Archive for January, 2009
It’s now twice in past week or so that someone has asked me about either how to get a social media certificate or promoted their social media marketing certificate to me (hmmm, if they were ‘listening’ they’d know I should be the very last person they should contact about a certificate in SMM).
I suspect it was only a matter of time before these things would happen. And now, I am even more firmly rooted in my reasoning why social media marketing is a bad term. I’ll reiterate once more:
The issue at hand, as I see it, is that a lot of people are adding Social Media Marketing as part of their service offerings, but they haven’t spent a day doing the marketing part and because of that they struggle with implementing social media as part of an overall marketing strategy.
So now, people are going to rush out to be certified in “social media marketing” and yet not only do they not understand marketing…they now truly don’t understand social media either. Why would they need to?! They just spent $1,495 (or three low payments of $549.00) to become experts in Facebook, Twitter, etc. I don’t know about you all, but it took me an awful lot of cash, time and sweat equity to become truly experienced in marketing and communications.
I know there are no rules here and I am not trying to be the enforcer of any, but I think offering a certification of any kind in a medium that is so new in the business world sets a bad precedence.
As a marketer what I worry about is that corporations will pass over talented social media and marketing folks (you know, the ones who have blogged, belonged to social networks for years and have actually implemented social media as part of an overall marketing plan) over for someone who is… um, certified in social media.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against certifications; in fact the PRSA (APR) and IABC (ABC) offer two great accreditations. I am also a strong proponent of offering social media workshops that teach companies how to ease their way into social media (think training wheels). What I am leery about though is someone being certified in ‘social media marketing’ after a 12 week course. First, it takes a lot longer than 12 weeks to understand marketing and to develop relationships (social media tools aside).
I have now found #26 for the carpetbagger list: Offers social media marketing certification for the low, low cost of…
(Thanks @TomMartin for the reminder!)
Updated 1/29/09: My friend Andy Quayle over at TechBurgh has a great post on this same subject. He gives a lot better reasons that I do with my knee jerk reaction why social media certifications might not be the way to go. Andy’s also uncovered lots of certifications via Google. I guess it was only a matter of time.
What do you think? Does this concept have merit?
[Image: PA Pundits]
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Having been involved in on-line communities (social networks or forums/Yahoo! Groups, etc.) for a long time, I have a theory… well, I am sure there are already proven psychological, sociological, and anthropological theories that already exist about organic and inorganic communities from people who are much smarter than me, have PhD after their name and explain it with words that take a dictionary to decipher their meaning. So, I’ll keep it simple and focus on my thoughts (perhaps that’s a better word) from a marketing and social media perspective.
Both communities, from my experience, have several characteristics (and I am sure I won’t capture them all and mileage may vary based on individual driving experience):
- Are borne out of passion
- Seem to pop up overnight and attract “like” people that immediately provide conversation/content
- Don’t typically self promote and grow organically by word of mouth
- Have a culture that is specific to their community
- Feed off one another (self-induced psychological pressures, “I want that!” “I need to share this!”)
- Raise up people who contribute to and enhance the community
- Help one another via cross pollination of information
- Encourage sub-communities to form
- Don’t like to be controlled
- Get protective when people interrupt the natural flow of the community through disruptions (the community will self-heal in one way or another)
- Are created for a specific reason (i.e. to promote, sell, research, connect customers, listen, customer service, etc.)
- Need to work harder to attract members and need to create conversation/content to induce new conversation/content (that ol’ chicken & egg syndrome)
- Often rely on self-promotion to grow
- The culture is that of the company that created it (i.e. passionate about a particular company, cause, etc.)
- The organizers tend to be the experts
- Are more focused and controlled
- Have rules of engagement for members
Now, these might seem like extreme differences and I am sure companies like Communispace, HiveLive and Neighborhood America and community creators/managers probably won’t agree with my list of characteristics of inorganic communities. And that’s okay, they are the pros after all (please chime in, but please don’t promote your products/services). But, after trying to build a community* from the ground up as a company versus easing myself into an organic community on Twitter as an employee, I’d say the latter was much easier and led to natural conversations. I don’t mean to sound negative towards inorganic communities, that’s not my intention. I just think they are harder to produce and don’t typically have the same purpose, culture, need generation, or levels of evangelism. Overall that’s my completely non-scientific theory in a nutshell.
[*I am no longer employed by the company that started the forum.]
Here are a few thoughts for how businesses can leverage organic communities (they have been with me since I wrote about the Pepsi social media campaign back in October):
- Join the above forums/groups and listen to what the community, especially the evangelists, is saying about your brand (but don’t interrupt)
- After a listening for a while (maybe even a long while), join the conversation
- Know and respect the rules of the community (i.e. don’t force yourself into an organically established community)
- Be yourself, not ‘corporate’
- Do not be overtly promotional, but answer questions when they come up
- Take time to find out how the community feels about your brand
- Share some ideas about new product/service concepts and listen to the feedback
- Occasionally offer special deals to the community
- Understand that fragmented conversations happen and have the potential to leave the community – it’s your job to follow them.
