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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?

"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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Let's look to Newspapers for the future of Display Ads

In order to stop display ads from withering on the vine publishers and advertisers must get more creative with online ads, and one good place to look for ideas is traditional media.

As Mitch talked about in his blog post, display ads are in trouble.

Are they going to go away?  No, banner ads are the primary vehicle to obtain reach online, and can carry a brand message to millions online.  Yet no matter what we do creatively, or how we push the limits of behaviorally targeting, display ads still seem incomplete.

Why is that?  Why do we as marketers feel like we are missing something with a banner ad, that we get with a TV ad?

Some of it has to do with advertisers giving way to much credit to TV ads. Are they all that much more effective than a well done roadblock or pre-roll ad online?  Maybe a little, but  TV advertising has had over 50 years to perfect it's approach.

So what must be done to evolve display ads so they are more effective? First we need to think outside the current IAB box for display ads.  Publishers also need to work in tandem with advertisers to find the best placements.  They can no longer say, we place banners here, skyscrapers here, and big boxes here.

I know some publishers are offering this, and pretty much anyone would for the right price, but it needs to be easier.  Why not open up the entire page to ads, and charge different rates for different areas of the page?  Then publishers could make the content fit around that? Obviously their needs to be some limitations to this, but this same approach has been done for years in print.

A newspaper advertiser can choose pretty much any placement for an ad, as long as they stay to within basic column and row heighth specifications.  This gives the advertiser much more flexibility to create ads that grab attention.  Plus it makes it harder for readers to train themselves to ignore certain sections of a page where an the ad is always placed.

Sure to deploy this on websites would involve customized site layouts for each approach, but how hard would it be to come up with 30 different layout options for each placement? Again, the papers do it.

And this is just one option.  Other creative ideas such as unique shapes and sizes of creative need to be developed as well.  What about instead of a box or rectangle we use a circle, or even the shape of a logo? Sure that would not work for everyone, but over the years we have trained viewers to stop paying attention to colored boxes and rectangles online.  How do we break this pattern?

Only by getting creative, and thinking about new implementation ideas beyond IAB standards, are publishers going to be able to differentiate and take control back from the ad networks.

Too much inventory, too many sites, too many options.  Yes, that is a problem, but if can increase demand by using more effective placements and creative some of those problems will go away.

Traditional Media don't be Scared!

Why is it that traditional media and new media just can't get along? Why is it that I go to countless presentations by TV and Radio stations and all they ever try to do is justify their existence? It's always about reach! They say “you can't get reach like this anywhere else” (who are they kidding?). Or they try to sell their personal connection with their audience. I love when they say their website, has more dedicated followers that trust them and is more valuable than a typical website.

Seriously? When was the last time you felt a personal connection to a traditional media's website more than say a social website?

Traditional media is not dead by any stretch of the imagination, nor will it be anytime soon, but with this type of talk they are sure digging their grave rather fast. Why aren't they figuring out ways to develop deeper relationships and connections with their audience?

It's because they are scared of loosing audience to other sites and using other formats they do not control. Sure they have all added blogs, but why won't they reach out to their audience and connect in a more meaningful way? Why not have Facebook groups, Twitter profiles etc.?

No one wants to read a blog that talks about the same things they do on the air. They read a blog to find out what their DJ or news Anchorman is really like. Or at the very least to get a behind the scenes look at what is going on at the station.

I listen to the Hot AC radio station here in Seattle, (only in the morning mind you, it wakes me up) with an ideal Facebook demo, and they do not even have a Facebook Group that I can find. Their morning Jocks have Facebook profiles but they are private. (I would try to friend them, but don't want that showing up on my profile!)

TV is the same way. I have a friend who is a Weatherman, and I have been trying to convince him to join Twitter. He could be the Weatherman for Twitter, and connect with his audience on a deeper way, but as of yet he has not done it.

