My Fresh Start for 2011

Most people wake up on New Years with a hangover or a bunch of resolutions they are going to break a few weeks later. Me? Well this year I am going to wake up with a new job. I started with Destination Marketing back in 2001 as a bright eyed and smart lipped Account Manager ready to take on the world. Through the years it seems like I have done a little bit of everything at Destination Marketing, most recently being their Chief Digital Strategist.

Dan Voetmann, the owner of Destination Marketing, has allowed me to set my own path and grow within the company, and for that I am extremely grateful. Not to mention the fact that he allowed me to spend time as President of SMC Seattle these past two years. His thoughtfulness and understanding is a big reason I have been at Destination Marketing for so many years.

I also have been surrounded with some amazing people at Destination, and I have learned a great deal from each person I worked with there. While I was at Destination my two daughters were born, and everyone at Destination knows their names. My kids love coming to visit, not to see me, but because they love the office parrot Ricco.

Ricco the Destination Marketing Office Bird

When I was at Destination I even worked with some clients for the entire 9 years I was there and it is going to be very hard to not have constant contact with those friendships as well. It’s been an honor to be part of the Destination Marketing family and I will always look back on it fondly.

Starting in 2011 I pursue another path, with a different business family at Spring Creek Group. I will be the Director of Client Account Management at Spring Creek Group, and I can’t be more excited. I’ve learned a lot working with Clay McDaniel (Managing Director and Founder of Spring Creek) these past two years on the SMC Seattle board, and I look forward to working with him full time.

Also, through SMC Seattle I have had a chance to meet many of the employees of Spring Creek, and I’m always impressed with their passion for the industry and their clients. I look forward to being surrounded by that, and having some of the thought leaders in the social media space around me on a daily basis, continuing to push me forward.

So this year I have more then a simple resolution to uphold. I have a new job and career path to set forth on. That is something I could not be more excited about, and I can’t wait for 2011 to begin!


My Top 5 Social Media Pet Peeves

First let me clarify before I start my rant that I think social media is great. I love how it is changing the landscape of business, by putting the focus on the consumer and giving the consumer a larger voice. Heck I am President of Social Media Club Seattle I like it so much. But there is a problem. People are taking it way too seriously. So much so that it has almost become a religion to some. That’s why I’ve decided to take a look at the lighter side. With that in mind here are my top 5 social media pet peeves.

1. Social Media Expert Avoidance

Thinking that there are no social media experts is just downright delusional. Yet, I hear it all the time that no one can be a social media expert. They say social media is changing too fast, there is no way to be an expert in something based on consumer behavior, and the list goes on.

But the truth is, in the social media biz, you are an expert if you have a proven track record of repeatedly achieving great results using social media as a communication channel for several different business types. In fact, according to the dictionary an expert is “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field.” And while I’m not there yet, a lot of people in the industry have the track record to call themselves experts…. that said, I don’t recommending calling yourself an expert unless you want my #2 pet peeve to be all over your ass. Feel free to call others experts however, if nothing else it’s fun to watch them squirm when you do.

2. The Social Media Police

You’ve know them and might even be one. These are the people who monitor all social channels for improper use of social media according to the Cluetrain Manifesto’s rules of social media love and hugs. These are the people who yell anytime a company tries to sell something online. Or the people that freak out that you didn’t consult them first before you made a decision to post something online. Even better yet these are the people that freak out that you haven’t updated your status in a few days and don’t know by memory every tweet they’ve made in the past two weeks.

People should use social media however they want to. If they want to push sales messages out, or talk 100% about their cat named Marshmallow, they should be allowed to without you threatening to take them to social media jail (ie MySpace). The great thing about social media, if you don’t want to listen to someone you don’t have to! Unfollow, un-like, or just mark them as spam, I really don’t care – just stop complaining. (Crap!, I think I just became internal affairs for the social media police.)

3. The Fear of Outsourced Social Media

All the time I hear people say that outsourced social media is horrible and just doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it is not ideal, and you lose out on a lot of the benefits social media by outsourcing it, but most of the time it’s better then nothing. Look, a lot of companies have a third party run their Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. They write content, reply to your random questions, and even God forbid, pretend like they work for the company they are writing for. And as much as you may disagree with it I know of many situations where this works. Actually I know of a few cases where people have said ‘such and such” company does a great job with their Twitter account, and I know first had that the account is being handled by a social media engagement company. (I’d mention names here, but am scared the social media police might attack) Get over it people. If a good social media company has been given the power to do engagement for a company, please don’t ban them to the nether regions of the social media universe. Help businesses use this new tool to slowly grow their social media presence and change their vision from outside in.

4. Devotion

I understand people like to put a number on the value of things. Klout helps convince people you are important, and it helps show the boss that the social media program is working. With all of this considered however, do we really need another number? First it was the number of followers, now it is this? Truthfully Klout is the closest we get to an actual ranking of influence, but do we need to focus on this? (Social media police can you help me out?) Go look at the Klout numbers of some of your friends, and you will see how dramatically they go up and down. Plus with just a little work they can be more easily gamed than Google with SEO.

Let’s look at the metrics behind Klout, such as RT’s, active audience, etc. and focus less on the actual number. (I’ll expand upon this later with a separate blog post.)

