Posted tagged ‘Social Media Today’

Social Media Works…As Part of a Larger Campaign

February 6, 2009

Social Media Today asks the question: are we really missing the point about the strategies we create using these technologies?

It’s true, the number of followers you have on your Twitter account matters and the percentage of readers coming to your blog via an RSS reader are important.

But the real value of social media campaigns emerges when they’re connected to other elements of a broader communications and marketing campaign. Social media should be a component of the core campaign, and an important one.

From Social Media Today:

The other day in an article that’s gained a lot of attention, Guardian tech journalist Bobbie Johnson proclaimed that he’s done with social media. If you haven’t done so it’s definitely worth a read. In summary Bobbie says:

“I’ve had it with social media. Not social networking per se, but the incessant chatter about how “social media” is changing the world. How it’s going mainstream. How it’s the biggest change we’ve ever seen.”

So we have the incessant squawking of “experts”, and the talking up of the same people again and again and again as the ones everyone should ‘follow’ – something Kevin Palmer discusses in a great post entitled ‘The social media echo chamber makes me not want to listen.’

At its worst, it manifests itself in people pruning their friend lists down so they can game the ranking system Twitter Grader (which awards a higher score if more people follow you than the other way around) – really, who cares.

The core problem is that social media is being looked at in isolation as something only to be touched by a select group of gurus. Instead, to my mind it should be an intrinsic part of every marcoms campaign – you have an idea of how you are going to target print, broadcast and also online.

It’s a component of the core campaign, and an important one. But it doesn’t sit on its own.

So while I completely get why organisations have individuals like the excellent Shannon Paul (Detroit RedWings), Kelly Feller (Intel) and Scott Monty (Ford) on-board to operate in this space, it seems to make less sense for actual agencies to set up specialist divisions – and every week I still read about someone here in the UK doing just that. For the reasons mentioned above, we took the opposite approach.

We once had a division (Herd was originally the name of it, I simply kept the URL for the blog). But we stopped that last year, thinking that it would be better to skill up all the core account handlers in online media knowledge. And while one or two of the Cows like myself definitely have more of an interest in this area, I’d never bill myself as an ‘expert’!

So the backlash is in full swing, as demonstrated by those two videos below. Maybe no bad thing. Bobbie says at the end of his piece, “I’m sick of “social media sensations”. And I’m sick of social media. Social media is people. People talk about stuff. The end.”

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Personality Can Make a Corporate Blog Pay Off

February 2, 2009

Interesting posting from Social Media Today.

While recent surveys have cast doubt on whether people trust what they read on blogs, many believe that corporate blogs can have an influence on purchasing decisions, particularly if those doing the blogging focus on something other than selling products.

From Social Media Today:

Over the last few months there has been a lot of talk about whether or not blogs can truly help drive decision making power. The information is often conflicting, which may drive your average reader to more and more blogs and articles to come up with the truth in between.

For example, a Forrester survey from Q2 2008 created a lot of buzz when it revealed that “only 16% of people who read company blogs trust them.” What I find most ironic about this is that the survey didn’t generate a large level of interest until it hit the Forrester Groundswell BLOG, which as far as I know, is a company blog that does generate a lot of trust among its readers. You could argue that an analyst firm (who is supposed to rank vendors in an unbiased fashion) isn’t  the same as the companies they are talking about in the survey, but that’s just semantics in my mind. They’re using blogs in the same way that every other business should be using blogs — to serve up expertise that will hopefully drive more people to purchase their products.

I think that to say that a majority of people don’t trust company blogs is probably par for the course, as Forrester’s Bernoff acknowledges when he links to an Edelman article pointing out that people don’t trust companies in general.

Yet that doesn’t mean that blogs can’t ultimately tip someone into making that final purchase.  I think its safe to say that as a rule I don’t trust company blogs, because as someone who has been in marketing for a long while I know that there is often a spin of information involved. I think that your average Internet blog reader knows this as well, but we need to give them a bit more credit. Most savvy readers aren’t relying on one source of information. They may start at the company blog, read some information and then do corresponding searches to corroborate the material. So while they may not trust the blog, it doesn’t mean that the blog was useless — it could have served as the stepping stone toward a purchase. Bernoff acknowledges that “In this case about 80% of those we polled said they did use corporate blogs,” which I think is a pretty good indicator of what I say being true. The readers may not trust them, but clearly they read and rely on them in some fashion.

I would be curious to see if those same people surveyed in the Forrester report trust the main company website over the company blog — do they prefer reading lengthy white papers and collateral docs or do they identify more with information presented in a blog?

A ClickZ article by Enid Burns last October cites another survey, this time by Forrester company JupiterResearch and sponsored by BuzzLogic. The stats are interesting:

Readership of blogs is on the rise. JupiterResearch noted a 300 percent growth in monthly blog readership in the past four years. Readers look to links and multiple blog sources to extend the conversation: 49 percent of blog readers, defined as someone who reads at least one blog a month, and 71 percent of frequent readers all read more than one blog per session. Multiple blog sources offer more opportunities for consumers to see blog ads. A quarter of readers say they trust ads on a blog, compared to 19 percent who trust ads on social networking sites.”

