Keynote Panel – Social Media Leading Edge

Good morning! Welcome to Day 2 of Pubcon and thanks for checking back with us. This is going to be a rockin’ one. I mean, social media panels don’t get much sexier than this. We have Scott Stratten, Brian Clark, Sarah Evans and Chris Brogan all on one stage.  You’re already pregnant from the hottness, right? I know. Me too. [just kidding, Mom]

Melanie Mitchell is moderating this morning’s panel and asks is social media really relevant or is it just a fad? To help us answer the question, we have a video to watch. I’m hoping you have your own popcorn.

Going back to the question, Scott says social media is nothing new but we try to make it so special. We talk abut how we’re consultants in the field but — it’s really just talking. We never used to ask about the ROI of talking.

Brian: The thing that’s new is that it’s easier than ever for normal people.

Sarah: It’s near impossible to measure a relationship.

Chris: If you’re looking at the ROI of the telephone, you may not be able to find it. But if I said, we’ll make 100 calls and get 14 leads, those are numbers. It’s the same thing for Twitter. It’s a mechanism of how we build business.  If you can say for the two hours I spent on Twitter today, I got six leads, that’s something you can use.

What did you do before social media? How did that evolve? How did you get here?

Scott: He used to sell bubble wrap. He flew around North America training people how to sell bubble wrap. He says if you think you can BS, he can spend two days teaching someone how to sell bubble wrap. Beat that.

Sarah: She has a PR background. Before there was Twitter and Facebook, there were email distributions list. It was a natural extension to finding better ways to reach journalists and then, over time, going straight to the consumer.

Brian: He’s always been a content creator. He started off publishing ezines. Then you had to go viral by asking people to forward the email. Remember the ’90s when everyone forwarded everything? That got old. What we got was a more efficient distribution network.  There are all these different channels now that make the distribution of the Internet more efficient and more powerful. It’s ridiculous. If you provide some value instead of immediately trying to sell, you can get amazing exposure for little money.

There are different phases when you’re planning a campaign. There’s the selling of the idea, the planning phase, the strategic side, the “what are we trying to get out of this” side, and then you execute and you measure.    That must have been a big shift for companies like Ford, which is now exposing employees and showing the underbelly of their company. Trying to get companies to shift that and see your vision, how do you help people get over that?

Chris: First off, there’s a lot of burning hunking masses of things that went really wrong. Like where Walmart got caught astroturfing. Or when GM messed up the Tahoe. When we go into companies, we focus on what kind of metric can we move. They start with that because it’s easier than “dude, you have to make videos”.  The better way to sell social media is to go in with real metrics that they already track and say THAT’S the leverage point.

Also Read: Social Media Plays A Big Role In @Groupon’s Innovative Campaign

Scott: He thinks every time you ask about the ROI of social media a kitten dies and a unicorn is slaughtered. To sell clients, he pulls up the current conversation about their brand/industry and shows them what’s being said. It doesn’t matter if they want to do it, it’s happening. Do they want to be a part of it?  If Twitter was a $50,000 tool, they’d sign on without asking any questions. But because it’s free they want to know the ROI.

Brian: Most marketing is not about that yellow pages right now need. It’s equivalent to social media – it’s the information phase. They’re not familiar with you yet and they need to become familiar with you. It’s silly to talk about the ROI of social media because it’s just another distribution method.  You leverage it the right way and it’s extremely effective.

Say you sold the idea…and then it flops. Motrin decided they were going to target moms. And it sounded great on paper, but the Moms said “f you, Motrin” and they got really angry. It turned into a negative thing. How do you handle that?

Scott: Motrin is the first example of pissing off the Intertubes. Social media doesn’t change anything, it just amplifies it. If you have a moron running your account, you just have a bigger moron.

Brian: Bad judgment is not confined to social media.

Scott:  Scott talks about the Cook Source debacle. You want to talk about SEO? Do a search for [cooks source] and you see the geek tsunami that happened. We rally together. It’s hard to stand up for one person by yourself, but its easier to link arms when you see others doing it.  That’s social media.

Sarah: That’s a good way to pick up trends and then pitch them.  You know that people find something interesting and then you can capitalize on that.

A lot of companies make the mistake of saying they have to be on Twitter or they have to be on Facebook when that’s not always the case. How do you frame that for companies? How should people find their communities?

Sarah: It ranges. We’re sitting down to look at an entire plan, not a social media component.

Scott: When you walk in to a client, you need to talk their language. What metric do they want to move and how do you get to that point? You can’t say you’re going to tweet and build relationships. Sometimes their needs aren’t clear or they don’t understand that social media isn’t just a marketing tool. It’s across your entire company.  When you’re in social media, everything is your department.  You are your brand. You’re marketing every time you connect or don’t connect with your audience.

Chris: He uses a lot of listening tools.  The tools allow him to send that to different locations. If you don’t give the information to the people who need it, then what are you doing?  Craig Newmark had a stat that said 67 percent of buying into enterprise social media tools was a guerrilla maneuver. They just decided to do it and then the company had to get it right. It’s amazing to think who you DON’T want manning your Twitter feed.

Also read: What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like?

