens to be a well-known blogger and president of New Marketing Labs, wrote a paid for post for K-Mart. In spite of Chris’ up front disclosures about the relationship, a fire storm erupted in the blogosphere over the ethics of paid for content.

As you can probably imagine, this was a polarizing issue with one camp believing that it was okay for bloggers to get paid to write favorable posts as long as they were up front about their relationship with the company in question and the other insisting that mixing sponsorship and editorial bastardized the process, irrespective of disclosures. From an intellectual standpoint, I certainly can understand and respect the first camp’s position although my heart sits squarely in the second. [At at a minimum, you should read Chris’ follow up post on the topic and decide for yourself.]

With that as a backdrop, I was surprised at how willing I was to overlook “authenticity” as a critical factor when it came to my television entertainment. In particular, I’m refrencing two shows on the Discovery Channel. The first titled, Man vs. Wild, where ex-British special forces macho man, Bear Grylls demonstrates survival in the most extreme locations. The second, Survivorman, featuring much more mundane and less heralded, Les Stroud, doing approximately the same. My wife and I quickly became addicted to first show last season as Bear demonstrated survival techniques in extreme environments such as the Alps, the Amazon and the Sahara Desert.

If you haven’t watched the show before, I’ve included a video clip below to show you just how captivating Bear can be. His fearless nature and “I’ll eat anything” mentality is contagious. I find myself thinking after every show, “I wonder if I could do that?” However, there turned out to be one catch. Not all of Bear’s extreme situations were truly “survival” worthy. In fact, the BBC wrote a fairly scathing piece spelling out a number of instances where Bear had either been assisted by his camera crew or even worse, stayed in a hotel vs. roughing it out in the wild.

After reading about some of the less-than-flattering press Bear received, I thought it might be time to check out rival survival guru, Les Stroud, on aptly named, Survivorman. Unlike Bear Grylls on Man vs. Wild, Les is hardcore about the authenticity of his treks out in the wild (he’s visited many of the same extreme climates as Grylls). In fact, he has chosen to eschew a camera crew and films everything himself. He also is dedicated to actually “surviving” out in the wild at nearly all costs. No hotels. No assistance. Just himself, his cameras and his knife.

That should make for entertaining television right? Unfortunately it doesn’t. Not for me anyway. The reason being that not a whole lot goes on during Survivorman other than a constant stream of self-wallowing by Les. I know this because I did a marathon four hour session over the holiday break with my family. At various points in the show, my 10 year old daughter was openly questioning the fact that Les, once again, was coming up empty handed in his attempts to actually catch something to eat. It turns out that Les is a lot better at enduring 5-6 days of no food (while incessantly complaining about light-headed and hungry he is) than he is at foraging for actual food (clip of Les below).

As you can imagine, this leaves me in an awful dilemma. I led off this post with the fact that while I was intellectually okay with the idea of paid for content, I had a hard time truly embracing this notion in my heart. So how is it that I would gravitate toward a guy that I know isn’t authentic (at least some of the time) while I do little to hide my disdain for a similar personality who is doing things by the book.

To help shed some light on my dilemma, I thought I might ask my Twitter network of nearly 4,000 to chime in. Surely they might feel the same way I did. The question I posed was, “Doing some research for a blog post I’m writing. It’s about authenticity. Any strong feelings either way RE Survivor Man VS Man vs. Wild?”

@Ninenty7: I know it is silly, but I don’t watch Bear’s show because he isn’t really out there in it.

@tallglassofmilk: Don’t watch either but overheard others saying one is for real by himself while the other pretends but has a crew. True?

@MikeLangford: This is the only situation ever where I’d say a guy named Les beats a guy named Bear. Survivor Man rules.

@dbcotton: Mixed feelings. Bear has better all around survivor skills, but Survivor Man is more realistic.

@LisaHoffman: Two of my 12 yo’s fave shows. He likes Bear better (me too) but says Survivorman is more authentic. M v. W more instructional

@tinycg: Survivorman is authentic and provides useful real tips.. Man v Wild is mostly staged and useful if you are ex-spec ops.

