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Archive for the ‘Social Marketing’ Category

Lots of social about social . . .

Friday, May 7th, 2010 by John Mallen

. . . Social media, that is. Interesting as I listened Wednesday night in on a presentation by Ric Dragon and Ric opens with his recommendations, the makings of recipes in a social media cookbook. I’m taken by the questions from the 32 people in the room here at the SUNY Ulster Business Resource Center and the dialogue back and forth among them, Ric and two members of his team, Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy and Etela Ivkovic. The event was sponsored but SCORE.

Each of the ingredients in the recipe for successful social media communicating triggers enthusiastic discussion. Here’s how Ric says to start:

Take up Google Reader and follow 10 blogs. Use Twitter and follow 10 individuals, sign onto Facebook and follow 25. Go to LinkedIn and follow another 10… and now – just this week – says you can follow companies. Make sure to create profiles in your social media sites and in doing so it’s good to have a folder of images so you have neat pictures of yourself in easy reach. Ric’s Recommendations, in a far more formal version, appear in this blog.

But what is really interesting are the discussions and there are lots and lots of conversations buzzing through the room. “I want concrete social media tools,” says one audience member, echoing a sense of the buzz in the room. Atta boy, Ric. What’s going on is the prowess of social media is making headline and people are listening, and they really need to learn how to use the media.

“How do you find in Twitter people you are sincerely interested in following?” Early on, in the old days of Twitter, says Ric, if you wanted to find followers you would find people and elect to follow them, and in doing so you’d build up your following. But Twitter rapidly became far more vast then friends following friends. Some people have 10,000 followers, and says Ric many of that number are not paying attention. For today, Ric suggests we begin by searching for terms or phrases of interest to you, such as “Hudson Valley.” You will identify people you want to follow. Another way is to find people you respect and follow their followers, and a third approach would be to identify authorities – for example, authors – and develop lists of these topic centered experts. You can then elect to follow people on the list.

How do I get social media on my smart phone? Go to the app store or go online and access the social media site’s mobile phone. “My best suggestion,” says another in the audience, is “go to the AT&T store and ask them how to do what you want to do? There is this skinny little guy there and he’ll take your phone in hand and do it for you free!”

Google Universe

To a lot of the questions, Ric recommends what he calls “The Google Universe. “I like all things Google.” Google profile; Google Reader where you can read blogs and also follow people; and Google Local. It’s a freebee; go to Google with your browser, select Google Maps, and then, add your business. It’s important so long as you yourself are your business, even if you don’t have consumer traffic. The Dragon Search team jumps in with more concrete advice: “You have to verify, and your response will be followed with a postcard from Google or phone call from them.” Then you can go in and edit it. Then ask your clients to post reviews of your localized listing.”


Write a blog per week. Blogging is the meat and potatoes of social media. The best for people in business is for you to host your blog on your Website. Second, say the Dragon Search Marketing experts: use Wordpress – the broadest app being used in blogging today. But if you don’t know what you are doing and are scared, try Google’s Blogger. “It’s a great deal for $10.”

And comment on blogs. Think about adding relevant comments to others’ blogs. Maybe the blog missed a point, and this can be your chance to augment. Good practice: Post a blog. Then go to your Twitter account and write that you just posted. Go out to other blogs of similar themes and mention that you just posted a blog covering the same address.


It’s important to start with goals and objectives. Examples would be to use social media to sell more product. Then you can ask what are some of the objectives, such as to build an audience of people who we can dialogue with, the audience who will potentially make a purchase, down to the evangelists.

Other points:

Panoramio is great for geo tagging photos. It’s like Flckr, but you can post pictures to your profile and you can place geographical location for this.

Use Facebook to add a Fan Page for your business. The Fan Page is built from your personal Facebook page. Then you ask your friends to go to your fan page. There is a solid business reason for Facebook in business. “ We think we are selling our service or product, but we are actually selling our passion, emotion,” Claudia said.

