Tag Archives: social media

Is Facebook The New TV?


Last summer a friend who was about to launch a big venture asked me to give her a quick assessment of major social media channels.

I made this analogy: Twitter is like AM radio. Instagram is like FM radio. Facebook is like TV.

The news, views, noise and chatter that fill my Twitter timeline are similar to what I hear on AM radio. News, political talk, sports talk, intelligent commentary and idiotic commentary. It’s all there on the AM band and on Twitter.

On FM, most stations play music. There’s less talk, generally speaking. While AM has more information, FM has more entertainment. Instagram is a pleasant alternative to Twitter with its focus on the visual. Food, babies, dogs, cats, landscapes and other lighter fare rule. Yes, politics and commentary do appear on Instagram, but more of the posts in my feed are non-controversial.

Facebook is the big dog because so many people go there on a daily basis and because it is, for many, a better advertising venue than Twitter and Instagram. Facebook delivers the noise and chatter we find on Twitter and the AM radio band but also features

Additionally, Facebook has been more successful with its Facebook Live streaming video than Twitter has been with Periscope. The video aspect provides Facebook with TV’s key element.

Much of the news and other info delivered by traditional broadcast media (whether via over-the-air, cable, streaming or satellite) has been verified to some degree, whereas info shared on social may be rumor or hearsay. This fact explains why Twitter is often the best source for immediate news, though not necessarily for accuracy in those early tweets.

Whether these analogies are valid or are just the result of goofy thinking on my part, my main message to my friend was each social channel has its own characteristics. Content that has value on one may not necessarily work as well on another.

The best way to learn about social media channels is to use them.





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Perception Is Reality


It’s true. If a person perceives a brand, a product, a service, a retailer, a restaurant, etc. to possess certain qualities, it colors all of that person’s interactions with that entity. Even when hard evidence shows the perceived belief is not true.

Certain brands have buzz and are perceived by many to be cool, superior, innovative, etc. The list includes Starbucks, Apple, Uber, IKEA—I’m sure you can name a few more. Even when those cool brands fail or when they “borrow” ideas from others, they are often given a pass because of positive customer perceptions.

The current TV series The People Versus O.J. Simpson reveals incorrect appraisals of potential jurors by both prosecutor Marcia Clark and defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. Each perceived African-American female jurors to be sympathetic to the prosecution’s case. Both were wrong. The scene showing Marcia Clark behind the glass monitoring a focus group as they offer comments about her is powerful and enlightening.

During my radio career, I was reminded many times that perception is reality. If a listener perceives that station A plays more music than station B, it doesn’t matter which station actually plays more music. If a listener thinks a personality is snarky and insensitive, that personality can perform tons of good deeds and still be perceived to be a jerk. A listener’s perception is that listener’s reality.

Because perceptions matter—whether they are based on facts, gossip, online chatter, peer pressure or subtle factors—it is important to work to mold perceptions. Public relations, marketing and social media all play a vital role in creating and reinforcing positive consumer perceptions of a product, a service, a radio station, an idea or a presidential candidate.

It is dangerous to presume that we know how customers or prospects perceive the goods, services and messages we offer. How do we find out what they think? We observe how they act. We monitor their online comments. We ask them. What is their perception? It’s their reality.





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Sales: The One Metric That Really Matters


You are hired to create a social media campaign for a company. You do great work. You grow the audience. Facebook fans and Twitter followers click on links in droves to get coupons. Your Instagram contest generates hundreds of entries. But, for reasons unrelated to your efforts, sales are down 18% for the first quarter of your campaign and down 22% for the next quarter. Cuts have to be made. Will they come via staff reductions, advertising budget cuts or a trim for the social campaign? Or all three? Sales is the one metric that really matters.

Your PR client stages an event. You line up TV interviews, radio interviews and newspaper and online items. Awareness is good. A nice crowd shows up. While your client is happy that media coverage helped produce a decent turnout, his most important question is, “How much food and drink did we sell?” Sales is the one metric that really matters.

During my radio career I did many Saturday appearances at car dealers. At most such events, we had good listener turnout. But, occasionally, the number of people who came to grab a free hotdog and say hello would be disappointing. On Monday, we might say to the account executive who had the dealer’s account, “I thought we’d have more people show up Saturday. I hope the client’s not upset.” And, quite often, the account exec would say something like, “Oh, no! They sold 32 cars! It was their best Saturday in a year!” Sales is the one metric that really matters.

If you are charged with telling a client’s story, whether it be via social media, PR efforts or paid advertising, it’s in your best interest to help drive sales any way you can. Support your clever tweets, your genius PR campaign, your beautifully written radio/TV spot or print/online ad with suggestions to friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, church members, community organization members and personal social media contacts that they visit your client and buy something! Because sales is the one metric that really matters.

(This article was originally posted in June 2013.)

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I Like Email Marketing



First thing every morning: spend a few minutes scrolling through email. Delete most, skim some, actually read a few. In rare cases, click on links. Repeat several times throughout the day. This may occur before or after checking social channels for new posts.

