April 26, 2013
Last night I attended a fireside chat where Vince Thompson interviewed The Audience founder Oliver Luckett. His company manages social media from major brands including artists, athletes, entertainers and super-cool companies. (His co-founders are none other than Ari Emmanuel and Sean Parker).
Every month, The Audience reaches between 600million and a billion people with their branded content. He thinks of the company as a modern day Factory (think Warhol, not Demand media) that produces objects for brands to publish for their followers and key stakeholders. During his comments, a few nuggets of gold came out for any person, company or entity that wants to leverage social media to build deep and profitable relationships.
1. Marketers Should Think Like Publishers - His point is that marketers need to feed their followers content that resonates with them, so they will embrace/share it. They should not think of social platforms as a bullhorn to make announcements. Sure, at some point when you've fed your followers enough great stuff, you can interupt the content-banquet to let them know about an opportunity to interact with the brand (concert tickets for his musician clients, movie release dates for actor clients and so on.) Takeaway: Develop a content schedule that's consistent, well times, contains objects (pictures, videos, essays) that enrich the life of the follower.
2. Measure Everything - Oliver was a key member of the Disney marketing team, helping to launch movies like Toy Story 3 and building brands like Dory, who is now even more popular than Nemo! He learned that if you measure the effectiveness of each object you publish, you can improve future effectiveness by "orders of magnitude." For example, he learned that if you post a picture of rapper Pit Bull in a pink shirt, it gets shared by followers exponentially more than if you posted a picture of him in any other colored shirt. (Apparently, pink makes Pit Bull come off more sensitive and improves his carriage with female followers.) Takeaway: Test different versions of content, and mesure the results. It's not just about measuring likes, it about optimizing your content strategy!
3. Don't Tell Your Followers What To Think - When working on Toy Story 3 at Disney, Oliver noticed that declarations like "Isn't this great!" (captioning a movie poster) were often met with comments like, "No, it sucks!" When the content was reposted without a declaration, it was met with enthusiasm. While this was targeted at teens and young adults, the point is obvious: Don't sell people, serve them and let them sell you. Takeaway: Content doesn't need to have a call to action, it needs to resonate, excite and delight followers. You need to trust that they will reward you with loyalty and consideration.Tweet
February 04, 2013
Last night, Dodge's "God Made A Farmer" Super Bowl ad rocked me, and likely, millions of other people with its poignant message and eloquent deliver by Paul Harvey.
Today, according the Hulu, it's the highest rated ad that ran last night. Why? The ad was stunningly effective because it was authentic, pulled on our values and deceptively simple. The grainy sound was from a tape (yes, a cassette recording) of Paul Harvey's keynote address at the 1978 Future Farmers of America annual convention. No clean up, you can hear the hiss and the echo that comes with a tape deck setup at the back of the room (and not being directly fed from a mixing board.)
Instead of fancy effects, the ad features high quality pictures, to keep us tracking with Paul's narrative. The ad also works because, much like last year's "It's Halftime America" ad, it speaks to a crisis in our country that an underdog is facing. For farmers, they face less resources to do their job, at a time we need them more than ever. In the 4-Hour Work Week culture our kids live in, farmers work around the clock and are proud of it.
Former Coke CMO Sergio Zyman once wrote that "good advertising is a service. It adds value when you consider, purchase or use the product." In this case Dodge hit a home run, even though I'll never likely buy one of their trucks. Even in non-consideration, my affinity to the brand increased, which likely has it's own long term value to Dodge.Tweet
December 12, 2012
Why do we use social media, be it personally or professionaly? To be heard.
This was my takeaway from the recent Edison Research survey, which indicated that 25% of Facebook users visit the network five times or more a day. And when they visit, they pay more attention to interactions with their posts than the content others are putting up.
This is a remarkable insight for insightful marketers, entrepreneurs and businesses. When we first start using social media, we likely reconnect with old friends and curiousity drives our usage. Then, after the new wears off, we begin to use these platforms to express ourself or be a maven.
This jives with Dan Zarella's findings at Hubspot, where he indicates that the top reasons we share content are to be "in the know" or to "warn/recommend" to our friends. Again, it's all about expression. The psychic currency, then, is for their posts to in turn be liked, shared, commented on, etc.
