Tag Archives: OC Talk Radio

Internet Talk Radio:The Newest Social Medium

“Social media is not an ad. People don’t see your post, tweet or LinkedIn profile and buy. The purpose (and promise) of all social mediums is simply to start a conversation with someone you’d like to meet.”

I belong to a group called CRITICAL MASS FOR BUSINESS. It’s a facilitated CEO PEER GROUP that meets once a month for 4 hours. The group is limited to 12 members, all of whom own similarly sized businesses in non-competeing industries.

Our typical agenda starts with a recap of what happened to all of us over the prior month including reports on whatever we did (or didn’t do) to implement the suggestions, ideas and “action plans” from our last meeting. For many of us (me included) this “accountability to someone other than yourself” may be one of the most important features of this group. We’re all entrepreneurs, not used to reporting to anyone but ourselves. The problem with that approach (however) is that it’s far too easy to make excuses or put off painful decisions when there is no one looking over your shoulder, prodding you to improve and move forward. “I’ll do it tomorrow” too often means it never gets done.

Then comes the truly transformative part of the meeting: the “round table discussions”. Here is where the rubber meets the road and people really get to the heart of their issues. Using a strictly controlled “question and answer process” (guided by our professional facilitators) we probe, distill and digest whatever issues each member wishes to bring forward. It’s not always a pleasant experience to be on “the hot seat” but it’s always informative and often illuminating. This is the only true “no spin zone” I know. You’re in a confidential setting with 11 other struggling entrepreneurs, many of whom are wrestling with the same issues and obstacles you are. And it s the only place I know where you get really honest, no bs feed back. Who else is gonna tell you such truth? Your friends and family (who don’t want to hurt your feelings?) Your employees (who don’t want to lose their jobs?) Or some consultant (who really wants to please you and keep getting paid and whose narrow expertise may not allow them to see the whole picture?)

This is the magical “mastermind” part of the meeting: 12 individual minds coming together as one urging, adding to and otherwise improving upon each previous thought. Organized brainstorming, proving once again that the sum is greater than the individual parts. How can this help? Well, it’s hard to describe unless you’ve experienced it. But let me say that (in my own case) it gave birth to a whole new business.

I was a long time PR person whose core clients (billiards, hot tubs and other home improvement products) had seen a dramatic decline during the recent “Great Recession”. Hot tub sales alone fell by over 70%. So, one by one, my clients were either going out of business or cutting back dramatically on their overall marketing services (including me). I entered the group to find a way to revitalize my business. Instead, the group opened my eyes to a whole new business opportunity.

As I recanted my problems to the group and discussed how foolishly I’d put all my “eggs in one basket” (by narrowly focusing on just one niche), how “fat and happy” and complacent I’d become in the process and how I’d generally stopped learning, growing and aggressively marketing my services to others, it became clear that I needed a new fire or passion to prod me in a new direction and a distinctive service to offer. Then, after casually mentioning that PR companies were being asked (more and more) to take on the role and responsibilities of “social media strategist” for their clients (since ad agencies-used to making ads–and marketing people-used to collecting and analyzing data–neither knew how nor wanted to explore this new aspect of marketing), the group started prodding me to explore this subject and educate myself on this opportunity. That led to long discussions about “what is social media”, “how is it different than traditional advertising, PR and marketing” and what is its fundamental purpose?

That, in turn, led me to some remarkble insights such as “social media isn’t an ad on the Internet”. People don’t just read your blog or “tweets” and buy. Instead, its something we’ve never seen before. The purpose (and promise) of social media is that it allows you to start a conversation with anyone you want to meet, from which you can learn, explain, explore and otherwise engage them in a meaningful dialog in which (hopefully) both sides receive some benefit. That means you can’t just “ask for the order” anymore. You have to be willing to offer some ideas and information for free, upfront, before you start the sales process. Information that your audience (hopefully) will find so interesting and informative that they pass it onto others in their network and community (creating “brand advocates” or “viral marketing” for your goods or services in the process). Then you have to respond to their questions and comments and keep them coming back for more. In other words, you have to have something interesting to say and then keep saying it regularly and often.

That’s why most social media programs fail. Most companies aren’t prepared to become their own media production companies. They run of out meaningful things to say and they don’t regularly keep at it, primarly because it takes time and discipline and it may not show immediate ROI. And quite often, no one in the company is prepared to take on the additional role of “social media spokesman”, which is why it defaults to the traditional PR people (who are used to regularly speaking for their clients).

