Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't be a "drive by" Blogger. Build Your Tribe.

In October and November, our team will be involved in some social media teleseminars. We will go over Facebook. We will talk about Twitter. We will rave about the new Linkedin. Of course we will discuss Youtube and podcasting, But the hub of all social media marketing and "web 2.0" stuff - is the Blog.

That is our specialty. We help businesses craft their blog brand and build backlinks - which equals traffic - which equals sales. Simple. So, get your blog up and going. Need help? Want a critique? We're here.

Join our group on Facebook: Social Media Swag.
Amplify’d from
Reach Out and Touch Someone with Your Company’s Blog
In the small business blogging world, there are good blogs and there are not so good blogs. That being said, how would you rate your blog?

As a small business, what is your goal behind having a blog in the first place? Do you use it as an opportunity to promote your company’s products and services? Is it more of a forum for you to get things off your chest or talk to other business owners? Or is it just something you felt you had to have given your competitors have one?

Like many small businesses that sport blogs, the initiative to grow the blog is often there, but the time doesn’t seem to be. What ends up happening is the blog takes a back seat to other more important matters, the content becomes stale, and next thing you know you have a blog whose hits become less and less.

Growth is Possible

If your company’s blog is collecting dust on the Internet, there are means by which to grow it and enhance your company’s online profile.

Among the initiatives to employ are:

  • Who is my audience? – If you haven’t already answered this key question, you’d better. You can spin your wheels on your blog if you don’t know the answer to this question. In order to make your company blog stand out, you need a niche, something that sets you apart from the competition;
  • Determine the time factor – It is important as a business owner with a company blog to determine how much time and effort will go into it. If you have a marketing person/team in place, the blog typically falls to them. If not, and you are the one primarily responsible for the blog, set time limits each week as to how much time will go into the blog;
  • Good copy is imperative – Whether you are writing your company’s blog or a staff member is it is imperative that it offers good copy. Your content needs to be interesting, useful and timely. Make sure that the blog provides both current and potential customers with information that peaks their interest, is important to their lives and is up to date. Also, keep the blog postings relatively short, given that the time demands on readers are greater than ever;
  • Just as important as good copy is, your blog needs a clean look. How many blogs have you visited where the design is cluttered, hard to follow and looks like a kindergartner laid it out? If you’re not a design guru, find someone who is so that the blog looks and acts professional;
  • Reach out to others – Another key is linking to other blogs and commenting on other’s posts. When you scratch someone’s back, they will hopefully do the same in return;
  • Respond to comments – In the event you are getting comments on your blog, by all means respond to them. This shows the reader that you are engaged in the conversation brought by others, along with getting you noticed more throughout the blogging community;
  • Know your metrics – If you’re writing a daily or weekly blog but not checking the statistics, what’s the point? Company bloggers want to know how many people are clicking on the blog, what demographics do they represent, when are they clicking on the blog etc. Find the right analysis program to track your numbers and see what your traffic reports look like.

While these are just a few of the areas you should zero in on, remember, YOU control the look and sound of your company’s blog.

Don’t expect the company blog to itself bring in a ton of revenue, but look at it more as a component of your overall strategy to reach out and touch someone, in this case, customers.

I review for BookSneeze®

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How to get Link Love and Media Exposure!

This is social media PR: It's about getting influence, building a movement.

The speed of information sharing is faster than ever before and PR pros have access to a mass of content that's shared with those seeking solutions to a problem.

Here's 8 social media PR solutions to get your campaign buzzing!
We can help:

Crowdsourced Interviews – I’ve been in on a few of them and there’s an abundance of potential awesomeness to get from doing interviews like this. First up, you’ll get all the participants linking and sharing socially to their followers. That alone makes it worth doing. Group interviews like this always bring great content to the reader and a lot of social shares and links from them as well. Even if it’s only a dozen links and a few dozen new social followers, if you aren’t going after techniques like this, you’re doing it wrong.

Interviewing Someone Great – If you’re a newer brand or an established one, this tactic never fails. We like connecting with the biggest writers in the industry and interviewing them on the host blog. If you’re new in the scene, this can be a great way to “socially surf” off of their followers, gain that extra exposure and pull in some of their followers. These interviews are great content for your readers and it almost always results in a link back from the interviewees website/blog.

Offer To Be Interviewed – For those companies with a good rep in their industry, asking fan blogs and industry blogs to get interviewed can’t hurt. Don’t come off desperate but extend yourself to them if they’re ever interested.

Getting Cited From News Sites:

This is perhaps one of the harder aspects of getting quality links, but there is hope! Getting links from NY Times, Reuters, Huffington Post and others takes planning. While these links happen naturally if your company has a big news event or pulls a PR stunt, you can also get them unnaturally by paying them for it (you’d be surprised how many news corps will let you buy a link). Every big brand should have a PR person who’s in constant contact with media types in addition to constantly building relationships that will get to the buzz you’ll want to get. Link builders can do this but if you’re a large company, you should have someone more suited to keep these relationships alive.

Connecting With Reporters - Thankfully, there are a handful of awesome services that connect you to the world of news reporting. I’ve had the pleasure of using all of these with various clients, and it has even netted our company a few links in the past. Some of these I’m sure you’re familiar with, others are hopefully a pleasant surprise to a lot of you.

Help A Reporter Out – If you haven’t used this free service yet you’re either daft or living under a rock. This service connects you to over 50,000 journalists from all over the world. They fire off daily emails that you can reply to in hopes of getting quoted, interviewed or even on air exposure!

Reporter Connection – This is another service just like HARO. It isn’t as busy but it has a lot of connections in its database and is a great attempt as a different source. There are tens of thousands of journalists in their database so don’t ignore this service one more day.

PR Manna – This is another well executed service that was launched by a brilliant mind in the industry. PR Manna was launched to help make it easy for entrepreneurs to get the word out and connect journalists with experts for their news. The service even got on the HARO’s nerves enough to send some legal threats their way.

ProfNET By PRNewsWire – Tis is one of the more old school (1992) services out there and it isn’t free, but I can tell you from experience the small price tag is well worth it! They have tens of thousands of journalists locked in there as well, so you’ll not have too much of a problem making the right connections.

Flack List – Perhaps the newest kid on the block within the realm of journalist to expert services, but also one of the best handled. First up, it’s free so you can’t go wrong with the price. Secondly, they now have a great user-base that’s definitely worth trying your luck with.

News Basis – This is the big boy of the group right next to HARO. They stand out by employing better technology, however, and as a result, it makes dealing with this service a breeze. Where as HARO is a glorified email list for the most part, News Basis actually cuts out a lot of the work for you and make it really easy to connect. They have quite the database of experts and journalists and I’d argue that they’ll grow to be the biggest in a short time.

Media Kitty – This is another service but unlike most of the others, it costs $89.95 a month to use. If you’re a smaller brand, I’d recommend you try it out for a month and see how it goes. Otherwise, the price might be a little steep for the results you get.

When it comes to getting PR and links, you sometimes have to do all you can to score the good stuff. Check it out, see what others are saying and decide for yourself.

Finding Journalists On Twitter & LinkedIn - The best links come from online relationships right? Well Twitter and LinkedIn are your best tools at getting the job done. I’ve got a few tips that will help all of you out and then I’ll let Google and your skills do the rest. I’ll break things down so you can get to the good stuff quickly and sift through the copious amounts of BS I usually fill in between the tips…

Twitter – There are thankfully a whole host of resources out there such as lists, using Google to search for specific people and compiled lists on blogs. I had a text file sitting on my hard drive for so long full of my most useful bits and pieces, so here goes.

LinkedIn – It’s as easy as searching the groups for journalism/journalists and you’ll find over 10,000 LinkedIn members within minutes. A lot of journalists also share their LinkedIn information on their bio, along with their email and Twitter information. I’d recommend starting your own private list and targeting the right journalists in your vertical. Google is also a great way to sift through prospects on this site. For example, this Google search query brings back 30,000+ results that are worth looking through.

Press Release StrategiesStart by reverse engineering press releases picked up on big news sites and see where they came from. From there, you can do link analysis on the original press release and see where it got picked up. Each big wire service has its connections and that’s why I always recommend to our clients to release different ones on a few different places. While links from press releases are maybe not the greatest, they can lead to more brand exposure and bloggers writing about your news.

Getting your news picked up on various places also relies heavily on the pre-launch options you set with your wire service. The options can be anything from the right tags to picking the right regions and specific industry to the title you choose. Again each service is different so the more you experiment, the more desirable your outcomes will be. A lot of news sites pick this stuff up based on those factors alone so know what you’re doing before hitting that submit button. Here are a few of the wire services we use on a regular basis with clients which hit a lot of big news sites:

    Don’t forget to look for those niche specific wire services that will really get to the people who matter in your micro world. We use a lot of these for our hotel and real estate clients and they all get some really great links from places the big boys other wise wouldn’t touch on. They can be easily found by using your noggin and Google. Search on!

