Sword and the Script

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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The best time to tweet about strategy



by Frank Strong

A short while ago I wrote a post that said social media strategists will be gone in 2 years.  The general thesis is that there must be a core strategy that drives what we as marketers do — otherwise we are just building the plane while trying to fly it at the same time.

My perception is that the idea was well received by most — but sharply criticized by others.  As one person commented, “Social media is a TACTIC that you build a STRATEGY around.”

I believe that’s deeply misguided point of view but it’s symptomatic of overexposure to the current state of blogging:  Mind-numbing regurgitation in a world where words have become disposable.  The conversation around marketing strategy has largely dwindled to the blog post about 10 tips for this and 5 tips for that; it’s tactical and nothing more.

Such posts are easy to write…and easier to read.  Many bloggers will attest — tips get clicks — but I worry sometimes we’re doing it at the expense of deeper thinking.  To be clear, I’m guilty of it too, though deep down inside, I loathe writing them, but there’s a self-indictment here. Read More…

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Web round up: principles, community, PR tips and small biz



by Frank Strong

It’s been about six weeks since my last round up of posts from other sites on the web; so here’s to a handful you might have missed with some outbound links to other good reads.

1.  It’s about principles. Ragan.com picked up this post 7 principles of successful PR pros earlier this month, which was originally posted on this blog under the title 7 essential principles to succeed in PR  — though the title difference is subtle.  I’m always flattered when one of Ragan.com’s finest thinks a post I’ve written merits a run in a trade publication that is a staple of our industry — and I find it the polish of those edits both humbling and educational.

In a private conversation with an editor, I shared that this post was really a secret rant — a way for me to organize my thoughts in reaction to an industry problem that a day or two later was rendered in the form of an original post in the same publication: Lying to journalists is not a genius PR stunt.  If you want to know more, read this post, or this one, or this one, or this one  (which has great data, that I went and double checked).  And here’s one journalist’s reaction. Read More…

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Social media is NOT that important



by Frank Strong

Social media never sleeps; therefore PR is a lifestyle not a profession.  This pushes responsiveness to the top of the priority list.

In my heart of hearts, I believe this is true, but I’ve also come to believe that social media is entering a period of normalization.  It’s something akin to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, where expectations were exceedingly high — beyond possible — but are now starting to normalize.  And normalization is sorely needed.

The compulsion to respond immediately with top of mind thoughts is slowly ceding to responding in a timely fashion, but with greater consideration.  Social media can wait.

Last week, I just left traffic court (unfortunately, I have a heavy foot, one of my many faults).  I’m stopped at red light that is malfunctioning and traffic is backed up in a serious way.

Read More…

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The future of social media is email



by Frank Strong

Did you check your mailbox today?  I don’t mean email, I mean your 100% USPS grade mailbox.

Today, my mailbox had two mail order catalogs, a shopping flyer and a piece of political direct mail.  I placed them all directly into the recycling bin nearby without a glance. That’s pretty much the routine these days — there’s very little of value in snail mail these days.  It’s all junk.

Unfortunately the email inbox has followed a similar path.  I receive literally more than 300 emails a day, and I used to consider myself an email master.  Now, it’s all I can do to keep up.  I find deleting emails on my iPhone is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning.

Gosh, that’s a depressing thought.  Heaven forbid I leave my desk for 10 minutes because I’ll come back to 20 messages.

The newsletters are the worst — often produced by the publishers that employ the very  journalists who also complain about PR pitches by email.  Every newsletter in the world now offers an “extra” that comes in the form of an additional email (or two) and a “most read of the week” email which contains headlines I’ve already either skimmed or read.

Worse, few publications offer a way to opt out of the extra newsletters without opting out of the content I actually want — it’s all or nothing.  I’m coming darn close to folding my cards and opting for nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I like newsletters, I subscribe to them for a reason, but I didn’t consent to the same content in triplicate.     Read More…

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CEOs that engage make a remarkable difference



by Frank Strong

All leaders have different styles.   CEOs are leaders, and it’s evident they too develop unique styles.

Steve Jobs might have been a celebrity CEO, with a finger in many operational buckets.  I view Mark Zuckerberg as the public face; hence the addition of Sheryl Sandberg to focus on operations.   Eric Schmidt is relatively quiet; the professional CEO brought in to focused on management.  When he does say something publicly, there’s usually an echo.

Some CEOs serve as the chief sales person and swoop in to close big deals.  Others are thought leaders, inspiring the world with their ideas.  Still others are focus on metrics, and usually lean towards internal communication, in a quiet, reserved and unassuming fashion.

Right or wrong, I’ll leave it to the leadership experts to mull.   There’s a credible argument to be made, if a CEO is too worried about the public face, they aren’t focused on the job.  There’s a credible counter argument too. Read More…

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