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Deciphering the New Marketing Rules.

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Today when people are looking for answers to problems, they go

online first. That’s why social media has become a critically

important marketing channel.

Whenever I begin a speech, I pose four questions to the audience

and ask them to raise their hands if the answer to a question is

“yes.”. How'd you respond?

In your personal or professional life in the past two months, when

looking for an answer to a problem or to research a product, have you:

* Responded to a direct mail advertisement?

* Consulted magazines, newspapers, TV or radio?

* Gone to a trade show as an attendee?

* Used Google or another search engine?

* Electronically contacted a friend, colleague or family member

(e-mail, instant message, Facebook and so forth) who responded with a

Web URL that you then visited?

Over the course of a year, in front of over 10,000 people all over

the world including college students, marketing professionals,

technology buyers and executives at Fortune 500 companies, the answers

were surprisingly consistent. Between 5 and 20 percent of people answer

affirmatively to each of the first three questions. These answers mean

that the ways most companies have historically reached

people–advertising, direct mail, tradeshow booths. Pleas to the

mainstream media for coverage–are only effective in reaching a small

portion of potential customers. However, about 100 percent of people

raise their hands to indicate that they've used a search engine to

find a solution to a problem or to research a product and 90 percent

report that they've checked, out a Web site suggested by a friend,

colleague or family member.

Clearly, establishing a social media strategy and creating

effective Web content that's indexed by search engines is critical for

any business. When people are looking for answers to problems, they go

online first.

What're social media?

“Social media”. Is a misunderstood phrase. Much like the

overused “Web 2.0,”. Many people think they know what social

media is. Few can actually describe it. Robert. Scoble defines

social media on his Scobleizer blog by what it's not. Scoble says you

should consider the media that’s in your house or on your desk

(newspapers, magazines, DVDs. TV, radio, the Yellow Pages) and then look

at attributes of social media that are different. Social media (compared

to “mainstream media”) can be changed on-the-fly if something

proves to be incorrect. People can comment on a social media item and

can see in real time how popular an article or video is and how many

times it's been linked to or voted on. You can syndicate social media

via RSS and mash it up (a video in a blog post. Example).

The Social Media Club (of which 1 am a founding member) uses the

Merriam-Webster definition of the words “social”. (“of or

relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the

Innovation Isn’t Just for The Big Dogs
by Jeff Newton While on the surface it would make perfect sense that the smaller, more agile entrepreneurial companies among us would be the most innovative. You would think this is true. And you also would be wrong. It’s not for a lack of trying or desire. It’s simply that smaller businesses do not have the R & D budgets, the staff, and the vision that larger companies can commission. Needless to say, the challenge for small business innovation is to break past the glass ceiling keeping it from innovating, and actually get into the game! Fewer than half of small...

group. The welfare of human beings as members of society”) and

“media”. (“a medium of cultivation, conveyance or

expression”). The Social Media Club “will bring together

journalists, publishers, communications professionals, artists, amateur

media creators, citizen journalists, teachers, students, tool makers and

other interested collaborators. Essentially the people who create and

consume media who have an interest in seeing the ‘media

industry’. Evolve for everyone’s benefit. we're more than just

users, we're the reason the tools exist–we're the people who

communicate our thoughts and ideas near and far.”

So by way of clarification, here is my personal definition. Social

media describes the way people share ideas, content, thoughts and

relationships online. Social media differs from so-called

“mainstream media”. In that anyone can create, comment and add

to social media content. Social media can take the form of text (blogs

&. Wikis), audio (podcasts), video (YouTube), images (Flickr), and

communities (Twitter, Facebook and more).


“Tuned In”. Organizations that participate in social media

become part of a vibrant online community and show that market that they

are worthy of doing business with. Participating in social media is more

like the way business was done 100 years ago: One person having a

conversation with another person.

We’ve been liberated!

Before the Web came along, there were only two ways to get noticed;

Buy expensive advertising or beg the mainstream media to tell your story

for you. Now we've a better option. Publishing interesting content on

the Web that your buyers want to consume and interact with. The tools of

the marketing and PR trade have changed. The skills that worked offline

to help you buy or beg your way in are the acts of interruption and

coercion. Success online comes from getting “Tuned In”. To your

buyers and creating great information that enlightens, informs and

starts online conversations.

Unlike nontargeted, in-your-face, interruption-based advertising,

social media is content that people actually want to see. How cool is

that? Rather than forcing you to convince people to pay attention to

your products and services by dreaming up messages and ad campaigns,

search engines deliver interested buyers right to your company’s

virtual doorstep. This is a marketer’s dream-come-true.

However, most marketers don’t know how to harness this

exciting form of marketing. Their most common mistake is to spend way

too much time worrying about keywords and phrases and obsessing about

being “on message”. About what their product does. Many

companies are fearful of jumping into the social media waters because it

seems scary to put yourself out there.

