On Facebook and the Death of Etiquette

Let’s face it.  Etiquette is a lost art.  Forget “interruption marketing” for a minute and think about how people interact on a regular basis.  New technologies change that behavior as people seek to leverage the convenience they provide.

  • When the phone was invented, an etiquette had to evolve on how to greet a new call, what’s an appropriate time to call, how to converse without interruption.  (Lots of room to improve here still – I can’t understand why politicians don’t have to follow the “do not call” list rules, but that’s another story).
  • Email etiquette arguably doesn’t exist – in a business context, companies have a culture around when people turn to email and when they don’t.  Email between friends and family has a broad range of what’s “socially acceptable,” but over time people at least develop a sense of when people will reply and why.
  • Two years ago, no way I’d tell you that it would be acceptable to converse via text message/SMS with grandparents.  Same with instant messaging.

In each of these small examples, the communication is mostly 1:1.  Email can be broadcast 1:many, but it’s deliberate who the communication goes to – you select email addresses to include.  Enter the world of Facebook, where the communication paradigm is different.  We have 1:many as the default – post once and share with many, who consume the content (status updates, photos, videos, links) at their leisure.  Forget that most people don’t have a common understanding of what they see in the News Feed and why.   The barrier to communication is low – it’s easy to share a picture or post given so many ways to share, from mobile to desktop.

Sometimes people forget that the communication medium isn’t important – the content of the message is, along with the dynamic.  Is it something that should be shared 1:1 or OK to share 1:many?   Making that choice with the context to understand the medium is crucial in relationship building – for businesses or individuals.

I recently asked some folks on Twitter and Facebook about etiquette, and heard many bizarre stories.  From the unexpected sonogram photo to first hearing of a family death, people are choosing Facebook for the wrong type of communication at the wrong time.   Have an example to share?  Do you thing Facebook etiquette is a lost art or a lost cause?

Photo credit: fdmount via flickr

Micromarketing: Relationship Marketing Through Advocacy

When I got the email asking me to contribute a review (for Chapter 7) of Greg Verdino‘s new book, at first I didn’t think it would be a fit.  I haven’t done book reviews here before, let alone since elementary school.  The first notion that came to mind frankly was breaking out a shoebox, some construction paper and scissors so I could start building my diorama. Yep, here comes that feeling of dread before a big book report is due – late nights, criticism from parents who would do it differently, sizing up my project to those built by friends.  And then I started reading MicroMarketing.  Quickly it became clear that Greg’s outreach team had lined up the right chapter with something I’m passionate about.

First, Some Key Takeaways

When I read a business book I have two simple criteria to decide if it was worth it: 1) Did I learn something new and 2) Is it a book I would want my colleagues to read.  In short, MicroMarketing passed both criteria, with a very heavy emphasis on the latter. Since I have been a social media enthusiast for some time, I have heard about many examples, but I would imagine the typical marketer would learn about a lot of new success stories.   Some key thoughts that struck me while reading the book:

– Greg is very adept at taking social media examples and talking about them in terms that “traditional” marketers will understand.

– The book builds on examples from chapter to chapter, while breaking down what worked well and why it worked… not just spewing example scenarios and statistics.

– The business of social media by its nature has allowed me to meet, virtually at first and in person over time, lots of talented minds.  What also appealed about Greg’s book is that it read just like my Tweetdeck group of smart minds in the biz: Shel Israel, Scott Monty, Steve Garfield, Susan Reynolds, David Armano, Chris Brogan, Stacy Debroff, Katja Presnal, and Shiv Singh all come up in various forms, to name just a few respected folks that caught my eye.

– Throughout, Greg uses many allusions or outright callouts to interactive marketing techniques – SEO, PPC, display advertising, web analytics and measurement concepts, and more.  Marketers need to keep those concepts in mind, since micromarketing doesn’t exists in a bubble.

