Those of you who follow my blog and/or my monthly articles on LinkingRaleighNC  know that I am a big, big fan of social media.  All types – I text, instant message, FaceBook, Tweet, LinkIn, blog, comment on blogs AND yes I do a fair amount of it in the horizontal position.  I am one of those that ‘checks in’ if I wake up in the middle of the night – often times finding like-minded insomniacs to IM with on Yahoo or chat with on FaceBook.  My Android gets picked up before even my glasses (a testament to being in my 40s) upon waking to see what happened during the night.

 So, one would think that this week’s AdAge article stating that 10% of the under 25 category will respond to a text during sex wouldn’t phase me.

 Well, I guess I found my line….or at least one of them.  And, it’s not dotted….it’s thick, bold and drawn out in Sharpie-black ink.

 This got me thinking.  When/where else do I believe social media is not welcome? 

 What follows are my pet peeves – an arbitrary list of additional situations or scenarios where I believe a big NO SOCIAL MEDIA sign needs to be posted.

  1. Providing customer service.  This is a big one for me.  Not too long ago I was trying to share my displeasure about a service at my gym – O2 Fitness and the ‘service provider’ continued texting.  I felt unheard, not cared for and angry. 
  2. Operating heavy machinery.  This warning is not just for over the counter medications.  It never fails, it’s the middle of the day and I am driving behind someone who appears drunk – weaving ever so slightly, running over the little white bumps that separate the lanes.  I speed up around to pass them and glance over to discover that they are definitely intoxicated – mesmerized by the little keyboard on their smart phone.
  3. At the dinner table.  So, is this one way too obvious?  If out at a restaurant with someone, you wouldn’t consider staring and gawking at everyone that walks by, right?  Well, then what makes it seem ok to engage in a conversation via text or to push out Twitter updates in-between mouthfuls?
  4. Post two martinis.  Since social media platforms and cell phones don’t come with breathalyzers (a feature that I think should be added to cameras as well) it is probably in our own best interest to stay away from them if inebriated.  In my opinion, no good can come from those posts and once out there they are very hard to take back.
  5. Angry.  It’s bad enough if we say something in anger to someone but when we take the time to have it permanently captured digitally and then give it viral wings, one has to question IQ.  Once you hit ‘send’ or ‘share’ you are committed – for better or worse.  Bite your lip, throw a plate, punch a wall….all ways to express yourself and preserve your reputation – albeit there may be some blood or broken bones involved.

I am sure there are many other situations where participating in social media is not in our best interest or rude to others.  I would love your thoughts and comments.  I invite you to help me build on the list.  If it is robust enough, I’ll re-post the summary.  Just so that I’m clear, I write MarketingSmack alone, sober and not while driving.

I’ve been watching Nestle’s social media nightmare play out on FaceBook and Twitter over the last month.  For those of you who somehow have missed this – in a nutshell – Greenpeace Trojan-horsed Nestle’s FaceBook Fan page and slammed the company for its role in the illegal deforestation of rainforests and the killing of orangutans.  All in the name of bringing us more yummy Kit Kat bars.  This type of tree-hugging and criticism happens all the time – however the MAGNITUDE and VELOCITY now enabled by social media channels is unprecedented. 

 I have been keeping my fingers crossed that the powers that be within Nestle would hurry-up and realize that being defensive, dismissive, or arrogant wasn’t in their best interest.  I have used the early 80’s Tylenol Chicago death crisis as an example before and it applies yet again.  That said, Tylenol had much more control over the actual response and the delivery of it.  Nestle, not so much.  It was and is happening REAL TIME and very publicly.

 There are a variety of pieces written on how Nestle should have responded – how they should show-up now and how businesses need to be prepared for their eventual ‘turn’ so to speak – so I won’t go into those here.  What I do want to share is the notion that even if you DO respond in a timely fashion, with humility and an offer of restitution that sometimes the recipient just isn’t ready to hear it  – or isn’t willing – or is too hurt.  Sometimes you can’t undo the mistake, no matter how hard you try. And, sometimes you have to be patient and persistent about being transparent and ‘doing the right thing’.

A few days ago I recklessly made a somewhat ‘unfeeling’ comment on Twitter.  In hindsight, I am not sure what possessed me – I cavalierly took one person’s misfortune and used it as an example of how a new trend in location based services may have a huge downside.

Well, I received a direct message (DM) back letting me know that my comment was not appreciated.  I quickly posted a public apology taking full responsibility for my stupidity and making a reference to the fact that there are times when I behave like the back-end of a donkey.  I followed up with a private email – groveling a bit more and offering lunch as an olive branch. 

Two days of radio silence and I was beside myself.  I made a mistake and wanted to be forgiven immediately.  Life doesn’t work that way, does it?  Finally today, in the middle of writing this blog, the long-awaited DM accepting my apology beeped through.