    Links From Trade Shows/Conferences/Exhibits:

    If your company is constantly going to any of the industry shows or better yet, speaking at them, then a link opportunity waits at almost every turn. A lot of companies get links simply by asking, paying or just reminding the host to add your company to the list. You’d be surprised how many companies are missing out on a few great links to add some diversity. From what I’ve seen, these links send great signals and add an important asset to your backlink health. For example, a Google query for “2011 Exhibitor List” brings back millions of results. Here’s just one example I pulled from the first page:

    Natural Link Love

    There’s no secret with this technique, just something that I find gets neglected or forgotten about when the opportunity is presented. The only reason I remembered it this week was because of one of our clients needed a writeup for a show they’re featured in this fall. They’re going to be rocking another 6 shows before the year’s end and those will all result in some sweet-ass links! They’re also getting tweet’d and blogged about from the host conference which is a bonus.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Multicultural Is the Wave of the Future #rainbowpush

    A new America. A new economy. But cultural influences and target markets still matter. No longer are campaign goals about the "big bang" - but talking to their diverse audiences in their language.

    How? By understanding their different preferences about brands - and how they value relationships and view advertising messages.

    When you understand the multicultural market - you can preempt your competition, increase market share and improve your ROI - and strategically know how to allot marketing budgets.

    We can help. Experts in multicultural social media marketing:

    Amplify’d from
    At the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency in "Mad Men," Pete Campbell urges a client to "take a look at the Negro market." In the TV show the year is 1961. It's a reminder that the push to understand and target consumers on the basis of their ethnic identity goes back decades.

    Throughout that history, multicultural marketing advocates were hamstrung by the relatively small number of minority consumers and media outlets with national reach, as well as a lack of corporate expertise. There was little infrastructure for execution or metrics of evaluation and, of course, there was the issue of discrimination.

    These issues remain, but to a far lesser degree. Changes in demographics, marketing tools and corporate expertise have made multicultural marketing more relevant than ever. In fact, multicultural marketing, particularly targeting Hispanics, has grown at a faster rate than overall marketing in the past 10 years .

    Consider the contributing factors of the last decade:

    • A whopping 80+ percent of all population growth in the United States came from Hispanics, African Americans and Asians, with Hispanics making up 54 percent of total growth, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

    • National media targeting minorities has exploded, from People en Espanol, Univision, Telemundo and BET to digital portals like Black Planet, AOL Latino and others.

    • We have more consumer research, more sophisticated data analysis and better systems of evaluating multicultural marketing efforts. Examples include Nielson panels, Simmons syndicated research and customer research from TNS, Milliard Brown and my firm, Cheskin Added Value.

    • Companies such as Pepsi, Coke, P&G, Ford, Wells Fargo, Disney (yes, Disney) and many others have accumulated 10 more years of experience in addressing ethnic consumers.

    • Attitudes have shifted in the general population, leading to a greater degree of cultural openness among American adults. A 2011 study by Cheskin with the Futures Company confirmed this trend.

    So why is multicultural marketing finding itself once again in a highly visible defensive posture? Two factors make the traditional multicultural approach seem outdated and possibly unnecessary: 1) We know much more about the nuances of ethnic identity and 2) We are reaching a tipping point where such a large proportion of the "true" American consumer is African American, Hispanic or Asian that "minority-majority" is an oxymoron.

    The multicultural argument has centered on the premise that ethnic identity is core to consumer attitudes and behaviors in commercial decisions. Being Hispanic is the most important dimension for a consumer buying Oreos, for example. But with more sophisticated market tools and analysis, we understand the need to sub-segment ethnic identity consumers into more specific groups. Less acculturated vs. more acculturated, African American single head of household women decision-makers vs. African American young influencers, Cantonese vs. Mandarin (let alone Vietnamese, Thai, Korean). A study of People en Espanol conducted by Cheskin in 2010 showed, for example, how reliant Latinas are on their Hispanic identity in their fluid roles of mother, daughter, lover and friend.

