August 16, 2013
Earlier this week, a bombshell hit the hip-hop community when Kendrick Lamar unleashed a no-holds-barred calling out of several prominent contemporary rappers as well as the NY rap community. It was the hottest topic for a few days on Twitter and had everyone from sports to politics weighing in.
Some of the artists he called out were understandably miffed, but many of them have remained silent. One of them (Wale) was actually honored that he made the list worthy of bashing. Who got really steamed? All the other rappers Kendrick failed to call out. They are ticked off!
Why am I writing about it? I, like Kobe, Russell Simmons and a few others, think it was a GOOD thing for the genre that Kendrick promised to bury them and make their core audience forget about them for producing such banal product. He raised the bar.
But still, he's surely glad he did it and I am too. Rap will have a new sense of vitality that we haven't seen since 2Pac and Biggie Smalls had their beef. (Note: Due to Kendrick's immaturity, he also made a mistake: He announced that he was 'the king of New York' which elicited ire from the community and a scolding by none other than Coach Phil Jackson. This proves you need to stop short of arrogance when challenging your industry colleagues to do better.)
I'd like to see Johnny Ive drop some science on device and electronics makers (except Samsung). I'd like to see Richard Branson unleash a rap of fury, promising to ground all the major airlines with his hyper-focus on the customer-experience, making all of us forgo our frequent flyer miles to fly with Virgin.
I'd like to see Elon Musk call out Detroit, Toyota and a few other auto makers for their lack of imagination and/or style. I'd like to see Tony Hsieh thrown down against online retailers that can't or won't deliver happiness. And so on.
In each case, the response may very well be negative at first, with those left out replying first (that was the case with Kendrick's rap) and then those called out feeling the pressure, and likely stepping up their game to truly compete.
Things have gotten far too civil in business these days, as everyone seems to be afraid to directly call out their competitors for the sake of improving the entire industry. In fact, I've got some studio time booked to cut my own rap, which will call out several author/speakers I know. Here's a sample:
"I'll bury you with my takeaways, next year you'll have 350 free days..."
I'm no stranger to employing a rap to make my point. A decade or so ago, I made this video to challenge the Yahoo sales team to do a beter job learning their customer's business. And it worked!
August 13, 2013
Last Friday, I spoke at an event in Chicago. Afterwards, on the way to the airport, I checked the hashtag conversation to see how I did, and to answer tweets from the crowd. It's exciting to know that you can get these insights so quickly!
As I combed through the conversation, I wondered whether the event owner or his staff were combing through these tweets too. Which led me to think a little about the value of Twitter for creating more effective meetings. For the last year, I've been speaking to audiences about how social media is the ultimate listening post for brands and service providers. Modern markets are connected conversations, where the players improve by tuning into it.
For anyone hosting a meeting (or needing it to be successful), Twitter can help you analyze how well your speakers or panels are connecting with your influencers, early adopters and Gen Y'rs. Here's what you can do to take advantage of it:
* Start The Conversation Early - Pick the hashtag for your event, and keep it short. Likely, it will be the letters for your conference and the two digit number of the current year. This year's Association of General Contractors meeting should pick #AGC13, for example. Promote your hashtag on the event website, in registration acknowledgements and event reminders. Post Twitter updates to the hashtag to get the ball rolling, increasing their frequency closer to the event.
* Promote The Hashtag At the Event - The more you promote it, the more people participate, and if you reach a tipping point, you may be 33-50% of your entire attendees chirping in. Embed the hashtag and the Twitter logo in Power Point templates as well as signage, and announce it during housekeeping remarks. When I speak, that's my 2nd slide! During the event, tweet out quotes from speakers and don't forget to include the hashtag. If you want to elicit the Jumbotron effect, project the hashtag stream on one or both of your screens (like the image above).
* Setup Your Monitoring Dashboard (Alerts) - Personally, I prefer Hootsuite as a free service to monitor Twitter conversation. Setup a hashtag stream to track all mentions of the event hashtag. You can setup up to 10 streams to monitor various keywords or phrases. Use a few of them to capture conversations about your company, association, full event name and keynote speakers (or your CEO, if she's presnting).