The lesson I was reminded of – the lesson Nestle and others need to remember….is that avoiding making mistakes is impossible – not a viable option –  however, taking accountability for them and being genuine in our willingness to make things whole, is. At the end of the day – as seen from our collective trust in Tylenol, we have a grand capacity to forgive and regain faith.  So, my advice to Nestle and everyone else – whether their faux pas is being played out to millions of just a few – accept responsibility for your actions and figure out a way to make it right.  Oh, and most importantly accept the fact that it may be on someone else’s timeline.

Seeing if I can get through one day without a blunder – how much trouble can I get in by writing the Smack?  www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Twitter Sold Me a Bridge

March 18, 2010

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal posted an article entitled Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media – Marketing via Facebook, Twitter Yields Results for Some, Others Say It’s Overrated; ‘Hype Right Now Exceeds the Reality.

The important words in the title are “Right Now”.  Don’t be fooled, Social Media is here to stay. If you ignore it, it will run you over. A true paradigm shift – reinforcing what is already a reality – consumers are in control.

It’s not new; consumers have been rating products online for more than 15 years. The “Social Shopping Study 2007,” commissioned by PowerReviews identified a significant segment of online shoppers as Social Researchers – “consumers who actively (always or most of the time) seek out and read customer reviews prior to making a purchase decision.” 86% of Social Researchers find customer reviews extremely or very important and 76% find “top rated product” lists (by customers) to be extremely or very important.

These results align with what I describe as Summit’s Credibility Pyramid.

We believe our own experience first and foremost, then we believe those who are similar or like us, third on that credibility scale are the industry pundits, analysts or media and at the end of it all – the least credible source is the vendor.

Why is understanding this concept critical in the advent of the rise of Social Media?

We no longer have to go online and “look” for reviews. Now these opinions – good or bad – get pushed to us anywhere at any time. Twitter, Face Book, Buzz, even LinkedIn all provide conduits for consumers to be heard and heeded. So while there may still be some skeptics about making the investment and not everyone will rush right out and pull a ‘Jackie Siddall’ and purchase a $1,900 folding kayak based on a Tweet, the power dynamic has permanently shifted and whether you are selling kayaks, bridges or pharmaceuticals you better join in the conversation.

Cross over to the Smack – http://marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Runaway Train…

February 17, 2010

A client of mine was ‘nominated’ recently for Top 50 Entrepreneur of the Year by the regional Business Leader Magazine.  He called me to get my opinion and see if I thought it was something worthwhile and respected.  Having heard some great things from my network over the years about the publication and in particular their Business Leader Breakfast series, I encouraged my client to participate.

Then I logged onto LinkedIn

A seemingly innocuous discussion started by Bill Yodder entitled “Business Leader Media and your $84” caught my attention.  I clicked on the thread and was bombarded with less than stellar comments, by many, regarding the general ethics – or lack thereof – surrounding BLM’s business practices.  I threw my two cents in – actually asking the group for advice about my client.  What came back was an unequivocal ‘stay away’. 

I quickly became emotionally involved – feeling somewhat ‘betrayed’ by this organization who had the ‘nerve’ to misbehave behind my back – so to speak, potentially making me look bad.  After all, I had given them an approval thumbs up. 

Well, first – shame on me.  I know better.  I tell my clients all the time don’t assume your reference customer is still a reference customer – EVER.  Always check their current level of satisfaction before handing them over to your prospect; you don’t want to find yourself tied to the tracks with the faint distant whistle blowing.

Secondly, what was BLM thinking?  

Really?  In today’s incredibly public, everyone has access to everyone’s thoughts and ideas and we’re not afraid to share them world, there are organizations that think they can pull the wool over our eyes? 

The real quagmire is this; they, under the leadership of Dan Davies, did have a great reputation.  A change in ownership and a slippery slope downward have become public.  The bummer is that there is a new conductor on board and he, presumably, wants to ‘make it whole’ again. 

Can he?  How do you stop the train wreck?  Bob, if you’re out there listening – you better take it on quickly, directly and publically or you may have nothing left but twisted metal and loose screws.

 Keeping the MarketingSmack on track www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

The Tao of Bar Camp

February 9, 2010

I, along with a couple hundred others, gave up my Saturday to experience what is known as a Bar Camp or an ‘unconference’ – my first ever.  At first glance it sounds like a recipe for chaos – no key note speakers and no pre-determined workshops or ‘tracks’ as they like to call them, in the NOT ‘unconference’ world.  I went in a bit skeptical, the control freak I am, wondering ‘who was going to be running the show?’

We ran the show AND it worked beautifully.

I have to admit when Nathan Gilliatt  announced that everyone in the room would introduce themselves my snarky barometer went up a notch.  It was going to take all day – but, you know, everyone played by the rules and I found it helpful and informative to know who in particular I really needed to meet.  Once again, the NOT ‘unconference’ shuns this concept – I wonder how many interesting people I have missed out on over the years?

The introductions flowed into the topic suggestions which flowed into room and time assignments effortlessly and surprisingly quickly.  Within a couple of hours, which were spent drinking CapStrat’s coffee and networking, we all were seated in our respective sessions of interest – sharing ideas, learning from one another, making great contacts and enriching our lives. 