@SusanBratton: google “joe pine authenticity dishymix” for ideas for your blog post. Listen to the Podcast and/or read the transcripts. [Link to Susan’s podcast with Joe is here]

@LisaHoffman: Bear is far more interesting because he engages the audience (sound familiar?) Survivorman is actually trying to survive, tho.

@peplau: @MikeLangford @tallglassofmilk Bear is also a bit of a fraud http://snipr.com/9u1dj Afraid it’s more than just having a crew.

@tallglassofmilk: Well, authenticity certainly doesn’t guarantee entertainment, especially in TV. Probably why so much “reality” is faked.

@jamessumerlin: absolutely survivorman, big fan.

@m750: Bear is entertainment, Les Stroud is the real deal.

@chareich: think survivorman seems a little less contrived. Man v wild – probably eats big macs off camera

@davidkspencer: Survivorman is where it’s at. Feels more real, less polished. This clip is what did man v. wild in for me: http://is.gd/25si

@ChrisKeef: missed the earlier tweet. I’m all about Survivorman, not Man vs. Wild. Les is far more genuine, raw and honest.

@ChrisKeef: I will agree that Bear is more ‘entertaining’, however Survivorman seems more organic. Easier to believe, I guess.

Not surprisingly, nearly everyone that responded validated what I suspected that they would i.e. authenticity was more important than entertainment value by a long shot. @m750 hit the nail on the head when he mentioned that “Bear is entertainment [but] Les Stroud is the real deal.”

As a marketer, this tells me that it doesn’t matter how slick, exciting or entertaining the content is that our company creates, at the end of the day our customers will want us to be authentic. For their sake though, I promise not to whine about how sore my fingers are after several hours of typing or how much of a caffeine headache I have as a result of my forgoing my morning coffee.

How about you? Are you being authentic in the way you communicate with your customers? Seems to me that there’s a reason why Josh Bernoff and Forrester’s customer survey shows that only 16% of people trust corporate blogs. Sounds like we all have a lot of work to do. Just ask Bear.

Hubspot Keeps Delivering the Value

 Last night, I got a direct message from my friend, Mike Volpe, who is the VP of marketing at Boston based company, Hubspot. In his DM, Mike was letting me know that Hubspot would be releasing an informative report this morning on the “State of Twitter.” If you use Twitter as an individual or a business, I would highly recommend that you check out this report as it is chock full of valuable and informative statistics.

With that said, I’m actually not going to write about the report. ReadWriteWeb and Techcrunchalong with many others have already covered that angle (some before Hubspot was ready). Instead, I want to talk about what Hubspot does well. The have learned the incredibly important lesson of “give before you get.” Just take a look at their site which includes freebies like:

With that said, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of Hubspot CEO, Brian Halligan, when I first met him several months ago. We were on a MITX panel together along with Chris Brogan and Chris Penn. During the panel, I

could tell immediately that Brian was smart and that he got it but I wondered if he might be too far over on the dark side of “using” social media for business. Based on subsequent conversations with Brian and Mike along with watching how Hubspot behaves in the social media “sandbox,” I not only discovered that I was wrong about my initial assessment but also that Brian, Mike and team were in fact REALLY good at tying business goals together with social media outcomes.

I was reminded of my admiration for Hubspot the other day during a webinar I did with Ann Handley of Marketing Profs and Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester. One of the slides in Ann’s portion of the presentation — focused on creating great content — mentioned Hubspot (see below). Between that mention and Mike’s DM last night, I felt compelled to give Hubspot a Stroutmeister “shout out” (that’s a reference to my blog vs. me talking about myself in the 3rd person btw).

    

To that end, what other companies are doing a great job creating content and sharing it freely with their consituents? I’m always looking for companies to write about, interview or invite to join me on panels etc. If you know of anyone, DM me or leave a comment in the space below.

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