5. Social Media Celebrity Fascination

Truthfully I am tired of the social media celebrity fascination. Come to grips people. We all love @ChrisBrogan, and respect his Klout score of 85 and his 155k+ followers on Twitter, but ask your neighbor if they know him, and I am pretty sure you will get a “who?” in return. Stop freaking out that so and so replied to you, or that they RT’d a blog post, and just do what you think is right. These social media celebrities are great people 98% (stay far away from the other 2%) of the time, but if you think about it they are less famous than your local TV news anchor. And much like when your local TV anchor goes to another city, no one knows these social media celebrity outside the social media echo chamber.

Sure this post is full of contradictions and irregularities, but who said pet peeves need to be rational?  Plus I don't have time to explain it more, I now need to go check my Klout and try to get this post RT'd by some social media celebrities.

(Special thanks must go out to @JasonFalls for getting this rant started when he visited the great city of Seattle and we shared some @MakersMark )

(Just realized that I didn't follow blog post 101 and ask for your thoughts after this post. Thanks @shih_wei for the reminder. What are your top 5 social media pet peeves?)

My Customer Service/Social Media Diatribe

[The other day a client asked me an open ended question about business and where I saw it going, and I responded with a long diatribe about customer service. Considering I already spent the time writing it all out, I thought I would post it as a blog post with a few changes. None of these ideas are new, but I may describe them a little different than most. It's provides good insight on why I think social media is important, and even more important than that, trusting your customers.

And so the rant that started in me when I first read the Cluetrain Manifesto begins….]

Today people want honesty and transparency from companies they do business with. They want to connect with people not organizations.

No longer can companies do one thing and say another. No longer can we, (and maybe we never could) change consumers perceptions of brands through marketing or advertising, if the product doesn’t deliver.

Marketing and advertising is instead a vehicle to highlight better products and increase word of mouth, not a perception changer. Branding has much more to do with business practices than marketing. This is nothing new, DDB put out this great ad in the 60’s saying the same thing called. “Do this or Die”

Here is how I look at it...

Three things have changed in the last few years that change the way business is done.

1) People want to connect with “real” people
2) People have realized that they are more powerful than any business, organization, or government
3) People want and expect transparency from everyone, including businesses

People want to connect with “real” people -

The way to earn respect has changed. Just because someone dresses a certain way, or talks a proffesionally, doesn’t make them an expert. People don’t want to talk with someone that presents in a way that suggests they are better than the other person.

You can see this push toward “real” personal connections all around us. One example is in the recent preliminary voting. Incumbents were voted out of office as “people” not an organization or party, rejected the establishment and turned to the more common man they can relate to.

This isn't because of social media. You could see it starting a long time ago, and really start flourishing when people started flocking to reality TV and online videos and escaped the canned imagery the major media system gives us. People are suddenly much more interested in Heidi Montag then they are in the latest TV star. (I was going to put a name in here of a famous TV actress right now, but couldn’t think of one. There are no TV shows like Friends anymore)

One of the great things about people wanting to deal with “real’ people is that they also understand people and businesses make mistakes. This does not mean the mistakes are ok. Instead people just want to know that companies and the people behind those companies are doing everything they can to make 100% of their customers happy.

People are smart, and they want to be dealt with that way, and excuses don’t do that. Instead they want to see how the company reacts, how it let’s them get involved, and mainly if anyone is listening and cares

The individual has realized they have power -

Through the use of the internet they can connect and make changes in society that they never thought they could do before.

If they have a problem with a company, they realize they can become very powerful through the use of a online negative review, or by using social media to connect with others that feel the same way. The statement that “one person can make a difference” is more true then it ever has been before.

People are showing their power all around us. The obvious things are people going after companies on Twitter or other social media platforms, or the less obvious are organizations like the Tea Party. Suddenly a group of people very loosely organized have realized they have more power then a political party.

The scary thing is that businesses are in the same place as the political parties. People feel like they are being treated wrong and are not being listened to by organizations and are now willing to do something about it. They don’t except good enough anymore, they expect the best, or will use their power until they get it.

The key is for companies to look at this new rise in power of the individual as an opportunity and not something to hide from. They should not make excuses; instead businesses need to find solutions to the problems.

These solutions do not mean giving into people online just to make them happy. Instead companies need to be focused on using these complaints as opportunities to improve the process. Find out what went wrong, and how to fix it next time. People expect to be treated like a partner, but it doesn’t mean you have to give into them all the time. Partnerships don’t work that way. (Ok, some marriages work that way.)

Sure sometimes the complaints are going to be unwarranted, but a lot of the time you will see consistent themes running through the complaints. No matter how much it pains a company, or goes against their business practices, those issues need to be addressed. Companies can no longer say, we won’t or can’t change. Everything needs to be flexible and options for improvement encouraged.

When looked at in this way, each complaint will slowly make the company better and the complaints will slowly subside.  When this happens consumers realize that they do have a partnership, and once that happens a lot more good things will be said online instead of bad. Through the proactive care of customers, companies will develop partners online that will defend them against attackers.

People want and expect transparency from everyone, including businesses

The last phase that I see is that people expect transparency from the people they do business with. If they are truly a partner and are giving companies money they expect to see what is done with their money.

Right now you see a big backlash against the banks and CEO’s because of this. People are asking, “Why are they getting paid so much?”, “What are they doing with my money?”. I’d contend that most of this is happening because of a lack of transparency on the businesses part. People have no idea how much the CEO works, let alone who he is and what his background is. They don’t understand why the banks are making so much money, because they don’t understand how banks work, and the banks want to keep it that way.

