Archive for February, 2009
Last night I had the opportunity to hear Bill McDermott SAP’s President of Global Field Operations (and member of the SAP AG Executive Board) speak at Villanova University’s 3rd Annual Marketing Professionals Showcase, a showcase for two student groups to present their marketing projects to local companies.
Bill kicked off the night talking about today’s economic crisis and how in his life he’s seen and worked through three others: the oil crisis (70s), the Wall Street crisis (80s) and the dot.com crisis (early 2000). During his keynote, Bill mentioned transparency as part of corporate culture (although in this sense he’s referring to Sarbanes-Oxley). During the Q&A portion his advice to the companies attending was that excellent customer service is what would help them to stand out and help them to survive…nothing new or earth shattering there, right? But then he said something that made me smile. He said that business is about people helping people.
I took that as an opportunity to ask Bill how he felt about social media and how it “pulls back the covers of a corporation so that ‘people’ were the face of the corporation, not the brand.” To which he replied (and not verbatim at all) that he embraced social media, social networks, etc. Of course, he also said that there are negatives. As an example, he went on to say that he’d rather have relationships with people online so that they got their information correct vs. someone writing something that wasn’t totally true (i.e. bloggers). He also mentioned online communities and how it’s important to be a part of them. And let’s be clear, SAP is walking the walk when it comes to implementing social media.
Next were two student teams that were presenting their findings after a semester long (I believe) project. One team presented a new product they developed for kids and the other a new marketing campaign for a company. The students did a great job and their marketing research, plan and presentation were really well done. However, when it came time for Q&A they really struggled with these questions:
Q: How would you use web 2.0 and Internet marketing in your promotions?
A: We have a website and a link to it so people can buy.
Q: How could you use social networking to spread the word of your new product?
A: We will have kiosks and the game at a camp and will use word of mouth.
Can you see the dichotomy at play here? SAP embraces online marketing and social media and I am sure if you were a new marketer looking to get on board, you would most likely be expected to understand it too. And yet, the kids who have lived in this “social” world all of their lives don’t understand what’s being asked from a business perspective.
It’s like convincing kids that a playground can be used for business and adults that business can be done on a playground.
I have blogged about this before…if marketers (apparently new & experienced) don’t take the time to learn how marketing is being changed forever by online marketing and social media in a few years they will be extinct.
So, how can that gap be bridged? Education, a renewed passion for marketing…and online marketing training.
And by “online” I don’t mean take an online class. By online I mean learn how online marketing is affecting how marketing and business is done today.
The Online Media Boot Camp
I hope you all know me well enough by now to know that I am passionate about marketing, communications, social media and education. The opportunity to combine it all to help fellow marketers (and companies) get a leg up in this horrible economy is important to me.
On April 9th Liana (Li) Evans and I will hosting and speaking at the Online Media Boot Camp in King of Prussia, PA (right outside Philadelphia and convenient to NJ, NY, DE, MD).
The Online Media Boot Camp is limited to 65 attendees and offers the following online marketing training sessions:
- Social Media Fundamentals – Li Evans
- Selling On-Line Media Internally – Shashi Bellamkonda
- Corporate Blogging – Valeria Maltoni
- Public Relations 2.0 – Beth Harte
- Social Networking & Community Building – Mack Collier
- Online Marketing Workshop (Just to make sure that attendees confidently hit the ground running at the end of the day!)
Why the limited number of seats? Because as speakers we all want to make sure that we can spend as much time as possible with attendees to help get their questions answered, to help them bridge that gap I spoke about above, and to make sure that they leave with a new competitive advantage.
Online marketing and social media isn’t just for large companies with budgets. In fact, that’s not true at all! If you are a company, non-profit, agency (creative or government), college/university, etc. who wants to engage customers, prospects, shareholders, students, constinuents, etc. online, the Online Media Boot Camp is for you! Let’s face it, the Internet isn’t going away and even if you aren’t there…everyone else just might be. Why miss out on that opportunity?
To learn more about the speakers and what they are engaged in, check out their blogs:
- Liana (Li) Evans, Key Relevance
- Shashi Bellamkonda (The Social Media “Swami”), Network Solutions
- Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent
- Mack Collier, The Viral Garden
Registration is open and the Online Media Boot Camp is $349 per person. After 3/16 the registration is $449.
If you are already embracing online marketing and social media, how about passing on this information to a marketer that might be looking for a leg up or who gets it, but wants to learn how to implement it? You have my appreciation and thanks in advance!
If you have questions, please e-mail me at beth [at] onlinemediabootcamp [dot] com. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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Yesterday, after hearing that there was a discussion around ghostwriting up at the recent PodCamp Toronto, I decided to share a post on Twitter that I had written for MarketingProfs’ Daily Fix on Ghostwriting, Social Media and Ethics.
From the MarketingProfs Daily Fix post:
In Richard Johannesen’s book “Ethics in Human Communication,” he analyzes the ethics of ghostwriting with a series of questions**:
- What is the communicator’s intent and what is the audience’s degree of awareness?
- Does the communicator use ghostwriters to make herself/himself appear to possess personal qualities that she/he does not have?
- What are the surrounding circumstances of the communicator’s job that make ghostwriting a necessity?
- To what extent does the communicator actively participate in the writing of her/his own writing?
- Does the communicator accept responsibility for the message she/he presents?
Those questions and the ethics surrounding them are easily answered in the traditional marketing and/or public relations arena. But what happens when you add social media into the mix? How do the ethics around ghostwriting change when companies are supposed to be authentic and transparent?
(To read the examples of how social media ghostwriting can potentially harm a companies’ reputation while they are trying to engage in social media, head on over to the Daily Fix…besides, there are a lot of great questions, comments and conversation! )
**Source: Public Relations Writing: The Essentials of Style & Format by Thomas H. Bivins
Traditional Media vs. Social Media
From an ethics perspective, most people know that marketers and public relations professionals write (or it’s outsource to an agency) the information they receive on a daily basis…whether it be a radio commercial, a TV ad, a magazine article, etc. And from a PR perspective, if someone takes credit for a byline they didn’t write (thinking about the co-worker who struts around with his/her article in hand), that’s unethical (see #2). But, most people aren’t stupid…when they know someone well enough, they can tell who really wrote it and that just makes the person making the claim look like a dishonest idiot among other things.
The issue here is that you cannot take that same marketing/PR team and say “okay, now go do social media.”
Why? The transference doesn’t work well. Let’s remember that social media tools were around long before the term social media even existed. People, yes people, not companies, used weblogs (blogs) as personal diaries, to communicate with their friends, to share information, etc. And people (there’s that word again!) used social networks like forums, Yahoo! Groups, chat rooms, etc. to be social with…people. Social media’s history lies with individuals who used these tools to communicate, solve problems, debate, etc. If you haven’t read The Cluetrain Manifesto, I highly suggest it. Within its pages you’ll find the history of the online world that I am talking about. That said, with today’s social media comes an inherent trust, authenticity and transparency that companies, marketers and PR professionals need to learn to embrace. This new form of communication is messy and it’s not your mother’s marketing or PR!
I have witness first-hand and have untangled myself from, and you probably have too if you were involved in social networks pre-2008/2009, social network attacks on people who appear to be sharing fake information or using these places for underhanded reasons. These situations (people-on-people) are typically quite vocal and verbally violent…and it’s not pretty. Typically when these situations happen, some of the people are banned from the forum or group.
Now transfer that to today’s social media situations and consumers or the media uncovering that a company, its brand or its CEO has been less than authentic and transparent and their blog or network communications were fake (i.e. ghostwritten)?
Would you want to be the agency or consultant advising them on how to survive an attack?
Or worse yet, do you want to be the agency or consultant that put them in that delicate situation to begin with?
Yes, it seems extreme, I know…but what can I say, people are people and it is human nature to act out when you feel betrayed, used, carpetbagged, etc. And in today’s social media world, that can happen in a nanosecond! And ultimately the “ghostwriting” disconnect occurs when marketers/PR folks try to force traditional media ‘norms’ onto social media, which is anything but the norm.