So here's the takeaway: If you want to connect with media, influeners, prospects or your customers, don't interrupt them with a cold call or spam them with a press release or "what's up?" email. Give them what they want: Attention. Create lists (Twitter) or preferred feed (Get Notifications/FB) for those you want to build a relationship with. When they post content that should be shared, share it or comment. Be additive, though, because it's all about authenticity.
They will reciprocate by paying more attention to you, and who knows, your hat tip could lead to opporutnities to interact. In a world where your calls don't get returned and your emails are never opened, the hat tip may be the only way to become signal, instead of noise.
Watch: Video clip from one of my keynotes on "How To Win Business Using Social Media."Tweet
June 13, 2012
Gotye's smash hit, "Somebody That I Used To Know" is everywhere I go.
Jacqueline introduced it to me months ago, when its stunning video made it's way around the web, and I knew it was going to be the song-of-the-year. At this point, you might be getting tired of it, like you did with James Blunt's "Beatiful" or the last four hits from Coldplay.
But, there's great marketing and product development learnings that can come from super smashes, and why they happen. I guess that's why I love music and entertainment culture so much. Putting my bizcap on, here's what we can learn from Gotye:
1. Be Emotionally Relevent To Many. - The product story (lyrics) appeal to two big groups: Those who've lost love, then contact and those who have been 'screwed over.' That's a big market. Think the Alannis Morrisette song with even bigger reach. Green Day has often used a 'life-situation' wheel when writing songs for an album.
2. Whittle The Product Down To Perfection. - The key was the song structure (no real break, quiet verse, tense bridge, rewarding chorus). The production was sparse, but novel. The build of the song is done as much with packaging (think fading, effects) as by design.
3. Remember to include Old/New/Borrowed/Blue. - The song makes you think Sting, vibe like Andrew Bird, remember Peter Gabriel and most of all...feel emotionally down a little. That's the secret to building product drama.
4. Promote The Product Sight, Sound & Motion. - Many people discovered Gotye through the video his team produced for the single. It was produced for YouTube, and has by far gotten more views (a quarter of a billion) than MTV could deliver in its heyday. We saw him, his special guest Kimbra, and a neat visual concept that was worth sharing (and talking about). In the Pinterest economy, you need to be Pinteresting!
5. Apologize For Succes, Then Monetize. - When I saw Gotye at Coachella, this song was the highlight, and the crowd went berzerk. Afterwards, he said, "well, now that we have that out-of-the-way," and went on to sell us a second single with a passionate performance. His shoe-gazing approach to such a smash allows even the tastemakers to continue to enjoy the song, and maybe, his next product.
May 23, 2012
I assume that most of you who read my blog or subscribe to my newsletter are those who have something to say or sell, whether it’s your own or someone else’s. We’re all trying to be seen or heard and that’s increasingly complicated in a noisy world.
Wouldn’t you agree?
The problem is that to be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling product and a meaningful platform.
Platform is key.
Most of us know it and it’s why we spend time networking, developing social media, writing emails and blogs, speaking, trying to connect with potential customers, etc.
But here’s the issue, simply being on Facebook or Twitter, simply writing a book or newsletter, simply opening the doors of your business… doesn’t matter (unless others know about you and follow).
That’s why I am excited about a new book from my good friend Michael Hyatt, one of the top bloggers in the world and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers. It’s called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. It’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the waters so that you can do what works in order to be seen and heard.
Special: To celebrate the launch of the book this week, Michael is giving away $375.98 worth of free Platform bonus content for those who purchase the book between May 21 and May 25. Complete details are available at http://michaelhyatt.com/platform
As I was chatting with Mike he mentioned something that really stood out to me about building a platform. He said…
“Accept Personal Responsibility - If you’re thinking of hiring a babysitter for your platform, think again. It is critical that you be 100% committed and the driving force behind its creation and growth. Think about it. Does anyone know your mission, product or service better than you do? Is anyone more passionate about it than you are? Does anyone have as much skin in the game as you do? Expertise, passion, and, frankly, the fate of your career will drive you to create something greater than anything a hired-out marketing team could imagine.”
Basically he’s saying don’t phone it in and try to pass it off to someone else. If you want to be heard, you have to speak up and be the driver.
In my years of being an author and speaker I have found that to be very true. Yes, you need to hire a great team and utilize great resources but don’t expect someone else to do all of the work that you too must be active in doing.
If it’s important, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.
I have two three copies of the book to give away - all you have to do is hit the retweet button and make a comment to this post.
