It’s probably safe to say at this point that I’m all about social media. Like any other form of media, it definitely has its drawbacks (see: political elections) and it has it plusses. What thrills me to no end about personal usage of social media over the years is my ability to keep up to date, if only at a distance, with people I knew and liked so long ago that I had lost touch with. What thrills me to no end about it professionally is the awesome ways you can perform social media targeting.
I think about a good friend whose family moved to Vermont freshman year of high school. I think about some of my youth hockey teammates from the ’80s.
I think of distant family. Of excellent old college professors and high school teachers, some of who righted my ship and changed my life.
College friends. High school friends. Music business friends. Friends from old jobs. I’d never maintain (re)connection with most of these people without social media. What a gas.
I’m almost 45, so my reasons for loving social media so much are far different than, say, millennials. I get it. I should also add that my appreciation of social does go beyond (re)connecting with old friends. There’s far more to it, of course, but I don’t need to get into it today.
My first tweet was in December 2006. It wasn’t anything ground-shaking. Obviously. It does show and prove that I’m a pretty grizzled veteran on it, though, coming up on ten years!
My initial Facebook volley was in June of 2007, two weeks after my twins were born (and that post was very, very true, by the way). I’m at nine years on Facebook.
I don’t need to go on. I’m an early adopter. I turned it into a career and learned the professional side of it. I love the rush of massive shares and likes on a piece of work content. I love the rush of seeing great content from great people and friends on social media. Personal or professional, it doesn’t matter. I’ve learned. I’ve supported. I’ve been supported. I’ve been entertained. I love it. I just love it.
Which brings me to my new job. I’ve already mentioned before the transition from B2C to B2B. At this particular B2B I’m at, we’re a manufacturer selling product to a very, very finite set of distributors, with a very distinct set of non-traditional personas. These are not online mavens. Not social media maniacs like myself – and we’re not going to make them be that way. But they’re out there, milling around social.
So the goal isn’t explosive growth. And without sounding like an ass, I’m pretty good at driving growth in social. I took Pure Hockey from 2,800 Facebook followers to 114,000. More importantly, it was done with super-high engagement from our users. I built, established relationships and cultivated Twitter growth through a dedicated set of important influencers and a steadfast obsession with answering tweets within minutes and sometimes seconds. These are the metrics that matter far more than followers.
The B2B I’m at is, in some ways, a polar opposite. Without getting into too much detail, we pretty much already know who ALL the customers in the USA are, whether they buy from us or not (and a heck of a lot do)! We do not do lead gen because we don’t have to! Let that sink in for a second. That’s pretty nice in some ways. We don’t even allow search engines to crawl our website because we don’t sell to end-users, and why risk our great relationships with distributors? Can you imagine?
This makes social a very interesting endeavor! For the most part, social marketing initiatives involve paid campaigns where I’m uploading our customer list to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google AdWords, etc and targeting just those people. They’re the only ones we need to reach. Talk about targeting. Wild, right?!
It’s a challenge. But a fun, interesting and much different one. How do you keep the same (fairly small) group of people entertained and coming back – or doing whatever it is you want them to do?
The nurturing, the education, the entertaining, the content……it’s all a work in progress and it’s hard work. It’s also teaching me even more about the power and different strategies of social media and marketing. Fun.
I will be writing more about this in future posts – a few practices, tips and tricks to effectively reaching a smaller set of distinct people.
When I first saw this crazy story today, the demented social media/content guy in me said “what can I photoshop on the side of this truck and post to social?” Then I paused, thought about it and realized that there is nothing funny about ISIS. At all. No photoshopping, no posting, even from my personal account.
If I owned a plumbing company in Texas and saw my old truck being used by ISIS, though, and it had my logo and phone number on it, I’d act quickly, through social and lawyers. Not a good morning for the plumber.
As for myself, I’m glad I immediately thought about how I might be able to leverage something happening in real time news to generating some laughs and sharing. That’s a good muscle to keep using. However, I’m even happier I had the sense to stop and think about it first. While being relevant and responsive when posting to social media is a very good trait for someone who does social media for a living, sometimes being too quick on the draw can really come back and bite you in the ass. Think before you post!
What happens if you do post something in bad taste, though and you’re representing a brand followed by thousands? Or if your website has a colossal screw up and someone points it out on social? Initially – and by human nature – your instinct is to defend yourself and maybe take it a little personally. Take a breath before you do anything. The best thing to do is quickly admit your gaffe, fix whatever it is (or remove it) and move on. Depending on the situation, make light of your mistake. That almost always will diffuse a potential crisis. Show that you’re human. Here’s an example from Delta Airlines:
….and a personal example: at some point in 2014, the website I was running had an error on a product where the marked down price was actually higher than the original price. Thankfully this was a rare occurrence, but we did get called out on it on Twitter. I responded within 60 seconds of the Tweet, admitted our mistake and offered the product at an even deeper discount than the marked down price and added Free Shipping to the order and quickly turned an aggravated customer into a repeat customer.
So yes, be super-reactive but also don’t be afraid to pause before you post! Now enjoy this killer song from The Sheepdogs!
A couple of months ago, I became aware of a group of fathers here in Maynard who get together on occasion just to take some……time off. As I understand it, most of the gatherings occur during Monday Night Football telecasts, which is slightly unfortunate for me, as I play in a very competitive ice hockey pickup game on Mondays year ’round.Â So it was great to finally meet everyone at a summer gathering back in June. About 15 of us showed up to a friend’s house for some BBQ and some card playing. As a quick sidenote – when it’s guys who are in charge of the food and beer, it becomes very obvious right away that the planning women bring to parties is crucial. Just saying.
Anyway, the purpose for the gathering was to send off a fellow named Scott Monty, who, like myself, worked largely at home and was immersed in internet business. I wish I had known about this guy a year or two ago, because we probably could have had some good lunches, given our professional similarities. He was wrapping up his stint as a Social Media Director for a company called Crayon and was moving onto Michigan to head up Social Media at the Ford Motor Company. I didn’t get to talk to Scott all that much that night, but it wasn’t too difficult to find him online. He blogs, he twitters, he basically does everything I do.
So my point? A couple of things. One – it’s really terrific to see a (perceived) old-school company like Ford seriously thinking about the internet like this. The impact that social media has had on the internet and our daily lives, arguably, remains to be seen, but large companies connecting with the public directly via the internet is undoubtedly the wave of the future for PR. It will take a LOT of companies a LOT of time to realize this and those companies will suffer for it. Ford will not suffer.Â Comcast, who impressively now directly messages unsatisfied customers via Twitter,Â will not suffer. This is the way companies need to think. Too many won’t. They’ll be stuck doing formal press releases via the normal, antiquated, stuffy, boring channels – and will be sitting there scratching their butts and wondering why their PR is so weak.
So, all that said, one of Scott’s first actions at Ford was to invite a whole list of important bloggers to its 2009 Model Year Media Day. So while most of the other car companies have the usual grayhaired, bitter, cigarette-frayed writers at their media functions, Scott brought in folks who, for better or worse for Ford, will write their honest feelings about what they experienced on their well-read blogs. Risky maybe, but when you have that kind of confidence in your product (as I hope Scott did!), then it’s not much of a risk. But you never know! THAT is social media.
So…..the results? A series of previously skeptical bloggers who are now singing Ford’s praises, not because Ford fed them well or comped them something cool, but because of the PRODUCT. Novel! But hopefully not for long. Consider that reason #43,234 why I love the internet.
And by the way, that new Ford Flex looks super cool.