How can you have any Pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

I was driving down the road after some great calls about upcoming speaking engagements and social media campaigns when Pink Floyd came on the radio. Now I must say, they are a bit played but you know whenever you hear them you pay a bit of respect for their innovation and for just being so damn daring and cool.

As the song wrapped I wondered if Social Media is not unlike The Wall. If you think about it there a ton of adversaries trying to hold on to old ways and when the bricks of innovation start breaking down they want to find ways to fast track to their success or retain their dominance.

When we all know that “we don’t need no education”, I mean really there is no curricula for this stuff! And to continue this clunky tie-in we certainly don’t need the old ways of communications ergo “Thought Control”

But rather we need to break down the walls, build something more fluid….something for your computer screen? Hell No! Something for ALL screens! Something consumers listen to? NO! Something consumers TALK to.

Brands want to put the same tactics in place they’ve been using and expect yummy results but if they aren’t willing to deconstruct, build new and innovative things, rid themselves of their stringent brand habits they will never get the pudding (see what I did there)….

And as thanks for enduring my ambitious analogy, I give you this…(apologies to Roger Waters)

Get it Right!

Yesterday I bitched about people moving on to the next big thing in digital before they get the current thing right.

So how do you get it right?

I’ll give you my top three tips

1. Get right with God (your consumer)
How do you treat your consumer/donor/audience offline?
If you have sucky customer service at your call center, in your restaurant or via mail—you probably shouldn’t open the floodgates. Get right with God as they say…God in this case being the target audience

2. Spike the punchbowl
Are you a wallflower or a disco dancer? If digital is like an online party, are you that nerd against the wall that no one wants to talk to or are you the one spiking the punch? Be the punch spiker! Give the folks a good time and they’ll keep coming back for more. Translation: no marketing speak, no stats and data unless it’s super valuable or they ask for it, ask them to dance and do a two-step making it about THEM and not just about you.  I mean seriously…f they wanted to look at a billboard they’d be pulling over on i95 instead of clicking a mouse.

3. Don’t bedazzle a piece of crap.
You know how people put expensive rims on a cheap car? You’ve seen those cars that have tons of custom fancy gadgets and accessories but it’s like a Yugo or something. You’re probably doing the same thing in digital–investing in all kinds of bells and whistles like apps and games when you probably haven’t invested in the right people and programs that really drive return.

Invest in a better vehicle: community managers and content that drive relationships-then loyalty-then increased sales. If games and apps were so great and making you money, they’d have pinball machines at cash registers instead of smiling friendly faces (sometimes).

Speaking of friendly faces, here’s a song that shows the ROI of having the right combination of the aforementioned tactics:

next big thing?

Yesterday, Someone asked me what the next big thing in digital was. I love this question. It typically comes from those who aren’t doing the current thing, or yesterday’s big thing correctly.

It’s like they are so focused on being early adopters that they lose sight of any real business objective or return.

“who cares what it does for my business?!? I want to be the first sprocket company to use rfid”

Lets use an analogy shall we? It’s like human or puppy adoption….people who adopt babies because they’re cute and cuddly but then when they become bratty toddlers or start peeing on the rug they want to send them back rather than nurture them into productive awesome adults….or worse, adopt a new one to smell that lovable baby smell again.

Hey, it happens.

Anyway back to technology—the moral of the story here is that the next shiny object matters very little if you can’t even nurture the basics. Technology is conduit–it’s a rope that tethers you to your target audience. If what that audience finds at the end of the tether is uninteresting, non engaging and frankly boring then no amount of shine and technical wonder will help you.

Oh and you can thank my new train commute for the coming deluge of daily posts…tomorrow I’ll follow-up on today’s piece with how to get the current thing right before hopping to the next shiny object.

Here’s your shiny happy video tie-in from two entities that always ensure that what’s at the end of the rope is super-duper:

(you shouldn’t have to) SHOUT!

I recently spoke to a colleague about their desire to spend a massive amount of money on an Olympics social media activation.