* Jump Into the Fray - At event breaks, be there to retweet or favorite updates. Interact directly with anyone having a bad time, but don't necessarily try to settle debates about the content or anything sensitive. The more you participate, the wider the conversation grows, which can increase demand for next year's event.
* Look For Engagement Levels, Not Survey Results - Since this isn't the entire audience, I'm not suggesting you decide on the event or a speaker's success by the thumbs up or thumbs down sentiment on Twitter. Most of it will be positive, unless one of your speakers or meals is a bomb. And in that case, you'll appreciate how Twitter makes it real-time, so you can do something about it! In general, look for engagement levels. Which parts of your meeting had the most buzz? What points resonated the most with the attendees? What were the hottest issues? Did anyone speak to crickets? Why?
One other note: Ask your guest speakers, sponsors and vendors to chip into the conversation as well. They want more followers, so it's a win/win/win. This will expand the conversation even wider, and perhaps, create more direct connections with the audience and everyone involved in it.
July 24, 2013
I remember back when blogging first started, when people told me, "you need to blog to keep up!" I pushed back. I was already writing a book every two years, pumping out a beefy newsletter every month and answering over a hundred emails a day! The thought of more writing work was simply overwhelming.
And then the social networks started popping up, begging for my precious time and attention. I could ignore MySpace, and at first facebook. LinkedIn lurked on the horizon, offering a little value if I was looking to poach someone for my company ... and then it all converged into a blizzard of gotta-be-here-hammering-it-daily networks that I felt like I had to invest in.
Turns out, only a few of them actually drive my speaking or writing business. The rest are flotsam...time wasters...content vampires. Through this I 've learned that you don't need to be everywhere, because that's like trying to dance your way out of quicksand. You'll never get there.
During my keynotes on The Social Opportunity, I tell businesses that they need to think differently about the rise of social networking and all the opportunities that come with it. Here's what you should really look at: Are your business targets moving to new streams to find, connect and share? Are they harder to reach with your current marketing and CRM strategies? If so, then you likely need to setup a new camp, otherwise, wait until you have a real need to make the leap.
Some consultants say that it's easy to make this decision based on your type of business: Professional services on LinkedIn, Consumer offerings on Twitter and Pinterest, Technology and media services on Google+ and everybody on facebook, but I think that's an overgeneralization that is disproved by countless case studies. Here's a more scientific way for you to figure out where you need to be.
First, you need to be clear on who your targets are. By targets, I mean, who do you want your content to reach and who do you want to interact with more often? For most of us, the prospective or current customer represents your top target. For some companies, reaching partners is more critical. Those could be resellers or strategic providers, where constant contact generates more performance. In some cases, like McGladrey Accounting, their top targets are entry level accountants (team members and candidates). You may say, "all of them", which is fine if you really have the resources to shoot for three targets with your interactive strategy.
Next, you need to ask your best clients/partners/employees where they fish for solutions, graze for information and share their content. Ask them where you can connect with them, share their content, and give them updates and special offers. Create a survey (no more than seven questions), or better yet, make it part of your ongoing conversations and then distill the information to develop a top three social networks list. In my experience, my top customer has a media profile that closely resembles my top prospects, so this exercise will scale from current to prospective victories.
Now, create a program to serve NO MORE than the top three networks. If you can, limit your work to two. Often, you'll do this to serve multiple types of targets. In the case of McGladrey, they invest in LinkedIn for new customers and facebook to recruit accountants. They use their Twitter account to drive traffic to their blog posts.
In my case, my targets include readers, conference planners and speaking bureau partners. I work my blog, facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (in that order of priority). I don't really do Google+, Tumblr or Pinterest. They don't offer me ROI against my defined targets. If I tried to do everything, I'd likely be spread too thin.
Finally: Monitor the results, refresh your survey every year and drop dead-weight networks. So far, my blog and facebook have generated the most business for me, but Twitter keeps me directly connected to most of my targets. I've been investing more time in LinkedIn, but haven't seen much results yet...so I might drop it (like Chris Brogan did last year when he moved to Google+). This way, I don't end up with network creep, where I simply add new ones to the pile, ending up spread out eventually.