With that in mind, if a company is going to take someone’s money, what can they do to show them it is being put to good use? What can the company show them that will make them comfortable with the decision? And if someone complains, how can a company follow up publicly to show them how they are improving?

Since people want a connection and partnership with the brands they visit, they also want to be part of the ride and thanked for taking part. How would you feel if you were one of the first customers of a new business and they wrote you to tell you that they have been growing like mad thanks to great customers like you? Would you feel part of the team? Would you be more willing to recommend people to that business? Would you have a vested interest in seeing them succeed?

Companies should be asking how can we make our customers a key part of our business, not how can we get more customers for our business.

The book that first recognized this shift is The Cluetrain Manifesto. It was written in 1999, but saw all this coming and is worth a read. But the underling foundation of that book is that “markets are conversations”, and I like the next step of that which is “markets are relationships”.

What kind of relationship do you have with your customers?

I'm a Douchebag

I think I missed one of the key SXSWi groups, "How Not To be a Douchebag" (Great re-cap by @EdRabbit), because if I've learned anything these past few months is that I have a tendency to be one. Douchebag Tendency #1 - Not Remembering People

One thing that is great about starting SMC Seattle is that I have had a chance to meet many great people. The flip side of that is that my memory sucks and I keep forgetting people.

I used to think that I had a great visual memory and would never forget a face, unfortunately because of old age, or too much Makers, that has recently been proved wrong.

At SXSWi I met a lot of people from Seattle who I had talked with before, but completely forgot who they were. I'm sure it happens to everyone, but it sure makes me feel like crap. I hate when someone comes up to me and says, "Hi, Kevin", and I have no recollection of talking with them, and definitely do not remember their name.

It makes me feel like a jerk, and if I pretend I remember whom they are, it makes me feel like a douchebag.

I have no idea what to do about it. Truth is, my memory sucks, it always has. Memorizing has always been my weakness.

Heck I had to take Spanish 3 twice in college because I sucked at remembering all those verbs. I've tried all the tricks but have had no luck.

I've seen others try to fake there way around not remembering someone. They just pretend they remember them and go with it, but I think that is even more of a douchebag move. If I do that, I could end up missing some real cool info about the person.

Do you have any ideas or recommendations?

Below are some possible options I have come up with.

1) Try to be sly, and ask questions to get more details until something jolts my memory. (Not guaranteed to work) 2) Pretend I remember them after I ask a few questions. 3) Tell them the truth, that my memory sucks, and go from there. Douchebag Tendency #2 - Short conversations.

The next douchebag tendency I have is that I have a tendency to have really short conversations with people. Especially at SMC Seattle events. I feel like I need to run around and meet as many people as possible to be a "good host".

This leads to shallow conversations that do not benefit anyone.

There is no excuse for this, and I don't like it. From this point on I am going to spend time with people, and enjoy the conversation.

I do this at other events, why should it be any different at SMC Seattle events?

Obviously before SMC Seatle events kicks off, I have a tendency to run around making sure everything is set and need to cut some people off. There is no reason I can't carry those conversations on later in the event however.

At any rate, whether it is forgetting people, or simply not taking time with them, I am going to work on it, and look for your advice as well.

I really don't want to be a douchebage, and want to learn from as many people in the community as I can.

All the good stuff always happens after you know someone's name, and get past the small talk!


"DO THIS OR DIE." Why is this still relavant?

You would think that after over 40 years from when the below was first published by DDB, that it would not be necessary anymore. Yet these below statements are the very thing social media enthusiast continue to preach. Maybe social media will give consumers the leverage to make sure companies follow the below recommendations.

Social Media Customer Service Doesn’t Scale

Social media customer service is just part of a cycle, enjoy it why you have it. I'm sure the first companies that started to use the phone for customer service did a bang up job with it. Now look at it! Right now many companies are dipping their toes into social media, and most are starting by using it to deal with customer service complaints.

With social media all you need to do is reach out and complain on Twitter, and if the company is using social media you more than likely get an all-star like Frank Eliason from Comcast to help you out.

Social Media Customer Service

With social media you no longer need to wait on the phone for 30 minutes to get a customer service rep, and then after all that time probably never even get the issue completely resolved to your licking.

Because of great people like Frank on the other end of those social media conversations, social media customer service is a great experience. This may be coming to an end however. Part of the reason companies can afford to have great people like Frank help us out, is that very low percentage of their customers are actually using social media to get customer support.

What happens when everyone is using social media to connect with businesses online? Does it scale any better than a customer service phone room?

Say tomorrow all the phone lines went dead, and the only way to handle customer service was through the use of social media? Would companies be able to lay anyone off, or would they simply have to retrain all the phone reps on how to use social media to interact? My bet is that they would not be able to reduce their customer service staff at all, they would merely re-allocate them.

Once use of social media for customer service reaches critical mass, cost for online customer service goes way up. Then some CFO gets the bright idea to outsource social media customer service to some company in another country. “Heck if we outsource it to a third party, we could have 24hr customer support, customers will love it!”

Sure some companies will continue to give us great customer service in social media, but more than likely it will be the same companies that currently give us great phone support as well.

There’s much more to social media than customer service!