    Some read this nuance as either too complicated to deal with, or as justification to subvert multicultural marketing entirely. This is a lowest-common-denominator approach, tempting for mass marketers but ultimately heading on the wrong track. The necessity is to know your customer more deeply, to use customization on a grand scale. Market-leading companies like McDonalds have institutionalized this philosophy by having all marketing filtered by Asian, African American and Hispanic consumer segment leaders.

    With over half of all U.S. economic activity coming from the top 15 Designated Market Areas (according to the Federal Reserve) and most of the organic growth (new customers) coming from ethnic consumer segments, marketers more and more recognize that "getting ethnic consumers" is vitally important.

    How, then, do you shift your general market strategy to be more culturally relevant? Several approaches are developing:

    • The multi-agency reconciliation model: Companies like Walmart are revamping processes so ethnic agencies can weigh in on their overall marketing strategy.

    • The general market co-option model: General market agencies, like Ogilvy and Euro RSG, have co-opted or created a multicultural competency to serve the "total market" – new terminology intended to replace "general market" and reflect ethnic consumers. Burger King and Home Depot have bought in.

    • The ethnic agency inversion model: Ethnic agencies, competing on their deeper consumer knowledge, are going after the "big boys" (general market agencies).

    Is multicultural marketing dead? Hardly. An updated version, call it cultural marketing, with a more refined understanding of identity fluidity and underlying values, is the future of marketing.

    Multicultural Is the Wave of the Future

    It's More Vital Than Ever for Marketers to Target Ethnic Consumers, but With an Approach That's Updated for the 21st Century


    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Is Social Media Worth The Time and Money?

    We here this question often when we are delivering talks and part of panels on social media. Most businesses are wondering what is the ROI. Just like any marketing from direct mail to radio spots to advertorials in magazines to newspaper ads to eblasts to national publicity campaigns (we've done it all) - marketing is what you make it. Meaning: you have to be consistent, committed, creative and care about the target audience. If not, you're wasting money.

    So, with social media - conversations are lower but worth it - see the value in the chart below from Content Marketing News. From Twitter, for example, customers spend more per order once they are on the company site.

    It's about having the right plan and the right people in place to execute the plan. We can help.

    Social Media Conversion Rates: Low, but Worth It

    Content Marketing News
    (Sep 18 2011)

    1. Marketers continue to believe that Twitter and Facebook are worth the effort, despite conversion rates that might appear low.

      A new report from RichRelevance shows that online retail shoppers who click through from Facebook only convert 1.2 percent of the time. Twitter’s number is only 0.5 percent.

      But Twitter shoppers actually spend more money when they do order.

      Online conversion rates—the ratio of purchase sessions to shopping sessions—has remained relatively unchanged between 2010 and 2011, based on a year-on-year comparison of mass merchants. This rate was 2.1 percent in August 2010 and remained 2.13 percent in August 2011.

      Overall online average order value has dropped from $128.27 to $116.58 in this period. The decline may be attributed to several factors, including increased cost consciousness and increased shipping efficiencies that encourage smaller purchases.

      Shoppers behave very differently depending on how they arrive at the retail site. For example, while fewer shoppers come from Twitter than anywhere else, they spend more per order once they are on the site.

      Twitter Conversions, Spending


    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Content is not KING. The social interaction should be the real focus

    People want content - not commercials. Unless the commercial is entertaining. The way we communicate to deliver sales messages has changed so much - but the number one rule to remember is to provide VALUE. Share good information. Don't talk about yourself (too much) and let people inquire about your product/services. Don't force feed it down their throats. Don't sell where you should be socializing. Sell on your website or Amazon not Twitter and Facebook!

    Essential Rule #1: Social Media is Relational, Not Transactional

    It's hard to not over-sell and hype up online. Too many companies are looking for the right words to say to their prospective customers. Remember this, provide information about the BENEFITS not the features of your product/service. Talk in the language of who you are trying to target - and you will build relationships and eventually customers will become LOYAL and share the good news about you. Share and show you care. ENGAGE.

    We can help if you're trying to figure out how to talk to the multicultural audience. Your resource:

    Amplify’d from

    A few years ago, I began to experience an annoying occurrence when visiting local bookstores in Grand Rapids. Professionally dressed individuals, who were total strangers, began approaching me randomly and striking up conversations. I wouldn't have minded the conversation so much, if it hadn't been for what followed.


