Blogger Relations & Adding Value
Just my monthly reminder that Marketing Roadmaps is now located at http://getgood.com/roadmaps. Come on over and check out this month's posts on adding value in blogger relations and JC Penney's Doghouse campaign.
A look back at four years
Over at the new site, some of my favorite posts from four years of Marketing Roadmaps.
SNCR Symposium November 14th
The post, and a little challenge for Boston-area public relations and social media firms, is at the new Marketing Roadmaps site:
If you like Marketing Roadmaps, even just a little, please resubscribe to the new feed.
One week outside the echo chamber
I've been on the road since Tuesday morning, travelling first to a Chicago suburb to give my social media 101 presentation to the consumer relations group of an international consumer products company and then to Cincinnati to give a similar talk to the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs Annual Meeting.
Presenting to mostly newbie audiences stands in stark contrast to my recent panels at Blogworld Expo and BlogHer, where the folks in the audience were active social media users looking to expand their knowledge about specific things, whether it be monetization of the blog, how to balance personal privacy with public blogging or the best way to integrate Twitter and blogger relations into a social media strategy.
The events this week were also convened for entirely different purposes than to talk social media. The first was an offsite for the consumer relations team and the second an annual meeting of AAA affiliate clubs in Ohio. My social media presentations were one very small part of a packed agenda focused on business issues, not blogging.
It was an incredibly refreshing week outside of the social media echo chamber. While both organizations were very interested in learning about blogs and social networks, social media wasn't the only topic of discussion. As a result, I had an opportunity to hear about the pressing issues driving their businesses.
This perspective is invaluable. We get so caught up in the echo chamber, we sometimes forget that for social media to be relevant, it has to be solving real world business problems.
Which it does. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely believe that social media participation is a critical component for 21st century customer engagement. It just needs to be grounded in the needs of the business. And its customers.
Not the needs of the companies flogging the latest widget or tool set.
Some thoughts that were validated this week in my time outside the echo chamber.
Large multinationals face a crossroads that smaller companies may never see. Who “owns” the relationship with the customer? Both marketing and customer service/consumer relations have a legitimate “claim” to this relationship, and due to organizational size, they tend to operate in silos of responsibility.
Marketing and consumer relations also have very different reasons for listening to and engaging with customers. Marketing listens to understand what messages motivate purchase. Customer service and consumer relations are charged with resolving customer problems or complaints, and sending the customer feedback up the chain to product marketing.
But the consumer doesn’t see or care about these silos. She does NOT divide the experience with a product into before sale and after sale. She just buys a product. It is going to require executive commitment at the highest levels, cross-functional teams and deep, deep cooperation to get this right in these large multi-nationals.
AAA faces a similar challenge. While the brand is national, the clubs are locally owned, independently operated businesses. It’s a mega-franchise.
It also has more than 50 million users nationwide, which is a helluva base for an online community. The trick will be for the national organization and its clubs to figure out how to divide the responsibility for online customer engagement. Some of it needs to be done nationally. Other elements will be much more successful at the local level. Again, deep cooperation will be required.
The good news is that the organization understands that its members, current and future, are online and has started to ask the right questions.
A brief aside about AAA, since I told my flat tire horror story during the session and I expect that some of my listeners will be reading this post. I forgot to tell this story during the speech and it is one of the times I have been most glad to be an AAA member.
I’ve been a member all my driving life. When I got my license at 19, my mom gave me her used car (so she wouldn’t have to schlep me to college) and an AAA membership.
In the mid-80s, my apartment in Lawrence Mass was robbed. Stereo, tv, jewelry but most sadly, my porcelain doll collection. The responding police officers told me it was a long shot I would ever see my stolen goods again, but if I did happen to see them in a pawn shop, to call the police first and wait for them to go in and claim the goods.
I didn’t have much hope.