Why do these traditional media formats avoid these social platforms? It's all about controlling the audience. They still think they have control like they did 20 years ago, and sadly refuse to wake-up to the idea that they are now just a small part of people lives.

Only by embracing other media formats, and loosing control will they truly develop a deep relationship with their audiences. Once that relationship is established they will then have something more valuable then reach, they will have insight and a connection on a personal level.

In traditional media?  Let me know what you think.

Kevin Urie

Share Social Networks on Thanksgiving!

Ever feel like being part of Twitter, having a blog, and taking part in other social networks, is something you want to share? Thought for Thanksgiving, I'd give tips on how to get friends, co-workers, etc. to use RSS, Twitter, and Blogs.  We are going to spend time with family and need something to talk about, why not let them in on a how amazing social networks are?

Below are a few ideas on how to get friends, family, and co-workers to start taking part in online conversations.  At some point someone got you started on it, now it's time to share the favor with someone else.

RSS - 1.Show them your RSS reader and how quickly it transformed how you get information from the web. 2.Show them this video by Common Craft if they still don't get it. 3.Setup an RSS reader for them with feeds you think they might like 4.If they like to read books, talk to them about how blogs have turned you onto some good books, and how blogs have added to your reading.

Twitter - 1.When you forward articles you found on Twitter, tell them that. 2.Tell them how your Twitter contacts answered a question you had. 3.Have them look over your shoulder when you use Twitter, to see the type of conversations you have.  They'll be shocked, it's not all about people posting about brushing their teeth. 4.If you have enough followers, ask your followers to say hello to the friend who is interested in Twitter.

Blog - 1.If they already like to write, encourage them to simply put it online. 2.If they think they can't write, have them read my blog.  I can't, but I am hoping by writing more on my blog it will improve. 3.I have friends who write long white paper type emails. These type of emails translate easy into blog post.  Help them convert some of them.

Networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn should be easy to get them on and is a great place to start


1.If they are not on Facebook by now, they probably think it is just for friends.  Show them how you use it to connect for business. 2.Show them lost friends you found on Facebook, and what that led to. 3.Some simply will not get Facebook, so move on to LinkedIn

LinkedIn- 1.Show them your connections, and ask them to name a business.  Then explain how you are connected to it. 2.If they are in sales, so them all the options LinkedIn provides them. 3.Explain how LinkedIn, does not have all the Facebook things they don't like.  Such as videos, personal pics, etc. 4.If they are looking for a new job, show them how to use it that way.

This list could go on and on, and please add to it in comments if you have any suggestions or stories of success.

I have been working on my friends and co-workers for the last few months, and two of them are starting blogs, three of them have started using RSS readers, and I think one is about to start Twitter.

It is not the easiest thing to convince others to join the online conversation, but the more people we have taking part, the better the conversations will be.

“They're killing independent George! And they're, they're all in on it! World's are colliding!”

Ever felt like you have too many social networks? One for friends, one for business connections, one for learning from others, etc.? Ever thought about trying to keep these social networks separate?

It reminds me of a George's Worlds Collide Theory:

“Theory that if ones relationship self and their independent self met it would be the end of the independent self”

The same thing is happening with social media. Do we want our friend networks to collide with our business network? Do we want our learning network (for me this is Twitter) to collide with our friend or business network?

If they do, do we loose our one independent self? Does the work me, the friend me, and the family me all of a sudden become one person? Heck the more important question is do my connections in these different groups even want to know about my other worlds?

Do my Linkedin connections care that I just made a new friend on Facebook? Do my Facebook friends care that I just replied to @jasonfalls and asked him a question? Do they even know what @jasonfalls or RT means?

For now I am going to keep these worlds separate. Anyone can find me on any network (some are linked above and below) if they want to get info on that part of my world, but for now, mostly as a favor to my connections they will be separated.

