Quick note: Make sure you check out our previous post about auto sales and social media!
Gary Vaynerchuk speaks rapidly, spews F-words liberally and exudes plenty of passion about social media marketing. That makes sense, since social media itself is evolving rapidly, encourages honest conversations and allows everyone – customers and companies – to show their passion for ideas and brands.
All that would make the Belarus-born entrepreneur, bestselling author and brand consultant the best walking, talking commercial for social media yet, as the audience at Dallas’ Lakewood Theater found out during last week’s “Gary Vee In Big D” event. (Disclosure: Splash Media was one of the event’s sponsors.)
Vaynerchuk first used e-commerce to transform his family’s New Jersey-based retail wine business into a multi-million dollar online company. He then began using social media and video blogs to morph into a Everyman-style wine expert, drawing the attention of major media including CNN, CNBC and Conan O’Brien.
Vaynerchuk is currently speaking on behalf of his second book, “The Thank You Economy,” which effectively knocks down arguments skeptics make about social media – there’s no return on investment, it’s not as effective as traditional media, it’s just a passing fad, etc.”In corporate America, it’s nice to keep playing the same game,” Vaynerchuk told the audience. “We need the ROI of social media? What’s the ROI of a piano? To me, zero. You know why? I can’t play it. You know what the ROI of Elton John is? A f–kload. The reason so many people are struggling with social media is because they don’t know how to use the platforms they’ve created. We’ve been in the ‘push’ business for so long.”
Social media, on the other hand, needs to “pull” people in with killer content to be effective, but Vaynerchuk added another “c” word to the mix. “The word I’m obsessed about is ‘context.’ I think context is the battle, and the reason I’m here tonight is not because I sold a couple of hundred books. I’m here because I want to have context with the 500 people who are in the room. I want to do business with every person in the room for the rest of my life.”
Vaynerchuk argues in “The Thank You Economy” that for all the future-talk about Twitter and technology, social media actually takes the business world back in time – to a place when companies large and small cared about customers and went the extra mile to please them, even if it meant spending more time and money in that effort. Call it Vaynerchuk’s Hanna-Barbera theory of customer service: “As we all go Jetsons, the real value is in the Flintstones,” he said.
Before his talk, I asked Vaynerchuk to react to a recent AutoNews.com story that raised doubts about whether Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube could help auto dealers sell cars. (Read our blog post about it here.)
“I’d love for those auto dealers to prove to me what a radio commercial or a billboard or a television ad or a direct mail piece did – of course they’re selling cars,” he said. “As someone who looks at every metric, we sell lots of wine – high-end wine – on Facebook. I’ve seen people sell $15,000 computer systems.
“It’s a different way of selling, it’s a patient way of selling. It’s more nuturing. You’ve got to be relevant in everything. I still think you should do billboards, but maybe you push it to a social place where you can have a conversation. I promise you, the car dealers who understand how to use social media will be successful.”
Here’s some Memorial Day homework for small businesses wondering about the power of social media: follow @UrbanOutfitters on Twitter this weekend and see if a clothing/accessories/home furnishings company known for its hipness can use its social media platforms the right way to douse a public relations wildfire.
Or as noted media relations professional Peter Shankman tweeted Thursday night: “Urban Outfitters is about to have a fun little PR nightmare. Let’s grab some popcorn and watch.”
Stevie Koerner, an independent jewelry designer who sells her work on Etsy, was told by customers that Urban Outfitters had not only lifted the design for her I Heart Destination line of necklaces, they also ran some of her marketing copy verbatim on their website. Koerner tweeted and blogged about all this, other influential bloggers and media-types followed suit, and within hours Urban Outfitters was a Twitter Trending Topic. The main talking points – Urban Outfitters has done this kind of thing before, we should all boycott UO, wonder when/how UO will respond?
The offending items were quickly removed from Urban Outfitters’ website. And this appeared late Thursday on the official UO Twitter page: “Hey guys, we see your tweets regarding the I Heart Destination necklace. Please know that our accessories buying team is looking into this.” That’s been the extent of the response as of this writing.
Kathy Gill, blogger and digital media instructor at the University of Washington, has a great summation of this controversy that highlights how the story developed at light-speed and was mostly played out on social – not traditional – media. “If your company isn’t monitoring its brand on Twitter and Facebook, your life is a train wreck waiting to happen,” Gill writes in language we’d love to see emblazoned in large letters on every small/mid-size business CEO’s office wall.
All we can add is that Urban Outfitters needs to strike the right tone in its official response. It should be dripping with apologies, explain what happened and offer up an olive branch to Koerner and the crafting community, who showed what kind of power a company’s audience has in the age of social media.
Here are some other examples of social media’s impact on the business world:
Morgan Stanley’s Investment In Social Media
Lauren Barack of Registered Rep reports that the Wall Street giant will soon start experimenting with letting its advisers use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to communicate directly with customers – provided regulatory obstacles can be negotiated.