Chapter 7: From Reach to Relationships

Chapter 7 flips the concepts that traditional marketers are used to; “reach” is no longer the means to drive business results, it’s an outcome.  Developing relationships with a core group of influential customers (or people that fit the profile of customers) is a way to activate “many by resonating with the right few.”  The advocates themselves become what a corporate marketers could never be: willing, authentic, genuine and trusted.

Greg outlines the contrast between mass and interruption-based marketing with several examples of companies that have engaged in deep relationships with a select few.  The letter from a family participating in Panasonic’s “Living in HD” program is liquid gold – it shows a value exchange that went beyong the transaction of enrolling the family in the program.  The letter is an example of the “zen” of advocacy: an evangelist that clearly is introducing new customers to the brand.  I’m guessing that if Panasonic has quantified the lifetime value of a customer, developing evangelists introduced enough new customers to justify the program and then some.

Two other key examples are examined – Walmart’s Elevenmoms program and McDonald’s Moms program.  Each are highly compelling – the former an example of picking highly engaged representatives to forge relationships with, the latter an example of creating a transparent communication channel with “everyday” moms.  These companies are building relationships founded not just on the strengths of ties to people who care, but with an emphasis on continuing to build relationships with people just like them.  The core groups represent meaningful constituencies that ultimately drive brand purchase decisions.

This was the first chapter that started to go deeper on helping marketers start to hone in “how” to do micromarketing.  “Making the shift” to developing communal relationships needs to become a business and marketing objective, achieved through control mutuality, trust, satisfaction and commitment.  How many brands actually have that in their core values?  How many don’t just talk about it, but live it?  This chapter starts to get more at how brands live it.

Some Criticisms

I’d like to see more “how” here – take some of the examples and plot out how the company: developed the concept, devised the plan, achieved C-suite buy-in, developed a program roadmap, recruited the right people, identified internal resources to orchestrate the plan, and measured the crap out of it.

I wouldn’t mind some internal strife along the way – an advocate who said something negative in a Youtube post and how the company responded or failed.  Frankly that’s probably asking Greg and the smart folks at Powered to give away the farm, but as a marketing consultant I found myself looking for more.

Regarding mass interruption vs. deep relationships, I don’t believe it’s an either/or scenario.  There is a middle ground that can compel companies to combine them and ultimately build deeper relationships with many.  As Greg clearly outlines, these corporate examples still have huge media and mass marketing budgets that would make even the largest agencies swoon.

Some examples may have been 100% earned media, but I believe most successful case studies have a combination of paid and earned.  The earned media gives the authenticity and relevant connections, among other things, and the paid media lets more of the right people know about it.  Many are already pointing to Old Spice as a prime example – but the campaign was a Super Bowl ad (does it get any more “paid media” than that?) before it was successful social media content.  If paid and earned media are combined it can be very compelling – companies need to adapt to learn this but don’t throw the paid media baby out with the anti-mass marketing bath water.  Would the Truvia example Greg mentions earlier in the book have been as successful without a $20 million mass campaign that ran first?  I’m not so sure.

Greg discusses a great concept called “microcontent.”  Throughout the book examples are given where content at a small scale had big impact.  I’d add to his commentary on each example that the content was successful because it was awesome (said in both the New England connotation of “brilliant” and any other dictionary definition you like).  Paranormal Activity didn’t succeed solely because it started small – it is legitimately scary and over-delivers on the promise of a horror film.  Susan Boyle over-delivered on talent.  Brands can’t just think small, they need to think awesome – good quality and a customer experience that exceeds expectations are at the root of a winning formula; micromarketing can enable it to resonate with the right people.

My Diorama

Thanks to the Powered team for including me in the review for the book, and thanks to Greg for sharing snippets on Facebook and Twitter throughout the process.  This was quite the opposite of those book reports – the book is worth the read.  Greg gave friends and followers glimpses to the challenging process of writing the book – I have to say, I think that played a role in wanting to read it.  By Jove, I think he just micromarketed to me.  How can I show that in a shoebox?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of relationship marketing, Greg’s book, his approach to solicit microcontent chapter reviews in the comments, and thanks for reading.