A few weeks later, imagine my surprise when, driving back to my office in Methuen after picking up some airline tickets for my brother at AAA in Lawrence, I happened to glance over at a pawn shop window, and saw some of my very unique porcelain dolls in the window. This was before cell phones so I pulled into a parking space, and used a pay phone to call the detectives. They came and we got my stolen property back. All my dolls.
Nothing else was recovered, but we did learn who pawned the goods (and probably stole them in the first place) and they were prosecuted for receiving stolen goods.
All because I was driving back from AAA in Lawrence on my lunch hour.
Back to my week outside the echo chamber.
I've decided that I definitely need a better way of introducing Twitter. It needs a demo. A screen shot and description don't cut it with a truly neophyte audience. They don't always ask for more explanation. Luckily, in one session where I did have some pretty confused folks, I got an opportunity at the break to show it to them on my BlackBerry and explain things a little better. Enough that I'm expecting some new followers in the near future.
It was a great week, but I am glad to be home. My deepest thanks to both organizations for inviting me into their programs. I hope they got something out of the experience. I certainly did.
Next on Marketing Roadmaps: I taped both of my panels at BlogHer Boston, and hope to post some decent sound files over the weekend. Stay tuned! Fair warning, though: this post will only go up on the new site, so change your bookmarks and RSS subscriptions now :-)
Change of Address
Marketing Roadmaps has moved!
We're still dusting off a few things so I probably won't have any major posts up until next week. I also will cross-post for about a week to give everyone time to update their bookmarks and subscriptions, but around October 20th, all Marketing Roadmaps posts will be here, http://getgood.com/roadmaps
I will keep the Typepad account (getgood.typepad.com) through 2009 (perhaps longer, not sure) so inbound links to the old blog will not break, however, all the posts have been migrated. Thanks Karen!
NEW SUBSCRIPTION LINKS:
NOTE: A reader reported problems subscribing to the Wordpress blog on a Mac. We're trying to track it down, but both the original and Feedburner feeds validate, and it appears to be working in Windows with both FF and IE so I am a bit confused as to what the problem could be. Stay tuned, and if you have any thoughts, please do share.
NOTE 2: I think everything is fixed now. Cross fingers.
Marketing Roadmaps is dangerously close to moving to WordPress, which is why I have not been posting here. I am writing fairly regularly over at Snapshot Chronicles right now, so if you want to know what I've been up to, pop over there.
I'll put up a post and link to the new blog address for Marketing Roadmaps when it's done. I've been saving some really good (bad?) stuff for you.
Dunbar's, blogs, fans and community
Over the past few weeks, a few of my blogging colleagues have raised the issue of Dunbar's number in the context of establishing relationships with bloggers and communities. Among them Kami Huyse, Jen Zingsheim and David Wescott.
Dunbar's number? You may not know it by name, but you certainly do by reputation. The general gist is that the upper limit of a social circle is 150. It is often cited in discussions about community building; if 150 is an upper limit for relationships, how can social media scale? Of course, Dunbar's number has its origins in the study of primates and grooming circles, which is not completely extensible to human relationships and certainly not to online relationships, which are not subject to the limitations of the physical world.
Even online, though, one to one relationships don't scale. On either side, company or blogger. In this respect Dunbar's number is correct. We cannot be “best friends” with everyone.
Kami recently suggested that we think about social media outreach as building relationships with communities.
But we don't build relationships with entities; we build them with people.
A relationship with a person may be extended into the community if the reputation of the one merits it, but I'm hard pressed to call that a relationship in the strictest sense. The strength of the one person’s relationship with the rest of the community dictates whether this works. It all depends on how much the others in the group rely on her opinion, model themselves on her behavior etc.
The question isn’t, are they her friends? It is, are they her fans?
That’s why I think Kami is onto something, but I would cast it in a slightly different light. When we aim for scale, the answer isn't to focus on the community as an entity. It’s to understand that what we want are fans.