February 09, 2012
On Tuesday, I spoke to a group of creatives in Nashville (Twitter Stream). One point that stuck with them was this simple thought, a quote from fellow creative David Lynch: "It takes four hours to get one hour of creative work done."
After my talk, a great deal of the Q/A explored that mind blowing observation. Why does it take so long, distraction? Nope. Editing? Nope, that's not part of creation.
I recollected my application of this idea when writing Today We Are Rich. After studying Lynch, I discovered one of his secret weapons: Rehearsing the act of creating.
So, before I would start a writing session, I would go outside and putt the ball around the side yard - and rehearse writing. I would speak it out loud (I'd outlined it prior), record it on my phone, then listen to my rehearsal on playback. Then I delete it. At some point, I'd visualized or audiblized it enough, then I'd drop my putter, run down to the studio and furiously type for an hour. And 3000 words were born. (I wrote Feed Your Mind Good Stuff in less than two hours, read it and see how it isn't over-edited or stilted.)
Here's the takeaway. You can't schedule time to be creative. That's like scheduling time with your partner for sex. It's an in-the-moment experience. If you sit down to 'wham it out', you'll end up polishing a turd. You'll spew, edit, delete, fix, re-edit and sqeeze the life out of your 'baby.'
Most of us reserve rehearsal for life's big performances, but think about it: Creating is the ultimate performance and shouldn't be taken for granted. Creativity is a burst of structured insanity, followed by a factory-line set of steps to deliver it to its intended target. If you rehearse, even in your mind, what you are about to create, you'll likely induce that moment of birth. See the photo shoot before doing it. Visualize the Power Point or Photoshop session before sitting down to do it. Do the work!
December 07, 2011
Today's article (Facebook: Zynga's #1 Frenemie) prompted this blog post.
While Zynga stands as a multi-billion dollar example of the dangers of platform squatting, many of you might be doing in a smaller but still deadly way. Examples: you don't have a website anymore, you build a big Facebook Page following instead. You don't build a web property to sell your products (see this a lot now in books), you rely on Facebook instead - thinking, "everyone is here, why not build it into their stream? You base your real estate, insurance or home repair sales on your Page, leaving your older properties abandoned to wither.
Startups from Color to Spotify bet-the-farm on a long and cozy relationship with Facebook - who could turn all of them off with the flip of a switch. Retailers, small business owners and even public figures are all provisioning the Facebook closed platform (emphasis on closed) to reduce costs and presumably fish where the fish are hooked.
But here's the rub: Facebook will eventually have to eat their babies to grow into their valuation. Still private, Zuckerberg gets to report vanity numbers only, playing with Eric Ries calls "success theatre" with it's investors and employees. Time spent, number of active users, etc., all dominate the Facebook story. That will change quickly when they go public and New York analysts descend on them to question their revenue-valuation multiple. If the social-bubble breaks (and it's being poked right now in the cases of LinkedIn and Groupon), who knows what Facebook's leadership team will resort to?
Look at Google, seven years post-IPO. Steve Jobs can testify: You can't trust a company that's on fire to triple their top line quickly. Thus andriod. Now, Google+ is tied to employee compensation and the sacred search algorithm, protected for users, is now biased to reward websites that include +, Places or Circles. Anyone in the valley will warn to avoid getting close to them early, because big and hungry companies "may accidently kill you."
Back to Facebook. If you are using a Page to market your products or services, it's pretty clunky to say the least. You can't conduct giveaways or polls, lest they shut down your account (which is based on your personal account, which also goes away). The apps they require you to use require too many steps and in our privacy-centric world, result in less conversion. So now, you lose all the web-innovations that power super sites like Zappos, Amazon, etc.
At Yahoo, I've seen this first hand. When I joined, we had dozens of dotcom partners in areas where eventually we decided to 'get into their space' to justify our lofty valuation. We were, by 2004, competitors with everyone who made money. Facebook will be the same.
I understand the business logic of being in the app business, making your ultimate bet on Apple. As a mature company, they aren't likely to flip a swtich and get into the app development game, killing all the Fred-In-the-Sheds to make a few more bucks. But, Facebook is likely doing skunkworkss right now to build their own social games, daily deals redux, publicity services, banking and loan services, mobile devices and for all we now VOIP telco services. If you currently make money via them, exclusively, you want want to diversify your business web outreach. What if they turn on a pay-for service for Page owners who want to have ANY links to purchase or generate leads?