The Twitter Ghostwriting Debate
After I shared the MarketingProfs Daily Fix post, an interesting little debate between me and Heather Whaling (@PRtini) took place***. Heather is a traditional PR person and a new blogger. I got the sense that part of our debate disconnect lies within our different backgrounds. I admit it, I am a purist. Having spent the past 5 years of my life spent in online social networks & blogging (no, there weren’t any companies networking & no, THoM is not my first blog), I can’t disconnect from my belief that today’s social media/social networking needs to be from a “people” perspective, not a “business” perspective.
As a point of debate, I pointed out the Edelman/Wal-Mart debacle to Heather as an example of why ghostwriting is a potentially bad path for companies engaging in social media to go down and her first reaction was “but that was a fake blog.” Yep, it was…but consumers didn’t know that at first, did they? When professionals who monitor/analyze Wal-Mart started seeing a disconnect between Wal-Mart’s typical business stance and the rosy posts showing up on the blog they knew something was up. Some of the words used were: misleading, deceptive, skepticism, and questionable practices. In retrospect not very rosy, at all.
Here’s the point: If you are going to ghostwrite, you better know that company inside and out and know their negatives and positives—as viewed by the market/community—not the CEO or the company. Because if you just listen to what the company’s marketers tell you (which is always an inherently skewed view) and you don’t do your own homework, your writing will shine a spotlight on any inconsistencies that might exist and that customers, analysts, investors, etc. might find once that ghostwritten content is public. I mean, after all, you’re just writing as the CEO. Really, what’s the harm for them or you/your agency, right?
“Social media forces ethics upon people. There’s little mercy once things get exposed.”
Convinced yet? What do you think? Is this a valid argument against ghostwriting?
Added 2/24/09: Dave Fleet (@davefleet) has a great post on “Why Ghostwriting is Wrong” on his blog. Check out the debate going on over there too!
Note: I am not opposed to helping a company with social media consulting, providing a guiding hand when they want to blog, etc. Heck, that’s what I do for a living! But what I am opposed to is writing blog content from scratch (i.e ghostwriting). I didn’t develop the ethics around public relations, I am just a great believer in following them. And yes, I believe we are talking about the public when it comes to social media.
*I say “Marketing/PR” because that’s who is trying to transfer the idea of ghostwriting into social media. Folks who have been engaged in social networks/media as “people” for 2-10 years know that there isn’t a debate…they tend to side that ghostwriting is not acceptable.
***Others included in the debate/conversation included: Mack Collier (@mackcollier), Mandy Vavrinak (@mvavrinak), Josh Sternberg (@josh_sternberg), Amber Watson Tardiff (@jerseymomma), Justin Goldsborough (@JGoldsborough), 30Lines (@30Lines), Marita Roebkes (@MaritaR). I hope I didn’t miss anyone…
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You know what I mean, right? You’re a marketer, you think it will be great to join Twitter (or Facebook, etc.) and market your employer and their products or services and then a funny little thing happens…
You start to see what others do, how they are “themselves” on Twitter and not “Bob_XYZ Company” with a company logo as their avatar. They talk about marketing, communications, social media and trends. They talk about their dogs, the beer they like and what they did that weekend (okay, that’s me…the beer gave it away, I bet.).
You start thinking “who am I?” “what should I say?” “I like beer too!!” “I have lots of marketing experience and opinions, thoughts, ideas…”
Then it dawns on you, you know more about marketing than you do about the product/service you’re supposed to be tweeting about for your company. And then you realize you finally have a voice and that voice wants to also have a blog…but then you put that little phrase on your blog:
“This blog represents my views only and not the views of my employer, past employers, future employers….”
Wait, hold the phone. What?
So, you are a great marketer, with lots of ideas, thoughts, opinions and you want to share them with the world…but you turn them off when you walk through the front door of your employer?
Why does this happen? Stop the madness.
Why do a lot of marketers go into social media with a “push mentality” only to come out with a community mindset? That’s the power of social media! Yep, it’s true. And it’s transformative…if you let it happen.
Social media helps you, as a marketer, unmask the brand you are working for and it helps you to find a voice and provides a home for all of your passion, thoughts, opinions and insights (that, er, you might not get on the job).
