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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Category: Social Community (page 2 of 3)

What the heck is Princeton Premier or how Social Media can make or break your company’s internet presence?

So I got this email…

Don Schindler It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion into the 2008-2009 Princeton Premier Business Leaders and Professionals Honors Edition section of the registry. The 2008-2009 edition of the registry will include biographies of the world’s most accomplished individuals. Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executives and professionals throughout the world each year. Inclusion is considered by many as the single highest mark of achievement. You may access our application form using the following link: http://princetonpremierbios.addr2.com/url/416876/2fa84429/ Upon final confirmation, you will be listed among other accomplished individuals in the Princeton Premier Registry. For accuracy and publication deadlines, please complete your application form and return it to us within five business days. There is no cost to be included in the registry. If you’ve already received this email from us, there is no need to respond again. This email serves as our final invitation to potential members who have not yet responded. On behalf of the Executive Publisher, we wish you continued success. Sincerely, Jason Harris Managing Director Princeton Premier

_______________________________________________________

Click the following link to update your information
or stop future mailings.
http://princetonpremierbios.addr2.com/mailprefs/f920fa/2fa84429/

Princeton Premier
23-35 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11105

I’ve been on the net working professionally for almost ten years now so this just screams BS. But you never know, so I spent a couple of minutes just to make sure.

Google search…ouch. The first entry isn’t even them. It’s a Yahoo Answers questioning who they are. But the answer isn’t that good so I go back to Google and check out the other links.

The official site is the second link.  You never, ever want that to happen. I go to the site. It’s not that professional and looks like a scam.

Then I go back to Google and start checking out the blog entries. There are plenty of them and finally I get to one where they actually dive deep into the site and find out it costs $100 to join and you don’t get the money back if you are unsatisfied with the results. I really appreciate the time I saved by reading instead of filling in the blanks.

Now, this example is easy to show how consumers like myself can find out what is legitimate online pretty easily.

But what if this happened to your small company? What if an upset customer blogged about you and their entry was showing up before yours in a Google search?  It’s like your worst customer sitting outside your doorstep telling everyone that you suck and they should not do business with you.

That’s the number one thing I hear about social media and opening your company up to it? What if a customer complains? What if they write bad things about me on the site?

Well, next blog I’ll explain why I see it as a good thing and how to try and drive a bad entry off a Google search.

Finding Consumer Insights in Social Media

So the kids and I went to check out Eagle Creek Reservoir Beach on Sunday afternoon.

I’m very proud of my oldest daughter. She has finally learned to swim (after this summer of swimming lessons). But she’s very particular about her nose. She has to have nose plugs on or she can’t go underwater. So be it. Nose plugs it is. No matter how silly she looks.

After being in the water for an hour or so, I decided to start pitching the kids in the air. They love it and it’s some exercise for me. They swim over, I count 1-2-3 then heave them in the air. There’s a big splash and a lot of laughter.

We did this for fifteen minutes or so and I was about done. So the last one is always a doozie. I threw my daughter up as far as I could and she came down with a huge splash. When she came up, her nose plugs were gone.

Aw, man. Now I’m pretty sure you all know lake water. It’s definitely not swimming pool or Hawaiian Island clear. Visibility is like six inches. And even that is questionable.

She was really upset. Now how was she going to swim?

I started feeling the rocky bottom as best as I could in the 36 inches of water. Nothing just a lot of little rocks.

After ten minutes, my brain was telling me this was a lost cause.

You are not going to find them. Just tell her you’ll buy her some more. What are they? 5 bucks or so. Is it worth it?

Maybe not? But I didn’t stop. I prayed a bit and I kept searching with my hands on the surface of the bottom.

Because of the depth of the water, it was a stretch and I couldn’t really go over a big area of the bottom. I was by inching myself along.

Finally, I thought, just go under and do a quick large scan of the immediate area.

I went under, forced myself to the bottom and reached out.

It only took three tries and I had them. I couldn’t believe how fast I found them. It was same area that I had gone across a couple of times but here they were.

