Archive for July, 2009

Over the Line?

Call me old school or a prude or just blame it on my conservative New England roots and the daily perch I occupy from the sleepy Northwest Boston suburb of historic Lexington, Mass. However, I, for one, thought that T.G.I. Friday’s use of the term “kick ass” in the lead of its press release when describing a new summer promotion was as tasteless and unimaginative as its chicken finger dinner special.

Is there such a thing as bad publicity? You betcher $%& there is! Never mind that it created a lot of buzz in the blogoshere, a ton of discussion on twitter and elsewhere. In this case, I think that is just a bunch of noise being exchanged by PR people, bloggers and media type everywhere. Not that these groups don’t patronize and spend their hard-earned dollars at T.G.I. Friday’s, but really would all this attention compel you to dine there? While TGIF’s twitter following is probably going to expand exponentially this week, will they see much of an uptick in business as a result of the BYOB press release?

It begs the question – have we lost all sense of decorum and standards when it comes to communications? Will other consumer brands (I definitely cannot see this happening in the B2B world) – vibrant or otherwise – stoop to this level in their PR, social media and promotional efforts? Unfortunately, I say yes. Whether intentionally or not, I am willing to be that copy cat marketers and PR folks – again in the consumer, not B2B, realm are apt to say, “Hey, if T.G.I.F can do it, so can we.” Expect more of it. It is the natural evolution of public communications – kind of like the degradation of language (and content) on radio and television we’ve witnessed the past 20 years.

I am interested in your thoughts on this. Is T.G.I.F on the cutting edge here? Will their efforts be successful? Will they be copied? Will they hurt the brand of a “family oriented” chain? Would you use this language in your company’s press releases, web copy or on your blog? Am I way off base?

— Posted by Tim Hurley

Has Gen Y Lost Sight of the Value of Face-Time?

In a world where introductions and ongoing contact is made through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and conferences are being held virtually to be more economical, handshakes and in-person meetings are becoming much less common. After spending four years in business school perfecting my “perfect handshake” with just the right amount of firmness to look self-assured and confident but not overbearing, and learning how to write professional memos and documents, I entered the “real world” expecting both of these to be used in the daily operation of corporate America.
At a networking event I attended this week hosted by SC Magazine, a discussion formed around how Gen Y is entering the workforce and relying on informal, virtual means like social networks to make professional connections. As a result, formal grammar and style of writing has gone by the wayside, along with the value of forming relationships prior to connecting on the web. One attyended argues that once a relationship is formed, it isn’t important how you get in contact with the person, but what does matter is how that initial relationship is formed. Social media is not an appropriate medium for building relationships, but is fine for maintaining them, this person said
This theme resonated yesterday when on a call with our client HCL Technologies. A demo of HCL’s “Employee First Initiative” outlined that it’s the Gen Y employees in their corporation that are most apt to participate in online surveys, provide feedback online and make their performance reviews public on their employee intranet. Although in some cases Gen Y’s active engagement in social media and other online mediums help further corporate objectives, it is important to remember that typed words can never replace personal conversations and looking a person in the eye while shaking their hand is still more lasting than an introduction on LinkedIn.

— Posted by Danielle Millerick

Too Much “Me” in Social MEdia?

I tuned in to today’s HubSpot webcast on How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation. I fancy myself a bit of a HubSpot groupie – they do some really cool things (HubSpot TV, cartoons, etc) and manage to keep it “real” and have fun while doing them.

Well, let’s just say that webcasts clearly aren’t their strong-suit. Aside from major audio, video and slide issues, I was hoping for a good example of how a real company has managed the “social media led-gen funnel” from start to finish. Instead, I got 45 minutes of HubSpot commercials and maybe 15 minutes of valuable takeaways. I do want to give the presenter props – you could tell he was nervous and it can’t be easy reading your “critweets” while trying to present.

At any rate, once I got passed tech issues and zoned out the self-promotion, there were a couple good points on why social media can be an integral part of driving traffic to your site. Some points to ponder:

  • In the “old days”, traffic was generated purely by search. Now, social media should be on the same par of search in terms of driving traffic to your site. But the same challenges exist. Sure, social media might drive traffic, but how to you make sure it’s the right kind of traffic?
  • His advice on how to start? Listen (twitter/blog searches), follow the conversation, participate in the conversation, build a network, distribute your content and then hope it gets shared.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Blog, do podcasts, try video, publish photos – you can share all these things on social networks like facebook and twitter to help drive traffic back to your site (and increase search rankings).
  • How do you convert a website visitor to a lead? With a good call to action and an effective landing page. He nailed it when he said, “Don’t write about your products; address the customers’ needs.”
  • When it comes to measuring, don’t just track site traffic/referrals. Track the whole funnel PLUS conversion rates to know if the campaigns are truly successful.

