Wondering Out Loud

Ducking the Social Media Sledge Hammer

I got sucked-in today and am still beating myself up over it. I fell for the old bait and switch not once, but twice, and got hit by the social media sledge hammer. In this case the sledge hammer came in the form of two whitepapers that went from informative and educational to heavy-handed marketing in the span of a couple of paragraphs.

One was going to tell me how to determine when it was time to leave the free paid-search management tools (Google Adwords, etc.) behind in favor of a more robust version paid version. The second, still dealing with paid search, said I would learn about the different ways of tracking conversions and the variety of cookies that can be placed on a searcher’s computer. Sadly, neither came close to providing me with anything I would considered even remotely educational. Both showed a complete lack of depth and were anything but interesting. Both were spectacular failures.

But that’s not the worst of it.

While reading it became very obvious that both were thinly veiled marketing brochures. I may be a purist when it comes to whitepapers, but I am of the belief that their role is to educate readers and, while doing so, establish the author – individual(s) or company – as a thought and industry leader. A well written and thoughtful whitepaper doesn’t need any marketing spin because the reader will make all of the necessary connections simply by consuming the document.

When I come across marketing fluff disguised as thoughtful analysis, my first thought is that the company doesn’t have the resources to create the content,  lacks the internal SME’s, or doesn’t have confidence in their own abilities.

Traditional marketing is for making claims. Social is for substantiating those claims. Each should inform and support the other, but mixing them can leave a bad taste in your prospect’s mouth.

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June 30, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Timing is everything for this marketer

Just a few short weeks ago I joined OptiMine Software as the first director of marketing. OptiMine is a 3 yr old technology company that develops and sells bid optimization software for companies engaged in large (+$30K monthly spend) paid search campaigns. As their first member of the marketing department I walked into what is, for all intents and purposes, a blank slate. That is why the 1o marketing lessons in this article from Mark Suster was a welcomed find.

I’ve been involved in technology marketing for most of the last decade and spent much of that time in a start-up-like division of a company with annual sales of $100 million. OptiMine is a true start up and the marketing plan I presented to senior management today is the first in our short history. Thanks to Mark Suster’s article, I will benefit from his experience and his 10 lessons.

Timing is everything.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Marketing | , , | Leave a comment

Join your LinkedIn network? But I hardly know you

I took a call from a potential vendor the other day. Anyone who works in the digital media space will recognize the name, so I’ll keep that detail to myself. The call went well and, in the end, I think I can make use of some of their products and services to help achieve OptiMine’s marketing goals. At the end of the call, I asked the rep to send me additional information I could share with the team and he told me to expect an email with the requested documents. So far, the only email I’ve received from Dave was completely unexpected: an invitation to join his LinkedIn network.

Maybe I’m being a bit sensitive – something I’ve never been accused of – but I don’t think a 60 minute sales call entitles Dave to ask me to become linked. After all, I hardly know him. My personal practice is to reserve links for those I know, trust and admire. so accepting Dave’s invitation would, in my mind, be the functional equivalent of exchanging business cards. That’s what V-cards are for. I’ve spent several years building my network on LinkedIn. And while it’s true I don’t communicate regularly with every one of my contacts, each of them is a contact for a reason.

I will not be accepting Dave’s invitation – at least not now.

How do you manage your LinkedIn contacts? Are you particular about who you invite or whose invitation you accept?

 

 

 

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Social Media | , , , | Leave a comment

Charging into social media

This space is normally reserved for my observations about social media as it pertains to marketing, especially in the B2B space. While this post is not a complete departure, it is somewhat outside the norm.

I was recently asked to play with and review the new Droid Charge by Samsung for Verizon Wireless. Fortunately for me the offer came just before I was to leave for Seattle on a business trip. As the reason for the trip was attend SMX Advanced it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the Charge a test drive. Specifically, I wanted to find out how well the phone performs in completing standard social media tasks: shooting and uploading images and video. But I’ll start with a few general observations.

First 4G plus the 1GHz processor kick tail: the upload and download speeds are fabulous. I could tell without looking at the top display when I was in a 3G area by the noticeable change in performance.

And speaking of the display…I don’t recall seeing one that is as large or vivid as the one on this phone. Measuring 4.3″ the trademarked Super AMOLED touch screen is the best I’ve ever had the privlidege of using and am looking forward to doing so again in the, hopefully, near future.  When I was first handed the phone, I thought the size, 5.11″ by 2.66″ would make it difficult to carry and handle, but was happily surprised to find that not to be the case.

The Charge sits on the Android 2.2 platform and has more than 150,0o0 apps available for download. I didn’t look at all of them, but did enough searching through the app market to see that if you have something specific in mind, you’ll find an app to do the job.

Now, on to the job at hand: images and video.

