Wichita Tweet Up Covers Consumers As Marketers Topic

I attended a Tweet up last week in Wichita, KS on our way down to South by Southwest. We talked about the integration of social media in mobile devices, including downloadable applications, using the mobile web to check online e-tailer prices while at a home town merchant, or making social streams from Twitter, Facebook and other networks part of your mobile home page as the Motorola DEVOUR with MOTOBLUR. An interesting take from a couple of folks was that local merchants can monitor the web for the lowest prices online for similar products that they carry in the local store, then be active with the local community online and those merchants will be able to charge the premium while building customer and community loyalty.

Another issue the Wichita covered was about how consumers are being marketers for brands. After all that’s the attraction of social media for many big brands, have customers do with credibility what marketers have tried for years.

Wichita, KS Tweet Up, March 12 from Albert Maruggi on Vimeo.

We raised the case of TGIF’s Friday’s integrated campaign to get 500,000 fans in the month of September for their number one fan/spokesperson Woody on Facebook. If you became a fan everyone would benefit with a free Jack Daniels burger. Woody quickly met his goal of 500,000 fans by mid-September, presenting a problem of what to do with the remaining two weeks, and the ad buy. After the grumbling began online they doubled Woody’s free burger allotment to 1 million.

Tom Shaw writer of the Marketing Executive blog estimates that if 50% of the 500,000 fans bring one person who buys a meal and a drink, it will generate up to $5 million in sales.

We put the question of marketing to your network and the Woody’s example to the Wichita group and the feedback was mixed. Some bought into the idea, if they liked a product they would share it with their network, others took a case by case approach, perhaps sharing with only a portion of their fan/friend/follower base, while others shrugged it off as part of the new dynamic of social media. Give a listen to the video. Apologies for some of the side conversation going on in the background.

We met at the Donut Whole, a fantastic place with outrageous donut flavors like bacon maple and chocolate cheese cake. I’m told by one of the employees that one of the secrets is the fresh spices purchased from a local importer. The donuts are worth the trip even from Minneapolis!

Special thanks to Cindy Kelly @wichitacindy for helping organize the Tweet up. I’ll donate a food item to a St. Paul, MN food charity for every comment we get on this blog.

A Good Samaritan for Healthcare and Social Media

The world is full of good Samaritans who give of themselves for others. Let’s focus on two, Ed Bennett of the Maryland University Medical Center and David Ekrem, Manager, Web Development at the Mass General Hospital for Children. They compiled a list of hospitals using social media, specifically at least one of four types of social media blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Ed and I chat in this podcast about why and how hospitals are gradually dipping their toes into the social media pool. Bennett weaves ways to use social media in with new media tools like, webcasts, podcasts, and video of surgeries, long before it became fashionable to Tweet about it. In the podcast, Bennett, a web manager, makes a good case for marketers and PR folks to work with IT in this life and death environment.

There are hundreds of ways to use these tools, enough to give anyone a headache. Allow me to outline one use for each medium.

Blogs – A blog is a place for an on going dialogue, detail, and to build a body of work that helps brand a facility or an individual. Dr. John Butler is a physician at the
Arden Hills Clinic in Minnesota. He recently caught my attention with a post about the iPhone as an essential medical instrument. His blog helps ease the anxiety about medicine in general and informs about specific issues about which he is familiar. It warms us up to Dr. Butler.

A Good Samaritan for Healthcare and Social Media

FacebookSt. Jude’s Childrens Research Hospital there are so many things this Facebook page does well but I share it not because other hospitals should take on the same thing, but to show how versatile this platform can be. It can be used by patients to share their stories on your wall. When you visit this site to see those stories, bring a tissue. It uses widgets in conjunction with the page to raise donations. It uses multimedia to inform. And yes, it shares a personal side asking NCAA bracketology questions and other aspects of being part of a social community.

TwitterCarilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA and Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, GA are good examples of hospitals that use Twitter as a newsfeed. Little nuggets of news from the hospital, events like parenting classes or links to information about faster radiation treatments are a good diet of information for hospitals.