- Continue the conversation…daily, on-going, as long as the community exists. (i.e. DO NOT use the community for your branding efforts!)
So what do you think? Have you experience both kinds of communities? Do you think companies would benefit from engaging an organic community versus starting an inorganic one?
[Added: This post has nothing to do with tribes or Seth Godin....haven't even read the book review. I have had these thoughts for years after being an active member of three on-line groups and experiencing first hand what happens within them and how companies don't engage or appreciate organic communities that embrace their products.]
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Recently, Valeria Maltoni, the Conversation Agent and expert in community facilitation asked me to participate in her ebook, “Marketing in 2009.” To which I said “but, of course!” I have known Valeria for almost nine years and her ability to build communities & networks on-line as well as off-line never ceases to amaze me!
For this free ebook Valeria didn’t want marketing predictions for 2009, which was lucky for me because my crystal ball has been in the repair shop for quite a while and I have recently run out of eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat…
The path set before us contributors was executive direction. For my contribution, I focused on developing internal brand loyalty. By creating internal accountability for customer brand experiences and building internal evangelists, marketing executives can build the brand pride necessary to get employees to understand, embrace and champion external social media initiatives and customer conversations.
As an aside, one of the comments Valeria received was that this was really an ebook on social media thought leadership with little other marketing reference and, perhaps, it might have been misnamed. That’s an interesting perception and I think it might show that there is still a disconnect between social media and marketing…and that’s why this ebook is so very important! Marketing executives need to recognize that social media has become an important set of tools (albeit ever changing) that leads to dialogue and that dialogue might just be about their company, products/services or employees. And in that regard, social media and conversation have changed marketing forever. (Okay, one lil’ prediction…I think marketing executives know this already and 2009 will be the year that they start to implement social media if even just by sticking their toes in the wading pool.)
Thank you Valeria for including me to contribute to an invaluable marketing ebook (my first!) with so many marketers that I respect, admire and consider to be friends! Without further ado, here’s a little snippet of the contributions marketing’s brightest (courtesy of Valeria):
- “Basic metrics you can initially use to match up before, during and after sales deltas are frequency, reach, and yield” – Olivier Blanchard, The Brand Builder, @thebrandbuilder
- “There are three imperatives for execution programs in 2009 – start with measurement, create content for the open Web and for mobility” – Matt Dickman, Techno||Marketer, @MattDickman
- “The foundation and core of what social media is, consists of the five C’s. Conversation, community, commenting, collaboration and contribution” – Mike Fruchter, My Thoughts on Social Media, @Fruchter
- “With social media as a platform for participation, people can behave the way they were hardwired to behave in the first place – humanly, tribally” – Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing, @fgossieaux
- “Companies with greater social intelligence have stronger bonds with employees and customers, and that translates into revenue” – Lois Kelly, Beeline Labs, @LoisKelly
- “Change ensures our own livelihoods – new opportunities and trends to capitalize upon, unique products and profit centers that merit development, robust innovation to leverage”- Christina Kerley, CK Epiphany, @ckepiphany
- “Social media interaction allows us to have… well, interaction with our customers. It lets us see them as people instead of statistics and it lets us hear their voices” – Jennifer Laycock, Search Engine Guide, @JenniferLaycock
- “Goals absolutely must be built on business objectives” – Amber Naslund, Altitude Branding, @AmberCadabra
- “A proper social media education is more than just learning new tools. The most important lesson we can impart is the necessity to think ‘humans’”- Connie Reece, Every Dot Connects, @ConnieReece
- “Social media isn’t causing problems, but it is revealing them. And the problems aren’t new; they’ve been around for a while” – Mike Wagner, Own Your Brand!, @bigwags
- “The secret of success in social media is a product or a service that people actually like and use” – Alan Wolk, The Toad Stool, @awolk
Let me know what you think…are we on the right track?
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When my friend Steve Woodruff (yep, the guy of StickyFigure fame) asked me to participate in his ‘Five in the Morning’ series I was excited, yet immediately mortified. “Steve, I never get up at 5AM!” Steve insisted that it’s really “Five, in the Morning” but I don’t believe him! I think he is seriously up at 5am each and every morning hunting down the best posts for you all to read and then he has coffee (an amazing feat in my world). As well, you know me… I am not a fan of creating my own lists because I really hate leaving so many great blog posts out (and I read a lot!). For me it would be more like 50, in the Morning.
Well, it’s almost 8am and I’ve found some interesting posts for you all (and since I am playing catch up from yesterday, they all aren’t from today…):
Let’s face it, kids love piñata’s because they know once it’s cracked open there are a ton of yummy treats falling upon them. And it only takes one experience with a piñata to make them want to do it over and over (gee, sales people and business development people get this already). Geoff Livingston asks why do us adults make getting to the treats so difficult?
Risk aversion is everywhere these days and it’s important to make our communications and connections count. Sometimes the very uphill battle we face can be conquered with simply having the mindset, “If you can’t change it, promote it.” And Valeria Maltoni asks us to consider that very thing this morning and how conversations can help to get up that hill.