My daughter was smiling and swimming again – funny-looking nose plugs and all.

So what’s the moral of this story – what did I learn?

That once I changed how I was searching, once I dove deep into that dark water – the thing I was looking for came right away.

I believe consumer insights are like those nose plugs.  Often insights are hard to come by but they are extremely important.

There’s a good book by Phil Dunsenberry, “One Great Insight is Worth A Thousand Ideas” in which he goes into why an insight is much more powerful than an idea.

To find an insight in the past, we did surveys, focus groups, product testing, and/or relied on the engineers or service people to come up ways to make things better.  Sometimes this works – sometimes it doesn’t.  And it’s amazing how many companies bet the farm on a good idea but not an insight.

But with Social Media, you can find consumer insights.  They are right there waiting to be picked like ripe fruit

If you are new to Social Media (blogs, forums, community networks), I’ll bet it looks a lot like dark lake water. There’s too much noise. You can’t spreadsheet the answers as easily as you can with organized and self-generated research.

But here’s the deal. If you dive in, dive deep and put your hands out, you going to find the answers you are looking for.

People (and this system is entirely made up of real people) will give you honest feedback if you act like a person and not a marketer.

It takes some time – but all good things do take time.

The good thing is that you can start now and catch up pretty quick.  We are at the foundation level of this digital social media thing. You can cut your social teeth along with everyone else.

For all of you that think social media is Facebook and Facebook is fad, you are sort of right. Facebook is a fad but it is a pretty darn popular fad right now.  Some other network might overtake it but it’s not going to be overnight.  And it’s going to do a lot of the same things that Facebook is going right now.

BTW, Social Media is not Facebook. If you want a list of what Social Media is not, click here.

If you are still timid about social media, stop by MediaSauce or give us a call at 317.218.0500.  We would be happy to help you.  We have presentations and clinics you can attend.  Most are free.

I believe after you’ve been swimming in social media for a while, consumer insights won’t be lost under lake water anymore.  They will be floating in the clear blue.

Social Media is not advertising nor marketing: it’s about connections

In yesterday’s Online Spin, there was an article Agencies: Reinvented or
Replaced
by Joe Marchese.

Joe’s jist was that ad agencies need to change – that they aren’t prepared for the future of advertising within social media. Here’s what he says,

“In the end, social media is nothing more than a mirror of people’s real-world behavior (albeit amplified and with extreme ADD). If you’re taking steps to make your brand relevant to people in the real world (which I sure hope you are), then it’s not that big of a leap to figuring out how to make your brand relevant to people in a social media context. Social media should be a valuable tool for helping you answer that billion-dollar question of what will make your brand relevant to people, as well as the platform spreading your brand’s message as you achieve greater relevance. It’s listening and talking, instead of just talking.

Agencies certainly have the talent to listen. Some of the best and brightest are hungry to take on the challenge of building the iconic brands that shape our lives, and would love the opportunity to feed back the voice of the people they are talking to. But the current brand-agency relationship isn’t set up for this task – and, more importantly, isn’t compensated for it. Are agencies set up to have a conversation for your brand, or has a mandate to only be the brand’s mouthpiece crippled agencies from truly activating your brand in social media?

It’s this question that has led many to wonder if brands should be handling the activation of social media in-house. It is a valid point. If it’s true that brands’ participation in social media means much more than simply buying media and blasting the “big idea,” can agencies fill this role?

I believe not only that agencies can, but that they must. Because unless agencies participate in social media, their role as stewards of brands will eventually end — and their greatest fear, a future where their services are nothing more than a commoditized function performed by Google and Microsoft, (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/22/business/ad23.php), will come true. If your function can be performed by a computer, it will be. Fighting this, rather than focusing on the areas that cannot be done even by the mighty Google’s algorithms, is a losing battle. The future of agencies lies in more than knowing how to get in front of the right people, but also in knowing how to talk and listen to those people to shape a brand and its message.”

