A Social Media Gift of Little Miracles

12/25/2012


Miracle on 34th street"We'll be known as the helpful store. The friendly store. The store with a heart. The store that places public service ahead of profit. The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before."

Nope, it's not a new social commerce strategy. It was an innovative sales program

launched in 1947 by Macy's Department Store. In the classic film, Miracle On 34th Street, Mr. Macy took chance on a different way to conduct business.

Customers would not be coerced into buying what they did not want; however, the real courage was if another store had a better or less expensive product Macy's would refer them there. 

Fast forward 65 years into the future and we struggle with similar issues of how to provide value for our customers. Technology has given us an amazing, let's call it a gift, that provides a new way to for us to build relationships and nurture with our customers.

Pull off the pretty red  bow and you'll find digital platforms with funny names like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It's a world where to succeed we have to go beyond a one-off sale to opportunities where three entities: company, employee and custome can create the brand experience .. together. That takes courage too. 

Unlike the impact of Macy's initiative, social media impact reaches beyond just one customer. For the first time, the entire enterprise has skin in the game. The digital relationships that the people who are the heart of your brand can set off a unique chain reaction.

  • Continuous listening -> learning -> understanding -> results in trust ->  leads to loyalty -> leads to the cash register bells ringing. And every time a cash register bell rings a marketer gets a bonus or gets to keep her job (!) .. oops wrong film.

Corner grocery store digital relationships that are build not only with you and your customers, but among your customers and your employees could never have been imagined when Kris Kringle entered Macy's Santa Land in 1947. However, even as we approach 2013, for many organizations open conversations still seem like a Miracle on (insert organization name here) or like the ghost of Xmas future (oops wrong movie again.)

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible... consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

As we begin 2013, technology developments spin even faster taking digital business into areas that were impossible in '47 or '57 or even '2012.

Imagine a digital destination where you can include your review of the product, service or customer care that influences your or your friends' buying decisions.

Imagine a digital destination where you can talk to a brand employee who doesn't respond with a scripted answer.

IImagine a digital destination that allows for product and service customization.

Imagine a digital destination where you can start a conversation with a real person about what matters to you regarding a product or service.

Imagine a digital destination where you can actually help change the direction of a product or service before it's even launched.

Imagine multiple digital devices, moblie, tablet, computer, television not "or" but "and" ... and one day even your glasses! 

Imagine a digital destination where you can chat with people about their experiences and learn from each other .. in real time during your shopping experience. The result is smarter purchases.

Imagine an authenitc conversation, in real time, with your favorite actor, politician, author or reporter who responds to your comments. 

Imagine an authentic conversation with your senior managmenet or an admired corporate executive where ideas are transparently exchanged. 

Imagine an organization that works in partnership with its customers and employees to create a brand experience that is relevant, innovative and imaginative across multiple divices. 

Imagine an organization that cares not simply about for for its customers. 

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

What a funny world we live in. It's interesting to compare a 1940's film, where finding solutions to customers' problems was perceived as unique, to 2012 where finding solutions to customers' problems is considered ingenious. 

The techniques may have changed. New buzz words may be added to the mix. Bells and whistles may be a little louder. However, after all is said and done, the premise remains the same:

-Listen

-Understand

-Add value

-Do what it takes to go the extra mile to delight your customer

I believe that as we learn how to use social media it will change how we conduct business .. leading to  creating an environment where people truly matter. And that my friends, is as couragous and innovative as Mr. Macy's Miracle on 34th Street.

The plan sounds idiotic and impossible...consequently, we'll make more profit than ever before.

Sidebar: A Classic Diva Marketing post based on an article written for American Marketing Association Marketing News.

Max and I wish you a year of little miracles, joy and all things wonderful and bright.

Maxie Santa 2012

Social Media: Winds of Change

01/30/2012

At the moviesDo you ever get a line from a film or a song or even a conversation playing over and over in your your mind? Some times for me it's not the exact words but the rhythm of the concept. Today the words were "winds of change" as it is portayed in the award winning film Chocolat (a def must see!) 

These are the opening lines from the Storyteller of Chocolat: Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village ... So through good times and bad, famine and feast, the villagers held fast to their traditions. Until, one winter day, a sly wind blew in from the North... 

I've been doing more work with organizations on what Bernie Borges and I termed "Corporate Personal Branding."  I believe as sites like LinkedIn automatically pull data into a common corporate page; and employees' digital footprints continue to multiple throughout the Internet, organizations will realize this is a critical component of social business. It's an aspect that must be managed. Since it would be near impossible to review every employee's digital presence, most likely it will be managed through training and corporate culture norms and expectations.

Corporate Personal Branding Defined: The convergence of corporate branding and employee personal branding, based on the alignment of common values, supported by content creation and social media, for mutual benefit.  As part of a planned strategy each (enterprise and employee) lends their goodwill and influence to the other. The result is a a halo effect that affords opportunities for common and unique goals to be acheived.

Of course the flip side is unless values are aligned and expectations set you can expect some degree of muddy footprints that might require industrial strengh cleaning.  Mr_Clean

Winds of change .. as we've seen time and again with social media as the catalyst. This time it's the fabric of the enterprise that is impacted .. the culture of the organization. Recently I've notice that more companies are taking the time to understand their corporate culture and how it impacts, not only customers, but employees.

No one understands this concept better than a small business owner. With a smaller employee base each person's impact on the work environment is felt. However, no matter how strong the personalites of your staff, culture is set from the CEO .. or the "boss." On MSN Business on Main Marcus Erp asked seven entrepreneurs for their tips on being a better boss. My favorite is #4 See employees as whole people. 

Corporate Values Alignment Exercise

A successful enterprise is built on a culture that is true to yourself while also being true to the values of your brand/organization. To succeed employees must understand their own values and how they align with their company’s brand promise. To help you begin this exciting journey here are a couple of exercises that I often use with clients and in workshops. 

Question 1: What 3 words would you use to describe your company's corporate culture? Example: Excellent customer serivce 

Question 2: What 3 words would you use to describe your personal business values? Example: Cares about people

Question 3: What do you/can you do you to align you values with your company's brand value and promise. Example: Personal satisfaction from helping people quickly resolve their service challenges

Use the Front PORCH approach to building relationships based on corporate personal brand values.

People: Remember each person is unique and relationships are formed with “people” not a company logo.

Organize: Plan how, why and with whom you want to build professional relations (with).

Respect: Respect diverse opinions even when someone has challenges with your company's service, billing, etc.

Contact: Plan how frequently and through what media (phone, eMail, face-to-face, LinkedIn, etc.) you will keep in touch

Hospitality: Bring the culture of your organization into your relationships

Question 4: How will you build relationships that reinforce the culture of your company? Example: Be an advocate for the company brand online and offline.

Let's Have FUN!

MSN Business On Main/Diva Marketing Small Business Tip Contest ~ Win $100!

Your challenge is to share 1 idea on to use social media to support creating corporate culture

Our special guest judge is Bill Flitter, an entrepreneur from the word go. Bill is the founder of several successful companies including Pheedo and dlvr.it.He is also a visionary when it comes to Bill_Flitter online and social content distribution .. seeing trends and opportunities before they became mainstream. When it came to incorporating social media to help support a small business I knew that Bill would be the perfect judge for this contest!

Connect with Bill on @dlvr.it @bflitter dlvr.it blog Facebook

Rules of MSN The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Social Media Small Business Tips Contest 

1. Post your tip for how to use social media for branding on this Diva Marketing post And on this MSN Business On Mail Post. If you don't post on MSN BOM and indicate Diva Marketing you cannot qualify for the $100 prize. 

2. Identify your post on Business On Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing.

4. Contest ends midnight Saturday February 11, 2011.

Note: Since we know how busy you are, we're extending the deadline until midnight Friday February 17th. 

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section" of your Diva Marketing comment. (How will I know where to contact you to send your check?)

That's it .. now it's your turn! Wouldn't $100 be a nice Valentine’s present? 

Thanks to Kaye Kaplan from CB Transportation for the brainstorming!

ResourceTaking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee Customer Care by Sybil Stershic.

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MNS Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

At it's ♥ Social Media Is Our Teacher.

12/31/2011

One of the aspects of social media that I like most is what is at the very ♥. Try as we might (and we certainly keep trying!) we can't corral it.

Gifts on keyboardSocial media is not the beautifully wrapped box you might have opened last week. It's not the gift that you knew exactly what to expect from the shape or size of the package.

The ribbons on our social media package, just as beautiful as that perfect gift, are slightly skewed. The paper is held together by all sorts of different tapes. And when you rip open the package it's not quite what you might have expected. You see Girlfriends, social media is a messy, magical gift.

Sometimes it's playful and brings innovative new ideas. Sometimes it holds a mirror up to help you understand how the operational side of your business is working .. or not. Sometimes it's comforting with friends supporting your efforts.  

  • At it's ♥ social media is our teacher. 

Our friends at MSN Business On Main posted an article highlighting characteristics of successful entreprenurs. Steve Strauss identified the Top 3 Traits of the World’s Best Entrepreneurs: Idealistic, Teammates, Character with Character. Steve's post held an ah ah thought for me. 

Take this back to social media. The Internet has given (most of) us, for good or for bad, a digital footprint trail. Your presence, especially on open social networks e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and let's add blogs and blog comments, is so easily findable. You have, by default, let loose into the world .. your personal brand .. along with your digital business card.

Your digital footprint trail provides insights into who you are: Idealistic, Teammate, Character with Character. Even if your social media presence is not tied directly to your company, in an adjunct way, you are part of its digital tapestry and it to you. One more way that you can't corral social media.

During 2011, I began to build personal branding workshops that help organizations leverage the benefits from their employees' personal brands while aligning with the company's brand values. My thoughts are this is a critical piece of the social business puzzle. Bernie Borges termed this "corporate personal branding."

Clara Nelson, one of the awesome project managers at the American Marketing Association, understood the concept. She asked if I would team with Bernie Borges, CEO Find and Convert, to develop a 2-day workshop for AMA: Personal Branding Within The Corporate Workplace. Our podcast offers tips on how to begin your corporate personal branding strategy.

