Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Archive for the category “Social Media”

Is “Social CRM” the Death of Social Media Marketing?

“Social CRM” is a hot topic these days, especially as there are quite a few companies trying to make it possible in a technological sense.

But if we create an actual Social CRM tool as a one-stop solution, is that really the end game we want for social media marketing?

Automating social media, both in terms of content and CRM, has the potential to ruin what a valuable resource social channels have become.

As marketers, we have this undeniable trait to try to maximize revenue through whatever means of communication is “working” at the time. Good marketers test and optimize their methods of communication to prospects and clients, but inevitably bad marketers overtake these channels and flood them with spam and blast content forcing consumers to block communication.

The same thing could potentially happen with social media. On the content side, marketers attempt to automate the process by pushing out content in the same fashion as traditional marketing. Tell me I am wrong, tell me I am over-exaggerating, but then wait a week and try to tell me some automated bot hasn’t spammed you on at least one social media site?  This is not human business and will not excel in any space.

Social media is inherently different from other channels that marketers use to reach their customer base, yet it’s not being treated as such.

Social media provides an opportunity for dialog. It’s a way to actually listen to what your customer has to say. It also provides much richer customer intelligence than you’d ever be able to obtain from other marketing channels. Instead of guessing that X TV Ad led to Y behavior, marketers can gauge interest by hearing what the consumer is actually saying. Your customers are literally telling you what you need to know in an unbiased fashion, all you have to do is listen (easier said than done for most I know).

Listening to the customer is part of the CRM process, which is why I understand the reason behind wanting to combine social and CRM. That being said, if “Social CRM” is applied as a strategy (rather than a tool) based around understanding your customers by listening first then responding, this can be very beneficial to marketers.

But when I hear about Social CRM tools, I think: this is not possible. In theory, applying the concept of CRM to social media would be an effective marketing technique because it’s crucial for marketers to manage customer relationships via social channels…but it’s not something that can be done through automated tools.

Automating Social CRM is equivalent to categorizing people by taking the dynamic information learned about them and attempting to slot it into a database. By doing so, marketers aren’t taking advantage of all that social media has to offer. In fact, they’re ruining the powerful marketing tool in front of them: real insight into the customer’s mind.

I think Jeff Esposito gets it right in this post where he makes a crucial point, “…its people mixed with technology.” If those of us in the marketing/PR industry can’t wrap our minds around this and continue to implement automated practices for our activities, people will inevitably be turned off.

Given our history as marketers I have a lack of faith we will be able to hold back and avoid spamming consumers until they find ways to block us (see email, do not call lists, unlisted addresses etc. and you will understand our undeniable greediness within our marketing efforts).

But maybe I’m wrong.

How do you see Social CRM evolving? Can automation help or hurt us in the long run?

When will we realize social media marketing is about being social?

Many of us in the PR industry already read this advertising clown’s article about how we’re ruining social media. This might have even been credible if he backed it with some stats and examples, or if he didn’t throw in a shameless self-promotion in at the end.

Way to plug yourself….that’s really going to make me believe you understand how social media marketing works.

The whole time he discussed the problem with pushing content at people, and then at the end he shoves a bunch of examples of his agency’s work at us? Yes, clearly this guy is the mastermind of all things social media marketing.

(Note: my sarcasm does not reflect my views on his agency’s work. I respect it and think it’s very creative. This is just my opinion about this particular article)

Although the article overall was full of generalizations and assumptions, there are some points we agree on:

1)      “No one wants to listen to an endless, aimless stream of dialog about a brand or a company, which is what you get from a strategy that focuses on news, offers and the occasional contest”

2)      “Effective social media marketing is about putting something directly into the hands of your audience”

3)      “People are engaged by great content”

4)      “People gravitate to brands they like and respect. You aren’t going to win friends by boring them to death with conversation about yourself.”

The problem I have is that he’s assuming two things that aren’t always true: That PR agencies always develop and implement a brand’s social media strategy, and that a PR agency’s strategy in terms of social media for a brand is always focused on distributing content.

False and false.

