Third Tuesday Vancouver – September 2008 – Mhairi Petrovic
Before coming to Republic, Rebecca and I met briefly at Centro and while we were chatting there, I mentioned that I’d be happy to liveblog this time (as she does most of the liveblogging for Third Tuesday Vancouver). Generally speaking, I liveblog once in a while, and I always do a recap of the meetup. But she is generally a media sponsor, so I thought it’d be nice for her to just deal with the Vancouver Food Bank Drive for a change instead of having to take the donations, AND liveblog.
I do hope that my laptop holds. We are lucky to have Mhairi Petrovic from OutSmarts. She will be talking about Marketing New Media to Traditional Decision Makers: Overcoming the Challenges. And Mhairi is about to start.
UPDATE: 7.24pm Monica is calling everyone to order.
Mhairi nearly had a heart attack hehehe. What am I going to speak about to a group of social-media-savvy people that they don’t already do know? One of the first jobs that Mhairi had was to be in charge of selling the Internet to their marketing people.
These days over 70% of North American people use the Internet on a regular basis. They are waiting for you to get in touch with you. The Internet is no longer a one-way street, there’s data flowing between people, and businesses can only benefit from tapping into that resource.
Mhairi’s definition of social media – blogs, Web 2.0, etc. As an organization, you can use these technologies to
- build community and loyalty
- more sales, more leads
- build awareness and brands.
Some of the objections to social media…
1.- “We already use social media” Misconception – a website with their email address is social media. Um, no… that’s not the case. These people need to be introduced – take them on a tour. Find blogs that are appropriate to their industry. Take them to meetups with people who use the tools. Show them how to use Google. Once they see the benefits, they’ll be sure to catch on.
2.- Perceived as a tool for only the younger set. This is a misconception. Yeah, MySpace was adopted by young music lovers. The over 35 demographic is the fastest growing sector of the users of Internet. Over 50% of MySpace users and over 40% of Facebook users are over 35%. Social networks for professionals are the fastest growing. Mainly users that are mature professionals looking to use these technologies to extend their networks and build their communities.
3.- This does not apply to me. Technorati and its State of the Blogosphere report stated that they have 133 million blogs in 36 countries. 100 million people on MySpace, 140 million people on Facebook, 20 million photos on Flickr. You have to join in the conversation, before they get left behind.
4.- Social media as simply a flashing fad. No long term/staying power. The case of Friendster is commonly cited as the example of social media being a fad. Well, Mhairi says that really this is one case, but the first blog is dated 1982 so it’s not a flash in the pan. It’s been around for over 25 years and probably here to stay. Facebook and MySpace could evolve and change, of course. They will be here in some shape or another. They will evolve as the technology and capabilities evolve.
If you don’t use them NOW you risk getting left behind.
5.- Transparency and losing control of your brand. Those freak controls that need to control every press release and make sure that what is being said meets the party line. Typical entrepreneurs – they think that social media is too risky. Participation in social media makes them vulnerable, losing control of their brand. But that’s not the case. Mhairi argues that you use social media to GAIN BACK some of that control. Allows you to respond to any negative comments and move the discussion to the corporate blog.
Mhairi is giving examples – a customer that totally disagreed and said “this is a lot of rubbish”. Mhairi went back and wrote back and she backed up her case. This gentleman apologized in the public forum because Mhairi was able to make the contact and establish it and deal with the negativity in the public forum, hoping that the issue goes away.
Microsoft is benefitting from being transparent. They had a really bad image in the 1990s, but it’s being negated by the fact that they had a corporate blog policy that allowed their employees to blog, thus making them more human. These were real organizations. Microsoft was able to shed their “Big Brother” image.
Interestingly, Google is very tough on bloggers, so they might be the next Big Brother in the tech scene. They are not allowed to talk about anything that goes inside the company, you have to be very careful about that (clarified by someone who was an intern there in the summer of 2002).
7.- Privacy. LinkedIn and Facebook have privacy settings. Set appropriate limits both in terms of who to add and what information you put out there. You control the content. Don’t put EVERYTHING if you feel that it may infringe on your privacy. As far as a blog goes, a corporate blog helps establish their expertise, but if you’re uncomfortable with what people are commenting, you can have a blog that has some review of comments before posting to the site.
Use these tools appropriately, understand that you’re in control, and limit your risk by using these technologies in the right way.
7.- “Too much fluff”. Mhairi refers a case of Facebook having a lot of fluff. But the sheer volume of people who are using it, shows that there is relevance in having it. There is a lot of fluff in TV but that doesn’t stop companies from spending billions in advertisements in these media. Facebook is the same thing. We should be honing in on that audience. You can’t just let that market go! You can benefit from social media if you implement these tools appropriately.
8.- “I don’t have time for social media” Mhairi’s favorite excuse. Allows people to negate doing something that they have to do. You can’t afford to have time to at least consider what your competition is doing with social media and what you can do with social media. If someone traditional (business) tells you that they don’t have time, that’s usually because they feel really scared. To negate this – the traditional approach to marketing – the four Ps and the four C (customer, community, convenience and cost) and the Ps ( ) – You can reach them (customers) more effectively using social media, building community, it’s very convenient as internet access is inexpensive, and it costs really less than a traditional campaign. Time is really no excuse. Make them comfortable.
UPDATE 7.51 PM - If you’re reading this, you can also bid in the silent auction of Canuck ticket’s as well!
QUESTION - Larry Yatkowsky – there is not enough time in the day to move all the process, it cuts into your life so dramatically, I assure you that it takes an extra 60-70 hours a day as a sole proprietor.
Mhairi’s answer – Well, you have to hire someone maybe – or consider doing just a fraction of the whole strategy. Erica Hargreave says that yes, you can do it (she’s done it for over 7 pm). You can use an application for Twitter (Twhirl, TwitterFox) and it helps you save time. Twitter does save a lot of time for Erica, because she learns a lot of things that sometimes ends helping save her time. Because she is a sole proprietor she now is linked to the voice of what’s happening in the rest of the world.
UPDATE 7.53 PM - The wifi just got disconnected, so I’m continuing with the liveblog on BlogDesk.
UPDATE 7.54 PM – Well, apparently the wifi is back. If you don’t read beyond this point, it’s because the wifi is broken again.
Larry mentions that he finds that you cannot do it all. To achieve success you can only do a bit of it. Nadia interjects that social media IS overwhelming. If you can just figure out the one or two things that you can dedicate yourself, do just a couple.
Jeremy Lim mentions the fact that Ping.fm (aggregates all your Web 2.0) and EightHands collects a number of feeds
9.- “The traditional way of doing it is professional”. Social media tends to be seen as “amateurs”. The recent Vancouver Sun/Now Public survey of the 20 Most Visible. “Anyone can be a blogger if they live in Mommy and Daddy’s basement and they don’t need to go to work”. This is the comment of someone who doesn’t really get/understand social media. A number of bloggers make a lot of money. Social media is NOT only for amateurs, it’s not an appropriate comment at all. For people who only do traditional marketing, they should transfer the budget for those projects to social media for one month to see how it effects it.
UPDATE 8.06 PM - There was a really nicely productive discussion that Larry initiated on how to pare down or triage which Web 2.0 services you use.
10.- “Show me the money. Where is the ROI (Return On Investment)”. There is a dearth of information (publicly available – what has been the return on investment in social media?). Wal-Mart episode – got bad marketing. Mazda did a similar thing. Despite their huge presence, they still had to lay off people and cut off costs. Social media-based marketing is not the end and be all, but it is a component that you can use in your marketing arsenal. Traditional marketing campaigns are even harder to measure in terms of ROI.
Mhairi’s main and central example on huge ROI for using social media – a UK company “WigglyWigglers” that engaged in a great social media campaign. This is a gardening company. They have a podcast, YouTube channel, a blog, a newsletter and they use them actively to share information on the worms for gardening. The result for them – they now have over 40,000 podcast subscribers, 43,000 newsletter subscriber, over 800 friends on Facebook, customers in New Zealand and North America, they’ve improved their Google Page Rank massively, online sales 50% of their total sales, and they’ve done this all with a 97% reduction in their advertising costs. That really proves the ROI on these technologies.
Mhairi believes very strongly that traditional marketers can no longer ignore the benefits of social media. All the results attest to the fact that traditional, old-school marketers need to learn some of these tools, and harnessing these tools can only benefit you.
UPDATE 8.14 PM – The liveblog is over.