Social Capital is not the same as Whuffie

Venessa Miemis - Social Capital whiteboard

I recently read a post by Brian Solis titled Social Capital: The Currency of the Social Economy, which served as the catalyst for one of the most entertaining Twitter conversations I’ve had so far. I personally had a problem with the way the term “social capital” was used in the piece, which was inspired by the definition given to it by Tara Hunt in The Whuffie Factor. The reason I had a problem was that “social capital” already exists as a sociological concept that’s been in development for many years, and to now boil it down to an equivalent to “reputation” didn’t seem appropriate. And so I tweeted the sentiment. A lively discussion ensued with all kinds of people chiming in, including Brian Solis and Tara Hunt themselves. (Even Umair Haque from the Harvard Business Review made a cameo appearance. fun!)

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How to be un-boring: interview with Scott Stratten, Mr. Unmarketing

Talk about cutting through the clutter! Want to make a point about pointless wall posts? Check out the Unmarketing hit song and video. Makes the point, yes? If you want to do something even more memorable, check out Scott’s contrarian marketing philosophy and tactics on his blog and Twitter stream (but please don’t post teddy bears, hearts, or even blessings on his wall).

Scott took a few minutes with me to talk about his upcoming book, Unmarketing, the tour to support it (how ’bout that “un-book tour”?), and the un-usual method he employed to git-er-dun. Time with Scott is like happy hour at an oxygen bar: you’ll leave refreshed and pumped for a grand adventure.

Guest Scott Stratten: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Scott Stratten: Twitter | Website
Subscribe to the Social Media Professor Podcast on iTunes.

[link to the Social Media Professor with Scott Stratten podcast file because Google Buzz drops the embed]

Moms pride themselves on being savvy consumers

This is what I have learned from my association with a large group of Mommy Bloggers over the past year and from being the CMO of e.l.f. Cosmetics.

Moms pride themselves on being savvy consumers who can sniff out a poseur brand. Brands need to be the conduit for information to moms from other moms and from experts, but be wary of star power… celebrities don’t cut it. Marketers that have a mom’s trust have worked to earn it, by making good products, offering relevant advice and engaging those moms. All peers have influence to some degree… especially when marketing to women so the more you understand the relate to the community the better off the brand. If you market to women recognize and benefit from the value women place on authenticity. Women are busy with multiple responsibilities so keep your site’s navigation intuitive and simple, and keep your message clear and concise.

The bottom line: Brand marketing (especially to women) in a social media world… it’s about relevance, transparency and authenticity.

Take a breath and take it easy!

If you’re a a member of the leadership team in your company, you’re probably looking for real world examples of how social media is being used. At this reasonably early stage in social media adoption for businesses, the more real world examples the better! Both good and bad!

You’re likely going to think about the costs associated to having a social media presence and what types of return you’ll get on your time, resources and financial investment. Wow, that’s a lot to think about!

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Is it Communications… or Communication?

I have studied the subject of communications for years. It is funny that many people us the words communications and communication interchangeably. You might ask yourself– what is the difference of a simple “s” at the end? Well there is a lot of difference.

To begin with, TRUE communications occur only when what is being expressed by the sender is clearly understood by the receiver. If someone says s/he is a good communicator but most people cannot follow/understand what the individual has written or said– the fact of the matter is– that person is either not a good communicator or has failed in his/her communications attempt.

An easy time to observe this is during negotiation situations– or times of hostility– when people are tense OR upset with one another. During such times, it is easy to observe the communications process OR lack thereof it quite clearly.

In these times, one party tends to think the vantage point s/he is coming from is “what is right” and that the other person/parties point of view “is wrong”.

When this begins to happen– one way and stifled COMMUNICATION is occurring instead of the flowing two way stream of communications.

One of the best skills that a great “communications person” has is solid listening skills. This skill is oftentimes overlooked but, as the old saying goes, we have “two ears and one mouth” for a reason.

So for true and successful communications to occur– all parties– the sender and receiver… must be willing to listen, willing to hear the other side out, willing to clearly explain a message that can be understood, and lastly if all else fails… be willing to “AGREE TO DISAGREE– AGREEABLY.”

What differences do you observe between communication and communications?

Ford CEO: 14 Lessons in Leadership & Marketing

Alan Mulally

“We are fighting for the soul of manufacturing. There is no reason we can’t compete with the best in the world.” Ford Motor Company CEO, Alan Mulally

With these words, Alan Mulally, dubbed “Ford’s Comeback Kid” by Fortune magazine, summed up his passion for success and his confidence in the resiliency of American ingenuity even in the worst of economic times.

