Intentional Listening: The Foundation of Social Media Marketing

If you interact with a significant other, a neighbor, team members or co-workers, no one needs to tell you that listening is critical to almost any relationship. Since social media marketing builds on relationship, there’s been plenty of talk about the nature and role of listening in SM.

What we must not overlook is the fact that all listening is not equal. Query your favorite search engine for “types of listening” and you’ll find plenty of content on Discriminating (I-get-to-pick-and-choose), Passive (I’m-not-really-engaged) and a handful of other labels that seem like attempts to quantify the fact that sometimes we listen; often we fake it.

It is not difficult to make a case for Discriminating Listening in selected situations. After all, it is almost impossible to find a market segment that is not flooded with messages, each making as big a splash as possible in pursuit of mind share. The art of communication often seems inexorably linked to the metrics of media buys, production costs and decibels. The result can be deafening.

And with all the talk about the subject, one can’t help wondering whether marketers are listening.

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Brands Setting Up Shop on Facebook… no big deal

Not sure why the media, and some “pundits,” are so ga-ga over this. Seems to me to simply be another place to sell stuff and nothing unique about it… think “click to buy here” or about shops offered in the past from Yahoo, etc. Shoppers tend to buy most in dedicated ecommerce environments where they are comfortable and in a buying frame of mind.

This is nothing more than an additional storefront in a place that someone is less likely to make a purchase. IMHO will not add significant sales to a retailer, but worth trying if available and cost effective. Even Facebook is not expecting much in sales or they would be asking for a rev share/affiliate fee… instead they want to simply sell more ads which they know will be profitable for them.

Ted Rubin

How to Climb the Hierarchy of Success

I think it looks like this:

  1. Attitude
  2. Approach
  3. Goals
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Execution

We spend all our time on execution. Use this word instead of that one. This web host. That color. This material or that frequency of mailing.

Big news: No one ever succeeded because of execution tactics learned from a Dummies book.

Tactics tell you what to execute. They’re important, but dwarfed by strategy. Strategy determines which tactics might work.

But what’s the point of a strategy if your goals aren’t clear, or contradict?

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2011 Social Marketing Predictions

I think 2011 is going to be a very interesting year in the social media world. Generally speaking I believe the marketing world is going to start understanding better the value of, and how better to assign value to, deep consumer relationships.

Right now everyone is trying to assign a dollar value to a Facebook fan or Twitter follower instead of addressing the fact that the engagement and interaction that takes place in these mediums are incredibly important to a brand.

Building a relationship with existing and future customers is the true value and strength of social media/marketing and what will and has allowed brands to survive and flourish for the long-term.

ROI (return on investment) is incredibly important whenever investing, but companies will start looking to ROR: Return on Relationship, when planning, strategizing and most importantly evaluating social marketing … especially smaller competitors who can more easily drive and control Relationship Marketing.

As far as specific predictions go I have a couple… Google will acquire Twitter, and pay whatever it takes to grab a valuable piece of the social marketing landscape. FourSquare, et al will disappear as geotargeting will become more of a proactive medium controlled by those who really know where you are and what you are doing… the credit card companies and others who you tell where you are and what you are doing simple by being there and not having to make a notification.

Ted Rubin

The Power of the Mobile Barcode Scan

Walking through Sears today I happened to come across a couple looking at a Kitchen Aid mixer, with the price of $199 prominently posted. The man pulled out his smartphone, read the barcode and told his partner “it’s cheaper at Best Buy. Let’s go.” And they left Sears, presumably headed to Best Buy. Out of curiosity, I loaded one of my trusty barcode reader apps (in this case, @ShopSavvy) and checked the price. Sure enough, it was available at Best Buy for $179, a $20 saving, or 10 percent.

Now that may not seem like such a big deal, with a brand the size of Sears, which has about 2,500 stores in the United States and Canada. But if you consider the magnitude of the power of people armed with smartphones and barcode readers, the impact can be profound.

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The Heart of Groupon’s Business Model

The heart of Groupon’s business model for their clients is not direct profitable commerce (it is only profitable upfront for Groupon). As many understand Groupon is not an ecommerce business. The business proposition that Groupon offers its clients is lead generation.

A very, very small percentage of Groupon clients make money when they generate all those sales. The business model here is aggressive acquisition through an engine that generates a huge amount of “hot” leads with credit cards ready. The challenge is to convert a workable percentage of those ‘loss leader” buyers into profitable customers and have a metric that covers the upfront investment.