While I’m an advocate of what Joe is saying about social media and the commitment to it by companies, I’m confused about how an agency would change to deal with this. This is a fundamental shift in thinking.

Is an agency really set up to change from push to pull? From messaging to conversating? Why must an agency deal with this at all? It’s not like advertising is going to go away. To add a social media department within the agency (essentially buying your way into social media) isn’t the answer because then you’ve got competing factions within the agency. One that pushes messages out and one that participates in the message.

On the outside, it may seem like a good idea but as soon as one of them starts making more money than the other, agencies tend to be biased in that direction so neither the message nor the conversation works.

So then it must go in house? I don’t believe that is the right call either. What I’ve found with in-house marketing is that it isn’t strong enough or large enough to participate in the conversation. There’s too much going on for a one or two person marketing department. Even larger companies are cutting the head count.

Then what is the answer? I believe social media is an entity to itself and must be treated as such. The new kind of connection agency will emerge that will consult and participate with the brand’s messaging in mind – but they can’t be held to the same standards as a traditional agency.

In other words, you can’t punish them for finding out people think your product suck. You should reward them with finding out the insights on why the product sucks and their ideas on how you can make it better. They will keep you in the loop and connect you with your consumers and your partners.

You may think these guys and gals are just research then but research is and should be at arm’s length just observing what is happening and reporting on that. Connection agencies are knee-deep with the consumer. Consumers should know that they are part of the company – transparent and authentic – and that they can help get them an answer that maybe customer service couldn’t understand or deal with.

You are also in the long haul with this kind of company. This isn’t an RFP type of arrangement. This isn’t somebody you can throw to the curb after a couple of years – or just because you want to jump to the hottest connection company of the year. They are just as essential as your operations department.

Maybe I’m wrong about this but I think agencies aren’t the right place to put this type of communication. Let them do what they are really good at…clearly communicating your message. Let the connection agency find out if it’s working and if your products are delivering the goods.

Inc Mag, Social Community, and Google

Here’s my two cents about Inc. Mag. And don’t get me wrong – I love the mag – but they are always a bit behind the times when it comes to new media and technology. I really miss Business 2.0 – I can’t believe they shut it down and replaced my 2.0 with Fortune – what a waste.

So with the article, “Tapping The Community Pool” in the latest issue, they basically talk about how Social Communities via forums or wikis or blogs are allowing customers to help answer each other questions about products. Wow, that’s so 2003.

The example they give is a pool company (www.poolcenter.com) that has a large forum with 5000 registered users. They have their techs online to answer any questions about their products but a lot of times other customers answer the question before an online tech can get to it.

I don’t know if any of you have a Treo, but Palm’s entire support is based in community forums and a lot of times you can’t even get a tech to answer you. They just redirect you to another customer’s post on how to solve a problem.

I’m a huge fan of Ning and they have two communities for support – both creators and developers. Both of these are filled with workarounds and tips from other customers.

I’ve always pushed for community development around any company’s service or product. Now I almost always get somebody who will tell me they don’t need a full blown social community – that there is too many already. The funny thing is that this is usually from someone that doesn’t use any social communities. There’s a cartoon out there floating around (I should have saved the link) showing a guy signing up for a social community network. Afterwards he says, “That’s it. I officially have more social networks than friends.”

That’s probably the case for me.

I’ve got Facebook, my church, my wellness doctor, my family, my company, my marketing network, linkedin, twitter, and this damn blog.

Maybe you think that is too many…but I don’t think so. I think we go in and out of social communities all day long – the net just made them virtual and gave them names.

A little future gazing here – but I believe that our social identities will become more and more important on the web to the fact that websites will change when we visit them depending on the profile we are using to visit them. I’m also into siteless web presence for companies (you don’t need a website as much as you need a presence on many, many websites) as well but I’ll talk about that in a different blog.

Wow, I’ve really gotten far away from my topic. What I wanted to say about the article is that they don’t mention how much Google loves forums, blogs and wikis. There’s a whole host of reasons that I’ll explain in the future but Google digs the relevant content, the new content, the old content, all the keywords and a whole host of other things associated with these communities and there’s a good chance your community will pop up before your website.

