Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Do You Know Who You're Talking To?

This morning I encountered, for the xillionth time, a pitch for a great new product. There is a clear niche it could fill, and no one else is doing it, the pitchman said - so why aren't people jumping on board?

This person had the answer to the number one question start-up advisers say needs to be answered: What problem does your product solve?

But he didn't have the answer to another, extremely important question: Who are you talking to? This question is the corner piece of any good communications strategy.

If you have a solution to a problem that only affects a very small audience, it's going to be much, much harder to gain traction, even if the product is an excellent idea.

And, if there are any other near-solutions already embedded in the industry, even if they aren't as perfect as your solution, you're going to have to be that much more convincing to pry people away from tried-and-true methods.

So, before you start your new Social Media campaign for that exciting new product, take a second to decide just *who* you need to be speaking to. Do you need to get your industry on board first? Or your peers for review? Perhaps it doesn't matter and you need to get end users first and foremost.

Then map out *where* you intend on speaking with these folks and *how* you plan on bringing them into your fold. Fans do not typically hang out in the same spaces as industry peers - and they rarely use the same language. Match your communications to the venue and the audience

Have a plan for engagement. "Hi everyone, I have a great idea!" is often the tone taken by companies when they appeal to their consumer base. Great ideas are everywhere. What you need is a great plan for execution.

Then, lastly, have a clear, concise way to measure commitment. Know what it is you are trying to achieve - perhaps your first step is simply getting people to sign up, then you hope to convert a percentage to the paying model. Know this first, so you can be honest about your success or failure.

Who you plan on talking to is a critical corner piece of your business' puzzle. Get that organized and you'll find that the rest of your plan will begin to come together neatly.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Social Media and the Quantification of the Qualitative

One of the biggest movements in Social Media Marketing right now is the search for numbers. Marketers and and companies are flailing to find a way to drive business through Social Media efforts...and failing horribly. Earlier this year, Practical Matters reported that few sales are generated through Social Media.

Klout, EmpireAvenue, Twtrland, and a million other tools, both free and paid, promote themselves as ways to understand the influence your Social Media use has. In the end, few of these have value beyond garnering how many people see a thing and, perhaps, how many people reacted to it in the least possible way (Retweet, Like, Share, +1.)

Our response to all of this should be "Well, duh~." On Quora a number of people have put their finger squarely on the problem of "measuring influence."  Influence is not a number.

I love Klout, I really do. But there is a huge flaw at the center of Klout - and at the center of all influence measuring tools - they are measuring something that isn't quantitative. Klout tells me that they measure engagement - how likely a comment I make somewhere is likely to be responded to. But they don't (and can't) measure the quality of that engagement.

At the heart of Influence is human interaction. This is not a numbers game. Any marketer that talks to you about likes and votes and other quantitative measures, is missing the key point of Social Media being Social.

Social Media is about you reaching past your own self-interests. It's not as complicated as creating a "vote for your favorite charity to get some money (that we will claim on our taxes)" and it's not "for every $$ you spend, we will give ten cents to charity (that we will claim on our taxes.)" There's nothing social in corporate philanthropy, or telling the world how much your employees gave to charity. These are entirely self-serving numbers.

Social Media is about building relationships based on trust, credibility and from that, building influence. There are no numbers here. Your spouse is not a 72 (although this week, the number has been going up.) The friend who was there to help you move in is not a 60.

Set aside the numbers for a day, a week, a month. Don't check your Klout score. Don't look at your Radian6 dashboard. Ask a question and see what kind of response you get. Praise someone for their support and see who else chimes in. Reach out to help someone and see how many other hands reach with you. That's the measure of your Influence.

It's time to stop quantifying the qualitative. It's time for Social Media to be about people, not numbers.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Building Internal Traction for Your Corporate Blog

You've opened up a blog site and told everyone on the Exec team to go ahead and blog. Now, weeks later, the blog is still pretty empty. What's missing? A corporate blog, like everything else in the corporate world, needs a value proposition.

Before you even open that blog, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered honestly.

Is it really a good idea to have a corporate blog?

Is sharing information likely to help or hinder your business?

Is there a culture of sharing or non-sharing in place in the company? If so, how did that culture arise and what are logical ways to shift that?


Once these questions have been answered, you're going to have to get through the next set:

Why would someone want to share information on that blog - tell them why.

How does someone share information on the blog - tell them how.

What kinds of information are sharable - tell them what.

Who can share information - tell them who.

Until there is a clear, concise incentive/value for people to share information on your corporate blog, they're just going to go about business as usual.

Project Wonderful