Smart Social Media Marketing Panel Discussion – Greg Verdino, Doug Haslam, Adam Broitman, and Philip Robertson
Description: Itâ€™s no secret that more and more marketers are looking for ways to engage consumers directly through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, podcasts and the blogosphere. What remains elusive, however, is a set of smart guiding principles for participating in ways that are authentic, add value for the community and ultimately benefit the brand. In this interactive panel discussion, Iâ€™ll lead a conversation with three social media insiders who are also experienced marketers that have tapped into the power of conversation to build brands, stimulate positive awareness through word-of-mouth marketing and deliver superior, real-time customer support. Weâ€™ll use firsthand experience and practical examples to help attendees understand how to get it right, how to avoid messing up, and what to do if something goes wrong.
To start, the panel asks a few questions. Is web marketing a PR thing? Is it something that the web team should be handling? Who makes for better social media marketing types? It’s a matter of your discipline. Adam Broitman says that traditional marketers don’t address the social challenge presented by social media. There are two sides to the puzzle and one of those sides is the interactivity. A traditional PR person isn’t prepared to handle that.
Philip Robertson said that social media has demanded a lot more transparency from companies. People want to be more engaged, but also have transparency from the companies that they are being social with for a sense of authenticity. It’s not as simple as making two lsits of PR people, online and traditional. There are people exist in both. Instead, it’s a list of people who are engaged in social media and those who are not.
Adam asked the question of the crowd of who thought that search engine marketing is PR. I think people raised their hands only because they knew they should.It’s a good thing they did because how people find our companies is PR, and that includes search engines.
An audience member was curious about who should manage the people inside the company? Philip answered that you have to work to control the message, but you also can’t be too controlling. It’s best to put a set of guidelines in place and let the people in the company be social. Sometimes something slips through the cracks, but that’s what will happen when people want to get their message out.
In terms of control, you could argue that you want to take the point of view of the Federation, not the Borg. The Borg need to be told what to do, but the Federation is given a message and is allowed to think for themselves when the opportunity arises.
Back to the panel, Doug Haslam points out that the embargo is changing. As mentioned earlier, things slip out because the client is the one producing the content now. If the CEO really wants to talk about a new product that hasn’t been revealed, then they are going to talk about it. Your job is to make sure that they are getting the message out properly and facilitating their desires to do so. Also, the guy from the agency isn’t the invisible man behind the curtain any longer. As someone from an agency, you need to figure out how to disclose who is a client of yours without turning off to your message too.
Greg Verdino brought up the point that someone needs to manage the policy within the company. At Crayon, they’ve found that the client knows that people inside the company are creating content, but they still look to the outside for people to come in and create the guidelines. Typically, it’s not a traditional agency because at this point, many of the big shops just don’t get this stuff.
An audience member asked about the “Add This” button as a good thing to have on a site. Greg reminded everyone that while it’s a positive thing to have, it’s not a social strategy. The strategy is thinking about what the content is that people will find relevant enough to distribute through their personal channels.
When asked if anyone has defined social media marketing, Adam responded saying that the technology is just catching up to enable the conversations and interactions that we are seeing now. It’s all part of a more immersive web. Immersive environments have always existed and the web has always been social, but now the social aspect is heightened. The definition of that is being able to enter those spaces without being offensive and adding to the value of the conversation. It’s not a defined definition, but it’s about listening to the environments and making relevant noise. The panel did use the word “noise” to describe their message, so they do understand the volume of conversations on the web can get to the point of noise. I think that realization is an important one. Philip notes that it’s difficult to know what “getting it” actually means.
The panel attempted to define what they previously said had no definition. Advertising is buying access to someone else’s media, PR is having people write about you in their media and social media marketing is creating your own content and delivering it to an audience directly. There were some discussions about this definition being incorrect later on during the weekend, but that’s how it was defined during the panel discussion.
But is social media marketing by the panel’s definition much different from when companies used to be the sole sponsor of a televisions how and would dictate the content? To some degree that might be correct, but people also don’t see advertising as valued content anymore. Greg said that it’s a matter of earned attention. Television used to be the only game of a Friday night, but now the game has changed. Now, we are in a state of earned attention.
The audience was curious about coming into a company as an agency and intimidating those people inside the company who would otherwise be creating content and bring social. Philip said it’s not the companies job to create that brand and job for the people inside. It’s up to the team that is in charge of the marketing to let everyone have a chance. An example of that is Comcast Cares on Twitter. The social media marketer is best suited to educate, motivate and show how the best practices have influenced communities. Doug pointed out that there is a difference between being controlling about what is said and telling people what to do and giving them a call to action.
Another audience member asked what the difference between a social media press release and a traditional press release is. Doug said it all comes down to allowing people to share and make it social. You want the wire services to integrate RSS feeds and comments as well as multimedia, making it possible for the audience to talk back to you. Greg said that bloggers as a group might be the laziest people on the web. Make it easy for them with easy to access information, link rolls, bullet points and giving everything someone would need to put together a post in less than 20 minutes. Doug pointed out that it’s not just bloggers, it’s everyone who is lazy. Greg hopes that in a few years no one uses the term social media press release (amen!) It’s common sense to have all of this information available anyway.
Greg asked the panel what best practices people should be following. Philip said the best way to engage with the audience is to let the audience do the talking for your brand. Engage the audience by making sure they can push the message of your brand and let them talk about it. Doug reminds everyone to read the publication and posts before you send a pitch. You want to give them something they can use and something they would want to listen to. The key to being social is listening.
Another audience question was about VRM, which is vendor relationship management. Adam said that the idea of CRM is dying and VRM is emerging. Doug is a heavy Twitter user and he hasn’t seen anyone doing it really well. Comcast and Zappos a have people on Twitter, but it’s a small number of individuals behind the accounts, they have yet to seriously embrace it. But when you are inside the company, it’s notable that the people who should be the ones to start doing this are the people who would already be doing it anyway. Frank at ComcastCares is an example of this. Greg said it’s all about mindset and where your audience lives. Dell’s Ideastorm works as a Digg clone for ideas because Dell’s audience lives online. Starbucks’ My Starbucks Idea doesn’t work on their website because the Starbucks audience lives in the Starbucks stores, not on their website. Starbucks needs to be social primarily through their baristas, not through social media. It goes back to VRM, because if you can put your complains online, then you can manage your vendors like that. An example of this is the site Get Satisfaction.
An audience member asked about microblogging as social media. They were reminded that it’s just adding another channel, but like “Add This” it doesn’t constitute social media. It’s still about listening.
On a site like Yelp, each customer has the opportunity to be an advocate, but companies don’t always realize this. An audience member had a negative experience with a company on Yelp when they responded negatively to feedback and then was slow to fix the issue at hand. Instead of turning the commenter into an advocate, we are hearing a tale of woe about this at a conference. A great way to speed the process up when dealing with companies that are moving slow would be to post their letters, similar to how the Pirate Bay posts their cease and desist letters.
The panel answered a question about control. Specifically, what to say to a client that thinks they are losing control of their content with all of the social aspects of the web. The real answer is that they never really had control to begin with. There’s a notion of control, but that’s a fallacy. In reality it’s a partnership between the producer and the reader. The real way to regain control is to collaborate with the user instead of trying to lock them down.
And finally, how do we know if it’s working? There’s no concrete way. You could use Google Trends, or a Twitter search to find keywords. Also you could use technorati or Topix.net, but there’s no clear answer.