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How To: Kill A Brand With Social Media

Posted on May 14, 2009. Filed under: Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , |

Brand_AxeSocial Media is the new darling of many brands, the silver bullet that will fix all ills. While some brands have made major in roads in discovering a new method of expanding their ability to reach their customers and potential customers some have quite obviously become so over enamoured with Social Media that they have forgotten the basics of managing a brand.

Lack of Alignment

While most Twitter users are aware of the amazing job that Frank Eliason has done for ComCast on Twitter, acting as a one person rescue squad for their customer service issues, the rest of the brand has not aligned with this new way of doing business. A quick search on google for customer service at ComCast continues to result in many more horror stories than it does in success stories. Why? Because having one or two people creating a good impression on one platform is not enough. If there is no brand alignment behind the philosophy of listening and responding then all of the Social Media efforts in the world will not turn a brand around.

A search on Facebook brings equally crushing results, of the first ten (page one), one is fairly obscurely related to ComCast, Six are Anti-ComCast groups, One is a fan page for ComCast technology, one is a fan page for ComCast Interactive Capital and one appears to be a group for past employees.

Twitter is Not Social Media

As popular as Twitter is, it still only has a 5% penetration, being on Twitter, even if you do it well is not a Social Media Strategy. Twitter is at best a small part of an overarching strategy that includes not only the tool set, comprising tools like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube etc but also the internal education and alignment that ensures these tools are part of a much broader “Social” focus within the organization.

Brands like Zappo’s aren’t good at things like Twitter and Facebook because they have some awesome marketing department working 24/7 to provide thrilling content. They are good at Social Media because their stated aim is to be the best service company in the world, they just happen to sell clothing and footwear. When you start with a socially focused goal like that, it’s hard not to be a success in Social Media.

Which brands do you think have focused too much on the platform and not enough on the philosophy?

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How To : Choose a Social Media Partner

Posted on April 17, 2009. Filed under: Business, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , |

expertsWith the term “Social Media Expert” being added to just about every company and consultants profile these days it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. What follows is my opinion on how to identify a Social Media partner for your business or organization. I want to explain why I am writing this post, it is the product of several conversations with people, clients, prospective clients and just friends who all asked me this question.

Disclaimer

Before going any further with this post it is important that I acknowledge that I & my company provide Social Media advice, guidance and execution as part of our service offerings as an integrated Marketing communication company. However, what follows is in no way an advertorial, I will not be promoting our services in this post.

The Basics

A quick search of Twitter profiles turned up 80 Twitter users just on one results page that included the term Social Media expert in their profile. I think most people know to be wary of “self-proclaimed” experts. However, just in case you aren’t, you should be.

So ignoring those who will loudly proclaim their own expertise how can you find someone to work with who can provide you and your organization sound advice? There are several important criteria to consider when evaluating a potential Social Media Partner:

  • Longevity
  • Experience – Doing Not Saying
  • Results
  • Shiny Object Syndrome

Longevity

How long have they actually been doing this? Some people maintain that Social Media is so new that it is impossible for anyone to have gained expertise in the space. I disagree, Social Media has only been new to those who didn’t recognize it for what it was – primarily the mainstream media. Social Media has been around a long time in one form or another. Podcasts used to be called Webcasts, they pre-date the iPod by several years (I launched my first series of webcasts in 1998). Blogs have been around at least that long, admittedly you had to have some coding skills to create one and they weren’t really recognized as blogs per se, they were referred more to as lifestreaming or online journals (posted my first one in 2002). So to state that the space is so new that no one has gained enough knowledge to have expertise seems to me to be a way of making excuses for those who, after 3 months of Twitter use hang out their shingle as a Social Media expert. As with any “consultant” check and see how long they have been in the field.

