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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Of Agencies, Old Spice & Expectations

In Trends on August 5, 2010 at 1:09 am

A client recently asked us to “create something really viral.” We declined. If there was a formula for creating viral video, we would certainly offer it to our clients. There isn’t. Ask Nationwide Insurance or Jack In the Box or any of a hundred other companies who have made obvious attempts to create the next viral video. You can’t orchestrate viral.

Neither should you judge content by the extent to which it “goes viral”. A marketing colleague was reviewing TV spots with me last month and disagreed that this year’s version of a certain campaign was better than last year’s. He said, “Creatively, you’re right. But the number of copycat videos on YouTube from last year’s version is staggering. Very viral.” I hope YouTube spoofs have not become the measure of an ad campaign.

But if there ever was a best practice for creating viral buzz, Portland-based Wieden + Kennedy found it with the Old Spice Guy web video campaign. That project, which included dozens of creatives hunkered down in a studio round the clock producing and posting videos at the rate of one every seven minutes, has become the touchstone of successful social media campaigns. To read all the behind-the-scenes details about how they pulled it off, go here.

The other brilliant element to that campaign was its price tag. While it certainly cost a bundle to set up the video-making “war room”, hire the right talent, etc. those costs are minuscule compared to national TV campaigns, pro sports sponsorships, and other avenues traditionally used to peddle mens’ hygiene products. And that from a company who has plenty to spend. Proctor & Gamble consistently competes with General Motors for the largest ad budget in the nation.

While REACH (or your current ad agency) probably won’t have the desire or the resources to illuminate the next Old Spice Guy, there is something about those viral videos that REACH can offer – value. Videos (or images or forwarded emails or any other content) that go viral do so because they have some intrinsic value – something about them that is beautiful or funny or poignant. Agencies love to create that stuff. We dream of clients who will ask us to “create something really beautiful”. A lot of times the company brand or message gets in the way, but occasionally we get to work on a project that carries the marketing message AND some intrinsic value. Those are the sweet spots. That’s what we love to do, whether it goes viral or not.

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Getting In Our Facebook

In REACH News on June 3, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Nine months ago, when I was asked to speak on social media at a local business luncheon, one of the first pieces of news I brought to that crowd was this: there are no rules. It’s still true. When it comes to promoting your business via online networks like Facebook and Twitter, there is a mountain of potential and no trail maps. No proven methodologies. No best practices. None of the “click here to get started” pathways we’ve become accustomed to. It really is the Wild West out there. We really are making this up as we go. Therefore, every “policy” on social media is formed mostly on the basis of what makes sense at the time – what “seems like it should work.” Today, I’m announcing such a policy for REACH.

Many in our network may not notice or care how we approach Facebook, but we at REACH are firm believers in having a plan. The plan can be malleable, but it needs to exist. Plus, we work hard to be on the front lines of new media, tools, trends, etc. in marketing and communications. If anyone is writing company policies for social media – for themselves or clients – we want it to be us.

So with that background, here’s the announcement: REACH will not have a Facebook account. Here are the deets:

Actually, I have TWO Facebook accounts (don’t tell Facebook.) I have one attached to my personal email that I use often for updates on everything I’m involved with from my kids’ soccer games to church outings to REACH projects. That is as it should be. This is the account I created long ago when I first got sucked into the swirling vortex of time wasting that is Facebook.

But as social media continued to grow as a tool for sales, marketing and organizing customers, REACH began to offer more assistance to its clients in that area. At that time, I opened a second Facebook account – this one attached my my company email address. I did this because I needed an account to name as administrator of our clients’ fan pages and while I don’t mind confluence of my personal and professional life on my own wall, there’s no place for that in our clients’ updates. I needed to keep those separate. I don’t use this REACH account to connect with anyone personally or professionally. I only use it as an empty account from which to administer our clients’ Facebook ads, status updates, fan pages, contests, etc.

So that brought me to a crisis of organization: wouldn’t it make sense to separate my personal account from all things REACH and use the work account to only offer company news and updates? Wouldn’t it make sense for me to continually maintain two Facebook accounts and never cross their streams?

I asked friends about this. I asked colleagues in marketing. I even posted the question on my wall to see what my friends themselves thought. The results of that polling were not helpful. About a third of the people thought I should separate the two. A third thought I shouldn’t. And a third told me to get a life. But regardless of which course they recommended or how they expressed it, all of them gave ascent to one theme: it’s about people.

People don’t use Facebook to connect with companies – at least not primarily. People long to connect with other people. We are social creatures; relational to the core. That’s what made Facebook so successful in the first place. And for all their recent foibles, it’s something that Facebook has understood and protected pretty well. They sell ads on the side (literally). They allow fan pages and causes (created by people). But their primary function is to connect people.

So a company Facebook account that never gave my friends any news other than the company’s latest win or award would ultimately be a waste of time. On the other hand, my work is a big part of my life and stripping out any references to business or creative work would be leaving a hole in my Wall for those who really are interested in knowing and keeping up with me.