And that’s when it occurred to me. This is what I should be doing, particularly since I originally started off in radio broadcasting and communication right after college (as a traditional DJ on WMYK, “K94″, in Norfolk,Virginia). Then came the even bigger insight that “I think I know a simpler and more powerful way to do this!” For if the purpose of social media is simply to start a conversation with someone you want to meet, then what could be easier than simply calling them up, interviewing them over the phone and then streaming that conversation live to the world? You could even record, archive and store it on some server, making it available 24/7 as a download for others to listen to and enjoy later as a “podcast” on ITunes and elsewhere.

Wouldn’t that be much easier to produce than trying to research and write a new blog or mini-article each week? And (ultimately) wouldn’t it be much easier for your audience on the Internet to consume (given the fact that most people would rather watch or listen to something on the Internet than read it?) And wouldn’t these weekly live conversations be more interesting and stimulating than just talking to yourself ? (a problem that plagues most other social mediums like blogs, tweets and traditional podcasts) And wouldn’t a live, weekly broadcast, at a regular time and place, be more likely to engage your audience, particularly if they could call-in their questions (just like any traditional talk show) or log-on, in real time, and tweet their comments ? And wouldn’t your guests immediately tell all their friends, customers and clients to listen? And wouldn’t they put a link to that recorded interview up on their site after the fact (which would help drive traffic and links to your site, thereby raising your search engine rankings and giving you a free ad on their website forever?) The answer to all this was “yes”.

Thus was born a new “social medium” and the business to go with it: OC TALK RADIO, Orange County’s only community radio station giving local businesses a voice on the Internet. For more information, check us out at http://www.OCTalkRadio.net.

Brand, Tell Me a Story, Please

Courtesy of MediaPost.

These are challenging times to work in marketing communications. The “big advertising idea” is no longer the be-all or end-all. Instead, designing stories around brands is crucial to “social selling” to customers who are media-savvy and increasingly suspicious of traditional marketing techniques.

Social media requires compelling storytelling to thrive. As businesses struggle to break through the marketing noise, brand stewards are finding it effective to craft stories that focus on achieving brand goals while giving customers a sense of what a brand stands for. Brand storytellers who embrace social media recognize that emotion is the currency their communities trade-in. For a brand to connect with its communities, it must tell captivating stories that allow fans to become emotionally invested.

A brand must define itself clearly, articulate its core values, and communicate consistently, but that can happen only when a brand defines its narrative. Content strategy doesn’t just apply to copy but to visual media as well. Storytelling is an important part of the user experience and, at the end of the day, if a brand’s stories are not tailored to audience needs and organizational goals, you are wasting time and money.

Commitment Comes First

To implement successful campaigns, senior management must commit to building storytelling into its overall communications strategy. This sounds obvious, but is too often the missing link. Storytelling can help organizations stand out by fostering emotional connections that provide the building blocks of long-lasting relationships. Hearing stories about your company’s work gives your audiences another reason to care about the brand, and why they should support its initiatives.

Once a storytelling plan is green-lighted, a strategic approach to content development tactics is required. Enter content strategy, which provides a framework to plan content, its delivery and management. So let’s get started:

Prioritize target audiences, concentrating messaging around groups with the most influence. Learn what those audiences want (research and analytics), then focus brand stories around the content that delivers the most hits. Deliver content in the form that your audiences want, whether it’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, etc. And, don’t forget to consider traditional media, which are always looking for the next great story. Plan your stories to supplement content on your Web site, then create an editorial calendar to manage the campaign over time.

Develop stories that emotionally convey your message, compel action, and have viral potential. Empower your audiences to support the relationship by giving them something to do! Provide the means to donate, volunteer, share stories, etc. Make it worth their while by showing how they will personally gain by leveraging incentives that benefit your organization and brand community.

Stories are formulaic, so try techniques that journalists use. The 5Ws: who, what, when, where and why/how remain the basic building blocks of any good story. Try to fit in as many as possible when building your marketing materials.

1. Meaning Why is this important? Why should customers care?

2. Importance What’s the big picture? How does your product/service fit in?

3. Human Interest What are the customer goals, achievements

4. Prominence Add credibility – name partners/experts

5. Timeliness Is this a product launch or an thought leadership campaign?

6. Proximity What does the campaign target?

Always keep in mind the key elements of what it means to be human. In every campaign, design the elements to elicit an emotional response, to share knowledge or address a customer need. Your brand community should feel they are getting something of value from the time they spend interacting with your marketing campaign.

Finally, be honest in everything your brand says. There are countless examples of fudged facts, outright lies and omissions that have damaged brand reputations from Enron to Walmart, J&J to BP, and require substantial expenditures of corporate capital and energy to repair.

