Wondering Out Loud

Social Media: Presence matters most

The lead fr0m the eMarketer article says it all:

Social media marketers feel that having a presence on social sites is more important than advertising there, but there are still challenges related to keeping a community running online.

And so it is today as it was in the beginning: Social media is about showing up and showing what you know. Because, let’s face it, in today’s world no one will give your ad a second look without trusting you first. That’s especially true in the B2B space. And that is the beauty of the power of social media.

Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name the biggies, give you ample opportunity to seek, build and engage an audience in a way that positions your people – and by extension your company – as industry experts. And when you take the step of sharing your expertise in public forums the market takes note and comes to see that your people can be relied on to offer counsel without without an invoice attached.

So we all seem to understand the importance of taking part in social media, but where we, all of us, still struggle is the all-important content creation. It’s not a question of how to do it, it’s a question of how to find the time to do it. I wish I had a good answer for you other than making time – 20-30 minutes – every day, or every other day, to scan your Google alerts for ideas (where do you think this came from) and decide how you want to handle them: Is it blog-worthy, or will a simple tweet do, and then handling them.

Of all the possibilities for social media involvement Twitter is, by far, the most forgiving. It takes very little time, yet it will expose your company and it’s people to an audience you won’t find anywhere else. Add a hash tag or two into the mix and you have the potential to grow your audience even faster.

Let’s be honest, we are constantly making accommodations for our time, letting something slide because another, more important, thing pops up, or dropping activities altogether. If you believe there’s value in social media, you will find the time to work it in. And as its value to your marketing programs grows, you’ll find yourself dedicating more time to it.

Regardless of time, market expectations say you have to be involved, so it’s time to get in and make your presence known.

October 12, 2011 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

Social Media: It’s easy to spell, but…

It’s the season of interns and entry-level hopefuls. Resumes are pouring in and I’m reviewing those who made the first cut. Like all good potential bosses, I’ve been surfing the web looking for LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages and blog and Twitter accounts. So far the results are less than impressive. I realize this whole social media thing is still relatively new, but, let’s face it, if you are going to put the words on your resume you had better have the digital footprint that proving you can do more than spell “Social Media.” All the pdf resumes I’ve seen to date do have a web-based counter part in a LinkedIn account, but, rather than painting a fuller picture of the applicant, the online profile is an exact copy of the document sitting in my inbox.

This leads me to ask a couple of questions:

  1. Am I expecting too much from today’s college juniors and seniors, especially those pursuing a career in social media?
  2. Should I be expecting ore from the career counselors who help students navigate the choppy employment waters?

I’d love to see your answers to both, but here are mine: No and Yes.

No: Today’s college students grew up on the web. Social networking is in their DNA and anyone who is looking to enter the job market – entry level or as in intern – needs to have, at the very least, a LinkedIn profile that is full and complete, including recommendations. If you have skeleton profile that is nothing more than a copy of your resume, you are wasting your time and the time of anyone who might be interested in learning more about you. If you are specifically interested in marketing and PR – where SM lives – the digital requirement is even more important.

Remember the good old days when the cry was: “Everyone wants someone with experience, but how can I get experience if no one will hire me.”? Web 2.o0 has given everyone – including my 15 year old son – what they need to gain as much experience as they want. Five years ago I advised a college freshman, planning to major in PR, to start a blog and write about her passion, early American authors. Doing so in 2005 would have put her well in front of her college peers and, today, she would have a robust presence to point potential employers to. Unfortunately she didn’t take my advice and is just another member of the pack looking for work.

Yes: Career counselors in colleges and universities are doing a doing students a disservice if they are not adding social media, in general and LinkeIn specifically to the list of activities their charges should be engaged in. I’ll go so far as to say they should be given LinkedIn training so they can help students make the most of the site. The paper resume – although still important – does not have the power it once did. While it has always been a snap shot of the individual, the resume loses a bit of luster when put against the dynamic nature of a LinkedIn, blog and Twitter.