I have not seen this application for twitter yet, so I’ll share the idea. If you’ve seen it from a healthcare provider let me know. If not, and you like the idea, take it and tell me. I think a facility that has a specialty in hearts or bariatric surgery can do a specific feed related to diet and exercise. It would contain information about calorie count, fast food healthy choices, reminders to do 2 flights of stairs, and all coordinated to an appropriate time of day. This feed is best send as a text message to your phone since it will be a good reminder to push away from that lunch table in time to take the long way back to the office.

Comment line 206-600-6887 – or leave a comment below and we’ll donate a food item to a St. Paul food shelf.

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Discount code for Marketing Edge readers and listeners

Here is a $100 discount code for Marketing Edge readers and listeners, SNCRFRIEND if you only want to attend the New CommForum (see agenda) or if you want to attend the New CommForum and the InBound Marketing Summit use this code NCFFOS to get $200 off the listed price if you plan on attending both conferences.

How to Implement The New Rules of Marketing and PR

The second printing of best selling author David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR demonstrates A) these rules work and B) it’s OK to learn as we go. In this conversation with David, we discover that another one of the rules is ideas are fluid and when even two people focus on a topic, preconceived notions can change, and concepts can germinate into the next great case study.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR include participating in the communities with which you do business, not talking at them. Don’t worry we’ll put this in a nice list for retweeting and SEO purposes. The label David applied to this concept is “Brand Journalism” and it’s a hybrid of what trade journalists and thoughtful marketers have tried to do in the nineties. The key here is for companies to consider information that has news value and not just company/shareholder value. Information about the latest widget or big name customer being in the latter category and a more thorough conversation about issues that include technological advances, government regulation, or the ways society is changing to interact with products being in the former category. When a company’s perspective of what’s news expands, so does their number of mentions and conversations. Public relations practitioners can and should expand their thinking of news value, review the online discussions and contribute where appropriate. Not just in news release form, but in the infinite ways their creativity will take them, because any format, any locale, and any audience is now affordable and reachable.

David’s Brand Journalism idea may result in an actual job position I call the “embedded corporate journalist”, a paraphrase from the journalist embedded with military units in the Iraq War. This leads to understanding a situation more thoroughly so you can report it with perhaps greater sensitivity and depth. This is of greatest benefit if the entity being reported on seeks its audience to have greater understanding of its rationale rather than an entity that believes PR and news is a broadcast.

David’s work is insightful and I trust our conversation in this episode of the Marketing Edge is for you. Here is my take on ways to consider the New Rules of Marketing and PR

1) Who Cares? – Find out who cares about your stuff, not just mentions of your brand (that’s so narrow) but things that comprise the universe in which your company operates.

2) Do You Care? – Consider whether your entity really cares about opinions outside of the organization? Seems like a simple question, however, your lip service radar needs to be tuned in with reality here. If they are not, the New Rules of Marketing and PR will read like a novel, not a guide to your success.

3) Can We Try? – Analysis paralysis is a function of group think. We are not landing planes or experimenting with a deadly virus. We are having a conversation and no one will be injured. The prerequisites then are thoughtful, sensitive to community, readily engage comments, and be prepared to acknowledge a short coming. The rest will work itself out.

Practicing What We Preach

On a similar note, I will be covering South by Southwest this week and next on these pages. It’s a similar note because Verizon Wireless is sponsoring the trip. We will feature stories about social media innovators from the Midwest who are attending SxSw. We’ll focus on stories that I believe are hot topics for 2010, mobile applications, location based services, and the mobile web space. We are also doing some fun events and playing with neat gadgets during the week. I am road tripping to Austin with Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis/St. Paul founder Rick Mahn. His trip is sponsored by Tungle the web-based scheduling platform. We’ll be using a variety of Verizon mobile devices including the Droid, HTC Droid Eris, Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus, the Motorola DEVOUR with MOTOBLUR and tap into the Verizon Mifi when no wireless is around.

I suggest this project has the elements of the type of interaction the New Rules of Marketing and PR says are what is needed to engage communities.