Winning brands tell great stories that connect emotionally to key stakeholders. To develop your storytelling skills, study the classics, strive to understand their structure, form and the ingredients that make a great story.

Host Your Own Radio Show

Every business we talk to today asks the same question, “Is there any Social Medium that has real and immediate return on investment”?  Every business executive and owner has a blog, Twitter and Facebook account and few of them see the benefit to any of them.  “Total waste of time”, is what I too often hear.

Well here’s one social medium that works:  hosting your own Internet Radio show.  For just a couple hundred dollars per month (depending upon the service you use) you can:

1.  Instantly brand yourself as “the expert on some subject”.  Who else hosts a weekly radio show on this subject? The fact that you do instantly suggests you must be an authority on the subject.

2.  Instantly differentiate yourself from all your competitors.  “Hey, remember me?  I’m the one with the radio show on this subject”.  The novelty alone will make people remember you.  And if they check out your website, they can listen to all your past shows, archived as Mp3 files (or “podcasts” as they are popularly called).  What better way to get to know someone than to listen to a sample of WHAT they know and WHO they know.

On the Internet Highway, no one wants to stop and read the billboards anymore.  They either want to watch something (like a video) or listen to it instead.  And live or downloadable audio files have the added benefit of being something you can listen to while doing something else.  You can’t multi-task watching a You Tube video, but you can listen to a show while working out or working on something else.

3.  Start conversations with anyone you want to meet. “Hey, can I take you to lunch and tell you about my professional service?” CLICK….I’d love to invite you to my free seminar…FORGET IT.  But try cold calling any business owner or executive and asking them “I’d love to interview you on my local radio show” and watch their eyes light up.  “Sure!  When would you like to do it?”

Who wouldn’t want to talk about their company to your audience or network?  It’s flattering and it’s free publicity.  And with so many newspapers going out of business or downsizing down to nothing, there simply aren’t many (or any!) other outlets to tell their business story.  And if you’re smart, you won’t just talk to them on air.  You’ll set up a meeting at their office first (as a pre-interview to learn more about them so you can ask better questions).

Suddenly, you’re in the door and talking one-on-one to the main owner or executive (whom you couldn’t otherwise meet in a million years).  And what’s more, he or she isn’t looking at their watch and asking “why are you here again?” and “how long is this going to take?”  They’re much more likely to tell their secretary “hold all my calls…the guy from the radio show is here to talk to me!” as they walk you enthusiastically throughout their business and tell you everything you ever wanted to know.   Unparalleled access and information, just because you host your own radio show.

Then, after the show airs, send your guest a link to where the archived copy resides (or links to where it can be heard, like ITunes and other places) and suggest that the guest put it on his or her site as well. And you’ve not only got an introduction to a new prospect or networking partner, but a free ad on their website forever.  Viral marketing at its best.

That’ s why we tell all our clients “hosting your own internet radio show” may be the most powerful and effective “social medium” yet imagined.  For if the purpose of social media in general is to get people to start a conversation with you, what easier or more effective way could there be to accomplish this goal then just getting them on the phone, streaming that live to the world and then recording and archiving that conversation for everyone in your network (and theirs) to reference and enjoy.

For more information check out the few Internet Talk Radio stations in business across the country such as http://www.voiceamerica.com, http://www.wsradio.com or our own http://www.OCTalkRadio.net.

HTML5, the iPad, and the iPhone: What You Need to Know

Have questions about HTML5 video? You’re not alone. StreamingMedia.com recently hosted a webinar on the topic led by Jeff Whatcott, senior vice president of global marketing at Brightcove (the event was sponsored by Brightcove), and nearly 1,000 people attended. The entire event is archived here (registration is free), but if you want something you can skim, here are the highlights.

The webinar was titled HTML5 Readiness, and sought to fill in the gaps for professionals who had heard the buzz on HTML5 video, but still had a lot of questions. Whatcott explained what HTML5 video is, showed how some companies are using it, and gave recommendations for creating an HTML5 strategy.

HTML5, Whatcott explained, is the successor to the current HTML standard, one that started as a renegade project by a group that included Apple, Mozilla, Google, Opera, and others. The central idea was to allow video and audio to play on websites without plug-ins.

We’re currently at the beginning of the HTML5 cycle, and only 38 percent of browsers support it. That means no content creator can afford to serve only HTML5 video, but needs to create a mixed format delivery system where users get the video in Flash or Silverlight if their browser isn’t HTML5-compatible.