When we aim for scale, it is a one to many relationship. We will probably use some one to one relationships as the building blocks for the larger effort, but net net, it will be an entity – a company – trying to build or influence a community.
And really, what we are trying to do is turn our customers into our fans.
In order to do that, we have to tap into what makes people care. What makes them love.
Because community isn’t just about group dynamics, although they are part of it. Or the need to assemble in a collective, what Francois Gossieaux calls tribalism.
What brings, and keeps, a community together is love.
This is why when I think about building communities, no matter how dry the product may seem, I focus on what makes people care. What inspires them.
And why I think we can learn a lot about building communities from studying fandom.
What’s fandom? In the simplest sense, it is the informal and formal groups that spring up around entertainment -- an artist or a team or a television show or a movie franchise. It’s the passion that makes people paint their bodies red white and blue before a Patriot’s or Red Sox game. Dress up as Mr. Spock, Princess Leia or John Crichton for a “con.” Read and write fan fiction and spoiler sites. Buy boxes of pencils to send to media moguls during the writers strike.
Even though people have been collecting due to shared interests for as long as we've had society, fandom as we are discussing it here is mostly a 20th century phenomenon driven by mass entertainment like the movies and organized sports.
The shared interest and relationship to a franchise – show, artist, athlete or actor -- brings people together. Over time, the members develop relationships with each other. Sometimes those relationships last longer than the fan relationship, leading to a community that interacts on multiple dimensions – the initial thing that brought the folks together, and then all the other shared interests that the members find they have. As Shrek might say, like an onion, with layers.
While fandom existed well before the Internet, the Net and particularly social media have most definitely accelerated and expanded the fan effect.
If companies want to achieve a similar impact, by either building a new community or influencing an existing one, we need to understand more about what makes a fan.
Why are the fans so passionate?
It starts with the product – the quality TV series or the top sports team or the great band. But it's more than just the entertainment value that builds the passion of fans.
It's the relationship that the fan has with the franchise, which doesn't have to be “real” to have tremendous power. The fan doesn't “know” the artist, character or athlete, but she feels she does. The perceived relationship, the one way relationship is enough.
Not because she's delusional. Because the artist reaches out to fans in numerous ways that create a sufficient relationship for the fan. Starting with the performance and moving from there. Fan clubs. Conventions. Sports teams thanking the fans for their support.
Celebrities make personal appearances, attend conventions, authorize fan clubs, set up their own websites for communicating with fans. They share what they can to encourage the fan to feel like they know them, to stay invested in them, to appreciate their work. Joss Whedon is a great example of an artist who does this exceedingly well. Among other things, he participates regularly on fansite Whedonesque; his fans feel connected to him and every project he does has a built-in audience of viewers before it even hits a screen.
Even though we don't really know the artists, athletes or actors, we know they value and care about the fans. That they strive to deliver a good product that we will enjoy.
So the first two elements a company needs to deliver if it wants fans are:
- have a good product that meets their needs - Value;
- show you care about the fan and walk the talk – Engage.
Now, once you have fans you have to keep them. This is where Respect comes in.
Some artists and athletes forget that their power, their franchise, is fan supported. They may have the raw talent, but if people stop watching the show because the star is phoning it in or the producers replaced a fan favorite with another performer, it's hero to zero in a flash.
You must respect your fans. Don't stop listening and never think you don't need them. Because the last thing you want is fans gone mad.
Where does the love come in? It runs throughout.
Love your product and make sure it has what it needs to make your customers love it. LOVE IT.
Love and respect your fans as much as they love and respect you. You need them collectively far more than they need you. They can always find somebody to love. Doesn't need to be you.
So, if we believe that fandom will help us build community, how do we make that happen for our products? Most products aren't sexy or entertaining or funny, although advertising certainly tries to make us think they are, or that we will be if we buy them.
But that doesn't fly in social media, right? We cut through the bullshit or at least we like to think we do.