There is a reason that the majority of their customers are small, local businesses. They do not have the upfront capital necessary to use more traditional acquisition models, and more importantly they are less sophisticated in the modeling abilities used to determine life-time value of a customer…. especially a customer acquired through aggressive discounting. So for now the growth is miraculous since so many are jumping on the bandwagon with Groupon recommended discounts that cannot possibly end up profitable for those making the offers.

If Groupon’s strategy is to grab the real estate now, and worry about how to evolve the model so that the businesses making the offers can truly benefit, then let’s wait and see how that is accomplished before final judgement is passed.

I am not saying that Groupon will not survive, and they certainly have a business model, although their sales for the year seem to be grossly overstated in many circles. I simply believe passing up what was offered by Google showed tremendous hubris and that I believe they will come to regret the decision… even if they never voice that regret or remain successful.

Ted Rubin

How to make your marketing alive in the moment

Marketers can learn much from storytellers. Over the past several of years, I’ve been studying storytelling and encouraging marketers to adopt the mindset of storytellers. One essential element of storytelling, though, seems to be uniquely in the domain of storytelling. It’s something Connie Regan-Blake calls “being present in the moment.”

Whenever I encourage companies to use video, blogs, and yes, even Twitter, for storytelling, my good friend, Sean Buvala, who IS @storyteller on Twitter, says, “Always remember, those are only shadows of an experience, not the experience itself.” Sean agrees with Connie: storytelling is a right-here-right-now-together experience.

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Rethinking Social Strategy

I really enjoyed this post by Brian Solis that articulates that social business and social strategy as we’ve been defining it are rooted in ideas that stretch beyond what we’re comfortable with today.

We’re eager for all-encompassing terms, and we have some in depth discussions about finding just the right monikers for the upheaval that we’re feeling and experiencing. By giving it a name, we can understand it better. Work through its characteristics and nature. Define it in a way that makes it clear for us.

But Brian’s post inspired me to comment on something that I’ve been chewing on for some time, especially as more and more information comes out about what, exactly, a “social strategist” does, or how we can articulate the nature of a truly social business.

Neither social strategy nor social business can be tucked into a singular definition or layer. They happen at every level of a business, and need to be considered in the appropriate context.

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Agencies Show Clients Too Many Social Media Choices

Recently I have had this conversation too many times with” social media” agencies looking for guidance in pitching a prospective client. They live by the old rules of offering a host of “great” ideas and suggest the client pick what they like. All this does is open the discussion to a myriad of “their” ideas as well as others offered up by the client and leads the client to believe that they do not have a firm grasp on what can work best… at least in their opinion.

They are afraid to stand by their convictions, take a stand, and truly lead a client in the what they believe to be the right direction. Hard to break old legacy thinking and start pitching “only” what you truly believe and not just what you think will get you the account and earn you fees. It is the effective solutions that will make you and your business shine for the long-run.

If you are going to specialize and call yourself a Social Media Agency… then be sure to bring your expertise to the table, tell it like it is, and only execute what you believe will work, is appropriate and will provides value.

Ted Rubin

Feeling Both Fear and Excitement about Facebook

On Thursday afternoon I was sitting in  Zoé’s Lounge waiting to meet another interesting tweep when all of a sudden Twitter began to erupt with tweets about Facebook being down. It was not dissimilar to the online reaction when a major natural disaster occurs, but of course this was only a virtual disaster. No doubt there was panic among those heavily invested and addicted to Facebook (see graphic below)  of which I am not one, but I thought this was a timely opportunity to share with you @JefftheSensei ‘s  post on his perceptions of Facebook which follows…

A rather smart chap I recently met by the name of Tommy ( @tommyismyname ) asked me for my opinion on a recent blog post of his regarding whether you love or hate facebook. This does require a name and email to download his FB report so be forewarned, but it is worth the read as Tommy is a very sharp knife in a drawer full of dull cutlery!

So do I hate or love Facebook? Neither answer works for me really. For what originally started out as a way to meet chicks for a couple horny college kids, its a smashing success. Whatever you believe, you absolutely have to respect what Facebook is – A Social Media Leviathan.

Personally I don’t use it, but I’m fascinated by its current power and future potential.

Why? Well, contrary to many other social platforms, Facebook has found one of the keys to success in B2C relationships – create an addictive positive experience. The constant flow of human drama from friends and friends of friends is reality TV served up in ADD fashion about your favorite people, your friends. It has taken gossip to a whole new level.  Add to this social games like Farmville and its ilk with the ability to compete and work with your friends delivers you addictive content of the highest order.

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