“What is social media but having conversations. You cannot just go out and promote, “says Etela Ivkovic, who with Claudia is part of the Dragon Search Marketing team.

What is the worst that can happen in social media? One day SUNY New Paltz lost all of its fans. Happened to one of our clients. You can store this, Facebook FBQL to bring up XML list of all your fans. You will have to ask all of them to return. How can this happen? On Facebook you can have more than one admin, and one could have deleted. Facebook will never send you an e-mail.

Are Tactics Wagging your Marketing?

Thursday, September 17th, 2009 by John Mallen

I like how this article in yesterday’s Fast Company draws attention to the importance of the corporate brand ( where the corporate brand is needed) and reminds us that strategy not glitzy tactics should be guiding the marketing.  Tactics are great, but need to be marshalled toward an end.

” … With the growth of the Internet and social technology tools, personal branding activity and opportunities have exploded. On the other hand, in some ways, the arc of Web 1.0 to 2.0+ (not to mention this current economy) has seduced many marketers into being focused on tactics at the expense of strategy including branding. Hot media tactics often substitute for the “strategy.”

Thanks to Kevin Randall, Director of Brand Strategy & Research at  Movéo Integrated Branding for these words.  The remainder of the article is also a great primer on the  important elements of a brand.

When Customers are a Village

Monday, September 14th, 2009 by John Mallen

Christopher St., Greenwich Village by Beulah BettersworthI have just read a blog essay called “Finding Your Village of Customers” by Sonia Simone, senior editor at Copyblogger .  This is must reading for the micro-businesses among us.

Such firms, like my own, may have a global band of customers who not only know those who serve them, but delight in the relationship. She is spot on. In this space you really do listen to your customers, really understand them and respond to their needs — before you’re asked!  The village is your market, the regulars who love your offerings as well as the status of being a “regular,” like the Beacon Hill bar in TV’s “Cheers.”

Simone’s post is short, so I won’t go on except to summarize the key needs (besides listening, understanding and taking action). Every village needs:

“A leader. (That’s you.)

“A purpose. (That’s your market position or winning difference.) . . .

“And a place to come together.

“You might create a membership site for your best-loved customers. Or organize special conferences, user groups, and gatherings. You might build something as simple as a private online forum where your village can share their experiences — good and bad.

“But give your village a place to get together. To know you better, and know one another better. A place where everybody knows their name.”

And that’s one powerful way to use communications to amplify success. The “place” is likely one you develop on the Social Web.

Describe Yourself!

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 by John Mallen

I have just been led to a compelling piece “How the Leading Social Sites Describe Themselves” by Steve Rubel. Steve’s piece is worth reading, but his view applies to far more than the social Web, and touches on a favorite peeve of mine.

Rubel’s blog follows his return to the City from the Bay Area where a high penetration of Digerati (I love that term) is accompanied by a parochial focus of these tech-savvy folk, as evinced by how popular social Web sites introduce themselves. It really would be difficult for someone who is not a member of the cognoscenti to make an intelligent choice from among Twitter, digg, Friendfeed and others.

I find the same condition far too often in too many places. Take trade shows, where in my experience the more high-tech the exhibitor the more undifferentiated their presentations. Glitzy to be sure. Clarity of what they are, not much. The same carries over to brochures, videos, Web sites and other marketing materials. You really need to dig to understand just what they’re about.

I’m with Steve Rubel. Describe yourself! It’s job No.1 for any customer facing activity.

Need help? Just call us or any of our 39 colleague firms in the Public Relations Global Network.

Earned Social Media

Friday, August 21st, 2009 by John Mallen

Social media marketing may be efficient, but it isn’t free.

I don’t know Len Stein, but I know he’s right about this: earned media AKA “free media,” publicity, editorial coverage, garnered coverage, or placements by whatever name is not free.

Len is the founder of Visibility Public Relations in New Rochelle, N.Y., about 100 miles south of our PR firm. His recent blog brings out several points.