PR agencies do NOT always handle social media for brands. Sometimes they have a separate social media agency, other times ad agencies are in charge of a brand’s social media presence, or it’s handled in-house.

And, just because we’re in PR does NOT mean that we’re applying old-school, traditional PR distribution practices to social media.

Really, this article didn’t need to call out the PR industry. It could’ve just discussed poor social media marketing strategies in general. Some people are great at it, others are terrible. What this article says isn’t always wrong, but it’s definitely pointing the finger in one direction when in reality it applies to many people (that aren’t always PR pros).

It does raise the bigger issue: When are we going to realize that social media marketing is about the SOCIAL aspect?

There are all these “best practices” or things you should(n’t) do (like the four points I mentioned above), but when you stop and think about it…they’re all about being human.

People naturally connect with other people, so the questions for marketers become: How can I humanize my brand? How do I give it a personality that consumers can connect to?

After all, we gravitate towards different people based on our own personalities. The same goes for our behavior towards a brand.

Social media provides the perfect opportunity for brands to not only have a means for connecting with their audience and building a community of like-minded individuals (AKA being social), but also to understand who those people are and what they care about.

It starts off on a broader level: what type of person do I want to target? Who purchases my product and/or service?

Ok, so once that’s nailed down….

Where do they spend their time online?

Then: What are they saying? What do they talk about/respond to the most? What sparks a negative reaction in them? Positive? What do they share the most?

Those are the types of questions that make the most sense to ask first. Yes, there are more, but the point is that it’s about getting a well-rounded view of who these people are. That way you can figure out how to be human and best relate to them.

I mean, isn’t that how we act in a social setting if we want to actually build a relationship?

You wouldn’t just spout a bunch of crap about yourself without asking anything about other people. You would talk to them, listen to what they have to say, ask questions, share interesting information, laugh together, bounce ideas off one another, and so on.

Well, doesn’t that apply to social media marketing as well?

And, to the first part of the post, do you really need to be in advertising, PR, or marketing to understand that?

Nope.

What are 10 things I learned from my first SxSW Interactive experience?

Throwing up the hashtag sign. Yeah, we're nerds.

This was my first year at SxSW Interactive, and I have to say that it was absolutely a blast. I am definitely going back next year, and now I have these 10 lessons to take with me:

1. Pack your hipster gear

Never in my life have I seen so many hipsters in one place. This one is merely a joke—please don’t take me literally and go buy skinny jeans, a plaid shirt and funky sunglasses just for SxSW. But be ready to do some great people watching. And if you’re a hipster, then you absolutely belong here.

2. You look like an outcast without a Mac

I was definitely one of the only people without a Mac or an iPad. Boo me. This point is just another fun one. You can rock your Dell with pride too.

3. Carry your chargers with you at all times

Everyone here was hoarding the outlets. Good thing they were so accommodating and had power strips everywhere. I mean, we have to be connected at ALL times, right? Trust me: you do not want to have your phone or laptop die on you. It’s your way to stay in touch with everyone. Keep your charger on you, even when you go out at night.

4. Use a location-based check-in service (even if just for this occasion)

So, I actually didn’t do this. I don’t use Foursquare or Gowalla and I made it through SxSW just fine. Part of the reason is because everyone also shared their location via Twitter and/or Facebook. But really check-in apps are ideal for a conference like this.

You’re trying to meet up with people you either just met or only know from social media and planned to meet in person. We’re all floating around one concentrated area, so it only makes sense to check in and see what’s happening around you.

5. Talk to people you don’t know

This might be the most important point. Talk to everyone because that is the most interesting part of SxSW. I learned more from the people I met than any panel I attended.

6. Attend sessions you know nothing about

I realized that the panels and speakers aren’t very beneficial if you already know about the topic. Don’t get me wrong—these are some very smart people with great insight, but if I blog about social media and talk about how it can be used from a marketing perspective, why would I attend a panel on it? I made that mistake. Then I found myself thinking: I’ve heard most of this before.