As Facebook and other social media continue to grow and evolve, email marketing may, for some, become an afterthought. We’ve had email since the 90s (80s for some), but you probably only began to embrace social during the past decade.

I would never devalue the importance of growing your community on Facebook and other social channels, but email continues to provide an effective, efficient and inexpensive way to reach your target. Social campaigns you judge successful can be enhanced with email backup.

Yes, it’s generally a small minority of email recipients who open marketing emails. Similarly, your less-engaging Facebook posts may only be seen a tiny portion of followers. And, whereas many of your partisans who choose to receive your emails may also be Facebook fans, you can’t presume that most are.

The engagement level you note on social posts can inform your content choices for your email. If you get tons of shares, likes and comments for a photo of, say, your Pumpkin Spice Bacon Peanut Butter Soft Taco, it’s safe to presume the folks on your email list might respond warmly as well.

In mass media advertising, many successful TV campaigns are supported with radio, print and online ads. Since TV is the most effective mass advertising medium, ads on other media are likely to get less attention. Social campaigns generate tons of buzz nowadays and email is old hat. (The movie You’ve Got Mail came out 16 years ago!) But in 2014, email still deserves your attention for all it can do.


(photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/melenita/15444273446/, http://photopin.com, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

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It’s Not About Me, It’s About My Clients

Think about the best TV spot you’ve ever seen. Can you name the agency that did it? Probably not.

Think about the best print ad you’ve ever seen. Any idea which agency it came from? Not likely.

When you read a profile of a successful individual in print or online, does the PR person who arranged the piece get mentioned? In almost all cases, no.

But when a social media firm posts content with links onto a client’s Facebook or Twitter feeds, is it okay for the URL shortener to include the name of the agency?

To me, it appears that the agency is promoting itself along with the client. It also seems less authentic, less organic. It may even distract from the message if, before clicking the link, a person wonders, “what is this agencyname.com?”

I could be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. Do followers really care whether a link begins with bit.ly, ow.ly, goo.gl or agencyname.com?

In my social media work for clients, I try to remain transparent. If I post on a client’s Facebook or Twitter channels, followers should have no awareness of my involvement. It’s not about me, it’s about my clients.

Yes, I’ve posted links to media coverage obtained for clients on my own social accounts. But my involvement should not matter to viewers, listeners and readers.

Bud Light, K-Mart and others have had successful edgy commercials that never aired on broadcast or cable, but were shared online. If you saw them, you likely accessed them via Youtube, not through the websites of the agencies that created these viral videos.

Those agencies know that content for consumers is not about them, it’s about their clients.

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Seminars, Meetups and Conferences. Go!

You could go to one everyday. Experts, gurus, mavens and wizards offering input on social media, SEO, content marketing, digital media, reputation management, email marketing, internet security, media relations, yada, yada, yada.

Should you go? Yes! Will you learn something? Maybe. Will it be time well spent? That’s the hard thing to know before you do it. It’s like parties: sometimes the party you’re invited to turns out to be far better or worse than you expected.

In the past few years, I have attended several such presentations. Some were free; some were attached to a luncheon or were part of an all-day conference.

On occasion, I have signed up immediately, been filled with great anticipation and been disappointed when the info shared was simple and basic. Other times I have gone to an event mainly to schmooze with some of the other attendees, only to have the presenter unexpectedly deliver meaningful, useful ideas and information.

A problem for presenters is estimating the baseline knowledge level of the audience. I’ve had presentations go way over my head and I’ve had presentations after which I wanted to say, “Tell me something I DON’T know!”

Whether you pay $40 for a luncheon ticket or just show up after work for the free beer, make a serious effort to walk away with new insight. I’ve always figured that if I can bring home one or two nuggets that I did not have before, there’s some value there. If I can put one of the new ideas into action, it was worth the effort to attend.

Two quick points: Take notes when you can. Even sketchy notes with a key word or two can help you recall what was imparted. Also, at conferences take advantage of opportunities to chat in the hallway between sessions. But don’t skip a session to gossip or tell old workplace war stories.

This week I am attending a (free) presentation titled Social Media Made Simple PLUS How To Really Use LinkedIn!  Do I hope to learn something? Yes. Will it turn to have been time well spent? Maybe. There’s only one way to find out!

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In Social Media, Does Age Matter?

An article by recent college grad Cathryn Sloane has been widely shared over the past few days. The woman, a St. Louis native, suggests that nobody over the age of 25 should be hired to do social media work. Apparently, she was serious. (Click HERE for the article.)

Her rant was triggered by help-wanted ads for social media managers that require several years of experience. Her point is those in the class of 2012 have been personally involved in social media for several years. She writes, “We spent our adolescence growing up with social media.”

The blowback has been quick and fierce. Responses range from benign amusement to resentful anger. But the question persists: Does she have a valid point?

My generation, the Baby Boomers, has a bit of swagger because there are so many of us. Unlike the Millennials, we were not raised with our fingers attached to a computer keyboard. We are not “digital natives,” as are those born in the last 25 years.