The Single Best PR Advice for 2009 – Think Like a News Organization

The problem with many companies trying to get PR and media coverage is they think like a company. They need to think like a news organization about themselves, their industry, and the communities in which they play. In the first Marketing Edge episode for 2009 we talk with Kevin Dugan, co-author of the Bad Pitch Blog. The Bad Pitch Blog is a must read for any PR or corporate communications professional, and more importantly, clients of PR organizations. Why clients? Because you don’t want to put your organization or your firm in a situation where the pitch becomes the news. We get into how not to craft a bad pitch and approaching PR with a different perspective in part because social media has changed the landscape of public relations

Meanwhile here’s an old PR versus new PR list for 2009, Kind of like a PR fashionista list.

Think Like a News Organization

Old PR Thinking

  • News is only when the company has a new product, version or customer.
  • News is something you distribute to the news media
  • Avoid discussion of controversial subjects that impact the company
  • No discussion of company strategy or internal debate
  • Limit most of communication to print or text

New PR Thinking

  • Evaluate potential news items as if you were an editorial board of a multimedia publishing company monthly if not more frequently.
  • Consider information as it is perceived by a variety of communities impacted by your company, that’s who really determines news.
  • News can be targeted by community participation, posted to a blog, included in a podcast and a variety of other means, you don’t need to blanket the world
  • Use the right medium, audio, video, print, mash-up, others to convey the story
  • Get involved in issues that matter to your industry, whether you take a position or participate in the debate, don’t sit on the sidelines.
  • You are your own media outlet, create a channel like blip.tv, blog, podcast, slide share, and make it easy for users to share with others.
  • Video is not limited to TV, fully integrated multimedia news organizations may well be the right target for a pitch that was previously considered the realm of television.

That’s just a few, we can always talk more, start with a comment either below or at 206-600-6887. Provident Partners donates a food item to a St. Paul, MN food shelter for every comment we receive. Happy New Year!

PR Practitioners Should Plan For The Next Newsroom Today

In surveys with readers of the San Jose Mercury News, Chris O’Brien, reporter and innovator on the issue of news in the US, presented four major findings about how people get information:

    • Google
    • Other people are a major resource of information
    • Conversations
      • Choice

There are 5 main theme of the Next generation of the newsroom a project to build the next generation newsroom being conducted at Duke University

1. Integrated – Newsrooms must be fully integrated across blogs and multimedia. It should embrace all platforms. Adapt a consumption model where readers can become so intrigued by the site that they lose track of time as they are immersed in the information.

2. Innovation – The newsroom must be a center for innovation; the 150 year old model was mostly static. We are now in an era of constant change.

3. Collaborative – there must be interactions with other groups outside of your own comfort zone. Cross pollination is a good thing in a new newsroom to expand knowledge and create areas where they will meet each other.

4. Adaptable – Allow for flexibility in assignments, even movable furniture that can be quickly reconfigured to meet a project need.

5. Transparency – Newsrooms need to be open to the community, creating the ability for a dialogue. Changing from a one way medium to a two way organ of information.

New jobs in journalism according to O’Brien

  1. Programmer journalists
  2. Media Conductors
  3. Backpack Journalists
  4. Cybrarian
  5. Community Managers

This is a summary of a presentation given at the NewComm Forum produced by the Society for New Communications Research. I agree and submit that all media is now multimedia. That means companies and PR firms need to determine what other resources are appropriate for specific releases. For example, consider audio soundbites or videos of relevant visual elements that enhance the story. These can be set up on a news page at the company’s website or posted on a unique landing page, all trackable. This is a start toward what will be a new type of news release called the social media release. A topic for another post.

Getting Most From Brand Journalism

Brand Journalism can help a company escape the shackles of typical marketing by being a part of the bigger picture. Finding ways to talk about the issues surrounding an industry that a company serves is a way to showcase expertise without constantly selling. It is a way to develop a digital library of information that can be customized for a variety of uses beyond the initial brand journalism objectives, including

Brand Journalism

  • News releases
  • Marketing
  • Sales presentations
  • Email

The key elements to brand journalism include:

  • Independent writing and content development
  • Objective discussion of issues
  • Candid conversation of choices surrounding an issue

Here are some example of brand journalism example of brand journalism

The Social Mind Of A Corporate Marketer

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall of a corporate meeting on social media? Many of the readers of this blog and listeners of the Marketing Edge podcast have been in those sessions where ideas are evaluated about whether to have a company blog, launch a podcast series or include bloggers in the media relations strategy.

