Three new social media myths that MUST STOP NOW

A few months ago I wrote a post about  The Five Social Media Myths that called out some of the mis-guided “rules” of the social web:

  • To be effective in social media, you must give up control of the conversation
  • It’s all about engagement.
  • Never sell.
  • Emphasize quality over quantity.
  • Social media is all about authenticity.

Some time has gone by and three more myths have creeped into the dialogue.  Humbly, may I suggest we also need to stop them too!

1) You can, and must, measure the ROI of social media programs.

This cracks me up. We have come full circle!

A year ago many A-List bloggers were suggesting that it was a waste of time measuring social media marketing campaigns because it would be tantamount to measuring the ROI of email. Now, some of them suggest that not only is it desirable, it is possible and necessary to measure the ROI of every social media initiative.

For these folks, I have to ask: “Have you ever really worked in a company that has a BUDGET?”

Let me state emphatically that it is critical to measure the results of marketing initiatives in some manner and that you must tie your efforts to the creation of shareholder value.  But many times it’s not practical to drive measurement all the way down to ROI because it may be too time-consuming and expensive to do so.  Many times a leading indicator such as sales leads or downloads can be a reasonable and cost-effective proxy, especially for small companies.  Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Sometimes simple measurements will do just fine — spend most of your time on the actual doing!

2) Your number of friends/followers don’t matter.

I recently observed this ridiculous Twitter conversation – celebrity-grade tweeters arguing over which of them cared less about the number of followers they had.

Last week Mari Smith left this comment on my post: “I’m with Guy Kawasaki on the two types of people on Twitter:  Those who say they want more followers and liars.”  That sums it up for me, too.  Chris Brogan also had the guts to write a blog post about the practical advantages of large number of followers.

If you’ve built your meaningful and relevant audience carefully, why wouldn’t bigger be better?  Why not learn more, make more friends, build more connections?

And if you’re on here to sell, developmental sales and marketing is usually a numbers game.  You connect with lots of people.  A small number of those become business leads. An even smaller number result in real business.

It’s an honor that a lot of great people care enough to follow you. Why be cavalier about it?

3) Every business needs to be on the social web.

Here is the most pompous tweet I’ve seen in a while: “If you don’t use the social web for your business, it’s not that you don’t understand the social web. You don’t understand your business.”

Excuse me?  The successful business owners I know are very smart, highly in tune with their customers, and have an extraordinarily good sense of what it takes to succeed.  While many businesses may realize tremendous benefits from the social web, I think we have to respect the fact that it might not be the wisest place to focus precious time and resources in every case.

  • If you’re selling Depends adult diapers, you should probably spend most of your marketing dollars elsewhere.
  • If you’re selling coal to electric utilities, you’re probably not going to tweet your way to success.
  • If you’re in a down and dirty business like buying and re-selling scrap metal, neither suppliers nor customers typically even have computers.
  • In some nations and cultures, marketing through the social web may be less effective than in Western business models.

Let’s use common sense and resist the temptation to force-feed any communication channel on anybody.  And if we’re in a consultative role, we need to respect the inherent wisdom that resides in experienced business owners and listen more than preach.

So that’s a take on the latest mythologies on the social web. What’s your view?  Any I missed?

Guy Kawasaki is the devil

Before I convince you that Guy Kawasaki is the devil, let’s look at his secret identity as described in his “official” bio.

Guy Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm and a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. Guy is the author of nine books including Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Impressive.

The man could probably get a job anywhere.  And yet his chosen occupation is Twitter Tormentor as he pays a staff of people to blanket us with tweets like:

Guy Kawasaki GuyKawasaki

The wild and rampant sex of flowers http://u.nu/8c578

How to sell socks http://idek.net/1Qlh

How can sugar explode? http://idek.net/1Rav

How to make a shrimp from a bendy straw http://idek.net/1OuI

How to reprogram your brain in 5 days http://idek.net/1OVl

Booty-popping frogs. Eat your heart out Beyonce http://u.nu/6k28b

Guy’s content is like a never-ending game of Trivial Pursuit and he somehow lured 253,758 people into his private world of tweet hell.  Why Guy, why?

The truth!  Do you have a plant sex fetish?

Why is it so important to teach us how to sell socks?

Shouldn’t you be doing something more important than bending straws into crustaceans?

While this constant barking on my Twitter stream is somewhere between annoying and obsessive, I can’t look away.  I’m under his spell.  Is he REALLY re-programming our brains? Is it that impish, Bieber-like smile? Could it be the frog booty?  I don’t know, but damn you Guy Kawasaki!!  Damn you for being the most eclectic and confounding personality on the tweet stream!

Social media strategies businesses should learn from politicians

Guest blogger and political pundit Jenci Spradlin reveals why business should take a marketing lesson from the politicians:

Maybe it’s because I’m a political junkie and spend most of my time discussing politics on the social web, but I think the business world would do well to try to translate lessons from politics into strategy.

1)  Capture passion. What is politics really about any way?  Capturing the passion people have to tell their story and connecting with people who can possibly influence their lives.  Politics brings out the tribal feelings engendered by sharing something larger than yourself with like-minded individuals.

There are people who get passionate about a brand, but by far politics wins the passion prize, particularly with the stakes so high. Successful campaigns tap into that passion … whether in politics or business.

2) Use the right tools for the right message. Let’s think about how politicians use the social web and how it might relate to business, too.  I used to do a lot of political blogging, but I have practically abandoned it due to the more immediate nature of Twitter and Facebook. Blogging by a politician might be a good way to convey a detailed overview of some complex policy matter, but in terms of engagement with voters, it is like putting an op-ed in the newspaper versus going door to door talking directly to voters.  Probably the same with businesses?

