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The Jazz of Social Media

June 7th, 2009 1 comment
Coltrane Blows

Coltrane Speaks

I came across a good article in AdWeek about how and why social media differs from the broadcast mindset. In the article, Paul Gunning explains that while companies are rushing ahead into social media as the next-best-shiny-new-way-to-build-their-brand strategy, they haven’t yet crossed the reality chasm. Gunning describes this headlong blind rush into social media as “techno-ecstasy” — which I define as the love of being in love with social media.

The phenomenon is musical, really.

The problem is that while traditional marketers and MBAs and HR folk understand what it feels like to “broadcast their message,” they don’t know what it feels like to “jam,” to play with micromarkets in an already-in-progress composition, an evolving melody, on the market’s own stage, in the customer’s own house.

You see, Marketing 1.0 had charts.

Social Media is improvisational.

It really comes down to that.

It’s a struggle for classical marketers to feel comfortable playing social media jazz, because engaging with your market can feel REALLY uncomfortable. You can get dirty. It doesn’t always sound right. You have to Let Go. You can be misinterpreted. You don’t always look good. You can’t control the flow.

On the social web, clams are a given. How you respond, what you make of those mistakes and conflicts, and how you RECOVER determines how you build loyalty, a following, and long-term trust.

You can hear things you don’t want to hear when you decide to join this unending song of conversation.

You can be asked to change things you can’t change. You can be upstaged by the competition, who is allowed to walk right in with their snazzy new thingamajig and tell the same people you’ve been talking to why their thingamajig is better. And they may be wrong, or they may be right, but you may be having a conversation that you CERTAINLY wouldn’t have paid $4,000 to see spread across a full page ad for all the world to see. You might in fact pay double that, if you could, for them NOT to see it.

But you’re having that conversation because you showed up.

According to Gunning, there are some surefire questions you can ask to find out if you’ve been afflicted with techno-ecstasy:

1. Am I focused on using the social realm to listen to and learn more about my consumers, or am I more focused on executing a fan page?

2. How much participation is required to make a difference on my brand? Does adding 4,600 “friends” have any impact on this goal? Is this scalable to the level I need?

3. Has my company trained CSR, legal, HR and sales on our social-media strategy, or has only the marcom department received a social-media 101 session?

I’d add a thing or two here, related to whether a company is ready to play in the social media arena, or whether they should stick to classical marketing in rehearsal rooms a little while longer. Ask yourself:

1. Have I been shedding long enough to understand my sound, my self, my capabilities, what I bring to the scene — or am I trying to pose so that I don’t miss out?

2. Have I really studied the early and fundamental material of this era of change – Have I read Cluetrain, looked back at blog archives from the turn of the century, so that I understand the foundation of this art form before I step up to the mic myself?

3. Am I committed to finishing what I start, to staying in this relationship – group – collaboration – with my customers and colleagues and competitors over the long haul? Can I agree from the start not to pack up and go home early?

Like the business of music, Social Media is not glamorous, except for the fortunate few.

Sure, you have your viral video successes.  You have your “OH i WISH that would have been MY company” campaigns. And you have “OH i’m GLAD that wasn’t MY company” disasters.

But if and when you decide it’s time to add to the collective knowledge and shared fun, to the stunning composition of what’s possible, there is one thing for certain: you will be changed.

More Flawed Research: “Turn To” vs “The Because Effect”

June 1st, 2009 1 comment

The problem with the research discussed here, which posits that social media doesn’t drive sales, even though companies using social sites (i.e. participating on the Internet’s many social intranets) say that activity DOES drive revenue, is that they’re asking the wrong question: “What proportion of social media users TURN TO social media when making purchasing decisions?”

A lil book called Gonzo Marketing explained how the internets sort of work way back some years ago. People don’t ‘turn to’ social media. People participate and aggregate within social spaces. We don’t use social media like the new yellow pages. We don’t look up gas grills on facebook or twitter like we’re looking at the walmart flyer or even auctions on ebay.

The point is: There’s no turning.

There’s only you’re here or you’re absent. There’s only you’re talking or your silent. You’re listening or you’re tuned out.

There’s no turning. There’s only I believe her because I know her. There’s only look at what she and Dave took to the park last week for the kids to play with and ROTFL – I gotta have that.

There’s no turning. There’s only I have cried with you, laughed with you, gone down in flames with you because I believe in you.

There’s no turning. There’s only we share the same obsessions about the same places and I have the jpegs to prove it meet me on flickr.

There’s no turning. There’s I can’t believe we started blogging when your kid was 11 and she’s out of college now and has your car.

Tweeting is not turning.

Blogging is not turning.

Facebook is not turning.

They are relationships.

Doc Searls said it best first in the days of yore about blogging: “You don’t make money from blogging, you make money because of blogging.” Relationships develop, a web of connections, a foundation of trust — all of those things become seamless, inherent, endemic.

It is, as JP Rangaswami calls it, “The Because Effect.”

When something that was originally scarce starts becoming abundant, something strange happens. You find that you start making money because of that thing rather than with that thing. That’s the Because Effect.

So you see, there is no turning.

But there is being here.

Or not.

Everyone Using The Google

May 18th, 2009 No comments

I’ve had three experiences in the past week where normal people have talked to me about my online writing. By normal, I mean people that use the Internet, not people who write the Internet. In other words, not you people. Not the twittersphere or blogsphere regulars, but rather regular people who googled me.

OH I forgot to mention – they said nice things!

It was kind of freaky (guess what category THIS post is going in!) because I’m used to my meatspace (yeah, i hate the word too, but just go with me here) life invading my blogging time, but I’m not used to my blogging life interrupting my meatspace experience.

I think that means something. Something’s going on here with critical mass. Besides the Oprah-Twitter effect, I mean. And I have no clue what.

Nonetheless, Thanks for all the fish!

Categories: freaky_deaky, Humor, Not so freaky, The Man Tags: