Social Media

A Social Media Tip


No one has done more for the medium that is Twitter than “The Donald.”  Listening to a snippet of the president elect yesterday, it made me feel as do many of his sound bites. I get the sense someone feeds him a disruptive and memorable sound bite (or he comes up with it himself) which he repeats 3 times. Sans evidence or support. Then he moves on. These sound bite are what hit the news. The approach is perfect for this Fast Twitch Media world.

In social media, sound bites can become memes. Memes get passed around as fast as jokes and news. And they can certainly last longer.  I built a consulting business around brand and marketing memes.

Have you ever gone to concert and sung along with the artist, but only able to sing a few of the hook lines? On the web, the memorable lines are the memes, everything else is flah-flah-flah content.

So, the social media tip is: “Know how to build memes.”  Memes that point back to you or your company.  Memes that others will replicate and share. Google reads the web every minute. And you can’t buy off Google.  You can sometimes trick it, but it can’t be bought. Memes create traffic.

If you are good at creating memes, endemic to your brand, if you use them and own them, you will win in social media. Just ask “The.”


PS. For more social media tips, Google “Social Media Guard Rails” (a meme).  



Twitter Is the News.


Twitter is an important company. When Iraq took back Ramadi the day before yesterday, prime minister Haider al-Abadi, took to Twitter to make the announcement. In real time. A few years ago when China underwent a massive earthquake, the world was notified on Twitter. In real time. The Arab Spring took place, in great part, on Twitter.

Twitter isn’t ready yet for Facebook size masses. It hasn’t settled. Maybe it’s currently stuck at a couple hundred million users. (Am I listening to myself? Did I say stuck?) Shareholders and Wall Street want Twitter to be a bullion user application. And it will be, but right now people need to chill. Twitter is important in ways we haven’t yet figured. I have my own beliefs about Twitter’s place in the social ecosystem, but they are not shared by everyone.

Twitter is the Google of conversation. It is earth flattening. It will do more to create one global language than any other product.

Twitter is in the news for a number of reasons: leadership, growth, diversity to name a few. Let’s fix the diversity-in-the-corporate ranks problem, then take a breath. And let this gangly adolescent grow. Peace.


Hashtags and Deeds.


It’s easy to make a hashtag. Getting people to follow a hashtag is an art. A hashtag can start a movement…and mobilize a movement.  “Binders full of women” was a meme started on the web as a hashtag. Someone with a good ear hit it and it likely will become a campaign mantra, even an ad.  President Obama’s reference to Lilly Ledbetter, an amazing debate uppercut, should have carried more weight but the hashtag slingers went with binders.  Probably started by a NY-area, skinny jeaned brand planner. And I say that with mad respect.

The idea of a movement though is pretty critical.  It sets objects in motion. Sitting on one’s coach or favorite chair while on a device is a precursor to movement. Precursor to a deed.  Occupy Wall Street was all about deeds. Getting off the couch and voting, going to the school board meeting to talk about teacher assessment – these are deeds.  Ceasing to buy high fructose corn syrup?  Deed.

What is so exciting about social media today is that as a precursor to deeds, it is an amazing tool.  Let us not forget however movements without marchers a wan.  What user experience designers on the web need to know and what brand experience planners need to know is that “likes” and tweets and strategy are great, but marketers need us to finish. Marketers need the ball in the hoop. (Lavinwood.) Engagement without sales is not a valid return. Social is too exciting a new tool to overlook and to diss, but it really needs to understand how to finish. Peace.

Journalism anew.


Yesterday at the Long Island 140 Conference I had lunch with Jason Molinet. Those from Long Island know Mr. Molinet from his insightful bylined stories in Newsday over the years. He now works for Patch.

I like AOL’s content strategy and often urge the company to invest in big name online properties a la Huff Post and TechCrunch. As for Patch, I haven’t been as warmly disposed.  My first impression was that Patch (AOL’s local news play) was going to be a flop. A big time supporter of the need for more localized news and the internet’s ability to deliver it, in my experience so far Patch has been lacking.  Fact checking, reporting ballast, edge still seem lacking. I wonder if Patch reporters are tired and on second careers. Jaded me?

Well perhaps I’m wrong.  Tim Armstrong (AOL CEO) is heavily invested in Patch and he wants it to work, so maybe Mr. Molinet is a step in the right direction.

Earlier in the week I sat in on a talk at the Social Media Club of Long Island with a New York Times stringer reporter who lives locally.  She’s a heavy social media user and when combining her investigative reporting skills with fast twitch social media she has been doing some amazing things. Her sources are a fingertip away. Story backgrounders clicks away. Quotes immediate.  This woman gets the new journalism. And it is very, very exciting.

Once newspapers break the tether of the paper/paper and traditional reporters will combine their instincts and skills with social and web tools, it will truly reinvent the business. It’s the promise of Patch. Let’s see if they deliver. Peace!

New Pepsi Challenge Flat.


I was just reading about the new Pepsi Challenge. It will take place primarily in social media, using Usher, Serena Williams, other personalities and web denizens. From a strategy point of view the only thing I can glean is that the goal is to blend “social responsibility with social culture.” Forgive me but isn’t this “Pepsi Refresh” 4 years later? This time just with expensive spokespeople? Packaged using an old campaign line from twenty years ago?

It almost feels like they rushed the story to market half-baked to beat some Coke announcement or poor earnings report. The effort is going to cost millions globally and, no doubt, will do some good. It may even sell a few cases. But the whole campaign feels very social media bandwagon and derivative. More importantly, it’s non-endemic to the product. Something McDonalds could easily do.

I’m not feeling this marketing effort and suspect it will be nice window dressing for the Pepsi corporate offices and its ad agencies; as for taking a chunk out of Coke’s hide, not going to happen. What’s the Idea?


PS. For WTI posts on Pepsi Refresh, click here. 


How to Charge for Social Media.


I was chatting with a friend at JWT the other day about how agencies can’t make money in today’s social media entranced marketplace  — and I may have solved the problem.  Here goes:

Say you come up a with a big engagement idea. It’s for a new product launch and you have created a fun video demonstration of the product.  A couple of graduate students from NYU did the production at a cost of $4,500.  You work at Publicis and know you can post the video for free and the mark-up won’t pay for the pastry at the presentation meeting.  How do you price it? Staff it? Measure it? Is it done under a retainer? Oy.

The answer is simple: You price it based on delivered reach, with a smidgen of frequency.  If the video is viewed 0-24,999 times (uniques) you charge $2,500.  If seen 25,000 to 75,000 times $4,500….and so on.

If the video is linked to another site, Publicis earns a bonus based on other site’s traffic plus the additional views. If the video gets played on TV or a big portal, another bonus plus those views. Think of the model as part SAG/AFTRA, part pay-per-view, part Nielsen Ratings.

Now that wasn’t that hard, was it? Piece. I mean Peace!

Posters Get Short End.


There’s a neat media newsletter service I’ve used a number of times in marcom plans called SmartBriefs.  It’s an aggregator of articles, sorted by topic, sent to subscriber email boxes.  It is a great one-stop free-shop. One such newsletter I subscribe to deals with social media.  The ironic thing about this one is that very few of the articles it highlights points to actual social media posts, meaning blogs.  They are mostly items from USA Today, Washington Post, WSJ, Adweek, etc.  They hit the occasional Mashable piece but do not do a good job or finding true web Posters. Posters are original content creators and bloggers whose love of the topic goes way beyond a job.

Posters may be good writers or bad and may not have made it through journalism school, but they are the backbone of the web. As a brand planner, I’m always on the lookout for big time posters in the categories I study.  They engender loyalty and lots of comments. They are analytical and love to share the goodness that is their area or interest.

Poster beget Pasters (curators and info sharers), ergo community.   

I’d love to see an aggregator service that only focused on blogs. Craft economy people in the woodworking business like the Wood Whisperer. Melting Mama for the overweight and obese. Boogie2988 for gamers.  Kandee Johnson for the young fashion conscious. Emo Girl. There are thousands of them out there.  An occasional snark would be fine too, but the more positive the better.

This is the future of the web. Where there is avoid there is an opportunity.  Maybe SmartBrief will start one. Peace.


Cull the Follow Herd.


I’m a big Lindsey Vonn fan.  It borders on creepy but not creepy enough to visit her Facebook page. Yesterday, Lindsey announced she pulled out of the Sochi games.  I learned about it on Twitter. She in in my Facebook feed, I think, but doesn’t show up so much as she’s kind of busy.

As an adult and marketer, I have started to coalesce my thoughts on social networks. Readers know I’ve long said Facebook is for friends and school peepsLinkedIn is for people with whom I have done business (ish)Twitter is for all of the above plus likeminds and admirees.  Twitter is where I share my total persona. Some politics. Some personal philosophy.  Some troll-able business scat (not the dung).  It is where I hope to learn from others, often those unknown. Twitter is my most expansive social network.  

Facebook is only as good as the shares — and sharing is magnified based on how close you are to the person. I’m not going Gaga over a 7th grade crush showing pictures of her kids in Clearwater (Facebook). Your feed is watered down if it has too many uninteresting posts. Burger King is offering $4.00 duck burgers. That said, I really don’t cull the “follow herd” and that’s an issue for Facebook.  Too much noise in the feed.

What to do about it.

Remove unwanted friends, peripheral people and brands from your Facebook community.  You can always add them back.  You can always find the brand if you need it. Play LinkedIn by the book and only connect with those you have done business with. The rest is spam.  And fly like a birdie on Twitter. Note to Twitter: don’t extend beyond 140 characters.  Where does this leave marketers? Better off. With more traffic to their own sites and ads that are more powerful because they are ads – not friends. Peace.


4 Uses for Social Media


Social media programs typically fall into four categories: brand building, customer care, promotion  and smiley noise.

Brand Building requires that a one actually has a brand plan (brand idea and three proof planks). So long as you’re creating and sharing content that is on-idea and embodies one of the planks, you are making brand deposits — caring about what your customers’ care about and at what you are great.

Customer Care is all about listening.  But this listening has created a cottage industry of kvetchers who have been rewarded for using social to air grievances, as I did this week when tweeting that my Nokia 928 has had to be returned 7 times due to a faulty ear piece.  The fact is, customer care is an important part of social when properly handled.  It also provides metric for the c-suite. And if a company uses it as part of a CRM program all the better.

Promotion is the top reason customers unfollow brands in social media. Data suggests 70-80 percent cite “too much marketing” as why they ban brands on Twitter or Facebook.  Again, many companies are conditioning the market to look to social for deals, just as they sometime reward kvetchers. Promotion is an important part of marketing,. It builds trial, helps hit slowed sales goals and creates rewards. But using social to fire hose freebies and to-fers is not a good lone use of the medium.

Smiley Noise is just what it sounds like.  People think it’s okay on social, because, well, it’s social. But smiley noise would never make it as an ad. It’s noise built pass along. Or to create likes. Or to fill the social air. Here’s some smile noise from Penn Medicine. 

 penn medicine tweet

Social media isn’t a static thing. It needs to live and breathe. It needs to be current and friendly but also important. Social doesn’t get the strategic oversight it should or the respect it should. But it will, oh it will.  Companies with real brand plans are the companies doing it best.  Those are the companies doing all the other stuff best, as well. It pays to have a plan. Peace!

Rubel, Facebook and Fruit Cocktail.


There’s a pretty interesting debate going on over at Steve Rubel’s Posterous stream.  It revolves around his moving his stream (sorry, guys of a certain age) to Facebook.  He’ll continue at Posterous but feels Facebook gives him more visibility, a bigger audience and a richer discussion. 

Mr. Rubel initially moved to Posterous because it was a place for him to aggregate his musings. Plus it was an easy and elegant interface.  (The aesthete in me likes the Posterous look better than the templatized Facebook frame.)  Sequestering most of his business and digital observations on Posterous and moving everything  else — business, personal, real time — to Facebook seems like a good strategy. But is it? Time will tell.


In America and countries that look to America for tech and taste, specificity rules the day.  No one ever became president (of anything) being a generalist.  Let’s leave Mr. Rubel for a moment and use Ms. X as an example.  Say you’ve never met Ms. X but you think she’s a brilliant marketing mind. She may be a lousy partner, driver, dancer and cook but she can really mesmerize a room filled with marketers. You may be marginally interested in her meatball recipe but it is certainly not the driver of her attention.  The more meatball recipes in her stream, the less likely she is to be unique. By mixing all of her postings into one stream, Ms. X is not managing her brand very well. Her fame is diluted.

Moving Toward the Middle.

This is another example – common a couple of years ago when social computing companies were all trying to match each other’s feature sets – where everyone is moving toward the middle. It should not be. LinkedIn is about business relationships. Twitter is about real time info and immediacy.  Facebook is about friends and self and entertainment.  As Facebook moves to the middle, attempting to be all things to all people (brand fan pages included), it becomes like fruit cocktail — that can of fruit in the back of the cabinet where everything tastes like peaches. As quickly as Facebook is growing, I’m afraid it will mirror Google and turn into nothing more than an amazing advertising platform. (And then divest.) Peace!