Getting started

As you get started with social media, you should think of your

initiation as including three steps (and in this order):

1. Monitor. The first thing to do is see what’s going on out

there. “Tune in”. By finding the most important blogs in your

market space and follow them for a few months. Look for YouTube videos

about your target market or industry and watch them. Follow some Twitter

feeds and some podcasts. It’s amazing what you’ll find when

you open your eyes to what millions of people are saying about you, the

market you sell into, your organisation and its products.

2. Comment. To dip your toes into the social media waters, your

next step is to begin participating in conversations by commenting on

other people’s blogs, adding your voice to forums and chat rooms,

and updating Wikis. You’re adding to discussions at this stage, not

starting your own.

3. Create. To begin to shape conversations, now is the time to

consider writing your own blog or Twitter feed. Maybe creating a

Facebook group. YouTube video or podcast would be right for you. But

you’ll know what’s right because you’ve already

participated through your “monitor and comment”. Efforts.

There are good reasons for jumping into the social media world

using these three steps. First, by monitoring what people are saying

about the marketplace you sell into as well as your company and

products, you get a sense of the important social media participants,

their online voices and etiquette. it's quite important to understand

the unwritten rules of social media. The best way to do that's to

read and watch. Next, you can begin to leave comments, a strategy that

starts you on the way to being known to other bloggers and allows you to

present your point of view before you create your own social media

initiative. Finally, when you feel comfortable, you can take the plunge

by creating your own efforts.

Social media implementation

Here are some ideas to get the most out of using social networking

sites for marketing:

* Target a specific audience. Create a page that reaches an

audience that's important to your organisation. it's usually better to

get tuned in to a small niche market than try to go large.

* Be a thought leader. provide valuable and interesting information

that people want to check out. it's better to show your expertise in a

market or at solving a buyer’s problems than to blather on about

your product.

* Create lots of links. Link to your own sites and blog. Those

of others in your industry and network. Everybody loves links–it makes

the Web what it's. You should certainly link to your own stuff from a

social networking site (like your blog). Also link to other

people’s sites and content in your own market.

* Encourage people to contact you. Make it easy for people to reach

you online. Be sure to follow-up personally on your fan mail.

* Participate. Create groups and participate in online discussions.

Become an online leader and organizer.

* Make it easy to find you. Tag your page and add your page into

the subject directories. Encourage others to bookmark your page with

Delicious (a social bookmarking Web site) and Digg (a social media news

Web site).

* Experiment. These sites are great because you can try new things.

If it isn’t working, tweak it. Or abandon the effort and. try

something new. There is no such thing as an expert in social

networking–we’re all learning as we go!

Social media ethics

Let’s talk about ethics for a moment. All sorts of unethical

practices go on in the social media world. You must be certain to

hold yourself and your organisation accountable for your actions.

Some organisations have gotten caught using unethical practices and

have done great harm to their corporate reputations. I’ve included

some of the issues you need to pay attention to, as well as an example

of each unethical practice.

This isn't intended to be a comprehensive list. Rather a

starting point for you to think about ethics.

* Transparency. You should never pretend to be someone you're not.

For example, don’t use another name (or be anonymous) when you

submit a comment.

* Privacy. Unless you’ve been given permission, don’t

write about something that was disclosed to you. For example, don’t

post material from an e-mail someone sent, you unless you've


* Disclosure. it's important to disclose anything that people

might consider a conflict of interest.

* Truthfulness. Don’t lie. For example, never make up a

customer story just because it makes good social media content.

* Credit. You should give credit to bloggers (and other sources)

whose material you've used. Besides being good ethical practice, links

to other bloggers whose ideas you've used helps to introduce them to

your blog and they may link to you.

What're you waiting for?

Everybody I’ve spoken with about social media has said the

same thing (but in slightly different ways). They were all a bit

uncomfortable when they started blogging. or creating a Twitter feed or

making a YouTube video.

They felt a little dorky because they didn’t know all the

unwritten rules. They were even a little scared to push the button on

their first blog post or Facebook update. We’ve all been there.

Don’t worry, jump in to the exciting world of social media. What

are you waiting for?

David Meermann Scott is a marketing strategist and the author of

the award-winning BusinessWeek best-selling book “The New Rules of

Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Viral Marketing and

Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly,”. Which has been published in

24 languages and the new book “World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers

that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your


Download his e-book “The New Rules of Viral Marketing: How

Word-of-Mouse Spreads Your Ideas”. Free at


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issue or leave a message at (202) 663-5075. You can also send comments

by e-mail to [email protected]

Editor’s Note: The following two articles look at the world of

social media marketing. The first, by David Meerman Scott, explains how

the emergence of social media is changing the traditional rules of

marketing. The second, by Amber Farley, is a practical guide to bank

marketers getting started with social media marketing.

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