More Chapter By Chapter microMarketing Reviews

Chapter 1/9-20: Aaron Strout

Chapter 2/ 9-21: Lucretia Pruitt, Mitch Joel

Chapter 3/ 9-22: Jason Falls, Toby Bloomberg

Chapter 4/ 9-23: Kayta Andresen, Murray Newlands

Chapter 5/ 9-24: Amber Nashlund, Marc Meyer, Chris Abraham

Chapter 6/ 9-27: Ari Herzog

Chapter 7/ 9-28: Danny Brown, Jay Baer, Becky Carroll

Chapter 8/ 9-29: C.C. Chapman, Elmer Boutin

Chapter 9/ 9-30: John Moor, David Armano, Beth Harte, Justin Levy

Disclosure: Powered and my agency, Rosetta, are good pals and evolving business partners, and I was sent a copy of the book.  (I would have gladly bought one.)

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fivetoolplayer

The Digital Five Tool Player

As the convergence of different marketing tactics takes root in agencies, vendors and marketing departments of companies of all sizes, I’ve started to think about what it takes to ultimately be a “five tool player” in the digital space.  Ed Boches wrote a great post yesterday about labels in creative and digital – and that got me thinking it was time to document these thoughts.  What did I miss?

1. Creativity and Appreciation for Technology

Being able to come up with creative concepts is important for anyone in the marketing business, but taking it to a new level with an appreciation for technology is what is going to make or break success with regard to digital.  I’ll be calling out some other technologies separately below, but understanding and being able to leverage tools available is critical to delivering impact.  One of my favorite examples of this application is the Converse Domaination effort (it’s worth the watch, go ahead, I’ll wait).

2. Understanding the Community

I contemplated using “customer,” “audience,” and even “constituents” here, but community seems to broadly cover business partners, customers, and prospects.  Understanding the needs, attitudes and behaviors of the community a digital player is trying to reach or interact with is a fundamental key to being relevant.  It’s more than just market research, it’s the practical application of it.

3. Understanding of Conversational Technology

Social media is providing new tools, technologies and techniques to identify, engage and activate.   Digital players today need to understand the etiquette, ins and outs of how these tools work and how people use them.  A most recent example for me is a conversation with a copywriter trying to craft the “voice of the brand.”  If that voice isn’t conversational, and they haven’t considered how to be so, an extension of any initiative into social media will be very challenging.  One person who has spent plenty of time studying behaviors and what makes social initiatives work is Dan Zarrella – worth subscribing to.

4. SEO

Another critical area of technology focus is search engine optimization.  A few years ago SEO as an industry was on par with voodoo, but today it’s both art and science to understand how people search online and how to best position digital assets to be found.  Without an appreciation for SEO, a digital player will have a harder time delivering the goods to the community who is searching for it.  One of the best speakers and evangelists in SEO is Lee Odden, always looking to understand and push the digital marketing industry along in this space.

5. Business Acumen

Those who have worked with me before know this is a space near and dear to me.  Perhaps it’s obvious, but to be successful in digital a player needs to understand marketing, the relevant industry (regulated industries have very different expectations and limitations), and how to work with people.  They need to be good team players and good leaders, especially in pushing through ideas that are new.  Honoring commitments, adjusting approach to who you are working with (C-level vs. junior resources), ability to multi-task are just some things I look for in a team player – regardless of digital background.