    As it turns out, these people hung around the bookstores for much of the day, scouting. When they identified a good prospect, they'd move in. Some would wander into the same aisle, pulling books off the shelf, looking them over, then putting them back, all the while inching closer to me. Inevitably, they would break the ice by commenting on the book I was holding. I always seemed to be holding the magic book that they had been looking for all day. After a brief discussion on the book, they'd ask questions: What do you do? Are you happy doing that? Are you satisfied with your income? Finally, they'd close with, “I don't normally do this, but I have a high-income opportunity that you're perfect for.”


    They were network marketers.



    Each encounter was unique - some approached me in the bookstore, others in the coffee shop, some were slick in their approach, and others acted as poorly this guy.


    But each followed the same prescribed format: quickly develop an artificial relationship by showing interest and asking questions, then leverage that relationship to sell a product. The net result was always the same, by the end of the conversation, I was offended and my time had been wasted.


    After about a year, most of the network marketers had left the bookstores in Grand Rapids. Their method did not work, they were spending more money than they were making on mochaccinos and lattes, they were likely exhausted from the effort of furiously creating so many fake relationships, and they had been marked for extermination by the bookstore staff.


    How often do we see the same methods being employed on social media? Overt and subvert pitches to buy a product or service. Furious but futile attempts at building empty artificial relationships.


    In my first of ten rules for developing a profitable social media strategy, I define the paradigm, or lens through which social media platforms should be viewed: social media is relational, not transactional.


    Social media produces the highest return-on-relationship, and the lowest return-on-salesmanship.

    It is perfectly acceptable to sell on transactional platforms (your website, Amazon, eBay, etc), because that is where people go to buy; they expect to be sold. However, it damages your brand if you ambush on relational platforms (social media, forums, etc) and there is very little return with those tactics.  Just like the network marketer in the bookstore, you will burn out quickly.


    Success is determined by your ability to move people from the relational platform to the transactional platform in an authentic way.


    Here are 5 ways to do that:

    1. Create a personality-branded social media account in addition to a corporate-branded social media account. It is difficult to develop an engaging relationship with a business entity. Use a high profile person at the company, typically a founder or President. The profile of the account should be clear that about this persons role with the organization.
    2. Enagage with your network. Authentic relationships are built on dialogue and are mutually beneficial.
    3. Become a thought leader in a specific area and give information and resources away for free. People are much more liekly to do business with an organization that has added-value to their lives with no expectation for return. There is truth to the proverbial saying “give and you will receive.”
    4. Create a personality-branded blog to direct followers. The blog should have plenty of links where users can find out more about the company, including products or services offered.
    5. When new products or services release, it's perfectly acceptable to announce it with a post and a link directing users to a transactional website. These announcements should not account for more than 10% of your posts, however, or you risk users disengaging.
    6. Tell a story.  Too often updates sound like they were developed to scroll across the bottom of CNN.  You will find little engagement if you don't develop your narrative and become a master storyteller.
    Essential Rule #1: Social Media is Relational, Not Transactional

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    The number of 50-64 year old Boomer internet users online doubled from 25% in 2009 to 51% in 2011

    Social networking is not just for the kids or the teenagers - or the college kids. Social networking is now grown folks business. Why? There is an increased interest in mobile devices for one - coupled with time saving promises and money saving deals online ( - that make it very attractive for the older crowds. It's business not personal.

    And really, who uses the Yellow Pages directories anymore? Google has replaced how people search for information. These are interesting times for the boomers - who grew up in libraries and now they are shopping Amazon Kindle deals like crazy. Big opportunities for marketers - who know how to speak their language.

    We can help decode.
    Amplify’d from

    Back in the day, about 36 months ago, everybody thought nobody over 30 would make much use of social networking.

    When I joined Facebook as a marketing experiment, people said “Hey -you’re too old to be on there. Don’t you know Facebook is for kids? Get back over to LinkedIn.”

    Today, everybody knows Facebook is for everyone – even great grandma. But, how many Boomers and Seniors really use social networking? Over a year ago I wrote about how boomers boast big social media stats. For an update, let’s turn to a Pew Report about the graying of social media with Boomer and senior usage statistics.

