Being in the Conversation – Social Media and your Brand

The current trends in Social Media Brand Monitoring focus around your PR/Marketing agency. They provide tools to create nice reports telling you what the public perception of your brand is – and perhaps some alerts when something “bad” happens.

Led by Radian6 – this trend is very powerful and shouldn’t be ignored. But the real questions facing you (COO, CEO, VP of Product) are:

  1. Is there any real advantage to cleaning up after the perception is already created?
  2. If so – how the heck to we operationalize that?

The first question goes to the advantage of quickly (in near real time) engaging, participating and correcting the issues that cause a negative brand perception. As I’ve said before – the urgency is preventing the perception (and attendant backlash) from becoming the story. The real danger is having the original negative perception create a story – the story about how the Social Media universe erupted in outrage. That story will repeat and re-enforce the initial negative perception and create another, more subtle and destructive one – that you are not listening, empathetic and responsive.

more after the jump…

Continue reading “Being in the Conversation – Social Media and your Brand”

Jingle Networks Launches Voice Ad Network


Thank you for calling <insert big company name here>. Your call is important to us. While you are waiting we will now subject you to ads for products from <other big company name> for which you have no need, did not call to get information about and which you will find utterly annoying. You see if you are impertinent enough to bother us about anything OTHER than giving us more money we will need to make money from you doing so… because – frankly – we really don’t give a crap if you annoy you… we just want your money.


Jingle Networks Logo

A few months ago, we wrote about Jingle Networks’ intention to start a voice ad network that would see companies that receive a high-volume of calls place ads during caller wait time. And according to the company, that service has launched today.

Known for its 1-800-FREE-411 service, Jingle Networks’ voice ad network will allow any company with high call volume to insert audio advertisements in their calls and attempt to take advantage of the company’s installed base of 130,000 advertisers. There’s currently no word on how the revenue will be shared between Jingle Networks and its partners.

In-call advertising is quickly becoming an important element in increasing revenue while callers wait. But the question remains: will wait times, which already annoy callers, upset them even further now that ads will be piped through the phone? You can bet on it.

[From Jingle Networks Launches Voice Ad Network]

I swear… when I read this I actually threw up a little bit.

Seth Godin & the Myth of Launch PR

I love reading Seth’s posts. He always manages to shine a light on something that is not only true… but also leads us to think beyond marketing and PR and ask some fundamental questions about why we are entrepreneurs and how we create a business.

New startups can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars racing after a dream: a giant splash on launch.

Just imagine… a big spread in Time Magazine, a feature on all the relevant blogs, a glowing review in the Book Review. Get this part right and everything else takes care of itself.

And yet.

Here are some brands that had no launch at all: Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Harry Potter, Google, William Morris, The DaVinci Code, Wikipedia, Snapple, Geico, Linux, Firefox and yes, Microsoft. (All got plenty of PR, but after the launch, sometimes a lot later).

I’m as guilty as the next entrepreneur. Great publicity is a treasured gift. But it’s hardly necessary, and the search for it is often a significant distraction.

It works for movies, in fact, it’s essentially required for movies. But for just about every product, service or company, the relentless quest for media validation doesn’t really pay. If you get it, congratulations. If you don’t, that’s just fine. But don’t break the bank or your timetable in the quest.

[From The myth of launch PR]

No question – Seth is right.

Here is the big question… Why do you WANT that big launch PR splash?

You say “because it is great for the company”:

The fact is… even if you get it, you are probably not ready for it. Point of reference – Cuil. Cuil had great launch buzz. Made a huge splash – and an ever louder thud when the reality failed to meet the buzz. Maybe the product is great, maybe not… but if you are not ready (technology, process and people) to handle the rush of interest and the glare of the spotlight it really won’t matter.

And let’s face it… that giant thud is very, very hard to come back from. So before you go off feeding the hype machine be sure you can deliver (technology, process and people) the goods… otherwise you’ll just get exposed.

So, what is your motivation? Here is the dirty little secret every entrepreneur needs to acknowledge, understand and guard against.