What other qualities make the most well-rounded digital athlete?  Does this apply to all areas of interactive marketing?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  And if you’re a Digital Five Tool player yourself, I know an agency who would love to hear from you 😉

Photo credit: StarrGazr via Flickr

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Co-opetition in the World of Social Media Marketing

Changing markets cause change for those who serve them. As businesses adapt and figure out how social media will impact how they conduct day to day functions, service providers are adapting too.  These days companies have a high probability of encountering any of the following providing social media services:

  • Sole prioprietor (independent contractor)
  • Social media agency (small, medium and increasingly larger)
  • PR agency (traditional, new media, all sizes)
  • Digital or interactive agency (all sizes)
  • Advertising agency (all sizes, but particularly the big dogs)
  • CRM consulting firm
  • Database marketing agency

In an effort to help bring some clarity to the situation, friends (and business partners, and competitors) Todd Defren of SHIFT and Aaron Strout of Powered have collaborated with me to give you a snippet of what makes us different.  We have some overlap and we also have some ways we can complement each other.  We are doing business together and competing.  Either way, hopefully this lets potential clients know more about what makes us different.  How’d we do?  I’d encourage your to read Todd’s post and Aaron’s post to get their commmentary as well.

Todd Defren

This is my company…

One of the top-25 PR agencies in the U.S., with offices in NYC, San Francisco and Boston, SHIFT is an agency that helps organizations of all sizes better communicate with the people that matter to their business.  Sometimes that’s “the media,” sometimes that’s “some loudmouth on Twitter.”  Companies ranging from Quiznos to Club Med, from tiny start-ups to established tech companies, look to SHIFT for counsel and execution on both branded and earned media.

What we do…

SHIFT focuses on “on-going engagement” vs. “campaigns.”  And because relationships change over time, our targets and tactics evolve as-needed.  Thus the portfolio of services a client will tap into can include: Traditional Media Relations (coverage in NYTimes, TODAY Show, eWeek, etc.) + Social Media Relations (dialogue with relevant Facebook Group admins, Twitterati, etc.) + Content and App Development + Community Management (running a YouTube channel or Facebook Fanpage).

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)…

We are generally called on by large brands that need to act more like a start-up or by small companies that want to take things to the next level.  If your company needs more overall visibility (“get ink!”); needs to better engage with consumers (“that Social Media stuff!”); or needs to brand or re-brand in the marketplace, it’s worth a conversation.

This is when you should call someone else…

While we bring plenty of creativity to the table, when it comes to execution portion of app development, videography, website development, advertising campaigns, media buying and SEO, SHIFT will turn to quality partners like Powered and Rosetta, among others.

Aaron Strout

This is my company…

Powered is a dedicated social media agency that helps brands fully capitalize on their social initiatives. With 75 employees in four offices (Austin, New York City, Portland and San Francisco) we brings “best-in-class” expertise across the social spectrum to our clients by offering a combination of strategy, planning, activation and management for social presence and programs.

What we do

Okay, I guess I answered this in the “this is my company” section but to add on, we help big brands with strategy and activation (getting their key stakeholders like customers, prospects, partners or employees) to do things that create value for their brand. Those activities might include evangelizing, contributing, participating or learning.

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)

We’re really at our best when we’re helping big brands (mainly B2C) connect their social efforts to their marketing efforts. We start by fleshing out a cohesive strategy and then move toward the activation. In many cases, this includes focusing on things like influencer outreach, ambassador programs, Facebook Fanpages, applications and customer tabs and the building and managing of branded online communities.

This is when you should call someone else.

We’re still not particularly good at media buying, custom web development (outside of Facebook and community building), SEM and general site SEO. We also don’t do any traditional PR. For those activities, I’d strongly recommend talking to our friends at Rosetta and SHIFT, both of whom we partner/work with.

Adam Cohen

This is my company…

Rosetta is the largest independent digital agency in the US. Using a patented approach to segmentation, called Personality® Segmentation (yep, it’s patented and a differentiator), which provides deep insights into the drivers of consumer behavior, Rosetta’s teams translate these insights into relevant marketing solutions to attract, retain and strengthen a brand’s most valuable customer relationships. With 720+ team members, Rosetta is headquartered in Princeton, NJ, with offices in NYC, Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, Denver and most recently Toronto.

