• 25Jan

    There are all kinds of ways to use Twitter to promote your personal brands and your clients. I want to thank one of my clients, Kathy Simmons at NETSHARE, for pointing out an article from Jason Falls profiling new insights about how people tend to use Twitter from Social Media Today. Falls breaks Twitter types into four basic marketing categories:

    The Conversationalist: These Twitterers offer ongoing chatter about day-to-day activities that serve as an extension of their brand and their company. These folks engage in the online conversation on an ongoing basis, and many can garner a solid following by being sincere in adding to the conversation and weaving their sales message in a natural way.

    The Conversational Marketer: These online networkers use a more direct marketing approach. They link to their blogs with greater frequency and tend to promote their latest online post, book, or event. These Twitterers do tend to engage with their audience, but they never lose sight of the fact that their primary objective is to promote themselves. The trick is to promote yourself while adding to the online conversation, rather than just pointing to your online brand and saying, “Buy my stuff!”

    The Salesman: Then there’s the Twitterer who is all about the promotion. This person spends more than half of his or her Twitter posts pitching themselves and their products. Is this counter to the social media code of conversation? Only if you don’t add anything. There are ways to promote yourself and your brand and still add insight. It’s all about making what they have to offer part of the online exchange.

    The Broadcaster:  These Twitterers don’t engage in conversation but rather provide a one-way shout-out of content. Some might consider this kind of promotion spamming, but not all broadcasters are spammers. Some have real value to add, even if they choose not to engage in conversation. Think about the true broadcasters, like CNN and other specialty newsfeeds.

    So whether you are promoting yourself or your clients, think about how you need to engage in the Twitter conversation. Even if you can identify yourself with one of these four basic Twitter types, ask yourself, “Am I adding to the online conversation?” To make Twitter work for you, you need to engage, even if you do so in a way that suits your personal style.

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  • 17Jan

    So how powerful is the Web and social media? Ask Alexis Ohanian, one of the cofounders of Reddit, who recently spoke at a TED talk in India about how Greenpeace used social media to both name a whale they wanted to use as a symbol of their cause, and at the same time got the Japanese government to make concessions.

    This is a great example of both the power of the Web to promote a cause, but the need to let go of your message (something we have blogged about earlier this month). For viral marketing to work, you have to let the virus spread and not try to contain it.

    Check out this short video from TED.com. I think you’ll be impressed.

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  • 12Jan

    The "Tweethears" of Vanity Fair: (l to r) Julia Roy, Sarah Evans, Stefanie Michaels, Felicia Day, Sarah Austin, and Amy Jo Martin

     

    Well, they say that sex sells, and I guess sex can sell social media as well as anything else. That must have been what the editors at Vanity Fair had in mind when they commissioned the article on “America’s Tweethearts,” which is running in the February issue. 

    For those of us who are serious about social media, this puff piece is a disservice to the power of Twitter. You should read it, if for no other reason than to see what kind of treatment social media is getting in the mainstream media. The article is about six successful entrepreneurs who have built a following on Twitter to support their personal brands. These women, social strategist Julia Roy, PR professional Sarah Evans, travel journalist Stefanie Michaels, actress Felicia Day, lifecaster Sarah Austin, and marketing pro Amy Jo Martin, have figured out how to harness Twitter to gain a following of thousands, or millions. I follow some of these ladies online, and I know they are not vapid or brainless, but that is how they are portrayed in this article. To quote from Felicity Day’s blog

    “Well, despite the overwhelming insinuation, these women ALL of them are self-made, business entrepreneurs. They aren’t skating by on their good looks, they have businesses. In some of their cases, with professional sports teams and major brands, they help steer the online presence of empires. They are a new kind of savvy business person, cutting the middle man out. Carving and creating new professions. Most importantly, in this celebrity culture of “Jersey Shore” fame, they aren’t just “famous” for being “famous” as the article implies. They have influence in an emerging and important arena. I guess that just wasn’t an interesting angle?  I mean, we’re practically naked in trench coats, who needs MORE zing?! 

    That’s the point. Sex sells, and the image of six attractive women dressed in suggestive attire will trump whatever they might want to say that is important. They could be advocating en end to terrorism or selling snow cones – it wouldn’t matter, the message would be lost. And as Mark Drapeau points out, “These ladies were the focus of an article published in a print magazine about people and vanity. The magazine doesn’t have a track record of understanding technology very well, or using it themselves.” 

    So no matter what your level of outrage about this article, whether you are offended that it seems racist or because it is sexist, remember that it’s the media that is the message. If these attractive entrepreneurs are going to be blinded by the flashbulbs and pose for this photo, then the outcome is a foregone conclusion. You can’t be too offended because this is, after all, Vanity Fair, and not a technical or business journal. Twitter is for the masses, and as Drapeau points out, it even has a silly name so why should we take it so seriously? 