Kevin Urie

How BBS’s, Nascar, and my Pastor got me into Social Media

I’m no social media expert, people have been doing this social media thing way before I ever started, and have more experience than I do, but I thought it would be good to tell my story. It’s something a recent interview by Another Passion, got me thinking about, and I believe it's good to know someone’s story, to understand how they think. The timeline is a little blurry, but you’ll get the idea. Each of these paragraphs could be it’s own blog post, but I’ll try to keep it to the basics.

BBS DashboardI’ve always been interested in technology and online communication. Back when I was in 6th grade (1989) I remember staying up all night and dialing BBS’s and talking with others, playing text games, not to mention downloading a fair share of games (there wasn’t copyrights back then correct?)

The little Hayes 12,000 BPS modem was terribly slow, and to download a simple game or image would take hours if not all night, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people I met online, and even became friends with them offline. Some even happened to attend the same school as me, but we needed BBS’s to connect us for some reason.

Then came Prodigy in Junior High (1990-1991) boy was that a life changer. Suddenly useful/educational information was at my finger tips. Sure it was slow, and the WWW was not connected yet, but I still tons of information at my finger tips, and it was liberating.

The idea of encyclopedia type information like that on your computer was so knew that for one Jr. High Science class I “used” it to do a one page report on a specific topic. Ok, I didn’t “use” it, I simply printed out what the Prodigy encyclopedia had to say on the topic and turned it in. I’m guessing cheating in such a manner was not something the teacher knew about, so he never thought twice, and I got a A- on the project. (ok, maybe I was not on the greatest path here with downloading games, and cheating on homework.)

Well next came my high school and college years and I stayed up on technology. Used the internet to “help” me with my homework, but still very few of my real world friends were using it actively.

When I went to college in the fall of 1996, my friends and I were not even given an email address when we showed up. Actually very few of my friends even had email addresses, and the library was the only place to connect to the internet, other than my rooms 56k modem. I remember a $300 phone bill my first month in College because I accidently used a long distant dialup number.

In college I started out as a Graphic Design major, but once I realized I had no actual design talent, I moved into business with a marketing emphasis, and I was off into the business marketing world.

Not until about 3 or 4 years ago when I read “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and then followed by “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide” did it all start to come together. With these online social tools I had been using since elementary school, you could connect with others, and also help brands not only market themselves but serve their customers better.

It all came together in my head, but I had no outlet, no where to put it. So I simply stored it knowing someday my love for tech and marketing would be combined.

That is where a weird rabbit hole that started in 2005 with the Dakar Rally, led to Nascars’ Robby Gordon and then to Jason Falls in 2007, got me following Jason’s blog and other social media” blogs using RSS feeds.

Robby Gordon Dakar HummerThen sometime in 2008 my Pastor at the time Scott Harris convinced me to get active on Twitter.  At this point I already had an account for some time but never used  it. I ridiculed Scott at first for using it, but after that I jumped on and started to using Twitter actively. I remember struggling to find people to connect with that I knew, (not knowing that was the wrong way to do it) and almost gave up. With Scott’s assistance and Jesse Andersons (another friend active on Twitter) support I kept at it however.

Through this I connected with a lot of people and was learning some great things through Twitter. Something was still missing however, I wanted to learn more and connect with people face to face. One thing Jason Falls talked about occasionally was Social Media Club in Louisville and about how he had meet great people through it and exchanged some great though provoking ideas.

This was exactly what I was looking to do, so I reached out to Social Media Club to see if they had a club in Seattle. Kristie Wells, the founder of Social Media club told me the club they had in Seattle had dissolved, so I asked if they wanted to help to start one.

Not knowing nearly any of the “Go To” social media people at the time, and having very little experience using social media, I was excited that Kristie said she would love me to help them start a club in Seattle.

Considering Jason’s club in Louisville seemed like it had around 40 people meeting in a bar talking social media at the time, I thought it would be easy to start and run a club. (little did I know)

A month later in December of 2008 I conducted the first Social Media Club (SMC) Seattle organizational meeting. I put an all call on Twitter for people who were interested in helping to come to the meeting.

Lucky for me 12 great people showed up. Blake Cahill was one of the first to reach out and offer his support and guidance, but others showed up as well such as Veronica Shoper, Rachel Bergtedt, Cass Nevada, Barry Hurd, Amy Mcdougall, Barb Jacobucci, Gina Spadoni, Tamara Weikel and many others. (If I missed you please let me know)

At our first event when we had close to 200 people show up. This is when I knew I had stumbled onto something way bigger than I had ever planed. Now, over a year later, the amazing board members and others have helped turn SMC Seattle into an amazing community with events of 300+ people and every event being sold out. My favorite part is all the great people I have become friends with, and the fact that I have learned more from this group of people than I ever did in college.

It’s amazing how it has all worked out. Years ago I dreamed about finding ways to combine my love of tech and online communication with my passion for marketing, and doing it in a way where both the businesses and consumers benefit. Through this amazing journey I have found ways to do that, and made many great friends along the way.

I’d say I found the path God has created for me, or merely God put this path in front of me whether I liked it or not. You may say it’s fate, but no matter, I found it and I’m not looking back now.

What’s your story?

Kevin Urie

Human Language is not just a Social Media Thing

Talking like a humanI don’t know how I slipped into it, why I started thinking this way, but I lost one of the key principles of social media, speaking in a human voice. Somehow I started thinking and telling clients that the human voice thing can be left for the blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc, the rest of your website and marketing material can be marketing crap. (Ok, I didn’t use the word crap) As part of the Destination Marketing book club I'm leading everyone in the office through the “Cluetrain Manifesto” and while reading it for the first time in years,  I realized I went off track somewhere. It especially hit me in reading chapter three “Talk is Cheap” by Rick Levine. The below excerpt is what made it painfully clear.

