Archive for May, 2010
by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief of Social Media Strategy at xynoMedia
A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote about the fiasco that resulted from Ann Taylor LOFT's alleged attempts to "go social".
A few days later, I spoke with, Yvonne DiVita, about her thoughts on my blog post (it's always good to know what your editor is thinking about your writing), and she said that while she liked it, she wanted to know why I hadn't mentioned the bloggers as culprits, too.
I mentioned that I had indeed thought about that, but my main focus was to write about how companies so often try to take short cuts when it comes to social media engagement. Now, however, I'd like to turn my focus on the bloggers (*insert dramatic music here*).
The bottomline is if anyone should have known better, it would have been them. While holding Mr. Muto's feet to the fire certainly is a valid position to take; the fact is that the bloggers should have, as my friend says, "damn well have damn better known better." They know how this game is played. They're a part of the blogosphere and no doubt have read or heard about full disclosure and the SEC's position on disclosure. In short, they're in the know and the companies aren't.
The fact is companies rely on those of us in the know to lead them down the right path. There's a moral responsibility to do the right thing here. Even if only one blogger had insisted on a form that outlined the "compensation" given (in the Ann Taylor LOFT case, it allegedly was $500 gift cards) and the fact that they were going to disclose said compensation, that would have been better than saying nothing at all.
Think about how much good will that lone blogger could have possibly developed with the folks at Ann Taylor LOFT if they had taken the time to pull the powers that be aside and tell them what kind of hell was in store for them if they didn't do this right. For all I know, one of the bloggers may have mentioned it, because, hey, I wasn't there and I wasn't involved; but that doesn't appear to be what happened.
Ok, one last "side" to this story…
I recounted the story behind this blog post to my Learning Annex class, as an example of how NOT to make money while blogging and they asked why this disclosure focus is on social media and not television or radio – and, in fact, this point came up in my conversation with Yvonne, too.
You see, when someone does a radio or television commercial, there is a record of that monetary exchange some place. There is a contract on someone's hard drive or in someone's files of exactly how much compensation was given for what services provided. The government can come and get their money.
With these "pay for play" blog posts, there's no real record of the exchanges. Five hundred dollars, even in gift card format, is still $500 of income. Now, the government doesn't really care until you make over $600 (I believe this is the figure) from the one source. But, what if the "pay for play" relationship is a long-term one or exceeds $600? Who has a record of that? Companies can lump that under "marketing" expenses and Mr. Tax Man is none the wiser.
Now,do I really think that some tax person is going to surf the net reading blogs and jot down disclosures and amounts? No. But, this is a first step toward making people keep records of these new media payment exchanges.
So, THAT'S why the same level of scrutiny isn't being given to radio and TV. The government knows it's getting its just dessert with those types of "pay for play" arrangements, but they can't rest assured of the same thing with social media.
As per usual, this all comes down to taxes, folks.
I can't help but be frustrated by the old advice today's marketing firms are passing off as "new" advice. It's not that the advice isn't useful or necessary, it's that…it's been said – and it's directed at companies that should know better. IMHO
Case in point: MediaPost blogs is a favorite resource of mine and while I don't get to read all of the blogs, I do manage to tune in to a few key blogs every week. This week I decided to read Chad Capellman's post on "Are You Ready For The Success Of Your Social Media Strategy?"
My expectation was to receive advice on tools I might use to manage success on Facebook, twitter, or my blog. That's not what happened.
Let's make sure we're clear here – Chad is talking to the health industry and they are still far behind the rest of us in adopting social media tools. So, basic advice is likely welcomed. However, I take umbrage with the idea that any company today which has decided to engage in social media has done so without thinking it through. Are companies still jumping in feet first, without any strategic thinking? Maybe Lena knows.
And, on top of that, I am mystified by any company that thinks it wasn't engaged in social media even before venturing online. Seriously. Isn't ALL business about…being social? Can you do business without engaging with other people? Is the concept of social new and innovative???
No, social media is not new. Social media and social marketing are just new phrases describing old activities now being performed on the net. The word "social" acts much the same today as it did two hundred years ago. If you were in business then, you were social by getting face-to-face, whether that was in the marketplace, a boardroom, a client's office, or in your 'store' with customers. And, in being 'social' you not only talked about yourself and your products, you asked questions of your customers/clients and empoyees and you listened to their answers – in other words, you engaged in conversation with them.
All the better to find out what you needed to do to stay in business and keep them happy.
In Chad's article, he notes, "If you're "just running" the outward-facing part of the social media equation, it's difficult to truly leverage the insights of your audience. You need help from other team members who can actually effect the change your audience is asking for. You need them to be receptive to new ideas, and to implement changes where they need to occur."
To which I want to know – who doesn't already know that? What company, today or last year or last century, doesn't know they have to give employees and clients and customers and partners and everyone they meet and talk to the power to engage in conversation??? Who goes into a social setting like Facebook, twitter, Skype, blogs, lunch, cocktail parties arranged for business, etc. and doesn't know there has to be a give and take???
If you don't know that, why are you in business? There is nothing in Chad's article that isn't common sense. When are we, as businesses doing our work online, going to understand that "social" means … just that? Don't talk at me, talk with me.
Yesterday I sat through a webinar on Search Engine Optimization which promised to review with me 10 Free Tools. SEO is something that I have some knowledge of, but I admit that I still have much to learn. So I thought it would be a good use of my time.
Now nothing is ever really free, so I've now spent most of the morning downloading some of these free tools and restarting my computer. I really don't know what to do with them now or even how to get them started. Some are specifically for Firefox and they're supposed to show up now in my browser. But I don't see them. I guess I'll just have to invest more time.
The conferences, workshops and webinars that you pay to attend are really where you're going to get useful information that you can use. I attend some, but of course there are so many today you have to be choosy. In regards to search engine marketing I've attended the SES (Search Engine Strategies) Conferences now for the last few years which are held throughout the world. My first one was in Toronto and then next two years I was in New York, which is one of their largest events. Last year they had some great keynotes including John Gerzema, author of The Brand Bubble who I wrote this blog post about It's All About Giving Consumers Value and Values.
Unfortunately I missed the New York conference this year because instead I was at the PMA conference in Chicago which was the same week. Since I missed New York I'm planning to attend SES Toronto which is taking place on June 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency. I'm located in Rochester, NY, so it's really just a couple of hours drive around the lake, Lake Ontario that is. I believe we have quite a few Canadian readers here
on Lip-sticking, so I thought this would be on interest to some of you.
The first day includes some SEM training workshops, which I probably won't make. The conference actually begins on Thursday, June 10 with a full agenda. Track 1 on Day 1 is one of the sessions I'm really interested in…"SEO Then & Now: What's the Same? What's New?" A great panel promises to first cover proven SEO fundamentals and then update us on the latest trends. Jim Hedger, is the Moderator and a Consultant specializing in search marketing. He'll be joined by Erika Brown from Frost & Sullivan and Anne Kennedy who is on the SES Advisory Board and Founder of a company called Beyond Ink.
I'm really looking forward to meeting Anne and learning more about this new venture she is now launching with some partners called Joblr.net. It's described as "Self-Service SEO with patent pending
Visibility score benchmarking whose mission is to bring the sound principles of search
marketing to a much wider audience of small companies and non-profits. Something we could all use.
I have been part of the SES affiliate program, so if you are interested in attending please use the registration link included above and save 15% with the code number SESF15. Let me know if you're going and hopefully we can meet up. See you in Toronto!
If you're exploring ways to make money bogging, you need to watch this video from Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. Darren is one of the top bloggers online today (and he's connected to lots of other experts, too). He KNOWS how to make money blogging.
I've learned a lot from Darren. I continue to learn from him.
The key is to listen, contemplate, and act. Thinking…being…doing. Nothing happens if you just listen. Not contemplating could cause setbacks – you must relate the relevant information to you and your business. And failing to act…well, I don't have to explain the downfall of that.
Last bit of advice: take notes.
On Mother's Day, I Did the Revlon Run/Walk for Women to Honor My "Second Mom", Rhoda Goldie
She lost her battle with cancer on February 4, 2010. The photo on the left is of me at the Revlon Run/Walk. The photo on the right is Rhoda in the 1980s.
Rhoda is my best friend Sheryl's mom. I met her when I was only 13 years old and we both fell in love with each other. She taught me about kindness, hard work, loyalty and compassion. When I wanted to start my Wealthy Bag Lady business, do Women's Small Business Expo and write my book, Bags to Riches, she supported me totally.
I even interviewed her for the book about employee relationships because she inspired the best in people and kept employees loyal to her for over 20 years.
Celebrate Someone Special This Mother's Day
Mothering comes in all forms: friends, teachers, family members and mentors. I've been so blessed in my life to have 2 great moms and I know that Rhoda is still lovingly watching over me. Think of the women in your life who have nurtured you and celebrate them on this very special Mother's Day.