Evangelist - The Marketer’s Role in SMM

Oct 17, 2007 • 11:42 am | comments (0) by twitter | Filed Under Search Marketing Expo 2007 New York
 

Want to be really successful in social media marketing? You need to be an evangelist and activity participate in communities, forums and blogging. Leave this session knowing how to evolve from community observer to community participant and influencer. Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land

Speakers: Sarah Hofstetter, Vice President, Emerging Media & Client Strategy, 360i Rob Key, CEO, Converseon Adam Sherk, Search/PR Strategist, Define Search Strategies

Rob Key is first.

We're here because social media is subversive - it subverts traditional distribution content channels. Why are we here? Why do we talk about social media? 12-24 year olds find that community is the heart of the web experience. This is why the community should become part of a marketing strategy. There are virtual worlds and each of them are starting to have emerging cultures that are a bit different.

Mass media has been the glue for shared experiences and helps us understand things. Marketers haven't been invited to the community. They're really for consumers to consumers.

In communities, different language evolve: you see stuff within delicious that differ from Second Life or Wikipedia. What's the role of a marketer? It's about being a bit of a cultural anthrpologist.

You can be exiled or told that your language is not the same language. Wikipedia has its own culture and it differs greatly from Second Life. (RTFA on Digg!)

As marketers and brands increasingly penetrate social media communities, backlash will occur. But we advocate (for ROI) that you need to think differently as marketers. Think about what you can do for the community.

Participate in the community. Make friends with the community members. Understand and respect them. Lead with altruism - come bearing gifts. Discover a community need. Learn the linguistics. Value and cultivate relationships. Leverage appropriately ... over time.

We did an initiative in Second Life (they are very anti-marketer). It's the beginning of the 3D web with over 7 million users. The problem is that surveys show that 72% of surveys were disapponinted in real-world company activities in second life. Regular companies are unimaginitive and are boring to the community, they say.

Our approach: we became active and started understanding the community ethos. We spoke to elders and asked what to do with the community. We learned that environmentalism is important so we started a virtual tree initiative. He shows a video about "Second Chance Trees" which explains the program: you can plant a tree in Second Life and they planted the same tree in real life in other ecologically sensitive regions throughout the world. You were able to see the tree in a Google Maps mashup. The accolades came in from the global community and the Second Life community - they took ownership of it in their own way. People started to do things with programs that we haven't even fathomed. Let people start to own it. They started talking about dedicating trees to people who passed away in their memories. It became viral. Fifty thousand pages were indexed in search. American Express Member's Project selected this as a finalist.

The mainstream media picked this up and it won the OMMA award because we really understood and took advantage of the community. It's hard to do for some companies but you should start to asking yourself "what can I give?" and you will get your return.

When you put together your strategy, you realy need to go through a process and should listen to the community. You shold understand the policies and go through the planning and infrastructure and take it from there.

Adam Sherk is next.

When you talk about social media, you need to be nimble and flexible and react to current events. That doesn't work with big brands - these are huge ships that turn very slowly. You've got marketing and PR who are concerned about reputation management. You have the SEO team thinking about inbound links and improved rankings. You have the IT department who has to make sure your server can handle this. When you have huge sites with millions of pages, you can't always change them as often as you want. The legal department is also afraid of issues and backlash.

Over the course of the last day and a half, we've learned that many people don't always have a strategy (banned accounts, etc.) There is a lot of ignorance - people try stuff and get kicked out. There's lack of support/resources. They are never true members of the community. We find a lot of companies that are enthusiastic but don't have a strategy set so they get themselves in trouble. There's poor coordination.

Here's a problem: everyone in the same room (on the same IP address) vote up the same article (okay, guys, I hope you realize that this doesn't work) - you'll get banned.

There is a path to success: selling upper management the concept, getting buy-in from all key departments, instilling a "give to gain" philosophy.

The top executives need to give the blessing to these strategies. You need to find the right people to manage the effort. Give them what they need to be effective.

Then test, do oversight, and measure results.

Adam mentioned my name saying I'm an expert. I'm flattered.

More to consider: the messages change over time. You need to adapt. How will you sustain your efforts over the long term? What happens if your brand ambassador leaves the company? What about employees with their own personal profiles? How do you deal with negative reactions?

We work with Hearst magazine. Most of their content doesn't appeal to the twentysomething male that is typical of these other social news hubs. They can interact on other niche sites. They subjectively found stuff related to environmentalism as well - they interviewed the top greenest Digg users (I remember this article! yay!)

What about Good Housekeeping on the first page of Digg? We created content about how mothers could dress up their pets in star wars costumes. It got 998 Diggs. (I just want you to know, Adam, that I read Good Housekeeping and the content there rocks. Thanks.)

TV Guide: there's a full time brand ambassador, regular monitoring on social sites, full transparency within communities, networks of partner sites developed for publicity efforts, and efforts tied to SEO/online marketing/print marketing, Special promotions developed around exclusive content.

TV guide wanted to test something so they tried High School Musical 2 - they came up with exclusive content for the film and they featured it in an article. They spread the word through Facebook, etc. The success was far-reaching because it was what people wanted and it was exclusive. There was unprecedented user engagement.

Next up is Sarah Hofstetter.

How do marketers influence the influential? It's a matter of finding where the places that marketers can place smartly across social media so that they can be evangelists. What are the assets that you can use to promote your brand? You can't just say "my brand rocks." Offer something different: widgets, CD-ROM, etc. Align assets with interests.

She presents a few case studies including NBC's Heroes. Now I like Heroes - a lot. So it should be doing well all the time. Let me note that Diggers really like Heroes.

One of the things that we look at when we do outreach is what they link back to. We analyze and see that they're linking back to a certain page (e.g. MySpace instead of NBC). Why MySpace? In one instance, there was a contest that showed that you can win a trip to Universal Studios on MySpace. But that contest wasn't on NBC.com. They added the conest there and the landscape shifted.

Another case study was to figure out how to drive awareness to politically related stuff on Comedy Central as well as unique content. A lot of these guys have a nice following online. Comic book bloggers loved an analogy we used about the Green Lantern and started linking to it - they also became controversial about it. These intense relationships that were developed with these bloggers is important. Feed their hunger. They are always looking for interesting things to write about.

We were able to find out who is linking to what and where the traffic was coming from - it came from the blogosphere - word of mouth marketing.

She says that you should harness the opportunity. People use interns in order to do it because they think it's not rocket science. However, if you use interns or people who don't know your brand, you can screw up the opportunity. If those interns get your brand, use them, but if they don't, don't use them! Look at Craigslist and see how many links ask for interns to manage blogs and pitches - this is bad!

Do: Find people who will write aobit you. Create something worthy for them. Write a customized message. Keep an updated database of all influentials.

Don't: Just hope that whatever you have is blogworthy. Mass email press releases. Pretend to be "joe consumer." Let interns do the job (yes, like she said). :)

This session was cool. Thank you. Adam, thank you too.

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