So you see, Divas and Divos, although when you first unwrapped your social media present you might have assumed it was simply a Facebook game or Twitter chat. Social media is so much more. Where it will take us in 2012 is anyone's guess. The one thing I do know for certain .. 

  • At it's ♥ social media is our teacher. 

With just hours away from bidding 2011, either a fond good bye or a kick in the derriere .. from the Sound of Music  --

 So long, farewell

Auf Wiedersehen, adieu
Adieu, adieu
To you and you and you

Thank you for your support and friendship. Max and I look forward to continuing the conversation with you in 2012. In the meantime, wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous year where all that you wish comes true. 

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MNS Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Social Media Changes The Branding Game

08/29/2011

Brands abc blocks Do we expect too much from social media and in particular social networks? Marketers anticipate Facebook, Twitter, blogs, video sites a la YouTube, niche communities and now Google+ will not only create awareness, support customer service but increase .. ROI .. revenue. Social media has become a one-stop shop for extending the brand. 

So I got to thinking .. does social media really fit as a branding tactic? First, I guess we better figure out what is this thing called "branding." Barbara Findlay Schenck's post on MSN Business On Main goes into a deep dive about traditional branding. Not only does she tell how to value your brand but provides a few definitions. She describes a brand as ~ Your brand is what people believe about the promise your business upholds and the benefits it consistently delivers

Let's zero in on ~ benefits it consistently delivers. Let's move in closer to the word consistently. Most marketers and branding experts (ah at last we can call someone an "expert" without the world coming to a stop!) would agree that consistently is the secret sauce when it comes to branding. It's what gives us a sense of comfort and security in making that purchase decision. 

There are many elements that build brand offline and in the digital world including the social web. Tactics range from the visual .. consistent logo design across all channels to the strategic .. targeting the same audience in all medias. However, social media adds the dimension of people having conversations. That changes the branding game. 

So I got to thinking .. if social media is about the people/employees behind the brand interacting as their authentic selves, can there still be consistency of brand?  The challenge is how to be yourself in the social web while maintaining the value and promise of your brand.

I like to think of it as adding jimmies (or sprinkles for those of you who didn't grow up in the Boston area) to an ice cream cone. The "brand" is of course the ice cream and the jimmies are the dash of Ice cream cone
extra personality and humanity that people bring to the brand. However, some brands just don't go well with bright pink sprinkles. What can you do if you are a pink person but your brand is mint green? 


Now comes the extra fun part .. You can win $100!

 MSN BOM is providing me with $100 to run a monthly contest. Thank you kindly MSN.  This month's deal. Let's create a list of tips on how a business can use social media for branding.

What is your tip on how to use social media to support branding? The suggestion that Max & I and our special guest judge BL Ochman choose will win 100 dollars

BL&Benny_kiss (3) I am thrilled that internationally, respected, marketer B.L. Ochman has agreed to be our guest judge this month. B.L. has worked with Fortune 500 companies helping them incorporate emerging media as part of their strategy. She is the founder of the popular What's Next Blog and the innovative pet lover's site Paw Fun. Join B.L. on Twitter too! 

To get you started here are .. 

3 Social Media Branding Tips 

1. Build the story of the brand, as well as the brand value and promise, into new employee orientation sessions. 

2. Create an internal communications strategy that keeps all employees up dated about new brand strategies.

3. Ask employees, who are participating in social media how they will be the guardian of the brand, while still being their real self. 

Note: More on social media and branding from Heidi Cohen 

Rules of The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Social Media Branding Tips Contest

1. Post your tip for how to use social media for branding on this Diva Marketing post And on this Business On Main post

2. Identify your post on Business On Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing

4. Contest ends midnight September 15, 2011

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section" of your Diva Marketing comment. (How will I know where to contact you to send your check!)

That's it .. now it's your turn!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Graphics credit: Luster .. the cute ice cream cones are charms and pins.

Why Don't They Care About Social Media?

06/29/2011

Whisper Shh .. I'm going to tell you a secret about social media that no one talks about. But first you have to promise not to tell. If you do people will laugh at you and your social media credibility will vanish faster than last week's greatest tech toy. So you see girlfriend, I have your best interest at heart. Hold that thought for a second.

In the past week no less than three people have said to me something like .. "We know we need to include social media, I mean everyone is doing it; but Toby to put it bluntly, we don't much care."  Doesn't hurt my feelings. I think there are too many people cluttering up the digital air waves with tweets, blogs, Facebook and Linkedin status updates which should be folded back into traditional sales channels. 

However, I couldn't help but wonder .. why don't they care about social media.

1. Could it be the organization doesn't have the resources e.g., people or time to dedicate to an initiative that is on-going?  -  "Yes," I was told, "But ... "

2. Could it be the people don't know how to integrate social media into an overall master marketing plan to ensure it supports the brand? - "Yes," I was told, "But ... "

3. Could it be that VIPs are demanding numbers, spreadsheets, results. It can be confusing how to pull that out.  Polly Wade has written a detailed post, on Business on Main, highlighting five metrics from Jay Baer's book The NOW Revolution. However, Polly also reminds us benefits are found in other ways as well. "Sometimes it's a comment on a blog or connection between two people that can make a world of difference to a company."

4. "Yes," I was told. "Those were all good reasons but .." - But what? Perhaps it was the content. Social media is a long, long LONG time initiative. How do sustain a blog, Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform day after day, month after month, year after year? It takes more than a content strategy .. it takes a content direction. 

There are many concepts on how to create content for social media. In her Ask Business on Mail response, Barbara Findlay Schenck advices that, other than in your About page, the personal should not be included in a business blog.

I respectfully disagree with Barbara. For me, social media is about not only sharing knowledge, but sharing your self. How much you "give" is up to you and the culture of your company. However, it is through what one might call the mundane that relationships are built. In the Diva Marketing post Building Social Media Business Relationships With The Mundane I give you 10 Tips to Decorate Your Social Media Walls.  "Yes, content sustainabily is a concern as well." I was told. "But ..." -

As they continued to talk I listened more closely. (Which is what I should have been doing rather than trying to solve the problem right off.) I began piecing the conversations I had together like a giant jig saw puzzle. Then the ah ha moment came!

I realized these people just did not Like social media. Oh sure they might have dabbled in Facebook, created a Linkedn profile and perhaps even tweeted a time or two. However, at the end of the day, it made no sense to them. They considered social media a waste of time .. for them personally. Social media held no value for them.

They grudingly admitted that some of their customers were active on social networks. Perhaps social media might hold a place as a new channel to "message" (ouch!). And of course, everyone was doing it.

It will take more than one chat to help them understand a new way of thinking about business Fail communincation. However, what I could tell them, at that second in time, was there would be better than a 50-50 chance their social media efforts would fail.

Now the big secret. It's critical to have an internal social media champion who Likes social media. Of course, the person should not only understand the impact social media marketing will have on the business and brand, but is actively participating and has strategy and tactic skills. 

A bonus secret .. to be really successful in social media it is not sufficient that you are what is today's hot buzz word - "likeable." You must also like people. But that's a post for another day.

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis.

Graphic credit: The Lost Jacket

Interview with Ed Garsten: Chrysler's Twitter Storm Back-story

03/16/2011

Chrysler fiat logo It seems that every five years or so Chyrsler gets caught in a bit of a social media firestorm. Not bad when you think of the volitility of the social web.

For those people who might have been out of the country or unplugged from social media during the past week there were two events that occurred within a day of each other that had the social pundits buzzing and tweeting up a virtual storm. 

One: An agency employee (Chrysler's Marketing Department contacted with a PR firm to be their voice on Twitter) was fired for an inappropriate tweet that ran on Chrysler’s @ChryslerAutos Twitter account. Two: Chrysler severed relations with that agency the day after the tweet was posted.

Too often, especially on the web, it’s easy to connect the dots in ways that don’t always create a true picture. I admit I have been as guilty too.  As Gloria Steinem said on a Marlo Thomas post, “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but you think it's a pig... it's a pig.”

Ed Garsten, head of  electronic media for Chrysler, offered an explanation on his blog. I thought it was pretty good. However, like a Pig With Wings, it seemed to me that the pieces of the story are still flying around the social networks.  I, like so many other people, couldn’t connect the dots. What was real? What was not? Pig with wings

I asked my friend, Ed, yes, we are pals, if he would take the opportunity to tell us the back-story on Diva Marketing. Then to open the discussion to lessons learned so we can all benefit. Diva Marketing's goal is always to understand how to use social media to bring people together in ways that support your brand’s value and promise.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Mister Garsten, this virtual stage is yours .. please connect the dots for us!

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Thanks for the opportunity, Toby.  Last Wednesday  we noticed, what you would call an “inappropriate Tweet,” coming from the @ChryslerAutos Twitter handle. That’s the handle for the Chrysler Brand and managed by our former social media agency, New Media Strategies (NMS). 

I won’t repeat the tweet, but I’m sure I don’t have to. It was hard to miss.  The tweet denigrated Detroit area drivers using an obscenity. Once we got to the bottom of what happened, we issued a statement relaying the information, apologizing to the public for anyone who may have been offended, and revealed that NMS terminated their employee, who apparently thought he was tweeting from his personal account.

There was a lot of chatter that Chrysler and NMS were cold hearted, terminating a person for a mistake and that using an obscenity on the web is no big deal. Chrysler did not ask for this action. NMS did it on their own.

Indeed, it wasn’t the obscenity at all that we took issue with. As I wrote on the Chrysler blog, it was the fact that we’ve built a tremendous amount of goodwill promoting Detroit and the U.S. auto industry through our TV commercial that first aired during the Super Bowl. That’s the one featuring Detroit-area native Eminem and the catchphrase “Imported From Detroit.” 

Any slam, intended or otherwise, against the great people who live in southeastern Michigan under a Chrysler brand banner is unacceptable and compromises the progress we made in a few short weeks.

By the next day, the company decided to cut its ties with NMS. Again, not because of one inappropriate Tweet, but for a collection of missteps that I’m not at liberty to discuss.

We issued a release announcing this development at about the same time I posted my blog item on the corporate blog.  We also spent the next couple of days responding to many tweets while posting the link to our blog, and to third-party stories that most fairly portrayed the situation.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Thanks Ed. Let's explore now how Chrysler is currently incorporating social medial.  Not to give away trade secrets, but what is Chrysler’s high level direction when it comes to participating in the social web?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Having gone through three owners in five years the direction has changed about as often.  Thankfully, Fiat is aggressive in social media and all of the brand heads are turning to social media for everything from product launches (2011 Dodge Durango) to promoting marketing campaigns, and building communities. 

We’re also encouraged, and do, engage with the public on customer service issues, solving some, but not all, but nevertheless, pleasing consumers that they are able to speak directly to Chrysler.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Chrysler is obviously, subcontracting part of its “voice” in social media to agencies. Why did you choose to go this route instead of keeping all of social media participation in-house with the brands's employees?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: It’s a split decision, Toby. Marketing prefers to use an agency; we in corporate communications do everything ourselves.

As you know, it’s not uncommon for a company to outsource its social media activities and splitting the duties does have its challenges. However, we work closely with marketing to make sure messaging is consistent and there is a minimum of redundancy.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I always say, "Those who hold the conversation, hold the relationship." What does a brand gain by allowing an agency to hold the social conversations for it?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Basically, bodies. The auto industry has a long history of  using contract employees and agencies as a means of getting work done with a minimum of back-end costs. The trick is the brand must strongly direct the agency and the plan begins to fall apart when the agency decides to “freelance” on messaging.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Hmm .. perhaps it's time to reevalute that dated out sourced model. On the flip side, what does a brand give-up by allowing an agency to “talk” for the brand?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Immediate control. The agency gets its direction from the company, but once the conversation begins, it can get off track very easily.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The world knows now that ChryslerAutos was authored by a PR agency. However, the bio on the Twitter page simply states: The official Twitter handle of Chrysler vehicle In keeping with the concept of social media transparency, why did Chrysler not indicate that in the bio?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: Good question. I honestly don’t know. As I mentioned, NMS worked for the marketing department and unfortunately, I wasn’t in on those decisions.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What I find interesting is the difference in approach to social media between Marketing and Corporate. Will Chrysler continue to engage third parties to author social media platforms? If so, how will you ensure Chrysler's brand’s values and promise are not compromised?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: We’re re-examining our strategy, although there is a strong possibility of going with a new agency, but perhaps more participation internally in creating content and engagement.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I'd fight for keeping it internal Ed! What are the critical lessons learned that we should all keep in mind from this experience?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  Keep a tight rein on your agencies. Strictly forbid those who have access to your social media accounts from doing so on devices that are also used to access personal accounts.

React as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t know all the facts, let the public know you’re aware of the situation and will update them as you learn more.

Closely monitor the conversation and use social media to join that conversation to clear up any misconceptions or inaccurate reporting.

Toby/Diva Marketing: This week an Aflac tweeter joined the club of people who are misrepresenting the brand they work for. I strongly believe that part of the "fix" should be ensuring that Everyone who is involved in a brand's social media initiative understand the brand's value and promise. That means more than just messaging but getting it from the gut and heart. 

In Chrylser's case, I can't help but wonder if the agency dude had understood what Chrysler's Made in Detroit initiative was trying to accomplish (beyond just selling a few cars) if we might not be chatting righ now. 

The tweets aside, Chrysler is doing some interesting work in social. What’s cool on the horizon that you can share with us?

Ed Garsten/Chryster: We’re looking more at growing our mobile presence to better reach folks through their smartphones and iPads. We’re also using social media to launch vehicles rather than the typical auto show press days.

Why only tell reporters—tell everyone! It’s important to remember, our company isn’t quite two years old.  We basically started over again on June 9, 2009 when Fiat came in to manage the company, so we’re running fast to make up ground.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As a blogger, brands and agencies often share campaigns with me. Recently, I’ve been presented with several new auto campaigns. While the concepts are exciting, none address the women’s market.  Btw .. I must admit it’s a little frustrating. Does Chrysler have plans to engage with “my people" .. especially with women over 40?

Ed Garsten/Chryster:  I’m not aware of anything specifically, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something in the works.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Hope so! Let’s wrap this with a similar question to the one I asked you in our 2005 interview:

Ed Garsten On Social Media

It’s the lawless society that presents innumerable opportunities to connect with people and communities and has given virtually anyone who can log on a voice.  From a company’s point of view, we’re able to directly connect with our customers, prospects, stakeholders, employees, investors without the middleman of the mainstream media.

Thanks my friend .. a toss of a pink boa! Pink boa

Interview with Jamie Turner, Author of How To Make Money with Social Media

02/24/2011

Business has always been organized around people. However, in the last several decades, with the onset of mass marketing and global commerce, somehow too many marketers lost sight of that truism.  It was too easy and at the same time too difficult to remember that business begins with the personal. 

In the past decade, along came the internet and with that new ways to connect with customers in a digital environment. And it was a very good thing.

However, the cries from the C-Suite often were not where's the beef, but where's the $$? My friend Jamie Turner wrote a bout that addresses that issue. In our interview I challenged him to answer his own question .. "How do you make money with social media?" 

How to make money with social media Jamie Turner is the Chief Content Officer for the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine of BKV Digital and Direct Response. He is also the co-author of How to Make Money with Social Media, which is available at fine bookstores (and a few not-so-fine bookstores) everywhere. @60secondtweets

Diva Marketing/Toby: Before we dive into this interview, let’s set the stage with a question I often ask, “What does social media mean to you?”

Jamie Turner: Several years ago, someone I respect a great deal named Toby Bloomberg introduced me to social media. One of the first things she said to me was that social media was about having a conversation. I’ve always been grateful for the insight you provided me from the very start.

That said, if you’re a business, social media isn’t just about a conversation – it’s also about turning that conversation into revenue. After all, businesses don’t do social media to be social – they do social media to make money. That’s something that’s overlooked way too frequently.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Oh, blush .. and look where you are now .. a famous author! But Jamie, there are zillions of books about social media with more published every second, or so it seems. Why this book? What was special about your vision that the reader would take away from the read? 

Jamie Turner: This is one of the few books out there that provides a step-by-step roadmap on how to set up a social media campaign so that it generates a return on investment. Most of the other books on social media are just about the conversation. This one is about turning the conversation into revenue.

Diva Marketing/Toby: The title of your book is captivating. It s indeed the $10 million dollar question! So, Jamie let’s cut to the chase .. what is the insider’s secret on using social media to make money?

Jamie Turner: Okay, first the bad news. If you’re going to make money with social media, you’re going to have to know math. That was a surprise to me when I first started writing the book, but the math is relatively simple once you get the hang of it.

The math starts with a direct response formula called Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). In its simplest form, CLV is the amount of revenue a typical customer generates for your business over the course of their engagement with your brand.

So, if you’re a lawn care company and the typical customer is generating $80/month and stays with you an average of 3 years, then your CLV is $2,880. Once you know your Customer Lifetime Value, you can then calculate how much you’d be willing to spend to acquire a customer, which is called your Cost Per Sale (CPS).

In most cases, Cost Per Sale is 10% of your Customer Lifetime Value. In the case of the lawncare company, the Cost Per Sale would be $280. In other words, you’d be willing to invest $280 to acquire a customer that will generate $2,880 for your company during their engagement with your brand.

Once you’ve established your Customer Lifetime Value and once you know your Cost Per Sale, then you can use those figures to help calculate the ROI of your social media campaign.

For example, going back to the lawn care company, you might spend $280,000 on an extensive social media campaign that includes YouTube videos, Facebook promotions, Twitter updates, LinkedIn updates, e-newsletters and other social media tools. But, if that $280,000 generates 1,000 new customers, then you know your Cost Per Sale was $280, which works out perfectly.

It sounds complex the first time you come across the formulas. But if you understand Customer Lifetime Value and Cost Per Sale, you’re well on your way to making money with social media.

Diva Marketing/Toby: In your book you compare a successful social media to that of a successful marriage built on great mutual communication. I get the communication part, but how does that really play out in the social web?

Jamie Turner: When I first started in social media many years ago, I thought you could just do it in 15 minutes a day, so I’d crank up my computer in the morning, spend 15 minutes on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. and then sit back and wait. And wait. And wait.

Unfortunately, nothing happened. Which is when I shifted over to an ongoing conversation during the entire course of the day.

Like any good relationship, a social media relationship has to be ongoing. You can’t have a successful marriage in 15 minutes a day. Nor can you have a successful social media campaign.

Diva Marketing/Toby: One of the most allusive aspects of a social media strategy has always been aligning it with Return On Investment. For some people ROI translates only to sales dollars. For other people ROI can mean a set of metrics that support a strategy’s goals. Which camp are you in and why?

Jamie Turner: That’s a good question. I’m definitely in the ROI camp. After all, in this day and age, the Chief Financial Officer wants to see specific results for their investment. When you use the formulas outlined above and covered in detail in the book, you can track your ROI and show the CFO that for every $1 invested in social media, it generated $10 or more in revenue.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Let’s wrap this by playing “what if.” What if a client came to you to create the ultimate social media initiative that would lead to making the cash register sing. How would go about creating that program?

Jamie Turner: I would do what Dell does and what we do here at BKV. That is, I’d make sure that every social media channel has a link that drives through to a landing page on our website. In Dell’s case, that landing page sells their products directly via e-commerce. In BKV’s case (we’re an ad agency), we have to track downloads of our white papers, then re-market to those prospects to see if we can turn them into customers.

The bottom line is that it’s all track-able. As such, we’re able to show a return-on-investment. So, in a nutshell, the ultimate social media initiative is one that can be tracked and measured on an ROI basis.

Blogger Disclaimer: Jamie kindly comped me a copy of his book.

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Social Media Lessons For Brands & Their Agencies From Football

11/11/2010

Social media use is a contact sport, not a spectator sport. The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter, Allison Fine

49775_49ers_raiders_football It's so easy to buy your bag of peanuts and sit in the bleachers as you watch your agency kick the ball into flight. Oh sure, you might have been in the Xs & Os meeting helping to create the strategy. You feel that you are an integral part of the play.  And you very well may be.

However, huddled with your branded blanket, watching the game you're not on the field. Unlike an advertisement, press release or CEO speech where your customers accept that someone else has crafted the words, your fans assume that it is You the Brand People who are playing on the field.

Not only have you shifted reality for your raving fans but you've relinquished control of the ball/ brand to your agency. Remember: who ever controls the play (or the conversation) controls the relationship.

Even the best intentioned interactive, ad, PR agencies or consultants can easily fall into the illusion that doing less for a client is actually doing more.

Client cheers!

We don't have time.

The agency can write better than our CEO.

Who will know or care if a tweet comes from the agency or the brand people?Patriots junior cheerleaders

Doing more is built into the DNA of the billable hour agency model.

Agency cheers!

The more we do the more you'll love us.

The stronger the relation.

The more we'll get paid.

When it comes to an agency or consultant social media service (versus social media services) there is a new model emerging. It's one built on positioning the agency or consultant as a "sherpa" who guides and advises. That is far more critical than writing a tweet or a Facebook status up date. It's also far more difficult.

Instead of the client sitting in the stands encouragng the agency to make that social media touchdown, the agency becomes the cheer leader and the coach. The brand people make the plays and interact with their fans.

Role & Responsibilities of the New Social Media Agency/Consultant

High Level Perspective - The role of the social media agency/consultant becomes much more complex as a social media sherpa. A trusted partnership must exist which crosses every area/department that touches the customer .. from marketing communications, consumer insights and PR to customer care, HR and beyond. I call this aligning the social enterprise.

Creating Strategy- Development of integrated plan. Helping to develop guidelines. Leading conversations about social media ethics, transparency, authenticity as it relates to the company culture and brand values/promise.

Monitoring the Conversations On The Social Web - Utilizing tools to create reports that track what the discussions about the brand, industry, people etc.   

Tracking Changes in Tools & New Tools - Social media is moving faster than the average speed of a football thrown in an NFL game (40-60 MPH). It's a challenge to keep up (How many times in the past month has Facebook changed it's rules? Or LinkedIn it's functionality?) with the continuous developments in social media. Providing analysis of which are beneficial and which are shiny new toys.

Creative - Development/building out of branded social media platforms e.g., Facebook, games, ads.

Update: Forgot one of the most important roles ... 

Education: Helping your clients understand not only the culture of social media and the big picture but the tactical execution e.g., how to write tweets, posts,etc., social media etiquette and ethics, participating versus messaging, etc.

There are many ways an agency or consultant can be of social media service to a client beyond kicking the social media ball on the field.

Where Does 'Transparency' Fit In The New Social Media Marketing Model?

02/01/2010

Gray_Scale_1280x1024  Unlike most business strategies, social media is built on a culture that is developed by the people who are involved in digital communities. The concepts of transparency, authenticity, honesty and passion for the topic/brand have evolved as 'society norms' for communicating and forming relationships in the world of the social web.

In an environment where your changing avatar is accepted as your image to the world, where people exchange ideas that frequently lead to business opportunities and where 'real' friendships are formed it was important to have a few boundaries that could help establish trust. 

As marketers began to use social media platforms like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., to communicate with their customers and stakeholders it didn't take long to realize that to sustain and grow interest in our brands we had to provide unique content. Agencies, consultants and freelance copywriters seized an opportunity to provide that all important Content. 

My friend John Cass, PR Communications, and I had an interesting discussion about where the concept of transparency fits into the new social media marketing model - content developed by people outside of the enterprise. We decided to collaborate on a cross-post and did what any good social media citizen would do .. we opened it up to the community to discuss on our blogs, on Twitter and in a few emails. 

  • Bloggers have long discussed the importance of transparency when writing content on a blog. With the growth in the adoption of social media marketing, many marketers now wonder how would they develop enough content for all of their new social media channels. 
  • When a client hires an agency to write content for their blog, twitter account, Facebook page, we are wondering about the level of transparency by an agency writer on a client's social media channel.  
  • We would like to ask you: What are the practices that you think should be followed? Feel free to tell us if you have differences of opinions across social media channels. 

39 people, active in social media, shared their insights with us. Their views ranged from total transparency to not necessary. As Jeremy Pepper indicated this is a complex situation that is "fraught in grays." Yvonne DiVita reminds us, " .. in the end it isn't the bloggers, the company or the agency that will dictate the success ..it's the customers." What are your thoughts?

Degrees Of Transparency Quotations

Jim Alexander (No link given) - As long as the client is willing to own the consequences of engagement by proxy I don't think the identity of the content authors need be an issue. Jump to Jim's content

Ellie Brown - I don’t think it matters who is doing the responding, as long as they are responding.  The goal of social media is to facilitate discussion and generate attention through tweets and posts by real people.  The company name on that person’s business card doesn’t matter.  The agency is an extension of the client, and as long as the agency is well-informed, genuinely interested, authentic and responsive –  everything should be good. Jump to Ellie's blog post

Bob Cargill - I think it’s perfectly acceptable for an external resource to write and post social media content under the aegis of a brand. The client representative just needs to be mindful to speak in the first person plural, “we,” as he or she is communicating on behalf of the brand as a whole, not as an individual. Jump to Bob's content

Susan Cartier Liebel - 'Personal' in my opinion isn't about a 'particular' person ... it's about personalized service through social media that ends with a happy customer and a positive impression which builds the company's brand. Jump to Susan's content

Jeff Cutler - The other matter is using a ghost blogger to put up content that supposedly comes from an executive. I think this is OK if the writing is merely rewriting or editing. Jump to Jeff's content

Susan Getgood - Bottom line, the more personal the expression, the more important it is to know *who* is speaking. When the social media channel, or the brand’s use of it, more closely resembles broadcast, it isn’t nearly so critical. Jump to Susan's content

Brendan Hurley- In reality who is writing the content isn't nearly as important as who is 'approving' the content. Strict policies and procedures should be drafted by the client, so the agency knows what it can and cannot do or say, while giving the writing enough freedom to be creative, passionate and opinionated when necessary. Jump to Brendan's content

Trish Grier - If a company is outsourcing its social media to a consultant, who is then creating copy for them via a social media platform of some kind, then it should be clearly disclosed that the
person is an outside representative of, and not an employee of, said company. Jump to Trish's blog post

Max Kalehoff - The fact is that everyone has an agenda, and therefore is an agent of some kind. It builds trust when one is forthcoming with his agenda, and even better for all to simply anticipate agenda and not be surprised. Jump to Max's content

Rick Liebling - My current thinking is that the upside for trying to hide agency involvement is almost nil, but the downside can be high, at least from a consumer perception stand point. Jump to Rick's content

Jim Matorin- The agency people are jumping in because we are alphas that understanding social media is a platform to deliver messages/content, to open conversations with consumers. Dinosaurs need agency folks to jump start their new marketing initiatives at this point. Jump to Jim's content

Marc Meyer - At the end of the day, agencies see an opportunity and until businesses find the time and staff to learn to do this on their own, there continue to be this need coupled with the void supplemented by a lack or transparency. The better question may be, Who owns the mistakes and customer service miscues that may arise? Jump to Marc's content

Lynn Anne Miller It is quite common now for blog posts to be ghostwritten and then edited and approved by executives prior to publication, just as is routinely done with contributed/authored/bylined articles, speeches, etc. I see that as a practical approach, but the twittering and blog commenting should be disclosed with the author's true identity. Jump to Lynn Anne's content

Melanie Notkin - As long as content is authentic and approved by the client, I'm not sure there's a difference when a "social media consultant" or freelance writer writes the content for a brand. Jump to Melanie's content

Jeremy Pepper - The basic premise on transparency, though, is to provide a biography (large or small) to show who is taking care of what. Jump to Jeremy's content

Tim Skaggs - I can see why larger companies would not be transparent in the social marketing because of the previous types of marketing done by the company in the past. Jump to Tim's content

Michael Stelzner - This is no different than hiring a contractor to do any other project for your company. Jump to Michael's content

Liz Strauss - The key is to choose people who will champion the company because they want to be part of celebrating what the company is doing and they're proud to put their own name on their efforts. Jump to Liz's content. Jump to Liz's content

Mike Volpe - Where you might be posting on behalf of a person, say the CEO of a brand/company, then I think complete transparency is called for. Jump to Mike's content

Kami Watson Huyse - Content creation that enables that, without being untruthful, unethical or misleading, should be whatever works. Jump to Kami's content

Steve Woodruff - Let people get their feet wet and outsource as they must. We should encourage brands to use social media responsibility, realizing that those who abuse it by a lack of transparency will be outed in time, and the lessons will be learned! Jump to Steve's content

Total Transparency Quotations

Chris Brogan - Content creation and the like: we use our own name, but willingly create on behalf of the company. We work to educate our client partners so that they can create on their own, but we still fill in and create under our own name. Jump to Chris' content

Matt Churchill - If we are managing a Twitter stream on behalf of a client, we disclose in the bio which team member is running it, the fact we work for Edelman and also include our Twitter handle. Jump to Matt's content

Yvonne DiVita - In the end, it isn't the bloggers, the company, or the agency that will dictate the success; it's the customers. If they accept it, we'll see a lot more of it. If they reject it, we'll see companies scratching their heads in confusion, because the agencies know all, don't they? Jump to Yvonne's content

Arik Hanson Overall, I tend to fall on the side of transparency. But, that doesn't lend itself too well to agencies making money. Jump to Arik's content

Roger Harris - Most people would rather be aware that content is being provided with an agenda or an element of bias and then make their own decisions rather than have the wool pulled over their eyes. Jump to Roger's content

Ellen Hoenig - Social media is about listening, learning and building relationships..how can you outsource this? And from my own experience, how can you learn or develop your own voice without doing it yourself and experiencing the ups and downs first hand? Jump to Ellen's content

Jonathan Kranz - You wouldn’t get married, then hire someone else to have sex with your spouse; the point of the relationship is to relate, in all its forms. Jump to Jonathan's content 

Tracy Malone - My gut reaction is yes, social media is meant to be nothing but authentic. Relationship development, at it's best, and an opportunity to have more insight into a brand and the people behind the brand. Jump to Tracy's content

Lionel Menchaca - The basics of the policy will stay the same: strive to be honest and accurate while maintaining transparency when speaking about Dell. Jump to Lionel's content

Chris Norton - If I am to write on their blog I will become a guest author and I will make sure it is clearly disclosed in the about page so readers know who is writing what. Jump to Chris' content

Tom O'Brien -  I think the “transparency” requirement is at the brand level.  Not at the “agency on behalf of brand” level. Jump to Tom's content. Jump to Tom's content

B.L. Ochman - Hell there was once a time when you could get by with typewriters and mimeograph machines. Those days are long over and businesses need to stop whining about social media and adapt. Just as companies had to hire IT people a couple of decades ago so they could remain competitive, they now need to hire community managers and others who can participate in online interaction. Jump to B.L.'s content

Jeremiah Owyang - Disclosure is key, and in some cases, may be enforceable by the FTC, we encourage all organizations to abide by the law. Jump to Jeremiah's content

David Meerman Scott - I reject the premise. I do not recommend people hire agencies to create content. Jump to David's content

Rick Short - In 2010, the "rules" are that the blogger/tweeter is authentic, or is pulling a fast one.

And (Rick gave quotes to both Toby & John) Today, given all the concern with transparency in social media, I feel that today's "rules" guide us to be completely open about exactly who is publishing what. It is phony to tweet, blog, and/or post to Facebook or LinkedIn as an executive (or anyone else), when you are a ghostwriter. If your name is on it and it blows up in your face, the world won't allow you to slip out of it by blaming a ghost writer. Jump to Rick's content

Caroline Slomski - These channels are embraced because of the level of authenticity they bring - authenticity that would be completely lost without transparency. Jump to Caroline's content

C.B. Whittemore -  It's been fascinating to observe the process of evolution from traditional to social, and what it takes to get immersed in the social aspect. What this tells me is that the more transparent and authentic the effort, the more credible it is. Better not to delegate all responsibility for your social efforts to 3rd parties who - for the most part - really can't speak competently to your customers. Get guidance, include them, but own it. Jump to C.B.'s content

Jack Yan - My rule is to be transparent on everything that is public knowledge. There is nothing wrong with being personal about the Tweets as long as what you write does not attack the company or in my case the campaign. (Jack is running for mayor of Wellington, New Zealand) Jump to Jack's content

Degrees of Transparency Author Content

Jim Alexander

As long as the client is willing to own the consequences of engagement by proxy I don't think the identity of the content authors need be an issue.

I don't expect UPS or FedEx to identify their seasonal temps, as such, when they deliver my holiday packages. I (as I suspect, their respective employers do) expect them to comport themselves as competent and capable representatives of the hiring firm.

Whether the authors catch a salary + 401K for the client or work on the cum for the consultants take matters little. At the end of the day, if the purpose is served it is irrelevant who dished it up.

Bob Cargill

Having worked on the agency side for most of my career, I’ve earned my livelihood by writing content – direct mail, email, ads, etc. – for my clients. And in that traditional marketing world, there was never much talk about being transparent in communications. It just wasn’t an issue. 

In the world of social media, however, transparency and authenticity are essential. The more capable an organization is of keeping it real on the grid, the more successful it usually is in the blogosphere, on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else it maintains a social media presence.

But not everyone has the bandwidth, capability or desire to use social media themselves. Or they may need a little help getting started. Each of these barriers to entry represents a tremendous opportunity for agencies, consultants and freelancers to provide assistance to their clients. So yes, I think it’s perfectly acceptable for an external resource to write and post social media content under the aegis of a brand. The client representative just needs to be mindful to speak in the first person plural, “we,” as he or she is communicating on behalf of the brand as a whole, not as an individual. 

I don’t believe in posting for another human being, though. “Ghost” tweeting and blogging is verboten in my book. I know it’s done. And I don’t pass judgment on anyone who does it. But if there’s a name and photo attached to a blog post, tweet or any other activity in social media, I think the words should be coming from that particular person and not someone else. 

That doesn’t mean that one can’t receive a lot of help behind the scenes. Those who aren’t the best writers in the world or who have more important priorities can have someone provide them with ideas and even draft posts, tweets and updates. Shared thoughts and opinions should reflect the account holder’s views, however, and – ideally – should be posted by him or her, too. That’s the only way to really get anything out of social media anyway – to be immersed in it yourself, not to have someone acting as your proxy.

Susan Cartier Liebel

Whether social media is outsourced or not, what matters is the end result to the customer. If the goal is to facilitate discussion, improvement of the product or service or quick easy access to 'someone' who can resolve a problem, I don't care if it is the president of the company, a designated CSR or the PR agency who is going to make sure the suggestions, complaints, promotions are handled properly from the customers perspective. What matters is the end result and the press for the company left in the wake of the interaction. Does it build or tear down the brand? 

I'll give you two anecdotal situations from my own experience. I needed to reach someone in control at a furniture company. When I got to their website they did everything imaginable to avoid a customer interaction other than sending an e-mail they could respond to at some future point in time. I ended up calling corporate directly after looking them up on line in the white pages bypassing their website and getting head of quality control. I told him how challenging it was to connect with a live human being and he said that was deliberate because customers are supposed to go through their sales representatives through their stores. Needless to say I was less than impressed. 

On the other hand, I had an issue with Jet Blue who is on Twitter and Facebook, has set up fan pages, etc. I knew they were on Twitter and started to air my complaint. I don't know who facilitates their account. I didn't care what their name was. But I quickly realized through this vehicle that I was able to resolve my problem because we took it from Twitter to e-mail to resolution with the company.

'Personal' in my opinion isn't about a particular 'person'....it is about personalized service through social media that ends with a happy customer and a positive impression which builds that company's brand.

Jeff Cutler

While transparency is vital to get consumers to buy into a firm's product or service offerings, it sometimes handcuffs an organization when they're using an outside party or a freelancer to create content. Like anything else, there are no absolutes. If I write a tagline for Gulf Oil and they pay me for it and use it on all their collateral, I don't expect that the public needs to know I created that content. Moving down the line, if I pen a product description in a catalog for a client, nobody really needs to know who the copywriter was on the job. But then comes the sticking point...is the material being written supposed to be impartial and unbiased?

If the answer is yes, it behooves everyone to reveal where it came from and the credentials of the writer.

If the answer is no, you can do what you want.

The other matter is using a ghost blogger to put up content that supposedly comes from an executive. I think this is OK if the writing is merely rewriting or editing. If it's wholesale editorial change, then you can't really give the executive credit for the post. But you could say that the material was written based on input from that company rep.

Tweeting for hire is another issue. With so little space - and admittedly so little impact for each 140 character tweet - I'm conflicted. Guest tweeting is fine if the credentials are revealed in the bio of the Twitter name/profile page as there's no room to really put a byline on each tweet. Also, if the person tweeting has the blessing of the communications/marketing department on messaging and promotion, I don't see an issue. Where I do feel misled is when some random person tweets to me from a corporate named account and they have no official affiliation to that firm.

Hope that helps.

Full disclosure.... I currently guest blog and tweet for a number of organizations and most of them reveal my identity. There are a few that don't deem it necessary or the pieces I'm writing are just revised materials from existing marketing or advertising.

Susan Getgood

Before I address your question, I want to touch on a related issue. In my opinion, as ethical best practice and per the FTC guidelines on endorsements and testimonials, agency personnel commenting about clients and client products on social media channels must identify their interest. Even on Twitter – it only takes 8 characters (client), 10 if you count the spaces.

I’ve also long thought that public relations, marketing and advertising bloggers should include a list of their active clients on their About page to better inform their readers about potential influences on their opinions. Some agencies and people do it, others do not, on the theory that such a list creates a prospecting list for competitors. Maybe so, but I believe transparency requires it. Utopian of me I know.

Does this mean that Richard Edelman’s About page needs to list every Edelman client. Of course not. The Edelman website surely does that already, and as agency head, he’s not actively engaged in all those accounts anyway.

But if you are actively engaged in an account, even at a senior level, and commenting on the client’s industry, even if not directly about the client, don’t your readers deserve that information? I think so.

Now to your question. What is best practice about transparency/disclosure for agencies creating/writing content for their clients’ social media channels? In other words, when acting as a proxy for the client.

Let’s take blogs first. I have no problem with agencies creating the content for client blogs, as long as it is disclosed. I also don’t have any issue with blogs written by an impersonal “Company Moniker” as long as there is a page somewhere that tells who the people are behind the writing. I do prefer it when those posts are attributed to the individuals writing them, rather than the group identity but also recognize that there are many circumstances when the more impersonal is the better choice. You are  building, writing and speaking for the brand, not an individual.

I do not like ghostwriting, i.e. when someone else writes the blog for a named person like the CEO without attribution. There are so many other tactics available to us in social media to can bring the executive voice to the customer that a ghostwritten blog is just a cop-out. You can do a podcast, and then like Marriott does, transcribe it onto the blog. You can have someone interview the executive periodically, much as you might for a customer or employee magazine. You can do video chats and roundtables. You can even have someone edit the original writing of the attributed writer. But write it 100% for someone else, under their name, on a blog. Nope.

Similarly, I’m not terribly fond of ghostwritten tweets – ghweets – for individuals. However, the practice of having multiple people tweet on behalf of an organization under the organization moniker is fine, and even better when there is a page that tells you who the Tweeters are. That’s what GM does. It’ll be nice with the forthcoming Twitter functionality that those tweets can be identified to the people if the organization chooses, but I don’t think that is absolutely necessary.

Facebook Fan Pages. By design, fan pages are impersonal. Posts default to the fan page name, regardless of which administrator is posting the material. In fact, unlike Groups, you don’t even know WHO the admins are. I imagine this was an intentional decision to focus attention on the brand, not the individuals. It’s not supposed to matter *who* is talking – it is the brand. For this reason, I don’t think it much matters whether it is an agency or internal individuals posting to the page. [Side note: In fact, I’m not even sure if you *can* post to a Fan Page for which you are an admin as yourself, and not as the page. If it is possible,  I wish someone would tell me how, as I think we *should* be able to do this.]

Bottom line, the more personal the expression, the more important it is to know *who* is speaking. When the social media channel, or the brand’s use of it, more closely resembles broadcast, it isn’t nearly so critical.

Brendan Hurley

This is an interesting question. At the end of the day, the client should be reviewing and approving any content that goes out through its social media channels anyway. So in reality, who is writing the content isn’t nearly as important as who is “approving” the content. Strict policies and procedures should be drafted by the client, so the agency knows what it can and cannot do or say, while still giving the writer enough freedom to be creative, passionate and opinionated when necessary.

As you recall, one of the reasons we decided on the use pseudonyms for our fashion blog and Twitter sites (DC Goodwill Fashionista) and mission focused Facebook and Twitter sites (Good Willy) was to enable us to maintain consistency in the “name” of the content provider, even though the individual behind that pseudonym may change…as it did when we transitioned from Em Hall to Gillian Kirkpatrick as the writer of the DC Goodwill Fashion blog. 

In order to be transparent, we wrote a series of “transition blogs” where Em “officially” turned over the writing of the blog to Gillian, so readers knew the writer had changed, even though we never dropped the DC Goodwill Fashionista name or image. That pseudonym and avatar represent the “writer” of the blog, not the “person” writing the blog. Not only was the blog not damaged as a result of the transition, its readership has actually grown quite substantially. And Gillian is not an employee, she is a volunteer.

We recently launched a Spanish fashion blog using the same strategy, which is also doing very well. That writer also is a volunteer.

Max Kalehoff

Max Kalehoff: The fact is that everyone has an agenda, and therefore is an agent of some kind. It builds trust when one is forthcoming with his agenda, and even better for all to simply anticipate agenda and not be surprised. Agenda is not some evil tendency. It's our perspective when going about the world. It's ok.

Personally, I don't advocate ghost writing -- but believe it has its place, but only when the attributed author personalizes and approves the copy. OK for an agent to update a wiki entry on behalf of a company? Absolutely. In fact, agents often can be better suited, more trusted and more capable of acting on behalf of a company than many of a company's own employees. I'm being extreme here, but you get the concept. In my case, we have awesome employees, but we also several contractors (technically/legally) who operate as full-fledged members of our team, with full access and privileges.

John Cass: Do you think your thoughts on ghost writing have changed over the years?

Max Kalehoff: I think there is greater expectation that the author attributed was the actual author, not a ghost writer. Which means that writing skills are becoming perhaps more important in business.

Rick Liebling

This is an issue that comes up quite often for us. My current thinking is that the upside for trying to hide agency involvement is almost nil, but the downside can be high, at least from a consumer perception stand point. So I would advise that any blog, Facebook page or Twitter account be labeled as being written by the 'Company X' team. The term 'team' covers a lot, and certainly makes it clear that the content is not coming from a specific individual.

Now, if you are talking about a blog that is being positioned as written by a CEO, then you've got to make sure it is indeed the words of that CEO. She doesn't have to be the one responsible for uploading and making sure the links work, but it has to be her words.

Jim Matorin

Thought provoking post and in agreement re: transparency. However, I think we should recognize that all the agency people are jumping in because we are alphas that understand social media is a new platform to deliver messages/content, to open conversations with consumers. In closing, dinosaurs need agency folks to jumpstart their new marketing initiatives at this point.  

Marc Meyer

Great topic John and Toby. Surprisingly all we need to know has already been covered by your uber smart readers. The issues as to the why are simple. Clients have neither time nor talent and in most cases knowledge to carry this out. Thus, enter in the Agency, which should have all...OK, Maybe 2 out of three. 

I'm still on the fence about knowledge. But nevertheless some great points were made in regards to a) end result b) transitioning the duties and c)some modicum of ownership is better than none. 

At the end of the day, agencies see an opportunity and until businesses find the time and the staff to learn to do this on their own, there will continue to be this need coupled with the void supplemented by a lack or transparency. A better question might be, Who owns the mistakes and customer service miscues that may arise?

Lynn Anne Miller

Lynn Anne: I just had a very interesting discussion with a potential client about this issue. The client, a savvy Capitol Hill type, did not agree that the agency contact's name should appear along with client names on a client twitter account. He pointed out (rightly so) that CEO speeches and PR commentary are routinely ghostwritten, and said that his clients would be confused if someone else's name appeared on the company Twitter account.

We got into a discussion about the timeliness factor...a CEO always approves a press release or speech before it is released, whereas that is not the way real-time social media channels work.

Increasingly, I see disclosure of team members on Twitter feeds, and I regard that as a best practice. The actual author simply uses his or her initials at the end of the tweet in brackets.

Still, it can be tricky to implement this when every one of those 140 characters counts!

I think the situation is different with blog posts. It is quite common now for blog posts to be ghostwritten and then edited and approved by executives prior to publication, just as is routinely done with contributed/authored/bylined articles, speeches, etc. I see that as a practical approach, but the twittering and blog commenting should be disclosed with the author's true identity, in my opinion.

John Cass: You mention it is quite common for blog posts to be ghostwritten. What do you think of that practice?

Lynn Anne Miller: In very few cases does a CEO have the time, talent, or inclination to blog. There are of course notable exceptions (one thinks of Mr. Marriott dictating his blog entries or Seventh Generation's Jeffrey Hollander, who is also an author is his own right).

Blogging is just one more public communications channel for an exec. Few CEOs write their own speeches so why should they labor over blog posts? I'd rather a CEO focus on more material business matters, and simply review/edit/approve copy that is posted under his or her byline. I think that is entirely appropriate, and I would wager that is the way it is done in most companies.

That said, any comments posted from the CEO should of course come directly from him or her.

John Cass: Why would any comments have to come from the CEO, if the blog post was ghost written?

And what do you think are reader expectations about blog posts, do you think readers believe such posts are ghost written?

Lynn Anne Miller: From your questions, John, I'm wondering if we're in agreement regarding the definition of ghostwriting.

Typically, a CEO brings in a ghostwriter to discuss his or her ideas for the article, speech, blog post, or whatever is being crafted. (In some cases, such as when the CEO or politician has one or more GW/Speechwriters on staff, the writer will know the CEO well enough and the subject matter well enough to approach the CEO with ideas). Then the CEO reviews and approves the copy, sometimes making substantial edits, but usually, if the GW is any good, making very few. Then the piece is published under the CEO's name.

So let me ask you this: When you heard Obama's acceptance speech, did you think of John Favreau, his speechwriter? When Reagan spoke, did you think of Peggy Noonan? When Carly Fiorina gave her speeches at HP, did you think of her speechwriter?

Back to your questions:

1. The comments would need to come directly from the CEO because the comments are in real-time and demand a real-time response and immediate judgment regarding the issues. (That said, in reality, I bet the CMO or his or her designee is the one actually monitoring the blog, drafting those responses, and running them by the CEO for approval before hitting publish).

2. Regarding reader expectations, I think it totally depends on how the blog is positioned with the public. There are some CEOs who have very publicly stated that they in fact are doing the blogging. Those tend to be the best blogs - they may not be perfectly "crafted," and they may not appear on a very regular basis, but the passion and the voice of the CEO comes through loud and clear. In many other cases, though, a post is contributed by the CEO to a group blog and it is ghostwritten just as all the other executive communications are ghostwritten.

So no, I don't think most readers think posts are ghostwritten anymore than they think a CEO's speech or bylined opinion piece was ghostwritten.

That said, is it the CEO's role to labor over prose, or is it his role to communicate ideas to the communications experts and then review the final product?

John Cass: Well ghostwriting means that someone writes a blog for someone else, and there's no revelation that the post was written by a ghost writer.

It is standard practice in political speeches to have a speech writer.

If you look back at the early history of blogging, the clear expectation on the part of most bloggers and blog readers was that blogs would be written by the author. The reason, blogs are not just publishing tools, but rather two way communications tools, they enable people to have a two way conversation back and forth. I don't dispute it may not be the CEO's role to labor over prose in most circumstances, but some in the industry would argue that in the example of blogs and social media, if you are not the author you shouldn't be writing. Toby and I have been in the industry a while, and we developed our strategies for marketing in social media during the early days of how social media should be discussed. We both think that there's a large sea change in how the industry is developing. And that is why we want to get a gauge on where the industry is today. In 2004 if you asked most bloggers is it okay for a CEO to have ghostwritten blog articles they would say no. Today I don't know if that would be the answer. We'd like to find out what the answer is, and perhaps what the answer should be.

Melanie Notkin

As long as the content is authentic and approved by the client, I'm not sure there's a difference between when a "social media consultant" or freelance writer writes the content for a brand. 

The same rules apply: if someone other than brand-guardians are communicating content, it should be guarded and approved by the brand manager and follow brand guidelines. If the writer is writing on behalf of a CEO or other executive, the same rules as ghost writing should be used. Any CEO, brand manager or communications manager who let's someone else communicate on behalf of their company without approval is probably not just downgrading the importance of social media, corporate communications and branding, they are downgrading themselves, their brand and their company.

Jeremy Pepper

Transparency has always been a big sticking point for me - and a hot button issue for the industry - but I learned a while ago that it is not a simple black and white issue. It is fraught with greys, and it is hard to figure out where those lines are, and who is really in the right to call out people.Gray_Scale_1280x1024  

As you know, for generations, PR firms have written white papers, contribute articles and the sort for clients. And it was fine, no one questioned it because it was standard procedures for PR.

And, a few years back, it came to a head with The Newsmarket and Andy Plesser: Corporate Blog Published by your PR and Corporate Blogging and Honesty. Plesser had hired journalists to write the corporate blog for The Newsmarket, and most people attacked it. Ironically, I defended it at the time, and still believe they were handling it the right way.

And I still believe that. Internal people have a lot to do, and ghostwriting DOES happen, and there can be both, and a marriage to transparency. And, with Twitter, we'll see agencies helping out more with the corporate accounts.

The basic premise on transparency, though, is to provide a biography (large or small) to show who is taking care of what. It can be the agency, an outside writer, an internal person ... anything. For ghostwriting, well, that will happen but have the final person actually review and edit, so it is in his/her words. It's not the best practice in transparency but it works.

Tim Skaggs

I agree that the full disclosure of the writer should be viewable by readers and visitors. My clients have a brand to stand by and 'honesty' is a key factor to trusting the brand. The manner that the company conducts themselves will eventually be realized by the visitor or reader. The problem I see here is that companies have hired out to create marketing products before the creation of Social Media and those marketing products do not have any type of transparency as though the company created those marketing products themselves. I can see why larger companies would not be transparent in the social marketing because of the previous types of marketing done by the company in the past.

Michael Stelzner

This is no different than hiring a contractor to do any other project for your company.

Every business hires writers to create content. Heck, I am hired by many of the biggest. They never disclose that I created the content. Why? Because it is not in their best interest to tell who is an employee and who is a contractor. The last thing the business wants is to have someone taken by a competitor.

This is just common sense.

Liz Strauss

Be clear on your goals. In this case, three great goals might be: 

- to foster relationships that work for of the client, the agency, and the client's customers 

- to build an exchange of information that invited participation because it is easy, efficient, and meaningful / fun 

- and to build a situation that can transition in the future if others take over the content producer role 

The agency bloggers should use their own names, even if it's first name only. A good partnership is something worth sharing with customers. The agency bloggers should write what they know or can research, with an eye toward what interests the client's customers (not just the client.) 

On Twitter and Facebook, the agency social media folks can build a client account, but their client account or fan page should reveal their relationship as well. On YouTube, I'd suggest that agency folks get permission to and find ways to feature heroes who work for the company and customers. Creativity can make this low prep, high interest, and high value.

The key is to choose people who will champion the company because they want to be part of celebrating what the company is doing and they're proud to put their own name on their efforts. 

Mike Volpe

I think if it is for the brand/company, then it is fine to just go ahead and post as the brand and not disclose exactly who the post is coming from.  Just like a number of different employees might post on behalf of the company, you might also hire an agency to do so.  And there is not that much difference between the agency and the employees, especially in today's world of contractors, part time workers, outsourcing, etc  People who see posts coming from a brand should understand that it is a person or a team of people posting on behalf of the company, and they need to consume the communication in that way.  Just like you might get an advertisement or letter or email from a company and it is not "signed" by the marketing person or agency that created it, you might get a Tweet from a company but not know who exactly wrote it.

Now, in the case where you might be posting on behalf of a person, say the CEO of a brand/company, then I think complete transparency is called for.  People deserve and expect to know if they are actually speaking with Marc Benioff or someone posting on his behalf, because there is a real person in the conversation.  By the way, this does not mean that it is bad to have people post on your behalf.  I think Guy Kawasaki on Twitter is a great example that being interesting is much more important than posting everything yourself.

Kami Watson Huyse

I think that the goal of the agency/consultant worth its salt should be to enable the client to build relationships (real ones) with their online communities. The content creation that enables that, without being untruthful, unethical or misleading, should be whatever works.

Steve Woodruff

These platforms are communication channels and we all have to take a deep breath and have a reasonable view of how companies will use them. I happen to think that the companies who advance with real personality in their social media endeavors will likely do best, but not every company is prepared out of the gate to have designated in-house personnel to “feed the beast.” 

We don’t need to beat these folks with a purist club and accuse them of being inauthentic – unless they’re being inauthentic! Let people get their feet wet, and outsource as they must. We should encourage brands to use social media responsibly, realizing that those who abuse it by a lack of transparency will be outed in time, and the lesson will be learned! Read more at Steve's post Who's Behind The Avatar?

Total Transparency Author Content

Chris Brogan

Here's where we (New Marketing Labs, LLC) play in the transparency for clients department: 

Content creation like blogs and the like: we use our own name, but willingly create on behalf of the company. We work to educate our client partners so that they can create on their own, but we still fill in and create under our own name. We haven't ghosted. Do I think it's okay to ghost? I think it's more okay to ghost articles than I do social presence. Ghost tweeting seems a bit less genuine to me. Maybe that's splitting hairs, but that's my gut take. 

Social platforms. We don't create on the client's behalf. Tweets should come from the company, not the agency. I think you can tweet on behalf of the agency from your own account, but if I'm talking to @Coke, I want it to be someone from Coke.

Matt Churchill

I work at Edelman Digital in the UK, and this is a topic that is very important to me. The digital team practice full disclosure on every piece of Social Media campaign activity we are involved with. For example, if we are managing a Twitter stream on behalf of a client, we disclose in the bio which team member is running it, the fact we work for Edelman and also include our Twitter handle. This is reflected when also managing Facebook profiles and pages, where we always state who we are and our affiliation with the client. Consumers appreciate the transparency and it ensures that the client is not perceived as running a campaign nefariously.

Yvonne DiVita

First of all, I'm appalled that so many PR firms and agencies are blogging and tweeting, and perhaps doing Facebook, on behalf of clients without letting the end-user know it's them, not the client. Personally, I don't see how they can talk about anything except the current campaign, project, or contest. And that's advertising, not having a conversation.

Ghost blogging is wrong when it's done to deceive, or to be part of the crowd without putting in the work. Ghost blogging where you represent the client because you're in the industry, or know the client's work so well you can speak for them, is somewhat okay. Which means...tweeting on behalf of the client can be okay, if you're really there to talk WITH people, not AT them and if the company participates at least by following the discussion. I see some brands that have twitter accounts that openly say they're an agency or PR firm doing the twittering on behalf of so-and-so...and I watch, and wonder - why can't so-and-so do it for themselves? But, in the case of big brands, they might not have the talent in-house - or, which is more likely - they don't want to train in-house and they are willing to give their brand image over to the agency because...that's what they've always done.

The folks who blog, tweet and create Facebook accounts for themselves, and traverse the many gates one needs to pass through for social media success on their own, are the ones who will see the most and best positive return. That doesn't mean they can't engage a PR firm or agency to HELP... maybe to guide them. But, in the end, it's a consumer controlled environment and the consumer doesn't want to talk to your agency rep. They hate your press releases, and they are especially looking askance at your attempts to fool them with twitter accounts that do nothing but announce your latest product release.

I know companies that have ventured into social media and are relying on agency advice and assistance, when they have some talented small business bloggers on the payroll. Rather than tap into the folks who are experienced with blogs and twitter and Facebook, this company is relying on its ancient roots of paying an agency to tell them what to do and how to do it. I'll be watching to see how they do - because in the end, it isn't the bloggers, the company, or the agency that will dictate the success; it's the customers. If they accept it, we'll see a lot more of it. If they reject it, we'll see companies scratching their heads in confusion, because the agencies know all, don't they? Personally, I think the answer to that is no, they don't. Real people, with real personalities, who identify themselves on the blog, twitter page or Facebook, have the answes. And the answer is: this is who we are (real people), this is who we work with (real company), this is who we want to talk with (you). 

This could go either way. I'm betting on the consumer maintaining control and agencies and the companies they represent learning the hard way that transparency is more than being the mouthpiece for the PR department or "interactive media" - which is the new popular phrase for online media. It's allowing the consumer access to the people who make the company what it is. The brand is not the agency. The brand is not the twitter account. The brand is the conversation between the company and the consumers. It starts with, "Hello, my name is..." Not with, "Hello, look at our new product launch!"

Arik Hanson

Overall, I tend to fall on the side of transparency. But, that doesn't lend itself too well to agencies making money. That said, I think there's still a big role for agencies/consultants to educate, coach and advise. And to keep clients one step ahead in this constantly evolving environment.

Roger Harris

I have worked on both the agency side (Capstrat) soliciting bloggers to write content and as a blogger.

I am strongly of the opinion that complete transparency is essential, whether the content provider is working through their own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The agency writer needs to fully disclose the relationship with the client, although this does not mean on every blog post, Tweet, Facebook update. Simply that the information is readily available for people who are interested in understanding the motivation and resources of the content provider.

There are too many examples of situations where content providers (usually employees) have contributed ostensibly as objective outsiders, only to be discovered as working for a promotion. Why take the risk of losing credibility and embarrassment? Most people would rather be aware that content is being provided with an agenda or an element of bias and then make their own decisions rather than have the wool pulled over their eyes.

Ellen Hoenig

I'm of the mind similar to BL Ochman that company outsiders should be helping company people learn how to use social media themselves, and if they do write, its not done as 'ghost' but 'guest'... 

Social media is about listening, learning and building relationships...how can you outsource this? And from my own experience, how can you learn or develop your own voice without doing it yourself and experiencing the ups and downs first hand. 

If a company is just doing sm to 'cross it off their list' or to use it as another source of one-way communication, then its not really social media and probably isn't fair to the readers who are genuinely looking for dialog and relationship building/learning. On twitter especially, I find it disconcerting for people to post for others without at least leaving some initials so the reader knows who tweeted it etc.

Jonathan Kranz

First, I believe that much depends on the nature of the content and its corresponding reader expectations. For articles, white papers, ebooks and such, I think ghostwriting is entirely legitimate.  In these instances, reader expectations are focused on the substance of the content, rather than on its author; as long as the ideas truly belong to the putative author (the person to whom the work is attributed), there is no violation of the implied social contract.

But blogs, tweets, Facebook entries and other forms of social media communications are another story. Here, the emphasis is flipped on its head — it’s the author of the communication, not the substance, that attracts readership. After all, if you were to take the same 140 character tweet generated by Seth Godin and attribute it to someone else, it wouldn’t have the same meaning or impact; the tweet is relevant because of the person behind it. The attraction is not the substance, per se, but the reader’s expectation of having some sort of relationship with the author. In this case, I think ghostwriting — or agency creation of social media content — is indeed unethical.

I also think it’s pointless. You wouldn’t get married, then hire someone else to have sex with your spouse; the point of the relationship is to relate, in all its forms. And the point of social media isn’t the exchange of ideas (some cynics might wish one luck finding them), but the building of relationships. If you’re not going to personally participate, why bother?

Tracy Malone

Very interesting and controversial topic you have brought up! I own an ad agency and have seen many of our competitors embrace social media and quickly jump up on a pedestal touting themselves as experts so that they can "help" their clients enter the social media-sphere and take the reins as an opportunity to rack up additional hourly billing each month.

So MANY are doing this. But does it go against the grain of everything that social media stands for?  Good question. My gut reaction is yes, social media is meant to be nothing but authentic. Relationship development, at it's best, and an opportunity to have more insight into a brand and the people behind the brand.

But I do have to admit that we, as marketers, do try our best to become TRUE partners with our clients. Having them see us as an honest extension of their staff. Their advertising/marketing department extended, just beyond the boundaries of their building. And with a more subjective viewpoint.  