So stop the madness, be the revolutionary. Have a voice. Take the time to engage. Maybe one day others in your company will catch up to you.
I don’t know about you…but I survived the Marketer’s Social Media Identity Crisis and am the better for it. What’s your tale to tell?
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Anyone who knows me knows that Twitter was not my first love. In fact, I really thought it lacked in any kind of value (business or personal). But, over time I changed my mind and have grown to appreciate and enjoy the community that has developed on Twitter.
When it comes to social media my opinion is that social media is about the tools (Twitter in this case). But those tools do indeed lead to sharing of information that, potentially, leads to conversation. And from a marketing perspective, that makes social media a communications channel for business.
Over time I have established my own rules for using tools like Twitter. I don’t follow everyone who follows me. And because I got tired of having to go back and unfollow all the people who auto-DM’d or spammed me, I only follow people who have had a conversation with me. I also find and follow people who might be interested in my services (that’s the business part!).
Yesterday I was really giving Twitter some thought from a business perspective and I tweeted the following:
“Sometimes I wonder why I follow so many people who never chat with me. Yeah, yeah, marketing, blah, blah. But really…why? Thoughts?”
The responses I received were interesting:
- Well most people I follow don’t talk to me! But I can still gain amazing insights from their posts and opinions @Liela
- It can be frustrating when folks don’t respond/engage, but they can still say things/post links that interest you. @Wzzy
- I think there are just too many people blasting and not listening, Beth. They have no interest in conversation. @thurley
- Mmmmmmm…hopeless optimism? @annebuchanan
- I learn from @chrisbrogan etc…, but don’t expect them to talk to me, unless I’ve stimulated thoughts @mikegero
- Because you never know where you’ll find insight. Cast a long wide antenna. @TomMartin
- Hmm. I like to share, I guess. It might be useful and engage or it might fall flat and only be interesting to me. You never know? @leahcdaniels
- Because they’re entertaining and/or informational. The line is crossed from conversation to broadcast at that point. @digitalvision
- I usually jump in to chat when I can answer a Q or comment w/ value. I think there’s more broadcasting then chatting, don’t you? @dockane
- I follow ppl who don’t chat w me b/c I’m interested in what they say. I like learning from them, even if the convo isn’t 2way @RaToTheBec
- If they NEVER chat with you… Why follow them? I understand that people tweet at different levels but never? @PreppyDude
- That’s the question! This is one-way communication = that’s why I think much of this isn’t ‘social’ media. @allenweiss
- It’s a great question! I have found the 80/20 rule applies here too, it’s not you, it’s Pareto @karenswim
- Because, just like in real life, we tend to gravitate towards like-minds. Especially when there’s so much chatter out there. @josh_sternberg
- When we follow, we don’t know whether peeps will interact or not. Then it’s a matter of pain/cost to unfollow. Least resistance. @swoodruff
Perhaps I should have posed my thought this way:
“Sometimes I wonder why I follow so many people who never chat with me. What’s the benefit to me as a business, really? Thoughts?”
Does that change the context of where I was heading with my thought? I think it so. What I meant by “Yeah, yeah, marketing, blah, blah” was the notion that businesses think they need to use social media (in this case Twitter) to market to and engage with clients/customers (existing or new). And they need to follow everyone who follows them. But what if your followers (i.e. your market) don’t talk back? Is Twitter the correct marketing tactic then? To Allen Weiss’ point, if it’s only one-way conversation…it’s not really social. And isn’t that why businesses are investigating social media? To be social with customers, clients, etc.
Someone once said to me that I should follow all those who follow me because you never know where business will come from. Is that a valid business assumption?
If so, how would you answer my revised thought? (And really, we are just answering the question a lot of businesses are asking/thinking.) I have my opinions and I know the answer as it pertains to my business, but I want to know your thoughts.
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While Kami is taking time off to enjoy her new bundle of joy she’s ask Lauren, Shonali Burke ABC, Kellye Crane and me to guest post. Be sure to check ‘em all out! From stinging bees to sweating the small stuff to getting the message, there’re a lot of though provoking ideas and great conversation for sure!