Sword and the Script

Consider your social media identity carefully



Note:  the following is a guest post by Michele Hudnall.  Michele and I worked together several years ago for a company that developed and popularized a concept for IT operations management, known as Business Service Management or BSM.  Today, she runs the BSMHub, and contributes to a related corporate blog for NetIQ.

          >>> Years ago, I would never have thought I was starting my social media journey and baby steps to a social media identity.  After today, I am reflecting on how we mature through our social identity, just as we do in life and as with life, change is HARD!!  To those who have scoffed the use of Twitter, blogs, Facebook, Google+, and others, I’m here to say the world is growing smaller due to social media connectivity and conversations.  I have now closed a seven figure software deal that started with a tweet – a mere inquiry for information, a call with me to sort it out and in less than four months, the deal was closed.  This may seem like a two year journey – from tweet to deal – but really it has evolved in maturity over a longer period of time.

I know my friend, who publishes this very blog, Frank Strong, reads this with a smile – he was an early adopter and mentor who pushed me hard to participate in the conversation in circa 2007.  Moreover, what I have discovered this week is that my roots go back even further.  Read More…

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Trough of Disillusionment: the Content Marketing Backlash



by Frank Strong

If content marketing was a technology, Gartner might say it has entered the “trough of disillusionment.”  Ironic that even while those that point out the flaws, they will also continue to embrace the concept in practice.

What started as a charge against the dark result of a system, became a system in need of desperate repair, emerged as an analysis of a debate and settled nearly to where it was placed before it had started.

I have no intention of moving the debate; I’m merely going to state what’s I see from the trenches.

Is there a lot of lousy content on the web?  You bet.  Are good content ideas at a premium and bad content ideas plentiful?  No doubt.  Should we toss the entire concept aside and wait for the next wave to ride?  I don’t think so.

And I don’t think so because I don’t believe content marketing is a fad, I believe it represents an actual evolution: content marketing is the new branding.  This is reflective of the fact that people are distracted, nose-in-the-phone busy, and do not have the attention span for interruptions.  It has become increasingly harder, and vastly more expensive, to buy people’s attention.

Instead we have to earn their attention and content marketing is the path to that end.  Moreover, some very sizable companies, with reputations for marketing excellence, are pouring resources into the concept. Read More…

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Product placement meets content marketing meets creative PR



by Frank Strong

Even the venerable NPR can be a sucker for a good marketing story every once in awhile.  And DC Comics scored big time.  I just can’t believe more PR pros didn’t pick this one up for their blog. It’s very creative PR.

What’s the scoop?
Remember that James Bond movie where James jumps off a cliff after a plane, gets inside it and flies safely away?  I was taking a college physics class then, and leaned over to my buddy to let him know because of friction, that scene was, well, impossible according to the laws of physics.

I thought I was smart.  My buddy thought I was a 7 letter word that begins with an “A” and ends with an “E” for ruining a good scene. Read More…

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Examining the Rage of a Social Media Rant



by Frank Strong

Examining-the-rage-of-a-social-media-rant

Ranting has become cool. You can earn a reputation by tearing down someone, something or some brand.

For the believers in that notion called “personal branding” the rant has become something of a logo, a tagline or a calling card.  However, rants are a lazy writer’s crutch:  they are usually heavy on emotion and light on facts or research. Usually, a rant is a gamble that snark and sarcasm will be mistaken for intellect and insight.

Didn’t get what we want? Post a flurry of angry tweets. We’ll crush you on Yelp.  We’ll write a negative review on Amazon.  We’ll create a social media crisis.  You’ll see. “Do you know who I think I am?

Read More…

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Conflict, confusion and finding your own damn social media advice



by Frank Strong

Some say a Facebook fan is worth $10.  Others say a fan is worth $0.  Still other say the value of a fan is falling.  It’s harder to get smaller than zero, but perhaps a better method of valuation is what an organization would pay for a fan.

In any case, any or all of these options are likely to leave the less daring more confused and conflicted over likes, shares, and soon perhaps wants.

What many want is sound advice, or perhaps an easy answer.  Preferably in the form of an iPhone app we can download and absorb through osmosis while sleeping with our phones under our pillows.  It’s a long winded way of saying, that at least in the short term, proven advice, is an unlikely social share.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t see conflicting information about the value of Facebook ‘Likes,’ the correlation between online conversations and buying behavior,” wrote Mark Schaefer in a post titled, Social Media, Conflicting Data, and the Search for Truth.  And so it is with social media advice.