    Fully 65% of adult internet users now say they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 61% one year ago. This marks the first time in Pew Internet surveys that 50% of all adults use social networking sites. Source: Pew Research on Adult Social Media Usage

    • 65% of online adults now say they use a social networking site, up from 61% in 2010 and 29% in 2008 and just 5% in 2005
    • Social networking use among senior internet users over 65 shot up by 150%, from 13% in 2009 to 33% in 2011
    • The number of 50-64 year old Boomer internet users online doubled from 25% in 2009 to 51% in 2011
    • Boomers, ages 50-64, grew daily social networking site usage a significant 60% from 20% to 32% 



    This report is based on the findings of a survey on Americans’ use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to May 22, 2011, among a sample of 2,277 adults, age 18 and older. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. Source: Pew Research


    How does your personal social networking compare? What do these stats mean to companies?

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    How to Know if Social Media Marketing is right for Business

    Is social media right for your business? That's the million dollar question. If you answer it right - your business will flourish. If you are clueless, your business may suffer.

    Let's get this straight. Marketing is marketing. The first thing is to THINK about what you want to accomplish. No business runs well without thought to market (demo) they are trying to reach and information (research) ABOUT that market.

    The best way to determine if you need Social Media Market is to ASK more questions. Here are some thought-starters and suggestions. The more questions you can answer, the better off you'll be before you jump off in the ever-widening pool of social media. It's ok if you don't know - just know what to ASK.

    There are a lot of social media “experts” out there who will tell you that every single organization on the globe should be participating in social media.  They will point to the cool Facebook fan pages they’ve made or the funny videos their clients have on YouTube and say “see, you can do this too.”  And they’re right.  You can.

    The question is:  Should you?

    The real answer to that question is “it depends.”  It depends on whether or not it can do one of two things.

    1. Save you money

    2. Make you money

    If it isn’t going to accomplish one of those two goals, then you have no business engaging in it.  Why?

    Participating in social media is expensive.  I know everyone talks about how cheap it is…but that’s because they are not thinking like a business owner.  They’re thinking like someone who knows how to open a YouTube channel account or sign you up on Twitter.   It’s true, creating an account on many of the tools and networks is free.  But that’s where free ends.

    To integrate social media into the rest of your marketing, which is an absolute if you want to consider it a business tool, you are going to have to expend some resources.  Social media requires care and feeding.  It requires brand integration.  And it requires a well-conceived strategy.  All of those are going to cost time and money.

    Don’t misunderstand.  I believe in the power and reach of social media and most of our agency’s clients are using social media tools as part of their overall marketing strategy, but I am not bullish on the belief du jour that everyone must do it and it’s free.  Neither is true.

    Here are twenty questions to ask yourself as you consider melding social media into your existing marketing strategy.

    How will it save us money?

    1. Will it allow us to stop doing something we’re currently doing?

    2. Will it allow us to extend/expand something we are currently doing?

    3. Will it lower our customer acquisition costs?

    4. Will it connect us to existing customers in an efficient way?

    5. Will we be able to use social media to create a community specifically for our customers?

    6. Will it be easier for our customers to rave about us/create positive word of mouth?

    7. Do we look behind the times to our customers if we aren’t there?

    8. Will it introduce us to new potential customers at a low lead generation cost?

    9. Will it make us more findable (either within the social network or on search engines)?

    10. Will it impact our search engine results? (so we don’t have to buy results)

    How will it make us money?

    1. Will it shorten our sales cycle?

    2. Will it create credibility/trust faster among prospects?

    3. Can we establish ourselves as the expert?

    4. Will it shorten customer service response time?

    5. Will it create a sense of accessibility for our customers?

    6. Will it increase trial of our product/service?

    7. Will it allow us to connect with more prospects at once?

    8. Will it increase repeat buying?

    9. Will it increase up sells?

    10. Can we collect/use testimonials?

    If the answers to those questions indicates that social media would be a smart investment for your company to make, then you should be there.  But now you will enter into it knowing that there’s a return for that investment.

    Now we’re talking smart marketing, not marketing hype.


    Monday, September 05, 2011

    Multicultural Agency Is Betting Fans Will 'Watch the Throne' for $5 a Month

    GlobalHue Taps Kanye West for All-Access Website Voyr. Hmmm.We can think of a lot better things that the multicultural audience can spend their money on - especially in this economy.

    Question: Is that the market leading the advertising or advertising lead the market?

    Can social media create social good? Or is it just a distraction for certain markets to be "entertained" - and avoid critical issues that need to be fixed. Comments, please.

    Amplify’d from

    Sure, Kanye West fans will pay $15 for a iTunes download or hundreds of dollars for a concert ticket. But will they pay $5 a month to get a steady stream of behind-the-scenes Yeezy-oriented minutia, including his daily schedule, workout regimen and diet?

