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How To Always Lose To Your Competitor

I’m writing this at Starbucks, but I wish I was writing in the little coffee shop just across the street. However, I can’t because they lost me (and others) just a couple of hours ago. Let me explain.

This morning  the power in my neighborhood went out, and I got a report that it wouldn’t be restored until later in the afternoon.  This took away my internet and my ability to drive anywhere (car is in a garage that requires power, and thank you for the suggestions of a manual override but unfortunately it’s not an option in this case) which really leaves me stuck, as my job is to create and oversee online social media campaigns for Fortune 500 companies.  I live in a beautiful neighborhood, and one of the things that makes it beautiful is the lack of businesses.  I have two coffee shops that have wifi and good tea, practically across the street from each other, 2 miles away from my house.  I put on my backpack and started the hike.

One of the coffee shops is a locally owned and operated cafe, the other is Starbucks.  I try to support small businesses whenever possible, and though it was a bit more inconvenient, I trekked to the local cafe.

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What You Need Is Right In Front of You

social media helps you find what customers want

Sometimes what you need to help you make decisions is right in front of you, you just don't want to see it.

You Just Can’t See It. Or you don’t want to see it.

Over the roughly two decades that I’ve been involved with business, either as an entrepreneur, an executive director or a social media strategist, I’ve heard the same frustration voiced over and over again, in almost every market I’ve worked in.  After hours, weeks or sometimes months of seemingly endless meetings, late-night war room strategy sessions and presentation after presentation of focus group reports, eventually the people in charge of making the decisions for the direction of an organization bury their face in their hands and declare in frustration and defeat, “if only we knew what everybody wanted from us, we could just give it to them“.

This has applied to product development, marketing campaigns, service implementation…anything and everything a company (for profit or not) could possibly put together to offer a group of people.  “If only we could find out what our customers want…

Studies are ordered.  Thousands of dollars…or millions…are spent on consultants and burned up in labor hours.  When the senior management team meets to discuss, debate and dissect the data, 20% of the organization’s labor dollars are being paid out for each hour they cannot figure out what their audience wants.  At some point or another, late into the night, one of the people around the tables feels the frustration of a seemingly insurmountable task.  They want to be home with their family, they want to get back to the work they were hired to do instead of trying to figure out puzzles…they want to solve the mystery of how to move forward.  But how? And then the idea is presented:

We should try social media. I know we already have a Facebook and Twitter page, but instead of just posting something once a week, why don’t we ask the people that follow us what they want, and then listen to them? Also, why don’t we pay for a monitoring service so we know what people are saying about us and even our competitors? People are already telling us what they want, we just need to listen, reply and implement”

The silence only last for a moment, before a chorus of “we will lose control of the message” and “we can’t create a forum for negative comments” starts. The boss makes an expression that is a combination of fear and patronization and simply says, “that’s too risky, we’re not doing it” before starting a discussion about when the best time to meet again will be to tackle this impossible chore.

Sometimes what you need is right in front of you, you just can’t see it…or worse yet, you don’t want to see it.

I’m All In For The City of Hope


I was approached by the City of Hope in Los Angeles and asked to do a fifteen second video about why I’m “all in” for the fight against women’s cancers. I said yes without hesitation, and as we were talking about it, I was flooded with memories of the women in my life that have been affected by cancer. I used to joke that “death runs in my family”, but really it isn’t a laughing matter. Practically every woman that I am related to has been diagnosed with some form of cancer, and most of them have died.

It’s time to end this madness, it really is.

Below is my humble contribution, I would appreciate it if you would watch it (again, it’s only fifteen seconds) and then click the “like” button right here:

If you or a woman you know has been affected by this horrible plague called cancer, a “like” will be stating that you are “all in” also.   All in for a cure.  All in to end the suffering.  All end to save our mothers, our daughters, our wives and our friends. I’m not asking you for money, or time or anything else that requires a lot of effort…just awareness. I believe in the power of social media, and how quickly a good message can spread around.

Please watch this video and share it with others.

I’m all in. Are you?

Why Do Consumers Like Brands on Facebook?

Why do people "like" brands on Facebook? Free stuff!

According to a recent post by the Google Retail Advertising blog, the answer to the question is simple…they want discounts.

In a very short post, they state that their latest research reveals that only 50% of Facebook users “friend” brands, with the prevalent “why” being to receive discounts and promotions.  That’s really not surprising, I’ve seen time and time again huge amounts of traffic being driven to a Facebook brand page by offering something as simple as a coupon for a free bagel. Maybe we don’t clip coupons out of the newspaper anymore (remember newspapers?), but some things never change, and consumers continue to be primarily motivated by discounts.

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You’ve Got The Numbers…Now What? Working With Social Media Analytics

Almost every client I’ve worked with in social media wants data tracked and reported for practically every post, tweet, comment and sweepstakes that they participate in online, and rightfully so.  From a business perspective, Key Performance Indicators (K.P.I.s) are important to help guide decisions and craft strategy. The problem that so many companies have with this process is that they don’t see it through to the most important part: the analysis and interpretation.

Data, without insightful interpretation, is worthless.  It’s like staring at the instruments of an airplane, but not knowing how to use them to get you where you want to go.

So you have 200,000 Facebook fans…so what? How many of them engage on a regular basis? What countries are primarily represented, and is it important to your business? What time of day is best for you to post so that you get the most exposure?  These are questions that should be asked, but often are not.

I think that so many people and organizations are in the habit of asking for reports that they just do it automatically, and assume that the process is over.  The way I see it, the process is just beginning at that point, and data can be used to make important business decisions, particular as they related to social media, looking forward.

