How to get started with your social media marketing strategy

We want to use the podcast as a complement to what we post here on the blog, as it allows us to dig down a little deeper, offer more advanced tips and practical information and it can be an alternative to those of you who prefer passive learning by listening.

In this episode, we wanted to direct your attention to a few great blogs, a couple of indispensable books and a brilliant website that, taken together or separately, will give great insight into the “hows” of implementing a social media marketing strategy.

Referenced resources:

Blogs- Jason Falls’ Social Media Explorer

Chris Brogan’s blog

Amber Naslund at Altitude Branding

Books- Groundswell and The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Website- Common Craft

Please go get the podcast in iTunes, or you can listen right here on the blog.

Download How to get started MP3

And please make sure to post your comments here on the blog. Was this useful for you? Too much information? Not enough?

Online video is an unstoppable force

Since we are video producers, we are partial to this kind of news:

comScore announced that US internet users watched 12.7 billion online videos in November 2008, up 34% from November 2007. That translates to 77% of users watching nearly 4 hours of video per month EACH with the average video duration being around 3 minutes. THAT’S OVER 90 VIDEOS PER MONTH FOR EVERY MAN WOMAN AND CHILD ON THE INTERNET, or
four videos a day. It boggles the mind.

Another recent survey says that 66% of marketers plan to implement online video into their 2009 plans. Uh…YEAH. You think?

Using social media to market your business or organization is more than setting up a Facebook page, as 59 of the top 100 US retailers have done, including BestBuy, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart. You need to connect with people and there is still nothing more powerful than the moving picture, whether it’s coming from your TV or, increasingly, your computer screen.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: videos get shared, commented on and passed around endlessly. When was the last time you forwarded a banner ad to a friend?

How much video do you watch online? Has it changed your TV viewing habits at all?

Social Media Marketing and women of a certain age

There are a lot of misconceptions about social networking and social media, chief among them being that it is a domain reserved for 13-year olds endlessly texting each other while updating their Facebook status.

While this is demonstrably false, it’s not enough for me to say things like “demonstrably false” from my high horse. So consider this: eMarketer reported on a survey that showed 40% of 40-something women had a social networking profile. And the way to reach them was not by taking out ads on social networking sites, because they actively avoided them. Instead, engagement and more sophisticated marketing would be the key in reaching this influential group, as 70% of women with kids ages 13-17 had talked about products on social networks, connected with others, researched products, got their news or monitored their kids’ activities. In other words, THEY USE THE INTERNET!

Interestingly, women aged 45-54 make up a larger group of internet users than men of the same age.

Does this data surprise you? Do you fall into this demographic? If you are a marketer, what have you done to reach out to this key demo? Leave a comment and share your knowledge.

A new kind of Social Media Consultancy

As we head into 2009 on rather wobbly economic legs, I wanted to do my part to try and ease the anxiety that so many of us are feeling.

2008 proved to be a good year for our consulting practice here at Clearcast. My suspicion is that in this time of businesses contracting and looking for savings where they can find them, coupled with the ever increasing interest in social networking tools for business, 2009 will be busy, too. The pundits would have you believe that all business has completely ground to a halt, but we all know that is simply not so. Slow, yes. Stopped, of course not.

I will endeavor to make this blog more useful to those of you working in businesses or organizations that are trying to figure out how best to navigate the social web and extend their digital influence. We will continue to offer tips and useful information, as well as analyses of industry trends, and maybe even the occasional link to a cool program or funny video, just as we have always done.

I realized that a lot of you derived great value from our podcast, based on the number of downloads we received last year. I plan to make that an integral part of our overall offering, beginning with a new episode next week. If you’re new around here, head over to the “Podcast” channel over there on the right, or, better yet, subscribe for free in iTunes so you never miss an episode.

For your part, I would only ask that you participate in the comments section and help to shape the blog into something that is as laser focused and useful as possible. Post comments, send e-mail, follow me on Twitter, friend me up on Facebook- whatever way you find most comfortable to interact with me. (All the relevant links are also over there on the right…)

Social networking is an additive element to your overall marketing plan. It is not the be all and end all. But it IS vitally important to understand the tools and their implementations, so let us help you.

Here’s to defying all the predictions for 2009. It can be a great year for all of us.

What to do with all those holiday pictures?

We came across a very cool app the other day that we wanted to tell you about.

It’s called
Animoto and they bill themselves as “the end of slideshows.” You upload your photos, select music that either they provide or a song of your own and POOF! out comes a professional looking video that beats the hell out of any other slideshow app I have ever seen. If you don’t like how the video comes out, you can keep remixing it until you get a result that you like.

The website mentions three steps: “it analyzes your images, it feels your music, it customizes a video.” I have tried it several times over the past few days and have been VERY impressed with the results. Images change on the beat and the videos are very cool looking. Creating a 30-second video is free and uses from 12-20 images. If you want to create something longer, you can either pay $3 per video or buy an annual subscription for $30. Each video ends with a super in the lower left corner just like a music video with the name of the video, the director (you), the song and the artist. AND they recently added an iPhone app, so you can create and share videos right from your phone.

You can share the finished videos via e-mail and instead of sending a huge heavy file full of pictures, it is just a link that the recipients can click on. The videos have been optimized for the iPhone and, I must say, they look fantastic when you play them back from there. You also have the option to embed the video online (to your Facebook page, for example), download it, export it to YouTube or upgrade to DVD quality. You can also use it for business, real estate and education. All in all, a pretty cool and well thought out product.

Their website says that the service was created by TV producers who sat in a room and geeked out. It uses an artificial intelligence that “thinks like an actual director and editor.” As an actual director and editor, I am not quite sure what to make of that statement, but give it a try anyway. I think you’ll like it.

Happy 2009, everybody!


NPR is at it again

I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about how NPR has embraced new media and social media in such fearless and, I suspect, successful ways. I don’t mean to come off as a one note blogger, but you gotta give credit where it’s due, right?

They now allow you to build your own podcast which allows for an unprecedented degree of customization of your listening experience. I don’t know how else to say it: this is REALLY smart.

Take it for a test drive and let me know what you think.

How a big company tried to make things right using social media

OK, this post wins the award for worst title ever. I did, however, want to highlight an example of a company doing it right at a very grassroots, down-and-dirty level: posting an apology/explanation in the comments section of their product listing on Amazon.

Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks and other financial tracking software, recently released the 2009 version of their product. I need to upgrade my version since a lot of useful features sunset after a few years. (I will leave out how annoying, and costly, that is because I want to stick to the point of what a smart thing Intuit did in this case.) As I shopped around online for the best price and read reviews to familiarize myself with what I might expect from this newer version, I noticed a LOT of irate customers posting about how Intuit had taken the inexplicable step of deleting one of the more critical features of the software, the one that allows you to match transactions online automatically with your bank.

“Just say no!,” “Don’t buy this upgrade until they fix it,” “I wish Amazon allowed zero stars” are some samples of what people were writing. As we all know, you are in for a world of pain when you take something away from people that they really liked- and don’t even bother to explain why!

Enter “Intuit Greg,” aka Greg Wright, director of product management at Intuit. He posted a comment on Amazon that is excerpted here:

Hi, I’m Greg Wright. In full disclosure… I’m a director of product management at Intuit and I wanted to provide an update on the new online banking feature in QuickBooks 2009. (I put in a midpoint 3-star rating because I couldn’t submit a response and leave the rating blank. Just wanted everyone to know that I’m not trying to “game” the review ratings.) 

As many of you know, we work very closely with customers and accountants as we design the software. When we redesigned online banking, we were hoping to provide an easy to use start-up experience because the vast majority of users were not using online banking in QuickBooks. Unfortunately, it looks like we are not meeting the needs of our existing online banking users, especially those with lots of transactions. You spoke, we’re listening, and we are responding to the feedback.

Here are some specifics and timelines for our online banking fixes. We have our engineers working nights and weekends to deliver as quickly as we can because we know many of you rely on online banking. We will be releasing some of the fixes via a downloaded update on December 11th for QuickBooks 2009 Pro, Premier, and Enterprise Solutions. The following updates are now available by a web download at the QuickBooks support site:

I won’t post all the fixes planned, but you get the idea. If you want to read the whole thing, here it is.

The steps to conversational media success:

  1. Loyal customers complained.
  2. Company listened.
  3. Company RESPONDED.
  4. Relationship (hopefully) salvaged.

Sometimes, you just gotta listen, folks.

Obama, Social Media and Top Down Change

In both the press and on blogs, much was made during the last election cycle about the mobilization of the grass roots to push Obama over the top. Even more was made of his campaign's savvy use of new media to motivate and engage voters to act.

A parallel meme has been floating out there among social media consultants and PR people about the ROI of social media implementation for companies and organizations. The uphill battle to convince the more set-in-their-ways decision makers can make SM adoption a frustrating sell, one that suffers from unfair and misguided comparisons to the old ways of doing things, such as direct mail, print advertising and other forms of top down communications. Spend a little time perusing the terrific blogs of good writers like Jason Falls, Amber Naslund and Mark Story and you will see what I mean. (And you'll also learn a lot.)

What do these two things have to do with one another, you're probably asking.

Despite what a lot of us would like to think, what happens in the Oval Office in particular and in Washington in general DOES have direct consequences on our day to day lives. I am not talking about waging wars or raising or lowering taxes or passing bills to make mountain lion hunting legal only on third Wednesdays of months that begin with the letter "A." (Hey, there MIGHT be a law like that for all you know.)

Presidents set the tone on many issues that influence our business lives and interactions and it seems to me that the incoming Administration has the potential to be a real boon to those of us in social media who have been beating our heads against the wall in trying to get others to see the light as it pertains to the adoption of new media into PR and marketing plans.

The story of Obama's usage of these tools during the campaign has been well told. What remains to be seen is how his Administration will keep the new media home fires burning. There have been a lot of pie-in-the-sky predictions, but as Mark Story points out, there ain't gonna be no Wiki White House. But that's OK. In the embedded video from Mr. Obama's most recent fireside chat, he outlines 5 things that need to happen right away:

  1. Make Federal builidings more energy efficient. (Something that will likely trickle down to the building industry at large.)
  2. Upgrade roads and bridges.
  3. Upgrade our schools, both in terms of their physical plants as well as technologically.
  4. Broadband. "It is unacceptable that the US ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”
  5. Connecting hospitals and medical records via the internet to cut red tape and cut down on medical mistakes.

Note that points 3, 4 and 5 all involve technology, internet and broadband and this message was delivered via the good old fashioned radio, but also YouTube and iTunes.

It is my contention that these tough economic times as well as this kind of leadership from the White House bode well for the implementation of social media strategies for all kinds of businesses, organizations and brands. But don't try this at home, folks. Make sure to consult your social media doctor before taking any prescriptions. The harmful side effects brought on by unsupervised new media dabbling can be painful.

Just ask Motrin.

The Best of 2008 in iTunes

The Unofficial Apple Weblog, another favorite of ours, has a link to the iTunes Best of 2008. It includes TV shows, podcasts, music (by genre), iPhone applications, audiobooks and movies.

I know I blew about an hour of my day comparing my tastes to those of the masses of iTunes users out there. I also found a bunch of cool stuff that I had somehow missed over the course of the past year. And, of course, I checked in on the top 100 downloaded songs and realized that I had heard of only one of them. And that’s becuase it was a reissue from the 80s. [Sigh]

Weekend is here, Christmas is here- spend a little time doing some comparing and shopping.