So while readers may not trust blogs, it certainly seems that they are continuing to read them. Keep in mind though, that the latter survey seems to be talking about blogs in general, not specifically delineating them into company, media or personal blogs, as is evidenced by the stat about ads. I think that most people wouldn’t trust ads on a company blog but if an individual blogger that someone reads and likes endorses a product, yes, by all means the click-throughs and purchases will be higher. I can attest to this on my writing blog, where I have received numerous kickbacks from purchases made on writing materials that I link to as an affialiate. I link to them because I trust the products and believe in them and readers trust my decision which ultimately results in a purchase.

In a blog post last fall, communications expert Sally Falkow points to a stat in the JupiterResearch/BuzzLogic survey that supports this: “50 percent of frequent blog readers say they have taken an action after reading a  blog.”

The Keys To Excellent Online Writing

January 26, 2009

Writing a great blog post (like all of mine, right?) isn’t rocket science, but it is slightly different from how you write an email to a friend or develop a formal business memo.

In this post, Joel Postman explains that the key is understanding that you’re writing for a different kind of medium. You’ll find that your tone is most likely going to be a lot more informal than other documents you may develop for clients, or your boss. 

From Social Media Today:

If you’re in a field like PR, marketing, advertising, or social media, and you have a blog, you have an obligation to write well. Have you ever seen an e-mail from a Blackberry with the signature “Sent from my Blackberry, please excuse the typos.”? My Blackberry signature was “Sent from my Blackberry, but I hope there aren’t any typos, because I’m a professional communicator!”

As a professional communicator, you have to ask yourself just what is it your clients are paying you for, or more simply, what are they buying from you? They are paying you to communicate. That is the literal definition of a professional communicator. And if the product they see in your blog is shoddy, that reflects on you and your company. Your company’s clients, and prospective clients, are constantly observing, and making judgments about, the company’s ability to communicate professionally.

Other than laziness, there are three culprits in the decline in the quality of online writing: e-mail, chat, and SMS. With the introduction of informal online communications, people who generally had to write to a strict set of guidelines were suddenly free to write anything, any way they wanted. No one but your recipient sees your e-mail or IMs goes the argument, so you can relax, and be yourself when you use these tools.

Go back to the basics: spelling, style government, grammar, punctuation, and usage

The fastest way to vastly improve the writing on your blog is to discard the notion that since blogging is “different,” you don’t have to follow the rules. If you write white papers, press releases, briefings, scripts, etc. for clients, you know the tolerance they have (in most cases zero) for bad writing. A professional blog should be written to the same standards you would apply to a final document you would be willing to send to a client.

Understand that online writing is different

Writing effectively online is very much like writing off-line with a few exceptions. Off-line word counts of 700 to 1500 hundred for short to medium length documents don’t apply online. (The blog post you are reading is a long one, and thanks for sticking with it this far.) A typical blog post should be 250-500 words. Paragraphs should generally not be of more than five sentences each.

Write like “the greats”

You probably know good writing when you see it. Emulate the writing of the people whose work you respect and read most. If you read something and it moves along quickly, maintains your interest, and offers the occasional surprise or unexpected moment of enlightenment, go back and take a minute to figure out what it is about the writing you found so attractive. Now, go write like that.

The Price of “Free” PR

December 30, 2008

Very interesting piece I found on Social Media Today. Public relations materials can be distributed for free, but time and money must be spent on research and in making sure the correct message is being delivered. The key, according to Social Media Today blogger Valeria Maltoni, is making the pitch an invitation to a deeper conversation.

From the posting:

It really isn’t but it is freely distributed. That is the benefit of it when intended as communications to all stakeholders. Good PR comes at a cost – research, the experience of knowing what’s important, the relationships we build to offer content that people want to make part of their lives. New media helps do the rest – it helps reinforce the publics’ decision to pay attention to you and your business.

Will public relations continue to become more high profile in the year to come?

In its most basic definition, public relations is about helping organizations and individuals communicate with the people who are interested in them. Is this the new audience? It makes me uncomfortable to assume that audience means the people I want to talk with, unless I have done my part in attracting them by providing value and showing integrity of purpose.

The role of connectors used to be played chiefly by mainstream media journalists and editors. The reality today is that we have nearly enough time to execute our work. We find time and attention to read trusted sources – the new connectors – which are more and more fragmented. I think new media have changed the way we consume information – they are not just a new mode of transportation, so to speak.

Power-of-RSS

Scoble and Israel wrote about three phases of the Web:

1. The age of Surf (e.g. Yahoo web directory)
2. The age of Search (e.g. Google)
3. The age of Syndication (e.g. RSS, Internet Explorer 7)

We are moving into the stage where syndication and aggregation are taking new forms. FriendFeed, for example, is being used as both, plus as a micro blogging tool. What we consume is still directly related to what we care about and value, but today we are less uniform mass, more individuals with preferred listening channels.

Yet, I do not think this conversation is about technology at all. Not for the recipients on this end of the conversation, not in the least. However, I still think that PR practitioners have a little way to go on making their end of the attention/time commitment work for them and their customers.

From where I sit, many still do not know how to use email effectively – never mind FriendFeed, or Twitter. How can the pitch become more an invitation for a deeper conversation instead of a shotgun approach? Could PR professionals begin to leverage technology to their advantage? For example by building efficient data bases and mining them efficiently?

Today’s press coverage may be more about Google search ranking than media placements; success comes when we discuss issues and trends more than product placements. It was never about the analysis of press clippings; good public relations has always been about attitudinal research.

More conversation, less persuasion. PR 2.0 may move freely through media, it most certainly requires thoughtful preparation and consideration for it to be a benefit to both its creators and its intended recipients. Agree/disagree? What am I missing?