I am sure someday a tool will come along, where you will be able to tell it what kind's of info you want from your various connections, but for now let's avoid the colliding of the worlds. Look what it did to George, his fiancee ended up dieing.





Confused about the Future? Plan Anyway!

Steve Rubel recently blogged saying ...

"I want to make a bet with you today. By January 2014 I will wager that in the US almost all forms of tangible media will either be in sharp decline or completely extinct. I am not just talking about print, but all tangible forms of media - newspapers, magazines, books, DVDs, boxed software and video games."

This caused others such at Mitch Joel to blog in response, saying that making this shift by 2014 is almost impossible. And I agree with Mitch and others. (heck my bathroom is still littered with magazines, and for only $10 a year for most of them they are hard to give up)

This shift is never going to completely happen by 2014, but why don't we set that as a goal or a deadline?  Why don't we try to push ourselves to make it happen by this date?  Why don't we get our companies ready for this shift, and prepare our marketing for a fast and dramatic shift in media over these next eight years?

This way we can be ready if media does shift by 2014, and if it doesn't we can be ahead of the curve.

Now, I am not proposing shifting our advertising plans out of old media starting tomorrow,  I'm just saying let's start thinking about what life is going to be like after this digital shift.  How are we going to reach consumers with our message?  How are they going to interact with our products?  What new technology could we invent to communicate more effectively?

We may not know when, or how things are going to change, but we should always be trying to guess what the changes are going to be and when they are going to happen.  That is the only way we can start to prepare for the future.

Even if we never guess the right timeline, or the right changes, going through this exercise of preparing for change, will make us more able to capitalize on these shifts.  So if we are late to the party, and don't figure out what we need to do until the very last moment, we'll already be experienced at identifying the changes, and how we can take advantage of them.

Empty Your Cup of Knowledge

I am a fan of old Pacific Lutheran football coach Frosty Westering and a saying he uses before he speaks “empty your cup”. (Being Frosty, he actually demonstrates the illustration, water goes everywhere etc.) The essence of the saying is that if we go into anything thinking our cup of knowledge is full, we will not have any room to learn anything knew.

We must first empty our cup, and then look for ways to fill it with the knowledge of others.

This is something that I struggle with, and am trying to work on. I am an internet geek, I know a little about a lot, but true knowledge comes from relationships not the internet.

I struggle with this at my job as well. As an Ad Exec, I have a tendency to always want to come off as the marketing “expert” to my clients. I have the education, experience, support groups, etc. and my client does not, so I should understand marketing more than most of my clients who spend most of the day running their businesses.

But that is not always the case. As much as I try to understand my clients business, they still know it better than I do. Sometimes I make a mistake or overlook something, and the client can add some good insight. Other times my clients wealth of knowledge might be different than mine, and they may offer a great idea that I have never thought of.

Bottom line, no matter how much of an expert you think you are in any particular area, always listen to others as if they are an expert. It's amazing what you learn with an open mind.

Marketing Budget Cuts, Really?

So these last few months have been extremely hard on the advertising industry and on me personally.  No matter where you turn it seems everyone is talking about the horrible economy, and about how to avoid a depression.

Sorry, but when people sound hopeful about avoiding a depression, that still does not help instill confidence.

Given this news, many of my clients have asked to cut their budgets in the last few weeks.  Below is a list of reason they have given for cutting their budgets, and what my colleges and I have said in response.  (remember we specialize in retail advertising so the answers and questions lean that way.)

1. We can cut budget and keep our share of voice, because our competitors have cut budget – Our goal has never been share of voice, but share of mind.   We want XX% of people to think of your brand for XX product.

2. Let's cut for just a little bit and see what happens – The ramifications of cutting marketing spend are not instantaneous.  If I cut budget one week, my sales may not drop to the next etc., plus it may take some time to gain back the level of awareness we once had.

3.Spend to Sales is out of proportion - Let's look at the numbers based on the long term not month to month, and figure out our best long terms marketing goals.