While HTML5’s video tag is enjoying all the attention, the standard also includes audio and canvas tags, for delivering audio and dynamic images without plug-ins.

One of the standard’s shortcomings is that it doesn’t specify one format to use with it. That means there are a variety of choices, two of which enjoy major support. Providers can serve H.264 video created with the MPEG4 codec, WebM video made with the VP8 codec, or Ogg Theora video. H.264 and WebM offer better video quality, Whatcott said, and WebM is open source.

The area has gotten complicated, since Apple backs the H.264 format and Google backs WebM in its Chrome browser (which soon won’t support H.264 video). Whatcott sees the formats being used as weapons in a format battle, and doesn’t want customers to become casualties.

That fragmentation means that content providers can’t choose just one format when delivering HTML5 video, but need to stream two formats. The real beneficiary of this Adobe’s Flash video format, Whatcott says. If HTML5 seems too complicated, people will throw up their hands and just go with a system that works.

While that’s true of serving desktop viewers, HTML5 is most relevant now for reaching mobile devices. Providers who want to reach the influential iOS demographic need to stream H.264 video. Android devices support H.264 video, but not in all builds.

For those looking for more help with HTML5 video, Whatcott recommended this collection of links, which he put together and continues to maintain.

When it came time for questions, webinar attendees showed that they were concerned about the limits of HTML5 video. They asked about adaptive bitrate streaming (HTML5 video doesn’t offer it; the most it can do is one bandwidth check just before playback), analytics (tools aren’t as rich as with Flash video), and live streaming (it’s not supported in HTML5 video). They also asked about DRM and closed captioning, neither of which are available in HTML5 video.

For a more in-depth look at HTML5 video, check out the entire hour-long webinar for yourself. It’s a great introduction if you’re starting to think about an HTML5 delivery strategy.

Courtesy of SteamingMedia.com

Fascinating Social Media Facts For 2010

Courtesy of SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY

Social media is not just a social instrument of communication. It is not all about people sharing ideas and thoughts with other people. It is the creation and exchange of ‘User Generated Content’. The ability to transform broadcast media monologues into a social media dialogues that spread, sometimes, faster and wider than television, radio or print. Social Media when compared to year 2009 shows a fantastic growth in terms of people participation, penetration, user-ability, business and more.

Now, we are almost at the end of year 2010, and therefore it is time to study and understand some of the Social Media facts and trends that were evolved and followed over the year. Scouting through the web has brought together the following list of Fascinating Social Media Facts. Most of these facts are based on surveys (online or offline) over a sample size, these are also mentioned to ensure that we get the perspective of each of these facts.

General Facts

1. Australia has the most number of established users of social media in the world, followed by USA and UK.

2. In terms of the impact of social networks on advertising, word of mouth is the popular option with 78% of customers trust peer recommendations on sites. While, only 14% trust advertisements.

3. Advertising has also been impacted greatly because of social media with only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive return on investment.

4. Facebook, Blogspot followed by Myspace are the top sites visited by under 18s.

5. An average user becomes a fan of 2 pages every month.

6. 24 out of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing declines in circulations because the news reaches users in other formats.

7. 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands are linked to user-generated content.

8. *In a sample survey of 2884 people across 14 countries, 90% of participants know at least one social networking site.

9. * In a sample survey of 2884 people across 14 countries,72% of participants of the internet population are active on at least 1 networking sites. The top 3 countries part of at least 1 network site was Brazil (95%), USA (84%), and Portugal (82%).

10. * In a sample survey of 2884 people across 14 countries, users of social networking sites are saturated. Connected people feel no need to further expand their membership on other social network sites.

11. * In a sample survey of 2884 people across 14 countries, on an average, users log in twice a day to social networking sites and 9 times a month on professional websites.

12. * In a sample survey of 2884 people across 14 countries, sending personal messages is the most popular online activity. The top 5 activities online are sending personal messages, watching photos, checking status, reacting to others’ status, and uploading pictures.

13. * In a sample survey of 2884 people across 14 countries, people have about 195 friends on an average.

Source:

• *Online sample survey of 2,884 consumers spread over 14 countries between the age of 18 to 55 years old by Online Media Gazette.

Facebook Facts

14. Facebook has over 500 million users.

15. If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest country.

16. An average Facebook user spends about 55 minutes a day on the site.

17. An average Facebook user spends about 6.50 hours a week on the site.

18. The average Facebook user spends 1.20 days a month on the site.

19. Facebook’s translation application support over 100 languages.

20. There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)

21. Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events

22. Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month

23. More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.

24. ** In a sample survey of 2884 people across 14 countries, Facebook is studied to have the highest penetration. The top 3 sites include Facebook (51%), MySpace (20%), and Twitter (17%).