Consider what happens when you rely on Google, yet somehow are in their business development plans. When they tweak their search formulas, big changes happen to your business. What if they tweak search to devalue links to Facebook pages, like they've toyed with in the case of Wikipedia and Flickr? Ask LA startup Mahalo, where they had to layoff employees after a regular Google update. First they were a human-search company, then after the Google thrashing of their business, they settled into a video-help resrouce. They didn't have an option. Keep your options open begins to make sense again - instead of cozying up exclusively with a cub company that's got paws bigger than Alaska.
December 01, 2011
This is a takeaway I got from reading Nail It Then Scale It. In the book, written for startup founders, Nathan Furr reveals a startling statistic: 90% of startups that fail, fail because they built something no one wants bad enough to buy.
Apply this to any solution business, whether you are a sales pro a consultant or the CEO. Do you solve a problem worthy of investing precious dollars into? Furr puts it this way: Make sure you are treating a shark bite of a business problem. In this view, as a solutions provider, you think of yourself as the doctor - treating a patient. For many of the solutions I've recently seen from iPhone apps to B2B offerings - the problem is only a paper cut. The prospect admits there is some waste or lost opportunity, but in the end, they are still doing fine. While your solution is relevant, it lacks true urgency.
I've discovered this running Deeper Media's training product launches. One of them, The Dirty Dozen Rules Of Email Etiquette, has had breakthrough sales success - reaching over 40,000 customer/users in five years. Another one, Greening Up Your Business, has had tepid results, even though I supported it with a book (Saving The World At Work). Why? Shark bite versus paper cut.
My email training clients had a REAL problem on their hands when they found me (I've never had to cold call this). Email use was out of control, relationships were breaking down and business was grinding to a halt. For my Green Business prospects, my training solution was a 'nice to have', but they didn't think the business would be negatively impacted without it.
In Nail It Then Scale It, Furr offers a great acid test for a Shark Bite Solution: Cold call a group of people, explaining what problem your service solves in a succinct manner. If less than 50% call you back, it's not a big problem. In his experience, the real Shark Bite Solutions had a stunning level of cold call backs - because the problem was big enough for prospects to pick up the phone and invest time with a stranger.
In this economy, it's important for us to sell solutions not products or services. To do that, we have to be brutally honest with ourself to make sure our solution is significant or we are identifying and quantifying a real problem worth solving right now (and not when things get better and luxuries are affordable.)
November 04, 2011
Over the last few months, I've researched the changes to Facebook, with an emphasis on their EdgeRank algorithm, which is always evolving. Facebook uses this to ensure that we see relevant updates in our Top Feed. Unfortunately, for many Pages, the changes have likely reduced your impressions and your growth in followers (Likers).
I've conducted several experiments over the last month with my Page as well as my corporate client's pages. The result is a dramatic increase in impressions, even more than before all the Facebook changes were implemented. First of all, the EdgeRank formula is important to understand. Your posts will be distributed to your followers based on three things: Affinity, Weight and Time Decay. The most recent EdgeRank changes have emphasized Time Decay (how recently have you posted? Are people still interacting with it?) and Affinity tweaks (major bonus for deriving visits to your Page or marketing your posts as "Top Story"). With that in mind, here are six ways to boost your EdgeRank score and drive more impressions:
1 - Post Directly To Facebook. EdgeRank frowns on third party postings such as HootSuite, Tweetdeck etc.
2 - Post Frequently To Ensure Freshness. This is tricky, because if you post too often, you'll either get Unliked or hidden from your follower's feed. The traditional thinking is once every two days or so, but with the new tweaks, that could really cost you. Here's a good article on the science behind how often you should post. As a rule of thumb, when you see the Likes or engagement trail off on a post (usually 10-12 hours), that's when you need a fresh one.
3 - Post Heavy Content. EdgeRank's Weight component of the algorithm will reward the weight of your posts, usually in this order: Uploaded video (not links to YouTube video), Pictures, Links, and Text. Sure, a text update with a ton of interaction will get impressions, but a picture or video update with engagement will get exponentially more. Here's a tip that makes this whole post worth reading: When you post a quote by a famous person ALWAYS upload a picture of that person! I've found that a quote with a picture gets 2 to 3 times more impressions!!!
4 - Post During Prime Time. Remember, when the engagement trails off, EdgeRank considers that decay and you lose impressions. Most Facebook traffic occurs during working hours, so that's the best time to launch your updates. Here's a good article on when to post.