Other pearls of wisdom (from HubSpot and twitterers):

  • “Social Media – just like going 2 a cocktail party – meet people, balance info you share & want to learn from people, and build trust!”
  • “Write about the needs of the target market not your product. If @zappos tweeted about shoes would we follow? Probably not.”
  • “It’s not possible to succeed in social media without a continuous stream of relevant content.”

HubSpot made some interesting points about using social media as a traffic-generator and how to convert that traffic into leads. And I agree that most companies engaged in social media are putting too much “me” into it. Meaning, just because you have hundreds of followers, not a single one of them is going to care or listen to you unless what you’re saying is relevant to them and not overtly salesy.

Though not without issues, I think today’s webcast was actually a good example of the point HubSpot was trying to make. Certainly people tune into a webcast hoping to learn something (and not be “pitched” a product). That said, the whole idea is to get people talking and paying attention to your brand. The twittersphere may have been complaining and bashing the webcast throughout the entire session (#hubspot), but show me another webcast that’s generated 2500+ live views and so much conversation on twitter (it made it to #5 trending topic)! I bet today’s webcast increased HubSpot’s site traffic at least two-fold, and no doubt some of those will convert to leads, and ultimately sales. Which – after all – is the whole point, isn’t it folks?

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

60 Seconds or Less

What color is your social network? Anderson Analytics recently completed a social media survey for Ad Age which attempted to determine the correlation between your personality and your favorite social network. Among the highlights – 110 million Americans or 60 percent of the online population use social networks.  Sounds about right. But only 15 percent of respondents said they use them at work. I am not buying that one.

CNNinnundated – I broke my promise not to mention the Boston weather or Michael Jackson, but here’s my two cents on the former only as it relates to the media tidal wave on the subject. I recently made CNN my home page on my IE (don’t download Version 8) and boy am I sorry. I cannot believe the attention this is getting. What if CNN (or any other news sites) existed when Gandhi or JFK died? What kind of play would their deaths have received – a week, a month? Sorry folks but their contributions far surpass the aforementioned pop star that seemingly everyone forgot about for the better part of the last decade and IMHO, with good reason. We are well into week two of the coverage of his death and funeral and the circus it became and there is no let up in sight. This is yet another example of the sorry state of media consumption or as Sports Illustrated would say another sign that “the Apocalypse is upon us.”

Media vs. Journalism – continuing the stream, I caught the tail end of some talk radio discussion on this morning’s drive debating “media vs. journalism” and what constitutes “news” in this day and age. This might be as simple as saying are you old school or new school? Do you want the early speculation (blogs, twitter feeds) or the finished product? Do you care if there are half truths, assumptions and unnamed sources behind what you are consuming and being fed by your friends and followers? What are your “standards” as a consumer of hard news and your expectations  of your favorite media outlets’ own standards? Jeff Jarvis’ Buzz Machine blog includes some of his interesting thoughts on in a recent post titled, Product v. process journalism: The myth of perfection v. beta culture with a graphic here that demonstrate the “revisionist history” allowed by blogs and web sites today in what he calls the “new news process.”

jarvis

One last point on MJ– do you think Mark Stanford is grateful for the timing on Jackson and Farah Fawcett’s deaths? Talk about hijacking the news cycle!

Pandora’s Box Opened – Internet radio is saved. So Pandora is going to start to charge a nominal fee for its heaviest users. If you go over 40 hours a month (and only ten percent of folks do) you will pay 99 cents for the rest of the usage for that month. Not a bad deal. Is there a business model for twitter here?

Bookmarkable Blog of the Week – check out the Inbound Marketing blog developed by HubSpot and Drupal. It includes some great social media snacks, has an RSS feed, job listings, forums and a marketing wiki.

Bing’s the Thing – did I mention that I love bing? It is also getting some serious traction. Mashable reports it is the 13th most popular Web destination after just a month.

— Posted by Tim Hurley


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