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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.

Facebook Rolls Out More Robust Insights

Facebook announced at F8 They Will Roll Out More Robust Insights and AnalyticsI’m not at the F8 conference today, but I have been reading the news and keeping up with the announcements.  So far, the most exciting stories I have read have to do with Facebook Insights, the dashboard for page admins. If you run a fan page (now called a “like” page, I suppose) for a brand, agency or just for yourself, this is important information.

To date, the Insights have been underwhelming.  They have covered only the most basic information, and as somebody who works with big brands to engage and guide the community, I’ve got to say they have been less than helpful.  It seems that all of that changes today, however.  Facebook has announced “Facebook for Web Sites” and have already published full documentation about it.  The insight to user behavior should be interesting, as Facebook says:

“Once your app is up-and-running, you can get detailed analytics about the demographics of your users and how users are sharing from your application with Insights.

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Facebook Now Allows You To Like A Page (Updated)

(UPDATE AT END OF POST)

Well, it’s finally happened.  Facebook has changed “Become A Fan” to “Like” on their fan pages.  People have been talking about this for a while, and speculating as to what the implications will be. Of course, when I say “people” I mean marketers and social media types…the other 99% of the world probably couldn’t care less.

I’ll wait to reserve commentary until I really see how it all plays out, but for now, here are the details of what you need to know, straight from the horse’s mouth. Of course, after you read this you should now go “like” my Facebook Fan Page.  Or is it now called a Facebook Like Page?

“Liking” a Page

Why did “Become a Fan” change to “Like”?

To improve your experience and promote consistency across the site, we’ve changed the language for Pages from “Fan” to “Like.” We believe this change offers you a more light-weight and standard way to connect with people, things and topics in which you are interested. http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=17167

What does it mean to “Like” a Page?

When you click “Like” on a Page, you are making a connection to that Page. The Page will be displayed in your profile, and in turn, you will be displayed on the Page as a person who likes that Page. The Page will also be able to post content into your News Feed. http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=17115

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Working With Influencers and Enthusiasts For Your Brand

As somebody that develops strategy for large corporate brands, I often work with different types of brand advocates in various social media channels.  A common tactic of many marketers and PR professionals is to try to go after “influencers” to get them to talk about their product.  Sometimes these influencers are individuals, sometimes they are communities, but a common denominator is that they have substantial audience sizes. The typical way of approaching these people or groups is to ship them a sample of your product and include a note that says something like, “Hope you enjoy this, please blog about it”.  I think this is a good shotgun approach to communities, it’s a good step up from a press release and it gets your product information out to a lot of people very quickly.  For individuals, I think we have to look at a more measured and personal approach.

Influencers and Enthusiasts in Social MediaTo truly be effective in social media with influencers, I think you need to build a relationship, not ship a press package. You also have to recognize and understand the different groups that exist in social media, so you know how to develop and target brand programs and exposure.  In case you fear that I’m starting to sound a little too professional and polished in this approach, I submit for your approval a hand drawn diagram in the picture to the left.  Fancy, isn’t it? I put this beauty up on our office white board this morning while talking through the concept with a client.

Before we discuss what to do with these various groups, let’s start by defining them.

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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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Want Some Buzz? Give Your Goods Away

I’m listening to Viva La Hova while I write this. It’s a mashup mix of Coldplay, one of the greatest rock bands in the world, and Jay-Z, one of the greatest hip hop artist in the world. “A Spy’s Prayer” is playing much louder than I should probably play things while I’m trying to work, butI just can’t help it.  What a great song.  What a great mashup album! I started hearing some buzz about it a week ago, and I finally downloaded it today.  I’m pretty sure I will do the digital equivilent of wearing this album out (remember that with cassette tape? ha ha!).  Haven’t heard of it yet?  You will.  I think that in the next few days it will trend on Twitscoop, I think it’s picking up some momentum.  Why?

It’s Free.

Yes, the great minds that put this together, Mick Boogie and Terry Urban, are giving their music away.  You can go download it right now, DRM free, no strings attached…all 20 tracks. I wonder how hours they put into this project? I wonder if they were tempted to try to sell it? What kind of buzz would they have if there was any cost involved to the consumer?

I have lost track of how many business owners and managers have asked me to create “something viral” that makes money for them right away.  They want visible, tangible results that they can track on Excel, sort of the equivelent of a coupon that tracks sales of a product.  Here’s the thing…you won’t always see immediate results, but if you can break free of the traditional business model of cashing in on the first step, you will probably do better in the long run.  I don’t know what the future holds for Boogie and Urban, but I think they are going to do well. Buzz about this project will continue, people will download their work for free, and they won’t make a nickel off of it at first glance.  But…they will make money.  Publicity, offers, promos…

In your next team strategy meeting, will you try to figure out something that you can give to your customers and fans free of charge? Don’t add conditions and hoops to jump through, just give it away. The loyalty and buzz you create will likely produce more long term gain than anything you can gather in the short term.

I should probably note that before you download the album, the language is, well…hip hop.  If you are not familiar with Jay-Z and are easily offended, you may want to proceed with caution.  Consider yourself warned.

Social Media Gun For Hire

I have a pretty decent amount of experience in business and online community relations. Since the middle of the summer I have been working on a social media project for an international non-profit based here in Los Angeles.  The NPO approached me about designing, building, deploying and marketing an amazing idea that I think would really change the face of what they did all around the world.  We were all quite excited about it, and it was moving along nicely.  Just a couple of weeks ago we got notice that the funding for the project had disolved.  Given the tough economic climate in the U.S. and abroad, this was understandable but disappointing to all involved.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Until that point I was more than busy with a project for at least the next year.  This scope of this was so great that I wasn’t even considering other companies to work with, I just wasn’t going to be able to spread myself out that much.  Things have changed now, and it appears that I have some time on my hands.

If your company, non-profit, church or cause could use a boost with social media, business management and process or online exposure, please drop me a note or call my office at 323-774-1269. I would love to talk to you about this! If our initial conversation appears to be something we both want to pursue, I will draft a written proposal and get it to you quickly.

I will be building out this site over the next few weeks to reflect the services that I can offer to you and your company, but for a quick look, check out this area which will give you an overview. Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.

Viral Friday: Bring On The Trumpets!

I’ve had more than one head of company ask me if I could “make something viral” to promote their service.  I wish it was just that easy.  The buzz of “viral” is one of the most abused terms around, and although many people strive to make a viral video or email or sound clip, very few succeed.  Why?  Because it’s not a company that makes something viral, it’s the community.

Case in point: I love this video from The Natural Confectionary Company!  My friend James Whatley from Spinvox pointed this out to a group of us at Blogworld Expo 2008 and we just couldn’t stop laughing.  Why?  I don’t know…it’s a ridiculous script with gummy animals making no sense.  It’s brilliant.  It’s too bad their website isn’t equally brilliant, unfortunately it’s as far to the other end of the spectrum as you can go.  TNCC: if you ever want a redesign let me know!

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