25. **Over 300,000 users translate the site through the translations application.

26. **Over 150 million people engage with Facebook on external websites every month.

27. **Two-thirds of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites are integrated with Facebook.

28. **There are over 100 million active users accessing Facebook currently through their mobile devices.

Source:

• *Online sample survey of 2,884 consumers spread over 14 countries between the age of 18 to 55 years old by Online Media Gazette.
• ** Statistics from Facebook press office.

YouTube Facts

29. The most popular YouTube video – Justin Bieber, Baby ft. Ludacris has had over 374,403,983 views

30. ** YouTube receives over 2 billion viewers each day.

31. ** 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube by users every minute.

32. ** 70% of YouTube users are from the United States.

33. ** More than half of YouTube’s users are under the age of 20.

34. ** To watch all the videos currently on YouTube, a person has to live for around 1,000 years.

35. ** YouTube is available across 19 countries and in 12 languages.

36. ** Music videos account for 20% of uploads on YouTube.

Source:

• ** Statistics from YouTube press centre.

Blogger Facts

37. There are over 181 million blogs.

38. 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.

39. ** The age group for 60% of bloggers is 18-44 years.

40. ** One in five bloggers updates their blogs every day.

41. ** Two thirds of bloggers are male.

42. ** Corporate blogging accounts for 14% of blogs.

43. ** 15% of bloggers spend 10 hours a week blogging.

44. ** More than half of all bloggers are married and/or parents.

45. ** More than 50% of bloggers have more than one blog.

Source:

• ** Statistics from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2009.

Tweet Facts

46. 54% of bloggers post content or tweet on a daily basis.

47. 80% of Twitter users use Twitter on mobile devices.

48. There have been over 50 million tweets in 2010.

49. The 10 billionth Twitter’s tweet was posted in March 2010.

50. **There are over 110 million users of Twitter currently.

51. **180 million unique users access Twitter each month.

52. **More than 600 million searches happen on Twitter every day.

Source:

Box Hill Institute: Box Hill Institute (Social Media at Box Hill Institute)
• **Statistics from Twitter and the Chirp Conference.

LinkedIn Facts

53. Of the 60 million users of LinkedIn half of them are from outside US.

54. By March 2010 Australia alone had over 1 million LinkedIn users.

55. 80% companies use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool.

56. **Every second a new member joins LinkedIn.

57. **Almost 12 million unique visitors visit LinkedIn every day.

58. ** LinkedIn has executives from all Fortune 500 companies.

59. **1-in-20 LinkedIn profiles are accounted by recruiter.

Source:

• ** Statistics from LinkedIn press centre and SysComm International.

Wikipedia Facts

60. If $1 was paid to you for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $156 per hour.

61. *Wikipedia has the maximum number of articles at 3 million articles. This is followed by, German (1.08 million), French (958,000), Italian (697,000), and Spanish (608,000).

62. **69% of users edit Wikipedia to fix errors.

63. **73% of Wikipedia users edit Wikipedia because they want to share knowledge.

64. **4.4% editors of Wikipedia’s are PhD’s, 19% of the editors hold master degrees.

65. **Bad weather usually results in more number of updates in Wikipedia.

66. **13% of the editors on Wikipedia are women.

Source:

Social Media Today
• * http://www.axleration.com/15-interesting-facts-about-wikipedia/
• ** http://pochp.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/surprising-facts-about-wikipedia/

Foursquare Facts

67. Over the last first year of Foursquare, it has more than half a million users, 1.4 million venues, and 15.5 million check-ins.

68. * Foursquare is five times larger than Gowalla.

69. * Foursquare is growing 75% faster than Gowalla each day.

70. **Foursquare passed the 3 million users milestone in August 2010.

Source:
• *http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/07/foursquare-gowalla-stats/
• **http://www.crunchbase.com/company/foursquare

9. All Sources

Online sample survey of 2,884 consumers spread over 14 countries between the age of 18 to 55 years old by Online Media Gazette.
Danny Brown Resources
EduDemic
http://www.axleration.com/15-interesting-facts-about-wikipedia/
http://pochp.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/surprising-facts-about-wikipedia/
http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/07/foursquare-gowalla-stats/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/foursquare

About Writer: 

Sorav is a young entrepreneur started his Internet Marketing career at the age of 17. Sorav is amongst the pioneer of Social Media & Digital Marketing in India. He writes Social Media and Digital Marketing Blog and conduct Social Media Training and Workshops across various cities over the globe.  Connect with Writer Sorav Jain on Twitter: @soravjain,  FacebookLinkedIn

About the Author

Sorav is a qualified Masters in International Marketing Management from Leeds University Business School (U.K) and also alumnus of Loyola College, Chennai the finest institutions renowned globally. He started his career at age of 17 as SEO executive and Freelancer content writer. From Leeds University Business School he has been awarded with the Best Market Research Presentation Award, Leadership Award, Class Champion Award 08 and many precious accolades

7 Steps to Avoid Disaster When Your CEO Starts to Tweet.

Courtesy of Rob Rose and IMediaConnection.

