Food for Thought: Adding Social Media to the Menu

After taking time off for summer adventures, misadventures and mishaps (fodder for future posts, no doubt) I came across an article written earlier this year by confessed social media neophyte Bruce Buscel on his attempts to secure PR services for his relatively new restaurant, Southfork Kitchen, located in New York’s vaunted Hamptons on Long Island’s east end. While restaurant centric in nature, there are  lessons to learn for all businesses, big and small, about how social media has changed the landscape for both marketing and public relations.

After two failed attempts to engage a PR firm to support his restaurant’s launch, first with  traditional PR firm that appeared to just go through the (unsuccessful) motions and another with a “foodie” led boutique firm which (on paper) would seem to have been a good fit but ultimately wanted to change the client rather than support it, Bruce  realized that:

“The old P.R. model is as useless as the fax machines on which press releases used to arrive.”

He decided to turn to media firms with expertise in social media. Surveying six of them, he came up with a digital dozen strategies for social media. From those, here are my top five social media strategies for all businesses (paraphrased):

  1. It’s a dialogue– listen and respond
    The first word in social media is “social”. It’s a dialogue, not a broadcast. Listen always; respond frequently; curate connections.
  2. Keep your social media activity current.
    The only thing worse than not being involved in social media is to allow your participation to go stale.
  3. Know your audience.
    Engage them where they already are participating online. Keep in mind that if your customer base is comprised of several distinct audiences that participate on different social networks you’ll need to tailor your content for each.
  4. Assess your progress regularly.
    Like any other business discipline, you need to plan strategy, execute tactics, assess results,  and then modify your plan as indicated. To do so you need to track KPI (Key Performance Indicators) relevant to your specific business and goals (likes, follows, time spent; service issues handled, sales/conversions, etc.) .
  5. Engage a social media pro to get you started and then plan long-term
    Bruce is not alone in wondering how to get up to speed on social media. my advice is, as always, hire a social media professional (one who has successfully been performing social media as a profession for a number of years) to get you started. Then, plan on who will take over that role long-term. Consider bringing your contracted pro in-house if it makes sense for you both.

Bruce concludes,

“What is the sound of irony? We are all in the P.R. business now.”

Indeed.

Digital Native, Digitally Naive?

Say, for a moment, that you need to hire someone to lead your company’s nascent social media effort. Quick — picture what that individual looks like. Did an image of a young digital dude (or dudette) come to mind? If so, you’re likely making a mistake.

digital native vs digital immigrantYou’re not alone, the majority of the hiring decision-makers (HR talent recruiters and hiring managers alike) whom I’ve come across, with little personal understanding of social media themselves, believe that this type of job is best filled by a digital native — one for whom the Web and social media have been a part of their lives from early on.

Now, consider these job requirements that I read today on an actual position listing (identifying details altered):

  • Develop a comprehensive social media and community management strategy leveraging your background, experience and knowledge of social media trends and emerging technologies
  • Partner with individuals across the company (management, development and research) to strategize and educate the team on relevant social media techniques to drive adoption and increase thought leadership
  • Manage the day-to-day activities for Facebook, Twitter, Company Blog, LinkedIn and other social media sites
  • Research and write content for social media channels
  • Track and analyze performance of social media programs and activities to drive continuous improvement
  • Manage web and Facebook advertisements
  • Help direct a grassroots street team to promote the [product]
  • Interact with our PR team
  • Monitor trends in social media tools and applications and appropriately apply that knowledge to increasing the use of social media at the company

Did that change your thinking? Sounds like a great job with plenty of opportunity to create strategy, implement tactics and lead the social media initiative for this company for years to come, right?

In fact, this is a great spot for someone like me, a social media professional paid to curate communities, engage with customers, build brands,  develop brand ambassadors and promote products via social media as a career (in my case since 1997).  So why didn’t I immediately submit my application and resume? Because of this next line: Career Level: Early Career (1+ yrs experience) 

Whoa, you want to trust this job — and the reputation of your company, its brand and products (the success of which is essential for the future survival of the company itself) — in the hands of an entry-level individual? Really?

The disconnect comes when companies fail to understand that digital natives lack the necessary business acumen and experience to actually get the job done. They instead believe they need to hire young because, you know, when it comes to social media ‘young people get it’.

That’s a fatal flaw that sets up both the individual hired and the company for failure. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to developing a digital roadmap or building consensus among varied internal stakeholders to insinuate social media throughout the enterprise (the long-term goal for success). And do not for a minute discount the institutional knowledge an experienced person brings to the table regarding what’s worked (and failed) in the past to better be able to recognize the next big thing.

If you want a leader; if you use  phrases like “create strategy”; “implement tactics”; “develop policy” or “lead the organization” as part of the job description, set yourself up for success: hire the digital immigrant —  a social media professional. 

Very Pinteresting, Why Facebook Paid $1 Billion For Instagram

Facebook InstagramIn advance of its much ballyhooed IPO, Facebook, which historically made acquisitions of $100 million or less, bought Instagram for cash and stock approximating $1 billion. The photo sharing mobile app, launched less than two years ago, was valued at $20 million in February 2011 and $500 million as recently as last week (based upon investor funding).