As I said earlier, my primary goal was to learn how well the charge performs in uploading images and video to social media sites. I make my living using social media to promote OptiMine Software – Seattle was my first official assignment as the new Director of Marketing. To assist me, my first act was to download apps for the appropriate social sites; TweetDeck, Facebook and YouTube. As expected the downloads went smoothly and pinning the icons to the desktop was simple and intuitive.

The phone performed very well when shooting both still images and video. The 4″+ display made the job especially easy, particularly when panning in video mode.  When it comes to sharing the Charge is pretty slick. The left hand button at the bottom of the phone acts as the menu for everything. simply push it and it returns the commands that are specific to the screen, app, website, etc. that is active in the display.

If you want to share your image on Facebook select share, then scroll to and select Facebook and, bingo, your image is attached to your wall. The same process holds for YouTube – shoot, select, share. In the case of YouTube, however, I had trouble uploading video to my channel. The app told me the upload was taking place, and I could see that it was across the top activity bar, but I have yet to find where they ended up.

Considering how well the phone performed otherwise, I’m convinced that the problem with the video upload is user error.

Bottom line, I really like this phone. I’m not ready for an upgrade for another 18 months, but when the time comes, the Charge will be high on my list.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , | Leave a comment

Social is great, but it can’t replace personal

Social media is a great way to engage with your market – we all know that – and an untold number of companies are now taking part. But I’ve been concerned that too many of the younger folk who are growing up in the world of social networking are going to fail miserably when forced to communicate face-to-face rather than Facebook-to-Facebook.

While I still believe there is reason to be concerned, I discovered – actually it was my 12 year old son – two local establishments that employ teens and young adults that are so customer-centric, I was pleasantly shocked by the way these young kids conduct themselves. What hit me hardest, though, is I never expected it because of my own perception of the culture they are immersed in. In this case, as in most, perception is not reality.

Before I elaborate, I need to provide a little background.

My 12 year old son discovered Aggressive Inline Skating (AIL) during summer vacation. If you don’t know what it is, take a few minutes to watch the video. He’s been (ice) skating  and playing hockey for several years already, but when he found AIL he fell in love. He’s not quite to the level of the guys in this video, but he’s having a hell of a good time trying to get there.

After several months of skating at the local indoor skate park, 3rd Lair, in traditional inline skates, mom and I decided to find him a used pair built for the type of skating he’s doing. Knowing nothing about them, I did as much online research as possible and went forth to find a pair. He tried ’em and liked ’em – just like Mikey – then we decided to get an expert opinion. The guy’s at 3rd Lair were the first stop.

They not only took the time to answer all of our questions, they also answered several questions we didn’t think to ask. Just to be clear, there’s was no profit motive at work here as 3rd Lair deals in skateboards, not skates. After giving us as much advice as they could, their last bit was a recommendation that we visit a shop called Pinewski’s.

Pinewski’s deals in skis, skateboards, knee boards, and inline. We brought our used skates to the shop hoping to learn just how good a deal Dad got on them and to find out if they were any good. For the next 30 minutes, a young man named Steve gave us a tutorial on aggressive inline skating and, in the end, we found that Dad, I, did make a good purchase, but that the bearings were a bit worn. He did recommend a replacement bearing, but also said it would be better if the lad spent a few weeks on the skates before taking on the extra speed the bearings would bring him. Here the guy could have made a sale, but recommended something that would, at best, delay us from spending or, at worst, have us buy the bearings from a shop closer to home.

Both young men were doing exactly what we try to do with social media: share our expertise, without selling, knowing that we are building credibility in the market and putting our companies in a position win future sales. I don’t know if either was conscious of the tactics they were using, but I tend to doubt because other experiences tell me it is part of the culture to coach and mentor those who have an interest in skating.

Too often, what is now called social is anything but personal. It’s nice to know there are at least a couple of places where personal comes first.

It gives me confidence that we won’t completely loose the real in favor of the digital.

June 3, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social media without strategy is the black hole of communications

Black Hole: A region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape.

If  you are using social tools to communicate with your audience without the benefit of a strategy, you are the proud owner of your very own black hole. Everything you produce – blog post, tweet, podcast, Facebook update, YouTube video – every last scrap of content is being hurled into a void so dark and vast it will only be consumed by those who happen to trip over it. I’ve seen it before. A lot. It’s usually the result of misguided notion that any content is better than no content. Unfortunately, that same idea ignores the fact that no content is preferable to bad content.

Even today, the same marketing professionals who diligently plan every aspect of every campaign, taking care to make sure every detail is accounted for, don’t think twice about what is being posted to the company blog. Whether it’s a website, brochure, commercial or blog post, what you produce represents the company that provides your paycheck and treating any content as second class is doing that company a disservice.

If you’re serious about making social media part of your communications activities, make it part of your strategy development, treat the content as you do other deliverables and give social media equal standing when discussing your activities. If you do you’ll find your content living in the bright light of the Internet being consumed by people who sought it out and have a genuine interest in what your company has to say.

June 1, 2011 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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