I’ve been chewing on a couple of recent articles recently about CEO’s and social media.

The first is a study conducted by PR firm Weber Shandwick called “Socializing Your CEO”. That study found that a shockingly low percentage of CEO’s maintain their own social media profile. They go on to say that “removing Wikipedia [entries] leaves the online CEO space rather barren – only 36% are engaged through their company websites or in social media.”

The accompanying whitepaper goes on to prescribe 6 “Rules of the Road” in order to socialize your CEO. The one that caught my eye was #4 “Develop a C-suite social media strategy”. They prescribe that “c-level executives should strategically select social media outlets to get the company point of view across…”

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

 

Then, the second piece is an article in Harvard Business Review called “What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?” This is a piece directed at C-Suite executives extolling the benefits of leveraging social media and providing an outline of why it’s so important to both them and their company.

Really? Didn’t we just finish our brand’s social media strategy? Okay… sigh… File/New/WordDoc…

I think I Want To Twit
We’ve all been there. We’re happily jamming – mid-morning in the office. The Starbucks Venti latte just kicked in – and we’re in the zone. The new White paper is just awesome. The analytics report just came in from the Web team and we’re rockin’ it. The PR agency just called and the analyst event is all set and under-budget. Even the VP of Sales just called with nothing but praise about the new demand generation program.

Okay, maybe that last one is a bit much….

Anyway, we’re having a great morning – and then it happens. There’s that soft rapa..tapa..tap tap (shave and a haircut… two bits) knock on our door and there he stands; the CEO of the company. “He never comes down to this end of the building. Why is he here?” you think as you fumble to turn down Pandora, and blurt out just a little too loudly.. “oh.. hey there.. Hi… How are ya..”.

He holds up a rolled up copy of the latest Harvard Business Review magazine in his hand, and waves it like a wand. “I think….” he says in a tone that’s not quite a question, but not quite a statement either, “that it’s time for me to start tweeting and blogging. You know…. So, let me know how we do that.” And with that, he’s gone before you can even say “um, yeah okay”.

Ready. Set. Tweet.
So, according to the Web Shandwick study, some of the main reasons that CEO’s aren’t as socially minded are because

…they’re not convinced of the ROI
…they’re worried about perceived risks of engaging with consumers directly
…and they concerned about real risks of legal and investor relations issues.

So, assuming that we’ve got those three things covered – what are some of the best practices we can start with to set up our new “engager-in-chief” so that he or she has the best chance at success.

7 Steps To Avoid Disaster

1.Understand the “why” first. Get a common ground with your CEO to understand how he or she will measure success. Unlike the corporate brand – you (or they) may want to be very careful about the following/follow strategy or the content of the blog. The tools that they will utilize and what and to whom you want to say it should be carefully thought through.

2.Easy does it. Your CEO does not need to compete with other accounts for content velocity. It’s perfectly okay if the CEO tweets once per week to start. It’s okay if they blog once a month. Or, if they’re frisky – once per day. But, if possible, it’s better to ease into it than bombard with content.

3.Whatever you do – don’t ghost Tweet or Ghost blog. If they’re not prepared to compose their own Tweets and/or blog posts, then they shouldn’t be doing it. You need to set the expectation with the CEO that this is not something they should just “try out” and then delegate if they get tired of it. This is a marathon – not a sprint.

4.Leverage it. Done well this will be an amazing new conduit for your organization and your content marketing efforts. Don’t let it stand in isolation. Integrate it into the other corporate social media channels. Bonus points for showing how far your extending the CEO’s content into the marketing message.

5.Yes, they can work ahead of time. If they want to compose a few tweets or blog posts while they’re on that flight to London – that’s great. In fact, creating an editorial calendar and working together to make sure those tweets or blog posts are timed well is a great way to get ahead in case they get busy with that quarter-end sales scramble.

