Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seven Steps to "Social" Enlightenment

About a year ago, in order to learn about social media, I made myself a to-do list.  Here it is.  

1.  Build and start a blog – My first attempt was using Google Sites and then I moved here, to Blogger.  Now I’m experimenting with Wordpress.  These easily accessible and free tools enabled me to understand many of the technical aspects like hosting and connectivity; embrace design obstacles; and learn the basic how-to’s like purchasing URL’s.  Something I wasn’t expecting though was that blogging has challenged me to create original content on a regular basis (okay well a fairly regular basis) and gain insight on how the social web works.  
2.  Build a case study file – I’ve always kept a large black portfolio which contains mementos of my marketing projects.  It is full of tear sheets, brochures, letters, commercials, pivot tables, plan summaries and financial results.  My hope is to add the details of my social media exploits to this archive some day soon.  But right now I’m collecting case studies authored by other marketers because understanding the logic and the tactics behind successful campaigns is the key to building my own.  

3.  Network – I have a shy streak and am still somewhat cautious about my “social knowledge” but I know that to be considered “socially” competent, I need to associate with and learn from people who have leverage in the industry.  So I’ve been attending industry conferences, going to local meet-ups and building my network.  Twitter helps with this objective because I follow information leaders like Adam SingerLinkedIn is another good tool that connects me with the people I meet.  Networking ties well into my job search, and helps me personally and professionally.  

4.  Make personal friends in the industry – This is an off shoot of networking and I do have a few industry friends with whom I can share ideas and get input.  They keep me motivated and on target.  I want to grow this list so get in touch. 

5.  Improve my personal search standing (SEO) - This has been fairly easy because my name isn’t that popular.  If you happen to be Mary Smith, it may not be, but don’t be dissuaded. Work to get your name ranked in the engines.  Inevitably someone is going to type your name into Google or Yahoo.  You really want to be first in the results or at the very least on page 1 somewhere.  A by-product of this is that you’ll gain, experience with organic search which is a key element in marketing successfully on the web.  

6.  Learn web based analytics – I've discovered that this is a basic requirement of today’s marketers.  I had a leg up since financial analysis is the life bread of effective direct marketing, a tool I used to drive acquisition sales for one company from $800K to $6M.  So I was already fluent in conducting research, interpreting analytics and using the data for actionable next steps.  I just needed to learn what and how data is measured on the web.  Even if you're not a math lover, you'll appreciate the reward having this skill engenders as there's nothing more powerful than possessing the financial results that support your great idea.

7.  Keep on top of communication trends – Today, technology is driving changes daily in communication trends, and to be an effective marketer, I want to stay on top of that change.  The only way is to embrace it.  It’s an intellectual marathon of reading case studies, industry trades, and relevant blogs, while attending industry events, conferences and webinars.  The most challenging part for me continues to be finding a way to stay in front of all that information.  My current system, which includes Google Reader and Alerts, needs improvement.  Ideas welcome. 
I’m sure there’s more but that's my list.  What else do you think marketers, like you and me, can do to learn these new tools and position ourselves for future success?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ways to Go Green Today, Earth Day, 2010

Today, April 22, the United States observes Earth Day, a day for celebrating our planet. In conjunction with this celebration, Brita has launched in Canada, an impactful Earth Day TV spot, which is a great use of cause marketing to drive consumer awareness and encourage product purchase. The spot called "Change" chides residents, without saying a word, for buying plastic water bottles.

"Change" shows how intrusive plastic water bottles are when accumulated throughout a household. A closet door opens, only to have countless water bottles spill out. A woman exercises with bottles strewn nearby, a man reads a newspaper while surrounded by bottles. My personal favorite is the woman longing to swim in her pool, only to see it's overrun with bottles. "Ever thought about how many plastic water bottles Canadians bought last year? The Earth needs Brita," concludes the ad, shown here and created by DDB Toronto.

Also check out this excellent article from Mashable on  5 Ways to Go Green for Earth Day


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's an Itch, Everyone is Scratching - Brand Karma.

Craig Davis, Chief Creative Officer at Publicis Mojo just launched a wonderful site to help people distinguish between good (karma) brands and bad (karma) brands. It’s called BrandKarma and it’s the first brand-centric social media platform.

For more information check out Simon Mainwaring's April 6th blog post, "Is your brand on its best behavior? Ask Brand Karma."

Related link on Bisbane Times, from Julian Lee's April 2 post "So Far the Karma isn't That Good."  

Friday, April 2, 2010

"So Shines a Good Deed in a Naughty World"*

In the news and on TV these days are an increasing number of messages that focus on philanthropic activities by companies.  We're in a new age, a technology age, and it seems that doing good to engage and retain customers has become a best practice.  Karma is all the rage.  

Loosely defined, Karma is the idea that the beneficial or harmful effects one has on the world will return to oneself.  The short version is: "what goes around, comes around."   My good friend, Louise, paraphrasing the Bible, explains it's like casting your bread on the water and it will come back to you.  Not talking about soggy bread here, Louise's 'bread' is a good deed or a talent you share that makes the universe a better place. 

Personally, I think this is a good thing.  Even if  my motivation is still selfish - I'm motivated by my desire to not be alone but be part of a community (**see Seth Godin's video link below) - this new philanthropic agenda resets the benevolence standard while the technology makes it possible.  We focus on what others are doing for others and what we might do too, because we want to be part of it.   When I donate to relief in Haiti using my mobile phone, I connect with a community of like minded people who also want to make the world a better place.  

The cartoonist and marketer, Hugh MacLeod***, developed this simple and impactful visual that communicates this idea well.

*"How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a naughty world." (The Merchant of Venice, V, i, always worth a read) 
**Video:  Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the past, tribes.  Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change.  He urges us to do so. 
***Hugh MacLeod's cube grenade case study:  karmamedia
Photo of Louise by Jenny Zwarg!