A few guidelines and suggestions for how to use the data you capture:

  • Flash reports are okay, but real strength from data comes by looking at a broad range.  The more time you have to collect data, the more solid your numbers will be and the variance of peaks and valleys shouldn’t affect the bottom line as much
  • Sentiment is quite subjective, and I have yet to find a tool that auto-scores and does it well.  For example, if somebody tweets “Good Lord, my [brand] car is giving me a headache”, it’s typically scored as positive or neutral because of the inclusion of “good”.  A human looking at that would usually score it as negative.  I would rather hand-score a small number of data points than let a computer auto-score a massive amount
  • Consistency with time and services are important.  If possible, try to pull data from the same source and at regular time intervals. For example, it’s much easier to analyze data from a single source that you pull every Monday, than to compare data from many sources that you pull when you “want to get a good look at things”.  Consistency is key
  • I’m sure you are tempted to look at numbers each week as wins and losses, but it’s more important to look at data over a longer period of time.  For example, when we presented numbers to clients after the 4th of July Holiday weekend, tweets, comments and likes were down almost across the board.  It has to be taken into consideration that people were off of their computers and outside enjoying life, otherwise it seems like something went terribly wrong during that period.

I spend a lot of time looking over data that has been scraped from all around the internet, and an equal amount of time interpreting what it means so that we can help our clients make important strategic and tactical decisions.  What I’ve learned from all of this is that, no matter where you are pulling it from, data that stands by itself without good interpretation is at best worthless, at worst dangerous.

Rented Zombies and the Ford Fiesta Project

Just watched a video from the Ford Fiesta project and I love it.  Very effective for a few reasons, I think:

  • It’s sharable. They put it on YouTube and left all the appropriate code in place. Surprisingly, a lot of companies disable the embed feature.
  • It’s not too long.  Just over a minute is perfect, and reflects amazing editing skills.  I don’t even watch videos that drag on over three minutes unless something incredibly compelling is in it and I know that before I start.
  • It uses humor.  The zombie angle is funny! I think people are more likely to watch, comment and share.
  • It gets one point across. Okay, so Ford Fiesta has a great entry system with the keyless fob.  Cool! I’ll remember that.  If they also tried to tell me how spacious, fast, and comfortable it was, then dazzled me with specs on the sound system and gas mileage I would probably not retain it past the video.
  • It has my friend Jonathan Nafarrete in it! That alone makes it worthy.

So check it out, and judge it for yourself.  Effective? Why or why not? The video is embedded below, it can be found on YouTube here and the Ford Fiesta site here.

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Why The Nike Tiger Woods Ad Is So Good

Tiger Woods Nike Golf Ad Featuring Earl WoodsThis morning I watched the new spot from Nike that features Tiger Woods, just in time for his return to golf at The Masters. When I first viewed it, the page had already been viewed 600k+ times on YouTube. As of this writing, it’s over 1.1MM; it’s obviously getting a lot of attention. I’ve been thinking about this video all day, going back and forth about how I feel about it.  The video is embedded below, and it’s worth watching.  Let me summarize what you see:

It’s a :30 spot in black and white, with Tiger Woods standing still.  He says nothing.  He blinks.  The voice over is of his father, Earl Woods, who passed away in 2006. He is talking to his son, and says, “Tiger…I am more prone to be inquisitive; to promote discussion.  I want to find out what your thinking was, I want to find out what your feelings are, and…did you learn anything?” It flashes to a black background and the simple, iconic Nike swoosh.

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: Yourself

This is part 6 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here ,part 4 “The Channels” is here and part 5 “Other Professionals” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know Yourself

I bet you weren’t expecting that one, were you? Let me explain what I mean by this: simply put, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and you need to know your work flow and financial needs; this is especially true if you are consulting. Since most of us actually do know our strengths and weaknesses, maybe a better way to word this is be honest with yourself.  I saw a quote online recently that really rang true with me. Unfortunately I haven’t always followed it.

Work for full price or work for free, but don’t work for cheap.

As I applied that to many situations in the past that I have had to deal with, I see how true this is.  I could probably write an entire series of posts about why this is so important, but for now I’ll just let you ponder it and apply it to your own situation. In knowing yourself, you need to be honest with what your needs (or those of your organization) are, because sometimes…no matter how much you need the work…it’s better to say no to a project.  

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: Other Pros

This is part 5 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here and part 4 “The Channels” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know Other Professionals

It’s important that you don’t get yourself into something that is not a good use of your time.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, and if part of a package deal is to provide a service that you aren’t strong in…hire it out.  I’m not kidding.  Hire it out, no matter how big or small you are.  Believe me, in the corporate agency world this practice isn’t just commonplace, it’s expected.  Think about building a social media program like building a house, and you are the general contractor. It’s your job to make sure the work gets done, and you may even pick up a hammer and hop in to help.  Leave the plumbing to the pros and focus on the big picture.  I know the temptation is to try to do it all yourself so that you’ll get paid more, but in my experience 9 times out of 10 this doesn’t work out quite as expected, and unmet expectations abound on both sides.

I’ve heard it said that the day you get a client is the day you start losing them…this idea is reinforced quickly if you try to do work that is outside of your scope of expertise.

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: The Channels

This is part 4 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know The Channels

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Ustream, blogs, forums and all of the other communities in social media each have a different feel, and as such have different rules and therefore different results should be expected.  I’m going to go on record as saying that, in my opinion, trying to target all areas is a big mistake unless you have an incredibly well resourced team.  For most of the Fortune 500 companies that I work with we target a handful of channels based upon the brand needs and expectations…I don’t think there is such a thing as a cookie cutter social media program.  Why?  Because the need of every client is different (remember that part I wrote about knowing your customer?)  That said, there are a few basics that should be covered, but once you have established those you’ll want to match specific needs with specific communities.  If you try to be all things to all people you’re going to get spread too thin.

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