What we do

We help companies develop strategies and implement marketing tactics, combining the best of insight + technology – from eCommerce to Paid Search to Creative to Analytics to Relationship Marketing. With all the tools in a marketer’s toolbox, we strive to be a CMO’s most trusted partner.  Our industry expertise includes Retail & Consumer Products; Healthcare; Financial Services; Communications, Media & Technology, and B2B.

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)

We’re best when we bring to together marketing disciplines and industry acumen to provide measurable integrated solutions.  We shine we get the opportunity to demonstrate business results across tactics – like integrating eCommerce with paid search/SEO, driving the best creative with analytics and measurement, or infusing CRM with Personality Segmentation.

This is when you should call someone else.

Traditional media outlets are outside of our sweet spot (TV, print, radio), along with traditional PR.  Our social media practice is focused on infusing social into all of our marketing disciplines, but we are partnering with world-class agencies like SHIFT on outreach programs and Powered on designing the best approaches to engage and activate communities.

***

Thanks again to Todd and Aaron for providing thought provoking insights for the topic – these are two guys for whom I have the utmost respect in working with (and occasionally against).  Todd says it best: “Where we compete, we do so with respect and good humor.  Where we can cooperate, we do so with gumption and gusto.”

Did this help provide clarity? Where do you think the market will be in five, ten years? We’re all a ways away from the winning formula and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo credit: eworm via flickr

Cognitive Bias in Social Media Strategy

A common challenge in the field of marketing is the “everyone’s got an opinion” phenomenon.  In other fields like finance or engineering, deeply skilled practitioners do their jobs every day with few “outsiders” questioning their tactics.  In marketing, every person has an opinion on whether a tactic, campaign or initiative will resonate, no matter how deeply skilled the marketers are who developed them.  Enter the challenge of cognitive bias.

Wikipedia defines cognitive bias as:

A cognitive bias is the human tendency to draw incorrect conclusions in certain circumstances based on cognitive factors rather than evidence. Such biases are thought to be a form of “cognitive shortcut”, often based upon rules of thumb, and include errors in statistical judgment, social attribution, and memory.

Marketers don’t have to guess.  There are increasingly more data sources and proven tactics to test hypotheses, which is the entire premise behind marketing segmentation (but that’s another story).  When a new approach is involved – especially one that can question traditional tactics and measurements – it’s easy for people to apply the same filters on interpreting or judging how successful strategies will be.  Social media, and all the technologies that enable two-way and multi-way dialogue with customers, creates that same conundrum for traditional marketers.

Companies need to look at the tools they have at their disposal and leverage them to understand the customer. Web analytics, social media monitoring, feedback, surveys, market research, segmentation, business intelligence, case studies, conventional statistics and studies…There are many inputs that companies can use to determine what makes sense to fuel social strategies that will resonate with their customers in context.  The resource that should be least often used (or minimally, avoided as the sole measurement of an idea): what does someone think personally.  As a marketer, are you really your own targest customer?  Understanding the needs, attitudes and behaviors of customers with respect to social media is necessary to build an educated and insightful hypothesis to try out.  You can even collaborate with customers to figure out what may work (imagine that).  No one needs to read the tea leaves.

Photo credit: mikesell via flickr

How Social Media Has Changed My Job

In the last 2 years of blogging I’ve been able to share my own views on social media, interactive marketing and other topics.  During that time my day job at Rosetta has evolved from working with exciting companies like Coach and Borders to leading our Search and Media practice.  I’ve had the fortunate experience of working with talented teams and innovative clients, with an agency leadership team who was willing to help me launch our social media practice over a year ago.

Helping clients leverage social media has been a passion but up until recently only a part-time gig; I’ve had many fun and challenging responsibilities to work on in parallel while trying to see if we can add social media to the value proposition Rosetta brings to the table.  In the meantime, this blog has served as a way to capture thoughts and more importantly to hear from you, continuing conversations that weren’t as suitable for Twitter or some other forum.