“Why would you do that?” I asked. “everyone does, you just have to” he said. I chuckled under my breath and the colleague asked what the problem was.
“Simple…saturation” I responded.

The brand in question was in no way affiliated with sports, it isn’t a travel brand and in fact trying to find any link between it and the Olympics is like connecting Lady Gaga to pest control…actually that would be an easier connection.

Here’s the thing, as marketers our job is to get attention for our brands, right? We are the shiny golden technicolor megaphones that bring eyes and ears to the wonder that is our product or service. We woo them with fireworks then inspire them with how their life is better because our sprockets and wingbats are in their lives.

So why on earth would you invest money in a time when no megaphone on the planet can reach a volume loud enough to even be heard, much less WOW their audience. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re Nike or Gatorade sure the Olympics are your sandbox and you should go for it. But if you have to hold a seance and call on Houdini to whip you up a comm idea that makes sense for you to play in the Olympics advertising arena you may want to reconsider your investment.

A wise person once told me “if you want to be heard…whisper.”  Those of you who know me know that i don’t really adhere to this in my personal life, however i do recommend this in social media.

If you have to shout so loud you lose your voice, you’re doing it wrong. Plan your marketing like a militia–hit them when they least expect it and do so in an authentic way that meets them on your own turf and not in some foreign construct.

Forget Christmas and Super Bowl and Olympics, what can you do in the middle of June to wow a captive audience…what can you OWN???

For the love of ROI, let us marketers use our megaphones strategically and don’t throw your money at gold medals you will never win, leave that to that Phelps kid!

And because I promised to always tie it back to my music loving roots…here you go:

Great report on Facebook Post Effectiveness

I woke up this morning to a wonderful study in my in-box. VITRUE has released a report on Facebook post effectiveness for the CPG and QSR sectors. Having made the switch from the non-profit to the corporate sector this year, it has been fun testing and learning the most effective methods for communicating with our target audience in the social space.

Luckily, the report supports the best practices we present to our clients. While most of it seems like common sense to us “expert” social media types it’s refreshing to have data to support it. Clients love a good third-party graph to make them feel better about the mysterious world of social.

While this report is great for understanding scheduling posts it doesn’t quite get into the content. So we know WHEN to post but do you know WHAT to post. And furthermore WHO should be posting and what is the tone and voice that the post should have?

Wow, down to the last sip of coffee and we have more questions than when we began.

I have a fantastic formula that we use to help make sure brands are avoiding marketing speak and providing content that is engaging and interactive for their online guests and consumers. Furthermore we work with each of our clients to experience the kind of paradigm shift that us Non-Profit types went through over 2 years ago.

That is the shift from talking TO our audience to talking WITH our audience. This requires a lot of hard and uncomfortable work. It requires us to loosen our brand stringency, to be open to talking about topics important to our consumer but not necessarily on brand. I can’t wait for a report to come out that shows effectiveness of Facebook post content….perhaps I’ll start one myself using my clients as the case-study.

I’ll be posting our formula for success in social communications very soon, in the meantime click below to check out this latest report and enjoy your morning!


Marketing, Road Trips and Hammers

So much has happened in the last 2 months. I launched a killer Twitter based fund raising campaign with the organization I work for Operation Smile. We flew to San Francisco and threw a launch party and then promoted it at TWTRCON, the first Twitter for business conference.

It was so amazing meeting the various personalities and marketing professionals who, like myself are trying to harness Twitter and (for the most part) use it’s powers for good. It was also refreshing to discover that one can be valued for their ideas and ability to develop unique and dynamic strategy even while they may lack the technical mastery to fully implement. I was told an analogy of marketing days gone by when websites first arrived and it wasn’t up to the strategist or marketing manager to write the code for the site but it was up to them to make it look great and produce.

AHHHHH sigh of relief. Because frankly these web tools are so vast and while I am working hard to master them and reading the masters to do so (you know who you are because you get my dm’s and @’s)i sometimes get caught up in the tools and forget that i am skilled at the plans. My husband had yet another great analogy as I fretted in the car on a roadtrip en route to Bonnaroo at my lack of ability to get my apps to work on my Blackberry.