3) Go meet the people. Another analogy is that politicians have to go where their constituents are. If they are on Twitter or Facebook, that is where they must go and be as comfortable engaging directly as they would in person. Politicians are still trying to figure out the right mix in terms of direct engagement versus broadcasting and not all of them do this well.   If you want to look at some people really doing this right, look at common-cause issues such as the Teaparty Movement.

4) Show genuine interest. There is no one issue that brings people to the political table, and businesses should think like that too.  Businesses would do well to not limit themselves or their brand to one specific area, but again, allow their “raving fans” to intertwine the brand within their lives, and allow real people working on behalf of the brand to engage directly as people, and not as a generic brand account. Even if the person isn’t identified by name, it is easy to tell when the company takes a larger interest in its customers beyond “buy what I am selling.”

5) The authenticity issue. And then there is that all-important authenticity issue. There are plenty of politicians who do embrace Twitter, and certainly there are those who have staff members do it on their behalf.   I find that the more local you get, the more likely you are to have the individual do their own posts. That might be something for businesses to consider to. The closer you get to the rubber meeting the road, the more real you better be!

6) Get personal. Here’s something that makes politicians seem authentic on the social web: Real life “stuff.”  People like to make fun of the “what-I-had-for-lunch” posts, but I find those to be an invaluable way to connect in a non-threatening way (assuming they post some meat with their meat!)  Some of the greatest connections I have made with people have started through the “what I’m eating” post. We all have to eat – whether you are a famous politician, a stay-at-home mom, or a CEO.

In the same manner, there are plenty of brands / businesses who are being told to jump into social media because “everyone is doing it.” It seems scary to them and something that should be handed off to an outside firm to manage. So they do and some PR intern is handed the job of posing as the brand/business online. This is just the same as the politician who abdicates their use of social media to a staffer. For me, whether it is a brand or a politician, I am not interested in carrying on a conversation with a ventriloquist’s dummy. The insanity is that they honestly think that we won’t know the difference; that we won’t see the arm of staffers stuck up under their collective shirts.

Heck, as long as it’s real, it would even be OK to tweet about meat. : )

Jenci Spradlin is a wonderful political blogger at http://moderatelymarvelous.wordpress.com/  She can also be found on twitter at @jencitn

Y882S4FUAW4W

Six ideas to build social media momentum

My bike ride started me thinking about the importance of building social media momentum.

Here’s what I mean. My wife and I recently completed a lengthy mountain biking adventure.  At the end of the trail, there was a quaint yellow cottage offering sandwiches, ice cream and drinks. The yard in front of the establishment was brimming with bikes, so we figured it must be a popular place. It was so popular in fact that the wait was too long for a greasy hamburger and we rode away without ordering anything!

Hidden farther down the trail was another bistro. We almost passed by because there were not many bikes there. But we were hungry and decided to try it anyway. We were so glad we did!  We had a delicious gourmet sandwich served by a really funny waitress.

The moral of this story is that we were attracted to the first restaurant because it was validated by all the patrons it had. We nearly passed over second place — even though it had better “content” — because it seemed lonely.

I think this is an appropriate analogy for our presence on the social web, too, and I’m sure you already knew where I was going with this!  For example, blogs associated with lots of tweets and comments may get to a point where they’re popular just because they’re popular while worthy blogs may never get noticed unless they receive validation in the way of traffic.

So the question today is, if you have great content, how do you develop validation — social momentum — for it?

I would love to hear your ideas on this but let me start the conversation with six ideas of my own.

1) Seek folks who are naturally interested in your topic. I have a friend who just started a blog on manufacturing and industrial maintenance.  I suggested that he find related blogs on Technorati and interesting people to follow Twellow.  What?? You haven’t used Twellow? You can find Twitter users by hundreds of industry groupings here so it’s indispensable for finding fascinating people in your field!

2) Go off-road. Don’t just stick to the main roads. Potential readers of your blog can be found in many places …

  • Yahoo forums related to your professional topic
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Industry online trade magazines
  • Twitter lists
  • Blogs authored by competitors and customers.

3)  Connect. After a period of time, my friend should be able to identify some of the thought leaders in his field. Follow them, comment on their blogs, and establish your own voice to attract those already passionate about your topics. Want to see a best practice? Adam Vincenzini of our {grow} community recently involved many of his blogging thought leaders — and their readers — in one of his posts.  Awesome job.

4) Grow your potential audience. Many of the social media “purists” will tell you numbers don’t matter.  That’s hooey.  This is nothing but mis-placed false humility and they know it.  Building business connections on the social web is a numbers game. Maybe 5% of your “friends and followers” will read your blog. Of those who read, a rule of thumb is that 2% will   comment.  So if your goal is to attract more readers and more commenters, it makes sense to have the biggest base possible, right?  Now I’m NOT talking about buying lists or doing crazy things JUST for numbers. No, no, no. There is no short-cut. You need to build your audience the old-fashioned way by paying attention to people, providing great content, and being authentically helpful.  But keep building. Isn’t that what momentum, is about?

5) Ask for help. At a point when you’ve built up a relationship with these thought leaders and passionate followers, ask them for advice on your blog … perhaps even ask them for help in promoting it through tweets. If you’re providing great content, why wouldn’t they help?

6) Park a few bikes outside. As you’re slowly but steadily strengthening these meaningful, relevant connections, don’t be shy about asking your friends, co-workers and family members to tweet and comment on your blog. Park a few bikes outside, if you know what I mean. And promote your blog with customers, suppliers and business partners. Everywhere you have an email address, feature your blog address too.

What are your ideas on this subject?  How do you build social media momentum when you’re starting from zero?

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