For my two-year blog anniversary post, I’m excited to share details about my expanded role.  As we’ve grown our social media team, I’m pleased to share that my role is now 100% focused on helping clients develop social media programs.  My goal is to build integrated programs that treat social media tactics as informed strategies, leveraging deeper understanding of a brand’s most valuable customers and prospects through Rosetta’s Personality®-based segmentation.

What this really means:

  • After 15 years in consulting (first 12 at Accenture), I’ve been able to craft a role for myself (with leadership team sponsorship) at a digital agency I’m excited about.
  • For a long time I’ve been advocating that social media marketing tactics should be treated alongside other digital initiatives in an integrated and strategic way, leveraging CRM, segmentation and consumer insight.  Now I get to truly focus full time on making that happen.
  • I’ve spent the last two+ years learning and applying what I’ve learned in social media, now I get to learn and apply on a full time basis.  (But I’m no expert, just trying to help clients make informed decisions).

Frankly I’m very grateful to see a more formal career path emerge from ideas.  I’m looking forward to sharing more here with a reinvigorated sense of purpose, and to thanking a lot of people in person over the next few weeks.  At risk of forgetting to call out a few, a hat tip to a few folks who continue to inspire me in this space:  Len Devanna, Ken Burbary, Marc Meyer, Aaron Strout, Jim Storer, Kyle Flaherty, Tim Walker, Amber Naslund, Beth Harte, and Rachel Happe.  And certainly Mark Taylor who has been my biggest advocate.  Now to deliver on the promise…

Photo credit: st3f4n via Flickr

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The Marketing Hot Seat

hotseatOver the course of the last several years I’ve gotten to know and interact with a bunch of talented marketers.  One of my favorite benefits of the community on Twitter is access to these folks for great discussions.  In the interest of showcasing that talent pool, over the next few weeks I’m going to share with you several posts here in response to a challenge, inspired by this line in the movie Speed:

“Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?”

After some Mr. Burns-like scheming with my friend Kyle Flaherty, I’m pleased to kick off the first Marketing Hot Seat challenge.  I have posed the following situation to 13 marketing-minded folks who span a breadth of knowledge and experience in the industry:speed

  • You’re the CMO.  You have a marketing budget of $1M.  Your company is a consumer product company, relatively unknown / early stage.  Customers who know the product like it. CEO wants ROI within 12 months.  What do you do?

Each participant will get a maximum of 500 words for a blog post to be shared back here in the next several weeks. The hope is a Harvard Business Case-like discussion on factors that go into a decision process, strategy development and prioritization of budget.  We have a diverse set of minds from the worlds of eBusiness, digital strategy, marketing consultants, content marketing, search engine marketing, community management and PR.  I am really grateful to these talented individuals for being willing to jump on the hot seat:

Upcoming posts:

  • Todd Defren, principal at SHIFT Communications – TBD
  • Jennifer Leggio, ZDNet social business blogger + Fortinet strategic communications director + Security Twits herder emeritus – TBD
  • Alan Wolk – Blogger, Creative Strategist, Consultant – TBD
  • Jim Storer – Experienced community manager and social media strategist. Working on my next venture… The Community Roundtable – TBD
  • Ken Burbary – Digital Strategy and Social Media for Ernst & Young – TBD
  • Kipp Bodnar – Social Media Marketer who blogs at SocialMediaB2B.com – TBD
  • Li Evans (Liana ‘Li’ Evans) –  Director of Social Media for Serengeti Communications – TBD
  • Beth HarteMarketingProfs Community Manager and #pr20chat Moderator. – TBD

You can bulk follow them here:

…and you can find them in a list on Twitter at http://twitter.com/adamcohen/marketinghotseat.

This is a great chance for all of us to engage in a healthy debate – extra points for creativity.  Where do you think they should get started?  Interested in being the company in the example?  It’s not too late, please let me know.

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