Alan spoke these words during a charitable dinner, on February 5, 2010, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The dinner was sponsored by a local Ford dealership, L.B. Smith, to benefit “The Second Mile,” a charity that offers a variety of services for at-risk children. About five-hundred people attended the event.

I had the privilege of attending the evening as a guest of the event organizer, fireball Anne D. Gallaher, a dear friend and business colleague, in the company of the great connector, Amy Howell, another dear friend and business colleague – a story of Twitter friends networking in real life, a story deserving of its own blog post at a later time!

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Resisting The Temptation of Meaningless Metrics

With the question of measurable ROI of social media echoing at the financial end of the C-Suite, it is tempting to fall back on the numbers. And while hits, followers, friends and connections are measures to be sure, are they the measure of social media success? (For that matter, are the numbers a smart measure of the potential?)

In a recent roundtable with colleagues, a marketing manager described a campaign designed to do nothing more than exponentially increase hits on a consultant’s blog. The campaign sounded like a radio station-style promotional gimmick with one major exception: the overwhelming majority of those lured to the consultant’s blog were not in any way, shape or form targets for the blog’s content. The goal was simply to achieve thousands of “hits.” The “hook” for the campaign was a blatant example of false advertising, and well over 99% of those hitting the site, left as quickly as they arrived. Any thought that they might one day be an actual target of the consultant overshadowed by the fact that any hope for credibility was forever lost.

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Are you ready for the temporal rift in marketing?

In the opening episode of sci-fi blockbuster Torchwood, Captain Jack says, “It’s the 21st century; that’s when everything changes.” Though we’re not experiencing a temporal rift in the space-time continuum, we are undergoing a seismic shift in the locus of power in commercial communication—a marketing temporal rift. Branding legend Tom Asacker, in A Little Less Conversation, describes five major trends painting the edges of this shift:

  1. Today’s consumer is supersaturated with choice
  2. Today’s consumer is bombarded with overwhelming amounts of information thrust upon them from an endless array of media
  3. The marketplace is influenced by radical transparency and message amplification
  4. Not only are consumers well informed and savvy, they want to participate in marketing (in the past, consumers were content merely to consume marketing with no expectation of co-creating it)
  5. Customers do not trust businesses or the people who run them

What do these trends mean for marketers? For starters, it means that marketers are not in charge. Public relations pros of yesteryear admonished corporations and political candidates to “control the message.” Even if that ever was possible, it’s impossible today. There are too many people creating their own messaging on too many platforms for anyone to control the message.

Secondly, it means marketers simply must focus on the people in the marketplace. Getting the message IN is a first step toward overcoming the pervasive skepticism in consumer’s minds. Could be that what you HEAR is far more valuable than anything you might possibly SAY.

Third, old notions such as economy-of-scale just don’t matter any more. The marketplace IS a level playing field for anyone willing to forget old habits, humbly engage with human beings person-to-person, and give people an opportunity to co-create the experiences they seek.

Chief Marketing Officers have their work cut out for them. The marketing temporal rift changes everything. The world “out there” has already changed radically. The question is, can CMOs handle the change required “in here” to even survive?

Twitter: The single reason not to have someone else Tweet for you

Someone asked me recently how I come up with content for my blog. Honestly, when I started it, I had that same question but if you are on Twitter daily–as I am–there is unlimited content and ideas coming out of the “tweet stream” across my iPhone. Just today, I saw some debate on the benefits of hiring a “virtual assistant” to “tweet” for you. Really? I was amazed but I’m sure people are doing it and thinking of doing it.

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Social Media… maturing as an advertising medium

I’m really looking forward to the day when social media matures as an advertising medium. I feel as though social media advertising is currently pigeonholed into the same boat as mobile (which has been in the same boat for the last four years): it’s about one to two years away from maturing as a medium for advertising. That doesn’t mean that social media (or mobile, for that matter) is not a strong marketing medium. It just means we have to be honest about what needs to be fixed — or else bad ads will continue to happen to good people.

We also have to be clear on the differences between advertising and marketing. Advertising is defined as a form of communication used to influence individuals to purchase products or services. Marketing is defined as an integrated communications process through which individuals and communities are informed and persuaded that their needs can be met by products or services.

The primary difference, when you break them down, is where your money goes! Advertising really means paying to broadcast or display a message, whereas marketing refers to all the differentiated components that allow a brand to convey a message to a consumer, of which advertising is just one tactic. Marketing is the umbrella term.

Currently, social media ads are inexpensive, untargeted and not as effective as they could be. Social media is great at marketing (when used properly), but it currently falls down when it comes to paid advertising. From a marketing perspective, it is a great way of engaging/interacting with a consumer through presence and seeding: creating a presence for the consumer to interact with and inserting (seeding) into existing conversations that may be of relevance to the brand.