How do you talk people out of being on Twitter? Melanie saw a parking garage on Twitter and Facebook. How do you help them see what’s the right thing to do?

Sarah: That parking garage, if they’re tweeting the open parking spaces, that’s cool. Or if Friday is Free Friday Parking day, that’s cool.  It’s only going to work if they’re using it for some purpose.

Scott: There’s no right tool for everybody. What do you want to get out of it, what are you going to do and what are your needs. You only have a limited amount of time. If you want brand awareness and you only have an hour and a half to tweet about it, it’s not going to happen. If you hate people, you shouldn’t be on Twitter. It’s not a good metric to work on.

People want to see the tangible result of a relationship. How do you go in and talk about ROI?

Chris: When you talk about the strategies, it’s amazing what opportunities lie out there, but the framing is so much more different with SMBs. It’s like going to the gym. If you go to the gym for 8 minutes a day, you still seem roundish after it. If you go to the gym for an hour, you feel better about it. You don’t actually lose weight by going to the gym, you have to do stuff.  It’s the same concept in social media. But that’s what people do on Twitter or Facebook. They just like shit on Facebook and wonder why they’re not getting anything out of it.

Brian, you just wrote an article about why social media is a better investment than SEO [Actually, that was Darren Rowse]. Is that true?

Brian: Some of the sharpest people in social media are SEOs. Who are the guys who understood how to get something on the front page of Digg. It was all linkbuilding strategies. It’s the same thing with Twitter. Google has to factor it in or their relevancy won’t work anymore. It’s all one thing. It’s a distribution channel. Their business model is based on content because Google has to rank content.  It’s not a separate thing, it all relates. People tend to compartmentalize, but it’s really one thing. What are you doing on Twitter? Are you there to chat with people?  He’s primarily on Twitter to spread content and make bad jokes.

Sarah: She’s a small business owner. She uses social to look at how much time do they want to spend generating new leads and how much time do they need to actually get the work done.

Scott: One of his reasons for living on Twitter was he wanted to be above SEO. He didn’t have the blog out yet.  People don’t go and search for something if they already know what they want. He wanted to keep people OFF Google, because he couldn’t compete with the people who had already been blogging for 8 years when he hadn’t even started yet.

Chris: He ranks for [grow bigger ears] and [you’re doing it wrong]. He doesn’t rank for anything useful. When he began his community for nonprofits, he did have to consider the search eyes to get people to convert the way he wanted them tool. But he sure as shit used his platform to make up for his lack of abilities in doing basic Web design. Social media allows you to build a platform that you can use before you’ve even meet them. From there, you can point and shoot them to places you want to take action on. There’s no software that makes people care.

Scott: He doesn’t know what the ROI is on hug at PubCon, but he doesn’t want to know.

You’ve had a lot of success over the years, but what’s your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?

Sarah: Pushing too fast, too hard.  It was the bright new thing, but she pushed too hard on it.

Scott: I’m failing right now to keep up with engagement. We build this platform, but I’ll be damned if I can keep up now. Twitter’s becoming work. He’s not keeping up with the engagement that he’s built.  He doesn’t want to live in his Replies. That’s not what he wanted it to be.

Chris: He built a model where he had to be there to make the money. He had to drastically change his business model to work on more passive income.

Brian: His first three years he failed completely. He decided in 1998 he wanted to make a living writing online. He created good content and he built an audience, but he didn’t know what he was doing. he didn’t have a business model and he didn’t understand marketing. He didn’t understand what he was doing WAS marketing. Once he figured out the content was a form of marketing/advertising, he figured out his business model.  Get people to voluntarily join a list that you’re building and it can be incredibly powerful.  Most people don’t think of writers as entrepreneurs.  Content creators have an unfair advantage if they can complement that with the business skills.

How do you pick and choose where to spend your time?

Sarah:  Find that one thing you can be the best at in the world and devote the majority of your resources toward that. It’s called the Hedgehog Concept. She created her life mission statement and lives by that.  She’s set up a lot of informal ways to manage time.

Scott: He’s horrible at it. Being a big deal isn’t a big deal if you’re not a big deal to your family. He burnt out in the spring. He took his kid to dinner and he forgot his blackberry in the car and he panicked. He went to go get it and his son asked him to forget it. It punched him right in the face. One of the best and worst things about being an entrepreneur is that things don’t stop. He doesn’t want to change that, but he wants to shut it off sometimes.  There’s no busy tone anymore.

Chris: He’s worked on that a lot. There is no balance. There’s supposed to be a balance. He started an idea locker for all the stuff he wants to do but he doesn’t have to do right now. He’s made his family a bigger priority. He’s just there when he’s there. He took them to Disneyland last week to try and bribe them. There’s always more work than there is hours in the day and it’s up to you to decide where to put the parcing lines.  If you’re not going to make rent next month, then hustle and make the money. Otherwise, go to bed.

Brian: In 2005 he switched business models and swore he’d never take another client or leave the house to make money. And he rarely has to wear pants now. What Scott says is very important. With social media, he’s always on and tuned in. The opportunities that come in are staggering.  Every year he says THIS year he’s going to slow down…and then he keeps amping it up. If you’re not really present with your family, then you may as well be gone.

Awesome panel. If only one day we’d master that time management thing…

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