Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Do Real Social Media Experts Think of the Posers

As @NeilGlassman (blogger for SocialTimes and Principal Marketing Strategist at WhizBangPowWow) states:

“Active Twitter users cannot avoid contact with those who purport to be able to make you a "Social Media Rock Star" by dramatically increasing your Twitter follower count.”

Since the prominent rise in social media marketing, there has been a sharp increase in the number of social media experts and gurus everywhere in the past 6 months. Many of them are indeed legitimate community managers, strategists, and public relations specialist, but a large number of them are self-proclaimed “specialists” who don’t seem to know what they’re doing.

Some of them are easy to differentiate as they spam sales-y tweets every minute, send auto DMs, and do not interact at all with their followers; but others, with high follower counts, who understand interaction but not necessarily marketing/PR strategies are a little more difficult to point out.

As a soon-to-be graduating Public Relations student focusing on social media marketing, I see this as a rising issue, making it difficult to differentiate myself from other “social media gurus” in the hiring process for corporations that know little about social media.

What do experts think?
After having short interviews via Twitter (J yes twitter), and emails with various experts such as:

Frederic Townes
CTO of Mashable

Amber Avines
Former Broadcast Journalist @CBS and Los Angeles Times

Neil Glassman
Blogger for SocialTimes and Principal Marketing Strategist at WhizBangPowWow

Jason Sem
Corporate Social Strategist at J.B. Sem Consulting, LLC.

James Dabbagian
Freelance blogger and copywriter.

There seem to be a host of other issues with this dramatic rise in the number of social media experts.

1. There are WAY too many of them
The barrier to entry for social media is very low – it’s usually free, and the only thing you dedicate is time and brain juice. This allows a lot of stay-at-home employees, unemployed individuals or social fanatics to jump on the wagon.

It’s a free-for-all chance for success with little monetary investement.

“There are too many self-proclaimed social media gurus out there who know NOTHING & teach people incorrectly.” @Wordsdonewrite.

2. They are giving out the wrong idea about social media marketing!
For a beginner in Twitter, it’s easy to be distracted by the immense number of followers that some of these social gurus have. It is easy for them to fall into the trap of following the gurus’ footsteps in aiming for quantity over quality or spamming auto-DMs and retweets.

The most common misconception is that followers are EVERYTHING. Although a large size of followers are immensely important as it increases exposure and the size of your reach, it’s not the only thing that matters.

Here’s an article about good social media strategies:

3. “Lots of companies contract out social media help, but don't know how to screen to get the most knowledgeable people.” @Wordsdonewrite

“The thing is that social media has been such a disruptive technology (but necessary) that most companies are way behind the curve and are looking for help. Any help.  Unfortunately, some turn to these gurus and find out pretty quickly that they're all talk and no action. This is where the social snake oil salesmen come out and pray on the confused marketing execs.” @Jbsem

Then how do we sift through the gazillion social gurus?
“I think you need to unbundle those who respond to questionable (perhaps, false) gurus and those that have a strategy that may overemphasize building numbers.” @Neilglassman

“Real strategists will cultivate KPIs relevant to the campaign/project at
hand if possible, more importantly, they will be specific about the aims they have for a campaign or project. For example, if trying to increase awareness for a social good project, did donations increase by some specific percentage as a result of engagement on twitter?” @W3edge

It’s about success stories, like in any other type of marketing. What kind of experiences and results do these people have in their pockets that they can showcase?

Here’s an article about how to select a social media agency to manage your brand:

How does Klout scores come into play here?
The general consensus is that social media metrics definitely show influence, but should a host of other variables should be considered.

“Klout scores are 1 of MANY tools that can be used. Frequently, scores don't accurately represent engagement. Look @ big online pic.” @Wordsdonewrite

Here’s an article regarding how to effectively measure social media results:

A different perspective:

How are these spamming social media gurus different from the classic infomercial tactics or do-it-yourself/ get-rich-schemes others have succeeded in promoting?

“If we are speaking about the same "experts," it actually appears they might be doing well. Those presenting social media, and Twitter in particular, as a do-it-yourself, get-rich-scheme are not much different than others who have done the same over the years for other industries.” @neilglassman

The reason why the late-night infomercials or online get-rich scheme ads still exist is because they still work, meaning there are obviously people who buy that type of content/promotions. If this is the case, the same would indeed apply to social media.

Of course, I’m not trying to say that everyone who focuses on quantity over quality is a snake oil salesperson, but I simply wish to warn employers who are trying to catch up with the social media wave the caution they should take while hiring social media experts to manage and represent their brand.

It may sound cliché, but social media marketing truly involves attention to detail, engagement, carefully planned strategies, campaigns and a host of other traits.

This is just the beginning of outlining some issues the rise of “social media gurus” will arise.

For now, keep in mind that a little skepticism goes a long way.