Engineering mentions in the growing amount of media mainstream media (MSM) + social media has become the pursuit of brand managers and marketers, as well as traditional public relations people.  Indeed, the marketers are “rapidly leaving the orbit of ‘paid media’,” Stein observes.

The growing body of media possibilities is the sum of the MSM, where professional editors and producers generate the content, and social media, where the online conversation among individuals is the content. This can be good or not so good.

It’s good, really good, when your company or brand gets mentioned by a third party. It’s considered authentic and it’s delivered in context without interrupting the publics. Such exposure happens when people like us engineer the coverage or stimulate conversations among people online.

Coverage is not so good when a few among all those people connecting with one another start complaining about you or your product. Their conversations can go viral, with the effects damaging and the outfall very, very costly. When that occurs, the professional MSM journalists can even begin covering the viral conversation. Just take a look at the “Motrin moms” fiasco.

Unfortunately they drive the conversation. You don’t.

Taking the steps to effectively manage social media takes time, and time is money, whether it’s done by an agency that sends an invoice or by employees on your payroll. Even the CEO writing late at night. 

College Marketing - A Big Challenge

Monday, May 25th, 2009 by John Mallen
Sometimes there are no readily available elegant strategies for using communications to drive success.

That becomes abundantly clear in the case of college recruiting.

We have a fully empowered social-media equipped market comprising teens who shun most of the vehicles many of us think of as being new and cutting edge, like blogs and Twitter. They are deeply rooted to Facebook and texting as their preferred media.

Teens, the research tells us, don’t use mainstream media except maybe TV as background, don’t e-mail, and basically leave Twitter to adults. Their facebook activities and texting are confined to their circle of friends.

Of course parents and high-school advisors have influence — because many teas are driven to get into college — the right college. Of course they have tremendous on line resourcers including reference sites and digital match-making tools.

So how do admissions offices avoid producing messages the kids don’t pay attention to, and effectively reach out to their potential freshmen? It’s looking more and more like the answer is strategic buzz.


Something Old Something New

Friday, January 9th, 2009 by John Mallen


Earlier in the day, one of the clients pounded the table. “Out! Push the message out! I want to get the message out. I want to get people behind this!”  Visions of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking services danced in my head.

“We need ads! ” said the client.  Nothing in the county has a greater impact than does Ulster Publishing,  independent producers of  six weekly newspapers. Read that to mean the dominant Daily Freeman and it’s companions dailies, The Poughkeepsie Journal and Times Herald Record are not seen as driving opinion. 

“Let’s talk about on-line social networking,” I said. 
Later today, a link to a friend and colleague’s blog landed in my e-mauil in-box.  It’s all about setting up meetings with media people, include influential boggers. It’s by one Kelly, a senior account exec at Landis PR in San Francisco. Nice job. The piece has solid tactical points. I’m thinking of “borrowing” it for a series on PR basics.

Next comes an email from another friend and colleage in PRGN, our network of independent PR firms.  Jay Van Vechtan  emailed a compelling e-mail responding to Kelly’s post.

Says Jay: “In days gone by I loved them, but over the years the opportunities for booking a client on a locally produced TV talk, news or radio show has waned at best.  Locally produced morning talk programs have been replaced by syndicated shows.  Morning, noon and drive time news programs have been cut to the bare minimum, all but eliminating time for live, in-studio guests.  Newspapers are in a free fall, with staff cut backs and reduced circulation.  The magazine industry is floundering.  And so where does that leave us?”

Jay moves along with sound, practical suggestions for conducting a media tour in the new Millenium. He recommends outsourcing the work to a group that does satellite media tours, hitting mainly the second rung ADIs.

All the preceding is fine and good. But are those of us in professional communications hanging too long on mainstream media (MSM) and too little on  Web 2.0 social marketing? Sometimes I want to jump up and down waving red flags and say, “HEY it’s changed!”  Sure we have MSM on the one hand and social media with long-tail marketing on the other. 