How do we find and feed our fans? That's the key to community.
And the topic for another day.
We will probably touch on some of these themes in the Social Media and the Writers Strike panels at BlogWorld Expo on Saturday. If you are in Vegas, hope to see you at one of them.
Not dead yet
Just really busy bringing a new client site up and getting ready for BlogWorld Expo, including stepping in as a moderator on a panel due to a friend's unavoidable last minute conflict.
But, I have been working on a post about community and fandom, which hopefully will be up before I leave on Friday.
Also, heads up, we are very close to moving this blog over to WordPress. I'll be keeping the Typepad site up so I don't break other folks' links, but at some point in the very near future, the blog will move. Hope you come along for the ride.
It may just be a wild one, Mr. Toad.
(image from Wikipedia)
Mathom Room: Compensation Architect, Media Bullseye, Intuit and relaunch of PBS Parents
The mathom room is that place where I put all the interesting stuff that I want to tell you about but just don't have time to devote a whole post. Here's this month's collection.
Compensation Architect is a new blog that I developed for Santorini Consulting, an enterprise software implementation firm. The blog is a guide to designing, managing and implementing compensation systems; its principal author David Kelly is a recognized expert in the field. If you are, or someone you know is, involved in setting or managing sales compensation systems and policies, I urge you to check it out. Design by Leslie Doherty of Catapult Web Development.
I keep forgetting to mention that I was a guest on the Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast on August 1st. Sarah Wurrey, Jen Zingsheim and I talked about BlogHer, whether the web is impacting reading standards and the impact of Randy Pausch's life and death on the interwebs.
I'm going to have more to say on the JingleGenerator from Intuit as a blogger relations campaign, but for now, just enjoy messing around and creating jingles using this tool. I'm not sure anyone would actually use one of these jingles in a promo campaign but it's kinda fun to create one. And I absolutely love this footnote from the press release:
1Tommy Silk is a totally fictitious character, created solely for the promotion of theJingleGenerator.com because we didn’t have the budget to hire someone famous or use their name without getting our pants sued off. Any resemblance to real music moguls, living or dead, is purely coincidental. So there.
Silk? He's sort of a cross between Austin Powers, Tommy Mottola and Tommy Lee.With maybe a dash of Van Halen. And funny, though not nearly as funny as the footnote. Enjoy.
PBS has relaunched pbsparents with the Supersisters blog written by sisters Jen Lemen, Kristen Hammond and Patience Salgado. I love the idea of hearing from siblings on a subject. One of the most compelling blogs I've ever "read" was 3191 a photo blog by two sisters who lived on opposite coasts, took a photo every morning and then posted the results. I think Supersisters has the potential to be just as compelling. Check it out.
That's it for the mathom room. I'll be back later in the week with more blogger relations, good and bad.
BlogWorld Expo and the entertainment industry
If you're interested in the shift currently happening in the entertainment industry from the traditional studio driven model, in which a few media moguls control the purse strings and our screens, to a user-generated creativity-driven online model -- for example, Joss Whedon's recent direct-to-Internet project Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog -- I'm moderating two panels at BlogWorld Expo next month in Las Vegas that you might find interesting.
They'll certainly be entertaining. Read on, check out the panelists and you will see why.
The point of departure for both panels is the Writers Strike, and how the writers used social media like blogs and YouTube to get their message across. I came up with the idea for the panels shortly after the strike ended last spring. I was struck by how effectively the writers used social media to communicate with the media, fans and indeed with each other to keep themselves motivated during the long months on the picket line. I pitched the idea to BlogWorld Expo, they said yes, and the gods must have been smiling on me, because I was able to recruit some truly awesome panelists.
Here's the scoop on the panels. I hope to see you there.