    Kanye West


    Kanye West

    The multicultural ad agency GlobalHue is betting they will.

    Voyr, the latest concept from the agency's incubator, GHV, is set to launch Sept. 15 on the back of a forthcoming 35-city tour supporting the new album from Mr. West and Jay-Z, "Watch the Throne." Viewers will be able to follow the tour live via webcasts for $3.99, but the normal subscription rate will be $4.99 per month for each star that appears on the online platform.

    At a press conference Monday at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Chief Creative Officer Kevyn Lewis said that over time, the site will add celebs from all walks of life -- musicians, writers, directors, even one to appeal to hunting and fishing fans. The idea is offer up the kind of content that will inspire people, not tabloid-fodder pulled from the artists' personal lives.

    Though Mr. West is the first announced star, Mr. Lewis said that neither Kanye nor Jay-Z has a stake in the company, which is wholly-owned by GHV. Still, it's pretty clear that Mr. West has been very involved in the conception of the company -- and stands to benefit if the site can attract subscribers, though how much so wasn't clear as Mr. Lewis didn't get into the specifics of how artists would be compensated.

    Stuff that will be available on his channel: his exercise routine; what he eats on tour and instructional videos about how to prepare those items by his personal chef; a "720-degree" concert experience; rehearsals for the show; a documentary about Kanye called -- appropriately -- "Me"; and his animated series called "Runaway."

    Possibly more interesting are ideas for the platform GlobalHue presented to Mr. West that the notoriously fussy artist struck down. These include allowing fans to vote on set designs or allowing marketers to sponsor specific episodes. Mr. Lewis said Mr. West, ever the auteur, slammed those ideas, saying he doesn't need the popular vote to make decisions and the idea of, say, a McDonald's powering that sort of voting power with the push of an "I'm loving it" button was a "piece of a crap."

    There will be hopefully less crappy attempts at partnerships with brands down the road, including ones with retailers such as Target or Walmart to provide exclusive merchandise. But for now the company is focused on ramping up its suite of talent. It was unclear who else is signed on, but names dropped during the presentation included Oprah and Elton John.

    Why would these celebs turn to Voyr when they already have web presences of their own? The hope is that through scale -- building a lot of different celebrity presences -- Voyr will be able to get down the cost and make the process of relentlessly spraying one's giant ego all over the web more efficient. There will be a lot of other challenges for Voyr, including the always vexing problem of building an audience when your content is locked down, and figuring out pricing options that appeal to people other than superfans, like a one-off charge. And then there are older, bigger, freer sites such as YouTube and Vevo as well as the paid StageIt.

    At least in theory, Voyr shouldn't have a hard time getting attention if it can deploy its talent as it did Monday, treating journalists to a listening party for "Watch the Throne." After the press conference, the journos filed into the Hayden Planetarium to hear the entire album played while Journey to the Stars, a rather gorgeous and inherently trippy romp through the solar system, played over head. Stars were all over the place, though as the party was attended by Kanye, Jay-Z, his wife, Beyonce, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Kelly Rowland and Jada Pinkett Smith, who, in the elevator on the way out, was practically screaming about how she needed the album. "NOW!"

    GlobalHue Taps Kanye West for All-Access Website Voyr

    Multicultural Agency Is Betting Fans Will 'Watch the Throne' for $5 a Month


    Thursday, September 01, 2011

    The rise of the self-publishing superstar

    Had a conversation with an author today and asked her what she thought it took to make it to the New York Times Bestseller List? She said immediately, "a good book and some media exposure." Then I asked did she know have media contacts and if so, does she know how many "pitches" they get in a week? Blank stare.

    How about 500+ book pitches a week for national media - and about half that much of local. And how many "news holes" do they have to fill? Typically, they are slating about 10 of those authors a week in stories or contacting them for sources or sound bites. (and that's on the high side).

    But in reality, it's about getting buzz. And the getting BUZZ, building a BRAND takes time, money and energy. There are some short cuts - but you to still invest time, money and energy. Maybe get a coach.

    Sure, social media marketing is part of the pie to having a successful author platform (a big part). But, you really have to know how to navigate and leverage where the majority of books are sold today.