Hart Scientific, Inc. ( posted a convenient comparison of conversational versus traditional writing on their Web site. They have two versions of their Y2K compliance page. You can tell them apart:

Noncompliance issues could arise if Hart Scientific manufactured products are combined with other manufacturer’s products. Hart cannot test all possible system configurations in which Hart manufactured products could be incorporated. Our products currently test as being compliant and will continue to operate correctly after January 1, 2000. However, customers must test integrated systems to see if components work with Hart Scientific manufactured products. Hart makes no representation or warranty concerning non-Hart manufactured products.


If you’re using our equipment with someone else’s gear, who the hell knows what’s going to happen. We sure don’t, so how can we promise you something specific, or even vague for that matter? We can’t, so we won’t. However, we love our customers and like always we’ll do whatever is reasonable to solve whatever problems come up, if there are any.

Which one would you rather read? Which one connects you to the brand, and gives you a sense of working with people, instead of a corporation?

I used to preach this and then lost it, and I think social media is to blame partly. It’s easy to put social media in a silo. For some reason in all the talk about Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, etc. I forgot that the principles that work with those social tools, work with all forms of media.

Heck I even warned against thinking social media are tools in a blog post  “Social Media, Philosophy, Tools, or Both?” Maybe I should take my own advice!

Well people get off track. I was there, but now I’m back. It’s not going to be an easy battle, but that has never stopped me before.

I encourage you to join me (if you aren’t there already) and to not relegate human voices to a blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Lets push companies and ourselves in talking with a natural voice in all mediums of communication.

Who  wants to read, listen, or even do business with a bunch of marketing crap anyway?

Is Twitter the New Library?

Is Twitter a Library?I have a tendency to explain things using metaphors and analogies. (I probably rely on it a little too much.) In keeping with that pattern, recently I have been telling some business owners that Twitter is similar to a library, and every account is a different book on the shelf. So if they want to have an effective Twitter account they need to be the book that has the best information, and the one people keep pulling off the shelf to use. This is an over simplification of Twitter, but it seems help them in understand the unique aspects of Twitter. Especially businesses that think Twitter is only about telling people what you are doing.

Twitter started out as that, but has developed into a place to share and receive information, and through that information exchange, relationships and trust are developed.

This is similar to how non-fiction books gain popularity. Typically the books that are engaging and have great information are the ones people come to respect. This leads to the author being seen as an authority.

So how does a business become the best “book” in the Twitter library? Well for one you don't talk about yourself, or the great offers you have this weekend. (Remember I said book not Newspaper insert!) Instead you give back to the Twitter community by providing information they can't get elsewhere. You give insights on your brand and category that establishes you as the leader in your category.

Some of it should even be customer service information exchanged with people that need help. These are the real FAQ questions people want to see on your website, and provide great insight people can’t find elsewhere.

The nice thing about Twitter is that all this information doesn’t need to originate with you. You can aggregate information from other people including competitors and share that information if you think it will benefit your “readers” as long as you reference the original source.

The best part is that Twitter is not just one way form of communication like a traditional book. Instead it is two way which leads to a deeper relationship with your audience than a book author could ever have with a few book signings.

Ok, so Twitter is like a library, provide great information and develop trust with your audience and you will become an authority on a topic. That’s the easy part, the hard part is finding a topic to "write" about that people are going to pay attention to.

There are many great books out there that people don’t read because the topics just aren’t that interesting.

Problem with Mass Communication?

Problem with Mass Communication(Hate to jump on the Super Bowl bandwagon with my first “real” post back, but oh well.)

Something hit me yesterday while watching my Twitter stream from the Super Bowl. Normally my Twitter friends all tend to agree. Sure slight variances of opinion happen on things such as the iPad and politics, but I'd never seen such wide rage of opinions from hate to love as I did about the Super Bowl ads.
The most popular ad seemed to be the Dorritos dog collar ad, but even in a group of like minded people like I have on Twitter, some of my friends hated it.
In marketing class you are always told to target, and go after a specific audience, but I think everyone in marketing holds out for that utopia ad that everyone likes. It makes me think about how I go about marketing.
Of course everything I do goes after a particular demo, but to some extent I want to make everyone that sees it happy. In doing that, am I  diminishing the effectiveness of  the ad to my target audience?
By appeasing everyone am I losing some of the connection I could make by exclusively focusing on the demo? Probably.
Or  is it even possible to make everyone in one target group respond the same way? I believe even if you target certain demo's and audiences, that group no matter how tightly defined is still going to have different sets of emotional triggers that make them respond differently.
It's one of the main problems with mass communication. When you go after the masses you are either going to turn someone off, or make something so blah no one cares.
Maybe that is what appeals to me about social media. It's a lot easier to make people happy when you listen and respond, as opposed to when you broadcast.
What do you think?

It Feels Good to be Back

So the sites not completely done. Still some IE errors and some other tweaks etc. but I can say I’m back, and thanks to some amazing work by Bob Dunn from Cat's Eye Marketing I think it looks a lot better as well.I am coming back to blogging and it feels very good to be back. I miss diving deeper into my thoughts, sharing my opinions in more than 140 characters, and mostly experiencing the relaxation of writing.