He said-every man has a tool set in their house somewhere, a hammer, a saw some sand paper. But do many of them have the forethought, creativity and drive to use those tools to really create something amazing like a piece of furniture or art?

WOW. pretty heavy stuff. I used to use the pencil and paper analogy but in the tech world this is even more illustrative. (the pencil analogy if you haven’t heard me ramble about art is that you can give 50 people a pencil and paper and ask them to do something with it and the artist or creative thinker will create something magical while the others will right their name or play tic tac toe).

So for the rest of the road trip I contemplated the tools I needed to master, read my Seth Godin and Clay Shirky like a good little web marketer and felt excited about the evolution of my marketing and creative mind.

So we’ve arrived in lovely Manchester Tennessee where we are surrounded by what I can only dub “Faux Hippies”. I just woke and started reading my morning blogs, still reeling from my road trip of web marketing exploration and home read this incredible blog post from Mark Olson which seems to echo many of the themes I was contemplating yesterday. “Groovy man”

I am so inspired and excited about this paradigm shift, where finally innovation and passion have equal places in the tool box as experience and technical skill. The constantly evolving and revolving nature of the tools we are using evens the playing field a bit as we’re all learning them together.

So I guess for the duration of this “Social Media Strategy” road trip I’m on, I’ll make sure I subscribe to the right RSS feeds, maintain a steady watch on the tool makers, keep an open mind and then continue to figure out more creative and incredible ways to use my hammer…

social media’s so bright, i gotta wear shades!

SO many wonderful things have started to materialize since the New Years Bell tolled and the start of 2009. I switched gears in my professional role from Donor Relations Supervisor, managing my International children’s medical charities Donor Relation Call Center and grassroots fund raising to a role doing a very similar function only using social media.

I met some amazing mentors and contacts very early on by attending the We Are Media workshop from NTEN in Feb. and then had some great conversations and learning experiences from SxSW Interactive in March.

The more I learn, the more I feel like it’s o.k. to listen to my instincts. While I may not know the jargon and the latest trends in web marketing, what I have always had a knack for is relationship building. Talking to people, anticipating their needs, predicting trends and acting on my instincts.

These traits have served me well in various fields including the restaurant business, retail, marketing and radio. They also helped way back when I donned a purple with and face glitter in my role as a professional clown! (thank god that was pre-social media and the pics are non-existent).

I am reflecting on all of this this because I recently had some really amazing conversations with folks who are outright terrified of social media. People who I have always respected and admired for their incredible intellect, innovation and professional prowess are now asking me for my thoughts and ideas related to social media. And, while I’m not an “expert” like my colleagues and mentors, and I don’t speak fluent tech ease, I realize I do have some valuable perspective and information to help them get their toes wet in social media.

I also realize that there are no experts. Everyone is learning, we’re all in this together which certainly echoes the very notion of “social” media. You can’t get a degree in it because surely by the time the commencement speech is over the technology has changed. But the philosophy remains the same. And the philosophy of Social Media is what seems to have corporate America shaking in their loafers.

While I have a ways to go to maximize my understanding of the total picture if the world wide web, I am uniquely qualified to dive into the pool of Social Media philosophy and strategy. I started as a user and evangelist starting with Friendster in 2002 and then Myspace, DeviantArt, Etsy etc etc. I am now an official Facebook and Twitter addict and am anxiously looking for the next great way to communicate.

And the communication is the key-social media has created an incredible community to learn, grow, explore, elevate and inspire. The playing fields are becoming more level and the walls are being broken down in more ways than you can even imagine.

In the coming weeks I will have some personal benchmarks that will prove to even more solidly tie me to this insane online world and I can’t wait to see where it all takes me. The lessons are pouring in from my mentors are invaluable as are the conversations, tweets, blogs and webinars. I’m grabbing some sunglasses (with non-reflective lenses to reduce the screens effects on my eyes) because this social media future is so freaking bright…bring it on!