So until there’s a logical and relational reason to change our policy, REACH will not keep a company account separate from our personal accounts. We might tinker with a fan page eventually, but if you’re really interested ing getting to know REACH, then I suggest getting to know me, Jeremy, Mark and Amyjo. We’re fun people. I think you’d like us.

How NOT to jump on the social media bandwagon

In Tips on December 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Here’s a short video that points to the most fundamental problem for the usefulness of social media to corporate marketing. That is, it wasn’t built for marketing. Companies are all very interested in “gaining followers” right now, but they’re applying the traditional marketing model to those relationships – using social media the same way the use broadcast media – to push out messages. That’s now what social media was intended for. It will take a lot of man hours and a lot of creativity to find the right model for best practices in using social networks in corporate messaging. Right now, no one is close. As I said in a previous post, there are no best practices for social media right now. It’s the Wild West out there. But smart minds are working on the problem. We’ll get there…

Social Media for Sale

In Trends on October 5, 2009 at 3:10 pm

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Two weeks ago, when I spoke to a lunch crowd from the Irving Chamber of Commerce, I mentioned that there are no rules yet in Social Media. No best practices or industry standards. Last week, this article in the Wall Street Journal proved my point. There’s no standard approach to these things yet. Every respectable business in America knows how to approach a web site. You hire an agency or at least a freelancer. You don’t try to do it yourself. But you do guide the process, provide content, explain your requirements and expectations. When the Internet was new, these steps were not taken for granted like they are now. No one knew how web development was going to evolve. Was this something only for “the big guys”? Was there more we could do online? More community-driven interaction? And did every web site have to have those little, spinning, animated GIFs?

Likewise, there are still questions about Social Media and its evolution. Will it become the domain of communications experts or will it insist on being so personal that it can’t be outsourced? Will it learn to funnel and track conversions and revenue or will it stay in the realm of its intended uses with no better corporate goals than “raising awareness” and “creating a following”? And where will the price point land? The article below cites firms paying $400 per month and $20,000 per month. The disparity in quality of service is not that wide. The chaos in the marketplace is.

At this stage, there are a few key points to keep in mind:

  1. We’re not there yet. We don’t know how this is going to shake out, but we do know that it will continue to evolve. Savvy agencies will stay ahead of the curve – testing, reading, pushing the edges of the Social Media model. Agencies that take the “wake us when this makes money” approach will soon find themselves behind.
  2. The trajectory of Social Media for business depends in large part on agencies. If we stumble into this realm without thinking any farther than, “Hey, I can tweet for you,” we’ll do ourselves a disservice in the long run. We have to think critically and strategically about Social Media and its effects – good and bad – on our clients’ images and marketing budgets. We will be the ones who decide if Social Media become a standard component of corporate marketing plans or a fringe medium sharing time with Fax Blasts and the Yellow Pages.
  3. This doesn’t fit our current models. Agencies and corporate users of Social Media have to stop trying to pigeonhole these services in current categories. This is not advertising in the sense that we broadcast our message for others to hear. This is participatory and our customers have a voice. This isn’t PR earned with 3 martini lunches, charitable donations and clever press releases. It’s more powerful than that. Imagine a media placement with a “click here to respond” feature. It’s huge! And it’s not direct marketing in the sense that it’s only there to sell something. Social Media doesn’t fit our molds. We have to be careful not to force it.

So enough opining. One more thing before you read Sarah E. Needleman’s work: I found it interesting that Back of the House USA LLC is paying between $5,000 and $15,000 per month on Social Media but I can’t find them in a Google search. As enticing as Twitter is, maybe there should be some standard practices about getting our SEO down pat before we start tweeting about this week’s coupons.

Firms Get a Hand With Twitter, Facebook

Entrepreneurs Hire Consultants to Promote Business on Social-Media Sites, but the Extra Cost Is Big Question

Sylvester Chisom began paying a consultant last summer to blog on Twitter, post status updates on Facebook and run marketing campaigns on both sites for his auto-detailing business.
He thinks the service, which costs $450 a month, is worth it. “It’s just better having somebody else dedicated to thinking of stuff to put up,” says Mr. Chisom, co-owner of Showroom Shine Express Detailing LLC in St. Louis.

Some small-business owners, overwhelmed by the time commitment required of marketing their products and services via social media, are hiring consultants to lend a hand. But the price of such support can vary widely based on the extent of work involved, and many entrepreneurs with already meager resources for marketing and advertising may need to think carefully before taking on the extra cost.

One For the Ladies

In REACH News, Tips, Trends on September 23, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Spoke to about 60 lovely ladies at the Irving Chamber Women’s Alliance Luncheon today about social media. Great crowd and fun topic. As usual, the most common question is some version of this: “Is social media worth all the trouble?” My answer: “Not if you’re asking that question. Do it if you enjoy it and you see value in thought leadership. If you don’t, go do direct mail or pay-per-click.”

Here’s one of my slides with some social media tips:

Social Media Slides.015