And if Google can see you, then the world can. They don’t even mention that in the article.

To prove my point, search for me on Google. Don Schindler. A while back this guy with my exact same name used to dominate Google because he was a Scientologist and he wrote a few articles. But not anymore.

So this blog is a little longer than I wanted.

Remember this though, maybe you don’t think a community is right for you now. Well, all I have to say is, imagine how hard it will be to start one five years from now. The web is in its infancy and you could build an established base right now.

And if you need help, MediaSauce (who I work for) can help you out. You don’t have to go this alone and you’d be surprised how inexpensive it is to set this stuff up.

You upgraded your website – do you need to upgrade your marketer?

No!!!!! The last thing you need to do is replace the person who knows your company inside and out and is dedicated to spreading the word about your success.

But you do need to understand that they probably need some love and attention.

For a small business, having a marketer is a true benefit. Most of the time it’s the CEO or President or the new intern who just came on board (BTW, that is a seriously bad move – the last person I would want to be giving first impressions about my company is the new intern – no matter how cute they are).

But that marketer may need some help. This is no longer a world of brochures, radio spots, TV ads and tradeshows. Or even static brochure-like websites.

Your “new” marketer needs to understand the basics of new media – especially if you, like many others, believe that the web is the most efficient way to reach new customers and reconnect with old ones.

Your marketer is used to start and stop flight dates. They are used to working hard on brochures and flowery language or a biannual magazine and huge annual report. They may not even be used rules of social networking, blogs and forums.  They may not understand what a widget can do.

So instead of shouting at them to get these new Web 2.0 components online, maybe you should be asking the marketer what kind of education do you need before we jump in and start conversing on the net.

Let me tell you – they aren’t going to get that from a one-time seminar from MediaSauce or by reading a book. They need to be immersed in it. They need to spend some time learning and USING Web 2.0 things before they start a social community or a blog or a forum.

I’ve set up hundreds of social tools. Some have done great and some have failed miserably. There have been almost none in between. What was the difference? The marketer behind the wheel. If he/she understood how to use the tools, how to listen to the audience and participate, the social tool flourished.

If you are thinking that you don’t need these kinds of things for your business, then I wonder why you are even reading this blog. There’s some irony for you.

Here’s a list of things that I believe your marketer needs to know before you go Web 2.0:

  1. Enthusiasm for the possibilities of the web – if they are not on board, don’t force it. They will sabotage the online effort and then tell you “I told you so.”
  2. Learn the nuances of social networking as a person not a marketer. Social media marketing must be authentic and subtle. If you are shouting about how great you and your product are, they will black hat you in a heartbeat.  If you want to know where to start socializing, then email me and I’ll tell you.
  3. Learn some HTML – seriously. It’s not that difficult. And it’s part of the job. If they have to hunt down the web guy every time they need something done on your website then you are wasting both the web guy’s and the marketer’s time.
  4. Experiment with different tools. There are tons and tons of great FREE resources out there. Don’t buy the first one you see or use. Never get locked into technology unless you know they are stable in the marketplace (like Google). In other words, there are ways to get things done by mashing new technologies together instead of buying a custom solution. Like for instance, this wordpress site can actually be made into a normal looking website with a great CMS tool behind it.

There are many other things that marketers need now.  Don’t expect your in-house guy or gal to be able to pull off every little marketing thing that comes along.

Prioritize the marketing list.  If you are updating brochures every couple of months and they are sweating over every last detail of the brochure, you might want to go digital so they can change things on the fly.

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right?  Well, for marketers, it makes it harder because now you guys want us to do all the new stuff and maintain the old ways of marketing.  You can’t have both unless you add more hands.

Maybe this is all wrong and most marketers out there would like to keep doing the same things year after year but if you aren’t doing social media now, how hard do you think this job will be in five years when you are just getting into it.  I personally like to learn when everyone else is.

What do you think?

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