But do we, the Boomers (and the Gen Xers), lack the abilities to spread information via social networks? No. In fact, we may be better equipped to do so, thanks to our experiences in writing and editing (sometimes with pencil or a typewriter). Many of us who have worked in media, marketing or both know the necessity of connecting with followers, also known as listeners, viewers, readers and customers.

Other media have always been social in nature, if not in designation. Radio, for instance, has always responded to listener feedback. Instead of “likes,” listeners have picked up the phone to say, “Play more Lynyrd Skynyrd. Stop playing the Dixie Chicks.”

Technology advances. In 2012, we have new and different channels. But today’s social media managers are performing tasks that are not that different from some performed by previous generations. The bottom line, the key to success, is an ability to communicate clearly and to monitor responses. As the author of the article concedes in her next-to-last paragraph, “The truth is, regardless of age, some people have a better handle on social media than others.”

The writer of this article should know that persons of all ages have felt the sting of such limitations as “minimum five years experience.” Talk to a few Boomers and Gen Xers, especially those making career changes. They’ll tell you it’s not just a problem faced by the young.

My guess is the attention this item has garnered will help this woman get a decent job offer, experience or not. Whether her points are right or wrong, they have produced a good amount of discussion. And in 2012, an ability to generate genuine online heat is a good one to have.

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Five Tips for Informal Public Speaking

A recent event in St. Louis featured 6 speakers (5 others and me) offering marketing tips to new business owners. We had an attentive crowd, a comfortable venue (not a classroom) and great coffee!

The format for presenters was simple: Spend 15 minutes on your particular area of expertise. Of course, you cannot completely cover big topics like social media, email marketing, branding, public relations or traditional advertising in 15 minutes. But you can hit some of the major points and share new ideas with the audience.

Based on the event, here are 5 tips that may help you in a similar situation.

  1. Speak often. One of our presenters told me afterward, “That was my first ever presentation.” She did not appear uncomfortable, but she did have difficulty condensing her topic into a 15-minute talk. I strongly encourage you to take every opportunity you can to stand up in front of an audience, even if it’s just a couple of minutes in front of your co-workers or career day at your kid’s school.
  2. Organize your thoughts in detail. You don’t want to write out your remarks word-for-word, but you should have good notes to refer to. You may want more than just simple bullet points.
  3. Rehearse what you’re going to say. Don’t over think it—we are talking about an informal event—but give some thought to timing, transitions and conclusions.
  4. Be careful to distinguish between personal opinion, conventional wisdom and empirical fact. Also, clarify any sweeping declarations. (Example: When you say LinkedIn is better for business than Facebook, you might want to point out that you mean for business-to-business, not business-to-consumer.)
  5. If an audience member has good input, go with it. During the remarks about traditional advertising, a USPS rep in our audience took a moment to talk about a new localized direct mail program. Hers was good information for fellow attendees.

The best way to get better at anything—writing, golfing, cooking, etc.—is to keep doing it. This idea certainly applies to public speaking.

When will you next be asked to speak before a group of people? It could be two years from now or it could be this week. When you are given the chance, go for it!






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I’m As Mad As Hell And I’m Not Going To Take This Anymore!

Not really. But here are some things I see on the net and in other media that can be done better.

I would be happier, and the world would be a better place, if the following items could be fixed. Immediately.

  1. Organizations that unleash 5 to 10 (or more) Twitter posts at the same time. The culprits are often news outlets. Such activity indicates to me that you do your Twitter “duty” a few times a day and haven’t really given Twitter that much thought. It would be better, for many reasons, to spread those tweets out over a period of time.
  2. Organizations or individuals who post press releases as blog content. When I go to your site and click on your blog link, I want to encounter new ideas, philosophies, information and stories that were written for that particular page. Not something that was simply copied and pasted, even if it is your own stuff.
  3. Websites other than Youtube (and other video sites) that play video or audio immediately upon loading. I may want to watch your video eventually, but I might want to read the copy on your site first. If I am listening to online audio while web surfing, I would prefer that your video/audio player let me decide if and when to enjoy your content.
  4. People who overdo it with political content on social media. A little bit is okay, but, even if you are an elected office holder, post something other than left/right rants every now and then.
  5. Speaking of web video, there should be a law that your online video ad cannot run longer than your online video content that I have come for.
  6. Slideshows that don’t load quickly. I understand the reason for slideshows with each image on a separate page, but many take forever to load. Sometimes I only see 3 or 4 of the 20 All Time Ugliest Dogs or whatever, before I bail.
  7. Tweets that link to paid or password protected web content. Even if it’s free, I generally don’t care to register to read just one article.
  8. How about a traditional media complaint or three? Magazines who put a compelling headline on the cover that makes you flip through the pages to find an item that runs a mere three or four paragraphs.
  9. Radio stations and TV channels that repeat a spot or promo within the same spot break.
  10. “Spadea” wraps in newspapers. They are an annoyance to me as a reader and, I think, a bad deal for advertisers because I toss them out immediately.

To the powers that be, thanks for your prompt attention to these matters!

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