But, there are so many panels and speakers that covered subjects I don’t really know anything about. I should’ve gone to those, even if it wasn’t directly related to the industry I work in. I’d rather learn something new than hear the same ole shit I read/write about all the time.

7. Prepare to cope with a hangover for a few days in a row

Bring your aspirin, eye drops and whatever else you need to deal with your hangover and lack of sleep. It’s inevitable. You want to go to the events and parties at night, but you want to make it to those early sessions too. SxSW is one place you need to be a trooper.

8. The SxSW Go app is extremely useful for figuring out which sessions to go to

The official SxSW Go app was great for finding out about everything going on around you and planning ahead. You’re able to set up a schedule of events you want to attend and receive alerts beforehand, which is very helpful because time really gets away from you when you’re down there.

9. Wear comfortable shoes

You will end up walking all over the place all day and night long. Be prepared for it. You’ll regret it if you wear shoes that aren’t made for walking. I always wear flats and I’m still bandaging up my baby toe on both feet. Ha!

10. Unofficial parties and unplanned outings with new friends are WAY better than the official stuff

You’ve probably heard this before and it’s so true. The official stuff ends up being packed. You’ll probably wait in line and be super crowded in. Not very fun.

On that same note, skip a panel or session and go to lunch with new friends instead. I promise you it’ll be much more interesting and beneficial to you. If you stick to all the planned, official events you will be missing out on the best part of what SxSW has to offer: the people around you.

Above all, take a step back, think about why you’re there, and enjoy what’s happening around you. Take your nose out of your smartphone for a few minutes and take it all in. There is a lot of creativity and innovation happening all around you. You don’t want to miss it.

For those who have been to SxSW, are there any other vital lessons I should add to this list? Let me know about them in the comments.

What blogs can’t you live without?

Like most others in our field, Jackie and I spend a lot of time reading blogs. We are constantly looking for ways to learn more, engage more, and share more, and the blog realm is the perfect place for that.

Whether it be a blog about the industry or a blog about fashion, Jackie and I decided to make a list that shows the blogs that keep us coming back. The ones that we learn from the most, and make us hit the subscribe button. Here is our list:

Gini DietrichSpin Sucks

Gini, aside from being a sweetheart and having immaculate taste in shoes, is one of the smartest PR pros you’ll encounter. Why? Because she understands where the industry is headed and discusses t how we can get there. Her blog counters the stereotypes of PR, she will never refer to herself as an “expert” and she always has good advice. Gini is also one of the most engaging people in the social world–talk to her, ask her questions…she will answer you every time.

Recommended read – PR Pros: Stop Treating Bloggers Like Second-Class Media

Twitter – @ginidietrich

Jason MollicaOne Guy’s Journey

Not only is Jason one of the nicest and most approachable people in the business, he also has the writing capabilities to back it up. Jason’s blog goes through industry topics, personal stories, and everything else in between. The wide range of topics discussed keep Jackie and I interested, and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t.

Recommended read – The Power Inside

Twitter – @JasMollica

Lauren Fernandez LAF

Lauren, co-founder of #U30Pro on Twitter and PR professional, is one of the best in the PR world and her writing speaks for itself. Her blog covers topics that young pros want to read about, and gives her perspective on how things are looked at from Gen Y’s eyes.

Recommended read – The Art of Being Simple and the Bicameral Mind

Twitter – @cubanalaf

Keith StoeckelerAll that inspires me

If you have a creative mind and are constantly looking to draw inspiration, this blog is for you. From quotes to photographs, each post will make you stop and think about what the image is really trying to convey – and how you perceive it can be completely different from the next person.

Recommended read – Listen More

Twitter – @KeithStoeckeler

Danny BrownThe Human Side of Social Media and the Social Side of Marketing

Danny’s blog title will tell you pretty much everything it’s about, but why we absolutely love reading it is because it provides a refreshing point of view on the topics we discuss over and over…and over. He’s very witty and there’s always something in the post that will make you chuckle. The best part about Danny is that he has great ideas but doesn’t take himself too seriously. You can learn a lot from him–this is definitely a blog you won’t regret subscribing to.