That PR splash – it isn’t about the company… it is about YOU.

YOU want to look like a genius… YOU want to be the new darling of the Silicon Valley echo chamber… YOU want to get invited to the Googleplex to have lunch with Sergey and Larry… YOU want Sand Hill Road to beat a path to your door…

And that is great… congratulations. But what you forgot is that building a company has nothing to do with any of that. It is about creating an offering backed by a company (again, technology, process and people) that can deliver on it. It is about delivering value to your customers. PR and Marketing are supposed to help you make the company visible and compelling to potential customers… not boost your self-image.

It isn’t about YOU.

You get what you pay for

From Seth Godin this morning…

If you don’t want spam in your inbox, never respond, never buy anything. Not even if it’s a good deal.

If you don’t like TV commercials featuring loud aggressive announcers, don’t buy what they’re selling. Ever.

If you don’t want people ringing your door asking for donations, don’t give, no matter what.

If you think politics is too nasty and not focused enough on creating value, then don’t donate to a candidate that’s nasty, even if you agree (and even better, call or write and tell them why).

If you don’t like bait and switch marketing, where promises don’t match the product, don’t buy it.

If you don’t like snarky, angry blogs, don’t read them.

If you deplore the lousy service at big chains or certain airlines, don’t shop there, even if it’s cheaper.

There’s a new asymmetry, with loud consumers able to connect and actually have an impact.

We’re all hypocrites, and we get what we pay for. The market is astonishingly quick at responding to what consumers do (and incredibly slow at reacting to what we say).

[From You get what you pay for]

Nothing to add here… Seth hits then nail squarely on the head.

John-Scott Dixon on the new book Groundswell

From John-Scott Dixon’s post.

I’ve been reading and enjoying a new book called Groundswell. It’s about adapting your company/organization to the new world of social media (Web 2.0). In the book, there are countless examples of companies fighting to maintain control of their brand and corporate messaging. All ultimately reaching the conclusion that it is no longer possible today. Your brand is what people say it is, not what you say it is. Well, I’ve related to a number of these stories, and as a social influence marketer – I’ve been nodding my head up and down with an “I told you so” kind of attitude. It’s great that companies are being held accountable – the days of the PR smooth-over are gone! Anyway, nothing quite brings a concept home like being involved in the middle.

So, as your company begins to deal with customers who are Twittering about you, creating groups, blogging – reach out to them. Don’t be afraid. This is no longer about control – you don’t have any. What you have left is influence. So, get to know them. Help them. This stuff is not an annoyance that is going to fade out and disappear. It’s time to embrace it before your competition does – leverage it to your advantage. Sermon over!

[From “Groundswell” Case Study]

I’ll be picking up Groundswell this week. I think what John-Scott says is spot on…

Old marketing with new tools

Here is an interesting read from Seth Godin.

We tend to use new tools to do less. We try to save time and money at the same time, and end up depersonalizing and commodifying what we do.

A simple example: cost and speed pressure means that when you get your car serviced, it’s unlikely you’ll be greeted by the mechanic himself, wiping his hands on a greasy rag, telling you exactly what he did to your car. Instead, you’ll get a difficult to decipher printout.

Why not use the technology to give more?

[From Old marketing with new tools]

I think Seth hits the target spot on in this post – but I’d go one step further.

We use communications technologies today to avoid communicating.

Since I’ve been telling people about page2call and it’s innovative ability to turn website page views into phone calls – you would be shocked at how many small business owners have said told me some version of what follows:

Can’t I just collect the name and phone number – if I need business I can call them back later.

The irony here is that when you talk to prospective customers of these same businesses what they want is access – they don’t want to be tele-marketed when business gets slow – they want to talk to you about your service now (that’s why they chose to call). And most of them will not do business with you if you are not accessible on their terms.

While cosinity could give you the tools to do pure lead generation based on page2call we’re not sure it is what you really want. We know it sounds good to you, but it sounds terrible to your customers. So let’s use the technology to – as Seth put it – do more, not do less.