Fanning The Flames of Facebook Fan Fealty
Leyl Master Black of American Express Open Forum lists four ways companies/brands can recognize and reward their Facebook fans, citing examples from small and large business brands.
When The Music Stops At A Social Media Party
With two bad-behavior movies now in theaters – “The Hangover 2″ and “Bridesmaids” – it makes sense that Lisa Buyer, writing in Search Engine Watch, would use the “hangover” metaphor as a way to illustrate how to keep a company’s social media party from going off the rails.
Any comments/social media success stories you’d like to add? Feel free to fill up our Comments section. Have a great Memorial Day holiday, and please consider using your favorite social media platform to publish your thanks this weekend for those serving our country in the military.
Stephanie Hamilton had already found a talent with knitting. But a visit to a San Francisco museum opened up a new artistic direction for her. And without dropping a stitch, she started her own business and is now using social media to tell its story.
Stephanie Hamilton, founder of Stephanie Hamilton Designs based in Pacifica, California, is the winner of Splash Media’s “Win A Month Of Free Social Media Marketing” contest. She talks to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about the origins of her knit metal jewelry designs and how social media is helping entrepreneurs like her introduce their companies to customers.
For more about Stephanie Hamilton and her knit metal jewelry, visit her website at http://www.stephaniehdesigns.com.
For more Splashcasts, a weekly segment on social media marketing for businesses, subscribe to our YouTube channel.
The story by David Barkholz cites two studies: an AutoTrader.com/R.L. Polk and Co. survey from summer 2010 showing that of 4,000 new and used car buyers polled, only 3 percent said social media had an impact on their purchasing decisions, and a Dataium study that tracked 1.5 million car shoppers online. Only 9,400 of them came to a dealer’s website from social media. (Dataium specifically targets the auto industry in its research on website visits.)
Representatives of two major auto dealers in Ohio and Connecticut are quoted in the story. One of them says he’s been experimenting with social media for four years with not a whole lot of success to show for that effort. The other is actually more optimistic, saying he’s selling about five cars per month via social media, although Barkholz points out that’s just 3 percent of his annual sales.
The gist of the story is that “vendors” (social media marketing agencies?) are hyping the impact of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on actual sales. Yet AutoNews’s link-bait headline casts its own hype-shadow over key points in the story:
* The Dataium representative recommends that auto dealers should use social media like Facebook, saying in effect that nearly 600 million members is kind of tough to ignore;
* The Ohio auto dealer representative points to social media’s growing impact on search engine results. That’s a fairly recent development in algorithm research as Google and Bing have just begun to work Facebook and Twitter influence into their rankings;
* The AutoTrader.com/R.L. Polk and Co. survey is almost a year old.
Driving Auto Dealer Success
The real problem with the AutoNews story lies in the perception of how social media fits into any businesses’ overall marketing strategy, much less that of an auto dealership. Social media isn’t a fad or trend; it’s shifting the communications landscape and empowering consumers in a new and vital way. Social networks are recommendations engines that can be primed through tactics like brand monitoring, rapid real-time customer service, compelling non-commercial content and incentives/discounts.
Full disclosure: Splash Media has several auto dealer clients. Just two examples of how we jump-started their sales:
* Toyota of Irving, Texas used its email database to encourage customers to “Like” their Facebook page to access a $750 coupon. Result: five cars sold in one week.
* Those who were already Facebook fans of a Garland, Texas Volkswagen dealer could win an iPad by encouraging others to “Like” the Facebook page, test-driving a VW or having their car serviced at the dealer. The contest winner enjoyed the experience so much, she ended up buying a new Jetta.
The Right Social Media Fuel For Car Dealers
It’s our take that the research data in the AutoNews story might be a little…well, dated, considering how fast small, medium and large companies have adopted social media just in the past year. There’s also the question of why the Ohio auto dealer, after four years of social media experimentation, has only 322 fans for its Facebook page.
It may be because, as Gary Vaynerchuk says, they and other dealers may not be putting enough energy, people or resources into the mix. They haven’t really committed to social media – and may indeed need outside help. Vaynerchuk, social media consultant and video blogger extraordinaire, says as much in Chapter 3 of his new book, “The Thank You Economy.”
The chapter’s title, “Why Smart People Dismiss Social Media, And Why They Shouldn’t,” lists 11 excuses businesses give as to why they won’t use/are no longer using social media, and Vaynerchuk knocks down each one in order. The one that may apply to auto dealer naysayers? “We tried it: It doesn’t work.” The real culprit here is a lack of patience, says Vaynerchuk, since social media requires longer-term thinking. And those outside critics who continue to label social media as hype, he adds, are “like people who have never seen a bicycle who try to pedal with their hands, then toss the thing aside, declaring it a waste of time and impractical for transportation.”