Recommended read – 9 Points on Why I’m Not a Social Media Expert

Twitter – @DannyBrown

Grasie MercedesActing & Styling

If you love fashion advice, stylist inspiration, and fun video posts, definitely check out what Grasie is up to. The blog looks at both men’s and women’s fashion, and also shows you what’s coming next in the season. If that isn’t reason enough – Grasie recently landed a gig on the Style Network sharing her insight into the fashion world! How awesome is that? Definitely check out what she’s been up to.

Recommended read – Spring Preview

Twitter – @GrasieMercedes

Chris Stearns Pondering Pura Vida

Chris is a huge sports fan, and engages with tons of young pros on twitter. He is active in #SportsPRChat and #U30Pro chats almost every week, and always has great advice to bring to the table. His blog discusses his bucket list for life, key things he has learned from past experiences, and what is next to come.

Recommended read – My Big Question – What is next?

Twitter – @PuraVidaChris

What are your favorite blogs? Add them in our comments section.

Is Gen Y using Twitter to their benefit?

If you didn’t realize already, I am a huge advocate for Twitter. I am on there every day pretty much, and I have met some truly amazing people from the site. However, I have so many friends that are looking for jobs/internships and give me the hardest time for telling them to make one. Granted you need to do other things besides be on Twitter, it’s a great place to start. Here are some quick Friday tips for using Twitter the right way (in my opinion of course):

Get involved in chats.

Every day, there are thousands of people that get involved in chats on Twitter. Using a #hashtag  and setting a specific time lets people all engage on the same topic, and share ideas. My personal favorite is #u30pro, a chat started by David Spinks, Lauren Fernandez, and Scott Hale. It’s a community and twitter chat that focuses on issues and trends surrounding young professionals. Not only can you gain knowledge from people that are in the same field as you, you can meet some awesome people too.

TALK to people.

Sounds crazy, right? Talking to people seems like something everyone would know to do. I have seen plenty of accounts that just RT articles (usually just their own) and don’t take the time to talk to anyone. Remember: Twitter is a conversation. If you are just RTing posts all day, people will get sick of you fast. Have as many @ replies as you do article posts. Keep the conversations going.

Show some personality.

It’s okay to tweet about things you are into that don’t relate to your job. I’m pretty sure that a good 50% of my tweets are about the Chicago Bulls. No matter what team you root for or what hobby you have, its good to let people see it every now and then. It shows you are on there to let people know more about you, and not just your job.

For most, these tips are a refresher. Do you have any quick Twitter tips? Let me know what they are.

And lastly, never, under any circumstance, should you send an Auto DM. Don’t even get me started on those….

Image source.

What exactly is a “trend”?

In one of the first posts on our blog, Jackie asked what the term “social” really even meant. With yesterday’s Mashable article about the top trends of 2010 being released, it lead me to think. What really makes something a trend?

The first place I decided to look was the good ole’ fashioned dictionary (well actually, the digital version. I know I know, sign of the times). Trend is defined as, “to tend to take a particular direction; extend in some direction indicated.” In the world of social media, a trend is when a topic becomes so popular that it is the most talked about, tweeted about, and buzzed about thing on the internet.

Based on the Mashable data, the top 5 trends of the year were:

  1. Gulf Oil Spill
  2. FIFA World Cup
  3. Inception
  4. Haiti Earthquake
  5. Vuvuzela

Although I was happy Justin Bieber wasn’t number one (even if he came in at number eight) it was still an interesting mix of trends. It’s amazing what ideas will bring people together. From the Gulf Oil Spill to the glorious sound of the Vuvuzela, there were definitely a lot of opinions about the year’s biggest events. But does one hot topic necessarily mean that something is a trend? I feel that a trend should have strong enough staying power that it can be in history books years after it is talked about. Some trends on Twitter last a day, sometimes only an hour. Some are trending for weeks. I feel the top 5 are strong enough to be put in a history book with some sort of relevance to this year.

For a trend to stay strong, the amount of content and information that is being shared must be strong, informative, and relevant. If it’s not, your trend will be knocked out by the next news idea. Or by Justin Bieber.

