401-423-2400 Kristin@Zhivago.com

Social Media gurus reveal secrets

I spent two days last week at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston, put on by Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust.

There were some great speakers, and a number of vendors specializing in the Social Media/Web2.0/Marketing2.0/Video Marketing/InboundMarketing space. I thought it might be helpful to list these resources, in case it helps you with your own current revenue-growth efforts. I’ll start with a couple of “big picture” takeaways:

  • Advertising and PR are imploding/shifting. Actually that started years ago, but everyone knows it by now. The bigger point is, everyone has gotten really good at blocking out advertising messages, as Paul Gillin aptly documented. The real action is taking place where customers are talking to each other.
  • There was a lot of talk about “listening” to customers. Of course you know I was totally in agreement, but I also kept thinking, “Yes, but if you don’t interview your customers first (using the tested methods I’m always talking about), you will forever be in reaction mode.” In other words, you won’t have the big picture – that leads to increases in revenue – their needs, perceptions, preferences, buying process, and so on. And, you won’t be there with exactly what the customer is looking for at all stages in his buying process.
  • The tools are changing incredibly fast. This is the hockey-stick phase for this industry – which hasn’t even quite settled on its own name yet.
  • Yes, you can measure social media. I’ll be covering this topic in later posts.
  • In spite of all the breathless enthusiasm about inbound marketing, and all things 2.0, there’s no need to panic; all we have to do is keep focusing on meeting customer needs, and we’ll all be fine. That’s what it’s all about anyway – as I’ve been saying for years now, customers are in control of the buying process, and if you’re “where they are,” – as they approach you and as they interact with you – you will make more sales.
  • There was a lot of talk about “getting your strategy right before implementing,” which is fine, but when it comes to making money, it’s about meeting your customers’ goals. Rather than focusing first on what you want to accomplish, focus on what they want to accomplish – and then figure out how you can meet those needs. You’ll be incidentally accomplishing your own goals at the same time.
  • Even the gurus admit that there are no gurus in this new space – just a lot of people experimenting and learning from each other.

Here are just a few of the speakers/companies that I found worth a look. I’ve included a “Revenue Takeaway” – either something the person said or something that occurred to me while listening to the person.

Gary Vaynerchuk, took his family’s $6 million liquor store business to $50 million by rebranding it as the Wine Library. He also hosts Wine Library TV, a free daily video blog, and is the author of Crush It! – Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion. Best way to appreciate Gary is with this video. Revenue Takeaway: Passion is infectious, no matter what you’re selling. Salespeople have known this forever. Gary is a prime example of “do what you love and the money will follow.”

John Jantsch, author of the Duct Tape Marketing blog. A very practical presentation, as one would expect. Revenue Takeaway: Best to just send you over to the “essence” of what he delivered. But one big message was that as the society becomes more technical, people continue to desire more contact. Personal, authentic interaction is a wave that everyone needs to learn how to ride now.

Tim Street, (“marketing with video”) gave one of the most memorable presentations, and fantastic advice. According to Tim, if you want to make your video go viral, make sure it has these elements: Spectacle, Story, Emotion (pick two: love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear), Conflict and Questions. Revenue Takeaway: Even B2B customers can benefit from an educational video – especially in terms of how to use your product or how others are using your product. If you’re not doing video already, it’s time to start.

David Alston, VP of Marketing at Radian6, very engaging and practical. Based in New Brunswick, Radian6 is one of the companies that “listens” for its clients. Revenue Takeaway: Putting an intern in charge of your listening is false economy. I’m even thinking that the company’s Chief Listener should be a fairly highly paid position within your company, so they can participate appropriately and intelligently in the conversations about your product or service out there in chatterland.

Jason Falls, author of Social Media Explorer. He’s just come out with a free report called “Customer Twervice: Exploring Case Studies & Best Practices In Customer Service Efforts Using Twitter.” Revenue Takeaway: He talked about several idea-starters on what might interest your audience: What do we know (generally speaking)? What can we give (product, expertise)? What can we explain (how-to)? What can we share (other’s content)? Who can we interview? What can we have fun with?

Steve Garfield, a well-known video blogger (vlogger), who created a participatory video right at the conference. All of us with video capability at the conference came up to the front and shot him shooting us shooting him. Here’s his posting on YouTube, and the one that came from my Nokia E71. Revenue Takeaway: Anyone in your company who interacts with customers could be using video to make the customer a star. Also, if you have a user’s conference or attend tradeshows, look for ways to get group shots of customers or one-on-one interviews of customers, and add those to your company’s blog.

Paula Berg, Manager of Emerging Media, Southwest Airlines. Amazing presentation, although I wouldn’t expect anything less from my favorite airline. Southwest now has a team dedicated to Social Media. Revenue Takeaway: Southwest used conversational media to find out if their customers wanted them to start assigning seats. The answer was a resounding “no!” – but the discussions did lead to the method they’re using now, where customers line up in numbered groups so they don’t feel obligated to stand in line for an hour in an attempt to get a better seat. There are so many opportunities to involve your customers in your decision-making process, using social media tools.

Brian Solis, principal, FutureWorks, and author of the upcoming book The Social Manifesto: The Revolutionary Guide to Build, Manage, and Measure Online Networks in Business. Brian is an energizing and insightful speaker, and the creator of the diagram “The Conversation Prism” and the brand-new-will-be-in-the-next-book diagram “The Social Marketing Compass.” Revenue Takeaway: Best summary of Brian’s insights come from the blog of Mike Lewis, VP of marketing for Awareness, who also spoke at the Summit. He summarizes Brian’s thoughts, recorded in a podcast, as the following:


 1. “Social media is about sociology, NOT technology.”

2. Transparency alone isn’t sufficient on the social web. You need to be authentic, believable, and passionate.

3. Have you seen the Conversation Prism yet?

4. It’s the quality of the people that you align with, not the numbers and quantity.

5. Rules that govern social media are same as rule social interaction but one: more gets said online than face-to-face.

6. Any conversation that takes place on the social web will map directly to a department in your company (and it’s not only marketing).

7. Marketers need to evolve and “Uncampaign.” Contribute more than you consume.

8. Invest in the exchange, it’s about conversation. Listen – then engage.

9. Most effective use of social media is when you can tie it to a business goal.

10. Haven’t you heard? Everyone is a social media expert! It’s digital Darwinism, not everyone is going to make it.

Vendors at the conference are here. I was particularly impressed with Pixability (“business video made easy”), and ScoutLabs.

One trend is the explosion of content creation companies. There were several at the conference, they are listed in the sponsors’ list.

At the end, Chris Brogan got up to speak. He reminded the audience that social media is not about tweeting your friends all day. It’s about helping other people. He’s right.

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