The social network for professionals, LinkedIn, staged a rousing initial public offering on Thursday. The stock opened at $45 a share and closed at $94. After six and a half hours of trading, the company was worth $9 billion. Mashable’s Todd Wasserman provides a list of companies that LinkedIn surpassed in value – including names such as Seagate Technology (hard drives), Sirius XM (satellite radio) and Chipotle (heartburn).
The irrationally-exuberant reaction to LinkedIn’s debut as a publicly traded stock has analysts looking back to the dot-com bust of the late 1990s (The Globe.com, anyone?), with some wondering if a Web 2.0 bubble is rapidly inflating. After all, Facebook is expected to go public next year, and other social media/new media companies may now be speed-dialing Goldman Sachs.
The larger point we’d like to make is that LinkedIn’s IPO should be the final nail in the coffin for social media’s doubters. The business model is there; it’s worthy of Wall Street attention and investment. We would argue that the strength in a social network’s global membership and the overall power of sharing/networking/recommending – and how all that’s transforming communication - is greater than the back-of-a-napkin business strategies that ended up in the 1990′s dot-com-bust trashcan.
Here are some more examples of that transformation taking place in the business world – presented (hopefully) with a minimum of irrational exuberance:
Social Media Pasta Parties for Grads
The Italian restaurant chain Buca di Beppo, according to ClickZ’s Christopher Heine, is using Twitter to give high school/college grads an opportunity to win graduation parties.
Share and Share Alike – Especially When It’s Good Content
New data from AOL and Nielsen Online validates why small businesses need to start creating valuable news-you-can-use content for customers: social media is overwhelmingly preferred by friends for sharing content.
Giving Customers The Chance To Speak For You
Social media measurement specialist Nichole Kelly, writing in Social Media Examiner, makes some great points about using customers as ambassadors for your brands. She also includes the risks for this approach if not managed well. Required reading.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the LinkedIn IPO, as well as any other stories on the social media front you found interesting during the past week. Please share in our Comments section and have a great weekend – unless, of course, you happen to own 100,000 shares of LinkedIn. If that’s the case, than have a great early retirement.
It started with new media and Twitter. It will end with the publication of a old-media magazine.
That is roughly the path that Kent Huffman used to put together a new content and networking source for social media marketing professionals, Social Media Marketing Magazine. Huffman, whose day job is chief marketing officer for BearCom Wireless, is releasing the fifth issue of SMM Magazine, and he talks to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about the magazine (always available online, with a print edition coming soon) and the trends he sees dominating online marketing in 2011.
You know that any entertainment blog that advertises itself as “scathing reviews for bitchy people” is going to be positively dripping with attitude. Pajiba.com is all that and more, featuring bloggers writing sharp, knowledgeable reviews of movies, TV shows and books while loudly playing up the fact it accepts no press junkets, giveaways or visits to film/TV sets.
Dustin Rowles is Pajiba’s publisher and co-owner. With the summer blockbuster movie season now upon us, Splash Media wanted to get his review of Hollywood’s social media marketing efforts. Rowles says it’s been hit and miss so far, with some of the Facebook games and interactive websites getting a big thumbs down. He cites last summer’s Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz spy comedy “Knight and Day” as an example.
“A lot of the intentional attempts to create viral videos are cheesy, like your mother joining Twitter,” Rowles said. “The great thing about social media is that, while the studios can blitz campaigns on TV and print, and even splash display advertising all over the Internet, it’s harder to manufacture buzz on social networks – users see through it. On social networks, users want to share and retweet things that are cool, because in a way, they’re personally identifying themselves with it, and no one wants to spread lame chain mail. “
Rowles did give Hollywood some props for plying movie blogs that have “cultural capital” with exclusive content as a way to use influential intermediaries – even if the results have been shaky. “I’ve yet to see a movie blog criticize a poster or trailer that they were given exclusive access to,” he says. Movies like “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” “Kick Ass,” “Paul” and “Observe and Report” were championed by certain movie blogs but all ended up failing at the box office.
Rowles’ advice for studios that want to be effective with social media can be applied to any business: be human, authentic, original. “I don’t personally pay much attention to the Facebook and Twitter accounts of studios or movies, as they do little but shill for their films,” he said. “But occasionally one of the movie or studio accounts will work if you get the sense that there’s an actual person with a sense of humor and an opinion behind the accounts. But mostly, it just feels like following a studio or movie on Twitter is like signing up for a mailing list.”
You can read the first part of “Social Media Marketing Meets Hollywood” here.
The Daily Beast’s Dan Lyons discovered that it was Mark Zuckerberg’s social network that had hired a respected PR firm to try and convince both an influential blogger and USA Today to write nasty things about Social Circle, a Google email feature.
So – why should small businesses care about a sordid episode reeking of corporate dirty tricks?