6.But, don’t automate it. Even though there are lots of people automating Tweets – and most find that it’s perfectly acceptable for brands to automate some level of Tweeting – your CEO should not have Tweets emanating from Hootsuite, as she is speaking at the opening ceremony of the customer appreciation event.

7.Listen & Measure It. Unless you have *that* kind of CEO (and you already know if you do), it’s almost a certainty that you’re going to need to devote some bandwidth to watching @Replies, blog comments or the blogosphere in general to monitor the reaction to the content. Make sure that there’s an effective listening process, a measurement methodology – and most importantly a way for the CEO to react to content that’s being generated from their tweets/blog posts.
That last one is important – because remember with this new blog or Twitter account, you’re now opening up a direct channel to the CEO. More than replies or comments, you’re likely to get pro-active requests through this channel than anything they’re used to (job requests, partnership requests, sales calls etc..). You need a policy and a method of reacting to both the good and the bad for these requests.

We all know that social media is changing the way we do business – and how it’s affecting our personal brand strategy. Just know that the C-Suite is likely to want to get in on these trends – and this is a good thing. We can be the kid who’s parents tell them they’re “digging” their favorite rock band (and thus ruining their music forever). Or, we can be the leader we want to be – helping our CEO and our company transform into new avenues of communication.

And, you? Has your CEO gotten onto the Social Media train yet?

5 Ways to Start A Social Media Frenzy

tin cans and stringThe power of online word of mouth
Word of mouth is clearly one of the fastest-growing sectors in marketing. PQ Media’s recent study has it growing 14.2 percent in 2008 to $1.54 billion and expects it to reach $3 billion by 2013. Powering that growth are social technologies that have made it increasingly easier for individuals to grow their spheres of influence and quickly spread content to their expanded social networks online.

Creating a campaign that ignites word of mouth online is far from an exact science. But it’s not a mysterious game of chance, either. There are tried-and-true best practices that have been demonstrated to increase the chances that consumers will want to share your brand and its messages with their friends and family. In this article, we’ll take a look at five core word-of-mouth triggers and the brands that have leveraged them for successful campaigns.

Trigger 1: Target online Oprahs

With the advent and rise of social platforms, influence has been democratized more than ever. As a result, brands need to expand the breadth and range of individuals on their radar. Brands that successfully identify members of key communities and empower them to use their influence and credibility gain relevance through personalized messaging that resonates with these influencers’ audiences.

While having a popular blog or a lot of Twitter followers can certainly help amplify a brand’s message, it’s not necessary. Finding authentic voices within relevant communities is critical. A good example of a brand putting this into action is Ford’s Fiesta Movement.

For the launch of the Fiesta, Ford knew it needed to change its reputation with the 20-something demographic. Rather than try to hitch itself to emerging trends that it felt would speak to this consumer, Ford took it straight to them. Ford launched a national contest to identify 100 drivers to take a six-month test drive of its new car.

The 100 selected were given keys to the cars and asked to participate in monthly missions as well as share their thoughts through their blogs and social networks. Everything was aggregated at FiestaMovement.com, providing a real look into to the lives and experiences of a diverse set of consumers tied into the communities Ford was looking to impact.

Trigger 2: Strike a chord

While more and more brands realize a new set of influencers exists for their brands, the way they communicate with them can often lack substance. Brands should seek to create programming rather than messaging in an attempt to generate word of mouth. Thinking more like a TV producer and less like an advertising exec will result in creating compelling content that has value and is more likely to generate interest and spread.

An example of a brand creating a meaningful platform is Pepperidge Farm Goldfish brand’s Fishful Thinking campaign. Pepperidge Farm identified a key need for young moms: Children were becoming less optimistic than previous generations. As a result, the Goldfish brand launched Fishful Thinking, an initiative led by child psychologist Dr. Reivich to help moms instill optimism in their children.

The initiative struck a chord with moms and became the centerpiece of all marketing activities. To spread the movement, Pepperidge Farm launched an ambassador network, “The School of Fishful Thinking,” through which 1,000 moms were invited to learn from the brand and Dr. Reivich so they could take their learnings back to their communities. Moms spoke at PTA meetings, spread weekly parenting activities to their online networks, and drove other moms to FishfulThinking.com so they could learn more about instilling optimism in their children.

Trigger 3: Give it up

It’s no secret that people love free stuff and promotions. While this has long been a motivator used by brands to get consumers engaged and get products in consumers’ hands, social media has made this tactic highly viral, with reach well beyond just those who get the goods. Website-building companies like Squarespace and Moonfruit both instantly became top Twitter trending topics for their giveaways of Apple products by asking users to tweet their hashtags for a chance to win. Many such promotions have quickly spread on Twitter.