5 - Convert Statements Into Questions. Instead of saying, my fave new CD of the year is X, put it this way. "What's the best CD of 2011? I think it's The King Is Dead by Decemberists." This way, you'll likely get more comments (which boosts your weight & affinity score) and maybe Likes (for Decemberists fans).
6 - Engage With All Engagement. EdgeRank will count your interaction just like any other interaction (so long as it's in line). Meaning: When someone shares, thank them on their wall or in comments. Answer comments, and encourage even more. The number of comments to an update keeps it fresh (think affinity plus time decay).
Post your tips and techniques in comments, I'll likely thank you on my Facebook Page!
June 02, 2011
I'm often hired to speak to companies about improving their people skills.
By this, I mean they want to practice what they are preaching: At Our Company, Our People Come First. This is a very popular CEO-mantra, because it's good business, and leaders are realizing it. When your company priorities people at the design level (not just announcements), recruiting gets easier, turnover drops off, service gets better and great ideas come to work (instead of competing startups). When people's mood is better, they are more productive and innovative (Mood State Matters). It's goodness, all ways around, but very hard to do.
Putting people first at a company, what I call being People-Centric, cuts against the grain of the short term profit, investor/owner mentality. They argue for balance, using the stakeholder argument: Customers, Owners, People all come first. Problem is, that customers/owners both have vested interests, which means companies often over serve them at the expense of its own people.
But if you make People First a design issue, you can program your culture to make it work. The key is to always measure your People Skills by understanding the employee experience. What emotional and financial benefits are you offering? What emotional or financial pain points are you creating or allowing? If you do this (like you should be doing for Customers), you'll see an immediate lift in people's attitude about the company. Here are five design hacks for a People-Centric company:
1 - Don't Hire High Jerks! As simple as this sounds, it's not lived up to when the Jerk has a stellar resume and exudes technical prowess. We hire him, think we can tame him, and be seduced by his performance. We'll praise him, forgive his lack of people-skills, and it will demoralize everyone he works with. They leave, the jerk stays, and before you know it your business implodes from poor customer experience. Read Bob Sutton's The No Asshole Rule for more on this. PS - Never promote a mean or overly-introverted person to manage other humans. They'll beat them up, passively injure or ignore them to death. Read Multipliers by Liz Wakeman for more.
2 - Reward People-Centric Managers. Why is annual bonus completely tied to financial performance? At some companies I consult to, a piece of the bonus is tied to "The Employee Experience" as measured by various Cultural Health surveys. At one company, a sophisticated process measures employee levels of happiness, holding managers accountable for lifting it. As an engineering based startup organization, leaders realize that the job is 75% of the employee's life, so if she's unhappy - it's on the manager! I know that's extreme, but you'll create the behavior you reward so take this into account.
3 - Program Work Life Balance. If your employees are thumb warriors, carrying their smart phones to bed, out on weekends or during vacations - you are out-of-balance. SAS Institute has a culture where it's inappropriate to interrupt employees off time with email (READ: Regarding Your People). Most companies have no policy for this, and due to overly long (useless) meetings, evenings and weekends are the only time they can reply to emails. BAD DESIGN. Reduce meetings to 45 minutes, prohibit off-time communications. NOTE: You are now being family or partner centric as a company. Remember, they have a huge influence on your ability to retain your top performers when competition comes hunting.)
4 - Install Empathy Triggers. I love the network reality show Undercover Boss. It demonstrates how leaders can be transformed by working in the field and getting to know employees at the human level. The exercise converts 'direct reports' into 'people' via the experience. At Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, employees are flown the Central America to work with the farmers that grow their beans (they call this Trip To Source). At Pizza Hut, former CEO Mike Rawlins had a practice of calling 3 customers a month to understand their life story. At Barton Protective Services, CEOs and Divisional leads spend Friday afternoon "Catching People Doing Something Right," then spreading the word. This is empathy by "walking around."
5 - Craft A People-Centric Mission. This is the big one, for the CEOs and founders of the world. Whatever the company's mission is better have to do with people. If it's about products, places or faceless groups (investors, partners) - you are serving spreadsheets not human experiences. Get this wrong and you've blown it at the meta-design level. PS - It's OK to tear up your crappy-comportment driven mission statement and start fresh. Your constituency is fine with this type of change, especially if it shows a new perspective on your part that's focused on PEOPLE.