Monday, November 22, 2010

Ponder this: What does "productive work" really mean?

"'Productive work' does not mean the unfocused performance of the motions of some job. It means the consciously chosen pursuit of a productive career, in any line of rational endeavor, great or modest, on any level of ability. It is not the degree of a man’s ability nor the scale of his work that is ethically relevant here, but the fullest and most purposeful use of his mind."

- Ayn Rand, novelist, philosopher, playwright, screenwriter

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why social media makes big sense in business marketing

Social media marketing for Business-to-Business (B2B) organizations has a very large and growing impact on things like customer loyalty and advocacy. (Source) This is particularly true for my role running social media for a B2B enterprise technology firm because business technology buyers participate socially more than the average US adult. Forrester surveyed technical and line-of-business decision-makers who buy technology. Socially, this is an extremely active group compared to US adults or many other groups. (The Social Technographics® of Business Buyers, Forrester, Feb. 20, 2009)

My company has built out a significant social media presence designed to increase brand awareness, demonstrate internal thought leadership, and ultimately increase interest from prospective buyers.

Much like business development is fostered via a networking event at a local venue, social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn facilitate introductions, provide profile information, and allow like-minded professionals to connect, converse, and engage with one another ongoing. On social media sites, you will meet individuals you may never have otherwise been introduced to, and their social activity online will allow you to get to know their interests and their needs. 

From a Personal Perspective
Social media marketing requires having a social personality and an interest in meeting new people, learning from them, sharing ideas and discussing concepts and trends. The more I participate on Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites with my personal profile, the better I understand the social dynamics and protocols for how these social networks operate. I can leverage what I learn from my personal profiles to build out awareness and connections for my company's official profiles across social networks. I learn what kind of content is interesting to people, how they prefer to be approached or introduced, and what kind of content is likely to be shared and spread across the network. In the same way that I enjoy a party with friends, a happy hour event with a local marketing group, or a 5K race in my neighborhood, I enjoy spending 5 minutes or 30 minutes on Twitter every couple of hours because I am meeting new people, getting to know their personalities, and learning from them. 

I get to take my personal interests in just "being social" and apply it to helping my company become more social online, and because our target market is also very technologically savvy, the number of people with whom I can connect and share ideas is growing rapidly.

Here are some of my favorite social media related quotes from real experts in the space. I believe these speak to my point about the industry and what it takes to participate and thrive within it:
  • “What’s required is a kind of social media sherpa, who can find you the audience you seek, who can reach to them on the platforms where they are already congregating, and who can help promote in tasteful ways that fit the sensitivities of the networks where your audiences are found.” – Chris Brogan, author of “Trust Agents”
  • “Engaging in an authentic, meaningful conversation with consumers will be the key to marketing success and growth, even if that means acknowledging negative feedback; transparency is paramount.” Ron Blake, president and CEO of Rewards Network
  • As a general principle, the more users share about themselves, the more others in the community will learn about them and identify with them.” Matt Rhodes, writing in Social Media Today
  • “Social Media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.” Matt Goulart    

Thanks to @MirnaBard for the quotes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mashable's love-fest with Starbucks, JetBlue and other big brands

Mashable continues to applaud the same big brands for their social media efforts. About once a month, Starbucks, JetBlue, Dunkin Donuts, The History Channel or Whole Foods are mentioned in one of their articles. That's not to say I disagree that these companies are doing a great job in social media marketing. Each of them, in fact, is doing something somewhat unique - whether it's on FourSquare, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

The challenge, I think, is that in their analysis of these brands, Mashable's "appreciation of engagement, innovation and longevity" relies on each brand having done something "unique" or just simply becoming heavily engaged on a social media site and responding to customers there.

What I'd like to see more of is discussion about results and quantifiable metrics so that the next time we applaud a big brand for their accomplishments, we're doing so because they drove the business forward in a tangible way rather than simply playing in the space in a public way.

For example, take their mention of Starbucks' accomplishments in social media. Is it more important to be the "most liked" brand on Facebook or to have driven X number of incremental coupon downloads and redemptions from your Facebook page? Or to notice that in areas where their Facebook fan-base is higher, they see higher foot traffic in the stores? How are you leveraging your fan-base to get people in the store or to drive sales?

That's what this article is missing.

Many companies may not be comfortable releasing internal numbers, but marketing leaders often share them at conferences, so it's not unheard of. As marketers who are interested in the world of "social media marketing", we ought to allow ourselves to be as critical as possible of our peers who are managing social media for other brands - and also to be as critical of ourselves and how we're gauging success in what we do. It is certainly honorable of them to be investing in social media, but you'll convince me and others that social media is worth that time and money if you show us that it's getting results. And the big brands, especially the ones mentioned here, are the ones in the spotlight - the ones with the biggest chance to help shift the conversation toward the numbers and the money and not just highlight the glitz and glam of "most followers" and "most fans."

Do you have a link to a case study about a "big brand" in social media that includes metrics and quantified results? Does your company talk in these terms internally whenever it discusses its social media strategy? Share your thoughts here in the comments.

Here are the highlights from Mashable's story, dated today:
Amplify’d from
In appreciation of engagement, innovation and longevity, here are five of our top picks for must-follow brands that just know how to use social media.

1. Starbucks

Why Starbucks Rocked This Year: As the most-”Liked” brand on Facebook and one of the top 10 most followed brands on Twitter, Starbucks has proven it’s social media savvy. It has continued to launch new campaigns and engage followers along the way. And it continues to source ideas from its custom social network, My Starbucks Idea.

2. JetBlue

Taking a look at the JetBlue Twitter stream, you see a mass of responses from the airline to inquiring followers — that’s what social is all about. Even with the occasional flight attendant snafu, the company manages to handle the social space well.
We’ve read over and over that one of the top reasons why people follow brands via social media is that they want inside information on promotions and deals. We’re always tuned in to what JetBlue has to say, even if just for the limited offers on All-You-Can-Jet passes that pop up every now and then.

3. The History Channel

Typically, Foursquare tips are used to uncover insider information when you check in to a venue. The History Channel rethought the concept of the tip and began providing unexpected history lessons that were tied to locations.

4. Whole Foods

Whole Foods takes the cake for having one of the most expansive and inclusive social media strategies around, making it one of the top enterprises using social media.
The company encourages individual stores and regional areas to create their own Twitter handles for a more niche customer experience online
At our latest count, the company had nearly 300 niche Twitter accounts.

5. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts focuses on showcasing passionate fans.
Dunkin’ Donuts is all about highlighting its customers via social media. It is always running social media contests, such as last year’s “Keep It Coolatta” sweepstakes, the recent “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest and the current “Ultimate DD Coffee Fan” search.Read more at
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