Experience – Doing Not Saying

This is where I prefer the term Practitioner rather than Consultant – its a semantics thing, and at the end of the day the job title doesn’t really matter. However, in my experience consultants are usually very good at talking about a topic, not necessarily good at executing. When considering a Social Media Partner find out if they have actually had personal success with Social Media. When I think of Social Media Practitioners I think of people like Chris Brogan who doesn’t just talk about Social Media, nor does he just consult with companies on the topic, he “does” Social Media and as such has gained recognition as a Social Media Influencer, being approached by brands to be an online evangelist for their product. At a more local level to me, here in Austin, we are very fortunate to have some excellent Social Media practitioners. One that jumps immediately to mind is the very talented Shelia Scarborough. Sheila is a blogger, Social Media trainer and practitioner. As a travel blogger she was invited to go on a tour of China to experience the growth and changes in that country. You don’t get invited on trips like that simply by calling yourself an expert, other people have to recognize your ability and your practice in the space.

Results

Does your prospective partner know how to get you results? Can they cite previous examples of having gained results for others? Remember that in this age of sometimes semi-transparent business practices, some companies demand that external consultants sign strict Non-disclosure agreements that prevent them from using the company name on any marketing materials. So don’t be overly surprised if they aren’t able to give you a name and number to call for a large project, but they should be able to produce data at a detail level such that they aren’t faking it.

Shiny Object Syndrome

If your potential Social Media Partner wants to talk endlessly about the latest new technology, new platform or widget that they think you should be using, proceed with caution. While a good knowledge of upcoming trends is essential, the habit of simply running to the latest and greatest platform and dragging you & your organization with them isn’t good for you. Remember that Social Media isn’t about technology, its about people. The platforms we use now will be very old hat in 2 years time. Being obsessed with the technology won’t lead to a successful Social Media strategy.

Hopefully you have some things with which to separate the wheat from the chaff when considering a Social Media partner. What qualities do you think I missed, what would you add to the list?

Image by Neil Rickards
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How To : Add Relevance When Searching For New Tweeps

Posted on April 13, 2009. Filed under: Technology, twitter | Tags: , , |

I am not a big advocate of the numbers game played by an increasing number of Twitter users these days. However, I do believe that it is important to continually grow your Twitter network to get the most from Twitter as a tool. Where the difference lies between gathering large numbers and growing your Twitter network in a postive way is in relevance to you.

Simply using a tool to auto follow everyone who mentions a key phrase, or worse still paying a monthly fee to a service to provide you with thousands of followers will not enhance your Twitter experience. Most of the users of these services are either too lazy to grow an organic network or are so hung up on the numbers that they miss the point of Social Media networks, engagement.

TwitSeeker from Guy Hagen, the creator  of Twinfluence (a tool I reviewed some time ago), allows you to search for specific phrases from either a Twitter users Tweets or their profile.  The results are then shown to you as a grid of users complete with a snapshot of their bio and whether you are already following them or not, if they follow you back and how many followers they have. It auto-selects all the users you aren’t following so that, with the click of a button you can follow them all. You can also choose to unselect some and just follow the remainder.

Below is a walkthrough of how to use TwitSeeker:

twitseeker_front

Twitseeker has both a simple search and an advanced search, unsurprisingly the advanced search is very similar in style to search.twitter.com advanced search. For the simple search enter the term you are interested in, enter your screen name and then select either from tweets or from bio then click search.

What you will get back is a results page similar to this:

ts_search-results

What I like about this is that it shows me who I am already following and being followed by (full green circle), who I follow but does not follow me (half green circle) and who I am not following (black circle). Rolling over the twitter bird will give you a snapshot of that users profile, rolling over the cloud icon gives you a cloud tag of recent tweets, clicking on the users name gives you a detail page for that user.

Overall this is a great tool, there are a few bugs, such as you can’t search by keyword and location at the same time, but I am sure these will be ironed out eventually. The key to this is that you are able to find Twitter users that you aren’t following by keyword from either their conversations or their bio – this adds the relevance to your searching and provides you with the first step in engagement.

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The Death of Twitter

Posted on April 6, 2009. Filed under: Observations, Social Media, twitter, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

People Pyramid

The death of Twitter is a much discussed topic. The April Fool’s posts this year about Google buying Twitter and then some of that being revealed as real potential brought it to the surface again. Originally it was felt by some that Twitter would cease to be an effective communication tool as soon as big brands started using it. That hasn’t happened, brands are using Twitter and for the most part it has had little or no impact on Twitter users in general, at least in a negative way.

What Will Kill Twitter?

So if the arrival of brands didn’t kill Twitter what is the next big threat. Unfortunately that threat has already arrived and woven itself into the very fabric of Twitter, no not the spam-bots, but the MLM’ers. Those people who have got the lastest and greatest get rich quick scheme, all of which is vaporware. They sell courses on how to sell courses, they write e-books on how to write e-books, they sell you a plan that you only have to sell to 10 other people before you will see money just roll in.

Now they have turned their attention to Twitter. There are already people selling Twitter user courses, which in of itself, while a bit of a head-scratcher, is not too awful, but now there are those who are selling Twitter based get rich quick schemes. They vary from schemes that guarantee you 7000 followers in 24 hours to tools that will get you 20,000 followers in a month.

What’s The Harm?

I am all about the freedom to use Social Media in the way that best suits your business model or in fact your personal goals, there have been way too many people who have tried to write the “Social Media Rulebook”. So why are MLM or Internet Marketers as they now prefer to be called (no offense to real Internet Marketers) a bad thing for Twitter and Social Media in general? The main reason is that they are experts at “gaming” the system, they will use every shortcut they can to provide an image of knowledge or influence. That is how their business model works. This past week I have been followed by at least half a dozen Twitter users who have less than 500 updates (which gives you a sense of how long they have been active on Twitter) but have 20k followers and are following a similar number. How can you possibly grow an organic following of over 20k followers in a month? You use tools like Tweetgetter or other services that charge up to $10 a month to provide you with 1000’s of followers.

Where this has an impact is that it skews the ability of both new users of these tools and brands to be able to recognize those with influence and those with just numbers. Unfortunately at this point a lot of people are still associating the two. Tools like Twitter Grader and Twinfluence used to be both fun and provide some indication of at least how popular a user was, now they have, in my opinion, become redundant. A recent look at Twinfluence showed the top users are no longer Barack Obama, Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble or any of the other usual suspects, the users in the top ranked places are people who have made major gains in their follower numbers. Now I am not claiming that they have used any of these tools, maybe they are just Twitter addicts who spend hours searching out great Twitter users to follow and following them – but if you think that it probably takes about 1 minute to perform a search by topic, then another minute at least to identify a Twitter user from the list returned by Twitter Search then clicking follow that would be 40,000 minutes – or nearly 28 days of non-stop Twitter activity, no food, sleep or bathroom breaks!

Image by Dan of Future’s Past via Flickr
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Is Making Friends Social Engineering?

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: Facebook, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , |

Dr. Frankenstein and His Monster

Two sessions at SXSWi that I attended have had me thinking for a few days now. They were seemingly unconnected, one by Brian Brushwood of Scam School and one run by David Armano & Russ Unger on the topic of Friendship is Dead.

The Right Words

It occurs to me that the language that we are using to using to describe friends & friendship has been overtaken by the way in which people employ activities that used to be described by them. The one that, for me, exemplifies this is “making friends”. As children we were encouraged to “make friends” with other children, as adults we are impressed with the ease that some “make friends”.

Whilst the concept is popular, and has a clearly understood meaning, I wonder if it has not been overtaken by the technology now employed by so many to “make friends”. Social Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace etc. have made Making Friends, easier even for those who were previously lacking in real life social skills. The ability to be physically removed from a situation allows everyone to be more social.

However, are these friendships “made”, are they in fact manufactured rather than grown? I would argue that real friendships are the result of an organic process, not a manufacturing process. The technology that has brought people closer together has also enabled people to employ ever increasing amounts of social engineering to “make friends”. Social Engineering, Transactional Analysis and other behavioral theories cover the same basic principles and when online behavior is compared with these theories there are some obvious correlations.

Influence

There are six generally accepted methods to influence a person’s behavior, liking, reciprocity, authority, scarcity, commitment & social proof. If you map just three of these to behaviors on Twitter for example, and look at what Twitter users see as “good behavior” recommending someone by mentioning them in something like the #followfriday posts or by Retweeting their posts, these actions can be seen to be both acts of liking and acts of reciprocity. When you examine the Twitter ranking tools they all place a high value on these types of activity. These acts of “friendship”.

To become influential on a social network requires not a friendly nature but simply an understanding of social engineering. Guy Kawasaki, in an article in Entrepreneur, talked about how to increase your Twitter followers, one method he recommended was to @reply to A listers (or SMores as he refers to them), not because they would respond but because others would see you in a conversation with them and make the assumption you had a relationship, this is the use of Authority.

There is more to it than Numbers

Of course its easy to read this post as simply me being cynical, and actually I am far from it. My own experience of using Social Networking has been very positive. Facebook allowed me to find old friends and extend relationships with new ones. However, not everyone online is using Social Media with the same intent. Numbers have become increasingly more important, especially as Marketers see the potential in Social Media. Businesses run on numbers, so measuring Influence on the basis of numbers becomes an easy way to identify people worth connecting with. The number of readers a blogger has, the number of followers a Twitter user has.

I argue that these are manufactured, that they are transient, and relate more to popularity in the celebrity sense than they do with Influence. That is not to say that influential Social Media users don’t have large numbers of followers, but there is not necessarily a direct correlation. That is where it becomes really difficult to measure influence.

Friends or Influence

So are we seeking to make lots of friends or are we seeking to increase our sphere of influence? Is the aim to be seen as a friend to all, or to be seen as influential? Is there room for both? Can we “make friends” to increase our sphere of influence and still be geniune?

Image by Dunechaser via Flickr
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Tasting The Rainbow: Skittles & Brand Ownership

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , |

Skittles.

Again this week I am provided with the thoughts for my post by Marketing Profs newsletter – “Get to the point”. Last week it was their coverage of the Cenk Uygur story and his view of the branding issues surrounding Michael Phelps and Kellogg’s.

Today, I was equally amazed to read the following comment in their newsletter, entitled “When the Crowd Attacks”, it tells the story of how Skittles tried to be involved with the Social Media crowd and got their fingers burned, Marketing Profs close the newsletter with the following advice:

What’s the lesson here? Simple: Don’t be afraid to let users help shape your brand, but remember it is still your brand. As in any healthy relationship, sometimes even prospects need a little pushback.

“Your brand”, if it were their brand then why would companies try to court public opinion and why would it apparently impact brand based organizations so heavily?  Just as companies have very little sway over their stock price because the value is controlled by those willing to buy or sell the stock so companies have little or no influence over their brand. Far from being “your brand”, in the world of Social Media, a brand belongs to whoever wishes to use it to exert influence.

A company that thinks they own their brand are likely to face a very sharp wake up call – Motrin anyone? Motrin displayed all the traits of a company that thought it owned its brand, the influential “mommy bloggers” proved them wrong. So did Skittles get their fingers burned by trying to play along with the Social Media crowd? As far as I can see they got some mileage from their campaign and then it ran its course, what they were guilty of was not recognizing the limited life that their campaign has. This is the world of Twitter, blogs & Facebook. It moves at the speed of crowd-thought, which is much faster than most organizations can compete with. In my opinion Skittles did the right thing, they tried something new, different and hopefully they have learned from it. That’s a lot better than many companies who are currently paralyzed trying to work out how to be involved with the “cool kids” at the Social Media party and not end up with a virtual wedgie.

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Does Twitter Need A Lesson In Being Social?

Posted on February 19, 2009. Filed under: Observations, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , |

I am sure you have seen the story circulating about Twitter’s mass rejection email that was sent out in an open manner.

I came across this story on a couple of different blogs Koo’s Corner, ValleyWag and a few others. What piqued my interest in the story was less that the HR manager didn’t know the difference between CC & BCC in an email. It wasn’t the fact that she revealed the email addresses of 186 candidates for a Twitter position.

What I found interesting was that the email was identical to one I received from Twitter for a completely different position that I applied for about 4 months ago. Same wording, same phrasing exactly.  This leads me to believe that the email is in fact generated by whatever HR system Twitter has in place.Either that or they are really lazy and keep template emails for rejections in Outlook and then just add addresses to it. But I digress.

What interests me is that the company that is behind one of the biggest Social Media platforms right now, is still employing old school thinking in its hiring.  Oh I am sure they have cool, whacky interview techniques, you only have to read their HR Manager Krissy Bush’s Twitter feed to see odd references to candidates being asked to do push-ups to get a sense of the “cool factor”.

However, it’s examples like this that really show how a company works. It also shows that although they are responsible for a great Social Media platform, it doesn’t actually mean they have any better understanding of Social Media than any other Tech company, which is what Twitter really is.

So if the hottest Social Media platform developers can’t be more creative with how they communicate with applicants to their company is it any wonder that other companies struggle to understand how to utilize Social Media ?

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Austin Twestival – Guest Post by Matthew Parente

Posted on February 13, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , |

austintwestival_mainlogoI am very pleased to have Matthew Parente (@matthew_parente ) guest post for me today – here is his report from the Austin Twestival.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What can you do on Twitter? For starters, you can save the world On the Twitter interface, there’s the ever-present question: What are you doing? This is perhaps the most misleading question ever. Twitter Myth #1: Twitter is nothing more than a glorified Facebook status update. Twitter isn’t about what you are doing “right now.” It’s about connecting, interacting, and having conversations (big or little). Reread the portions above. Twitter facilitated the connection of many different events, starting with the event itself, down to minute details, such as my acquiring a ticket. As an individual, I had a significant opportunity to meet people in Austin that I have not met before, and also catch up with people I knew, but don’t interact with regularly. If that doesn’t convince you that the “what are you doing” question is irrelevant, fine. If you were at Twestival yesterday, whether in Austin or any of the other 185 locations around the world, you could answer that question by stating: Saving the world. That’s pretty significant.

This is my story — a case study, if you will — on what Twitter can really do.

I wasn’t going to go to the Austin Twestival. There was too much to do to take time out for the event. Plus, I had only found out about the event a few days ago, and I’m a planner. I’m not very spontaneous, and this just wasn’t enough notice. But I kept seeing people tweeting about it, I checked out the Austin Twestival web site and — for a fleeting moment, thought that I should go. But I couldn’t do it. About four hours before the event officially starts, I see a tweet from @bizchristopher:

RT @incslinger Austin peeps. I’ve a ticket for tonights Twestival I cant use plz @ if you want it can email it go in my place…

This is weird. I’m following @incslinger too. Why didn’t I see his original tweet? Well, sometimes the Twitter stream just moves too fast. Retweets are just really helpful that way. I thought about it. Then I saw another retweet from @JackLeblond. Momentum starting to turn… So I tweet @incslinger about the ticket, and he tells me it’s still available. He just wants someone to take it and buy a lot of raffle tickets. But then he has another idea … do a guest post on his blog about the event. I love it. I have a mission and I get to help the community at the same time. I’m in.

A little side note about myself: If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do my best to do it right. So I decide that I’m going to play the part of the beat reporter, covering the Austin Twestival. I grab my Digital Rebel 300D and … I’m going to need a notebook, a little pocket one so I can whip it out at appropriate times, so I can look journalistic. But I don’t have one. On my way to Twestival, I stop by the HEB to get my $0.91 notebook. This is gonna be good. I’m one of the first ones there, Aces Lounge (the location of the event) is fairly empty, but I’m still disoriented.