Listen to Robert Scoble, one of the top bloggers (and representative of Microsoft) talking about social media back in 2007:   “When I say “social media” or “new media” I’m talking about Internet media that has the ability to interact with it in some way. IE, not a press release like over on PR Newswire, but something like what we did over on Channel 9 where you could say “Microsoft sucks” right underneath one of my videos.

“I don’t really care what you call this “new media” but you’ve got to admit that something different is happening here than happens on other media above.”

I’m reacting to messages from clients and colleages at both ends of the day. Yes I really like MSM; indeed grew up as a reporter for The Providence Journal-Bulletin. But Web 2.0 Internet is bringing a tsunami of creative distruction to MSM. Many of us in professional communications find ourselves working harder and harder to get any exposure we can in MSM outlets that are reacing fewer and fewer people with vehices that have less and less content.

Meanwhile Internet communications continues to get larger and larger, more and more focused, faster, slicker, more compelling and tunable than any other media. Individuals can talk back, even have a conversation with one another as well as news makers.  

With all the foregoing passion, I admit that as professional PR and comms resource too many are way under-engaged in social media. It’s not iinertia or blindness, not really. We’re all doing some. What we need is a full-blown process, spec development, and  execution that’s easily managed. Something easy tha all of us can use.

Photo with permission from Full Code Press

My Rules for Making it in Tough Times

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 by admin

Though today’s markets rallied in response to good bottom feeding, rumors of a Resolution Trust Corp. and other factors. But the economic news has been bad and the is a general sense is that it will remain difficult for the forseeable future.

Such times lead us to ponder the future and what’s necessary to move on and up. Here’s my five rules for navigatng through these times.

Rule No. 1 – Stay Close to Your Customers
The first rule comes from Tom Garbett, one of the best and brightest when it came to corporate positioning. (I knew Tom in his final years at DDB Worldwide; he died in January 2007.) Tom’s advice in the recession of the early 1980s: “Stay close to your clients.”

Over time, I’ve come to lean on this advice. It’s not only how we can stay whole in our business-to-business relationship, but it naturally leads one’s ear to really understand our customer’s issues and creatively consider how they can better connect with their consumers.

Rule No. 2 – Access The Long Tail
Given the structural economic shifts in the last three decades and the uncertainties of any forward-looking prognostication, we may also need to figure out how to add new customers, as well as keep the existing ones.

Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, coined the phrase The Long Tail, as a demand-side model that shows the impact of selling specialty items to smaller clusters of customers. The tail can represent more of a market share than the spike. As with, the total volume of low-popularity items exceeds the total volume of high- popularity items.  In tough times, this long tail becomes appealing – and more achievable – when it is coupled with two other factors: (1) the Internet and (2) channels. Anderson emphasizes the value of the Internet as the vehicle making it possible to connect with so many individuals about specialty items.

Rule No. 3 – Use the New Laws of Web 2.0 Marketing
In a nutshell, the Web has become the “go-to” place for virtually everyone seeking information.

The Old Law would have us pushing information to your prospective customers – and a lot of others who are not prospects but happen to fall within target demographics.

The New Law tells us to make the data available for buyers to find. It has us using the Web site as a meeting ground which customers and prospects can visit to find useful information.

Beyond buying ads, placing publicity, or promoting at events, the New Law would have us publishing content and establishing relationships that our public helps to expand virally by pulling in friends and associates.

Rule No. 4 – Work the Channel
To drive success, especially when customers, clients and consumers aren’t beating a path to anyone’s door, I turn to the concepts in Michael Hammer’s Agenda. Here the author of Reengineering the Corporation points us to the “customer economy,” coaching us on how to succeed when customers have the upper hand.