* It one more bit of proof that social media has arrived as a valuable communications platform. As a public relations professional told the BBC this week, “I think people forget that business is war and the most competitive medium right now is social media.”
* Google vs. Facebook is now the big technology rivalry. (Apple vs. Microsoft? So early 21st-century.) All small businesses want to rank high in Google search results. Google is incorporating more social media recommendations and “likes” in those results. Facebook wants to refine its services for its 600 million members – including all those business pages – and is obviously feeling threatened by Google.
Need we say more? Google and Facebook are major components of any company’s social media marketing strategy. The two are obviously now at war. But there’s a likely peace dividend for small businesses: new features and services targeting their needs, as the tech giants battle it out for eyeballs and users.
Rest assured that Splash Media will bring you the latest dispatches from that fight. In the meantime, some other headlines from the week:
Content Is Key, But Supporting It Will Unlock Success
Author/consultant Rebecca Lieb asks the question on the iMedia Connection blog: whose job is it within a company to run the content strategy? Her take is that if you’re publishing content for marketing, make sure you have the best people – and enough people – to do it right. Some great success stories – including a B2B best practice example – are included.
A Facebook Page Primer For Businesses
Former Apple guru and Alltop.com founder Guy Kawasaki uses lessons gleaned from his new book, Enchantment, to show how businesses can boost their Facebook presence with content and conversation.
How The Rich Use Social Media
Businesses offering luxury/high-end items and services, take note: eMarketer has the findings of an Aflluence Collaborative survey showing how wealthy consumers are engaging with brands on social networks.
What about you? Any news headlines from the week catch your eye? You won’t need to hire a PR firm to plant a story with us; just jot your own thoughts down in the Comments section below. And have a great weekend!
A tweet from @SplashmediaLP prompted this week’s SplashCast. The tweet noted that every day, 46 years’ worth of YouTube video is watched on Facebook. That’s 46 years.
There is no more telling statistic about how social media and video are merging. The rise of social media video has major implications for marketing and small/mid-size businesses who need to tell their stories on a variety of platforms – not only on their websites or YouTube pages, but on their Facebook pages as well.
Splash Media chief learning officer Paul Slack joins SplashCast host Renay San Miguel to talk about the way businesses are now using video on their social media platforms, and how Facebook and YouTube are changing the way we process video-driven information.
When you were young, what do you remember about the way movies were marketed? A poster at your local theater? A trailer on the big screen showing previews of coming attractions? Did you pay attention to the projected box office totals or critics reviews? Did you watch coverage of the movie’s red carpet premiere?
Movie fans know that the way films are marketed has changed over the years – and social media is playing a starring role in the latest changes. The lesson for all kinds of businesses? How to leverage the power of recommendations.
Example: last week Splash Media staff member Lauren Parajon entered a Facebook contest for a sneak preview of “Bridesmaids.” The contest asked participants to send in pictures of themselves in their worst bridesmaid gowns. Dallas promotions company Moroch Movies sponsored the event and hosted 30 bridesmaids at the Angelika Theater at Mockingbird Station, where they were treated to a sparkling cider toast before the screening.
“Bridesmaids” opens in widescreen release May 13. And while the film has a traditional marketing campaign that features the usual TV and print ads, using a social media contest can generate a person-to-person buzz about a film. It can also take advantage of the way people recommend movies to friends: when the theater lights went up after “Bridesmaids” credits rolled, the audience immediately started texting, tweeting and posting Facebook statuses about the movie on their smartphones. Instead of a commercial advertising the film, “Bridesmaids” now had valuable real-time endorsements from several lovely ladies in chiffon.
It is too soon to tell if this strategy will help make “Bridesmaids” number one at the box office during its opening weekend. But Hollywood loves a sequel – and not just when it comes to successful movie ideas. “Paranormal Activity,” released in 2009 and considered to be the most profitable film in history, had no ads in traditional media or major movie stars promoting the film when it first opened in limited release. Using Twitter and Facebook pages to plan midnight screenings targeting college-age audiences, and a web-based campaign that allowed horror movie buffs to “demand” that the movie play in their town, the film quickly generated enough buzz for a wide release. The result? “Paranormal Activity”- made for less than $15,000- grossed over $108 million at the box office in 2009 and spawned a successful sequel.
Despite these recent campaigns, Hollywood is still slow to grasp the impact of social media. There is no doubt that the way audiences interact and communicate with each other has fundamentally changed. A-list critics no longer have the influence they once had as filmgoers refer to movie blogs like Pajiba or Twitter to find out if they should see a film or not. Yet big studios still pour money into traditional marketing, even as constant word-of-mouth proves to be much more effective and valuable.
Consider this: Think of the last movie you went to see in a theater. Did you see it because of an advertisement – or because someone suggested it through social media? And how can that concept with your particular business?