If you'd like some advice for your business, do a straw poll of your top targets, share the results and your business situation in comments and I'll jump in with my .02. OK?Tweet
July 16, 2013
Recently, I've had the opportunity to hang out with an assortment of highly successful facebook page owners and administrators. The include the manager of a popular band, two Fortune 500 Company Social Media Directors and the CEO of a firm that manages hundreds of high traffic-high profile pages. Collectively, they've given me some good advice and keen insights into the state of Edgerank.
Do you have any posting tips for facebook page owners or admins? Please contribute them in comments. If I decide to add one of them to this post, I'll send you a book on social media or marketing.Tweet
July 08, 2013
Managers: What if I told you that you could leverage social media to increase your employee's engagement and job satisfaction? Do you think I've lost my new-media mind? Let me ask this: Have you ever received an award at a company event (conference, banquet, etc.) and then the next workday, had boundless energy and motivation?
Sure you did. That's how recognition works, especially when it is public. When I keynote for HR and talent management groups, I talk about three compensation plans they can offer: Financial, Emotional and Social. (Financial = $, Emotional = working environment and Social = public praise). The social compensation plan may not be what attracts talent, but according to research by Bersin and Associates, recognition programs can give a company 14% more engagement and reduce voluntary turnover by 31%. That's why employee recognition is a whopping $40billion dollar industry!
Most of the time, though, recognition is doled out annually, based on extraordinary results. For Gen Y workers, AKA the status-update-generation, this is not fast enough. According to a Harvard Business Review article (Mentoring Millennials), younger workers need faster feedback, if not real-time. Most companies, though, haven't figured out how to do this. Enter social media, the world's cheapest recognition machine.
Recently, when I was researching for a keynote talk for security equipment manufacturer Interlogix, I came across a great case study of how a company can give social-recognition that works. AVI-SPL, a video integration service provider, uses their facebook page to recognize milestones for employees: 15 years of service or a recently completed project. In both cases, there is interaction with the posts, spilling over to employee's family and friends.
If your company culture is Twitter-centric, that may be the best platform to give instant and public shoutouts. Same goes if your company's mostly using LinkedIn. Here's the challenge: Can you find a way, this week, to give some much needed recognition to you employees over social? You know they'll find out, and when they do, you'll see the results in terms of spirit and energy.
June 24, 2013
For the last few years, business owners and fellow bloggers have asked me whether Google+ is "a good investment of my time." Up until last year, unless you were in the technology, social or dating services business, I'd say, "not very good."
Why? Although they have 100 million plus users, the demographic is: Most likely occupation--Engineer, Mostly male and over 40% are single. It's been a very focused community, and I had a hard time recommending it to restaurant owners, manufacturers of consumer products, etc. But last year, a colleague made me hip to this: Integrating Google+ into your website or blog makes Google happy. When you make Google happy, more people searching for your product or service are likely to find you.
Google's search algorithm is highly dynamic, and it's not strictly a measure of popularity anymore. According to SEO consulting firm Hallan Internet, integrating Google+ improves your ranking, especially when it comes to local search (accountant, orlando). You could start out by simply adding a Google+ Share button right next to you facebook and Twitter ones. Later, you could develop your profile, establish your author identity and publish content on Google+. Of coure, the last integration requires your time on an ongoing basis, and this is where your results may vary depending on what type of business you are in.
As a reminder, getting ranked on the first page of search results matters. According to research by ad network Chikita, over 90% of web traffic from search comes from the first page of results! If you own a local business with a physical retail presence (from tire shop to shoe store), check out this article that explains all the ways you can leverage Google+ to directly market to prospective customers.
For more information: Chris Brogan's Google+ For Business page.Tweet
June 10, 2013
In this edition of Media Monday, I'd like to shift the conversation to two areas where most of us are either unprepared or underfeatured. These two areas of web programming complexity are critical, as they make up over HALF of the traffic that comes to our websites. Consider the following two stats:
* 23.1% of all traffic to U.S. websites comes from mobile devices (Walker Sands)
* 29 percent of all traffic to U.S. websites comes from bots (Comscore).