What are your thoughts on trends? Do you think the top 5 of the year are justified?

In other trends news, check out some Twitter trends that made me laugh.

 

What causes Facebook hating?

Image from Fast Company article: "Facebook's Zuckerberg Nearly, But Not Quite, About-Faces on Privacy"

So many things come to mind.

Kim might not like this post based on her favorable Facebook post earlier this week, but I always have something negative to say about Facebook so I started to think about why that is.

And I realized that my Facebook hating can be summed up to one main problem that I have with it.

Because of the way Facebook is set up, it forces you to choose: personal or professional?

I’m not referring to brands, but individuals. It’s difficult for people to use Facebook for both personal and professional use. It crosses too many boundaries and blurs the fine line between what’s appropriate to share (in a certain context) and what’s not.

You might think I’m talking about all the “youthful folly” (as described by Zack Whittaker and Ed Bott in a ZDNET article) from the college days. Yes, that’s part of it, but you don’t even need to take it that far.

I take issue with the fact that if I want to be Facebook “friends” with people on a business level, then they’re also able to see aspects of my personal life that people I associate with in the business world just don’t need to see.

Maybe I want to share things with my family and friends, but I don’t want to share those same things with someone I do business with. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t give me the option to choose which “friends” my personal information is shared with. If we’re Facebook friends, you’re ALL seeing what I post…unless I want to go through a list of 800+ people and set individual privacy settings (yeah right).

Why do the people I’m connected with for business purposes need to see pictures from my cousin’s wedding? Or what I dressed up my dog as for Halloween?

If someone from the business world “friends” me, they will be able to know things about me that are irrelevant to our professional relationship. Maybe it’s harmless but it’s still my personal information that I don’t necessarily need to share with someone who I don’t know beyond the business world.

I’m fully aware that this could just be a rant coming from someone who’s part of the first generation of Facebook users (when it was for college students only), but I think that’s the point.

It used to be clear that Facebook was a personal platform to connect with friends and peers. Now that it’s being used as a business communication tool, you have to make a decision about the direction you want to take it: either you’re going to withhold information to keep your profile on a professional level, or you have to keep your “friends” list to people who you only know on a personal level.

That bothers me. I don’t like that I don’t have full control. Facebook took away the option for me to use the channel as a business tool. Keep designing Facebook with teenagers in mind, Zuck. Just beware you don’t become the next MySpace. (Sorry, just had to throw that in there).

What do you think? How have you overcome this problem? Is there a way to find a good balance? Seriously—I want to know.

Did Facebook get it right this time?

A few weeks back, I wrote about how Facebook was launching a new “social inbox” feature. At that time, I was a little annoyed with Facebook, since it seemed like they were trying to take the place of my beloved Google. Although that has not launched yet, Facebook has come out with some other new changes.

On Sunday’s 60 Minutes, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the newest layouts for Facebook profiles. The new layouts have personal information at the top of the screen, instead of on an info page. They also have while also having a similar look to the new group pages. Group pages have advanced in that now you can upload docs, have group chats, and give out mailing-list style notifications. This is great for organizations of large sizes that need a place to talk and ask questions that no one else can see.

These new changes lead me to think, could Facebook be making big changes for the better?

Usually when Facebook unveils a new look, you get hundreds of thousands of people who take to the internet to complain about it. They think the new layout is confusing, or they feel the changes are unnecessary. There are even sites the usually help you switch back to an old layout. But these new changes make me like Facebook more. I like that there is an information bar at the top that tells people who you are and what you do. It’s up to you how much or how little to put there, so no one can complain about their privacy being invaded. There is also a bar underneath the information bar with your most recent tagged photos. This can show all of your friends what you have been up to, and what is new in your life (don’t worry, you can still make your pictures private if you want to).  Overall, I feel the new look is growing with the times, showing what is important to people in prominent places on the site.

What do you think of the new Facebook profiles? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of Mashable.

If you still haven’t changed your Facebook profile and want to, you can change it here.

Is Twitter useful for PR outreach?