Thank you @DaveKerpen and @Caraizzle for edits!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

3 Reasons Why the #Arts Sector Needs #SocialMedia

Ben Horrigan is a final-year music student at the University of Manchester, pursuing a career in arts marketing/management. He plays bass with up-and-coming band Always Awake. Check out his Arts blog

When Mazy asked me a few weeks ago if I’d like to guest on her blog, I thought I’d write about the relationship between the arts and social media, since that’s the angle I’m most interested in, my own background being in music. Some arts marketers are doing a great job, while others have a lot to learn. 

Here’s why social media is such a blessing to the arts:

1. Arts Marketers Have Tiny Budgets
It’s all too obvious, but arts organizations simply don’t have the money to market themselves effectively in traditional ways. Posters, flyers, and etc. cost a fortune to design, print and distribute, especially beyond a local level. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to put some money into such publicity methods; if nothing else, they put public minds at ease about the credibility and professionalism of an organization (in other words, they’re often necessary in order for a brand to be taken seriously).

But the arts also have to rely a lot on the two more wallet-friendly approaches to marketing: one is guerrilla marketing and the other is social media. The only problem here is that it costs money to put a staff member in charge of the organization’s Twitter feed, Facebook page and so on, and it’s not clear what return we get on this investment...but that’s a debate for another time.

2. Arts Marketers are Creative People

Sure, posters and flyers are inherently creative objects, but a good social media campaign really demonstrates a marketing team’s originality and ingenuity.
Arts administration is, after all, more of an art form than people give it credit for. New Broadway musical 'Next to Normal', about manic depression and suicide, was obviously a hard sale when it first came out. Its marketing team decided to tweet lines and thoughts from the characters' perspectives, according to the timings in the play’s narrative. This attracted over half a million followers, raised awareness of the play, and enhanced the experience of its audienc

Here's the article about Next to Normal

3. Arts Marketers Don’t Have Much Time
140 characters – all it takes to truly engage your audience with an interesting and exclusive insight into your arts organisation. #bitesize

If you're interested in guest posting for this blog, please shoot me a message or tweet! I would love to incorporate your ideas!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TouchBase - Using Social Media to Reinvent Family Relations

Since Google Maps and Foursquare, Geolocation Technology has been on the rise. There are even games that play around with real places based on geolocation checkins such as TapCity (Do check it out, it's pretty darn cool, and it's now available in the iPhone app store!)

Many stats indicate that Geolocation Technology will worth more than $10 billion by 2016.

Conversation Media took advantage of this new rising technology to bring to us its new product: TouchBase.

Simply put, TouchBase is an mobile/web application that uses Geolocation Technology to allow children to check-in with their parents.

You must be thinking, what the heck? This is the first step to pushing for parent stalking. Or better, yet, why should us kids care (of course, I'm assuming all parents will be for this type of technology.) 

Here are 4 reasons to convince you otherwise:

1. It's Trust not Track
TouchBase is based on the idea of building trust. Every check-in is voluntary, (although as a parent you can request a check-ing, but it's not compulsory that the children must respond.)

2. Reinventing Family Relations - No more questions; fulfilling the basic need to know.
It's the idea of letting children go off on their own, no more big brother watching, but it fulfills parents' most needed questions: Who are you with? Where are you? Are you really there? TouchBase helps removes all those tedious questions that instigate argument. 

Note: They are still in development, so the "Who you're with" section (much like how it works in FourSquare) is not yet intact.

3. It's the Little Reassurance that Matters
Breaking news, children lie. With Geolocation Technology, parents know for sure their children are where they say they are (well, of course there are bound to be ways to work around that... like go to the spot just to check-in for a lie...but let's stay optimistic here.)

4. Positive Reinforcement (is, and almost always is, the way to go).
TouchBase also incorporates a point system. For example, every time a child decides to check in to let his parents know where he is, he receives a point. The positive reinforcement here on the parents' side is quite flexible. They can for example say that their children can stay out a few hours later for 20 points, or get a new laptop for 100, or a new car for 500 and etc.

What's the difference with this and texting?
Some parents are comfortable with a text from their children late at night, some aren't. The question comes down to: how do you really know they are where they are or with who they say they're with? The doubt usually eats parents inside out and lead to argument. Commonly, parents ask again all the question they ask when the child gets home = annoying, downplaying trust = bad relations.

How is this different from existing Geolocation Technologies such as Foursquare, Google Latitude, or SCVNG?
It focuses specifically to foster family communication and integration.

I am anxious to see what happens when TouchBase is in full-throttle after all its development is in place. Personally, I have a visual image of it as the TV ads of Verizon Family & Friends.

I would really like to hear what you think of this product, especially if you're a parent. Do leave me comments :).

Information in courtesy of Jason, marketing intern at TouchBase, Boston. If you are interested in this application or have further questions, please feel free to contact Jason at