Social Media and the Writers Strike: Blogs, Fans and Community
Saturday September 20, 2:45-3:45 pm
This panel, the first of two about Social Media and the Writers Strike, will offer an overview of how the writers used social media during the strike to inform the public, encourage and reward fan support and keep union members motivated. We’ll focus on community-developed sites like United Hollywood and the impact of fan support as we discuss the overall impact of social media, vs. mainstream media, on the outcome.
Jeffrey Berman's first spec script was purchased by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard at Imagine Films. Since then he has written feature film projects for Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures and The Walt Disney Studio, as well as several independent film companies. In the television market, Berman has written and sold several MOWs including The J.K Rowling bio-pic for NBC television and The Last Rainmaker for Hallmark. Recently, Berman co-founded UnitedHollywood.com and is producer/co-host of UnitedHollywood Live. He also created and hosts The Write Environment, a compelling series of one-on-one interviews with some of today's most prolific writers. He ran the Pencils 2 Media Moguls campaign during the strike; read more here.
Erica Blitz, Galactica Sitrep
Erica Blitz, who often goes by the online handle "ProgGrrl," is co-editor of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fansite Galactica Sitrep, and blogs about miscellaneous TV, film and pop culture at FanGrrl Magnet. She currently works in film advertising in New York City and has a background in both film and music marketing. For a closer look at how Sitrep covered the WGA strike from the fan perspective, check out these tagged posts.
Steve Diamond, Vallywood
Steve Diamond is a law professor and political scientist on the faculty of Santa Clara University School of Law in Santa Clara, California, which is in the heart of Silicon Valley. He has an extensive background in the labor movement and advise a wide range of unions, workers and institutional investors on financial and legal issues. He was a candidate to become National Executive Director of the Screen Actors Guild in 2006.
Mark Verheiden, Famous Mark Verheidens of Filmland
Mark Verheiden is currently the Co-Executive Producer of the Peabody Award winning television series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, screenwriter of the Fall 2008 feature MY NAME IS BRUCE (starring Bruce Campbell), and screenwriter on the original feature film ARK (Sony Pictures), produced by Neal (I AM LEGEND, FAST & THE FURIOUS) Moritz and Mike (Dark Horse Productions Chief) Richardson. Past work includes writing and producing the first three seasons of SMALLVILLE, writing the scripts for the feature films TIMECOP & THE MASK, and scribbling out nearly 125 comic books including THE AMERICAN, ALIENS, PREDATOR, THE PHANTOM, SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN/BATMAN.”
Social Media and the Writers Strike: How user-generated content won the war of the words
Saturday September 20, 5:00-6:00 pm
The use of user generated content during the Writers Strike to both inform and entertain further validated the importance of the Internet medium. This panel, the second of two about Social Media and the Writers Strike, will dive deeper into the impact of websites and videos written (and often performed) by the writers and distributed through YouTube, United Hollywood and other Internet sites. Why did they work so well, and how has user generated content changed the entertainment landscape? What lessons can we apply to our own endeavors, personal, professional and corporate?
Jeffrey Berman (see bio above)
Michael Colton, www.coltonaboud.com
Michael Colton writes for film and television, and is currently working on a new Fox animated show set to air next spring. He and partner John Aboud also appear regularly as panelists on VH1's "Best Week Ever," "I Love the 80s" and other shows. Before moving to L.A., they ran the Web magazine Modern Humorist, and prior to that, Colton was a staff writer for the Washington Post. During the Writers strike, Colton & Aboud created the much-discussed parody website AMPTP.com (now housed at AMPTP.humortron.net). Joss Whedon praised them as "heroes," which is obviously an understatement.
See what I mean? It's gonna be a fun time, and I hope some of my readers can join us. If you can make it, use discount code SGVIP for 20% off your admission. The code is good until September 1st, but early bird registration ends on August 22d; if you are planning to go, you can save even more by registering by then.
Special thanks to Erica Blitz and Rob Kutner, a writer for The Daily Show and author of Apocalypse How. They were invaluable in connecting me with potential panelists, and I am forever grateful for their help.