On Facebook, brands like Starbucks ice cream and Papa John’s have quickly gained viral participation and Facebook fans by giving away their products. Starbucks, offering up 800 pints per hour, allowed people to send a pint of their new ice cream flavors to friends. Papa John’s added 125,000 fans in one day with a free pizza offer. Burger King offered up a highly viral creative twist on giveaways when it offered a free Whopper to anyone who defriended 10 of their Facebook friends with the Whopper Sacrifice app. Despite not adhering to Facebook’s Terms and Conditions, the app quickly spread and more than 230,000 Facebook friendships were terminated as a result.

Trigger 4: Cast your consumers

“The Daily Record,” the local paper of Dunn, N.C., boasts the highest penetration of any newspaper in the U.S. at an astounding 112 percent. Its secret? Post as many local names and pictures as they can. The newspaper realized early on that when people are featured in the paper, they will not only purchase their copy but others to share with friends and family. People simply like to see themselves in print. The same rule applies online.

In reviewing what spreads online, another key theme arose. Those campaigns that allowed consumers to feature themselves or friends in a cool or humorous way often saw success when done well. Moveon.org’s Obama video executed on this brilliantly by allowing people to insert a friend’s name into a video newscast claiming Obama lost by one vote and they were to blame. The person’s name was shown repeatedly on the screen in what looked like a real newscast, causing viewers to forward the video to other friends with their name included, resulting in more than 10 million views of the video.

For the Activision game “Prototype”, the brand took the idea even further. To launch the game, it asked users to log in via Facebook Connect on its website to view the trailer for the game. Once they did, the user viewed a trailer filled with personal information, pictures, and content embedded in highly contextual ways. This unique twist put the consumer front and center, causing users to take notice and share the experience with friends.

Trigger 5: Summon your Spielberg

Content is king. This cliché is even more applicable when applied to sparking word of mouth online. Unlike TV, where there are limited built-in audiences waiting to tune in, online views are earned by creating content that users feel compelled to spread. With competition for eyeballs more fierce than ever, marketers must identify the content that will really resonate with their consumers and execute in an innovative, shocking, or laugh-out-loud way.

After viewing a T-Mobile commercial of users dancing in the Liverpool Tube Station, a Facebook member organized a Facebook flash mob to create a choreographed dance in the middle of the Liverpool station. Clueless bystanders were left wondering what was going on as everyone around them broke out in dance. The video has resulted in more than 13 million views on YouTube.

To spread the word about Marshall’s store-within-a-store, called The Cube, Marshall’s joined up with Liam Sullivan’s YouTube sensation and cross-dresser character, Kelly, to create a prequel video to her popular videos like “Shoes” and “Let Me Borrow That Top.” Hilarity ensued, delighting not only core Kelly fans but all those who shared the video with friends (resulting in nearly 1 million views to date).

While there have been some outliers, the majority of online word of mouth successes can be traced back to at least one of these triggers. Incorporating a trigger alone will by no means guarantee success; they do, however, provide a blueprint by which brands can access the strategies that will best resonate with their consumers.

A thorough list, if ever I saw one!  Courtesy of IMediaConnection.com

To which I’ll add a sixth suggestion:

Trigger 6: Host Your Own Internet Radio Show!

As I said in an earlier entry, hosting your own Interet Radio show is the single most powerful Social Media Tool I’ve ever seen. It incorporates all the elements of a successful social media tool (and more!)

It gives you rich, interesting content to give away (to capture your prospect’s interest and all-important email address). It also creates something interesting (on a weekly basis!) to tweet about and talk about on all your other social media sites (ie-who was on your show, what they said, who’s your next guest, etc.)  And the addition of any “rich media” to your site will win you points with Google and the other search engines and raise your rankings (and overall level of interest).

But the most important reason to host your own Internet Radio Show is the one no one fully appreciates.  It creates an “aura of expertise” around you and your company (who else hosts a radio show in your field?)  And it’s the most powerful networking and prospecting tool imaginable.  Want to speak to ANYONE in your industry?  Or want to set an appointment with that propect you can’t otherwise get in the door to meet?  Simple!  Just call them up and say you want to interview them for YOUR RADIO SHOW!  The doors fly open and you’re given all the time you need (along with all the information you’ll ever want to know about that company!)  Guaranteed.

So if you only have the time or energy to only use one Social Media tool, try Internet Radio.  It’s got it all (at a cost ANYONE can afford!)  Visit www.OCTalkRadio.net to learn more.  And thanks for reading MY social media conversations and content!