Going digital is more than a recommendation, it is an imperative. Like investing for the future, the sooner you start the bigger the return you’ll realize. If you wait until your getting ready to graduate and look for that first “real” job, you’re starting too late.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Social media and pest control

Ever had a squirrel in your house?
 
Last week my wife called to tell me there were gnaw marks on a one of the windowsills in the living room. I suggest the 2 year old might be working on a molar, but that idea was scuttled when she told me the marks stretched for 2 feet and whatever did it had to be on the job for quite some time. That’s when I knew we had an unwanted visitor in the house. The only question was what type of visitor it was.

My bride – being a traditionalist at heart – went to the yellow pages looking for someone who could help eliminate the problem by whatever means necessary. She found Laughlin’s Pest Control and gave them a call. How the call unfolded is a textbook example of using social media tactics to build credibility and generate new business leads.
 
Raise your hands if you ask, answer, or even visit the discussion areas in LinkedIn. I’ll assume every hand is up. What you find there, is no different than what transpired on the phone between my wife and Laughlin’s Pest Control. She had a question and he took the time ask some questions of his own in an effort to answer hers. In the end he determined the varmint was a squirrel that was looking for a way out. His advice was to open the window and raise the screen to give the squirrel an exit. To entice the critter he suggested peanut butter – smooth, not crunchy – to lure the furry beast out of its hiding place (which I later found to be the smoke ledge in the fireplace). He also put the mother of my children at ease by telling her the squirrel would stay in hiding while people were around. A comforting thought when you have a 6, 4 and 2 year old in the house. The boys, 11 and 14, would have preferred taking it on in a head-to-head battle.

The people at Laughlin’s could have scheduled a service call ($150 for showing up), charged the hourly rate and gotten rid of Rocky themselves. But it would have been a short-term monetary gain at the expense of a potential long-term customer relationship.
 
In less than 15 minutes on the phone, our new friend at Laughlin’s had solved the problem and won a customer for life. I know who I’m calling if the moles return this summer.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | Public Relations, Social Media | , , | Leave a comment

Blogging in a regulated industry

Every time I participate in, or attend an event where social media is the topic there is always one – sometimes more – person in the audience representing a company from a highly regulated industry. Most often they are from the financial sector – banking, investments, etc. – and they all have the same question: How can we blog when everything we say needs to be run through an extensive approval process?

It’s a great question. To understand the significance of the question, one need only listen to the disclaimers at the end of any commercial inviting you to invest your money with a particular money manager: Actual results may vary, you could lose some or all of your money, and my personal favorite…you could lose more than you invested. Regardless of the industry there are ways to leverage the power of the web and here is one of my favorites.

In its simplest form there are two sides to the social media coin – join a conversation and start a conversation. For my purpose we’ll look at the second one.

There are two primary ways to start a conversation. The first is to react to an event that is happening in the industry now – President Obama’s jobs summit last week provided a golden opportunity for investment advisors to weigh in with their analysis of the event. When one works in a highly regulated industry there is a certain amount of risk that comes with reacting in real-time, but professionals in these industries can still start conversations with little or no risk to themselves or their companies by creating a calendar of conversations. All it takes is some planning and buy-in from your internal subject matter experts (SMEs).

The first step is to meet with your team and crate a list of issues that are relevant to your audience and that your SMEs can discuss credibly. The next step is to put those issues into an editorial calendar then create content to that calendar. Using this strategy for content creation gives enough time for all the appropriate parties to review and approve the content. Once approved, distribute as normal. Whether to a blog or a LinkedIn discussion page – I prefer both – you have joined the world of social media contributors and have done it with the blessing of your internal regulatory professionals. 

If you’d like to inject some digital steroids into the process take a look at the ed. cals. of the industry publications you are courting and design yours to mirror theirs –  minus a few months. If you can write credibly today about a subject one of the pubs will be covering a few months down the road, you can begin building a case for why your SMEs should be tapped for interviews when the article is being written. It’s a great way to build media relations and, if your offer of supplying expert analysis is rejected, you still have your own content to point your audience to.

I’ll tackle other issue in a later post – reacting as events happen. It can be problematic for any organization, but it can also be done by any.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Look who’s back

Been a while since I’ve been here. My last post dates back to October 1 and I’ve not been back since. I’ve had a very, well, to put it simply, changed filled few months.