Many of the business owners or managers I've talked to about this wonder what the big deal really is. "I've looked at my website on my iPad and with a little adjustment, it looks perfect to me," is a typical reply. But the reality is much much different. Take retail eCommerce: According to a report late last year by Skava, only 7% of retailers have tablet friendly sites. This means that some type of functionality is off: Flash, buy buttons, pop ups, etc.
Why is this a big deal? If you fail for your user, the costs to get them back go up dramtically. The May 2013 Mobile Experience Survey suggested that 44% of users will NEVER return to a website that is not mobile friendly. Wow. That's not a small number. While you may be willing to play around with your website to show it off on your Android phone for a friend, your customers and prospects will not.
Then there's the issue of being Bot-Ready. In some cases, the bots are friendly: Search engine bots that are attempting to index you for discoverability. However, in most cases, the bots are spam tools that are designed to use your website as a distribution platform to sell dubious products and services. One of my good friends has a website that sells a training course and recently, he's been overrun by spam ... getting over 100 emails a day due to having insufficient filters (captcha is an example, although an overbearing one).
Fail to be ready for the good bots and your website will be hard to find. Forget about the bad bots and you'll gain more grief than leads from your website. In both cases, the fix isn't really that hard, usually a matter of finding an SEO expert or using any one of a multitude of off-the-shelf filtering and security products. For both mobile and bot prep, here are some resources for you (or your friends).
(For bloggers) Top 6 Wordpress Plugins To Stop Bots/SpamRegistrationTweet
June 03, 2013
When your customers brag about your product or service, their friends listen. That's what Nielsen learned in their Trust Survey, when they discovered that consumers were 71% more likely to trust (and act on) a social media recommendation than an advertisement.
When a facebook friend recommends you, shares a link to you or reviews you on Yelp or Trip Advisor...good things happen. When you run an ad or launch outbound marketing campaigns, you spend money, get some results and eventually optimize yourself into some sort of ROI. It's a classic continuum: Cheap-to-free incremental sales VS costly incremental sales.
Last week I stayed at a Pod hotel in Manhattan. The rooms are small but the design is hip and the price can't be beat: $185 a night! As I was heading out of my room on the last day, I noticed a placard on my door (see above) that invited me to share my experience via TripAdvisor. It even provided a QR code I could scan with a single click on my iPhone and .... it took me straight to their page, where I could review them (and share that review via my FB or Twitter stream).
Now that's the way you do it. Of course, if they had dingy rooms and bad service, this could be a prescription for disaster. But they don't, and they know it very well. They determined that Trip Advisor was the key battle ground to capture rooms up for grabs (which the numbers support) and with a simple in-product placement (sign on hotel room door), they've poured fuel on the fire.
You can/should/must do this too. Much like Pod, you should think about how product or service design can enable customers to share the love easily. Notice I wrote, "easily." Every single step you ask them to take dramatically reduces the likelihood they will actually tell their friends, and their friends, about your great service. That's why Pod thought to offer me a QR code for easy-evangelism.
If you offer a web service (like 99 Designs), you can allow customers to share their new listing for comments or friend-sourced contributions. If you send customers online satisfaction surveys, you can easily code "share this" buttons to enable them to broadcast your awesomeness. When I gave away a chapter of my fourth book, sharing was built into the reading experience every few pages. This led to significant downloads on launch day, which propelled the book to #91 on Amazon.
How can you design "share your great experience with us" into your customer's experience? If you do this already, what steps can you eliminate and how can you provide the sharing-opportunity at the right time? These are the new questions that buzz marketing enthusiasts must ask if they want to capture the social opportunity at hand!
(This is from my newest book "The Social Opportunity" that I give to my keynote audiences. I've been speaking across the country on this subject, and opening eyes to the fact that social media offers a great R&D, customer service, direct marketing and brand evangelism opportunity to businesses that are adept at design, testing and risk taking. If you are interesting in having me visit your company or conference, go here.)Tweet
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
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