Thursday, February 19, 2009

Six Myths of Social Media Marketing, with a note on costs.

Here's a great piece from by B.L. Ochman who writes the Whatsnextblog on Six Myths of Social Media Marketing. She's really on point with what we've found to be common misunderstandings of SMM. I think her reference numbers on costs are a bit high, at least for our industry, but I can see how they would apply to broader CPG categories. I've edited my post at her request and suggest you go to Business Week to read the whole piece. In case you don't want to read the original article, here is my summary of the key takeaways:

-SMM isn't an option, it's a required marketing tool.
-SMM requires funding, it can't be a budget footnote
-SMM can have immediate results, but takes time to deliver real value.
-Building traffic has to be a core won't happen on its own
-Monitor, measure, manage...SMM without a rigorous and informed analysis and reporting component is not only wasteful, it tells your visitors you're not listening.

And one point not mentioned in this piece is the importance and utility of new software to monitor, measure and manage. It's not cheap, averaging about $2,000/month for user access, but extraordinarily useful for getting maximum use out of a SMM program. You can get by in a very tightly defined marketplace with a limited number of sites in the conversation...but once you get above 50 or 60 sites, it becomes impossible to monitor them all "by hand."

For companies, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social Web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn't putting itself out there, it ought to be.

But before you take the plunge, bear in mind the many myths that surround social media.

1. Social media is cheap, if not free. Yes, many of the tools that can be employed in social media marketing are free to use. However, integrating these tools into a corporate marketing program requires skill, time, and money. The budget for an effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50,000 for two to three months.

Building a site that incorporates interactivity, allows user-generated content, and perhaps also includes e-commerce doesn't come cheap from anyone who knows what they are doing. That takes skill, experience, and money.

As a rule, a $50,000 to $100,000 budget can cover the creation of a simple multimedia microsite that becomes the center of an online community. Add in some widgets to help distribute the content and form a credible group on Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook and other networking groups to enhance the community aspect of the campaign.

A high-yield, highly targeted blog advertising campaign to kick off and support the program will cost an additional $25,000 to $100,000 a month. Advertising through Google's AdWords, e-mail support, co-registration, and other tools that drive traffic would be additional costs.

2. Anyone can do it. A surfeit of whiz kids and more experienced marketers are claiming to be social media experts and even social media gurus.

A successful social media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital, and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience, and the best social media marketers now have...experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content, and contests into online marketing (Ed. Note: and SEO and search marketing expertise)

Video contests by companies hoping for viral buzz and Google juice are as plentiful as mosquitoes on a humid summer night. But, like their insect counterparts, most video contests suck.

3. You can make a big splash in a short time. Sure, sometimes a social media campaign can produce substantial and measurable results quickly.

Social media is great if you're already a star, but that doesn't happen overnight....

ZapposChief Executive Tony Hsieh, whose company has millions of customers who are evangelists for the great service that built the brand, quickly became a Twitter star, with more than 32,000 followers. When Dell, JetBlue Airways, the Chicago Bulls, and other love-'em-or-hate-'em brands joined Twitter, they immediately developed huge followings.

4. You can do it all in-house. Wrong! You need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience—a combination not generally found in in-house teams, who often reinvent the wheel or use the wrong tools.

5. If you do something great, people will find it. Quite simply, that never was true. Until you can drive traffic to your social media effort, you've got a tree falling in the forest, heard only by those standing nearby. A great number of tools can drive traffic, including StumbleUpon, Digg, and Twitter, but nothing works better than word of mouse—one friend telling another, "Hey look at this!"

6. You can't measure social media marketing results. You can use a variety of methods, including mentions on blogs and in media; comments on the content; real-time blog advertising results, and click-throughs to your company Web site. You can get very precise statistics from a variety of sites, including Google Analytics among others. (Ed note: add in a skilled,experienced resource that can analyze and interpret those numbers and you have an extremely powerful real time, behavior based market research tool.)

And I'd add a post script quote from Will Rogers..."It ain't braggin' if you done it." Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brouhaha in the Blogsophere

My oh my! This week we witnessed a blogger blitz of a social media marketing effort gone awry. The short version of the story is that a competitive absinthe brand hired a PR agency who evidently didn't understand how to work with bloggers. They made some egregious mistakes (cloaked spam) and were taken to task by a "murder" (to borrow the descriptor of a group of crows) of bloggers.

Significantly, many of the bloggers gave a shoutout to BAT as well as several other agencies and companies that are doing social media marketing the RIGHT way. (Thank you...we appreciate the vote of confidence!)

There's a lesson here for marketers in the Internet age. Invest the time to really understand the new media, how it works and how it's different from the old. But if you're not going to do that, make sure you conduct due diligence on the resources you hire to do it for you. In this case, the damage done far outweighed the planned short term gain.

Spam and subterfuge are not workable strategies...transparency and contribution to the conversation are. Promoting a brand commercially is part of the process, but it must be in a way that's beneficial to all and most importantly the end reader. When you game a blogger, you also insult their reader...who is your prospective customer. To paraphrase David Ogilvy, "She's not a moron, she's your wife."

You can check out the brouhaha here (and be advised, this was a passionate subject...some of the language isn't fit for children):

Two at the Most
An Exercise in Hospitality
A Mountain of Crushed Ice
Cocktail Chronicles
A Jigger of Blog
Dear PR Flack Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wine Library TV and Gary Vaynerchuk

I sat in on a seminar Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV put on at the Boston Wine Expo last weekend. Some folks are put off by Gary's "in your face" style, but once you get past the personality quirks, his message is definitely on point:

--Wine is "broken" in America
--People want to try and buy new varietals from different countries
--Ignore the pretentiousness of wine, and go with what you smell, taste and like...don't let someone dictate your tastes...or you.

I particularly liked the way he drives that message home not with a lecture but by his actions. After pouring the wine he tells his audience to give it a "sniffy sniff". He's not trying to be cute; it's his way of saying, "Hey, let's not take this too seriously." Then "Give it a Whirl" means " Go ahead and taste it." but once again with the implicit caveat that it's just a glass of wine, not the coming of the Messiah.

And oh yes, he's got biases...just like the rest of us. He's against "Fruit Bombs" and the "Oak Monster" but definitely a proponent for emerging varietals and countries such as Portugal, Greece, Chile and Austria. I particularly liked the way he got Jancis Robinson to validate his pursuit of unpreteniousness in Episode#568 where he tasted an Assyrtiko from Santorini along with two other wines.

Botton line for those of you in the business...Gary's arguably a more important influencer than Robert Parker, and most certainly among the "millennials" who are just now discovering wine as part of their adult lives. He speaks to them in their language. Are you doing the same? Sphere: Related Content

Vino 2009

I had the honor of speaking on a panel discussion at last week's Vino 2009 event in New York on "Vintners' Access to the American Wine Market." (That's me hiding behind Lynn Walding.) Not surprisingly, the issue of direct-to-consumer shipments was the key point of debate. As we all know, distributor consolidation has exacerbated the situation further leaving few options for smaller producers, many of whom were among the 250+ exhibiting at Italian Trade Commission-sponsored event.

Tom Wark of SWRA (Specialty Wine Retailers Association) eloquently voiced his mantra that there ought to be a level playing field for consumers, as well as suppliers, distributors and retailers. The U.S. may be on the brink of becoming the largest wine market in the world, but the reality is that consumers in many states don't have access to more than a fraction of the wines currently imported into the U.S. because of the three-tier system. His point of view was countered by Jim Rowland of WSWA who reinforced the reasons why the current 3-tier system works. Lynn Walding who leads the Iowa State Alc. Bev. division gave what to me was the most compelling argument as to why the system is unlikely to The system may be archaic, dating back 75 years to repeal, but the grandfathered entities...Control States and distributors.. are powerful forces with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. John Beaudette of MHW addressed the complicated registration process suppliers need to be familiar with to even get samples into the country.

One solution I've been a proponent of is e-commerce which is a way producers who can't get on the physical shelf, can at least get on the virtual shelf of many retail stores that have e-comm sites. And in spite of a couple of state law changes in MA, IL and KY to the contrary, I think it's a solution that ultimately may undermine the three tier system itself.

So stay tuned...with's wine initiative coming down the pike, the argument is definitely going to heat up. Sphere: Related Content