The company I went to work for in January 2000, SoftBrands, announced an agreement to be acquired by Infor. Infor is a $2 billion enterprise software firm located in Alpharetta, GA. The deal was set to be closed during the dog days of August, but I figured I’d be better off if I started shopping my talents elsewhere…just in case. As luck, networking and self marketing would have it, in early September I was offered a position in the corporate communications. They wanted me to develop a global social media strategy. My summer went from “Oh no” to “yes” in the blink of an eye. But nothing stays the same now does it?

On November 2, I was notified that corp comm was being realigned to better serve the company and my role was being eliminated. I’ve lost a lot of colleagues over the years to workforce reductions and realignments, but this is my first time on the receiving end. I can’t say I like it much, but there are a couple of good here.

  1. I’m interviewing with some great companies for roles that will challenge me and help me grow personally and professionally.
  2. I get to spend a lot more time with my ladies – 6, 4 and 21 months – and my lads – 14, 11.
  3. I’m able to relieve some of the daily burden from my bride’s shoulders.

Now that I have some down time – when I’m not pushing out resumes and doing interviews – I hope to get back on the blogging bandwagon. I’ve been building up ideas for posts and It’s time I get them down on “paper.”

In the meantime, if you hear of anyone looking for an accomplished marketing communications professional, send ’em my way.

Thanks.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , | 1 Comment

A short rant about LinkedIn discussion

I just joined a LinkedIn group. It was recommended by a colleague. My first stop, as always, was the Discussions page.

Guess what I found. C’mon, give it a try.

Ok, I’ll tell you. I found 5 featured discussions – the ones with the gold-headed pins in them – and every one of them was put there by the group owner. Now, if that doesn’t seem strange, and perhaps it’s not, this might do the trick…

…The most recent discussion was posted 29 days ago. The others are 9 months, 9 months, 8 months and 3 months old. Here’s the best part, though: there are exactly 2, count ’em 2 comments among the 5 “discussions”. That is an average of .4 comments per discussion.

LinkedIn groups have a hard enough time surviving. What starts as a forum for peers to collaborate and share best practices too often turns into an unpaid ad for the latest webcast, or place to throw a link to your recent blog post and fish for comments. The groups are becoming self promoting (where did I hear that before?), and now at least one group owner is driving the self promotion bus. Unless we use these groups for their intended purposes – see the first sentence of this paragraph – they will die, and one of LinkeIn’s most wonderful assets will be no more. 

If you joined LinkedIn to take you on an ego trip, please be up front about it. It’ll save the rest of us who actually want to use it a lot of time and headaches.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Social Media | | 2 Comments

The social media revolution is over

The social media revolution is over and it’s time for all of us to take a collective deep breath – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Now, before you accuse me of being a complete moron for proclaiming the end of social media, let me clarify what I mean.

I believe social media – as a practice – is in its infancy. We are emerging from a time that saw the development of an amazing number of tools anyone can use to engage on what came to be known as social media. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, blogging platforms, Twitter, YouTube, UStream, Utterli, and the list goes on . Some, like the ones I’ve mentioned here, have been wildly successful. Others have slipped below the surface and  been assigned to the Web 2.0 category of Trivial Pursuit. The ones that made it, and the ones that didn’t, were part of the revolution. Their advent came at a time when we were all comfortable with the Internt. And isn’t that the way it always goes. Just when we get use to the status quo someone else gets bored with it and decides to stir the pot.

We went from needing a website to participate to needing only access to the web. You don’t even need a computer. All that’s required is a visit to your local library. The revolution that is social media made it possible for us to communicate with, potentially, the entire world. It took the concept of global communications promised by the Internet and made it not only possible, but real. Whether text, audio, or video, each of us now has the power to send our message anywhere and everywhere.

And that, my friends, is a revolution if ever there was one. People took something that existed in one form and through a lot of hard work and struggle created something new from it. The old didn’t go away, but it is not what it once was. So where does that leave us today? The same place we were on September 3, 1783 when the treaty ending the American Revolution was signed. The revolution was over, but the evolution was about to begin. And this country has been evolving ever since.