The guiding topic was “Analytics” and the range of member-driven presentations and offerings ran the gamut from Quantivo’s Jason Rushin’s 101 Behavior Analytics primer to a very mathematically challenging Twitter session to Adam Covati’s hour-plus on Social Media. 

I’d be hard pressed to attend a NOT ‘unconference’  again after this experience. Social media is to company brochures what bar camps are to NOT ‘unconferences’ – the ability to engage in free-flow conversations spurred from user-driven content and to learn from others  – be they like-minded or not, was incredibly empowering.  While I did not contribute a topic, I had first-time jitters – I thank all of those that ‘got it’ and offered up the well spring.

The way seemed effortless and by the end of the day’s path I was tired but somehow smarter.

The path to the MarketingSmack is still: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Last week I attended my first Triangle Social Media Club meeting hosted by Zach Ward from DSI Comedy.  I had been trying to meet one of the founders of the group, Wayne Sutton, for quite some time without much success and luckily saw his tweet regarding the upcoming opportunity.  The premise of the meeting was to showcase how analogous improvisation is to the art of social media.

 Not that any of you would know this, but I spent a great deal of time on ‘the stage’ in a previous life so this teaser was irresistible.

We gathered, about 25 of us, in the dark, musty theatre.  After the ritual milling around networking, Zach spoke to the group; first, showcasing how he has implemented and utilized a successful social media strategy to brand and promote himself and his theatre then secondly, to explain a core tenet of improvisation – Yes, And

Apparently, to be a successful (aka, funny) improviser, you need to master the skill of taking someone’s statement, AGREEING with it enthusiastically, and then BUILDING on it with a statement of your own.

Let me show you:

Jack: “My son loves dinosaurs”
Matt: “YES, your son does love dinosaurs AND so do I”
Jack: “YES, you do love dinosaurs AND I can never remember the names of them”
Matt: “YES, you can NEVER remember the names of dinosaurs AND neither, can I”….

I think we get the picture.

It’s this process of providing unconditional support to someone’s thought or idea and then augmenting it in a – and this is the tricky part – positive way.  This doesn’t work if you use the words “Yes, And…” but fill the gaps with statements that are typically preceded with “No, But.”  It also falls flat on its face if it isn’t authentic – which for some, might be the really tricky part.

The key here is to resist pushing your own agenda.  Let me say this again; resist pushing your own agenda. 

The rewards of “Yes, And…” seem obvious – outside of side-splitting laughter, you engender good will and establish a relationship that screams: “YES, let’s create a win/win scenario AND I’m ok helping you win first.”

Is it just me or does this seem like a viable life platform? 

YES, Zach had a lot of insightful words for us that night AND I walked out richer for the experience -a worthy blog topic, a fresh illustration to share with clients, renewed zest for my social media activities, and an inspiration to return to the stage. 

Dodging the ripe fruit and hook for yet another week – the MarketingSmack’s home theater is still at: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

The Coconut Telegraph

January 5, 2010

“Put it on the coconut telegraph
All the celebration and the stress
Baby put it on the coconut telegraph
In twenty-five words or less”- Jimmy Buffet

In today’s world we get a minimum of 140 characters which on average is about 23 words or less.  And, maybe if there was only one conduit we’d be alright but the reality is that we are lousy with vehicles by which to celebrate and to stress. 

Up until recently, my MarketingSmack has been living a non-celebrated existence – every now and again germinating a comment.   I have been diligently writing the Smack for a year now – searching for ways to entertain, provoke thought, provide insight and promote ME.  Somewhere in the last month or so I hit a chord with my readers and the conversation took on a life of its own.  My readership doubled and comments where flying all over the place. 

And, I do mean ALL OVER THE PLACE….LinkedIn Groups, FaceBook, MarketingSmack, Twitter, my inbox…….    

Fantastic, right? 

With this new, what I hope to be true, ‘tipping point’ comes a whole new set of problems. 

While I enjoyed being notified every time a comment was made through the various vehicles that were hosting the discussion, some of my readers sent me ‘venting’ frustrated emails or voicemails because they could NOT enjoy the heated debate.  They read there was one going on – but the MarketingSmack fell short in meeting their expectations. 

The comments were happening but not ending up on my MarketingSmack site.  I didn’t see this coming.  Now I find myself wondering just how unforgivable is my social media faux pas.

On the one hand, it’s remarkable to actually snag a tiny piece of mindshare, generate a buzz – to get people talking about you/your ideas, or your products/services.  But, how critical is it that the conversations take place or end up in the same place?  And, if it is – how do you make that happen? 

Interestingly enough the adage seek and ye shall find had me stumble across Andrew Girdwood’s blog today Free your blog comments from SEO and improve your SEO”   He details nicely three competing hosted web services; ECHO, Disqus and Intense Debate.  I think Andrew does a great job of explaining the three – pros and cons.  I now find myself in the throes of choosing my preferred version of the Coconut Telegraph – where all those conversations – even the ones that aren’t so flattering – can find refuge.

MarketingSmack can be found on: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

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