So that does mean that, in theory, an agency who is very tapped in to their client, their products and services, understands who that client is, their brand, personality, how they live, eat, breathe, could potentially act as a vehicle for helping that client connect with their market and prospects via social media and actually provide a fairly authentic experience. I do think it is possible. Is it truly REAL, though? Probably not.

That said, our agency is taking another route, and helping our clients put together strategic plans for how to leverage social media, then training them and giving them the tools they need so that THEY can implement it themselves. We've seen great success. And clients who swore they just "don't have the time to blog" are now putting it at the top of their daily priority list because they've seen the light and tremendous results.

So I do think that that is the ideal way to go. Real. Authentic. Personal. If you want repeat traffic and to develop a great following, I think being real and having the client do the work and the agency the guide is the best route.

Lionel Menchaca

We don’t use agencies for content. We do use them for some design help (page and site design on some things). One thing we’re focusing on now is revamping our employee policy in an effort to scale more of the work we do into areas within the business. The basics of the policy will stay the same: strive to be honest and accurate while maintaining transparency when speaking about Dell.

Chris Norton

I am a blogger and public relations consultant and I write, tweet and help my clients all the time but I am transparent about how I do it. For instance, if I am to write on their blog I will become a guest author and I will make sure it is clearly disclosed in the about page so readers know who is writing what. Not only that but I will introduce myself clearly. I think this is simply good practice so the readers aren't reading lots of posts under admin and worst still mislead. People prefer to buy into the bloggers personalities and often they will subscribe to different authors RSS feeds.

Tom O'Brien

I have been pretty much a hard liner on this issue – full disclosure is best.  I don’t think the agency/client relationship (typically) requires disclosure – what requires disclosure is that the communication is being done on behalf of the brand.

John Bell from Ogilvy gave a great presentation on this topic for WOMMA:  Finding Best Practices for SM Health Marketing.  While SM in the health context (involves FDA regulation) is different from other SM, I think the ideas in this presentation are 100% relevant to the question being discussed.

So, I think the “transparency” requirement is at the brand level.  Not at the “agency on behalf of brand” level.  Consumers don’t care about that.  My $0.02.

B.L. Ochman

I think the best role agencies, consultants, etc. can play is coaching clients so they can learn to use social media. As you said, the tools may be free, but effective participation takes time, experience, and a realistic budget to pay for expertise. 

Hell, there was once a time when you could get by with typewriters and mimeograph machines. Those days are long over and businesses need to stop whining about social media and adapt. Just as companies had to hire IT people a couple of decades ago so they could remain competitive, they now need to hire community managers and others who can participate in online interaction. 

Used effectively both internally and externally, social media is not just a time sink. It can increase productivity, and help to build sales. However, I think some standards are necessary. I've blogged for clients on topics as diverse as clutter control and hairstyles. I always write under my own name, with my bio attached so it is clear who I am and what role I play. My goal always is to turn the blog over to the client so they can do it themselves once they learn what's needed.

Jeremiah Owyang

Jeremiah Owyang: In general, that's a bad idea.  Agencies should teach their clients how to 'fish' rather than do it for them as strategic advisors.  I don't have data to how much this happens.

Disclosure is key, and in some cases, may be enforceable by the FTC, we encourage all organizations to abide by the law.

John Cass: I’m getting reports back of agencies conducting campaigns for clients but being transparent about the relationship. What do you think of that? Edelman does this apparently.

Jeremiah Owyang: That's a best practice, absolutely.

Why? It builds trust with their own community and readers.

David Meerman Scott

I reject the premise. I do not recommend people hire agencies to create content. Instead I recommend that they hire journalists -- either full-time or part-time to create content. More here http://bit.ly/ABHLd

I think if a company hires a journalist as a full or part time employee (with a title, email address and whatnot), and that person creates content, then there is no transparency issue.

Caroline Slomski

Being on the agency side, I see my role as consultative more than contributory. My clients need inspiration (and reminders!) to keep their blogs and social networks fresh. If I were to cross that line - especially undisclosed - I risk not only my client's brand reputation, but mine as well. These channels are embraced because of the level of authenticity they bring - authenticity that would be completely lost without transparency.

Rick Short

In these early days, blogging and tweeting are felt to be from the stated author. Just like in the early days of giving speeches - people assumed (rightly so) that the speaker penned the words.

Lynn Anne reveals the crux of the issue when she says, "In very few cases does a CEO have the time, talent, or inclination to blog."

Understood - so don't pretend that you do!

As things evolve (like speech making did) expectations will change. In 2010, the "rules" are that the blogger/tweeter is authentic, or is pulling a fast one.

And Rick Also stated:

Today, given all the concern with transparency in social media, I feel that today's "rules" guide us to be completely open about exactly who is publishing what. It is phony to tweet, blog, and/or post to Facebook or LinkedIn as an executive (or anyone else), when you are a ghostwriter. 

If the "author" doesn't have the time, skill, or ability to write and post, then they shouldn't pretend to be doing so and falsely representing both themself and their company's communications program/capabilities. Why? Because social media was born in an era of transparency and authenticity. Because social media is held, by so many, to be a true voice.

Interestingly, the rules don't apply evenly to all forms of business communication. For examples, a CEO addressing a room full of shareholders may or may not have written his speech. That nuance is not a big deal. The President of the USA addresses a group and no one believes that he wrote his speech. Again, not an issue. Why? Because the practice is both well known and well accepted.

What all media now have in common is that whoever signs their name to the piece must stand behind it.  Regardless of the medium or platform, you can't have it both ways. This is because, while different media have different expectations and "rules", people are now held to one standard of transparency. If your name is on it and it blows up in your face, the world won't allow you to slip out of it by blaming a ghost writer.

C.B. Whittemore

Toby, thanks for this timely and relevant discussion. It's interesting to step back and appreciate that social media tools are communication tools [marvelous ones in my opinion!] and they can be used in the traditional push format or to engage & interact & be social. It's a subtle difference if you're in the traditional mindset and a glaringly obvious one if you're already on the social side. 

To be effective in a social environment, you must be human, authentic, responsive, consistent and genuinely interested. It's what you so often remind us of: it's like being invited into someone's living room. 

I recently set up the "Social Flooring Index" to monitor the social state of flooring - an extremely traditional industry mostly committed to push marketing. It's been fascinating to observe the process of evolution from traditional to social, and what it takes to get immersed in the social aspect. What this tells me is that the more transparent and authentic the effort, the more credible it is.Better not to delegate all responsibility for your social efforts to 3rd parties who - for the most part - really can't speak competently to your customers. Get guidance, include them, but own it. 

I love the approach that DC Goodwill has taken to make the transition in DC Fashionistas and establish connection/continuity for its audience. About developing enough content. Companies develop content ALL the time [or they should be!]. With social media, they have the opportunity to multi-purpose their original content work and distribute it in a variety of forms. It takes some effort at first to proactively think in those terms, but it's effective. When I did that in pre-digital days, I referred to it as 'merchandising my marketing.' Thanks again for this marvelous discussion.

Jack Yan

My rule is: be transparent on everything that is public knowledge, or allowed to be public knowledge. Do not talk about emails or letters that have come in to the firm if the sender can be identified, or anything where there might be the remotest confidentiality involved. Talk about what you would talk about if you were at the pub for after-work drinks. Not that I go to the pub for after-work drinks.

When it comes to the mayoral race, there is a Tweeting strategy. For instance: do not Tweet about getting people excited to vote when voting forms aren't even available. These need to be timed accordingly. However, these should reflect the mood one is in, and the things one does, preferably after the fact for security reasons. It shows what you believe in and what you are prepared to do for the city.

Again, they should not be critical unless there is a very good reason, so no negative campaigning or Tweeting. They should generally be positive and inspirational. There is nothing wrong with being personal about the Tweets as long as what you write does not attack the company or, in my case, the campaign. I cannot see any point being different just for Facebook: use the same messages on all platforms, to be consistent. (Note: Jack is a candidate for mayor of Wellington, New Zealand)

Social Media In The Moment Marketing

10/14/2009

Max and kitty 10_09 Max and I were taking a walk yesterday. A big yellow and white cat came over to Max and he stopped to play with her. Yes, Max likes cats.  His little tail wagged so quickly. His concentration on his kitty friend was total and complete. He was in the moment. When he was done he walked happily away to his next important thing to do. Max is a very busy pooch.

I thought .. social media is an in the moment way to conduct marketing. Then I thought .. the idea of responding to an external influence at the time the incident occurs is foreign to traditional marketing. Marketing is based on strategy where research, plans and how to figure it all out comes before a formal execution of tactics is achieved. Even PR whose charge it is to 'manage' the reputation of the brand rarely responds in the moment.

Social media goes against the grain of how marketers including PR, sales and to a great extent customer service professionals have managed their responsibilities as stewards of the brand. Or does it? Can the two concepts happily co-exist? Can marketing maintain a strategic focus while still being in the moment?

Let's first define what in the moment marketing means in terms of social media. In the simplest of ideas it takes into account only four steps: Monitoring, Understanding, Interacting, Integrating

1. Monitoring the discussion occurring in the digital world of blogs, tweets, forums, social networks, etc.

2. Understanding the challenges of customers and stakeholders to what they feel impacts the brand promise; as well as appreciating the people who say nice things.

3. Interacting with the people who take the time to have digital discussions about your brand.

4. Integration of ideas into your company and into the brand.

The complexity and sophistication of social media in the moment marketing occurs behind the scenes in the How where traditional marketing's strong suite comes into play through building the foundation. 

Questions to help you think through the process of in the moment marketing for your organization. 

1. How will monitoring or listening occur? Will you use a free tool like Google Alerts or RSS key word feeds or will you contract with a social media monitoring company?

2. How will understanding or hearing what is critical information be determined? How will the information be sent to the right people at the right time .. which may be real time?  Who are the "right" people?

3. How will you reach out to customers and stakeholders? Will that occur in public through comments on posts or in tweets? Will you take the conversation offline in an email or phone call? Who will be responsible for follow-up .. both to the individual and to the community at-large who has passively heard the remarks? 

4. How will you integrate the learnings into the fabric of the brand or into new processes for your enterprise?

It's all a part of developing the new social enterprise .. but it takes so much more to be in the moment for a brand than for a dog!