The tools are the revolution, but he evolution are the tools grow up around those tools to make them more powerful. Twitter is wonderful, but the real power of Twitter is in the hundreds of applications we leverage to make it better. Blogs are nice, but RSS feeds, Diggs and del.icio.us are just a few of the technologies that have helped blogs realize the potential of their communication power.

We have the tool to communicate to our markets in ways we never dreamed possible. Now it is up to each of us to figure out how to use those tools to accomplish the goals we’ve set. The original thinking that social media tactics should reserved for communications and not for marketing is already evolving and will continue to do so. 

What we have today is so because people were willing to push boundries of what the Internet could do (revolution) – people a hell of a lot smarter than me. But each of us is capable of taking the gifts they’ve given and evolving them to derive greater and greater benefit than even the revolutionaries might have imagined.

The revolution is dead. Long live the evolution.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Personal v. Professional with Albert Maruggi

 A couple of months ago I saw a Twitter message from the owner of a consulting firm announcing the release of a new survey on the success of ERP implementations. A few minutes later the same individual used Twitter to take a hard line on the health care debate. In my opinion, the guy took quite a risk in mixing his professional and personal lives in a forum like Twitter where following someone is not the same as knowing them.

How many were offended by his opinion on health care reform we can’t know. Nor can we know how many will no longer consider doing business with him. But there is a number that fall into both categories.

Social media requires openness and transparency, but how much is too much? To discuss this, and other questions, I called my friend and former colleague Albert Maruggi of Provident Partners and The Marketing Edge Podcast. The outcome is the first ever Wondering Out Loud Podcast.

During out conversation we talk about the risks of mixing the professional with the personal, about the danger of “blurting” in 140 characters or less, and about how we are quick to label and categorize others. As always, Albert is thoughtful, serious and funny.

Enjoy.

Mark Palony speaks with Albert Maruggi about the risks of mixing the professional with the personal in social media.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are you self serving or self promoting

As the adoption of social media by business expands at an ever increasing rate, its misuse grows along with it. When you engage in social media activities are you self serving or self promoting?

Have you ever considered the difference? Both deal with the self, but if you choose to practice the former over the latter, you are headed for social media failure.

Here are the definitions from dictionary.com:

Self serving: Serving to further one’s own selfish interests.
Self Promotion: Promotion, including advertising and publicity, of oneself effected by oneself.

Done correctly, self promotion will result in all the benefits – increased leads, sales and revenue – you can get through self serving means, without turning away a good chunk of your audience. If this sounds difficult to achieve, it’s not. Promoting the self – you, your colleagues, and your business – is as easy as showing your target audience what you know. How you show them, however, goes a long way toward defining which side of boarder you are on between serving and promoting.

Let me illustrate with an example of a LinkedIn discussion:

Q: My boss wants me to buy a list of emails we can use for marketing. We’ve never done this and I’m looking for advice on picking the right provider. Thanks for your help.

A1: You can buy any list you need from my company Lists-R-Us. We specialize in providing 100% opt in lists for every conceivable industry – and a few you can’t conceive of. Call me at 555-1212.

A2: Before you pick a provider you’ll want to ask several questions including how they compile their lists, what information they gather about the individual and the company, can they segment based on SIC codes, and what are the counts within the SIC’s you are targeting. Also ask to see a sample cut of the data and what accommodations they make for non-deliverable addresses. If you want more I’ve included the links to a couple of credible resources below. Hope this helps.

I will grant that the example I provided is fictional, but it is most certainly not extreme. Go through the discussions and you’ll find any number of questions and answers that are commercials. But LinkedIn is by no means the only site that suffers from sledgehammer marketing. Blogs – posts and comments – are not immune, nor are Twitter and facebook for that matter.

Provide help with information the individual can use to solve their issue. It is a way of promoting yourself, without selling yourself. Over time, as your credibility grows, you will find a growing number of people who follow you, listen to you, and offer your name to others a resource that can be trusted.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: