The Social Media Marketing Library: “The Thank You Economy”

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Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck is available on Amazon and in a bookstore near you!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far removed from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the Customer Was Always Right. Businesses of all sizes bent over backwards to please those consumers, not thinking twice about the costs involved, the impact on shareholders or Wall Street, or the fear of reputation damage that came from openly admitting mistakes. They simply fixed them, gave the customers a reward for their troubles and made sure to say thanks for their business.

That is the gist of Gary Vaynerchuk’s second book, ‘The Thank You Economy:” social media makes it easy for companies to go back to a more real, human way of doing business.

“Companies of all stripes and sizes have to start working harder to connect with their customers and make them happy, not because change is coming, but because it’s here,” warns Vaynerchuk. The man who was one of the first to use video blogs as a potent content marketing tool says the cultural earthquakes brought about by social media are already rippling through companies. Empowered consumers, he says, now hold the secret to business success, and it’s up to Facebook and Twitter-savvy executives to use those tools to say “thank you” to customers – thereby ensuring not only return business from them, but also acquiring new customers as the original consumers share their pleasant experiences with others in their networks.

The key chapter in “The Thank You Economy” – the reason why a social media-friendly employee should slip a copy of the book inside a social media-doubting CEO’s mail slot – is the one entitled “Why Smart People Dismiss Social Media, and Why They Shouldn’t.” Here Vaynerchuk demolishes the arguments frequently heard against social media: there’s no way to measure return on investment, it’s a passing fad, companies can’t control their message, etc. He counsels patience regarding the bottom-line impact of social media while acknowledging that it’s the one aspect of the technology that goes against today’s instant-results mindset.

As with most books about social media marketing, Vaynerchuk loads up a section with success stories involving big companies like Avaya and small businesses like Milwaukee hamburger king AJ Bombers (previously profiled in a Splash Media SplashCast). He makes the now-obligatory mention of the famous Old Spice Guy Twitter campaign, but also goes into detail about how parent company Procter & Gamble’s refusal to follow through on the campaign’s success allowed it to fritter away all that earned media.

“The Thank You Economy” thankfully avoids marketing lingo and a lecturing tone; it’s an easy, fun read.  Vaynerchuk became a social media sensation/pioneer with his witty videos on wine targeting regular folks, not connoisseurs, and he pulls off the same trick with this book. While experienced marketing professionals may find that approach overly simplistic, keep in mind that this book isn’t really out to change their minds; Vaynerchuk clearly hopes to find an audience with company executives who continue to question investments in social media. They are the ones who may end up being truly grateful for reading “The Thank You Economy.”

If you liked this, be sure to read our interview with Gary Vee!

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses: Stories You May Have Missed, June 3, 2011

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Another advanced class in How Not To Use Twitter is in session this week. This time your instructor is not a musician, professional athlete or out-of-work sitcom actor. It’s New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, whose connection with the social network involves a photo that shows…uh, well, the tawdry details are covered nicely here; as a bonus you also get the political ramifications that Weiner seems to have brought upon himself with his handling of the scandal.

We’re more interested in this episode being yet one more example of social media’s impact on the 24/7 news cycle, along with any teachable moments for businesses using social media marketing.

Once again, a social network that limits you to just 140 characters per tweet is inspiring reams of news stories/blog posts and hours of cable network time. How many times do we have to say it: have no more doubts about social media’s power to alter the rules of the communications game.

Politicians, like businesses, have a message they want to get out to their target audience, and Twitter (or Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, a blog) can help them narrow the gap between themselves and constituents/customers. It’s an informal, humanizing method of talking to that audience, and it rewards honesty and transparency. It also punishes those who don’t use it right – you may recall designer Kenneth Cole’s misguided tweet earlier this year linking the Egyptian protests with its new spring fashions.

Along with his non-answers involving this scandal, Weiner is being criticized for “following” certain young women on Twitter. One of them turned out to be a porn star. Clearly, the congressman was quite taken with the real-time aspects of communicating via Twitter but may not have considered the PR implications of this whole “followers/following” thing.

That would be the takeaway for any business looking to invest in social media, but also seeking a lesson in the Weinergate media storm: use common sense and set up clearly-defined policies and guidelines. Above all else, don’t use this scandal as an excuse to steer clear of social media. In these challenging times, companies need every advantage they can get, and did we mention that social media is here to stay?

It’s quite simple: think before you tweet. And while you’re at it, consider two other items from the week regarding Twitter that don’t involve scandalous photos and double-entrendres:

Forget Weinergate: Here’s How To Use Twitter Right

Lauren Drell in American Express Open Forum highlights six ways that businesses large and small have used the social network to reward their existing customers.

A Demographic Deep-Dive Regarding Twitter Users

For businesses wondering how they can target their social media offerings to certain socio-economic and ethnic groups, the Pew Internet And American Life Project publishes new survey results showing who’s using Twitter and how they’re using it.

Building A Solid Foundation For A Facebook Page

So you’ve built a Facebook presence. What next? Pancake Laboratories co-founder/president Jim Belosic has a guest post on SmartBlog On Social Media on how to load up a business Facebook page with engaging contests, discounts – and conversations.

Feel free to share any comments regarding social media, but please: no more Weiner jokes. We can never sing the Oscar Meyer song again. Otherwise..have a great weekend!

SplashCast: Social Media Marketing and B2B’s

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It’s another one of the most-asked questions that Splash Media hears at our Social Media for CEO’s Boot Camps: how exactly can Facebook, Twitter and other social networks help business-to-business companies? Boot Camp attendees want to hear success stories about the value that social media have brought for businesses that want to close the gap with vendors, distributors and others in the B2B ecosystem.

Paul Slack, Splash Media’s chief learning officer, talks to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about social media’s impact on real-time customer service and communications and the role that company blogs can play in a B2B’s strategy.

Charting The Future Of Social Media Marketing With Gary Vaynerchuk

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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.”

Social Media Marketing For Small Businesses: Stories You May Have Missed, May 27, 2011

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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.

SplashCast: Splash Contest Winner Stephanie Hamilton

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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.

Social Media Marketing CAN Fuel Auto Sales – If Done Right

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The headline of a May 2nd story at AutoNews.com was sure to rev the engines of social media marketing professionals everywhere: “Facebook: Fun – But Sells Few Cars.”

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.”

Social Media Marketing For Small Businesses: Stories You May Have Missed, May 20, 2011

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That noise you heard coming from the East Coast late this week was the sound of Wall Street partying like it”s 1999. And wouldn”t you know it – social media was serving as the house DJ.

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

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

, 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.

SplashCast: Kent Huffman of Social Media Marketing Magazine

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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.

Social Media Marketing Meets Hollywood, Take Two: Dustin Rowles of Pajiba.com

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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.