I’m directed upstairs by the people who check me in and I quickly happen upon @jenniferwhitley, a friend and former colleague of mine at Quadralay (a sponsor of the event). Where do I find the name tags? They’re back downstairs. Back down I go, only to bump into @adammorehead. It is roughly around this time that I start to notice a real trend with Twitter names. They tend to be people’s real names, not strange made up handles. And, as I’m having this conversation with @adammorhead and his friend from NetImpact, @kapoorg, another issue dawns on me. What are Twitter names called? Do we call them tags, handles, names, code names? I just don’t know. I head upstairs to do something with my raffle ticket, but there seems to be some confusion about what, exactly, we are supposed to do with the tickets. They only gave us one side of the ticket … so what are we to do with the one piece we have? @adammorhead’s friend, @sarah703 suggests we write our names on it. She’s a genius. It’s time time to mingle and I bump into @sherrylowery. She mentioned that she heard a radio spot on KUT the other day for the Austin American-Stateman.In it, they ask the listeners to find them on Twitter. That seems pretty radical; advertising on radio to mention your Twitter account? Good for them, I hope it works.

As I walk through Aces Lounge, I find @ChrisBatDell (who is the dad of my 3 year-old’s best friend at day care) and his friend @blissboy. This is my first, hey-your-on-twitter-I-didn’t-know experience. @MegaJustice sees me as I walk past — he’s got a cool new event coming up this May. I can’t wait to find out more; he does some great stuff. And then I’m over by the sumo wrestling, which is just fun. I pull out my notebook and start jotting down some notes (I’ve been writting down the Twitter handle of everyone I meet with a promise to mention them in this post).

Suddenly, @SaraD taps me on the shoulder and tells me I look very journalistic. I’m grinning from ear-to-ear. @SaraD is helping with the event, currently pimping the t-shirts along with @hjstrout. Whoa! I’m actually following @hjstrout, but I don’t know her in real life. This is my first I-follow-you-but-don’t-know-you experience. I follow her because I follow her brother, @AaronStrout. I don’t know him either. But I found him because he’s a Red Sox fan, and so am I. @hjstrout hooks me up with some other Boston-to-Austin transfers, all Red Sox fans, who are now dubbed the Boston 4. Us journalistic types like to label people like that. I’m soon introduced to @Wesley83, one of the sumo wrestlers. He introduced me to @ggroovin, the one who’s behind Dell’s $1 million on Twitter. @ggroovin in turn introduces me to @michellegreer (okay, so I don’t know anyone).

According to @ggroovin, the Austin Twestival has been in motion for about a month now, and has only been promoted through Twitter and word of mouth. As I’m writing this, I’ve learned that they had over 330 people paid registrants. Which reminds me … we’re here to support a cause. We’re here not because of Twitter or some social media experiment. We’re here because of water. The Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers in cities around the world and 100% of the money raised from these events will go directly to support charity: water projects. Right now 1.1 billion people on the planet don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. That’s one in six of us. Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Many communities in developing nations often have a plentiful supply of clean drinking water just below the ground, but no way to get to it. This is where charity: water and their partner organizations come in.

Drilling a well can cost from $4,000 – $12,000 USD and many living on less than $1 a day cannot afford one in their community, even if the money is combined. Our partner organization in austin, TX is A Glimmer of Hope, and I got the pleasure to meet up with @bcoz, aka Brian Cooper, CEO of A Glimmer of Hope and Philip Berber, Chairman. Philip doesn’t have a Twitter handle, tag, whatever. But you can follow him and the whole organization: @aglimmerofhope. This brings me to my final scene. If you are from Austin and are involved in the tech scene at all, you probably know Matt Genovese. He was at Twestival last night. Of course he knew about this event; he is networking central. I ask him for his Twitter handle, tag, whatever, so I can mention it in this blog post. He doesn’t have one. How can this be possible? He says it’s because he doesn’t have a good phone to text with. Twitter Myth #14: I need a good texting phone to use Twitter. I don’t have one either. I Twitter exclusively on my computer and I have a half-way decent Twitter grade to boot. Twittering on your phone is a bit like rinsing cottage cheese, in my opinion.

So there you have it. A case study in the power of Twitter to bring over 300 people together to raise awareness and funds for a global charity. For those who think Twitter is a superficial, teeny-boppy trend, you may want to think again. Last night, Twitter, and the entire Twitter community, was all about saving the world. One glass of water at a time.

Photos from the event can be seen here

Image of matthew_parente from Twitter

Matthew Parente

Matthew is an Email marketing consultant, strategist, service provider, and vegetarian. You find out more about him at his website.