    Twitter, like any publishing medium, is only as serious as you want to make it. It can be a serious marketing and branding tool, or it can be just for fun, like this article. If nothing else, the article raises awareness for Twitter and highlights its popularity. Who knows, maybe this kind of exposure will turn that $1 billion valuation for Twitter the company into real revenue. 

    So where do you stand on this article? Amused? Annoyed? Ambivalent? Let me know. 

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  • 07Jan

    young_frankenstein_doc_smallI have run across some interesting experiments in social networking this week.

    I want to give Larry Brauner a nod for trying a different kind of social media experiment. Larry is one of many social media gurus I have been following and he has come up with an innovative experiment he is calling the 4+ Day Blog and Website Promotion Event and Social Media Party. This is a web experiment in conjunction with Larry’s 58th birthday. For 96 hours, Larry will be soliciting open commentary from all of his online connections and, as part of the experiment, he plans to comment on every single submission and repost/retweet every comment and submit as many as he can to social media bookmarks. So basically, for four days, Larry has appointed himself as a one-man clearing house for online commentary.

    Cool idea.

    And more importantly, it will demonstrate the power of social networking in an interesting and tangible way. Those of us who join in will be able to track how the information disseminates, and watching the tendrils of the web at work. I read somewhere that the cool thing about the web is that, like a spider’s web, if you touch it in one place the effects can be felt everywhere.

    I also want to thank David Meerman Scott for his kind words about my last blog post, but also for sharing his holiday Twitter experiment on his blog, WebInkNow. Over the holidays, David had to explain Twitter to his brother, who was skeptical about its value. Rather than trying to explain Twitter, David posted a tweet to his 33,000 followers:

    My brother Peter doesn’t understand Twitter. “It’s weird – who cares what you do?” Can you guys help explain please!!

    What was the response? I’ll let David explain in his own words:

    “Isn’t it amazing how nearly 50 people can answer something, each in 140 characters or less, and in just a few minutes you have a better explanation than any one person could possibly think of in a lifetime! And people jumped in from all over (Coogee, Australia and Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic to name two).”

    The proof is in the response. Social media just works, especially if you know how to use it effectively. So try your own experiments and please share the results. There are still skeptics out there who need convincing.

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  • 05Jan

    WhisperThere is a prime rule about social networking that PR and marketing people have difficulty adhering to, or believing – it’s letting go of the message. To be effective you need to let your social networks build the buzz, if there is a buzz to be built, and trust your network to keep the momentum going and keep it upbeat.

    If you are a student of social media, then this concept should not be foreign to you. If you are familiar with David Meerman’s Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR,  then you are already familiar with the notion of letting go of the message. Scott advocates shifting away from trying to send a message and instead, tapping into the viral marketing of the web by engaging in the conversation. The power of the online conversation will move your brand message faster and more effectively than a one-way marketing pitch. Consider what happens of you try to control or dominate a conversation in a meeting or at a cocktail party; pretty soon you will be talking to yourself. The same is true online, which is why you need to engage in conversation and let go of the message.

    And I want to thank C.C. Chapman for inspiring this blog post. If you haven’t checked out his podcast, Managing the Gray, I recommend it. Managing the Gray is all about “no control PR.” I was catching up on podcasts over the holidays and was struck by C.C.’s Veteran’s Day interview with MAJ Mary Constantino talking about ArmyStrongStories. I’ve blogged about how the U.S. Air Force is harnessing Web 2.0 technology, and this podcast interview is another great example of how the U.S. Army is promoting its brand with the help of “no control” social media.

    ArmyStrongStoriesArmyStrongStories gives you unedited stories from the men and women serving in the U.S. both here and in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. It’s a powerful recruiting tool for the Army, since it gives interested parties a candid “day-in-the-life” look at what it’s like to serve. Some of the posts are quite interesting, including everything from mind sweeping to dentistry, complete with pictures. Naturally, sensitive information about troop movements and covert activities aren’t included, but it’s surprising that the military, which is traditionally known for controlling its brand with an iron grip, has given such latitude to its recruits to share their experiences and speak their mind.

    There is a lesson here from which every brand manager will benefit. If you can learn to plant the seed of your story and let it go, social media will help it grow. You need to understand how to plant the seed effectively by becoming part of the online conversation, but you can’t micromanage it. I heard an interesting description of the Web today. It is like a spider web in that a rustle in one part creates a ripple across the entire web. Your best promotion strategy is to make a ripple and watch it work.

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