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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: new media (page 1 of 2)

Is it time to fire your marketer?

You're fired.

You're fired.

People often ask me if the person they have in charge of their marketing is really the person that should be there and often they say it like they already know the answer.

I get tired of those looks.

The last thing you need to do is replace the person who knows your department/college inside and out and is dedicated to spreading the word about your success.  Most marketers I know love their job.  They love crafting messages and trying to get the word out about what’s going on.

The problem isn’t the marketer.  The problem is that while you have been busy asking for new websites and social media and video, they are having a rough time just trying to keep with all of these things.

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

Because here’s really what a marketer should be doing  – whether they are old school with brochures or brand new with blogs – they should be telling “good stories” about you and your faculty, staff, center, college, etc…

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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.

Clutter on the Web and my Desk – Siteless Web Presence

My desk is a mess.

Once, in first grade, my teacher – can’t remember the nun’s name – put my entire desk in a box and sent me along with the box to the principal’s office. Then he called my parents in so we could talk about how messy my desk was.

Obviously, the teacher’s plan to shame me into cleaning my desk did not pay off because as I look around right now – I still sit amongst chaos.

Magazines and books that I want to read but haven’t gotten to. But I don’t want to shelve them because then I might forgot them. A calendar and dead lava lamp, tons of papers (not stacked but haphazardly thrown around), my “You’ve been bad jar” for myself and co-workers (it’s usually full of treats but is empty right now – I guess a lot of people have been bad), Chex mix, CDs, pens, pictures of the family, a box of client marketing collateral…any normal person would probably start cleaning it right away but not me.

My mother-in-law says her boss is the same way – that she’s never met anyone cluttered. She doesn’t know how he gets anything done.

I defended him by saying, “That’s how I work. I’ll clean it up and then it’ll be a mess again in a few hours so why bother. I know where mostly everything is. It just looks awful to you.”

In some ways, the web is just like this. There’s not much organization. You have to search for what you want and hope that Google or the other search engines find what you want. If not, you start the search over adding different terms to your search.

It can be frustrating when you can’t find what you are looking for but it can also be exciting when you find something that you never knew was there. And when you find it, you often share it with someone. Because what’s the use of finding something cool if no one knows you’ve found it.

This is another reason for why you should have a siteless web presence. The web isn’t organized. Heirarchies have been replaced. If all you have is one website, you are one against millions and millions of other sites.

You need to be in a lot of places all at once so when someone is doing a search, they may come across you. Maybe it’s not your main site but it can always redirect there.

And, when they do come across you, you have to be interesting enough that they might want to share you with a friend. Because it’s easy to share with friends on the web (del.icio.us, stumble upon, digg – there are lots of social bookmarking sites.)

In fact, you should put this on your site. It’s from Add this! It’s easy and free and can’t hurt unless your website is painful to use and ugly – then you might get some unexpected traffic from people making fun of you and your company.

Funny story about that. I was once sitting in a meeting when a client brought up the fact that their website actually cost them business. The prospect had pointed out that if they were such a wonderful technology software company then why did their website look like a grade school student had put it together. Ouch.

If you have problems like this, then come see us at Mediasauce.com. We’ll help you out.

Siteless Web Presence Part Two or why not be in all places at once?

So how do you get a siteless web presence?

Your website is one place on the web. One place that Google can direct traffic. When a person does a search for your site then you’ll hopefully pop up. If you have the right kind of URL, Title Tags, Meta Tags, and enough relevant content about you on the home page.

Now I’m not saying you need to talk about yourself a lot – just the right keywords. And I’m never into talking about myself too much – you should be talking to your customers, telling your story, and explaining your unique benefits.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a blog on what kind of tags you should be using and how they work on a website. Anybody interested in that?

Anyway, back to siteless web presence, after your Google search on your website, other sites pop up. Are they your competitors or just useless information that Google pulls out of the web universe?

You should dominate that page, right? You don’t want a competitor sitting right below you or above you if they know what they are doing with search and you don’t.

You can with a siteless web presence. If you take your content and put it out on other websites that are consistently searched by Google then soon you will begin to dominate Google searches. Now this doesn’t work for all searches but when it comes to a search for you, you should be there.

Here’s what I’ve done for my company, MediaSauce. Now this isn’t guaranteed. It’s a work in progress all the time because Google is constantly updating its algorithm and indexing more and more sites.

Search for MediaSauce through Google.

We come up right away. Then there are links to some blogs where people mentioned us and then there’s a software company that sells a product named MediaSauce (they used to dominate our page but I’m trying to work them down off the front page) then there are our blogs and our Flickr account.

Now how is it that just a few mentions in an outside blog can drive a link in the middle of my search page. Well, it’s all about Google believing that the content is relevant to MediaSauce. Which it is. And I’m going to give the blogger, Jenny Lu, some Google love by pinging her back with this blog.

But our siteless presence that I can control deals more with putting our content on outside sites, putting the right information in about our company and tagging it appropriately so Google can see it and index it.

Now as far as I know there isn’t a set of steps you can do that will automatically work. It’s more trial and error and if anyone knows a set of steps, please fill me in. But what I’ve found that works is making sure you are constantly updating your external sites as much as you update your own website. By adding more and more relevant content.

Here’s what ad agency, Modernista, did. They took it to an extreme but I think it’s very powerful. Having a site like this is not for everyone and I am in no way saying you shouldn’t have a website.

I’m saying you need to also have a siteless web presence which means letting people take your stuff and put it wherever they feel like it on the web.

Take for example, you sell something in retail – maybe shoes. You have your little store in Broadripple and you are just getting into online selling. Some of your customers that are farther away are starting to buy online and you are promoting it as best you can.

What I would do to give myself a siteless web presence…I would take photos of all the shoes and put them up on Flickr or Photobucket or Smugmug with links back to my website for purchase.

I would take videos of models (my employees with good feet) walking around in my beautiful shoes. I would put them on many video sites using heyspread.com or just doing the standard youtube.com.

I would make a widget using Slide pulling from Flickr and then put that on my blog about shoes (you need a blog, just get over it and do it where I talk about shoes).

I would also allow people to take the slide widget off my website if they want so they can put it on their facebook or myspace profile or wherever they want.

I would get a cool technology company to build me a retail selling widget based on my store so if someone wanted to take my retail store and put it on their site, they could. I would take this widget and put it on my profile pages.

Then I would visit other people’s shoe blogs and talk (positively – no need to flame anyone here) about their shoes and leave behind my link or small slide widget on their forum or blog. I wouldn’t promote my own shoes but I would join the conversations and let people follow the links if they wanted.

Then I would be very careful to watch my conversions in my online presence. Is stuff working or is it not? I would watch my analytics to see if people were using the widgets or visiting the site. Then adjust.

And I would search myself on Google and make sure I was easy to find and I dominated my page…I would work on getting into other searches like basic shoe searches for the brand names I carry, etc… but that’s a blog for another time.

I feel like this blog isn’t finished. There’s so much more I would do but these are some of the basics. Siteless web presence is getting your name out on other sites instead of just trying to get them to come to you. Go where the people are.

What do you think?

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.

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