Christopher Barger is a social media strategist and has been in the largest of corporations, IBM and GM, where those conversations and decisions take place. The beauty of Barger is his ability to see and articulate a legitimate objection from a personal management fear. Both are essential to understand and address in a corporate environment in order to make progress. It is part of the mutual respect in a team that allows that team to try new tactics, be innovative and, most importantly, learn.

The Social Mind Of A Corporate Marketer

In this podcast, Barger and I discuss his experience inside marketing and management groups deciding on social media tactics. He explains the difference and growth social media has had in General Motors product launches.

Some of GM’s efforts on the Web:

We highlight how marketing is changing from a predictable process to a participatory sport in which everyone becomes smarter. Yes, we even tackle the dreaded ROI of social media. Hmmmm, what’s the ROI of this blog post? Gee, will someone click on “Contact Us” and hire us and therefore I can say that the 2 hours I spent thinking through the conversation with Barger, recording it, editing it, and posting it will generate a dollar return?

Silly isn’t it? Right, it is, because as you’ll hear, the conversation was an enjoyable learning experience. It continues to build relationships, one with Barger and the other with Marketing Edge listeners, so the ROI is part of a much larger element of relationship and brand management.

To translate that to your company, it goes something like this: Who is this company? What type of people do they wish to associate with and how can the company, and its employees, add value to the lives of those with whom they associate?

As you hear in Barger’s description of working with specific communities in social media, such as parents and car enthusiasts, it’s all about being part of their passion and very little about selling them a car. The rewards to the company, however, are tangible. The value to the individual employees in GM that are participating is gratifying.

I’ll continue to say it, and the more I have conversations like this one with Barger, the more I believe it: Social media is a movement, not a market. This does not mean commerce is not supported by social media; it means that commerce is a result of adding value to the group, not meeting a quota tied to a logic that has no connection to that community.

We thank Chris for his insight and invite you to share your own thoughts below.

Retailer Best Buy internal social network gives employees voice and management insights

Retailer Best Buy internal sociaGary Koelling and Steve Bendt were Best Buy advertising guys in search of better information about the customer experience. Their first stop was the blue shirt sales associates on the floor of Best Buy stores who interact with customers everyday.

In their quest they developed an internal communications platform that generated thousands of conversations across the company. The result, more information, more issues, more solutions, more ideas, more impact — and a corporate culture that is beginning to appreciate that buy-in brings out the best in employees.

I visited Best Buy to interview Gary and Steve who are now senior managers for social technology based on the success of their 18 month experiment. They acknowledge that their focus on listening to the type of environment the employees wanted was essential for the employees participation. Without that they knew they would have nothing.

The images in this post are from Best Buy’s Blue Shirt Nation social network. Fun and interesting. Certainly designed to set a certain mood and create a welcoming atmosphere. They were inspired by Blue Shirt Nation users as Steve and Gary listened to their thoughts about making the site user-friendly.

Here’s my take on what they found as essential elements to a successful corporate social network platform.

  1. Bottom up process to let users of the site help build the platform
  2. Management that is willing to discover what their employees are capable of innovating
  3. A willingness to act on the good ideas hashed out in the conversation of the group
  4. Listen all the time to the conversations inspired by the users.

On a technology note, Blue Shirt Nation was built with the open source code Drupal www.drupal.org.

I will have more on this topic at a presentation I’m giving at the Society for New Communications Research NewComm Forum www.newcommforum.com April 22-25, in Sonoma County, CA – A host of great speakers including Shel Holtz, Paul Gillin, and Joseph Jaffe among others.

Get in on the January book giveaway the New Influencers by emailing me at Marketingedge@providentpartners.net and in the subject line put New Influencers. Good luck the drawing is January 31.