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How To:Combine Social Media & Traditional Media

Posted on February 9, 2009. Filed under: Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , |

I was recently fortunate enough to attend the FreelanceCamp in San Antonio,Texas. One of the sponsors for this event was an Austin based company called Sweet Leaf Tea.

While I was familiar with their product I had never actually tried it. No particular reason other than I am not a huge fan of cold tea. Coming from England cold tea has never been particularly appealing.

I decided to give Sweet Leaf Tea a try – after all it was free. Six bottles later I was hooked, it was both really refreshing, tasty and didnt at all remind me of cold tea.

So what has this got to do with Social Media?  Firstly, the disclosure – I am in no way associated with, being recompensed by or benefitting from talking about Sweet Leaf Tea.

So back to the topic. The Social Media piece comes into play because whilst at the conference I was using Twitterberry to update my thoughts on the conference or unconference as it is better described.

One of my updates was a comment on Sweet Leaf Tea and how much I enjoyed it.  A few minutes later Sweet Leaf Tea responded to me on Twitter.  They then Direct Messaged me and asked if I would like a coupon for a free sample to simply drop them an email. Free is my favorite price, so I emailed them and asked what did they need from me.

They said just my mailing address. They could have left it at that. But they didn’t, by this time I was in Orlando at another conference. April from Sweet Leaf Tea engaged me in a conversation about where I was, what I was drinking at that conference (Arizona Tea) and sent a couple of emails back and forth.

When I got back from Orlando a couple of days later, what was waiting for me, an envelope with Sweet Leaf Tea on it. I opened it expecting a coupon and maybe a compliment slip. Nope, not close. Sure they had sent me a couple of coupons for their product. But what really made the difference was the hand written note (Shown below) from April.  What a great way to combine Social Media with Traditional Media. They now have a converted customer, and an evangelist for their product.

Sweet Leaf Tea

Sweet Leaf Tea

So follow their lead, combine your strategies, reach out to your customers and drink Sweet Leaf Tea 🙂

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Social Media Ranking Tools – One Step Beyond?

Posted on January 21, 2009. Filed under: Business, Facebook, Observations, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , |

Recently those wacky folks at Hubspot released another of their Grader tools. This one is for Facebook. It joins the others in their stable of Press Release, Website & Twitter.

I like Hubspot, I like some of their tools. I use Press Release & Website Grader as they provide a pretty decent overview of a press release or website and allow you to focus in on the areas that can stand some improvement.  They are great tools for small companies that can’t afford to call in an expensive consultant.

When Twitter Grader came out, I wrote a post about it and did a comparison between it and Twinfluence for Mashable. At the time, I pointed out that this smacked somewhat of a high school popularity contest but that there was some use for it in terms of an approach that can be learned for engaging in Twitter.  When I used Twitter grader there were currently 5000 Twitter users being graded, so whatever grade you achieved it had to be measure against that fact. Right now it measures against just over 1m Twitter users. That seems a reasonable sample, actually its less than 25% of all Twitter users, so even now its real value is limited.

Enter Facebook Grader – this, in my opinion is one tool too many.  Firstly it is even more skewed as it is an early tool and currently is only measuring against just under 7000 Facebook users – that is 0.04% of the Facebook community. So basically the number it produces is, to all intents & purposes meaningless. Now I agree that for some these tools can be seen as “fun”. Sure why not. However, there are those who will take these tools seriously and use them to convince others that they are some kind of Social Media whizz just because they scored XX on one of these sites. Worse still, companies looking for some measure of success might actually start using this as a metric against which to assess their Social Media campaign.

What I do like about Facebook grader, Yes there are somethings, is the fact it analyzes your profile and points out where you have gaps in it.  Perhaps you missed the part on your profile for “Hometown” or “About Me”.  These are good things to point out and are more in line with Press Release Grader & Website Grader. But please take away the numerical score or at least make it relevant to something else.  More to the point, please take away the Facebook “Elite”.  Social Media is not about “Elitism” it is about community. Perpetuating the myth of popularity equaling Elitism is serving no good at all.

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