I wish I could tell you these all worked, but of course they did not.  Some cut, some did not, and more will cut in the future.   No matter how many blogs we read that tell us now is not the time for an aggressive advertiser to cut budget,  we all know it will happen anyway.

Let's use this time not to complain or whine.  Let's use this time to think more strategically, and try to get the most out of every dollar we do have.  What have you wanted to do with your marketing, that now might be a good time to try?

Apple Please Listen to Us! Part III- Be Social!

Lastly Apple’s customer service is now having trouble keeping up with its growth. Don’t get me wrong, once you talk to someone you get great service, but getting to that point is difficult. Apple stores are always busy, and getting the time with a Genius can take days. Online their customer service is non-existent except for a few tutorials, a FAQ’s and a forum that no one from Apple seems to look at or moderate. Heck even finding there customer service phone number is next to impossible on the Apple Service website.

Why don’t they have live chat customer service? Why don’t they moderate the forums and see what the problems are? I called them the awhile ago because location services on my iPhone would not always work. I could find all sorts of post online about this very location services problem. Some on the Apple forum, others on Twitter or MacRumors Forums. To anyone who knew their way around the internet, it was obvious there was a problem.

But when I called Apple, they told me I was the first one ever to report the problem. She then talked to the CS supervisor and he still knew nothing of the problem. I told them to look at their forums. She then gave me an incident number for me to post on the forums so others could call in with the same complaint.

Shouldn’t Apple be doing this? Why are they relying on their customers to take care of other customers? Invest in your customers and they will reward you, even more than they do now. What if Apple was actively monitoring and posting in their forums? Think how useful it would be. Think of all the great ideas that would be shared, and the increase in brand loyalty they would have. (ok it is already pretty hi, but how long can it stay there?)

We are your customers Apple! We make you great! We control your future! If you do not listen to us, we will go away. We are a fickle bunch, and if you do not develop for us, take part in our conversation, or listen to us we will go way!

We’ll we may wait tell Steve leaves, but we will go away.

The Election, Customized Messages, and Connections

I'm taking a break from my Apple rant today, to talk about what everyone else is talking about today, the election.

This years election is fascinating, the internet and especially social media has allowed people to connect with their candidates like never before.  It started with the amazing connection many people felt with the old man out of Texas, Ron Paul, and then transitioned to other candidates.

Social media has allowed voters to feel a personal connection to their candidates, and has allowed the candidates to customize their message to reach specific demographics.

Obama did not personally connect with people online, but instead he encouraged his supporters to connect together and form a strong online community.  He allowed voters to find other people like themselves that were voting for Obama, and talk and develop an online connection. 9 out of 10 people I follow on Twitter have been telling me to vote for Obama and reasons why.  I have never met most of these people, but I trust them with other advice, why would I not trust them with political advice?  Especially when their reasons for voting for Obama are targeted to the online geek demographic I fit into?

Obama is capitalizing on, online word of mouth.  He has even segmented his supporters into groups.  Look at his website, under the people header.  There anyone can find a group to associate with, whether it is a Christian group, Arab Group, Latin American group, etc.  Instead of trying to be one brand for everyone, Obama has segmented his brand and tweaked it for each of these groups.

He is very generic with his mass media message and somewhat unclear, but then when targeting these small groups he has customized his message to appeal to them.  This would have been impossible to do with traditional media.

Each group of supporters has made the Obama brand their own.  Geeks love him for one thing and that is what he talks about to them, and Labor loves him for other reasons and he talks to them about that.

In some ways Obama has let his supporters take over the Obama Brand. They have made it their own, and have developed a strong connection with their views of who Obama is.

Could this backlash once he is President, and he has to make decisions that alienate groups of his followers? Probably, but I am sure he will once again engage the community, and talk to them online in a personal direct manner that appeals to their interest to minimizes the backlash.

It is an amazing strategy, and something political advisors will be studying for years to com