Joe Gerstandt speaks about the revolutionary and transcendent nature of social media and social networks and how we, all of us, are personally responsible and in charge and the leaders of our futures and that social media really and truly allows us to be architects of our future and the future. Amen, brother! Check out Appomattox News!
I got trained up in marketing and evolved into PR and there is a convergence going on. Not just between PR and marketing but also with advertising and … SEO (yes, I said it). David Hargreaves of Bitemarks agrees that there is a strong convergence — and so does the originator, Jeremiah Owyang:
Jeremiah Owyang produced an interesting piece earlier today asking what will happen to PR firms in a recession based on research among 200 PR agencies. I must confess I am not surprised to see that a small majority of firms are predicting that PR budgets were smaller than they were in fiscal 2008, but then if you if you look at any operating cost, I would be surprised if this wasn’t pretty much tracking the downward pressure on all operating costs.
Having said that I think cost reductions fall into two categories: reducing costs because in this climate ‘you can’ and ‘you need to be seen to’ and then there are those companies that are having to reduce costs because ‘they must’. I wonder what if the PR budget reductions are greater or smaller than comparable ad budgets?
I both agree and disagree with the second point Jeremiah makes when he says that “things don’t look too rosy for the PR industry.” If you are a traditional PR agency doing the same old stuff then I would be worried. However, if you accept that the world has changed and embracing social media is neither an option or an add on to your traditional offering then the world looks rosier.
By putting social media at the centre of what we do, we have a fantastic opportunity to extend our remit more broadly into the world of online marketing. Far from being gloomy, as someone who has been involved in the PR industry for 20 years and who has always embraced technology, the future for the industry has never been more exciting.
BL and I adore eachother so I was very excited to receive an email from her last night with a link to her latest article on Business Week, Using social media to market your business is a good idea. Just don’t plan on getting your whiz-kid nephew to do it for free — check it out and check BL out over on her blog, What’s Next Blog. Oh, and when BL asks “how many of them have actually created a successful campaign for clients using social media tools? I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find half a dozen with real track records,” I can proudly state that Abraham Harrison LLC has the expertise, the experience, and the track record to boot! Anyway, here’s the article:
For companies, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social Web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.
But before you take the plunge, bear in mind the many myths that surround social media.
1. Social media is cheap, if not free. Yes, many of the tools that can be employed in social media marketing are free to use. These include Google’s (GOOG) video-sharing site YouTube, Yahoo’s (YHOO) photo-sharing site Flickr, the social-network building tool Ning, and content aggregators such as Digg and eBay’s (EBAY) StumbleUpon. Free blogging tools abound too; among them are WordPress, Twitter, and FriendFeed.
However, integrating these tools into a corporate marketing program requires skill, time, and money. The budget for an effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50,000 for two to three months. I’m sure companies have spent less, and I know they’ve spent more.
Building a site that incorporates interactivity, allows user-generated content, and perhaps also includes e-commerce doesn’t come cheap from anyone who knows what they are doing. Even taking free software like WordPress and making it function as an effective interactive site, incorporating e-commerce, creating style sheets that integrate with the company’s branding, takes more than time. That takes skill, experience, and money.
As a rule, a $50,000 to $100,000 budget can cover the creation of a simple multimedia microsite that becomes the center of an online community. Add in some widgets to help distribute the content and form a credible group on Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook and other networking groups to enhance the community aspect of the campaign. Complex functions add to programming and design costs.
A high-yield, highly targeted blog advertising campaign to kick off and support the program will cost an additional $25,000 to $100,000 a month. Advertising through Google’s AdWords, e-mail support, co-registration, and other tools that drive traffic would be additional costs.
2. Anyone can do it. A surfeit of whiz kids and more experienced marketers are claiming to be social media experts and even social media gurus. Search the bios of Robert Scoble’s 56,838 Twitter followers using Tweepsearch (www.tweepsearch.com), an index of the bios of Twitter users, and you’ll find:
- 4,273 Internet marketers
- 1,652 social media marketers
- 513 social media consultants
- 272 social media strategists
- 180 social media experts
- 98 social media gurus
- 58 Internet marketing gurus
How many of them have actually created a successful campaign for clients using social media tools? I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find half a dozen with real track records.
A successful social media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital, and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience, and the best social media marketers now have more than 10 years of experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content, and contests into online marketing.
Video contests by companies hoping for viral buzz and Google juice are as plentiful as mosquitoes on a humid summer night. But, like their insect counterparts, most video contests suck.
It’s the rare video contest that gets as many as 2,000 entries. Many, like Denny’s (DENM) recent disastrous effort, get fewer than 10 entries. Apparently, 48 Denny’s breakfasts over four years wasn’t a big motivator.
3. You can make a big splash in a short time. Sure, sometimes a social media campaign can produce substantial and measurable results quickly.
Social media is great if you’re already a star, but that doesn’t happen overnight. Amid the recent launch of my T-shirt design business, Pawfun.com, I have relied heavily on my 4,000-plus Twitter followers and 120,000 readers of my What’s Next Blog, which I’ve updated as often as five times a day since 2003. Because that network already exists, with not one dollar spent on advertising, we were able to generate more traffic in our first three days than some major companies get after years online.
ZapposChief Executive Tony Hsieh, whose company has millions of customers who are evangelists for the great service that built the brand, quickly became a Twitter star, with more than 32,000 followers. When Dell (DELL), JetBlue Airways (JBLU), the Chicago Bulls, and other love-’em-or-hate-’em brands joined Twitter, they immediately developed huge followings.
Tweets can be used to drive traffic to articles, Web sites, contests, videos, and so on—if people already care about your brand, or if you have a truly original idea that people will want to share with their followers.
One recent example of a Twitter-generated success is Savvy Auntie, a community for aunts, godmothers, and “other women who love kids” that was launched six months ago by Melanie Notkin. She has counted on Twitter to drive traffic, help her find suppliers, products, and even investors. She developed a Twitter following before launching her business, then tapped into it for help when she launched.
4. You can do it all in-house. Wrong! You need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience—a combination not generally found in in-house teams, who often reinvent the wheel or use the wrong tools.
It is rare indeed to find an in-house team that can not only conceive and execute a social media campaign but also drive traffic to it with effective e-mail segmentation, search optimization, blogger outreach, blog advertising, Google ads, and more.
5. If you do something great, people will find it. Quite simply, that never was true. Until you can drive traffic to your social media effort, you’ve got a tree falling in the forest, heard only by those standing nearby. A great number of tools can drive traffic, including StumbleUpon, Digg, and Twitter, but nothing works better than word of mouse—one friend telling another, “Hey look at this!”
6. You can’t measure social media marketing results. You can use a variety of methods, including mentions on blogs and in media; comments on the content; real-time blog advertising results, and click-throughs to your company Web site. You can get very precise statistics from a variety of sites, including Google Trends, Twitter search, Google Analytics, BackType, and Compete.
The tools are there. The gurus who know how to use and interpret them—not so much.
Ochman, president of Whatsnextonline.com, has been creating new media marketing and online brand strategy since 1995 for companies including IBM, Ford, McGraw-Hill, Budget Car Rental, Stacksandstacks.com, and American Greetings. She tracks online marketing trends and campaigns in What’s Next Blog.