Just the chapter headings give you a sense of what he’s about: “Run Your Business for Your Customers. Become ETDBW (easy to do business with).” Or “Give Your Customers what They Really Want. Deliver MVA.” Hammer writes, “MVA means that you give the customer more, perhaps far more, than you ever have before.”
But I think the most telling notion is his call to “turn distribution chains into distribution communities.”

In short, use the “New Laws of Web 2.0 marketing” to maintain close relationships with today’s customers and to efficiently attract a new ones.  Then, engage both current and prospective customers as part of your “community of interest.”  You can rely on enduring wisdom of public relations to creatively maintain these connections.

Whether it is a multi-billion, multi-million or even smaller business, the Web is a powerful vehicle for attracting and holding the attention of customers who are looking for answers, guidance, advice and options, even in – perhaps especially in – a tough economy.

Your relationship will not only become viral as it progresses, with current customers referring new ones, but your business reputation will endure long after the business cycle turns up again. We saw this in the Great Depression and again during the shortages and rationing during World War II. Consumers remembered the good guys — businesses that stood by customers when times were tough or supplies were short.

Rule No. 5 – Manage and Nurture the Spirit
This final rule is far more personal than institutional. It is important for you and your employees to remain committed and conduct yourselves with integrity.

Take a leaf from Seth Godin’s latest – and maybe best – book, The Dip. It’s about deciding when to power on or when to quit, change strategies and to move forward with a fresh approach. The most successful in business and life quit all the time – to enable themselves to reach their vision.

But how one moves ahead in difficult times is crucial.

Listen to my friend Tom Whittaker – the  first disabled person to climb Mount Everest – who, on his third expedition, after spending a total of six months on that mountain, finally reached the 29,035 ft. summit:
“Almost a year ago today I was standing in front of the dais in the Grand Ballroom in Buckingham Palace where I was being inducted into the Most Magnificent Order of the British Empire. After pinning the MBE to my lapel, Queen Elizabeth II stepped back and engaged me with keen blue eyes and said, ‘So, Mister Whittaker, you must have been jolly proud to have made it to the roof of the world!’
“ ‘The thing I was most proud of, your Majesty,’ I replied ‘is that I wasn’t guided up the mountain by able bodied guides. I was the expedition leader. I picked and trained my team and I climbed the mountain on exactly the same terms any serious mountaineer would climb it.’
“The 80 year old monarch reflected for a moment and replied, ‘Yes. Style is so important isn’t it?’ 
“The ’style’ she was referring to is of course how you achieve your goals. Your style is not only how you will be judged by your peers, but in the last analysis, is how you will judge yourself.

“I work with business leaders that have been shaving away thin layers of their integrity year after year until they stand in front of the mirror and see the wallpaper through their image. They have indeed gained the world but lost themselves and they are in crisis.

“To never, ever compromise on HOW you do business is not just what you have to do to survive, but to be relevant in my world and in yours. What you achieve, once you understand the unforgiving nature of the game, is all up to you. 

“The good news is that the tougher it gets the more you have the opportunity to stand apart!” 

Social Media Rocks

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 by John Mallen

Corporate leaders have a sharp eye on social media when it comes to driving success. 

ClearlyMaple_leaves, with Internet developments we are in a sea change when it comes to communications. Senior execs see that change approaching. Just today, a survey report from Toronto-based Veritas Communications reported that senior execs (85 percent) believe social media like Facebook, You Tube, and blogs are becoming essential to communications. Nearly half (46 percent) say social media tools are becoming even more important than television, radio, newspapers and magazines.

"It is astounding that one in two executives say social media is becoming even more important than television," says Keith McArthur, principal of com.motion and Senior Director of Media Innovation at the Veritas group. "TV advertising," he says, "is still where marketers spend most of their money, while social media represents a tiny sliver of the budget. It’s clear that’s going to change." The results are contained in a survey of 444 business and marketing leaders conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights. The survey was conducted in Canada.

Have specialists in communication provided corporate leaders with the strategic insights and tactical planning they need to win elections and maintain success?

Stay tuned.