He wrote that months ago, but a week or so ago, I watched another prominent speaker trash Klout at a conference – it’s worthless she said.  Really worthless?  There are more diplomatic word choices especially for PR professionals.  A few hours later, Mark took the stage an offered some pretty compelling examples of where Klout has been effective.  In fact I’d credit Mark and his writing with changing my view point on the platform:  it may not be a measure of influence, but it’s certainly an interesting marketing tool. Read More…

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Does social media marketing get more scrutiny?



by Frank Strong

Social media seems to withstand more scrutiny than other marketing channels.  That was a great question I heard today at the PR News Social Media Measurement conference.

Is it true?  Yes, I think it is.

General Motors spent $4.2 billion on advertising last year.  They spent $10 million on Facebook ads, which they later pulled for lack of effectiveness.  Sure Facebook is social, but paid media is still paid media, and millions barely earn a hash mark on billion dollar budget graph.  So what do they spend on earned or shared media?  I’d bet my paycheck it’s not even close to their previous spend on Facebook ads.

It’s one example, but it’s an illustrative example, and I’ve seen enough anecdotal evidence to make a not-so-bold assertion that earned and shared spending pale in comparison.  Yet these mediums get more scrutiny when it comes to budgets. Read More…

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Differentiation: Tipping, gratuity and the new age of corporate tax



by Frank Strong

“Tipping is not just a city in China,” many in the hospitality industry, like bartenders, are quick to proclaim.  But a recent vacation demonstrated it’s no longer a gratuity either.

At resort I signed up for a deep tissue massage on day one – what better way to begin unwinding?   I met the concierge, scheduled a spa time and she promptly asked me for a credit card, ran up the bill and presented it to me:   a $29 “gratuity” was “conveniently” placed on the bill for me; there was no option to remove it.  First world problem?  Maybe.

“Seems a little out of order to include a gratuity before the service is provided,” I said with a half-statement and half-question surprise.

“That’s just the way we have always done it,” replied the concierge.

“Well, I just think that’s dirty,” I was thinking to myself.  But I didn’t argue; after all I came here to decompress, not get all riled up.  Read More…

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Six take-a-ways from Marketing in the Round



by Frank Strong

Integrated marketing has been the Holy Grail for marketing since I started working in the industry.  It was popular a decade ago, and even a decade before that.  For some reason, the concept ebbs and flows like the fashion of bell bottom jeans.

Why hasn’t the concept stuck?  It’s logical, practical, and more importantly effective.  The term “integrated marketing” may not be sexy but for me, it brings a sense of nostalgia, yet the overlap in marketing functions we’ve seen as companies increasingly adopt social media, causes me to believe that maybe this time…this time it’s real.

Marketing in the Round is about integrated marketing in a digital media age and it’s a straight forward, no-nonsense read, perhaps the result of two pragmatic marketers teaming to write the book. If you are new to marketing or PR, you should put this on your reading list; if you are a veteran, its chance to step back and re-think marketing strategy.  Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston launch the book earlier this year, and though it took me a while to sit down and focus on reading, I finally got it done on a plane ride to vacation – and wrote this on the plane ride back.

Here are my six take-a-ways: Read More…

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Social media: you get what you give



by Frank Strong

It never ceases to amaze me: people that say social media isn’t working for them also put very little effort into it.

That’s my opinion, because I’ve seen this over and over anecdotally,  but there’s also data behind it.  The proof can be found in the results of a scientific survey, which shows, companies that hardly try social media, get frustrated with the results and quit easily. 

People give up on Twitter because they don’t see a lot of retweets or followers.  They give up on Facebook because there’s few fans and fewer likes. They’ve opted not to experiment with Pinterest or Google+ — after all if the first two sites didn’t work why would these?  But it’s not the sites, it’s the user.

If someone asks, “How come I don’t have more followers?” Answer this question with a question: “Well, when you first walk into a party are people lining up to chat with you?” If they aren’t then you’ll probably have to work a little harder at Twitter.  Read More…

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Marketing Persona: profile of a social SMB



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by Frank Strong

What does the persona of an SMB that’s engaged in social media look like?  It falls generally into these characteristics:

  • The SMB earns $20-30 million in annual sales
  • It has 1-3 people in it’s marketing shop
  • Spends $10,oo0 a year on social media
  • Uses about 3 different tools to manage social media
  • Added social media to the list of existing duties of a marketing person

That’s pretty darn precise, no?  How do I know this? There’s a new survey out by my employer, Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing, which I had a role in analyzing the data. The study Path to Influence: An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media, which is freely available is unique among surveys in that it’s scientific; it’s statistically valid and has a confidence interval. In other words, the data is rock solid — and so too is the marketing persona.  Read More…

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