I can’t guarantee much in terms of great writing, spelling, grammar, or even content, but I will give what I can. I will listen if you have something to say, and I will try to be consistent with at least two post a week from here on out.

So feel free to come as go as you please, subscribe to the RSS or email, or simply ignore me all together. Really it doesn’t really matter, cause I’m here and don’t plan on going anywhere soon.

Social Media, Philosophy, Tools, or Both?

Social Media Tools or Philosophy? When I talk with people about social media, I talk about it more as a philosophy than a tool.  So what is it?

Is social media anything that uses social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.? Or is it a company or personal philosophy about having and valuing two way conversations with people? Or is it both?

My contention is that social media is a set of tools that should be used to implement a communications philosophy. The problem is that if your communication philosophy or strategy is flawed, the tools will not help you and may harm you.

As I sit here and watch Top Gear, it makes me think of an analogy. Implementing social media without the right philosophy is like driving and F1 car without the proper training. You have the best tools in the world, but without the proper strategy and training, you're either gonna sit their trying to figure out how to start it, or you won't be able to control the power and you may kill yourself.

So instead of talking about tools, lets talk about the philosophy. Let's figure out ways to show companies the value of two way communications with both customers and employees. Make them crave and desire those conversations. Once that is accomplished they will seek out the tools on their own.

Social media tools will come and go. If we concentrate on teaching how to use Facebook and Twitter, and those go the way of Friendster what are we accomplishing in the long term? Plus can you really get someone to use these tools correctly, if they don't buy into the premise behind them in the first place?

Goal number one needs to be to get the philosophy understood and bought into. Goal number two should be to teach them how to use the tools to implement their communication strategy.

I've seen enough social media implementations, these tools are better than that.

Communication 2.0 needs to come before Web 2.0.


Should We Launch Online Campaigns via Traditional Media?

Does Jack in the Box have the right formula?

Ever since Jack in The Box “Hang in there Jack” launched, I've wondered if launching an online social network, or viral campaign via TV is efficient. (Ok, truthfully I missed the spot all together when watching the Super Bowl, but that doesn't help prove my point.)

I know several successful online “viral” campaigns have launched via TV, but it's time to move on to a different strategy. BMW was very successful with their BMW films campaign, but it's a much different time now, and I don't know if that was “viral” in the first place. (I hate how viral is used in reference to online campaigns, so I feel better when I put it in quotes.  Don't ask me why.)

Why not launch the campaign online first, and use social media to promote it? This is not only cheaper, but increases the chances influencers online will adopt the campaign as their own and help promote it. Using mass media to promote something online is almost shunned by this group, and it will be hard to get their acceptance once you do.

Another benefit to launching online is that the company or agency behind the program can test the campaign and see if it works before spending millions of dollars promoting it with traditional media. You could even refine the campaign to see what works before launching it on a larger scale.

Best case scenario would be if the campaign went “viral” without mass media at all. You could reach millions of people for a fraction of the cost of a Super Bowl ad, and you would get a sense of ownership from those participating, that you don't get using mass media.

One of the reasons something goes “viral” is that it seems special to the viewer. So special or unique that those who see it want to share it with their friends.

If a campaign launches during the Super Bowl, how special is it? Do you think, “wow I bet my friends have not seen this and would enjoy it”? Probably not.

Maybe I'm wrong. By the looks of the numbers to the site, the Twitter account, Facebook group etc. Jack in the Box seems to be getting a lot of participation. I think that has more to do with the fact that they are one of the first to have a truly integrated social media campaign, not because of a brilliant execution strategy.

What do you think?

Denny's did you think about an ROI?

From Arbyreed's photostream Everyone is all a buzz about the Denny's Super Bowl Grand Slam Giveaway.  Adweek calls it a “Hit” in this article. But if it was such a hit, why doesn't everyone simply give away their product in promotions?

Heck, anyone could giveaway stuff for free to millions of people, the key is doing it and making money. The main question Denny's and anyone that does a giveaway needs to be asking is, “am I creating new customers by doing this”, or “does it get my current customers to increase their spend”?

Is Denny's ever going to get a positive return on the $5 million they spent (according to Adweek) on this promotion? For the sake of easy math, let's look at some easy numbers and calculate their break even point.

At best Denny's makes $5 on each Grand Slam they sell (according to Adweek).  That means they need to sell an additional one million of them, to make this promotion break even. (They could sell higher margin product etc. but is it really gonna make that big of a difference? They're not a steakhouse)

Does anyone believe the people receiving these free Denny's meals were so happy with them, that they are going to come back for more? Let alone one million of them? Was the experience so gratifying or outside their expectations they had for Denny's that they said, “dang I need to go to Denny's more often”?

I don't think that many people were convinced of that, nor do I think Denny's believes it.  That is why they gave away coupons to try to get these new customers to come back.  So again they result to discounting their product to get rid of it.

The only way a company is going to make a giveaway like Denny's work, is to exceed the customers expectations in some way. Everyone knows what a Grad Slam taste like, why didn't Denny's introduce a new product and give that away? At least that way customers might find a new product they love, and it would give them a reason to come back.

Or better yet, why not use this giveaway to introduce a lower price for the Grand Slam meal? Use the economy angle to promote it. Obviously they feel their product is not worth the $5.99 they charge, because they are giving  it away for free and couponing it. Why not start charging $3.99 everyday for a Grand Slam and say they are celebrating by giving them away for free for the first half of Feb 2nd?

