Last night I went to the Social Media Club meeting (#SMCBoston) held at Hill Holiday’s State Street offices. Hill Holiday kicked things off with a multi-media overview of their incredibly creative Chili’s campaign (using P.J. Bland’s.) I loved the idea of using social media to “activate assets.” (Sounds like Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, doesn’t it?) And, the entire connected universe, wow. Impressive…budget. With a short introduction for and from each, the panel was introduced.
- Terry Lozoff, Street Attack – using social media across a grass roots campaign for Ashoka and Best Buy’s @15 program. (Full disclosure, I worked on this project too.)
- Sean Corcoran, Forrester – overview of various big brands’ use of SocMed (Starbucks, H&R Block, Hershey’s, Flavorpill, Nike.)
- Ken Peters, Text 100 – FujiFilm, Xerox
- Vicki Rellas , Mom Central – Feld Family program, Disney on Ice and Ringling Brothers
- Mike Spataro, Visible Technologies – GM’s Trucast (measuring and analyzing 250 different issues across the SocMed universe proved to be a precursor to today’s woes.)
Then we settled down into a nice rhythm of questions and answers. Some bon mots from the panel made me consider speaking engagements in the world of Twitter. The day of the panel Twitter was having more than its usual woes and Twitter search was faltering, which slammed Twitterfall and made the live tweets pretty-much non-existent during 2/3 of the panel. Then, when they finally reappeared, they had been delayed so we were getting feedback to comments more than 30 minutes old.
My First Question of the Night: Should speakers in social media-savvy venues play to the Twitter-happy audience? Forget telling a story and go for the 140 character or less sound bites? Do speakers today need to worry about cohesiveness and deep points? Are we going to lose sight of what it means to be an excellent “long form” speaker?
Some little Twitter-friendly comments I noted (yes, with my pen on a piece of scrap paper):
- Mike says he laughs when he hears someone say SocMed isn’t measurable. (Me too.)
- Sean said looking at what is going on in SocMed is only part of the research. Non social media research (conducted by LightSpeed) said 90% of moms had no idea what a Motrin Mom was.
- Terry “Social Media is like Iraq, need an In and Out strategy.” (First big crowd reaction of the night.) Terry also got audience reaction by saying “Facebook still doesn’t know what it’s doing.”
My Second question of the Night: Ken casually threw out this statement as a response to one of the questions. “Big Brands have bigger risk in social media.” I think I actually rose from my seat slightly at that one. Coming off a start-up like I have recently, I have to take issue with that (although I will give Ken a bye on it since he’s representing a number of big brands, maybe he has to say that.)
Done right, with openness and thought involved, social media is probably less risky than many other forms of marketing (or, should I say marketing tools or channels?) Big brands can afford the resources and tools to do social media right. Often, like in other things, start-ups and small brands are struggling to keep up. SocMed isn’t free – it takes time, money and resources like any other marketing program. I submit that big companies, with big brands and big footprints and bigger budgets have less risk. They have an established name and a presence outside of social media whereas a small company’s mistakes in social media are more likely to be all that someone knows of them, and their mistakes can be fatal.
Which leads us right to my third question of the night: Not picking on Ken but he spoke up in response to a question around prioritizing responses to social media denizens. He’s looking at social media the same way he looks at mass media – by the size of the audience as a measure of influence. Hmm, have to say that it is tempting to do but there has to be an understanding of how things like SEO play into influence. Maybe “I” only have 3000 followers on Twitter and my blog is read by only a few hundred people but what do you do with a social media user whose blog pops up in the number one spot for a key search term? Search is the great equalizer. “The number of people who use Google’s services every day is now in the hundreds of millions,” reads The Official Google Blog. If you are nowhere with search, you are not doing well. Conversely, it is possible to have a small network of followers and SocMed friends and be widely read through search. Think long and hard before you dismiss someone based solely on the size of their circle of followers. (There’s also a consideration of the size of the followers’ circle but I am assuming someone at Text 100 is doing the math about the power of those connections.)
And, once more, I discovered that Tweetups , those wonderful in-person connections, are invaluable. I wasn’t the only person to look around the room and realize I “knew” a huge percentage of the room but had never met them.