There might be some PR folks out there thinking “hell no” when they see that question because it’s not necessarily the traditional way to conduct PR outreach, but Twitter can definitely be a useful tool for pitching the media.

Why?

Journalists are there

Most journalists are on Twitter, so it makes sense to communicate with them wherever they’re present. Journalists are people just like the rest of us, meaning that they probably respond faster to @ replies and Twitter DMs than their overloaded inboxes with PR pitches galore.

If you know who you want to target, you can search for their Twitter handle specifically. If you’re not sure, you can use tools like http://mediaontwitter.com to see a list of thousands of journalists’ Twitter handles.

It’s individualized

Communicating with a journalist via Twitter is an obvious way to show that you’re not sending out an email blast. It’s personalized and relevant to the individual journalist, which makes things much more efficient for both parties.

You have to keep it short and sweet

The beauty of 140 characters is that you have to get to the point. Let’s face it: no one has time (or wants to) read through paragraph after paragraph in an email. With Twitter, you have to be concise and get the crux of the message out there. It’s a great way to gauge interest too. If a journalist wants to hear more, then you can follow up via email.

You get to learn about the journalist

Twitter enables you to see what a journalist is interested in/cares about, which means you can 1) provide a more relevant, individualized pitch, and 2) cultivate a relationship. Not everything has to be about the PR pitch—maybe you’ll find that you have something in common with them. Learning about a journalist will go a long way in building that relationship which ultimately makes your PR outreach more effective.

Another way to see what journalists are talking about on Twitter is to check out http://journalisttweets.com/.

It shows your effort to engage

Going along with the point I made above, using Twitter for media outreach also shows your effort to engage. You had to take the time to do your homework on the journalist and then cultivate the relationship. Your extra effort will not go unnoticed and will most likely be reciprocated in some capacity.

Wouldn’t you be much more willing to work with someone who took the time to seek you out and pitch you on things that are truly relevant to you?

The reason that Twitter is a useful tool for PR outreach boils down to this: At the end of the day, we’re all people and that’s how we want to be treated. Twitter enables the PR-journalist dynamic to become more like an actual relationship.

That’s my two cents on why Twitter is useful for PR outreach, but if you’re looking for some tips on pitching the media via Twitter I highly suggest you read this blog post written yesterday by Maya Wasserman.

What do you think? PR pros, have you pitched journalists on Twitter?

(Image borrowed from http://www.kevintylersmith.com)

When is it time to switch up your strategy?

As many people know, I am a huge theater nerd. I’m always reading up on the latest shows/premieres, and this week “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” a musical, was the newest show to open for previews in New York City.

The show has had its problems in the process, from costing an estimated $65 million to create, to having constant push backs on the opening date. The show’s first premiere Sunday opened with 5 stops throughout the show, and opened 24 minutes late.

Granted I love Broadway, and I think the show is an awesome idea, when is it time to rethink your strategy? The show has already opened to critics giving it the thumbs down due to actor safety, time of construction, and the fact that the show cannot even tour due to cost of moving the set around. Should the show rethink its set? Or should it try it out for awhile and see what happens?

This is the same question you should ask yourself about social media strategy. Let’s say you have an awesome vision for a way to execute. If you are building up a blog or a Twitter to get your name out there, is your strategy working? Or are you wasting too much money (or in this case time) on an idea that will not be executed well?

Let’s say you have been building up a blog/Twitter for 3 months. If you don’t see a rise in pageviews/followers in that time, rethink your approach. Are you inviting people to your blog, or are you just constantly posting the same article? Letting people know your blog is there and to check it out will help you grow your following. Also, what kinds of followers are you trying to attract on Twitter? Make sure your posts would be of interest to them if they are the crowd you want to engage. There is nothing wrong with self promotion on Twitter, just make sure you are sending out the right message to the crowd.

The great thing about social media is that you can try out hundreds of different approaches and it won’t cost you a dime. When you do figure out the right approach for you, be sure to stick with it. Consistency is key, especially in a world where there are millions of others trying to get their names out there.

 

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