So, why pay $1 billion for it and why now? Five reasons:

  1. Platform. Instagram is a mobile app, and mobile represents the biggest upside for future marketing and commerce. Facebook needs more mobile features.
  2. Graphics. Pictures and images rule the day online. They’re compelling content that conveys the you-are-there experience with one-click satisfaction, and then love to share.
  3. Category killer. In two short years, it is by far the best known and most widely used mobile photo app. Go ahead, name two others (I’ll wait).
  4. Accelerated growth — and poised for more. Instagram launched on October 6, 2010.  Two months later in December it had 1 million users. By September 2011 it grew to 10 million users, and now boasts 30 million users. And that’s with it being an iPhone only app until a few weeks ago. When its Android operating system version was finally released April 3rd of this year, it was downloaded over 1 million times in the first 12 hours. Android users effectively doubles the potential user pool. And all of this was before the hype and buzz associated with its acquisition.
  5. Pinterest — or, why Instagram was worth a billion bucks to Facebook. Also launched two years ago, Pinterest is likewise driven by graphics, allowing users to pin their favorites to collection boards with sharing via social nets. Like Facebook, Pinterest has a “like” function and users can comment on content. True, Instagram features user-generated photos while Pinterest links to graphics linked to the Web, but here’s why that will change. Read more of this post

Ten Free Marketing White Papers

There’s a lot of information out there regarding social media marketing. So much so that half the battle of keeping up to date is just finding where they are hiding on the Web. And so, when I come across a compilation that looks promising I’m compelled to do that most basic social media action: share.

The below message was sent out by Mike Crosson a fellow member of the Social Media Marketing group on LinkedIn. He encouraged all to share, and so here it is (Thanks Mike!):

  • Group: Social Media Marketing
  • Subject: 10 complimentary White Papers… whaHOOO!

Hello, everyone –
Here are 10 free White Papers that are really helpful. Feel free to pass this email along to your colleagues and friends that you think might be interested as well.

1.) Pinterest – Learn how to increase traffic, leads and sales by reaching more than 11 million people
http://bit.ly/GGdZQe
The fastest-growing social media site ever has become a huge traffic referral (arguably, more powerful than Google+) for all businesses. An increasing number of companies are leveraging the platform to reach a new audience, increase visits to their websites, and generate leads or retail sales. And guess what? It’s working.

2.) Learning LinkedIn From the Experts: How to Build a Powerful Business Presence on LinkedIn
http://bit.ly/GElwgy
In Learning LinkedIn from the Experts, five LinkedIn specialists provide key insight into how you can use LinkedIn to successfully grow your network and business.

3.) How to Create Epic Facebook Ads
http://bit.ly/GExOvB
Placing ads on Facebook provides one of the most targeted advertising opportunities today. The social network knows the demographics and interests of more than 800 million people who are active online. Written by Andrea Vahl, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One For Dummies, this ebook will walk you step-by-step through the nuances of Facebook ads.

4.) How to Use Google+ For Business
http://bit.ly/GFqmPU
Google+ is the new social network on the block. With more than 90 million users and a growing influence on search, Google+ has definitely emerged as a key player in online marketing.

5.) The Ultimate How-to Marketing Guide 
http://bit.ly/GFAELr
How do you get a comprehensive view of the important ones and prioritize accordingly? To ensure your proficiency in Internet marketing, we’ve designed this multimedia ebook which, as David Meerman Scott says, “identifies nuggets of inspiration to drive success at your business.”

The next five after the jump:  Read more of this post

Social Media Week 2012: Love, Personalization and the Death of Serendipity


Ah, love. Each February 14 we celebrate all things love in remembrance of St. Valentine, a priest who (literally) lost his head over the emotion.  And so, by the powers of the Roman god Cupid; the Greek god Eros; and the consumer goods god Hallmark, we enjoy love found, curse love lost and are hopeful for love to come.

The logo for Love@AOL

Love@AOL - one of the first online dating sites

For me, it also brings back memories of my first “real” job in social media, as a Community Manager at AOL for one of its largest channels, Love@AOL. Launched as a Valentine;s Day special feature in 1996, it did so well that it became a permanent channel, with (at the time) the largest collection of online dating profiles featuring the newest innovation of the day — photos! Simply put, people — even online —  expressed a need to connect, to be social.

Fast forward to yesterday in New York City at the Third Annual Social Media Week New York. In his keynote speech titled ‘Top 2012 Trends in Social,  JWT CEO David Eastman pointed out that four key operators own almost all of the information about you  online. He called them “GAFA” (pronounced “gaffa”), they are: Read more of this post

A New Year, But Same Rules for Social Media PR

Image courtesy of the Association of Web Design Professionals2011 was the year in which social media gained wider acceptance as a viable business tool. But in many ways th new year finds the chasm between Marketing and Communications over its use has grown wider.

I’ve written before about the ultimate goal for social media within the enterprise (see “Who Owns Social Media? Ultimate Answer: The Opposites”), but at the start of 2012 it seems (according to the job openings I have observed) that social media marketing is taking command, with calls for professionals experienced in social and viral marketing campaigns ruling the day.

So, when I found this article, The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Social Media in Crisis Communications, I noticed that despite the crisis communications spin of the headline the advice listed makes good sense for any company looking to leverage social media for Communications/PR. Briefly:

Dos
Accept social media as an ongoing tool; create a social media policy; trust and use your staff; plan on who and how to handle crisis communications; keep social media social – participate in the conversation; be honest; always think of your image.

Don’ts 
Try to ban social media use company wide – it won’t work; talk at you audience – engage with them;  try ti spin the message – insincerity is magnified (and readily apparent) online; keep your associates in the dark — keep them apprised and energized; mix corporate social media accounts with associates’ personal ones – accidents do happen.

Of course, the biggest “Do”: engage in social media. It’s a valuable cross-discipline tool for your entire organization.

image credit: association of web design professionals

Related articles

When to Say “No” to Your Social Media Marketers

See photo credit belowMore and more people are calling themselves social media marketers these days,  so how do you know the one you are working with is giving you good advice?

As always, my recommendation is to first hire a social media professional (someone employed in social media for at least five years) as your in-house guide, watchdog and subject matter expert. Until then, here are four red-flag warning signs that you’re getting bad advice from your social media marketer: Read more of this post

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