Danger: Hazards Ahead in the Age of Conversation

Even the most experienced folk can make a mistake, trip up, or simply get it wrong.

The question is … what do you do about it? How do you fix it?

And is it true — once it's on the web, will your misplaced footprints haunt you forever?

In attempting to build some sales momentum for the Age of Conversation, my creative efforts fell flat with a very important group of people.

Where to now?

Find out over at Marketing Profs

Use Social Media to Help Daniela

If you are involved in social media, then you are likely to have heard of this story. If you are not involved, then it may help you understand the way that social media can work as a force for change.

When I began blogging I was lucky enough to come across David Armano. He brought a great perspective to this emerging space and helped shape the way that many marketers explain and work with social media. If you don't know his name, you will know his diagrams and images. Over the last three or so years, he has shared his insight and his humour with his readers, and has built a loyal following on his blog and through Twitter. He has amassed what could rightly be called, significant "social capital" — the goodwill that accrues through your social network based on your interactions with members of your community.

Today, he cashed some of this in to help a struggling family.

Daniela and her family have come to stay at David's place. After years of abuse, Daniela is divorcing her husband. Unfortunately, her mortgage has gone unpaid and she has lost her house – and with little family support, there was no one else to turn to.

To find a way to raise some money and help Daniela find an apartment and get back on her feet, David turned to his social network. He wrote a post on his blog asking for help, for small donations (via ChippedIn and PayPal). He asked people to spread the word. He hoped to raise $5000. In less than TWO hours, $4000 had been raised. And as I write, the total sits at just over $10,000.

Scott Drummond has an excellent explanation of how the money was raised, how Twitter and other social media tools were used to spread the word and harness the collective good will of a network.

Many people continue to ask me where the business value lies with social networks. But what they are really asking is "what's in this for me?" – or "what will it cost me?". But social networks do not operate in this way … one has to give before you can receive. You have to invest wisely and with sincerity. If you are stepping into social media, start by asking yourself – what value can I give away. How can I make someone's life or work or leisure time better? You need to build by giving away.

This is the way to build social capital. Interestingly though, after doing so – after building your own social capital, creating your own sense of community and so on, I bet you will no longer wonder "what's in it for me?" – you will already know.

Oh, and if you want to start. Retell this story. Donate. Help find a donor. Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: Leigh Householder follows up, asking whether social media does, in fact, bring us closer together.

Gary Vaynerchuck on Social Media ROI

If you work for an agency or are spearheading the social media efforts for your company, this may not be the news that you want to hear. But Gary Vaynerchuck points out the obvious in a compelling way – NOT engaging with your customers via social media creates opportunities for your competitors. And while you may not lose your whole market, you may well lose the high yield, low churn folks who are your bedrock, or you may lose the low yield, high maintenance influencers who help attract a wider audience.

Don't forget, social media loves a niche – and you don't have to serve the needs of your entire community in the same way. Identify key audience segments, understand their expectations and communication needs and then design your efforts around the way that adds value to your mutual relationship. If that means social media, great. If it means, "just give the me a good product when I need it", do that. But make sure you PAY ATTENTION.

Because if you don't, someone else will.

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Brand-Free January

Scrabble Letter B
Originally uploaded by Leo Reynolds

Jargon can be a great tool … using it can help us feel part of a movement, an industry or company; and it can help condense difficult concepts so that we can demonstrate linkages. It can, however, become a problem.
Overuse can make us lazy in our thinking and communications. It can separate those who “get it” from those who don’t – and it can suck the marrow from the language that we should nuture and protect.
Mark Earls has thrown out a challenge. He is asking us all for a little more clarity and purpose in our writing and thinking:

But the word itself is a sloppy metaphor for a whole bunch of stuff (much of which isn’t entirely true) with the power to distract you from precise thinking, expression and action, (why ‘build the brand’ when you could be doing something really amazing with the service/product etc…?) so let it go…

Interestingly, at a meeting last night I tried it out. I refused to use the word, finding greater clarity in focus around the ideas of “business identity”, “customer interaction” and “business operation”. I even applied it to Twitter. But I had to concentrate. I had to choose e-v-e-r-y word.
Want to join in? Leave a comment, or tell Mark.

Friday Folly – January 2, 2009

jesus-pitabread One of the things that we often forget about marketing is that it is based entirely on emotion. After all, we make decisions not based on what we KNOW but on what we FEEL. This is where marketing and psychology or human behavioural analysis cross over.

A quick visit to any online auction site will provide an amazing glimpse into the world in which we live. Take this auction, for example.

Not only does “Hamiltonian_11” miraculously identify a piece of toasted pita bread as Jesus Christ, he continues to feed the story of his “product” via a humourous stream of commentary and answers to serious and oblique questions alike.

This Friday Folly is dedicated to the person who pays more that $65 for a piece of dried up bread.

Coffee in January

The good people at Sydney's Single Origin are taking a well-earned break through to January 19. Well, it's a break with some work thrown in — apparently they are renovating, to make more space for coffee machines and folks like you and me. This means that we may have to find an alternative venue for the next couple of Friday mornings. I will keep you posted.

However, for those who have yet to experience the bizarre, enthusiastic and envigorating world of the Single Origin coffee experience, my friend, Scott Drummond has put together a great video that gives some sense of what goes on. In fact, the footage was taken just before the holiday break — the last social media coffee morning for the year …

Driving down the street I could see people spread out across the road. I knew it was going to be "special". And as I got close, I could hear music — live music. There was a band perched on the kerb opposite the cafe, serenading the morning coffee crowd and spreading a joyous vibe through the neighbourhood. It was just another example of the GREAT customer experience that Single Origin provides. Now, I just can't wait to get back for one of those famous long black coffees! Roll on the 19th!

Single Origin Gypsy Friday from Scott Drummond on Vimeo.

Oh, and here's a challenge … how many people do you recognise in the video? The sharpest eyes will win coffee and banana bread on me 😉