    If you don't even have an Amazon account (or your book is not there), well, you're not in the game - or even near the field. Need connections?
    (sign up and connect with the media here)
    Amplify’d from
    What if you could ask the author of a book a question while you were reading the book? That’s the kind of world Amazon wants to offer with its new @author feature, which the online bookstore launched on Wednesday with a group of writers including Susan Orlean and self-help guru Tim Ferriss. Readers can ask questions directly from their Kindles while they are reading a book, and the question gets sent to the author’s Twitter account as well as to their home page at Amazon. In addition to creating what the company hopes will be a kind of reader community around Kindle titles — something it has been pushing in other ways as well — this new feature looks like another step in Amazon’s quest to cut publishers out of the equation and build relationships directly with authors.

    In addition to Orlean and Ferriss — author of “The Four-Hour Body” and other similar books — the Amazon pilot includes writers such as Steven Berlin Johnson, J.A. Konrath and John Locke. All have agreed to respond to reader questions, and many are already active in social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Amazon says on the FAQ page for the feature that authors won’t be able to answer every question, and the idea is clearly to get other readers to respond to questions as well, much like movie-watchers do at sites like the Internet Movie Database.

    The FAQ page also asks readers to “behave as if you were a guest at a friend’s dinner party,” and not post anything defamatory or offensive, and allows readers to flag questions or answers as abusive. Anyone who asks a question will be notified by email if their question has been answered, Amazon says.

    Building social features around books

    The @author feature comes just a few months after the online bookseller launched a social-networking style program based on the Kindle, which allows readers to “follow” other readers the same way they would on a network like Twitter — and thereby see what books they are reading, as well as any highlights or notes they have created in the books they have read (if the user chooses to show these items). The program got some attention recently when it added a feature that auto-followed a reader’s Twitter or Facebook friends, in what appeared to be an attempt to promote the program.

    As Megan Garber notes at the Nieman Journalism Lab, one of the most obvious aspects of the new @author feature is that it disintermediates the publishers who normally act as middlemen between writers and readers (and who rarely pass on questions to authors, as anyone who has tried to contact one knows). While not every writer is going to want to respond directly to their audience, many have begun to get more interested in interacting with readers, including some who have adopted Twitter as a method of direct communication with fans — such as Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, who took part in Crowdsourcing author Jeff Howe’s recent experiment with a Twitter-powered global book club called “1book140.”

    But connecting authors directly with readers isn’t the only way Amazon wants to disintermediate publishers. The online retailer has also taken a more direct step recently by signing a deal to publish Ferriss, whose books have become phenomenally popular over the past year. Although Amazon has published other authors, the Ferriss deal got the attention of many in the publishing world as a kind of shot across the bow of traditional publishers — many of whom are still smarting from their recent battles with Amazon over book pricing.

    As we’ve pointed out a number of times at GigaOM, the whole concept of what a book is has been evolving rapidly over the past few years, and Amazon has been a big part of that from the beginning, thanks to its launch of the Kindle e-reader platform. In addition to spurring the sales of e-books in general, the Kindle has also played a central role in the publishing industry’s disruption because it allows anyone to sell their own e-books and keep up to 70 percent of the proceeds (provided the book sells for $4.99 or over).

    The rise of the self-publishing superstar

    Among those who have taken advantage of this phenomenon are Amanda Hocking, who started writing Kindle books for young adults a little over a year ago and managed to bring in more than $2 million in revenue without the help of a traditional publisher or agent. That performance convinced the publishing world to take another look, and Hocking signed a $2-million multibook deal with St. Martin’s Press earlier this year. Other self-publishers such as Konrath have continued to promote the benefits of self-publishing (my colleague Cyndy Aleo has a series of posts based on interviews with young adult authors about self-publishing).

    Given that, it’s no surprise that Konrath is part of the Amazon @author launch — and so is another author who has played a role in popularizing self-publishing: John Locke, a former businessman who took up writing Kindle novels several years ago and recently became the first e-book author to sell more than a million copies. Not long afterward, Locke signed an unusual deal with mainstream publisher Simon & Schuster, which will see the publisher handle marketing and sales of print versions of his books, while still allowing him to continue self-publishing his own e-books and keeping all the proceeds.

    That deal was a tangible sign of how the balance of power in the publishing business continues to shift, with authors (or at least, the ones who can demonstrate they have a connection with their readers and an ability to sell) gaining more strength and traditional publishers having to adapt. And Amazon continues to be at the center of that ongoing transformation of the industry.

    Amazon continues on its mission to disintermediate publishers