“‘Hmmm…how many phone calls and lunch dates do I need to have with her to make her my friend?’ Sounds crazy, right?” Why yes, Lisa Hoffmann, that does sound crazy!! So, why do companies think like this when it comes to social media? Why do they want the easy rules and short cuts to creating relationships?
Lots of people are losing their jobs and clients are walking away from the table, it happens from time-to-to-time and it seems to be happening even more these days. Daria Steigman shares with us 5 lessons we can learn from such situations to make them work in our favor (Hint: relationships and communications).
Susan Murphy shares with us a visual example of what living inside a bubble can do to our relationships, well, outside the bubble. And I don’t mean like the ‘Bubble Boy,’ he lived alone inside his bubble and well, we all know what disastrous outcomes there were once the Seinfeld friends arrived on the scene.
This 5, in the morning post was sponsored by “Relations & Communications LLC.” They have the hard job of always proving their worth, so why not give them a try…I’m sure they’d love the business!
And, finally, if you’d like more 5 in the Morning posts…don’t count on me! But, you can count on Steve Woodruff because he rises with the roosters!
[Image: The Consumerist]
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I’ve found as a blogger sometimes when I let something swim around in my head for a while, all the pieces I need to make a point or share my thoughts seem to come together like a puzzle. I’ve been pondering this post since early September, but yesterday and today it finally solidified (for me anyway).
I have said more than a few times that I am not a fan of the term “Social Media Marketing.” Maybe it’s just semantics. Maybe I am just being staunch in applying the marketing and communications definitions and principals that I learned long ago and have implemented for ages.
Here’s the reason why the term social media marketing is not working for me: social media is about sharing and discussing information. It’s communications, not marketing. And yes, of course, companies can indirectly market themselves through communications; we’ve been doing it for eons (at least one-way). But a good communicator does not always make a good marketer nor does a good marketer always make a good communicator. They are two different disciplines.
After all these months, what is cementing this notion for me? Well, for one it was the comment that Eric Brown (@eric_urbane) left yesterday. He, and rightly so, is very upset about ‘social media marketers’ not delivering. Eric commented:
“… Social Media 101 tells us, as business owners we need to be transparent, we need to participate in the conversation and allow what we do right and do wrong to hang out there on rating sites, blogs, and forums for the whole world to evaluate, yet very few Social Media consultants or agencies are willing or have done the same, at least I don’t think so. So, after running around in my underwear for the last three years while practicing Social Media for all to see, I would like to see the same from the Social Media firm or consultant I am contemplating to hire.” He goes on to comment “…our small business paid out a lot of money to folks who didn’t know what they were doing, but claimed to. I see this forthcoming as a huge issue in our industry, and think a lot of money will be spent on the carpetbagger side of the fence, giving this Social Media space a black eye.”
The issue at hand, as I see it, is that a lot of people are adding Social Media Marketing as part of their service offerings, but they haven’t spent a day doing the marketing part and because of that they struggle with implementing social media as part of an overall marketing strategy. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t consider a company being advised to set up a LinkedIn or Facebook group or to have a Twitter account marketing (and in some cases, it’s not social media either). There’s much more to marketing (like product, distribution, pricing).
Yes, I know. The video is about PR, not marketing (or is it?). But, last time I checked, PR fell under the ‘P’ in marketing that is ‘Promotion.’ Shel also included a link to John Bell’s (Ogilvy) post on The 13 Skills of the Public Relations Pro of the Future, which includes a link to a post discussing how PR folks need to understand Creating Integrated Marketing and Communications Strategy. (Integrated marketing communications [IMC] was introduced in the late 90s by Don Schultz, Clarke L. Caywood, et al–it’s not a new concept. It may be new to some or it could be, in some cases, that social media is finally forcing the implementation of it).
“The walls between marketing and communications are dissolving. A new marcom organizational standard is already appearing where multiple disciplines, most notably public relations and advertising are rolling up to the same leader inside brands.”
Really. Huh. Really? I guess I am fortunate enough to have always had marketing (including product development/management/branding), communications and PR in one department (very small and very large companies). That said, I have heard from marketing friends who work for large companies and agencies that the brand managers don’t always report into marketing and that PR sometimes reports into the CEO, or horror…HR. No doubt these types of reporting structures always present communications challenges.
I am not beating up on Ogilvy or John Bell…not at all. It’s a great series that John has and given my recent rant about the PR industry, I think A LOT of PR folks need to listen to what John has to say. But, what all of this says to me is that this mashup of social media, communications (advertising, PR, WOM) and marketing is going to cause a lot of issues and people like Eric Brown (and his budget) will experience the brunt of it.
Why? Because the mashup will allow for people to offer services like Social Media Marketing or PR Communications or Marketing Relations or… (really, you don’t want me to go on right?) without having a firm grasp on any of the disciplines that they are trying to deliver or implement.
Trust me, I agree with John, the walls need to come down and the need for two-way communications is forcing a sledge hammer through the walls.
But at what cost?