It's gonna take longer to get a return, but at least some people might actually come back. And by doing this it benefits everyone, not just the few who took advantage of the free breakfast.  At the very least some people might remember that Denny's has a complete breakfast for only $3.99, right now all they remember now is that Denny's gave away some free food.

What can I edit in a Twitter Re-Tweet?

Did, he get in jail for bad Twitter RT Etiquette?  

What's the deal with the Twitter Re-Tweet (RT)? Talking about getting more RT's seems to be all the rage lately, but what rules are their around the RT? 

What room do we have to edit a RT?  Can I merely RT the link with credit and then post my own comments around that?  Or do I need to keep the original tweet as close to the original as possible and then try to add my comments at the end if possible? Switching as many of the you's to U, and two's to 2, etc.

Shouldn't we as Twitters be able to simply RT the link and post our own comments? If we can, how would we show this? Take the below example of something I RT'd the other night.

"RT @mitchjoel: By the looks of this, Social Media is just getting started. Where do u think it's going? Add ur side here:"

Can I change this to,..

"RT @mitchjoel ;(The changing demo of social media and what's gonna happen next?)"

Or am I not giving the originator of the Tweet his proper credit? Or maybe, because I added new content to the tweet do I even need to give credit to the original tweeter at all for the link?

What if I read the post by Mitch, but then saw his tweet afterwards?  Do I need to RT him, or can I simply do my own Tweet?  Same question can be asked for other content on Twitter as well.  Before I post a link should I scan everyone I subscribe to in order to see if they have already Tweeted the link?

Please free me from this Twitter RT jail, and let me know what you think.

How to be an Expert in Everything

My goal is to be an expert at my job, but in today's ever changing marketing world it's impossible. That's why having a strong network of marketing connections is more important than ever. How is someone supposed to be an expert in all the aspects of just the online marketing world, let alone traditional media? Staying on top of all the changes in SEO, Paid Search, Display and Social Media is impossible. Just staying on top of one area like SEO or Social Media is extremely hard and time consuming.

Then add on top of that, traditional marketing such as TV, Radio, Print, and Outdoor, and how they all work together with online advertising, and you have a lost cause. That is unless you find a way to add more hours to the day. (if you do let me know)

So what are you to do, because aren't we supposed to offer our clients or company the best marketing advice around?

The only way to do that is to surround yourself with the best people. Have a great network around you of brilliant people in each industry that you can lean on when needed.

Sometimes the best thing to know, is to know when to bring someone else in for help.  That's the difference between knowing enough to be dangourous, and knowing enough to helpful.

Why Social Media?

The Power of Connections Ever since I started relaunching Social Media Club Seattle, my friends and co-workers keep asking me, why social media?  Ok, so sometimes that question comes after the what is social media question?  But at any rate, not everyone gets why I would want to be involved in a group about social media.

They see social media as a way to connect to friends, but what else could it do, and why would an advertising guy be interested?

Well, I am interested, (ok a little obsessed) with social media, because I have seen the power it has. I have seen social media transform the reputation of brands, raise thousands of dollars for a good cause, and change the marketing direction of large companies in a matter of days.

Comcast, a brand with a horrible reputation among tech geeks needed to improve their customer service reputation.  What did they do?  They turned to social media, and it's well documented in this NY Times Article

So by monitoring online conversations, and participating in online networks such as Twitter with @comcastcares, Comcast has started to change their brands image.  They have turned a community of people who were actively disparaging the brand online 2 years ago, into brand fanatics that actively promote Comcast.  I follow around 300 people on Twitter, and I can barely go a week without one of them raving about @comcastcares. That kind of word of mouth outreach does a lot to help a reputation of a company. This is something traditional advertising could not accomplish, especially not this fast, or so inexpensively.

The main reason @comcastcares was a success was people view their online connections positively. We are looking to learn and share with those we are connected with online, so we are less skeptical about what they are telling us. That can not be said about what we see on TV, hear on the radio, or see in a banner ad.

Zappos CEO gets it.  He buys into social media and blogs and tweets. This has led to a culture at Zappos that is focused around the customer.  What other CEO of a company with over $1 billion in sales would respond to random bloggers on Twitter, or respond to others blog post? Here are two great articles about Zappos, one from Adweek, and one from ReadWriteWeb.

Do a search for Zappos and you’ll see the results. It seems almost every blogger has interviewed Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.  What amazing PR, and a way to make a one to one connection with their customers. These aren’t just any customers promoting Zappos either, they are influencers that will then communicate this message to many others online and off.

You may be saying sure social media can increase brand awareness and perception, but how do we place a value on it? The best example I have of the potential is a recent plea for help from David Armano. His plea for $5,000 for a family in need was taken to heart by his followers. Within 12 hours of his original post he already had raised over double what he was hoping. A truly amazing and heart warming story of the power of a network and relationships.

There are many questions we can ask about this example, and things that must be quantified, but I have two that come to mind first as a marketer. How was David able to “influence” his online following to give? Or more importantly, what has David given his followers that they feel the need to give back?

I could go on with stories like this, both positive and negative. I could talk about the influence of a small Twitter group over a huge brand like J&J, in the Motrin Mom fiasco. Or talk about how H&R Block used social media and a fake persona to connect with consumers.

It seems everyday there is another case study or example of the power of social media. That alone is exciting, but the reason I am involved is the unknown of social media. How do we quantify why some social media marketing campaings work, and some don't? What are the best practices of social media, or the best implementation for a given brand? That is why I have connected both online and offline to others exploring these same questions.

Social media is growing and changing faster than anyone can keep up. We are at the infancy of something will change not only the way companies interact with consumers, but also the way they do business internally.

I have encouraged many of my friends to start participating in the social media space, and its great to see their excitement once the light switches on and they see the potential. It's hard to quantify what that potential is in a blog post like this, but trust me, spend a month participating in the conversation online and you'll see it too.

What Blogging Will do for You

I went into blogging with certain goals in mind, but after 6 months I have gotten more from it then I would have ever imagined, and so can you. When I started my blog, there were three reasons behind it. 1. To improve my writing skills 2. Get my opinionated ideas on paper, in an effort to free up my co-workers time. 3. So I could have two-way conversations with people about marketing ideas (Twitter does this now)

Here is a link to the first post that explains it a little more.

What I did not plan on getting out of blogging was the ability to refine my thoughts and communicate them more clearly, not only in writing but also in conversation. I don't know why I did not expect this to happen, but it has been the biggest benefit I received from blogging, and I think you would as well.

We all have thousands of ideas storming around our heads all day (and sometimes night) long. We like to think we can recall them when needed, but we can't always do that.

If we can recall those ideas they are not always well fleshed out or thought through. Certainly nothing you could use in a meeting with a client, unless you put a lot more time into developing them. By writing your ideas down, it helps you develop them materialize them and put them in a part of cognitive memory you can actually use.

Of course this is nothing new.  People have been saying to journal thoughts for thousands of years.  What's great about a blog however, is that you have other people reading those thoughts, and improving upon them.  You also have somewhat of an accountability network to keep you going.

So if you don't blog, give it a try for a few days.  Just go to or and set one up.  Or if you already blog, do it more often.  (trying to take my own advice)

You will be amazed how when in meetings, or in talking with friends, you will all of a sudden start quoting your blog post.  It's like having a support group of ideas ready to help you when needed.  Best of all they're your ideas!

For 2009, Predict and then Plan...

I know everyone will be talking about this today, but then again maybe there's a reason for that. On New Years people like to reflect on the past, and look forward to the future.

Something is different this New Years eve however, with all the doom and gloom we hear in the media about the economy most people are not excited for what's in store in 2009.

All we hear is that 09 is going to be bad economically, with higher unemployment rates and more companies needing to be bailed out. So what should we do during this time of reflection and projection, as we leave a mediocre 2008 and head into what looks to be a turbulent 2009?

Well, we must all keep our heads down (or up?) and move forward. We must use this as an opportunity to push new ideas that would have never been accepted when things were going well. Now is a great opportunity, because nothing opens up a CEO's ear more to new ideas than a few turbulent quarters.  Now;s your turn to capitalize on it.

With that in mind here is my hopes and dreams of things that will happen in 2009 in the marketing world.

1.It will get worse before it gets better, but in 09 companies will beat themselves up with so many sales and discounts that they won't work anymore (if they still are) and they will eventually understand they need to be listening and interacting with their customers. 2.Traditional media (TV, Radio, Paper, etc.) will continue to hop on the online bandwagon, the only difference is some of them will get it right. We will see more products like Hulu, and some big newspaper company will hire a big online exec and go 100% online. The line between traditional media and new media will merge. 3.Use of social media will continue to rise, and companies will find it impossible to ignore the online conversations going on about their companies. 4.Online video advertising will continue to rise as TV ad budgets are cut, and companies still want that rich visual connection with the public. 5.By the end of 2009 companies will stop acting scared and will start investing in things like marketing, R&D, and employees. (Smart companies never stopped)

Now I will take this list, and others I have, and will make plans for 2009 based on it. These plans will be both for me personally and for my clients and company. I encourage you to make your own list of projections and then figure out ways to capitalize on them.

Make 2009 a great year!

BTW, my 2009 goals for this blog are to write more, continue to improve my writing skills (or lack thereof), and finally update the theme.

Who should control Social Media? PR, Marketing, Customer Service?

For some reason the question of where to place of social media on a company org chart is a thing of much debate. I have read post about how it should be in PR and I have also read people blog that it should be in customer service. I haven't seen any post about it going under marketing, but then again, using social media for marketing is something that is done, but no one likes to talk about.

Let's step back and reevaluate this for a moment however, why are we trying to fit the square peg that is social media, into a round whole that is PR, marketing, and customer service? Sure social media can be used to accomplish all three, but aren't we constraining the benefits if we put aPR, marketing, or customer service in charge of it?

Or even worse, some larger companies put all three departments in charge of it. I was at a panel discussion the other week, and heard about how Microsoft does this. They have social media people in all three groups. They have enough money to start a separate social media department. Why don't they?

How do companies benefit from having one person/department monitor and interact with people in a customer service realm, and then a different person/department on the PR side? How are meaningful relationships going to be made when the people doing these interactions only have them when discussing certain topics?

Sure some companies don't have the funds to develop their own social media department with a C level exec etc., but they do need to give control to someone.

This person may report to a Marketing or PR Exec, but this social media guru must have control and knowledge of all three areas online. If not relationships will not be made, and certain areas of opportunities in social media will be missed.

Only by seeing all the opportunities in social media, and taking part in all of them, will social media then benefit companies in the way they are hoping.